U.S. President Donald Trump walks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium ~ Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg
U.S. President Donald Trump walks with Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the (NATO) summit in Brussels, Belgium | Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg
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Three killed in violence over elections in Harare, and Australia may be in the throes of the worst drought in its history. 

US removed its Secretary of State after strong lobbying by Arab countries

The removal of former US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson—what was earlier believed to be a result of his condemnation of Russia for carrying out a Nerve Agent Attack in the United Kingdom —is actually because of serious lobbying efforts by Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, the Intercept wrote in an article.

The Arab countries were hostile to Tillerson’s bid to end the conflict in Qatar. Moreover, Tillerson’s efforts were in contradiction with President Trump’s endorsement of the blockade of Qatar by the Gulf nations.

In 2017, Saudi Arabia and the UAE had devised a plan to send ground troops into Qatar and conquer it. However, Rex Tillerson had made a number of phone calls to Saudi King Salman, then-Deputy Crown Prince, and Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to prevent any military action leading to an escalation of hostilities. Tillerson’s intervention had severe consequences as Saudi Arabia who did not wish to damage its ties with the US. However, Tillerson was at the receiving end of the ire of both the royal families of UAE and Saudi Arabia.

US imposes sanctions on Turkish officials

With an aim to punish Turkey for not releasing a detained American pastor, the White House Wednesday levied sanctions on two senior Turkish government officials.

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The US treasury department has accused Turkish justice minister Abdulhamit Gul and interior minister Suleyman Soylu of playing “leading roles in the organisations responsible for the arrest and detention of Pastor Andrew Brunson”, The Washington Post reported.

The action from the Trump administration comes less than a week after the president promised to “impose large sanctions” on Turkey if Brunson was not released immediately.

Calling the US actions inexplicable, disrespectful and illegal, Turkey’s foreign ministry registered a “strong protest”. Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted, “US attempts to impose sanctions on our two ministers will not go unanswered.”

Like thousands of others, pastor Brunson was arrested on charges of attempting to overthrow Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government in a coup two years ago.

Three killed in violence over Zimbabwe presidential elections

Even before results were declared in the Zimbabwe presidential elections, violence in the capital city of Harare killed three people as the army opened fire on rioting opposition supporters, the BBC reported.

The supporters were protesting against the alleged rigging of Monday’s elections by the governing Zanu-PF party. So far, the results of the elections show the Zanu-PF heading towards a big win.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has held the opposition responsible for the violence. “We hold the opposition MDC Alliance and its whole leadership responsible for this disturbance of national peace, which was meant to disrupt the electoral process,” state broadcaster ZBC quoted him as saying.

Mnangagwa took to Twitter to urge peace.

Swedish royal jewels stolen

Swedish crown jewels belonging to former monarchs Karl IX and Kristina were stolen from the Strängnäs Cathedral at Stockholm Tuesday, CNN reported.

According to reports, the thieves raided the cathedral and escaped on a speedboat with two crowns and a golden orb adorned with a crucifix that date back to the 12th century.

Swedish police said several thieves were involved in the heist and search was underway. Police have not confirmed the value of the stolen items.

Australia may be facing its worst drought ever

The continent of Australia could be facing the worst drought in living memory according to the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Quartz reports.

It is winter season in Australia at present, which will be followed by the second-warmest summer and one of the driest and warmest autumns.

Accoring to a 2017 study, in some parts of Australia, the intensity of 21st-century droughts is unlike anything seen in more than 400 years and likely to get worse.

Reuters sent photographer David Gray to document the situation, with Quartz describing the results of the project as “other-worldly”.

Catholicism is getting popular in communist China

There are new signs of Catholicism’s growing popularity in communist China, and experts are calling it a good sign for China-Vatican relations, The Global Times reported.

A documentary on Catholicism titled Beyond East and West: When China meets the Vatican was aired by a Hong Kong-based television channel on 21 July. The same month, German filmmaker Wim Wenders’ documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His Word became available on Chinese streaming website iQiyi and has managed to gather 119,000 views.

China has also reportedly adopted elements of the religion in its pop culture and introduced Christian characters in mainstream entertainment content.

Cross-bred mosquitoes make Australian city ‘dengue-free’

Australian researchers claim to have made Queensland’s Townsville dengue-free, reports the BBC

The feat was achieved when scientists released mosquitoes bred in captivity with naturally occurring bacteria called Wolbachia to mate with the local mosquitoes. Wolbachia, which hinders dengue transmission, has reportedly kept the city dengue-free since 2014.

Researchers released the Wolbachia carrying mosquitoes over four monsoon seasons with community involvement.

The World Mosquito Programme is currently functioning in 11 countries and aims to spread the innovation across the world, especially in larger and poorer countries.

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