EU sides with Madrid on Catalonian independence
International | Plus news and notes from Iraq, Burma, Kenya, and more
by Mindy Belz
Posted 10/04/17, 04:35 pm
SPAIN: Just when 2017 couldn’t get more strange, the European Union’s staid executive arm has declared Spain’s “proportionate use of force” necessary to uphold the rule of law in Catalonia. The independence referendum for the region, which includes Barcelona, has been spurred by Madrid’s crackdown but can hardly be defended as representative in votes or constitutional.
IRAQ: Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan who became the first non-Arab president of Iraq in 2003 after Saddam Hussein’s ouster, died Tuesday in Germany. Many believe Talabani, a unifying figure widely known as “Mam Jalal” (“Uncle Jalal” in Kurdish), might have forestalled the Kurdish region’s independence referendum that’s set off the worst infighting between Iraq’s central government and the Kurds since the fall of Saddam.
STILL ASKING: Why are U.S. aid policies in Iraq helping Iran while hurting Yazidi and Christian minorities?
BURMA: Members of Free Burma Rangers, a Christian relief organization, traveled to Bangladesh to learn for themselves what’s happening to the more than 500,000 Rohingya Muslims forced from Burma, also known as Myanmar. In an interview with Abu Ahmed, a 28-year-old Rohingya refugee, the organization learned what happened in a village where more than 1,200 were killed by the Myanmar army:
“Abu witnessed the death of his best friend, who was shot with many others on the village streets. He saw old men shot and people having their throats cut with long knives. Young children had their limbs hacked off by soldiers with machetes just prior to having their throats slit.”
KENYA: Nearly 22,000 new refugees have arrived so far in 2017 at Kakuma Refugee Camp, and 15,000 of them are from South Sudan. The UN plans to cut food rations this month by 30 percent at Kakuma and Dadaab camps, the two largest refugee holding centers in the world.
SUDAN: A full-court press is underway for the Trump administration to make permanent the Obama administration’s temporary lifting of sanctions on Sudan, despite ample evidence of regime abuses (including the demolition this year of 25 churches) that are fueling a refugee crisis.
PUERTO RICO: President Donald Trump had an interesting exchange with a Calvary Chapel of Puerto Rico volunteer in the San Juan suburb of Guaynabo about water purification kits. Calvary is delivering via church volunteers more than 50,000 pounds in relief to the island.
ENGLAND: The archbishop of Canterbury can’t give a straight answer on whether gay sex is sinful, but he knows homophobia is.
ITALY: The top two levels of Rome’s Colosseum, including areas never before open to tourists, will open to the public Nov. 1.
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