THE WRAP — 3 September 2016
Trump’s immigrant problem
Donald Trump’s quasi-official visit to Mexico has gone off without a hitch. President Pena Nieto and Trump stood side-by-side in a mock meeting of leaders, discussing US-Mexico bilateral agreements and even shaking hands for the cameras. Nieto’s conciliatory tone angered many of his countrymen who hoped their leader would demand an apology from Trump for his litany of derogatory comments about Mexicans.
Later that afternoon at a rally in Phoenix, Trump doubled down on his anti-immigrant rhetoric, boasting that Mexico would pay for the wall even if “they don’t know it yet”. Nieto immediately refuted the claim online. Trump has recently sent contradictory messages on immigration forcing his media team to hose down suggestions of a backdown. In Phoenix he was back to claiming that millions would be deported immediately by a beefed up Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. One of his leading Hispanic campaign advisors, Jacob Monty, quit immediately over the rehashed immigration policy.
Having gifted Hillary Clinton a commanding lead in most battleground states, Trump’s campaign has been searching for opportunities to reposition the property mogul as a serious contender. The brief trip to visit Mexico gave off the appearance of a gamble; Nieto had previously compared Trump to Hitler and Mussolini. It will be interesting to see whether Trump can do anything over the remaining two months of the campaign to win back the Hispanic voters he has driven away in droves.
Setbacks for ISIS worldwide
The second-in-command and propaganda czar of ISIS has been killed in northern Syria by an airstrike. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani was one of the most recognisable senior figures of Da’esh, appearing in numerous videos exhorting ISIS supporters to carry out attacks on civilian populations in the West. His May broadcast encouraged attacks during Ramadan and is thought to have encouraged the Nice Bastille Day attack and the Orlando nightclub killings. He was also personally linked to the Brussels, Paris, and Istanbul Airport attacks.
Adnani was visiting ISIS forces in Aleppo province where they are fighting along a broad frontline against rebel groups and the Syrian army. The airstrike that killed him has been claimed by both US and Russian authorities, although a spokesperson from the Kremlin could not offer any evidence for their claim. The US is presumed to have been responsible for his death not least because they have been engaged in a specific campaign to kill ISIS’s senior public-facing figures.
In Bangladesh, the suspected mastermind behind July’s Dhaka cafe siege was killed along with two other militants in a gunfight with police. Tamim Chowdhury, a Canadian-Bangladeshi Islamist fighter, is understood to have had links to ISIS. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently visited South East Asia to stress the importance of cooperation fighting Islamist violence wherever it appears. As if on cue, this week two heavily-armed ISIS supporters stormed a jail in the Philippines to rescue eight militants and 15 other prisoners. These developments come on the heels of revelations that as many as 15,000 bodies of ISIS victims may be buried in 72 mass graves on land recently recovered from the militant group.
Gabon’s parliament burns
The Gabonese military have clashed with protestors in the capital Libreville on a third day of violence following the country’s disputed presidential election. Incumbent President Ali Bongo won by 5,594 votes or 0.57%, although this has been fiercely disputed by the supporters of opposition leader Jean Ping. On Wednesday, protestors took to the streets disputing the count from Bongo’s home province of Haut Ogooue. The National Assembly was set alight after the results were announced, only for the police to retaliate by attacking the opposition headquarters. At least three people have died and another 1,000 have been wounded in a crisis similar to the one following the 2009 election. If upheld, the result will extend the Bongo family’s dynastic rule in the oil-rich West African nation to more than half a century.
Apple’s €13bn tax bill
The European Union’s competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager has hoisted her colours in the brewing tax war between governments and corporations. Vestager’s report released this week said that Apple, the richest company in the world, had paid an effective corporate tax rate of 0.005% on its revenue in Ireland in 2014. If correct, it would mean that Apple paid 50 Euros in tax on every million Euros earned. The EU has now demanded that Apple pay back a sum (including interest) to the tune of €13 billion. Apple CEO Tim Cook has savaged the report, calling it “total political crap” and claiming that the company had in fact paid €400 million in tax. Apple routes all its European revenue through Ireland because of the low tax rate. It says its actions are legal but the EU is trying to close the loopholes.
Brazil’s Rousseff impeached
The Brazilian senate has voted 61–20 to oust President Dilma Rousseff from office for breaking budget laws. Rousseff, the country’s first female president and former leftist guerrilla (who was tortured by the junta in the 1970s), had been at the helm of the nation as its economic prosperity collapsed. Her approval ratings were in single-digits after numerous political figures were linked to a gargantuan graft scandal that helped tip Brazil into its worst recession in over 70 years. Rousseff displayed her characteristic defiance, saying that she would overcome what she calls ‘a parliamentary coup’. Her replacement, former ally Michael Temer has announced that he will unite a cynical nation; although his own complicity in multiple scandals may yet leave him undone.
Is there life outside Moscow — A Russian scientist recently claimed he had intercepted a signal from outer space and that it was ‘without a doubt’ the first time humans had received alien communication. it turns out the ‘communication’ was actually just ‘terrestrial interference’. Put away the tinfoil hat.
Hot Dog — The unfortunately-named, sexting-prone former-congressman Anthony Weiner has finally revealed too much. His long-suffering wife Huma Abeydin (advisor to Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton) has filed for divorce after he was caught sexting other people yet again.
Camini wasn’t rebuilt in a day — Refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria have breathed fresh air into a town in southern Italy. The centuries-old town of Camini had dwindled in size and fallen into disrepair as its young people moved to larger cities to seek their fortunes. Take note world, we have a lot of dilapidated country towns that refugees want to live in for one reason: they are safe.
The inkl team doffed their hats this week to Barack Obama. Now well into the last lap of his presidency and unworried by concerns about offending the Republican party, Obama has introduced wide-ranging measures to ameliorate climate change — most notably by creating the world’s largest protected marine zone around his home state of Hawaii.
The worst story we heard this week was the ISIS suicide bombing in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden. More than 70 police recruits were killed in the blast, adding yet another sad chapter to a war that has already claimed 10,000 lives but can’t seem to hold the world’s attention.
That’s it for another week. Rest up.
And remember… if you’re ever in need of some good news — now you can always find some on inkl.
P.S., This week we farewell a true comedic genius in Gene Wilder. There is nothing to say other than that he will be sorely missed. Here is but one of the many corkers uttered by him as Willy Wonka:
“If the Good Lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn’t have invented roller skates.”