, pub-6663105814926378, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Around The World Portland Oregon Protest violence 4289

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Around The World Portland Oregon Protest violence

Portland, Oregon
Protest violence: Six Democrat mayors have urged Congress to stop the Trump administration from sending in federal law enforcement agencies to their cities, after weeks of violent clashes in Portland between government security forces and anti-racism protesters. President Trump sent federal officers to Portland in early July, purportedly to protect federal buildings, and says he plans to expand the deployment to other Democrat-controlled cities. The mayors of Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Albuquerque, Kansas City and Washington DC say the presence of federal forces against the wishes of local authorities is unlawful. In Portland, the agents are accused of stoking tensions. The Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in May are ongoing across the US. In Seattle, police confronted demonstrators with stun grenades and pepper spray over the weekend, while in Austin, Texas, a protester was shot dead during a march. Witnesses say a driver turned into a street where protesters were gathered and opened fire. In Utah, an armed militia has been mobilising to deter BLM protests. But at a demonstration against the police shooting of medical worker Breonna Taylor, in Louisville, Kentucky, members of a far-right militia were outnumbered by a black militia group. Both groups were armed.

Washington DC
Covid spending: US Senate Republicans have proposed a new $1trn package to tackle the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic (see page 42). Called the Heals Act, it includes another round of $1,200 payments to most Americans, an expansion of a small business loans scheme, and another $100bn for schools; but it lowers the $600 a week federal unemployment benefit supplement, which expired this week, to $200. The package was a third of the size of the one put forward by Democrats in the Senate, who condemned it as “totally inadequate”. Since February, around 15 million people in the US have lost their jobs; last week alone, there were 1.4 million new jobless claims. Nearly one in five US workers are now claiming unemployment benefits and more than half of households have experienced a drop in their income. On Monday, the dollar fell to a two-year low.

Washington DC
Adviser tests positive: President Trump’s national security adviser has become the highest-ranking administration official to test positive for Covid-19. Although Robert O’Brien had recently accompanied Trump on a trip to Miami, White House officials said there was no risk of infection to the president, and that O’Brien’s symptoms were mild. The first presidential debate between Trump and Democrat challenger Joe Biden, scheduled for 29 September, was moved from Indiana to Ohio this week, owing to virus concerns. Last week, Trump cancelled a portion of the Republican party convention that had been due to take place in Florida for the same reason. He will be formally nominated as his party’s candidate at the convention in North Carolina. The number of Covid-19 cases in the US has now passed 4.5 million.

Monterrey, Mexico
Hurricane Hanna: The first hurricane of the North Atlantic season left a trail of destruction along the coast of Texas this week, before swinging south into Mexico. Downgraded to a tropical storm, it caused heavy flooding and mudslides in Mexico’s northern states, and knocked out power to 280,000 homes on both sides of the border. Claims that a part of the US’s border wall had been torn down proved false, however. This year’s hurricane season has got off to an unusually busy start – Hanna was the eighth named storm of 2020 – and forecasters at Colorado State University have predicted that there will be as many as 20 named storms this year, compared with a long-term average of 12. Normally around half are classed as hurricanes.

Galápagos Islands, Ecuador
Fishing threat: The appearance of more than 200 mostly Chinese-flagged fishing vessels close to the Gal├ípagos Islands has raised concerns for the protected marine reserve. In 2017, a Chinese boat was caught in the reserve with 300 tonnes of wildlife on board, most of it sharks. Although the ships are fishing in international waters outside a 188-mile exclusion zone, Ecuador’s former environment minister told The Guardian that their activities could still damage the Unesco World Heritage Site’s delicate ecosystem. The islands belong to Ecuador, and it was its navy that raised the alarm.

Bounty offered: The chief justice of Venezuela has dismissed as “cowardly” a $5m bounty offered by the US for information leading to his arrest. Last week, Washington accused Maikel Moreno, the president of Venezuela’s Supreme Court, of being involved in organised transnational crime, and accepting bribes to influence the outcome of civil and criminal cases in Venezuela. The bounty is the latest to be put up for information leading to the arrest of government figures in Venezuela – including President Maduro, who has $15m on his head. Human rights groups say Venezuelan citizens are subject to arbitrary detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings. A UN report published last week said victims of rights abuses had difficulty obtaining justice in Venezuelan courts.

Golan Heights
Border flare-up: Israel claimed this week that its soldiers had opened fire on a group of Hezbollah militants trying to “infiltrate our territory” via the Israeli-occupied Syrian Golan Heights. Tensions have been high in the volatile border region since a Hezbollah fighter was killed by an Israeli air strike in Syria last week. The Lebanonbased group denied the incursion, but warned that a response to the death of its fighter was “definitely coming”. According to military sources cited in the Israeli media, the four-man Hezbollah cell had crossed a few metres into Israeli territory when it was repelled by the Israel Defence Forces. In 2006, a cross-border raid by Hezbollah, which is heavily armed and backed by Israel’s enemy Iran, led to a month-long conflict in which 1,356 people – mostly Lebanese civilians – were killed.

Chengdu, China
Consulate wars: Chinese troops took over the US consulate in Chengdu this week, days after Beijing ordered its closure in a tit-for-tat response to the US expulsion of Chinese diplomats. Crowds of local onlookers gathered at dawn on Monday as the US flag was taken down from the building. Diplomats there have represented American interests across a swathe of western China since 1985. The consulate was also used to gather information on Tibet. The week before, Washington had given Chinese diplomats 72 hours to leave their consulate in Houston, claiming it was a hub for spying, a claim Beijing described as a “hodgepodge of anti-Chinese lies”. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated dramatically this year, with President Trump accusing China of unfair trade practices, responsibility for the coronavirus outbreak, human rights abuses, territorial aggression in the South China Sea and trampling on freedoms in Hong Kong. New Zealand and Australia have joined the US and UK in suspending their extradition treaties with Hong Kong in protest at Beijing’s imposition of a new security law over the territory.

“First case”: North Korea announced what it claimed was its “first suspected case” of Covid-19 last week. It said the virus had been brought into the country by a recently returned defector, who’d crossed the militarised border with South Korea illegally. But Seoul said the man, who had been resident in the South for three years, did not have the virus. There is speculation that the virus is creating havoc in North Korea, and that Pyongyang is trying to divert blame for it away from the regime.

Maiduguri, Nigeria
Aid workers executed: Islamist extremists have executed four aid workers and a guard in Nigeria’s northeastern Borno state. The men were abducted while working in the region on 8 June; footage of them being killed was posted online last week. All Nigerian, they were employed by various agencies including the International Rescue Committee and Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency. Blaming the atrocity on Boko Haram, President Buhari vowed to bring the killers to justice, and to “wipe out the remaining vestiges” of the terror group. In a ten-year-long insurgency, the jihadists and their affiliates have killed more than 30,000 people, and displaced more than two million, creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

Darfur, Sudan
Unrest worsens: The government of Sudan has promised to send more troops to protect farmers in the Darfur region in response to a surge in violence that has left more than 60 people dead. The UN reported that several villages were attacked by an unidentified group on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of people have died in Darfur since 2003, in fighting between ethnic minority rebels and militia loyal to former President al-Bashir, who was overthrown last year. Last week, the 76-year-old went on trial in Khartoum to face charges stemming from the 1989 military coup that brought him to power.

Da Nang, Vietnam
Covid evacuations: Vietnam began evacuating 80,000 people, most of them local tourists, from the coastal city of Da Nang this week after three residents tested positive for coronavirus over the weekend. The evacuation involved flying people to 11 other Vietnamese cities, and was expected to take several days. Vietnam, which was praised for its response to the pandemic and has recorded no Covid-19 deaths, returned to high alert on Saturday after confirming its first community infections since April. It remains closed to foreign tourists.

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