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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – NIGER
France and Italy evacuated European citizens from Niger yesterday as the risk of conflict grows. The evacuation comes after Burkina Faso and Mali promised to defend Niger’s new military junta in response to the Economic Community of West African States’ threat to intervene unless the ousted president, Mohamed Bazoum, was returned to office. Declan Walsh, Elian Peltier, and Dionne Searcey report for the New York Times.
The United States has suspended its counterterrorism training with troops in Niger, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said yesterday. However, the removal of President Bazoum has not been labeled a coup. There are no plans to remove the 1,100 U.S. troops stationed in Niger. No evacuation of U.S. citizens has been announced either. Ellen Mitchell reports for The Hill.
As France and the United States cut ties with Niger, Russia may extend its relationship with the junta-led country. Earlier this week, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna blamed an attack on the French Embassy on the junta and Russia, “What we saw was an organized, non-spontaneous, violent, extremely dangerous protest, with Molotov cocktails, Russian flags, anti-French slogans copied and pasted from what we can see elsewhere,” she said. “So all the usual ingredients of destabilization in the Russian-African style.” Noemie Bisserbe, Benoit Faucon and Gabriele Steinhauser reports for the Wall Street Journal.
OTHER GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS
China’s Ministry of State Security, a highly secretive civilian spy agency that oversees intelligence both within China and overseas, launched a public social media campaign to call on “all members of society” to join its fight against espionage. The campaign offers rewards and protection for those who provide information. The move builds on the entrenched narrative that China is under grave threat from “hostile foreign forces.” Chris Lau reports for CNN.
India’s ban on non-basmati white rice exports in July has sparked worries about runaway global rice prices, leading to a rise in global grain prices by up to 15% this year, according to International Monetary Fund chief economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas. The ban will “adversely affect [the] food security of many African nations,” warned Ashok Gulati and Raya Das of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, a Delhi-based think tank. Soutik Biswas reports for BBC News.
Many prisoners detained in Russian-occupied Ukraine were tortured and sexually violated, Mobile Justice Team, a group of experts established by the international humanitarian law firm Global Rights Compliance, said yesterday. The Mobile Justice Team analyzed 320 cases and witness accounts at 35 locations in the Kherson region. “43% [of the victims’ accounts] explicitly mentioned practices of torture in the detention centers, citing sexual violence as a common tactic imposed on them by Russian guards.” Anthony Deutsch reports for Reuters.
Poland yesterday rushed troops to its eastern border with Belarus after accusing Belarus of violating its airspace with military helicopters. While the Polish military initially denied any border violation, it later said the intrusion occurred “at a very low height, hard to intercept by radar.” Belarus denied any violation and accused Poland of fabricating the accusation to justify its military buildup. Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska reports for Reuters.
A Russian drone strike has hit port facilities in the south of Ukraine’s Odesa region, starting fires and damaging grain silos and port infrastructure, authorities say. Jaroslav Lukiv reports for BBC News.
Between 20,000 and 50,000 Ukrainians have had one or more limbs amputated since the start of the war, according to previously undisclosed estimates, nearing the scale of World War I. The rate of amputations may be much higher as it takes time to register patients after they undergo the procedure. Bojan Pancevski reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Taiwan Vice President, and presidential frontrunner, William Lai, will stop in New York and San Francisco in mid-August on his way to and from Paraguay, officials said today. China has previously criticized the planned visit and referred to Lai as a separatist. The top U.S. diplomat in Taiwan urged China not to take “provocative” action in response to the brief visits, describing the transits as routine. Sarah Wu and Yimou Lee report for Reuters.
North Korea today described Julie Turner, the newly confirmed U.S. special envoy to monitor the country’s human rights issues, as a “wicked woman” and warned of unspecified security consequences if the United States continues to criticize its human rights record. North Korea said Turner was nominated by the Biden administration as a “political housemaid” to launch unfounded attacks to tarnish the country’s human rights record. Kim Tong-Hyung reports for AP News.
The United States has invited Wang Yi, China’s newly reappointed foreign minister, according to State Department spokesperson Matt Miller. This invitation was previously made to Qin Gang, who was abruptly removed from his post last week. Miranda Nazzaro reports for The Hill.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump has been charged with plotting to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Trump faces four counts, including conspiracy to defraud the United States, tampering with a witness, and conspiracy against the rights of citizens. Special counsel Jack Smith said the Jan. 6 attack “was an unprecedented assault on the seat of American democracy … fuelled by lies.” Trump is due to appear in court in Washington tomorrow. Max Matza reports for BBC News.
The indictment against former President Trump described six co-conspirators and their actions. While the six have not been named and none have been indicted, descriptions suggest the co-conspirators include Rudy Giuliani, Trump lawyers John Eastman, Sidney Powell, and Kenneth Chesebro, and former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark. Isaac Yu reports for the Wall Street Journal.
District Judge Tanya Chutkan, assigned to preside over former President Trump’s new criminal case, has frequently spoken out in robust terms against the efforts to disrupt the transfer of power in 2020. Chutkan has presided over dozens of Jan. 6 attack cases and has repeatedly exceeded the prison sentences requested by prosecutors. Chutkan has indirectly referenced Trump during Jan. 6 attack criminal sentencings, saying to one defendant that he “did not go to the United States Capitol out of any love for our country … He went for one man.” Hannah Rabinowitz and Marshall Cohen report for CNN.
Read the indictment against former President Trump, as reported by POLITICO.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – IMMIGRATION
More migrants have crossed the dangerous Darién Gap straddling Panama and Colombia so far this year than in all of 2022, as a record number risk that route to reach the United States. Nearly 250,000 people crossed the jungle on foot in 2023, despite international efforts to limit the flow. Vanessa Buschschlüter reports for BBC News.
Illegal crossings along the U.S. southern border increased by more than 30 percent last month, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. Over 130,000 arrests were made along the border in July, up from 99,545 in June. The figures will come as a blow to the Biden administration at a time when its immigration enforcement strategy is facing multiple legal challenges. Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Hundreds of gun control cases litigated in recent months have been chaotic and inconsistent, with lower courts conflicted about how to limit gun rights following the Supreme Court decision last year that gun-control laws of today must have a clear forerunner in regulations around the time of the nation’s founding. “There’s all this picking and choosing of historical evidence,” Judge Gerard Lynch said during a recent argument about a new law in New York that prohibits guns in sensitive places like parks, museums, and bars. Jacob Gershman reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Two Michigan Republicans were charged with felonies yesterday as part of special prosecutor D.J. Hilson’s investigation into the improper acquisition of voting machines. Former attorney general candidate Matthew DePerno was charged with improper possession of a voting machine, conspiracy to possess a voting machine unlawfully, conspiracy to gain unauthorized access to a computer system, and willfully damaging a voting machine. Former state representative Daire Rendon was charged with conspiracy to unlawfully possess a voting machine and using false pretenses with the intent to defraud. Patrick Marley and Aaron Schaffer report for the Washington Post.