World News at a Glance
Posted January 11, 2018 11:06 p.m. EST
Plastics Pile Up as China Refuses to Take the West’s Recycling
Ever since China announced last year that it no longer wanted to be the “world’s garbage dump,” recycling about half the globe’s plastics and paper products, Western nations have been puzzling over what to do when the ban went into effect Jan. 1. The answer, in Britain at least, is nothing. At least one waste site in London has a buildup of plastic recyclables. Similar backups have been reported in Canada, Ireland, Germany and other European nations. China’s ban, said Steve Frank, of Pioneer Recycling in Oregon, has caused “a major upset of the flow of global recyclables.” He hopes to export waste to Indonesia, India, Vietnam and Malaysia — but “they can’t make up the difference.”
Ecuador Gives Assange Citizenship, Worsening Standoff With Britain
Ecuador announced Thursday that it had granted citizenship to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks co-founder who has been living in the South American country’s London embassy. It came only hours after Britain said it had rejected Ecuador’s request to grant Assange diplomatic immunity so he could leave the embassy. Assange sought refuge in the embassy in 2012 after Sweden sought to have him arrested in connection with rape and assault allegations. Sweden no longer seeks his extradition, but Assange refused to leave. He says he fears Britain would extradite him to the United States to face charges relating to his involvement in releases of documents U.S. officials say damaged national security.
Fighting Rages in Syria’s Last Major Insurgent Stronghold
The U.N. expressed alarm Thursday about a surge of fighting in Syria’s Idlib province, the last major area held by insurgents, where assaults by Russian-backed Syrian forces have put tens of thousands of civilians at risk. U.N. relief officials also called for an urgent humanitarian pause in fighting around Eastern Ghouta, the rebel-held Damascus suburb where roughly 400,000 civilians have been trapped without emergency aid. Jan Egeland, the U.N. adviser on humanitarian affairs in Syria, did not confirm reports by some human rights investigators that government forces and their Russian allies had targeted civilians and hospitals in Idlib, but he said no measures appeared to have been taken to avoid casualties among noncombatants.
U.S. Bombs Afghan Militia Behind Insider Attack, Officials Say
The U.S. military bombed members of an Afghan government militia who were on the front lines of the battle against ISIS in eastern Afghanistan, killing at least 13 after at least one opened fire on U.S. Special Forces soldiers, Afghan officials said Thursday. The episode unfolded in Nangarhar province. Over the past year, Afghan forces, with the help of U.S. Special Forces units and air power, have tried to wipe out the militant group, but it has been an uphill task because the Afghan government has had little control in the area. Members of the provincial council said the militia had possibly been infiltrated by the Taliban.
‘The New Normal’ in Pakistan: A Journalist on the Run From Gunmen
Taha Siddiqui, Pakistan bureau chief of Indian television channel WION, was taking a taxi to the airport Wednesday when he was stopped by a dozen armed men in plainclothes in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. The men dragged him from the cab, hitting and kicking him and threatening to shoot him. He escaped, but the attackers got Siddiqui’s laptop, data drives, phone and passport. While he got away with his life, not everyone has. It has been open season on journalists and critics of Pakistan’s military for years. Disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture — all have been used, and in most cases, no one has ever been brought to justice.
North Korea Praises ‘Fire and Fury’ Book on Trump Administration
Michael Wolff’s book about the Trump administration has been getting mixed reviews from critics and others, but it’s finding praise in one corner: North Korean state media, which says the book’s popularity “foretells Trump’s political demise.” “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House” has apparently made its way to the hermit kingdom, giving more ammunition to a North Korean government already in a raging propaganda war with President Donald Trump. “The anti-Trump book is sweeping all over the world so Trump is being massively humiliated worldwide,” said a commentary in the country’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper, which is run by the ruling Workers’ Party.