World News at a Glance
Posted May 4, 2018 9:43 p.m. EDT
Trump’s Talk of U.S. Troop Cuts Unnerves Asian Allies
With diplomacy moving apace to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Northeast Asia is bracing for something few had thought likely just months ago: a reduction or withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. These forces have been the bedrock of the 65-year-old alliance between Seoul and Washington since the 1950-53 Korean War. The news jolted South Korea and Japan, where many are deeply skeptical about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s reported vow to negotiate away his nuclear weapons and fear that President Donald Trump’s “America-first” diplomacy will leave them fending for themselves as China asserts its military prowess.
Mueller’s Investigators Visited Russian Mogul
When the United States sought to punish Russia last month for its election interference and other aggressions, it targeted some of Russia’s wealthiest men, imposing sanctions on those viewed as enriching themselves off President Vladimir Putin’s government. Now it turns out that one of the men, Viktor F. Vekselberg, was also singled out in another of the efforts to confront Russia’s election interference: the investigation led by the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Federal agents working with Mueller stopped Vekselberg at a New York-area airport this year and sought to search his electronic devices and question him, according to people familiar with the matter.
Argentina Raises Key Rate to 40 Percent, Bringing Economic Uncertainty
Since his 2015 election, President Mauricio Macri has pushed to reconnect Argentina to the global financial system, after years of isolation. But over the past week, Argentina has been reminded that when capital is free to flow in, it can also flow out, creating profound economic implications. With foreign investors pulling their money en masse, Argentina’s central bank was forced to take drastic action to stabilize the country’s currency. On Friday, policymakers lifted the benchmark interest rate to 40 percent after days of intervening heavily in financial markets. While it helped settle the markets, the move will weigh on the prospects for the president’s ambitious economic overhaul.
Palestinian Leader Apologizes After Speech Prompts Anti-Semitism Uproar
President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority apologized Friday for any possible offense caused by a speech laced with anti-Semitic tropes, including the claim that the Jews of Europe brought persecution and the Holocaust upon themselves by engaging in usury and banking. The effort at damage control came after international criticism and condemnation and calls for Abbas, who is in his 80s, to resign after his remarks this week to the Palestine National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called Abbas a “Holocaust denier,” and the speech prompted some liberal Israelis to rule Abbas out as a partner for peace.
As Nicaragua Death Toll Grows, Support for Ortega Slips
It has been two weeks since lethal clashes between protesters and pro-government forces erupted in Nicaragua, and the number of deaths is still not clear. But this much is: It keeps climbing. By Friday, the toll of students, counterprotesters, bystanders and police officers who died in five days of student-led demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega’s government had risen to at least 45 and was expected to climb further. Government agencies tightly controlled by Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, have vowed to set up truth commissions and investigations. The challenge is the most critical threat to Ortega’s presidency since he was re-elected in 2007.
Wind Thwarts Plan to Send Flaming Kites From Gaza Into Israel
Gaza’s flaming-kite squadrons had worked for days to prepare for Friday’s protest along the border with Israel, building hundreds of flimsy-framed sails with tails meant to carry crude incendiary devices. Their battle plan was to fly them in swarms into Israel with the aim of igniting the dry fields of the rural communities on the other side of the border fence. They were counting on help from a heavy heat wave to fan the fires. But the plan largely failed because of another quirk of nature: The wind was blowing the other way. Instead, the protesters claimed another aerial victory, saying they had downed two Israeli military surveillance drones.
Citing ‘Crisis of Confidence,’ Academy Calls Off Nobel Literature Prize
Faced with a sexual-abuse scandal, accusations of financial wrongdoing and hints of a cover-up, the Swedish Academy announced Friday that for the first time in 69 years it would postpone awarding the Nobel Prize in literature. The decision to delay the award marked an extraordinary and seamy public reckoning for a 232-year-old cultural organization that has long been admired as one of the world’s most prestigious scholarly bodies — but also criticized as secretive, arbitrary and patriarchal. At the center of the firestorm is a member of the academy and her husband, who is accused of groping, harassing and assaulting at least 18 women over the years.