World News at a Glance
Posted May 30, 2018 9:34 p.m. EDT
Battle to Stamp Out Islamic State in Syria Gains New Momentum, but Threats Remain
A stalled U.S.-backed ground offensive to wipe out the last pockets of Islamic State militants in eastern Syria has been reignited over the past month with the return of top Kurdish commanders. But the campaign may have only little more than six months to hunt down the few hundred fighters — not enough time to extinguish a threat that is quickly moving underground. The new momentum remains imperiled by President Donald Trump’s on-again, off-again threat to withdraw some 2,000 U.S. troops in Syria, including hundreds of Special Operations advisers and commandos.
A Worldwide Scramble to Pull Off a Trump and Kim Summit
Ever since President Donald Trump pulled out of planned talks with Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, officials from both countries have been scrambling to salvage the summit meeting. Kim Yong Chol, one of Kim Jong Un’s most trusted aides, arrived in New York on Wednesday for talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Kim is the highest-ranking North Korean official to visit the United States in 18 years. Analysts believe that Pompeo will seek to clarify the North’s position on its nuclear program, which may have gotten muddled during Pompeo’s two visits to Pyongyang.
‘Dead’ Russian Journalist Appears at a News Conference in Ukraine
A dissident Russian journalist said to have been murdered earlier this week walked into a news conference on Wednesday that Ukrainian security officials had called to discuss his “murder.” The staged death, said Vasily S. Gritsak, the head of the Ukraine Security Service, was a sting operation aimed at stopping a real assassination plot. Both the story of Arkady Babchenko’s death and that of his resurrection garnered enormous attention around the world. Various voices, especially from the world of journalism, called the ploy a bad idea in an era when battling fake news has become a daily problem.
A Putin Critic Live-Tweets His Arrest in Spain
Bill Browder, a London-based investor who has styled himself as a nemesis of President Vladimir Putin of Russia, documented the latest episode in his 13-year game of cat and mouse with the Russian government, live-tweeting his brief arrest by the Spanish police Wednesday. Russia has repeatedly requested Browder’s arrest through Interpol, but its requests have been refused repeatedly. A spokesman for the Spanish national police said that Browder had been detained in error and that police in Madrid realized the international warrant was no longer valid only after he had been taken into custody.
Hamas Declares Cease-Fire With Israel After a Day of Fighting
Hamas unilaterally declared a cease-fire with Israel on Wednesday, ushering in a fragile calm along the Gaza border after a short but intense round of fighting and easing the prospect of an imminently broader conflict. In response, Israeli officials signaled that the government was willing to end this round, saying it would act only in response to fire from the Gaza Strip. The announcement by Hamas came after nearly 24 hours of cross-border blows, in what was the fiercest exchange since the 50-day war in the summer of 2014.
Italy’s Populists May Give Talks Another Shot, as Uncertainty Lingers
If at first, or second, you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. That was the lesson from Italy’s populist parties Wednesday. After the collapse of their attempt to form a government earlier this week, they were giving it another go. President Sergio Mattarella had only days ago called on Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund official, to form a technical government to guide Italy to a new election. But Cottarelli apparently decided to hold off to see if the parties that won a majority of the votes in March could find a way out of their impasse.
He Fled the Ash That Buried Pompeii, Only to Be Crushed by a Rock
The man, believed to be in his 30s, was fleeing the spectacular explosion of Mount Vesuvius that buried the Italian city of Pompeii in A.D. 79. But he had an infection of the tibia that may have made walking difficult, and he did not get very far. Officials at the Pompeii archaeological site announced Tuesday that they had found the man’s remains, almost 2,000 years after he died. The man died not buried in pumice and ash, but by decapitation from a large block of stone that had most likely been propelled through the air by volcanic gases.