World News at a Glance
Posted May 31, 2018 9:57 p.m. EDT
Amid Progress Toward Meeting With Trump, Kim Is Invited to Visit Putin
President Donald Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, voiced optimism Thursday about efforts to reinstate a canceled summit meeting with Kim Jong Un of North Korea. But Kim also welcomed a top Russian official to Pyongyang, offering a reminder that competing powers could still buffet the White House’s effort to salvage the meeting. It would be “nothing short of tragic to let this opportunity go to waste,” Pompeo said after discussions with Kim Yong Chol, the former North Korean intelligence chief and top nuclear arms negotiator. “If these talks are successful, they will truly be historic.”
Rajoy Government Veers Toward Collapse in Spain
Spain’s government was on the brink of collapse Thursday as opponents of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy appeared to have mustered enough support to oust him in a parliamentary no-confidence vote stemming from a corruption scandal. The choice for Rajoy was increasingly stark: jump first and resign his post, or wait to be pushed out Friday when Parliament was scheduled for a vote he seemed nearly certain to lose. Either outcome would mean a change of leadership for Spain and would send the country sooner or later to new elections.
Lithuania and Romania Complicit in CIA Prisons, European Court Says
The European Court of Human Rights censured Lithuania and Romania Thursday for their complicity in the CIA’s torture program, saying the two European nations had hosted secret prisons where the CIA interrogated terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks. The twin rulings by the court in Strasbourg, France, centered on two men who since 2006 have been held at the U.S. military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The court rejected Lithuania’s and Romania’s arguments that insufficient evidence existed to prove that the two detainees had been held on their soil or that their governments knew about the matter.
Amazon Rankles Australian Customers by Pushing Them to a Local Site
Amazon’s decision to deny Australians access to its main website has set off a backlash in the country, with customers complaining they may face big price increases and a loss of access to sorely needed products. The e-commerce giant made the move in response to changes to Australian tax law that will require online retailers to charge a 10 percent goods and services tax on products sold and shipped from overseas. That tax currently only applies to items bought overseas costing more than $1,000. In an email to customers, Amazon said Australians would be redirected to the amazon.com.au site starting July 1 to ensure that the tax was applied.
Populists Antagonistic to Europe Get Nod to Take the Reins in Italy
Two Italian populist parties with a history of antagonism toward the European Union received approval Thursday to create a government that has unsettled the Continent’s political order and promises a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigration. Only days ago, President Sergio Mattarella of Italy rejected a populist government over concerns about a proposed finance minister who had helped write a guide for withdrawing Italy from the euro. The political chaos and sudden uncertainty about the euro helped send global financial markets reeling. On Thursday, the populists reshuffled, keeping the same prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, and other top players, but moving the objectionable finance minister to a less critical post.
A Mother’s Day Protest in Nicaragua Ends With at Least 15 Dead
At least 15 people were killed during protests this week in Nicaragua, raising the death toll of the nation’s six-week political uprising to about 100, human rights activists said Thursday. The latest killings took place at a march Wednesday attended by hundreds of thousands of people on Nicaragua’s Mother’s Day. It was held to honor the mothers of students killed at previous rallies. A leading Roman Catholic bishop called it a “massacre,” and the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, which had been mediating a national dialogue between the opposition and the government, abruptly ended the peace talks.
U.N. Reaches Initial Deal on Rohingya
Myanmar’s government announced Thursday it had reached an agreement with the United Nations that would be a first step toward the possible return of Rohingya Muslims to the country. Beginning in August, about 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine state for Bangladesh in the most urgent exodus of humanity in a generation. The Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, were escaping a military campaign of slaughter, rape and the burning of their villages. While an agreement with the United Nations is a precondition for any meaningful repatriation of Rohingya to Myanmar, even the office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees cautioned that “conditions are not conducive for voluntary return yet.”