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Military’s Influence Casts a Shadow Over Pakistan’s Election

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, New York Times

Military’s Influence Casts a Shadow Over Pakistan’s Election

The phone calls started last month, said Rana Iqbal Siraj: anonymous demands that he defect from the party that governed Pakistan for the past five years and tried to curb the power of the military. Siraj, a candidate for the legislature, stayed with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. In June, security officials raided his business at the behest of the military, Siraj said. Siraj and fellow party members said the aim of the raid was to weaken the former governing party’s chances by forcing its candidates to defect ahead of national elections Wednesday that are shaping up to be a referendum on the military and its interference in Pakistan’s democracy.

In Duterte’s Philippines, Having a Beer Can Land You in Jail

Edwin Panis, 45, was drinking beer with friends near his shack. Moments later, he and three friends were under arrest. Their offense: drinking beer in public. Two years into President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, after thousands of killings by police officers and vigilantes in his crackdown on narcotics, the government’s campaign against crime has taken a new turn. Last month, he authorized the national police to start arresting people for infractions like drinking in the streets, public urination or even being outdoors without a shirt. Since then, more than 50,000 people have been rounded up for such minor offenses.

Russia Seeks Release of Suspected Agent and Presses a Post-Summit Agenda

Russia’s foreign minister told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday that charges against a woman accused of infiltrating U.S. political organizations as a covert Russian agent were “fabricated” and that she should be released. The Department of Justice has charged the woman, Maria Butina, with acting as an unregistered agent of Russia. The call came after a week in which Moscow seemed to move forward with what officials said were “agreements” reached at Monday’s summit between President Vladimir Putin and President Donald Trump. With Trump slow to offer an account of his closed-door discussion with Putin, details have instead flowed from Moscow on issues involving the security of Israel and the wars in Syria and Ukraine.

A New Battle for Guadalcanal, This Time With China

The last time Guadalcanal concerned itself with a takeover, 60,000 U.S. troops were fighting Japanese soldiers for control of the island in one of the fiercest battles of World War II. Now, this stretch of jungle — a linchpin of the Australian-American alliance — has become the stage for a new cold war of strategic competition. After years of unchecked Chinese investment and immigration throughout the South Pacific, Australia and the United States are stepping up efforts across the region — warning local officials against relying too much on China, and pushing to compete with more aid, infrastructure and diplomacy.

Brazil’s Military Strides Into Politics, by the Ballot or by Force

Members of Brazil’s armed forces, who have largely stayed out of political life since the end of the military dictatorship 30 years ago, are making their biggest incursion into politics in decades. Retired generals and other former officers with strong ties to the military leadership are mounting an election campaign, backing about 90 military veterans running for an array of posts — including the presidency — in national elections this October. The effort is necessary, they argue, to rescue the nation from a leadership that has mismanaged the economy, failed to curb violence and stolen billions of dollars through corruption.

A Race to Save a Majestic Symbol of Lebanon

After centuries of human depredation, the cedars of Lebanon face another threat: climate change, which could wipe out most of the country’s remaining cedar forests by the end of the century. As temperatures rise, the cedars’ ecological comfort zone is moving up the mountains to higher altitudes, chasing the cold winters they need to reproduce. Some scholars say that if the climate warms at the rates expected, cedars will be able to thrive only at the northern tip of the country by 2100. Lebanon’s densest cedar forest, the Tannourine Cedars Forest Nature Reserve, has lost more than 7 percent of its trees to insect infestations unknown before 1997.

Australians Protest Five Years of Offshore Detention Policy

Thousands protested in cities across Australia on Saturday to mark five years of a policy under which asylum-seekers and migrants have been turned away and detained on remote Pacific islands for years. Messages were read aloud from those still languishing in deteriorating conditions on the islands. Since 2013, anyone trying to reach Australia by boat has been sent for processing to Manus, which is part of Papua New Guinea, and Nauru. In 2013, Kevin Rudd, then the prime minister of Australia, unveiled a policy that barred the migrants from being settled as refugees in Australia as part of a resettlement arrangement with Papua New Guinea.

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