World News at a Glance
Posted July 22, 2018 8:39 p.m. EDT
Israel Aids Evacuation of ‘White Helmets’ and Their Families in Syria
Israel has facilitated the evacuation of hundreds of rescue workers, known as the White Helmets, and their families from an embattled pocket of southern Syria, helping them travel through Israeli-held territory to reach Jordan, Israeli and Jordanian officials said Sunday. The move followed a push by Western countries including the United States to protect members of the White Helmets, volunteer emergency workers who rush to the scene of airstrikes in civilian areas. The evacuation came as Syrian government forces, which are supported by Russia and Iran, have been seizing areas held by Western-backed rebels seeking to oust President Bashar Assad of Syria.
U.S. Threatens to Abandon a Plan B for the Mideast: Rebuilding Gaza
Five months ago, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, began quietly shifting his focus from brokering a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians to tackling the dire humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza. Now, with Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza in a fresh cycle of violence, Kushner and his partner in Middle East peacemaking, Jason D. Greenblatt, are threatening to pull the plug on Plan B. Declaring that no foreign investors are willing to pour money into Gaza during what they label a Hamas-driven conflict, Kushner and Greenblatt are rethinking their efforts to rebuild Gaza’s economy.
Israelis Demand Same-Sex Surrogacy Rights
Waving rainbow flags and pushing strollers, tens of thousands of Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his right-wing, religious coalition Sunday after it blocked an effort to extend surrogacy rights to same-sex couples. “This is the 21st century,” said Itzik Shmuli, a gay lawmaker from the Zionist Union party. “People are not seated at the back of the bus because of the color of their skin, and they will not be deprived of the right to be parents because of their orientation.” The government extended surrogacy rights to single women, but rejected an amendment that would have included same-sex couples.
Accused of Rape and Torture, Exiled Afghan Vice President Returns
After more than a year in exile, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum returned to his native Afghanistan on Sunday facing criminal charges of rape and kidnapping, as well as accusations of brutality, human rights abuses and killing his first wife. Dostum also remains the country’s first vice president. Waiting to greet him Sunday at Kabul’s international airport was a government delegation and, apparently, a suicide bomber, who detonated explosives at the traffic circle at the airport's exit, killing 20 people, including nine members of a security detail assigned to Dostum, and wounding 90 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the suicide attack.
Russia Unfurls Its Own ‘Fake News’ Bill
Russia, which U.S. intelligence agencies said spread its fair share of misinformation during the 2016 U.S. election, says it will crack down on “fake news” at home, with a proposed law that critics say could limit freedom of speech on the internet. The bill, submitted by lawmakers from the governing party, United Russia, proposes holding social networks accountable for “inaccurate” comments users post. Under the proposed rule, part of a creeping crackdown on digital rights under President Vladimir Putin, websites with more than 100,000 daily visitors and a commenting feature must take down factually inaccurate posts or face a fine of up to 50 million rubles, about $800,000.
Spain’s Popular Party Elects a Hard-Liner, to Replace Rajoy
Spain’s opposition Popular Party has elected Pablo Casado to replace Mariano Rajoy as its leader, choosing a hard-liner who wants to stop the Socialist government from making concessions to Catalan separatists and from legalizing euthanasia. Casado, 37, won a runoff vote Saturday against Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, a former deputy prime minister who had served under Rajoy, who was ousted as prime minister after losing a confidence vote in Parliament in early June. During his campaign to lead the Popular Party, Casado criticized the new Socialist government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez for offering to negotiate with the recently appointed Catalan government in Barcelona.
In South Africa’s ‘Mafia-Like’ Taxi Industry, 11 Die in Latest Attack
The minibus taxi was traveling down a rural road in eastern South Africa on Saturday night when gunmen opened fire, killing 11 people and critically injuring four. The victims were all drivers for a Johannesburg minibus taxi association, said Brig. Vishnu Naidoo, a national police spokesman — the latest casualties in a decadeslong battle over taxi routes that has claimed hundreds of lives. The drivers had been returning from a colleague’s funeral. "Large parts of the industry have begun to look very Mafia-like, where you defend and expand your business turf through the use of violence,” said Mark Shaw, director of the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Nicaragua Clergy Siding With Protesters Against Ortega
Nicaragua’s senior Catholic clergy linked arms and pressed through a hostile, pro-government crowd screaming “murderers.” As they reached the basilica with a dozen people trapped inside, some of the mob burst in behind them. In the scuffle, somebody slashed Managua’s auxiliary bishop, Monsignor Silvio José Báez, in the arm. Eventually, the shoving ended and the clerics brought out the group — paramedics and Franciscan missionaries who had sought safety from the crowd. The Roman Catholic Church is on the front lines of an escalating conflict between the increasingly authoritarian government of President Daniel Ortega and the broad-based opposition that wants him gone.