Dhaka Courier

After heavy-handed measures in the days

After heavy-handed measures in the days after a disputed presidential election failed to produce the intended effect, authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko was seen shifting tactics this week. With the protests now in their third week — including rallies that brought out an estimated 200,000 people in Minsk on the last two Sundays — the 65-year-old president has been moving to squelch the demonstrations gradually with vague promises of reforms mixed with threats, court summonses and the selective jailing of leading activists.

Observers say the moves by Lukashenko to buy some time likely will see him holding onto power for now, although he almost certainly will face more challenges amid a worsening economy and simmering public anger. Throughout his 26-year rule, the former state farm director has maintained Soviet-style controls over the economy and relied on cheap energy and other subsidies from Russia, which has a union agreement with the nation of 9.5 million.

 

Iran finally agreed to grant the UN nuclear watchdog access to two key sites that the US and Israeli intelligence agencies suspect once secretly hosted nuclear material or activities, ending a months-long standoff over the issue. The breakthrough in the dispute over the sites near Karaj and Isfahan was announced in a joint statement by Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency during a visit to Tehran by the agency’s director general, Rafael Grossi.

The move will shore up European support for the nuclear deal signed in 2015, as untrammelled UN access to sites is arguably the cornerstone of the agreement. The European signatories, especially France, put direct pressure on Iran to allow the IAEA access immediately before Grossi’s visit. The US has been running an unsuccessful attempt at the UN to effectively scrap the agreement by reimposing all UN sanctions on Iran.

 

A 17-year-old American was arrested and charged with murder after two people were killed when violence erupted in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after white vigilante-type agitators shot at Black Lives Matter protesters. The suspect has been named in court documents as Kyle Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, 20 miles south-west of Kenosha, where protesters have been marching on the streets demanding justice and reform since police shot and gravely wounded a young Black father, Jacob Blake, on Sunday.

Rittenhouse was taken into custody in Antioch. The day after the killings, Donald Trump announced he was sending federal law enforcement agents to Kenosha, a controversial repeat of recent moves where federal agents were sent to Portland, Oregon, outside normal protocol and against the advice of local elected officials. Police shot Blake, 29, in the back leaving him paralysed and “fighting for his life”, according to his family and lawyers.

 

Between 30% and 50% of the world’s water supply is stolen each year, mainly by agricultural interests and farmers, yet the crime itself is not well understood, according to a new international study led by the University of Adelaide. The lead author, Dr Adam Loch, from the university’s Centre for Global Food and Resources, said there was a lack of data around water theft partly because those stealing the resource were often poor, vulnerable and at-risk in developing countries. “But theft also occurs in the developed world, especially in agricultural settings,” he said.

In a paper published in Nature Sustainability, the researchers developed a framework and model which they applied to three case studies: cotton growing in Australia, marijuana cropping in the US and strawberry growing in Spain. Loch said the study found the drivers of water theft included social attitudes, institutions and future supply uncertainty.

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