World this week


Wednesday, August 9th, 2017


 

The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved tough new sanctions to punish North Korea for its escalating nuclear and missile programs including a ban on coal and other exports worth over $1 billion — a huge bite in its total exports, valued at $3 billion last year.

 

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley called the resolution “the single largest economic sanctions package ever leveled against the North Korean regime” and “the most stringent set of sanctions on any country in a generation.” But she warned that it is not enough and “we should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem — not even close.”

 

The U.S.-drafted resolution, negotiated with North Korea’s neighbor and ally China, is aimed at increasing economic pressure on Pyongyang to return to negotiations on its nuclear and missile programs — a point stressed by all 15 council members in speeches after the vote.

 

But the question does remain: do sanctions make any difference at all, to states gone rogue (or designated so)?

 

The extraordinary descent into bedlam in Venezuela under Nicolas Maduro continued to flare. A newly installed constitutional assembly ousted the country’s defiant chief prosecutor, a sign that Maduro’s embattled government intends to move swiftly against critics and consolidate power amid a fast-moving political crisis.

 

Cries of “traitor” and “justice” erupted from the stately, neo-classical salon where 545 pro-government delegates voted unanimously to remove Luisa Ortega from her post as the nation’s top law enforcement official and replace her with a staunch government supporter.

 

They said they were acting in response to a ruling by the government-stacked Supreme Court, which banned Ortega from leaving the country and froze her bank accounts while it weighs criminal charges against her for alleged irregularities.

 

Ortega, a longtime loyalist who broke with the socialist government in April, refused to recognize the decision and vowed to continue defending the rights of Venezuelans from Maduro’s “coup” against the constitution “with my last breath.”

 

Usain Bolt’s farewell party was spoiled by a pair of Americans. The Jamaican great finished third in his final 100-meter race, with Justin Gatlin and Christian Coleman taking gold and silver Saturday at the world championships.

 

In a tight finish, Bolt was punished for a terrible start and Gatlin fought back to nip everyone at the line in 9.92 seconds. Coleman took silver in 9.94 seconds while Bolt got bronze in 9.95. Because of his doping past, Gatlin was booed in London before and after the race, even though almost his first act upon winning the race was to bow at the feet of the enormously popular Jamaican,

 

It was an amazing turnaround for Gatlin, who was the Olympic champion in 2004 before Bolt emerged and won an unprecedented three straight 100-meter titles at the Olympics. Thirteen years later, Gatlin bounced back to win in the fastest man ever’s last individual race. In hindsight, that incredible hattrick in Rio should have been it. Yet the anti-climax should take nothing away from a career steeped in pinnacles.

 

The French president’s wife, Brigitte Macron, will not be given an official “first lady” title or her own budget, the French government has said following a petition against a proposed change to her status. A “transparency charter” will be published in the next few days to clarify the position of Emmanuel Macron’s wife, but presidential aides insist her role will be strictly public and not political.

 

The Élysée has made no official announcement, but officials were forced to react after the petition opposed to the president’s spouse having an official title, status and budget was signed by more than 275,000 people in two weeks. During his election campaign, Macron promised to “clarify” his wife’s role to “end the hypocrisy” over the situation. One of Macron’s first actions after taking power was to set up a working party to examine the “first lady” position.

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