16 Jul 2019

Tuesday's world news: what's making the headlines

5:51 pm on 16 July 2019

Trump intensifies battle with Democrat Congresswomen

The four US congresswomen attacked by US President Donald Trump in a series of racially charged tweets have dismissed his remarks as a distraction.

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Photo: AFP

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib urged the US people "not to take the bait" at a Monday press conference.

Mr Trump suggested the four women - all US citizens - "can leave".

He has defended his comments and denied allegations of racism.

Addressing reporters, the four women - known as The Squad - all said the focus should be on policy and not the president's words.

"This is simply a disruption and a distraction from the callous chaos and corrupt culture of this administration, all the way down," Ms Pressley said.

Both Ms Omar and Ms Tlaib repeated their calls for Mr Trump to be impeached.

Their response comes after Mr Trump launched a Twitter tirade on Sunday, telling the four women - three of whom were born in the US and one, Ms Omar, who was born in Somalia - to "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came".

His remarks have been widely condemned as racist and xenophobic.


Read more: Donald Trump steps up attack on 'US-hating' congresswomen

Another barrier erected to those seeking asylum in the US

The Trump administration has unveiled a new rule to bar almost all immigrants from applying for asylum at the southern border, requiring them to first pursue safe haven in a third country through which they had travelled on the way to the United States.

A photo released by US Customs and Border Protection shows migrants who crossed the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas

A photo released by US Customs and Border Protection shows migrants who crossed the US-Mexico border in El Paso, Texas earlier this year. Photo: AP / US Customs and Border Protection

The Department of Homeland Security said the rule would set a "new bar" for immigrants "by placing further restrictions or limitations on eligibility for aliens who seek asylum in the United States."

The American Civil Liberties Union called the new rule "patently unlawful" and vowed to file a lawsuit against it, while a host of experts also questioned its legality.

"The interim regulation violates the clear language of the law in several respects," Stephen Legomsky, a former chief counsel of US Citizenship and Immigration Services, told Reuters in an email.

The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR said it was "deeply concerned" about the measure, saying it would "put vulnerable families at risk" and undermine international efforts to find a coordinated solution.

Designated an "interim final rule," the measure potentially shifts the burden onto poorly equipped countries like Mexico and Guatemala to process asylum claims.

The rule would make it all but impossible for asylum-seekers to gain legal entry to the United States unless they first apply for asylum in a "third country."

The proposed changes represent the latest effort by the Trump administration to crack down on immigration, the signature issue that helped propel Mr Trump to the White House in the 2016 election and one already figuring prominently in the 2020 campaign.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Trump administration had overreached its authority and violated the law.

- Reuters

European nations meet to attempt a salvage of the Iran nuclear deal.

The remaining parties to the Iran nuclear deal do not see Tehran's breaches as significant and do not intend for now to trigger the pact's dispute mechanism, preferring more diplomacy to ease the crisis, according to the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Federica Mogherini and Winston Peters.

Federica Mogherini and Winston Peters at a meeting last year. Photo: RNZ / Gia Garrick

She spoke at the end of an European Union foreign ministers meeting after Britain said there was only a "small window" of time to salvage the deal, while Iran warned it would ramp up uranium enrichment if the EU failed to do more to that end.

US-Iranian tensions have escalated since Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic program in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.

The EU ministers drew no conclusions on what action should next be taken to head off a feared US-Iranian conflict. But by suggesting that Iran's non-compliance was not significant, it could anger the United States, which last week warned it would intensify sanctions on Iran over its breaches, and it did prompt an immediate outcry from Israel, Iran's regional arch-enemy.

- Reuters

Borsi Johnson says he would not back US war with Iran.

Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to become Britain's next Prime Minister, said he would not currently back the United States if it took military action against Iran.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson speaks to the audience as he takes part in a Conservative Party leadership hustings event in Birmingham, central England on June 22, 2019.

Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

"Were I to be prime minister now, would I be supporting military action against Iran? Then the answer is no," Mr Johnson told a leadership debate organised by the Sun newspaper.

US-Iranian tensions have escalated since Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic programme in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.

Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt, who is also Mr Johnson's rival in the contest to be Britain's next leader, said he did not think the United States was looking for war with Iran, nor Tehran looking for war with Washington.

"The risk we have is something different, which is an accidental war, because something happens in a very tense and volatile situation," Mr Hunt told the same debate.

- Reuters

Australian Universities linked to surveillance and 'racial profiling' tech used by China

Two Australian universities are reviewing funding and research approval procedures due to concerns over links to technology that is being used to carry out mass human rights abuses by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang province.

Last night, the ABC revealed that the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is conducting an internal review into its $A10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that Chinese security forces use to track and detain Muslim Uyghur citizens in Xinjiang.

In 2017, UTS signed the lucrative deal with CETC to establish a new research centre, which included projects in artificial intelligence and surveillance.

That same year, the Communist Party began a new incarceration campaign, rounding up, detaining and forcibly indoctrinating Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in Xinjiang.

Islam has effectively been outlawed in the province, with people routinely labelled as extremists and imprisoned for practising their religion.

Human Rights Watch, which revealed the existence of the app and CETC's involvement in its development, welcomed the internal review by UTS.


Devastating rains across North India

More than three million people have been displaced across north and north-eastern India amid monsoon rain that has cost lives and destroyed homes.

Storms and floods have ripped through areas of Nepal, Bangladesh and India, killing more than 130 people.

At least 67 people lost their lives in Nepal in torrential rains, with 38 injured and 30 people still missing.

Heavy rains also caused deaths in Bangladesh, including in overcrowded Rohingya refugee camps. More bad weather is expected in the coming days.

The Brahmaputra River, which flows through India, Bangladesh and China, burst its banks, swamping more than 1800 villages in India's north-east Assam state, Reuters reported on Monday.

Almost two million have been displaced in the northern Indian state of Bihar due to rising flood waters, the government said. More than 1.7 million people in Assam fled their homes.


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