The World Today for August 28, 2018

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NEED TO KNOW

SPAIN

Over the Fence

Spain has a wall, or at least a fence. And still they come.

Recently, around 300 African migrants stormed the fence separating Ceuta, a Spanish exclave on Africa’s northern coast, from Morocco, El País reported.

More than 100 of the migrants made it over the 20-foot high fence topped with razor wire, then celebrated by flying the Spanish and European Union flags. Border guards rushed in to stop them but the migrants threw corrosive substances at them, injuring seven, according to euronews.

In a similar clash less than a month earlier, more than 600 men forced their way into the city.

The incidents show that the European migrant crisis is far from over.

The Australian noted that around 1,500 refugees have entered Spain every week this summer – five times more than Italy and three times more than Greece. More than 26,000 migrants and refugees have arrived in the southern European country so far this year, the UN migration agency reported.

Northern Africa and the Middle East – and now, possibly, Turkey – are suffering from economic instability, wars, famine and internecine violence. European territory on the African continent looks attractive to desperate folks who would prefer not to take to the sea in rickety, dangerous boats.

Many of the migrants in the latest clash at Ceuta were given medical attention and legal advice about seeking asylum. But they refused asylum, Spanish officials said, and were quickly shunted back over the border, an approach that Amnesty International has criticized.

“Due to the speed at which it is carried out, it is difficult to guarantee access to a personalized procedure with full guarantees,” the organization told Reuters.

The controversy over Spain’s treatment of migrants is partially a result of Italy closing its border to migrants following the election of nationalist populists who view migrants and the European Union as threatening Italian culture, the New York Times wrote.

Ironically, the Telegraph of Britain pointed out that Italy doesn’t mind taking European money. Italian leaders used around $230,000 in EU funds to redirect at least one refugee-laden ship from Italy to Spain.

Many of the migrants don’t make it. Some Spanish citizens have been burying those who perish in a bid to provide them with dignity.

An Al Jazeera video told the moving story of Samuel Kabamba, a Congolese child who drowned in the Mediterranean 11 days before his fifth birthday. His body washed up in Spain. His mother’s was found on the shore in Algeria.

“As I bury these migrants, I tell them that if they didn’t find a better world down here, I’ll ask God to give them a better life up there,” a gravedigger told the news service.

The migrants aren’t looking for a better life in the hereafter. And many say they didn’t have to die chasing a better life across a sea.

WANT TO KNOW

THE VATICAN

Another Great Schism?

Since his first efforts to loosen the Catholic Church’s position on homosexuality and other traditional beliefs, Pope Francis has faced dogged opposition from more conservative members of the church hierarchy.

Now, though, it looks like the drive for reform may be his downfall – as a former Vatican ambassador has accused him of covering up sexual abuse and demanded that he step down, the Washington Post reported.

“We are a step away from schism,” said Michael Sean Winters, a columnist for the National Catholic Reporter, referring to earlier times when the church fractured. “I think there is a perception among the pope’s critics that there is vulnerability here — on the part of the pope and in the Vatican generally.”

In a 7,000-word letter, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò claimed that Francis, as well as predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, had known for years about abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick, who last month became the first cardinal in nearly a century to resign, the Post said.

Notably, Francis’ critics blame the church’s failure to purge homosexuals from its ranks for the sexual abuse crisis, while others target the vow of celibacy.

ETHIOPIA

Ousted, Then Arrested

Ethiopia arrested the former president of the eastern Somali region on charges of human rights abuses Monday, following his ouster earlier this month.

Abdi Mohammed Omar was arrested in connection with recent ethnic strife that forced thousands to flee the region and left at least 20 people, including five priests, dead, Al Jazeera reported.

In his statement, the attorney general accused Abdi of “stoking disputes along ethnic and religious lines”, according to the Qatar-based news network.

“Hopefully, today’s arrest of Abdi is a start to justice for victims of serious crimes in Ethiopia’s Somali region,” said Maria Burnett, associate director for Human Rights Watch’s Africa division. Earlier, a report by the watchdog group accused Abdi of running a secret jail where suspected separatists were tortured.

Abdi’s arrest is further evidence Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed means to make good on his promise to root out such abuses, which have long been endemic among the Ethiopian security forces. Abiy’s reform-minded government also fired senior regional prison officials last month over accusations of torture.

YEMEN

Careful With Our Bombs

The US has warned Saudi Arabia it may withdraw its support for the war in Yemen if the Saudi-led coalition doesn’t demonstrate a tangible effort to limit civilian casualties.

The Pentagon and the State Department have delivered direct messages to the Saudis about limiting civilian casualties, CNN reported, quoting unnamed officials familiar with the Pentagon’s thinking. “At what point is enough enough?” one official asked, rhetorically.

The warning comes after an airstrike hit a school bus, killing 40 children, earlier this month, amid a series of strikes in which large numbers of civilians were killed. Notably, the weapon used in the bus strike was a 500-pound, laser-guided MK 82 bomb made by Lockheed Martin, an American defense firm.

It remains to be seen whether President Donald Trump would back a withdrawal of US support, and while such a pullout would be a punishment of sorts it would also reduce America’s leverage over the Saudis, CNN said. Notably, Trump rescinded a ban on sales to Saudi Arabia of precision-guided bombs like the MK 82 imposed by former President Barack Obama.

DISCOVERIES

The Big Thaw

At some point over the past 11,000 years, planet Earth started to warm up due to the gradual rise of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.

For years, scientists have hypothesized about why this occurred. Now one team thinks they may have found the answer in the Southern Ocean, near the Antarctic, Princeton University reported.

According to a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience, oceans help store CO2, keeping it out of the atmosphere by driving it downward in a process called the “biological pump.”

But this ability becomes weaker close to the poles, where the gas is vented back to the air by rapid exposure of deep waters to the surface.

The worst offender is the Southern Ocean, said study co-author Daniel Sigman. “We often refer to the Southern Ocean as a leak in the biological pump.”

Sigman and his colleagues believe an increase in upwellings in the Southern Ocean could be responsible for stabilizing the climate in the current geological period, allowing humans to thrive, increase their agricultural activities and build civilizations.

As for the current climate situation, Sigman hopes that by analyzing this big thaw, scientists will be better able to “forecast changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide and thus in global climate.”

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