The World Today for August 03, 2021

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NEED TO KNOW

PERU

Hats, White and Black

Peruvians living in the Andean town of Niño Jesús de Huarapite feel as if nobody in the capital of Lima is in their corner. Many remember how Peruvian troops and US-trained counterterrorism forces perpetrated a massacre in the town to quash a Maoist insurgency in the 1980s. Today, with little economic development since then, most survive on a meager diet of potatoes harvested from the hills.

“The resentment here is that the whole world eats well, and we do not, and nobody remembers us,” resident Liez Quispe told the Washington Post.

It’s no wonder that the vast majority of people of Niño Jesús de Huarapite voted for Pedro Castillo, the leftist who was recently declared the winner of a June 6 runoff election, the BBC reported. The cowboy hat-wearing Castillo became a public figure in the South American country after he led a successful teachers’ strike in 2017. On the campaign trail, he vowed to nationalize the country’s mining and hydrocarbon sectors as part of a plan to create 1 million new jobs. Peru is the second-largest copper producer in the world. But poverty has increased significantly since the pandemic hit and more than one-third of Peruvians struggle to eat.

“I ask for effort and sacrifice in the struggle to make this a just and sovereign country,” he said after he was declared the winner, according to the Guardian.

Castillo defeated Keiko Fujimori, a conservative candidate who suggested that Castillo wanted to transform Peru into a mismanaged, economically struggling communist country like Cuba or Venezuela, the Financial Times explained. She is the daughter of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, who is currently serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses.

His background is decidedly humbler. A former teacher born into a family of peasant farmers, he lives in a “humble two-story, adobe home” in a poor Andean town, the Associated Press wrote. His wife intends to bring vegetables they grow themselves and cheese made from their cows’ milk to Lima, the capital.

The new president faces structural political challenges. Competition between the president and lawmakers, corruption scandals and other crises have led to Peru having four presidents in the last five years. An elite backlash against Castillo’s leftist program and anti-democratic elements that he espoused before the election suggest Peruvian democracy is under threat, Foreign Policy magazine argued.

For example, a coalition of Castillo’s opponents have taken control of Peru’s Congress after officials rejected the candidacies of members of Castillo’s political party, Free Peru, Reuters wrote. Gridlock could ensue. But, according to Al Jazeera, Castillo has pledged to run a “pluralistic” government in a bid to reduce ideological tensions.

If that’s what it takes to help Liez Quispe, so be it.

WANT TO KNOW

ISRAEL

Let’s Make a Deal

Palestinian families facing eviction rejected a proposal by Israel’s Supreme Court to delay their ejection from a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, the latest development in a saga that recently sparked deadly clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Washington Post reported Monday.

The court offered a compromise in which the four Palestinian families living in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood would recognize the Jewish settlers seeking their eviction as their legal landlords. In return, the families would receive a special status that would shield them from eviction for an uncertain number of years.

The case has been a main point of contention between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the strategically critical neighborhood that connects East Jerusalem with the Old City in a dispute that has dragged on for decades.

Jewish settlers called the case a real estate issue while Palestinian residents see the issue as another attempt to “Judaize” Jerusalem and carry out ethnic cleansing against Palestinians.

In May, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli police in Sheikh Jarrah – which Jewish settlers refer to as Nahalat Shimon – over the planned evictions. The violence escalated to an 11-day conflict between the Israeli military and Hamas, killing 12 people in Israel and at least 250 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Aviv Tatarsky of the left-leaning Israeli nonprofit Ir Amim said the current eviction case is one of the latest examples of a wave of evictions against Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which intensified during the administrations of President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

He noted that the settler groups still feel they have the “green light” to pursue evictions despite a change of government in the US and Israel.

ZAMBIA

Desperate Measures

Zambian President Edgar Lungu deployed the military this week to end the political violence that has gripped the southern African nation ahead of the Aug. 12 elections, Agence France-Presse reported.

Clashes between supporters of the ruling Patriotic Front (PF) and the opposition United Party for National Development (UPND) have been reported in the capital, Lusaka, and other parts of the country.

The violence comes despite a ban by the Electoral Commission on rallies as part of measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Analysts and civil rights advocates, however, condemned Lungu’s move as “draconian” and an act of desperation. They said that the situation in the country is not so dire that it requires the army’s intervention.

Others suggest that the deployment is a “desperate measure to scare voters.”

Lungu is running for a second term in next week’s elections as the copper-rich nation battles economic woes.

Amnesty International has accused his administration of becoming increasingly intolerant toward dissent since Lungu replaced President Michael Sata following his death in 2014.

MALAYSIA

A Politician and a Virus

Malaysian police blocked opposition lawmakers from marching in front of the country’s parliament Monday, amid rising political tensions over the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, Al Jazeera reported.

Dozens of politicians, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his rival Anwar Ibrahim, took part as demonstrators requested the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

They lambasted Muhyiddin’s policies in curbing the spread of the virus and for postponing a parliamentary “special session” last week: Lawmakers were set to meet in a crucial session after a months-long shutdown due to Covid-19. However, the government ordered the session postponed for another two weeks after the discovery of Covid-19 cases among parliamentary staff and lawmakers, the Associated Press reported.

Politicians criticized the move as an attempt by the prime minister to avoid a vote of no-confidence.

Muhyiddin has been under constant pressure since he was appointed in March 2020 after internal disputes – and power grabs – resulted in the collapse of the previous government. The prime minister convinced King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah that he had the necessary support from lawmakers to govern but has faced regular calls to prove his majority.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases has increased in Malaysia despite a strict, ongoing lockdown: Public anger has risen as the number of confirmed cases has topped one million. About 9,000 have died.

About 20 percent of Malaysians have been fully vaccinated.

DISCOVERIES

Street Samurai

Japan’s samurai class, abolished in the mid-19th century, is remembered for its fierce and fearless warriors with a strong honor code.

Today, a new breed of samurai have emerged with the mission to clean up Japan’s streets of litter, according to France 24,

For 13 years, street performers “Gomi Hiroi Samurai” – Litter Collecting Samurai – have been picking up trash on the streets of Tokyo while performing as the once-renowned warriors.

The environmentally conscious group said that littering remains a problem not just in Japan but also around the world.

“We hope that our performances can help clean the streets, raise awareness about the problem while bringing lots of joy to people as well,” said Nakagawara, the manager of the group.

Wielding trash tongs and carrying bins on their backs, the samurai have become a sensation on social media with their performance.

Nakagawara said that the littering problem has worsened during the coronavirus pandemic because many people have been throwing masks and other disposable objects on the ground.

Even so, the group maintains that it doesn’t aim to punish perpetrators but their habits. That’s a softer approach than the government’s punishment of up to five years in prison or a fine of nearly $91,000 for throwing trash on the ground.

Although the samurai performers are volunteers, they hope to make the Litter Collecting Samurai a full-time profession in the future.

COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest numbers worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US: 35,131,438 (+0.37%)
  2. India: 31,726,507 (+0.10%)
  3. Brazil: 19,953,501 (+0.08%)
  4. Russia: 6,230,482 (+0.37%)
  5. France: 6,218,526 (+0.14%)
  6. UK: 5,929,881 (+0.38%)
  7. Turkey: 5,770,833 (+0.40%)
  8. Argentina: 4,947,030 (+0.23%)
  9. Colombia: 4,801,050 (+0.14%)
  10. Spain: 4,502,983 (+1.26%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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