ONS: 20 March 2018

by TRG Alerts Admin on March 21, 2018

KEY STORYLINES

  • AFRICA: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has suspended the head of the tax service ahead of “disciplinary proceedings” as he vows to fight graft following his predecessor Jacob Zuma’s ousting.
  • AMERICAS: US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring any US-based financial transactions involving Venezuela’s new petro cryptocurrency.
  • ASIA: The US and South Korea will resume joint military drills next month, despite US President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
  • EUROPE: In Norway, justice minister Sylvi Listhaug announced her resignation, averting a potential vote of confidence in the government, after a controversial Facebook post.
  • MIDDLE EAST:  Islamic State fighters holding the small district of al-Qadam in Damascus have gained some ground after driving out Syrian army units, killing 36 soldiers.
  • TECHNOLOGY:  Facebook’s chief of security said his role has shifted to focusing on election security, due to the platform being used to spread bogus news and manipulate voters.

TOP STORY

  • France: Former President Sarkozy in police custody, questioned.
    • Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was taken into police custody for questioning over allegations that he received campaign funding from the late Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.
    • It is apparently the first time in the five-year probe that Sarkozy has been questioned specifically about Gaddhafi.
    • In 2016, the case gained traction when French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he delivered suitcases from Libya containing USD 6.2M in cash to Sarkozy and his former chief of staff Claude Gueant.
    • An investigation has been underway since 2013 into the case, involving funding for his winning 2007 presidential campaign.
    • A former minister and close ally of Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police in relation to the Libya investigation.
    • Coverage: AP, AP-2, BBC, NPR, Reuters

AFRICA

  • Mali: At least eight civilians have died in clashes between the Fulani and Dogon ethnic groups in the country’s central desert region. (AFP)
  • South Africa:  President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the head of the tax service ahead of “disciplinary proceedings” as he vows to fight graft. (AFP)
  • South Sudan: The government slammed the UN Security Council decision to extend the UN Mission for another one year, terming it a clear hunt for regime change. (Xinhua)

AMERICAS

  • Region: US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring any US-based financial transactions involving Venezuela’s new petro cryptocurrency. (Reuters)
  • United States: A package believed to be bound for Austin exploded at a Texas FedEx facility, with no casualties. (WP)
  • Venezuela: State oil company PDVSA oil executive Jesus Luongo was arrested for alleged corruption. (Reuters)

ASIA

  • Afghanistan: Islamic State’s local affiliate claimed responsibility for a bombing outside a sports stadium in Nangarhar province that killed three people and wounded 10. (AP)
  • China: The country responded to the threat of a massive US tariffs by vowing to further open its own markets to foreign trade and investment. (WP)
  • Korean Peninsula: The US and South Korea will resume joint military drills next month, despite US President Donald Trump’s planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (Reuters)
  • Maldives: An emergency imposed in the country after a court ordered the release of jailed politicians will be allowed to expire on 22MAR. (AP)

EUROPE

  • Region: Moscow is awaiting nearly two dozen Russian diplomats ordered to leave Britain as part of a standoff over a nerve agent attack on British soil. (AP)
  • Macedonia: A court overturned the more than decade-old terrorism convictions of 10 ethnic Albanian men, over a mine attack on a NATO vehicle. (AP)
  • Norway: Justice minister Sylvi Listhaug announced her resignation, averting a potential vote of confidence in the government, after a controversial Facebook post. (AFP)
  • Turkey: The UN called on the country to end the state of emergency that it said had led to massive human rights violations including the arrest of 160,000 people. (Reuters)

MIDDLE EAST

  • Iraq: India confirmed that 39 Indians believed kidnapped by militants in the country in 2014 were dead after their bodies were found. (Reuters)
  • Syria: The total number of civilians evacuated from the eastern Ghouta district since the start of a humanitarian operation has risen to 79,702. (Reuters)
  • Syria: Islamic State fighters holding the small district of al-Qadam in Damascus gained some ground after driving out Syrian army units, killing 36 soldiers. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia: Billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal says all is forgiven after his three-month detention in an anti-corruption crackdown, dismissing speculation he had forfeited control of his assets in exchange for his freedom. (AFP)

TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS

  • Communication: Facebook’s chief of security’s role is now focusing on election security, due to the platform being used to spread bogus news and manipulate voters. (AFP)

WORLD

  • Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone Eliakim
    • Location: 390 NM S-SW of St. Denis, La Reunion
    • Wind: 50 mph
    • Movement: S-SE at 11 mph
    • Map
  • Cyclones: Tropical Cyclone Marcus
    • Location: 276 NM N of Broome, Australia
    • Wind: 120 mph
    • Movement: W at 17 mph
    • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to Report
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to Report
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to Report
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • Chikungunya Virus Disease (CHIK)
      • Suspected Cases as of 20JAN: 61,613 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, and Venezuela)
        • Suspected Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 349,936
      • Confirmed Cases as of 20JAN: 123,087 (Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, México, Nicaragua, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin (French part), and Venezuela)
        • Confirmed Cases (01JAN16-31DEC16): 152,250
      • Deaths as of 20JAN: 101 (Brazil, Ecuador)
        • Deaths (01JAN16-31DEC16): 172
        • Deaths (01JAN15-31DEC15): 91 (Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Puerto Rico)
      • Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2, CDC, CDC-2
    • Novel Coronavirus (MERS-CoV, SARS-related)
      • Cases as of 05MAR: 2,143 (Saudi Arabia (KSA), Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the United Kingdom (UK), France, Tunisia, Italy, Oman, Kuwait, Yemen, Malaysia, Greece, Egypt, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Iran, Algeria, Austria, Turkey, The Philippines, Germany, China, South Korea, and the US)
        • Deaths as of 05MAR: 750 (Saudi Arabia, France, Qatar, United Kingdom, UAE, Oman, South Korea)
      • Sourcing: WHO, WHO-2.

TOMORROW’S OUTLOOK (21MAR)

  • Global: International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – 1979
  • Global: World Poetry Day – 1999
  • Global: International Day of Nowruz – 2010
  • Global: World Down Syndrome Day – 2011
  • Global: International Day of Forests – 2012
  • Belgium: EU Economic Affairs to announce new taxes on digital firms such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter
  • Namibia: Independence Day – 1990
  • Netherlands: Municipal elections

END

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