Hong Kong protestors gathered in multiple demonstrations to oppose a controversial extradition bill to China, leading to its indefinite suspension, while there were advances to same-sex rights in Botswana and Ecuador. In Hong Kong, a protest of one million protestors was followed by an additional one, leading Chief Executive Carrie Lam to announce an indefinite suspension of the proposed extradition bill. In Botswana, the high court overturned a colonial-era law criminalising same-sex relations, and in Ecuador the highest court approved same-sex marriage in a five-to-four vote. This comes in the same week that the supreme court of Brazil voted to criminalise homophobia, and a week after Bhutan decriminalised homosexuality, by voting to repeal provisions saying that “unnatural sex” is illegal. Continue reading
Special counsel Robert Mueller, after nearly two years of investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, completed his investigation. Attorney General William Barr announced the submission of the confidential report, and Mr. Barr’s key summaries of the report include: No evidence of conspiracy, no more recommendations of indictment, and that while Mr. Mueller “does not conclude” that President Donald Trump committed a crime, he “does not exonerate him” either. “Everybody is losing but feels like they’re winning”, as some are disappointed that Mr. Trump was not charged with a crime, while others notch this as a Trump victory. Continue reading
North Korea and South Korea agreed to march together under a unified Korean flag at the Winter Olympics, which will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea next month. This follows a series of recent breakthroughs between the two countries – which are technically still at war, given that no peace treaty was signed after the end of the Korean War in 1953 – including the first inter-Korean talks in more than two years, North Korea’s offer to send a high-ranking delegation next month, and also the sending of a 140-strong orchestra to perform at the games. This eagerness for North Korea to participate could be contextualised by its bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 in 1987 (which killed all 115 on board), in the lead-up to the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, which was intended to frighten international teams from participating.
These moves, however, have sparked “a sharp public backlash” in South Korea, causing President Moon Jae-in’s approval rating to fall. Continue reading