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Weekly News Digest for October 15, 2021

Compiled by Alex Barrett, Trinity Gates, Dinah Gorayeb, Austin Myhre, and Charlotte Smith

North America

Officers in Shooting of Winston Smith Will Not Face Charges

Last year, United States Marshals Service officers attempted to arrest Winston Smith Jr., a 32-year-old black man, for the alleged crime of illegal firearm possession by a felon. While attempting the arrest, the officers shot and killed Smith in his SUV.

Now, the officers will not face charges for the deadly shooting of Winston Smith Jr. According to Crow Wing County Attorney Don Ryan, the task force officers were justified in using deadly force in their arrest. Additionally, he stated that the task force officers were identifiable as members of law enforcement, yet Smith initiated the violent confrontation by firing his handgun. Therefore, Ryan maintains that once someone initiates a fatal confrontation, the officer does not have to wait to be physically shot at before responding.

In her testimony, however, Norhan Askar, who was present in the SUV with Smith, claimed that the officers were not in uniform and did not identify themselves as members of law enforcement when they surrounded the vehicle. Askar also stated that she did not see Smith use a gun; rather he was shot after picking up his cell phone to record. Although authorities previously stated that there was no video footage or body camera footage of the incident, Ryan stated that there was body camera footage of the incident showing a lack of compliance by Smith.

Hurricane Pamela Leads to Landfall on Mexico’s West Coast

Hurricane Pamela reached Mexico’s Pacific coast as a Category 1 hurricane before losing force and moving inland as a tropical storm. However, the storm regained hurricane strength as it hit the coast of the Mexican state of Sinaloa on Wednesday, October 13th. Hurricane Pamela brought winds of 120km/h or 75mph but is expected to weaken as it moves inland. Civil defense officials in Sinaloa stated, “Pamela’s winds and rains did minor damage, while the remnants of the storm are expected to approach Texas.” Authorities also called on residents of rural areas to move to shelters due to the risk of flooding in the area.

Asia and the Pacific

13th Round of China-India Border Talks Fail

On Monday, senior military officials of China and India met at the Ladakh area border, which both countries dispute. The discussions centered on the disengagement of troops. Although previous talks led to disengagement in two other contested areas, Pangong Tso and Gogra, this most recent meeting failed to yield results, leaving each side to blame the other for the lack of results. For the second consecutive winter, troops from both countries will remain deployed in the area. Last year, 20 Indian troops were killed in a clash with Chinese soldiers, and tensions remain high.


Nearly 56 People Arrested After Veteran Group Confronts South African Ministers

South African security forces had to free three government ministers who were held hostage during a meeting with anti-apartheid veterans. Nearly 56 people were arrested during the meeting held to meet veterans to hear grievances over compensation offered for their role in the anti-apartheid movement. After ministers and the veteran group failed to reach an agreement, the ministers reportedly decided to abruptly end the meeting, leading to escalation where the group closed the doors on the ministers and leading the police to use a more tactical approach to diffuse the meeting. No statements have been released yet to elaborate on the situation, but President Gungubele called it “legally unacceptable” and all 56 people are facing kidnapping charges.


Poland and Hungary Request Help from EU Courts Regarding New Funding Measure

On Monday, Poland and Hungary requested that the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) strike down a new law permitting the EU to suspend funding to countries deemed to be breaking the rule of law. This request comes a few days after both Poland and Hungary rejected the CJEU’s jurisdiction over accusations of the countries’ democratic backsliding.

Attempting to limit the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of some EU states, the EU passed a measure in December 2020, which allows the EU to take action regarding rule-of-law breaches that could affect the management or budget of the bloc’s financial interests. Both Poland and Hungary fear losing millions of cohesion funds and economic development funds from the EU.

Italian Parliament Parties Attempt to Ban Neo-Fascist Groups

On Sunday, anti-vaccine protesters dismantled a union building and an emergency room. The violent protests injured 38 police officers, and police arrested 12 protesters for the damages caused. Following the violent anti-vaccine protests in Rome, the Italian government faces pressure to ban the neo-fascist group Forza Nuova (New Power) that gave rise to the aggressive demonstrators.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Forza Nuova engaged in violent anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests; however, this recent demonstration specifically focused on the introduction of a mandatory health pass for workers in the private and public sector. Similar to regulations in the United States, this pass requires workers to prove vaccination status or pass a negative covid test, otherwise facing a suspension without pay.

On Monday, the Democratic Party filed a motion in parliament, stating that the government should ban neo-fascist groups in an effort to “end ambiguity about fascism” after these recent protests. Along with the Democratic Party, the 5Star Movement--the largest party in parliament--also backed the motion.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Chile’s President Faces Impeachment Charges

On Wednesday, October 13th, opposition lawmakers in Chile started the impeachment process against current President Sebastián Piñera for “irregularities in the sale of a family mining company,” which came to light as part of the Pandora Papers, a leak of almost 12 million documents revealing hidden wealth, tax avoidance, and money laundering by some of the world’s elites.

The Pandora Papers include 6.4 million documents, almost 3 million images, more than a million emails, and almost half a million spreadsheets exposing how the world’s richest elites, including 330 policies from 90 different countries, use secret offshore companies to hide their wealth. The destinations are often called tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions, including the British Overseas Territories, such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland, and Singapore.

The Pandora Papers linked President Piñera to the sale of Dominga, a sprawling copper and iron project, through a company owned by his children, to businessman Carlos Delano for $152 million, carried out in the British Virgin Islands. A controversial clause also stated that the last payment of the business was conditional on “not establishing an area of environmental protection in the area of operations of the mining company, as demanded by environmental groups.” President Piñera, one of the richest politicians in Chile, denied the accusations, and said: “the sale had previously been examined and dismissed by courts in 2017.” Now Chile’s Chamber of Deputies, controlled by the opposition, will decide whether to approve or deny the indictment by November. If it is approved, the case would go to the Senate, which would act as a jury to decide whether to impeach him or not.

Middle East

Lebanon Faces Sectarian Clashes in Beirut

Lebanon faces escalating sectarian clashes in Beirut, as neighborhoods became war zones between armed militias. In some of the worst violence seen in years, the conflicts left at least six people dead and 30 wounded. Reports indicate that the fighting broke out between Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia, and the Lebanese Forces of the Christan political party.

At the same time, Lebanon is in the midst of an economic meltdown. Since the fall of 2019, Lebanon's currency fell by more than 90 percent. The crisis led to political infighting, reducing the effectiveness of leaders to address the conflict. For now, the violence ceased; however, the situation remains delicate.


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