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  • US State Dept hits Myanmar military officials with sanctions, travel restrictions

    The US State Department has announced sanctions on four top Burmese military officials over atrocities and extrajudicial killings committed during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state. In a statement that stopped short accusing the military of genocide, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned the officers’ “involvement in gross violations of human rights” and the government’s refusal “to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses.”

    Under the new sanctions, Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing, Deputy Commander-in-Chief Soe Win, Brigadier General Than Oo, Brigadier General Aung Aung, and their immediate family members are barred from traveling to the US.

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  • No-deal Brexit now ‘more likely than it had been’ – Irish finance minister

    Irish finance minister Paschal Donohoe said on Tuesday that the prospect of Britain leaving the EU without a deal was now more likely than it had been.

    Both candidates to replace Theresa May as UK prime minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have said that they would be prepared to pursue a no-deal Brexit if necessary.

    They have ruled out accepting an Irish backstop, an insurance policy to prevent the return of border controls within Ireland, Reuters reports.

    “I followed what was said last night in relation to the contenders for leadership of the Conservative Party… The Irish government and the EU are really clear that we will not be changing the content of the backstop agreement,” Donohoe said.

  • Palestinians warn diplomats over Israeli demolition plans in Jerusalem area

    Palestinian officials urged diplomats on Tuesday to take action to prevent Israel from executing a demolition order on homes in the Jerusalem area as a deadline related to it approached.

    Diplomats from around 20 mostly European countries toured the area where the demolition orders have been granted on the grounds that the buildings are in a security zone near Israel’s separation barrier, cutting off the occupied West Bank, AFP said.

    The buildings, most of which are still under construction, are located south of Jerusalem in the Sur Baher area. The ruling affects 10 buildings, including around 70 apartments.

    Residents fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.

  • Thailand’s elected cabinet sworn in after 5 years of military rule

    Thailand’s new cabinet has been sworn in, creating a nominally elected government after five years of military rule. Prayuth Chan-ocha, who as army commander seized power in a 2014 coup and then served as junta leader and prime minister, returns to serve again as PM.

    King Maha Vajiralongkorn presided over Tuesday’s swearing-in of the 36-member cabinet, AP reported.

    Prayuth was elected by a parliamentary vote after a March general election gave pro-military parties a majority. The election was held according to laws enacted by the junta aimed at disadvantaging established political parties.

    Critics say the vote was engineered to prolong rule by the military and its conservative allies.

  • Germany’s population reaches record high of 83mn people ‘due to migration from E. Europe’

    Germany’s population reached a record high of more than 83 million people last year. This was largely because of migration, most of which came from eastern Europe, data showed on Tuesday.

    Net migration fell to some 400,000 people in 2018 from 416,000 in the previous year, the Federal Statistics Office said. European Union states remained the main origin of new arrivals with net migration of 202,000.

    Within this group, net migration was highest from Romania (68,000), Croatia (29,000), Bulgaria (27,000) and Poland (20,000), Reuters reported.

    Fewer refugees from war-torn countries seem to be arriving in Germany. Net migration from Syria nearly halved to 34,000 in 2018 from 60,000 in the previous year, while net migration from Africa slipped to 34,000 from 35,000.

  • French Environment Minister De Rugy quits after spending reports

    French Environment Minister Francois de Rugy resigned on Tuesday following reports about his high spending on private dinners and renovations to his ministry residence.

    De Rugy said on his Facebook page that he handed his resignation to PM Edouard Philippe because the “effort required to fight the accusations” meant that he could no longer carry out his ministerial duties “peacefully.”

    De Rugy, 45, has filed a criminal complaint against investigative website Mediapart over its reporting, Reuters said.

    The controversy over De Rugy has reinforced criticism of President Emmanuel Macron’s government as being out of touch with ordinary people. De Rugy is the fourth minister to step down since Macron took office in 2017.