Katharine Murphy, The Guardian
Malcolm Turnbull says China must step up and contain North Korea economically, including by cutting off the regime’s oil supply. The best chance of resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula without conflict was to make sure the regime in Pyongyang was completely economically isolated, Turnbull said. The PM also said China needed to be resolute in turning the economic screws against its neighbour, and if it took tough action, the regime “would struggle to survive.”
Cholpon Orozobekova, The Diplomat
At a press briefing on August 24, hosted by the ISHR (International Service for Human Rights), one of the leading international NGOs in Geneva, a group of Chinese human rights defenders expressed their deep concern about the future of their detained and vanished colleagues. Incommunicado detentions have become routine and families struggle to hear any news about vanished activists.
Lin Qiqing, Sixth Tone
New liberal arts textbooks will appear on the desks of all first-year primary and middle school students across the country this September. The new national editions will add focus on traditional culture, revolutionary history, and ideology. In a press conference Monday, the assistant minister of education, Zheng Fuzhi, said that the new textbooks will help reinforce the will of the nation and the “Core Socialist Values”—a set of 12 ideological tenets promoted in the country since 2012.
Andrew Otazo, Sun-Sentinel
On August 1st, the Cuban government announced an abrupt halt to issuing licenses for 27 occupations in the island’s nascent private sector. After promising to advance economic reform “without haste, but without pause,” Raúl Castro’s government has now called for a break.
Louise Matsakis, Motherboard
Researchers from OONI (Open Observatory of Network Interference) monitored eight different internet access points in three different Cuban cities between May 29 and and June 10 of this year. Their findings show that 41 different websites are blocked in the country, including the Cuban Free Press Project and Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization that advocates for greater civil liberties around the world.
Estonian Justice Minister Urmas Reinsalu has dismissed in no uncertain terms the claim made by his Greek counterpart, Stavros Kontonis, that communism had “positive aspects.” Citing Estonia’s experience of the Soviet Union, Reinsalu said he strongly disagreed with the assertion. The Estonian official made his comments in a letter to Kontonis in response to one sent by the Greek minister explaining why he refused to attend last week’s Black Ribbon Day conference in Tallinn.
Aleksei Navalny, the charismatic anticorruption crusader and persistent thorn in the Kremlin’s side, has published exposés exploring the wealth of top Russian officials. Now he and his investigative team have trained their sights on President Vladimir Putin himself. Navalny on August 30 released a new video examining a Russian island near the Finnish border where a venerable country house has been restored and, he alleges, used by Putin for holidays.
Taehoon Lee, James Griffiths and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Two days after North Korea flew a missile over Japan, the United States and South Korea staged their own show of force with state-of-the-art stealth fighters Thursday. Four US F-35B fighter jets joined two US B-1B bombers and four South Korean F-15 fighter jets in the joint US-South Korean flyover of the Korean Peninsula. The exercise was designed to “strongly counter North Korea’s repeated ballistic missile tests and development of nuclear weapons.”
Patrick Wintour, The Guardian
An academic expert on North Korea is reported to be Donald Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Seoul in what could be a sign the White House believes further pressure on China is the best diplomatic route to prevent a nuclear conflagration in the region. Victor Cha, a Korean-American, is a former director for Asian affairs on the White House national security council and served as deputy head of the US delegation in multilateral talks with North Korea over its nuclear program during the Bush administration.
Robin Wigglesworth, Financial Times
Venezuela’s predicament went from bad to worse last week, with the US unveiling financial sanctions and a legal setback in its battle with creditors. For now, the country will shrug off the setbacks, but in the longer run they augur potentially the messiest debt restructuring in history. The Trump administration last week prohibited US institutions from involvement in any new debt or shares issued by the Venezuelan government or its state-controlled oil company, PDVSA. Dividend payments by PDVSA’s US oil refinery arm Citgo were also blocked.