Watchlist: Polish Independence Day Marchers Call For ‘White Europe’

Week of November 6th

Celebration of 99th anniversary of recover the Independence of Poland on Wolności Square in Włocławek. Here - scouts with inscription on the background: "for You, Poland, solider's toil" on Monument of Polish Solider, 11 November 2017 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


Unusually Deadly Madagascar Plague

The ongoing deadly outbreak of pneumonic plague in Madagascar seems to finally have reached a turning point, after nearly 2,000 infections and 143 deaths. Plague is endemic to Madagascar, with cases generally occurring in the rainy season from September to April. This outbreak has been unusually deadly and widespread because the majority of cases have been the more lethal pneumonic variety, which is spread by air rather than by rodents. Nearby Indian Ocean countries, including Tanzania and South Africa, are on high alert for the possibility of the disease crossing their borders, although no cases have been reported yet. In Madagascar, the World Health Organization and the government are working closely to prevent new infections, including by offering free treatments and controlling movement of people in and out of the country. KIERAN BYRNE


International Summit hits Manila

The 31st annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit began yesterday in Manilla with several regional heads-of-state in attendance. President Xi Jinping of China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan are all in attendance. The summit is scheduled to include discussion on a multitude of international topics, including the spread of extremism, the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, and a new, regional free trade agreement. Watch for new developments from the summit early this week. VINEET CHANDRA


Carfentanil Bust in Canada: Deadly Drug Additive Found

A massive drug bust in the Toronto suburb of Pickering unearthed 42 kilograms of carfentanil, a synthetic opioid cut into heroin and other drugs that is lethal even when doses in these drugs are as miniscule as a grain of sand. This bust in Ontario is thought to be the largest drug bust ever in North America, and carfentanil has only been available as a street drug for about a year. It is also feared this drug could be used as a bioterrorist weapon in the future, since it is so deadly in such small quantities. It is believed to already have been part of the chemical weapon used by Russian special forces in a 2002 attack in Chechens who who seized a Moscow theatre. The drug and its presence in Canada is highlighted in this fascinating video from the CBC, and its role in the global opioid crisis with the less potent, but also deadly, fentanyl is unquestioned. Cases of both seizure of fentanyl and carfentanil, especially in Vancouver where it arrives from China where it is unregulated, and overdoses continue around the nation. Investigations by police and drug regulators will likely continue. ANDREW MITCHEL


Independence Day Draws Extremes in Poland

During Independence Day marches in Poland huge numbers of far-right nationalists marched advocating for an “Islamic Holocaust” and chants for immigrants to get out of a pure, white Poland. The Polish Interior Minister’s statement praised the marches, calling them a beautiful sight because so many Poles were celebrating independence. However, small groups of counter protesters rose to meet the estimated 60,000 nationalists in an attempt to promote anti-fascism, but had little success. Rightwing nationalism continues to hold onto momentum in Europe as more refugees and migrants enter the continent and the European Union in particular. Because of exasperated fears of European nationals, increased demonstrations similar to the marches in Poland could continue to grow. But any large scale marches in Europe could expand the recruitment potential of religious extremist groups that use Islamophobic sentiments to spur enrollment from the marginalized population of the continent. As the week unfolds it will be important to see how governments from the rest of Europe respond to the demonstrations in Poland and if any other far-right groups are emboldened to take action. LIAM BEERS

Middle East

Prime Minister Hariri Speaks Out

On Sunday evening in Riyadh, Lebanon’s premiere Saad Hariri gave an interview to a Lebanese reporter on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya. This interview comes eight days after the Prime Minister flew to Saudi Arabia, announcing his resignation, followed by a cascade of speculation that Mr. Hariri is being held against his will. Similar to his resignation speech November the 4th, a majority of the interview was a broadside against Iran and Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite political party and armed faction. That duality was a sore point for Hariri, who vaguely stated he was not “against Hezbollah in its political meaning, but Hezbollah does not have the right to ruin Lebanon.” Although he spoke for over one hour, many remain unconvinced that Mr. Hariri’s words were his own. Leading up to the interview, Lebanese President, General Michel Aoun, said that “the mysterious circumstances” surrounding Hariri’s stay in Riyadh made “his positions suspect” and not “of his free will.” Hariri’s sideways glance at a man off-camera carrying a piece of paper, as well as a moment when he almost broke into tears, kicked off a furious bout of speculation as to whether he was being coerced to speak. The interview that was supposed to remove the confusion surrounding his spontaneous resignation provided further ammunition to speculations that Mr. Hariri is being held against his will by the Saudi regime. In the coming days, the Lebanese people remain uneasy, and a test of resilience will continue for Mr. Aoun and Lebanese leadership. JALAL H. TALEB

7.3-Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Iran-Iraq Border

A devastating 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Iran-Iraq border on late Sunday evening, killing at least 145 people in the two countries. At least 141 people were killed in Iran, Behnam Saeedi, a spokesman for Iran’s National Disaster Management Organization, said on the state television. More than 850 were injured, he said. More than 97 of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab in Kermanshah, about 15 km (10 miles) from the Iraq border. The main hospital of the town was severely damaged and struggling to treat hundreds of injured people, state television reported. Iran sits on many major fault lines and is prone to near-daily quakes. In 2003, a magnitude 6.6 earthquake flattened the historic city of Bam, killing 26,000 people. On the Iraqi side, Kurdish health officials also said at least four people were killed and at least 50 injured. The Iraqi Meteorological and Seismology Organization warned that the region should brace for another possible quake in the coming hours. JALAL H. TALEB

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