World news wrap, Oct 19-25: Trump, Biden face off in third debate, France begins crackdown on Islamism

All you need to know about what made news around the world last week.

In the final showdown before the November 3 elections, US President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden squared off in the final presidential debate in Nashville. While the third debate was less chaotic than the previous ones thanks to a new ‘mute’ feature, the duo relentlessly attacked each other on a wide range of topics, including racial justice, economy, and Covid-19 pandemic.

The French government has taken a strong stand against the radical Islamic elements in the country after the beheading of history teacher Samuel Paty by a Chechen-born refugee. While the French Police launched raids at some mosques in the country, the crackdown has invited criticism as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron needed “mental treatment” for displaying “religious intolerance”.

This, and more from the world this week.

US & Canada

Trump Biden third debate

In the third and final presidential debate, Donald Trump again found himself being probed on his government’s handling of the coronavirusTrump defended his approach to the outbreak and said the country could not afford to close businesses again despite fresh surges. “We’re learning to live with it. We have no choice,” said Trump.

“Learning to live with it?” Biden retorted. “Come on. We’re dying with it.”

In his comebacks, Trump tried to discredit Biden for being a “career politician” with an unsubstantial 50-year career in politics. He also repeated his accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in China and Ukraine. Biden called them false, saying no evidence has been found to support the allegations.

Talking about his government’s policy on climate change, Trump compared the US with India, China and Russia and said these countries are ‘filthy’ and they do not care much about their air but America does. “Look at China. How filthy it is. Look at Russia. Look at India, it’s filthy. The air is filthy,” Trump said adding that the US has the best carbon emissions in 35 years.

More from the US:

Joe Biden enters last stretch with $114 million cash edge over Donald Trump

6 Russian military officers charged in vast hacking campaign 

US and Russia ready to freeze number of nuclear warheads 

Canada avoids snap election after Parliament vote 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau avoided a snap election for the second time this month after lawmakers rejected an opposition push for a special committee to investigate alleged mishandling of Covid-19 spending.

Members of parliament voted 180-146 against a Conservative motion to delve deeper into an ethics scandal dogging Trudeau’s minority Liberal government. Trudeau had dared the opposition to launch the investigation and threatened to call an election if they did.

Middle East

Lebanon: Ex-PM Hariri asked to form new govt 

On October 22, former premier Saad Hariri secured enough votes from lawmakers to form the country’s next government. Hariri resigned from the post a year ago amid nationwide protests by a public angered by widespread corruption, mismanagement of resources and a flunking economy.

However, his return to office has also been rejected by protesters, who see him as a symbol of a political class they blame for the country’s woes.

UAE delegation visits Israel in a historic first 

A group of United Arab Emirates officials, along with US officials, became the first Gulf Arab delegation ever to visit Israel October 20, cementing a normalisation deal that Israel and US officials described as historic but the Palestinians called “shameful”.

The UAE and Gulf neighbour Bahrain became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to establish formal ties with Israel despite ongoing differences over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jamal Khashoggi’s fiancee sues Saudi crown prince in US over journalist’s murder

‘Historic’ Libya cease-fire agreed, UN says


France steps up attack on radical Islam 

Upping its attack on radical Islamic elements after the brutal killing of a history teacher, the French government detained more than a dozen people, shut down a Mosque and targeted some Islamist support groups. President Emmanuel Macron led from the front, calling the cold-blooded murder of the teacher Samuel Paty “a conspiracy of stupidity, hate, lies”.

The investigation into the murder has revealed that the attack was a well-planned conspiracy and multiple people were involved in it. At least seven people have been named in the conspiracy so far, including two young students at the school who helped the killer identify Paty.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed Macron, saying he needed “mental treatment” for displaying religious intolerance after the murder of the school teacher.

Pope Francis endorses same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope while being interviewed for the feature-length documentary Francesco, which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival. “Homosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God,” Francis said in one of his sit-down interviews for the film. “What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered.”


Pakistan to stay on FATF’s grey list 

Pakistan may remain on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as it has been unable to comply with six of the 27 points in the global terror financing and money laundering watchdog’s action plan. The report said Pakistan is unlikely to exit the FATF grey list, but the country has managed to avert being blacklisted.

In other news, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s daughter and Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-Ns) vice-president Maryam Nawazwas booked along with over 2,000 party members for holding an anti-government rally in Lahore. Maryam had openly called Prime Minister Khan a “coward, selected and puppet” in the rally, saying he hid behind the Army to cover up his ‘Nalaaiki‘ (bad governance).

After months of protest, Thailand’s government on October 22 lifted emergency in Bangkok which included a ban on public gatherings of more than four people, allowed media censorship and gave police special powers to detain protesters.

Under attack amid demands of his removal, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha appealed to Thais to resolve their differences through the parliamentary system. He also called an extraordinary session of parliament next week to discuss the crisis.

South and Central America

Chile anniversary rallies turn violent as churches burned, police fire tear gas

On October 18, tens of thousands of Chileans gathered in the central square of Santiago to mark the one-year anniversary of mass protests that left over 30 dead and thousands injured, with peaceful rallies devolving by nightfall into riots and looting. The demonstrations, while largely peaceful early on, were marred by increasing incidents of violence, looting of supermarkets and clashes with police across the capital later in the day

Australia to lift cap on citizens returning as thousands left stranded

As local Covid-19 cases fall to single digits, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said the country would slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Reuters reported. Morrison said the current cap will rise to 5,865 people in November, an increase of 290, after Western Australia and Queensland states said they would accommodate more locals.


End Sars protest in Nigeria 

The ‘End Sars’ protests in Nigeria intensified last week as the government had to put a curfew in place in Lagos’ Lekki toll plaza on October 20. However, security forces opened fire on the thousands of peaceful protesters at the toll plaza without warning, with rights groups and the UN claiming that at least 12 people were killed and many injured.

The government, however, insisted that the protests, while well-intentioned, were hijacked by thugs who looted and burned vehicles and businesses in the two days after the soldiers opened fire. On October 24, Nigeria’s top police official ordered the immediate mobilisation of all officers to “reclaim the public space from criminal elements masquerading as protesters”

Sudan to be removed from US terror blacklist

On October 19, US President Donald Trump said Sudan will be removed from a US blacklist of countries accused of sponsoring terrorism. Washington blacklisted Sudan in 1993, accusing the regime led by Omar al-Bashir of supporting terrorist organisations.

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok replied to Trump, thanking him for the move. “We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much,” he wrote.

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