Week #10 (12-18/08/2019)

An African with albinism. | Credit: Lars Plougmann


At least five African countries were attacked by North Korean hackers, the Associated Press reported (13/08). Gambia, Liberia, Nigeria, South Africa, and Tunisia each suffered one attack that mainly targeted financial institutions and cryptocurrencies exchanges. The cyberattacks were said purposely made to illegally raise money for North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction programs. Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab claimed (15/08) the Lazarus group was behind the North-Korean-orchestrated cyberattack in South Africa. Meanwhile, three people were sentenced to death (15/08) in Malawi for killing a person with albinism. This is the second death sentence handed down in the past three months after a previously similar case took place in May. Mounting criticism has pushed the government to bolster efforts in investigating the spate of attacks on people with albinism.


The winning of Argentina’s centre-left opposition leader, Alberto Fernández, in the election primary (12/08) triggered a 30% fall in the value of the Argentinian peso. Fernández secured 47.4% of the vote, against centre-right president Mauricio Macri’s 32.3%. Fernández’s winning also raised former president Christina Fernández de Kirchner’s opportunity to return to power.

The indigenous governor of Peru’s mineral-rich Puno department, Walter Aduviri, was sentenced (15/08) to six years in prison for deadly anti-mining protests in 2011. Aduviri was found guilty of disturbing the public order and expected to be replaced by Puno’s deputy governor Agustin Luque. However, one of Aduviri’s lawyers planned to take the case to the Supreme Court on the grounds that there was no direct proof of his involvement in the protests. 

From the United States (U.S.), President Donald Trump’s interest in purchasing Greenland from Denmark has been met with a mixture of anger and bewilderment. The news was first reported by the Wall Street Journal (16/08) after Trump asked aides and the possibility to own Greenland during meetings and dinners. Martin Lidegaard, a centre-left former Danish foreign minister said, “Trump buy Greenland?! Hopefully it’s a joke, but otherwise it is a terrible thought, with the risk of the militarisation of Greenland and less independence for the Greenlandic people—beside being a great loss to Denmark.” Likewise, Greenland’s government stated, “Greenland is not for sale, and can’t be sold.”        


Pakistan’s prime minister Imran Khan warned (14/08) that they will fight until the end should India commit any type of violation. His statement responded to India’s revocation of the Indian-administered Kashmir’s special status last week. Russia and Mongolia kicked off 10-day, joint military drills on Thursday (15/08) at the Munkh Khet firing range in Mongolia. The drills, dubbed “Selenga” (the name of a river that runs through both countries), have been conducted annually since 2008 and focused on anti-terror activities. A suicidal bombing in the west side of Kabul, Afghanistan, which mostly populated by Shia Muslims, has killed 63 and injured more than 180 people. The explosion occurred (17/08) during a wedding ceremony, which was also attended by women and children. The local affiliate of the Islamic State group claimed they were behind the attack.


A giant penguin has been identified (14/08) through fossil leg bones discovered on New Zealand’s South Island. The “new” species, called Crossvallia waiparensis, stands 1.6 meters and weighs four times heavier than the emperor penguin. It is the second prehistoric giant penguin species identified after the discovery of Crossvallia unienwillia in 2000. Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama slammed (17/08) Australia’s deputy P.M. Michael McCormack over his disparaging “fruit-picking” comment directed to small island states, calling it of taking a “big step backwards”. The comment came in response to the island states’ call for stronger action on climate change, which includes a phase-out of coal in the power sector. McCormack was annoyed that those “sort” of countries “told” Australia to shut down all its resources sector so that they, the island states, will continue to survive. He said that the island states will eventually continue to survive with large aid assistance from Australia and because many of their workers come to Australia to pick fruit. Similarly, former Kiribati president Anote Tong has urged (17/08) Australia’s membership in the Pacific Islands Forum to be reviewed. “How can you justify being part of a family and part of a group which you’re trying to destroy?” he said.


Norwegian media have named (12/08) 21-year-old Philip Manshaus as the suspected gunman of an attempted terrorist attack at the Al-Noor Islamic Centre in Baerum, Oslo, Norway. The media also reported that Manshaus was inspired by the Christchurch and El Paso shootings in March and August respectively. Manshaus was also accused of killing his 17-year-old stepsister. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg have called the attempted attack a “direct attack on Norwegian Muslims” and called for regulation aiming to thwart racism, discrimination, and hatred against Muslims.

The Russian Federal Nuclear Centre Scientific Director Vyacheslav Solovyov confirmed (13/08) that nuclear scientists at the Russia’s Nyonoksa military range were working on “small-sized energy sources using radioactive fissile materials” when the missile blew up last Thursday. The blast killed five scientists and caused radiation to spike in a nearby city. Experts speculated that the failed missile test indicates President Vladimir Putin’s dangerous plan to beat the US missile defenses.

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right interior minister who rose to prominence for his hardline policies against migrants and asylum seekers, has reluctantly allowed (18/08) 27 migrant children to disembark from a rescue ship that has been in limbo off Lampedusa island for days. Salvini asserted that although “the go-ahead for the disembarkation […] is the exclusive responsibility of the prime minister (Giuseppe Conte)”, he would still have the final say on border issues.