The Overflow for July 19th

International News

France Mourns

Crowds gather on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice during a minute of silence on the third day of national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the truck attack there on Bastille Day. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)

Crowds gather on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice during a minute of silence on the third day of national mourning to pay tribute to the victims of the truck attack there on Bastille Day. (Reuters/Eric Gaillard)

French leaders paid tribute to the victims of last week's Bastille Day attacks in Nice as crowds jeered. An opinion poll showed a sharp decline in confidence in President Francois Hollande's terrorism combat tactics. 

Although the crowds observed the minute of silence held to pay respects to the 84 dead, thousands of people chanted "resign, resign" at the prime minister Manuel Valls before and after. Others yelled "Hollande, resign." 

The poll, published by Le Figaro, said that 33 percent of respondents were confident in leaders' capacity to fight terrorism. This is a sharp difference after two major attacks last year, when confidence was at 50 percent. 

"The government promises us things but nothing sticks," said Antony Fernandez, a resident of Nice. "What have they done up to now to make us feel safe? And yet what do we expect? Every six months we're going to mourn for more dead?"

With just under a year to go before the presidential election, opponents have begun to sharply criticise Hollande's government. Former president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is running in a November primary for the presidential candidacy in France's centre-right parties, said that Hollande's government has not done all that it could.

"I know there's no zero risk, I know perfectly well that we don't pull each other apart before the victims have even been buried," he said. "But I want to say, because it's the truth, that everything that should have been done over the last 18 months ... wasn't done." 

His statements were dismissed by Manuel Valls, the prime minister.

He said in a news conference that plans to extend the state of emergency this week gives police the power to conduct searches without getting judicial warrants, and includes new steps to exploit information gathered from telephones and computers.

Last Thursday, as crowds began to disperse after Bastille Day celebrations, delivery man Mohamed Labouaiej Bouhlel ran a 19-tonne truck into the crowd. He killed 84 people before being shot dead by police. This marks the third major attack in France in less than two years. 

Observers, journalists, and politicians showed restraint in the wake of the attacks last November in Paris and on the newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in January 2015. Such restraint was not shown this time: the condemnations have been swift and bitter. In response, the government has denounced opponents for not coming out in support of efforts to combat terrorism.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who spoke before the nationwide minute-of-silence on Monday, accused the government's opponents of inappropriate behaviour during a time of mourning. 

"We've seen tirades emerge immediately and personally this is both shocking and sad ... it's undignified in the current context," he said. 

Detentions of Iranian Dual-Nationals

Montreal professor Homa Hoodfar was beginning her return trip to Canada from Iran in March when her home was raided by Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. They took her laptop, phone, books, and passport, according to her family. Hoodfar, who is an Iranian, Canadian, and Irish citizen, was periodically interrogated for the next three months. On June 6, she went in for another interrogation and did not return. 

The Mashregh site, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards, published her alleged crimes nine days later. They said that she created security problems in the Islamic Republic by taking part in feminist activities and cited her connection with Women Living Under Muslim Laws, an advocacy network.

Hoodfar, who is an anthropology and sociology professor at Concordia University in Montreal, was in Iran on a personal trip.

Over the past nine months, the Revolutionary Guards have arrested at least six dual-national Iranians. The government has confirmed most of the arrests, although they have not given details of any charges. 

The circumstances of the detentions appear to be similar: the dual-nationals were arrested on arrival or departure from Tehran's airport and were interrogated for an extended period, after which the website published a list of their alleged crimes. These alleged crimes typically had something to do with unseating the government and were published without any trial. 

The Iranian government does not recognize dual nationality, which prevents embassies of other nations from seeing the detained individuals. This has led to some countries issuing travel warnings. In March, the US Department of State warned that Iranian-Americans are at risk of being detained or imprisoned if they travel to Iran. 

Former detainees and families of current ones said that people are often held for use in a prisoner exchange with Western countries. In January, such a prisoner exchange deal was carried out with the US. Iranians that were held or charged in the US for sanctions violations were released in return for Americans detained in Iran. 

Other dual-nationals currently being held in Iran include Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, an Iranian-British citizen. Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who works for the Thomson-Reuters Foundation, was detained at Tehran's airport in April while travelling with her two-year-old daughter. The Revolutionary Guards said that Zaghari-Ratcliffe was scheming to overthrow the government. Her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, called the accusation "preposterous."

Siamak Namazi, a former head of strategic planning for Crescent Petroleum in Dubai, was arrested in Tehran last October. He is an Iranian-American and worked as a consultant in Iran encouraging foreign firms to invest in the Islamic Republic.

Namazi's father, Baquer, an 80-year-old Iranian-American former official with the United Nations' Children's Fund, was also arrested on a visit to Iran last February and is in the same prison as his son. 

Vaccine Fakes in Indonesia

A child receives a re-vaccination by government health care workers in East Jakarta. (Reuters/Darren Whiteside)

A child receives a re-vaccination by government health care workers in East Jakarta. (Reuters/Darren Whiteside)

Indonesia has begun a re-vaccination program for the nearly 200 children who are known to have received fake versions of imported vaccines. A drug-counterfeiting ring that has operated for more than ten years and was responsible for the fake inoculations was broken up last month. 

Indonesians have protested as information came to the surface indicating that health officials knew that fake vaccines were produced for several years but did little to stop it. The scandal has intensified disapproval with weakness in health sector oversight. 

In a statement urging calm, President Joko Widodo said in a statement at a Jakarta clinic, "I want to ask people to stay calm because the incident happened over such a long time. We need more time to investigate so we can get the real data of people who suffered from these fake vaccines."

Officials say no illnesses or deaths have been directly linked to the fake vaccines. 

The drug counterfeiting ring stole vials and forged labels to make the fakes look like the imported vaccines produced by GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi. State-owned Bio Farma produces nearly all vaccines available in Indonesia.

At least 28 health care facilities throughout Indonesia, including clinics in Jakarta and Bali, were suspected of buying fake booster vaccines for hepatitis B, diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. Officials say the fake vaccines contained the antibiotic gentamicin and saline solution and were not harmful. They also say that they made up only 1 percent of vaccines in Indonesia. 

Investigators are still trying to determine the range of the fake vaccines' distribution. Police have arrested drugmakers, pharmacists, doctors, and nurses who are accused of taking part in the scheme.

At least 197 children have been identified for re-vaccination, but many more are expected to be confirmed. 

Health Minister Nila Moeloek said she knew fake vaccines were being distributed in 2013. She did not elaborate on why action was not taking sooner. Since the scandal was exposed, the president has begun an overhaul of the food and drug monitoring agency. 

Parents have indicated their distrust of private clinics. They feel that the government should revoke the responsible clinics' permits. However, some of the clinics accused of administering fake vaccines appear to still be open, despite some staff having been arrested. 

UK News

Boris Talks with EU

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that he had held "positive and productive" talks with many of his European Union counterparts about implementing Brexit plans.

Britain will need to negotiate a new relationship with the EU once they trigger Article 50, which begins the formal process of leaving the bloc. 

In a tweet, Johnson said, "Met many EU counterparts one on one to discuss giving effect to EU vote, talks were positive and productive."

Johnson, who was appointed to the Foreign Secretary role by new Prime Minister Theresa May last week, went to Brussels for his first Foreign Affairs Council event. He said future UK-EU co-operation on foreign policy and security were discussed, as well as the failed coup in Turkey and the truck attack in Nice last week. 

Trident nuclear deterrent

MPs voted to renew Britain's ageing nuclear weapons system on Monday. The multibillion-pound Trident project is regarded as integral to maintaining the UK's status as a world power in the light of its vote to leave the European Union. Opposition to the renewal came from the Scottish National Party (SNP) and from some members of the Labour Party. However, parliament approved the renewal of the nuclear-armed Trident submarines, located in Scotland, by 472 to 117 votes. 

Opponents to the submarines said that the vote was being used by new Prime Minister Theresa May to unify the Conservative Party after the Brexit campaign and to highlight the upheaval in the Labour Party.

In her first statement in parliament as prime minister, May urged lawmakers to back Trident. She said that the submarines are a significant protection from growing threats in Russia and North Korea, but also represent thousands of jobs in Scotland and elsewhere. 

"What this country needs to do is to recognise that it faces a variety of threats and to ensure we have the capabilities that are necessary and appropriate to deal with each of those threats," she said. 

She continued, highlighting that Britain needs to have a nuclear deterrent as it has had for the past 50 years.

"We cannot outsource the grave responsibility we shoulder for keeping our people safe ... That would be a reckless gamble: a gamble that would enfeeble our allies and embolden our enemies; a gamble with the safety and security of families in Britain that we must never be prepared to take."

Monday's vote confirmed the decision to approve the building of four submarines to ensure Britain can have nuclear weapons continuously on patrol at sea. 

Long Read


It takes up a large chunk of our life, most of us enjoy it, and yet as a civilisation we're getting less and less of it. Eschewing all medical advice to the contrary, the average amount of daily sleep has dropped to below six hours a night. Aeon investigates what we can do to reverse the trend.


All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
News sourced from Reuters.