The Overflow for August 13th

International News

Another Victory against Islamic State

The leader of Islamic State's branch in Afghanistan and Pakistan was killed in a US drone strike on July 26th, a Pentagon spokesman said on Friday after the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan announced the news. The death of Hafiz Saeed Khan is a blow to Islamic State, in its attempt to expand from its heartlands in Syria and Iraq into Afghanistan and Pakistan, an area already crowded with extremist movements including the Taliban and al Qaeda.

It is the second US killing of a prominent militant in the region in months. In May, a similar drone strike killed Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a strike in Pakistan.

Islamic State has been largely confined to a handful of districts in Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan, where militants - mostly defectors from the Taliban - are blamed for raiding villages and government outposts.

Still, worries that Islamic State might be expanding its operational reach heightened this week when the group took credit for an attack on a Pakistani hospital that killed at least 74 people in the southwestern city of Quetta. A few weeks earlier, Islamic State claimed an attack on a rally in Kabul that killed more than 80 people.

 

Libya is "Crumbling"

Support for the government in Libya is "crumbling" amid increased power outages and a weakening currency that is hitting crucial imports, the UN envoy to the country told a newspaper. The Government of National Accord has been struggling to impose its authority on a country riven by political and armed rivalries, posing extra challenges as it tries to quash Islamic State jihadist militants.

The UN point man for Libya, Martin Kobler, told Switzerland's Neue Zuercher Zeitung in an interview published Friday there was no alternative to backing the GNA, but he acknowledged it had forfeited some of its initial popularity. Having previously speculated that95 percent of Libyans backed GNA Prime Minister Fayez Seraj, he said: "That was in April. There was a lot of good will then for the unity government. It has lost some support in the meantime. "At the time Tripoli had 20 hours of electricity a day, now it is 12 ... In April people had to pay 3 dinars for a dollar. Today it is 5 dinars. That is devastating for an import-oriented economy. Support is crumbling."

Kobler, a German career diplomat, said U.S. air power could not win the fight against Islamic State in Libya, appealing for squabbling factions to support the GNA. "Strikes by the Americans alone cannot defeat IS. The fight has to be a Libyan one. It will be won with ground troops," he said.

 

Security in Canada

The death of a Canadian supporter of Islamic State who authorities said was preparing an imminent attack has increased calls for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to abandon his plan to scale back a 2015 law that gave increased powers to police and intelligence agents. But those calls are unlikely to translate into widespread public resistance to changing the law, as long as the government can frame it as a change that protects civil rights, pollsters and political analysts said on Friday.

"The government have to try to not fall into the trap of looking like they're weakening the legislation," said pollster Nik Nanos.

Aaron Driver, 24, was killed by police in a raid on Wednesday in a small Ontario town after authorities received "credible information of a potential terrorist threat." News of how close Driver came to carrying out an attack sparked a call from the Conservative opposition and others for police and intelligence officers to have more power to stop would-be attackers.

Driver was under a so-called "peace bond" that restricted some of his activities. The conditions of that bond were relaxed in recent months, including a requirement that he wear a monitoring bracelet.


UK News

Labour Crumbling

The Labour Party has won the right to exclude new members from voting in its ongoing leadership contest on Friday after a successful legal appeal - a decision which party leader Jeremy Corbyn criticised as legally and democratically wrong.

The row has ended up in the courts after the party's executive committee ruled last month that members who had joined the party since January 12th would not be eligible to vote unless they paid a further £25. An appeal court on Friday said the party was legally able to do so, overturning an earlier court ruling that it was unlawful.

Critics say the increasingly bitter contest is distracting the party at time when it should be pushing its priorities onto the agenda for the government's Brexit negotiations and exploiting divisions in the ruling Conservative Party.

The full impact of the decision on the leadership race is unclear: whilst Smith is backed by most of Labour's elected MPs, Corbyn is strong favourite to win the contest thanks to widespread support at grassroots level.

"We think that this is the wrong decision - both legally and democratically," a spokesman for Corbyn's campaign said. "If we are to build a big, inclusive party to take on the Tories (Conservatives), we need to secure democracy in our party."

 

Brexit Challenges: Part ...

A Northern Ireland human rights activist has launched a legal challenge against any British attempt to leave the European Union, saying it would be in breach of the 1998 peace deal that brought peace to the British province. Raymond McCord's move is one of several attempts being made to use the courts to stave off a British exit from the EU.

Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU, with 56% voting 'Remain', putting it at odds with the United Kingdom's overall result in favour of leaving.

Senior Northern Ireland politicians have warned that a British exit could undermine the province's 1998 Good Friday Agreement peace deal by reinstating a hard border with the Republic of Ireland and by undermining the legal basis for the deal, which contains references to the EU.

McCord is arguing that the British government would be in breach of its domestic and international treaty obligations under the Good Friday Agreement if it leaves the EU and that it would be illegal to leave without a parliamentary vote in the British House of Commons.

McCord also expressed concerns that funding from the European Union paid to victims of that era would likely be stopped following Britain's exit. "As a victim of the most recent conflict in Northern Ireland, Mr McCord is very concerned about the profoundly damaging effect a unilateral withdrawal of the UK from the EU will have upon the ongoing relative stability in Northern Ireland," lawyer Ciaran O'Hare said.


Olympics Recap

American swimmer Simone Manuel became the first black woman to win an individual swimming event at the Olympics. She tied with Canadian Penny Oleksiak for the record-breaking time of 52.70 seconds in the 100 metre freestyle.

And Sir Bradley Wiggins has become the first Briton to win eight Olympic medals over the course of his career. He won gold in track cycling on Friday along with teammates Ed Clancy, Steven Burke, and Owain Doull.


Long Read

For a lot of people running helps soothe the mind, and when one of those people is one of the greatest novelists of recent years there's a certain eloquence that can be granted to the subject that no-one else could bring. He's written a whole book on the subject and this is just a starter of you, Haruki Murakami on running.

 

The power is in the balance: we are our injuries, as much as we are our successes.
— Barbara Kingsolver