The Overflow for August 8th

International News

The Philippine Crackdown

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday identified 160 serving and former town mayors, judges, and policemen allegedly linked to the illegal drugs trade, stepping up a name-and-shame campaign in his five week war on drugs. Duterte read a list of those he said "destroy the country" during a visit to an army base in his hometown Davao city.

The list included two of the five police generals he identified last month as protectors of drug syndicates and a town major who has recently surrendered to police.

"You are the (law) enforcers and you allow yourselves to be used," said Duterte, the former Davao city mayor, vowing to wipe out drugs gangs and end crime.

Duterte did not say what he would do with the list. Hours later, two mayors on the list, one from Iloilo and another from Bulacan, turned themselves in to police, denying any involvement in the drug trade.

On Friday, Duterte reiterated his "shoot-to-kill" order against drug dealers resisting arrest. He said he would be accountable for what has been a bloody anti-narcotics crackdown. As many as 770 to 800 have been killed in police operations against illegal drugs since Duterte was sworn in as president on June 30, including more than 200 killed by vigilante groups.

Last week police commandos killed six bodyguards of a town mayor who had turned himself in over links to the illegal drug trade, signalling the shift in Duterte's anti-drug war from street peddlers to officials.


Cuba versus the USA

Cuba has blamed Washington for a surge in Cubans trying to reach the United States by land and sea, accusing the Obama administration of encouraging illegal and unsafe immigration. Tens of thousands of Cubans over the last two years have flocked to the US-Mexican border and taken to the sea in hopes of reaching Florida.

Under a 1960s law, the Cuban Adjustment Act, the Communist-run country’s citizens are treated as legal immigrants if they set foot on US soil, while migrants from any other land are considered illegal.

A government statement carried by local media and announcing the arrival of 14 Cubans deported by Colombia, said they were the “victims of the politicisation of the migration issue by the US government which stimulates illegal and unsafe immigration.” The government said its citizens “receive differential treatment ... they are immediately and automatically admitted ... including if they arrived by illegal means.”

Colombia last week announced that more than 1,000 Cubans stuck in the country, and who were trying to reach the United States, would be deported.

Colombia is just the latest government to crack down on Cubans who legally visit the region and then illegally, often with the help of human smugglers, pass through their territory on the way to the Mexican border.

The U.S. Coast Guard on Saturday reported that since Oct. 1, at least 5,786 Cubans have tried to migrate to the southeastern United States by sea and been intercepted, compared with 4,473 in federal fiscal year 2015.


Updates from Aleppo

Syrian insurgents who broke the siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday came under intense air attack from pro-government forces trying to repel the advance, which also cut Aleppo's main supply route. Rebels have taken most of a government military complex southwest of Aleppo in a major offensive begun on Friday to break a month-long siege, and are now attacking further into government held territory.

The surprise advance allowed fighters from insurgent areas in western Syria to break through a strip of government-controlled territory on Saturday and connect with fighters in the encircled sector of eastern Aleppo. But fierce fighting and continuous Russian and Syrian air strikes in and around the Ramousah area mean no safe passage for besieged east Aleppo residents has been established.

Fighters from a coalition of Islamist rebel groups called "Jaish al Fateh" announced the start of a new phase to liberate the whole of Aleppo, saying it pledged to increased the numbers of fighters for the battle it said will only end by hoisting their flag on the ancient Aleppo citadel in government hands.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad wants to take full control of Aleppo, pre-war Syria's most populous city, which has been divided between rebel and government-held areas. Assad's government forces are supported in Syria by Russian air power, Iranian militias and fighters from Lebanon's Hezbollah group who have sent reinforcements to shore up the army .

Rebel gains this weekend could change the balance of power in Aleppo, after Assad said a siege by government and allied forces on rebel-held east Aleppo in early July was a prelude to re-taking the city. The loss of Aleppo would be a crushing blow for rebels.

UK News

Paying Us Off

Some tax proceeds from shale gas developments in Britain could be given directly to residents, Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday, in a bid to help clear the path for an industry hampered for years by local opposition to fracking. Britain is estimated to have substantial amounts of shale gas trapped in underground rocks yet fracking applications have struggled to find approval from local communities, concerned about noise and environmental impacts.

Last year, then Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the government would create a shale wealth fund that would receive up to 10% of tax revenue from shale gas developments for investments in communities affected by the projects.

May, who took over as prime minister last month said she wanted to look at the option of this money being paid directly to residents rather than to local authorities. "The government I lead will be always be driven by the interests of the many, ordinary families for whom life is harder than many people in politics realise," May said in a statement on Sunday, ahead of the launch of a consultation on the fund. "This announcement is an example of putting those principles into action. It's about making sure people personally benefit from economic decisions that are taken, not just councils, and putting them back in control over their lives."

Long Read

There has been a recent proliferation of slavery narratives on our screens, and in our literature, with multiple attempts to entirely rewrite the rules. Brit Bennett explores recent cinema and novelisation of a large part of our collective history that has oftentimes been ignored.

It’s easier to build strong children then repair broken men.
— Frederick Douglass