The Overflow for August 9th

International News

Pakistan Mourns

A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed 70 people and wounded more than 100 on Monday in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in the city of Quetta, and Islamic State quickly claimed responsibility. The bomber struck as a crowd crammed into the emergency department to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier in the day.

Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the Civil Hospital, where the explosion occurred, told reporters that at least 70 people had been killed, with more than 112 wounded. "There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise," said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister.

Islamic State's Amaq news agency reported the Middle East-based movement was behind the atrocity. If true, it would mark an alarming development for Pakistan, long plagued by Islamist militant violence but most of it locally-based. "A martyr from the Islamic State detonated his explosive belt at a gathering of justice ministry employees and Pakistani policemen in the city of Quetta," Amaq said.

Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban group, earlier said it carried out the attack, although the group is believed to have claimed responsibility for bombings in the past that it was not involved in.

 

Japan on high alert

Japan ordered its military on Monday to be ready at any time to shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten to strike Japan, putting its forces on a state of alert for at least three months, a defence ministry official said. 

Up to now, Japan has only issued temporary orders when it had knowledge of an imminent North Korean missile launch that it has cancelled after a projectile had been launched. However, because some test firings are hard to detect, it has decided to put its military on standby for a longer period. The order will be reviewed after three months, NHK said.

 

Duterte's plan in action

Dozens of Philippine government and police officials turned themselves in on Monday, a day after President Rodrigo Duterte linked them to the drugs trade, stepping up a war on narcotics that has killed hundreds since he took office in June. On Monday, 27 mayors and 31 police officers, including a colonel, went to the national police office in the capital, Manila, to clear their names, fearing the president's order to hunt them down if they failed to surrender within 24 hours.

Several local officials reported to regional police offices to beat the deadline set by Duterte, who won the elections in May on the single issue of fighting crime and drugs. On Sunday, he identified about 160 officials in a name-and-shame campaign.

Nicknamed "the punisher" and "Duterte Harry" for his brutal fight on crime, Duterte has hit back at activists incensed by the surge in the killings of suspected drug traffickers.

Alarmed human rights groups have urged the United Nations to condemn the rise in extrajudicial killings. The Philippine Senate is to hold a legislative inquiry.

All police officers linked to the drug trade were disarmed, investigated and could face criminal and administrative cases if there was strong evidence, said national police spokesman Dionardo Carlos.

Besides local officials and police officers, Duterte's list included two retired police generals, soldiers, paramilitary members, judges and a former lawmaker.

In a letter, Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno on Monday told the president the court alone had the right to discipline judges. One judge named by Duterte died eight years ago and two others have already been removed.


UK News

Fracking Settlement

Britons who live near "fracking" developments will be able to decide how a £1 billion shale gas fund should be spent, either by accepting direct personal payments or supporting projects such as railways or flood defences, the government said on Monday.

In a consultation published on Monday outlining how the shale wealth fund should be run, the government said payments to individual communities, where residents could decide what to do with the money, should not exceed £10 million over the 25-year lifespan of the fund. Residents would be given the choice of receiving payments directly or picking a project that would help their community.

"Local communities should be the first to benefit from the Shale Wealth Fund, and they should get to decide how a proportion of the funding is used," the government said in its consultation document.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Sunday that some tax proceeds from new shale gas developments could go directly into local residents' pockets, showing her support for the nascent industry that she hopes can ease Britain's growing reliance on imported gas.

Britain is estimated to have plenty of shale gas resources in place, enough to cover the country's annual gas needs for hundreds of years. But shale gas extraction has been slow because of local residents' and green campaigners' concerns over environmental impact and the fall in energy prices.

"The onshore oil and gas industry in the UK continues to believe that local people should share in the success of our industry and be rewarded for hosting sites on behalf of others in the country," said Ken Cronin, chief executive of the UK Onshore Oil and Gas body.

 

Competition Continues

England's Premier League will be able to continue to seek top prices for domestic TV football rights after the media regulator dropped a two-year investigation into the auction process. Alarmed by the runaway costs broadcasters have to pay to show the top games in the country's national sport, Ofcom launched an investigation in 2014 to examine whether the current system distorted or restricted competition.

Driven by a fierce rivalry, British TV companies Sky and BT paid a combined £5 billion to show live matches from 2016 to 2019, smashing expectations and sparking fears that those costs would be passed on to consumers. Ofcom has now said the investigation has been closed after the league agreed to increase the number of matches made available for live broadcast in the 2019/2020 season.

"Given the considerations outlined ..., we have decided to close the investigation," it said. "Ofcom's resources could be used more effectively on other priorities to benefit consumers and competition."

The investigation, sparked by a complaint by the cable TV operator Virgin Media, had been seen as a threat to the league and its leading clubs including the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. Virgin, which offers the games to its subscribers via wholesale deals meaning it feels the impact of higher costs, had argued the proportion of matches shown live on TV was lower than elsewhere in Europe.

The fact they are also shown exclusively by an individual broadcaster means the pay-TV groups compete to pay the highest price.

Ofcom said from 2019/2020 a minimum of 190 matches would be available for live broadcast per season, half of the 380 games that are played.


Olympics Recap

Hosts Brazil celebrated their first gold with Rafaela Silva's judo win, and Australia's women won the first Olympic rugby sevens title with a 24-17 win over arch-rivals New Zealand.

There are another 15 gold medals available tomorrow, but for now here's how the table looks:


Long Read

We hear a lot about the gender wage gap, but we don't often hear about the specifics of the disparity. This piece takes the issue to a new level, exploring the huge variety of factors differing between the lives and careers of men and women, breaking up into age groups, career paths, and family structure.

As one small candle may light a thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many.
— William Bradford