The Overflow for July 20th

International News

More Migrants Saved

2,500 migrants were plucked from overcrowded boats off the Libyan coast on Tuesday, with one dead body being recovered, as people smugglers operating in Libya took advantage of calm seas and warm weather. The smugglers had sent at least 26 boats toward Italy, the latest attempt by migrants fleeing war and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia to find a life in Europe.

Three Italian navy ships participated in the rescues, picking up more than 1,000 of those brought to safety so far. British and Spanish ships also aided in the rescues. The charity Doctors Without Borders said its ship, the Argos, had rescued migrants from five boats.

A deal with Turkey, and various border closures, have helped the EU to stem the flow of migrants from the Middle East and Asia coming through Turkey and Greece. Italy has received about the same number of migrants setting off from North Africa this year, as they did throughout 2015.

As of Monday, 79,861 migrants had arrived in Italy by sea, compared with 83,119 during the same period of last year, while the number of migrants arriving in Greece from Turkey was down 95%. And almost 3,000 boat migrants have died or gone missing in the Mediterranean this year, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

 

The Shrinking of the Islamic State

US-backed rebels fighting Islamic State have captured a headquarters operation as they pushed into the western Syrian town of Manbij over the weekend, the US military said in a statement on Tuesday. The Islamic State headquarters, which was located in a hospital, was being used as a command centre and logistics hub. The rebels also took control of part of the town, enabling civilians in the area to flee the fighting.

The Syrian rebels are continuing to battle Islamic State on four fronts for control of Manbij, clearing territory as they pushed toward the centre of the city.

Islamic State militants have staged counterattacks, but the Syrian rebels have maintained momentum with the help of air strikes by the US-led coalition, the statement said. It said the coalition has carried out more than 450 air strikes around Manbij since the operation to take the town began.

 

An Open Venezuela

Colombia wants a permanent opening of its border with Venezuela and will not allow further temporary crossings, the foreign minister said, after tens of thousands of Venezuelans streamed in during the weekend to buy items scarce in their own country. Facing an unprecedented economic crisis, Venezuela's socialist government has allowed citizens to cross into Colombia the past two weekends after closing the border last year in a crackdown on smuggling.

The next border opening should be permanent, Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin said. "We have taken the decision that there will not be another session like the ones over the past two weekends," she told journalists. "We will work for the opening, the next opening, to be definitive."

With many Venezuelans travelling from afar to reach the border, about 167,000 have taken the opportunity to shop for basics such as toilet paper, cooking oil, flour and baby supplies in border cities like Cucuta.

Venezuela closed the crossings along the two countries' land border in August 2015 in what Maduro described as an effort to combat smuggling of subsidised Venezuelan products to Colombia. And thousands of Colombians living in the neighbouring country returned home or were deported after the closings.

After Venezuela closed the main border crossings, critics said the move merely damaged bilateral trade and did little to tackle smuggling given numerous other informal routes and the complicity of authorities in trafficking. As shortages have grown more widespread in Venezuela, the trafficking phenomenon has reversed, with Venezuelans smuggling products back in from Colombia for sale at home.

Crossing the border into Colombia on Sunday, some Venezuelans chanted anti-Maduro slogans including: "It will fall, this government will fall!"


UK News

The Government's Stance

Britain will not begin its formal divorce from the European Union by invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year, a government lawyer told the High Court yesterday. Lawyer Jason Coppell indicated however that the government's current position could change. "The current position is that notification will not occur before the end of 2016," Coppell said.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously noted that article 50, which starts a two-year countdown to exit, should not be triggered this year.

Coppell was speaking at the start of a series of lawsuits brought by individuals to demand that the British government win legislative approval from parliament before triggering Article 50.

 

Labour Leadership

The race for control of Britain's opposition Labour Party narrowed as Angela Eagle withdrew, leaving incumbent Jeremy Corbyn up against a challenger promising a second Brexit referendum.

Labour's left wing and its more moderate factions have been locked in a power struggle ever since Britain voted to leave the European Union on June 23th, with critics saying Corbyn had not worked hard enough to prevent the Leave camp's victory.

Eagle, formerly the party's top business spokesperson, withdrew from the leadership contest after private tallies showed she had received less support than rival Owen Smith at the halfway stage in the nominating process.

"It is in the best interests of the Labour Party that we now come together so we can have one candidate," she told reporters. "We have a Labour Party at the moment that is not working, we have got a leader that doesn’t have the confidence of his members of parliament and isn’t reaching out to the country," Eagle said.

That leaves Corbyn, who has lost the support of most elected Labour members of parliament but remains popular with activists, up against Smith, his former work and pensions policy chief. Smith has said Britons should get to vote again on leaving the EU once the shape of a Brexit deal is decided.


Long Read

Diagnoses of mental disorders are more common in our cities than in rural areas. And the inclination is to expect that cities are generally bad for our mental health, but this isn't the case. As The Atlantic explains, only certain conditions have a proclivity to strike urban populations.

Every human being needs to know what she’s fighting for.
— Fredrik Backman