The Overflow for July 21st

International News

Most-Wanted Militant

Indonesian police are on high alert for reprisal attacks after the country's most-wanted militant was killed this week. Police confirmed Santoso, among the first Indonesians to pledge loyalty to Islamic State, was killed in a gun battle with security forces on the island of Sulawesi on Monday, but officials say the threat level in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation remains high.

Rudy Sufahriadi, the police chief for central Sulawesi, said the security operation in Poso, where the US-designated "terrorist" Santoso had been hiding, would continue. "There is a possibility of a backlash," he told reporters. "They are not terrorists if they do not take revenge."

Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said operations would be intensified in regions considered hotbeds for radicalism. Around 20 members of Santoso's Mujahidin Indonesia Timur remain in hiding in the jungles of Sulawesi, where Indonesia has been running a major security operation for years.

President Joko Widodo last year stepped up efforts to capture or kill Santoso, ordering the military to support thousands of police scouring the jungles where he was hiding. The effort included fighter jets and warships.


Turkey closing the internet

Turkey has blocked access to the WikiLeaks website, hours after it leaked thousands of ruling party emails just as Ankara grapples with the aftermath of a failed military coup. 

WikiLeaks on Tuesday released nearly 300,000 emails from the AK Party dating from 2010 to July 6 this year. Obtained before the attempted coup, the date of their publication was brought forward "in response to the government's post-coup purges", WikiLeaks said on its website.

Around 50,000 soldiers, police, judges and teachers have been suspended or detained since the attempted coup on the weekend, and Turkey's Western allies have expressed concern over the crackdown's reach.

Turkey's Telecommunications Communications Board said on Wednesday that an "administrative measure" had been taken against the website - the term it commonly uses when blocking access to sites. Turkey routinely uses Internet shutdowns in response to political events, which critics and human rights advocates see as part of a broader attack on the media and freedom of expression.


In Accordance with International Law

US military forces will continue to operate in the South China Sea in accordance with international law, US Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson said on Wednesday during a visit to a Chinese naval base. China has refused to recognise a ruling by an arbitration court in The Hague that invalidated its vast territorial claims in the South China Sea, and did not take part in the proceedings brought by the Philippines.

China has repeatedly blamed the United States for stirring up trouble in the South China Sea, a strategic waterway through which more than $5 trillion of trade moves annually.

The United States has conducted freedom of navigation patrols close to Chinese-held islands, to Beijing's anger, while China has been bolstering its military presence there.

Meeting Yuan Yubai, commander of the Chinese North Sea Fleet, Richardson "underscored the importance of lawful and safe operations in the South China and elsewhere professional navies operate", the U.S. Navy said. US forces would keep sailing, flying and operating wherever international law allows, Richardson added. "The U.S. Navy will continue to conduct routine and lawful operations around the world, including in the South China Sea, in order to protect the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of sea and airspace guaranteed to all. This will not change."

State news agency Xinhua said on Wednesday that countries outside the region should stay out of the South China Sea issue lest they cause unwanted problems. "Western countries have a long history of failing to establish orderly rule over parts of the world. The Middle East is a classic example," it said.

UK News

Stepping back already

Britain will give up its planned presidency of the European Council, due to start in July 2017, to focus on negotiating the country's exit from the European Union a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday. The decision, reached in a phone call between May and EU Council President Donald Tusk, reflects the scale of the task facing Britain as it seeks to negotiate a new relationship with the EU.

"The Prime Minister suggested that the UK should relinquish the rotating Presidency of the Council, currently scheduled for the second half of 2017, noting that we would be prioritising the negotiations to leave the European Union," the spokeswoman said. "The Prime Minister explained that we will need to carefully prepare for the negotiations to leave the EU before triggering Article 50," she said, referring to the formal legal process for leaving the bloc.

"Donald Tusk reassured the Prime Minister that he will help to make this process happen as smoothly as possible."

A spokesman for Tusk said there had been no decision yet on who would take up the vacant slot, and that discussions on the issue would begin immediately between ambassadors.

The presidency is currently held by Slovakia and is due to be handed over to Malta for the first half of 2017, with Estonia was due to follow the British presidency. Possible solutions could be to extend Malta and Estonia's terms by three months to cover the gap or for Belgium to step in for the six months.


Unemployment down

Britain's jobless rate fell in May to its lowest level since 2005 as the labour market strengthened in the run-up to last month's vote to leave the European Union, official data showed on Wednesday.

The unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in the three months to May, the lowest level since October 2005 and down from 5.0% in April.

Bank of England policymakers will be watching closely how Britain's labour market reacts to the vote to leave the European Union, having warned slower growth and higher inflation are likely to result. Wages continued to increase ahead of the referendum as expected, with pay including bonuses rising 2.3 percent in the three months to May - the biggest increase since October 2015.

A survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed the number of permanent staff hired via recruitment firms fell for the first time since December 2012 - around the last time Britain's economy flirted with recession. Another survey of chief financial officers from Deloitte, conducted after the referendum, showed fewer than 1% planned to increase hiring in the next year.

Long Read

After events earlier this week, in which Melania Trump was accused of copying part of a speech given by Michelle Obama in 2012, today's long read is on the subject of plagiarism. An older piece, and curious for being very much a defender of copying and re-attributing, bits and pieces, here and there. Jonathan Letham for Harper's.


I cock my hat as I please.
— Walt Whitman