The Overflow for July 27th

International News

Terrorist attack in France

An undated photo of French priest, Father Jacques Hamel of the parish of Saint-Etienne, who was killed in an attack on the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (Reuters/Handout)

An undated photo of French priest, Father Jacques Hamel of the parish of Saint-Etienne, who was killed in an attack on the church at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray. (Reuters/Handout)

Islamic State-affiliated terrorists barged into a French church service in Normandy on Tuesday and killed the 85-year-old priest. One of the attackers was on a list of likely jihadists and was supposed to be under strict surveillance.

The attackers left the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray shouting "Allahu akbar" before they were shot and killed by police.

Sister Danielle, a nun who escaped the attack, said that Father Jacques Hamel was forced to his knees by the assailants after they entered the church while he was leading prayer. 

"They forced him to his knees and he tried to defend himself and that's when the drama began," she said. "They filmed themselves. It was like a sermon in Arabic around the altar."

Three other worshippers were held hostage in the church until the assailants were killed by police. One was badly injured.

Amaq, a news agency affiliated with Islamic State, said that two of its "soldiers" had carried out the attack.

France's anti-terrorism prosecutor Francois Molins identified one of the attackers as 19-year-old Adel Kermiche, a man who was already known to intelligence forces after he tried and failed to reach Syria to wage jihad several times.

Kermiche tried to reach Syria in March 2015 for the first time but was arrested in Germany. He then returned to France and was placed under surveillance and prohibited from leaving his area. He slipped away two month later and was intercepted once again in Turkey in a second attempt to travel to Syria. 

He was returned to France and detained until late March, when he was released with an electronic tag. He was forced to surrender his passport and was allowed to leave his parents' home for only a few hours each day. 

In a country still reeling from its last terrorist attack less than two weeks ago in Nice, President Hollande said in a televised address"In the face of this threat that has never been greater in France and Europe, the government is absolutely determined (to defeat) terrorism."


Russian Hackers

US President Barack Obama said that it was possible Russia is interested in influencing the upcoming US presidential election, after a leak of Democratic National Committee emails that have been attributed to Russian hackers. 

Obama said that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was investigating the leak of more than 19,000 DNC emails. The emails ultimately showed that the committee favoured former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over Senator Bernie Sanders for the party's presidential nomination. 

The leak and resulting scandal forced Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida to resign as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

In an interview broadcast, Obama said, "What we do know is that the Russians hack our systems, not just government systems but private systems."

Clinton, who received the Democratic nomination at the party's convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday, will face Donald Trump in the national election on November 9. 

"What the motives were in terms of the leaks, all that, I can't say directly. What I do know is that Donald Trump has repeated expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin," Obama said. 

Trump has called Putin a "strong leader." The Republican nominee also said that should he win the election, NATO might not automatically defend the Baltic states that were once part oft he Soviet Union.


South Sudan Leadership

South Sudan President Salva Kiir replaced his vice president and rival Riek Machar. The move could put last year's peace deal at risk and reignite war in the young nation.

Machar was sworn in as vice president in April, eight months after a peace deal ended two years of fighting. Rivalry between Kiir and Machar triggered the fighting when Kiir fired him as his deputy in 2013. Violence has struck the capital Juba again early this month when forces directed by each men battled each other with tanks, helicopters, and heavy weaponry.

Machar comes from the minority Nuer ethnic group, whereas Kiir is the leader of the dominant Dinka group. Machar left Juba, saying that he would return when an international body had set up a buffer between his fighters and those led by Kiir. 

Kiir responded by saying Machar had 48 hours to contact him, return to Juba, and reinstate last year's peace deal. His ultimatum stated that he would be replaced if he does not comply.

Machar did not make contact, and Kiir has now issued a decree "for the appointment of the first vice president of the republic of South Sudan." General Tabal Deng Gai has been named to the post. Deng Gai was minister of mining and a chief negotiator for Machar's SPLM-IO group in the talks leading to last year's peace deal. He recently switched sides to back Kiir's ultimatum.

South Sudan's last war, beginning in the five-year-old nation in 2013, killed more than 10,000 people and displaced over 2 million. 

UK News

Early 2017

International trade minister Liam Fox said that early next year could be the best time for Britain to trigger Article 50 in order for a deal to be reached with the European Union before the next national election in 2020. 

He also said that the UK will likely aim to enter a free-trade agreement with the EU rather than a closer customs union, which he said could restrict its ability to negotiate lower tariffs with trading partners.

Prime Minister Theresa May said that Britain will not trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty this year, as it needs more time to prepare for the negotiations it will entail. 

Fox said that timing continues to be a topic of debate in the new government.


Big Borrowing

Britain could borrow 65 billion pounds more than originally planned over the next two years as new finance minister Philip Hammond aims to "reset" government budget policies after last month's vote to leave the EU. 

Experts and ratings agencies expect borrowing to rise significantly next year for the first time since 2010 as Hammond calls for an end to the austerity dominating predecessor George Osborne's term in office. 

Hammond said that the policies taken on by the Conservative government since 2010 needed to change in light of the post-Brexit outlook. He said that the scale of any stimulus would hinge on how quickly the economy was slowing by the time of the Autumn Statement, the half-yearly budget update. 

"There is going to need to be a rethink," said Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Long Read

The swan song of an era was beckoned in last week, as Yahoo! was sold to telecoms giant Verizon for a relatively paltry $4.8 billion. At this end of the long slope down for one of the rulers of the early web, Bloomberg takes a look through the rise and fall of Yahoo.

The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.
— Ernest Hemingway

News sourced from Reuters