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Keir Starmer, Britain’s new prime minister, presented his agenda as an antidote to populism, focusing on housebuilding, crime, illegal migration, and public trust during the King’s Speech. King Charles III opened the new parliamentary session, highlighting Starmer’s “national renewal” slogan with pledges to nationalize railways, address the housing crisis, and combat illegal migration. Starmer criticized previous Tory governments and populism, advocating for pragmatism and problem-solving. His 40-bill agenda aims to appeal to a broad voter coalition and counteract populism’s divisive effects.

Read more at: https://edition.cnn.com/2024/07/17/uk/king-charles-iii-unveils-keir-starmers-plans-for-britain-in-state-opening-of-parliament/index.html

Six people, including two US citizens, were found dead in a Bangkok luxury hotel, likely from cyanide-laced tea and coffee following a dispute over bad investments, Thai police said. The bodies were discovered in a locked suite at the Grand Hyatt Erawan after missing check-out. Police found traces of cyanide in cups and a teapot. Initially searching for a seventh person, authorities now believe one of the deceased poisoned the others. The victims include two Vietnamese Americans and four Vietnamese nationals.

Read more at: https://edition.cnn.com/2024/07/17/asia/cyanide-thai-hotel-deaths-intl-hnk/index.html

The new UK Labour government is leveraging key events like the Nato Summit, the European Political Community gathering, and the King’s Speech to solidify its position and transition from opposition to leadership. Despite Rishi Sunak’s continued opposition, the prime minister is now a different person. The change in government brings a flurry of new job titles and a focus on turning political promises into reality. These events provide ceremonial and visual reinforcement of their agenda, helping to shift attention from negative headlines about the Welsh Labour government.

Read more at: https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cger4p12vkzo

A senior North Korean diplomat based in Cuba has defected to South Korea, according to South Korea’s spy agency. The diplomat, Ri Il Kyu, fled with his family in November, citing disillusionment with North Korea’s political system and unfair job evaluations. Ri also mentioned the lack of medical equipment in Cuba due to international sanctions as a reason for his defection. South Korean media confirmed the reports, while North Korea has not yet responded. North Korea has previously accused South Korea of enticing its citizens to defect and labeled defectors as traitors or criminals.

Read more at: https://www.npr.org/2024/07/16/nx-s1-5042175/north-korea-diplomat-cuba-defects-south-korea

A senior North Korean diplomat, Ri Il-kyu, defected to South Korea in November, becoming the highest-ranking defector since 2016, according to South Korea’s National Intelligence Service. Ri, a counsellor at the North Korean embassy in Cuba, was responsible for preventing diplomatic ties between South Korea and Cuba. He cited disillusionment with the regime and unfair work evaluations as reasons for his defection. Ri had previously received commendation from Kim Jong-un for negotiating the release of a North Korean ship in 2013. Defectors often undergo clearance and education about South Korean society.

Read more at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/article/2024/jul/16/north-korea-diplomat-flees-south-ri-il-kyu-cuba

Absa Samba, who underwent female genital mutilation (FGM) at age 2, now openly criticizes the practice, highlighting its harm to women’s dignity and well-being. The World Health Organization condemns FGM as a human rights violation causing physical and psychological damage. In The Gambia, intense debates have recently culminated in a significant victory for anti-FGM activists, marking a pivotal moment in their campaign against the practice.

Read more at: https://www.npr.org/2024/07/16/nx-s1-5040481/female-genital-mutilation-gambia

A sea creature washed up on a New Zealand beach might be the world’s rarest whale, the spade-toothed whale, according to the Department of Conservation. The male, about 16 feet long, was found near Taieri Mouth. Spade-toothed whales are extremely rare, with only six specimens studied and no live sightings recorded. The species is classified as data deficient. The first intact specimen was found in 2010, with another stranding in 2017. This recent find could provide valuable insights, said Coastal Otago Operations Manager Gabe Davies.

Read more at: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2024/07/16/spade-toothed-whale-new-zealand/74421523007/

In Bangladesh, at least five people were killed as students clashed with police over a quota system that reserves 30% of government jobs for families of 1971 independence war veterans. Tens of thousands protested nationwide, blocking highways and rail links, marking the first major unrest against Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government since her fourth term began in January. Police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse demonstrators, particularly in Rangpur, where a student reportedly died under unclear circumstances.

Read more at: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/7/16/at-least-one-student-killed-during-anti-quota-protests-in-bangladesh

The Israeli military will start sending draft notices to Jewish ultra-Orthodox men next week, following a Supreme Court order for their enlistment. This move could destabilize Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government and provoke large protests. Ultra-Orthodox men had been exempt from the draft, causing public resentment, especially after prolonged conflict with Hamas. The enlistment process is lengthy and may face resistance. The court deemed the exemptions discriminatory, but ultra-Orthodox leaders argue that religious study is crucial. Netanyahu’s government depends on ultra-Orthodox parties, which oppose the changes.

Read more at: https://apnews.com/article/israel-ultraorthodox-military-draft-gaza-war-c35b3a025da8cdd9b61f1c748a209419

Spade-toothed whales are the world’s rarest, with no live sightings recorded. Their population, diet, and habitat in the southern Pacific Ocean remain unknown. Recently, a 16.5ft creature believed to be a spade-toothed whale washed up on New Zealand’s South Island. Identified by its color patterns and skull shape, this specimen could provide groundbreaking scientific insights. If confirmed, it would be the first dissectable specimen, allowing scientists to study its diet and habitat. Only six other spade-toothed whales have been found, but they were buried before DNA testing could confirm their identity.

Read more at: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/new-zealand-worlds-rarest-spade-toothed-whale-beak-teeth-rcna162047