Month in brief

Trump accepts refugee deal with Australia

Trump accepts refugee deal with Australia

The US agreed to accept a first group of about 50 refugees from Australia’s offshore detention centres under a deal Donald Trump called ‘dumb’, ‘ridiculous’ and ‘rotten’ in an acrimonious phone call with Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull that later became public. Australia pays Papua New Guinea and Nauru to hold refugees who try to arrive by boat. Trump is honouring a deal made by his predecessor, Barack Obama, to resettle up to 1,250 refugees.

China denies river data to India

India said China had provided no hydrological data since mid-May on the Brahmaputra river, hampering efforts to protect against monsoon-season flooding. China blamed technical problems while hydrological stations were upgraded, but it emerged that the Chinese were still sharing data with Bangladesh, into which the Brahmaputra flows. There was speculation that the issue was connected to an India-China border dispute in the Doklam area.

Nawaz Sharif’s wife wins his seat

Kulsoom Sharif, the wife of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, won a by-election for his Lahore parliamentary seat by a narrow margin, despite the constituency being regarded as a Sharif family fiefdom. In a poll widely seen as a referendum on Nawaz’s disqualification from office by the Supreme Court, Kulsoom’s majority over Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik Insaf party was reduced to 14,000 from 40,000 at the 2013 election.

Pipe break disrupts NZ flights

A mechanical digger ruptured a pipeline carrying jet fuel to Auckland airport, New Zealand’s main international hub, disrupting flights and stranding thousands of passengers. Less than a third of normal supplies were available during repair works, leading to domestic flight cancellations and forcing long-haul airlines to refuel in Australia and Pacific islands. Though other types of fuel were moved by road, petrol stations in Auckland still ran dry.

No contest for Singapore president

Halimah Yacob became Singapore’s first female president, but there was no election, because she was the only candidate. Other potential candidates were ruled out because they failed a wealth test. Yacob, a former trade unionist and parliamentary speaker, is also only the second president from the Malay minority – but that was partly because the government decided to restrict the contest to Malay candidates, leading to jibes that she was ‘selected, not elected’.

US apologises for offensive leaflet

The US military in Afghanistan was forced to apologise after a leaflet distributed in Parwan province showed a passage from the Koran superimposed on a picture of a dog, an animal considered unclean by Muslims. The passage forms part of the banner of the Taliban, which said it had launched a suicide attack on US forces in revenge. The leaflet called on people to report insurgents to the authorities.

A park? No, a QR code

The Chinese village of Xilinshui, which received a grant of 1.1 million yuan ($168,000) after being named the ‘most beautiful’ in Hebei province, spent some of the money on planting 130,000 Chinese juniper trees in the shape of a giant QR code. Scanned with a mobile phone or tablet, the code links to a web page promoting the village to tourists. QR (Quick Response) codes are popular in China for making small payments.

Koala takes unexpected trip

Trump accepts refugee deal with AustraliaA female koala survived a 10-mile ride on the axle of a four-wheel drive vehicle after the driver stopped and heard its cries of distress. The marsupial crept into the underside of the vehicle while it was parked near Adelaide, capital of South Australia. A wheel had to be removed to rescue the animal, which was released into the wild unharmed, apart from singed fur.

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