From Salman Rushdie’s road to recovery to women protesting in Kabul – Here’s your August 15 news briefing

From Salman Rushdie’s road to recovery to women protesting in Kabul – Here’s your August 15 news briefing
FILE PHOTO: British author Salman Rushdie listens during an interview with Reuters in London April 15, 2008. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

To start off, we’re looking into:

The attack on Salman Rushdie

Back in 1988, novelist Salman Rushdie released “The Satanic Verses,” in which two characters become an angel and a devil after a plane explosion. A series of dream sequences in the book includes a made-up narration of the life of the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The novel got a lot of pushback from those who said the story was blasphemous to Islam. It caused such outrage that Iran’s then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, which is basically an Islamic legal ruling, putting a bounty of over US$3 million out on his head. Rushdie faced years of death threats after the novel’s publication and was put under strict police protection.

On Friday, Rushdie was attacked and stabbed multiple times by a guy named Hadi Matar at an event in New York, where Rushdie was giving a speech about exiled and persecuted writers and how the US provided a haven for them. He was initially in critical condition, having been stabbed at least 10 times in the face, neck and abdomen. He’s still alive, though, and was just taken off a ventilator on Sunday and can speak. Meanwhile, US-born Matar has pleaded not guilty in his court case and is currently in jail. Some Iranians and Muslims around the world responded positively online to news of the incident, but others see the stabbing as an attack on free speech and expression.

Controversial Chinese ship docking in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka China
Source: The Belt & Road Initiative Sri Lanka (BRISL)

Right now, Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented financial crisis – its worst since it gained independence in 1948. The country’s neighbor, India, has been helping Sri Lanka more than any other nation. Because of the crisis, massive protests caused former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to flee the country for Singapore and ultimately resign. Already in debt to China, Sri Lanka leased its Hambantota port to China back in 2017. So, China and India are both really economically influential to Sri Lanka right now.

On Saturday, Sri Lanka announced that it had given China permission to dock survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 in its waters. The ship is expected to arrive at the Hambantota port on August 16. India and the US have warned against this move over security concerns, with Indian media even referring to it as a “dual-use spy ship.” Foreign security analysts describe the vessel as a space-tracking ship that can monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. So with the ship’s extensive capabilities, India is voicing fears that China could start using the port as a military base. But, on Friday, it dismissed claims that it was pressuring Sri Lanka to turn the ship away.

Women protest in Kabul

About a year ago, the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, making substantial changes to women’s rights in the country. Despite promises that the Taliban would take a more progressive approach with its laws, now most young girls can’t go to secondary school, there are more restrictions on women’s employment and movement, and there are increased child and forced marriages in the country. On top of that, it’s difficult to take legal action for domestic violence, and women must again completely cover themselves in public, ideally in a burqa.

On Saturday, around 40 women staged a protest – the first of its kind in months – outside the education ministry in Kabul. They marched for work rights and political participation, calling for international support. Carrying a banner that read “August 15 is a black day,” referring to the date the Taliban seized control of the country last year. The women chanted, “Justice! Justice! We’re fed up with ignorance,” with many choosing not to wear face veils or cover themselves. Quickly, Taliban fighters stopped the protest by firing bullets into the air, and they then beat escaping women with their rifle butts. Some journalists were detained and had their cameras taken away, and some were also beaten, according to an AFP correspondent. No deaths have been reported so far.

To end, we’ll look into:

Chinese internet watchdog publishes Musk article

China’s internet watchdog, the Cyberspace Administration of China, is in charge of creating rules on the internet in China. It regularly publishes a magazine called China Wangxin, or China Cyberspace. Typically, it uses the publication to make announcements about policy decisions, but it also can sometimes feature prominent people in the tech sector – and this most recent one was a doozie.

Elon Musk was one of the authors in the recent edition, writing a pretty lofty article where he essentially pitched his beliefs and ideas for his companies SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink.

“As technology accelerates, it may one day surpass human understanding and control,” he wrote in the article. “Some are optimistic and some are pessimistic. But I believe that as long as we are not complacent and always maintain a sense of urgency, the future of humanity will be bright, driven by the power of technology.”

Musk makes a lot of money in China – Tesla makes about a quarter of its revenue there. So this article was a really big chance for Musk to advertise his products with implicit approval from Chinese officials essentially.

Musk wasn’t the only big name in this edition, though – Ant Group CEO Eric Jing Xiandong also had an article in the magazine titled “Bringing small but beautiful changes to the world.”

Stepping back, these articles have been published as China starts to ease its grip on the internet and tech industry after an unprecedented, sweeping crackdown. It also represents the remarkable amount of influence the private sector has recently gained in the country in just a quick few decades.

In other news …

💔Shooting in Jerusalem: On Sunday, eight people were wounded in Jerusalem when a Palestinian gunman opened fire. According to Israeli police, he’s not associated with any Palestinian militant groups.

US lawmakers arrive in Taipei: A US legislative delegation arrived in Taipei on Sunday. They plan on meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen. But tensions between China and Taiwan are still high following Nancy Pelosi’s visit, and Taiwan has said that 11 Chinese military aircraft have crossed its median line.

💣Explosion hits Armenian capital: At a market in Yerevan, an explosion went off, trapping an unknown number of people underneath the rubble. So far, there’s been one known casualty. They haven’t been able to determine the cause of the explosion and are working to rescue survivors.

📊Hong Kong arrivals to jump: After easing the hotel quarantine period for travelers to a ‘3+4’ model, Hong Kong could see a jump of up to 80% in arrivals to the city, according to its health minister. As travel increases, Hong Kong’s economy may begin to recover from its COVID dip.

🥵Heat waves in China: Temperatures exceeded 40 degrees Celsius across several regions of southwestern China on Saturday. ​​The province of Zhejiang broke its previous record for high-temperature days this year.

🦴Jurassic World: A new dinosaur species discovered in Argentina has been announced. Named Jakapil kaniukura, this armored dino was about 5-feet-long and likely walked upright. It’s the first of its kind discovered in South America.

​​🌊R.I.P Freya the walrus: A 600-kilogram Norwegian walrus, nicknamed Freya by her fans, became a national attraction in Oslo after climbing onto parked boats to sunbathe and, in the process, sometimes sinking them. One time, Freya even chased a woman into the water. But on Sunday, the country’s fisheries agency issued a statement saying that it had decided to put Freya down because she posed a danger to humans who were ignoring the warnings and moving her out of the bay was too risky for her.

Written and put together by Jake Shropshire, Vanessa Wolosz, Christine Dulion and Krystal Lai