Trump and his generals
Plus, Tiananmen Square vigils go on after all and other international news and notes
UNITED STATES: Controversy has only grown over the Trump administration’s violent clearing of protesters near the White House ahead of the President Donald Trump’s somber walk Monday evening to St. John’s Church to pose for a photo holding a Bible. On Tuesday, the president signed an executive order dramatically raising international religious freedom as a priority in U.S. foreign policy, but Monday’s events overshadowed it.Underscoring their significance, Gen. James Mattis—a 44-year Marine Corps veteran who resigned as Trump’s secretary of defense over disagreements with Syria policy—has spoken out, saying he is “angry and appalled” and “we must reject and hold accountable those in office who would make a mockery of our Constitution.” Trump, tweeting in response, said, “Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General.” Two currently serving generals, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, each issued a memorandum this week stipulating the military’s oath to the Constitution—and that National Guard units operate “under the authority of state governors.” Away from (and Wednesday night, inside) Washington, peaceful protests and racial reconciliation have abounded in the wake of protests followed by violence over George Floyd’s death in police custody, and the church is a place for healing. Here’s the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 snapshot.
HONG KONG: Residents on Thursday evening marked the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre with a socially distanced candlelight vigil in Victoria Park—despite Chinese orders banning the annual event. Thousands also crowded streets after being shut out of the park. That decision comes in the wake of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s crackdown on the once-autonomous territory.
The United States’ stripping Hong Kong of its special economic status also will hurt the businesses and people of Hong Kong.
IRAN has released U.S. Navy veteran Michael White, who Iranian authorities had detained for nearly two years.
AUSTRALIA: Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanded an investigation that includes high-level talks with the U.S. State Department after an Australian television crew was assaulted while riot police and National Guard units cleared Lafayette Park in Washington on Monday night.
GREECE: Demonstrators hurled firebombs at the U.S. Embassy in Athens during protests on Wednesday over George Floyd’s death. At the same time, thousands knelt in London’s Trafalgar Square, as demonstrators in Stockholm defied a COVID-19 ban on large gatherings to do likewise.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: Health officials declared a new Ebola outbreak in a city that last saw the virus in 2018. Congo has battled 10 previous outbreaks since the disease was first discovered in 1976.
NIGERIA: Christian Reformed Church of Nigeria pastor Emmanuel Bileya and his wife, Juliana, were killed while farming. They leave behind eight children and “a congregation full of believers.”
I’M READING The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish.
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