World roundup: August 16 2023
Stories from China, Libya, Guatemala, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
August 16, 1946: On what’s known as “Direct Action Day,” the All-India Muslim League organizes widespread protests calling for the creation of a separate Muslim state upon Britain’s departure from India. Those protests turned violent in several places, particularly in British Bengal (whose territory included modern Bangladesh and India’s West Bengal state), and that violence generally broke down along religious lines. Over about three days more than 4000 people were killed and 100,000 displaced just in Kolkata, and heavy violence continued until British authorities moved additional forces into Bengal on August 21. Debate over who bears more responsibility for this incident continues to the present day.
August 16, 1972: A rogue element within the Moroccan military attempts a coup against King Hassan II by attacking his airplane. The midair assassination attempt killed eight people but was thwarted by the king himself, who jumped on the radio and shouted “The tyrant is dead,” thereby causing the attacking aircraft to break off. Mohamed Oufkir, Moroccan defense minister and the ringleader of the coup plot, was later found dead after having incurred multiple gunshot wounds. Moroccan authorities said he’d committed suicide.
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doubled public sector salaries and pensions late Tuesday in response to the Syrian pound’s continued loss of value. The pound hit 15,000 per US dollar on Tuesday and has continued to slide beyond that milestone, which represents a dramatic decline from where it was at the start of the year (around 7000 per dollar). Assad’s government has been rolling back subsidies as they’ve become too costly to maintain, adding to the financial hardship of Syrians struggling with mounting inflation. These latest moves are likely to be a drop in the bucket in terms of alleviating that hardship.
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