Donald Trump’s first speech to the UN General Assembly excoriated Iran and North Korea for threatening world peace. The American president promised to “totally destroy” the regime of Kim Jong Un, whom he called “Rocket Man”, if it attacked America or one of its allies. The North launched a missile on September 15th that travelled 3,700km, flying over Japan before falling into the sea. Mr Trump also emphasised the right of countries to protect their national sovereignty, which went down well with China and Russia. See article.

Republicans in the Senate geared up for another attempt to disassemble Obamacare. This time they want to pass a measure as part of the budget process, thus avoiding a filibuster. The legislation would revoke Obamacare’s mandate that people must have health insurance. It would also cut spending on Medicaid, the health-care programme for the hard-up. See article.

Seeking a reconciliation

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An Egyptian court sentenced 43 people to life in prison after a mass trial. Hundreds more were sentenced to between five and 15 years. Nearly 500 people were charged over violence that erupted after the military coup that toppled President Muhammad Morsi in 2013. Only 52 were acquitted. Amnesty International called the trial a “sham”.

Badly shaken

An earthquake of magnitude 7.1 shook central Mexico, destroying buildings and killing at least 230 people, on the anniversary of a devastating earthquake in 1985. The rising death toll included dozens buried beneath a school in Mexico City. See article.

Hurricane Maria struck the Caribbean, the second category-five storm in the region within a month. Around 90% of the buildings in Dominica were damaged; the Virgin Islands were badly hit by flooding. The power was knocked out across the entire island of Puerto Rico.

Guatemala’s congress back-pedaled on its attempt to change the law to make punishment for corruption more lenient by replacing jail sentences with fines. President Jimmy Morales promised to return payments of $7,000 a month he has received from the army for his role as commander-in-chief. Previous presidents did not receive such payments. Thousands marched in Guatemala City calling for Mr Morales to resign and congress to clean house.

The army’s new front

Facing brickbats for not speaking out against the ethnic cleansing of Muslim Rohingyas by Myanmar’s army, Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s de facto leader, said that human-rights violations would be punished, but suggested that the situation was not so bad since many Rohingyas had decided not to flee. Amnesty accused the Nobel peace laureate of “burying her head in the sand”. 

In Pakistan, the wife of Nawaz Sharif won a by-election for the parliamentary seat that he was forced to vacate when he stood down as prime minister. Mr Sharif was disqualified from office by the supreme court over allegations of impropriety, which he denies. See article. 

An election in Macau returned the pro-Beijing government to power, despite voter anger in the Chinese territory at the poor response to the strongest typhoon to hit the city in 50 years.

Pouring oil on fire

The Spanish police arrested 14 regional officials in Catalonia, part of the national government’s effort to gather evidence against a planned referendum for independence. The ballot is due to take place on October 1st, though Madrid has declared it illegal. Thousands protested in Barcelona against the arrests. Carles Puigdemont, Catalonia’s president, accused the government of suspending the region’s autonomy and of declaring a de facto state of emergency. See article.

The government of Iceland collapsed after the prime minister was accused of trying to cover up a letter written by his father supporting the civil rights of a notorious paedophile. That prompted the Bright Future party to leave the coalition government.

In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, who was ousted as prime minister in 2011, made a formal return to the political stage. At a meeting of his party, Forza Italia, he presented himself as a pro-European moderate who could lead the centre-right back to power in an election, expected next March.

A Russian helicopter taking part in the Zapad 2017 war games close to the border with Estonia reportedly fired a missile by mistake near a group of spectators. The Russian government bars foreign observers from such exercises. See article.

Police in London arrested several men in their investigation into a homemade bomb that partially exploded on an Underground train heading into the centre of the city. There were no fatalities, but 30 people were injured. The threat from international terrorism was briefly elevated to “critical”, the highest level, for the second time this year.

Britain’s foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, was criticised for repeating the bogus figure of £350m ($475m) that the Leave campaign in last year’s referendum had claimed Britain could save by departing the EU. Defending his position after a cabinet colleague said he was “back-seat driving” on Brexit, Mr Johnson gave a bumbling interview amid speculation he could resign. Ahead of her big set-piece speech on Brexit, Theresa May, the prime minister, slapped Mr Johnson down, saying that her government was “driven from the front”. See article.

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