The Hill Talk’s Glance at the Globe

Australian lawmakers legalize gay marriageFollowing a national vote in November showing solid majority support for recognizing the union between two members of the same sex, Australia’s House of Representatives passed a measure Thursday which changes the definition of marriage to “two people”, striking language limiting the institution to only one man and one woman.

Australia will begin to issue gay marriage licenses on Jan. 9, 2018 — the 27th country to do so.  Other nations that allow the practice include neighboring New Zealand, as well as a majority of countries in Central and Western Europe, the U.S., Canada and South Africa.

According to ANZ bank, the move will boost Australia’s economy by at least $492 million in U.S. dollars based on weddings alone. In 2016, there 47,000 same-sex couples in Australia according to a national government survey.

Putin confirms he will seek re-election in Russia:  In an unsurprising announcement Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin corroborated reports he will seek the Russian presidency in the 2018 general election.

An early favorite to maintain his hold on power in Russia, Putin enjoys an 83 percent favorable view in opinion polls among those Russians surveyed.

First elected in 2000, Putin served two terms, stood down in 2008, and was returned to the Kremlin in 2012.  Should Mr. Putin win re-election in March 2018, he will serve a six-year term ending in 2024.

UN peacekeeping troops slain in Congo:  Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) killed at least 14 UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on Thursday, a strike UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres says amounts to a war crime.

A further 53 UN peacekeepers were injured in the attack in North Kivu province. Image: Google Maps

UN officials theorize ADF insurgents conducted the cross-border raid from neighboring Uganda on a UN base, killing 14 UN troops, most of whom were part of Tanzanian detachment assigned to the UN.  Five Congolese soldier were also killed in the raid.

ADF is an Islamist rebel group with known links to al-Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabaab.

Houthi rebels capture Saana, kill ex-president:  The ongoing war in Yemen claimed an unexpected victim as Houthi rebels turned on former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, on Monday.

According to reports, in the attempt to flee from Yemeni capital, Saana, Saleh’s motorcade was ambushed by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels and his car was hit by a rocket propelled grenade.  Saleh was dragged from his car and shot on the side of the road.

Saleh became the leader of the Houthis in 2015 as the group rose against Saudi-backed Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.  A fissure emerged between Saleh and the Houthi in the summer of 2017 when Saleh appeared to turn against the Houthi.

His death followed a speech Saleh delivered last week in which he signaled a willingness to negotiate with Saudi Arabia and Mr. Hadi.

UK, EU reach agreement on first stage of Brexit:  One week after an agreement appeared sealed requiring a €50-million exit fee, the UK and the European Union (EU) have cemented an agreement which will overcomes the first hurdle to officially leave the European economic bloc.

Under the terms of the agreement, EU citizens residing in the UK and UK citizens living in EU member countries can stay with their rights respected.  Northern Ireland will also depart the EU, as it is considered part of the whole UK.

Additionally, the UK will continue to pay its EU liabilities and over the next two years will continue to make normal, annual contributions into the EU budget.

North Korea wants direct talks with U.S.:  After months of saber rattling, ballistic-missile tests and persistent threats directed at Pacific Rim neighbors and the U.S., North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has indicated a desire to hold direct talks with the U.S., according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Speaking on behalf of President Vladimir Putin, Lavrov said the Kremlin is prepared to facilitate face-to-face negotiations between the two nations.

Lavrov informed U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of North Korea’s desire to discuss Pyongyang’s security interests at a security summit in Vienna, Austria.  The U.S. did not respond to the report.


[Wall Street Journal] [Moscow Times] [BBC] [Al Arabiya] [The Guardian] [NK News]