After almost two years investigating Russian interference in America’s presidential election of 2016, Robert Mueller presented his report to William Barr, the attorney-general, who released a summary. The special counsel found no collusion between anyone on Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russians who had meddled in the election. Questions about whether the president tried to obstruct justice were left “unresolved”. Democrats were not pleased; they want Mr Barr to release the full report to Congress. See article.
In a sharp reversal of its earlier position, the Justice Department said it would now support striking down the whole of Obamacare, rather than certain aspects of it. The health-care act is going through a tortuous legal appeals process and will probably end up before the Supreme Court.
Mr Trump caused confusion when he tweeted that he had overturned “additional large-scale sanctions” against North Korea. That led to much head-scratching, since no such sanctions had been announced. He may have been thinking of planned measures, or of penalties for Chinese firms involved in sanctions-busting.
Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, asked Spain to apologise for crimes committed against indigenous Mexicans by the conquistadors 500 years ago. He also asked the Vatican to say sorry. Spain refused to apologise, saying the conquest “cannot be judged in the light of contemporary considerations”.
Two Russian military planes with some 100 troops and tonnes of equipment aboard arrived in Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. Russia backs Nicolás Maduro, the country’s left-wing dictator. America’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, told the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, that “the United States and regional countries will not stand idly by as Russia exacerbates tensions in Venezuela.”
Michel Temer, Brazil’s president until this year, was released from jail four days after being arrested at the request of prosecutors investigating corruption. He was not charged with a crime.
An ever-present danger
Israel exchanged heavy fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza. The fighting started when a rocket from Gaza hit a house north of Tel Aviv. No deaths were reported. Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, cut short a trip to America to deal with the crisis. See article.
Donald Trump signed a proclamation recognising Israel’s control of the Golan Heights, which it captured from Syria in 1967. Arab countries rejected the move, which was seen as a political gift to Mr Netanyahu just weeks before Israel holds an election.
An American-backed Kurdish and Arab militia ousted the jihadists of Islamic State from their last foothold in Syria. IS now resembles a more conventional terrorist group, with lots of money but no territory.
After weeks of protests against the ailing president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algeria’s army chief, Ahmed Gaid Salah, demanded that he be declared unfit to rule. Mr Salah had previously stood by Mr Bouteflika’s attempt to remain president while holding a national conference on Algeria’s political future. Many Algerians think Mr Salah should go, too.
The UN investigated a massacre of Fulani villagers in central Mali in which perhaps 160 people were killed by militias from the Dogon ethnic group. Intercommunal violence has led to as many as 600 deaths in the region over the past year.
Estimates of the number of deaths caused by a tropical cyclone in Mozambique increased to the thousands. Rescue workers believe that several thousand people have died and that their bodies have been washed out to sea. Another 180 are thought to have died in Zimbabwe. See article.
A close-run thing
Initial results from Thailand’s election suggested that parties opposed to the current military junta had won roughly half the seats in the lower house of parliament. Leaders of the biggest such party, Pheu Thai, claimed the right to form a government. But they also expressed fears that the Election Commission would find ways to deprive them of their victory. See article.
India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi, announced that the armed forces had successfully tested an anti-satellite missile; he declared India to be a “space power”. Opposition politicians dismissed the test as an electoral stunt. See article.
The ruling Liberal Party won a third term in government in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales. The result defied the national polls, which show the Liberals trailing the opposition Labor Party, giving them hope ahead of the national election due in May. See article.
An explosion at a pesticide factory in Xiangshui, a county in the Chinese province of Jiangsu, killed at least 78 people. It was China’s worst industrial accident since 2015. See article.
The Chinese Communist Party expelled Meng Hongwei, a former president of Interpol and vice-minister of public security. The party accused Mr Meng of accepting “huge amounts” of money and gifts in exchange for appointments, and of using public money to fund his family’s “extravagant” lifestyle. He was detained last year, while still in office at Interpol’s headquarters in France, during a trip to Beijing.
China’s Tsinghua University suspended a legal scholar, Xu Zhangrun, from his teaching posts and placed him under investigation because of articles he wrote criticising China’s president, Xi Jinping.
Day by day
After voting to wrest control of the Brexit process from the government, British MPs failed to come up with any alternative, rejecting eight amendments that attempted to find a path out of the chaos. This was after the EU granted the government a short extension to the date on which Britain will leave, which could be April 12th if the withdrawal agreement struck between Theresa May and the EU does not pass Parliament. In a bid to woo support for that deal, Mrs May offered to resign as prime minister before the next phase of the negotiations. See article.
China’s president, Xi Jinping, visited Europe. In Rome, the Italian government signed an agreement to take part in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the first G7 country to do so. Dozens of trade deals were signed with other European countries. Mr Xi also attended a summit with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel.
This article appeared in the The world this week section of the print edition under the headline “Politics this week”