Saturday, the 19th of August
Welcome back,

Here's everything you need to know but may have missed this week.

First we explore how a terrible week of rain has claimed deaths across the globe. Next, we return to the sickeningly familiar theme of terrorist attacks in Europe. Then a visit to Hong Kong.

And of course, we've got The Trumpeter, plus recaps of the best and the worst news of the week. 

Happy reading. 

- Tom
It's been the week of the deluge. Some of the poorest communities in West Africa and the Indian subcontinent have suffered grievously. In Sierra Leone heavy rainfall precipitated a mudslide that swept hundreds to their death. While in Nepal, India and Bangladesh continuous rainfall has swollen tributaries of the Ganges, broken their embankments and flooded entire regions. But first, let's head to Freetown. 
Rivers of mud have erased entire communities.
On Monday a heavy burst of rainfall dislodged tonnes of earth on a spur of Sugarloaf mountain. The mudslide crashed through hundreds of illegally-constructed shanties in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Freetown, Sierra Leone's first city. More than 400 people's bodies have since been pulled from the earth, including those of 109 children. More than 600 are still missing.

Sierra Leone's army has been deployed in a search-and-rescue capacity although the grim truth is that no survivors have been found since Wednesday. Rescue efforts have been hampered all week by the spectre of further flooding as rain has continued to fall across the coast. Emergency workers now face a race against the clock to prevent further loss of life due to disease and contaminated water supplies. 

The city's largest morgue is already over-full and mass burials continue around the clock. The threat of disease is very real for this community which saw 4,000 people die in the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak. 

No less deadly were the monsoonal floods that ravaged South Asia this week. At last count 245 people had perished and almost 1.5m had been displaced. Nepal's low-lying southern regions have been completely inundated; more than 100 people have died there alone. Distressing images depict entire farming communities that are barely visible above the raging waterline. 

The tremendous mass of water is still finding its way back to the sea as it bulges and breaks riverbanks throughout India and Bangladesh. In Bihar, one of India's least-developed states, the flood-tide was high enough to break the famous Kosi embankment. For days incessant rainfall had unleashed torrents down the river, weakening and degrading the embankments. Engineers had worked valiantly to reinforce and raise its most vulnerable sections, but in the end the river had its way.

One of the most important and volatile tributaries of the Ganges, the Kosi river has broken its banks and changed course many times over the last century. The ever-present threat of destruction eased somewhat in the 1950s following the construction of Kosi's famous 100km-long embankment. But this past week bought back dark memories of devastating floods in 2008 that killed more than 400 and displaced 2.3 million people. 

The flood waters are making one last stop before they reach the ocean - in the low-lying swamps and marshes of Bangladesh where right now one third of the entire country is flooded. 

The human toll of these floods has been dreadful. But to make matters worse a rare animal reserve has also been largely destroyed. Nepal's Chitwan National Park is one of the last protected habitats of the Bengal Tiger and the One-horned Rhinoceros. It's believed that several rhinos were swept away in the flood but thankfully rescue operations are underway across the border in India.
Twin attacks in Catalonia - Late on Thursday afternoon Barcelona's famous Las Ramblas boulevard was struck by a vehicular terrorist attack. In what is becoming an all-too-common pattern, a van sped down the length of an avenue teeming with tourists, killing 16 and wounding nearly 100. Two people were arrested that afternoon after a huge manhunt but neither of them was the driver. It's believed that the identity of the man used to hire the van had in fact been stolen.

Just a few short hours later, five attackers struck 120km to the South, in the popular vacation town of Cambrils. Chaotic scenes were caught on film as police swarmed to the promenade and gunned down the assailants. Luckily only six civilians and two police were injured in this second ramming attempt. The bomb squad was also called in to detonate suicide belts that had been identified on a number of the men. 

Both events appear to be linked to an explosion that had levelled a house in Alcanar Platja earlier on Thursday. One person died and two more were injured in that blast which was initially attributed to an exploding gas bottle. Police now believe it was a mishap at the attackers' bomb-factory.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for both attacks, citing retribution for Spain's participation in the American-led Coalition in Iraq. 
Joshua Wong and Nathan Law in 2014.
Hong Kong's political prisoners - At Beijing's behest, Hong Kong's authorities have jailed three student leaders for their role in the 2014 pro-democracy protests. While muted by global standards, the protest known as the Umbrella Revolution constituted the most direct challenge to mainland rule in Hong Kong since the 1997 transfer of power by Britain. Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law each face 6 months or more of jail time after an earlier sentence of community service was overturned. The three have defiantly stated that their sentences validate their civil disobedience even as Beijing continues to exert ever greater control over the semi-autonomous zone.

The latest ruling has further galvanised Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement. One prominent activist has declared that for the first time her country has 'political prisoners'. Also this week, a mysterious case emerged concerning another democracy campaigner, Howard Lam, who earlier this year had tried to win football icon Lionel Messi's support for his cause. Lam claims to have been hassled, abducted and had staples driven into his legs by Beijing's agents. His allegations have been contradicted by Hong Kong police.
All of the facts, none of the spin.
Trump got a hiding this week.
1. DPRK’s Guam missile threat was averted
2. S Korea said it was working with Trump
3. He blamed ‘both sides’ for the NC clash
4. He shut his CEO forums after many quit
5. His tweet wiped $5B from AMZN shares
6. Baltimore removed confederate statues
7. Bannon’s future with Trump is in doubt
8. CIA torture experts settled their case
9. ‘Pence for President’ rumours emerged
10. Hope Hicks replaced Scaramucci
This is great.
Pea-not allergies - Kids, get your jars of peanut butter ready. Thanks to a breakthrough by scientists in Melbourne (once more voted the "world's most liveable city"), peanut allergies may soon be a thing of the past. In a world-first, small doses of peanut flour were added to high doses of a probiotic that greatly lessens the subject's immune system response. This is good (and tasty) news.

The world-bestriding llama - This is just a wonderful read. Llamas have long been one of South America's most curious animals. But their history has been a violent and strange one. Revered by the Incas, they faced extinction by the Spanish colonial invasion. So how did they end up living so comfortably in nearly every country and environment on earth?
This is absurd.
Senator unveils her vapidity - Stridently racist Australian senator Pauline Hanson made headlines around the world this week by entering the federal senate wearing a burkha. A politician whose recent career has been built on incendiary Islamophobia, Hanson lifted the veil to launch a confused and quite incoherent attack on those who wear Islamic dress.

Escalation in the Philippines - Rodrigo Duterte's spiralling drug war is getting worse. 80 people have now been gunned down this week alone; 13 in a single night. While some opposition parties have cried foul, a recent spate of mayoral deaths has instilled a culture of fear within the government. 
Your weekend long read... You may have wondered your entire life what the correct method of drinking whiskey is. Well wonder no longer. Science knows.

Please note that articles from the Washington Post like the one above are only available on inkl Premium. If you'd like to read all of inkl's premium content, and support the work of the world's most trusted newsrooms, please head to to subscribe. 

Also, this week we welcomed the wonderful Bangkok Post to our list of leading news sources from around the world. The Post has a long history of fearless reporting and is a brilliant addition to our coverage in Asia.

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