It took $120,000, and a reduced prison sentence, for a smartphone developer to collaborate with the FBI and Australian police in 2018 and kick-start Operation Trojan Shield. Three years later, the investigation involving 9,000 law enforcement officers from 17 countries saw authorities monitor 27 million messages from 12,000 devices in 100 countries and track the activities of over 300 organised crime groups. To date, there have been over 800 arrests and over eight tons of cocaine seized, 22 tons of cannabis, two tons of synthetic drugs, 250 guns, 55 luxury vehicles, and over $48 million. More arrests and seizures are expected. The ‘confidential human source’ had created a new hardened encrypted phone with a bespoke app called ANOM to organise drug deals and hits on rivals, and launder illicit earnings without detection. However, the criminals did not realise that all their messages were being monitored.
Over 1,200 girls in Rajasthan started a movement against child marriages, which saw a spike during the Covid pandemic. Nearly 30% of South Asian women aged 20 to 24 were married before they turned 18. While the Indian government has not maintained comprehensive data, international organisations say child marriages could be a major fallout of the pandemic. By June 2020, only three months into lockdown, 92,203 interventions had been made by ChildLine. 35% of those interventions were about child marriages. Saira Bano, 17, wants to be a teacher and help other girls become independent. She heard of a group of girls from marginalised communities who were starting a campaign to create awareness around child marriage. ‘That got my hopes up,’ said Saira. ‘I attended their meeting and learned that the state government has a scholarship scheme in place to ensure girls like me don’t drop out of school.’
Gunmen killed over 160 people in Solhan village, still reeling from a coup and instability. It was the worst attack on civilians in years. Heavily armed militants executed members of a local defense force, killed civilians, destroyed houses, and burned the local market to the ground. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Villagers who fled are returning to bury the dead and clear charred sites that used to be homes. The country declared three days of national mourning. Government officials, blaming the attack on ‘barbaric’ jihadists linked to al-Qaeda and IS, vowed to ‘neutralise the terrorists’ responsible. Al-Qaeda and IS fighters move regularly between Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali. The attack is consistent with other militant assaults on villages. Children and elderly are often burnt in their houses because they can’t escape.
US president Joe Biden and Russian president Putin will meet in Geneva on 16 June. They first met in 2011, when vice-president Biden told Putin, ‘I don’t think you have a soul.’ They clashed again in 2014, when Biden was tasked with bolstering Ukraine in the wake of its protests and pressuring Russia to scale back military interference in eastern Ukraine. Putin then pushed back against Biden and the strain of US policy he represented. In 2016 Putin had his intelligence services interfere with the US presidential election, hoping Donald Trump, once elected, might reverse Obama’s administration stance on Russia. In the ensuing years, Putin’s minions likely passed information or misinformation to Biden’s son Hunter, which Trump’s supporters eagerly received and did their best to deploy in the 2020 campaign. With so much jagged history between them, the meeting will be awkward at a personal level.
New satellite images show vehicles, a fresh access road and excavation at an Iranian nuclear site that was covered up in March. This raised alarms as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met in Vienna. The IAEA seeks to promote the safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. During a crucial board meeting, the US accused Iran of violating the very nuclear deal that US negotiators are trying to reinstate. ‘Since this board last met, Iran has also exceeded constraints by enriching uranium to 60% U-235,’ the delegation said. The head of the UN nuclear watchdog issued a similar warning. ‘My expectations about this process, of course, were not met,’ the IAEA director said. ‘We have a country that has a very developed and ambitious nuclear programme, which is enriching uranium at very high levels, very close to weapons-grade.’
Peru's presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori reacted at a press conference in Lima, the day after an election run-off. The right-wing candidate, who is running for president for the third time, alleges there have been ‘signs of fraud’ in the run-off election. With 97.3% of the votes counted her left-wing rival, Pedro Castillo, pulled past her in the vote count with a lead of less than 0.5% points. In a news conference, Ms Fujimori alleged that there had been a strategy by Peru Libre, Mr Castillo’s party, to distort and delay the results which reflect the popular will. Ms Fujimori is the daughter of former President Alberto Fujimori, who is serving a 25-year-jail sentence for corruption and human rights abuses. She said if elected she will pardon her father, a deeply divisive figure - praised for his fight against Shining Path guerrillas but denounced for abuses including forced sterilisations of indigenous women.
Seth Mahiga, the former secretary of a society called Atheists In Kenya, has resigned from his role after becoming a Christian. A video has emerged showing Seth accepting Jesus in church. He said he had been experiencing ‘difficulties in life’ prior to his resignation. A pastor in the video can be heard saying ‘Amen’ at the end of Mr Mahiga's words, and he then added, ‘Can we give the Lord some praise in this house. Hallelujah!’ Atheists in Kenya posted the footage on its Twitter page, describing the conversion as ‘surreal’.
In June, hay meadows burst forth in a glorious blaze of colour. For centuries, flower-rich hay meadows were a defining feature of our countryside, providing hay for livestock through the winter and essential habitats for many different flora, fauna and fungi. In the 20th century, however, most hay meadows gave way to more intensively managed grassland. But they can be restored by ‘impoverishing’ the soil (withholding grazing, cutting hay later in the season, and sowing a semi-parasitic plant called hay rattle). Likewise, the Lord uses discipline to refine us; then, in time, we blossom and bear fruit to His praise and glory. Give thanks for the beauty of our meadows and for the way they reflect the glory of their Creator. Give thanks to the One who sends the rain to water the meadows and whose coming was, is, and will be, ‘like rain upon the meadows’.