Spike Lee Becomes First Black Person to Lead the Cannes Jury + More News

by Debra Brown

Spike Lee

Each Wednesday, we recap the most important headlines from our global community to keep you up to speed on world news.


Spike Lee Becomes First Black Person to Lead the Cannes Jury

Spike Lee, the acclaimed director of “Do The Right Thing” and “BlacKkKlansman,” will lead this year’s Cannes Film Festival jury.

Lee will be the first person of African heritage to lead the jury in the festival’s 73-year history. Last year’s president was Alejandro G. Iñárritu, the Mexican director of “Birdman.”

Lee’s relationship with Cannes started in 1986, when “She’s Gotta Have It,” his debut feature about a young black woman and her relationships with three men, won the festival’s Youth Prize for best young director.


US Rejects Iraq Request to Discuss Troop Withdrawal

The United States rejected an Iraqi request to prepare to pull out its troops, amid heightened US-Iranian tensions following the US killing of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. 

Iraq’s caretaker prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, made his request in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in line with a vote by Iraq’s parliament. 

The US State Department said any US delegation would not discuss the withdrawal of US troops as their presence in Iraq was “appropriate”.


Anti-government Protests in Iran Over Shot Down Plane

Protesters denouncing Iran’s clerical rulers took to the streets and riot police deployed to face them in a third day of demonstrations after authorities acknowledged shooting down a passenger plane by accident.

Iranian media reported that Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards had taken a person who posted a video last week of the missile striking the plane into custody. But an Iranian journalist based in London who initially posted the footage has insisted that his source is safe, and that the Iranian authorities have arrested the wrong person.

Video sent to the New York-based Center for Human Rights in Iran and later verified by The Associated Press showed a crowd of demonstrators near Azadi, or Freedom, Square fleeing as a tear gas canister landed among them.

Adding to international pressure on Tehran, five nations, including Canada, Britain and Ukraine, whose citizens died when the Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737 was shot down, meet in London on Thursday to discuss possible legal action, Ukraine’s foreign minister said.


NY Governor Deploys 115 National Guard to Puerto Rico after Earthquake 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo authorized the deployment of 115 National Guard members to Puerto Rico and arrived on the island for a visit Tuesday as aftershocks continue to jolt the US territory.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said power has been restored to 99% of its customers. But nearly 5,000 people are still living in shelters, according to Secretary of State Elmer Roman, CNN affiliate WIPR reported.

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard one week ago, after a 6.4 magnitude quake shook the island, killing at least one person, destroying homes and leaving most utility customers in the dark.

Cuomo, who will tour the hardest-hit municipalities in the southern part of the island, said he had authorized the deployment for the next 90 days. The governor last week deployed a team from the New York Power Authority to Puerto Rico.


The Philippines Fears a Bigger and More Dangerous Eruption

A volcano near the Philippine capital Manila spewed lava into the sky and trembled constantly, possibly a sign of a bigger and more dangerous eruption, as tens of thousands of people fled villages darkened and blanketed by heavy ash.

Government work was suspended and schools were closed in a number of towns and cities, including Manila, because of health risks from the ash. Hundreds of flights were canceled or delayed, affecting tens of thousands of passengers.

More than 350 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded near Taal since Sunday, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in New York. More than 38,000 people have been relocated so far to over 200 evacuation centers. U.N. teams are visiting centers and supporting authorities.

Image Credit: Micaiah Carter for TIME

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