Reuters World News Summary

Following is a summary of current world news briefs.

Murders in Mexico surge to record in first half of 2019

Murders in Mexico jumped in the first half of the year to the highest on record, according to official data, underscoring the vast challenges President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador faces in reducing violence in the cartel-ravaged country. There were 14,603 murders from January to June, versus the 13,985 homicides registered in the first six months of 2018, according to data posted over the weekend on the website of Mexico's national public security office.

Puerto Rico governor says he will not seek re-election

Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello said on Sunday he would not run for re-election and would step down as the head of his New Progressive Party following nine days of sometimes violent protests over leaked text messages. Rossello made the comments on a video on his Facebook page after widespread calls for his resignation in the U.S. island territory over the vulgar messages between himself and allies.

U.S. says Venezuelan plane aggressively shadowed a U.S. military aircraft

The U.S. military on Sunday accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of "aggressively" shadowing a U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries II plane over international airspace, a fresh sign of growing hostility between the two countries. The encounter between the two planes occurred on Friday, the same day that the Trump administration announced it was imposing sanctions on four top officials in Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency.

Britain weighs response to Iran Gulf crisis with few good options

Britain was weighing its next moves in the Gulf tanker crisis on Sunday, with few good options apparent as a recording emerged showing that the Iranian military defied a British warship when it boarded and seized a ship three days ago. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said she would chair a meeting of Britain's COBR emergency response committee on Monday morning to discuss the crisis.

Hong Kong police fire rubber bullets, tear gas as protests descend into chaos

Hong Kong police fired rubber bullets and tear gas in running clashes with protesters late on Sunday amid chaotic scenes as anger over an extradition bill morphs into a fresh front against what many see as a broader erosion of freedoms by Beijing. Thousands of protesters descended on China's representative office in the city, in a direct challenge to authorities in Beijing, just hours after the latest demonstrations to rock the Asian financial central.

Ukraine president on course for commanding win in parliamentary election

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's party took a commanding lead in Sunday's snap parliamentary election, consolidating the power of the novice politician whose stunning rise has upended traditional politics in the war-scarred nation. A former comedian who played a fictional schoolteacher-turned-president in a popular TV series, the 41-year-old Zelenskiy has tapped into widespread voter anger over corruption and low living standards in one of Europe's poorest countries.

Brazil's Bolsonaro says government may cut worker protections to boost job creation

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Sunday that the government may look at making it less expensive for employers to fire workers, as it seeks fresh ways to stimulate a weak economy. Employers in Brazil contribute to a fund called FGTS, which employees can draw from in certain circumstances such as buying a home, loss of employment or serious health problems.

UK PM front-runner Boris Johnson says trade deal can break Brexit deadlock

Boris Johnson, favored to become Britain's new prime minister, said on Sunday the country could agree a free trade deal to leave the European Union that would remove the need for one of the more problematic parts of a previous agreement. In his weekly column in The Telegraph newspaper, Johnson said technology could avoid having to stick to the so-called Northern Irish backstop, a part of an agreement with the EU that many lawmakers in Britain's parliament reject.

Mexico dodges bullet on 'safe third country' talks with U.S. after stemming migrant flows

Mexico said on Sunday it averted the so-called "safe third country" negotiations with the United States it desperately wanted to avoid after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo praised Mexican efforts in reducing U.S.-bound migrant flows. Pompeo met with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard on Sunday in Mexico City to discuss migration and trade, amid heightened bilateral tension ahead of a July 22 deadline on a deal that removed tariff threats on Mexican exports.

Air strikes kill 18 in Syria's Idlib: Observatory

Air strikes killed at least 18 people, including seven children, in rebel-held Idlib region in northwestern Syria on Sunday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The northwest is the last major foothold of the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad, who has vowed to recover the whole country but has made little or no gains in more than two months of military operations in the area.