Categories
Weekly Summaries

24th of May – 30th of May

A possible case of plane hijacking by Belarus

Last weekend, a Ryanair plane on the way from Athens to Vilnius was forced to land in Minsk (Belarus’ capital) by a fighter jet, according to the New York Times. On board was Roman Protasevich, a leading opposition journalist who currently lives in exile in Lithuania. Upon landing, he was immediately arrested on what the New York Times calls “charges of inciting hatred and mass disorder.” He will face imprisonment of more than 12 years if he is found guilty. The international response has been critical of Belarus, with Greece and Lithuania both describing the scenario “hijacking by the Belarusian government” and the E.U. “urging” airlines to avoid flying over Belarus’ airspace. Russia, meanwhile, has stood by Lukashenko’s side.

Other News

  • The former leader of Myanmar, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, has been seen in public at the court for the first time since the military coup that detained her, ending her term as leader of Myanmar. If she is found guilty of the many charges she faces, she may be imprisoned for life.
  • The one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s killing was last Wednesday.
  • A cable car crash in Italy killed 14 people. Police have now arrested three people, who may be related to the crash.
  • Just as the last of the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan are withdrawing, 25 rural Afghan government outposts as well as bases in four provinces have surrendered to the Taliban, according to the New York Times.
  • Just days after Mount Nyiragongo erupted deadly in the Democratic Republic of Congo, another potential eruption forced the evacuation of Goma.
Categories
Weekly Summaries

22nd of March – 28th of March

Container Ship Gets Stuck in the Suez Canal

By now you may have seen the pictures that are spreading all over the Internet. The ship, which is about as long as the Empire State Building in New York City is high, has been stuck in the Suez Canal since Tuesday evening. It seems as if exceptionally strong winds forced the ship aground one of the Suez Canal’s banks. Because of its tremendous length, this meant that the container ship is now effectively blocking the passageway of one of the most important canals in the world, connecting the Red Sea to the Mediterranean. Over 100 ships are now stuck at either end of the canal, carrying oil and different goods destined for ports around the world. Delays in the transportation of materials from Asia to Europe are being expected. Unfortunately, it does not seem like the container ship will be dislodged any time soon—some suspect that it may take weeks or maybe even months.

Elections in Israel

This past Tuesday, Israel saw the country’s fourth elections in two years. Netanyahu, who is the current Prime Minister, is currently facing corruption charges, but hopes that his policies dealing with the coronavirus outbreak will help him win. Israel has put a vaccination program in place that is far superior to other countries and has been able to successfully vaccinate a large number of people. Recent counts suggest, however, that Netanyahu will have to form a coalition as he only received 52 of the required 61 seats to form a majority. Several parties which jointly hold 57 seats have already announced that they will form a block against Netanyahu, while some parties collectively holding 11 seats have not yet published their decision.*

Other News

  • Indian farmers have camped outside New Delhi for four months now, protesting against the subsidy system that is considered to be “broken” by many
  • An attack by gunmen left 137 people dead in Niger

*according to the news distributor Haaretz

Categories
Weekly Summaries

15th of March – 21st of March

Shooting in Atlanta

Eight people were killed on Tuesday during a mass shooting in Atlanta at massage parlors. The victims include six Asian women, alerting Asian communities around the US. Law enforcement officials have responded by increasing police patrol, responding to an increase in hate incidents against Asians since the outbreak of COVID-19 over a year ago. The gunman has now been captured and has been charged with several counts of murder.

Other News

  • The European Union is taking legal action against Great Britain, claiming that Britain violated a legal agreement over Brexit and Northern Ireland.
  • Northern China experienced its strongest and largest dust storm in a decade
  • A court in Japan ruled that it was unconstitutional to not recognize same-sex marriages
Categories
Weekly Summaries

1st of March – 7th of March

Protests in Spain

The young Spanish generation has been going to the streets in major cities like Madrid and  Barcelona for more than a week now. At first, the protests were a reaction to the arrest of the rapper Pablo Hasel, but now the protests have developed into a much bigger movement. The pandemic has hit Spain’s youth very hard; over 40% of young Spaniards now find themselves unemployed, the highest number in the EU. The current situation is a far-cry from the Barcelona that once was one of the “best places in Europe” for young people.

The Former French President Found Guilty of Corruption

It is the second time in modern French history that a former president was convicted of a crime. The former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was sentenced to at least one year in prison this past week on charges of corruption. Sarkozy supposedly gained confidential information from a judge after offering to help the judge get a job.

Other News

  • Britain and the EU have had some major disagreement this past week. The path to a “normal” relationship between the two parties remains a rocky one.
  • Last Sunday, the Hong Kong authorities charged 47 pro-democracy activists of violating the new Chinese Security Law.
  • New charges have been raised after the civil leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi by Myanmar’s military which staged a coup a few weeks ago. She now faces a prison sentence of up to 9 years.
  • The U.S. announced sanctions against Russia on Tuesday on the accusation of poisoning Aleksei Navalny
  • Three female journalists were shot in Afghanistan last week on their way home from work
  • After hundreds of Nigerian girls were abducted from their boarding school last week, their kidnappers have now released them
Categories
Analysis

Nord Stream 2 – A step in the wrong direction

Nord Stream 2 is a gas pipeline, that carries non-renewable natural gas into the European Union, from Vyborg, Russia to Lubmin, Germany. According to Nord Stream AG (the operator of the project), the overall costs of the construction of the 764 mile long pipeline are estimated to total around 9.5 billion euros (which is enough money to fund the construction of over 6000, 800kW wind turbines, in Britain). The gas that the pipeline is to carry, lies in northern Russia’s Yamal Peninsula, which holds nearly 5 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves, according to the Nord Stream 2 consortium. The aims of the transportation of the natural gas are to enhance the security of supply, to strengthen the internal market, and to relieve pressure on other sources within the EU that previously supplied all the non-renewable resources since the EU’s domestic gas production is in rapid decline. However, it is debatable as to whether relying on other sources of natural gas is the best way forward for our economies and for our planet. Currently, the EU has committed to finance projects worth 168.7 billion euros, of which 21%  will go to measures to address climate change. Why spend this much money on reversing the effects of climate change, if Nord Stream 2 is to be built? 

Over the past decade, we have seen a drastic increase in the demand for the use of renewable resources, in response to the ever-increasing climate change issue. As we all know, climate change will not only affect the weather and temperature of our planet, but it will also hinder human life and activities in a variety of ways. A simple example of this would be the increase in global food insecurity and reducing crop productivity, which feeds our ever-growing population. Over time, farmers have adapted to the weather patterns, planting crops accordingly, however, climate change is altering temperature and rainfall patterns, potentially affecting which crops can be planted at which times throughout the course of the year. I believe that we struggle to understand that climate change can be positively impacted by the individual efforts of the human race, as many wrongly-believe that this global issue could, and should have been resolved by our governments, therefore deeming the global political system incompetent. While it is true that governments should increase the focus surrounding reversing climate change, individual countries and their citizens must cooperate, to reduce their overall carbon footprint; something that will be very difficult to do with the influx of natural gas delivered by Nord Stream 2.

Categories
Analysis

Brexit – Another issue that the British Government must resolve?

Brexit, as many will know, is the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union, a motion that has caused a dramatic divide within the British Public, one that will not be healed for many years to come, due to the overwhelmingly negative economic impacts of the deal. As the LSE Blogs correctly states, “The more the UK distances itself from the EU’s economic institutions and policies, the greater the increase in trade barriers and the higher will be the costs of Brexit.” It is debateable as to whether the British government can afford the cost of Brexit, especially when this economic crisis has been exacerbated by the current pandemic, which has caused irreparable damage to the British economy.  When discussions about leaving the European Union sparked, the HM treasury analysis on the immediate economic impacts concluded that within just two years: the GDP (gross domestic product) of the UK would decrease by at least 3%; Britain would experience a year of negative growth, placing the country into a recession and most importantly, over half a million of jobs would be lost. Knowing this, why did the British government go forth and encourage this plan of action? Many would argue that this was a simple answer . Polls conducted by the British government concluded that those who voted ‘Leave’  believed “the principle that decisions about the UK should be made in the UK’ and that leaving ‘offered the best chance for the UK to regain control over immigration and its own borders’, a social, economic and political issue that had been debated in parliament for many years. But how has Brexit changed these immigration laws? Previously, EU laws stated that one of the four freedoms enjoyed by EU citizens was the free movement of workers. This meant that workers could move to a country within the EU, with his/her family, taking up another job within said country. This was a key issue that the majority of the British public opposed. When Britain left the EU on December 31st 2020, the government finally put an end to the act of free movement, via the Immigration Bill.  As stated on the governments website, the Bill consists of 7 clauses and three schedules which apply to entire UK population. While the Bill would repeal free movement in UK law, it would not set up the future UK immigration system. The future system will be implemented in the Immigration Rules. Although this movement would potentially create jobs for the British public, it is not without its economic challenges. A study conducted by Warwick Business School concluded that the UK economy relies on migrants, many of which fill low-skilled, but necessary jobs around the country. Migrants from the 10 central and eastern European countries that joined the EU in 2004 and 2007 made a net contribution of almost £5billion to the UK economy in a decade- money that the UK government cannot afford to lose in such pressing times. The economists who conducted the study claimed that the South East would be the hardest hit due to the fact that 35% of all UK migrants live in London.  The WBS website states that “the Government could have to abandon austerity and its cap on housing benefits to convince people to move from the north to the south of the UK, or introduce more draconian benefit sanctions to force workers to relocate” in order to accommodate for the loss of the working immigrants. Now that Brexit has “resolved” the important conflict of immigration laws that the British government opposed so strongly, it is up for debate as to whether the UK citizens are relieved and still agree that leaving the EU was the best plan of action for Britain.

Categories
Analysis

The Economic Consequences of Brexit

The UK exit (Brexit) from Europe can be considered a major negative shock to the UK economy with the economic fallout in the rest of OECD (organization for economic Co-operation and Development). Brexit is akin to a tax on GDP, imposing a rising cost on the economy which would not be incurred if the UK remained in the EU. The shock can be transmitted through several sectors that would change in relation to the time’s horizon. In the near term, the UK economy is hit by tighter financial conditions and weaker confidence; after a formal exit from the European Union, there will be higher trade barriers and the mobility of labor forces will be restricted. By 2020, GDP is over 3% smaller than otherwise (with continued EU membership), equivalent to a cost per household of GBP 2200. So, structural impacts can take hold through the channels of capital, immigration, and lower technical progress. In particular, there is the possibility that labor productivity will decrease because of a drop in foreign direct investment and a smaller base of skills. The extent of foregone GDP is increasing over time. By 2030, in a central scenario, GDP would be over 5% lower than otherwise – with the cost of Brexit equivalent to GBP 3200 for households. The effects would be larger in a more pessimistic scenario but remain negative even in the optimistic scenario. Brexit would also hold back GDP in other European economies, particularly in the near term resulting from heightened uncertainty about the future of Europe. In contrast, continued UK membership in the European Union and further reforms of the Single Market would enhance living standards on both sides of the Channel. This way the UK would: 

  1. Continue to have preferential access to thor-country markets, which will be lost as a result of Brexit. Negotiating new trade treaties with countries will take time.
  2. Most likely have a stronger economy. Due to Brexit, the economic incentives for people to migrate to the UK will gradually decrease.
Categories
Weekly Summaries

28th of December 2020- 3rd of January 2021

Brexit Deal

More than four years after British citizens first voted to leave the EU, Brexit is really happening: something that many people did not believe until the last minute. The UK’s transition period ended with a “Christmas Eve trade agreement.” This means that Britain is now no longer a part of the EU’s customs union and common market. However, the trade agreement means that British financial firms will lose their biggest benefit of being an EU member: the advantage of offering services across the EU from a UK base. Although at the moment it looks like the Conservatives are for the agreement, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson may still face opposition from hard-liners and businesses. This past Wednesday, the deal was easily approved by Parliament. 

Earthquake in Croatia

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck in Croatia on Tuesday afternoon, killing at least six people, wounding dozens more, and leaving several towns in ruins. Tens of thousands of people were left homeless.

Other news:

  • President Trump signed a $900 billion pandemic relief deal
  • Argentina voted to legalize abortion
  • At least 16 people were killed and 60 more wounded at an airport attack in Aden, Yemen. The attack happened at the same time as an airplane with members of the newly-formed government onboard came in.
Categories
Weekly Summaries

7th of December – 13th of December

Brexit Updates

Time is running out for the UK and the EU to reach a deal before the UK is supposed to leave the EU on the 31st of December this year. This past Monday the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had announced that he would travel to Brussels in a final attempt to reach a trade agreement with the EU. On Wednesday the European Commission then published no-deal contingency measures in an attempt to prevent chaos on the 1st of January 2021 if no agreement is reached till then.

Vaccinations in Britain against the Coronavirus

In Britain the first people have now received a vaccine against the coronavirus, which was developed by two companies called Pfizer and BioNTech. However, two of the people who received the shot so far have had serious allergic reactions to the vaccine, but they both have a history of severe allergic reactions. The vaccine will be administered by health care workers, the military, volunteers, and even first-aid workers. The National Health Service is aiming to vaccinate tens of millions of people in a matter of months. Furthermore, Canada has now also approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for people older than 16 years.

Other News:

  • Morocco joined the ranks of Arab countries who have normalized relations with Israel
  • Almost 50,000 Ethiopians from the Tigray region have sought refuge in Sudan
  • European Union leaders agree on a $2.2 trillion stimulus package
Categories
Weekly Summaries

5th of October – 11th of October

European Union Updates

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the European Union agreed that they would aim for a final settlement to be made by December 31st this past Sunday. On Monday, the European Commission announced that of its staff, 179 members have tested positive for the coronavirus since the outbreak first started at the beginning of the year.

War between Azerbaijan and Armenia

Although there have been conflicts between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the past, the conflict recently escalated. Both sides are now using armed drones and wide-reaching rocket artillery, which has resulted in the death of at least 250 people, most of whom were civilians. What has escalated matters even more is that Turkey has expressed its support of Azerbaijan.

Chaos breaks out in Kyrgyzstan

Opposition groups seized the control of the Parliament on Tuesday. Not soon afterwards, they released their leaders from prison, in response to parliamentary elections they claim were manipulated. 

Other news: Most of the Nobel Prizes have been awarded so make sure to read up on the amazing work of this year’s winners!