By: Tony Hotland and April Elizabeth Curtis
- On Wednesday, South Africa's finance minister Pravin Gordhan declared taxes would be raised and government spending would be cut in order to prevent the nation's credit rating from being reduced to "junk" status (which is the real technical term and not something we made up). South Africa's economy has been struggling, and the Rand's worth plummeted after President Zuma's decision to change the finance minister, twice in four days in December 2015. Understandably, the world has been questioning Zuma's commitment to a reasonable economic plan.
- Last Friday, the U.S. bombed Libya, which surprisingly didn't make headlines. However, the fact that Italy agreed to allow the U.S. to use its bases to launch its drones did make some noise in the news world. The U.S. is aiming to contain the growing ISIS threat in Libya. ISIS is gaining recruits in North Africa, an area that traditionally is not a strong source for jihadist recruits. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about how Tunisia became one of the biggest producers of ISIS fighters, if you want to learn more.
- China showed some guts this week by proposing new United Nations sanctions on their darling neighbor North Korea for yet again testing a nuclear weapon. Backed by the U.S., the proposal -- for the first time -- would require UN members to inspect all cargo to or from North Korea. There has been no response yet from North Korea's dictator slash hair icon Kim Jong-un.
- A bit of an unfortunate disagreement has occurred between a pair of old Etonian chums. The thing is, one happens to be the Prime Minister of the UK, while the other is the mayor of London. Much to Cameron's chagrin, Boris Johnson announced this week that he will be supporting the campaign for Britain to leave the EU. The two are being civil and Cameron has yet to threaten to tell the world that super embarrassing story of that one time Boris got extremely drunk when they were 17.
- On Thursday, the EU voted on a EU-wide arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. They decided to vote on an embargo because of Saudi Arabia's bombings in Yemen, which have killed civilians. This may seem decisive, but in a strange twist of EU democracy, the vote does not force EU members to follow the embargo. David Cameron took full advantage of this catch when he boasted of the great success of a British company who sells jets to Saudi Arabia, on the very same day of the vote. Last year alone Britain sold £3 billion worth of arms to the Kingdom.
- Also on Thursday, a French judge approved the eviction of the refugee camp in Calais, which is referred to as "the Jungle." French authorities claim the eviction will affect 1,000 refugees, while outside sources say it will affect many more. Calais has been a point on tension between Britain and France as the refugees in Calais hope to cross the channel to Britain.
THE MIDDLE EAST
- This week, Russia and the U.S. found themselves at last on the same page regarding the bloody war in Syria and engineered a truce. Both the Syrian government and the main opposition group have accepted it, but other issues for implementation remain doubtful. Per August of last year, the United Nations estimated a quarter of a million people had died in the armed conflict that innocently started in 2011 with a string of anti-government protests.
- Iran is saying no to a proposed deal to freeze oil production in order to bring back up prices. Russia and OPEC members Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Venezuela have agreed to freeze output only if other producers follow suit. Oil prices have tumbled 70 percent since mid-2014 due to an excess of supply and sluggish demand. Also in the hardline nation, millions on Friday rushed to cast their ballots in the first post-sanctions era election. Voting was even extended in a political process that many analysts say could shift the balance of power.
- Seventh year's the charm was probably what U.S. President Barack Obama had in mind when he sent to Congress a nine-page plan to shut the Guantanamo Bay military prison. This is a call Obama has continuously made since the Democrat first campaigned for president as he seeks to "close a chapter in our history." The Republican-dominated Congress has criticized the plan, which offered few specifics about bringing some of the "high-value" detainees to prisons on American soil. In case you missed the controversy about this torture house, here is a roundup of over 700 leaked secret files obtained by the Guardian. When you're done, here is a video about how to properly pronounce Guantanamo. Maybe.
- Starting this year if you re-tweeted or said any positive comments about public enemy number one Kanye West on the World Wide Web, your U.S. visa or asylum application would be rejected with no opportunity to explain yourself. Just kidding. The U.S. government is, however, planning to further scour your social media accounts for possible ties to terrorist organizations if you want to come stateside. So, behave if you plan on taking a selfie with Lady Liberty.
- Bolivian President Evo Morales conceded defeat to the results of a referendum that would have allowed him to run for a fourth term by saying, "We will respect the results." However, Bolivia's first indigenous president will remain the president until 2020, which allows him plenty of time to continue his policies.
Check out these articles for some of the latest cybersecurity news: