We're not going to fault you for not staying on top of this week's news. We're only here to help.
By: Tony Hotland and April Elizabeth Curtis
In one of the worst news stories we read this week, a UN report states that South Sudanese militias fighting alongside the government are allowed to rape women and girls in lieu of wages. South Sudan is the world's newest country and is extremely underdeveloped despite being rich in oil. The country broke out in war after the President accused his deputy of plotting a coup. The deputy denied it and created a rebel army to fight back.
On Monday, the Pentagon announced that it had killed 150 fighters of the Al-Qaeda linked Islamist group Al-Shabaab in a training camp in northern Somalia. A Pentagon spokesman was quoted saying that the fighters were training for a large-scale attack. Somalia is a divided country and the government has little or no control over many regions. Like ISIS, Al-Shabaab has been able to fill the void of a non-existent government, enabling it to recruit up to 7,000 fighters.
Kim Jong-Un, a man of bold statements, was completely un-phased by last week's new UN sanctions. On Thursday, he launched two short-range missiles into the sea, claimed North Korea had miniaturized nuclear warheads that could be launched on ballistic missiles and called on his people to work harder on the country's nuclear capabilities. We think South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee put it best when he said: "It's simply rash and thoughtless behavior by someone who has no idea how the world works."
Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been barred from being president in Myanmar. In her place, her party—The National League for Democracy (NLD)—has nominated Htin Kyaw, a close confident of Suu Kyi. The NLD won the elections in November 2015 and therefore, their nomination for president will most likely take office. The country has been under military rule for six decades since the NLD won 59% of the vote in the 1990 election. Aung San Suu Kyi had been held under house arrest from 1990 until 2010. Still confused about what is going on and why it's important? Click here.
This week Russia announced it would cut its defense budget by 5%. This should come as no surprise since Russia calculated its 2016 budget on the price of oil being $50 a barrel. Russia announced an overall 10% budget cut in January but said defense would be spared, thus highlighting how important the military is to the Kremlin. This might be an insight into the real state of the Russian economy: with military endeavors in both Syria and Ukraine, Russia would only make these cuts if it was absolutely necessary.
On Wednesday, Macedonia closed its border to Greece. Thousands of refugees, who hoped to reach Western Europe through the "Balkan Route," are now stuck on the Greek side of the border. German Chancellor Angela Merkel did not break character and condemned the unilateral action. The entire refugee crisis seems to be resting on Merkel's shoulders as she tries to convince the European countries hit hardest by the crisis to keep their borders open. With so many countries taking matters into their own hands, this crisis seems to be pulling the EU apart.
Also on Wednesday, Ukrainian military pilot and all around woman of steel, Nadiya Savchenko, flipped the bird to the judicial bench during her trial. This is even more impressive considering she has had nothing to drink or eat in five days. Savchenko is being held in Russia for the death of two Russian journalists. She claims she was abducted in Ukraine, while Russia claims she was on Russian territory. Due to the fact Russia denies it is waging a war in Ukraine, she is being charged with murder as a civilian, though much of the world considers her to be a prisoner of war. Her verdict will be read on March 21st or 22nd, however, due to her hunger strike, she will have died by that time.
The United Nations said a new round of peace talks on Syria would start Monday (March 14) to make use of the ongoing ceasefire, which is said to have significantly reduced violence in the last two weeks. The previous round, also held in Geneva, collapsed. The armed civil-cum-proxy war has been ravaging the country for five years. The diligent people at The Guardian summed up the conflict in this one quick, colorful one pager so it will be easier to revise the increasing number of civilian deaths.
Germany uncovered a trove of documents that reportedly listed foreigners who have traveled to Syria to join terror organization ISIS. Sky News reported that the documents included information about 22,000 foreigners from 51 countries, including Britain and the United States. Apparently ISIS asks recruits 23 questions including education, references, combat experience, how they traveled, blood type, favorite Friends character, favorite spooning position, favorite Lays chip flavor, favorite Carrie Bradshaw quote, and where they see themselves in five years (probably dead after blowing up themselves).
Iran test-fired ballistic missiles early this week because why not? The missiles, according to Iranian agencies, were stamped with the Hebrew words, "Israel should be wiped from the pages of history" because why not? The Iranians defended the action, saying they had the right to test missiles and it was not intended to provoke any country because why would they?
U.S. President Barack Obama rekindled American bromance with neighbor Canada on Thursday when he welcomed—and hosted a fancy dinner for—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. This was the first official visit by a Canadian leader in nearly 20 years and the first since the two countries had a falling out regarding a major oil pipeline. The two young leaders signed agreements, traded jokes and compliments, and left Obama's former BFF British Prime Minister David Cameron perhaps sulking a little bit. We can't blame him though, especially after Obama said Cameron wasn't really there when he needed him the most. Obama also threw shade on other American allies and spilled the tea in this interview with The Atlantic.
Donald Trump is quite possibly the only person ever running for U.S. presidency to be endorsed by both a black neurosurgeon and a white supremacist. Ben Carson—who has said he's against a Muslim occupying the White House and claimed that prisons turn people gay—lent his support to Trump on Friday after dropping out of the race last week. A few weeks ago, Trump received the endorsement from former Ku Kux Klan grand wizard David Duke. Trump is still leading the Republican competition, while glass ceiling breaker enthusiast Hillary Clinton is waging a tight battle against Bernie Sanders.
Brazilian prosecutors want former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in custody related to one of several high-profile graft investigations in the history of the country. The 70-year-old politician has been accused of, among others, money laundering and misrepresentation of assets. Lula, who ran Brazil from 2003 to 2011 and remains one of the most-loved figures there, has called the allegations politically motivated.
Around 1,600 miles to the west, the Peruvian electoral commission has excluded two candidates and seemingly paved the way to victory for another candidate ahead of the April 10 election.