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
This week’s most viral hashtag was #PanamaPapers, referring to a trove of leaked confidential documents from a law firm in Panama, Mossack Fonseca. The papers exposed how some of the world’s most powerful people were said to have used offshore bank accounts to conceal their wealth or avoid taxes. For a complete understanding of this global scandal, which has implicated prominent world leaders from Russia’s Vladimir Putin to British PM David Cameron and President Xi Jinping of China, go here.
In an amazing feat, the South African Parliament decided not to to impeach President Jacob Zuma, even though he charged a $23 million remodel for his house to the taxpayers and then the South African Highest Court found him guilty of breaching the constitution. Imagine if Obama charged a new swimming pool to the U.S. taxpayer, the Supreme Court found him guilty and then Congress just said, "Nah bro, you're cool."
On Tuesday, the International Criminal Court dropped its case against deputy President of Kenya William Ruto. Ruto was charged with crimes against humanity for his involvement in the events following the election in 2007, where 1,200 people died and 600,000 were forced to flee. A mistrial was declared due to bribing and interference of witnesses.
South Korea has concluded its Northern hawkish sister is capable of mounting a nuclear warhead on a missile that could reach some of its neighbors. The tension in that region has been dragging for decades—also fueled by Pyongyang's nuclear ambition. Our colleague Jake Mahon argued we need another grand bargain with the totalitarian land. Click here for his latest #NextGen article.
We missed this memo, but Pyongyang is kind of gorgeous.
A week after assuming office, the new civilian government in Myanmar has released dozens of jailed political activist. The new president is also preparing to pardon 100 more people serving sentences for political offenses. This is all happening thanks to Aung San Suu Kyi, whose bio includes democracy icon, Nobel Peace laureate, former political prisoner and Hillary Clinton's BFF. Also this week, Suu Kyi was reported to become a State Councillor. The new position was created just for her—with powers exceeding the president's—since she can't constitutionally be president. When there's a will, there's a way.
This week marked the beginning of the implementation of the European Union-Turkey migrant deal. Under the agreement, Turkey is to take back all migrants and refugees entering Greece illegally in exchange for the EU taking in Syrian refugees from Turkey. And money! And early visa-free travel! And progress in its EU membership negotiations! Al Jazeera reported that at least 326 people have been deported since the deal kicked off. A quick refresher, Europe is dealing with the continent's worst migration crisis since World War II due to armed conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East. Over one million asylum seekers have arrived in Europe since the start of last year—the majority fleeing the war in Syria—with more than 4,000 dying while crossing the Mediterranean.
Responding to this refugee chaos, the European Commission this week sought to amend the Dublin rules that state people must claim asylum in the first EU state they enter. This was met with mixed reactions.
This week the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict boiled to the surface again. The conflict started when the Soviet Union crumbled and borders between republics became borders between nations. International law views Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, however ethnic Armenians make up the majority of the population. In the 90s, the two sides fought a war over the area, and in 1994 Armenia won, however no peace treaty was created, only a truce. Therefore, it was only a matter of time before things heated up again. Three days of fighting ended on April 5th after a ceasefire was agreed, however over 60 people have already been killed in the fighting. It is a fragile ceasefire, which if it fails, it could have huge ramifications. If a larger war does break out, Armenia has a military alliance with Russia and Azerbaijan is aligned with Turkey. If you've been reading the Catchup, you know Russia and Turkey are not the best of friends. In addition, the two pipelines that carry oil and gas from the Caspian region travel very close to Nagorno-Karabakh. These pipelines are very important if Europe wants to end its dependence on Russian energy. This is a conflict the world should be watching very closely.
THE MIDDLE EAST
On Thursday it was announced that Saudi Arabia passed Russia as the third largest military spender in the world. A few reasons for this is Saudi Arabia has been involved in a proxy war in Yemen and needed to build up its military, while the declining ruble and oil price has limited Russia's plan to modernize its military.
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton stumbled as the Republican and Democratic presidential frontrunners lost their respective primaries in the state of Wisconsin. Despite political differences, both parties released a rare bipartisan joint statement this week to rejoice over the final episode of American Idol after being on the air 12 seasons too long. Thanks Obama!
The city of San Francisco really is the City That Knows How. San Fran became the first American city to approve six weeks of fully paid leave for new parents—mothers and fathers, including same-sex couples, who either bear or adopt a child. Your move, the rest of America!
Venezuela is thirsty amid a nationwide water shortage, including on Margarita Island. From our distinguished point of view, this is really the saddest news in the distinguished history of margaritas.
Brazil in Crisis. Since you've dedicated time to read all the way to the end of this week's Catchup, here's a very brief two-minute video about all of it, courtesy of CNN.