A lot happens in a week, it can be hard to keep up. Not to fear- The Catchup has you covered on this week's happenings from across the globe.
- The presidents of African nations Chad and Niger, as well as the head of the UN-backed Libyan government, met with several European leaders on Monday in Paris to create a plan to curb migration to Europe from Northern Africa. The route across the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy alone has been attempted by nearly 100,000 individuals so far in 2017, more than 2,000 of whom died trying. The plan, spearheaded by French President Emmanuel Macron, centers around increased aid to African transit countries. Aid will help transit nations to build hubs for asylum seeking migrants. Migrants will now be able to apply for asylum from the African based hubs, rather than first attempting the dangerous journey to Europe. Once granted asylum, migrants will be able to find safe, legal routes to their new homes in the EU.
- Kenya became the latest of more than 40 countries to outlaw the selling, creating or importing of plastic bags. Those caught breaking regulations on importing and production will face up to 38,000 USD in fines and up to four years in prison. The United Nations Environment Program recently found that eight million tons of plastic wind up in the ocean every year.
- Japanese citizens woke up to an emergency alert sent at 6:02 a.m. on Tuesday, just five minutes after North Korea launched a ballistic missile headed towards Hikkaido, Japan’s northernmost island. The missile flew over Japan and landed in the northern Pacific Ocean at 6:29 a.m. local time. The launch is seen as the latest in a string of threats from North Korea, a provocation that prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to announce that “all options are on the table.”
- The Chinese Communist Party announced Thursday that a reshuffling of the nation’s leadership will occur on October 18. The meeting of 2,300 delegates in Beijing will determine the president and cabinet, though it is expected that President Xi Jinping will be confirmed for a second five-year term. The meeting will also likely discuss topics such as trade with the United States and China’s policy on the North Korean nuclear program.
- Estonia recently lowered the national voting age from 18 to 16, creating a demographic that will be voting for the first time in the nation’s upcoming October election. The additional 24,000 new voters have left Estonian politicians scrambling for ways to reach this young demographic, with promises of skate parks and campaigns conducted over social media.
- After a week of talks on Brexit arrangements, negotiator for the E.U., Michel Barnier, has announced that there has been “no decisive progress” thus far. Issues such as citizens’ rights, trade agreements, and the Irish Border are, said Barnier, currently “quite far” from a resolution. U.K. Brexit Secretary, David Davis, said that he feels concrete progress has been made, but that the discussions “have exposed, yet again, that the UK’s approach is substantially more flexible and pragmatic than that of the EU as it avoids unnecessary disruption for businesses and consumers.”
- The ongoing regional dispute between Qatar and several other nations of the GCC that began in June has sparked international intervention this week. U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the issue with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Wednesday, out of concerns that the severing of ties between the GCC nations and Qatar has fostered the building of an alliance between Qatar and Iran. Russia also became involved this week, sending Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Doha in efforts to support a Kuwaiti led mediation between Qatar and the rest of the Gulf Nations.
- Cholera outbreaks have skyrocketed in rebel held regions of Yemen, with over 2,000 deaths and 537,000 reported cases, making it the worst cholera epidemic in the world today. Nearly 85% of infections are in rebel held areas, where 1.1 percent of infections are fatal, compared to 0.2 percent fatalities from infections in government controlled regions of Yemen. Aid volunteers in the region cite this to militia fighters blocking aid and medical supplies from reaching rebel held cities.
- The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that the Russian consulate in San Francisco and two annexes in Washington and New York must close by this Saturday. The decision was made in response to Russia’s June decision to dramatically reduce U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia. The state department released a statement that, in efforts to “arrest the downward spiral” in U.S./Russian relations, additional Russian annexes could remain open.
- President Trump’s July order banning American travel to North Korea officially went into effect Friday, requiring all Americans currently in North Korea to leave the country. The ban was in response to the death of 22 year old American college student, Otto Warmbier, and the heightened nuclear tensions between the United States and North Korea in recent months. North Korea released an announcement saying that it will keep borders “wide open to any U.S. citizen who would like to visit our country out of goodwill.”
- The newly formed constitutional assembly of Venezuela passed a decree on Tuesday that orders authorities to investigate and try anyone suspected to be in favor of U.S. economic sanctions placed on Venezuela. Those found in support of the sanctions, which forbid American financial institutions from giving money to the Venezuelan government or state run oil company PDVSA, will be labeled as traitors of the homeland.
- Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, is under fire this week for expelling Iván Velásquez, the head of a UN backed anti-corruption panel that recently announced it would make moves to strip Morales of his immunity from prosecution and begin further investigations into questionable funding for Morales’s 2015 campaign. Morales announced the expulsion via a video tweet. Hours later, Guatemala’s foreign minister, economic advisor and health minister all resigned in protest and the constitutional court of Guatemala placed a temporary block on the expulsion.
- Pakistani native Nashra Balagamwala is the creator of a board game called Arranged, that centers around the topic of forced arranged marriages in South Asian countries. Balagamwala feels that the solution to the problem begins with a conversation, and through this game, she hopes to accomplish just that. The board game comes with one matchmaker piece, three teenage girls and four suitors. Through situation cards and strategy, the female characters move across the board in attempts to avoid the matchmaker and the suitors, and ultimately, a loveless marriage. The game is currently being funded on Kickstarter, and has more than doubled the initial fundraising goal of 6,000 USD. Balagamwala, who will be donating a portion of the proceeds to fund children’s education in Pakistan, wrote, “I believe that this game will provide women with creative ways to avoid their own arranged marriages as well as empower them to not be afraid to pursue things such as an education, a career or a love marriage.”
- Australian musician Glen Donnelly celebrated his 30th birthday by leaping from an airplane in the nude while playing classical pieces on his violin. The skydiving stunt was meant to send a message about body image issues faced by men. Leading up to the event, Donnelly raised funds on crowd-sourcing platform GoFundMe, with a goal set at 15,000 USD, one dollar for every foot he would fall. On his fundraising page, Donnelly wrote, “Men silently suffer all around the world, and while many women are comfortable sharing their vulnerabilities and getting help, men are not reaching out. Let’s change this.”
- Images of boat-towing trucks headed to Houston, TX, to help areas heavily hit by Hurricane Harvey went viral this week, calling attention to a group known as the Cajun Navy. The volunteer group, which primarily recruits via social media, was formed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and calls on anyone with boats to help in door to door search and rescue missions following floods. Cajun Navy volunteer Todd Gaspard, who assisted in rescue efforts following Rita and Katrina, is in Texas this week and was quoted by the Washington Post saying the reason the Cajun Navy comes to the rescue is that it is “just the way we were brought up. You help your neighbor.”