5 Minute International Update (04/18/2014)

Good Friday April 18, 2014

Ukraine continues to be the star of the international news day: At least 11 cities have seen “pro-Russian” militias, no including issues in Kyiv. Violence over the weekend led to the threat of a anti-terror campaign by the Ukraine government, followed by discussions on a referendum, West is still actively sparring with Russia and threatening more sanctions, NATO announced it will be protecting more of its Eastern European allies, today Putin had a press conference where he accused the West, particularly the US of problems with Ukraine, talks in Geneva today on the same subject

Protests continue in Venezuela, despite talks for peace. The government has rejected recent request for amnesty for jailed protestors from the opposition.

Syria opposition has accused the Assad regime of renewed chemical weapons attacks. Recently at the UN there was a review of torture photos, and today Jordanian warplanes shot at vehicles crossing the border form Syria (combat?). Elections soon!

In Nigeria, 100 school aged girl were taken captive by Boko Haram (the terrorist group that means “Western Education is Forbidden”) on Tuesday. Today the military said most girls were freed but recent reports from the families say this is untrue. This weekend a bus bombing killed 71 people there.

Brazil has sent troops into the city of Salvador, the host of this year’s world cup. The polic there have gone on strike causing an upsurge in violence. The games are only 2 months away, the city has all kinds of issues, and the police are asking for higher pay.

Pakistan’s Taliban has expressed that it wants to continue negotiations with the government but it will not renew the 40 day ceasefire it previously agreed to because the government has not responded to their demands.

Algeria is voting today. President Abdelaziz Bouteflicka, 77 and in ill-health, is running for re-election and expected to win. He has held the office since 1999 and abolished laws that limited his terms. 5 other candidates are running against him but low voter turnout is expected. President Bouteflicka won the last election with 90% of the vote.

In Libya, the ambassador from Jordan has been kidnapped and is being held in exchange for the release of a jailed Islamist militant. Kidnappings and widespread militia violence is becoming common in Libya and at the beginning of the week, Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni announced he will step down

Macedonia held presidential election this past Sunday. 25% of the population is ethnically Albanian and they boycotted the vote after the ruling party refused to run a joint candidate. Elections have proceeded to a run-off schedule for April 27th.  The conservative incumbent President Ivanov is expected to go to the run-off with the Social Democrat candidate.

India is also still voting, 121 principalities got to the polls today, voting in different provinces will go on until mid May.

A deadly virus spreading through the middle east has been reported in Yemen. The MERS virus has also been spotted in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Tunisia. The MERS virus is related to SARS and was first found in the middle east in 2012. Yesterday, WHO confirmed 10 cases of the virus in the UAE after 1 death, the other 10 appear stable though multiple deaths in Saudi Arabia with similar symptoms are worrying.

Leaders from Israel and Palestine were scheduled to meet today to try and extend the deadline for peace negotiation which is currently set to end on April 27th—the only reason given by Israel was “on going incitement”. Israel has refused a schedule prisoner release after anger over the shooting of a policeman and the wounding of his wife and child on the eve of Passover. Palestine also signed 15 treaties that asserted statehood. The deadline for the talks could be pushed back by months.

Shortages in Cuba have become the norm,  the newest one: Condoms. A single condom could cost $1.50 where the average salary is maybe $19 a week.

 

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/17/14)

India elections photo

 

1) Largest voting day for India is today. This election is spread out over 6 weeks. Today 121 constituencies go to the polls. Election results will not be released until May 16th.

 

2) Algeria is also voting today. President Bouteflicka, 77 and in ill-health, is running for re-election and expected to win. He has held the office since 1999 and abolished laws that limited his terms. 5 other candidates are running against him but low voter turnout is expected. President Bouteflicka won the last election with 90% of the vote.

 

3) Moldova’s breakaway region, Transniestra, made an official request to Russia and the UN to recognize their independence, citing a referendum in 2006 where allegedly 97% of citizens voted for autonomy. The Moldovan Prime Minister called on Russia to reject this claim.

 

 

Photo of Modi at BJP Rally by Al Jazeera English

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/16/14)

Taliban photo

Photo by The U.S. Army 

 

1) A senior Taliban leader, Mullah Agha Jan Mutasim, who had begun peace negotiations with the government in Afghanistan has gone missing in the United Arab Emirates. He has not contacted friend or family in nearly 2 weeks. The move was seen as an embarrassment for some Taliban leaders reported the International New York Times.

 

2) Leaders from Israel and Palestine are scheduled to meet today to try and extend the deadline for peace negotiation which is currently set to end on April 27th. Israel has refused a schedule prisoner release after anger over the shooting of a policeman and the wounding of his wife and child on the eve of Passover. Palestine also signed 15 treaties that asserted statehood. The deadline for the talks could be pushed back by months.

 

3) Yesterday, Iraq’s military distributed leaflets to the city of Fallujah, urging civilians to leave. More than 1200 families have fled. The Iraq government has planned an air offensive against Islamic militants (Al Qaeda-backed) holding the city.

 

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/15/2014)

boko haram photo
Boko Haram by AK Rockefeller

 

1) In Nigeria, 100 school aged girl were taken captive by Boko Haram (the terrorist group that means “Western Education is Forbidden”). This weekend a bus bombing killed 71 people there.

 

2) A deadly virus spreading through the middle east has been reported in Yemen. The MERS virus has also been confirmed in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman and Tunisia as well as in several countries in Europe. It has killed at least 5 people in Saudi Arabia in the past week. The MERS virus is related to SARS and was first found in the middle east in 2012.

 

3) Macedonia held residential election this past Sunday. 25% of the population is ethnically Albanian and they boycotted the vote after the ruling party refused to run a joint candidate. Elections have proceeded to a run-off schedule for April 27th.  The conservative incumbent President Ivanov is expected to go to the run-off with the Social Democrat candidate.

Photo by AK Rockefeller

5 Minute International Update (04/11/2014)

This week, Rwanda commemorated the 20th anniversary of their horrific genocide where more than 800,000 people died.

President Maduro of Venezuela did engage in negotiations with opposition parties yesterday. The Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) has agreed to the process, but one party in the coalition, the Popular Will party which has been led by Leopoldo Lopez, currently in jail, has refused to take part until he is released. Most parties in the MUD are not calling for a change of government, but some parties that Maduro has labeled “extremist” want to see the current regime overturned. The talks were broadcast live last night, and included barely defeated Presidential candidate Henrique Capriles.  The Popular Will Party did not participate in the talk but 11 other opposition leaders did.

The UN has approved 12000 peacekeepers for the Central African Republic to provide support for African Union and French troops already on the ground. Ethnic and religious violence has killed thousands.

After multiple uprisings in Eastern Ukraine last weekend, NATO released satellite footage of the Russian build-up of troops near the Ukrainian border. Barbs have been exchanged between West and Russia over the situation in Ukraine. Russia is threatening to stop supplying gas to EU countries and the US is considering further sanctions. Multiple NATO countries have called for an increase in presence for eastern European countries.

A protest of Taiwanese students ended yesterday. Students occupied the legislative building for 24 days, protesting against a trade deal with China. The debate over this bill has halted.

While the world has been overshadowed by Ukraine and Venezuela, Syria’s death toll continues to rise. 68 have died in the past 2 days. The removal of chemical weapons is said to be back on track, but as Western powers put Syria on the back burning, Assad, backed by Hezbollah, looks more likely to win upcoming elections.

Iran has appointed Hamid Abutalebi, as their new Ambassador to the UN. He is accused of participating in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and holding of 52 Americans hostage for 444 days in 1979. The US has not allowed him to enter the country, and congress is backing a bill to block his visa.

The Israel/Palestine peace negotiations brokered by Secretary Kerry seem to be going no where. Israel is imposing economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority–by not turning over taxes collected by the Israeli government on their behalf.

In Turkey, YouTube has remained blocked and PM Erdogan wants the ban on Twitter reinstated.

In India’s upcoming election, the largest single vote on earth, the favorite for Prime Minister looks like Narendra Modi, part of the main opposition, the Hindu nationalist party. But he is a controversial figure from his part in Hindu on Muslim violence. He recently admitted he has been married 50 years, despite previously telling voters he was a lifelong bachelor with only time for the needs of India.

All over the world, webportals, tech companies and even governments are warning people to change their passwords over the massively destructive Heartbleed bug that attacks OpenSSL. And if any of that didn’t make sense to you, you should probably update your logins everywhere.

 

 

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/11/14)

Shared need, good will – Eden Project display on Israel and Palestine: The only two treaties signed during the Intifada relate to water and sewage; By: Ben Sutherland

 

1) The Israel/Palestine peace negotiations brokered by Secretary Kerry seem to be going no where. Israel is imposing economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority–by not turning over taxes collected by the Israeli government on their behalf.

 

2) An Imam in Daghestan was killed by two masked men possibly linked to violent Islamic extremists in the Russian territory.

 

3) 2 Kenyan aid workers found in Somalia after being held more than 2 years by terrorist organization, al-Shabab.

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/10/14)

Soviet Union Emblem By: Earls37a

 

1) Russian lawmakers want to investigate the collapse of the Soviet Union and former USSR President Mikhail Gorbachev, suggesting the Soviet Union was illegally dissolved.

 

2) There was a bombing outside a Bank of Greece in Athens today. Luckily, no one was harmed, but the blast happened hours before Angela Merkel was supposed to visit Athens.

 

3) (Because I don’t get to post many stories like this.) Tajik police report they prevented a terrorist act outside of the largest aluminum plant in Central Asia. A group of criminals planned a bombing at the plant but were caught and are being detained in Tajikistan, says the Interior Minister.

Top 3 International Stories I’m Watching Today (04/09/14)

 

1) Cities in eastern Ukraine currently dealing with violent protests include Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk. Officials in Ukraine says they will use force if talks with protesters fail to resolve issues. Ukraine and the West has directly blamed Russian agitators as the cause of renewed protests this week, which Russia categorically denies.

 

2) Bombing in a Pakistan market just outside of Islamabad has killed 23 people and injured 70. The Pakistani Taliban has denied credit for this attack, or the one on a train yesterday that killed 12 people.

 

3) President Maduro of Venezuela did engage in preliminary talks with opposition parties yesterday. Venezuela has announced more formalized talks to start Thursday. The Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) has agreed to the process, but one party in the coalition, the Popular Will party which has been led by Leopoldo Lopez, currently in jail, has refused to take part until he is released. Most parties in the MUD are not calling for a change of government, but some parties that Maduro has labeled “extremist” want to see the current regime overturned.