Why do we bother with international headlines? Is it because we care about international rights and democracy? Want a fundamental understanding of foreign cultures? Or is it because we want to look smart at the “hump day” happy hour? (Note: Smart is the new sexy, or so I’ve read on the internet.) Well, it really doesn’t matter if you want to look educated about the next global crisis or if you have less honorable motives, this post will give you all you need to know.
1.) India’s national election results have been announced. The Bharatiya Janata Party, one of the two major parties, representative of the Hindus won in a landslide victory making Narendra Modi the next Prime Minister. Interestingly, Prime Minister Modi has been invited to the White House despite a visa ban 10 years ago for “violating religious freedom.”
2.) Pro-Russian Separatists in two eastern Ukrainian cities have decided to create their own Republics. No one recognizes them as being real, but they keep acting like it, going so far as planning to host parliamentary elections in the fall.
3.) The United Nation’s top negotiator in Syria’s 3 year conflict, Lakhdar Brahimi stepped down this past week due to frustration with the Assad administration. It might have something to do with the chemical weapons that France, Israel and Human Rights Watch thinks they’ve been using.
4.) The government of South Sudan (using that term broadly) and the opposition agree to a ceasefire last weekend that was almost immediately broken by both sides. The United States sanctioned one military commander from each side of the conflict to show how serious they are about this whole issue.
5.) Representatives from three South American countries have gone to Venezuela to try and restart negotiations between the government and opposition. Talks stalled last week after the government cracked-down on protesters, arresting hundreds. President Maduro said (paraphrased) that the opposition should be happy he is talking to them at all since he is open to discussions but the country will certainly move forward without them.
6.) Russia claimed (again… seriously, this is like the 3rd time) that they withdrew troops from the border with Ukraine. NATO said the troops had yet to move. Backing up NATO, the United States released a satellite photo of the Russian troops still sitting on the border, but Russia claims the image was from earlier in the year.
7.) The US, UK and Israel have sent civilian, military and counterintelligence forces to Nigeria to help the government search for more than 200 kidnapped girls. President Goodluck Jonathan has declared “war” on the terrorist organization, Boko Haram, that took them.
8.) Despite the removal of the Prime Minister and 9 additional cabinet members, protesters in Thailand still hope to oust the current government. An interim Prime Minister has not been elected, and dates for new elections have been postponed. Protests continue and the military has since declared martial law.
9) MERS, a virus from the Middle East, related to SARS, is now a global emergency according to the World Health Organization. Three cases have been confirmed in the United States, though the Center for Disease Control does not think the US is at a high risk of a break-out. The MERS virus appears concentrated in Saudi Arabia. Don’t panic yet.
10) Afghanistan has confirmed a run-off between its top 2 Presidential candidates: former Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah and former World Bank economist Ashraf Ghani to be held in June.
11) As a response to U. S. sanctions toward Russia over the whole Ukraine thing, Russia has announced they will be pulling out of the International Space Station by 2020.
12) The Jordanian ambassador who was kidnapped in Libya last month was released this week.
13) A Chinese oil rig has set off riots in Vietnam. The oil rig sits in waters disputed by the two countries. A number of Chinese factories have been set on fire and Vietnam has put its navy on alert in the area.
Hopefully, this quick list (with appropriate visualizations) will make you stunningly informed for the upcoming week.