Highlights of the Week

Our editors give us the breakdown of this week’s biggest news stories

UK: Ryan Morrice 

More people have tested positive for coronavirus, with the total number of cases in the UK now at 23. Only one person has caught it within the UK. The NHS may recruit newly retired doctors to help deal with the virus if it spreads further.

Turmoil in the Home Office continued after a top civil servant resigned. Home Secretary Priti Patel had previously tried to force him out of his job. He said he had become the “target of vicious and orchestrated campaign against him” and planned to sue the government for constructive dismissal.

Plans for a third runway at Heathrow have again been cast into doubt after a court ruled that it was unlawful because it did not take the government’s climate commitments into account.

Under 19s are to get free bus travel in Scotland after a budget deal between the SNP and Scottish Greens. Scotland is also set to become the first nation to provide universal access to pads and tampons after MSPs from all parties backed the new legislation.

Europe: Charlie Whiteley

French President Emmanuel Macron passed his pension overhaul bill on Saturday. He did so without the support of lawmakers, who were slowing the process of the bill’s passing. The bill has been controversial in France, as protests and strikes have gone on for several months over Macron’s initiatives.

Greece has suspended asylum applications as the migrant crisis at the Turkish border worsens. Citing an overcrowded population of migrants, Greece has vowed to secure their borders by any means necessary. Additionally, Turkey said it cannot support more refugees, leaving around 10,000 people stuck at the border.

Africa: Camille Capelle

Considered the hub of renewable energy, African economies are being encouraged to pay even more attention and money to the sector. The initiative is already strongly supported by the African Development Bank, which has already contributed over $600 million to renewable energy projects. But countries are being urged to develop their own cost-effective low-carbon solutions. 

Expectations for economic improvement are high in South Sudan, after the formation of the new coalition government. The National economy has suffered under continuous unrest and lack of security. Following the peace deal, thorough reforms are a necessary focus in order tackle the economic challenges ahead and remove the residue of war.

The spread of coronavirus continues to cause more serious problems on the African continent. African airlines have cancelled flights to China and emergency response committees are being created to try and deal with the crisis. Kenya has announced its suspension of all flights to China. As cases continue to emerge in a growing number of countries, the fear among residents is higher than ever. In Lagos, a scramble for hand sanitizer and masks has caused prices to skyrocket as a result of shortages. 

Asia: Max Dowden

This week, the United States and the Taliban signed a historic peace agreement, paving the way for the eventual withdrawal of American forces from the country. American negotiators insist that the withdrawals will be “conditions-based”, and serious future aggression by the Taliban may still warrant an equally aggressive response.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump wrapped up his official visit to the Modi government in India without a formal trade deal. American trade officials claim the discussions were productive, but the visit also coincided with a fresh wave of violence throughout India’s cities, motivated by religious and political strife surrounding Prime Minister Modi’s divisive immigration policy.

Finally, political tensions are simmering in Kazakhstan, where dozens of pro-democracy protestors and members of the newly-formed Democratic Party were detained by the government. At least one protestor has died in police custody, triggering further waves of demonstrations. 

Americas: Alex Watt 

President Trump has re-nominated Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe to serve as US Director of National Intelligence, despite withdrawing his previous nomination in July over concerns he was embellishing his qualifications for the role. In his signature style of address – a tweet –  the President proclaimed the Representative from Texas’ Fourth District as “an outstanding man of great talent”. Mr Ratcliffe is a known Trump loyalist, who sits on Congress’s Ethics and Intelligence Committees. His previous nomination faced opposition from both main parties, and Mr Ratcliffe is yet to comment publicly on the nomination.

Following on from last week’s Weekly Highlights coverage of Brazillian Senator Cid Gomes sustaining injuries after being shot at by striking police as he attempted to ram a digger through a fence protecting protesting officers, there have been more ramifications of the police strike in the North-Eastern state of Ceará. Officials have said there have been 147 people murdered in the first five days of a military police strike in Ceará. Despite the army being sent in to patrol the streets, the murder rate has risen to quintuple its usual average, leading to cancellations of carnival festivities in multiple cities. Recently, over 200 officers have been suspended over striking, given police officers are banned from going on strike in Brazil. The strikes began on the 19th of February over calls for pay rises for the officers.

Economics: Lucy Wright 

Coronavirus continues to play a major role on the global economic and political stage. With a mortality rate of around 2%, the disease is very unlikely to have the severe impact of the worst pandemics, although Professor Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health has predicted that between 40 and 70 percent of people worldwide are likely to be infected in the coming year. Public health emergency aside, coronavirus has far reaching economic implications, illustrated already by the stock markets, as global shares suffer their worst week since the 2008 financial crisis. Investors are now worried that the coronavirus could spark a global recession. For more on the economic impact of coronavirus, read Cassi Ainsworth’s article: Smashing Windows: The Economics of Disaster.

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