The World This Week

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

Scotland: Ryan Morrice

The Scottish Parliament has passed legislation to set up a new Scottish National Investment Bank. The Bank’s aim is to support Scottish businesses by lending money over a long time period (10 to 15 years). The Scottish Government has committed to invest £2 billion into it over 10 years and it is aimed that it will be operational later this year. The legislation had unanimous support of MSPs.

The Western Isles Council has become the first council in Scotland to automatically enroll all new pupils in Gaelic lessons. The move is aimed to help boost the number of Gaelic speakers, which has been in persistent decline.

United Kingdom: Lucy Wright 

British supermarket Sainsbury’s is to cut hundreds of jobs in management, reports released earlier this week. The job cuts represent a structural reorganisation, making up part of the supermarket chain’s plan to save £500m in costs by 2024, according to chief executive, Mike Coupe. This news follows Sainbury’s failed merger with rival British supermarket, Asda, which was blocked in April 2019 by the CMA.

In Wales, fears for young farmers have escalated following the sale of land by local councils. A spokesperson for the Welsh Local Government Association is quoting saying that: “Inevitably in the face of acute financial pressures, councils have had to consider selling off some of their farms and some have indeed done so.” The spokesperson stressed that the sales are a necessary “last resort”. Yet, this will lead many young farmers without a step onto the agricultural ladder, as renting council land represents “one of the very few routes that young people and new farmers have into the industry” says Plaid Cymru assembly member Llyr Gruffydd.

Europe: Charlie Whiteley

In the face of continuing strikes, the French government passed Emmanuel Macron’s pension overhaul plans.

Katerina Sakellaropoulou was elected Greece’s first female president this week. She was seen as a consensus choice for the position, having been approved by 261 of Greece’s 300 MP’s. An accomplished judge and activist, she will help push for greater gender equality in Greece, a nation where the gender pay gap is more than 12% between men and women.

EU leaders signed the Brexit Withdrawal Bill on Friday, ending the UK’s 46 year involvement in the EU.

Americas: Alex Watt 

The utterly unavoidable headlines for North America all revolve around the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. The Democrats’ prosecution case ended on Friday, with the President’s defence team to make their case over the next three days. White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted “The president did absolutely nothing wrong”, in response to the two charges the President faces concerning his dealings with Ukraine; abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The prosecution’s case has seen much oral argument and grandeur, with impeachment managers, such as Adam Schiff, asserted the President’s actions were exactly what the Founding Fathers feared when they devised impeachment. Alternatively, Representative Hakeem Jefferies chose to quote the late rapper Notorious BIG, proclaiming “And if you don’t know, now you know”, while standing next to a mounted picture of the rapper on an easel. 

Meanwhile, former Colombian international footballer Jhon Viáfara has been extradited to the US on drug trafficking charges. Mr Viáfara was arrested a year ago in Cali, Colombia, in a joint operation between Colombian police and US Drug Enforcement agents. A court in Texas has heard of his role in the ‘Gulf Clan’ cartel, and helped to smuggle cocaine into Central America and the US. Mr Viáfara was once named best player in the Americas in 2004, and had stints with Portsmouth and Southampton in England and Real Sociedad in Spain.

Africa: Beatrice Omotosho 

In the wake of the deadly coronavirus, Nigeria is taking some serious measures to protect itself considering how many Nigerian workers and students reside in China.  Thorough checks are being conducted at Lagos airport. Other African countries such as Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and Botswana are also taking such precautions. This virus is spreading rapidly and transcending borders, with cases already being reported in countries as far as France, US, Japan and Thailand. Nevertheless, Nigerians are optimistic about fighting this virus, if it was to spread to Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in the Ethiopian region of Oromia, fighting between state forces and armed groups has been an issue of concern recently due to the displacement its causing in one of the country’s most populous regions. This is leaving people without shelter or the ability to make ends meet and putting enormous pressure on the neighbouring Darme town. It is hoped that such conflict and inter-communal violence can be halted soon and peacefully. National elections are coming up, security will need to be a priority issue in the midst of such conflicts and will need to be durable before, during and after the elections.

Asia: Max Dowden 

This week, tensions erupted between President Duterte of the Philippines and the Trump administration. In response to the US government revoking the visa of a powerful ally of Duterte’s in the Philippine Senate, who has been repeatedly linked to human rights violations in connection to several violent anti-drug crackdowns in the country, the Duterte government has threatened to revoke the right of the US military to train and station within the borders of the Philippines.

Meanwhile, the UN has unanimously convicted the government of Myanmar for genocide against its native Muslim Rohingya minority and ordered the regime to protect the group going forward. This ruling, although a strong condemnation of the country’s government, is de facto unenforceable.

Finally, a top government minister in Pakistan sent shock waves through the country as, during a live talk show, he reportedly placed a military boot on the table and accused the opposition party of kissing it (referring to allegedly allowing the military free reign in the country’s politics). In a country where the military wields significant domestic authority in politics, this act has already been hailed as a strong rebuke against the influence of the armed forces.

Middle East: Luca Delpippo 

Iraqi security forces have clashed with protestors in central Baghdad, as the killing of Passed Solemn continues to stoke tensions in the country.

Libya’s oil output has fallen by up to 75% as opposition forces placed a blockade on government oil.

Houthi rebels in Yemen have made advances against loyalist positions, as Saudi backed forces make tactical retreats.

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