The World in a Flash
The week’s RoundUp is short and sweet, with just enough room for some of our favourite articles and stories from the week. From Trump’s busy week of sorting out his policies, troubles in Brazil, Liberian school teachers, responses to the deadly Syrian attacks, and the peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
Trump’s Busy Week
This has been a busy week for the Trump Administration which has been posed with serious foreign policy issues. Firstly, the tragedy in Syria which compelled the President to launch missiles at a Syrian airfield. This has set back Russia-US relations which Donald Trump has described as being at an ‘all-time low.’ Both Syria and Russia have denied that forces loyal to Assad used chemical weapons. During his campaign, the President was also highly critical of NATO, but he has also changed his mind on that issue; this is probably related to deteriorating Russia relations. He mentioned that the Alliance is ‘no longer obsolete’. In addition, Trump has reversed his positions on: China being a currency manipulator, the unnecessary nature of the import-export bank, the Chair of the US Federal Reserve, and the hiring freeze in the federal public sector. Finally, the US dropped the most powerful non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan this week in the fight against ISIS. In a twist, ‘bombing the sh**t out of ISIS,’ is a promise that the President is keeping from the campaign.
Haiti Peacekeeping Mission Ends
The UN peacekeeping mission that has been active in Haiti since 2004 following the rebellion that led to the ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is set to end. The UN Security Council voted unanimously to end the mission on Thursday. The current forces will be replaced by a smaller police force. The mission costed US $346 million, and the recommendation of the shutdown followed the recommendation of the UN Secretary-General. The decision to downsize may have to do with the US clamping down on peacekeeping expenditures, however, the UN is confident that the country is sufficiently stable to remove forces. The forces, roughly 2,300 are expected to leave by October of this year.
Liberia Threatens to Fire Public School Teachers
The government of Liberia is threatening to fire all public teachers and privatize the entire school system. This is due to many schools having extremely low attendance rates and/or teachers not showing up to class. With the 10 year long civil war and the ebola outbreak, the schooling system has taking some serious hits. Teachers feel overlooked. Liberia’s teachers make, in a good month, the equivalent of $100 USD and feel largely overlooked. The education minister, George Werner, is concerned that Liberia’s children are going to fall too far behind and wants to team up with the private sector, including the Bridge Academy, to provide classes to Liberian children.
Brazil is facing a lot of corruption charges.
Brazilians are not unaccustomed to their political class facing corruption scandals. They have recently been subject to a successful impeachment of, now former, President Rousseff. Now, the Supreme Court in Brazil has dealt a large blow President Temer’s administration as they have authorized investigations into eight cabinet ministers and dozens of lawmakers. The investigations are looking into links between the Brazilian government and a large bribery scandal involving Odebrecht, which has admitted to paying millions in bribes. There are more than one hundred members of government that are being investigated and the Brazilian government is at risk of coming to an institutional stand still. Further, the country’s economy has taken another blow as they continue to struggle with low oil prices. Brazil, once the bastion of hope for Latin American economies has fallen a long way.
Chemical “Attacks” “Fabricated”
In the aftermath of American strikes on Shayrat airbase, the expected mixed bag of facts, lies, and half-truths came popping out of every corner, like many a deranged jack-in-the-box. Civilians were not targeted, according to the Pentagon, but nine civilians were killed, according to the Syrian state news agency. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson claimed Russia was either in cahoots with Assad or incompetent in its ability to secure Syrian chemical weapons. Russia responded by arguing that the strikes violated international law and there are reports that the ‘chemical attacks’ were in fact false-flag operation, carried out either by extremist groups looking to kickstart a war or by the US itself. Assad has also chimed in on this front, stating today that the attacks were entirely fabricated and that the US worked with terrorist groups to give them a pretext for the attack. Marco Rubio decided he was going to help by quoting Proverbs 11:21. Thanks Marco. Luckily, Trump’s informed everyone—via twitter, obviously—that everything will work out fine and all parties will come to their senses and there will be lasting peace. Good thing that got resolved, no way anything could go wrong now.
The federal suite of bills on the legalization of marijuana was unveiled today and, if passed, would make Canada the first G7 country to legalize pot at the national level. It remains to be seen, though, how much kerfuffle this might cause as provinces, territories, and municipalities get into the nitty-gritty of legislation. PTMs will have a significant amount of power under the law, to determine whether they will raise the legal age above 18, set licensing, distribution, retail sales, and zoning regulations, change traffic safety laws, and enforce the regulations through ticketing or other means. Across the board, penalties for impaired driving, especially in combination with alcohol impairment, are set to increase. There was no stated projected revenue from marijuana sales, but private and public sector, as well as academic, economists have estimated that legalization could bring it anywhere from $618 million to $5 billion. Word of warning to the enthused cannabis connoisseur: existing laws will stay in effect until the new suite of bills is passed, so don’t rush to light that doobie just yet.