A democratic transfer of power is finally seen in Afghanistan whilst Hong Kong citizens fight for their own rights this week, and attacks in the Middle East continue although Yemen has now pledged to stop all acts of violence. We’ve seen many such exchanges of give and take across the world over the past week, from the environment to politics and power.
Each Friday, we bring you a roundup of some of the biggest stories making headlines around the world. Here’s 11 things that happened outside of Vancouver over the past week that you should know about (in no particular order):
September 26 to October 2, 2014
1. Protests in Hong Kong
Since Friday, Hong Kong’s citizens have taken to the streets of Central – the downtown district – to protest and fight for their democratic rights. After a handover in 1997 from the British to the Chinese, one of the conditions was that Hong Kong citizens would be able to democratically vote for their top leader, the Chief Executive. However, since then, the current Chief Executive Leung Chin-ying has been accused of being a puppet of the Chinese, and this week’s protests have called for him to step down. Leaders of the mass protest movement have now accepted a government offer for talks, but Chin-ying still refuses to resign.
2. Japan’s Mount Ontake erupts
Mount Ontake, one of Japan’s holiest Shinto peaks, erupted last Saturday and is responsible for at least 47 deaths. Bodies of hikers were found buried in ash, between boulders and even deeper into the mountain. Seventy people have been injured as well, sustaining bruises and broken bones as a result of flying rocks hitting them as they fled the scene. Authorities say all known victims have been recovered, but they are still deciding on whether or not to end their search operations.
3. Warring sides in Yemen pledge to disarm
On Saturday, Yemen’s Houthi Shia rebels pledged to disarm and stop all acts of violence in a deal brokered by the United Nations. The agreement comes just days after the group took control of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital and expects to halt fighting in the Al-Jwf and Marrib regions immediately. The UN will be providing technical help in disarming the rebels.
4. Afghanistan’s new president has a busy first week in office
- After months of political tension, Ashraf Ghani (pictured right) was sworn in as Afghanistan’s new president, along with Abdullah Abdullah (pictured left) as his chief executive on Monday. The pair have taken their oaths of office to lead a U.S-brokered coalition government in the first transfer of democratic power that Afghanistan has ever seen. Read more on the Washington Post
- On Tuesday, Afghanistan signed a deal with the US allowing 10,000 American troops to remain in Afghanistan – a much-delayed security deal. The Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) will “permit the continued training and advising of Afghan security forces, as well as counterterrorism operations against remnants of al-Qaeda.” Read more on the Washington Post
- On Wednesday, Ghani reopened investigations into the theft of $1 billion from Kabul Bank in 2010, a scandal that involved a Ponzi scheme and triggered a serious financial crisis. Most of the money has never been returned, and it has been called “one of the biggest banking failures in the world.” Ghani promises to tackle corruption, a campaign promise he hopes to make a top priority. Read more on Reuters
5. Syrian children targeted in twin car bombings
At least 41 children were killed out of a total of 45 people in twin car bombings outside a primary school in Homs on Wednesday this week. The first explosion came from a car parked outside the school, and the second followed just minutes later as a suicide bomber drove by. At least 56 more people have been wounded in what has been described as a definite “terrorist attack that targeted school children,” one of the worst seen in Homs in the past few months.
6. Indonesia’s new parliament opens
Indonesia’s House of Representatives swore in 560 people on Wednesday, many of who are fresh faces. The new, opposition-based parliament is expected to “obstruct” the incoming president’s new economic reforms. Joko Widodo, previously Jakarta’s popular governor, narrowly won elections in July and is the first businessman to be president in the country. Despite his plans to make a positive impact on the economy, Widodo is expected to face serious obstacles when it comes to gaining parliamentary support.
7. At least 12 killed in train collision in northern India
After a train in India’s northern Uttar Pradesh region overshot a stop signal on Tuesday, it collided with another express passenger train – killing 12 people and injuring many. Local villagers helped pull passenger from the scene before assistance arrived, and 44 people pulled from the train have been hospitalized. Unfortunately accidents are incredibly common on India’s railroad, which is one of the world’s largest.
8. Eurozone’s drop in inflation stirs fear of another recession
It has been almost two years since inflation in the eurozone was at two per cent, and on Tuesday, that rate dropped yet again from 0.4 per cent to 0.3. This brings inflation to a five-year low, which economists believe is an official warning sign that the eurozone’s economy is in danger of tipping into deflation.
9. Panic rises as first patient in USA is diagnosed with Ebola
Thomas Duncan is the first person to be diagnosed with ebola on American soil, and up to 100 people who have been in contact with him have been quarantined. As a Liberian citizen, Duncan is now facing prosecution charges in Liberia for allegedly failing to disclose the fact that he had come in contact with someone suffering from ebola on his health forms when he left the country.
10. 35,000 walruses gather together in Alaska as sea ice melts
Scientists have been able to record the largest ever gathering of walruses on a beach in northern Alaska over the past weekend. To cope with summer sea ice retreating and keep up with their normal resting periods after feeding, walruses have made for the shore and such gatherings have been on the rise. Since the 1970s, sea ice has retreated 12 per cent per decade and has only worsened since then, owing to global warming.
11. Thousands of new ocean-bottom mountains detected
A new report in Science Magazine points to the existence of thousands of mountains on the ocean floor, after compiling data from new radar satellites. Moreover, these mounts are said to be as high as 1.5km. This data is incredibly important for fisheries management as well as conservation, for it is around these mounts that wildlife tends to congregate.
Feature Image: YouTube screencap