9 things that happened around the world last week you should know about

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Each week, we bring you a roundup of some of the biggest stories making headlines around the world.

Here are nine things that happened outside of Vancouver last week that you should know about (in no particular order):

1. Pope Francis washes feet of refugees

Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of twelve Christian, Hindu, and Muslim refugees on Thursday at an Easter service in Rome. “Let us all say: ‘We are different, we have different cultures and religions, but we are brothers and we want to live in peace,'” said Francis in his homily.

2. Japan fleet kills 333 whales

A fleet of Japanese ships returned home after a three-month mission of killing 333 minke whales in the Antarctic. Over 200 of the whales were pregnant females. The Japanese government says the mission was for research in order to gather scientific data.

3. Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford dies at 46

Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford died on Tuesday at the age of 46 after an 18-month battle with cancer. He first entered politics as a Toronto city councillor. In 2010, he ran for mayor and won. He was praised by many Torontonians for his cost-cutting policy initiatives. In May 2013, reports surfaced of an old video showing Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Ford later admitted to his drug use as shown in that video. He took a leave of absence from his position as mayor and entered rehab. In September 2014, Ford revealed he had a rare form of abdominal cancer and dropped out of his mayoral reelection campaign. He underwent surgery for his cancer at Mount Sinai Hospital in May 2015 and in recent months his condition grew worse. He will be laid to rest on Wednesday at St. James Cathedral in Toronto.

4. Barack Obama visits Cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama touched down in Havana, Cuba, on March 20 for a three-day trip. This was the first presidential visit to Cuba in 88 years, and any visits were made impossible after the U.S. broke off relations with Cuba in 1959 when Fidel Castro took power.

On Monday, Obama attended a bilateral meeting with Cuban president Raúl Castro and discussed the differences that remain between their countries.

“America believes in democracy. We believe that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are not just American values but are universal values,” Obama said.

But Castro was resistant to Obama’s remarks about Cuba’s human rights violations.  “How many countries comply with all 61 human rights? Do you know? I do. None. None,” Castro said. Castro told Obama that the U.S. would have to lift the sanctions it has against the nation and give back the Guantanamo Bay base in order to build stronger relations.

5. Suicide bombing during soccer match in Iraq leaves 29 dead

A suicide bomber denotated a bomb at a small stadium during a soccer match in Iskanderiyah, Iraq, on Friday. At least 29 people are dead and 60 are injured according to security officials. Iskanderiyah is located 50 kilometers from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. Fans were gathered at the stadium for a post-game ceremony to celebrate a championship for a local team. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack.

6. Microsoft apologizes for offensive tweets from its AI chatbot

Microsoft says it is “deeply sorry for the unintended offensive and hurtful tweets” from its chatbot called Tay. The chatbot was supposed to get smarter with the more humans “she” interacted with online. But things went wrong on Wednesday when Tay began to imitate the hateful and racist phrases tweeted at her by other Twitter users. Microsoft has since deleted all of Tay’s offensive tweets.

7. Study claims Zika virus came to Brazil in 2013

The Zika virus has been in Brazil since 2013, according to a new study. Researchers were able to determine the time of Zika’s first existence in Brazil by pairing genetic sequencing of the virus with the travel pattern of humans.

The study found that the virus entered Brazil from the French Polynesia between May and December 2013. Scientists have a theory that it could have been fans of French Polynesia’s national soccer team that brought the virus to Brazil when they were there for the Confederations Cup in June 2013.

We looked at broad-scale patterns of human movement and focused on air passengers who traveled to Brazil from countries that reported Zika since 2012. From late 2012 onwards, there was a 50 percent rise in the number of passengers traveling to Brazil from countries with Zika,” said Oxford University researcher Oliver Pybus.

8. Man charged with terrorist offences in connection with  Brussels terror attack

A man has been charged with terrorist offences in connection with Tuesday’s attacks in Brussels. Faycal C. was arrested on Thursday by Belgian authorities. Two other men have also been arrested but it is still not clear if they were directly involved in Tuesday’s bombings. The attacks took place at Zaventem Airport and in the Maelbeek metro station killing 31 people and injuring at least 270.

9. New Zealand will not be getting a new flag

After a nation-wide referendum, New Zealand has decided that it will not be replacing its national flag. In September, New Zealanders were given five flag options to vote for. Over one million votes were cast in the referendum, with 56.6% of voters choosing to keep the country’s original flag.

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Simran Singh is a Contributor at Vancity Buzz. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Journalism at the University of British Columbia. She is a big fan of coffee, writing and exploring Vancouver. Send a story idea her way at simran@vancitybuzz.com
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