Weekly Wednesday’s What’s-happening-in-the-world: a round-up of nine news articles at noon 24/01/2018

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Photo by Bank Phrom on Unsplash

Sick of news-article round-ups that start with some definitive and authoritative statement – like you ‘need to’ or ‘must’ know – only to feature celebrity stories or what are minor incidences in the grand scheme of things? These lists often reflect the bias in many news outlets towards the novel, tangible, famous and Western. Plane crashes – one of the lowest annual killers – will dominate news coverage over the ongoing epidemics of cancer and heart disease and the enormous number of preventable deaths that occur from them; terrorist attacks in western cities ring-out over much larger massacres in non-western countries or the daily carnage occurring in disadvantaged areas in the US.

So here is an alternative list of nine media articles that are chosen for their important societal implications (apologies for the articles missed):

  1. The World Bank is officially phasing out its support for oil and gas industries, showing an increasing independence from the US. This article looks in more detail at this phasing out and at some of the geopolitical implications.
  2. Oxfam releases another report showing that the gap between the wealthiest and the majority of the rest of the world is widening. According to the report 42 people now have the same wealth as 3.7billion of the world’s poorest. We will look at this claim in more detail, including the apparent hypocrisy of Oxfam’s salaries, in a future post.
  3. Whitehall’s spending watchdog report shows privately financed (PFI) projects cost way more than if they were solely Government funded. The audit does not include added costs to society like reduced job quality and predates the Carillion Collapse which is no doubt adding to the £200 billion that PFIs cost UK taxpayers.
  4. With the Democrats appearing to concede rather timidly in the end on the US government shutdown we decided to go with a link to an article on the second women’s march instead. Rather than a typical tallying of the numbers who turned out this article concentrates on the sustained political movement that is taking the disdain for Trump and concern for gender equality beyond the march. Women have led the way in defending access to health care, the #MeToo campaign has channeled energy against misogyny, women are running for office in record numbers and are garnering formidable backing. Sustained efforts such as this are necessary for political change.
  5. The probability of a trade war between the US and the rest of the world has taken a step forward as Trump’s administration slaps 30% tariffs on imports of solar cellsa market intervention which will impact on the climate change economy.
  6. Turkey is engaged in a campaign of bombing the Kurds in the province of Afrin in Syria. There are accusations that civilians are targeted. Kurdish fighters have been one of the more effective forces in combatting ISIS in recent years.
  7. South African city Cape Town, with a population of close to half a million people, is nearing the day when the city’s water runs outsocial inequality, political infighting, unequally distributed measures of conservation are all exacerbating the effects of what has been an unnaturally prolonged drought.
  8. A video discusses how Obama’s policy of drone strikes, which has been ramped up by Trump, is encouraging an expansion and radicalization of terrorism. The accompanying article recounts a series of violent interventions in the past which support the argument for ‘Blowback’ – as in unintended consequences such as fomenting terrorism towards the US.
  9. The US’s Environmental Protection Agency – already rolling back environmental regulations under the seriously compromised Scott Pruitt who Trump appointed – hired a banned banker as a senior advisor.

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