Weekly Wednesday’s What’s-happening-in-the-world: a round-up of nine news articles at noon 14/02/2018

If only this were fake news
Photo by Kayla Velasquez on Unsplash

This week there’s been a lot of fuss over a celebrity’s baby name and two other’s having a public spat, there’s also been the tragedy of a plane crash, but as it typical of this weekly post we are only concerned with articles of serious and broad societal consequence. So here is an alternative list of nine media articles that are chosen for their important societal implications (apologies for the articles missed):

1. As you would expect from the Trump administration, its $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal comes with no mention of climate change. The proposal is attempting to push through plans that will roll-back environmental review procedures, reduce local community involvement, and appears to involve a large degree of privatizing revenue that will result from completed infrastructure (e.g. toll charges).

2. How the Oxfam scandal (Oxfam’s Haiti programme chief Roland van Hauwermeiren hired and encouraged earthquake victims into prostitution) should be used to challenge the institution’s current power structure. The writer – an NGO worker – here argues that instead of a we-know-what’s-best approach Oxfam needs to move to “something that is accountable to those most in need and the communities in which they’re working”.

3. How the recent Oxfam scandal neatly fits the goals of UK’s anti-foreign-aid forces who remain committed to ignoring how “trade, security, the fight against poverty and the quest for global stability [are] all inextricably entwined”

4. A two-year study indicates that across seven sub-Saharan countries less than half of young women were aware that they are infected with HIV. The study involving 28,000 young women conducted interviews and took plasma specimens to evaluate infection.

5. The Bosnian conflict ended 22 years ago but the agreement to split the region into two semi-autonomous parts – the Republika Srpska (RS) and a Muslim-Croat federation – has helped create a system that rewards ethnically based politics. Into this tense situation it appears we now have the Russians, as part of their campaign against NATO, expanding their influence over a separatist Bosnian Serb leader by helping to arm Bosnian Serb police with 2500 automatic rifles.

6. People are hungry in Gaza raising fears of flaring tensions and an all-out Palestinian revolt. Here are two articles – one from the New York Times which highlights the role of a standoff between two Palestinian groups Hamas and the secular Fatah group, and the squeeze being put on Hamas’ revenue by Egypt and Israel’s clamping down on border tunnels. There is also recognition of Trump’s halving of aid to the UN agency providing relief for Gaza’s refugees. While The New York Times emphasis is on Palestinian causes to the current crisis the New Statesman article links the crisis both to Trump and Israel’s refusal of a UN recognized right to return for the 1.2 million Palestinian refugees in Gaza.

7. Recently it was announced to the world that the city of New York was suing oil companies over their role in climate change. Now it seems Exxon Mobil is hitting back, making legal threats and slapping lawsuits on individuals and groups that may have been involved in the current legal campaign against it.

8. How the Syrian conflict is a geopolitical quagmire and appearing to be getting worse by possibly fueling three further conflicts between Iran and Israel, Turkey and the Kurds, and even Russia and the US.

9. And remember that tumbling of stock markets last week. Well this article challenges assertions used by the White House and economists to calm shareholders by arguing that the economic fundamentals are still strong. While we appear to be a good deal away from the credit crash of 2008 much of the claims about the US economy do not take in the broader and more unequal picture. For example the growth in employment is second smallest out of eleven preceding expansions in job-growth and that it has been statistically exaggerated by millions having dropped out of the labour force. While the article is a bit of a read it is well worth it.


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