From the Global Discussions Club:
This is the second installment of Global Discussions’ once-a-week news update! As per usual, we hope this information helps give you a sense of some things happening in the world right now, and also spurs discussion amongst students and faculty!
State of the Union
President Obama delivered the State of the Union Address last night, in which he described progress made in the past year, and legislative plans for the upcoming year. Amongst other ideas, key proposals included: improved pay for sick leave, government subsidized community college, improved cyber security, and authorization for use of force against the self-proclaimed Islamist State. The President urged increased bipartisan support, and added, “the shadow of crisis [in this country] has passed, and the State of the Union is strong.” First-time Republican Congresswomen Joni Ernst delivered the Republican response, emphasizing the new Republican majority in both chambers of Congress and outlining Republican plans to move forward on the Keystone XL Pipeline and legislation which would amend or repeal Affordable Care Act.
For a copy of the full speech, click here.
For additional analysis, click here.
Crisis in Yemen
Yemen, a nation that President Obama declared a model for its counterterrorism strategy, is currently undergoing a power struggle between Shi’a Houthi rebels, along with other militia groups, and President Hadi’s government. The Houthi rebels seized the presidential palace this week, after continually spreading checkpoints at airports, government buildings, and near the presidential palace. To add to the instability, The Houthi rebels kidnapped Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak, the president’s Chief of Staff, three days ago. The seizure of the palace, however, does not forecast well for Yemen; even if the president survives, he will become a testament to the limited and unstable Yemeni government. Furthermore, should the Houthi rebels gain control of the government, sectarian strife will continue to rise with the majority Sunni.
Update: Students in Mexico
Since September 2014, protests surrounding the disappearance and killing of forty three students have rocked Iguala, Mexico. The students were all members of the Ayotzinapa Teachers’ Training College and had planned a protest in Iguala. Before they returned to their college, the mayor ordered the police to dismantle the students’ protests, in fear it would interfere with a public event he was hosting. Soon after, the students disappeared. It has been confirmed that the forty-three students were killed, their bodies and clothing burned to erase any traces of evidence. Furthermore, federal investigators blamed Mayor Jose Luis Abarca and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, “for ordering a local police to hand the students over to members of the Guerreros Unidos gang”. Felipe Rodriguez, the leader of the gang that executed the killings, was arrested, and more than ninety other people have been detained, because of possible connections with the case.
For more information, click here.
Update: AirAsia Flight
Over the past week, the remaining wreckage of flight QZ8501 has been found. The plane’s cockpit voice recorder and flight data were among the pieces recovered, and they revealed the last moments before the crash. The pilot requested to ascend from 32,000 ft to 38,000 ft in order to avoid a storm; however, that request was denied due to too much air traffic. The engines stalled as the pilot ascended too quickly, which ultimately caused the plane to crash. The voice recorder also showed that the crash was not caused by terrorism, as there were no gun shots or explosions. Many bodies of passengers of the plane have been recovered, and officially no survivors remain.
Interesting New Research
In an article for BBC News, James Gallagher warns of the increasing cost of life-saving vaccines worldwide. A report by the global charity Medecins Sans Frontieres warns that “there has been a 68-fold increase in prices between 2001 and 2014.” As manufacturing costs continue to rise, vaccines for diseases such tuberculosis, measles, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, and polio are becoming less and less affordable. While individuals in low-income countries have their immunizations subsidized by a program known as the Gavi vaccine alliance, middle-income nations are forced to bear the burden of these increasing costs.