Yesterday’s News, Today’s Reality

Earth. Climate Change has still not stopped, nor have governments decided to make an effort. Hence, thousands of people are still protesting and taking to the streets demanding climate justice and that the rise of temperatures with all its consequences such as mass starvation are taken seriously. Apart from Fridays for Future other groups have been founded such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) whose activists are currently preparing for an ‘International Rebellion Week’ in early October. XR was started in November 2018 and their activists are using non-violent methods of protest, including peaceful civil disobendience, to make their demands heard.

Brazil. Thousands of fires are currently burning in the Amazon rainforest in South America, and particularly in Brazil. The region is hit with the highest amount of fires since 2010 and an increase of fires by 76 to 84% compared to the same period in 2018 has been reported. Most fires are believed to have been caused by deforestation practices – which are encourged by President Bolzonaro who sought to play down the severity of the situation – used to make land usable for farming. The burning of the ‘lungs of the planet’ releases large amount of carbon monoxide and dioxide and pose a risk for the rainforest’s biodiversity and people’s health. 

Great Britain. With the date for Great Britain leaving the EU on October 31 approaching, agreements on main issues still have not been found. Regarding the controversial question of the Irish backstop, the EU just rejected a request of the UK to not include it in the deal. The UK Brexit secretary says the UK cannot meet the Brexit ultimatum and would need another year to find an alternative policy for the border question. While Prime Minister Boris Johnson seeks to leave the EU in October, in the worst case without a deal, other UK politicians argue for postponing the Brexit deadline again or having a second referendum. In the meantime the EU wants this debate to be over, and former president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, insists that a deal before the deadline is still possible.

Yemen. A United Nations (UN) report has been issued stating that the UK, the US and France may be complicit in war crimes in Yemen. Since 2014, there is an ongoing civil war which also involves Yemen’s two neighbouring states Iran, backing the Houthi rebels, and Saudi Arabia which is leading a US supported coalition of Gulf states supporting the Yemeni government. An estimated number of 91,600 people have been killed since 2015. The UN now found that Western powers, notably the UK, the US and France, may share the responsibility for war crimes committed in the context of the conflict due to selling arms and providing intelligence and logistics support to the Saudi-led coalition which starves civilians as a tactic. An independent panel sent a secret list to UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet compiling 160 names of ‘main actors’ on all sides of the civil war.

Crimea. Five years after the Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula, the conflict between the two countries still has not been resolved. Since Ukraines new president Zelensky was elected in April, he announced that ending the conflict would be one of his top priorities. To ease some of the tensions, Russia and Ukraine have recently negotiated and executed an exchange of prisoners. Earlier this year, Russian state-run surveys have shown that the number of Russians seeing the annexation as beneficial is dropping. Since they experience the consequences of economic sanctions that followed the annexation many feel a loss in quality of life.

Venezuela. Against the backdrop of the Venezuelan crisisEcuador is currently reevaluating handing out visas to Venezuelan migrants who are heading towards other Latin countries. This so called “humanitarian corridor” is hoped to unburden the overall refugee situation. What’s more, John Bolton, the diplomat and architecture behind the US and international sanctions policies has left office. Today, many Venezuelan experts predict that this shift will change US foreign policies and that of the international community. Changes may also come from within the country, where the interim president Guaidó is calling upon his supporters to for one and all oust Maduro.

Photo Credits

pi-IMG_5623, zhrefch, CC0 1.0