International Update: 5.21.18-5.28.18

I don’t want to bore you with anything other than the news.

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My blog is officially rising from the dead after a three-week hiatus with a new International Update! I don’t want to bore you with anything other than the news, so I hope you enjoy and learn something new!

Disclaimer: I do not own any of the articles used in this post and have provided links to them below. All images were found through WordPress’s free image library. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


person putting a passport on bag
Photo by Vinta Supply Co. | NYC on Pexels.com

Africa Article

Title: Ethiopia to allow all Africans to visit without visas “very soon” PM Abiy Ahmed says

Source: This is Africa

What Happened? 

Ethiopia will soon allow citizens from all African nations to travel to the country without a visa. This announcement was made by Prime Minster Abiy Ahmed while Rwandan President Paul Kagame was on an official three-day visit in Ethiopia. Ethiopia’s new visa policy was inspired by the one implemented in Rwanda on January 1 of this year.

The new Rwandan visa program allows African nationals to get a 30-day visa upon arrival instead of having to apply in advance. This concept of visa-upon-arrival was recommended by the African Union to help unite all African nations.

A majority of African countries remain closed off, but the African Union is urging nations to adopt the visa-upon-arrival initiative. They hope it will encourage intra-African trade and tourism.

Why Should We Care?

This sparked a really interesting thought process for me about regional governments. As someone that lives in the States, the concept is pretty foreign to me, but this article got me thinking: Has the African Union found a happy medium in the debacle of regional government and borders? Maybe…but then again maybe not.

According to this article, the African middle class is on the rise. The African Union (AU) hopes that giving people the freedom to travel from country to country will strengthen the continent’s economy even more. It sounds as if the AU is giving each country the freedom to decide how tight or loose their borders will be. The 30-day visa-upon-arrival (the policy in place in Rwanda) is what the AU suggests, but does not require.

The idealist in me loves the concept of governments trying to take a ‘help thy neighbor’ approach instead of an ‘every man for themselves’ strategy. But does it work?

I’m turning to the European Union (EU) and their border laws as an example. As a part of the EU, borders are essentially nonexistent, making the union kind of like a marriage. Citizens in the EU can work, travel, and study in any EU country easily. This strategy truly influences the national governments within the union. When things are going super well for one country, it benefits the other countries within the EU. On the other hand, when a country finds itself in trouble, it puts strain on other EU countries as well. This “you’re in or you’re out” approach to regional government resulted in Brexit, Great Britain’s symbolic divorce from the EU, which influenced both Britain’s and the EU’s economies.

As a citizen of the States, completely black-and-white borders have their downfall too. The relationship with our neighboring countries are more defensive and cautious. There isn’t a sense of unity between the three nations at all, which I find disheartening as someone who sees mutual respect and equality as a pivotal part of a more peaceful world.

The AU seems to be treating its border requirements like something in between North America’s and Europe’s approach.  It’s more like dating. Countries can go all-in like Ethiopia and completely open its borders, they can be half-in like Rwanda with the 30-day visa-upon-arrival, or they can be hesitant like 55% of the nations in the AU, who still require visas prior to entry.

I’m optimistic about the new travel laws being established in Africa. Only time will tell if it’s an effective strategy or not.

“Ethiopia to allow all Africans to visit without visas ‘very soon’ PM Abiy Ahmed says,” This is Africa, May 26, 2018, https://thisisafrica.me/ethiopia-allow-africans-visit-without-visas/


two person in formal attire doing shakehands
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Americas Article

Title: Ready or not, Canadian business may face sanctions under EU’s new privacy law

Source: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

What Happened?

Canadian businesses, both big and small, have just discovered they may be expected to follow a new law established by the European Union. It’s called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and came into affect May 25.

The law regulates how companies protect the personal data of EU citizens. Anywhere from tiny Canadian shops to universities will be held under the same standards of European companies. The EU is taking many factors into account, including negligent infringement, but they aren’t messing around. If the law is violated, a company can be fined up to $30 million Canadian (roughly $23.2 million U.S.) or four percent of the company’s global income–whichever is highest.

The EU plans on responding to complaints filed by citizens quickly. Canadian officials are insisting that all business owners take every procaution possible to make sure they have access and understanding of the personal information they have for their customer.

Why Should We Care? 

The digitization of our world and the ability to travel around the globe more efficiently has helped make the physical distance between nations feel a lot smaller. It is also making it easier for more and more people to access our personal information.

The EU’s proactive approach in protecting its citizens’ information should not be a surprise. As we make the world a more unified place through globalization, laws and regulations are going to come into place that are going to make a global impact and not just a local one. The EU’s new privacy regulation may be one of the first examples of this very concept. Respecting and honoring the rules and regulations of another country inside of your own country’s borders seems like an alien concept, but I truly believe this is what the future is going to hold.

Globalization is an inevitable path that we’re taking as a world and everyone has to be prepared for it.

The Canadian Press. “Ready or not, Canadian business may face sanctions under EU’s new privacy law,” Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, May 25, 2018,  http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/gdpr-canadian-businesses-1.4677513


cyclone fence in shallow photography
Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

Asia Article

Title: Israel begins building marine barrier along Gaza border

Source: Aljazeera

What Happened? 

Israel has started construction on an ocean barrier to prevent Palestinians in Gaza from coming into Israel by sea. The main goal is to stop Hamas, a terrorist organization currently in control of the Gaza Strip, from entering the country.

According to Israeli media, it was discovered that Hamas fighters had successfully entered Israel by sea in 2014 during the Gaza War. This barrier is Israel’s attempt to prevent this from happening again. The construction of the barrier has come at a very tense time for Israel and Palestine. Mass protests in the Gaza Strip started in late March, with residents of Gaza demanding the right to return to Israel.

The barrier consists of fortified breakwater, which is basically a man-made militarized wall in the ocean, topped with barbed wire. Construction of the wall will hopefully be finished by the end of the year.

Why Should We Care?

The Gaza Strip is a perfect, and literal, example of a morally gray area. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, there has been little to no peace between Israel and Palestine. It doesn’t look like it’s going to get any between any time soon.

Israel was created by the UN as a safe haven for Jewish refugees after World War II. It was a just and noble cause, but was not wanted by Palestinians living there in the first place. Israel ended up splitting Palestine in two, leaving a small Palestinian territory on its eastern border, known as the Gaza Strip. The tension between the two nations is most intense on this very small piece of land.

As an outsider looking in, I can sympathize with both sides of the conflict. If I lived in Israel, I would want my government to take every precaution to prevent Hamas fighters from entering the nation. I think it’s a truth universally acknowledged that terrorists are really shitty people.

However, Israel is not 100% in the right. Israel participates in ethnic cleansing, and has apartheid policies against Palestinians. I find this both troubling and morbidly ironic, seeing as Israel was created as a safe haven for Jewish people after they were victims of Hitler’s attempt at ‘ethnic cleansing’ in Europe. Because of Israel’s hypothetical and literal barriers, the people of Gaza are stuck in a territory where there is a 40% unemployment rate and constant violence along its Israeli border. This barrier, while protection one nation, is hurting innocent citizens of another.

Aljazeera and News Agencies. “Israel begins building marine barrier along Gaza border,” Aljazeera, May 27, 2018,  https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/israel-begins-building-marine-barrier-gaza-border-180527144445959.html


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Europe Article

Title: ‘Spider-Man,’ a Migrant in Paris, Scales Building to Save a Child

Source: The New York Times

What Happened?

Mamoudou Gassama, a twenty-two year old migrant from Mali, saved a four-year-old boy from falling to his death on May 28. The young boy was dangling from a fifth floor balcony in Paris.

Gassama saved him by scaling the balconies of the apartment building, quite literally like Spiderman. Due to his heroism and grit, French President Emmanuel Macron has presented him with the required documentation to legally live in France. Gassama was also offered a position by the Paris fire department. During 2016 and 2017, only eleven people were granted residency papers for civic services and skills like Gassama.

President Macron reiterated that Gassama’s situation is an exception to the rule when it comes to undocumented migrants.  The government welcomes migrants seeking legitimate grounds for asylum, but does not consider economic struggles legitimate grounds. Officials are facing criticism from human rights groups who feel these actions are hypocritical.

Why Should We Care? 

I follow news sources from all over the world, and, on May 28, everyone was covering the Spider-Man of the 18th (the nickname Parisians have given Gassama).

It’s refreshing when a story about human grit and decency takes over international news. Our media often focuses on the negatives because– unfortunately– the world’s not a very happy place 99% of the time. When we get the chance to celebrate something joyful and miraculous I think we should take it.

If you want to see some actual footage of Mr. Spiderman in action, check out this video.

Breeden, Aurelien and Alan Cowell. “‘Spider-Man,’ a Migrant in Paris, Scales Building to Save Child,” The New York Times, May 28, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/28/world/europe/paris-migrant-hero-spiderman.html


brown cattle on green lawn grass during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Oceania Article

Title: New Zealand to cull 150,000 cows in desperate measure to stop spread of deadly bacteria

Source: The Independent

What Happened?

New Zealand plans on killing 150,000 cows over the next few years in attempts to stop the spread of Mad Cow disease. The country’s first ever case of Mad Cow disease was discovered last July.

The government has decided that all cows on effected farms– including healthy cows– will be killed in attempts to stop the disease in its tracks. The government has the right to forcibly enter farms and kill the animals in question if a farmer isn’t complacent.

So far, 38 farms in New Zealand have been effected by the disease and it is expected that the number should rise to at least 142. Twenty-four thousand cows have been killed in recent months. It is expected that 128,000 more will be killed in the next few years at the very least.

New Zealand officials hope to know if their extermination efforts are working by the end of the year.

Why Should We Care?

This is an absolutely devastating development for New Zealand. Cattle farming is a way of life for a lot of people in New Zealand seeing as there are twice as many cows as there are people in the country.

The loss of 150,000 cows will not only affect the farmers that own the infected farms, but it will affect the country’s economy as a whole. According to this article, milk products are the largest single export for the country, with much of it sold to China and used in infant formula.

The erratication of the diseased cows will set back the country millions and will no doubt have a huge impact on the country’s economy even if the procedure gets rid of the Mad Cow disease. If this strategy is unsuccessful, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to New Zealand as a nation.

Wellington, Nick Perry. “‘New Zealand to cull 150,000 cows in desperate measure to stop spread of deadly bacteria,” The Independent, May, 28, 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/australasia/new-zealand-cow-disease-cull-mycoplasma-bovis-bacteria-cattle-farming-a8372396.html

 

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