International Update: 8.5.18-8.12.18

Just a little bit of international rebellion for this week.

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Four out of the five articles I picked for this week are a bit rebellious. I’m not sure what drew me to them. Maybe it’s some kind of teenage angst I didn’t realize I was repressing just bubbling up to the surface. Whatever the cause, these articles stood out to me this week and made me think. I hope they open your eyes to what’s going on around the world. Have a great day!

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 or were taken by me. A bit of additional research has gone into this post, but a majority of this is my own personal interpretation, opinions, and rants.


International Update 2Africa Article

Title: Ebola outbreak ‘kills at least 34 in Democratic Republic of Congo’ says World Health Organisation

Source: The Independent

What Happened?

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is officially experiencing its second Ebola outbreak of the year. Medical officials have started vaccinating the people in the Magina village with an experimental vaccine used in the latest outbreak of the disease.

Forty-three cases were reported and 34 deaths were suspected as of August 10. Sixteen and seven of these cases have been confirmed, respectively. The health officials trying to get the vaccine to affected individuals are running into backlash because of armed groups competing over land in the north-east region of the DRC.

The doctors in question are using an aggressive approach to try and slow the spread of Ebola. More than 3,000 doses of the vaccine are being sent from the capital to the Mabalako Health Center. The plan is to focus on vaccinating health workers, those in close contact with people who have contracted Ebola, and the friends and families of those close to the Ebola victims.

Why Should We Care?

Do you want to know the one thing that literally never ceases to amaze me? It’s the fact that the citizens of most first world countries are completely “out of sight, out of mind” when it comes to the Ebola outbreaks that are still happening throughout Africa.

I vividly remember when the only thing anyone could talk about was the strain of Ebola that had made it to the United States and other first world nations in 2014. Can you believe that was four years ago? Doctors and medical professionals all over the world worked tirelessly to try to create a vaccine for the illness to help prevent the spread of this deadly disease. Once the Ebola that had made its way across land and sea into places like the UK and the States was eradicated, it seems we all but forgot about the epidemic and the efforts to stop it.

However, this article proves that the disease is still affecting many individuals and there are still doctors out there trying to find a cure. We have to make sure that programs like the World Health Organisation continue to have funding so they can search for cures to diseases like Ebola. There are still people losing their lives to this disease and doctors currently only have the help of an experimental vaccine. It doesn’t seem fair that people are living in fear of this disease in other parts of the world while we seem to have all but forgotten about it.

 

Agerholm, Harriet. “Ebola outbreak ‘kills at least 34 in Democratic Republic of Congo’ says World Health Organisation,” The Independent, 10 August 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/ebola-outbreak-kills-34-dead-congo-world-health-organisation-death-a8486736.html


International Update 1Americas Article

Title: Argentina’s Senate rejects bill legalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy

Source: Washington Post

What Happened?

The Argentinian senate rejected a bill that allowed abortions during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. The bill was defeated 38-31, with three senators abstaining.

Currently, abortions are permitted in Argentina in the case of rape, mental illness, or if there is a risk to the mother’s health. Women in Argentina who seek an abortion that falls outside of these restrictions can go to jail for up to four years and doctors that perform said abortion could be jailed for up to six years.

Abortion laws in Argentina still have the possibility of changing. The senators in question considered the bill too broad but were willing to look at future revisions of the law. Argentina is thought to be one of the most progressive countries in Latin America, and is the most recent country to address the issue of legalizing abortion.

According to a poll from July, 49 percent of the country opposed the new law, 41 percent were for it, and 11 percent was undecided.

 

Why Should We Care?

For this particular article I want to remain objective on my personal opinion in regards to abortion. It’s a heated subject here in the States so I empathize with the people of Argentina, no matter what side of the spectrum they fall on.

For one half of the population, abortion is an issue of morality and ethics. On the other side, it is an issue of choice and freedom. No matter who you talk to, I think it is fair to say that both sides view their  fight as a battle for human rights, and that’s a noble war to undertake no matter your opinion.

My current plight with this particular situation comes more so from the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a separation of church and state in a lot of countries when it comes to this issue. Religion has so much power in the world and is the source of so much conflict  (*cough*cough* Gaza Strip *cough*cough*). Wouldn’t it be smart to stop making it a central part of government decisions?

This one also might come off as a crazy concept, but maybe–just maybe– we should let the people of a country vote on bills that will affect their lives instead of relying on senators with biased opinions. This way, the only people who can be held accountable for the results are the people the bill will actually affect.

Take Ireland for example. Up until May, abortions were criminalized in the country due to the Catholic Church’s hold over a good chunk of government policies. The only reason the policy even changed was because the decision was left up to the results of a public referendum. The results of an Argentinian referendum might have ended with the same outcome for the bill, but there’s only one way to find out.

I honestly wonder what would happen if governments let the public vote on issues in their countries instead of relying on a few figure heads to make decisions for thousands of people.

 

“Argentina’s Senate rejects bill legalizing abortion during the first 14 weeks of a pregnancy,” The Washington Post, 9 August 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/showdown-in-argentina-over-the-broad-legalization-of-abortion/2018/08/08/a07d4c44-9699-11e8-818b-e9b7348cd87d_story.html?utm_term=.40c0d7710f39


international-update-3.jpgAsia Article

Title: Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up: Palestinian officials

Source: Reuters

What Happened?

According to Palestinian officials, Israel and Hamas reached a truce Thursday, August 8.

The truce was initiated by the United Nations and Egypt when the use of air strikes and rockets between Israel and the Gaza Strip had increased in recent weeks. According to the Palestinian officials involved, Egypt helped restore peace in the current escalation. Israel seems to disagree with the announcement, refusing to confirm that a cease-fire with Hamas has been reached. The Palestinian officials have stated that they will continue to hold back on air attacks as long as Israel does.

Hours before the cease-fire was announced, Israeli forces responded to a Palestinian long-range missile attack that had injured seven people. Their response flattened a building thought to be Hamas headquarters and also killed a pregnant mother and her 18-month-old child. Locals argue that the building actually served as a cultural center.

 

Why Should We Care?

A couple of weeks back, I did an update featuring the Gaza Strip for the first time. This article felt like the right time to revisit the conflict. As a quick reminder, remember that Hamas is the Islamist group currently in control of the Gaza Strip. They are also the source of a lot of terrorist activity that goes on in that region of Palestine.

I find it interesting that the United Nations and Egypt are currently trying to play mediators in the ever-growing tensions of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It’s noble that they are trying to create peace in a very war-torn and devastated area of the world, but I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

Take Israel’s response to the supposed cease-fire for example. They’re pretty much saying, “Ok, sure, we’re in a cease-fire, Egypt. Keep telling yourself that.” And then there’s Palestine playing the, “We’ll stop IF they stop” card.

It all seems so petty to me, the war that is constantly going on between these two nations. And at what avail? Neither nation seems to be winning anything in this constant battle of opposing views and flying missiles. If anything, they keep losing innocent lives. The lives of hard-working citizens and children that didn’t ask for all of this turmoil and constant destruction.

I’m not saying I have a firm enough understanding of the Gaza Strip conflict to say if either side of the situation is right, or if Egypt’s interference will do any good. I do know however that the civilians on both sides of this battle are always on my mind. I hope for their sakes that some peace–or at least a moment of rest– comes out of this current cease-fire.

 

al-Mughrabi, Nidal and Eli Berlzon. “Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up: Palestinian officials,” Reuters, 8 August 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-palestinians/israel-hamas-agree-truce-to-end-gaza-flare-up-palestinian-officials-idUSKBN1KT1I7


international-update-4.jpgEurope Article

Title: Painted-over Banksy murals to be uncovered

Source: BBC

What Happened?

Early murals done by English satirical street artist, Banksy, were accidentally painted over in 2007 and left that way when a Glasgow nightclub turned into an administrative building in 2015.

The murals were part of a 2001 art exhibition called “Peace is Tough.” The new owners planned on restoring the art in 2015 to combat some of the debt left by the club, but they weren’t 100% sure how to go about it.

Now, a team of restorers is expected to take 5 months to uncover the work. These pieces are the only pieces of Banksy’s work in the country of Scotland. The restoration started August 11 and the public is invited to come view the progress throughout the next five months until the murals are fully unvailed.

Why Should We Care?

There’s something quirky, unusual, punky and “stick-it-to-the-man” about this renovation and I love it. There’s nothing better than unveiling satirical art in the middle of a corporate administrative office. Plus, a little bit of artistic rebellion is good for anyone’s soul; even the stuffier side of humanity.

If you have yet to see any of Banksy’s work, you need to check it out. Graffiti is one of the coolest forms of artwork out there, and Banksy may be one of the most internationally recognized icons in the genre. The realism of his silhouettes combined with the sardonic quotes has some kind of power to it. It’s intriguing and kind of strange. It’s also exciting to think something so unique is going to end up in somewhere so normal. I look forward to seeing how the restoration goes.

 

“Painted-over Banksy murals to be uncovered,” BBC News, 7 August 2018, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-glasgow-west-45094602


International Update 6Oceania Article

Title: Uson: What matters is people are talking about federalism

Source: CNN Philippines

What Happened?

The Communications Assistant Secretary, Margaux Uson was recently caught up in a controversy brought on by a viral YouTube video. The footage  featured Uson and fellow blogger, Drew Olivar, nonchalantly discussing federalism while they were filming a ‘online game show’ clip for Uson’s YouTube page.

Uson is trying to ease tensions about the video, explaining that the video was not meant as a campaign for federalism, but simply just came up in discussion. Many politicians argue that the video mocks the concept of federalism and find it appalling. Uson suggests that the video is being used as a way to distract the public from bigger issues, like the suspected cheating that happened in the 2016 vice-president elections.

Uson feels that, if anything, the video is teaching the public about federalism.

Why Should We Care?

Ok, so here’s the sitch. The current president of the Philippines, Rodrego Duterte, is attempting to change the country’s form of government to federalism under a new constitution. This governmental shift is causing quite a bit of backlash. According to a Forbes article published in July, 67% of the public is against the change, 18% are for it, and 14% are undecided.

Ubon’s video has added fuel to the fire in the eyes of the citizens and the country’s politicians. According to Ubon, fellow blogger Drew Olivar, created a federalism dance to help explain the concept. After watching a clip of the video (much of which was beeped out) I’m assuming Olivar’s word choice wasn’t very tactful.  It does seem that, outside of Olivar’s choice words, the two bloggers were discussing federalism in a funny and colloquial manner (I don’t speak Filipino so I can’t say anything for sure here).

Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong in trying to explain different forms of government in a laid back way so normal people can understand it. Satire like this is essential when it comes to keeping governments and politicians in check. However, I don’t think it was very appropriate for Ubon, a government official, to get involved.

I feel that politicians, very much like journalists, need to hold a level of objectivity when it comes to their social media activities. Everyone has a right to their opinion, but when you are in a place of power during a very tense time in your country’s governmental history, it’s probably smart to keep your thoughts to yourself.

Drew Olivar could have easily made this video on his own, but the presence of Ubon is what made it explosive. Maybe it’s a good thing; maybe it’s a bad thing. I’m not sure. I do know the execution of the overall clip could have been better.

I do agree with Ubon on one point. There should be more focus on the fact that there was a ton of shady activity going on during the 2016 presidential and vice-presidential elections. Focusing on a petty viral video will not change the fact that there’s potential corruption going on in the Filipino government, plain and simple.

 

CNN Philippines Staff. “Uson: What matters is people are talking about federalism,” CNN Philippines, 6 August 2018, http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2018/08/06/mocha-uson-federalism-news-night.html

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