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This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 11.04.19

Illustration credit: Peter Naktin

Johnson and Corbyn Face Off as UK Set For December General Election

by Hal Conte

The U.K. Parliament voted for a Dec. 12 general election last Tuesday as Prime Minister Boris Johnson failed once again to advance Brexit through the legislature. Johnson’s Conservatives currently have a large lead in the polls on a platform of delivering Brexit, but his advantage has already slipped slightly after the opposition Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, launched its campaign with a speech that attacked billionaires elites and claimed that Johnson would sell off the U.K.’s National Health Service to private American multinationals. U.S. President Donald Trump has already come out and endorsed Johnson, alongside Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, which may or may not align with the Conservatives, however, Trump is very unpopular there. Johnson and Corbyn are set to debate each other on Nov. 19th.

Image source: Telegraph

Saudi Arabia to Sell Off Part of National Oil Corp in Investor Bonanza

by Hal Conte

In an attempt to move its economy away from complete reliance on oil, Saudi Arabia is floating Aramco, its national oil company, on the stock market in what would be the highest-value IPO in history. Aramco, which produces 1 out of every 8 barrels of oil, is likely to be valued at $1.5 trillion. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been accused of coercing his countrymen into buying parts of the company at an inflated value, artificially raising its price ahead of its wider international debut. Additionally, no plans have been outlined to stop future attacks against the corporation’s refineries, tankers and other assets by the Houthi popular movement, accused by the Trump administration of acting as a tool of Iran and targeting Aramco infrastructure. U.S. banks such as JP Morgan has been denounced by activists for working with a country with a long list of human rights abuses.

Image source: public domain

Last Soviet Leader Gorbachev Warns World is in Colossal Danger

by Hal Conte

Mikhail Gorbachev called for the immediate international prohibition of all nuclear weapons and described U.S.-Russian relations as “chilly, but still a war” in an interview with the BBC. Gorbachev, the final general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, described the world as in “colossal danger” from a potential war. The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, signed by Gorbachev and U.S. President Reagan, was scrapped by Trump after U.S. think tanks and military-intelligence officials accused Russia of lying about its commitments, greasing the skids for a new arms race. “”All nations should declare—all nations—that nuclear weapons must be destroyed,” Gorbachev told the BBC. “This is to save ourselves and our planet”

Image source: AFP

60 Arrested as Australian Environmentalists Protest Mining Industry

by Hal Conte

Ecologist demonstrations against a glitzy mining and resource conference in Australia were broken up with batons and capsicum spray on Thursday in what activists have called unprecedented police violence in the country. A journalist from Channel 7 News was manhandled by officers. Scott Morrison, the country’s prime minister, is a full-time enthusiast for coal mining, and protestors vowed “maximum disruption” ahead of the conference. Protestors also moved in on offices for PricewaterhouseCoopers, accused of facilitating environment-wrecking industries. Morrison denounced the environmentalists as “apocalyptic” and of being directed by dark forces outside the country.

Image source: News Corp

Chilean Protesters Show Mixed Responses to Police Repression

by Yoona Lee

On Oct. 26th, more than a million people gathered in central Santiago, marching for social and economic equality in Chile. It was a “joyful and peaceful march” even in the eyes of the president, Sebastian Pinera. The following week at the same plaza, 1000 women participated in ‘the march of silence’ to honor those who were killed during the protests. However, when the sun fell and the crowds dissipated, people who engage in more radical, violent behaviors involving Molotov cocktails and rocks took over the streets. According to Hugo Frühling, a professor at the University of Chile, the state’s violent repression has both strengthened and radicalized the protests. So far, more than 21 people have been killed, more than 1,500 have been injured, and more than 4,300 have been detained by government forces.

Korea’s Ridesharing Services in Deep Conflict with Taxi Drivers

by Yoona Lee

South Korean prosecutors charged the CEOs of ridesharing services with running illegal transportation businesses without a license. This is a major win for the Taxi Driver’s Coalition, which filed a complaint against Tada and SoCar, the nation’s two leading ridesharing platforms, in February. Taxi drivers claim that such services threaten their livelihoods and break mobility law for they are providing transportation services with rented cars. The conflict between the two industries has been ongoing since 2018 and has escalated to such an extent that two drivers set fire to themselves. Taxi drivers have succeeded in making Uber withdraw from Korea, and Kakao Ride has had to delay its launch. However, wider concerns exist Korea about neglecting changing trends in technology.