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Focus This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 1.20.2020

The Editors January 20, 2020

Illustration credit: Tia Marchiselli

Putin Announces Major Russia Constitution Revamp

by Hal Conte

Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed a little-known tax official as prime minister and called for a referendum to rewrite Russia’s constitution to increase the power of the State Duma and decrease that of the presidency. The move is viewed by many analysts as a way for Putin to continue governing Russia after he is barred from running for the presidency again due to term limits. The ruling United Russia party and Putin himself have lost popularity over the past two years due to unpopular pension reforms and a lethargic economy.

Image source: Bloomberg

 

Top India Military Official Calls For Muslim Detention Camps

by Hal Conte

Gen. Bipin Rawat, India’s defense staff chair, said the government should consider sending Kashmeri people to “deradicalization camps” while also claiming that they were already doing so in a speech which outraged intellectuals and human rights activists, who view the comments as part of the BJP government’s moves towards crushing all dissent. Last fall, practically all educated Kashmeris were arrested by the Indian army after Modi changed constitutional law in the province as part of his government’s Hindu nationalist efforts to remake India as an exclusionary state. Rawat claims that children as young as 10 or 12 are being “radicalized” by Islam.

Image source: Hindustan Times

 

Bolsonaro Culture Official Forced To Resign After Goebbelian Speech

by Hal Conte

Brazil’s culture secretary was sacked on Friday for plagiarizing a speech given by infamous Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels set to the theme tune of a Wagnerian opera. Some phrases, such as “art must be, in the next decade, heroic,” were exact quotes from Nazi speeches. The minister, Roberto Alvim, claimed that his aides had inserted the wording into his speech after making a Google search for “nationalism and art,” but pressure from the German and Israeli governments resulted in his dismissal. The speech is viewed by critics of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s critics as only the most blatant homage to fascism from the far-right president.

Image source: DW

 

Senegal Makes Rape A Crime After Years Of Bucking Global Norms

by Hal Conte

Rape is finally being made a criminal offence in Senegal after a unanimous vote by the country’s legislature. Before #MeToo protests created a wave of public support for change, rape was only a misdemeanor under the country’s legal code, with convictions for rare and sentences light. Previously, the maximum prison term was ten years, which has now been made the minimum term with a maximum term of life. Campaigners from the Maison Rose, which provided support for women prior to the change, hailed the move, with one quoted by Reuters stating, “For some years now, I feel women have wanted to stand up to say ‘stop’.”

Image source: Reuters

 

Ongoing Fires And Storms Devastate South-East Australia

by Yoona Lee

Since September, scorching wildfires have hit communities throughout south-east Australia. Wildfire in the dry season happens often in Australia, but this one proved to be the most destructive since 2009. As of Jan. 19,  fires have killed 30 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and burned an area almost the size of England (10 million hectares). The blazes have devastated farm and wildlife animals as well, including endangered species in Kangaroo Island. Many parts of the country have been subjected to droughts for years and the temperature has also risen, making such big fires possible.

Image source: Getty Images

 

Anti-American Street Protestors Replaced By Anti-Government Focus In Iran

by Yoona Lee 

Two weeks ago, a Ukrainian airliner crashed a few minutes after its departure from the airport in Iran. The crash killed everyone who was on-board, 176 people including 82 Iranians and 57 Canadians. After three days, the Iranian government admitted that it accidentally shot down the airplane, believing it was an incoming missile. The crash happened hours after Iranian forces fired missiles at U.S. military bases in Iran, in relation to the U.S. assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. While vast numbers of anti-American protesters, largely lower-class, paid tribute to Soleimani, thousands of more middle-class demonstrators turned out days later to accuse Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of incompetence and dishonesty. 

Image source: Getty