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Lebanon’s Prime Minister resigns

On November 4, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned. He said that there might be a plot to kill him. He blamed the organization Hezbollah and the nation Iran for meddling in Lebanon’s politics. Hariri made the announcement from Saudi Arabia, the country he was born in and his family has good relationships with. This has surprised many in Lebanon. Some Lebanese government officials are demanding that Hariri return back to Lebanon. Some are saying Hariri was forced to resign by Saudi Arabia. Both Iran and Saudi Arabia are saying they have nothing to do with the matter. Hariri became the prime minister in 2016. His father was also the prime minister of Lebanon and was killed in an attack in 2005.

 

About 40% of all Lebanese are Christians and about 54% are Muslims. These two religions are further divided into sects. To give the various religious groups a voice, a system was created where people from the larger religious groups have an influence in the government. As a result, the president is always a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of parliament a Shia Muslim. Shia and Sunni are different branches of the religion Islam.

Hariri is a Sunni Muslim. Lebanon has about equal populations of Shia and Sunni Muslims. Saudi Arabia is a majority Sunni Muslim nation, and Iran is a majority Shia Muslim nation. Saudi Arabia and Iran do not get along. There is a Shia Islamist organization called Hezbollah. It is supported by Iran, and is powerful in Lebanon.

Here is a video about this new story.


Image Credits: kremlin.ru for Hariri’s image, 
Sources: WSJ, BBC, Reuters, IBT, CIA World Factbook

Missile fired at Saudi Arabia

On November 4, a rebel group called the Houthis fired a missile from Yemen towards Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The Saudi air defense forces were able to shoot it down. No damage was done in Riyadh.

 

 

There has been a war going on in Yemen that has devastated the nation. To understand what’s going on, let’s go back to 2011. That year, protests were held in Yemen demanding that the nation’s leader step down. The president of the country had been in power for 33 years, and eventually gave up the role to the vice-president, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi. Hadi became Yemen’s president.

 

 

In 2015, a rebel group called the Houthis took control of Yemen’s capital city Sanaa and some other parts of the country. They said that the government was dishonest and treated their people unfairly. The Houthis put Hadi under house arrest. Hadi escaped and went to a city in Yemen called Aden where he established a temporary capital. Houthi fighters started getting close to Aden. Hadi fled to the neighboring country Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and some other nations got involved in the fight going on in Yemen. They helped Hadi back into Aden, and sent in joint forces to fight the Houthis. This fight has been going on since 2015.

Here is a video about this news story.

Did you know?

Mocha coffee beans were originally cultivated in Yemen, and the beans got their name because they were shipped from Yemen’s port city, Mocha.

Image Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org for the map image of Riyadh, http://www.agsiw.org for Hadi’s image, arakanindobhasaa.blogspot.com for the map of Yemen
Sources: http://www.spa.gov.sa, http://www.coffeereview.com, Al Jazeera, TRT World

Paradise Papers

On November 5, a German newspaper obtained access to a bunch of leaked documents – over 13 million of them! These documents reveal offshore investments made by thousands of companies and individuals.

What are offshore investments? Typically these are large sums of money that are given to companies set up in countries with very friendly tax laws – these are often referred to as ‘tax havens’ (and hence the name Paradise Papers).

Why do companies and individuals seek these tax havens? It helps them avoid the higher taxes they might have to pay in their native countries, without breaking any laws.

However, tax havens are also sometimes used to hide money or to cover tracks in financial transactions. This is why the Paradise Papers are getting a lot of attention.

Amongst the companies mentioned are Apple, Disney, Facebook, McDonalds, Nike, and Uber. The papers also name individuals such as the Queen of the United Kingdom, Bono, Madonna, and many current and ex-leaders of various countries.

There was a similar leak of documents last year, which were referred to as “the Panama papers”.

Here is a video about this news story.

Image Credits: https://www.icij.org for the images representing Paradise Papers
Sources: https://www.icij.org, The Guardian

International court loses first member

Burundi has become the first country to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

First, lets take a look at the ICC. It is a court that operates independent of any country, and its role is to judge political leaders that are accused of war crimes or cruelty against their people. It was started in 2002. There are over 120 member countries.

Why did Burundi want to withdraw? A few African countries have complained in recent times that the ICC is biased against Africa. Also, many of the world’s powerful countries have the ability to prevent the ICC from investigating their citizens. As a result, a few African countries have threatened to withdraw. Burundi is the first to do so. A few months ago, the ICC started an investigation into the killing of many people in Burundi who were protesting against the government.

Image Credits: ICC for its logo
Sources: ICC, New York Times

Bus drives itself into trouble

On November 8, Las Vegas, a city in the United States, launched a very interesting pilot project. As part of the project, electric buses offer free rides in a part of the city. The really neat thing is that the buses are self-driving!

Unfortunately, within two hours of the start of the project, one of the driverless buses got into an accident with a truck. It turns out, though, that it was the truck with a driver that was at fault! The truck drove into the path of the bus. The bus’ sensors detected the truck and the bus stopped, but the truck continued to move, and hit the bus.

Las Vegas plans to continue with the project. So keep an eye out – there might be driverless vehicles in your neighborhood soon!

Image Credits: http://cityoflasvegas.tumblr.com for the bus image
Sources: https://www.lasvegasnevada.gov

2017 Formula One

The Mexican Grand Prix was held on October 29 in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico. Lewis Hamilton, a 32-year-old from the United Kingdom, won the 2017 Formula One (F1) World Drivers’ Championship (WDC) with a ninth-place finish at the Mexican Grand Prix. He is with the Mercedes AMG Petronas racing team. Hamilton has won three previous F1 Championships as well in 2015, 2014 and 2008. The Mexican Grand Prix was won by the Belgian-Dutch racing driver Max Verstappen.

 

Wait a minute, what are “Formula One” and “Grand Prix” races? F1 consists of a series of races called Grand Prix. The number of Grand Prix races held in a year can change. The results of all the Grand Prix races are combined to determine the overall winner of the F1 Championship. The length of each race is around 300 km or 200 miles.

 

This year, 20 Grands Prix races are being held in various cities around the world. The first was held in Melbourne, Australia in March, and the last will be held in Abu Dhabi, UAE in November. The Mexican Grand Prix was the 18th race this year. So how can the winner of 20 races be decided after only 18 races, and that too with a ninth-place finish? Hamilton has such a big lead that even with a ninth-place finish, no one can catch up to him in the 2 remaining races. Here is a video showing the highlights from the Mexican Grand Prix.

Image Credits: https://www.instagram.com lewishamilton for Hamilton’s image, www.formula1.com for its logo and Mexican Grand Prix logo
Sources: https://www.formula1.com, CNN

No more spanking kids in South Africa

Physical punishment given to children by adults has been against the law in South Africa. However, a little spanking at home by parents for disciplining children was allowed. A court in South Africa has ruled that no form of physical punishment can now be used on children. Many teachers and parents in the world use physical punishment for disciplining children. According to the organization the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, there are 53 nations that have banned all corporal punishment of children, with Sweden being the first in 1979. Here is an interactive map that shows each nation’s stand on corporal punishment for kids.

 

Sources: http://www.childlinesa.org.za, www.endcorporalpunishment.org, CNN

A bit more news

Twitter has increased its tweet’s character count in many languages from 140 to 280. That’s double! This is because the company feels people struggle to convey their thoughts in140 characters. There are 3 languages in which it is not increasing the character count and those are Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. According to Twitter, the same idea can be expressed in fewer characters in these languages. Twitter is a news and social networking service with its headquarters in San Francisco, California, USA. Its CEO is Jack Dorsey.

 

For all you Lion King fans, there is another Lion King in the making. You’ll only have to wait 2 years for it. It’ll be out in 2019.

 

Image Credits: twitter.com for its logo, https://twitter.com/DisneyStudios
Sources: twitter.com, Walt Disney Studios

Peace between Palestinian groups

On October 12, a pact was signed between two rival Palestinian political parties, Fatah and Hamas. Hamas will give control of the Gaza strip to a Fatah-backed government that will also include officials from Hamas.

 

Most countries around the globe recognize Palestine to be two areas called the Gaza Strip and West Bank. If you look at a map, you’ll see that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank don’t border each other. The status of these two areas is contested. The Palestinians have been trying to get the world to recognize the Gaza Strip and West Bank as their independent country, while the Israelis consider the areas as territories under their country. The Gaza Strip is controlled by a Palestinian group called Hamas, and West Bank is controlled by Fatah.

 

For centuries, Jews (Israelis) and the Arabs (Palestinians) have both lived in the same geographical region. Today, the area is called Israel, and it used to be called Palestine. Since that region is “home” for both sets of people, they have strong disagreements about who should get to live where. In 1947, the United Nations, an international peace organization, proposed splitting the area into two regions – one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians. They didn’t agree, and fighting broke out. By the time the initial fighting was over, the Jewish people had created a country called Israel (in 1948). This was followed by a war between Israel and some Arab countries (Jordan, Egypt, and more). By the time the war ended in 1949, many Palestinian people had fled to two areas. One was called the Gaza Strip (which borders Israel and Egypt), and was under Egyptian control. The other was called the West Bank (which borders Israel and Jordan), and was under Jordan’s control. In 1967, there was another war between Israel and some Arab countries (including Jordan and Egypt). At the end of the war (which lasted for 6 days), Israel took over both the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In the 1990s, agreements were signed by the Palestinian and Israeli leaders giving control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to the Palestinian people. The two areas are referred to as the Palestinian territories.

 

Two major political parties were leading the Palestinians, Fatah and Hamas. The two parties were split on what they wanted for the Palestinians. Fatah’s policy was to negotiate with Israel to create two countries, Palestine and Israel. Hamas believed that Israel should not exist, and there should be just one country, Palestine. There was fighting between the supporters of the two parties. In 2007, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, while Fatah was the authority in the West Bank. The two political parties became rivals. In 2011, they signed an agreement to bring an end to their differences. However, the agreement was never implemented.

Here is a video about the Israel-Palestine conflict.

 
Image Credits: https://www.lib.utexas.edu for the map image of Gaza Strip/West Bank, https://openclipart.org for the handshake image, Wikipedia for Israel’s location on the map
Sources: Al Jazeera, BBC, CIA World Factbook, https://unispal.un.org, VOX

World Food Day 2017

October 16 was World Food Day, a day to spread awareness about the world’s hunger problems and to think about food security and nutritious diets for all. The World Food Day is celebrated annually and was started in 1979 by the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). According to the FAO, the world produces enough food to feed everyone, and yet, there are over 800 million hungry people in the world. The message for World Food Day this year is “Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development.”  Here is a video about World Food Day.


Image Credits: http://www.fao.org World Food Day 2017 logo
Sources: http://www.fao.org