Australia's senior Roman Catholic prelate and one of Pope Francis's top advisers has been charged with sexual assault, police in the Australian state of Victoria said Thursday. Cardinal George Pell became the highest-ranking Vatican official in recent years to face criminal charges involving accusations of sexual offenses. Pope Francis has instituted several initiatives to foster greater accountability after abuse scandals involving Catholic leaders had shaken the church around the world. This case will test those initiatives. Pell is the finance chief of the Vatican and has repeatedly denied accusations of sexual assault against him.
After a 10-hour siege, 31 people died at a popular Somalian restaurant. Five Islamic extremists set off a car bomb before entering as security in a pizza restaurant Wednesday night. They killed point-blank until security forces took out the attackers. Forty additional people were injured. Al-Shabaab, one of the deadliest terror groups in Africa, claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack happened during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
China wants to resurrect the Silk Road
1. China has big plans for the Silk Road. Yes, that Silk Road you learned about in your world history class. China hopes to recreate Marco Polo’s trade route to reconnect Asia and Europe for trading purposes. President Xi Jinping is going to trade in the camels and caravans for a network of $1.4 trillion modern trading routes that includes roads, a high-speed rail, airports, and pipelines. Jinping hosted the “Belt and Road,” a two-day summit with 28 heads of state.
2. The new Silk Road would involve 60 countries and shift the world’s economic structure. The trade route would cut through countries with 70 percent of the World’s population, 75 percent of energy reserves and 55 percent of global economic output. The economic shift would also impact the geopolitics of the world, shifting the economic power to Eurasia and possibly helping to stabilize Some Middle Eastern countries.
3. So, is the new Silk Road just ambition or the future of world economics?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
World Health Organization confirmed a small Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eleven cases including three deaths have been reported. A WHO team is being sent to the central African country. The last Ebola epidemic killed more than 11,000 people and infected 28,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Centrist Emmanuel Macron is replacing François Hollande officially on May 14 at midnight. Former Inspector of Finances and investment banker, Macron will be inducted on the same day. The President-elect won 66.1 percent of the vote against Marine Le Pen. After the induction ceremony, a tribute at the Arc De Triomphe and a visit to Paris city hall, Macron will officially start as the President. His first job is to name a Prime Minister.
Turkey referendum gives sweeping powers to president
1. Turkey's citizens voted in a national referendum to grant their president sweeping powers that could bring an end to democracy in the country. Voters cast ballots on an 18-article constitutional reform package that would change Turkey's parliamentary system into a powerful executive presidency. Under the new constitution, the position of prime minister would disappear, to be replaced by several vice presidents. The Turkish president would become the head executive and the head of state. And, most notably, the president alone will be able to declare a state of emergency and dismiss parliament.
2. The referendum passed with 51.4 percent of the vote. Turkey's current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his party have argued that the new constitution streamlines decision-making and avoids unwieldy parliamentary coalitions. They have argued that the current parliamentary system has been holding Turkey back. Citizens who voted in favor of the changes say they believe Turkey's future would be safer and more prosperous with President Erdogan and his new powers.
3. So, is the referendum granting too much power to Turkey's president?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
The United States dropped its biggest non-nuclear bomb, known as the "mother of all bombs," on ISIS positions in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has described it as a tactical move. The GBU-43/B Massive Ordinance Air Blast bomb was dropped Thursday night on a network of fortified underground tunnels that ISIS had been using to stage attacks on government forces. The strike killed 36 ISIS fighters, Afghan officials said. The bomb is GPS-guided and has the power to destroy an area equivalent to nine city blocks. The blast destroyed three underground tunnels as well as weapons and ammunition but no civilians were hurt, according to Afghan and U.S. officials.
President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike on Syria in response to Syrian President Basha Assad's use of a deadly chemical agent against his own people. The target of the airstrike was a Syrian air base. Trump announced the airstrike Thursday night from Mar-a-Lago. He said the strike was intended to deter future use of poison gas. "It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons," Trump said. Some experts have expressed concern that the airstrike could exacerbate tensions in the region. Russia currently has ground troops in the area working with the Syrian regime to fight against the rebel factions. Russian President Vladimir Putin could take this action by the United States as an offense to his government's efforts.
French soldiers shot a man who was wielding a machete and shouting "Allahu akbar" as he attacked them in Paris Friday. The attacker was seriously wounded and has been hospitalised. The incident took place at the Carrousel du Louvre, which is an underground shopping center that connects to the famous Louvre museum. A police union official said the attacker was carrying two backpacks and two machetes and attacked a soldier when he was told he couldn't bring his bags into the shopping center. French President François Hollande said there is "no doubt" that the attack was of a "terrorist nature."
Final results of an experimental Ebola vaccine confirm that it can provide 100 percent protection against the virus. The vaccine was developed with the help of the Canadian government, and is under development by U.S. drug manufacturer Merck. The trial for the vaccine involved 11,841 people in Guinea in 2015. Mild side-effects to the vaccine include headache, fatigue and muscle pain. Only two adverse effects were found. One was a case of fever and another was a case of an allergic reaction. The vaccine is yet to be approved by regulators.
French authorities finished clearing the "Jungle" — a makeshift town outside Calais built by thousands of refugees seeking passage into the United Kingdom. France said it is closing the camp for humanitarian reasons and to end limbo for thousands of migrants. Many have already attempted to cross the English channel. Refugees believe the UK has more job opportunities and many of them already speak some English.
Colombia rejected a peace deal with FARC rebels that would have ended a 52-year-long civil war. The peace deal was signed September 26, but had to be ratified by popular vote to go into effect. The margin of victory was incredibly small — the "No" side won with just 50.2 percent. Only about 37 percent of registered voters participated. Opponents of the deal say the agreement is too lenient toward FARC rebels.
Should burkinis be banned from the beach?
1. Three towns in France have now banned women from wearing the burkini, which is a swimsuit style preferred by Muslim women. The burkini — modeled after the traditional burka — covers everything on the body except the face, hands and feet. City mayors argue that the swimsuit does not follow French laws about secularism. Anyone wearing a burkini on the beach will be asked to leave and fined. Cannes city officials argued that the burkini is a "symbol of Islamic extremism." France has recently suffered from terrorist attacks, for which ISIS claimed responsibility.
2. However, some have argued that the ban infringes on fundamental rights. The Collective Against Islamaphobia in France said that associating all Muslim symbols with terrorism is illogical and would only lead to increased tensions between Muslim and Catholic communities. The group called the mayor's logic "shocking."
3. So, should the burkini bans in France continue?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
Iran is the first country to ban Pokemon Go. Officials cite security concerns as the reason behind banning the popular augmented reality mobile game. The head of Iran's Supreme Council of Virtual Space said that the game is "not appropriate" because it uses "location-based virtual reality technology." According to officials, any game using this technology would need permission from the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in order to launch in Iran.
Is Rio the best place for the Olympics?
1. As the world gears up for this year's 2016 Olympics in Rio, more bad news from the host city surfaces. The athletes' village has been deemed unlivable due to plumbing and electrical concerns. Experts are warning athletes away from the city's waterways, which are contaminated with human sewage and infested with dangerous viruses and bacteria.
2. In order to host the Olympics, a prospective host city must submit a formal bid to the International Olympic Committee. The bid process takes years and can cost the applicant city millions of dollars. Chicago spent four years and $50 million in an attempt to win an Olympic bid. The host city is determined by a vote of the International Olympic Committee. Rio won its bid almost 7 years ago. It is the first city in South America to host the Olympics.
3. But — considering various structural issues within the country — was Rio the best choice?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
Istanbul — Turkey's capital city — is recovering this morning after three suicide bombers attacked the city's largest airport. 41 people died in the attack while hundreds of others were injured. Often considered one of the world's busiest airports, tens of millions passengers make their way through Istanbul Ataturk Airport's gates each year. Despite no terror group officially claiming responsibility for the attack, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the Islamic State is suspected. In an act of resilience, the airport quickly resumed regular operation.
Is the Brexit a good idea?
1. Today is the day that the European Union — and it's more than 500 million people — could be forever changed. After four decades of harmoniously working with fellow European nations, the United Kingdom is voting to leave the EU, a move that could send ripples across the globe. Those in favor of a "Brexit" find it necessary to curb immigration standards set by the EU in response to the Syrian Refugee Crisis.
2. Politicians and economists agree, leaving the EU is a terrible idea. Should the United Kingdom vote to leave, decades-old trade deals would have to be renegotiated leaving the country's economy in limbo. Politically, the UK would have a considerably small role in global discussions.
3. So, is the UK doomed should the Brexit pass?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
North Korea fired two missiles Wednesday morning as part of ongoing missile tests. Both missiles flew over the Sea of Japan, or the East Sea. South Korean officials believe these launches pose no threat to North America. The launches are in violation of the UN Security Council resolution. South Korea is viewing these launches as a threat to their country.
After Swiss vote, where does basic income idea land?
1. Switzerland was quite close to becoming the first country to provide a basic, tax-free income to all of its citizens, that is until 78 percent of the country's population voted against the proposal. Proponents of the "basic income" idea believe that providing such funds will not only decrease the country's poverty rate, but also help bridge the country's growing inequality gap.
2. While Switzerland isn't ready to adopt such a radical idea of welfare, other entities have adopted the idea instead. Just look at GiveDirectly, a charity that's redefining the non-profit world by providing basic incomes to select groups in Africa. GiveDirectly believes that basic incomes actually have more impact on the poor than traditional charity.
3. Despite the Swiss vote, should the idea of basic income live on?
Your Thoughts?Weigh In.
After months of conversation and deliberation between countries big and small, the largest climate pact in history is expected to be adopted by 170 nations today. The Paris Agreement, a comprehensive plan that tackles the planet's rising temperature, has a few more hurdles to overcome before it's fully operational. The United States, for instance, must ratify the treaty through Congress. The adoption of The Paris Agreement is a win for environmentalists as the treaty requires economic consequences for countries that miss certain benchmarks. To be fully operational, the treaty needs "at least 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions to complete all the steps."
Happenings in Brazil, the world's fifth largest country, just keep getting worse. Over the weekend, Brazil's lower parliament voted to impeach sitting President Dilma Rousseff. The vote now travels to the Senate, where a formal trial is expected to take place. Rousseff, who has steered the country through its worst economic climate in decades, is accused of taking money from public banks to fill gaps in the government's budget. If Rousseff is impeached she will be replaced by Vice President Michel Temer. Don't expect the President to leave anytime soon; Rousseff's trial in the Senate may last for months.
Everyone can't stop talking about The Panama Papers, a massive effort by one brave whistleblower and a group of international journalists that exposes more than 11 million documents from a Panama law firm. The documents show some of the world's most important figures hiding billions in off-shore bank accounts. The leak, which is being called "the largest ever," is composed of two TB of information that took journalists an entire year to work through. World leaders like Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Saudi Arabian monarch King Salman are implicated in the leak, along with 12 other current or former heads of state.