YGA’s international extravaganza: no. 10

Drought threatens Paraguay’s ecosystem

by Harry Padoan

image credit: Rodrigo Soldon (Flickr)

Specialists have warned that water levels in the Paraná river are dangerously low, predominantly due to the climate crisis. The river, which also flows through Brazil and Argentina, has predominantly seen a reduction in water level because of a “record drought” in the former. Experts have argued that the disaster is partially due to deforestation – the effects of this are set to threaten the livelihoods of around 40 million people. 

Fresh water supplies have dwindled, with farming and fishing communities particularly vulnerable. The transport of goods has also been hindered, with vessels on the river reducing their tonnage by approximately 20 percent.

Peruvian rail renaissance

by Megan Edwards

image credit: Peter H

Peru is asking for aid from several mining companies for a project to build a railway from the Andes to the country’s Central Pacific coast. Potential investors include Las Bambas and Grupo Mexico’s Southern Copper. The proposed railway would be used to transport people as well as copper, of which Peru is the world’s second largest producer. Currently construction is expected to run from 2023 to 2028, although the total cost is yet to be determined.

The project would allow for further revenue growth for the mining companies involved, as well as improving transportation links across the country.

Rodrigo Duterte to run for Philippine Vice-President

by Jessica Pender

image credit: Element5 Digital (Unsplash)

Current president Duterte’s term is set to end in June 2022, as presidents are limited to one six-year term in the Philippines. However, he announced prior to the national assembly that he has agreed to be the  ruling political party’s vice-presidential candidate in the next elections.

Moving to the second-in-command position will allow Duterte to avoid a potential investigation by the ICC crimes against humanity in regards to his war on drugs. Additionally, it will allow him to remain in a position of power beyond his set presidential term. As the announcement was endorsed by the PDP-Laban party, it is thought that Duterte’s successor as president will also be announced at the assembly on 8 September. The executive vice-president of PDP-Laban, Karlo Nograles, stated that the vice-presidential position would “guarantee continuity of the administration’s programmes during the past five years”.

Border crisis between Poland and Belarus

by Samiha Hamze

image credit: Grzegorz W. Tężycki

Around 50 refugees have been stuck on the border between Poland and Belarus. The refugees are refused entry to Poland and also are being refused entry back to Belarus even after requesting ‘international protection’. The European Court of Human Rights requested Poland to provide aid for the refugees as they lack basic necessities such as food, water, clothing, medicine, and shelter.

Polish officials have blamed Belarus of ‘blackmailing’ and that this is an issue they should deal with. President Alexander Lukashenko was accused of deliberately planning the migration of the refugees as revenge for the sanctions placed on Minsk. The crisis, which is not being resolved, continues to harm both the refugees stuck with nowhere to go and the relationship between Poland and Belarus.

Fuel prices continue to rise in Portugal

by Lefteris Anagnostou

image credit: 1596622 (Pixabay)

For the eighth consecutive month, the average sale price of gasoline in Portugal has risen. With a 2.7 percent increase from June to July, fuel prices in Portugal remain among the highest in Europe. And while taxes account for 58 percent of the price of fuel in Portugal, the base price is still above the EU average. This is also due to the continuous increase in the international price of fuel, accounting for 27.5 percent of the price.

Last month, the Portuguese government proposed a law aiming to control the rising fuel prices. This will allow the government to act on retail fuel margins, so whenever there is a decrease in the prices of the raw material, these are appropriated by consumers rather than by the fuel prices margins. In that way, the fuel market would reflect its true costs.

New Amnesty International report cause for concern in Qatar

by Owen Buchan

image credit: solimonster (Unsplash)

A new report by Amnesty International has found that Qatar has failed to investigate thousands of migrant workers’ deaths. Qatar is set to hold the 2022 World Cup and has been using migrant labour to help construct the needed infrastructure for the event. There has been controversy over these migrant workers’ working conditions, often being viewed as unsafe and fatal. This has brought much pressure on Qatar and FIFA, with this new Amnesty International report likely to bring more.

The report has found that the majority of recorded migrant workers’ deaths are attributed to natural causes, cardiac or respiratory failure with no further analysis as to the underlying causes. This major lack of explanation is listed for around 70 percent of total migrant worker deaths in Qatar. With more solid and statistical evidence, it is hoped that FIFA and Qatar will take more decisive action.

Squat on repeat to secure your free bus seat

by Rachael Ward

image credit: Meghan Holmes

Squatting their way to free bus travel, residents in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, can once again get a free bus seat for a bit of leg burn. In a bid to get the locals breaking a sweat, a free single bus ticket is on offer for twenty squats in two minutes. A camera catches the squats from the software installed in the Memorandumului Sud bus station.

The ‘health ticket’ project hopes to be greeted with the same warm welcome it received last time around. Ushered in by the Sports Festival, its debut last year saw the population go an estimated one million squats deep for over 55,000 bus tickets. The project seeks to help the population shed the pounds while saving the pennies.

Russia’s new weapon

by Sophie Moseley

image credit: Thorsteinn Svavarsson

Russia’s fuelling tensions with its old rival following a series of successful exercises with its new ‘Tsirkon hypersonic cruise missile’, capable of withstanding the US made ‘missile shield’. The current Tsirkon missile is an anti-ship weapon yet President Putin has announced his intention to create a land based weapon, in response to the US exit of Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Yet despite their apparent disdain for Cold War restraints, citing the threat of Chinese weaponry as its reason to withdraw, the US has warned against Russia’s use of the missile and warned it could have destabilising effects.

Russia remains unmoved by America’s reaction and President Putin recently signed a contract to deliver ‘combat alert’ Tsirkon missiles to Russian troops by 2025, perhaps highlighting a widening crack between the old rivals.

Private school students flee Afghanistan to Rwanda

by Max Bedford

image credit: WikiImages (Pixabay)

Over 250 students, staff and family members have been evacuated from Afghanistan’s only female-boarding school last week, leaving Kabul days after the Taliban ousted the previous government. The school’s president, Basij-Rasikh hopes that the move will not be a permanent one, stating “Our resettlement is not permanent… When circumstances on the ground permit, we hope to return home to Afghanistan. For now, I request privacy for our community,”. Before fleeing the nation, the school posted videos of faculty burning the records of their students in the hope of protecting them and their families.

It is expected that nations such as Rwanda will continue to receive refugees from Afghanistan as the new Taliban regime consolidates control, and implements its Wahabi Muslim beliefs.

São Toméan presidential run-off postponed

by Gracie Daw

image credit: David Stanley

The presidential run-off election has been postponed for a second time in São Tomé and Príncipe. In July, the former infrastructure minister and former prime minister won 39.47 percent and 21 percent of the vote respectively. There were boycotts of the election in the Me-Zochi and Lemba municipalities and Delfim Neves, who came third, alleged ‘massive electoral fraud’. The National Electoral Commission said that the election proceeded normally and that there would be a second round of voting. This was initially scheduled for 8 August, but was postponed to 29 August after an objection to the first-round result and was then postponed again to 5 September.

A dual-island social safety net

by Angel Hill

image credit: birder62 (Pixabay)

In July, the Poverty Alleviation Program (PAP) was introduced in St Kitts and Nevis as a way of supporting low income individuals by providing a monthly allowance of $500 per household, where combined total income is below $3000. During his monthly press conference, Prime Minister Dr Timothy Harris announced that a total of 3733 applications had been received by the Ministry of Finance, with the cut-off date on the 15 September. Despite the devastating fall in government revenue, Prime Minister Harris has pledged more than $50 million to support vulnerable groups such as abused women and foster children. 

Within the PAP, Harris also announced a fuel subsidy program as well as tax exemptions in order to assist struggling businesses. This forms part of a series of comprehensive economic mitigation measures designed to help workers, self-employed individuals, and both small and medium corporations.

St Lucia vaccinating further against Covid

by Katie Nuttall

image credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense (Flickr)

The death of a 25 year old earlier this week brought St Lucia’s total of Covid and Covid related deaths to 100. This came days after the Pfizer vaccine was made available to people over 16 years old in the country following a donation of over 50,000 Pfizer vaccines by the USA. 

Health officials were encouraged by the long queues on the first day of Pfizer vaccine roll-out, as it coincides with the spreading of the Delta variant on the island. Citizens have been urged to get the vaccine as it is the most effective way of preventing serious illness as a result of Covid.

Protest turns violent for Ralph Gonsalves

by Connor Crout

image credit: 總統府 (Flickr)

Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, was injured during a protest against the proposal of mandating vaccines for most frontline health workers and was subsequently hospitalised.

Gonsalves became the leader of the Unity Labour Party in December 1998 following the party’s defeat in the 1998 Vincentian election, despite winning the majority of the popular vote. Gonsalves then led the party to victory in the 2001 Vincentian election, winning 12 out of 15 seats and ending the 17 years of government under the New Democratic Party. Having been in power for over 20 years now and winning five elections, Gonsalves clearly has a lot of supporters and they will be hoping for his quick recovery.

Former Prime Minister accuses Jacinda Ardern of ousting him

by Josh Chapman

image credit: Rachel Park

In a hopeless last-ditch effort to hold onto power, the former Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has accused Jacinda Ardern of interfering in April’s general election to replace him with a woman. The election sparked months of controversy and negotiating. His former deputy, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, won,  becoming the nation’s first female leader.

He has cast doubt over her victory in recent months, appealing it at Samoa’s courts. Speaking to the Samoan Observer last Tuesday, he alleged that the New Zealand ‘government has been heavily involved,’ he said that Ardern’s swift message of congratulations after the election result was proclaimed as legitimate is further proof that the New Zealand government ‘had planned all of this’. The Pacific Islands have the lowest rate of female political representation. Fiame is just the second female leader in the region.

San Marino vaccinations accepted by European Commission

by Frank Roberts

image credit: Sprinter_Lucio (Pixabay)

The European Commission has announced that Covid certificates from San Marino and the Vatican City will be partially accepted quelling fears that the republic would become isolated from neighbouring Italy. However, the European Medical Agency have continued their refusal to acknowledge the Sputnik V vaccine which comprises 90 percent of administered Sammarinese jabs.

Whilst initially planning to rely on EU-produced alternatives, supply limitations prompted San Marino to buy Sputnik V instead. In addition to San Marino, which isn’t a member of the EU, Sputnik V has been approved individually by two EU member states – Hungary & Slovakia. San Marino has the highest death rate from Covid in the world owing, in part, to its aging population.

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