October 15-21, 2017

 Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old Austrian politician. || Reiner Riedler, Anzenberger/Redux.

Sebastian Kurz, a 31-year-old Austrian politician. || Reiner Riedler, Anzenberger/Redux.

Europe

The Spanish Government has declared its intentions to move towards imposing constitutional rule in Catalonia after Carles Puigdemont, the head of the Generalitat, Catalonia’s government, refused to renounce or clarify his proclamation of Independence issued and immediately retracted to Parliament on October 10th.

Sebastian Kurz is set to become the youngest Chancellor in Austria’s history. At age 31 the former foreign minister led his center-right OVP party to victory. Although they did not win a majority, they won the most seats out of all their competitors with 62 of 183 seats. They are expected to begin talks with the far-right parties to form a coalition government.

Federal German government coalition negotiations have been held between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, the Christian Social Union, the Free Democrats, and the Greens. They are one of two possible coalitions capable of claiming a majority.

Asia

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, in spite of two corruption scandals, has dissolved parliament and called for a snap election to capitalize on a recent surge of his approval ratings due to his handling of the North Korean nuclear threat.

North America

On Wednesday, Quebec became the first place in North America to ban face veils in public spaces with the passing of Bill 62. Described by the Quebec National Assembly as an act for religious neutrality, it makes it so that no public service can be given or received by someone with their face covered, specifically by religious garments such as niqabs and burqas. It has been protested by some as being unconstitutional and a violation of human rights, while others praised it for enabling safety and identification precautions.

Both GE and Procter & Gamble, large American corporations known for their production of home goods, are experiencing revolts from a majority of their investors. Investors are unhappy with the stagnant growth in both corporations, and are demanding a change in leadership.

Steve Bannon, an executive at the far-right news outlet Breitbart and former senior advisor to President Trump, has escalated his war against establishment Republicans for the upcoming midterm elections in 2018. He vows to bring forth candidates who will challenge sitting Republicans and uproot the current leadership in the House and Senate.

Controversy, not so surprisingly, has once again embroiled the White House as Donald Trump fumbles his response to the death of five American soldiers in Niger. The group of soldiers were ambushed. Although the government hasn’t released concrete information on who it was, it is speculated by many that the militants were either from Boko Haram or Al-Shabab.

Africa

The truck bomb that went off in Somalia earlier this week has resulted in a death toll that has now risen to 358. This was the deadliest bombing in the history of Somalia. The Somali government continues to blame the Al-Shabab extremist group for the atrocity.

 Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria. || Erik de Castro, Reuters.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) celebrate victory in Raqqa, Syria. || Erik de Castro, Reuters.

Middle East

Iraqi forces have seized the rest of the territory in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, formerly occupied by the Kurds. The Kurdish people are finding themselves displaced and even less hopeful of finding a homeland in the Middle East.

In this week alone more than 250 people have died from terrorist attacks across Afghanistan, the latest of which involved a suicide bomber who killed 15 people in the capital, Kabul. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for several of the attacks, including the most recent.

The US-led coalition in Syria, named the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), seized the Syrian city of Raqqa last week from ISIS. Ever since the event there have been mounting allegations, mainly from Russia, that the SDF committed war crimes in their inhumane bombing of the city, used to force out ISIS. It has been estimated that between 1,200 and 1,800 civilians died in the bombings.