November 12-18th, 2017

Middle East

 Post-earthquake rubble in the city of Darbandikhan, Iraq. || Ako Rasheed, Reuters.

Post-earthquake rubble in the city of Darbandikhan, Iraq. || Ako Rasheed, Reuters.

A fatal 7.3-level earthquake hit the Iranian provinces of Kurdistan and Kermanshah along the border of Iraq, leaving at least 400 dead and 7000 injured. Iran sits along a major fault line between the Arabian and Eurasian plates, with the last major earthquake flattening the historic city of Bam in 2003, killing over 26,000 people. The province of Kermanshah was hit the hardest, where almost all of the 400+ deaths were located. Rescue teams and the Iranian Red Crescent continue to find more deaths and casualties, but due to the damage received by many hospitals in the province and subsequent inability of the treatment of patients, further deaths are expected. The provincial government of Kermanshah has called for three days of mourning and recovery for the province as a whole. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to survey the area on Tuesday.

Near the city of Deir Az Zor, in eastern Syria, an ISIL car bombing killed at least 20 civilians and wounded 30 more. The terrorist group is rapidly losing ground in this region, and its civilian-aimed attacks have intensified. Last week, another car bomb killed at least 100 people, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

During a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military exercise, Turkey has withdrawn its troops after the name of the President, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, were named in the exercise on an “enemy chart”. The event exemplifies the increasing tensions between the western alliance and Turkey at a time where the country’s leader is facing condemnation for human rights violations.

North America

The “Me Too” campaign, in which women who have previously been quiet about their sexual assaults make the incidents known to the public, has continued to rock both the entertainment and political worlds in the US. US Senate candidate Roy Moore now has six allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct with a minor placed against him. Incumbent US Senator Al Franken also has an allegation of sexual harassment placed against him from an incident that took place in 2006. Comedian CK Louis and actor Kevin Spacey continue to accumulate more and more accusations of sexual misconduct.

California resident Kevin Neal went on a rampage, shooting fourteen and killing four people at Rancho Tehama Reserve School District in California. Before the shooting, he killed and buried his wife under the floor of his home. He used a semi-automatic rifle and two handguns, all of which he was not legally allowed to possess. The killer committed this crime while on bail. The terms of his bail have not yet been made public.

Tesla’s Elon Musk unveiled the long-awaited Tesla semi-truck on Thursday, along with a surprise— the new electric Roadster, with a range of 1,000 km on a single charge. Musk stated that, after riding the Roadster, regular gasoline cars would feel like “a steam engine with a side of quiche.” Semi-truck production will start in 2019, with the Roadster following close behind in 2020.

Africa

Zimbabwe’s long-standing president, Robert Mugabe, was placed under house arrest after a successful military coup removed him from power. The motivation behind the military coup comes from both the fatigue of his extensive rule since 1980, and the controversy surrounding his support for his wife to succeed him as president. The military supports former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa as his successor, not the former First Lady. Negotiations between the military and President Mugabe are currently taking place; no official resolution has come to light.

Asia

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a trip to Beijing early next month to launch free trade talks specifically in relation to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Though Trudeau has committed Canada to the “core principles” of the trade alliance, he has remained reluctant to finalise the deal as it could bring complications to ongoing trade talks concerning NAFTA. In line with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s promotion of globalisation and open markets, these trade talks could be significant for the future of international free trade.