January 28- February 3, 2017

Europe

 King Ferdinand's code. || BBC.

King Ferdinand's code. || BBC.

Ireland is set to hold a referendum this May on the possibility of repealing its constitutional ban on abortion. Adopted in 1983, it bans abortion entirely, including cases of rape, severe fetal abnormality, incest, and even when the termination is necessary to save the woman’s life.

The Spanish intelligence agency just cracked the 500-year-old code of King Ferdinand of Aragon, whose letters to his chief military commander were written in a highly complex cypher. The code contained 88 different symbols and 237 combined letters, and it took the intelligence agency almost half a year to decipher four of them.

Americas

America seeks to expand its nuclear options but not the overall size of its arsenal, according to the Pentagon’s “Nuclear Posture Review” published 2 February. The proposal largely confirms the program approved by Barack Obama with the Senate’s authorization of the New START strategic arms-control treaty with Russia. The program is estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over the next 30 years.

The “Nunes memo,” a memo citing that the FBI was wrong to gain a warrant used to increase surveillance of a Trump associate based off the partisan-funded Steele Dossier, was released Tuesday. The memo has worsened the partisan rift on Capitol Hill and given Trump more reason to vilify the Russia investigation.

Middle East

A Jewish rabbi was shot on 9 January as he was driving near his home, Havat Gilad, a 50-family illegal outpost which is located on the disputed West Bank. This Sunday, Israel retroactively granted legal status to the outpost. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, stated that the move was intended to enable the “continuation of normal life” in the settlement. His cabinet’s decision is highly controversial, as many countries do not recognize the area as Israeli territory.

Africa

Sixteen bodies were pulled from the Mediterranean on 4 February, close to the Moroccan port of Melilla. The Moroccan coastal guard recovered the bodies after they were spotted by a Spanish ship. They are thought to have been migrants attempting to cross over to Europe despite poor weather conditions. Fifteen are from sub-Saharan Africa, and one is Moroccan.