Several Americans kidnapped in Baghdad

Iraqi intelligence officials have confirmed that Americans have been kidnapped from southern Baghdad. Only one source – the Arab news channel al-Arabiya – reported that three Americans had been kidnapped by militants. The Americans who are missing have not been identified by the American Embassy and there has been no confirmation about what they were doing in Iraq. There have also been no claims of responsibility for the abductions, although kidnappings in Iraq have previously been carried out by ISIL and Shia militants and by criminal gangs. This incident follows the recent deterioration of security in and around Baghdad.

Unemployment rally results in curfew for Tunisian city

In Kasserine, Tunisia, police have fired tear gas at protesters in the midst of unemployment protests. The protests for increased employment began Jan. 19, two days after an unemployed man committed suicide. Tunisia’s unemployment rate currently sits at 15.3 per cent. Approximately 23 protesters were injured in the violence, predominantly resulting from the tear gas used. The curfew that has been instated will be from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.

First female president of Taiwan, Tsai In-wen, elected

Pro-independence presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has won Taiwan’s presidential election. Tsai, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won in a landslide victory. With just over half of the votes counted, Tsai was ahead of the opposition conservative party by 58.1 per cent. Although Tsai and her party’s politics differ greatly from China’s, she said the DPP will attempt to maintain stability with China. Because Taiwan is self-ruling but not formally declared independent, China still sees Taiwan as a part of its territory.

UN asked to observe ceasefire between Colombia and FARC

Colombia and FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) have asked the UN to create an unarmed observers mission for a year in an attempt to end their five-decade conflict. There is also hope that this UN involvement will permanently disarm FARC. FARC said they are wary of disarmament unless the government can protect them from paramilitary groups as well as organised crime. The rebels have agreed to make the request with the government jointly as a sign of progress. Both sides aim to reach a peace agreement before March 23, a deadline set by negotiators last year. There have been three previous attempts at negotiation, all of which concluded in failure. Many Colombians are skeptical about these peace talks.

Military base in Afghanistan turned into rehab centre

The largest U.S. military camp in Kabul has been turned into a rehabilitation centre for drug addiction. Afghanistan is the world’s largest supplier of heroin—last year the country produced 3,300 tonnes of opium. In addition to heroin, other illegal drugs are also inexpensive to purchase. The rehabilitation centre acts as the largest in the country, serving primarily homeless addicts. There are approximately 600 patients in the centre at a time who receive counselling, medical treatment, three meals per day as well as new clothing and haircuts.

UN says million will be left hungry in Southern Africa’s drought

Due to last year’s poor harvest and what has been deemed the El Nino weather pattern, Southern African countries are facing starvation. Poor harvests are also affecting food prices across the region, and prices are rising sharply due to the reduced availability and production. The World Food Programme released a statement on Jan. 18 giving warning of the increased number of people who would face starvation in 2016 as droughts in the region worsen. Last month, Lesotho declared a drought emergency which indicates that 650,000 people, which is roughly one-third of the population, do not have enough food. Ethiopia is being hit with its worst drought in 30 years.

RCMP sent to retrieve bodies of Canadians killed in Burkina Faso attack

On Jan. 15, heavily armed gunmen attacked a restaurant and hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso’s capital. The number of deaths following the attack has reached 30, with 56 wounded, and 176 hostages who were released after a government counter-attack. Three of the perpetrators of the attack were also killed. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has taken responsibility for this attack. Of the 30 killed, six were Canadian, all on a humanitarian mission to the region. In addition to retrieving the bodies of the Canadian deceased, the RCMP sent to Burkina Faso have also been assigned to help in whatever way possible with investigations with the attack.

Failed vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, endorses Donal Trump for president

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump recieved an endorsement from Sarah Palin on Jan 19. This endorsement may give Trump a boost with Palin’s evangelical following in elections. “No more pussy-footing around,” said Palin, in her endorsement, also stating that Trump, as president, would allow America to “kick ISIS’s ass” by mobilizing American forces.

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