This Week in the World

Rob Ford dies March 22, age 46

Infamous former Toronto mayor Rob Ford died of cancer March 22 at 46 years old. In 2014 Ford was diagnosed with malignant liposarcoma in his abdomen, forcing him to drop his bid for re-election as mayor of Toronto. Ford became famous  following multiple scandals, including public intoxication, the use of vulgar and obscene language on television, and being caught on video smoking out of a crack-cocaine pipe.

Terrorist attacks in Brussels claimed by ISIL

ISIL has claimed responsibility for two attacks at a metro station and airport in Brussels, Belgium on Tuesday. Over 30 people have died, with over 200 injured. At least two suicide bombers were involved and a third suspect is being searched for. Western Europe entered a state of alert following the attacks, with the Belgian government raising the country’s terrorism alert to the highest level. World leaders have condemned the attacks and say they will stand united in the fight against terrorism.

President Obama visits Havana, Cuba

United States President Barack Obama is the first sitting president since 1928 to visit Cuba. After decades of post-Cold War hostility, Obama and Cuban president Raul Castro pledged to set aside their differences. The two presidents held a joint press conference in Havana where they discussed and argued about human rights and governance. Obama called on the U.S. Congress to end the longstanding trade embargo between the U.S. and Cuba.

New Zealand holds referendum to change flag

On March 24, a referendum to determine whether the New Zealand flag will be changed will be closed. Over 10,000 new flag designs were submitted by the public two years ago, out of which five were voted on in order to determine a contender. Many want to remove the Union Jack, which serves as a reminder of the country’s colonial ties to Great Britain, from the flag. Others, backed by national and historical pride, resist the change.

Netanyahu willing to discuss Palestinian statehood

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu said he is ready to begin negotiations for a two-state resolution but his Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, does not support the idea. Netanyahu said a UN Security Council-led resolution would not bring peace to the area, and said the best way to achieve peace would be to agree on “two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarised Palestinian state finally recognises the Jewish state.”

Suicide bombers kill 24 at Nigerian mosque

Two female suicide bombers killed 24 and wounded 18 Nigerian people on Wednesday, March 16. Five months earlier, six were killed at the same mosque in an attack by two suicide bombers. The mosque was closed after the attack in October. Wednesday’s attack occurred three days after the mosque reopened.

North Korea fires two ballistic missiles

Despite newly imposed international sanctions, North Korea fired two medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Friday, March 18. Nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing by North Korea in January and February sparked international condemnation. One of Friday’s missiles flew 800 km while the other exploded shortly after being fired. Missiles of this nature would have the capacity to reach Japan from North Korea.

Jakarta main roads shut down by protests

Indonesia’s capital’s traffic came to a standstill after taxi drivers incited violent demonstrations against Uber on Tuesday, March 22. The taxi and motorised rickshaw drivers began protests because they see Uber as unfair competition. The drivers blocked the city’s main roads while violence broke between drivers of traditional taxis and motorbike riders working for the ride-hailing apps such as Uber. The drivers are angry because these apps offer rides at lower prices and they claim they are working without official permits and are not paying taxes.

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