This week in the world

Ohio students convicted in rape trials

Two high school football players in Steubenville, Ohio, have been found guilty of raping a sixteen-year-old girl at a party last August. The case sparked a national controversy following the emergence of images and postings on social media. On Sunday, the two teenagers were convicted of sexually assaulting the victim, who witnesses testified was too drunk to move or speak.

EU bailout sparks panic in Cyprus

A European Union bailout plan is sparking wide financial panic in Cyprus. The EU is demanding Cyprus impose a universal, one-time tax on all Cypriot bank deposits as a condition for thirteen billion dollars in rescue money. The plan led to massive bank withdrawals as Cypriots rushed to protect their savings. Cyprus took the unprecedented step on Monday of closing its banks until Thursday as officials scrambled to renegotiate the terms of the bailout. Cyprus has situated itself as a tax haven to attract international deposits, particularly from Russia, into a banking system that is now at least eight times the size of the country’s economy.

Mexican religious fireworks explosion

As of Sunday, the death toll had risen to sixteen and number of injured increased to 154 after a truck carrying fireworks to a religious procession exploded Friday in the central Mexican city of Nativitas. One of the fireworks went astray and landed in a truck carrying a significant amount of other fireworks.

Rally protesting US presence in Afghanistan

Hundreds of residents of the Afghan province of Wardak rallied in front of the parliament in Kabul over the weekend in protest of the continued presence of US forces in their country. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has banned US special forces from Wardak amidst allegations concerning the disappearances of nine Afghan civilians. The US military appears to be ignoring the ban, leading to the protest over the weekend. The protestors were peaceful but shouted anti-US slogans and demanded the release of the nine locals, whom they believe are in the custody of US forces.

China looks to melting Arctic

China is increasingly looking northwards to fulfill its growing economic needs for minerals and oil. China has been initiating diplomatic connections with Arctic countries as part of its effort to secure a permanent observer status on the Arctic Council, an eight-country political body that decides regional policy. Currently, eighty per cent of China’s imported energy passes through the crowded and heavily pirated Strait of Malacca that passes Singapore. But over the past few years, melting Arctic ice has turned the north into a viable shipping route. China has taken a recent interest in Greenland, which is planning to approve a mining project that would supply China with iron ore.

Syrian opposition names PM

Syria’s opposition National Coalition has chosen a prime minister to head a government for rebel-held regions. Ghassan Hitto, a Damascus-born IT expert who has spent decades in the US, was elected at a meeting of coalition leaders in Istanbul. Some senior Coalition leaders withdrew from the vote in protest over Hitto’s lack of military experience. Hitto’s first task will be to form a government to oversee services in areas captured from Syrian government forces. Meanwhile, the US stated earlier this week that they would not stand in the way of other countries arming Syrian rebels. Last week, France and the UK said they support lifting the EU arms embargo on Syria to allow weapons to reach anti-government forces. EU foreign ministers are expected to discuss the Syrian arms embargo at a meeting later this week and vote on the topic in May.

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