The Week in Brief

Babylon Radio’s weekly column is here to provide you with a quick insight into some of the world’s most pressing issues.

Usually, no news is good news. Like most weeks though, the past seven days have been filled with a variety of hard-hitting, troubling developments. The weekend saw a string of bombings hit both Egypt and Turkey, which left scores of fatalities and countless injured.

In other news, the United Nations have waded in on the controversial fallout of Gambia’s presidential elections last week. The small West African state saw a change in leadership following the public vote, yet President Yahya Jammeh is in no mood to cede power. Such rigidity is in stark contrast to that noted by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) this week. The CDP have identified international corporation’s’ willingness to address the problem of deforestation, however still made the alarming revelation that nearly 25% of companies’ revenue depends on products that are harmful to the world’s trees.

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s President, offered a radical view on the world’s longstanding ‘war on drugs’. Whilst accepting his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, President Santos admitted that the current, fully-fledged battle against drugs has had a detrimental impact on many people, and may be in need of drastic change.

2016 seems to be the year of notable deaths. A host of celebrities, political leaders, and notable figures have all met their untimely ends. Whilst names such as David Bowie may come to mind, the death of Jayalalithaa Jayaram stirred fierce emotions in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, leaving thousands of mourners in an inconsolable state.

Deadly Scenes Mar Turkish Football Game

Violence, carnage and panic ravaged Turkish football team Besiktas’ top-flight game on Saturday. Two hours following the end of proceedings, a coordinated attack left thirty-eight people dead. A car bomb, followed closely by a suicide bomber, seemed to target police forces near the stadium. Of the thirty-eight people killed, thirty were believed to be police officers. State officials immediately pointed the blame at Kurdish militants, yet confirmation was only received on Sunday as TAK, a Kurdish militant group, claimed responsibility for the deadly attacks. Turkey’s forces have been in a long, protracted state of conflict with Kurdish forces in the south-eastern section of the country, who are trying to gain an independent state.

Sectarian Violence Strikes Again

Egypt’s Coptic Christian community have been on the receiving-end of many attacks in recent times. Sunday’s service in Cairo bore witness to even more devastation for the minority community. At least twenty-five people were killed as an explosive device was detonated. President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has declared three days of national mourning, but such action will do little to quell the anger, frustration and unease that has beset the Christian community.

Growing Calls for Gambian President to Cede Power

The wave of opposition to President Yahya Jammeh continues to grow. In the wake of Gambia’s presidential election last week, President Jammeh admitted defeat to his political rival, Adama Barrow. Jammeh’s admission should have paved the way for his twenty-year rule to meet a timely, peaceful end. However, his subsequent reversal has left the country in a delicate position. The African Union has condemned Jammeh’s reversal, whilst the United Nations have demanded Jammeh’s abdication. The situation, at present, remains calm. It remains to be seen what consequences will be had should Jammeh decide to remain in office, despite a clear defeat in the public election.

Global Deforestation Still Turning a Tidy Profit

Climate change has always been a divisive topic. Environmental damage and global warming represent significant challenges for both human beings and the planet itself. As time has passed, there has been a greater acceptance of climate change as an important challenge that must be addressed seriously. However, a recent study by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has announced this week the corporate impact on deforestation. Although the CDP admitted that global companies were becoming more transparent and accountable for their environmental impact, nearly a quarter of their profits still depended on products that were linked to deforestation. Palm oil, cattle goods, soy and timber were all identified as significant contributors to deforestation throughout the world, with approximately US$906 billion of businesses’ turnover dependent on the continued uprooting of trees.

Colombia’s President Urges a Radical Rethink on the ‘War on Drugs’

The ‘war on drugs’ has been one of history’s most long-standing and deadly battles. President Juan Manuel Santos took the opportunity to demand change in the failing policy, during his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize. Having successfully negotiated a peace deal with Farc rebels in Colombia, President Santos received the award for his efforts in ending the conflict that has left 260,000 Colombians dead. Yet, his focus was more international in scope throughout his acceptance speech, where he declared that the rigid ‘war on drugs’ might be “even more harmful” than every war taking place across the globe combined. The decades-old policy was unsuccessful and an urgent change was needed to address its failures, according to President Santos.

Chief Minister’s Death Provokes Widespread Mourning

Jayalalithaa Jayaram’s prolonged health issues finally ended last week as she passed away at the age of sixty-eight. The Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu in India’s south-eastern region was highly revered by local residents. News of her death was met by huge sorrow, as thousands took to the streets in a public display of mourning. The former Bollywood star-turned-politician was massively popular amongst movie fanatics and political supporters alike. As one of India’s most beloved figures, her death has not been met well. Nearly three-hundred people are reported to have either committed suicide or died due to shock in the aftermath of her death.    


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