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.

Abortions, migrant bans, climate change. These were some of the more prominent features to emerge from the Donald Trump administration this week. The polarising figure continues to divide opinion and is beginning to implement many of his electoral pledges.

On the receiving end of one of Trump’s highly publicised policies are the Mexican government. As President of the United States, his pursuit of a physical barrier, ‘the wall’, along the American-Mexican border has created a diplomatic spat between the two nations.

In Kenya, militant group: al-Shabaab struck a military compound. Conflicting reports have emerged about the scale of the attack, as well as how many casualties were suffered by each side.

The long awaited peace agreement between the Colombian government and Farc rebels may help to end another age-long fight. A joint effort by the rebel group and government officials will aim to combat the production of cocaine in the country, through a variety of incentives for local farmers.

Kuwait, which had not executed a single prisoner since 2013, put an end to this lull in spectacular fashion. As well as killing six convicted prisoners, the Kuwaiti penal system ordered the hanging of a member of the royal family for a string of capital offences.

Another public figure to meet an unnatural end was Ko Ni. As a leading advisor for the National League for Democracy (NLD) party in Myanmar, Ni held much sway in government circles prior to his murder.

Trump Pulls No Punches in his First Week in Office

In a week where President Trump announced his fondness for torture, introduced the world to ‘alternative facts’ (whereby telling false statements is not lying but offering another perspective), and pulled out of the economic trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is hard to sum up the impact he’s made thus far. Yet, the string of executive orders signed by the President was most widely felt in three specific areas: migration, reproductive health and climate change. By enforcing an executive act on Friday, Trump banned America’s refugee programme in its entirety for 120 days, and suspended all nationals from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States for the next 90 days. This move meant that passengers who were already carrying American visas and were on their way to the country were detained on arrival. However, the backlash to this move has been fierce, and a spate of public demonstrations and court proceedings has pushed back against the latest measure: a federal judge ruled against the deportation of legal immigrants and those with approved visas. For reproductive health, the administration’s decision to block funding to any foreign organisation that offers abortion services was a significant blow. The Helms amendment, passed in 1973, already prevented foreign health providers from using American money to finance abortion services, but the latest policy resurrected by Trump means that any group that associates with abortions, even if they pay for it through other means, will not be eligible for U.S. funding. This provides a worrying ultimatum for international medical services. On Tuesday, the President pledged his support for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which traverse the land of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Such commitment to environmentally damaging energy sources came in the wake of a media gag placed on the Environmental Protection Agency, as the new government finalises it’s official standpoint on climate change.

Mexico’s Noisy Neighbours are Making Life Hard

Building a wall along the American-Mexican border was one the central tenets of Donald Trump’s election campaign. Following repeated statements by President Trump that Mexico would have to pay for the future barrier, a meeting between Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and his American counterpart were cancelled. Nieto declared that Mexico had no intention of paying for a physical divide between the two states, whilst America flirted with the idea of recovering such funds through a twenty per cent tax on Mexican imports.

Islamist Insurgents Strike Military Base in Kenya

Al-Shabaab, an Islamist insurgency group operating across Eastern Africa, have targeted a military base in Kenya. Although the situation remains unclear, the group claims that their strike was a resounding success, and that fifty soldiers were killed and a multitude of military equipment seized. The Kenyan military, however, are telling a different story. According to a spokesman, government forces were able to fight off the insurgent strike and prevent the base from being captured.

Colombia’s War on Drugs has a New Ally

Coca, the base ingredient for cocaine, is being targeted by the Colombian state and Farc rebels. Previously, Farc rebels harnessed the monetary potential of cocaine production to finance their ongoing conflict with the government. Yet as part of the peace agreement reached last year, the group will aid the government in encouraging farmers to cease growing coca crops and elect to destroy them instead. Farmers will be paid for their efforts and provided assistance, in order to substitute their existing coca crops to other types of plants.

Capital Punishments Resurrected in Kuwait

Seven people have been executed in the Gulf state of Kuwait. Over the past four years, the country has not recorded a single official death from court sentences. This temporary respite was ended this week. The seven prisoners convicted of capital crimes, including a Prince from the royal family, were hanged in the country’s central prison.

Political Assassination Hits Myanmar’s International Airport

Ko Ni was a leading figure in Myanmar’s political world. A prominent lawyer and high-ranking advisor to the ruling party, Ni was one of the country’s most important Muslim figures; who represent a minority group in the predominantly Buddhist country. The lawyer was shot dead upon arrival at Yangon airport, with a suspect detained in the aftermath of his killing. The motivations for Ni’s killing remain unknown.


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