War in the heart of Paris by Ioana Nicolau
Only 10 months after the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, on the evening of the 13th of November, the French population has again become the target of a tragedy that terrified the whole world. The terrorist shootings and explosions were spread over 7 different locations in Paris and resulted in the death of 129 and 352 injured. It is the deadliest attack on France since the WWII. On the 14th of November, the Islamic State of Iraq and ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack and declared that their reason for the intervention was French involvement in the Syrian and Iraqi Civil Wars. ISIS also stated that they are “praising their 8 brothers” for the numerous deaths and that this is “only the beginning of the storm”. In response to the events, France temporarily closed its borders, increased security in Paris by 1.500 additional soldiers and adopted two emergency plans, plan rouge and plan blanc. President Francois Hollande has declared three days of national mourning; however, the tragedy shocked the whole world with numerous countries showing solidarity and lighting up their landmarks with the colors of the French flag.
News Recap: Economics by Daniel Koudijs
As 2015 nears its end, the global economy continues to show signs of a struggle. According to several indicators, trade further decreased in October, mainly as the result of falling Chinese demand. Since China accounts for roughly 18% of EU exports and is its second trade partner, this has had a strong effect on the European economy. Consequently, the Chinese slowdown is curbing the already feeble economic recovery in the EU. Estimated European GDP growth decreased in the third quarter to 0.3%, down from 0.4% in the second quarter. To support growth, Mr. Draghi recently hinted at the possibility of further extending the quantitative easing programme at the ECB’s next meeting. Meanwhile, the US continued to show strong growth as the job market improved for the ninth month in a row. Good news about the US economy makes the expected interest rate rise by the Federal Reserve more likely. Higher interest rates imply, among other, higher borrowing costs for consumers and firms. However, markets are still unsure whether the economy is strong enough to handle these costs. As a result, markets are now stuck in a weird situation where good news is also bad news.
News Recap: Business by Raffaele Di Carlo
The business world recently rejoiced about a veritable royal wedding: the merger of SABMiller and AB InBev, giants of the beer industry. The 107 billion dollar deal will allow the newborn firm to conquer a 30% share of the market, which figuratively means one in every three beers we drink will be manufactured by the group. While the agreement still awaits the placet from antitrust authorities, another firm deals with its misfortunes: Volkswagen announced the start of a whistle-blowing policy meant to encourage the firm’s employees worldwide to signal any vehicle diverging from the emission standards. The deadline has been set for the 30th of November, when the company expects to have taken the estimated 11 million defective vehicles out of the market.
On a happier note, love was not in the air in China on the 11th of November, but don’t be alarmed: it’s just Singles’ Day, an increasingly popular celebration for those out there who don’t have (or don’t need) a sweetheart to go shopping with to take advantage of the exclusive ad hoc deals all over the country. The holiday is estimated to raise business for around 8.6 billion euros, making Singles’ Day a fierce rival to other consumeristic festivities we might be more familiar with.
If you want to find out more about the the merger of SABMiller and AB InBev, read Rostra’s article by Michel Mijlof
Breaking Bad in Amsterdam? by Fransje Puts
Although it may sound like a bad version of the popular American series “Breaking Bad”, the profits of millions of the Slotervaartziekenhuis (hospital in Amsterdam) out of the production and distribution of heroin, seem to be reality. Last Friday (13th of November), the journalists Bas Soetenhorst and Jeroen Wester presented a book, De Kraak van het Slotervaartziekenhuis, in which they reveal that the hospital is making over 30 per cent profits on this product. A daughter company of the Slotervaartziekenhuis is making the heroin commissioned by the Ministry of Public Health (Ministerie van Volksgezondheid). The heroin is destined for drug-addicts who will receive this under assistance of a social worker. Though the drugs are made for the improvement of research and healthcare, it is quite bizarre that a hospital can earn on a necessary evil. The hospital has hidden these huge profits on their financial statements for years and years surely not without a reason…
Amazon Surprises Markets with Third Quarter Profit by Antoine Steen
This month Amazon shocked Wall Street by posting a profit over the third quarter. Amazon made only $73m on $25.4bn in sales over the quarter – a relatively measly amount, but surprising nonetheless, given that the company is well-known for its lack of profits.
Literally overnight, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos became the third-richest person in the United States after shares surged 10% in after-hours trading. Amazon shares represent 93% of Bezos’ net worth.
People are buying more from Amazon, with sales rising 23%. However, the surprise profit was driven by Amazon’s “Web Services” cloud-computing unit, which posted a half-a-billion-dollar profit in the quarter, more than quintupling its earnings on last year.
Just a year ago Amazon stunned Wall Street with a larger-than-expected loss, which saw the stock price fall below $300. On November 11, 2015, Amazon shares hit an all-time high of $675.96.
News Recap: Politics by Magdalena Wiśniewska
On 19th of October, in Canadian elections Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won over Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party with the result of 184 out of 388 seats. In Turkey, second round of general elections took place on November the 1st, after a period of turmoil following changes in June. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his previously ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) regained majority with 49% of the votes. On the 5th,Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta resigned from his office after a nationwide protest, with the former European Commissioner, Dacian Ciolos, taking over for the time being. On November the 8th Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party, National League for Democracy (NLD), won Myanmar’s national elections. If the outcome it honoured by the ruling party, it would be the first time in 50 years when Myanmar had a chance to choose their government through free elections and end military rule.
Russian Airplane Crashes in Sinai by Olga Kowalska
On 31st October 2015, Russian Metrojet Airbus A321 crashed in a mountainous area of central Sinai, while on the flight from the resort town of Sharm al-Sheikh (Egypt) to St. Petersburg (Russia). Nobody from all the 224 passengers and crew on board survived the crash. The reasons for the crush are still under investigation by Russia and Egypt with a cooperation of France and Germany. The U.S. and the U.K. have both said the plane likely was downed by a bomb planted by a terrorist group. Russia’s state aviation authority has banned Egypt’s national carrier from flying to Russia.
COP 21 by Yoeri Min
From November 30th till December 11th, world leaders assemble in Paris at the COP21: the 2015 Paris Climate Conference. For the first time in 20 years of UN negotiations, the conference aims to achieve a legally binding and universal world-wide agreement on climate, aiming to keep global warming below two degrees Celcius. Approximately 50.000 participants, including 25.000 delegates from governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, NGO’s and civil societies will be present at the conference.
The negotiations on climate change and CO2 emission goals for the year 2030 will last two weeks. According to the Friends of the Earth Netherlands, or milieudefensie, even if all participating parties agree on all measures and CO2 emission goals that are proposed at COP21, it would still be insufficient to prevent global warming entirely.
Suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation by Michel Mijlof
Last week, the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) came with a report, which claims that Russia had indulged in ‘state-supported’ doping. According to the report, the athletes used doping during the Olympic Games of 2012 in London. WADA recommended a ban on the Russian Athletics Federation. The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) voted upon this report and decided by voting to ban the Russian Athletics Federation. The decision means that the nation will be unable to send athletes to major events in the upcoming month, including the Olympic Games of 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and the World Championships. The punishment is the hardest possible and it is a wake-up call for all athletes in the world and a warning against cheating by using doping in sport events. If the Russian Athletics Federation meets certain requirements, the ban can be lifted.
A Tragedy Necessary for Filling up the Systems’ Gaps by Vlad Cristian Marin
30th of October, Bucharest – Romania has seen its most dramatic event since the ’89 revolution A night club Colectiv bursted into fire during a heavy metal concert. The heavy smoke eventually caused a massive stampede, while the lack of emergency exits and the overall inadequate safety conditions only worsened the situation. The death toll reached 52 people, while hundreds are wounded or in critical condition. The tragedy brought again to the public attention the major flaws in the system and hundreds of venues around the country have been temporarily shut down.
Romanians declared 3 days of national mourning and showed solidarity with the victims when anti-government mass-protests sparked for a couple days in a row, both nationally and internationally. Crowds in all major cities, as well as in the diaspora, demanded the government to step down and called for a complete reformation of the system.
The revolts led to the resignation of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who had already been under pressure to quit over allegations of tax evasion and money-laundering.
Online activism, protests, marches, occupations, all followed by new legislative propositions and a call for a political makeover, are aimed at the dissolution of the corrupted governance that is to be held accountable for yet another tragedy. For now, people are waiting…
The End of One-Child Policy in China by Michael van Rhee
China, led by the Communist Party of China, recently abolished its one-child policy. Remarkable news indeed, seeing as it had always hold on to that measure since it was first introduced in 1979. The original reason for introducing it was a pretty simple one: overpopulation, or the risk thereof. At 25 million births per year, its birth surplus stood at 2.9%, so the measure served a rather obvious goal. However, seeing as many Chinese couples prefer boys over girls, abortion and even child abandonment are not uncommon practices in China, which, in turn, has led to a sharp increase in the amount of single men. Farmers also criticised the policy, since it forced them to employ more workers outside the family, and thus drove up their costs significantly. When the Chinese government finally recognised the many downsides of the policy, it first introduced some exceptions to the rule, but now — considering strong population ageing — it has gotten rid of it altogether. Chinese couples will probably continue to have a preference for boys for a long time to come, but we should at least expect to see some more Chinese girls as a result of this decision — finally.
Something That Did Not Happen in 66 years by Artur Rymer
On the 7th of November, a historic event took place in Singapore – for the first time since 1949, political leaders of People’s Republic of China and Republic of China (Taiwan) have met. Chinese president Xi Jinping and Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou sat together, marking a new development in almost 70 years of mutual denial of sovereignty by both countries.
The meeting between both presidents is certainly a unique and new event in the history of very complicated Chinese-Taiwanese relations as for the last 66 years both countries have been in the state of more or (at times) less stable armistice. However, no major decisions have been taken and the meeting itself seemed rather peculiar for a diplomatic summit, with both leaders careful not to acknowledge each other’s legitimacy.
The meeting was heavily criticised in Taiwan, where many people are more and more opposed and afraid of the tightening relations between the two countries that the nation witnessed in the recent years. On top of that, many claim that it was only an election move by president Ma Ying-jeou as his second term is coming to an end and his party Kuomintang is set to lose to the Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate Tsai Ing-wen who is opposed to closer relations with China.
It’s very unlikely that the meeting will bring significant changes but it’s certainly better that both countries exchange handshakes rather than missiles, especially when one looks at today’s global politics.
Governance done right – Canada. “Because it is 2015” by Vlad Cristian Marin
Presumably still popular among the electorate, the (ex-) Conservative leader of Canada, Stephen Harper, has been defeated in the recent elections by the Liberal underdog Justin Trudeau. Trudeau, the newly sworn in PM, has led its party to a stunning federal election victory (184 out of 338 seats) for the Canadian House of Commons, in spite of a constant 3rd position in the pre-elections polls.
Justin Trudeau, the son of the late influential and intellectual Canadian politician, Pierre Trudeau, promised big changes and has already started working towards it.Trudeau is planning on imposing radical changes in terms of: climate change, the relationship with the indigenous (and their rights), abortion policy, taxes, marijuana and more.
His new cabinet is comprised of 30 ministers, from the most diverse backgrounds– scientists, paralympians, activists, ex-refugees, etc; and half of them are women. When asked why he thinks gender parity had such a big weight on his nominations, he stunned the audience with a simple “Because it is 2015!”. Let us keep an eye on Canda!