News Recap: Politics – by Magdalena Wiśniewska
On the 16th of November, USA decided to join France in the airstrikes against ISIS, sending warplanes to Syria. Just a day later Russia followed the lead, sending to Syria their missile cruiser. Vladimir Putin ordered that Russia will cooperate with France in this matter as they were allies. On the 24th, Russian warplane was shot down for entering Turkish airspace without permission. One of two pilots died and President Putin warned Turkey and the whole NATO zone about serious consequences.
On the 6th of December, in Venezuelan elections, opposition won a 2/3 majority, which resulted in a possibility to challenge the current President, Nicolás Maduro, and to release imprisoned oppositionists. On the 12th of December, Saudi Arabian elections took place. After a series of man-only election, this year women were given a right to active participation, not only as voters but as candidates as well. A turmoil on Polish political stage is going on as discord about the Costitutional Tribunal takes place between the previous and the current government.
The Outcomes of the United Nations Climate Change Conference – COP21 Paris, 2015 – by Ioana Nicolau
Climate change is a visible and increasing threat to humankind which is recognized worldwide and, therefore, needs to be approached by the leaders of all the states in the world. This is the aim of COP21, which was held between the 30th of November and 11th of December in Paris. The 200 participating countries agreed to achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the next half of this century. The aim is to limit the rise in temperature “well below” 2°C and even further strive to keep it below 1.5°C. The world’s developing countries will be financed with $100 billion in order to pursue this aim and the steps taken in addressing this issue will be reviewed every five years. The agreement is partially voluntary; however, matters such as the reduction of CO2 emissions are legally binding. China, India and South Africa were at first reluctant in taking this responsibility due to a fear of jeopardizing economic growth and development. In the end, the world awaited climate deal culminated with a fantastic victory for the planet by engaging absolutely all the states in taking a more responsible and proactive stance towards climate change.
Room for Discussion was present at COP21 and managed to grasp a plethora of fruitful insights about the complexity of this global battle. If you want to enrich your knowledge about this matter, we advise you to take a look on the latest posts from their Facebook page by clicking here.
San Bernardino (California, U.S.) Shooting – by Olga Kowalska
Fourteen people were killed and twenty-one wounded in the mass shooting on December 2, 2015. The attack, organized by a married couple of Pakistani descent, took place at a Christmas party for employees of the Inland Regional Centre (San Bernardino), which provides services for people with developmental disabilities. Both of the attackers were killed after a gunfight with police. The exact motives of the assault are still under investigation but F.B.I qualifies it as an act of terrorism. The attack again rises a question about the gun law in U.S.
More about that problem will be addressed in early January in Rostra’s article by Michael van Rhee.
Stolen Art Found in Ukraine – by Michael van Rhee
A valuable art collection of the Westfries Museum that was stolen ten years ago — a total of 24 paintings worth about a million euros altogether — was recently found back in a villa in the east of Ukraine. It turns out to be in possession of a far-right Ukrainian militia that now demands tens of millions of euros in exchange for it. According to the museum, the art has become a plaything in a political force field of internal struggle for power. The Dutch government has urged Ukraine to get their hands on the lost art, but now that that seems hopeless, the museum has sought publicity in a desperate last-ditch effort to get the collection back where it belongs. Remarkably, Oleh Tyahnybok — the man behind all this as well as Svoboda’s party leader — recently offered three of the paintings to the museum in a public Facebook post, but the amount asked is simply exorbitant. To be continued.
Is Poland Marching Towards ‘Democratorship’? – by Artur Rymer
In recent weeks, the national-conservative Law and Justice party (previously in opposition) won an outright majority in Polish parliamentary elections and has already made Poland hit global news with controversial legislation on the country’s constitutional court. The Constitutional Tribunal of Poland consists of 15 judges chosen by the parliament for 9-year terms. This year, terms of five judges have expired – 3 in early November – still during the term of the previous parliament – and 2 in early December – already during the term of the new parliament. However, the previous parliament changed the law and elected all five judges while President Andrzej Duda (elected in May as Law and Justice’s candidate) refused to receive their oaths claiming their appointment was unconstitutional. Later, the new majority has changed the law again, cancelled previous appointments and chose their own five new judges, whose oaths the President received. In early December, the Tribunal declared that the previous parliament constitutionally elected only three judges while the new parliament constitutionally elected only the remaining two. Despite that, Law and Justice has ignored the decision, claiming that it doesn’t extend to the parliament’s choice of judges. In response, the opposition parties, different organisations and respected lawyers have accused the party and the President of breaking the rule of law and the Constitution. On the 12th of December, 50 thousand protesters have marched on the streets of Warsaw to voice their opposition against Law and Justice’s moves. Nonetheless, it seems that the solution is not in sight and the constitutional crisis continues.
Gaudemus Igitur – by Raffaele Di Carlo
December has definitely been an eventful month for Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church. Just back from his Apostolic Mission in Kenya, Uganda and Central African Republic all during the month of November, His Holiness declared the year 2016 a Holy Year for the celebration of the Jubilee of Mercy. In the morning of the 8th of December, the ritual of the opening of the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica took place in Vatican City and doors of many other cathedrals all over Rome, Italy and all of the Catholic world will be opened to follow the example. But what is the Jubilee about?
In the Catholic tradition, a Jubilee is a celebration, lasting one year, during which the Pope grants plenary indulgence to the faithful – that is, full forgiveness for their sins. In the spirit of Pope Francis’s reforms, a series of ceremonies will be held throughout the year, with particular focus on the environment, a really revolutionary behavior, coming by the head of the Church. All of the Catholic world rejoices for the coming rituals and celebrations, although there is a slight concern that the Vatican might be a target for terror attacks during such a significant period.
Britain Joins Fight Against ISIS in Syria – by Antoine Steen
Earlier this month British MPs voted 397 to 223 in favour of launching air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria. RAF Typhoon jets have joined the US-led coalition, targeting oil fields in the east of the country, in a bid to hit one of the main sources of financing of the organisation.
The RAF has already been engaged in air strikes against ISIS in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government, however, the Paris attacks, which ISIS has claimed responsibility for, mark a turning point in the fight against the organisation.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon says that the strikes have had a fairly impressive start, with ISIS infrastructure, from which ISIS derives revenue used to finance terrorist attacks in Europe, being damaged without killing civilians.
News Recap: Economic – by Daniel Koudijs
November has on many fronts been a terrible month. On the economic front however, news has been quite positive. The OECD is seeing stable growth building up across its member countries and a mixed outlook for the major emerging economies. Meanwhile the IMF decided to include the Chinese currency, the Yuan, into its Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies (SDR). The SDR is a basket of the world’s primary currencies (Dollar, Euro, Yen , Pound and Yuan) that can be used everywhere as a reserve asset. Though the inclusion of the Yuan has no direct real economic effects (basically no goods are priced in SDR), it is acknowledgment of the Yuan’s global importance. Other news on China was less positive: McKinsey published a report on the massive indebtedness of China’s big state owned companies, fostering worries about whether these companies will be able to survive in a slower growing Chinese economy. Closer to home, the ECB announced it would extend its current QE-programme and further lower its benchmark interest rate below zero. This was however seen by markets as too little: European stock exchanges fell drastically and the Euro surged upwards. Finally, oil priced sunk to a new six year low of $37. With the prospect of Iranian oil exports entering the market in the near future, everyone is now left guessing how low it can go.
News Recap: Business – by Michel Mijlof
Clearly, the most important thing that happened in the business world is the initial public offering (IPO) of ABN Amro. After years of absence, the Dutch bank is back on track and the Dutch government is willing to finally get their money back after nationalizing it in 2008. To read more about this topic read the article: Is ABN Amro finally cured after the financial crisis?
There are also news about another Dutch bank – Rabobank. They announced mass redundancies that will affect around 9000 people. They also announced they will quit sponsoring major sports associations in the Netherlands such as Royal Dutch Cycling Union and Royal Dutch Equestrian Association.
Among news other than banking are the falling oil prices. Dealers said it is due to markets being unsettled by concerns about the health of the Chinese economy, which needs large quantities of fuel and raw materials for its rapid industrial growth. As a result of the low oil prices, worldwide stock exchanges indices are also falling.
Rocket Ships, Space Commercialization & Major Breakthroughs – BLUE ORIGIN – by Vlad Cristian Marin
Space travelling has seen its potential exploited by several private companies and established players throughout the past couple of years. Worth mentioning are Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, Stratolaunch Systems and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin. In the fierce battle for “space commercialization”, the earliest to break through has the biggest odds for a sustainable, long-term triumph.
In this light, we are today celebrating one major success. On the 23rd of November 2015, Blue Origin’s first rocket was launched to the edge of the outer space, culminating with a perfect return and upright descent on a landing pad. Blue Origin’s founder, Jeff Bezos (also the founder of Amazon) is said to have won the latest battle in the space wars. Why is that? It is simple. Rockets are usually disposed of after their launch in space. Just think of reusable rockets and the cost reduction associated with them. Simply put by Bezos, imagine airlines discarded 747 aircrafts after each flight – wouldn’t be so efficient, would it?
Whilst this major breakthrough in terms of safety and cost reduction will mark the year 2015, this event sets up the ground for even further advancements in the industry. We are really excited to see what 2016 has prepared!
“Full reuse is a game changer, and we can’t wait to fuel up and fly again.” – Jeff Bezos
Are Only Students with Rich Parents Able to Find a House in Amsterdam? – by Fransje Puts
Last week, it became known that more and more students have issues with finding a proper apartment in one of the popular neighbourhoods in Amsterdam. As we are students, we know for sure all about these issues. The only way to get an affordable house nowadays is through the help of rich parents who will buy a house for their child. Parents who belong to the 20 per cent of the wealthiest Dutch people, buy starter homes more frequently. The last five years, the acquisitions of houses in this group has increased by 22 per cent.
Jochem Kuijs (21), a business student at InHolland, started a company named ‘Huis voor je kind (House for your child)’ last year. With this company he is helping wealthy persons with finding and buying a proper house in Amsterdam for their children. According to Kuijs, this will not result in a partition between students with rich parents and students without rich parents. He says that just because of these wealthy parents, more students can live in the nice neighbourhoods of Amsterdam. Namely, ‘Huis voor je kind’ also helps with finding extra tenants and, because parent-owners mostly ask reasonable rent prices, the less wealthy students are also able to find an affordable living.