Week #9 (05-11/08/2019)

A picador equipped with a lance during a bullfight. | Credit: Manuel González Olaechea


Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara confirmed (07/08) that the Ivory Coast would seek an agreement with Ghana to fix the cocoa price. The two West African neighboring countries joined forces in June to increase the price of cocoa of $2,600 per tonne and the live income differential of $400 per tonne. This means that both countries will not sell the 2020-2021’s cocoa harvest for less than $2,600 per tonne. Meanwhile, the dry season has left more than a million people on the edge of starvation in northern Kenya (08/08). Competition to secure water and pasture occurs between the communities of herders as the dry season worsens. The country’s leaders are currently calling for quick relieve food and water supply from donors. Likewise, Zimbabwe (08/08) is facing its “worst-ever hunger crisis.” The President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared the nation’s dry season an emergency situation, whilst the United Nations (UN) called for over $300 million to help recovery efforts.


Two mass shootings, only 13 hours apart, stunned the United States (U.S.) over the weekend (07/08). The first shooting took place in the city of El Paso, Texas, on August 3 at 10:39 local time. A gunman went into a crowded Walmart and opened fire with an assault-style rifle, killing 22 people and injuring 24. Hours later in Dayton, Ohio, a gunman began shooting people at 01:07 local time in an area famous for its nightlife. Nine people were killed in the attack and 27 others were injured. Twenty one year old Patrick Crusius, the man accused of mass shooting in El Paso, has confessed to authorities (09/08) that he was deliberately targeted Mexicans. Authorities believed that Crusius, a white man, has posted a racist and white nationalist manifesto online shortly before he opened fire in a Walmart and killed 22 people. The author of the document stated that he was inspired by the terrorist in Christchurch who killed 51 Muslims in March and that the El Paso shooting was his response to the “Hispanic invasion of Texas”.

Still within the country, U.S. financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has been found dead in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, New York (10/08), in apparent suicide. Epstein was arrested on July 6 and facing up to 45 years in prison for allegedly paying underage girls to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005. He pleaded not guilty and was being held without bail. Epstein’s death comes only a day after the release of hundreds of pages of court documents that revealed new allegations against him and some of his associates.  

In Ottawa, Canada (10/08), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is facing increasing pressure from Canadians to announce the result of the review of the weapons contract with Saudi Arabia. Following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the ongoing war in Yemen, Trudeau stated in October last year that his government had suspended the approvals of new arms exports permits for Saudi Arabia whilst awaiting the indefinite review. However, after more than nine months, the government has not yet announced the outcome and prompted a group of civil organizations to send an open letter to Trudeau, demanding the outcome of the review.


Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has made moratorium on forest clearance permanent through a presidential instruction issued on Monday (05/08). It bans ministers, governors, and other officials from issuing new permit on the moratorium area, which covers 66 million hectares of primary forest and peatland. The moratorium on forest clearance has been started since 2011 with initially 69.1 million hectares of coverage. In Japan, Mount Masama, located 140 km from Tokyo, erupted (07/08) for the first time since June 2015, spewing large rocks and fast-moving flows of hot gas. The Japanese government had raised the alert level to three out of five. China’s demand for the U.S. to stop interfering with Hong Kong’s affairs (08/08) was met with a furious response from Washington (09/08). The objection came after U.S. diplomats had met with pro-democracy activists. “This is what American do every single day around the world,” U.S.’ State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.


­Papua New Guinea (PNG)’s Prime Minister James Marape has backtracked (07/08) on an announcement (06/08) that he had asked China's ambassador for help in refinancing the country's 27-billion-kina public debt. He said that it was “false” and he was “going one way to China” to tackle the country’s debt, which stands at 33 percent of GDP. Meanwhile, Australia will develop (09/08) a timeline to ban the exports of recyclable waste, and is on the effort to improve local recycling industry to generate more job opportunities. Additionally, the country is also exploring using waste in energy plants to power Australian homes.


French authorities have fined over 700 men (06/08) for harassing women in public since France introduced a law to fight sexual violence and penalize sexist behaviors last year. People who break the law will face potential on-the-spot fines of up to €750 or €1,500 if they commit a more serious act, such as harassing underage girls.  The constitutional court of Spain (09/08) has lifted the partial ban on the practice of bullfighting and now allows the bulls to be killed during fights. The court argued that the killing was an essential part of the sport, sparking anger from the animal rights activists. After the ban was overturned, Majorca will hold its first bullfighting in two years, scheduled for Friday evening (21:30 local time) with four well-known matadors attending the fight. Major power failures were reported across large areas of England and Wales, the United Kingdom (U.K.) (10/08), affecting homes and transport networks. Hundreds of people were stranded at King’s Cross station and passengers were forced to get off the train near Kentish Town and walk along the tracks. Newcastle Airport experienced a blackout for about 15 minutes and many traffic lights have stopped working. According to National Grid, there have been issues with two power generations that caused the major power cut but the problems were now resolved.