The World

5 minute read
Harriet Barovick, Alexandra Silver, Claire Suddath, Frances Romero, Kristi Oloffson, Kayla Webley and Nate Rawlings

1 | Israel

Easing the Gaza Blockade

Israel announced that it would ease its controversial three-year blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, three weeks after an Israeli raid on an aid flotilla killed nine and drew international condemnation. The Israeli government said it would immediately allow all goods–except weapons and other materials that could be militarized by Hamas–into the Palestinian territory. That includes previously banned items like potato chips and towels as well as construction materials for sorely needed housing and schools, as long as those projects are under international supervision.

While many goods were prohibited entry into Gaza, Israel has begun to allow the passage of a number of items.

Donkeys, horses, goats, cattle and chicks have been denied entry, while animal feed and hay are permitted

Chocolate, nutmeg, vinegar, dried fruit and sweets were allowed on June 22; fresh meat is still prohibited

Toys and mattresses are now allowed; musical instruments, sewing machines and some school supplies are still off-limits

Wood, plaster and cement are still barred, but Israel said it will eventually allow the construction materials


2 | China

Central Bank Loosens Currency Restrictions

Expecting its monetary policies to be a topic at the upcoming G-20 summit, China’s central bank announced on June 19 that it would ease restrictions on its currency. For two years, the central bank has pegged the yuan’s value to the dollar, causing other nations to argue that China was keeping its currency undervalued to encourage cheaper exports. Following China’s announcement, the yuan increased 0.42% against the dollar, a move which, while minuscule by other currencies’ standards, is huge for China. It was the largest bump since 2005.

3 | Brazil

Severe Floods Leave Thousands Homeless

Floods caused by torrential rain in northeastern Brazil left 42 people dead and at least 600 unaccounted for, while the states of Alagoas and Pernambuco reported more than 100,000 residents displaced by the deluge. The Brazilian government pledged $100 million in food, water and reconstruction aid, half of which is slated to go directly to victims.

4 | Washington

A Patients’ Bill of Rights

On the three-month anniversary of the passage of President Obama’s $1 trillion health care overhaul, the White House rolled out insurance regulations it dubbed a patients’ bill of rights. The provisions include guaranteed coverage for children with pre-existing conditions, a ban on lifetime-coverage limits and a prohibition of canceling the policies of those who fall ill. The regulations will take effect in September.

5 | Zimbabwe

Dealing with Mugabe’s Diamonds

Millions of carats of diamonds have been discovered in eastern Zimbabwe’s government-controlled Marange fields. While the find could make the nation one of the world’s top diamond producers, the legitimacy of the $1 billion to $1.7 billion haul is unclear. On June 21, the Kimberley Process–the seven-year-old international effort designed to combat the illicit “blood diamond” trade–met to discuss reports of violence that occurred when President Robert Mugabe’s troops forcibly seized the fields in 2008.

Share of world diamond revenues









6 | Kyrgyzstan


Some 400,000 ethnic Uzbeks remained displaced on both sides of the Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan border following a series of early June attacks that killed at least 251 and possibly as many as 2,000. In the latest spurt of violence in the south between the majority Kyrgyz and minority Uzbek populations, two people were killed and more than 20 wounded during a raid on an Uzbek village. While human rights groups claim the involvement of Kyrgyz soldiers, the government denies participation.

7 | Iran

More Sanctions Coming

U.S. lawmakers reached an agreement on June 21 over legislation that would penalize American banks and corporations for commerce with certain Iranian companies. The measure adds additional unilateral sanctions to a June 9 U.N. resolution targeting 40 companies and banks associated with Iran’s nuclear program. Iran responded by barring two nuclear inspectors from entering the country.

8 | Afghanistan

U.S. Contracts Fund Warlords

A six-month congressional probe has concluded that money from security contracts that arrange protection for U.S. food, fuel and ammunition convoys routinely ends up in the pockets of Afghan warlords. The report said a $2.16 billion contract called Host Nation Trucking, which provides for 6,000 to 8,000 truck missions per month, “fuels warlordism, extortion and corruption, and it may be a significant source of funding for insurgents.” The investigation also found that, unlike in the war in Iraq–which relies primarily on third-country nationals to provide security–95% of the private armed guards hired as part of the Afghan conflict are from local towns and villages.

9 | Jamaica

Suspected Drug Lord in Custody

Alleged Shower Posse gang leader Christopher Coke–wanted in the U.S. on drug and gun charges–was arrested on June 22 outside Kingston. More than 70 people were killed in late May during fighting between Coke’s supporters and security forces hunting for him in the capital’s Tivoli Gardens slum.

10 | Colombia

A New President

Former Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos won Colombia’s June 20 presidential election with a staggering 69% of the vote, giving him a clear mandate to continue the work of his predecessor and political mentor, Alvaro Uribe. Under President Uribe, Santos oversaw several counterinsurgency campaigns against the FARC rebel group and the nation’s drug traffickers. The election was marked with considerably less violence than previous votes. Santos takes office on Aug. 7.

* | Who They’re Sentencing in Rotterdam: What is said to have been modern Europe’s first piracy trial ended on June 17, when a Dutch court sentenced five Somali men to five years in prison. The quintet was convicted of trying to hijack a Dutch Antilles–flagged cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden in 2009. “Piracy is a serious crime that must be powerfully resisted,” said Judge Jan Willem Klein Wolterink. Last year, pirates attempted more than 200 attacks off the Somali coast, and suspected pirates are in custody in several countries. In May, a Somali pirate pleaded guilty to hijacking and kidnapping in a Manhattan federal court.

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