Venezuela: Hunger Has Children Fainting In The Classroom

Hundreds of primary school children gathered in their school courtyard to hear a local bishop pray for their education. By the end of the 15-minute ceremony, 5 children had fainted and 2 were taken away by ambulance. Faintings have become the norm because so many students come to class without eating breakfast or dinner the night before. The teachers who remain are frustrated saying “You can’t educate skeletal and hungry people.” Students are skipping school because many schools have stopped providing meals, uniforms, school supplies or bus fares. Students began skipping school in Venezuela shortly after President Nicolas Maduro came to power in 2013. His mentor and predecessor, Hugo Chavez, made the expansion of public education on of the pillars of his popular “21st Century Socialism” campaign. A decade later, socialism has failed the country. Children are starving. The collapse of the education system is setting the country’s development back decades.

Iraq: Protest Over Corruption, Unemployment and Iran’s Influence

For the last five weeks, more than 200,000 Iraqis have protested daily against the Iraqi Government. Security forces have killed at least 320 and wounded about 15,000.  The largest group protesting is the working-class and Shiite Muslims. These Iraqis are frustrated after suffering decades of economic deprivation and oppression by the Sunni Muslims. These Iraqis have endured Saddam Hussein’s reign, a civil war, and the invasion of the Islamic State with little improvement. Following the deadly response from Iraqi security forces, demonstrators are calling for early elections and demanding that the government step down. In a televised speech to the nation on Iraq’s Al-Iraqiya TV, President Barham Salih said Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi had agreed to step down on the condition that a successor is agreed to replace him in order to avoid a power vacuum.Officials have attempted to regain control with the use of lethal force, while also imposing curfews and internet blackouts similar to Iran. 

Mali: Islamic State Claims Massacre Of Troops 

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack that killed 30 soldiers this week in West Africa nation of Mali. Mali, which is about twice the size of Texas, is a growing hotspot for insurgency. Many factors driving the rise of these militants including grinding poverty, government neglect, pervasive insecurity and exploitation of ethnic differences. In 2017, five Sahel-region countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger set up a French-backed counterterrorism force. Known as the G5 Sahel force, the soldiers are tasked with increasing security along with United Nations peacekeepers.  The latest attack comes two months after Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who was killed by U.S. forces in October, called on followers around the world to take up arms after the group lost its strongholds in Iraq and Syria.

China: Hong Kong’s Stunning Vote

For months, millions in Hong Kong have taken to the streets demanding democratic reforms. They delivered the same message at the ballot box. Record voter turnout, pro-democracy politicians swept Hong Kong’s local district elections seizing control of more than 80 percent of the contested seats. The elections were carried out in an orderly and peaceful fashion, with more than 70 percent voter turnout. By comparison, district elections in 2015 yielded only a 47 percent turnout. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters now believe they have a mandate to press forward their many demands including possibly the resignation of Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s embattled pro-Beijing leader. But there’s little indication that Beijing is at all interested in indulging Hong Kong’s majority. Chinese state media cast the elections as the product of foreign interference and misinformation. For President Xi Jinping, Hong Kong’s elections underscored a grim week of headlines, capped by new revelations about China’s vast system of repression in the far western region of Xinjiang. 

Germany: Heist At The Museum 

Two thieves broke into the Green Vault, one of Germany’s most well-known historic museums, by cutting the energy supply to the museum and breaking down shatterproof glass. They specifically targeted a display case holding three sets of jewels dating from the era of Augustus the Strong. The value of the jewels is worth up to $1 billion dollars, many, however, consider the jewels priceless. Luckily, the most known piece from the collection is the 41-carat Dresden “Green Diamond” was on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art at the time of the break in. The treasures of the Green Vault survived Allied Bombing raids during WWII only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union. They were returned in 1958. The theft appears to constitute one of the biggest post-World War II thefts of cultural artifacts in Germany. The interior minister of the German federal state of Saxony, Roland Wöller, called the incident an “attack on the cultural identity of all Saxons.”

Lucy Kate H