Watchlist: Victory for Rajoy

Week of October 31

Prime Minister of Spain, Mariano Rajoy.


Drones Revolutionize Healthcare in Madagascar

Stony Brook University’s Global Health Institute and Vayu, an American company that specializes in drones, collaborated this summer on a project to improve healthcare in Madagascar. They developed drones that can fly long distances and easily land and lift off. These drones collect blood and stool samples from remote villages and safely transport them to central hospitals. After the samples are tested, the drones return with necessary medical supplies. Multiple diseases are tested for including Tuberculosis, Malaria and Guinea worm. Vayu is planning to expand the project in coming months. The potential impact of the drones in Madagascar is enormous. About 70% of Malagasies live in rural areas that aren’t easily accessible to motor vehicles, this project allows medical teams to diagnose and treat diseases in these areas and remotely help many more patients. Madagascar has particular need as the nation of 22 million has less than 4,000 licensed doctors. Expect the expansion of these programs in Africa as technology and policy make healthcare more accessible to the continent’s rural residents. SEBASTIAN LEDER MACEK

Art X Lagos

Lagos, Nigeria will be hosting the Art X Lagos art fair November 4th-6th. It will showcase artists from across the continent and encourage people to visit the city and participate in the Nigerian art scene. Lagos is the seventh fastest growing city in the world and Art X will actively encourage visitors to take part in the culture of the city. Additionally it will showcase a “talks program” hosted by Bisi Silva, one of the curators of the fair. The talks will include panel discussions, debates and movie screenings. The focus of the talks will be on the African art market, which is of special concern to curators, who see major works of African art earning far less at galleries and auctions than comparable works done on any other continent. The Art X Lagos fair will work to address these issues by encouraging investment and interest in the growing African art world. EMMA STOUT


Turmoil in Venezuela

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of major cities to call for the end of Nicolás Maduro's time as President as the nation continues to be crippled by economic meltdown. Presently, inflation coupled with the importation of nearly all goods puts the price of necessary commodities like food and medicine absurdly high. The government, in many cases, cannot even afford to import basic foodstuffs like milk and eggs. The blame for this situation is being placed solely on President Maduro. There were calls to have a recall referendum to remove Maduro from office, but this was ended by the electoral committee last week. On Tuesday, the National Assembly of Venezuela opened a political trial against Maduro, claiming he abandoned his role as President and staged a coup against the Constitution. This move showed the lack of support Maduro has from the legislative body. It is yet to be seen if Maduro will give into the demands for him to leave office, or if he will be forced out. ANDREW MITCHEL


Scandal in Seoul

On October 29th thousands of protestors rallied in Seoul, South Korea calling on President Park Geun-hye to step down due to accusations that he allowed a personal friend to interfere with state affairs. Park issued a public apology late last Friday, but South Koreans, ranging from teenagers to labor activists, still took to the streets. Several similar protests took place in provincial cities, one which is the country’s second largest city, Busan. Earlier this Saturday, South Korean prosecutors raided the homes and offices of President Park’s senior advisors, stealing computers and documents during these invasions. President Park’s friend Choi Soon-Sil is being investigated, centering around claims that she used her friendship with Park to force companies like Samsung to donate large amounts to non-profit foundations that she set up. Park’s popularity ratings are at an all-time low. Look out in the coming week to see if South Korea can recover from this scandal. SANURI GUNAWARDENA


Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy Guaranteed Reelection, Ending Year Long Impasse

Last Sunday, Spain’s Socialist leaders reversed their 10 month long efforts to block conservative Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s reelection when they informed their representatives to abstain from a Parliamentary vote considering his candidacy. These abstentions deprive the larger opposition of having enough votes to impede his reelection. If the vote failed to support Rajoy, a third, December election would have been called to elect an entirely new government, meaning a new Prime Minister and all new members of parliament. Socialist leaders stated the fear of losing more seats primarily motivated their surrender. However, not all is resolved for Spain’s political climate. Although the socialist concessions mark the end to almost a year without government for Spain, Rajoy will have to govern with minority support in Parliament and convince Spaniards he can overcome the polarization that has plagued government. Rajoy has been the target of anti-establishment populism after unpopular austerity measures and corruption scandals. After months of having his powers reduced to those of a supervisor, his next moves will be critical in overcoming a climate of political gridlock and widespread public disapproval of government. MEGHAN ROWLEY

The Middle East

Rebels Begin Frontal Assault to Break the Siege in Aleppo

An alliance of rebel groups has begun a new frontal assault to break the siege in the rebel-held part of Eastern Aleppo. Although this is primarily to break the government siege of around 275,000 people and open up supply lines, it is also partly in retaliation to the increased Russian and Syrian government airstrikes in the city. Consequently this comes after a UN mission plan to evacuate civilians in Aleppo failed, due to the inability to guarantee security. The assault is targeting not only the government-held part of Aleppo, but also the Russian airbase and government stronghold in Latakia, Syria. The rebel coalition includes an alliance of US-backed opposition, moderate rebels, as well as Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. The coalition made advances in some key districts but struggled to push further east. The Syrian government, backed by Russian airstrikes, has launched a counteroffensive to combat rebel advances. Expect to see a rise in the death toll, as well as a strong retaliation by the Assad regime. AYAH KUTMAH

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