The 2018 G20 Summit

Week of December 4

The world's leaders at the 2018 G20 summit. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)


South Africa Appoints First Female Chief Prosecutor

South Africa's newest chief prosecutor is Shamila Batohi. This is the first time in the nation's history that a woman has held the role of National Director of Public Prosecutions. The role was historically suspected to have protected former President Zuma from facing legal consequences. In efforts to make government more transparent in the struggle against corruption, President Ramaphosa even broadcasted the job interviews on live television. She will face large challenges in this position during the current administration's fight against corruption, from earning the public's trust to holding the nations's leaders accountable. LAUREN CAMP


China Takes on DNA

In a move that has shocked the global scientific community, a scientist from China declared on Nov. 26 that he had created the world’s first genetically edited babies. The scientist, He Jiankui, used the powerful gene editing technique, Crispr, to alter a gene in two baby girls. His goal was to make them resistant to infection with HIV. While the objective of the gene modification may seem commendable, many scientists and bioethicists warn that the ends do not necessarily justify the means. Most countries have banned genetic modification, claiming it’s a slippery slope where scientists in the future may edit anything from eye color to I.Q.

The move even violated China’s own relevant regulations and laws, said Xu Nanping, a vice-minister for science and technology in China. However, many claim that China does not strictly enforce ethics laws, in the hopes that it will one day lead the world in scientific research. President Xi Jinping has set a goal of turning China into a “global scientific and technology power” by 2049. One component of this plan is luring back talent who left China to study science in the West, as was the case with He Jiankui. Jiankui received a PhD from Rice University and conducted post-doctoral research at Stanford University. However, he returned to China, where loose enforcement of ethics laws allowed him to conduct the kind of genetic editing he had always wanted to. ZAYNA SYED


Malas relaciones en Buenos Aires

The G20 summit in Buenos Aires concluded this past weekend, highlighted with dramatic and contentious undertones as the world’s leaders struggled to find common ground. The host, Argentine President Mauricio Macri, was embroiled in countering popular movements and demonstrations protesting Argentina’s declining economy and the International Monetary Fund’s structural adjustment recommendations. Even under what some Argentines said was the greatest security presence since the era of dictatorships, U.S. President Donald Trump, however, stole the show with the promise to suspend the U.S.-Chinese trade war - which has significantly affected global trade since its start in January 2018 - and the signing of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico. The latter faced much domestic scrutiny in U.S. and Mexico. Mexico’s newly sworn in President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his party has been skeptical of NAFTA renegotiation process, especially as it pertains to Rules of Origin clauses and labor standards. Meanwhile, Trump threatened to terminate the current NAFTA after signing the new deal, which would give Congress six months to choose between the newly negotiated deal or pre-NAFTA terms. As everyone returns home, both the Mexican legislature and Congress have signaled that revisions on the deal are not out of contention. But before each country can ratify the treaty, consensus is needed on the new deal’s name: Trump maintained that it was the USMCA, while Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to it as the New NAFTA. Whatever the name, it is clear that more work lays ahead. JALEN ZEMAN


Tensions Flare Up Between Russia and Ukraine

Relations between Russia and Ukraine further soured last week after Russian ships fired at Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Straight. The subsequent Russian detention of three Ukrainian ships and 24 crew members drew widespread condemnation from European heads of state as well as U.S. President Trump, who canceled his G20 summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in response to the standoff. Russia claims its actions were justified on the basis that the ships were performing dangerous maneuvers in Russian waters, yet a 2003 treaty designated the Azov Sea a shared territory between the two countries. In recent months, Russia has also been harassing Ukrainian commercial goods carriers in the straight connecting the Azov Sea with the Black Sea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko declared a 30-day period of martial law and banned all Russian men aged 16 to 69 from traveling to the Ukraine. He further called on NATO to respond militarily, although such a response is unlikely, seeing as Ukraine is not a member of the military alliance. Nevertheless, the events highlight Russia’s continued willingness to forcefully assert its dominance in the region and have raised tensions to their highest point since the 2014 annexation of Crimea. DANIEL EVANS

Middle East

Qatar Leaves OPEC

Qatar’s Energy Minister Sa’ad Sherida al-Kaabi announced today that Qatar would be pulling out of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) after claiming membership for almost 60 years. Al-Kaabi stated that, “The withdrawal decision reflects Qatar's desire to focus its efforts on plans to develop and increase its natural gas production from 77 million tons per year to 110 million tons in the coming years.” The decision comes only days before an OPEC conference on December 6. Qatar has denied that the withdrawal had anything to do with the diplomatic blockade last year by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Qatar is the world’s largest supplier of natural gas, and along with Iran, owns North Field, the world’s biggest natural gas field. They produce approximately 80 million tons of natural gas annually, and in the past few months have been making efforts to expand gas production by opening an additional pipeline. The withdrawal decision marks another step in Qatar’s goal of further developing their gas production industry. MAYA ZREIK

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