Xpat Weekly Update: The 5 Most Important Global Stories Of The Week

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1. After Launch of North Korean Rocket, Tensions Escalate Between North and South Korea

This week brought ongoing tension on the Korean peninsula into sharp focus, with the successful launch by North Korea of a long-range rocket carrying what it called a satellite. Critics, however, say the launch was a test of long-range missiles that might ultimately carry a nuclear weapon.

Reaction was swift, as South Korea shut down production in an industrial zone populated by South Korean companies, but located in the North. The North in turn froze South Korean assets in the same zone, even as the U.S. approved additional sanctions in retaliation for the rocket launch.

Washington Post

2. Refugee Flow Continues To Grow in Syria

The situation in Syria continues to head toward a tipping point, a set of circumstances from which the area will never be able to recover. As the great powers continue to bring violence into the region, refugee flow outward grows in both numbers and in desperation. Two important stories this week offer a look at the state of affairs.

New York Times

3. Secretary of Defense Requested To Increase U.S Military Budget Due to “Russian Agression” 

More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, America seems committed to reviving it. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter asked this week for spending on U.S. military forces in Europe to quadruple in the light of unspecified “Russian aggression.”

Once felt to have been America’s first true post-Cold War president, Barack Obama is seen now by some destined to leave office having brought back the cloud of war over Europe. Others, however, feel the U.S. moves have created an opportunity for EU and the European NATO countries to move toward military self-reliance as a way to deflect American influence and forestall a new period of tension with Russia.

The Guardian

4. Trump and Sanders Emerge Victorious In New Hampshire

Significant results emerged out of the New Hampshire presidential primaries. On the Republican side, Donald Trump won handily, boosting his chances moving forward into the Nevada and South Carolina contests later this month. The most significant victory, however, was for Democrat Bernie Sanders, who beat Hillary Clinton by 22 points.

The Sanders win sets up an important bellwether in South Carolina, where party leaders will be watching African-American votes. Generally held to favor Clinton, a significant inroad into that demographic will be seen as an important step forward for Sanders, and another blow to the Clinton campaign.


5. Five Years After The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, Japan’s Cleanup Lags Behind Expectations

Now five years after the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, Japan triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and killed almost 16,000 people, cleanup lags behind expectations.

Radiation levels in some areas remain deadly, and no plan is in place to deal with the extraordinary quantity of radioactive water barely contained on site. Equally problematic is the radioactive soil collected during cleanup efforts. More than enough to fill 8,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, the soil is currently packed into plastic bags and is being stored in local fields.

Washington Post

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