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

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1. Julian Assange Is Being “Arbitrarily Held” In The UK According to United Nations Ruling

Julian Assange, the founder and editor in chief of Wikileaks, who has been claiming refuge in an Ecuadorian embassy in London for over three and a half years has had a UN ruling made in his favor.

The Wikileaks founder is sought in Sweden for an interview concerning rape charges. He maintains the charges are simply a tool being used at the request of the United States to set him up for extradition to face trial in America.

There is much controversy attributed to the ruling. The British government feel they can not be “Arbitrarily Holding” Assange, stating that he has rather fled the jurisdiction of the British police, while locking himself in the Ecuadorian embassy. Julian Assange himself feels that the UN ruling is a vindication for him and it “is now a matter of settled law”

The next steps are not known, and as with most rulings coming out of the United Nations, they are not leagly binding. The Swedish still want to question Assange on rape charges, and the British are not likely to allow him to leave for Ecuador.

The Guardian Live Updates

The Guardian on why the UN ruling is wrong

2. U.S. Primary Elections Move Ahead

America’s complex, often confusing, primary election cycle moves ahead. The Iowa caucuses, the first actual vote to test the candidates, resulted in a clear victory on the Republican side for Ted Cruz, a vote of confidence for Marco Rubio, and perhaps the beginning of the end for Donald Trump. The Democrats failed to chose a clear winner, as candidates Clinton and Sanders ended up in a virtual tie, in a contested vote count decided in places by an actual coin toss. Next up is the New Hampshire primary on February 9.

New York Times

3. Refugee Crisis in Europe

The refugee crisis for Europe shows no signs of abating. The endless cycle of violence across the Middle East continues to drive people out, most landing on the accessible coastline areas of southern Europe. Chief among the landing zones is Greece. Once seen as mostly a transit point for hundreds of thousands of refugees bound for central and northern Europe, as walls go up across the continent the refugees risk being trapped there.


4. Ratcheting Tensions, Obama Orders Huge Weapons Increase Along EU-Russia Border

Even while maintaining a significant level of conflict inside Iraq and Syria, the United States appears set to stoke a new Cold War in Europe.

Less than a week after Russia’s foreign minister warned that a NATO build-up would be “counterproductive and dangerous,” the United States is ramping up the deployment of armored vehicles in Central and Eastern Europe. Administration officials claim the additional NATO forces are calculated to send a signal to Vladimir Putin that the West remained deeply suspicious of his motives in the region, likely referring to Russia’s ongoing presence in eastern Ukraine. The Obama the administration plans to quadruple the current budget for the deployment.

Common Dreams

5. Chinese Fighters Entered South Korea’s Air Defense Zone

In an East Asia covered in overlapping areas of tension, any additional provocation is a sign for worry. The latest example took place this week, when two Chinese fighters entered South Korea’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) near Jeju Island. South Korea responded to the incident by scrambling its own fighters. No shots were fired; the Chinese jets left after receiving a warning message.

South Korean news sources suggested that the incident could have been an attempt by China to express its displeasure with a new, joint, U.S.-South Korean air defense system now under construction, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD).

The Diplomat

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