Weekly Update: News from the World Outside Wilmington

Tyler Newman, Assistant News Editor

Tribune News Service
The Seine River in Paris

Paris inundated by flooding

In Paris, the Seine River’s water level reached 19.1 feet early on Monday after weeks of rainfall that created an ongoing water rise in France’s rivers.

Throughout the Paris region, nearly 1,500 people have been evacuated from their homes and numerous homes are without power, according to the BBC.

The famous Bateaux Mouches tourist boats are currently out of service in the city, and seven stations of the main commuter line, RER C, have been closed. They are not expected to reopen until Feb. 5.

The only people allowed to utilize the Seine River in Paris at the moment are emergency services.

At the Louvre, lower level artwork was closed to visitors and some famous attractions such as the Musée d’Orsay are on high alert.

Many of the city’s outskirts and suburbs are currently underwater, with the floodwaters not expected to recede until at least Tuesday.

The notable 2016 floods in Paris saw the Seine River reaching the 20-foot mark, something that the current flood has not yet reached.

This situation is currently ongoing.

Tribune News Service
Aftermath of the ambulance bombing in Kabul

Attacks in Afghanistan spark mourning

Over the past week, a number of deadly attacks were carried out in Afghanistan, notably in the capital city of Kabul.

In more than 10 days, a series of attacks has killed more than 130 in the war-torn Middle East nation.

Between Jan 20. and Jan 21., 22 were killed in an attack and subsequent 12-hour siege on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul.

On Jan. 24, gunmen affiliated with ISIL attacked a Save the Children office in the city of Jalalabad in northeast Afghanistan. At least 6 were killed and 27 injured after a suicide car bomb detonated at the entrance to the Save the Children compound. An RPG attack followed against the gate and gunfire erupted inside the compound.

Afghan commandos joined police to try and end the attack. Immediately following the events at the compound, Save the Children suspended operations in Afghanistan until it they decide when it is safe to work again.

On Jan. 27, at least 103 were killed and 235 injured in an ambulance bomb attack on a heavily-guarded Kabul street during rush hour.

The following day, a day of mourning was observed across the country with flags flying at half-staff.

On Jan. 29, 11 Afghan soldiers were killed in an attack near the Marshal Fahim University, a military academy, also in Kabul.

This situation is currently ongoing.

Tribune News Service
French President Emmanuel Macron

France pledging to end coal at World Economic Forum

French President Emmanuel Macron announced that he is pledging to have all coal-fired power plants in France shut off by 2021.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Macron said “We’ve also decided to make France a model in the fight against climate change.”

Macron’s predecessor, Francois Hollande, sought to shut down coal-fired plants by 2023. This announcement from the French president marks a significant uptick in the push for greener energy in France.

While only around 1 percent of France’s energy comes from coal-fired plants, the move is a signal that the European nation is determined to lead the charge on climate-related issues in the future.

Macron’s announcement comes in stark contrast to United States President Donald Trump’s view on coal and the environment. In June 2017, Trump announced that the U.S. would be withdrawing from the Paris Climate agreement, leaving it isolated as the only nation on Earth to withdraw.

The forum in Davos wrapped up on Jan. 26, but has led to further talks among European leaders to increasingly integrate the continent and move away from the policies that President Trump has embraced in the U.S.

Tribune News Service
An anti-corruption protest in Saint Petersburg, March 2017

Russian election protests

With the Russian presidential election just two months away, the opposition leader against President Vladimir Putin was released from jail after a day of protest.

Alexei Navalny, leader of the Progress Party was barred from running in the 2018 election by the Russian Central Electoral Commission.

Following this, Navalny sparked protests in various cities throughout the country, calling for a boycott of the March 18 election. While leading protestors on a march in Moscow on Sunday, Navalny was briefly detained.

The nationwide protests were not halted however, and continued as planned.

The Moscow Times reported that: “They marched in Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, and they marched in Siberia’s Irkutsk, braving subzero temperatures. They marched for fair and free elections, they said, and for an end to President Vladimir Putin’s nearly two-decade-long rule.”

President Putin, running for his fourth six-year term, is seeing very high approval ratings throughout Russia. Nearly 87 percent of Russians polled believe Putin is handling international affairs well, whereas 55 percent believe he is handling the economy well, according to the Pew Research Center.

Many college-age and older teenagers in Russia who are now legal voters state that Putin has been in power.

“As long as I’ve been alive, Putin has always been in. I’m tired of nothing being changed,” 19-year-old Vlad Ivanov said in Saint Petersburg, as quoted by The Associated Press. Ivanov was one of nearly 1,500 that protested in the city.

The Associated Press also wrote that the protests occurred in regions of Russia that have been seen as longtime centers of Putin’s support. The result allegedly rattled the Kremlin over the weekend.

This situation is ongoing.

Tribune News Service
Pope Francis waves to pilgrims in Mexico, February 2016

Pope Francis speaks out on ‘Fake News’

On Jan. 24, a major document was released by Pope Francis regarding the fake news phenomenon spreading across the world.

The Pope likened the situation to the biblical story of Adam and Eve, claiming that Eve was the first to fall victim to fake news.

“We need to unmask what could be called the ‘snake-tactics’ used by those who disguise themselves in order to strike at any time and place,” Francis wrote.

The document arrived in the midst of an uproar over fake news in the United States, where social media companies such as Facebook are pulling back from roles as leading news providers.

American Lawmakers are interested in regulating the social media giants much like they do traditional television broadcasters.

This comes roughly a year after it was revealed that Russia had meddled in the 2016 U.S. Election. The “fake news” spread via bots across various social media platforms and attempted to influence the American populace.

But the pope argued that the most “radical antidote” to the scourge of fake news lies in “purification by the truth.”

The truth, Francis claims, leads to “fruitful results.” The Pope then went on to exalt journalists, many of whom have been attacked by President Donald Trump over the past year.

“Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives,” he wrote.

The Olympic delegations of North Korea and South Korea with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, Jan. 20, 2018

North Korea calls for unification with South Korea

In an announcement from the Korean peninsula, North Korea has called for unification with South Korea.

The message, sent to “all Koreans at home and abroad,” said that they should make a “breakthrough” for unification.

It also added that Koreans should “promote contact, travel, cooperation between North and South Korea.” Another statement said that Pyongyang will “smash” all challenges that stand in the way of reunification.

The rare announcement came after a joint meeting between government and political parties. The message promoted a peaceful climate on the Korean peninsula, stating that the military tensions were a “fundamental obstacle” for inter-Korean relationship improvement.

The North’s announcement also struck on joint military drills with “outside forces. The drills were said to be unhelpful towards the long-term progress of relationship development on the peninsula.

During his New Year’s address, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made remarks on sending a joint delegation of North and South Koreans to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang. His demeanor during the speech was calm and he spoke fluently, signaling to some that peace may have been on his mind.

On Monday however, the North canceled a planned pre-Olympic cultural event in North Korea’s Mount Kumgang resort. The event was scheduled for Feb. 4 and would be attended by both North and South Korea. The North cited “insulting” media coverage from the South regarding the former’s participation in the Olympics this year.

The South Korean government responded to the decision saying: “It’s deeply regrettable,” according to the New York Times.

The two nations’ joint delegation to the Winter Games was reportedly not affected, neither were the North’s scheduled art troupe performances before and during the Olympics.

The Opening Ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held on Feb. 9.

This situation is ongoing.

Tyler Newman can be found on Twitter @tnewman39.