Weekly Roundup: August 1, 2016

International News with Brendan

Hey there, folks! Welcome to the first edition of Weekly Roundup, a recurring column where I’ll be sharing the essential stories from all over the world. This feature has evolved significantly from my short-lived comedic installments on Twitter (#InternationalNewsWithBrendan). Facing some unamused, albeit deserved, flack from West Africans and a very scary potential major news blow up in South America, I’ve decided to refocus my goal and adjust my tone a little away from comedy.

The two tweets that made me second-guess my initial attempt

My plan for the revitalized version is this: Once weekly I will share the top stories from ten countries or nations. I will try to be unbiased and present the news in a way that makes the world truly smaller.

I use the U.S. Department of State’s list of countries, and I assembled a simple excel spreadsheet labeled numerically in the alphabetical order used by the DoS from Afghanistan (1) to Zimbabwe (205). I then ask our friends at www.random.org/integers/ for ten random integers among the sample, and use what it spits out as the countries to find news on. Of course if the Gods of Randomness take a particular liking to any one country, I may very well intervene to keep making progress on our list. I will use sources based in each of the countries I write about — these are a highly valuable alternative to U.S.- or U.K.-based sources of a country, but since I only speak so many languages, the extent to which I can recreate native coverage may be limited. I’ll do my best.

I’ll also try to keep this moderately witty, though it won’t be nearly as comical as the Twitter version was. Here, the goal is to present a truly representative version of your local newspaper’s International Stories section. I hope you enjoy this global journey with me. If you do, please subscribe to receive these Roundups weekly in your mailbox: http://eepurl.com/b-SrOb

Without further ado: here is the first edition of Weekly Roundup: International News with Brendan.


Week of August 1, 2016

Costa Rica

Good news from the energy market! Costa Ricans are learning this week that the country has saved $75 million this year in energy costs thanks to participation in a Regional Electric Market with neighboring countries Guatemala, El Salvador, Panamá, Honduras, and Nicaragua. The regional energy market traces its roots back to discussions started in 1996, but it was only in 2006 that it began to become functional.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Finally, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Patriots, of the Caribbean Premier League (we’re talking cricket now), have won a game, ending a six-game losing streak, and defeating the Trinidad and Tobago Knight Riders in Lauderhill, Florida. Unfortunately, this season has not been their greatest, and the Patriots will be missing the playoffs that would have been held at home this year. Cricket is widely considered the most popular sport in the West Indies and a major part of West Indian culture. St. Kitts and Nevis holds the record for being the smallest country to host a World Cup (of Cricket) event in 2007.

Tanzania

The country is in desperate need for blood, it seems, but the National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) has a bold plan. The Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elders, and Children (That’s a lot of things!) has directed that every three months, councils from three regions in the country will hold five days of blood drives to collect an annual need of 450,000 litres. Last year only 160,000 litres had been donated, but the NBTS is optimistic in collecting this year’s target of 300,000 litres.

Equatorial Guinea

Members of both chambers of parliament — the Senate (upper house) and Chamber of Deputies (lower house) — attended a thanksgiving Mass on Friday on the occasion of the opening of this year’s fall ordinary session. The Mass was augmented by the singing of the Bata Cathedral’s Ntonobe and Español choirs, and Vicar of Bata, Father Fernando Ignacio Ondo Ntjeng, invited the parliamentarians to seek wisdom in their decisions moving forward.

Argentina

Argentine hotels, bars, and restaurants are up in arms because of new rules that charge said establishments for distributing intellectual property via televisions regardless of if the devices are used. Simply offering a television in each hotel room thus invokes a hefty cost that Argentina is definitely crying over.

Libya

Afriqiyah Airlines has announced the start of weekly service from Tripoli (the coastal capital) to Awbari (a city in the south west of the country) this week. The airline, which is wholly owned by the government of Libya, is set to merge with Libyan Airlines which is also wholly owned by the Libyan government. The decision also reflects a confidence in the ceasefire that has kept Taureg and Toubou peoples at relative peace in the Awbari area after prolonged fighting that began in September 2014.

Liechtenstein

Liechtensteiners enjoyed the twelfth Summer Chilbi this weekend in the mountain town of Malbun. The annual summertime fair features a bouncy castle, ice cream, and by far my favorite thing I learned about this week: kuhlotto, where a large numbered grid is painted onto a square of pasture, and spectators bet on which squares the cow (or two in the case of the Chilbi) will spend the most time munching. How amazing is that!

Kyrgyzstan

Late last week, President Almazbek Atambayev met with the 19 Kyrgyz athletes that will be representing the country at the XXXI Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro later this month. Quoth he, “Despite the economic difficulties, the Kyrgyz Government and sports committees support our sportsmen.” President Atambayev, who is in his fifth years in office, also noted it would be gratifying that, of the 200 flags represented in Rio, the Kyrgyz flag would be proudly waved. The country was heavily hit economically when Russia (a major Kyrgyz trade and finance partner) began reeling under its own sanctions, but has stabilizing recently.

Timor-Leste

Since its 2010 establishment on the small half-island nation (It gained independence from Indonesia in just 2002.), the country’s mobile court has brought justice to thousands of people and has settled 1,143 cases. The court was a brilliant idea to bring the judicial system into rural parts of the country, and has been praised by rural citizens duly. The UNDP-backed system is a great model for other nations with vast rural populations to follow.

Haiti

It’s always good to see people being able to get from Point A to Point B as easily as possible. With the opening of a new steel bridge over the Grise River in Duvivier, this is now again possible. The $1.2 million modular structure combines two-way vehicular traffic and has an attached pedestrian bridge.The previous bridge had collapsed in March, mainly due to the fact that it was never subject to regular safety inspections and that many of its bolts had been stolen. Needless to say, Mayor Jean Hislain Fréderic has suggested to the Haitian central government that a toll be charged to raise money for maintenance of the span.

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