International News Roundup August 2019

International News Roundup August 2019

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ANATOLIKI MANI, GREECE

 

Chiselled out of rock in a cave on the Southern Peloponnese peninsula came a piece of skull which researchers now claim is the oldest human fossil outside of Africa. Excavated out of a limestone cliff in the early 1970s, the fragment was originally put in a museum in Athens. After a new analysis was carried out on the piece it was dated to be at least 210,000 years old. This would predate the oldest known ‘Homo Sapiens’ fossil found in Europe by 160,00 years, potentially indicating that ancestral migration from Africa occurred at a much earlier period than previously thought. What was initially thought to be just another archeological dig yielded an incredible discovery that could rewrite history as we know it. 

 

TOKYO, JAPAN

 

Earlier this month the government of Japan restricted the export of critical materials to South Korea, mainly materials that are essential in the manufacturing of high-tech devices such as semiconductors and smartphone screens. After a victory in Japan’s House of Councillors, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had the political backing to take up such a hostile trading position with the regional neighbor. Officials in the Japanese government have claimed that the restrictions are intended to prevent technological exports from being illegally transported into North Korea, the nation which launched ballistic missiles over Japan in September 2017 in a show of their then newly developed ICBM program. However, critics have said that the move is a clear retaliation for a recent court decision in South Korea which awarded damages to the victims of forced labour during Japan’s colonial period. The two countries have a murky past, with colonial aggression by the Japanese permanently etched into the history of Korea with the atrocities of The Nanjing Massacre still a fresh cultural memory. Japan asserts that a 1965 diplomatic treaty between the nations, which saw the nation give South Korea over £400 million in low-interest loans and aid money, should have settled all claims for compensation. South Korea has rejected this position and proposed that a joint firm be formed to pay the court awards. Now garages and petrol stations across South Korea are refusing to fill up Japanese cars as part of a growing boycott on Japanese goods. Japanese beer, Japanese tourism, and ticket sales for Japanese cinema such as ‘Butt Detective’, a movie with a totally different plot then one might immediately imagine, are all in decline amidst increasing political and economic tensions.

 

UTTARKASHI, INDIA

 

A district in northern India is under investigation after no girls were born in the area which spans over 130 villages. The investigation comes after government data showed that none of the 216 children born in the last three months were girls. The district is suspected of using sex-selective abortions, or female feticide, a practice that India only outlawed as recently as 1994. Ashish Chauhan, Uttarkashi’s district magistrate, commented on the area’s recent female birth rate, saying it was “suspicious and has highlighted female feticide”.  He added that any parents found guilty of feticide will face legal actions. The country is known for having a commonplace view of women as liabilities while the boys are known to generate more income per household, as expected in a highly gendered workforce. India’s deep-rooted patriarchal society has resulted in a long practice of preferring sons due to their customary role as caregivers. This attitude has led to worrying reports such as the one by the Indian government where 63 million women were statistically “missing” from the country’s population.

 

FRANKFURT, GERMANY

 Germany’s largest investment bank, Deutsche Bank, reported net losses of £2.8 billion in the second quarter. This comes after the bank has made sweeping job cuts amongst other organisational restructuring that cost the bank roughly £3 billion. After plans to cut their global workforce down 18,000 jobs by 2022, the German bank expects the overall cost of the move will be somewhere over £6.5 billion, but that they expect to return to regular profit in the coming year. This is the banks’ biggest quarterly loss in four years, other usually reliable ventures have reported weaker returns than expected. The banks lucrative bond-trading division dropped 4 percent for the quarter, while equities sales and trading revenue dived 32 percent. The biggest hit to the bank came after a £5.7 billion fine in 2017 over its role in the mortgage market financial crisis of 2008. After another fine was issued by the US and UK totaling £506 million for failing to prevent £8 billion of Russian laundered money moving through the bank, clients have become increasingly concerned with the regulatory issues. Only time will tell whether the bank will be able to recover from so much bad press and risky lending in a progressively scrutinous financial sector.

 

NEVADA, UNITED STATES

 Area 51, the supposed resort for extraterrestrial visitors housed by the U.S. government, has been a landmark for conspiracy theorists and tin foil hat wearing aficionados for decades.  Now it looks as if people are tired of waiting for little green men to emerge and are taking matters into their own hands. After a Facebook group was created aptly named Storm Area 51, they can’t stop us all ,almost 2 million people have signed up for the event and around 1.5 million are merely ‘interested’. The US government was quick to respond with spokesperson for the Air Force Laura McAndrews saying: “[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.” In other words,it’s probably not the best idea. Attendees would hypothetically be running full speed at the base, not to be deterred by the fact that it’s a military weapons range, with some even creating elaborate battle plans involving rock throwing artillery and some sort flanking movement where the runners resemble downhill skiers. While most people seem to understand the group as a joke, including the creator of the event Jackson Barnes, many are eager to see if over a million people will charge at a highly secure military base with absolutely no cover whatsoever.

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