By: Zain Khan and Aneri Shah
The Banks’ Turbulent Month
On Mar. 10, California-based Silicon Valley Bank experienced a classic bank run as its Silicon Valley investors pulled large amounts of money from the bank, and the federal government intervened through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). This caused massive st other strain on other banks across the nation, particularly the Signature Bank, which FDIC also took control of. Across the pond, Credit Suisse watched their shares drop up to 30%. Swiss authorities announced a backstop, which has temporarily calmed the market.
In response to this, the Fed has pledged a record number of loans. Many worry about any parallel to the 2008 recession and what this means for a potential future recession. Whether paranoid or prophetic, many are questioning the foundations of the global banking system.
NORTH AMERICA & SOUTH AMERICA
Mexico Investigating Border Fire as a Homicide
In Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, a blaze at a migrant detention center killed 39 people, and 27 remain hospitalized. As a disturbing video surfaced of federal and state agents failing to allow the migrants to escape the fire, Mexico is trying the case as a homicide case. Thus far, five suspects have been arrested in connection with the deaths. “All investigations are underway to find out what really happened,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador notes.
Former President Donald Trump Indicted
After much speculation, President Trump was indicted for potentially violating campaign finance laws. Particularly, Michael Cohen, who was part of President Trump’s campaign team in 2016, paid pornographic actress Stormy Daniels for her silence about her involvement with Trump. President Trump soon reimbursed Cohen for the amount of $130,000 dollars.
This hush money can be seen as a hefty campaign donation that was not documented by the Trump campaign. Falsifying business records is a felony, especially if the district attorney working on the case, Alvin Bragg, chooses to also characterize it electoral law violation. This will be especially important, as some see this case’s foundations as shaky.
Nevertheless, this indictment brings American democracy into a new era of accountability. Trump is the first president to be indicted on criminal charges, and if the public sees Trump tried by the Manhattan jury, the case will continue to break the status quo.
THE MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA
Netanyahu’s Proposed Reforms Propel Israel Towards Dictatorship
The Israeli parliament took a step towards passing a bill that would permit politicians to nullify High Court rulings with a simple majority and select judges. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposed legislation to transform the country’s judiciary has been labeled as a “judicial coup.” The government has promised to expand those settlements and weaken the judiciary’s authority; members of the new coalition have also made extensive comments denigrating the LGBTQ+ community and called for stricter definitions of who qualifies as Jewish. Making its larger vision clear, the government released policy guidelines last week announcing the Jewish people’s “exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel.”
March Marked the Longest Drought in the Country with at Least 43,000 Killed in the Past Year
According to a new report, the longest drought on record in Somalia resulted in an estimated 43,000 deaths last year, with about half of the victims being children under the age of 5. This is the first official death toll released for the drought that has affected large swaths of the Horn of Africa. The outlook for the first half of this year is also grim, with forecasts suggesting that between 18,000 and 34,000 people may die. Somalia, along with neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya, is experiencing its sixth consecutive failed rainy season, with global food prices and the conflict in Ukraine exacerbating the hunger crisis. Humanitarian and climate experts have warned that the current trends are more severe than those seen during the 2011 famine in Somalia, which claimed the lives of a quarter of a million people. Last month’s food security assessment indicated that nearly half a million children in Somalia are at risk of severe malnutrition this year.
New Interim Tigray Government Instituted in Ethiopia
To implement a peace plan and end the war in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Mar. 23 established an interim administration for the area. The upper chamber of Ethiopia’s parliament formed the interim administration and appointed Getachew Reda, a delegate of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), as its leader. This decision was among the outcomes agreed upon in a peace agreement signed in South Africa in November 2022 between the federal government and the TPLF. The truce came after the conflict led to tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of people. According to aid workers, the absence of an interim government has been hindering the humanitarian response in Tigray, where millions require urgent assistance.
CENTRAL ASIA & ASIA
On Mar. 19, Pakistani police stormed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s residence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday and arrested 61 people amid tear gas and clashes between Khan’s supporters and police, officials said. Senior police officer Suhail Sukhera, who led the operation in an upscale Lahore neighborhood, said police acted to remove a barricade erected by members of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party and his defiant supporters. He said they blocked the lanes around Khan’s residence with concrete blocks, felled trees, tents and a parked truck. Khan was not in the home, having traveled to Islamabad to appear before a judge to face charges he sold state gifts while in office and hid his assets. The judge postponed that hearing until Mar. 30, which Khan failed to attend.
On Mar. 23, the leader of the Congress Party, India’s main opposition party, Rahul Gandhi, was disqualified from his position in the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament), following a court ruling the previous day that found him guilty of defamation for comments he made against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an election rally in 2019. Gandhi had been sentenced to two years in prison, the exact minimum sentence that renders an official ineligible to serve as a member of parliament. There were protests by Congress Party members in some parts of the country in response to Gandhi’s case, and Gandhi himself stated he will appeal the sentence.
IMF Approves 15.6 Billion in Funding for Ukraine
The IMF approved a global $115 billion package, 15.6 billion of which is allocated to Ukraine after 13 months of warding off Russian forces. Some of this funding will go to Kyiv’s energy sector, which has been a target of Russian forces.
This is the first major convention program for a country involved in a large-scale war. It is meant to signify the global community’s commitment to Ukraine, especially with the high risk of the loan. The money includes deeper reforms in the second phase to return Ukraine to pre-war fiscal and monetary policies. President Zelensky welcomed the new funding and believes it will help them move forward to victory.
Scotland Names Sturgeon’s Successor: Humza Yousaf
This month, Scotland named its first minority and Muslim first minister, Humza Yousaf, as the leader of the Scottish National Party. Yousaf will continue to fight for the same issues that Sturgeon wrestled with. Notably, he wants to continue the fight for transgender rights in Scotland. He also calls for independence from the United Kingdom, ending the 316-year-long union, an issue that has become increasingly popular with younger voters. The United Kingdom has refused to grant a second referendum. Despite this, the Scottish remain optimistic in their fight for independence, with Yousaf spearheading the charge.
France’s Retirement Protests Rage On
The anger in France is nearly palpable as some roads and railways have been shut down for weeks, and trash is piling up after trash collectors decided to strike. The protests are over President Macron raising the retirement age from 62 to 64. While France enjoys a lower retirement age than most surrounding countries, the problem seems to lie in choice and identity. The French are adamant about keeping the contract the government offers about pensions. Additionally, President Macron pushed the bill through the legislature to avoid a vote with the lower house of Parliament. Changes to the pension system in France have historically been a contested and protested matter but paired with inflation and rising social inequality, it has left the French especially angry and bitter.
Putin Makes Allies and Adversaries Clear
Chinese President Xi traveled to Moscow to meet with Putin. They have met many times over, including several times since the start of the invasion of Ukraine. They jointly criticized the hypocrisy of the West and their narrative of “democracy against authoritarianism.” They seemed to show a shift in the international order and allyship when Xi and Putin claimed that “when we are together, we drive these changes.”
On the other side, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Putin, alleging he is responsible for war crimes; the ICC focuses on the unlawful deportation of children. The Kremlin’s reaction responded within minutes, dismissing these claims.
Vanuatu & the Pacific Islands
Youth Activist-led Movement Spurs Impactful UN Resolution
On Mar. 29, 2023, the UN passed a resolution that would make it easier to hold polluting countries accountable for climate change. The islands feel the effects of climate change more profoundly due to their geographic location and size. This is what inspired youth activists, particularly in Vanuatu, to get a legal opinion from the International Court of Justice to clarify the consequences of polluting countries.
Pacific Islanders hope this new resolution will close the gap between the rhetoric of accountability and the inaction of each country. This divide can be seen even in passing the resolution: while it was co-sponsored by over 120 countries, the US, a large polluter, was not among them. Pacific Islanders that this will usher in new data-based and more egalitarian action.
Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Palau
Biden’s New Budget Plan Outlines Billions for Three Pacific Islands
Biden’s newly outlined budget pours billions of dollars into three countries: Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Palau. This seems to be yet another move between the US and China’s competition for the Indo-Pacific islands. If approved by Congress, these billions would be received by the island nations over the course of 20 years. However, some islanders hesitate at the prospect of the money; they point out how previous agreements with the United States did not address their environmental and health needs after the nuclear testing in the 1950s and 60s.