The world is still fidgeting after three days of attacks in France, stirring up trouble in some areas and marches in solidarity in others. It was followed up today by the disturbing revelation that Boko Haram had murdered 2,500 people in a Nigerian town and abducted another 500 women and children.
In other news, politics balance out negative events with positive developments, and the realm of science brings some promising and exciting news.
Each Friday, we bring you a roundup of some of the biggest stories making headlines around the world. Here’s 10 things that happened outside of Vancouver over the past week that you should know about (in no particular order):
January 9 to 15, 2015
1. Boko Haram kills 2,500 people in town massacre, abducts 500 women and children
Town of Baga, Nigeria before massacre
Image: Amnesty International
Town of Baga, Nigeria after massacre
Image: Amnesty International
An infrared satellite image shows the extent of the damage on the town of Baga, Nigeria inflicted by Islamist terrorist and militant group Boko Haram. The attack last week levelled the entire town, nearly wiping it off the map, and killed an estimated 2,500 of its residents. Reports indicate the militants drove in and began shooting indiscriminately at civilians during the multi-day rampage.
According to Amnesty International, 3,700 structures were damaged or completely destroyed by fire and at least 20,000 people have fled the area. 5,000 survivors of the attack are being assisted by Doctors Without Borders in nearby Maiduguri and another 11,300 have fled to neighbourhood Chad.
Boko Haram’s operations have intensified since mid-2014. It first made global headlines when it kidnapped 276 female students from a Nigerian school, which prompted an international outcry for their safe release.
The Daily Mail reports that following the attacks on Baga, the group abducted another 500 women and children from the area.
2. Croatia elects first female president
Croatia’s opposition challenger, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, has become the country’s first female president after a slim 1% win. Kitavoric’s win is being taken as a sign that Croatia may be shifting to the right, after the centre-left coalition’s failure to end six years of downturn in the country. Croatia struggles with a 20% unemployment rate, but Kitarovic has said she would not “let anyone tell me that Croatia will not be prosperous and wealthy,” calling for national unity to tackle the economic crisis.
3. U.S. military social media accounts breached by hackers
On Monday, the YouTube and Twitter accounts of the military’s U.S Central Command were taken over by hackers that claimed to be acting on behalf of Islamic State militants. “American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back,” read one Twitter message, while other posts appeared to list the phone numbers and names of military personnel. However, Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told The Associated Press that “it in no way compromises our operations in any way, shape or form.”
4. Report: most cancer deaths for those under 80 could be eliminated by 2050
Medicine bag image via Shutterstock
Researchers at University College London and King’s College London released a new report detailing that most cancer deaths for patients under 80 in the United Kingdom “could be eliminated by 2050.” Due to continued investment in better preventative tools, treatments, improved care for terminals patients and greater public awareness about the risks and symptoms will have contributed to a growth in progress against cancer. The decline in cancer-related deaths in recent years and advanced technologies leave the researchers optimistic for future years.
5. German anti-Islamist rallies swell after Paris attacks
Image: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
Groups like Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, known by its German acronym PEGIDA, have been staging regular rallies for several months, and have now been using the Paris attacks to raise their nationalistic rhetoric. They’ve sparked anti-immigrant rallies across Germany in the past week, drawing an estimated 25,000 people on Monday in Dresden. However, counter-rallies of hundreds of thousands of people have been taking place in Berlin and elsewhere, calling for unity and tolerance.
6. Russia deems transexuals as unfit to drive
A recent government resolution in Russia has been put into action: barring transexuals, transvestites and others with “sexual disorders” from driving for “medical reasons”. The new regulations have already been criticized by rights activists, who see them as unconstitutional and likely to worsen an already hostile climate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Russia.
7. Beer poisoning leads to 72 deaths in Mozambique
At least 72 people who drank a homemade beer, known as “pombe,” at a funeral in Mozambique over the weekend have died, health officials said on Tuesday. Authorities believe that the beer, a traditional millet-based brew, was poisoned during the course of the funeral. In an even more surprising development, provincial health officials have pointed to crocodile bile as the poison of choice, although the root of their suspicion is still unknown.
8. Rate of sea-level rise is steeper, new research shows
In a new study in the science journal Nature this week, U.S scientists have reassessed tide gauge data from 1900-1990. They have said that the acceleration is 25% higher than previous estimates and it has been far worse in the past two decades than originally thought. While tide gauges have been in operation in some places for hundreds of years, pulling their data into a coherent narrative of worldwide sea-level change is incredibly difficult, which is why the numbers have fluctuated so much from study to study.
9. Belgian counter-terrorism raid kills two
One week after the terrorist attacks in France, Belgian police killed two men who opened fire on them during one of about a dozen raids on Thursday against an Islamist group that federal prosecutors said was about to launch “terrorist attacks on a grand scale”. “The searches were carried out as part of an investigation into an operational cell, some of whose members had returned from Syria,” said prosecutors’ spokesman Eric Van Der Sypt. “For the time being, there is no connection with the attacks in Paris.”
10. New fossil fills gap in reptile evolution
Image: Sean Modesto/Cape Breton University
A fossil of a lizard-like creature found by a boy on a Prince Edward Island beach is a new species aa well as the only reptile in the world ever found from its time – 300 million years ago – a new study shows. The Erpetonyx arsenaultorum dwelled during the Gzhelian Age, a five-million-year span that started about 304 million years ago, just 10 million years after the first reptiles appeared and now helps fill a big gap in the fossil record, revealing that there were nearly twice as many kinds of reptiles living around that time as scientists had previously believed.
11. Millions march in unity rally in Paris
Image: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images
In an emotional but peaceful day, 3.7 million people – including world leaders – showed their solidarity by marching in anti-terrorism rallies in Paris and elsewhere in France on Sunday. The march was the largest gathering in France’s history, and comes as an inspirational gesture of unity just days after the country suffered through three days of attacks. More people are expected to join similar marches across the world.
Also check out our newest weekly series, published every Wednesday – 9 good things that happened around the world last week.