It’s that time of the week again to recap and highlight the developments and discoveries around the globe. This week sees a declaration of strong action against ISIS, discoveries from within ocean, passionate referendums and much more in the realm of politics.
Each Friday, we bring you a roundup of some of the biggest stories making headlines around the world. Here’s 11 things that happened outside of Vancouver over the past week that you should know about:
September 5 to 11, 2014
1. Scotland “on the cusp of making history” by voting for independence
Marking the anniversary of the September 11, 1997 devolution referendum, Scotland’s first minister made use of the opportunity to say the time was ripe for “national empowerment”. On September 18, over 4.2 million Scots will take to the polls to vote on a referendum for their independence. Recent polls indicate that the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns have been neck and neck, with the ‘No’ campaign only maintaining a very narrow lead. You can keep track of the latest poll updates and related stories here.
2. Al-Shabab claims responsibility for deadly car bombing targeting Americans in Somalia
A car filled with explosives by a suicide bomber was rammed into an African Union convoy earlier this week. This comes as a retaliation for the air strike killing al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane in Somalia last week, a man who proudly claimed he was the mind behind the horrific attacks on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya last year. The car bombing killed at least 12 people, including four Americans, and left 27 others wounded. Al-Shabab’s spokesman said their target was an American commander training special forces in Mogadishu.
3. Oscar Pistorius found guilty of culpable homicide
The Olympic and Paralympic athlete has been facing murder charges following the shooting of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year on Valentine’s Day. The court came to the conclusion that while there was not enough evidence to find Pistorius guilty of premeditated murder, he is guilty of “culpable homicide”, with the judge remarking that “his conduct was negligent.” His sentence is yet to be decided, but he could face up to 15 years in jail. The judge has allowed him to remain on bail until his sentencing on 13 October.
4. Strong solar storm hits Earth Thursday night
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has issued a “strong” geomagnetic storm watch for Friday. The energy from two powerful solar flares will have started hurtling towards Earth as of last night, and the influence of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) may affect electronic grids as well as GPS signals and radio transmission. On the upside, however, this may allow Metro Vancouverites to get a rare sighting of the Northern Lights.
5. Mystery of missing Franklin ship uncovered
After 169 years, the ship carrying Sir Franklin and his team in 1846 has been discovered in Victoria Strait. Franklin had led expeditions to the Arctic in the past, but was blocked by ice during this particular journey in his endeavour to map and navigate the Northwest Passage for Britain.
6. Obama authorizes airstrikes against Isis militants in Syria
On Wednesday, President Obama announced plans to fight back against the terrorist group Isis, which has been taking over parts of Iraq with the intent of fighting for more, in an effort to establish an Islamic state. For the first time, Obama has authorized air strikes extending into Syria, saying he “will not hesitate to take action against Isil in Syria, as well as Iraq.” He maintains that this will remain as a ‘boots off the ground’ strategy, with only air strikes being carried out. He is expected to be backed heavily by Congress, and ten Arab countries have also agreed to back the US in their fight against Isis.
7. Ebola death toll rises to 2,300
The latest data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that while the outbreak of ebola has been ongoing for several months, about 60 per cent of Liberia’s cases and deaths took place in the past three weeks. Speaking at the UN in New York, Liberia’s minister of national defence, Brownie Samukai, said that “it is now spreading like wildfire, destroying everything in its path” and that the “already weak health infrastructure of the country has been overwhelmed.” The shortage of doctors and nurses only continues to increase as health workers continue to become infected.
8. Apple releases two sixth-generation iPhones and an Apple Watch
This Tuesday, Apple rolled out two new additions to the iPhone family and a smartwatch that fans have been eager to see for months. If you want to know all the details in under two minutes, watch the video in the link below.
9. 45 UN Fijian peacekeepers freed in Syria
Two weeks ago, Fijian troops on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights were taken by fighters from the Nusra Front, who have been battling Syrian government forces in the contested buffer zone between Syria and Israel. Thankfully, the peacekeepers were released without any ransom, and are said to be in “good condition.”
10. Kashmir monsoon kills 460 people, displaces almost a million
“Raging” monsoon floods continue to grip and threaten the lives of people in Pakistan and India, with one of the worst monsoon seasons ever witnessed in the region. Even worse, aid efforts are said to be “inadequate and chaotic”, with survivors now having “next to nothing” after being rescued. Indian authorities have also admitted that their efforts had not yet reached over 300,000 people in Kashmir.
11. First semiaquatic dinosaur discovered
On Thursday, scientists announced that new fossils of Spinosaurus indicate that the African dinosaur is the only one known to have adapted for life in the water. Originally discovered in Morocco, the features and makeup of the Spinosaurus have piqued our interests for years. In an article published in Science journal, Dr. Ibrahim (who received the first fossils in Morocco) tells us that the animal may have had webbed feed for paddling, slender jaws and conical teeth for eating fish and likely pursued sharks, large fish and crocodiles as its prey.
Missed last week’s roundup? Read it here.