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News Summary: October 2016

Hurricane Matthew 

Haiti observed three days of national mourning for the hundreds of victims of Hurricane Matthew, amid a developing humanitarian crisis.

Almost 900 people died when the storm battered Haiti, and with outbreaks of cholera in the aftermath resulting from flood water mixing with sewage, at least another 13 have now also lost their lives. Cholera causes severe diarrhea and can kill within hours if untreated. Around 60 more have contracted the disease, the Head of the Haitian Health Ministry’s Cholera Programme said. Cholera was accidentally introduced to Haiti by United Nations peacekeepers after the 2010 earthquake and has since infected hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 9,000 of them.

Matthew rampaged through Haiti’s western peninsula with 145mph (233km/h) winds and torrential rain. At least three million inhabitants have been ordered to evacuate their homes and some 61,500 people remain in shelters making it a Category Four hurricane, according to officials who said that the storm had hit fragile coastal villages, some of which were only now being contacted. The government estimates that around 350,000 people need aid.

Calais’ ‘Jungle’ Camp Destroyed 

The Calais migrant camp commonly referred to as the ‘Jungle’ has been demolished this month.

Around 10,000 migrants were said to be living at the camp before evacuation began towards the end of the month.

They are now being referred to shelters and centres where they will be able to seek asylum by French authorities.

However charities and volunteers on the ground say more than 1,000 people remain in and around the camp in makeshift containers, including hundreds of children who have not been through the registration process.

Fires also rages across parts of the camp which means many remaining have lost the little belongings they still owned including their documentation in many instances. It was unclear who set the dozens of fires overnight and in the morning.

At least a few hundred unaccompanied children were transported to safety in Britain from the Jungle camp which includes 60 girls, many at risk of sexual exploitation.

The decision came after charities like Unicef and the British Red Cross have urged the Home Office to move quickly when it comes to bring children with ties to the UK into the country.

Addressing MPs, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said the children chosen to come to the UK are being selected on the basis of three factors – how likely they were to be granted refugee status, whether they were aged 12 years or under, and whether they were at high risk of sexual exploitation. 

Britain will not consider any children who arrive in the Jungle after the process of clearance began, she added, to discourage more from travelling to Calais.

There were also concerns about whether the children were actually children indeed. David Davies, the Chairman of the Commons Welsh Affairs Select Committee and a Conservative MP, said dental checks or hand x-rays to check bone density should be used to check ages and stop Britain’s hospitality being abused.

However such reaction has prompted widespread outrage. The broadcaster and former footballer Gary Lineker tweeted that the reception by some had been “hideously racist and utterly heartless”.

The British Dental Association said imposing dental checks would be “inappropriate and unethical”.

Though Prime Minister Theresa May has declined to make any extra commitments on receiving child refugees affected by the demolition of the Calais refugee camp, after the French president, François Hollande, rang her to ask for the Britain to consider its “moral duty”.

Downing Street said the UK has already taken a “considerable number of unaccompanied minors”, and several hundred more children and young people would be arriving in the coming weeks.

21 Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram Freed

21 of more than 200 girls kidnapped by Jihadist group Boko Haram in April, 2014 have been freed following a deal by Switzerland and the International Red Cross, officials said.

Around 270 Nigerian girls were taken from their school in Chibok in the remote northeastern Borno state, where Boko Haram has waged a seven-year insurgency aimed at creating an Islamic state, killing thousands and displacing more than 2 million people.

“I met them about an hour ago and I can confirm they are in good health,” Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said after meeting the 21 released girls, who were brought from the northeastern city of Maiduguri to the capital Abuja.

Dozens had escaped since 2014, but over 200 girls are still missing. The kidnapping prompted outrage worldwide and the girls’ plight was publicized using a Twitter hashtag, #bringbackourgirls.

Italian Earthquake 

A 6.5 magnitude earthquake, described as the worst recorded in Italy for 36 years, hit Norcia in central Italy this month injuring around 20 people.

Although no-one was killed in the earthquake which was felt 100 miles away in Rome, up to 100,000 people may be left homeless or requiring state aid after the quake, regional authorities said.

Aftershocks continued through the morning including a 4.6 magnitude earthquake at Norcia at 1.07 pm Sunday and another 4.5 magnitude aftershock in the same area over an hour later.

Civil protection officials and firefighters spent hours combing the ruins to check if residents were trapped beneath the rubble while helicopters ferried the wounded as many roads were blocked from rockslides.

The epicenter of the earthquake was, the same area hit by two earthquakes last week and a previous earthquake in August that killed nearly 300 people.

South African Student Riots 

Violent clashes with police have erupted regularly on campuses across South Africa in a dispute over tuition fees as protesters demand free education.

President Jacob Zuma’s government, anxious to avoid downgrades by credit rating agencies as it nurses a budget deficit of nearly 4% of GDP, initially saying it cannot afford to provide blanket free education.

However it has found little sympathy as it has been accused of corruption and misuse of public funds, including a $19 million state-funded security upgrade to Zuma’s home.

University tuition fees have become a popular cause for protests in South Africa, which has struggled to provide education, jobs and housing for many poor black people since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Whilst Zuma later said he supports introducing free education, he has condemned protesters who forced universities to shut or who vandalised campuses as universities in Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban have all been hit by protests and closures.

Police last week used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protests at various university campus.

Heathrow Extra Runway Confirmed

The government has confirmed that it has chosen to create an extra runway at Heathrow Airport this month in a choice between a second runway at Gatwick Airport or the chosen third at Heathrow.

The Department for Transport announced the £17.6 billion project after a Cabinet meeting of the airport sub-committee chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May.

The announcement comes after years of controversy due to the impact of the runway to the locals. The chosen decision will see more than 780 homes demolished in West London.

The Government announcement ends over a year of great uncertainty since the Davies Commission came out in favour of Heathrow’s third runway.

A public consultation will be held on the impact of the expansion before the final decision is put to MPs for a vote in the winter of 2017/18, with the runway unlikely to be in use before 2025.

Ched Evans Case

Ched Evans has been cleared of rape this month after being found guilty in 2012 of the rape of a 19-year-old woman who was over the drink-drive limit and deemed unable to give consent by the jury.

Evans insisted the woman had been in a state to consent. She said she could not even remember meeting him that night. It was this point on which the trial hinged.

Over the past five years there have been two criminal court cases, two appeal court hearings, a contempt of court investigation and nine convictions due to Twitter trolling over the allegations as the case has often been controversial.

Campaigners are concerned that victims in high-profile cases may be less likely to report incidents as they may fear from exposure and abuse on social media channels.

It is unknown whether Evans will be able to return to professional football.

Amber Rudd Comments 

Amber Rudd controversially warned businesses that foreign workers should not be able to “take jobs that British people should do” after announcing major new restrictions on overseas students this month, including two-tier visa rules affecting poorer quality universities and courses, a crackdown on work visas and the introduction of a £140m “controlling migration fund”.

The proposal was criticised by several high-profile business leaders, including the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).

However the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, defended proposals to require companies to publish the number of international staff they employ.

Rudd, who has set out a consultation paper on how to encourage businesses to hire British staff, denied the lists were intended as a “badge of shame”.

She added that she had been “very thoughtful” in wording the speech and said “don’t call me a racist”.

Uber Loses Landmark Employment Tribunal Case

Uber drivers have won a crucial legal battle in London after a tribunal ruled they are “workers” who should be paid the “national living wage”.

The ride-hailing app could now be open to claims from all of its 40,000 drivers in the UK, who are currently not entitled to holiday pay, pensions or other workers’ rights. Uber immediately said it would appeal against the ruling as it argued that it was a technology firm not a transport business and that its drivers were independent self-employed contractors who could choose where and when they worked.

Samsung Galaxy Note 7 

After initially being hailed as one of the best phones of 2016, dozens of reports surfaced across the world that the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was overheating and, in some cases, exploding.

Although Samsung themselves have no confirmed the number of incidents, estimates suggest that less than 150 of the £739 phones have overheated and, in some cases, caught fire.

A fault in the lithium ion battery in the Samsung Note 7 and the way that it connects with the rest of the phone has led to the problems.

At the beginning of September, Samsung was forced to issue a global recall of the water-resistant phones and set about working on a replacement version.

However it was later forced to recall the “safe” replacement devices, and urged customers to switch off and stop using their Note 7 phones after some of these were also deemed hazardous.

Samsung told customers to hand the phones back to the store where they purchased them as soon as possible.

Killer Clown Craze

America’s creepy clown craze has made it’s way to the UK this month. The craze has seen clowns chasing children with weapons such as knives or baseball bats, and in some cases schools have been specifically targeted.

Polices forces have reported responding to a growing number of clown-related incidents and warned that those who dress up as ‘killer clowns’ and intimidate others may be accused of committing a criminal offense.

Following the creepy clowns incidents, children’s charity Childline has received an increased numbers of calls from young people who have been left terrified.

The creepy craze was born in Greenville County, South Carolina, over summer, after unsubstantiated reports surfaced that clowns were spotted trying to lure children into the woods. Scary clown sightings were then reported in more than two dozen states from Alabama to Wisconsinbefore becoming an international phenomenon.

Bob Dylan Nobel Prize

Bob Dylan, US folk singer-songwriter has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature this month for having “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, turned 75 earlier this year. His career has spanned more than five decades and his influence still pervades genres from rock and pop to folk and soul.

Although the award caused some controversy, particularly among writers arguing that the literary merits of Dylan’s work are not equal to those of some of his peers. Many members of the public, commenting on social media, also highlighted the loss of diversity in this year’s Nobel winners, with all eight being men. Hari Kunzru, one of the Granta list, lamented the missed opportunity to showcase works by lesser-known international writers.

But numerous award-winning writers flocked to share their enthusiasm, with Ian McEwan proclaiming himself “delighted”, and Salman Rushdie saying it was a “great choice” with Dylan the “brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition”.

What was most controversial however was that the American troubadour responded with silence since he won the prize. He did a concert in Las Vegas that very night, but made no mention of the accolade. He ended the concert with a version of the Frank Sinatra hit “Why Try To Change Me Now?”, taken to be a nod towards his longstanding aversion to the media.
A prominent member of the academy that awards the Nobel literature prize has described this year’s laureate, Bob Dylan, as arrogant, citing his total silence since the award was announced.

He has not responded to repeated phone calls from the Swedish Academy and they are still unaware of whether he is coming or not.

Maria Sharapova Reduced Doping Ban 

Maria Sharapova has had her doping ban reduced to 15 months on appeal, allowing the Russian tennis plater to return to tennis in time for the French Open next year.

The appeal handed down by the Court of Arbitration for Sport saw the previously two-year long ban cut because of Sharapova’s lack of warning from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as well as the prescription from a Russian doctor based on medical reasons, rather than performance-enhancing, and the fact that she had used the drug for the past 10 years without any anti-doping violations.

Sharapova tested positive for meldonium earlier this year and subsequently being banned causing her to miss the Olympics, after an ITF tribunal ruled “she is the sole author of her own misfortune”.

Despite not agreeing with a number of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) conclusions, the tribunal did however insist Sharapova retains most of the responsibility for the failed test.

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Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

Naina Bhardwaj

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