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Week in Review: 7/15 to 7/20

Another round of news stories have come our way this week, and most of the major ones have grim undertones. The stories remind us about the fragility of life, and how we should all be thankful for the fact that we get to live relatively normal lives every single day. Here’s the week in review:

Gaza and Israel: When will the violence stop?

(An Israeli soldier running in an area outside of the Gaza strip. Reuters/ Baz Ratner)

The news from the Gaza conflict unsurprisingly produced more stories about death and violence this week. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, had called on both sides to restrain their attacks, but he summed the situation up by saying that “despite (his) repeated urgings, and those of many regional and world leaders together, an already dangerous conflict has now escalated even further.” Despite intensified efforts to find a diplomatic solution for the situation, an earlier ceasefire deal did not help much, and the fighting has continued to affect both sides of the conflict. In the nearly two weeks of fighting, the death toll has risen to more than 440, with most of the casualties being civilians of Gaza, including many children. Meanwhile, on the Israeli side, the death toll stands at 20. The newest reports detail of the presence of a two hour “humanitarian ceasefire,” but it appears that the agreement broke down within minutes, with both sides blaming the other. It seems that the intensified violence has also led to the capture of an Israeli soldier by the Palestinian side. It is unclear whether the violence will stop any time soon, but the United Nations has called for an emergency Security Council session to see if they can find a solution to a problem.

For more on this story, see the links below:Reuters | The Guardian

Another Typhoon in the Philippines

(Devastation caused by Typhoon Rammasun. Ted Aljibe/ AFP)

It has not even been a year since Typhoon Haiyan absolutely devastated the Philippines, but the region faced another huge storm in the form of Typhoon Rammasun. The typhoon resulted in the deaths of at least 94 people, and also displaced more than half a million. While Rammasun’s destruction was not on the same scale as that of Haiyan’s, the storm still brought back horrible memories for many in the country. While the typhoon’s power initially faded after leaving the Philippines, it picked up strength again in the South China Sea, and proved to be the largest typhoon to hit southern China in four decades. So far, officials have announced that at least 16 people have been killed in the regions, and more than 3 million people are affected.

Malaysia Airlines Devastated Once Again

(The crash site of MH17. AFP)

The flag carrier airline of Malaysia faced another crisis this week. It seems like just yesterday that Flight MH370 vanished out of thin air, and yet Malaysia Airlines had the misfortune of having its flight MH17 being shot at, causing an explosion in the sky and leading to the deaths of all 283 passengers and 15 crew onboard. Many sources have reported that the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine were responsible for shooting the missile that led to the explosion, as well as stating that the Russian government was most likely responsible for supplying the rebels with the arms. Recent reports have suggested that the pro-Russian rebels have been guarding the crash site, making it difficult to see whether they have tampered with the evidence. Locals visiting the site also detailed that the rebels responded to them in an arrogant manner, and went on to say that some of them even seemed drunk on the job. The newest updates coming from the area add on to the misery: the rebels seem to have loaded at least 196 of the victims’ bodies onto a train, which was found almost 10 miles from the crash site. It is believed that the rebels moved the bodies during the middle of the night. While members from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission have been able to access the train, they did so under the watch of armed guards from the rebel group, and still do not know where the train would be headed next.

For more information on this story, see the following links:The Guardian | The Economist

AIDS Conference in Melbourne

(Delegates observing a minute’s silence at the start of the conference. AFP)

Sadly enough, the biggest AIDS conference in the world had a devastating link to the MH17 crash: six brilliant researchers in the field happened to be on the plane traveling to Kuala Lumpur, which then crashed mid-flight. The delegates were due to play a big role in the conference, through sharing their stories and presenting their new research. News coming out of the annual AIDS conference seems to be centered on the MH17 flight and its victims, but there were also positive stories about the subject on hand. Some delegates are HIV-positive, and have personal connections with the subjects that they are talking about, stating that their roles as patients are absolutely crucial to the fight against AIDS. With an ambitious goal for ending AIDS by 2030, the delegates are due to discuss almost every aspect of AIDS research and advocacy during the conference, including the importance of voluntary testing and experimenting, respect for people that are living with HIV, protection by laws, the freedom to move anywhere in the world etc. The conference, in its 20th year, shows how far AIDS research has come along, but also reminds us that we still have a long road ahead of us in the fight.

Missing Okayama Girl Found

(Classmates of Sakura Moriyama walk in groups to their school in Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture, on Thursday morning. Sakura went missing on her way home from the school on Monday. | KYODO)

Finally, a piece of positive news came out of Japan this week. A missing 11-year-old girl, Sakura Moriyama, who had been gone since Monday afternoon, was found unharmed on Saturday after being confined in a man’s home. The man, a 49 year old local, was arrested and charged with kidnapping and illegally confining the girl. Moriyama went missing on Monday afternoon when she was walking home from school, a route that consists of about 2.5 km, and it is believed that the man abducted her during her walk home. The missing girl had been at the center of Japanese news stories, and many people assumed the worst in believing that she would not be found alive. It is certain that many parents breathed a sigh of relief at the news, and school officials have vowed to look into safer ways of getting students to and from school.

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