Around The World

Compilation and Analysis By Ridhima Malhotra

Vote to repeal anti-abortion law seen as victory for women’s rights in Ireland

In a historic referendum, the people of Ireland voted by 66.4 per cent to 33.6 per cent to overturn the country’s strict laws prohibiting abortion. A vote in favour of repeal paves the way for Dáil, the Irish Parliament, to legislate for change which would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime. Abortion has been illegal in Ireland since 1861 and was enshrined into the constitution in 1983 with the Eighth amendment, which recognises that an unborn foetus has a right to life equal to a mother’s, effectively eliminating all abortions — even in cases of rape and incest. The death of Indian-origin dentist Dr Savita Halappanavar in 2012 at the age 31 from septicemia — an infection she contracted after she was denied an abortion during a miscarriage — set off outrage across the country and gave momentum to a growing call for change. The referendum in Ireland has raised hope for changes in strict abortion laws in Northern Ireland that borders Ireland but is part of the UK. Though the UK legalised abortion in 1967, its law was not extended to Northern Ireland. The only times women are able to get abortions in Northern Ireland is when there is a risk to the mother’s life, or a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.

Severe political crisis unfolded in Italy, sending shockwaves from the European Union headquarters Brussels to Wall Street, as Italian President Sergio Mattarella rejected an anti-E.U. nominee for economy minister recommended by the newly elected and first-ever populist coalition government. The problem took root in March, when Italy became the latest European country to hold an election with surprisingly disastrous results for the political establishment. The March 4 vote saw mainstream parties on both the right and the left knocked down by a new generation of populist politicians fuelled by Euroscepticism and popular frustration over the Mediterranean migrant crisis. After rejecting 81-year-old economist Paolo Savona, who has openly advocated pulling Italy out of the euro, the president then asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former executive at the International Monetary Fund, to form a government instead. The populist party leaders were furious at what they considered a subversion of the will of the voters and have called for protests and even Mattarella’s impeachment.

In a bizarre turn of perhaps the most significant present-day diplomatic events, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the planned June 12 summit meeting in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, only to express just 24 hours later that the talks might still go ahead. 

Trump had cancelled the talks after apparently being angered by a statement issued by Pyongyang’s chief nuclear negotiator, who declared that the country would never trade away its nuclear weapons capability in exchange for economic aid. The statement, while a highly familiar tactic by the North, represented a jarring shift in tone after weeks of conciliatory gestures. Trump’s announcement cancelling the summit was followed by a meeting between Kim and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, followed by which the US president announced on twitter that the talks between Washington DC and Pyongyang might just take place and that too on June 12 itself. A process that would normally take months is now being compressed into days, with meetings taking place between North Korean and American officials all over the world, much to the distress of officials from both countries. 

 More than 100 people died in a plane crash in Cuba after a Cubana de Aviacion Boeing 737-200 crashed on takeoff from Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. Flight DMJ 0972 was headed to the eastern Cuban city of Holguin, 700 km away from the Cuban capital, when it plummeted into in an agricultural area in the Santiago de las Vegas neighborhood. There were 105 passengers on board, including one infant. Five passengers were foreigners and 100 were Cuban. Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said two passengers were Argentine. The nearly 40-year-old Boeing 737-200 was owned by the Mexican airline Aerolíneas Damojh and leased to Cubana de Aviacion, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

Two people detonated a pail filled with projectiles inside a crowded Indian restaurant near Toronto, wounding 15 people, three of them critically. The blast took place around 10:30 p.m. at the Bombay Bhel restaurant in Mississauga, Ontario, a large city just west of Toronto. According to police, the assailants had entered the restaurant and put down what appeared to be a pail or a paint can, which then exploded as the two fled down the street. Two birthday parties with children present were taking place at the restaurant when the attack occurred although no children were hurt.

Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein was arrested in New York City on charges that he raped one woman and forced another to perform oral sex. The legal proceedings that followed the arrest drew big crowds inside and outside the Manhattan courtroom where Weinstein appeared in handcuffs. The arrest caused a lot of jubilation on twitter by a large number of men and women, especially the victims of Weinstein who had come
out last year and had caused the massive #MeToo movement on social media unmasking incidents of sexual harassment across the world. The reporters who unmasked Weinstein earned the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for their work.