International News in Brief: Week of March 26th

 
 

UK Blame Nerve Agent Attack on Putin’s Administration

Following the attack of a former Russian spy, Sergei Skirpal, and his daughter in the town of Salisbury, on March 4th, the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson has said that the issue is with President Putin and not the Russian people. This comes after, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced  the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats in response to the nerve agent attack, which left Skirpal and his daughter in a coma. The UK has also suspended several “high-level” contacts with Putin’s administration.

The Kremlin vehemently denies any involvement with the attack, stating that they had no motive to target Skirpal. Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Putin, told Russian news agencies that the claims made against President Putin “violated all rules of diplomatic protocol.”

Several EU leaders have supported Theresa May, with French President Emmanuel Macron stating that “France and Germany would be among the countries taking ‘co-ordinated measures’ against Russia.” President of European Council, Donald Tusk, further backed May by adding “the recall of the EU’s ambassador to Moscow for ‘consultations’ would be followed by further action by member states.”

Chinese President to Remain as Leader after Term Limit Removed

The Chinese President, Xi Jinping will remain as Leader of China, due to the removal of the two-term limit on the position of presidency. During the annual gathering of parliament, The National People’s Congress voted to make the constitutional change, repealing the two-term limit imposed by China since the 1990s. Out of the 2,964 votes cast, only two delegates voted against the change, while three delegates abstained from voting.

As Xi already serves as the Communist’s Party general secretary and the military chief, both of which do not hold term limits, few believe that he is likely to be challenged by rivals. During his time in office, Xi has fought corruption within his own party, punishing more than a million party members, which no doubt increased his popularity among Chinese supporters.

However, some people have criticised the President’s initiatives on increasing the state surveillance and censorship programs within China, believing him to be “clamping down on many emerging freedoms.” Some critics also believe that Xi used the anti-corruption stance to sideline political rivals and further his own presidency.

Pedestrian Killed by Self-Driving Car

In an article published by the Guardian, Tempe police reported that a woman was killed after an “autonomous Uber car” hit her as she was walking outside of the crosswalk. The technology in self-driving cars is supposed to detect pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles to avoid collisions.

The company subsequently decided to pause it’s self-driving car operations in Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto. This is not the first time that Uber have suspended its operations, as in 2017, there was another incident of a crash involving a Volvo SUV.

Tempe Sergeant Ronald Elcock released a statement saying, “The 2017 Volvo SUV was traveling at roughly 40 miles an hour, and it did not appear that the car slowed down as it approached the woman.” The footage of the crash was not released to the public.

The governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, has publicly been in favour of allowing corporations to test the technology in Arizona, and in March released new rules surrounding the testing of self-driving vehicles on Arizona roads.

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