We’re nearing the end of the first month of 2021. If it’s a foreshadowing for the rest of the year, we’d better strap ourselves in for an eventful ride. This week, the world welcomed the 46th President of the United States, Belarusian protests are alive and well and harrowing reports from Northern Nigeria find women being forced to do unspeakable acts.
Here are five notable international news stories this week.
1. Ladies and gentlemen, the newest President of the United States of America.
All eyes were on the White House on Wednesday, but for more cheery news than the dramatic riots that plagued Capitol Hill weeks prior.
Joseph Biden has been inaugurated as the 46th President of the United States, putting a tumultuous Trumpian era to an end… for now, that is.
It was a star-studded inauguration, Jennifer Lopes and Lady Gaga sang patriotic tunes and fellow Republican country singer Gareth Brooks performed a tear-jerking version of Amazing Grace. Once the ceremonial acts were done, Biden got straight to business, signing in 17 executive orders. The U.S has officially rejoined the World Health Organisation, the Paris Climate Agreement and COVID-19 relief for the nation will return. Good luck President Biden.
2. A case of self-immolation in protest-stricken Belarus.
A 35-year-old man in Belarus has set himself on fire outside of Parliament in Minsk today. He was hospitalised and treated for burns that cover over half his body after citizens and police put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.
A video circulating shows the man was seen sprawling in the empty square outside the government building, near a statue of Vladimir Lenin. The motive behind the act is as of yet unknown.
Belarus has been rocked by protests against Present Alexander Lukashenko, after widespread allegations of a rigged election result last year. More than 30,000 protestors have been arrested, while many have been killed or injured in demonstrations.
3. The United Nations warned of disturbing rape allegations in Ethiopia.
The UN said it has received disturbing reports of harrowing sexual violence in the conflict-ridden region of Tigray, including some forced to perform sexual acts on family members, or forced to have sex with soldiers to access basic commodities.
Ethiopia’s Prime Minister announced military intervention last November in response to attacks on federal camps in the area. Thousands have died in conflict according to international NGOs but media blackouts and humanitarian restrictions have made it difficult to assess the reality of life on the ground.
4. Google threatens to pull the plug on its services in Australia.
Google warned it would shut down its search engine in Australia if a controversial news media bill is passed in Parliament. Other tech giant Facebook said its Australian users wouldn’t be able to share any news articles.
The proposal would force companies like Google and Facebook to negotiate payments to news media companies, with an arbiter to decide the payment amount should no amount is agreed.
If they pulled the plug, 19 million Australians who use the search engine every day would no longer be able to make a simple search, while 17 million Australians who log into Facebook won’t be able to post news media links anymore.
5. Japan dismisses rumours of cancelled Olympics.
Japan’s government has shot down rumours that its summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be cancelled, saying it’s “categorically untrue”.
Sources from the Japanese government told the Guardian that the show must go on and that plans for the “full Games” are still in the works, despite constantly-rising COVID-19 cases around the world.
Will the games have live audience members? It’s too early to know. But with 15,000 athletes expected to take part and COVID-19 infections rising, doubts still remain if the Olympics can indeed go on.
Is there an international news story we missed? Comment below