10 March – The bulletin

A look at what’s coming up: Crimea, Latin changes, www turns 25, Mormon Church leader to court, ping pong against a robot, Kiruna (Swedish town) to move.


The front page

Crimean chess  

The State Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament) is this week scheduled to vote on a Crimea annexation bill making it -theoretically- easier for the Ukrainian region to rejoin Russia.

What to look out for: The bill comes days before Crimea is scheduled (March 16) to vote on a referendum on whether to remain within Ukraine or become part of Russia. Experts have called the Russia-Ukraine stand off the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century and pointed at a potential shift in world order which includes the rise of Poland, the possible polarisation of China, the weakening of sovereignty, borders, and international rule of law in a strategic and volatile region. (Further reading: CFR, Moscow Times)

Latin changes

This week Salvador elects a new president, Colombia goes to the polls to select a new Congress and several Latin American leaders might meet after the inauguration of Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet.

What to look out for: El Salvador is expected to elect Sanchez Ceren, a former guerrilla, to the top job. Colombia is, instead, said to lean toward the right with a majority vote likely to go to a party allied to former President Alvaro Uribe (Party of the U). The shift could jeopardise current peace negotiations with the FARC guerrillas. Meanwhile in Santiago, Chile Latin leaders are hoping to meet and discuss a consolidated response to the ongoing turmoil in Venezuela. (Further reading: WSJ, VoR, NACLA)

Information comes of age

The world wide web turns 25 this week.

Why this matters: The web has created teutonic shifts in education, economics, retail, copyright, culture, the spread of ideas (and cat pictures), and infused almost every aspect of the developed world’s life. How will the information age, partly brought on by this invention, continue to change the world in years to come? Also this week Australia enacts privacy laws aimed at protecting consumer and patient data and the EU votes on a resolution to do the same plus safeguard the rights of whistleblowers. (Further reading:

SMH, EU Council)

The wrap

Church and state

The worldwide head of the Mormon church, Thomas Monson, has been ordered to appear in a British Court this week over allegations of fraud.

Why this matters: The bizarre case brought on by a former church memeber, argues that accepting tithes while teaching doctrines that might be untrue could be deemed fraudulent. It is not clear whether the court will -finally, and loftily- rule on the existence of god. Also in the UK the discussion over reforming kosher and halal slaughter practices to become more humane is expected to heat up after recent lobbying by the country’s top vets. (Further reading: Telegraph, The Guardian)

Wage against the machine

Germany’s top table tennis player Timo Boll is this Wednesday scheduled to compete against a robot named Agilus.

Why this matters: The contest is part of the opening celebration of a German factory of industrial robots in Shanghai, China. There is some symbolism in a match of one of China’s most popular sports being played by a machine that could potentially replace much of the low-skilled workforce that have given the country its competitive advantage. (Further reading: Official site)

Ore moves mountains

The entire Swedish town of Kiruna (population 20,000) is to move 3 kms to the East.

What to look out for: The relocation, which is expected to take 20 years, is said to involve dismantling and reconstructing most of the town’s buildings – including a 105 year old church, a hospital, and three thousand apartment blocks. The impressive feat is being made to accommodate an iron ore mine which is slowly swallowing the town’s foundations. (Further reading: WSJ, BBC, Daily Mail)



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