We know you’re busy so we’re breaking down the what’s happenings in the world. Powered by Pressed News, here is your round up of what you need to know about this past week.
1. TIT FOR TAT
President Donald Trump announced a fresh round of sanctions on Iran. ICYMI, the U.S. and Iran aren’t even pretending to like each other anymore. Last year, Trump pulled the U.S. out of a 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and five other countries, then hit Iran with sanctions that cut off a large portion of its oil revenue. That crippled the economy. The U.S. went on to blacklist Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organization.
How did Iran respond?
Iran declared the U.S. a "state sponsor of terrorism." Things got worse last month when the U.S. accused Iran of blowing up two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The climax came last week when Iran shot down an American drone flying over the Persian Gulf. Iran says the drone ventured into Iranian airspace. The U.S. says it was in international airspace. President Trump threatened to strike Iran after the drone attack, then pulled out at the 11th hour saying the casualties weren’t worth the risk. On the same day, the U.S. cyberattacked an Iranian intelligence agency.
Whoa, that’s a lot.
It doesn’t end there. Earlier this week, Trump slapped new sanctions on Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and his allies, denying them access to oil and financial resources. This is how sanctions affect people and the economy. Trump is hoping the latest economic pressures will bring Iran to the bargaining table with the U.S.
2. BREAKING POINT
Commissioner John Sanders, the head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, resigned this week. He’s staying tight-lipped about his reasons, but the timing is interesting considering his agency just got called out for housing migrant children in horrible conditions. Reminder: most of the 300 kids held at the Border Patrol facility in Clint, Texas were transferred out recently following reports they had inadequate access to food and water. But, it sounds like things have changed yet again, and, as Sanders announced his resignation, over 100 of the kids were sent back.
Sadly, no – and we don’t know why. What Sanders is saying, though, is that the issues are due to a lack of funding. Critics argue frantic policy changes and threats by the U.S. government to close the border (hi, Donald) have made matters worse. The result is an influx of migrants, overcrowding at facilities, inhumane conditions, and even the death of several migrant children in U.S. custody. Now, House Democrats are working on a $4.5-billion humanitarian assistance package, while the Republican-dominated Senate is pushing a $4.6-billion package of its own. The difference: the House package has restrictions on how the money can be used, i.e. it can’t be used for things like enforcement and building Trump’s border wall.
3. NICE TO MEAT YOU
China is stepping up the petty by banning all Canadian meat from being exported to the country. It’s another step in the escalating political tension between Canada and China. In December, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver on behalf of the U.S., who charged Meng and Huawei with conspiracy, fraud, and obstruction. The U.S. said Meng lied about doing business with Iran while the country was under U.S. sanctions. Since then, China has retaliated fast and furiously by arresting two Canadian businessmen, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, for “selling state secrets.”
What’s meat got to do with it?
China is claiming that 100 forged health certificates were found in meat products imported from Canada. The Chinese embassy says customs police also found ractopamine – an added ingredient that is banned in certain countries (not Canada) – in some pork products sent from Canada. Canada’s Minister of Agriculture acknowledged issues with the certificates but said food exports remain safe. Canada has since stopped issuing export certificates for pork and beef products to China, which could negatively affect Canadian pork producers since China is Canada’s third largest pork buyer after the U.S. and Japan.
4. NEW TO THE LIST
Canada just added two far-right groups to its list of terrorist organizations. During an announcement this week in Regina, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Blood and Honour – a Neo-Nazi network – and its armed branch, Combat 18, were added to the list. Blood and Honour has a presence in Canada and around the world – in 1998, four members of the group murdered two homeless men they considered “inferior,” and in 2011, two members were charged over alleged attacks on visible minorities, including setting a Filipino man on fire. They were later found not guilty. Recognizing Blood and Honour as a terrorist organization is mostly a symbolic thing, but it means authorities can block financial resources, seize property, and overall, make it easier for the group to be prosecuted. This is the first time a far-right group has been added to the list.
5. GOOD NEWS
This house was built out of plastic water bottles, and it looks fancy af. Founded by Canadian East Coast entrepreneurs Joel German and David Saulnier, JD Composites constructed the home out of over 600,000 water bottles. The bottles were melted down to build the home’s walls, and they’re stronger and provide better insulation than conventionally built homes. Not convinced? Even with all the benefits of helping the environment, the house costs about the same as a regular home.
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