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August 7-13

Annika Lilja and Anaka Malalgoda Weerakoon

Aug 14, 2023

Assasination in Ecuador, UK Junior Doctors on Strike, Hunter Biden Probe, China's Economy

Top Story from South America: The Assassination in Ecuador

Fernando Villacicencio, a former journalist and presidential hopeful, was shot dead on Wednesday evening. After leaving his rally in the daylight, he was caught in targeted gunfire - all the suspects are members of large organized crime groups, a problem that Villacicencio vowed to eliminate during his speeches, and one that has grown extremely influential. His other policies highlighted his pledge to crack down on drugs, crime, and corruption; poignant to the state of Ecuador today. In recent years, Ecuador has transformed from a relatively safe region to a country rife with gang violence and homicides, with the homicide rate quadrupling from 2018-2023, and this event has cemented the reputation and diminishing future of Ecuador in the years to come.

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Top Story from the UK: Junior Doctors on Strike

Junior Doctors have had a long history of arguments with the UK government around pay and working hours, with many unable to pay rent and bills with their current salary. The lack of doctors and underfunding of the NHS has caused it to be starved of resources, with many doctors working longer, unpaid hours to keep up with the demand. Still, 7.5 million people in the UK are waiting on appointments as the backlog of surgeries piles up, with the NHS slowly deteriorating in efficiency. 

The National Health Service, which provides free healthcare to all UK residents, has been in place since the 1940s, and there are real fears of its collapse into private ownership in the years to come. These worries have increased, especially due to the government’s noncommittal response to the strike, and its future plans to open more private hospitals, instead of driving all funds into keeping the NHS afloat. Nevertheless, doctors are still trying to protest for their rights, and will most likely continue to do so in the future. 

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Top Story from the US: Special Counsel for the Hunter Biden Probe

On Friday, August 11, US Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel for the Hunter Biden probe. David Weiss was nominated for the position of US attorney in Delaware back in 2017 by Former President Trump. Weiss had already been probing Hunter Biden, and as special counsel, he will have more authority going into his investigation of the President’s son. 

Attorney General Garland stated that appointing Weiss as special counsel will ensure that Weiss "has the authority he needs to conduct a thorough investigation and to continue to take the steps he deems appropriate independently, based only on the facts and the law."

As both Former President Trump and President Biden’s son are under investigation, this appointment demonstrates how the Department of Justice (DOJ) is looking into prominent figures in both of the major parties ahead of the 2024 election. How these preceding will shape the elections to come is yet to be known.   

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Top Story from Asia: China's Economy

As new data continues to be brought to light, China’s economic stability seems to be in question and the hope that China’s economy would take a turn after Covid-19 seems to be dwindling. Data from this past week has shown that exports in China have been declining for the past three months and that imports have also dropped for the past five months. The price of goods in China is also declining, and whether that means food or housing, these figures point towards some suspicion that China is on the brink of deflation. 

Additionally, China’s debts are now estimated to be at 282% of the national output (which is more than the US). This staggering debt has the possible effect of limiting China’s options to reinvigorate its economy. China has contributed to 40% of global economic growth over the past decade, and thus the economic stability in the country has wide-reaching global effects. The main concern comes from the fear that if the two major economic powers, the US and China, both hit economic slumps at the same time, the economic pain would be felt around the world.

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