Just the Facts

Five Facts on Current Events Around the World

By Emma Petasis
February 20, 2019 | Blog

There’s been a lot of election and political coverage lately. And with that, it can be easy to miss other big events happening globally. Here are five notable happenings around the world.

Venezuela holds its breath as humanitarian aid drops are planned for this weekend.

Still embroiled in economic and political crisis, Venezuelans are hoping for assistance this weekend, as countries such as Brazil, the United States, and others have reached out to support the nation and plan an aid drop. The once oil-rich country is in an escalating crisis after allegations that its recent presidential election was rigged in favor of sitting President Nicholas Maduro over opposition leader Juan Guaido.  The nation has been enduring massive food and oil shortages. President Maduro has rejected global aid efforts as the U.S. recognizes Guaido as the legitimate interim president … going so far as to  shut down the country’s maritime border to inhibit the influx of foreign aid.  Last week, the Trump Administration warned Venezuelan military against continuing to stand with Maduro, saying “You will find no safe harbor, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”

The U.S. and Russia continue to spar as Putin takes a hardline against U.S. Missile expansion.

This week Russian President Vladimir Putin told the international community that Russia can, and will, develop and deploy new weapons if the West were to deploy short and medium-range missiles in Europe. In a speech Putin said Russia would target not only the countries where U.S. missiles were stationed but the U.S. itself, the Guardian reports. Putin’s comments come after tensions heightened between the U.S. and Russia over the last month. The U.S. suspended the Cold-War era 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty after finding Russia repeatedly violated the agreement. The treaty, negotiated between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, banned the development and use of land-based missiles that ranged up to 5,500km and prohibited both countries from stationing land-based missiles in Europe.

Countries continue to debate 5g rollouts – and from which countries to buy the technology.

With the newest rollout of the fastest wireless connectivity the world has ever seen, the West continues its debate on who should supply its nations the technology, with the top two competitors the U.S. and China. China, which has long been a staple provider, may find a tougher time breaking into the European markets for 5g technology supply. Companies such as Chinese Telecom Titan Huawei have been under fire recently with U.S. alleging that the company has been a medium for Chinese state spying. This  may give U.S. providers a leg up in the competition, despite China’s prolific tech building: Since 2015 China has built almost 30,000 more cell sites than the U.S. Still, U.S. companies have embraced the challenge. Last year, Verizon began testing 5G networks in 11 different markets. Americans can expect AT&T, Samsung, and Nokia, among others, to roll out 5G services in the next year. 

The nation’s largest passenger train system is revamping.

Amtrak announced plans to conduct a large-scale overhaul of its systems in an effort to attract millions more passengers in the upcoming years. Looking to better serve fast-growing cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Cincinnati, Amtrak is planning to run more trains over shorter distances to better compete against airlines, The Wall Street Journal reports. Amtrak’s proposed management changes require congressional approval as the railroad is federally subsidized, and Congress has pushed management to increase revenue over the years. With these plans, Amtrak will have to decide whether to renovate or phase out its aging long-distance train fleets, affecting riders nationwide. 

NASA parts with famed rover Opportunity as it concluded its final mission on Mars.

NASA’s rover Opportunity provided the world with an inside look on one of space’s most curious frontiers. The rover lived for over 14 years, before bidding farewell to Billie Holliday’s rendition of “I’ll be Seeing you.” The rover is known for vastly outliving its projected “lifespan” and exploring the tempestuous landscape of the uninhabited planet, all while enduring extreme temperatures. Opportunity discovered ancient bedrock that is thought to have once contained drinking water, leading scientists to hypothesize that the planet may have been habitable at one point. The rover will be remembered for providing a previously unseen up-close view of Mars. NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen released the following in remembrance of Opportunity: “It is therefore that I am standing here with a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude that I declare the Opportunity mission as complete.”

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