China – After the U.S., via President Trump, placed tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum, China fought back with tariffs of its own. American farmers are some of the hardest hit by these new tariffs, as $3 billion worth of U.S. goods – mostly fruit and dried nuts – are being taxed. In response to China biting back, Trump has now increased tariffs to be placed on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods covering the spectrum from artificial body parts to fire extinguishers and snowplows. What has China done in response to the most recent tariff escalation? Just like the U.S., China is now threatening a further expansion of the list of American products being tariffed. It is difficult to envision which country will give in first, as the chances of a full trade war continue to increase.
Indonesia – Due to an oil spill on March 31st, Indonesia is currently facing serious issues relating to human health and environmental degradation. The spill, which occured off the coast of the island of Borneo, was the result of a broken pipe that the state-owned energy company uses to transfer crude oil. On April 2nd, Indonesian authorities declared a state of emergency as safety concerns continue to grow. The oil spill has now spread over 12 square kilometers, bringing with it fire and toxic fumes. Five deaths have already been blamed on the spill, including four fishermen who were killed when the oil first caught fire over the weekend. More than 1,300 others have confirmed difficulty breathing and other ailments due to the black cloud of smoke billowing off the spill that has essentially turned the bay into a gas station.
Palestine – On Friday, March 30th, one of the largest demonstrations in years by Palestinians on the Israel-Gaza border ended when Israeli military forces open fire on the estimated 30,000 protesters. Over 1,400 Palestinians were injured and at least 16 were killed, though some reports have indicated a death toll as high as 18. The use of gunfire by Israel’s army has sparked debate throughout Israel. The government and many political figures defend the soldiers’ response to the demonstrators, asserting that the soldiers felt there was the possibility that the fence along the border of the Gaza Strip was in danger of being breached. However, human-rights activists, along with opposition leaders, believe it was an excessive and unnecessary show of force on the army’s part. Despite the heightened awareness of danger, Palestinians have vowed to return and continue demonstrations this week, as they stand up for their right to return to the places they called “home” before the founding of Israel.
Syria – Are more U.S. troops going to be sent into Syria or will there be a withdrawal? At this point it’s hard to tell. While President Trump recently made remarks about the U.S. “coming out of Syria like very soon,” many at the Pentagon held a different impression, seeing as they had highlighted the need for U.S. troops to remain in place in Syria mere hours earlier. Since the announcement by President Trump last Thursday, the White House has been doing damage control, attempting to downplay the comments by claiming that plans for U.S. forces in Syria and their numbers will be made later.
Mexico – On April 1st, after learning of a caravan of immigrants making their way from Honduras to the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum, President Trump fired off a storm of tweets. In them, the president called on Mexican officials to stop and disperse the thousand members of the caravan or else Mexico would face cuts in American aid and suffer from trade renegotiations. The barrage of tweets continued throughout the week, reaching a crescendo on April 4th, when President Trump announced that he will be ordering the National Guard to the border until his proposed wall is complete. The caravan that Trump sees as enough of a threat to merit a military response includes 300 children and 400 women, accounting for around 70 percent of the group.