NIGERIA: Government Uncovers Ghost Worker Scam in Police Force

On 26 March, the Nigerian government disclosed over 80,000 ghost police officers have been receiving salaries and benefits without working. This revelation follows a recounting of the officers in the Integrated Personnel Payroll System, implemented in February 2017. A government official has reported similar ghost workers in several para-military agencies.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

UNITED STATES: FBI Agents Continue to Investigate Texas Bombings

On March 20, FBI agents and local police continue to investigate leads after the latest in a string of bombings targeting the Austin area. The bombs have been hidden in packages and left at residential addresses, resulting in two confirmed casualties and more injuries. Federal Agents and Law Enforcement personnel are exploring a possible racial motive for the attacks. Officials claim the suspect is acting individually due to the nature of the explosive devices.

[Rob Powell]

MOZAMBIQUE: Garbage Pile Collapses Killing at Least 17

On 19 February, heavy rains in Maputo caused a 15-meter-high garbage pile to collapse, crushing several people and provisional homes in one of the poorest areas of the city. Rescue workers confirm 17 dead but continue to search for more bodies. Such slums are common in the Hulene district as poor residents settle next to dumps to collect food and items to sell.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

KENYA: Government Yet to Return All Media Signals

On 5 February, the Kenyan government restored television signals for two of the stations that it blocked on 29 January, following the stations’ coverage of an opposition party demonstration. The Kenyan High Court had ordered a suspension of this media shutdown on 1 February, as police conducted the investigation. Despite the order, the government continued to block signals from those stations, and has yet to restore the signals of two stations, Citizens TV and Inooro TV.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

KENYA: Court Suspends Media Blackout

On 1 February, the Kenyan High Court halted the government’s shutdown of three private television channels, suspending the shutdown for 14 days until the hearing of the case. The government issued a shutdown following the media coverage of opposition leader Raila Odinga’s unofficial inauguration on 30 January. After the shutdown, many employees from the three targeted networks refused to leave their offices for fear of arrest.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

LEBANON: Syrian Refugees Caught in Snowstorm

On 19 January, the Lebanese army found nine Syrian refugees who had crossed into Lebanon dead from hypothermia after a snowstorm near Masnaa. The Lebanese army rescued six more refugees, one of whom died in the hospital. Two Syrian nationals have been arrested and charged with human smuggling in relation to this incident. 

[Cassie Hettmansperger,]

PHILIPPINES: China Permitted to Conduct Maritime Research in Philippine Sea

On 15 January, President Rodrigo Duterte announced a decision to allow China to conduct scientific research at the Benham Rise, located in the Philippine Sea. Among concerns of maritime sovereignty in the area, China has invited Philippine scientists to join in the research in the coming two months. The Philippines also announced that other interested countries would be permitted access.  

[Kaylie Prieur,] 

TUNISIA: Government Announces Social Reform Amid Protests

On 13 January, the Tunisian government announced its development of a new set of social reforms in response to the protests that began on 8 January. Citizens have been protesting the new 2018 budget, which increases taxes and does little to improve lower-class conditions and the ongoing economic crisis the country has faced since the Arab Spring in 2011.

[Caitlyn Aaron,]

UNITED STATES: Exxon Mobile Requests Approval to Resume Venture with Rosneft

On 19 April, Exxon Mobil representatives requested approval to resume their Black Sea drilling venture with Rosneft. Rosneft, based near the Kremlin, is majority owned by the Russian government. The venture was stalled in 2014 due to the US sanctions on Russia. The request is being considered by President Donald Trump’s administration.

[Madison Landry,]

SOUTH KOREA: Reports North Korean Spies Involved in Kim Jong Nam Death

On 27 February, South Korean intelligence services announced four North Korean individuals were involved in the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong Un. The intelligence services reported the individuals were North Korean spies working on behalf of the Ministry of State Security. Kim Jong Nam is said to have been estranged from Kim Jong Un.

[Madison Landry,]

DENMARK: Aid Minister Offers Millions to US Abortion Groups

On 7 February, Denmark’s Development Aid Minister, Ulla Toernaes, announced Denmark was willing to give 14 million USD to US abortion groups affected by US President Donald Trump’s executive order. The executive order prohibits any international groups that provide information on or perform abortions from receiving federal funds. Toernaes called on other countries to join her stance.

[Madison Landry,]

SWITZERLAND: UNICEF Appeals for US Funding

On 31 January, UNICEF announced the organization is appealing for 3.3 billion USD for 2017. UNICEF states the funds would go to children worldwide to deal with humanitarian emergencies such as malnutrition. In 2016, the US donated 407 million USD, making it the largest donor of 2016. UNICEF emergencies director Manuel Fontaine stated he hopes the US will continue to support UNICEF.

[Madison Landry,]

RUSSIA: Former Kaspersky Lab Manager Charged with Treason

On 25 January, the Russian government charged Ruslan Stoyanov, former head of the Computer Incident Investigations Unit at Kaspersky Lab, with treason. The charge follows the December arrest of Stoyanov and a senior Russian intelligence officer. Kaspersky Lab has previously provided advice to intelligence agencies, as well as maintained an informal relationship.

[Madison Landry,]

PAKISTAN: Officials Refuse to Release Doctor that Aided bin Laden Raid

On 18 January, Pakistant’s law minister announced Dr. Shakil Afridi will not be released from Pakistani custody. Afridi was considered instrumental in raid on bin Laden’s compound and is considered a “hero” by many Americans. Shortly after the raid, Afridi was arrested for running a fake vaccination campaign, which enabled the confirmation of bin Laden’s identity, and having relations with militant Islamists.

[Madison Landry]