News from around the world Jan 2019
By Sakuni Kalyanaratne
Here are some of the top stories that captured the world’s attention during the first month of 2019.
Rare Tornado in CubaA rare tornado of category F3 had hit the Cuban capital, Havana, on 27 January with winds between 250-320 km/h. According to the Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel, at least 4 people have died and more than 190 injured. As the storm cut across eastern Havana, power was cut for many areas. Cars were crushed by fallen lamp posts and vehicles were trapped in flood waters. The neighborhood of Regla and Diez de Octubre appeared to have suffered the worst damage.
Brexit UpdateFollowing a laborious negotiations process and coming to an agreement with the EU, Theresa May led UK government published the Draft Withdrawal Agreement and Outline Political Declaration in November 2018. However, on 15 January 2019, the House of Commons voted against the deal 432 to 202, the largest parliamentary defeat for a sitting UK government in history. This followed a no confidence motion against Theresa May, which she managed to surpass. May is expected to propose the amendments to her Brexit plan where conservative MPs have been told to support a proposal for an alternative to the Irish backstop.
U.S. shutdown 2019The longest U.S. government shut down in history, which started on 22 December 2018, ended on 25 January 2019 after lasting 35 days when President Trump agreed to reopen the government till 15 February. The shutdown started when Mr. Trump demanded US$5.7 billion in federal funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall. The five-week federal government shutdown had a significant impact on the U.S. economy, estimated at US$11 million by the Congressional Budget Office, which is enough to reduce growth in first quarter of 2019 by about 0.4%. The shutdown had reduced gross domestic product by US$3 billion in fourth quarter of 2018 and by US$8 billion in the first quarter of 2019. On 25 January, Mr. Trump agreed on a stopgap bill to reopen the government for three weeks, allowing for negotiations to approve an appropriations bill that both Republicans and Democrats could agree on.
Crisis in Venezuela Venezuela has been battling a crisis for years with growing political restlessness further fuelled by hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of Food and medicine. The situation escalated 23 January 2019 when opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself acting president, saying he would assume the powers of the executive branch from there onwards. This was a direct move to oust the incumbent President Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn into a second six-year term just two weeks prior, after a controversial election in May last year. Both have no incentive to back down. President Maduro has the backing of the country’s military despite little public support. Guaido, on the other hand, has both the popular support and western democracies with the likes of U.S., but little control over power within Venezuela.
76th Golden GlobesThe 76th Golden Globe Awards, which honored the best in American film and television of 2018, was held on 6 January 2019 at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, California. Produced by Dick Clark productions and Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the awards show for 2019 was hosted by Sandra Oh and Andy Samberg. The movie Green Book won the most awards with three, including Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Best actor in Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy went to Cristian Bale for his role in Vice, while the award for Best actor in Motion Picture – Drama went to Rami Malek for his performance in Bohemian Rhapsody. The best actress awards for those two categories went to Olivia Colman (The Favourite) and Glenn Close (The Wife), respectively. Alfonso Cuaron won the award for Best Director for his direction in the Mexican movie, Roma.