October 13 Cyprus: The Cyprus government announced the end of an investment visa program known as “golden passports” in a tweet. The program—which allowed foreigners to obtain Cyprus Citizenship by investing over $2 million in the country—had raised approximately $7 billion dollars since its inception in 2008. However, it was also criticized as a gateway to corruption. The policy was under scrutiny after an undercover investigation from Al Jazeera appeared to show politicians agreeing to help a fictional businessman obtain a passport, despite having a criminal record. Both lawmakers in the video denied any wrongdoing, but have since resigned from their positions according to The New York Times. “The proposal was based on the long-standing weaknesses but also on the abusive exploitation of the provisions of the programme,” stated the interior and finance ministries in Tuesday’s tweet.
October 14 Paris, France: French President Emmanuel Macron declared a state of emergency and announced a 9 p.m. curfew in nine regions—including Paris—following an uptick in COVID-19 cases. The French government originally declared a state of emergency in March before lifting it in July when case numbers decreased. As of Oct. 16, France had reported 834,770 confirmed coronavirus cases and 33,303 deaths. “The COVID-19 epidemic constitutes a public health disaster which, by its character and its severity, puts at risk the health of the population,” the government said in a statement, as reported by Reuters. The curfew affects 18 million French citizens and will run through Dec. 1.
October 15 India: Flooding from heavy rainfall has killed at least 60 people in western and southern India. According to The Times of India, the army was called in to help with rescue and relief following the storm. The hardest-hit state was Telangana, where 50 people died according to Reuters. Telangana’s capital, home to companies such as Microsoft, Amazon and TCS, flooded due to the out-of-season rainfall. According to The Indian Express, the 24 hours of rain in the capital was the highest October rainfall since 1903. Crops were also damaged in the flooding and the losses are worth an estimated 20 billion Indian rupees, or $272 million, according to the Telangana Chief Minister’s office.
October 16 Sana’a, Yemen: Hundreds of prisoners were exchanged between the internationally recognized Yemeni government and its opponent, Yemen’s Houthi movement, on the second and final day of the largest prisoner swap between the two groups. According to Al Jazeera, the two sides agreed last month to exchange 1,081 prisoners over the course of two days. 1056 people were released according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which facilitated the exchange. “This is an important step in the implementation of the Stockholm Agreement and is the largest prisoner exchange since the start of the conflict,” stated Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the United Nations Secretary General, in a statement for the UN. “It is proof that important breakthroughs can be achieved through dialogue and compromise.”
October 17 Wellington, New Zealand: Prime Minister Jacinda Arden of New Zealand’s Labor Party won reelection when her strongest opponent conceded defeat after only 77% of votes were counted. During her first term as New Zealand’s youngest prime minister in over a century, Arden faced a deadly church massacre, a major volcano eruption and a global pandemic, according to Reuters. Arden has been praised for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, as New Zealand has seen consistently low case counts. “People were very grateful and very happy with how we’ve handled [coronavirus], they like the shape of the plan that we’ve got going forward from here for the economy,” said Finance Minister Grant Robertson, according to Al Jazeera.