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This Week Around the World Feb. 7-13

February 7 Uttarakhand, India: A piece of a Himalayan glacier fell into and destroyed a dam called the Rishiganga Hydroelectric Project, according to BBC. Approximately 140 people were missing after the Dhauliganga river flooded quickly. Some argued that this is an example of the impact of climate change however, some activists also blamed the many dams and hydropower projects being built along the region’s rivers. “We have been saying for years how these huge infrastructure projects are making the area more fragile and dangerous but no one listened to us,” said local environmental activist Vimal Bhai, according to The Guardian. “And now the same thing has happened again. Why will the government not learn the lessons of the past?” As of Feb. 15, 56 bodies have been recovered while 176 cases of missing persons have been registered. 


February 11 London, United Kingdom: A judge ruled that a British tabloid invaded the privacy of the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, according to AP News. Markle sued publisher Associated Newspapers after their Jan. 17 newspaper printed parts of her handwritten letter to her father in 2018. “After two long years of pursuing litigation, I am grateful to the courts for holding Associated Newspapers and The Mail on Sunday to account for their illegal and dehumanizing practices,” Markle said in a statement, according to Reuters. “For these outlets, it’s a game. For me and so many others, it’s real life, real relationships, and very real sadness. The damage they have done and continue to do runs deep.”


February 12 Tokyo, Japan: Former Prime Minister and President of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee announced his resignation following backlash from his comments that were considered sexist. With less than six months until the games, Mori made a comment that implied women talk too much. “As of today I will resign from the president’s position,” Mori said while opening an executive board and council meeting, according to AP News. “My inappropriate comments have caused a lot of chaos.” A petition calling for proper measures to be taken to address the comments and prevent them from occurring in the future was created following Mori’s remarks on Feb. 3. “It is a problem when people cannot speak up when someone superior says something outdated,” said Momoko Nojo, an author of the petition which has garnered over 150,000 signatures. “We want to take this opportunity to change that through our petition so that people can speak up more and our society will change for the better.”


February 13 Lima, Peru: Oscar Ugarte was sworn in as Peru’s new health minister following the resignation of Pilar Mazzetti due to a COVID-19 vaccine scandal, according to Al Jazeera. Ugarte became Peru’s fifth health minister since the pandemic began last year. The scandal broke earlier in the week, announcing government officials were secretly vaccinated months before the vaccine became available to frontline healthcare workers. On Feb. 14, Ugarte called for the resignation of all officials who were secretly vaccinated as early as September and called for a thorough investigation. Former president Martín Vizcarra—who was ousted in November due to other scandals—confirmed he and his wife received vaccinations in October. Foreign minister Elizabeth Astete also announced her resignation after backlash from receiving the vaccine.