Saudi Arabia officials to reverse ban restricting female drivers
Saudi Arabia announced on Sept. 26 in a royal decree broadcasted on state television that women will be allowed to drive starting June 2018, though there will be some restrictions in place. According to the New York Times, Saudi leaders hope the reversal of the country’s longstanding ban on female drivers will boost its economy by increasing women’s participation in the workforce. Saudi activists and rights groups have rallied against the ban since 1990, facing arrests and jail time for defying the law. The decision is expected to face fierce opposition inside the kingdom from conservative families and leaders, considering it is a highly patriarchal society ruled according to Sharia law.
Puerto Rico relief efforts underway as White House waives Jones Act
According to NBC News, the White House announced on Sept. 28 that it will waive a near century-old shipping law to speed up delivery of humanitarian aid to the hurricane-devastated island of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello met the decision with both with praise and pleas from Puerto Ricans asking for more help. In Maria’s aftermath, the island’s residents lack fuel, clean drinking water, food and electricity in many areas. The Jones Act decreased foreign competition and the United State’s reliance on foreign-built ships since the end of World War I. However, it impeded the movement of critical supplies to the mainland after the destruction caused by hurricane Maria.
Rep. Scalise returns to Capitol Hill after sustaining gunshot wounds in June
Republican Rep. Steve Scalise returned to Congress Sept. 28 for the first time since a gunman opened fire — wounding Scalise and injuring several team members — at a congressional baseball practice in June, according to CNN. He received a standing ovation on the house floor while delivering an emotional speech saying, “I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen.” Scalise announced plans to resume his work in Congress while continuing rehabilitation. World leaders like British Prime Minister Theresa May and Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu sent the congressional leader best wishes for a full recovery.
Iraqi Kurds support independence, regional powers object
CNN reported that the Kurdish Regional Government is ready to initiate a serious discussion regarding secession from Iraq. Voters in Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly endorsed independence on Sept. 25 through a referendum which was met with increasing tension in the region and worldwide. Citizens of Baghdad have called for nullification of the referendum. The Kurdish forces play a critical role in helping world powers push back ISIS from Syria and Iraq, and believed the international community would support their pursuit of independence. However, the United States and the United Kingdom denounced the 92 percent vote. Additionally, Turkish officials have threatened to enforce oil trading restrictions with the Iraqi Kurds.
Myanmar’s government cancels UN visit amidst Rohingya crisis
On Sept. 28, the Myanmar government canceled a planned visit by the United Nations to the Rakhine state, a region witnessing nearly half a million Rohingya Muslims fleeing dangerous persecution. The UN reports that they have not yet been briefed on the reason for the cancellation of the visit. UN officials have defined the brutal military crackdown of Rohingya villages as “ethnic cleansing” and around 480,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to neighboring countries, largely due to Bangladesh’s overcrowded refugee camps. The head of the UN’s migration council reported increasing cases of sexual violence on Rohingyas staying in the refugee camps. According to TIME, UN officials are unsure how many Rohingya have died since the attacks began in October 2016, but say that the death toll is in the thousands.