Here and There: The World Right Now

The following selected domestic and international events provide a weekly image of the world in brief.

Culture: Susan Fowler on Harassment and Discrimination in Silicon Valley

On Tuesday, February 18, Susan Fowler released her book, “Whistleblower: My Journey to Silicon Valley and Fight for Justice at Uber.” Two years ago, the former software engineer for the ride-sharing company wrote a blog post about experiencing sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Uber. Her story ignited a firestorm that ultimately ended with then-CEO Travis Kalanick’s resignation. In re-telling her story, Fowler provides commentary on sexual harassment and discrimination that reflects the continual unfolding of the #MeToo movement two years after the hashtag entered the national dialogue.

Economy: Slowdown in Russia

In 2019, Russia’s GDP growth rate was 1.2 percent worse than in 2018 and more than 1.7 percent behind the global average. The actual statistics are better than ministry officials predicted. Nonetheless, they are tell-tale signs of an economic slowdown. Analysts say the reasons are two-fold. Firstly, the Russian government has always been hesitant to invest in its private industries. Secondly, European nations have sanctioned oil companies supporting Venezuelan President Maduro in recent years. For example, the United States imposed sanctions against a subsidiary of state-controlled Rosneft Oil Company as recently as Tuesday. It remains to be seen whether or not the Russian industries will adapt in time to allow for economic revival.

Health: Coronavirus Worsens

There are currently more than 70,000 active cases of Covid-19. At 1,772, the death toll has officially passed that of 2003’s SARS epidemic, and deaths have been reported in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, and France. 542 people have coronavirus on the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship that Japan quarantined after a passenger who disembarked was diagnosed with coronavirus in Hong Kong. The U.S. State Department collaborated with the Department of Health and Human Services to fly the estimated 380 Americans on board to America, even though the 14-day quarantine period had not been completed; 14 of those Americans tested positive for coronavirus. As people were mandated to stay in their cabins during the duration of the quarantine, the rapid spread of the virus onboard stressed the need for more comprehensive and rigorous quarantine protocol.

Politics: Democratic Primaries Continue

For the first time, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders has surpassed former Vice President Joe Biden to lead in national polls. On February 11, Sanders won the New Hampshire primary by a two percent margin over former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. As of a February 12 YouGov/ Economist poll, Sanders led Biden and Buttigieg by four and twelve points, respectively. Per Nevada-specific polls preceding the upcoming caucus, however, Sanders leads by as many as seven points.

War/Conflict: Proxy-War in Syria

The Syrian War is currently in its ninth year. In recent days, Russian-backed government forces and Turkish-backed opposition forces have clashed in the rebel stronghold of Idlib. The northwestern province is a densely-populated civilian region. According to the United Nations, more than 700,000 Idlib residents have already been displaced, and there are periodic reports of children freezing to death. Continued talks between combatants have yielded no cease-fire as of yet.