World in Brief

Politics: Protests in France Following Decision to Increase Retirement Age

On March 16, French President Emmanuel Macron used the French constitution’s Article 49.3 to raise the retirement age in France from 62 to 64 without the support of a full parliamentary vote. Following the decision, thousands of protesters came to demonstrate at major French landmarks, including the Place de la Concorde in Paris, against the French Parliament. The protests involved burning police barriers, leaving mountains of garbage on the streets of Paris, and worker strikes across the nation, according to the New York Times. Acts of frustration against the Parliament and Macron have been rising over the past couple of months as French democracy comes into question. Macron, in particular, is being increasingly seen as a political leader who rules alone and on his own accord. Oliver Faure, leader of the French Socialist Party, commented on Macron’s bill and the accompanying protests, comparing Macron’s behavior to a permanent coup d’état.

War: Putin Receives Arrest Warrant for War Crimes by International Criminal Court

President Vladimir Putin faces an arrest warrant for war crimes against Ukraine through a prosecution from the International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 17. The ICC, whose headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, investigates and prosecutes figures associated with war crimes against humanity and genocide. As reported by the New York Times, the court states that Putin holds “individual criminal responsibility for the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian children,” describing the unlawful deportation and migration of Ukraine’s children population succeeding the invasion on Ukraine in February 2022. While the warrant does provide hope for an end to the extreme violence against the people in Ukraine, the chances of Putin being brought to trial while in power are very slim. However, the warrants do further isolate Putin from countries that are part of the ICC, which are obliged to detain him if he travels there, restricting his movements outside of Russia indefinitely. 

Economy: Bank Failures Cause Disruption Across the US

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation took control of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, both large national banks, in one of the largest bank failures in US history, starting with SVB on March 10 and Signature on March 12. The FDIC has insured customers for deposits up to 250,000 dollars; however, many startups and larger companies have used SVB as their bank of choice, and deposited much more than the 250,000-dollar limit. These insurances also do not account for the 151.5 billion dollars in uninsured deposits across America either. To minimize panic and losses, the Biden administration interfered, guaranteeing SVB and Signature customers access to all the money in their previous accounts starting March 13. According to CNN Business, as a result of the bank failures, mortgage rates nationwide have dropped by 0.13%. Sam Khater, chief economist at Freddie Mac, disclosed that “turbulence in the financial markets is putting significant downward pressure on rates, which should benefit borrowers in the short term,” as the U.S. looks to stabilize its economy. 

Climate: Severe Water-Related Disasters Affect Countries Across World

New research, reported by CNN, has found that the intensity of water-related disasters globally has increased as temperatures increase to record levels over the last two decades. The study comes as California, infamous for its historic “megadrought,” has been suddenly affected by heavy rainfalls and snowstorms over the past few months. The weather in California is one of many severe weather events across the world, which have been strongly linked to higher global temperatures rather than naturally changing weather patterns. Similarly, Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake spanning Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, faced months of intense rain which flooded homes and affected drinking water, healthcare facilities, and hydropower. These weather events, particularly water-related, are said to increase in severity as climate change accelerates further. 

Culture: Oscar Awards 2023

As awards season comes to a close, the annual Academy Awards, also known as the Oscars, took place on March 12 in Los Angeles, according to CNN. Hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, the night featured various musical performances, including the winner for Best Original Song, “Naatu Naatu” from the film “RRR.” The Academy highlighted the German-language adapted film “All Quiet on the Western Front” as the film took home four Oscars: International Feature, Production Design, Original Score, and Cinematography. Notably, the film company, A24, was honored for Best Actor for Brendan Fraser’s emotionally-charged performance in “The Whale.” The innovative film “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” also from A24, took home seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress for Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Supporting Actor for Ke Huy Quan, and Best Actress for Michelle Yeoh. Yeoh is the first Asian woman to win Best Actress in the Academy’s history.