Xpat Weekly Update: The 5 Most Important Global Stories This Week

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1. Brazil Engulfed in Presidential Crisis

Brazil, Latin America’s largest country, and the fifth most populous nation on earth, is tied in political knots only months before the 2016 Summer Olympics arrive as President Dilma Rousseff faces impeachment proceedings.

President Dilma Rousseff is charged with violating budgetary laws in order to conceal a deficit before what she anticipated would be a tough 2014 reelection campaign, borrowing money from banks the executive controls to fund domestic programs. Others in her administration face various charges of corruption. Rousseff claims the impeachment process is sham, and has labeled it an attempted coup.

New York Times

2. Saudi Arabia Replaces Its Once-Influential Oil Minister

In a move with complex political motives, Saudi Arabia is replacing Ali al-Naimi, its oil minister since 1995 and a once-prominent figure in OPEC, with Khalid al-Falih, chair of state-owned oil company Aramco.

The move is seen as both the latest effort of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to consolidate power, as well as what one analyst called a “brutal battle for market access against regional rival Iran.” The change-up of ministers follows al-Naimi’s apparent loss of authority at the last OPEC meeting, when the group decided not to freeze oil production at current levels in a bid to support global oil prices. Saudi’s economy is suffering greatly as a result of falling oil revenues.


3. Panama Papers Continue to Shake up Britain, and Beyond

The so-called Panama Papers are a set of 11.5 million leaked files from the database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The firm is located in Panama, a country well-known for its loose corporate and tax laws. The documents reveal how the world’s ultra-rich exploit secretive regimes to hide money from officials at home, and to avoid taxation.

Among the twelve national leaders connected to the Papers are Britain’s David Cameron, Vladimir Putin, Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s prime minister, Ayad Allawi, former prime minister of Iraq, Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine, Alaa Mubarak, son of Egypt’s former president, and the prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davio Gunnlaugsson. A number of senior officials and businesspeople in China and Japan are also involved.

The Guardian

4. U.S. Activates Romanian Missile Defense Site

In a move that suggests the Cold War in Europe may be still very much alive, the United States, alongside NATO officials, activated an $800 million missile shield located in Romania. The U.S. claims the defense system is only to counter the threat of ballistic missiles from Iran aimed at European capitals, while the Kremlin says the new facility is aimed at blunting its own nuclear arsenal. The location inside Eastern Europe adds credibility to the Russian claims in the minds of some critics.


5. U.S. Officials: Why Does ISIS Have So Many Toyota Trucks?

We’ve all seen them so often in Islamic State propaganda videos that they are almost a comical cliche — why does ISIS seem to prefer Toyotas for its Mad Max style technical vehicles, and where do all those trucks come from? The question has moved from an Internet meme to official inquiries by U.S. officials, to official denials of culpability by Toyota. But that still doesn’t answer the question…


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