Know Before You Go: Cuban Embassy Opening, Terrorism Scare in Bangkok, and Are You Sick of the Greek Crisis Yet?

Here are the Top Five Stories that you need to know!

  1. U.S. Embassy Reopens in Cuba
    Cuba Flag
    Secretary of State John Kerry gives the flag to one of the marines who took it down 50 years ago (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: On Saturday, the U.S. flag was raised over the America Embassy in Havana after 54 years of closure. Secretary of State John Kerry was present to oversee the opening of the embassy. He is the first U.S. Secretary of State to visit Cuba in over 70 years. Although the flag raising was historic and a happy moment for many, Kerry insisted that the U.S. will not lift the economic embargo on Cuba nor will it stop pressing for democracy to come to Cuba. A monumental moment was when the three marines who had taken the flag down 54 years ago returned and raised the flag above the embassy again. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-33919484.
    • Why You Need to Know This: We spoke about Cuba reopening its embassy here in the States a while back. This is good news on the political front. With things being frosty for the past several decades, this is a great leap forward in the U.S.-Cuba relationship. At the same time, Kerry’s comments about keeping the economic embargo and wanting Cuba to be a democracy are pretty harsh. We’ve had the embargo on Cuba for almost 50 years at this point. It has been pretty detrimental to their economy. Former Dictator Fidel Castro was not pleased by this and he still says that Cuba will not be happy until the embargo is lifted.

      Excited Cubans await the embassy's opening. (Image Courtesy of BBC)
      Excited Cubans await the embassy’s opening. (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: As we’ve said before, you never know what could come of this. It is important for students to know this, because we have a Faculty-Led trip that is going to Cuba in March. We will be talking about that more next month.
  2. Greece Part 6
    Tsipras showing pressure during the seven hour debate (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    Tsipras showing pressure during the seven hour debate (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: In the continued saga of the Greek crisis, the members of parliament (MPs) voted to approve the €85 billion bailout. It was only approved and backed after a seven hour, all-night debate. The deal requires spending cuts and tax rises, something that the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was very against in the initial stages of dealing. However, this deal is needed to keep Greece afloat and away from bankruptcy. Tsipras has found lots of opposition from his own party, the left-wing Syriza party; more than 40 MPs voted against the deal and essentially against Tsipras. This huge number suggests that Tsipras will ask for a vote of confidence in parliament which could bring about a flurry of elections if the MPs vote no confidence in Tsipras. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-33925781.
    • Why You Need to Know This: Are you sick of hearing about Greece yet? This story of the summer certainly is nowhere close to being over. With his party turning against him, Tsipras might be reaching the end of this run. Even though the vote has gone through and Greece is saved (for now), there may be no end in sight. This deal is slated to last for three years. Does that mean we could be talking about this all over again in three years? It’s a high probability, but we can hope not.
    • Office Top Tip: Since most of Tsipras’ own party is turning against him, who knows what will be up next for the rest of 2015. It is still the prime time to visit Greece, with the Euro landing at .9:1 to the dollar this morning. Our money is now going farther in Euro holding countries, which is definitely good news.
  3. Chinese Explosion
    Before and after of the explosion (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    Before and after of the explosion (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: The Chinese city of Tianjin was rocked by explosions last Wednesday night. In the port areas of Tianjin, a warehouse exploded, followed by fires and more explosions. The company that owned the warehouse is Ruihai Logistics. The company is said to handle compressed gas, flammable liquid, and toxic chemicals. The dangerous mixture of these could have easily led to the explosion that took place late Wednesday night. First still burned as late as 36 hours after the blasts; over 100 people have been reported dead and 720 have been injured. But this still means that there are people unaccounted for. The Tianjin Port Group Company released a statement stating that dozens of its employees have not been accounted for. It still isn’t clear what caused the blast, but one member of Ruihai Logistics has been arrested. The second explosion was so large that it was equivalent to 21 tons of TNT detonating and it was seen from a satellite. The park lost several thousand cars that were also being stored there. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-33844084.
    • Why You Need to Know This: Tianjin isn’t that close to Beijing, but it is still important to note. This port was responsible for a lot of trade and activity in China. This might be slowing things down on the economic end, even more bad news after devaluing the Yuan last week.

      Explosion as seen from a Japanese weather satellite (Image Courtesy of BBC)
      Explosion as seen from a Japanese weather satellite (White dot in center) (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: China will be rocked by this sudden explosion for a while. With cars destroyed and the port closed, this could spell more trouble for China economically.
  4. Bangkok Bombing
    _85038383_bangkok_backpack_blast 2
    View of the subject and the aftermath of the explosion (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: It has not been a good week for Asian countries. In Thailand, a bomb went off on Monday, killing 20 people and injuring more than 120. Half of the dead were foreigners, probably tourists. Then on Tuesday, a grenade was thrown at a pier in Bangkok. No one was hurt due to the grenade falling short and exploding in the water, harmlessly. The Thai government has released CCTV footage of the subject who left his backpack at the Erawan Shrine, which is a popular destination for tourists and local Thai’s alike. There is no motive at this time and the bomber did not appear to be Thai. Security is being increased at major tourist sites and transportation centers. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-33969621.
    • Why You Need to Know This: This attack took place at one of the biggest tourist places in Bangkok. It’s always hard to think about something like this happening at the Tower of London, or the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China. But with global terrorism becoming more and more rampant, it is always a possibility.

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      Ariel view of the Blast (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Enjoy yourself at world sights and when you’re out and exploring the country. At the same time, be mindful of anything that doesn’t look quite right to you. Go with your gut instinct.
  5. Gay Marriage Bill Enters Australian Parliament
    Mr. Entsch introducing the Gay Marriage bill to parliment
    Mr. Entsch introducing the Gay Marriage bill to Parliament (Image Courtesy of BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: With many countries around the world approving gay marriage as legal (the United States Supreme Court ruled this earlier this year), Australia is now the next country who is stepping up to the plate. This controversial topic has enthusiastic supporters on both sides, in all countries. In Australia, the government has issued an official position, stating that marriage should be between a man and a woman only. The government has so far intervened in any sort of vote about gay marriage. Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has completely ruled out the Members of Parliament (MPs) ability to have a free vote on the bill. This means that it will probably fail in parliament. However, many MPs may cross Abbott and vote in favor of the new bill, including the bill’s creator Warren Entsch. The “Marriage Act” as it stands now, will probably stay in place, despite almost 70% of Australians supporting gay marriage. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-33955375.
    • Why You Need to Know This: This was a huge issue in the U.S. for the longest time. It still is a big deal and people are trying to cut this off, even after the Supreme Court’s ruling. With Australia’s government saying one thing and the people saying another, we’re back to another sticky situation.
    • Office Top Tip: If you’re going to be in Australia, this will definitely be on the minds of many Australians. Keep in mind what our laws say and how our people reacted to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Check back next week for more news so you can Know Before You Go!

All stories are based off of information gather from CNN, the New York Times, The Guardian, The BBC, and the Telegraph.

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