Here are the Top Five news stories that caught our eyes this week!
- Flooding in Japan
- What You Need to Know: Last week Japan was hit by a tropical storm followed by an abnormal amount of rainfall. This lead to widespread flooding and landslides in north-east Japan, forcing many people to leave and lose their homes. The city of Joso is just north of Tokyo, the country’s capital city. It is in Joso where the country has been hit the hardest. The Kinugawa River broke through its banks and 90,000 people had to abandon their homes. The military was called in so that many citizens could be rescued from where they were stranded on the rooftops of their homes. Tochigi, another Japanese city received almost two feet of rain in two days; this amount of rain is unprecedented in this area. 15 people were injured and 8 remain missing. For more on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34205879
- Why You Need to Know This: Japan has had a rough time of it lately. From crazy seismic activity to nuclear meltdowns and now a crazy amount of rain has left Japan reeling. The flooding has been mostly held to the regions just north of Tokyo. With Japan rest on the borders of a seismic plate, it is expect that there will be some devastation through earthquakes. Floods and heavy rains are a whole other story. The important thing to take away from all of this is that the response time of officials and the military was incredible. If not for them, it could have been much worse.
- Office Top Tip: We are still in the middle of severe weather season across the world. Japan lies in a crucial intersection in the Pacific Ocean. It isn’t uncommon for Tropical Storms or Hurricanes to make their way onto land. The important thing is that Japan is prepared for these events. If you are planning on traveling to Japan, make yourself aware of the procedures.
- Queen Elizabeth’s Reign
- What You Need to Know: Queen Elizabeth II became the United Kingdom’s longest-reigning monarch last Wednesday. In her 63th year as ruler, she has continued to be the guiding force in one of the most powerful countries in the world. Her father became king quite suddenly in 1936 after the death of her grandfather and the abdication of the throne by her uncle. Her controversial marriage to Phillip, now a Duke, has endured throughout her reign, having become the longest marriage of any UK monarch alongside Elizabeth’s reign as queen. She became queen in 1952, after her father passed away while she was in Kenya. She still holds one of the highest approval ratings for any ruler in the world, despite a tumultuous 1990s. The Queen is still a force to be reckoned with at 89 years old. For more information about this story, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/timelines/zgb3cwx and http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-34177107.
- Why You Need to Know This: This is a huge deal in England. Queen Elizabeth II has been the cornerstone of the UK for years. At 89, it is amazing to see how youthful she still can be. With her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in such a public social media spotlight, the Queen has remained a stoic and guiding force to the people.
- Office Top Tip: If you are around the UK, you will see signs of this celebration everywhere. It is an important moment for Her Majesty and the people as well.
- New Species Discovered
- What You Need to Know: 15 partial skeletons have been recovered in South Africa and researchers believe that these bones belong to a human-like species that has never been seen before. The species has been named Homo naledi and has been classified into the same grouping that modern humans belong to. Although researchers haven’t been able to discover how long ago these creatures lived, but it is believed that they could have lived in Africa up to three million years ago. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-34192447.
- Why You Need to Know This: This story could change the face of science forever. This is a huge deal despite the very small bit we’ve talked about it here. This discovery teaches us more about how humans have evolved over centuries as well as what our ancestors were like.
- Office Top Tip: Be prepared to see this pop up in science textbooks all over the world. The more you know right off of the bat, the more you’ll be prepared to discuss this with people around the world.
- North Korea’s Nuclear Operation
- What You Need to Know: In 2007, the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea was shut down. As the major source of plutonium for their nuclear weapons, the hope was that North Korea was not making any progress in the weapons program. But earlier this year, satellite images showed that the volatile country might have restarted operations in Yongbyon. On Tuesday, this was confirmed. KCNA, North Korea’s state-run news agency, reported that the country had more nuclear weapons “in quality and quantity” and was ready to face the U.S. at any time. It is unclear at this time whether North Korea has any weapons at the ready. However, Pyongyang claims that they have made a small bomb that could fit on a missile. Although sources say that North Korea may not have the capabilities to launch a rocket all the way to the U.S., they probably have one that will reach South Korea. The two countries are technically still at war, because the Korean War (1950-1953) ended in armistice, not a peace treaty. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34254634.
- Why You Need to Know This: If North Korea does indeed have a nuclear weapon (or several) this could spell major trouble to the rest of Asia. As we have talked about in the past, North Korea is an incredibly unstable nation that could snap at a moment’s notice. If North Korea does indeed do something drastic against South Korea, the U.S. will probably end up involved as we did in the Korean War. As South Korea’s allies (along with most of the Western World), we have already vowed to back Korea while China has officially backed North Korea. This could spell a long and tumultuous conflict that most of the world would prefer to avoid.
- Office Top Tip: As with most of the North Korean conflicts that have arisen lately, many experts thing that North Korea is bluffing once again. Whether they are or not, the fact that Yongbyon is up and operational again is cause for some major concern. If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia or South Korea, keep a watchful eye out for any news regarding the North.
- Russia Pledges Military Support to Syria
- What You Need to Know: Syria’s civil war has been a continuous struggle since 2011 when the Arab Spring revolts took root. Many of the refugees that have been appearing in Europe, causing the migration crisis on the continent of Europe. Now, Russia is stepping up, but not in a good way. Russian President Vladimir Putin has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the dictator that the Syrian people have been trying to revolt against. Although Putin claims that the military equipment is being shipped to help the government fight the Islamic State terrorist group, many Western states are concerned that this will prolong the conflict that is edging on its 5th year. On Saturday, two Russian cargo planes with 80 tons of humanitarian aid came to Syria. Russia is claiming that the planes were carrying materials for a refugee camp. Russia has a naval base in Tartus, a coastal city in Syria. There is suspicion that there have been aircraft and two tank landing ships that have already arrived at Tartus.
- Why You Need to Know This: It is a waiting game at this point. Who knows what is really going on in Syria or what Russia is really trying to accomplish. The conflict in Syria has been constant for the past four years and all of the refugees that are flooding Europe right now are from Syria attempting to escape this conflict.
- Office Top Tip: It is wise to be informed about the Migrant Crisis as well as what is going on in Syria. With the conflict looking like it’ll continue for a while, Russia’s involvement could cause the whole situation to get more messy.
Check back next week for more news so you can Know Before You Go!