Know Before You Go: Number Nine, Jonas, and the Caucus Race Begins

Here are the Top Five Stories that caught our eyes this week:

  1. Iran Nuclear Sanctions
    Nuclear Missile celebrated in Tehran last year
    Iran nuclear missile paraded in the streets of Tehran last year. (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: After a long December of negotiations, Iran and the U.S. reached a deal following Nuclear disarmament by Iran. Although the Nuclear sanctions on Iran go back as far as 2006, this is one of the first positive signs in US-Iran relations in a number of years. The economic sanctions that were implemented on Iran by the US, EU, and UN have now been lifted as well as EU and UN restrictions on trade, defense, and banking. The US is expected to still keep its economic sanctions in place, however, even though assets are beginning to flow freely once more. Also in the deal was a prisoner swap. Four American-Iranians were released as well as a fifth American; seven Iranians were freed by the U.S. However, the U.S is now sanctioning 11 companies/individuals who have been linked to the missile program. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35338901.
    • Why You Need to Know This: This is a huge step forward for Iran and their relationship with the rest of the world. This is one of the first times that we have seen a glimmer of hope with this group. After a week of these sanctions being in places, and the former ones lifted, all seems quiet on the Iranian Front.
    • Office Top Tip: Things look bright, but that doesn’t mean that everything is hunky dory. We still strongly recommend no travel to the Middle Eastern region as the region is still full of turmoil.
  2. Ninth Planet??
    Planet 9's orbit
    Planet Nine’s supposed orbit (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Years after the demotion of Pluto from planetary status, astronomers are now saying that there could be a new “Ninth Planet”. Orbiting far beyond Pluto, the potential planet has a mass that is 10x of Earth. California Institute of Technology (Caltech) astronomers have no firm confirmations that the planet does exist, so scientists are frantically searching for confirmation. For now, it is being called Planet X, and the planet is hidden among the Kuiper Belt. Ellen Stofan, NASA’s chief scientist, is waiting for telescopic evidence before any confirmation could move forward. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35365323.
    • Why You Need to Know This: For those in the generations who knew Pluto as a planet, letting go of the former planet is still something difficult. Many still consider Pluto a planet. With this new ninth planet, the solar system as we know it could change forever. This will be on the forefront of scientific thought for the next few years.
    • Office Top Tip: Planet X won’t become an official planet for many, many years. But it is still something important to note and be aware of as astronomers continue onward.
  3. Stock Markets Fall
    Stocks
    Wall Street traders amid the sharp fall of US Stocks (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: Several years have passed since the United States and the rest of the world fell into an unprecedented global recession. Now, the world seems poised to be on the brink of another recession, or at least some major economic problems. It all began in Asia two weeks ago, when Chinese stocks plummeted sharply. Dubai and Japan prices fell as well. Then Europe was affected as stock exchanges hit a 15-month low point. In the U.S. the Dow Jones and S&P 500 (two of the largest stock indexes in the U.S.) both fell over 1.5%, nothing compared to the 3% low they hit earlier in the day. Many are seeing this slide as an after effect of oil prices which are hitting a 13 year low to less than $30 a barrel. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/business-35362397
    • Why You Need to Know This: Over the past year, the global economy has been teetering on the edge of something like this. With Greece still in financial strains, China’s stocks plummeting, and oil being cheaper than ever, money can go farther or could fall farther faster than ever. All of the economies are tied together, but with the Dollar conversion rate stretching a bit farther, it could mean interesting news for traveling.

      Oil
      Oil prices over the past two years (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Keep an eye on the market as you travel. Depending on how the market fluctuates, you could find yourself with cash to burn or with less than you imagined.
  4. Jonas Slams East Coast
    Washington DC in snow
    Washington D.C. covered in snow (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: On Friday, Jan 22, Winter Snow Storm Jonas slammed into the East Coast of the United States. Snow ranged from less than 1” to a whopping 42” in some areas. 29 deaths have been reported in the New England area, mostly due to car accidents. New York City had issued a travel ban that shut down most of the traffic in the usually bustling city. Now that schools have been open, it is looking like things are returning to normal there. However, in many other areas where snow fall was the heaviest, schools and works will be closed. Places like Washington D.C., New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland will offer limited travel services and most will stay home. Almost 12,000 flights have been cancelled or delayed, causing massive headaches for many travelers. The snow system has now moved out of the U.S. and his heading across the Atlantic. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35394742.
    • Why You Need to Know This: With this storm hitting the East Coast travel Hub, expect many flights to be delayed or cancelled this coming week. This will have a ripple effect on the rest of the flights around the country and the world. This could cause issues if you are traveling in the next week, and maybe even the week after!

      Snow Depths
      Snow depths from different locations on the US East Coast (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: Keep calm and keep breathing. This is a hugely stressful week for everyone involved. If your flights out of the country get cancelled or there are other issues surrounding your trip, please get in touch with us!
  5. Iowa Caucuses
    Cruz
    Republican winner Ted Cruz (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • What You Need to Know: The U.S. Presidential campaign has been going on for a while, but Monday began the first key point of the entire race. The fight began in Iowa, the first of the 50 states that will be going through caucuses over the next few weeks and months. Republican front runner, Donald Trump was delt a shocking loss, coming in second to Ted Cruz, the Texas senator. Cruz gathered 26% of the votes and was given eight delegates, while Trump had 23% and seven delegates. In a shocking moment, Marco Rubio tied with Donald Trump with 23% of the votes and 7 delegates. Meanwhile, the democratic race was much tighter. Hillary Clinton received 50% of the vote, with Bernie Sanders right at her heels with 47%. With 22 and 21 delegates respectively, the democratic race is getting much tighter. 6 of the precincts had their votes decided by a coin toss, the way that Iowa decides ties in elections. For more information on this story, visit http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35468776.
    • Why You Need to Know This: The Caucus system is a way for each party to determine a nominee for the 2016 elections. Depending on the percentage of votes each candidates receives, they get a certain number of delegates. At the end of the caucus votes, the Republican and Democratic parties will meet and solidify who their candidate for President will be. Then we will go into November presidential elections.

      Sanders
      Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders celebrating after receiving a huge number of the votes (Image courtesy of the BBC)
    • Office Top Tip: If you are able to vote in your state’s caucus, DO SO. This is the only way your vote will be heard and that you will be able to help choose the next president of the United States.
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