Weekly Roundup – Feb 16 to 22
There is a lot of news, some of which happens to be pretty interesting, so I made my first article back extra-long to try to catch up:
Hijacked to Geneva
On Monday an Ethiopian Airlines flight scheduled to land in Rome ended up in Geneva due to the co-pilot hijacking the plane. Seeking asylum from his native Ethiopia, the co-pilot locked his pilot out of the cockpit when given a chance, informed officials he had hijacked the plane and redirected the flight to take advantage of Switzerland’s asylum provisions. However, the crime of hijacking a plane with over 200 passengers now diminishes that possibility.
Circus in Indian Politics
Always a source of argument and entertainment, things were taken to a new level in the Indian parliament last week when one MP took out a can of pepper spray and doused his colleagues out of frustration, sending over a dozen MPs to the hospital and many others harmed. In the midst of the Telangana issue dealing with the creation of a new state, tempers so high that the attacker was to be restrained and removed when he unleashed his spray.
Two members of the Russian activist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were arrested and subsequently released while at the site of the Sochi Olympics earlier this week. There to protest the lack of freedom of speech in Russia, they were arrested as suspects of theft at their hotels, beaten in the process and then released less than 48-hours later. The net result is arguably giving more strength to their complaints and protests
American skaters being upset, weather and fog holding up events, hotels and water fit only for jokes, and the 2014 version of Cool Runnings sans John Candy. The Sochi Olympics has been on everyone’s minds for the past few weeks for a variety of reasons as odd as dual-toilet bathrooms and inspiring as a crowd-funded darling of the Jamaican Bobsled team. Talks of a new Cold War and the chance of the Dutch upsetting the US’ utter domination of medals have also found their ways to the top of US media, largely ignoring the humanitarian and social issues looming over the games.
Bloodshed in Kiev
After months of anti-government protests by thousands in Kiev and other parts of Ukraine, the scene turned violent when President Yanukovich ordered police and forces to clear out the heart of the movement. Violence raged until a truce was declared which only lasted a matter of hours before erupting into greater violence and continued bloodshed.
After images and news of torturous crimes against humanity conducted in North Korean prison camps were discovered in a UN commission, there are calls to bring Kim Jong-un before a court to personally answer for these crimes. This comes up amid other criticisms of spending over half a billion USD on pianos, cars and horses while his people suffer and starve.
Slow Starting Markets Rebound
January had a rocky start in the financial markets as bad data coming out of China sent ripples across Emerging Markets. Coupled with bad weather in the US and the effects of Quantitative Easing tapering equity markets tumbled while EM currencies fell in value there was a clear retreat from last year’s gains until last week when investors gained confidence and indices bounced back. Much to look forward to in the year with a European recovery and the retreat of QE in the US.
Flap No More
Dissatisfied with the attention and growth of the popular (yet maddeningly difficult) mobile game Flappy Birds, Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen decided to take down the game from the Android and Apple app stores. Though the game was said to earn $50,000 in daily revenue Nguyen found targeted internet hate enough to make him move from making a bird jump through pipes to his next development. What may be more surprising is how the frustratingly simple game gained such fame in the first place.
Acquisitions And IPOs Galore
Comcast has decided to acquire Time Warner to establish a majority share of the cable providing market, King (makers of Candy Crush) and GrubhubSeamless have opted to file for IPOs and Facebook acquires WhatsApp. While Comcast moves to increase its power against competitor content and cable providers from Netflix to Dish, the Candy Crush developers have decided to go public with the company’s expected valuation at around $5 billion. GrubhubSeamless similarly decided to raise funds in the public market, though Facebook’s acquisition of the social-IM service that is big across the world especially in emerging markets for a whopping $19 billion in cash and stock overshadows all else. Dwarfing previous deals such as Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion, the deal raises questions about Facebook’s strategy.