Beyond the Bricks
by Aaron Pentheny | published Nov. 17th, 2013
illustration by Colleen McNally
Women Drivers in Saudi Arabia
In late October, a significant number of Saudi Arabian women organized protest for the right to drive an automobile. According to CNN, there is no formal law banning women from driving, but government officials claim that the country is not ready for women to drive. This is accompanied by the male guardianship laws which make sure that women have to obtain permission from a male authority figure, such as a husband or father, for actions such as traveling and getting married.
The movement was soon ended by the government, but it succeeded in spreading the issue through media and generating global concern. This is only one of many rights issues, but Saudi Arabia has been making strides. Reuters reports that starting in 2015, women will have the right to vote and run for local office. In addition, women are now represented by 20 percent of the Shura Council, which is the previously all-male formal advisory body for the State. Although Saudi Arabia has been making strides in women’s rights, it is still lacking in comparison of other Arab states: Reuters ranks it as the third worst country in that area to be a women.
Iran Nuclear Talks
Iran broke off talks involving their controversial nuclear weapons program with the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany for ten days starting November 11, as a deal could not be reached, according to CNN. The talks were not unanimously supported on any side and the proposed plans were met with strong opposition from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from Israel, according to the New York Times. Exactly why the deals went sour is unclear, but Secretary of State John Kerry explained that France and the United States had signed a deal that Iran refused. Iranian citizens were hopeful of the negotiations and expected that the sanctions against their country would be lessened while political fluidity with Western countries would be restored. As for the current nuclear and economic superpowers, they fear an arms race in the Middle East region.
Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines
The sovereign island country of the Philippines was struck on November 8 by a massive typhoon that has been named Typhoon Haiyan. The 147-mph winds and the tsunami-like 20 foot wall of seawater killed over 3,633 people, CBS News reports, while the United Nations calculate 4,600 have died. Many corpses remain unburied while survivors attempt to find viable food and drinking water. People are without electricity, and the government is struggling to provide aid on this scale. Hospitals, grocery stores and malls are being looted by individuals desperate for food and medical supplies. As stated on the Washington Post, the United States has sent the Navy to provide aid and support to the Philippine relief workers and military. Currently, the United States, Britain, the Vatican, Japan, New Zealand, Taiwan and China have pledged various sums of monetary aid to the distraught country, as reported by Time magazine.