UN Humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien announced on 10 March that the world is “facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations”. He cited that more than 20 million people in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria are at risk of starvation and famine, and $4.4 billion in funds are needed to avert the crisis. More than two-thirds of Yemen’s population are in need of aid, and more than seven million are facing starvation, partly due to the country’s ongoing civil war. South Sudan is facing a similar crisis due to its civil war, putting 4.9 million people at risk of starvation. Similarly, in Nigeria and Somalia, attacks by extremist groups have contributed to food insecurity and have restricted foreign aid.
North Korea: ICBMs
Since February, North Korea has fired twenty-three missiles in sixteen tests from its capital city, Pyongyang. On 4 July, the country fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which is supposedly able to reach anywhere in the world. On 29 November, the Hwasong-15 was fired, reaching 4475 km in altitude, the record for any North Korean ICBM . Many countries, including the USA, South Korea, and Japan, fear that these tests are a threat to their countries and international peace overall, and the UN is currently discussing ways to eliminate the nuclear threat.
A number of major terrorist incidents occurred in 2017.
On 1 October, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock fired more than 1100 rounds into the crowd attending the Route Harvest music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. This is the deadliest mass shooting carried out by a lone gunman: fifty-eight people were killed in the attack and another five hundred and forty-six were injured.
A suicide bombing occurred during an Ariana Grande concert in the Manchester Arena on 22 May, killing twenty-three people and injuring over five hundred others . The improvised bomb was packed with shrapnel in the form of nuts and bolts, and was detonated as the crowd of 14,200 left.
On 14 October, a truck bombing in Mogadishu, Somalia killed five hundred people and injured three hundred and sixteen, with another sixty-two people still missing. The attack is the third-deadliest terrorist attack in history. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, but it is believed that the militant group Al-Shabaab was involved.
On 24 October, a terrorist attack in Sinai, Egypt targeted a Sufi mosque. The attack involved several bombs, followed by a gun attack from several gunmen that ambushed the worshippers in the mosque. In total, at least two hundred and thirty-five people were killed, and a hundred and nine people were injured. The perpetrators of the attack have not been identified, but the attack bears similarity to attacks of ISIS.
Great American Eclipse
Nicknamed “The Great American Eclipse”, the solar eclipse of 21 August was the first one that could be seen across all of mainland US since 1918. Its path of totality ran across fourteen states, and it was also partially visible in various other countries. Communities that had an optimal view of totality were bombarded with thousands of visitors hoping to experience the once-in-a-lifetime event.
Zimbabwe President Roberge Mugabe Resigns
After thirty-seven years, Robert Mugabe resigned from his position as the President of Zimbabwe on 21 November after a military coup. Mugabe was once seen as a hero as he ended the white-minority rule in Zimbabwe, but public opinion turned during the later years of his presidency. Protests against the former President began when Mugabe fired the Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with intentions for his wife Grace Mugabe to step in. Mugabe was placed under house arrest as the military took control of the country and soon stepped down from his position, leading to celebrations throughout Zimbabwe. Since then, the former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa has been sworn in as the President of Zimbabwe.
This year, there have been many sexual assault allegations against numerous famous men involved in media, politics and various other industries. Since October, when over seventy women have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and sexual assault, a global phenomenon referred to as the “Weinstein effect” emerged, leading to the #MeToo social media movement. As a result, other men such as Kevin Spacey, Matt Lauer, and the former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, to name a few, have been called out for sexual harassment or assault.
While outbreaks of violence between the Rohingya, a group of ethnic Muslims, and the Myanmar government trace back to the 1970s, recent attacks led to many Rohingya Muslims fleeing the country. On 25 August, twelve security officers were killed in Myanmar’s Rakhine State by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Due to the incident, the government saw ARSA as a terrorist organization which led to military and government action including the burning of Rohingya villages, the refusal to citizenship, rape, execution, torture, and the denial of basic rights. In result, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have left Myanmar to seek refuge in Bangladesh.
Grenfell Tower Fire
A giant fire that swept through the Grenfell Tower, a residential apartment in London, on 14 June left seventy-one residents dead. The flames took a day to put out and left the twenty-four-storey residential tower in ruins. The incident exposed severe residential code violations; according to fire safety experts, the tower’s cladding and insulation allowed the fire to spread extremely rapidly. Surviving residents of the tower were provided financial aid and homes from the government and necessities from charities.
In February, after ten years of research, scientists officially announced the discovery of an eighth continent, Zealandia. The 1,800,000 square-mile continental crust lies underwater below New Zealand and various other small islands such as New Caledonia. Although Zealandia is 95% underwater, it has the features of a continental crust rather than an oceanic crust. Because of Zealandia’s uniqueness, geologists are currently searching for fossils in Zealandia to acquire more information about undiscovered history of this continent.
Negotiations between the United Kingdom and European Union (EU) regarding Brexit began on 19 June in Brussels. The first major issue in the negotiations is the rights of British citizens living in EU countries and the rights of EU nationals living in the UK. The second issue is regarding the money involved with Britain’s hefty “divorce bill”, money that the membership countries contribute to the budget of the EU, mostly used to stimulate the economy and create jobs. There has also been extensive discussion about the border between the Republic of Ireland, part of the EU, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK. Future negotiations will also address the trade relationship between the EU and Britain, and deals are to be finalized by October 2018 with Brexit occurring in March 2019.
Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria
30 November marked the end of 2017’s hyperactive Atlantic hurricane season, which proved to be the costliest hurricane season on record. Two major hurricanes landed in the US: Hurricane Harvey, the costliest natural disaster in US history; and Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane of the Atlantic basin ever recorded. Hurricane Maria, the deadliest storm of the year, caused the most infrastructure damage in Puerto Rico, creating a major humanitarian disaster in the country. These three hurricanes occurred from mid-August to end of September, and made up almost all of the $368.66 billion of total damages.
Donald Trump Inauguration — Women’s March
Donald Trump, the 45th US President, was inaugurated on 20 January amidst much controversy; following his inauguration, on 21 January, five million people worldwide participated in the Women’s March protests. The Women’s March on Washington alone had over 500,000 participants, and was a direct message to Trump, who had been accused of sexist remarks and sexual misconduct.
Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital
President Donald Trump labelled Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on 5 December and that the US embassy will be relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The US government has averted from recognizing Jerusalem as the capital for many years due to the lack of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal with both Israelis and Palestinians claiming Jerusalem as their own capital. While the Israeli government is supportive of President Trump’s decision, the Palestinian government, as well as a number of other governments, criticized it harshly. It has already sparked protests on the streets of Jerusalem, Jordan, Turkey and Malaysia, as well anger and violence from Palestinians.
US Withdraws from Paris Climate Agreement On June 1, President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement in November 2020. The Paris climate agreement, signed by 195 countries, is a landmark global accord that works to minimize global warming. However, the newly elected US President Trump believed the agreement would weaken the US economy due to the strict environmental standards it would impose on American companies.The decision, which was made despite many warning the President of the consequences, led to numerous protests across the United States.
On 15 September, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft ended its mission by plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere. The $3.2 billion project was launched by NASA as well as the European, and Italian space agencies in October 1997, arriving in Saturn in June 2004. From the spacecraft’s thirteen years of important observations and photographs of Saturn and its satellites, scientists suggest Saturn’s moons Titan and Enceladus have potentially habitable environments. In order to avoid contamination of these environments with microbes from Earth, the spacecraft’s final plunge into Saturn’s atmosphere marked the end of its successful twenty-year mission.
Saudi Arabia “Anti-corruption” Arrests
Since early November, Saudi Arabia’s anti-corruption committee, headed by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, has arrested hundreds of government ministers, businessmen, and Saudi Arabian princes. The anti-corruption probe challenges those of royals and powerful figures who have long been considered to be above the law. However, some see the arrests as a part of Prince Mohammad’s goal to eliminate his potentials competitors for the throne, while others consider the purge to be a way for the government to gain money. The arrest has affected the economy worldwide, as many of the people arrested hold substantial stocks in international companies.
In 2017, Canada celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary of Confederation. On Parliament Hill, around 25,000 people gathered together to celebrate Canada’s birthday in a ceremony involving Prime Minister Trudeau, Prince Charles, and their wives. In Calgary, many partygoers gathered at Confederation Park and opened a time capsule from 1967, while in PEI, where the Confederation was signed, a book was put into a capsule to be opened in 2167. In addition to the celebrations on Canada Day, all national parks were free of charge for the whole year.