The number of migrants dying crossing the Mediterranean Sea this year is startling. Around 900 people have been reported dead or missing at sea so far this year, compared to 17 who died in the same period last year, according to the United Nations. A shipwreck earlier this week left hundreds feared dead and another shipwreck on Thursday left another 41 migrants feared dead.
And a little extra. This year, tens of thousands of Middle Eastern and African people, many of whom are fleeing wars, have already attempted to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe.
This flow of migrants and asylum seekers across the Mediterranean has increased since the 2011 Arab Spring, a series of pro-democracy public protests across the Middle East and northern Africa. “A big reason people are fleeing is that conflicts at home are either not going away or getting worse,” BuzzFeed News’ Shyamantha Asokan writes. Syria’s civil war is in its fourth year, Libya has seen a recent surge in violence, and Eritrea, an east African country, hasn’t held elections in more than two decades.
A migrant from Syria holds her child upon arrival in Greece at the port of Lesbos Island on Thursday.
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP / Getty Images
A bill introduced by key congressional leaders would give the Obama administration “fast track” authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade deals. That authority, called the “trade promotion authority,” would allow President Obama to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership and allow Congress the power to vote on it, but denies them the ability to amend or obstruct it, according to the New York Times . The TPP is the largest trade deal since the 1994 free trade agreement with the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Obama has said the partnership would help ensure U.S. competitiveness against China.
Catch up quickly.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a 12-nation trade and regulatory deal in the Asia-Pacific that Obama has “touted as a cornerstone of his second-term agenda,” according to the Washington Post .
The TPP would establish the world’s largest free-trade zone, involving 12 Asia-Pacific countries (including the U.S., but excluding China).
The pact would also cut taxes on imports and exports, hammer down intellectual property guidelines, and make it easier for international companies to compete with government-backed businesses.
If enacted, the TPP would affect nearly 1 billion people around the world, two-thirds of global gross domestic product, and 65% of global trade, according to USA Today .
The deal is opposed by many Democrats, labor unions, and environmental groups who say it would kill U.S. jobs and benefit large, multinational corporations.
WE’RE KEEPING AN EYE ON
The chaos in Yemen is helping al-Qaeda’s branch there. Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch has consolidated control of Hadramawt, one of the country’s largest provinces, capturing a major airport, an oil terminal, and Hadramawt’s main military base. “The gains highlight how al-Qaeda has exploited the chaos in Yemen, where [the Huthis] are battling forces loyal to exiled President Abdu Rabu Mansur Hadi,” according to the Associated Press. Saudi Arabia has led airstrikes in Yemen for three weeks in support of Hadi and against the rebels — and not al-Qaeda — but has so far failed to halt the rebels’ advance.
The Yemeni al-Qaeda branch is considered the most dangerous in the global terrorist network. The group claimed responsibility for the attacks on Charlie Hebdo , a satirical magazine in Paris, earlier this year.
The shadow of Shiite rebels, known as Huthis, cast on a large representation of the Yemeni flag as they attend a demonstration against an arms embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council on Huthi leaders, in Sanaa, Yemen, on Thursday.
Hani Mohammed / AP
What’s next? “Al-Qaeda’s adversaries in Yemen are largely in disarray or distracted by other fighting … and the Saudi assaults on the Huthis have indirectly helped empower al-Qaeda in ways the group had not enjoyed before,” according to the New York Times . United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon yesterday called for an immediate cease-fire to spur peace talks, saying the country is “in flames,” and U.N.-brokered talks offered “the best way out of a drawn-out war with terrifying implications for regional stability.”
DID YOU HEAR ABOUT THIS?
West Africa is still at risk of another deadly Ebola outbreak, World Health Organization officials warned on Thursday. Global health efforts have successfully brought the number of confirmed Ebola patients in the region down to below 40, after more than 10,000 people died from the virus over the last year. But officials are still concerned about a recent string of Ebola cases showing up in poor, hard-to-reach coastal areas.
Electronic cigarette use among middle and high school students tripled between 2013 and 2014 — that’s effectively more than any other tobacco product, according to the 2014 National Youth Tobacco Survey. With this sharp increase, public health officials fear their decades of work in smoking prevention is being undone. Officials blame this trend on e-cigarette companies following the older tactics of traditional cigarette brands by launching aggressive marketing campaigns targeting teenagers. Unlike traditional tobacco, the e-cigarette industry is still largely unregulated.
Mireya Acierto / Getty Images
The black population in the U.S. is becoming more ethnically diverse due to a rapidly growing number of immigrants in recent decades, largely from Africa and the Caribbean. The Pew Research Center reported the proportion of foreign-born black Americans has grown from 3.1% of the U.S. black population in 1980 to 8.7% in 2013, according to the Washington Post . The center estimates that by 2060, 16.5% of the U.S. black population will be foreign-born.
Apple is buying up roughly 36,000 acres of private forestland, which will be sustainably harvested and used in the company's product packaging. The purchase comes out of a partnership with The Conservation Fund, which will manage the forests. The forestland is located in Maine and North Carolina, and they are part of an estimated 45 million acres of private forest in the U.S. in danger of being lost to development.
Brunswick forest in North Carolina.
Whitney Flanagan / The Conservation Fund
“When anonymity is treated like bait, it can twist into something more sinister.” For many sexual assault victims who want to publicly tell their stories, anonymity for themselves or their assailants seems like the safe, smart decision. But as recent cases have shown, anonymity is no guarantee of protection from an increasingly hostile internet, BuzzFeed News’ Jessica Testa writes.
Quick things to know:
The California measles outbreak that began in Disneyland may end, according to state health officials (BuzzFeed News)
More than 2.3 million units of the Apple Watch have been pre-ordered, a new estimate has claimed (The Verge)
How well you do know what happened in the news this week? Take the BuzzFeed News Quiz!
Our special guest today is BuzzFeed Books editor, Isaac Fitzgerald. We asked him to share two articles he especially enjoyed this week.
In The Millions, Gina Fattore writes about the young and glamorous 18th century novelist Frances Burney, and how getting the wrong day job working for the Queen may have ruined Burney's once-promising literary career. As Fattore eloquently states, "Writers have always asked this question: How will I live? And the answers have never been easy."
Nick Laird delves into Claudia Rankine's award-winning poetry collection, Citizen: An American Lyric, and describes some of the complex and multi-layered ways in which Rankine examines race, in prose that is “...plain, direct, conversational, though simultaneously uncanny and reverberant, continually wrongfooting the reader, swapping referents, mixing the physical and metaphysical at will.”
For more weekend reads, check out our Sunday features newsletter .
Does your dog really love you, or does she just see you as a giant food delivery machine? A new study published in the journal Science suggests it might actually be the former. Researchers found that when dogs stare into their owner’s eyes, both dog and owner experience an increase in oxytocin levels — the hormone thought to play a role in trust and emotional bonding. Maybe (puppy) love is real after all.
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