Workers’ abuses in qatar—Amnesty International published a report last week declaring that the country of Qatar has not improved the employment conditions of their workers in the way they were expected. Seven years from now, Qatar will be hosting the 2022 Soccer World Cup. Many of the major construction endeavors being undertaken in Qatar are for World Cup facilities, but the people working on them are experiencing such poor conditions that 441 of them died from unsatisfactory living conditions and close-to-slavery employment in the past year.
Qatar is an incredibly small, incredibly rich country. However, that wealth is concentrated in a small portion of the people—the other approximate 83 percent of the Qatari population is made up of migrant workers. These people, predominantly from India and Nepal, are the ones who are constructing the facilities for the World Cup. A year ago, Qatar promised to take steps to improve these conditions, but not much change in policy has been implemented since then.
Militarization against human traffickers—War and poverty in Northern Africa have sent thousands of refugees fleeing from their homes. The result is that many people are paying human traffickers for transport to European asylum. Aside from the implications of hundreds more people exposed to the trafficking trade, accidents during travel have resulted in the deaths of many travelers.
Recently, a ship capsized on its way to Italy, killing about 700 passengers on board. The European Union has identified this problem and is employing military action against it. The EU will be implementing a plan to collect intelligence on the routes, find the ships and destroy them. Those on board will either be returned to African ports or considered for asylum in Europe.
Los angeles raises the minimum wage—Last week, Los Angeles became the next city to jump on the minimum wage raise bandwagon. The city voted to change minimum wage from $9 to $15—to be implemented starting in July, and reached by the year 2020. Seattle made a similar change in the past year, along with other cities like Chicago and San Francisco. But Los Angeles is the most populated city so far to raise the minimum wage, which some say makes them a national leader. According to Maria Elena Durazo, due to their large population, Los Angeles’ decision could affect similar changes in other parts of the country. Durazo is now a part of the restaurant and hotel workers’ union, Unite Here, and formerly in charge of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor Los Angeles’ vote is expected to expand past the city and have an impact on a national level. Durazo said that this move on the part of Los Angeles is a segment of a much larger effort to eradicate poverty from the United States.
Same-sex marriage legalized in ireland—This week, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage by popular vote. More than one million people came out to vote, and the ballot passed by a majority, 62 to 38 percent. This represents a huge bound forward for Ireland for many reasons. First, homosexuality was illegal in Ireland until 1993. Therefore, many voters on this measure can remember and have experienced living in a time when homosexuality was criminalized. Secondly, the decision was made by popular vote, as opposed to in the United States where the same question of whether to legalize same-sex marriage for the entire country is being answered by legislative officials. And thirdly, Ireland is a predominantly Roman Catholic country, with a lot of their politics rooted in Roman Catholic values. Abortion is not legal unless the life of the mother is in danger, and Catholicism heavily influences the education system. And yet, this decision passed with a large majority, which some say is indicative of a more defined split between the church and state of Ireland than ever before.