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DGI Brief - Nov 29, 2016

Happy #GivingTuesday to all. Today's top 3 global issues #news are about #SouthKorea #PuertoRico and #Ukraine:

- SOUTH KOREA’s President Park Geun-hey said she is willing to resign over the scandal where she enabled a family friend to have extensive influence over running the country including an indictment for coercion, fraud and abuse of power, charges to which President Park is an accomplice according to prosecutors. The caveat is that parliament must first present a plan for a peaceful transfer of power. Why it matters: Opponents complain this announcement is a tactic to delay Park’s impeachment, slated for debate this Friday. Her approval rating is 4%. Impeachment proceedings could take good portion of 2017, but even still, there are few good contenders for presidency ready to step up should an election to replace her occur one year earlier. A new president wouldn’t necessarily greatly alter South Korea’s foreign policy & alliances, but with shifting global tides & protectionism, such a scandal-driven transfer of power could complicate the already tense atmosphere in Asia.

- Authorities in PUERTO RICO registered nearly 500 new cases of the Zika virus in the past week, totaling now 34,562 cases including 2,700 pregnant women. Why it matters: Battling the epidemic is greatly exacerbated by the deep financial crisis that is paralyzing government services like vector control to eliminate the mosquitos spreading the virus and effective healthcare interventions. Authorities warn a growing number of babies will be born with Zika-related birth defects like microcephaly. Given that Zika is also spread sexually, helping the US territory to fight the epidemic should be top priority.

- UKRAINE: The Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded >30 yrs ago (April 26, 1986), and today, a massive shelter over the reactor was completed. Hailed the “biggest moving construction that humanity has ever created”, the half cylinder-shaped shelter was moved in on hydraulic jacks for 2 weeks before being locked over reactor No.4. Why it matters: >40 countries contributed to funding the 1.5 billion euro construction. It doesn’t just show international solidarity but also the importance of nuclear safety. Chernobyl is a somber reminder of how dangerous nuclear energy can be. Japan’s Fukushima is another such example. But why ever go that route when we have renewables?

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