Following the conclusion of the 26th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the new chair of the AU, Chadian President Idriss Deby, must resolve the situation in Burundi without force. Prior to the summit, the AU planned on sending a 5,000-soldier peacekeeping force there to quell violence after the disputed election of President Pierre Nkurunziza. Now the AU has changed course and seeks to find a diplomatic solution. Amnesty International recently produced satellite images of an alleged mass grave site near where Burundi police killed at least 21 people on Dec. 11.
On Feb. 2, European Council President Donald Tusk submitted a proposal to the United Kingdom to prevent their potential departure from the European Union. Under Prime Minister David Cameron, the Conservative Party plans to hold a referendum on whether the nation should remain a member by 2017. Proponents of the referendum cite questions of UK sovereignty, integration and economic competitiveness within the EU. Tusk’s letter outlines a plan to address these issues. Other EU members must now agree to the deal’s terms in February before a referendum is held.
The Indian Supreme Court will once again hear a case involving a law criminalizing gay sex. In 2009, a lower court ruled that Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalizes “intercourse against the order of nature,” was illegal. The Supreme Court reversed this decision in 2013. Currently, violators of the law face 10 years in prison plus a fine. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, India is one of 75 nations with laws criminalizing same-sex activities. In six countries, as well as parts of Nigeria and Somali, offenders are sentenced to death.
On Oct. 23, the Southern California Gas Co. reported a natural gas leak at its Aliso Canyon site in Los Angeles. According to estimates by the California Air Resources Board, over 86 million kilograms of methane have escaped into the air. People have reported significant health symptoms, including rashes, headaches and respiratory issues, from exposure. California Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency on Jan. 6, and recently, the South Coast Air Quality Management District sued the gas company responsible for negligence.
Peer-to-peer lending company Ezubao has been accused of running the largest Ponzi scheme in China’s history. Chinese authorities froze Ezubao asset’s on Dec. 16. 21 suspects were arrested on Jan. 14. NPR reported the online enterprise “used fake business listings to take in about 50 billion yuan ($7.6 billion) from nearly 1 million people.” According to the state-owned Xinhua News Agency, Ezubao promised users a 14 percent return on their online investments. In 2008, the Securities and Exchange Commission required similar businesses in the U.S. to register their services as financial securities.