Sunday news round-up: July 13th-19th

Top Story: World powers reach largely one-sided deal with Iran: After months of secret negotiations and endless hiccups, the Vienna Conference on Iran’s nuclear weapons programme has finally come to a close. The highly anticipated deal, reached between Iran and six world powers lead by the U.S., will relieve some of the economic sanctions imposed upon the Islamic Republic, in return for full compliance with the non-proliferation deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency has also signed a separate treaty with Iran in order to further prevent any nuclear weapons accumulation. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani hailed the deal as an avoidance of an “unnecessary conflict”, while Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei insists that the deal will not put an end to Iran’s rivalry with the U.S. Although the deal has been signed and secured, Barack Obama now needs Congressional approval to fully implement and solidify it in law, something it’s not clear he will be able to do. Read the full text of the deal here.

Greece and creditors reach austerity-ridden deal: The government of Greece has finally caved in to Troika demands after months of fraught negotiations and tense stand-offs. Under the deal announced this week, Greece will continue to receive bailout money (which mostly benefits German and French banks) in exchange for more so-called “reforms”, most of which are likely to perpetuate the culture of poverty that currently riddles Greece. The deal’s announcement, which was described as “unanimously” agreed, has left progressives in and outside of Greece in a state of disillusionment, given that Greece’s ruling SYRIZA party promised to do pretty much the opposite of what it has done, before it rose to power. The possibility of a Grexit is now firmly off the table, according to EU officials.

Taiwan poised to elect first ever female leader: The possibility of a female Taiwanese head of state is an almost certainty in January’s elections, thanks to the two main political parties. Both the ruling Nationalist Party and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party have nominated women in their leadership elections, meaning that both sides of the political aisle have put a woman in charge of representing the cause. Female leaders aside, the question of relations with China is set to be an enormous part of the upcoming campaigns, given that the Asian superpower views Taiwan with envious eyes. According to some critics of Beijing, China views Taiwan as a province that needs to be fully annexed.

Romanian Prime Minister indicted on corruption charges: Romanian PM Victor Ponta has been indicted on charges of tax evasion, money laundering, and fraud, as well as multiple corruption charges that go back years. Ponta also stands accused of receiving an enormous bribe from a political ally, and has had personal property seized as part of the investigation, currently being conducted by Romania’s anti-corruption agency DNA. Ponta faces enormous opposition in government, with both Parliament and the President being openly hostile to his rule. Despite the multiple charges he faces, Ponta will remain in his position as Prime Minister, although he has resigned as the leader of his Social Democratic Party.

Proud day for NASA after successful #PlutoFlyby: U.S. space agency NASA has completed its long-awaited flyby of the dwarf planet Pluto, one of the outermost dwarf planets in our solar system. This is the first time a spacecraft has flown by the dwarf, which was once classified as a full planet before being demoted due to its minute stature. Before this week’s flyby, Pluto was little more than a blurry dot examined through distant telescopes, telescopes incapable of catching its full detail in high resolution. With this achievement, mankind has directly photographed something at the furthest distance on record, but this record-breaking milestone is unlikely to secure more funds for NASA, whose budget has steadily declined since the end of the Space Race. Perhaps this week’s milestone will reboot interest in space exploration, perhaps not.



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