By: Nathaniel Tok

North American eastern seaboard hit by windy arctic conditions

Blizzard conditions and a deep freeze hit the east coast of North America this week, leaving behind at least eighteen dead. The cold temperatures coupled with strong winds caused widespread power outages, school closures, icy roads, and hindered flights in the eastern United States and Canada’s maritime provinces. Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia have all declared states of emergency. Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, experienced its first snowfall since 1989. Temperature records were broken as the region reached -40°C in some places. The blizzards are powered by a drop in barometric pressure called a bombogenesis or a “bomb cyclone.”

With files from Reuters.


Security flaw found in almost all electronic devices

Security flaws have been detected in microchips designed by tech companies Intel, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) Inc., and ARM Holdings. This affects almost every modern computing device. “Meltdown,” the first flaw affecting Intel chips, allow hackers to pass the hardware barrier to potentially read a computer’s memory and steal passwords. The second flaw, “Spectre,” affects Intel, AMD, and ARM chips and allows hackers to potentially trick applications into giving up information. The companies have been working on updates to fix these issues. The tech industry has been aware of these problems for months and hoped to solve them before details became public to prevent exploitation of the vulnerabilities.

With files from Reuters and BBC.


Cuba and EU agree to major economic deal

The European Union (EU)’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, met with Cuba’s foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez to ratify a major accord which could help increase economic ties between the two political bodies. The accord, known as the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, is hailed as a new chapter in EU and Cuban relations which will help to increase co-operation, trade, investment, and political dialogue. Diplomats have noted that the symbolic deal coincides with Castro’s plans to retire in April, which may have presented new opportunities to the EU. The EU first started lifting sanctions and negotiating the agreement in 2015–16.

With files from Reuters.


Former Peruvian president leaves hospital after controversial pardon

Peru’s former president Alberto Fujimori left his Lima hospital to the cheers of supporters late Thursday, January 4, after being pardoned by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Kuczynski said that the pardon was for “humanitarian reasons” despite promising during his election not to do so. Fujimori was pardoned days after Fujimori’s supporters in government abstained from a vote on Kuczynski’s impeachment based on corruption charges. The pardon is widely controversial as Fujimori was sentenced to twenty-five years for human rights abuses. While some Peruvians credit Fujimori for aiding the Peruvian economy and defeating Peru’s guerrilla fighters, others condemn him as a “criminal against humanity” and the pardon sparked large protests in Peru.

With files from AP News and France24.