News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

Vatican City:  When the world population hits seven billion, one may wonder if it’s time governments stepped up promoting better family planning.  Then again, when has DINK (“double income, no kids”) become a universal paradigm among young middle class couples?

Pope Francis (above) entered the propagation conversation, telling the congregation in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday (11 February) that the decision not to have children is “selfish”.

The Pontiff then explained, a society that views children as a burden is a “depressed society”.  According to the Guardian, the Pope said: “Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished!”

Agree with him or not, Pope Francis knows how to make a statement.

Here’s a report that delves into the Pope’s reforming ways:


United States: War again? In his State of the Union address, President Obama boasted about bringing the Joe’s and Jane’s back from Iraq and Afghanistan after a mission accomplished.  But in a bare three weeks, the President was again asking Congress for almost unfettered but time-limited power to fight the Islamic State (ISIS).  He explained that he needed the flexibility for “unseen circumstances.”

The White House presented a draft resolution to Congress on Wednesday seeking authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against ISIS for three years.

While both Republicans and Democrats are worried that the carte blanche approval being sought would give the government unrestrained military authority, the President has been quick to soothe skeptics that he is not starting a prolonged military conflict, and that AUMF is not an authorization to launch a ground war.

This anti-ISIS campaign may be a boon to President Obama’s legacy, but the burden of war will inevitably be borne by his successor, in the same way he inherited the Iraq fiasco from President George W. Bush.

Obama spoke this week about strategy and the challenges ahead:


Malaysia: Veteran Malaysia opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim will really have to spend his next five years behind bars, as the court overturned his appeal against a sodomy conviction this past Tuesday (10 February).

The now 66-year-old politician was, for a time, tipped as a prime minister-hopeful until he was accused and convicted of sodomizing his political aide, Saiful Bukhari Azlan, in what is believed to be a highly politically motivated trial in 2008.  His guilt was quashed on appeal in 2012.

But the government, dominated by the United Malays National Organization, Anwar’s political adversary, appealed against the acquittal, and the court budged and sentenced Anwar to five years’ imprisonment.  Anwar took the case to the Federal Court, which rejected his appeal on Tuesday.

The verdict practically ends Anwar’s legendary but tumultuous political career, but many are worried that the legal saga leaves the country’s judicial integrity, and the rule of law, at stake.

This past November, the politician spoke at a TedX talk in Washington, where he discussed his case:


Africa: Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has postponed the presidential elections scheduled for this weekend (14 February) to 28 March.

The electoral authority’s head, Attahiru Jega, explained that the postponement was inevitable because the country’s security chiefs were too preoccupied with warding off the insurgency by Boko Haram to be able to guarantee the polls’ safety.

Jega’s explanation was held with suspicion by some, including the country’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo.  Their view: incumbent president Goodluck Jonathan was concerned about being unseated by the upcoming contender, Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler.

Buhari spoke with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour:


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Lead-In Image Courtesy of giulio napolitano /