Here are this week’s headlines:
- North Korea and the United States – A Summary
Reported by Anna Flaherty
The tensions between the United States and North Korea have been a constant presence in the news for the last few weeks. North Korea seeks to have an “equilibrium” of military force with the US and, despite billion pound sanctions being imposed by the United Nations, the country has been launching missiles. Though North Korea has aspired for greater nuclear power for many years, these recent missile launches show that the country is close to reaching its objective. The most recent test showed that North Korea had the ability to bomb the island of Guam, a US island in the Pacific. Despite Donald Trump’s threats of “Fire and Fury”, North Korea’s response was to launch yet another illegal missile. The country has also claimed to have successfully tested a hydrogen bomb, which is far more destructive than the atomic bomb.
As this issue escalates, it creates an international division between the east and the west. Western countries have been stressing the need for China to increase economic pressure upon North Korea. Suggestions have included the targeting of textile imports and preventing their labourers from working overseas, which provides most of North Korea’s foreign income. Although China has condemned the missile launches, they have been hesitant to involve themselves. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the China Foreign Ministry stated that “the key to resolving the Korean peninsula issue is not China”. They have also been angered by Donald Trump’s “twitter diplomacy”, where he threatened to cut off trade with any country that is trading with North Korea.
In contrast, Japan has encouraged the international community to work together to send a clear message to North Korea that these actions will not be tolerated. However, Donald Trump’s speech at the UN assembly on the 19th September mentioned the words sovereign or sovereignty 21 times, rather damaging the concept of the UN presenting a united front. Despite his speech’s nationalistic tone, however, Trump promised to go through the UN before using any nuclear weapons. Many were shocked by his statement that “If it [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea”. Hillary Clinton criticised the speech, labelling it “dark” and “dangerous”, and in response Trump chose to blame Clinton for allowing North Korea to research and build nuclear weapons whilst she was Secretary of State.
Tim Marshall, speaking on Daily Politics, referenced the Doomsday Clock. He holds the opinion that ‘midnight’ will be when North Korea meets its military objective, or when it faces destruction from the US. Whether the crisis will reach this stage, only time will tell.
- High Court Judge Delivers Landmark Ruling on Right-to-Die Cases
Reported by Paige Waters
A high court judge, Mr Justice Peter Jackson, has ruled that there will no longer be a requirement for legal permission by the courts, before life-supporting treatment is withdrawn from a patient who is suffering from a severely debilitating illness. This will lead to a change in how “right-to-die” cases are handled by hospitals and families in the foreseeable future.
Jackson further commented stating that there is not a need for lengthy cases to obtain judicial authorisation as long as both the doctors and families are in agreement but additionally, medical guidelines are being followed.
This came after a case which was centred on a woman who had Huntington’s disease. Unusually, her mother, who supported the application to remove her feeding tube, was allowed to be her official “litigation friend” in the case. This was heard in April for the life-supporting treating to be removed. The judge then gave his permission in July which lead to her feeding tube being withdrawn and “M” later died on 4th August. It was said that “M” had this life threatening disease for more than 25 years.
When hearing this case, Jackson commented stating that “on the facts of this case, I do not consider it to have been a legal requirement for the decision to withdrew the clinically assisted nutrition and hydration (CANH) to have been taken by the court. There was no statutory obligation to bring the case to court… A mandatory litigation requirement may deflect clinicians and families from making true best-interests decisions and in some cases lead to inappropriate treatment continuing by default.”
Furthermore, he said “indeed the present case stands as an example, in that M received continued CAHN that neither her doctors nor her family thought was in her best interests for almost a year until a court decision was eventually sought.”
Not everyone agrees with Jackson, however. An official solicitor, a government official appointed to act for such patients, has commented on this case, stating that every case should come before the courts.
The solicitor who represented M’s family, Caroline Barrett, has added: “our client’s family witnessed a much loved daughter, wife and mother deteriorate to the point where she no longer seemed to be aware of the world around her or recognise her loved ones who regularly visited her in hospital and helped care for her.”
She added “this judgment has great legal significance in that if relatives and doctors are in agreement, and after following the medical guidelines issued by the Royal College of Physicians it is agreed that withdrawal of treatment is in the patients best interest, the court has confirmed that there is no legal requirement for court order before the treatment can be withdrawn.”
Read more in The Guardian.
- Toys'R'Us Declared (Chapter 11) 'Bankrupt'
Reported by Megan Kearns
The world’s largest toy retailer has been forced to file for bankruptcy protection in the US and Canada after accumulating debts of over $5 bn. The sum which roughly equates to £3.5 bn is a combination of rival online competitors, such as Amazon, becoming more popular with customers and the company’s relatively late focus on ecommerce.
Despite filing for “bankruptcy protection” the leading toy retailer is not going to shut down any time soon or disappear. This is because in the US there are numerous types of “bankruptcies” exist in different jurisdictions. The most familiar type of bankruptcy is where a company ceases to exist, however in the case of Toys’R’Us, it was a situation of an “chapter 11” bankruptcy coming into effect. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows for the company to restructure its debts and work out a sustainable financial plan, which should allow for long-term financial progression.
A US bankruptcy judge has approved a loan of more than $2bn to aid Toys’R’Us for the upcoming Christmas season – their most profitable season. The New-Jersey firm has said that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy should not immediately impact any stores other than in North America, including the 110 stores in Britain. However, shares have fallen by 10% for major toy makers Mattel and Hasbro, who both accrue a significant number of sales through Toys’R’Us.
- NotPetya cyber attack on TNT Express cost FedEx $300m
Reported by Sylvester Tan
Delivery company FedEx says a recent cyber-attack cost its TNT division about $300m (£221m). The company was one of several to have its computer systems severely disrupted by the NotPeya ransomware outbreak in June. Company executives acknowledged TNT had yet to fully restore all its IT operations and was expected to do so only at the end of the month. While no data breach or data loss has occurred as a result of NotPetya, FedEx warned that it may not be able to recover all of the systems affected by the cyber-attack. As a result, deliveries and sales has continued to suffer.
Other international companies have also taken sizeable financial hits as a result of the malware. Shipping company Maersk – the world’s largest container ship and supply vessel operator – announced in August that it had costed its damage at least up to $300m while consumer goods company Reckitt – the company behind Dettol cleaning products, the Nurofen painkiller, Durex condoms and more – also predicted £110m in lost revenue as a result of falling victim to the attack.
With cyber-attacks increasingly becoming an increasingly common phenomenon around the globe, companies have to step up their cyber security measures. If they fail to do so, the consequences of such an attack can be devastating. The possible breaches or loss of data is also a troubling issue for customers, as there is no telling what the hackers will do. In light of the rapid development of technology, this will also require data protection laws to be heavily scrutinised, in order to decide whether they should be updated and/or reformed.
From a commercial perspective, these cyber-attacks cause massive havoc and inconvenience in terms of loss of profits. Therefore, companies will be focusing on strengthening their cyber security measures which could lead to further advances in technology. It is imperative that our cyber laws are evaluated to encourage and advance these advances with as few hindrances as possible.