President Nicolas Maduro fights the steadily rising levels of inflation by raising the minimum wage for the fifth time in the past year. However, for many Venezuelans, necessities remain too expensive. Though the country’s banknotes are virtually worthless, Maduro made a decision to begin printing new bills of a much higher denomination. The currency exchange did not go as smoothly as he planned—not only did a huge amount of anxious people form lines at the banks, but the new banknotes did not arrive according to schedule. Venezuela’s minimum wage is now equivalent to $12.14 in American dollars. For most of the country’s workers, food stamps and worker bonuses are the biggest sources of income. Maduro blames his opponents for the state of Venezuela’s economy.
In protest of the trade union’s push for full automation of the London Underground, all “Tube” systems and ticket offices shut down on Monday for the “#TubeStrike,” a tagline gracing many of the tweets posted by frustrated Londoners. Along with it came “#Ridiculous,” and a description of Clapham Junction’s incredibly crowded station as a “cattle shed.” Tube employees are concerned about the trade union’s desire for job cuts and the closure of ticket offices. Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, does not appear to share the same amount of concern, calling the strike “unnecessary.”
Selling cigarettes to people born in 2014 or later may soon be banned in Russia. The ban would continue even after they reach adulthood, meaning that at some point, smoking might be illegal for all Russians. The country has one of the highest smoking rates in the world, so it is no surprise that President Vladimir Putin, known to be an avid lover of fitness and health, would like to see that rate decrease.
Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani died of a heart attack at age 82 on Sunday., Jan. 8. Rafsanjani served two terms as Iran’s president and was a very influential figure in Iranian politics. After his death, current President Hassan Rouhani tweeted, “The spirit of the giant of the revolution and politics, the symbol of patience and resilience has soared to the skies.” Rafsanjani still had critics, however. They claimed that his liberal economic policies “widened the gap between the rich and the poor.” No matter his legacy, Rafsanjani’s death was mourned by Iranian citizens across the country.
The country recently chose its “ugliest word of the year”: “volksverraeter,” meaning “traitor of the people.” The word is widely thought to carry Nazi undertones and is often flung at political figures, usually by right-wing demonstrators. It is described as the ultimate put-down because it is meant to discredit someone’s opinions. The word has a historical context—“Voelkisch” was used by the Nazis to set Germans apart from Jews and other “inferiors.” While visiting a refugee center in August 2015, Chancellor Angela Merkel had the term shouted at her. Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel stuck up his middle finger after being heckled by demonstrators, calling them “young, aggressive, swearing and ready-for-violence Nazis.” The 2016 “ugliest word of the year” was “postfaktish,” meaning “post-factual.”