Education Reform — New Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced reforms for the country’s education system, which has some of the worst public schools in the Western Hemisphere, reports the Los Angeles Times. The measures include the establishment of an independent and autonomous body to evaluate teachers and the accurate counting of teachers by the national statistics agency. According to the Times, observers have blamed Mexico’s low quality of education on the powerful teachers union and its chief Elba Esther Gordillo, “who have perpetuated a system that allows teachers to buy or inherit their jobs, regardless of skill or qualifications.”
Rhino Poaching Deal — South Africa and Vietnam have signed a deal to help rein in the illegal poaching of rhinos in South Africa, notes the BBC. Although the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species has banned the trade in rhino horn since 1980, at least 618 rhinos were slaughtered in 2012, nearly double the number killed in 2010. Roughly 85% of Africa’s estimated 25,000 rhinos are in South Africa.
In the Year 2030 — A new study predicts that by 2030 a better-educated and more influential global middle class will emerge, writes the New York Times. “For the first time, a majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished, and the middle classes will be the most important social and economic sector in the vast majority of countries around the world,” said the report by the National Intelligence Council. The study also forecasts that Asia will surpass North America and Europe in economic power and no single country will have hegemony in the world by 2030.
Northern Ireland Violence – Talks are planned Tuesday between First Minister Peter Robinson and the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party following an attack Monday night on a police officer, writes the Irish Times. A gang of 15 men threw a petrol bomb at the police officer’s unmarked vehicle, a move which the police are treating as attempted murder. Speaking on Tuesday, Alliance Party MP Naomi Long, whose home has been targeted by protestors, described the attack not as loyalism but as “fascism” that “needs to be brought to an end.” The attack follows last week’s decision by Belfast city council to fly the union flag at the city hall on designated days.
Mandela Responding – The former president of South Africa, who was hospitalized on Saturday, is suffering from a reoccurrence of a lung infection and is responding to treatment, writes the New York Times. This is the second time that Nelson Mandela, 94, has been hospitalized this year. The office of the current president, Jacob Zuma, has said that Mandela is “receiving appropriate treatment and he is responding to the treatment.” The former president was last seen publicly at celebrations for the soccer World Cup in 2010 and in January 2011 was hospitalized for an acute respiratory infection.
Palestinian NGO Raid – The offices of three civil society organizations in Ramallah, the de facto Palestinian capital in the Israeli occupied West Bank, were raided by Israeli soldiers Tuesday, said Reuters. The raids were the first of this kind since the U.N. General Assembly voted in favor of Palestinian statehood on Nov. 29. “This is a message by the Israelis to the Palestinians, saying that when they take decisions or form patriotic organizations to seek their freedom, the occupation will use aggression to try and stop us,” said Allam Jarrar of the Palestinian NGO network in response to the raids.