Global Events: Macron and Putin meet, Trucker protest continues in Ottawa


Michael Crimmins, News Reporter

There is no shortage of newsworthy topics here in the United States. At times it is easy to get lost in it all, but equally crucial things happen all over the world.

They can shed light on political relationships and humanitarian issues and keep you up-to-date on global events.

These global headlines are complex. It is highly encouraged to follow the links to the stories provided and read the story in its entirety. 

Here is a quick look at some global events that made the news last week:

Ukraine-Russian crisis takes confusing turn after French president’s meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin told him he would not be the cause of further escalation, according to the Associated Press.

The French president said it would take time to de-escalate the crisis and called it the biggest crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War, the AP reports.

“Let’s not be naive,” Macron said. “Since the beginning of the crisis, France hasn’t been inclined to exaggerate, but at the same time, I don’t believe this crisis can be settled in a few hours through discussions.”

The Kremlin has denied reports that Putin struck a deal with the West during his five-hour meeting with Macron, according to AP.

“In the current situation, Moscow and Paris can’t be reaching any deals,” Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Russians have asked for assurances that NATO would not accept Ukraine or any other ex-Soviet countries into its ranks, a previous Herald article reports. This was a demand NATO rejected as a non-starter.

According to the AP, the Kremlin insists Russia has no plans to invade Ukraine. However, United States intelligence estimates Russia has amassed roughly 70% of the troops and weapons required for a full invasion, CNN reports.

On Monday, Putin insisted Ukraine must implement the Minsk Peace Plan, according to the same CNN article.

“Like it or don’t like it, it’s your duty, my beauty,” Putin said on Monday, aimed at Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Zelensky said he would welcome de-escalation steps in the crisis adding, “He did not trust words in general.”

According to the AP,  Zelensky called the meeting with Macron “very fruitful.” 

“We have a common view with President Macron on threats and challenges to the security of Ukraine, of the whole of Europe, of the world in general,” Zelensky said.

Ottawa ‘Freedom Convoy’ sparks similar events around the globe 

Ottawa is in a state of emergency as police try to contain truckers’ ‘Freedom Convoy’ protests against vaccine mandates, according to the BBC.

At the time of writing, the BBC reports that 80 investigations have been opened with police issuing tickets.

One officer was reportedly attacked by a protester while attempting to seize fuel from a truck, BBC reports.

“Don’t come. If you do, there will be consequences,” Deputy Police Chief Steve Bell said Tuesday.

This protest in Canada has sparked similar protests around the world, such as one in Canberra, Australia, an article by the Washington Post reported.

Lawmakers in Canberra expressed concerns on Tuesday that the anti-mandate protest could escalate, according to the article. They worry the peaceful protests might deteriorate into violence.

Lawmaker Kristina Keneally said the crowd contained people who were of concern to national security agencies, according to the Washington Post.

“Some of these protesters actually want to undermine and overturn democracy,” Keneally, senator for the Australian Labor Party, told reporters. According to the senator, one protester was arrested last week after finding a gun in the car.

Despite Keneally’s comments, eight demonstrators were allowed to enter the capital and presented their list of demands, the article states.

“I thought these people deserved the chance to get their demands delivered directly to the prime minister and opposition leader, so I was more than happy to facilitate that,” said Craig Kelly, who leads the far-right United Australia Party in Australia’s House of Representatives.

COVID-19 restrictions ease despite CDC warnings 

With a reported 65% drop in COVID-19 cases, California will end its mask mandate, Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Monday, according to a CNN article.

“On February 15, California’s statewide indoor mask requirement will expire,” Newsom said. “Unvaccinated people must still wear masks in indoor public settings.”

According to CNN, less than 20% of California’s population remains unvaccinated.

California is not alone in easing restrictions with Connecticut, New Jersey and Delaware setting timelines to end their mandates as well, CNN reports. 

According to the article, school policies will be updated to reflect state policy.

“The state is continuing to work with education, public health and community leaders to update masking requirements at schools to adapt to changing conditions and ensure the safety of kids, teachers and staff,” the California Department of Public Health said in a press release Monday. “Additional adjustments to the state’s policies will be shared in the coming week.”

Regions like Los Angeles and the bay area may choose to keep their mandates in place, CNN reports.

These changes come as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests it might be too soon to ease restrictions, NBC states.

According to CDC recommendations, 99% of people should wear masks regardless of their vaccination status.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said masks were one of the keys to keeping children safe in school, NBC reports

“When you put all of those things together, the school system has been really quite safe for children, with few exceptions,” Fauci said. “So before we start talking about pulling back on them, let’s get the dynamic of the virus in the community low enough so that we can feel safe in pulling back on the requirement for children to wear masks.”

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI asks for forgiveness, admits no wrongdoing

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 94, asked for forgiveness on Tuesday for any “grievous fault” in handling the clergy sex abuse crisis, according to an AP article.

The retired pope denies any wrongdoings during his time as Archbishop of Munich, as an independent report criticized his handling of four cases, AP reports.

His refusal to claim any kind of responsibility has enraged some survivors of the scandal, according to AP.

The report cites Benedict XVI’s failure to restrict the ministry of a priest even after he was convicted criminally, according to AP.

“I have had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church,” Benedict said. “All the greater is my pain for the abuses and the errors that occurred in those different places during the time of my mandate.”

His response drew criticism from a group representing the abuse survivors. 

“[Benedict] can’t bring himself simply to state that he is sorry not to have done more to protect the children entrusted to his church,” the group said.

Four experts who work with Benedict XVI said the retired pope did not know the priest was an abuser, CNN reports.

Despite all the criticism, the retired pope reports that he is “in good cheer” and awaits the final judgment, according to a similar CNN article.

“Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life,” the retired pope wrote in a letter released by the Vatican. “Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings.”

News Reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm