Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of August 8, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of August 8, 2022.

Global News

The World Economic Forum has five stories on the environment including the world’s current energy mix, record heat waves in the UK due to climate change and a study on the world’s freshwater is now past it’s critical limit.

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Why OPEC won’t bring down oil prices.

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Americas

The Cristalino II State Park in Mato Grosso, Brazil will be dissolved after the state government refused to appeal a court decision claiming the park was set up illegally in 2001 without public consultation. This case was brought about by a company linked to Antonio José Rossi Junqueira Vilela, who has been responsible for thousands of hectares of land in the Amazon being deforested and stolen.

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Experts worry that the Ortega regime in Nicaragua is setting an example for other repressive regimes in Latin America.

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres criticized the $100 billion profits of oil companies during the first quarter of 2022.

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Africa

According to the World Health Organization, life expectancy between 2000 and 2019 grew by an average of 10 years, while global life expectancy grew by five years.

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Senegal’s government and rebels from the southern Casamance region have signed a peace deal to help end more than 40 years of conflict in the region.

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The Nigerian government will be receiving 72 Benin Bronzes looted during the 19th Century, from The Horniman Museum and Gardens in London.

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Explainer: Kenya’s elections

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Europe

The Ukraine-Russian War at 165 days.

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Victims of Russia’s war in Georgia’s Abkhazia region are still waiting for justice.

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Explainer: Renewed tensions between Kosovo and Serbia.

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The U.S. Senate voted to ratify NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.

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Middle East

Negotiators over the Iran Nuclear Deal are optimistic about the deal’s odds of being passed.

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The protestors in Baghdad are drawing from the support base of Muqtada al-Sadr.

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According to reports, pro-Iranian government hackers launched a cyberattack against Albanian government sites in mid-July to disrupt an Iranian dissident group, Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, during a conference int eh capital Tirana.

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Asia

India and the United States will be holding annual bilateral military drills in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, about 95 kilometers from the Line of Actual Control, the border demarcating India and China.

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The government of the Solomon Islands is exerting more control over the state-owned Solomon Island Broadcasting Corporation, a move critics claim is censorship by the government.

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Explainer: Why China is staging drills over a visit by U.S. Senator Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.

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The Taliban claims they did not know that a chief of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahri, was in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan.

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Filed under Amazon, Climate Change, Cybersecurity, East Asia, India, International Conflict, International Development, News, Russia, South Asia, Water

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of July 18, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of July 18, 2022.

Global News

The I2U2, also known as the West Asia Quad, focuses on clean energy, infrastructure, food security, health, space and other areas.

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United States domestic politics have hindered the funding and utilization of the Green Climate Fund, the United Nations mechanism started in 2010 to help developing countries transition to renewable energy. Funding for the organization comes from developed countries, but the prior Trump Administration refused to fund the mechanism and current Republican opposition has delayed additional funding.

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Log4j vulnerability will continue to be a pervasive threat according to a report from the Cyber Safety Review Board, a cyber security panel. However, the vulnerability has only been exploited at low level attacks so far.

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Americas

The United Nations has decried the ongoing gang violence in Haiti, which has taken the lives of more than a thousand people since January. The UN is calling for a freeze of small arms sales to the country in response.

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Venezuela has one of the worst vaccination rates in the world. The country is barred from accessing a regional system that helps pay for and provide affordable vaccines until it pays off a debt of 11 million dollars, which came mostly from an ongoing political fight between the government and opposition.

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Drop boxes for ballots were highly secure during the 2020 presidential election in the United States, according to Associated Press survey. This result conflicts with the claims made by the former president.

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Africa

Egypt will suspend sending peacekeepers to Mali in August.

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A team of highschool students from Zimbabwe are the world champions of the International Highschool Moot Court competition, which simulates the proceedings of the International Criminal Court pre-trial chambers.

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Laurent Bucyibaruta, who was governor of the Gikongoro province during the Rwandan genocide, has been convicted for complicity to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. 

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Europe

Wildfires are raging through South Western Europe.

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The main events of the Russian-Ukraine War as of Saturday.

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Two studies show that immigrants in France are integrating but still face discrimination and racism. Many in France have an immigrant ancestor.

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Middle East


Explainer: The islands of Sanafir and Tiran are strategically important for access to the Red Sea. While their possession has been contested, new ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia might see these islands become tourist sites.

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Government officials are preparing for possible protests across Iraq after a mass gathering by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr gathered in Baghdad.

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The war in Ukraine has damaged wheat supplies for the Middle East and North Africa, the largest consumers of wheat exports.

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Asia

Pacific Island nations demand solid action against climate change from the United States and China.

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Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been sworn in as the interim president of the country.

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The legacy of former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of July 3, 2022)

Note:

I have been working on several projects lately and have been very busy these past few weeks. I am publishing at a slower rate during the summer but plan to publish weekly again soon.

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of July 3, 2022.

Global News

Fighting climate change will require tackling energy imbalances globally, according to a new study.

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The world’s fisheries are one of the major subjects for the five-day United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

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The BRICS nations are holding their summit virtually.
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Americas

Activists in Latin America are continuing the fight for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights.

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The June 6th hearings recently interviewed Cassidy Hutchinson, and here are five takeaways from that interview.

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El Salvador is facing extreme water stress with more than 60% of available water resources polluted and more than 600,000 people going without sanitation or access to drinking water. 
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Africa

In West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have lifted sanctions on Mali after the military government offered a proposed 24-month timetable for bringing back democratic elections.

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Germany and Nigeria have signed an accord for the return of the Benin Bronzes, artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin dating between the 16th and 18th Centuries. 

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Ghana will be seeking financial assistance from the IMF.

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Europe

Explainer: The NATO Summit yielded a new framework and areas of focus including re-orientating towards countering Moscow’s activities in Europe and the recognition of Beijing as a security challenge.

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Sanctions for Moscow have been pledged at the end of the G-7 summit.

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France and Australia working to mend ties after the scuttling of submarine deal.

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Russian land occupation in Georgia as seen on the border.

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Middle East

Iran is willing to continue negotiating on a nuclear deal.

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Tunisia’s president has proposed a draft constitution that would considerably concentrate power in the hands of the executive branch, much to the anger of many on the Tunisian government and civil society.

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Southern Idlib, Syria has been stripped of resources and civilian goods by the government.

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Asia

Protests in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan have left several dead and an unknown number possibly injured as locals take to the streets over draft amendments that would tighten the connection between the government and the autonomous region.

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How disinformation helped Ferdinand Marcos Jr. win the Presidency in the Philippines.

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Japan is having the worst heatwave since 1875.

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G-7 promise to raise $600 billion dollars over the next five years to provide nations with an alternative to financial investment from Beijing. The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will serve as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative for nations seeking development funding.

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Filed under Asia, Climate Change, Disinformation, G-7, International Development

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of June 19, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of June 19, 2022.

Global News

The World Health Organization is creating a vaccine-sharing program with nations in Africa and 30 countries outside the continent to combat Monkeypox. However, the program might draw away vaccines from the continent to richer countries where the cases of Monkeypox are mostly mild whereas the ailment is endemic in Central and Western Africa.

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Explainer: The Russian war against Ukraine is causing a global food shortage and raising global food prices.

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While not published last week, here is a guide for making one’s garden into a carbon sink.

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Americas

Columbia has elected their first leftist president in former rebel Gustavo Petro. Several other Latin American countries have also elected more progressive and leftist presidents, but in Columbia there was a mood of who the electorate wanted least in power.

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Puerto Rican politicians are pushing to hold a vote on the future of the island as either a commonwealth, independent or the 51st State of the United States of America.

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Juneteenth celebration in America, commemorating the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in Texas.

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Africa

Explainer: The tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo goes back decades and is currently flaring again.

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Facebook moderators failed to remove extremist content from Jihadist groups such as Islamic State and al-Shabab according to a study by Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

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Explainer: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and “Farmgate”, which could see the president facing criminal charges.

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Europe

Dutch authorities stopped a GRU operative from infiltrating the International Criminal Court in the Hauge. The ICC is currently investigating war crimes allegations against Russia in Ukraine.

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The United Kingdom and European Union are in a row over a unilateral change to the Brexit agreement made by the UK government regarding trade on the Northern Ireland border.

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The EU will fine tech companies that fail to consistently deal with deepfakes with fines up to 6% of global turnover.

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Middle East

Israel and Egypt signed a deal with the EU to export natural gas and oil in exchange for the EU’s assistance with energy exploration in the two nations’ territorial waters.

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The EU has unfrozen aid for the Palestinian Authority.

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In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the Sadrist movement and ordered 73 politicians from his movement to resign from the government.

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Asia

Bank customers in Henan, China found their COVID tracker apps turning red when they entered the city to withdrawal money from troubled rural banks, denying them access to public services like trains and entry into buildings. 

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China launches the Type 003 “Fujian” carrier on Friday.

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Islamic State launched an attack on the Sikh community in Afghanistan, killing one and wounding seven in Kabul.

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Filed under Climate Change, Cybersecurity, International Conflict, News, Russia, Technology and Proto Types

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of May 31, 2022.

Global News

The tobacco industry is a major polluter and climate change according to the World Health Organization.

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Chinese disinformation and misinformation are especially prominent in Google News. CCP propaganda showing up in 88% of new searches on search engines like Bing and Google.

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Chinese foreign lending often targets the home providence of incumbent political leadership, favoring projects in the home city or providence of a sitting head of state. However, this effect disappears when the incumbent is out of power. This also means that China is at risk of backlash from projects that serve little or no benefit to the borrowing country and the debt for these projects become a debt burden.

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Americas

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree increase the fine amount for individuals who provide false information in order to gain logging license applications or forest concessions. Environmental activists point out that the legislation doesn’t really address the core problems related to illegal logging or that fines can expire if not paid.

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Cyber criminals launched a ransomware attack on Costa Rica’s public health agency computer systems, causing the government to shut down the system.

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The Summit of the Americas will be held in the United States of America for the first time since 1994, but Mexico might not attend. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela had not been invited to the summit.

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Africa

Protests are taking place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo over alleged Rwandan support for M-23, a rebel force that clashed with the Congolese military in Northern Kivu, which borders Rwanda.

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The war in Ukraine is causing food shortages in Africa. Both Ukraine and Russia are major food and fertilizer exporters, with Africa being a recipient of more than 40% of grain and wheat exports from Russia in the past few years.

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The United Nations Security Council passed unanimously a resolution condemning armed robbery, hostage-taking and piracy off the Gulf of Guinea. Piracy in the region costs coastal states around 2 billion USD a year while piracy in the region remains high despite global decline of piracy.

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Europe

Turkey and Russia in discussions over incursions in Northern Syria.

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The European Union will embargo 90% of Russian oil exports by December. Poland and Germany are also planning on phasing out Russian oil as well by the end of the year.

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After being sworn in for a second term on Tuesday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will seek European Union membership for the country, but not join NATO.

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Middle East

 Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, a free trade deal that is potentially worth more than 10 billion USD, according to the UAE.

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Lebanon has re-elected Nabih Berri for a seventh term as Speaker of Parliament.

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Oxfam is calling on warring sides of the Yemeni war to renew the ceasefire struck in April, citing the need for humanitarian aid and assistance to millions at risk of starvation.

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Asia

China’s attempt to sign comprehensive security and regional coordination over fisheries and other issues, ended up falling short as the 10 Polynesian nations approached by Beijing had refused to sign on.

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 The Bai Lan attitude, or “let it rot”, reflects a growing disillusionment in Chinese youth. The lack of economic opportunities and uncertainty for the future are driving the attitude. However, it’s not unique to China.

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A leak of alleged documents and photos from a database in Xinjiang provides more evidence of abuses and involuntary detention of Uighurs in the internment camps. Beijing denies the claims despite this being the second data leak since 2019 showing abuses.

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The Department of Foreign Affairs is protesting Beijing’s imposition of a unilateral moratorium of fishing in disputed and Filipino territorial waters, an act that is illegal according to a ruling by the  Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of May 16, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of May 16, 2022.

Global News

Coronavirus infections have risen by 14% in the Americas and 12% in Africa, have been steady in the Western Pacific and have fallen in the rest of the world.

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International donors have fallen short of promised financial aid for Syria for a second year.

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Satellites revealed 4,000 square kilometers of tidal wetlands have been lost over the last two decades. About 27% of losses and gains were from human activities such as draining swamplands and attempts to restore mangroves, and 70% of the loss are in Indonesia, Myanmar and China.

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Americas

White hat hackers attempted several dozen hacking attempts against Brazilian voting machines and failed. This was in response to President Jair Bolsonaro’s claims of potential risks to the vote based on hacking.

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Thousands in the United States rally to defend the right to abortion access and reproductive autonomy. Draft opinion leaked from the Supreme Court indicate that the conservative majority will overturn Roe v. Wade, the law that established a legal right to abortion in the United States. If overturned, abortion access would be left to individual states, though Republicans have indicated they might make a case for a federal ban outlawing abortion nationally.

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Honduras has abolished the ZEDE law, which allowed private companies to create effectively autonomous enclaves in country with investors effectively governing those enclaves rather than the local government. The current enclaves can stay as long as they reapply and follow national laws and regulations from the government.

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Africa

Mali is pulling out of the G5 Sahel force, which was assembled to counter local Jihadists, claiming the force has not been effective in countering the militants.

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Protestors took to the streets demanding a return to democracy in Tunisia last week, in opposition to President Kais Saied’s rule.

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Somalia has a new president after Hassan Sheikh Mohamud won the elections last week.

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Europe

A larger view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Day 82.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is headed to Northern Ireland to try and solve the political gridlock based on the Brexit deal with the EU.

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Turkey lays out their conditions for Sweden and Finland to join the NATO.

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Middle East

Protests over price hikes and loss of government subsidies have turned political in Iran, where almost half of the population is under the poverty line.

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The United Arab Emirates appointed Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan as the new president of the nation.

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15 European nations criticize Israeli plans to build more than 4,000 housing units in the Occupied West Bank, settlements considered illegal under international law.

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United Nations calls for an investigation into the death of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, who had been shot during her coverage of a raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Akleh was wearing a journalist helmet and vest at the time.

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Asia

Sri Lanka’s government has four new ministers. This comes two days after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to help stabilize the country following protests and economic instability.

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Yohannes Abraham has been named as ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations by U.S. President Joe Biden. This follows the U.S.-ASEAN summit in Washington DC.

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The election of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will likely be accompanied by his supporters taking both houses of Congress in the Philippines.

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North Korea is facing a pandemic of COVID-19 infections in country, much to the anger of the government.

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During the U.S.-ASEAN Summit in Washington, DC, the National Unity Government (NUG) Foreign Minister Zin Mar Aung met with Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah. The military junta running Myanmar since the coup against the NUG has been effectively shunned from official events and meetings at ASEAN after the junta refused to work towards a peace plan.

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Filed under Asia, Climate Change, Coronavirus, International Conflict, Russia, South Asia

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of May 1, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of May 5, 2022.

Global News

The war in Ukraine is causing major shortages in food supply globally.

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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has a thriving community of sea life, complicating efforts to combat pollution.

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Climate change will drive the emergence of new animal-originated diseases in heavily populated areas.

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Americas

Researchers at the University of Texas in Austin developed new enzymes that can dissolve plastics in a matter of hours to days. Normally plastics can take decades or even centuries to biodegrade naturally and are mostly left in landfills rather than recycled.

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Economic inequality in Latin America is the core factor in COVID-19 deaths, according to a report by Amnesty International and the Center for Economic and Social Rights.

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Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela might not be attending the Ninth Summit of the Americas in June.

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Africa

South Africa could be facing a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections.

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Many nations in Africa are employing mercenaries to fight armed groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram. In some cases, the mercenaries are supplemental forces assisting local military forces, while in other cases, the mercenaries are replacing local military forces.

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After reporting on allegations of Malian military abuses, two French media outlets were suspended in the country. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned the latest move by the Malian government to limit press freedoms.

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Europe

Sweden and Denmark have summoned their Russian ambassadors over Russian spy planes violating airspace. Both nations are strengthening their Western ties, with Sweden considering joining NATO and Denmark being a member.

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Serbia showed off newly acquired Chinese-made surface to air missiles, along with weapon systems from other countries as part of Serbia’s military buildup.

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The main events of the Ukraine War, at day 67.

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Finland is likely to join NATO in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Middle East

Security forces have seized around 6.2 million pills of Captagon, an amphetamine that is primarily consumed in the Middle East.  

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Islamic State may be reestablishing in North East Syria.

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Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are in discussions to increase investments after the kingdom deposited $3 billion in Pakistan’s central bank.

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Asia

The terror attack targeting Chinese academics in Karachi University in Pakistan is an example of evolving tactics by Baloch insurgents. There is more to the story as explained in this story.

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Afghanistan is facing hunger during Eid, with more than 90 percent of Afghans facing food shortages due to the devastated economy and inflation and mismanagement by the Taliban.

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Uzbekistan has outlined regulations for cryptocurrencies and their mining and trading.

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North Korea’s leader called upon the military to “bolster strength” in a night time parade.

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The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia is coming to an end after decades of prosecuting cases against former Khmer Rouge.

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Filed under Asia, Climate Change, Coronavirus, News, Terrorism

Global Tech Stories (April 26, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world of technology for this Tuesday.

Researchers in Israel have developed a new 3-D printing process that can restore and preserve coral reefs. The process can apply to a diverse array of coral types and environments and at large scale while attracting reef species and marine life.

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A new way to prevent unintended pregnancies could be a few years away. Researchers in China are working on a reversible non-hormonal contraceptive for men. While still in testing, this method is reversible with ultrasound and worked in experiments with mice.

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Despite being 100% recyclable without a quality loss, glass is one of the least recycled materials. Scientists at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore created a way to replace sand in concrete with glass waste that can lead to more environmentally sustainable building materials.

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An integrated reversible gas-to-electricity system has been developed by researchers from Stanford University and at the University of Mannheim, which can convert hydrogen to electricity and back depending on power needs. These fuel cells can scale with any grid and make a new way to store and utilize green energy affordably.

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Researchers in the United States are working on developing a nickel-based catalyst that only requires light. This will pave the way for catalysts that do not need scarce precious metals like Palladium.

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Filed under Climate Change, Economics, Medicine, News, Technology and Proto Types

Global Tech Stories (April 12, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world of technology for this Tuesday.

Long distance quantum communications is difficult due to information losses over distance. If there were a way to limit the information loss, one could have a communication system that is nearly impossible to compromise by third parties. Scientists in Australia discovered a way to limit the information loss.

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Microfluidic channels can now be 3-D printed, at least in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. Such channels are vital to microfluidic devices and biomedical research on the property of specific compounds and drug testing and the development of new treatments.

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An international research team developed a new way to heal bone fractures using bioprinting paired with gene therapy. While tested on rats, the healing rate was several times greater than by natural healing, with four times greater bone tissue creation and almost four times greater bone coverage.

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Miniature pulse power systems maybe the future of energy storage. Researchers at the University of Houston are studying how to create a miniaturized pulse power system that is a one-tenth of the size of the conventional devices.

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Microbiologists are using bacteria to convert methane into electricity. Methane is 25 times more potent than carbon as a greenhouse gas and often introduced to the atmosphere from agriculture and fossil fuel-based energy use.

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Researchers are developing a renewable alternative to increasingly expensive inorganic phosphates. This will improve fertilizers and agricultural practices.

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Filed under Agriculture, Climate Change, Medicine, Technology and Proto Types

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of April 10, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of April 10, 2022.

Global News

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the war in Ukraine has caused global grain prices to rise by 17.1 percent. Russia and Ukraine account for a large portion of global grain and corn exports.

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The latest COVID variant, BA.2, and what we know about it.

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Methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, has been steadily growing in the atmosphere. This is a major threat in the fight against climate change.

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The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports 18 countries have reduced their emissions and kept growing their economies. The model they followed could be exported to other nations.

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Americas

In the United States of America, some of the hardest places to raise children and start families are also passing some of the strictest anti-abortion laws.

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The government of Guyana struck a deal with ExxonMobil for the Yellowtail project. While the company has about 2 billion dollars set aside for unexpected problems like an oil spill, environmental activist are still concerned about the projects’ potential damage to the ecosystem.

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There may be only eight Vaquita porpoises left in Mexico due to governmental officials not enforcing protections for the critically endangered species. Poachers and illegal fishers leave nets in the vaquita’s habitat that snare the porpoises and drown them.

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Africa

South Sudan is facing hunger for 2/3 of the population, resulting from climate change and ongoing conflicts.

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Spain’s attempt to boost ties with Morocco may hurt both the Spanish government and Algerian relations.

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Gambians are voting for a new National Assembly on Sunday. The economy will be one of the main issues facing the government, along with tensions with Senegal.

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Europe

Moscow targets Polish tensions with Ukraine for disinformation and propaganda. While both suffered under Soviet era rule, Russian propaganda aims at historical tensions and stoking anti-refugee sentiment.

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Oleg Orlov, Russian human rights activist and critic of Vladimir Putin, has been arrested again. Member of the banned human rights organization Memorial, Orlov was protesting the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine.

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Explainer: Why the French election matters outside of France.

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Middle East

Cities around Iran experienced high levels of air pollution on Friday, with Tehran being the most polluted city in the world in air quality. This follows a year in which only two days had clean air quality.

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Rashad al-Alimi, the head of Yemen’s new presidential council, announced plans on ending the war in Yemen via a peace process.

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Lebanon is one step closer to a 3-billion-dollar deal for financial aid deal with the International Monetary Fund.

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Saudi Arabia will allow 1 million pilgrims for the Hajj this year, provided they’re vaccinated and under 65 years old. While higher than last year, the average pre pandemic was 2.5 million pilgrims.

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Asia

The government of Sri Lanka is facing mounting calls for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Lack of food, fuel, the country’s debt and a lack of progress in the investigation of terrorist attacks are major sources of anger.

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Explainer: The people behind the fall of former prime minister Imran Khan.

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Armenia and Azerbaijan are preparing to hold another peace conference to resolve the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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Imran Khan’s fall explained.

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Japan and the Philippines are discussing a possible defense agreement.

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The current president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, denied rumors of his administration trying to delay the elections in 2024.

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