Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Dec. 12, 2021.
Half a billion people were forced into extreme poverty due to healthcare costs from the pandemic last year, according to the World Health Organization and World Bank.
The Taliban are costing Afghans the equivalent of a billion US dollars by restricting women, making economic recovery impossible. Before the Taliban imposed severe restrictions on women, Afghan women made up 20% of the workforce and 5% of Afghanistan’s GDP. While the Taliban promised to respect women’s rights and freedoms, they are unlikely to actually fulfill their international promises.
Argentinians took to the streets to demand their government not renegotiate with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the country’s debt to the fund. Many Argentinians view IMF programs as having caused or exacerbated their crises. Yet the country is also in the grip of a recession, and the refusal to renegotiate the debt could harm job growth in the country.
The US Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection received a 38-slide power point presentation outlining several ways Donald Trump could have tried to retain the presidency after losing the 2020 Presidential race to President Joe Biden. Turned over by former Trump White House official Mark Meadows, the document detailed various strategies the Trump administration could have utilized, based on debunked and false claims of voter fraud and other conspiracy theories. Meadows had the document since January 4th, when it was presented to Republican members of Congress and the Senate.
Canadian and US trade authorities are engaged in a dispute over proposed US tax credit for electric vehicles. The Canadian government fears the credits will undermine domestic production of electric vehicles in Ontario and risk the North American auto industry.
The Rwandan government is working to decarbonize public transit with electric motor bikes. While the government seeks to convert a quarter of the nation’s micro buses, 20 percent of buses, and 30 percent of motorcycles to electric by 2030, the lack of charging stations nationally is posing a problem to widespread adoption.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced he is self-isolating after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus. Despite having mild symptoms, Ramaphosa encouraged all South Africans to get the vaccine and follow Covid reduction strategies.
The Malian military government announced January 31st as the day they will release a timetable for democratic elections in the country.
Engineered Arts, a robot building company in the United Kingdom, has developed a robot with the most advanced facial expressions of any to date. Ameca, the robot in this story, can be programmed and customized in its actions.
Serbian protestors blocked roads in various cities including the capital Belgrade for the third weekend in a row. The move is aimed at drawing attention to environmental issues originating from lithium mining, and demands of the government to prevent any company from creating mining operations in the country.
The G-7 issued a joint statement calling on Russia to deescalate tensions over Ukraine and warned of severe consequences should Putin launch an invasion of the country. The Russian government contends that NATO expansion threatens Russian sovereignty and domestic security.
Judge Tarek Bitar, head of the investigation into the port explosion in Beirut in 2020, demanded the arrest of former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil, after an arrest warrant for Khalil was issued in October but not carried out. Its unclear if Khalil will be arrested, he is connected to Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and Hezbollah, and the government is wracked by political infighting and stalemate since October.
Syria to host the 2024 Arab energy conference. This event signals renewing ties between Syria and the country’s Arab neighbors after years of civil war in the country.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett will meet with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan as part of the first ever visit to the United Arab Emirates by an Israeli prime minister. The two leaders will likely focus on deepening economic and security ties.
President Moon Jae-In of South Korea announced that North Korea, China, South Korea, and the United States have all agreed in principle to an end to the Korean War. While all sides agree that the war should end, Kim So-Young, sister of North Korea’s head of state Kim Jung-Un, demands that the United States gives up what she alleges is a “hostile policy” towards North Korea. This prevented any talks from happening between the two countries.
As the Afghan economy collapses, drug production has increased with meth and heroin making major gains in production despite promises by the Taliban to ban them. While produced locally, many of these drugs are bound for markets overseas. The Taliban also used drug money to fund their insurgency and is now faced with the problem of how to deal with the market that many Afghans rely on due to economic conditions.
Australia, Japan and the United States have agreed to jointly fund and laying undersea fiber optic cable to boost Internet connectivity for three nations in Polynesia. The agreement is the latest in the investments by Indo-Pacific allies to invest in the telecommunications of the Pacific.