Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Dec. 19, 2021.
The “hacker-for-hire” industry is taking on new and threatening potential with competing spyware companies targeting political dissidents for authoritarian countries.
The United Nations has failed to open new negotiations governing the use of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) after push back by weapon system creators such as Russia and the United States.
United Nations special rapporteur for the human rights situation in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, called upon the international community to work with Bangladesh to help with Rohingya refugees in the country while cutting off resources and support to the Myanmar military.
Anvisa, the national health regulator of Brazil, has requested additional law enforcement support after growing threats from anti-vaccine proponents stemming from the organization’s approval of COVID-19 vaccines for young children. Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil and major source of anti-vaccine sentiments, has threatened to release identities of those working at Anvisa and has spread misinformation throughout the country.
Chile elected the youngest president in the country’s history, Gabriel Boric, with 56% of the vote. Boric plans on introducing European style social democracy to the country to tackle economic and social inequalities, but faces a divided congress and a rewriting of the nation’s constitution. However, this may also be a bell weather for the rest of Latin America.
Morocco is starting to implement recycling via composting waste with the help of Swiss company Elephant Vert (translated as Green Elephant). However, the kingdom still lacks a comprehensive sorting and collection.
The United Nations voted to set up a three-person team to investigate human rights abuses in the Tigray region of Ethiopia, much to the objections of the government. While a report on abuses in the region already exists, it may be under reporting abuses.
A national public consultation is scheduled to be held between January and March 2022, according to Tunisian president Kais Saied, as part of plans to create a national referendum on political reforms scheduled for July 25, 2022. The Parliament is still frozen and will be until December 17, 2022, though they will be impacted by the referendum.
Thousands are protesting proposed legislation that would force the sale of TVN, a US-owned channel that has been critical of the government. This follows other attempts by the Polish government to target critics in the media, according to opposition parties and protestors.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov stated Moscow is ready to increase provocative actions along the border with Ukraine and other former Soviet countries if their demands are not taken seriously by NATO and the West. Among those demands are keeping Ukraine and other former Soviet countries from joining NATO and rolling back military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe. These demands may be viewed as provocative to the West, but they might be considered defensive by Moscow, which views their regional security as under threat by an expanding NATO encircling Russia’s Western border.
German environment minister, Steffi Lemke, warns of the next crisis is a biodiversity crisis. While fighting against climate change is needed, lawmakers and society also need to combat the loss of species, and there can be overlap of efforts such as restoration of natural habitats to fight both.
Artifacts ravaged by Daesh (Islamic State) are being restored in the Museum of Mosul in Iraq, with the help of French and American and local experts. In addition, the Iraqi government is making repatriation of stolen artifacts a priority and plans restoring the museum to its pre Daesh state.
The first confirmed case of Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been announced in Iran by the health ministry. There are two more potential cases under review, and the alleged source was a middle-aged man coming back from travel in the United Arab Emirates.
Idlib, Syria still needs aid and humanitarian assistance, but the deliveries into rebel-held territory by the United Nations requires authorization that is set to expire Jan. 10, 2022.
Laos and China opened a scenic railway connecting the capital of Laos, Vientiane, with Kunming in Southern China. Laos is heavily indebted to China already and faces potential risks from the rail project such as being unable to pay off the investment and being on the hook for some or all of the debt if the project fails to generate a profit.
The Organization for Islamic Cooperation concluded a summit in Islamabad, Pakistan to create ways to provide financing and support to the people of Afghanistan without directly dealing with the Taliban. The country is on the brink of economic collapse as the Taliban have taken little effort to actually fulfil the promises they made on women’s rights and protecting minorities, forcing nations with assets from Afghanistan to find ways to help the people without rewarding the Taliban for ignoring their own promises.
21,000 people have been displaced by major flooding in Malaysia after the equivalent of one month’s rainfall fell within 48 hours between Friday and Saturday.