Category Archives: Asia

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.

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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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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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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of March 27, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of March 27, 2022.

Global News

Two state-backed North Korean hacker groups exploited a vulnerability in Chrome to launch a zero-day attack. The vulnerability, CVE-2022-0609, has been patched but the primarily means to actually target people was a complex social engineering operation that involved either compromising legitimate sites or creating fake profiles and sites to lure potential targets in various industries.

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The deep ocean current is impacted by global temperature and carbon, and it’s getting faster with more carbon. This could have a major impact on future sequestration of carbon and on ocean life.

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A new lithium battery that can stretch and flex. This could one day lead to clothing that can recharge and power electronics.

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Americas

Canadian Indigenous delegations will be meeting with Pope Francis this week to ask for a formal apology from the Catholic Church for abuses and crimes against Indigenous communities due to the residential schools that operated between the early 19th Century and 20th Century.

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El Salvador is moving forward with trying to popularize bitcoin as a legal tender, including the release of bitcoin-backed bond for the treasury. While the president and crypto enthusiasts love the idea, many Salvadorans are not using the currency and critics, such as the International Monetary Fund, point to the risks and volatility of the digital currency as threat to the economy.

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Nicaragua’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, Arturo McFields, resigned on Wednesday after accusing president Daniel Ortega and his government of suppressing freedoms and attacking opposition parties.  

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Africa

A court in Uganda issued an arrest warrant for Kakwenza Rukirabashaija, an author and critic of the government who fled the country for Germany after he was allegedly tortured by government agents. He is the second critic to flee the country.

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A ceasefire and truce were have taken hold yesterday in Ethiopia between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. First initiated unilaterally by the government, the TPLF has agreed to the truce, which could help deliver humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands living in the Tigray region and possibly lead to an end of the conflict.

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The NGO Big Ship is mobilizing communities in Mombasa, Kenya, use plastic waste to fight both marine plastic pollution and deforestation. They accomplish this by using yoghut cups to replant mangrove seedlings. With a survival rate of 95% for the mangrove seedlings, these communities reforest critical swampland in Tudor Creek while taking hundreds of thousands of plastic cups out of the marine and mangrove environment.

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Europe

According to General Kyrylo Budanov, head of the Ministry of Defence’s Intelligence Directorate in Ukraine, Putin is attempting to cut the country into two and install a pro-Kremlin government in Russian-occupied territory.

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Explainer- What is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, why does it exist, and what it’s doing to help Ukraine?

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Russia’s anti-war protestors and activists are still operating despite massive repression by Putin’s government and over 15,000 arrests and sentences of more than 15 years in prison for individuals protesting the Ukrainian war. While opposition to the war keeps some in Russia, others fear being unable to come back should they leave.

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Middle East

The Houthi movement and the Yemeni government agreed to a prisoner swap on Sunday. The swap will be 1,400 Houthi prisoners in return for 823 prisoners, including the brother of the Yemeni president, according to the Houthis’ national committee for prisoner affairs, however the Yemeni government has not reached a final agreement with the Houthis yet.

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Qatar’s state fund for development will be going into a 50-50 partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help farmers adapt to climate change. The total promised investment is 200 million dollars, and will focus on projects to help low-income farmers in Africa adapt agricultural practices and technologies to better prepare for the changes brought on by climate change.

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The LGBTQ+ community in Iraq faces persecution from state-backed authorities such as the police, and disorganized private groups according to a report from Human Rights Watch.

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Asia

North Korea tested new intercontinental ballistic missiles last week. While promising future tests and greater military capabilities, some analysts see this as both part of the typical activity marking the anniversary of the founder of North Korea’s birthday, Kim Il-Sung, on April 15.

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The United States, U.K. and Canada are launching targeted sanctions on the Myanmar military and government and arms dealers.

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Thousands are heading to Islamabad to rally as embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan potentially faces a no-confidence vote.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 30, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 30, 2022.

Global News

Where we are with the hyped Metaverse, and what challenges companies and governments will need to surmount to actually make the Metaverse work.

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A subvariant of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus has been detected. While better at evading the body’s defenses, its unknown how severe or infectious the new subvariant actually is. The subvariant was found mostly in cases Denmark and has spread to the UK and parts of Asia.

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The Asteroid-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS), funded by NASA, can now scan the entire night sky every 24 hours. This system can now give up to a full days’ warning for a 20-meter-wide asteroid and up to three weeks’ warning with 100-meter-wide asteroids.

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Americas

The International Monetary Fund is requesting the government of El Salvador remove Bitcoin as legal tender for the country’s bonds and currency due to the high risks and volatility of the currency.

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Taiwan’s vice president, William Lai, is traveling to Honduras to shore up ties with the government following the election of Xiomara Castro. Castro had floated the idea of reestablishing ties with China but recently walked those ideas back.

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 Anti-vaccine protestors marched in Ottawa on Saturday, desecrating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the process. The Canadian Trucking Alliance believes many of the protestors have no connection to trucking as the majority of the Alliance’s members are already vaccinated.

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Africa

South Africa is building out an indigenous vaccine production site that will produce both foreign and domestically created vaccines for COVID and other pathogens and distribute them throughout the continent within the next few years. Other countries on the continent are in various stages of developing sites for local vaccine production.

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Almost 40% of the population of Tigray is suffering extreme hunger according to the World Food Programme. The Amhara and Afar regions are also suffering from severe hunger.

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Burkina Faso has been suspended from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after a recent coup in the country removed democratically elected president Roch Marc Christian Kabore, citing his failure to stem ongoing violence in the country. Delegations will meet with the military coup leaders later next week.

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Europe

Explainer: Ukraine Crisis and NATO.

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U.S. president Joe Biden is sending some troops to Eastern Europe to bolster NATO forces in the region in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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The EU is bringing a case against China to the World Trade Organization. Beijing retaliated economically against Lithuania for the country allowing Taiwan to open a diplomatic outpost in Vilnius.

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Middle East

Thailand and Saudi Arabia reestablished diplomatic ties.

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Iraq could lose 1/3 or arable land and 20% of the nation’s water resources by 2050 due to climate change.

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Lebanon will not disarm Hezbollah but has pledged not to allow the country to be used as a safe haven for groups to launch attacks or activities that harm other Arab states in the region. Neighbors have called on Lebanon to help fight the regional drug trade.

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Asia

Indian company BrahMos Aerospace inks deal with the Philippines government for the sale of BrahMos shore-based anti-ship supersonic missiles. Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand are also in various stages of engagement with the company regarding missile deals.

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Almost a year since the military of Myanmar overthrew the democratically elected government.

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According to an investigation by the New York Times, the Modi Administration purchased Pegasus spyware from the Israeli NSO group in 2017 to spy on civilians.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 23, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 23, 2022.

Global News

A tax on pollution aimed at companies might incentivize companies to actually invest in cleaner energy and green production methods according to new research.

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The Catholic Church will now formally recognize women for lay roles of catechist and lector. These roles had long been performed by women informally despite being officially reserved for men, but Pope Francis recently announced they would be formally recognized by the Church.

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How much electricity is produced by renewable energy sources will vary, but this infographic gives some of the latest estimates and helps clarify the challenges the world faces in transitioning to clean electricity.

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Americas

Fish exports from Brazil is making major gains in China, but a lack of regulation in Brazil threatens local communities and risks overfishing. The parts of the fish being exported are normally thrown away, but in China they’re valued for medical uses.

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The Canadian Trucking Alliance, an organization representing truckers across Canada, spoke out against planned protests scheduled for Jan. 29 at the nation’s capital. The protests target the cross-border vaccine travel mandate by Canada and the United States, which requires truckers to be fully vaccinated.

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The Biden Administration introduced new rules to help attract talent from foreign students by introducing rules to help international students spend up to 36 months in academic training. The Department of Homeland Security also introduced 22 new fields to a program that provides three years of training with employers and another initiative aimed at connecting domestic employers with trained international students.

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Africa

An explainer on why the military is in mutiny in Burkina Faso.

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Enset, a traditional staple in the diets of communities in South and Southwest Ethiopia, could provide millions with food security as climate change changes rain patterns and threatens crops.

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COVID vaccines will need a shelf-life of three to six months to be effectively distributed by recipient countries, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of the received vaccines have expired due to logistical challenges and storage requirements.

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Europe

Protestors in Istanbul protest against the hosting of the Olympics in China, citing human rights abuses and allegations of genocide against the Uighur population.

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Ukrainian government officials are treating the claims about Moscow attempting a coup to install a sympathetic government in Kyiv as credible. The claims were made by the U.K. foreign office, allegedly based on US intelligence but have not provided evidence yet.

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A Taliban delegation headed to Norway on Sunday probably to convince The US and Western nations to unfreeze financial assets to the tune of $10 billion. The delegation will meet for three days with delegations from the US, Western government officials, human rights and women’s rights advocates, and members of the Afghan community in Norway.

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Middle East

An Israeli company developed a drone capable of firing sniper rifles or standard rifles while flying. The drone is in advanced stages of development and not yet ready for deployment, but the system is based on existing technology used against Hamas.

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Iran may be voting in the United Nations General Assembly soon after South Korea paid off the country’s outstanding dues. The funds were obtained from frozen Iranian assets in South Korea, and in active coordination with the United Nations Secretariat, US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control and other agencies.

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Due to COVID-19, the League of Arab States will be rescheduling their annual meeting. While no agenda has been set, there are many issues for the group to focus on.

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Asia

Chinese investment causes trouble in Serbia.

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Afghan women graduates of Code to Inspire are turning to crypto currencies to receive aid and money from abroad as Taliban rule has left the economy in ruins. The organization, based in Herat, taught women how to code before the Taliban took over, and these women had taught others how to set up wallets to receive and transact in crypto currencies as a way to get around the frozen financial system and limits on cash withdrawals at local banks.

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Eighty-four percent of the population of Tonga has been affected by ashfall and a tsunami as a result of the recent volcanic eruption. Limited communications and Internet have been restored and aid is coming from New Zealand and Australia, while aid has been promised from Japan, China, The Asian Development Bank and World Bank.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 9, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 9, 2022.

Global News

A new strain of COVID-19 has been discovered in Cyprus, which combines Omicron variant genetic signatures with a Delta variant genome. How infectious or lethal this new variant is compared to either Delta or Omicron, is unknown but it might be surpassed by Omicron.

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Events in Kazakhstan pose a complication for the US-Russian talks on Ukraine.

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The James Webb telescope has fully opened and will move to its final position in two weeks. The telescope should be ready for operations in the summer. The telescope was so large, it had to be folded origami style before being set into orbit.

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Americas

New legislators took office in Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega’s party won 75 of the 90 seats in elections. The elections themselves were of questionable fairness as Ortega jailed opponents before the elections that the Organization of American States voted to condemn by a majority of 25 members.

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Voters in Barnibas, Venezuela elected Sergio Garrido, an opposition candidate. This particular win was in the heart of Chavismo influence and after another opposition candidate had been retroactively disqualified despite presidential pardon.

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A look back at the January 6th Insurrection in the United States. On Jan. 6, 2020, supporters of Donald Trump attempted to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s win and the ensuing riot caused by the insurrectionists has been the subject of congressional investigation.

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Africa

Villagers in the district of Mutoko, Zimbabwe, are being forced from their land by foreign mining companies such as Jinding. The government has a history of ignoring local complaints due to concerns over angering China.

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ECOWAS will freeze access to all financial assets in banks and aid to Mali as part of new sanctions imposed on the country in response to the Malian military announcing they will stay in power for another four years rather than hold elections to transition the country back to democracy.

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A spokesperson for the Tigrayan forces said a government airstrike killed 56 people at a camp for displaced people on Saturday. While the claims could not be verified, the region has been cut off from international scrutiny and the UN has reported airstrikes killing civilians in the region in December.

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Europe

Bosnian Serbs celebrated an outlawed holiday commemorating the founding of a Serbian state in Bosnia, which started the civil war and genocide against Croats and Bosniks. Attending the ceremony were representatives from Russia, China, and France’s National Rally party and Serbia.

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Turkish Cyprots are taking to the streets to protest Ankara’s influence in the region due to economic and political turmoil on the northern half of Cyprus and the recent revelation of a blacklist by the Turkish government of dissidents.

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Turkish defense minister Hulusi Akar warned Athens against “provocative actions” in the Aegean Sea after the Greek government voted to extend their territorial rights to 12 nautical miles around Greek islands in the Aegean, which could block Turkey’s own access to the region. He also spoke of Ankara’s wish to resolve territorial disputes through dialogue.

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Middle East

Iraqi Parliament elected their Speaker Sunday. Mohammed al-Halbousi, a Sunni lawmaker, will be taking over after the temporary speaker Mahmoud al-Mashahadani fell ill.

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Princess Basmah bint Saud bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and her daughter Souhoud Al Sharif were released after three years of imprisonment at Al-Ha-ir maximum security prison in Saudi Arabia. Princess Abdulaziz Al Saud is an advocate for constitutional reforms and humanitarian aid in the kingdom.

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US President Joe Biden nominated Army Lt. Gen. Erik Kurilla to head US Central Command in the Middle East. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be top commander of US forces in the region.

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Asia

Sri Lanka asks for a debt restructuring from China due to the economic impact of COVID-19.

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Almost 6,000 people have been arrested and 164 killed according to the government in Kazakhstan. The country was wracked by protests and subsequent violence after the government and Russian security forces were deployed to put down the protests. The country was also affected by an Internet blackout that limited information and access to services as the government attempted to smash the protests initially sparked by a fuel price increase.

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Climate change is causing the Brahmaputra River to flood and erode tribal lands in Assam state, in India. The Mising, a tribe heavily affected by the loss of lands to flooding, also faces legal challenges to reclaiming land after flood waters recede due to a lack of legal documentation to land claims and deeds. The government has not come up with long-term solutions yet to the flooding and erosion.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of December 26, 2021)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Dec. 26, 2021.

Global News

The James Webb Telescope has launched.

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An explainer for the new COVID-19 treatment pills.

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Americas

US employees of Amazon will now have an easier time forming unions.

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Lithium mines in Mexico are a source of tensions for the Mexican government.

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The Canadian economy is back to pre-pandemic levels.

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Africa

The United States will be lifting travel bans for 8 southern African countries on New Year’s Eve.

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Protestors took to the streets of several Libyan cities to demand the presidential elections be held on time after the promised vote was cancelled.

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Gambia’s truth commission released a report on the crimes of former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, should face trial for crimes he committed during his 22 years in power, before he lost the 2016 election and fled to Equatorial Guinea.

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Desmond Tutu, a human rights advocate, foe of Apartheid, and Nobel Peace prize recipient, died Sunday at 90 years old.

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Europe

Russian president Vladimir Putin has stated he will consider alternatives if NATO does not comply with his demands of military force reduction in Central and Eastern Europe and the barring of Ukraine from joining the alliance.

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The website OVD-Info has been blocked on the Russian Internet. The website is known for tracking the arrests of protestors and offering legal aid to detained protestors.

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The EU and U.K have announced a formal agreement to manage shared fishing stocks. However, this deal does not cover the ongoing dispute between France and the UK over fishing rights and access to fishing stocks. Environmentalists also say the deal will continue overexploitation of fishing stocks.

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Middle East

The Saudi-led coalition reported striking a Houthi rebel camp in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. The coalition targeted weapons storehouses as part of a larger aerial bombing campaign.

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The Israeli government plans on doubling the number of settlers in the Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan Heights in the coming years.

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I tested positive for COVID-19 after displaying mild symptoms. He is the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christian community, but not in the same manner as the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. Instead, he’s best described as first among equals. He is doing well and wished Christmas wishes to all and called on the faithful to follow medical guidance and get vaccinated.

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Asia

Taliban has dissolved the Electoral Commission, Electoral Complaint Commission, the Ministry for Peace and the Ministry of Parliamentarian Affairs. These commissions and ministries were considered “unnecessary” by the Taliban government but could be brought back later on. The Taliban had already dissolved the Women’s Affairs Ministry.

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Japan is bolstering bilateral development of new technologies and replacing older fighter craft as part of an approved 5.4 trillion-yen defense budget for fiscal year 2022.

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Hundreds of people fled into Thailand after an airstrike by the Myanmar military in the border town of Lay Kay Kaw, as part of an operation targeting ethnic Karen guerillas. Fighting in the region grew since last February when the Myanmar military launched a coup against the elected government and the Karen guerillas offered safe haven for those who opposed the military.

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Xi’an, home to 13 million people, is under lockdown after confirmed COVID-19 infections reached their highest in 21 months. China’s “zero-Covid” strategy is still in effect despite the relatively low number of confirmed cases in country.

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The Communist Party Chief of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, is moving to another post. Ma Xingrui, who formerly served as governor of Guangdong providence, will take his place.

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