Category Archives: Climate Change

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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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 Tech Stories (April 5, 2022)

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

A fungal spray that can fight soil degradation and air pollution has been developed in India.

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Zyxel, a hardware company, has released a patch for the CVE-2022-0342 flaw. The flaw affected VPNs and Firewalls due to an authentication bypass vulnerability in the common gateway interface of a device.

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Twitter and Elon Musk reached a deal to allow Musk onto the board but limited to 14.9% common stock. This deal would prevent a buyout of the company’s stock.

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Darknet site Hydra, the largest cybercrime forum globally, has been shut down by German authorities.

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According to the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, there are five things we can do to fight climate change effectively with current technology and tools.

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Deeper dive on the IPCC report.

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Filed under Agriculture, Climate Change, Cybersecurity, News, Technology and Proto Types, Water

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

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

Global News

U.S. Federal Reserve is mulling another interest rate bump after positive news on job growth. The federal interest rate affects global financial assets denominated in the U.S. dollar, such as treasury bonds or debts denominated in dollars.

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The United Nations is appointing a 16-member panel to investigate climate change projects and efforts by private sector actors to determine their effectiveness and how to improve corporate efforts to fight climate change. The announcement comes after environmental groups accuse some large corporations of ‘greenwashing’- when a climate damaging activity is rebranded as fighting climate change.

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The Middle East and North Africa are experiencing more frequent and damaging climate disasters and higher temperatures than anywhere else in the world.

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Only 2 million Bitcoin left untapped globally.

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Americas

Amazon workers in Staten Island, New York, now have a unionized warehouse after successfully voting for one. This comes after more than 25 years of Amazon preventing unionization company-wide and may inspire other Amazon warehouses.

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Workers for Brazil’s central bank have voted on an indefinite strike starting April 1, while the president of the central bank, Roberto Campos Neto, vacations in Miami. This threatens the Pix payment system that 67% of Brazil’s adult population use.

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The Biden Administration may end Title 42 by May 23, though this has not been finalized. The administration is seeking to address “root causes” for migration in a shift in immigration policy.

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Africa

The duct fiber foundations of a smart city are being laid out in Lagos. Another smart city project, the Eko Atlantic, also in Lagos, held a ground breaking ceremony for a new U.S. consulate.

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Aid is reaching Tigrayans for the first time since December 15, 2021 after a truce was called last week. More then 90% of the Tigrayan population need food after the 16-month long civil war between the Ethiopian government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front left the thousands dead and brought hundreds of thousands to starvation since November.

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The United Nations voted unanimously to endorse an African Union force fighting armed groups like al-Shabab and Daesh. The new force will transition responsibility for Somalia’s domestic security to the Somali transitional government over time as the government gains strength.

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Europe

Putin’s war is not a sign of genius, and has been a disaster.

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Ukrainian officials and civilians accuse Russian military personnel and the Russian government of atrocities and massacres across the Kyiv region.

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Lithuania stopped importing Russian gas at the beginning of April, the first European nation to stop buying Russian gas.

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Middle East

In Jordan, Prince Hamza bin al-Hussein has renounced his title and claim on the throne.

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The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is working with nations in West Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East to develop water conservation and use strategies to promote stability and cooperation. Known as the Blue Peace Strategy, the SDC believe this could be a tool to promote peace in the Middle East and beyond as water scarcity becomes a greater threat.

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Yemen’s 7-year long war might be seeing peace as all warring factions agreed to a two-month truce for the month of Ramadan.

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Asia

Pakistan is headed for early elections after president Imran Khan avoided a no-confidence vote and dissolved Parliament.

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 Several cryptocurrency mining companies took advantage of tax cuts and exemptions not meant for them specifically, according to auditors in Kazakhstan. While not actually breaking any laws, these companies were an example used by the Accounts Committee to claim the Digital Kazakhstan program was not working as intended.

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The President and prime minister of Sri Lanka lost all 26 ministers in the government in protest over the nation’s woes- national debt, rising cost of living, shortages of food, medicine and fuel.

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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 March 14, 2022)

After two week hiatus, we’re back with more news from the world.

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of March 14, 2022.

Global News

The global reset following the COVID pandemic could provide an opportunity to combat gender inequality.

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According to Ukraine’s top climate scientist, Svitlana Krakovska, the underlying root of the war’s devastation and climate change are fossil fuels. Russian oil and gas exports contribute to climate change and are sold for weapons and cash to fund the war.

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Investors are calling on a 14-point plan for companies lobbying on climate. The coalition of companies and investors supporting The Global Standard on Responsible Climate Lobbying represent more than $130 trillion dollars.

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Americas

To combat anti-Asian violence, Asian American and Pacific Islander American teachers are sharing their history and culture in class.

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Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro confirmed a U.S. delegation met with government officials to discuss several issues, including energy.

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Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro is pushing for a mining law that targets indigenous lands in the Amazon. Despite having only 11% of potash reserves being on tribal lands, the law is being touted as needed.

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Africa

The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Pfizer to supply COVID antiviral pills.

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Burkina Faso has more militant attacks and violence than Mali.

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The war in Ethiopia killed 750 civilians in the Amhara and Afar regions in the second half of 2021.

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Europe

Greece and Turkey are working to improve bilateral relations.

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In Moldova, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has a mixed response. Officially neutral in the conflict, Moldova holds historic ties to Russia and a minority are traditionally supportive of Russian policies, but some are now blaming the Kremlin for the invasion.

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Internet service providers balance efforts to provide access to service to Russian customers in face of the Kremlin’s censorship and control tools. While cutting down on Internet access would limit the reach of cyber-attacks, it also curtails access to outside information and news.

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Middle East

Iranian oil may provide an advantage in the nuclear negotiations, but it will not be enough to replace Russian oil and natural gas.

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The Saudi-led coalition has killed tens of thousands since 2015 according to UNICEF.

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Saudi redevelopment projects in Jeddah are stirring protests.

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Asia

U.S. officials reported that Moscow might be trying to buy military equipment and possibly weapons from Beijing. Representatives from Beijing have denied this claim.

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The proposed summit between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and U.S. President Joe Biden will be postponed due to scheduling conflicts according to Indonesian and Cambodian officials.

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Relations between Japan and South Korea may improve soon as Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and South Korean president-elect Yoon Suk-yeol talked over the phone Friday. Both sides agreed on mending relations between the two nations.

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Global Tech Stories (March 1, 2022)

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

Nanobots will one day remove heavy metal pollutants from the water ways and oceans. Scientists in Prague developed nanobots that can attract and retain pollutants and be fabricated at large scale with environmentally sustainable components.

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NASA has new ideas for the future of space exploration. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts program selected 12 Phase I projects and 5 Phase II projects for further funding, including a project on extended radiation shielding for astronauts, 3-D printed microbots and the development of artificial gravity through rotating structures.

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Researchers at MIT are tackling bias in machine-learning models by teaching machines to different similarity attributes besides a sensitive one. This method is Partial Attribute Decorrelation, and could make technologies like facial recognition fairer.

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For manufacturers, downtime from broken or stalled equipment can be a drain on resources and time, often without the help of experienced employees to help fix the problem. A recently created self-learning assistance system could change that.

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A newly developed wrap blocks both bacteria and viruses.

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The future of bullet resistant armor looks a lot thinner and could one day be warn in hot and cold climates. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a nano-fibrous material that performs better at resisting impact than steel plates and Kevlar fabric.

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Imagine harvesting electricity from radio waves. Researchers in the University of South Florida have developed a metasurface-based antenna that could harvest 100 microwatts- enough to power a simple device.

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Earthworms play a more active role in the health of soil and the nitrogen cycle by secreting nitrogen in their mucus when active, enriching the soil and contributing to crop health.

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Scientists developed a way to turn on dormant genes using a combination of AI and CRISPR technologies. This could help doctors activate genes for fighting illnesses through personalized medicine and general medical treatments.

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Stonehenge may have been a solar calendar.

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Filed under Climate Change, News, Technology and Proto Types, Water

Global Tech Stories (February 15, 2022)

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

Explainer: What is the Ethereum Swarm?

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The BlackByte group launched attacks that penetrated at least three critical infrastructure sectors and several US and foreign businesses last year.

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In 2021, 74% of all revenue from ransomware attacks went to Russian-affiliated hacker groups.

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The James Webb Space Telescope has taken its first pictures in space. The object was of the star HD 84406 in the constellation of Ursa Major.

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After testing bionic implants to improve eyesight for sheep, Researchers in Australia came one step closer to bionic eyes for humans.

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Researchers from the RIKEN Center for Sustainable Resource Science in Japan developed a way to produce hydrogen using cobalt and manganese.

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