Category Archives: Russia

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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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 Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of February 27, 2022)

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

Also, while the Russian invasion of Ukraine dominates the news, we should keep in mind that governments are not the people in any country. The actions of Russian president Vladimir Putin are not representative of all Russian people.

Global News

The Russian government has said it will limit access to Facebook after the company refused to stop independently fact checking and labeling content and claims from four state-owned media sites. This comes as the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine sparks anti-war protests and views in country. Facebook has been criticized in the past for allowing Far Right and conspiratorial claims to go without fact checking, an image both the company and parent company Meta are trying to shake.

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The carbon footprint of Bitcoin has increased after restrictions in China over energy use forced Bitcoin mining to other countries such as Kazakhstan and the United States. In these countries, fossil fuels like coal or more likely to be used to fuel mining operations for the crypto currency.

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said China is willing to work with the G7 Build Back Better World initiative and open to Washington joining the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative.  

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Americas

Nicaraguan courts have sentenced seven to prison for likely eight to 15 years each. The convicted are mostly presidential candidates and political opponents or critics of the Ortega government, as the president has weaponized the courts and legal system to go after political opposition in the country.

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Argentina, the third largest economy in Latin America, has reached a deal with the International Monetary Fund for 40 billion USD.

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Several Latin American countries have called on Russia to leave Ukraine, while others have criticized Moscow’s invasion of the country.

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Africa

Russian engagement and resumption of ties on the continent has produced a muted response from several nations in Africa to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The history of Russia’s more recent involvement in Africa is a mix of formal and informal with trade and security ties.

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Burkina Faso may take 30 months to transition back to democracy. A panel ordered by the military coup leaders has recommended the time table but has not released many other details other than a proposed transitional government made up of 20 ministers and 51 parliament members.

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The Gambia is asking the International Court of Justice, the United Nations’ top court, to throw out Myanmar’s legal bid to end the case of genocide against the Rohingya. Citing both the legal conventions such as the 1948 Genocide Convention and evidence gathered by international NGOs and fact-finding missions to the country, the Gambia is pushing with the case against Myanmar for the country’s actions targeting the Rohingya minority.

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Europe

Ukraine and Russia to hold talks Monday. In the meantime, Belarus might be sending troops to support Russian forces invading the country, despite many in Belarus and Russia being opposed to the war in Ukraine.

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Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has created a solidarity in much of Europe against him, and may enhance NATO in the future as his actions create a precedent.

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Anti-war protestors in Russia face restrictions and suppression by the government.

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Middle East

Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara will be implementing the 1936 Montreux Convention, which would limit the use of the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits during a war. He also referred to the Russian attacks in Ukraine as a war. The Montreux Convention does not prevent Russian warships from going to registered bases to refuel, however, Turkish authorities will be wary of attempts to abuse this caveat.

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Saudi-owned Aramco has sold a stake of it’s natural gas pipelines worth 15.5 billion USD to an investor group led by BlackRock Inc. The move is part of the kingdom’s plans to diversify into artificial intelligence and electric vehicles and other emerging industries.

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Iran limiting criticism of Russian aggression in Ukraine is part of a pattern echoed in previous military actions by Russia against other nations such as Georgia.

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Asia

The Taliban is instituting new restrictions on traveling abroad for Afghans after claims of mistreatment and poor living conditions for Afghan refugees in Qatar and Turkey. Since the Taliban took over the country, thousands have fled to other nations as the economy collapsed. Despite promises to change from their prior 1990s style of rule, the Taliban has been reintroducing old laws and ways of governance, causing many to seek asylum abroad, including those associated with the US occupation and anti-Taliban government forces.

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North Korea launched its eighth missile this year as the leadership in Pyongyang is restarting ballistic missile testing.

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China may help Russia economically, but has a complex political and business environment to navigate.

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India also released statements for Russia and NATO to return to dialogue and diplomacy, but stopped short of joining the US and other nations from launching sanctions. Like China, India has a complex relationship with Russia, only the two nations have had strong ties for decades.

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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 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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