Tag 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 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 Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of April 10, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of April 10, 2022.

Global News

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the war in Ukraine has caused global grain prices to rise by 17.1 percent. Russia and Ukraine account for a large portion of global grain and corn exports.

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The latest COVID variant, BA.2, and what we know about it.

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Methane, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, has been steadily growing in the atmosphere. This is a major threat in the fight against climate change.

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The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports 18 countries have reduced their emissions and kept growing their economies. The model they followed could be exported to other nations.

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Americas

In the United States of America, some of the hardest places to raise children and start families are also passing some of the strictest anti-abortion laws.

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The government of Guyana struck a deal with ExxonMobil for the Yellowtail project. While the company has about 2 billion dollars set aside for unexpected problems like an oil spill, environmental activist are still concerned about the projects’ potential damage to the ecosystem.

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There may be only eight Vaquita porpoises left in Mexico due to governmental officials not enforcing protections for the critically endangered species. Poachers and illegal fishers leave nets in the vaquita’s habitat that snare the porpoises and drown them.

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Africa

South Sudan is facing hunger for 2/3 of the population, resulting from climate change and ongoing conflicts.

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Spain’s attempt to boost ties with Morocco may hurt both the Spanish government and Algerian relations.

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Gambians are voting for a new National Assembly on Sunday. The economy will be one of the main issues facing the government, along with tensions with Senegal.

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Europe

Moscow targets Polish tensions with Ukraine for disinformation and propaganda. While both suffered under Soviet era rule, Russian propaganda aims at historical tensions and stoking anti-refugee sentiment.

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Oleg Orlov, Russian human rights activist and critic of Vladimir Putin, has been arrested again. Member of the banned human rights organization Memorial, Orlov was protesting the Russian invasion and war in Ukraine.

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Explainer: Why the French election matters outside of France.

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Middle East

Cities around Iran experienced high levels of air pollution on Friday, with Tehran being the most polluted city in the world in air quality. This follows a year in which only two days had clean air quality.

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Rashad al-Alimi, the head of Yemen’s new presidential council, announced plans on ending the war in Yemen via a peace process.

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Lebanon is one step closer to a 3-billion-dollar deal for financial aid deal with the International Monetary Fund.

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Saudi Arabia will allow 1 million pilgrims for the Hajj this year, provided they’re vaccinated and under 65 years old. While higher than last year, the average pre pandemic was 2.5 million pilgrims.

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Asia

The government of Sri Lanka is facing mounting calls for the resignation of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Lack of food, fuel, the country’s debt and a lack of progress in the investigation of terrorist attacks are major sources of anger.

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Explainer: The people behind the fall of former prime minister Imran Khan.

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Armenia and Azerbaijan are preparing to hold another peace conference to resolve the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

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Imran Khan’s fall explained.

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Japan and the Philippines are discussing a possible defense agreement.

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The current president of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, denied rumors of his administration trying to delay the elections in 2024.

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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 February 13, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Feb. 13, 2022.

Global News

Climate change threatens the ability of some regions of the world to adapt.

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The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet and more variants are likely according to the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan.

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Deloitte’s 2022 Global Health Care Outlook highlights the six major issues affecting global health for the coming year. Some of these issues include mental health, access to care, and digital changes and the environment.

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Americas

Canadian police have cleared protestors from Ambassador bridge on Sunday. The bridge accounts for 25% of US-Canadian trade traffic. The majority of Canadians do not support the ongoing protests in Ottawa.

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Fact Check: Canadian protestors and the “Freedom Convoy”.

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Africa

Somaliland foreign minister Essa Kayd told China the country cannot dictate their relationship with Taiwan. Beijing has largely undermined Taiwan’s recognition in Africa, with only eSwatini having full recognition by Taiwan.

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European Union officials are now focusing on assisting African nations with COVID-19 vaccination challenges such as low shelf life, vaccine training, hesitancy and logistics of distribution of the vaccines. However, African nations such as South Africa are also focusing on developing their own capacity to produce vaccines domestically to avoid over-reliance on imported vaccines.

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Women farmers in Sierra Leone are utilizing swamp lands for agriculture through a agricultural collective. The collective is not only using a potentially greater yielding environment for farming, it’s also providing autonomy and economic growth opportunities for the community.

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Europe

Finland, a non-NATO member sharing a border with Russia, has bought dozens of F-35 stealth aircraft and surface-to-surface missiles from Lockheed Martin. This is part of the country’s ongoing work to improve their military and not related to current tensions between Russia, Ukraine and NATO.

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A former senior general has called for Putin to resign over the Ukraine crisis and other issues related to Putin’s rule of the country.

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Leaders from several political parties met to work on a government after Erdogan, including former members of the current President’s own party.

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Explainer: Putin’s negotiation strategy over Ukraine, according to analysts.

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Middle East

Israel is working on a systemic integration of AI and digital technologies throughout all branches of the military.

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Daesh remains a transnational threat despite prior losses in territory and leadership.

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Protestors have continued for a fifth day in the Syrian city of Sweida, despite government forces being sent in to patrol the streets. The protesters are upset over the living conditions and loss of government supports, in a nation where 90% of the population lives in poverty according to the United Nations.

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Asia

Indonesia is testing a domestic COVID-19 vaccine, the “Merah Putih” or “Red and White”, on human subjects as part of an effort to improve vaccination rates in the largest South East Asian nation. If successful, the government plans to increase domestic vaccination rates and donate the vaccine to other nations.

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The Quad alliance is seeking new “dialogue members” as the organization creates a united front against authoritarian regimes. Initially set up to counter increasing aggressiveness from Beijing, the Quad is also working on efforts to combat COVID-19 and how to work better with organizations like Association of South East Asian Nations.

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The International Labor Organization released a report detailing continued abuses of Uighur and other Turkic and Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China, by Beijing. While denying the allegations, Beijing continues to claim the local government is promoting vocational training, language studies and “de-extremism” despite ongoing allegations from locals and human rights groups and international agencies. As covered in an earlier study posted on Global Affairs Weekly, some of the Uighur militants who crossed into Northern Afghanistan did so in response to Beijing’s activities, and some Jihadist groups are also citing the CCP’s policies and actions in Xinjiang as a rallying cry for regional militants.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of February 6, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Feb. 6, 2022.

Global News

Hackers stole 320 billion USD worth of cryptocurrencies from Solona and Ethereum. They accomplished this by exploiting the bridge of Solona and used counterfeit Ethereum coins, which were used to exchange for real coins.

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Coral reefs may die out even if the world limits global warming to Paris Accord pledge levels due to marine heat waves. If global temperatures rise even 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels, an estimated 99% of coral reefs unable to recover from marine heat waves, while 2 degrees will affect all coral reefs. It usually takes 10 years for coral to recover, assuming nothing else happens to them, from these heat waves. But climate change and increased carbon levels in the ocean is increasing the number of such heat waves and rapidity of their occurrence.

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The future of the Winter Olympics might be one of indoor artificial snow, as climate change makes winters warmer.

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Americas

Native American tribes will receive $590 million from Johnson & Johnson and three other US drug manufacturers based on a settlement reached last Tuesday. The settlement is the latest in ongoing efforts to hold drug companies in the United States accountable for the opioid crisis, which has hit Native communities the hardest.

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The Colombian Amazon rain forest is under threat from deforestation and wildfires, which risks the country’s efforts to fight climate change.

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Argentina is joining the Belt and Road Initiative in exchange for trade and investment and recognition of the Falkland Islands by China.

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Africa

The French ambassador to Mali has been given 72 hours to leave the country in retaliation for criticism and remarks by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian about the Malian transitional government. Originally the military junta agreed to have elections this year, but went back on its agreement with France by scheduling elections for 2025. The junta is also relying on Russian mercenaries to fight domestic Jihadists, a move criticized by Western nations and some West African countries, as mentioned in stories from last week’s edition of Global Affairs Weekly.

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The European Union has slapped targeted sanctions against members of the Malian military and transitional government over their involvement in coup against the prior Malian government and breaking the deal to hold elections in February by moving elections to 2025.

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Afrigen is the first African company to produce a local COVID-19 vaccine on the continent. Starting with the Moderna mRNA sequence, the company’s scientists developed their own processes and made a different vaccine as part of their research into next generation vaccines that will be locally produced, have longer shelf life, do not need refrigeration and could attack the virus at both the genetic level and on the protein spikes the virus uses to latch on and infect cells, as referenced in last week’s edition of Global Affairs Weekly.

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Europe

Explainer: What does Putin want in Ukraine and what might be driving him.

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Russia and China have inked a deal worth 117.5 billion USD equivalent to ship more natural gas and oil to the world’s largest energy consumer, giving Moscow more connections to Beijing and decreasing dependence on the European market. However, the energy resources in this deal are not connected to energy resources headed for Europe and come from a different part of Russia geographically.

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Turkey’s President Erdogan has tested positive for COVID-19.

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Middle East

Recreational use of cannabis is gaining acceptance among the youth of the Middle East, despite authorities cracking down on it.

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Syrian opposition parties held talks in Qatar to work on developing a unified opposition to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. While they might not have strength enough to oust Assad from power, these different parties may create the framework for democratic transition someday, assuming they still retain relevance to the Syrian people.

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Tunisia’s Supreme Judicial Council has been dissolved according to Tunisian President Kais Saied, despite lacking the legal authority to do so.

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Asia

India’s national budget plan for 2022 will focus heavily on infrastructure, housing, a spectrum auction of 5G mobile and 5G services rollout. The government also proposed a digital rupee and a 30% tax on profits made from cryptocurrency trading and nonfungible token exchanges.

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A year after the military took over in Myanmar following a coup, the country is on the edge of economic collapse. Almost half of the population is in poverty according to the International Labor Organization, with the economy being 30% smaller than it would have been without the coup and COVID-19 pandemic according to the World Bank.

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A journalist in the Indian-controlled Kashmir has been arrested under India’s anti-terror laws. The authorities cited “publishing anti-national content” without specifying what that content actually was.

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Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 2, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 2, 2022.

Global News

Five good stories for the environment for 2021.

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Economic and political reforms in China will have winners and losers outside the country’s borders. Here is an analysis of who might gain and lose from the Common Prosperity campaign.

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The Tequila Splitfin, a Mexican fish species that was extinct in the wild, has been conserved in captivity and is now being reintroduced to its native habitat. The effort was community drawn and supported, and provides a template for other communities to follow to preserve endangered species.

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Americas

Guatemala’s Valor Party is attempting to pass a bill that would give amnesty to imprisoned military, government and police members convicted of crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and other nationally and internationally recognized crimes perpetrated during the Guatemalan civil war. Similar bills have been attempted but defeated, though the current president is the former vice-presidential pick for the 2019 election.

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The Mexican state-owned company Petroleos Mexicanos will reduce exported oil to 435,000 barrels a day in 2022 and stop exporting by 2023, as part of the country’s effort to become energy independent. Mexico is one of the most prominent players in international oil markets.

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Several Latin American countries have higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19 than Europe and North America. While there are outliers like Brazil, many have been successful in vaccinating their populations. This in large part due to a combination of imported vaccines and the development and production of local vaccines.

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Africa

The United States has cut Guinea, Mali and Ethiopia from participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a program that provides duty-free access to the US market in return for meeting eligibility requirements like political pluralism and lowering trade barriers.

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In Mali, the military junta is proposing to stay in power another five years despite the timeline set by West African mediators. The move risks greater sanctions by neighboring countries.

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In a blow to the credibility of the Sudanese military’s transitional government and power-sharing agreement, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned. While the military claims to be on track to a civilian controlled government by 2023, protestors in the country are not swayed and have promised more protests this year.

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Europe

The Conservative Party lost control of a seat they held for nearly 200 years in a by-election last Friday, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The seat, in North Shropshire, was won by 6,000 votes by Helen Morgan of the Liberal Democrats party.

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Russia pivots to China for energy exports, as the two nations embrace closer economic and political ties. Gazprom will be finalizing an energy deal to build a pipeline from the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia to China, called Power of Siberia 2, with the capacity of 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually. This is the second such pipeline connecting Russian energy products to China’s markets.

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France takes over the EU Presidency for the next six months. Climate, member-wide digitalization, and “strategic autonomy” are the areas France will most heavily focus on during this period.

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Middle East

Iran launched a rocket into space, carrying three research devices. While this was a space launch, the technology to launch the rockets could also be used to launch missiles.

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More calls for the Tunisian government to release information on the whereabouts of Noureddine Bhiri, the deputy president of the Ennahdha party, after he was detained by plainclothes police officers last Friday.

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Bahrain has sent an ambassador to Syria for the first time in 10 years, following the lead of other Gulf States.

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Asia

Evergrande shares will be suspended from trading Monday as part of efforts to combat the company’s liquidity troubles. The company is the most heavily indebted developer in the world, with more than 300 billion USD in liabilities.

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 South Korea’s Lee Jae-myung, the front runner for Democratic Party, promises to work with the USA to develop nuclear submarines for the country. The ruling party’s presidential candidate also promises to work on mediation for the US and North Korea and to end Seoul’s use of strategic ambiguity in US-China relations by pursuing “pragmatic diplomacy based on national interest”.    

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EU is considering additional sanctions and arms embargo on Myanmar, citing abuses and escalating violence by the military. The country was taken over by the military after a February coup and has faced internal violence by the military against various groups including ethnic minorities and pro-democracy protestors.

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