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Weekly News Digest for Jul 18, 2020

Compiled by Kelly Dobso

 

Breaking News:


COVID-19 Continues to Rise

Countries are continuing to break records of the amount of total cases of COVID-19 globally with the United States, Brazil, and India reporting the largest numbers. The United States broke their record for single-day cases again by reporting over 75,000 new cases on July 16th. India reached a million cases this week and is close to overhauling Brazil to rank second in total cases.


The International Response to the Pandemic

This week, the United Nations is requesting ten billion dollars in aid to alleviate global food shortages exacerbated by COVID-19. Countries such as South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Somalia are currently experiencing drastic food shortages; however, risk of famine is increasing in Sudan, Zimbabwe, and Haiti. According to the United Nations, 121 million more people will be at risk of food insecurity by December without sufficient funding. The United Nations is soliciting the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, and Gulf Countries for monetary aid.


Sino-American Tensions Increase with Huawei at the Center

On July 15, the United Kingdom followed the direction of the United States by setting bans on Huawei, a China-based technology company, over possible cyber security issues. Other European countries are weighing a ban on Huawei as well. With this technology ban, the economic conflict between China and Western countries deepens and is resulting in additional tensions.


North America


Back to School in the Pandemic

Amid COVID-19, state leaders debate back-to-school procedures. Several school districts across the country have announced online K-12 schooling beginning in August. President Trump argues that children need to return to in-person classes for the school year. However, a new Reuters poll shows that only one in four Americans believe it is safe for kids to return to school.


The Uncertain Future of Unemployment Benefits in the United States

With the current unemployment and stimulus bill running out at the end of July, the Trump administration and the United States Congress have been scrambling to assemble a plan moving forward. With COVID-19 numbers increasing, many are fighting for a continuation of federal unemployment benefits and an additional stimulus bill. Reportedly, the Trump administration and Republicans will announce their COVID-19 relief proposal next week.


Africa


The Dam Problem: Ethiopia and Egypt

Tensions are rising between Ethiopia and Egypt over water security issues. Ethiopia has been building a dam on the Nile River for the past few years with the goal of supplying electricity to 65 million Ethiopians. However, Egypt heavily relies on water from the river as well and is located downstream from the dam. Currently, the two countries have not finalized any negotiations in order to ensure there will be a sufficient amount of water for Egypt. There are further reports that the dam is starting to fill slowly due to natural rainfall reservoirs, so negotiations are imperative.


Gabon’s First Woman Prime Minister

On July 16th, Gabon appointed its first woman prime minister, Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda. Her mission will include ensuring Gabon’s “economic relaunch and necessary social support in the light of the world crisis linked to COVID-19”.


LGBTQ+ Rights in Sudan

Sudan removed the death penalty for gay sex, posing as a strong win for LGBT+ activists throughout the world. This change comes in concert with a number of other legal reforms relaxing the stricter aspects of Islamic law over the country.


Europe


COVID-19 Relief in Europe

Leaders of European Union states met in Brussels to debate on a COVID-19 economic relief deal aimed to alleviate their current economic depression. Their budget is 1.07 trillion Euros, but the disagreement between leaders occurs on whether the relief funds should be distributed as loans or grants. A deal has not been reached yet, but deliberations will continue July 18th and in following weeks if needed.


South America


Rampant Viral Spread in Brazil

Brazil has recorded the second-most COVID-19 cases globally with two million cases, only trailing behind the United States. The death tolls in Brazil are striking: they are averaging 1,000 deaths per day due to COVID-19. Experts believe there is a serious issue of underreporting due to the lack of testing and they estimate that Brazil has likely had near 10 million cases. In large Brazilian cities such as Rio de Janeiro, people are being buried in mass graves due to the lethality of the virus. The current statistics in total cases and deaths relating to COVID-19 do not appear to be reducing in severity.


Middle East


Israeli Annexation of the West Bank

On July 1st, the Israeli government announced plans to begin annexing the West Bank and faced widespread international backlash. Eleven ministers of the European Union are urging the EU foreign policy chief to promote an international response aimed at deterring the annexation. The European ministers argue that taking the West Bank is a breach of international law, and they plan to outline possible legal consequences if annexation occurs.


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