Compiled by Kelly Dobso
China and United States: Uncertain Diplomatic Relations
On July 22, the United States ordered the Chinese consulate in Houston, Texas to close after videos surfaced of unknown individuals lighting documents on fire within the property. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims that China is stealing intellectual property from the United States and poses a threat to national security. On July 24, China retaliated by ordering the United States consulate in the city of Chengdu to close and Chinese officials accused consulate staff of meddling in its internal affairs.
The Current Tracker of the COVID-19 Pandemic
This week, a shift is occurring in the locations of new COVID-19 outbreaks. The Persian Gulf countries such as Oman, Bahrain, and Kuwait are experiencing some of the highest totals of new daily cases. Other countries experiencing outbreaks are Israel, South Africa, Bolivia, and Colombia. The United States continues to have one of the highest daily rates of new cases. When comparing cases per million residents, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, Arizona, and a few more states are reporting more daily cases than any country.
The International Response to TikTok
Various countries are taking action against Tiktok, the popular social media app created by China, over national security concerns. The controversy stems from the app reportedly tracking and collecting excessive amounts of data from users. In June, India banned the social media app, and on June 21, Pakistan issued a final warning on TikTok, claiming that it encourages “immoral, obscene, and vulgar content”. The United States has also been debating on a ban for the app.
A New Stimulus Deal: Are We Running out of Time?
Amid debates in the Senate, a new stimulus package still has not been finalized. Republicans cannot agree on an amount for extended unemployment benefits. The current plan gives those on benefits an additional $600 a week but will expire next week. Going forward, the Republicans want to lower these additional benefits to an extra $200 a week, while Democrats push to extend the additional $600 a week until January. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that a final plan will be announced on Monday after negotiations with the Trump administration.
Civil Rights Icon, John Lewis, Dies
Over the weekend, John Lewis passed away after fighting pancreatic cancer for several months. He represented the 5th Congressional District in Georgia and was a leading figure in the civil rights movement.
A Space Mission to Mars
On July 23, China launched an orbiter, lander, and rover in hopes of successfully reaching Mars for the first time. The rocket will reach Mars in February, and if successful, make China only the third country to ever reach Mars, as the United States and Soviet Union have previously reached the planet. Space missions and travel are an increasingly competitive and new industry that many countries are attempting to capitalize on.
Turkey and Russia Push for Cease-Fire in Libya’s Civil War
Libya has been experiencing a civil war for the past couple years with major countries and power divides in play. Turkey and Russia support opposing sides in the conflict and have agreed to push for a cease-fire. However, in order for the cease-fire to occur the Haftar, the Russian-backed eastern-based group, must pull back from two cities in Libya: Jufra and Sirte. Both Turkey and Russia are hoping the cease-fire allows for humanitarian aid and possible political dialogue between the two rival groups in Libya.
COVID-19: We Could Have Done Better
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom announces on July 24 that their government did not act effectively in preventing the spread of COVID-19 early on within their borders. The UK issued a lockdown in late March, a few weeks after most other countries acted. Johnson issued a statement and is taking “full responsibility for everything that [the] government did,” including the failures and delayed action.
President Bolsonaro Tests Positive for COVID-19 (again)
The Brazilian leader tested positive for a third time for COVID-19 after initially testing positive July 7th. He has reportedly been quarantining since then, but has yet to fully fight off the virus. The government has announced that he must quarantine for an additional two weeks.
Iran Promises Retaliation Against United States
On July 21 during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mostafa Al-Kadhimi, the Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei reiterated Iran’s strong alliance and support for Iraq. In a blow to the United States, Khamenei argues that “the U.S. is the enemy in the true sense of the word and opposes an independent, strong Iraqi government elected by popular vote.” The Prime Minister further responded to killing of Commander Qassam Soleimani in January by the United States and stated “we will definitely strike back at the U.S. in response to the assassination of our general”.
The Taliban Agrees to Peace Talks with Afghan Government
The Taliban and the government of Afghanistan will hold peace talks next month after the Muslim religious holiday of Eid al-Adha. The negotiations are conditioned upon the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters currently held by the Afghan government. There is still uncertainty on whether or not these long-awaited peace talks will actually occur.