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Weekly News Digest for March 4, 2022

Compiled by Kelly Dobso, Trinity Gates, Dinah Gorayeb, Austin Myhre, and Charlotte Smith

North America

President Biden Announces New Buy American Rule to Boost U.S. Domestic Manufacturing

United States President Joe Biden announced a new ‘Buy American’ rule requiring any goods purchased by the federal government from contractors and manufacturers with taxpayer money to contain 75 percent American-made items, an increase from the current 55 percent mandate. The administration will enact the policy in phases to allow companies to shift their supply chains, with the requirement increasing to 60 percent in October, 65 percent in January 2024, and 75 percent by 2029. The policy aims to boost domestic manufacturing as the U.S. attempts to create stronger domestic supply chains and compete with China.

Asia and the Pacific

China-Backed Development Banks Pause Activities in Russia

On Wednesday, China’s banking regulator indicated that it had no plans to impose financial sanctions on Russia. Then, on Thursday, two Chinese-led development banks, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB), announced that they would pause all activities in Russia, as Russia’s invasion into Ukraine escalates. The AIIB will also suspend activities in Belarus. Amid increasing global condemnation of Russia’s incursion, some analysts are questioning whether this move signals that China is not willing “to make sacrifices in principled support of Russia.” Others contend that this decision is purely economic, with the bank seeking to avoid risks posed by recent sanctions. Unlike the Chinese government, which continues to refer to the invasion as a military operation, however, the AIIB referred to the invasion as the “war in Ukraine.” Either way, the AIIB’s decision-making process follows a shareholder-based voting system, which raises questions about the individual decisions of its shareholder countries, particularly China, because China is the largest shareholder. The NDB utilizes an equal voting system for its five stakeholders.


Africans Face Challenges Leaving Ukraine

As thousands of people flee Ukraine, migrant workers and students from Africa express difficulties evacuating. Africans cited having to wait days at border crossings without food or shelter whilst being pushed to the back of the line and citing physical beatings if resisted. Reports also claimed they were being barred from boarding trains that were headed for the border. Ukraine’s interior minister has denied these reports, denying any obstruction preventing any foreigners from leaving. Some states like Zimbabwe have begun to offer two-way plane tickets to citizens so they can return to their country safely.


Russia Seizes Control of Crucial Port City and Occupies Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

Russia continued its invasion into and attack on Ukraine this week, displacing over one million people as Russia made significant gains in southern Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian forces seized the port city of Kherson, Ukraine’s second-biggest city, after intense shelling. Russia launched assaults on cities Kyiv, Kharkiv, Okhtyrka, and Chernihiv and is besieging the port city of Mariupol in an attempt to create a blockade and isolate Ukraine. According to Mariupol’s mayor, the city has no water, heat, or electricity and is running out of food after five days of Russian attacks.

Furthermore, in an alarming move, Russian forces attacked and shelled the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Energodar on Friday morning, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. During the assault, a fire broke out in the facility but was extinguished, nearly causing a nuclear catastrophe. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), radiation levels remained normal and the fire did not damage “essential” equipment. However, reports are claiming that Russia is now occupying the nuclear plant and holding workers at “gunpoint.” The situation at the nuclear power plant is ongoing and remains extremely fragile.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Honduran Governments Announces Open-Pit Mining Ban

For decades, indigenous people have complained of both legal and illegal mining of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in their ancestral lands. This Monday, the Ministry of Mining described the practice as “extractive exploitation” and “harmful to the state of Honduras.” The government also said it would cancel environmental permits for mining operations, however, it is not clear if this will impact ongoing projects. Honduras is not the first country in Central America to limit mining. In 2002, Costa Rica also banned open-pit mining projects and El Salvador banned mining for metals in 2017.

Costa Rica’s Congress Passes Legislation to Legalise Use of Medical Marijuana

Following Tuesday’s Congress vote, Costa Rica will join a host of other Latin American countries where medical marijuana is legal. However, the cultivation and sale of marijuana are still prohibited for recreational purposes, as it is in most of Latin America. The bill followed some controversy and support. Supporters argued it would boost the agricultural sector and provide employment opportunities, however, President Alvarado vetoed an earlier version, arguing that certain limits needed to be placed on individual and recreational cultivation.

Suspect of Murder of Former Haitian President Arrested

Tanis Philomé, a former police officer part of the president’s security team, was arrested in the Dominican Republic. Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was shot dead by gunmen in his home in Port-au-Prince in July of 2021. The police claim a hit squad of 26 Colombias and two Haitian Americans carried out the murder. Mr. Philomé is the latest in a long line of suspects in connection with the case, but the investigation has made little progress in the last eight months.

Middle East

Incumbent Libyan Government Refuses to Cede Power

This week, Libya’s east-based parliament, controlled by militia leader Khalifa Hifter, approved a new government, appointing Fathi Bashagha to be the prime minister after the current prime minister, Abdulhamid al-Dheibah, refused to hold national elections. However, al-Dheibah is refusing to cede power, increasing the risk of renewed conflict. Dheibah was installed as interim prime minister in 2021 through a UN-supported, Western-backed peace process to reunite the war-torn country. The peace agreement tasked Dheibah’s government with reconciling Libya’s divided population and holding elections on December 24 to replace the transitional government. Despite the agreement, Dheibah refused to hold national elections and postponed it indefinitely. If Dheibah refuses to cede power, the dispute will create two parallel administrations, further dividing the country and increasing the risk of conflict.


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