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Weekly News Digest for October 10, 2020

Compiled by Kelly Dobso, Karan Pol, Trinity Gates, and Stephanie Cannon


Breaking News:

COVID-19 Pushes 100 Million People into Extreme Poverty

On Wednesday, the World Bank published their biennial report on global poverty, and reported that the COVID-19 pandemic will push 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year. The disastrous pandemic compounded with conflict and climate change is drastically slowing and reversing poverty reduction progress. The report estimates that the shift to extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 a day, will affect countries with already high poverty rates and some middle-income states. COVID-19’s worsening effect on income will end a two-decade decline in extreme poverty levels.

US Imposes Sanctions Against Iranian Banks

The Trump administration continues its hawkish approach on Iran by imposing economic sanctions on Iranian banks. The new sanctions come after the Trump administration's attempt last month to unilaterally reimpose sanctions; however, our allies refused to follow suit. Secretary Mike Pompeo believes this approach will bring Iran to the negotiating table and stated, “our maximum economic pressure campaign will continue until Iran is willing to conclude a comprehensive negotiation that addresses the regime’s malign behavior”. The sanctions on 18 Iranian banks could block the state from the global financial system and damage its economy.

U.S-Russia Nuclear Arms Talks Continue

The two nuclear powers met in Helsinki in an effort toward a new nuclear arms treaty. As the START treaty approaches its expiration in February, negotiators from both sides are scrambling to develop a new deal. If no agreement is reached, Russia and the United States will no longer have any nuclear arms agreements.

North America

Domestic Terrorists Plot to Kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer

Thirteen people were charged in a plot to kidnap the Michigan Governor on Thursday. Seven of these domestic terrorists were associated with a militia group called “Wolverine Watchmen.” The planned kidnapping was only part of a larger effort to overthrow state governments that are “violating the US Constitution.” The FBI has been following this plot since early 2020, where the terrorist activity was noticed in social media groups.

Dr. Fauci Predicts between 300,000 and 400,000 COVID-19 Deaths by 2021

The United States may see up to 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the winter of 2020, predicts Dr. Fauci of the Coronavirus Task Force. The public health official warns that poor mask etiquette and a lack of social distancing will continue to exacerbate the spread and impact of the pandemic. This comes after the President tested positive for the virus and recently continued in-person campaigning, in contrast to public health guidelines.

Asia and the Pacific

China Signs Agreement with COVAX Facility

The Chinese government signed an official agreement to work with the COVAX facility. Led by the World Health Organization, this project is working to ensure that poorer countries will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine when it is developed. By agreeing to join the project, China became the largest economy working with the facility, with the United State and Russia declining to join the program.

North Korea Plans Military Parade

The North Korean government celebrated its 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers Party this weekend. In addition to the usual military drills frequently displayed in North Korean military parades, the military unveiled what many believe to be the world’s largest ballistic missiles. This marks the first time the leader has featured ballistic missiles in its parades since he and Donald Trump met in 2018.

Australia Doubles Fees for Humanities Degrees

The recent decision to increase fees for students pursuing a four-year Bachelor of Arts degree by 113 percent next year angered university students throughout Australia. The government claims that the change is meant to encourage students to pursue more “job-relevant” degrees by encouraging them to study math and science.


Ethiopia Bans International Flights Amidst Dam Talks

On Monday, Ethiopia banned all flights due to the regionally controversial hydropower dam regarding security purposes. The president declared that the dam will be generating power within the next 12 months. Egypt and Sudan have voiced their concerns in the past over worries of reduced water flow from the river, and have attempted to reach a water security deal. The dam, once filled, would make the state Africa’s largest power exporter.

Sudanese Government and Rebels Sign Peace Deal

Sudan’s government and several rebel groups under the coalition, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), signed a peace deal to end years of war that resulted in hundreds of thousands of people dying and displaced millions. Several countries and organizations will guarantee this deal including Chad, Qatar, Egypt, the African Union, European Union, and the United Nations. However, two rebel groups, the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLB) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), did not sign and could lead to further instability.


European Nations Take Action Against Russia

The U.K., France, and Germany have joined forces and announced sanctions against Russia after links with the Kremlin have been found with Navalny poisoning. Alexi Navalny, a Russian opposition leader, was the victim of a nerve agent attack in August that was previously linked to Russian intelligence but now has traceable links to the Kremlin. The Kremlin has denied involvement in the poisoning and has offered to aid the German investigation. However, foreign ministers from Germany, France, and the U.K. have still put forth statements indicating sanctions in an effort to find and hold the individuals responsible for their involvement in crime that transcended national borders and went against international norms.

Far-Right Extremism Group Found Guilty in Greece

The Greek courts found Golden Dawn party leaders and lawmakers guilty of being a criminal organization responsible for attacks on immigrants and the murder of an anti-fascist rapper. In addition, the group was indicted for attempted murder and possession of weapons. The trial lasted more than five years but reflects the current political climate in the state but also across Europe which has also experienced a rise in far-right groups often related back to the rise in immigrants across the continent, Dr. Georgiadou from Panteion University noted that “Immigration, however, will continue to drive nationalist sentiment in Greece. This remains a worrying trend that can only be resolved if Europeans work together to provide solutions. For extremism to stop, it must not be given space to grow.”

Latin America and the Caribbean

200,000 Expected to Flee Venezuela

Months of lockdowns and a halted economy have spurred thousands of Venezuelans to flee from the economic and humanitarian crisis. Colombian officials expect 200,000 to enter their country in search of higher wages. In Venezuela, unemployment rates are high, food is scarce, and many are housing insecure.

Jair Bolsonaro Ends Corruption Probe

The Brazilian President ended “Operation Car Wash,” citing “no more corruption in the government.” The corruption probe has indicted numerous politicians in Brazil over the course of six years, including former President Lula da Silva. The move from Bolsonaro was met with mixed response. The probe had largely become a political tool for the Brazilian right, even accused of causing political and economic crises.

Amazon Rainforest May Shift to a Savannah from Climate Change

A new study suggests up to 40% of the rainforest may shift into a savannah in the 21st century due to the effects of climate change. Parts of the Amazon are receiving significantly less rainfall, which will lead to increased flammability. Once the transition is made, it is unlikely that the Amazon will be able to revert to a rainforest in the future. This study comes as deforestation in Brazil remains high under Jair Bolsonaro with estimates showing an area of 14,000 square kilometers affected.

Middle East


Mecca’s Grand Mosque reopened for the first time in months after Saudi Arabia lifted COVID-19 restrictions and the ban of the Umrah, the pilgrimage millions attend each year, imposed in March. The mosque is currently only open to Saudi citizens, and worshippers must reserve a time slot online to attend and avoid overcrowding. The Interior Ministry predicts that Muslims who live outside of Saudi Arabia will be able to visit the mosque as early as November.


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