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Weekly News Digest for October 14th, 2022

Updated: Oct 21, 2022



Compiled by Aalia Garrett, Niamh Dempsey, Trinity Gates, Sara Anis Ali, Zoe Shepherd, Riley Mied, Shekina Shindano

Edited by Stephanie Cannon and Austin Myhre


Asia and the Pacific

China and India Call for De-escalation in Ukraine

China and India, which are two of Russia’s strongest allies, have both released statements to voice support at the UN General Assembly in favor of a negotiated end to the Ukraine war. The expression of concern by these nations comes following deadly Russian missile strikes that occurred across Ukraine on Monday. "We hope the situation will de-escalate soon," said Chinese ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, in a regular press conference. Meanwhile, India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, stated that its government was “deeply concerned” with the situation in Ukraine and was willing to support all attempts at de-escalation. An explicit condemnation of Russia’s actions was notably left out of both country’s statements. Despite China vowing an “unbreakable” bond with Russian President Vladimir Putin just days before the February invasion of Ukraine, no major nation has rallied behind Russia’s decisions in the conflict. Furthermore, these statements by China and India elevate the notion that Russia’s few remaining allies seem to be distancing themselves.


Central America and the Caribbean

Hurricane Julia Drowns Central America

This weekend, 28 people have been confirmed dead after Hurricane Julia directly hit several Central American countries. Hurricane Julia first made landfall in Nicaragua early Sunday morning, causing severe flooding and leaving many without power. Over 13,000 families were forced to evacuate their homes in Nicaragua as the extreme flooding threatened to sweep buildings away completely. Hurricane Julia lost wind intensity over Nicaragua’s mountains as it moved across Central America and was downgraded to a tropical storm on Monday afternoon. Despite being demoted, the storm still brought up to 15 inches of rain to isolated areas, resulting in flooding and mudslides in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. The excessive rain and flooding also forced many to evacuate to shelters. Emergency workers in El Salvador were conducting rescues on Monday after strong storm winds blocked roads and left thousands isolated and without resources. Additionally, over 1,600 people were left homeless across the region as rivers overflowed and dams broke under heavy rainfall and strong currents. Tropical storm Julia continued to move through Central America before entering the Pacific Ocean where it dissipated on Monday night.

On Tuesday afternoon, a new tropical storm began to form in the Caribbean. The tropical storm was detected only one day after Hurricane Julia dissolved and is predicted to hit Mexico this weekend. Tropical Storm Karl will be the eleventh named storm of the 2022 hurricane season. While the tropical storm develops in the Gulf, the Caribbean and Central America remain on high alert as they continue to recover from weeks of tumultuous weather.


The Dominican Republic Strengthens Border Control as Haiti Descends into Chaos

Although the Dominican Republic and Haiti share an island, Hispaniola, life on either side of the border differs greatly. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and those born in the Dominican Republic are ten times richer than those born across the border in Haiti. After weeks of civil unrest in Haiti, the Dominican Republic announced plans to harshen its immigration and border policies, exacerbating the long-simmering tensions between the two countries.

Gangs in Haiti have been blocking the country's main fuel port, the Varreux terminal, for over a month, leaving millions of Haitians without reliable access to power, clean water, and food. Protesters marched in the streets of Haiti’s capital city, Port-Au-Prince, last week, demanding the government control the rising inflation in the country and eliminate the rising gang violence. In response to the increasing protests, Haiti’s Prime Minister Ariel Henry requested help from international partners to stop gang activity and restore access to necessary resources. The United Nations Security Council considered deploying forces to aid Haiti’s National Police, but peacekeeping involvement remains a last resort for the UN.

In the midst of growing violence in Haiti, the Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader announced plans to shut down the border between the two countries if international troops are sent into Haiti. “It’s very dangerous for the integrity of the Dominican Republic to receive asylum seekers in the country,” said President Abinader on Sunday. He also announced the country’s purchase of new military gear, an investment the government claims will improve border security. Some Dominicans fear that the government’s actions will only intensify the xenophobia toward Haitians and destroy the Dominican Republic's relationship with its largest trading partner and neighbor.


Europe

British Prime Minister Fires Top Economic Advisor

Prime Minister Liz Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a top economic official, after weeks of poor market health and anxiety in the state as the pound reached an all-time low. Kwarteng announced the country’s plan to widely cut taxes a few weeks ago that caused domestic turmoil and international criticism. The British economy unexpectedly shrank in August, increasing concern of an economic recession in England.

This change in leadership is one of Prime Minister Truss’ policies that attempt to address economic concerns and attention following her first month in office and regain confidence from her party. After the firing of Kwarteng, the administration has partly reversed a tax plan, and after a brief news conference from Truss, has voiced the intention of raising the country’s corporate tax rate. These new policies hope to improve the country’s economy and signal a better future for global markets.



Middle East and North Africa

Maritime Resolution Prompts Possibility of Normalizing Relations between Lebanon and Israel


Since 2020, the United States has renewed its interest in reconciling relations between Israel and other Middle Eastern nations. It began with restoring peace relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and now the focus has shifted towards restoring ties with Lebanon.


Recently Lebanon and Israel brokered a deal regarding disputed maritime borders, mainly over two undersea gas fields. The Qana prospect, a potential gas field on the border, has nearly caused war between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israel since 2020. The deal gave the Qana prospect to Lebanon and the Karish Field, the other disputed gas field, to Israel in an effort to resolve the border conflict.


The maritime dispute stretches back decades, with both countries laying claim, but the area didn’t become a point of conflict until Israel discovered gas there. To end continuing disputes and to usher good will, the US urged both countries to sign on to the peace deal, and both countries agreed. Outside the economic benefits the country would incur, Israel also would gain stronger security and protection from Hezbollah, which would sabotage oil rigs in the region for nearly a decade. Similarly, Lebanon seeks to use its newly acquired territory to help reduce the country’s current electricity crisis and use the leftover money to try and alleviate the continued economic crisis.


While both countries signed on to the recent agreement, there is still uncertainty about what the deal means for future relations. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, many Middle Eastern nations have stood in solidarity with Palestine, refusing to normalize ties with the new state. Yet recently, with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalizing ties, the tide seems to be turning. While the Lebanese president vehemently denies the normalization of claims, Israel remains hopeful that the current agreement will pave the way for future agreements.


Saudi Arabia’s Reduction in Oil Output Prompts Backlash from United States


Saudi Arabia is responding to the United States' claims that the recent cut in oil output was politically motivated and done in favor of Russia. The kingdom denies the allegations, arguing the reasons for the output reduction were solely for economic purposes. The U.S. insists that the country decided to help Russia fund its military advances and provide the nation with increased revenue. The US further asserts that it presented Saudi Arabia with statistics showing how damaging the decrease in production would be for the global economy.Neither country has taken any further action, so it remains uncertain whether there will be an economic or political impact resulting from the two countries' dispute.



North America

U.S. and Mexico Reach Agreement in Venezuelan Migrant Crisis

The United States and Mexico reached an agreement allowing the U.S. to send Venezuelan migrants back to Mexico. Sanctuary cities like New York and Washington D.C. are reportedly being overwhelmed by roughly 1,000 migrants each day entering the country in recent months. New York Mayor Eric Adams declared a crisis, and this agreement between the U.S. and Mexico is designed to lessen the burden.


The agreement is designed to create a legal path to entry through a visa program. The goal of the new system is to clear the choke points and eliminate delays in the border states. To be eligible for this program, the applicant must have a financial sponsor and apply at a U.S. consulate abroad. Under the new agreement, Venezuelans are in line for a faster authorization to work when they travel to the United States. Unauthorized Venezuelans traveling to the U.S. will now be returned to Mexico rather than being placed in the current overburdened immigration system.


The agreement also calls for the U.S. to allow 24,000 Venezuelans entry. Mexico’s part in this agreement mandates that they accept Venezuelan migrants under Title 42. The U.S. implemented Title 42 in 2020 as a measure to protect U.S. citizens due to the outbreak of COVID-19. This measure is designed to release the backlog of immigrants flowing through the U.S. illegally and have Mexico as a partner to direct migrants to these embassies. In concert with this agreement, the Department of Homeland Security announced an increase in work visas to ensure its success.


Verdict Reached in Parkland School Shooting Trial

More than 4 years after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school in Parkland, Florida, jurors reached a decision in the sentencing trial. The jury trial that began in July was solely focused on whether gunman Nikolas Cruz would receive the death penalty. A jury consisting of seven men and five women settled on life without the possibly of parole for all 17 counts of murder committed by Cruz.


To impose a death sentence, there needed to be a unanimous ruling by the jurors. Three of the twelve jurors had voted to spare the gunman's life due to his mental illness. Rarely does a mass shooter stand trial, as a large percentage are killed or kill themselves during their act. This shooting on Valentine’s Day in 2018 inspired students everywhere to spearhead an anti-gun violence movement. Families of the victims were shocked and disappointed to hear the verdict as many were expecting and supporting capital punishment for Cruz.


South America

Argentina’s Cabinet Undergoes Further Change with Three New Appointments

On Monday, October 10, Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez appointed three new female cabinet members. President Fernandez made these appointments amid a period of economic and political tension. Due to the growing economic crisis, Fernandez also made changes in the economic ministries less than three months earlier.


This week, Victoria Tolosa Paz replaced Juan Zabaleta as the head of the Social Development Ministry. Tolosa Paz is a close ally of President Fernandez. Previously, she was the President of the National Council for the Coordination of Social Policies. Notably, she is the third person to head the Social Development Ministry since Fernandez became President. Furthermore, presidential ally Raquel “Kelly” Olmos replaced


Claudio Moroni as the head of the Labor ministry. Olmos previously worked as the Vice President of the Bank of Investment and Foreign Trade. Ayele Mazzina is the new cabinet head of the Women, Gender, and Diversity Ministry. She replaced Elizabeth Gomez Alcort who resigned on October 7 due to her disagreement with alleged government actions against indigenous communities. Mazzina previously worked as the Secretary of Women, Diversity, and Equality in the San Luis Province. After many ministry changes, only 5 members of the original cabinet appointments remain. This pattern reflects the political instability in Argentina.


Sub-Saharan Africa

Peace Talks Concerning Humanitarian Crisis in Ethiopia Delayed


This past weekend, the Ethiopian government and leaders from the Tigray region were scheduled to attend a talk mediated by the African Union (AU) in South Africa. Due to scheduling conflicts and miscommunications, the meeting did not take place. Experts anticipated that the scheduled peace negotiations would be a step in the direction toward de-escalation of the conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The recent death toll of 500,000 makes this war one of the most lethal African wars since the Democratic Republic of Congo's civil war. This ongoing two-year conflict between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray rebels has created a humanitarian crisis. Additionally, it is estimated that nine million people across the Tigray region are experiencing famine.


In tandem with the African Union, the United States is playing a supportive role in the efforts to reach a cease-fire and end suffering in the region. U.S. President Joe Biden's Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa, Mike Hammer, told reporters in Nairobi, Kenya that “the situation is trending toward talks.” There has not been a discussion of when or if another peace talk will take place, but it is clear that diplomats and policymakers will need to work together in order to set up a successful talk in the future.

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