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Weekly News Digest for October 7th, 2022

Updated: Oct 11, 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

North Korea Launches Ballistic Missile Over Japan

For the first time in five years, North Korea has fired a ballistic missile over Japan without warning. The missile launch triggered alerts across Japan that advised citizens to seek shelter. In response, both the United States and South Korea issued joint bombing drills in an effort that Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff described as an attempt to demonstrate the allies’ “capabilities to conduct a precision strike at the origin of provocations.” The last time that a North Korean missile flew over Japan was in 2017, during a period of high tensions between the U.S. and North Korea under the Trump Administration.


At present, North Korea is strictly prohibited from testing ballistic and nuclear weapons by the United Nations. Additionally, flying missiles toward or over other countries without pre-warning or consultation breaches international norms. The missile’s flight lasted approximately 2,800 miles, which is a range that could have reached the U.S. island territory of Guam and is believed to have landed somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. Analysts believe that the missile was the Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) last tested in January. According to Japan’s defense ministry, North Korea has already launched thirty-six missiles this year.


Widespread Blackouts in Bangladesh Leave Millions Without Power

At least 130 million people in Bangladesh were left without power on Tuesday after a grid failure caused widespread blackouts across 75-80 percent of the country. These blackouts are one of many power cuts this year, as Bangladesh and other developing economies have struggled to secure affordable energy supplies amidst the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which has led to rising import prices.


Since imported natural gas accounts for nearly three-quarters of the country’s electricity, the Bangladeshi government’s inability to address growing demands for power have culminated in many similar incidents of outages. This particular blackout resulted in many shopping malls within the capital city, Dhaka, to close early on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, citizens gathered in masses to collect diesel fuel for standby generators, and businesses were left to operate in candlelight. The blackout started at 2:00 pm and lasted for nearly seven hours before being fully restored at 9:00 pm.


Central America and the Caribbean

New Hurricane Develops in The Caribbean

A new hurricane is predicted to develop in the Caribbean this week, only five days after Hurricane Ian devastated the Caribbean and the southern United States. The tropical disturbance, to be named Julia, was detected in the Caribbean Sea and is predicted to gain strength and develop into a hurricane by early next week. Many Caribbean islands are still recovering from the extensive devastation caused by Hurricanes Fiona and Ian. In the aftermath of the storm, Cubans took to the streets to protest the slow government response to the islandwide power outages. Cuba was able to restore power to most of the island by Monday, but after over a week without power, many Puerto Ricans are still faced with shortages in food, water, medicine, and fuel.


Puerto Ricans were still recovering from the devastating Hurricane Maria in 2017 when Hurricane Fiona hit the island two weeks ago. Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto Rico’s energy sector and electrical transmission networks and incapacitated the island’s infrastructure as a whole. United States President Joe Biden visited Puerto Rico on Monday to examine the recent damage caused by Hurricane Fiona. He also met with families impacted by the storm and pledged to support Puerto Ricans in their recovery efforts. “We came here in person to show that we’re with you - all of America is with you - as you receive and recover and rebuild,” said President Biden.


Biden also announced that $60 million in federal funding will be used in Puerto Rico. However, over 100,000 Puerto Ricans are still without power, leaving many skeptical of President Biden’s promises. The new tropical disturbance announced this week has already caused flooding in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday as it travels through the Caribbean along the northern edge of mainland South America. Accuweather warned that the storm could have a direct impact on Central America after it moves through the Caribbean Sea and could strengthen into a hurricane this week.


Protests in Haiti Escalate as Gas Prices Rise

Growing tensions in Haiti came to a head on Monday after a month-long blockade of Haiti’s main fuel port. Police fired tear gas as thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Gangs have been blocking Haiti’s main fuel port, the Varreux terminal, in response to the government’s decision to eliminate fuel subsidies, causing prices to rise. Haiti’s gang violence has steadily risen in the past year after the assassination of Haiti’s President, Jovenel Moise, in July 2021. Haiti’s interim Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, acknowledged the right of Haitian citizens to protest the inflation but condemned the recent escalation in violence, looting, and vandalism.

The growing prominence of gang violence in Haiti has halted business and crippled the economy. The economic crisis in Haiti pushed back the reopening of schools by a month. Many families have decided to keep their children at home, leaving schools deserted, in an attempt to protect them from gang violence. The increase in gang blockades has also exacerbated supply chain shortages, and many Haitians are struggling to cope with unreliable access to power, water, and food.


In the midst of the chaos, a U.S Embassy report also announced a new Cholera outbreak on Monday. In 2010 a Cholera outbreak in Haiti, mainly caused by the lack of access to clean drinking water on the island, resulted in over 10,000 deaths. Many Haitians fear that the current conditions could result in an even larger number of casualties during this new outbreak. In addition to the new outbreak, many Haitian hospitals have been forced to shut down or scale back operations due to the lack of fuel caused by the gang blockade. Haiti is among the poorest countries in the world, and the country now finds itself at a breaking point as the government scrambles to control violence, dampen the growing inflation, and fight resource insecurity.


Europe

Prime Minister Truss Faces Criticism Over Tax Cut

Earlier this week, U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss walked back previous economic plans announced earlier this month after sharp economic instability this week. Little changes were made to her policy, but Prime Minister Truss admitted improper preparation for this economic policy.


After the announcement of the tax-cut, the pound plunged and the Bank of England launched an emergency rescue package after increased sellof of U.K. government debt. Members of the Prime Minister’s political party also contributed to pushback, citing misplaced motives and heavy reliance on debt to make this plan work. Her party’s approval ratings also plummeted last week, setting the Prime Minister up for a difficult first month in office. After the Conservative Party’s annual conference this week in Birmingham, Prime Minister Truss will continue to make moves to repair the U.K.’s relationship with the E.U. in the coming weeks.


Middle East and North Africa

The Fate of Armenia and Turkey’s Reconciliation in the Face of Continued Warfare in Nagorno-Karabakh

During the European Political Community Summit, leaders from Armenia and Turkey met to discuss improving relations. The nations have had tense relations, dating back to the Armenian Genocide, where the Ottoman Turks forced Armenians out of Turkey by mass murder and deportations. The hostility only grew as Turkey maintained its support for Azerbaijan’s claim in Nagorno-Karabakh—a disputed region between Azerbaijan and Armenia.


Leaders of Turkey and Armenia previously made agreements, hoping to mend broken ties, but pushback from Azerbaijan hindered the agreement. Recently, however, the nations agreed to allow air travel and reopen the border. Whether or not strong relations remain depends on Turkey’s involvement in the fight over Nagorno-Karabakh.


In 2020, Turkey supported Azerbaijan in its fight to claim portions of the disputed region. In the end, Azerbaijan gained significant control in the region, embittering much of Armenia. Turkey’s military support has long caused a rift in its relations with Armenia, but in the face of European gas shortages and a desire for economic stability, it isn’t certain if Armenia will change its current diplomatic trajectory with Turkey.



Expiring Truce: Disagreements between Yemeni Government and Houthis Delays Long Term Agreements

In 2014, the Houthis, an ethnic and religious minority within Yemen, seized Yemen’s capital and the northern region of the country. In response, Saudi Arabia backed the country’s government and conducted military campaigns to reclaim the region. Eight years later, the Iraninan-backed rebel group and Saudi supported government reached an impasse, forcing them in April to finally sign a ceasefire. Months later, however, the ceasefire has expired with both sides unwilling to make concessions.


The unwillingness to make concessions stems from both sides' failure to fulfill promises made in the ceasefire. The Houthis have yet to lift their blockade on a major city, while the Yemeni government still restricts travel and trade in Sanaa. Neither group has made great progress in carrying out their agreement, making current negotiations difficult.


To prevent the eruption of another conflict, the UN is again working to pass another short term truce, and a UN Envoy hopes that the truce extension will provide enough time for the Houthis and Yemeni Government to begin acting on their current agreement and discuss future concessions.


North America

Appeals Court Rules DACA as Illegal

On October 5, the Supreme Court validated a lower court's decision to make the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program illegal, but allowed current recipients to renew their status. This program created by former President Barack Obama in 2012 protects over 600,000 young immigrants from deportation. This protection lasts two years at a time and is renewable, but does not grant citizenship.


This group is referred to as “Dreamers” and their status has been disputed by Democrats and Republicans for years. The Biden Administration is continuing the legal battle to enroll new applicants in the program however, this new ruling makes it clear the chance of preserving DACA in the courts is almost nonexistent. The only chance of the program surviving would be if Congress passes a law to protect young immigrants, something it has been unable to do for decades. The current participants in the program will remain, but the future of the program is uncertain.


Biden commits himself to Hurricane Fiona and Ian reparations

This past week President Joe Biden visited Puerto Rico and Florida announcing his commitment to rebuild these communities. After Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico on September 18, 2022, tens of thousands of residents still remain without power and worry Washington’s aid will be limited. The large-scale damage Fiona caused will test the Biden Administrations ability to assist in the recovery of the 3.2 million residents of Puerto Rico. Residents of the western and southern regions are feeling the harshest effects of the hurricane as many remain without power and water.


Last year's Bipartisan Infrastructure law will provide Puerto Rico with $60 million to be better prepared for future storms. There is an estimated $3 billion in damages from Hurricane Fiona and the lack of power on the island has led to several closures of businesses. Like the people of Puerto Rico, Florida residents are also suffering. With the death toll reaching 100 and still climbing from Hurricane Ian, the Biden administration has agreed to double the amount of time that the federal government will cover the costs of debris removal and essentials.


South America

The Brazilian Presidential Election is Forced into A Run-Off

No presidential candidate received more than 50% of valid votes in the first round of the Brazilian presidential elections on Sunday, October 2. As a result, Brazilians will vote in a run-off on October 30. Current President Jair Bolsonaro and former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will compete in the run-off election. Right-leaning Bolsonaro received 43.2% of the valid votes while left-leaning da Silva received 48.4% of the valid votes.


This outcome shocked many opinion polls which suggested da Silva would lead by 14 percentage points. However, Bolsonaro received unexpected support from Brazil’s south east region, allowing Bolsonaro to come nearly within 5 percentage points of da Silva. Brazilians consider this run-off election between right-leaning Bolsonaro and left-leaning da Silva to be significant for the future of the politically polarized country. Many Brazilians are reportedly ready to elect a new leftist leader after perceived shortcomings by the Bolsonaro administration during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Until the run-off, Bolsonaro and da Silva are likely to campaign vigorously to recieve the vote of the 10 million people who originally voted for centrist candidates no longer in the running.


Sub-Saharan Africa

Ethiopian Government and Tigray Rebels Accept Invitation for Peace Talks

This past week the Ethiopian government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) accepted an invitation by the African Union to have a mediated peace talk. The chair of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mhamat, will begin talks with the Ethiopian government and the TPLF this weekend.


In November 2020, conflict broke out between the Ethiopian government and the Tigray regional rebel force the TPLF. The TPLF was formerly the dominant political party but after a transition of power in 2018, the TPLF felt threatened by the new government. After refusing to support the current Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, the TPLF decided to hold its own regional elections.


An alleged TPFL attack on Ethiopian federal forces in the Tigray region sparked the conflict. This ongoing conflict has created a humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, as 9 million people across the Tigray region face the threat of famine. Moreover, there has also been an increase in gender-based violence in the region which poses a large threat as the Tigray region lacks adequate healthcare access. Although international NGOs have stepped in to help Ethiopia, continued conflict could significantly affect the distribution of aid to Ethiopian citizens.


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