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Weekly News Digest for September 26, 2020

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


Breaking News:

President Trump Does Not Commit to a Peaceful Transfer of Power

During a press conference at the White House, the President suggested that he may not accept the results of the elections in November. Trump claims that the election would be rigged, echoing sentiments from the 2016 election. Congressional Republicans have committed to upholding a peaceful transition, but have failed to outline how they would counter the president’s refusal to leave office. With the election 40 days away, this news causes concern to both sides of the aisle. As the United States is consistently evaluated as a flawed democracy, the threat to its democratic values is increasingly apparent.

Palestinian Factions Agree to First Elections in Fifteen Years

Fatah and Hamas, Palestine's two largest factions, have reached a deal to hold the first elections in 15 years within the next six months. A senior Fatah official stated the deal includes holding “legislative elections, then presidential elections of the Palestinian Authority, and finally the central council of the Palestinian Liberation Organization”. A top Hamas official described the agreement as a large success since “divisions have damaged our national cause and we are working to end that”.

The agreement demonstrates Palestine's commitment to democractic processes and may be a tool to assert legitimacy on the international stage. The Palestinian factions were driven to cooperate after the UAE and Bahrain normalized ties with Israel. Palestinian officials also argue that Arab ties with Israel should not be normalized until the Jewish state signs a comprehensive peace deal with Palestine.

Protests in Hong Kong Against Arrest of Activists

Members of Hong Kong’s legislature pleaded with Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung to “bring home” 12 activists who were arrested by the Chinese government. The dozen activists were arrested on August 23 after departing on a ship to Taiwan. The Chinese government claims that the activists were arrested for illegal border crossing and were suspects in last year’s anti-government protests. These protests follow the arrest of pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong.

North America

COVID-19 Deaths Surpass 200,000 in the United States

The American death toll passed 200,000 on Tuesday, with experts warning that these numbers may double by the end of 2020. COVID-19 is now one of the leading causes of death in the United States, running behind only heart disease and cancer. While potential vaccines are currently being tested, widespread distribution will likely not be available till mid-2021, according to CDC Director Robert Redfield.

Protests in Louisville, Kentucky Resume Over Breonna Taylor Case

Anti-racist protests resume as the officers involved in the extra-judicial killing of Breonna Taylor were not charged with murder. One officer was indicted on the count of first-degree wanton endangerment, while the other two were not indicted at all. No charges were levied specific to Taylor’s murder. During the protests, rioters have smashed windows of local businesses leading to the arrest of at least 24 people. At the height of tensions, two police officers were shot and wounded on crowd-control duty. The FBI is currently investigating Taylor’s death as the case continues to receive national scrutiny.

Asia and the Pacific

TikTok Facing Scrutiny in Australia

Following action from the Trump administration, the Australian government called on social media platform Tik Tok to testify over potential political interference. This move comes as a reversal from the ruling that the app did not pose a national security threat in August. During a Senate committee hearing, TikTok executives claimed that while they lobbied Australian lawmakers, they did not interfere with investigators who were tasked with analyzing the app’s threat to national security.

North Korea Issues Apology for Killing of South Korean Citizen

Following the shooting of a South Korean by the North Korean government, North Korea’s United Front Department sent a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in apologizing for the death. The letter promised efforts to prevent similar incidents, working to continue building “trust and respect” among the two countries.


Sudan Floats Idea of Normalizing Ties with Israel

Top Sudanese officials met with members of the US National Security Council in Abu Dhabi to further negotiations after Secretary Mike Pompeo requested the normalization of ties between Sudan and Israel. If agreed upon, Pompeo asserted that Sudan would be taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list. However, Burhan, the chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council, requested $3 billion per year for the next three years in economic aid, as Sudan is battling a massive economic crisis. In the Abu Dhabi meeting, US officials proposed a counter offer: several hundred million dollars for future investments and business deals. If Sudan accepts the offer, they would become the fifth Arab state to normalize ties with Israel.

Malian President

The Malian junta has named retired colonel, Bah N’Daw, as the interim president with junta leader Colonel Assimi Goita as vice president. The appointments come after the August 18 military coup d’etat to overthrow former President Ibrahim Keita. President Bah N’Daw was sworn in on Friday and will serve an 18 month transitional term before nationwide elections occur.


Tensions in Belarus Spread Beyond Borders

As protests continued this week in Belarus, the state has faced scrutiny and hostility across Europe. The E.U. announced that they will not recognize the secretly inaugurated president, Alexander Lukashenko, following the continuation of violent protests that began last month.The Danish Foreign Minister reaffirmed the state’s democratic decline and stated that “the secrecy surrounding his inauguration ceremony just illustrates that he has not been sworn in based on free and fair elections, but on election fraud and violence.”

The E.U. has begun talks to sanction Lukashenko with a travel ban and a possible asset freeze for his continuation of forceful repression on peaceful protests. Other states have begun making efforts to collaborate with the international community in levying human rights sanctions to Belarus.

E.U. Offers a New Immigration Deal

Following the fires earlier this month at a Greek migration camp, the E.U. has proposed a new immigration plan. This plan would be an overhaul of the current migration system, with the end goals being to speed up deportations and permit asylum seekers to be evenly distributed across Europe. The major difference from the proposed deal in 2015, when the migrant wave initially began, is that no quota system would be set in place.

This plan does not detail if penalties will be set in place for countries that do not participate, but also fails to offer a solution for relieved pressure in countries like Greece, Spain, and Italy -the key entrance points for migrants. Under the European Commission's plan, countries who historically have not admitted many migrants would be offered 10,000 euros for each refugee resettled. The plan must be approved by the 27 countries in the E.U. and has already begun to receive criticism from far-right groups and countries less adaptable to receiving an influx of migrants.

Latin America and the Caribbean

Rio 2021 Carnival Parade Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns

One of Brazil’s largest festivals, Rio de Janeiro’s carnival parade, is postponed indefinitely due to health concerns. Brazil’s Independent League of Rio de Janeiro Samba Schools (LIESA) issued a statement saying that it will not be able to host the event until a vaccine is found. This cancellation could have a large effect on the country’s economy, as millions of domestic and international tourists attend the event each year.

Maduro Asks UN to Stand Against US Sanctions

Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, spoke out against US sanctions levied against the country, urging the UN to allow the Venuezalan people to exercise their own rights. Maduro’s address to the UN follows a recent report commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council which accused Maduro’s government of committing crimes against humanity.

Police Brutality in Colombia

Following the killing of a man by Colombian police, protestors are crowding the streets in Bogota to speak out against systemic police brutality. The police repeatedly beat and tasered Javier Ordonez after he broke coronavirus restrictions. Colombia’s defense minister said that he would challenge an order by the Supreme Court to end the violent response to peaceful protesters.

Middle East

The United States Reimposes Sanctions on Iran

This week, the United States declared UN sanctions must be reimposed on Iran with Secretary Pompeo threatening “consequences” for UN member states who do not follow suit. The sanctions were previously lifted under the Iran nuclear deal, an agreement that the rest of the permanent member states still uphold. Iran and the international community, including the United States’ closest allies, comprehensively rejected the move.

France, Germany, and the UK (the E3) argue that the US-imposed sanctions are legally void. The European states assert that since the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, the Trump administration does not have a legal right to unilaterally enact sanctions or declare Iran has broken the agreement. The disagreement between the E3 and the United States could result in Secretary Pompeo announcing sanctions on our allies.


The United Nations has announced that healthcare funding and food distribution was drastically cut by a third due to a lack of sufficient funding. The UN requires $3.2 billion to fully fund the programs, but have only received one billion. The reduced or eliminated sources of aid leave 24 million civilians, around three-quarters of the state's population, requiring aid and protection. The underfunding of the UN programs is largely attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic as states currently have less money to donate.


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