May 15, 2020
Rick Bright, the American coronavirus whistle-blower, addressed Congress and openly criticized the government’s slow response to COVID-19. Bright stated that the United States is lacking a vaccine plan and warned that the “US could face [the] ‘darkest winter in modern history’ if leaders don’t act quickly.” He received emails in January concerning the lack of N95 masks – one of them said that “We’re in deep s***. The world is. And we need to act.” Bright believes that he was removed from a coveted scientific post because he shared all of this information with Trump’s administration and was issuing warnings about the pandemic.
A violent confrontation between more than 200 pro-democracy protesters and Hong Kong authorities this past Sunday. The protest originated in a shopping mall but quickly overflowed on to the streets. Several hundred riot police arrived on the scene and violently dispersed the crowd. Bystanders took videos that “showed protesters being subdued on the ground, scuffles and people bleeding.”
Outbreak: Five new cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed in Wuhan, creating the first small cluster “to emerge since the end of the strict lockdown.” A few of the newest cases were classified as asymptomatic, which China does not include in its reports of confirmed cases.
Military: As the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus, “China has intensified a campaign of military and diplomatic pressure against Taiwan.” Chinese forces have reportedly been occupying the “median line of the Taiwan Strait” and flying over the border with fighter aircraft.
Both the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO) have partnered with the Syrian regime and have halted offering support and aid to Eastern Syria, home of millions of “the poorest and most vulnerable people” who “are recovering from ISIS atrocities.” Turkey has cut off water supplies to the area, and Russia has openly decided to support the Syrian regime. These actions have “indicated how dictatorships and regimes that abuse human rights come first at controlling UN and international aid, enabling them to use it only for charities linked to them.”
Economy: As the value of Lebanese currency continues to plummet at exponential rates, authorities are arresting “scores of money changers in an attempt to stabilize” the exchange rate. These money changers are believed to be manipulating the value of the dollar “for financial gain.” They have also been accused of illegally trading money.
COVID-19: Lebanon has been quite successful in containing the virus in the past; it “managed to flatten the number of new cases into the low single digits” last month. However, more than 100 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the last four days, resulting in a nation-wide lockdown starting this Thursday. The only businesses that will remain open during this four-day lockdown are grocery stores and “agricultural and industrial sectors.”
Ahmaud Arbery, an African American man, was murdered while going on a run through a Georgia neighborhood two months ago. However, his assailants were not arrested until this past week due to severe backlash online. A video surfaced of Arbery jogging and being gunned down by two white men who claimed that he looked like a suspect in a burglary case. To show solidarity with Arbery’s family and the Black Lives Matter movement, demonstrators put on masks and protested against the lack of justice and other “supporters also ran 2.23 miles to honor” him on what would have been his 26th birthday.
A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed by Israeli forces who were “raiding a refugee camp in the illegally occupied West Bank.” The Israeli military had planned on making arrests at the camp and has stated that its troops were “met with a ‘violent riot’ in which shots were heard and a soldier was lightly wounded.” Four other Palestinian minors were shot during the confrontation.
After a video of prisoner abuse surfaced on social media on Sunday, “Myanmar’s military has conceded its troops abused prisoners in Rakhine state.” The army has been accused of physically abusing prisoners in the past, but this is the first concrete evidence that supports this accusation.
A riot broke out in a prison on Monday where three inmates have died from the coronavirus. Prisoners were able to stage “a massive protest” but were later broken up by police before the demonstration turned violent. Inmates who were in close proximity to the three detainees who died from the novel virus have been isolated.
President Vladimir Putin has eased stay at home policies despite the fact that the number of covid cases is steadily rising; Russia now has “the second highest toll in the world after the US.” Putin’s response to the coronavirus has resulted in a decrease in his approval rating; the virus has posed “the most serious challenge to Putin as a national leader in the 20 years he has been in power, and he is failing it.” A fire broke out in a hospital dedicated to treating coronavirus patients, killing five people. The incident has only increased the pressure that has been placed on the government and is “further testing… [its] response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
In order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, Nicaragua has “released more than 2,800 inmates to house arrest.” None of the detainees are political prisoners; most of them were arrested during the 2018 protests against Daniel Ortega. The government has yet to impose any sort of strict measures to contain the virus, which has resulted in the overflow of patients in hospitals. While the reported number of coronavirus cases is only 16, over packed hospitals have caused officials to cast doubt upon these official reports.
The suicide rate in the Yazidi community has skyrocketed as a result of the Islamic State (IS) attacked the area in 2014. Thousands of men were murdered and thousands of women and children were sold as slaves. The United Nations has described these actions as an “ongoing genocide’ against the Yazidi minority,” but major rights groups and international organizations have yet to offer aid.
19 soldiers were killed and 15 more were injured after a naval exercise went awry on Sunday. An Iranian ship “struck another Iranian vessel,” making this the second time this year that Iran has mistakenly fired a missile at its own forces.
Sudan has refrained from signing an agreement regarding the filling of a controversial dam that would negatively impact the environment and the nation’s water supply. Ethiopia issued the proposal and is “calling its neighbor to resume the stalled United States-brokered negotiations on the issue.” Egpyt would also be negatively affected by the mega-dam and is also included in the negotiations between Sudan and Ethiopia.
A hospital in Tripoli fell victim to a missile attack supposedly from Khalifa Haftar’s forces on Thursday; at least 14 people sustained injuries.
North Korea has issued a warning to South Korea for its “‘reckless’ military drills near their disputed sea boundary.” South Korea has defended its drills, stating that they have not broken any preexisting agreements between the two nations.
The Zimbabwean government has extended the nation-wide lockdown for another two weeks and has also “made the wearing of masks compulsory in public” in order to decrease the chances of spreading the coronavirus. The virus has wreaked havoc upon the nation, worsening both the economic and food crises.
The coronavirus has resurged in Chile’s capital, Santiago, causing the city to go into total lockdown. Santiago saw a 60% increase in cases over the course of just one day.