May 22, 2020
Global attention has shifted towards finding a COVID-19 vaccine, the key step in allowing many countries to return to normal. One vaccine that China is developing passed the crucial test of being able to neutralize antibodies in test patients. However, other health officials remain skeptical that the very nature of the virus is not suited to vaccines.
U.S. President Donald Trump said that he was taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, to combat the disease and encouraged others to do so as well. However, a recent study shows that when administered to patients, it causes more deaths.
A proposed Chinese law went before Parliament today in an attempt to limit Hong Kong’s opposition activity. The law has been set into motion. Under the title Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanism of Hong Kong, the bill could “ban sedition, secession, and subversion.” Already, the international backlash has been strong, as China is sidestepping Hong Kong’s own lawmaking body to limit their freedom of protest.
Lawmakers in Hong Kong are mourning the passing of the new Chinese security law, as this most likely marks the “end of [the] homeland.” The law allows China to “sidestep the territory’s own legislative body to crack down on activity Beijing considers subversive.” Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, has expressed her approval of the law because of the increase in violence over the past year. She believes that the law ensures the safety of citizens.
After years of heightened tensions, Iran’s relationship with the United States is seemingly on the mend. Iran has chosen to support Iraq’s new pro-American prime minister and has agreed to stop rocket attacks on U.S. troops. Experts say the turn towards détente is highly strategic; heightened tensions will only help American President Donald Trump in his reelection campaign this November.
However, the differences between the two nations are stark. In a statement Wednesday, the Supreme Leader said that Iran will support “any nation or group that fights Israel.” The same day, the Trump administration accused Iran’s interior minister of committing human rights abuses during last November’s protests.
Myanmar’s army has been accused of arson after “around 200 houses in Lekka Village, Rakhine State were burnt down.” The military stated that the Arakan Army (AA) had initiated gunfire towards the military and that they shot back – they also blamed the fire on AA. Villagers have said that the remains of their village look nothing like the aftermath of a fight and that it instead looks like houses were intentionally set ablaze.
Citizens of the poverty-stricken town El Bosque were protesting shortages of necessities; they “were seen throwing stones and setting fires” around neighborhoods. Police used tear gas and a water cannon to disband the demonstrators. The government released a statement regarding the food supply with President Piñera even promising to “provide 2.5 million baskets of food and other essentials over the next week or so.”
The Libyan government has confirmed via Twitter that it “has captured the strategic al-Watiya airbase from fighters loyal to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.” Libyan troops have been trying to push allies of Haftar’s forces out of western Libya for over a month. The airbase has been deemed “the last stronghold for [Haftar’s] forces in western Libya,” making this a huge success for the internationally-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA).
Lebanon’s financial crisis reached a new low this week after the country’s banking association rejected the government’s five-year rescue plan, stalling any form of relief from international donors. Additionally, courts charged a senior central bank official with “manipulation of the exchange rate and money laundering.” Mazen Hamdan, the head of cash operations, is the most senior official to be charged in an ongoing overall of the bank.
President Mahmoud Abbas has stated that his administration, himself included, “consider all agreements signed with Israel and the United States null and void, after Israel declared it would annex parts of the occupied West Bank.” President Abbas has threatened to withdraw from the agreements in the past, specifically after American President Donald Trump shared his Middle East plan, “which included the possibility of annexation.” Abbas has said that he is still willing to negotiate with Israel regarding “a two-state solution.”
Bolivia’s health minister was arrested for “ventilator corruption” on Wednesday. The ventilators are extremely overpriced – 170 ventilators cost $5 million – and do “not meet the requirements for use in intensive care.”
Moscow received fifty ventilators from America this past Thursday and is expecting another shipment next week. Russia shipped ventilators to New York in April, but “they were never used and are unlikely to be after the same model was implicated in two fires in Russian hospitals.”
Donald Trump has stated that the United States is planning to formally withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty in six months if Russia does not comply. The treaty, signed into effect in 1992 by 35 countries, allows “reconnaissance flights over… [Russian] territory.” Russia has recently banned flights over the region between Poland and Lithuania, “as well as over regions where it conducts major military exercises.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa has decided to “indefinitely” extend the government-mandated lockdown in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Street markets will close, leaving millions of Zimbabweans without a primary income source. Manufacturers and businesses, on the other hand, will remain open and even extend their hours. In his address to the nation, President Mnangagwa declared that schools will open in phases, but when these phases will commence remains unknown.
Nicaragua has been having “express burials,” leading international officials and human rights advocates to believe that the reported number of COVID-19 cases is much lower than what it should be. The government has only confirmed 25 cases and eight deaths but is ordering “‘express burials’ to hide the true number of infections.”
A rocket was fired from an eastern district of Baghdad, hitting an empty house in the Green Zone near the U.S. embassy. The blast “triggered security sirens at the US embassy compound,” and Iraq was slow to claim responsibility.
The United States Supreme Court has ruled that Sudan must “pay punitive damages to some of the victims of the 1998 embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania carried out by al-Qaeda.” Sudan is currently trying to be removed from the U.S.’s state sponsors of terrorism list; this ruling may affect their chances of removal.
Venezuela has struck a trade deal with Iran as both countries have suffered under U.S. sanctions. At the center of the deal is five oil tankers carrying at least $45.5 million worth of gasoline that will sail from Iran to Venezuela. While Venezuela was once a major oil producer, days-long lines at gas stations have become commonplace in recent years.
Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Hezbollah has significantly increased its influence over the Syrian Arab Army (SAA); it is reportedly “preparing the Syrian Arab Army’s 1st Corps for a future war against Israel.”
Travel Ban: The government has imposed a travel ban on President Bashar al-Bassad’s cousin, Rami Makhlouf, “a Syrian tycoon.” Makhlouf the head of the largest mobile operator in Syria that supposedly owes the government approximately $185 million.
The coronavirus has been wreaking havoc upon the world since January, but North Korea has yet to confirm any cases. Many officials are skeptical of this claim, and more questions have arisen as a result of Kim Jong-un only making one public appearance over the past five weeks. The nation has begun to open up slowly, signaling an end to the government-mandated lockdown.