January 29, 2021
CANVAS is pleased to bring you another weekly report! This week covers Sudan’s conflict on the Ethiopian border, protests in Thailand, vaccine distribution in Bolivia, and US-Iraqi joint military strikes.
Across Israel on Sunday police clashed with ultra-Orthodox Jews who violated the coronavirus lockdown by opening up schools and religious seminaries. Also on Sunday, Brazilians took the streets to call for the impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro over his handling of the coronavirus. On Monday, more violent anti-lockdown protests erupted in the Netherlands, resulting in more than a hundred arrests. In Poland, there were protests on Wednesday after the government announced that a near-total ban on abortion had gone into effect. In Greece, peaceful demonstrations were held in the two biggest cities on Thursday against proposed education reforms, defying a weeklong ban on protests due to the coronavirus. On the disputed border between India and China, it was reported that troops clashed and were injured on both sides. India’s army said there had been a “minor” incident that had been “resolved.” Also in India, a protest over farm reforms turned violent and over 200 people were detained.
Amid a gap in vaccine access between low and high-income countries, Pfizer has announced that it will sell 40 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Covax, the initiative organizing the purchase of vaccines for 92 lower-income countries. In the EU, vaccine rollout has been slow due to vaccine shortages. As a result, the EU is considering blocking the export of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine to Britain. One of the reasons for the shortage is that AstraZeneca says it is only able to deliver 25% of the 100 million doses that were promised by March, which has caused public tensions between the company and the EU. In Vietnam, local transmission was reported for the first time in two months.
President Joe Biden has continued to sign executive actions including, eliminating the use of private prisons, lifting the Muslim ban on immigration, and initiating regulatory actions to combat climate change. Biden and his administration plan to continue making steps towards curbing the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, economic change, health care action (especially with the Affordable Care Act), and immigration. The House Walked Donald Trump’s impeachment bill to the Senate on Monday evening and the official trial will begin on February 9th. In other news, Wall Street is under immense pressure as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 2%. The online trader forum Robin Hood is also under pressure from the public and lawmakers, such as Rep, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Ted Cruz, as they curb trading.
Lai Xiaomin, the former head of Chinese state-owned asset management company China Huarong Asset Management Company, was executed this week on bribery charges, an unusually severe penalty for a corruption case. Mr. Xiaomin was one among thousands of officials caught up in a long-running anti-graft campaign championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In other news, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed along the disputed Himalayan border this week. Details surrounding the skirmish remain scant, but reports indicate injuries on both sides. Since this summer, both China and India have sought to ease tensions, but an estimated 100,000 troops remain on opposite sides of the border.
The Chinese government announced this week that it would no longer recognize the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document or form of identification. The move came just hours after the United Kingdom announced that it would begin taking applications for BNO visas, which could permit an estimated 5.4 million Hong Kong citizens to be eligible to live and work in the United Kingdom for five years and then apply for citizenship. The United Kingdom claims that Beijing’s imposition of new, restrictive national security measures in Hong Kong breaches the terms of the 1997 agreement which saw Hong Kong switch from British to Chinese control.
Prominent journalist and government critic Hopewell Chin’ono, who was accused of publishing falsehoods on Twitter, was granted bail this week. One of the bail conditions being required by the court is that Chin’ono stop using his Twitter account to “incite the holding of mass demonstrations.” Also in Zimbabwe, there has been controversy over remarks made by Nick Mangwana, a spokesman for the government. He suggested that the recent deaths of four cabinet members due to COVID-19 were carried out by “political activists hiding behind medical qualifications,” who he deemed “medical assassins.” Mangwana has since apologized for his comments, but the conspiracy theory continues to spread.
Amid the Covid-19 uptick in the country, the new South African variant has been detected in Cuba. This comes as the country announces its high hopes for their Sovereign II vaccine as it enters the second round of human trials. In other news, tensions continue to grow between the government and the art community. A group of young Cuban artists gathered in from of the ministry on Wednesday but were pushed away by a large crowd. They said they were violently removed at the crowd was led by the minister himself. The crowd was forced onto a bus and taken to a police station but was later released. It is clear that despite agreeing to negotiations, the government has no intention of making a deal with the artists right now.