Categories
Weekly Summaries

23rd of August – 29th of August

Afghan refugees and an increasingly dramatic situation at the airport in Kabul

Thousands of people are still waiting at the airport in Kabul for a flight out of Afghanistan and the August 31st deadline to complete the Afghanistan operation is fast approaching. To make the situation even more urgent, Taliban leaders rejected President Biden’s suggestion to extend the deadline for the completion of the operation. Last Wednesday, President Biden then announced that the U.S. was “on track” for a military departure from Afghanistan on August 31st.

On Thursday, two suicide bombers outside of Kabul’s airport killed at least 13 U.S. troops and many Afghans, including children. The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack. President Biden vowed retaliation, saying “we will not forgive.”

This past week reports also surfaced which state that weeks before Kabul fell to the Taliban, tens of thousands of Afghans were already traveling across Iran, hoping to cross Turkey to reach Europe. However, President Erdogan of Turkey has claimed that Turkey will not be “able to shoulder the additional burden” as it has already taken in 5 million refugees. Last week alone, more than 1,400 Afghans who were in Turkey were rounded up and pushed back by the police in a single operation.

Other News

  • The IMF (International Monetary Fund) gave financial aid to poor countries worth US $650 billion to help them “pay down debt and withstand the costs of combating the coronavirus pandemic,” the New York Times reports
  • The highest point on Greenland’s ice sheet has never experienced rainfall that is until last week
  • To prevent Belarusian migrants from entering, Poland and Lithuania are planning to build fences along their shared borders with Belarus, according to the New York Times
Categories
Weekly Summaries

16th of August – 22nd of August

Chaos at the airport in Kabul

Thousands of Afghans continue to try to flee the country, with some clinging on to departing planes and crowds at the airport trampling people to death. Britain and Canada have since announced that they will both take 20,000 Afghans each who had fled the country. Meanwhile, President Biden defended the “hard and messy” retreat from Afghanistan, claiming that he had to either follow through on the deal with the Taliban he inherited from President Trump or fight the Taliban, according to the New York Times.

Earthquake in Haiti

Haiti was already trying to cope with the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake and the murder of President Jovenel Moïse in July. Now, another earthquake has hit, the death toll of which has now increased to more than 2,200 people. The government also estimates that around 10,000 more people have been injured. Heavy rains have made rescue missions difficult and the people are turning to local churches for support.

Elections in Zambia

Hakainde Hichilema, the leader of Zambia’s main opposition party — the United Party for National Development — won the presidential elections, receiving 59.38% of the votes. His main opponent, Edgar Lungu, who was the previous President, received only 38.33% of the votes. It is only the third time in Zambia’s history that an opposition leader won the election.

Other News

  • Amazon has taken over Walmart’s position and become the world’s largest online retailer operating outside of China, according to the New York Times
Categories
Weekly Summaries

9th of August – 15th of August

The Taliban take over Kabul

On Sunday, the Taliban took over Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital city. The U.S. has had a heavy military presence in Afghanistan for twenty years, which now came to an abrupt ending. The collapse of Kabul comes a lot faster than even many experts had expected, meaning that most Afghans now have no way of getting out. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to Uzbekistan after the finance minister already fled last week. Since then a council of Afghan officials has opened negotiations with the Taliban to discuss the takeover, according to the New York Times. Troops from the U.S. and other Western countries, which had been stationed in Afghanistan, started withdrawing in May. Around that time the Taliban started their offensive to take over Afghanistan. What the future of Afghanistan and the people who live there will look like remains uncertain, but prospects point to the worst.

Other News

  • Michael Calvey, an American businessman, was sentenced to a suspended sentence “for embezzlement charges” for 5 and a half years, according to the New York Times
  • After facing accusations of sexually assaulting 11 women, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo has resigned
  • The cost of coffee beans is up by almost 44% in 2021 compared to 2020, according to the New York Times

Categories
Online Courses

2nd of August – 8th of August

The Case of the Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya

The Belarusian sprinter Kristina Timanovskaya was first under the protection of the Japanese government after she criticized her coaches for registering her for the wrong event, according to the New York Times. Belarus tried to send her home but she was scared that she would be arrested upon her return. Timanovskaya has since stayed at the Polish embassy, hoping to seek political asylum in Poland, which has since been granted to her and her husband by Poland. Two Belarusian coaches who were apparently involved in the attempt to get her to leave Tokyo for Belarus have been expelled from the Olympic Village.

Wildfires in Turkey and Greece

Wildfires in Turkey have killed at least six people and forced tens of thousands from their homes. President Erdogan has also received criticism over his handling of what can be called Turkey’s worst wildfires in decades. Greece has also been badly affected by the wildfires, recording its hottest temperatures on record with thousands fleeing their homes. The wildfires have since also reached the island of Evia and ancient Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The New York Times reported that local authorities and the army “dug firelines around the archaeological site” in an attempt to prevent the fires from destroying it. A thick pall of smoke also hung over Athens last Thursday, meaning that people were instructed to stay indoors until the smoke cleared. 

Other News

  • The Lazio region of Italy, which includes Rome, experienced a cyberattack and left it unable to offer vaccination appointments online
  • New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo faces criticism and calls for him to resign after it became public that he sexually assaulted 11 women. Governor Cuomo, however, has denied these accusations.
  • “American forces stepped up a bombing campaign in Afghanistan,” according to the New York Times
  • Over 200 million cases of COVID-19 have now been recorded around the world, as of Thursday
  • Ebrahim Raisi, the new President of Iran, was inaugurated this past week
Categories
Updates

Anniversary (04.08.2020-now)

The EconIR WEB website was launched exactly a year ago today. It has been an incredible and humiliating journey, and so very rewarding to me personally to watch EconIR WEB slowly grow and expand to where we are now. I am looking forward to achieving many more milestones with the whole EconIR WEB Team and — of course — all of you, our supporters!


Here is a short summary of the some of the milestones EconIR WEB achieved this past year:

  • 6,000+ views on our website from people in over 65+ countries
  • 280+ followers on Instagram
  • 12+ team members
  • 50+ subscribers to our newsletter
  • 50+ posts on Instagram
  • 170+ posts/articles on our website

When asked, some of the highlights that are most memorable to our team members and followers were:

  • Our collaboration with Econfinity (more are coming soon…)
  • The quizzes we hosted on Instagram (International Relations quiz, Economics quiz, Theories quiz, and the Politics quiz)
  • Just growing as an organisation and getting to know the other team members better!

What do you think EconIR WEB should do next?

Let us know in the comments!

Categories
Weekly Summaries

26th of July – 1st of August

Chaos in Tunisia

The President of Tunisia, Kais Saeid, tried to seize power in what some call a coup. He announced that he would fire the prime minister and has already suspended Parliament. However, so far it seems that his success is very limited, although many Tunisians expressed their support. Tunisia has been a democracy since the Arab Spring revolutions.

Other News

  • A landslide in India killed 9 people, most of them tourists. Furthermore, monsoons on the western coast have also killed more than 164 people so far.
  • France has been witnessing many protests against the so-called “Covid Pass” policy
  • North Korea and South Korea have — after 14 months of silence — reopened diplomatic and military hotlines between the two countries
  • Flash floods in Afghanistan have killed at least 80 people, but the search for survivors still continues
  • President Biden announced that EU citizens will continue to be barred from entering the U.S., citing fears that the Delta variant would be spread, despite the fact that U.S. citizens are allowed to enter EU countries, as long as they are fully vaccinated
  • Forest fires in Turkey and wildfires in Greece have had devastating consequences for the people living in the surrounding areas

Are you up to date with the Olympics? Check here for the newest updates

Categories
Weekly Summaries

19th of July – 25th of July

The Olympic Games have started

The Olympics — arguably the greatest sporting event in the world — started on Friday with the opening ceremony. Tennis player Naomi Osaka lit the Olympic cauldron. However, the current circumstances with the outbreak of COVID-19 mean that the games look very different this year. More than 120 people involved with the Olympics tested positive so far, including at least six athletes. Additionally, an Algerian judoka decided to quit the Olympics before his competition had even started as the matching of the competitors may have meant that he would have to fight against an Israeli athlete, leaving concerns about whether the Olympics really is successful in bringing athletes from around the world together peacefully.

Haiti gets a new government

A new prime minister was announced in Haiti last week: Ariel Henry. He will replace the interim prime minister Claude Joseph, a neurosurgeon who had not yet been sworn in amid the chaotic struggle for leadership taking place at the moment. However, the list of cabinet ministers hardly changed.

Other News

  • After floods in Western Europe last week left almost 200 people dead, floods in Zhengzhou, China, caused by very heavy rainfall have left more than 30 people dead this week and displaced more than 250,000
  • Officials announced that a recent bus explosion in Pakistan that killed 13 people, including 9 Chinese workers, was a terror attack
  • Extreme weather conditions in the U.S. have continued, with wildfires raging across the Western part of the country
Categories
Analysis

Singapore’s Economic Transformation

Introduction

In the 1960s, Singapore was an underdeveloped country with scarce resources after being a British colony for more than 100 years. Today, Singapore is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and has transformed into a modern city with the second-highest population density in the world and a skyline full of skyscrapers. How was this possible?

Singapore immediately after gaining independence

After gaining independence in 1965, Yusof bin Ishak served as Singapore’s first president and Lee Kuan Yew was Singapore’s first prime minister. At the time Singapore was facing many problems. Most of Singapore’s 3 million inhabitants were unemployed and more than two-thirds of Singaporeans were living in slums or so-called squatter settlements in the fringe part of the city. Singapore’s immediate neighbors, Malaysia and Indonesia, were initially not friendly towards Singapore. Additionally, Singapore lacked access to natural resources, a clean water supply, proper sanitation, and infrastructure. Originally, the prime minister at the time, Lee Kuan Yew, hoped to modernize Singapore through foreign aid, but no country showed interest in helping Singapore.

Singapore and globalization

While a member of the British colonies, Singapore’s economy was focussed mainly on the entrepôt trade. However, there was very little perspective for the future of this industry. Therefore, politicians decided to focus on industrialization, specifically developing labor-intensive industries. This was a big step as Singapore had undergone very little industrialization before. Once production started, Singapore was forced to adapt once again as its neighbors (Malaysia and Indonesia) did not want to trade with it. Therefore, Singapore started looking into globalization as an opportunity to trade with the “developed” world. To attract foreign investment, Lee Kuan Yew worked to create a Singapore that was safe, corruption-free and had low taxes, putting in place harsh penalties — even including the death sentence — for people who disobeyed the law. Furthermore, all independent labor unions were also meshed to form the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC). These new measures helped Singapore become attractive for multinational corporations, especially because Singapore’s political system was very stable.

Singapore and foreign direct investment

Singapore was hugely successful in attracting multinational corporations. In fact, by the end of 1972, “one-quarter of Singapore’s manufacturing firms were either foreign-owned or joint-venture companies” (according to ThoughtCo.). Among the foreign investors, Japan and the U.S. were especially influential. All of the cash flowing into Singapore meant that between 1965 and 1972, Singapore was able to achieve annual double-digit GDP growth every single year. In order to maintain their growth, the government decided to start heavily investing in education. Technical schools were set up and the multinational corporations investing in Singapore were encouraged to train their unskilled workers. People who couldn’t find jobs were given jobs in sectors such as the tourism and transportation industry by the government.

Singapore today

Today, Singapore’s port has become the second-busiest in the world, only behind Shanghai. Before the outbreak of COVID-19, more than 10 million visitors came to Singapore annually. Aside from the shipping and tourism industries, Singapore’s medical industry has also grown significantly, alongside the banking industry. Despite its small size and comparatively recent economic transformation, Singapore is now the 15th largest trading partner of the United States. In 2019 there were over 3,000 multinational corporations that operated in Singapore. If you don’t mind abiding by some comparatively strict laws, Singapore is one of the best places to live these days, offering its citizens the third-highest life expectancy in the world. Singapore really has become a “powerful and financial center” (according to the BBC) of the world.

More recently, Singapore has had to grapple with an increasing number of unemployed due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Aid packages and policies have been put in place by the government to protect jobs and create opportunities for people. However, Leila Lai states that in order to survive, “Singapore will need to accelerator economic transformation and establish itself as a key player in the Asian and global realms of technology, innovation, and enterprise.” Although there is hope, only time will tell to what extent Singapore will be able to recover from the effects of the pandemic.

Sources

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/singapores-economic-development-1434565
  2. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-32028693
  3. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/government-economy/economic-transformation-must-speed-up-for-singapores-survival-beyond-covid-19

Categories
Weekly Summaries

12th of July – 18th of July

Protests in Cuba

Last week, Cuba saw some of the biggest protests in decades. Thousands of Cubans went to the streets to protest against power outages and food and medicine shortages, which were caused by the country’s economic crisis. The New York Times describes scenes in which people have to wait for hours to buy food. Although Cuba had already been suffering from an economic crisis before the pandemic hit, lockdowns have meant that the valuable income from the tourism industry has also been cut.

Floods in Western Europe

Violent storms caused floods in Western Europe last week. So far, the number of deaths is over 180 but more than a thousand people still remain missing. Germany and Belgium were hit the worst but Switzerland and the Netherlands have also been affected.

Other News

  • The Death Valley in California reached a temperature of 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit) last weekend. This is one of the highest temperatures to ever be recorded.
  • After protests in South Africa connected to the arrest of the former president Jacob Zuma turned violent, the South African military has been deployed by the government. Alone 117 people died last week due to looting and vandalism. 
  • According to the New York Times more than 77% of New Mexico is “in severe drought”.
  • The designated prime minister of Lebanon, Saad Hariri, has resigned after months of trying to form a new government.

Categories
Weekly Summaries

5th of July – 11th of July

Lebanon’s Crisis worsens

The World Bank announced that the current crisis Lebanon is facing could rank among “the world’s three worst since the mid-1800s,” according to the New York Times. In the past year, Lebanon has had to cope not only with the outbreak of the coronavirus but also with the deadly explosion in Beirut’s port. This has meant that Lebanon’s GDP has decreased by 40% from 2018 ($55 billion) to 2020 ($33 billion). Its currency, the Lebanese pound, has decreased in value by 90% since fall 2019. Furthermore, Lebanon currently hosts one million refugees from Syria. All of these factors make it a very difficult and bad situation, providing little hope for people that things may change for the better soon.

Other News

  • After the assasination of President Jovenel Moïse of Haiti, four people who were suspected of being involved in the assasination were shot dead and two arrested by the police. Later on in the week, two Americans and 15 Colombians were detained as well. In recent months there had been protests, demanding Moïse to step down as poverty and hunger continued to increase. Increasingly, armed gangs have also been taking control over streets, causing chaos in what is already the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
  • The Ever Given container ship, which famously blocked the Suez Canal, is finally on its way to continue its journey.
  • Italy beat England in the UEFA Euro 2020 Final, which took place on Sunday, 2:1 after a dramatic shootout. The game took place in the Wembley Stadium in London.
  • A military plane crashed in the Philippines after missing a runway. Onboard were 96 soldiers and crew members. At least 50 people died, including 3 civilians. Later on in the week, a “regional passenger plane with 28 people on board crashed in eastern Russia,” according to the New York Times, as well.
  • The U.S. handed over its final airbase in Afghanistan, ending its military presence in the country after almost two decades.
  • A mudslide in the Japanese town of Atami has left more than 80 people missing.

Fun Fact

England’s deer populations have spiked as the outbreak of the coronavirus halted hunting activity. On a more serious note, the increasing numbers of deer poses serious challenges to the survival of wild plant species.