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Weekly Summaries

30th of August – 5th of September

U.S. Forces Left Afghanistan

The last U.S. forces left Afghanistan last Monday. Their departure ended a 20-year long occupation. The war in Afghanistan cost the U.S. over $2 trillion and left more than 170,000 people dead. Shortly before midnight, the last 5 American cargo jets left the Kabul airport, leaving behind many Afghans, including former members of the security forces. The Taliban and fighters celebrated the U.S. departure and gunfire could be heard across Kabul. A day later, President Biden once again defended the withdrawal, claiming that it was a choice “between leaving or escalating” the situation.

Other News

  • The return of a Napoleonic general, Gen. Charles Etienne Gudin, was supposed to improve relations between France and Russia, two countries that have long had difficult diplomatic relations. However, when the ceremony took place, the Presidents were not to be seen. 
  • The leader of Guinea’s special forces led a coup, announcing on state television that the constitution and government had been dissolved. Whether he will be successful is still uncertain.
  • Less than a year after he started office, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan said that he would not seek re-election
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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
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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
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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

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Weekly Summaries

14th of June – 21st of June

Elections in Israel

The former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu was “formally ousted” by Israel’s parliament last Sunday. The new coalition government was then approved by a single vote (60 to 59) and one abstention. Israel’s new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who is said to be further right than Netanyahu, will be replaced by the centrist leader Yair Lapid in two years. In total, the new coalition government is made up of eight parties — including an independent Arab party for the first time in Israeli history — who have little in common due to their wide distribution among the political spectrum. This could mean trouble for the new government in the future, although they have announced that as the new coalition government, they will focus more on domestic issues instead of issues that divide them to provide some stability. The first step that the new Israeli coalition took on Tuesday was to announce their plans to “repair Israeli ties with the US,” the New York Times reported. However, at the same time, the Israeli military bombed parts of the Gaza Strip in the early morning hours last Wednesday after incendiary balloons were sent by the Hamas into southern Israel. So far, there have been no reports of casualties.

The G7 Summit in Cornwall

The first-in-person summit since the pandemic first began concluded last week. The countries that attended were the US, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, and the UK. Although the G7 countries were not able to reach agreements on all topics they wanted to address, they have planned a range of new policy approaches. You can read more about the G7 summit on Cornwall here: https://econir-web.com/2021/06/20/the-g7-summit-in-cornwall/

Other News

  • Ebrahim Raisi has won the election in Iran, becoming the new President. However, voter turnout, especially among the younger generation, was very low.
  • During the NATO summit, President Biden “reaffirmed his commitment to the alliance,” according to the New York Times. The union has also taken a harder stance towards China and Russia, saying that China’s growing military power and influence around the world may “present challenges.”
  • President Biden met with President Putin in Geneva. The meeting was described as “positive” by President Biden and as “constructive” by President Putin, with outcomes such as an agreement to “open U.S.-Russia talks on cybersecurity and arms control” (the New York Times) being made.
  • Britain and Australia have made a free-trade agreement, which is Britain’s first major trading deal since it left the European Union last year.
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News

Biden’s Proposed Tax Increase Angers Investors

Introduction

With just days left until his 100th day in office, President Joseph Biden is presenting a third economic package worth over $1 trillion entitled the American Families Plan. This $1.8 trillion package intends to increase funding for childcare and education. However, to help pay for this package, the president is looking to America’s wealthiest.

Why investors are angry

The proposal includes a dramatic increase in the capital gains tax rate for those making $1 million per year or more. Simply put, the capital gains tax is a tax on profit made by the sale of non-inventory assets such as stocks or bonds. Currently, the capital gains tax rate is 20% for those who make the aforementioned income. However, this plan would increase that number to 39.6%, which will become the new top income tax rate if this plan comes to pass. That is not all, since the surtax on investment income introduced by former President Barack Obama would actually make the total tax rate 43.4 %.

In just one bill, the capital gains tax rate would more than double for the wealthiest of the United States. This doesn’t even account for the capital gains taxes issued by individual states. For example, in California, the combined state and federal rate would be 56.7%.

Possible long-term effects of the bill

Needless to say, many investors and venture capitalists are infuriated by this plan, since it would reduce the value and drive to allocate money towards long-term investments. Furthermore, if fewer people commit to investments because of this much larger tax, the tax revenue will be reduced over time. This would essentially defeat the purpose of the tax increase in the first place. Also, as if building a business from the ground up wasn’t difficult enough, it will become much more difficult for entrepreneurs to acquire investments to help get their business started. The announcement of this plan resulted in stocks sliding more than they had in a month, which reflected the impact that this plan would likely have on the stock market as a whole.

Sources

  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-22/biden-to-propose-capital-gains-tax-as-high-as-43-4-for-wealthy
  2. “Biden tax rise fans investor fury,” published in the Financial Times, reporting by Eric Platt, Aziza Kasumov, Michael Mackenzie, Mark Vandevelde in New York, Miles Kruppa in San Francisco, and James Politi in Washington
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Weekly Summaries

12th of April – 18th of April

Explosion at an Iranian nuclear enrichment site

Last weekend, there was an explosion at an Iranian uranium enrichment plant, which caused a power shortage. Since then, Iran’s foreign minister has threatened to take revenge against Israel, whom he blamed for the explosion. The explosion comes just at a point when relations regarding the 2015 nuclear deal were resumed again a few weeks ago.

Other News

  • Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh and husband of the Queen of England died. His funeral took place this past Saturday,
  • President Biden has announced that the remaining U.S. troops that are currently still located in Afghanistan will withdraw by the 11th of September, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
  • The U.S. is imposing new sanctions on Russia.
Categories
Analysis News

The US Department of Defence’s Plans to Win the War on Global Warming

Who is the Department of Defence?

The Department of Defence is an executive branch of the department of the federal government, charged with coordinating and supervising all agencies and functions of the government directly related to national security and all the United States Armed Forces.

Global Warming and how the US is affected by it

Currently, the US contributes around 15% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions through a variety of activities including industrial activities, the burning of fossil fuels, and many more. The question remains, will the USA’s future plans allow this figure of 15% to be reduced significantly? The United States is a region of the world that is highly susceptible to natural hazards, which have only been intensified by the developing issue of climate change. Therefore, the US has a strong need and desire to reduce the impacts of climate change. In 2019, over 90 natural disasters were reported in America alone. Although the US is a developed, High Income Country (HIC), these natural disasters cost the US government billions each year, money that authorities can’t afford to lose, but more importantly the hazards can destroy whole communities and livelihoods. For example, in 2017, the government spent a record $306 billion following three hurricanes, extreme wildfires, flooding, tornadoes, and droughts – each of the 16 disasters exceeded a billion dollars in reparation costs.

The Plan of Action

The US Department of Defence has developed a ‘huge appetite’ for renewable energy sources, as described by POLITICO.com. President Biden, working alongside the Department of Defence, has assured the media that over $2 trillion of the governments’ budget will be directed into the expansion of clean energy, aiming to reduce carbon emissions and build resilient facilities over the next four years. However, the ambitious plan will need the approval of Congress, an audience that is likely to show resistance to the plan, due to the strong views of the Republicans, who aim to block any ‘green’ plans. The Department of Defence is one of the United States’ biggest contributors to carbon emissions and that is why this plan of action is imperative. Many people believe that the way to reducing climate change is by individually reducing our own carbon footprint. While this may be true, there is a limit as to how much individuals produce as companies and organizations such as the Department of Defence produce the vast majority of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Although the Department of Defence’s plans are not yet complete, their aims and intentions are in favor of helping reduce climate change, a plan that may take many years, but a small step today is still a step in the right direction.

Sources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Department_of_Defense#:~:text=The%20United%20States%20Department%20of,the%20United%20States%20Armed%20Forces
  2. https://www.activesustainability.com/environment/top-5-most-polluting-countries/
  3. https://oceanleadership.org/natural-disasters-cost-u-s-record-306-billion-last-year/
  4. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/01/04/biden-pentagon-climate-change-454404
Categories
Weekly Summaries

8th of March – 14th of March

US Stimulus Package is passed

This past Wednesday, the 1.9 trillion US dollar stimulus package passed through the House of Representatives. The bill includes benefits for low-income Americans and also extends the $300 dollar per week supplemental employment benefit until September. President Biden signed the stimulus package on Friday. 

Other News: 

  • A series of explosions at a military base in the city of Bata in Equatorial Guinea killed at least 20 people and injured 500, according to local authorities. 
  • Tens of thousands email addresses have been affected by a hacking campaign against Microsoft. The victims are US businesses and government agencies.
  • Women protested in Mexico City at the residence of Mexico’s president against one of the world’s worst rates of gender violence.
  • The Russian government announced that it would be “slowing” the access to Twitter.
Categories
Weekly Summaries

25th of January – 31st of January

Elections in Portugal

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was re-elected this past week. He received 61% of the votes, a number that may come as a bit of a surprise because Portugal introduced a new lockdown just two weeks ago over concerns of overwhelmed hospitals. This may also explain the low turnout, which was only 39% of the population. 

President Rebelo de Sousa will begin his second 5-year term with a strong foothold: the candidate with the second highest number of votes — the Socialist candidate Ana Gomes — received only 13% of the votes. In Portugal, the role of President is second to that of the Prime Minister who is in charge of the day-to-day affairs. As President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa can, however, dissolve Parliament and veto some legislations and is also involved in foreign policy and national security.

Italy’s Prime Minister Resigns

The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned this past Tuesday after weeks of political conflicts. At the moment there is still hope that Italian politicians may come up with a solution but otherwise early elections may be the only solution. Especially opposition parties are very keen on early elections with polls suggesting that the Nationalist Party may win. 

Other News

  • The House of Representatives sent an article of impeachment against Donald Trump on Monday.
  • This past Tuesday, President Biden and President Putin agreed to extend the last remaining nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia.
  • Thousands of farmers entered New Delhi, India, on Tuesday with their tractors to protest against new farming laws.
  • A new law went into effect in Poland on Wednesday which bans abortions in almost all instances (in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the life of the mother abortions are still allowed). Thousands went to the streets to protest, vowing to keep fighting.