Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Oct 18, 2021
An alarming abduction in Haiti of 16 American Missionaries and one Canadian increased concerns over safety and security in the small island nation. The changing nature of global power dynamics cause some to worry that an imminent Cold War is brewing between Washington and Beijing, despite denials from Washington. Merck raised hopes that positive results in large clinical trials of a COVID-19 pill could prevent infected people from dying or falling severely ill, especially in poorer countries. But others question if the needed license for the life-saving treatment will be implemented in time.
1 - Please pray for us!!
American missionaries kidnapped in Haiti
Authorities have confirmed that the notorious gang 400 Mawozo was behind the abduction of 16 Americans and one Canadian who were visiting an orphanage on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince on Saturday. The increasing number of brazen kidnappings over the last years is just one more assault on a country grappling with a deepening political crisis following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse at his home in Port-au-Prince in July. 400 Mawozo's penchant for snatching people en masse as they ride buses or walk outside in groups has escalated an already tense situation for the small island nation battling lawlessness, poverty and the aftereffects of the latest earthquake. (Source: The Wall Street Journal, BBC, NYT)
2 - Cold War Worries?
Growing tensions between Washington and Beijing cause concern
Could this be the face of a new Cold War? Some view China’s emergence as an even broader strategic adversary than the Soviet Union — whether as a technological and military threat or an economic rival — as troubling. Scholars and commentators use George Orwell’s definition of the Cold War — “a peace that is no peace”— to describe a possible state of hostility short of armed conflict. The issue of whether this is indeed a Cold War, or something quite different, lurks just beneath escalating tensions over economic strategy, technological competition and military maneuvers ... undersea, in space and in cyberspace. For his part, President Joe Biden insisted at the United Nations last month that, “We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs.” The world is watching. (Source:NYT, The National Interest)
New Covid treatments offer hope for poorer countries
Merck’s positive results in a large clinical trial this month offer hope that a simple pill could prevent infected people from dying or falling severely ill. The drug, molnupiravir, is easy to distribute and can be taken at home. Trial results showed it halved the risk of hospitalization and death among high-risk people early in their infections. Unlike vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna, which have resisted calls for license agreements to let overseas manufacturers make their shots, Merck will allow generic manufacturers in India to sell the pills at a far lower price in more than 100 poorer countries. But worries about the timing of such licenses cause some to doubt whether poorer nations will have access to the life-saving pill anytime soon. (Source: NYT)
4 - Coal vs. Floods
Manchin blocks the Climate Plan, as his state remains vulnerable to floods
While Sen. Joe Manchin blocks Democrats’ plans to reduce warming, new data suggests that West Virginia is more exposed to worsening floods than anywhere else in the country. Although Manchin’s stance seems more aligned with West Virginia's ties with coal, some leaders fear the impact of worsening floods on the lives and environment of the state. (Source: NYT)
5 - Girls left behind
The Taliban’s continued restrictions on girls in Afghanistan
It’s a sad state of affairs for girls in Afghanistan. It’s been onemonth since the Taliban banned girls from secondary schools in most of Afghanistan and, so far, they’re not budging. Afghanistan remains the only country in the world to bar half its population from the right to an education. But that’s not all, except for those in the public health sector, women have not been allowed to return to work. (Source: BBC)
Since the start of the pandemic, when teenage girls around the globe began turning up in doctors’ offices with sudden, severe physical tics and verbal outbursts, specialists suspected social media: The girls had been watching Tourette’s syndrome TikTok videos. At first, doctors were stumped, girls with tics are rare, and these teens’ symptoms were unusually severe and sudden. After months of studying patients and pooling their brainpower, experts in the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. found something the girls had in common: TikTok. Since March 2020, Texas Children’s Hospital has reported some 60 teens with tics, as opposed to one or two a year pre-pandemic. At Johns Hopkins University Tourette’s Center, 10% to 20% of pediatric patients have described acute-onset tic-like behaviors, up from 2% to 3% a year before the pandemic, said Joseph McGuire, an associate professor in the university’s department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. Doctors in multiple countries are reporting a similar rise, concluding that anxiety, depression — and TikTok — could be contributing factors. (Source: Wall Street Journal, Insider)
2 - Argentine Showdown
Rodents the size of St. Bernards overrun an exclusive gated community
A national commotion has erupted as environmentalists confront wealthy homeowners in the posh gated Argentine community of Nordelta due to some unlikely visitors. Known as Capybaras, the world’s largest rodents can reach 140 pounds and have been freely roaming streets and pristine lawns, triggering demands for them to be relocated or castrated. Often compared to a guinea pig the size of a St. Bernard, but with beaver-like chompers, the herbivores have an insatiable appetite and XXL-size droppings. No side has won, as the protection of these large rodents clashes with the peace of mind of their wealthy neighbors. (Source: The Wall Street Journal)
3 - We’ve Landed!
Almost $7 million awarded in first Earthshot Prizes
On Sunday, Costa Rica and the city of Milan were among the first to be awarded one million pounds, or nearly $1.4 million, for their sustainability and conservation efforts as part of a newly established environmental prize. The “Earthshots” — named after President John F. Kennedy’s “moonshots” — are simple but ambitious goals for our planet which, if achieved by 2030, will improve life for everyone. Prince William and Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, preside over the competition. The funding is available for nominees developing solutions in five areas: nature conservation, waste management, ocean revival, air quality and climate change. (Source: NYT, Earthshot Prize)
4 - Naked Call to the Sea
In Israel, hundreds strip by the Dead Sea
In a striking artist’s installation, hundreds of people in Israel got naked by the Dead Sea to draw attention to its dramatically receding shoreline. One of many installations around the world by the artist Spencer Tunick, who’s used similar photo shoots to highlight environmental change. (Source: BBC)
5 - Chicago Sky Beat Phoenix Mercury
For first WNBA Championship
In a thrilling comeback, the Sky overcame a second-half deficit to become unlikely champions. After finishing the regular season with a .500 record, they emerged as the best team in the playoffs. Winning single-elimination games against Dallas and Minnesota to reach the semifinals, they earned a finals berth by defeating top-seeded Connecticut Sun and their star forward Jonquel Jones, who won the regular-season Most Valuable Player Award. (Source: NYT)
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