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This week: France boycotts, Australia’s new solar farm, Chile to draft new constitution, and water on the moon.

CONFLICT

Nigeria protests: Police chief deploys ‘all resources’ amid street violence. In response to demonstrations against SARS (Nigeria Special Police Forces), the government stated criminals had hijacked anti-police brutality protests and taken over public spaces.

New clashes in Nagorno-Karabakh the day after Washington talks. The collapse of two Russia-brokered ceasefires had already dimmed the prospect of a quick end to fighting that broke out on Sept. 27 over Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the conflict may have killed 5,000 people.

Sweden embarks on its largest military build-up for decades. The threat from Russia prompts a bill to raise defence spending by 40% in five years. In recent years, Sweden has accused Russia of violating its airspace and waters several times. Sweden has deepened military ties with NATO, though it is not a member of the alliance.

Somalia conflict: Al-Shabab ‘collects more revenue than government’. Somalia-based Islamist militant group al-Shabab raises as much revenue as the country’s authorities. All major companies in Somalia give the jihadists money, both in the form of monthly payments and a yearly “zakat” (obligatory alms) of 2.5% of annual profits.

DEVELOPMENT

Arid areas have more trees than previously thought. A part of the world previously seen as lacking in trees – the western end of the Sahara desert and the semi-desert Sahel region to its south – has actually been shown to harbour almost 2bn of them. A census of all Earth’s trees may eventually be possible using AI and high resolution satellite photos.

NASA reports traces of liquid water and widespread ice on the Moon. This means that habitation on the moon is more likely. The findings of two separate studies, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, are a major boost for plans to send humans back to the Moon.

World’s largest solar farm to be set up in Australia. The 10 gigawatt solar farm will power Singapore and Australia’s Northern territory. Australia is looking to expand its energy production by exporting solar power, while also working to reduce global emissions. 

The longest and most powerful superconducting cable in the world is laid in Munich. It can transmit up to eight times more electricity than a conventional underground cable, but requires less space because the cables can lie close to one another, unlike copper lines that generate heat.

Electric vehicle sales in Europe have smashed through even the most optimistic forecasts. Electric car sales are expected to have tripled this year compared to 2019, and are expected to climb to as much as 15% of the total market share by 2022.

ECONOMICS

Workforce automating faster than expected. A year-long study on effects of automation in the workplace and the outlook for robot revolution found that the ‘future of work’ has arrived early due to COVID-19.

US removes Sudan from terrorism blacklist in return for $335m. Washington has removed Sudan from a terrorism blacklist after the country agreed to pay $335m in compensation for its alleged role in the bombing of two US embassies in east Africa by al-Qaida in 1998. Sudan says it will also discuss trade, migration deals with Israel.

The US laid out an antitrust case against Google. Eleven states joined the Justice Department in a lawsuit alleging the company has used anticompetitive practices to maintain monopolies in search and search advertising.

SOCIAL

Pope names new cardinals, putting his stamp on the Church’s future. Pope Francis named 13 cardinals from eight countries, including nine who are eligible to enter a conclave to elect his successor after his death or resignation.

Large protests across Poland against curbs on abortion access. Tens of thousands of people protested across Poland in defiance of tight coronavirus restrictions, following the ruling by the Constitutional Tribunal that imposes a near-total ban on abortion in the predominantly Roman Catholic country.

Researchers found a bug so strong a car can’t crush it. They are studying the diabolical ironclad beetle for clues on how to engineer stronger materials. The team of researchers discovered that the creature can take an applied force 39,000 times its body weight — before its exoskeleton starts to fracture, that’s more than the weight of a car.

POLITICS

Turkey and Pakistan take action over French cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. The Turkish President has recommended a boycott of all French goods while the Pakistani Parliament passed a resolution to recall its envoy in Paris.

Thai Cabinet agrees to hold special Parliament session amid protests. Thailand’s parliament will hold a special session to discuss demands of pro-democracy protesters after emergency rules and police crackdowns on activists failed to halt daily rallies across the nation’s capital and other major cities.

France to reach NATO spending target in 2020, but most allies fall short. European reluctance to spend more on defence, despite several countries hosting US troops in Europe, has been a major grievance of President Donald Trump, who has openly questioned NATO’s continued value to Washington. France will spend 2.1% in 2020 while Germany has committed to 2% by 2031.

50 countries ratify a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days. The treaty, hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the US and the other major nuclear powers, requires that all ratifying countries “never under any circumstances develop, test, produce, manufacture, otherwise acquire, possess or stockpile nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.”

Chile embarks on path to drafting new constitution after referendum. Chileans began the long process of writing a new constitution following a landslide vote in favour of the project by citizens who want the country’s principles to enshrine greater equality in healthcare, pensions and education.

AUTHOR

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Vision of Humanity is brought to you by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), by staff in our global offices in Sydney, New York, The Hague, Harare and Mexico. Alongside maps and global indices, we present fresh perspectives on current affairs reflecting our editorial philosophy.