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This week: China prepares troops for war, NZ’s parliamentary diversity, world’s most innovative countries revealed, mining on the moon, and tracking human evolution.

Conflict

Bangkok anti-government protests see riot police use water cannon and shields. Police had earlier closed roads and put up barricades around a major Bangkok intersection where some 10,000 protesters defied a strict new state of emergency. The government has banned the Telegram messaging App used by protestors to coordinate demonstrations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping calls on his troops to ‘prepare for war’. Chinese President Xi Jinping has called on troops to “put all (their) minds and energy on preparing for war”. This comes after Beijing sternly responded to the US’ plans to sell offensive weapons to Taiwan.

Hundreds of prisoners are being freed between the warring sides in Yemen. 600 Houthi rebels and 400 pro-government prisoners are expected to be exchanged in the biggest mass prisoner exchange since the conflict began in 2015.

Australia will join naval drills involving India, US, Japan. Australia will join four-way naval exercises involving the United States, Japan and India, the countries announced on Monday, in a move that could raise concerns in China, which has criticised similar joint drills as destabilising.

 

 

 

 

 

Development

Climate change spurs doubling of disasters since 2000, UN says. The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction said 7,348 major disaster events had occurred between 2000 and 2019, claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people and costing the global economy some $2.97 trillion.

Eight nations sign US-led Artemis moon mining agreement. The United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates signed the bilateral agreements during an annual space conference. The US plans to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.

Half of Great Barrier Reef’s corals have died over past 25 years. A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Journal found an alarming rate of decline across all sizes of corals since the mid-1990s on the vast World Heritage-listed reef off Australia’s north-eastern coast.

Evolution in action: More and more people have three instead of two forearm arteries. The proportion of people with this third artery has risen from 10% to 30% since the end of the 19th century, according to a study. The researchers see this as a symptom of ongoing human evolution – in 100 years almost everyone could have this artery.

 

 

 

 

 

Economics

China starts digital yuan trial by giving $30 to 50,000 people. Beijing jumps to real-world test as G-7 nations raise questions on transparency. 50,000 randomly selected people in Shenhzen will spend the 200 yuan at 3,800 designated outlets.

IMF releases World Economic Outlook and predicts growing inequality. The report states that 20 million people from Sub-Saharan Africa could fall into extreme poverty as the world economy shrinks by 4.4%. Fiscal support has been recommended to stave off the forecasted damage to the most affected countries.

Toshiba targets $3 billion revenue in quantum cryptography by 2030. The cyber security technology, called quantum key distribution (QKD), leverages the nature of quantum physics to provide two remote parties with cryptographic keys that are immune to cyberattacks.

Leaders in global innovation revealed. Japan, Germany and the US showed the greatest potential for innovation, with emerging markets like China and Russia catching up. Most lowest-performing countries in the bottom quintile are in Africa.

 

 

 

 

 

Social

New Zealand’s next parliament set to be the most diverse ever. Labour won 64 of the 120 parliamentary seats, with more than half of those female candidates and 10% being LGBT. It also has 16 indigenous Maori MPs, the first leader of African origin, Ibrahim Omar, and Vanushi Walters of Sri Lankan origin.

Police record 57% rise in suicide rates in Malawi. The dramatic rise has been attributed to the sharp contraction in economic activity and incomes brought on by the ongoing pandemic. The trend has also shone a light on glaring gaps in mental health support services.

Man denied German citizenship for refusing to shake woman’s hand. The man aced the German naturalization test, but refused to shake hands with the female official handing over his citizenship. Despite claims he will not shake hands with men either, his citizenship has been rejected.

Long-term health problems seen in low-risk COVID-19 patients. The study covered 201 recovering UK patients with an average age of 44, more than 90% of whom did not have risk factors. At an average of 140 days after their symptoms began, 98% were still fatigued, 92% had heart and lung symptoms, 88% had muscle aches, 87% had breathlessness, 83% headaches, and 73% gastrointestinal symptoms.

 

 

 

 

 

Politics

China, Cuba and Russia win seats on UN Human Rights Council. In secret-ballot voting in the 193-member UN General Assembly, Pakistan received 169 votes, Uzbekistan 164, Nepal 150, China 139 and Saudi Arabia received just 90 votes and missed getting a seat. In 2016, the Saudis won a seat with 152 votes.

China passes export control law with potential for rare-earths ban. Legislation empowers the Chinese government to cast a wide net on foreign companies and to ban the export of strategic materials and advanced technology to specific foreign companies.

Mexico’s Former Defense Minister Is Arrested in Los Angeles. Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, who was Mexico’s defense minister from 2012 to 2018 under President Pena Nieto, was arrested by American officials at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration and will face drug and money-laundering charges in the United States.

Duterte reopens South China Sea oil exploration amid Beijing talks. Philippines takes step toward joint projects with China despite maritime dispute. President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the resumption of oil and gas exploration in the South China Sea amid talks with Beijing on possible joint exploratory efforts.

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About Vision of Humanity

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.