India, Kashmir people facing serious restrictions on civil rights. The Supreme Court of India rejected the request to void the restrictions adopted one week ago in the regions of Jammu and Kashmir. Among the limitations still into force, the most serious ones comprehend the total blockade of communications and several limitations of the freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of opinion. Furthermore, the political leaders and activists arrested last week remain in jail.
Italy, the Open Arms case. On August 14, the Regional Administrative Tribunal of Lazio ordered the suspension of the ban on entry into national waters, previously imposed against the Spanish ship Open Arms in order to rescue 146 migrants on board. After the Italian Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, refused to allow the ship to dock in any Italian port, the PM Conte took action to ensure that at least the minors and the most vulnerable persons aboard had access to medical assistance. On August 17, after several pressures on the Ministry of the Interior, 27 unaccompanied minors were disembarked from the Open Arms, after 16 days spent at sea off the coast of Lampedusa.
Malaysia, Muslim leader incites the deportation of the local Chinese minority. In a public speech, the Muslim political and religious leader Zakir Naik, who is an Indian citizen living in Malaysia, incited the deportation of the local Chinese minority. According to Naik, the Chinese Hindu minority living in Malaysia, is just a guest of the country: they are immigrants and thus they shall not enjoy the same rights recognized to the Muslim majority. The Malaysian government, on its part, is considering to revoke the residence permit to Naik.
United Kingdom, judge denied asylum to a homosexual immigrant because “he is not effeminate enough”. Few days ago, an English judge rejected the asylum application of a homosexual immigrant because “he was not effeminate enough”. Indeed, the judge questioned the truthfulness of his testimony as “he was not behaving as a gay”. The arguable decision of the judge has been denounced by Laila Zadeh, director of the Gay and Lesbian Immigrants Group of the United Kingdom.
Economics and International Finance
Wall Street, volatility is back. After almost a decade, high levels of volatility, or rapid swings of the stock market in a few hours time, have returned to Wall Street. Last Tuesday the stock market closed 1.5% up, driven by the postponement of the new tariffs on Chinese products from September to mid-December, but on Wednesday Wall Street and the European markets had erased those gains and closed with losses up to 3%, worried by data on the German and Chinese economies (see below), but above all by the inversion of the yield curves referred to U.S. Treasury bonds, which mark 2 and 10 years. Now these last generated lower interests the short-term securities, only for a few hours. This is a technical signal of a coming recession, with an average forewarning of 22 months and a reliability of around 80%. The last inversion dates back to December 2005, and it previewed the 2007 recession, but inversions correctly predicted also the 5 recessions that occurred since 1980 until today.
Germany, the slowdown. The German economy, on which the fate of the entire European economy depends, is particularly important for regions such as Lombardy which have intense trade relations with Germany (up to 25% of their GDP). But Germany has signalled very worrying omens. At the beginning of last week, growth forecasts for the second quarter were already grim, and it is especially due to the 1.8% drop in industrial production, with construction and energy sectors down by 5.2% (against an expected -0.5%). Last Wednesday those fears were confirmed by GDP data, which came in 0.1% down between April and June: it is the worst result in the Eurozone and it is followed by Italy (+ 0.0%). Germany has paid for the effects of a sharp slowdown in exports that reflects the great difficulty of the automotive sector, which has not been totally offset by an equal drop in imports.
China, troubles ahead? Along with Germany, China gave signs of a slowdown. GDP growth - that makes legitimate suspicions rise on its truthfulness - reached 6.2% increase, recording the slowest growth in 30 years, while industrial production (+ 4.8%) and consumption (+ 7.6%) are positive but well, but lower than expected. Analysts sustain that the main causes are the tariffs and trade tensions, which have begun to take their toll on the Chinese economy. It is estimated that the current and incoming tariffs will worsen the Chinese trade balance by at least $24.7 billion, bringing advantages to United States (+1.7 billion) and Europe (+1.5 billion). Additionally, the new directives issued by Beijing in response to the protests in Hong Kong, force companies to transmit the data of employees who supported or tolerated the protests; therefore it put pressure on the multinationals operating in the former British colony. This also lead to the resignation of the CEO and COO of Cathay Pacific, Rupert Hogg and Paul Loo, after Beijing accused the company of supporting the demonstrators, doubting the airline’s commitment to flight safety.
Argentina, peronism worries the markets . The surprising defeat of president Macri in the primary election shook the market of the South American country: on August 12 alone, the Merval, the main Argentinian price list, reached a dreadful -48% and closed the day recording -38% (the second worst closing after the collapse of 60% of the Sri Lankan stock exchange in 1989), with the peso depreciating by 30% in the last week. The reasons for the collapse are to be found in the fear of a Peronist win in the October presidential elections. If fact it would mark a return to those practices of statism, interventionism and unreliable debts, that characterized the early 2000s. The default risk has immediately jumped to 80% after the announcement of the election results and there are fears for the future of the agreement with the IMF, which saved the country from the inflationary spiral in which it had fallen. Macri tried to respond with a $700 million worth plan of tax cuts and minimum wage increases.
Billionaires, the richest families. The Waltons, owners of Walmart, and its three major heirs, Samuel, Alice and James Walton, experienced a stellar year. The new edition of Bloomberg's “World’s Wealthiest Family” has calculated the Waltons’ assets to be at $191 billion; so they earned $39 billion from 2018. This translated into an incredible gain of around 100 million per day, or 4 million per hour. At the second and third place were respectively, the Mars (the owners of the candy empire), +$37 billion, and the Kochs, heirs to a vast conglomerate, with +$26 billion. This phenomenon is not limited to America, but it is global in its outreach. If we look to Italy, the winner is Giovanni Ferrero who earned $8.6 billion in the last year, of which seven in the last quarter alone. Globally, the 25 richest families have gained around $250 billion and can now control $1400 billion in wealth.
Music, a “Universal” deal . Vivendi, the media company controlled by Vincent Bollorè, and Tencent, a leading Chinese Internet company, have reached an agreement for the sale of 20% of Universal Music Group to the Chinese company for around $6 billion. Universal is the most important record label in the world, ahead of Warner and Sony, and can boast in its catalog artists like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Lady Gaga and Rihanna. From the "French" point of view the mentioned operation shows that the recording industry has emerged from the profitability crisis caused by digital piracy and that it is now able to command good prices on the market. From a "Chinese" point of view, Tencent makes an important move to reinforce its position in an internal market dominated by two giants such as Baidu and Alibaba and conduct a fierce competition with them on every front: social networks, music streaming and online commerce. However, the operation must be approved by the American authorities, who may not like to see the passage of a symbol of American culture into Chinese hands. Music is a universal deal.
Chad, land clashes in Ouaddie. Community tensions between native breeders and Arab farmers have led to the death of at least 44 people in the eastern province of Ouaddie, on the eastern border with Sudan. The conflict has been defined a ‘national concern’ by President Idriss Deby Itno, especially after that the resistance opposed to
the police openening fire once these last reached the battleground.
female kamikaze causes the death of at least six people. The attack took place between 13 and 14 August in the district of Kaiga-Kindjiria, in Tatafiromou, probably carried out by the Jihadist group Boko Haram which, however, has not yet claimed for its "paternity". According to government sources, the woman would detonate the explosive belt once inside a building of an important tribal chief. Among the victims there are one military and five civilians.
Zimbabwe, the government reacts to popular protests. Last 16 August citizens' movements started following the declaration of the president who classified the current drought as a national disaster; the mentioned declaration seems to have been the prelude to a series of peaceful protests against the government: protests are due to the sharp increase in prices, that was established despite the Court had declared it illegal. The government's reaction to protests was violent and initially involved police forces backed by the army once they proved insufficient. The opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, expressed its disdain towards the government.
United States, LGBTQ communities and the country's international position.
President Donald Trump has asked the Supreme Court to legalize the rule of dismissal of transgender people, as they are trans. He referred to the Title VII of the 1964 federal law on civil rights in which "biological sex" is cited, but no reference is made to acquired sex. A transgender woman Aimee Stephens is a protagonist of the up-mentioned recent case.
Across the Atlantic Ocean, in Gibraltar, the Iranian oil tanker Grace 1 is still in port. Firsty, Great Britain sequestered the oil tanker and subsequently released it ,as Iran assured that the ship does not transport any product in violation of the sanctions imposed by the European Union. But Trump administration gave the seizure order immediately later, accusing the vessel of "illegal access to the US financial system and financing illegal supplies to Syria".
However Trump's eye looks at Greenland, even expressing the intention to purchase the island. Denmark promptly stated that the island is not for sale but it is possible to formulate agreements for the exploitation of the land. In fact, Island is rich in uranium, oil, coal, lead, diamonds and natural gas that are easier to find because of the sudden melting of the glaciers.
Argentina, defeat of President Macri in the primaries.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri suffered a severe defeat in the primary elections held on 11 August, just before 27 October presidential elections. In fact, Macri has been largely surpassed by the candidate of the Peronist opposition Alberto Fernandez. Fernandez's and ex-president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner's coalition 'Front of all' got 10.6 million votes (48.86%), while the pair Macri-Miguel Angel Pichetto of 'Together for change' obtained 7.2 million votes (33.27%). Experts have pointed out that if this result will turn out next October, the opposition might win the presidential Casa Rosada in the first round, without the need for
News from Colombia: the longest tunnel in South America and the risk for peace.
The eastern tunnel is 8.4 km long, and it connects Medellin to the San Nicolas Valley. But also bad news come from Colombia: President Ivan Duque, just over a year after taking office, is facing a new setback for the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC. The president, who notoriously stand against the agreement with the FARCs, seems obliged to respect the treaty signed by his predecessor, imposing an expansion of the times that jeopardizes the success of the agreements. The main problems concern the transition of the Farc from a revolutionary group to a political party, and compensations for victims. However the problem does not concern only national affairs, but it is an international issue to deal with, as it is directly linked the fight against international drug trafficking.
Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei is the new president.
In the presidential election ballot in Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei of the Vamos por uno Guatemala Diferente party affirmed himself. The future president obtained 57.95% of the votes against Sandra Torres of the UNE party (Unidad Nacional de la Esperanza), who obtained 42.05% of the votes. Both challengers were candidates in recent elections. In particular, Giammattei was a candidate for the presidency in 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. It should be noted that in this election round, abstention spread throughout the country. Giammattei, will take office as President of the Republic on 14 January 2020 as required by the Constitution, and Guillermo Reyes will be the vice-president elected.
Michele Pavan e Mario Ghioldi
Asia and Far East
China, on several fronts.
China responded to the US decision to impose new duties on products from the country, deciding to devalue its currency with a ratio of 1 dollar for 7 Yuan and limiting the import of agricultural goods. Two weeks ago in Hong Kong Carrie Lam returned to talk to the press branding protests as "very dangerous" and pointing out that protesters "seriously undermined the law and order in Hong Kong". Around August 12, a video published by the People's Daily of China shows a line of military vehicles heading to Shenzen, near HK. To date, the demonstrations continue.
Also, on August 8, the USS Ronald reagan aircraft carrier crossed the South China Sea, bearing the motto "Peace through Strength". On 12 August he then docked in Manila, Philippines.
Japan, still struggling with Seoul.
Japan and South Korea are still embroiled in a battle of imports and exports. On August 8, Japan eliminated export control of a single chemical component used for chip construction. During the week, at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the arrival of the respective Tokyo and Seoul foreign ministers is expected in Beijing. China could play the role of mediator in the up-mentioned dispute.
North Korea, breaking points.
The country has not yet stopped testing its missile arsenal. According to reports from South Korean sources, on Friday North Korea has detonated two missiles in the eastern waters of its coasts. "A new Korean peninsula, one that will bring peace and prosperity to itself, east Asia and the world, awaits us", is a part of the speech given by Moon Jae during a celebration to celebrate the liberation from Japanese occupation. This provoked the reaction of the North Korean regime, which subsequently said it did not want to resume the dialogue with its counterpart.
On August 5th, India lifted the special status of the Indian Kashmir region, accentuating its control over the only Indian majority Muslim state. Pakistan subsequently condemned the incident, calling it a clear violation of Security Council resolutions for the region. Therefore, Gunfights on the control line (LoC) between Pakistan and India occurred between 15 and 16 August. The Security Council, at the request of China and Pakistan, met on friday behind closed doors to discuss about the topic, but the debate on the issue has always been tough, and this time it made no exception.
Western Europe and European Union
Italy is facing a government crisis. During the first two weeks of August, the Italian policy had to deal with some burning issues. The leader of the League - and Interior minister - Matteo Salvini said that he’s no longer intentioned to keep working with the current government of Italy, just a few weeks before voting a reduction of parliamentarians. The League presented a no-confidence motion towards Prime Minister Conte and asked to give the electorate the floor again. However, the process does not seem so straightforward: going to elections in the autumn would expose the country to the risk of an increase in VAT, if the new government fail to make the financial maneuver. The former PM Matteo Renzi has made it known that it would be disastrous to hold elections and has opened to a possible dialogue with the 5 Star Movement, splitting the Democratic Party, which is divided between those who say "never with Di Maio" and those who kindly look
at the construction of a new majority, without bringing the country to elections. Rumors say that there have already been contacts between PD and M5S. Meanwhile, the President of the Republic Mattarella has anticipated the return from vacation to follow the political crisis more closely.
United Kingdom, the Brexit match continues. In the coming days, the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, will land on the continent to meet Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel officially. The Downing Street tenant said that among the many topics treated, it figures a discussion on Brexit, aimed at finding a new agreement to replace May's deal. Meanwhile, a Treasury document called "Operation Yellowhammer" has been published. It outlines the possible risks of a Brexit without agreement. Among the most serious consequences we can include: a new physical border between Dublin and Belfast, delays in the supply of medicines and fresh food and possible disorders. Labours’ leader Corbyn continues his opposition, aware that the majority in Johnson's Parliament is very restricted, therefore scenarios for the construction of a new government are now possible.
Denmark, Trump is interested in Greenland. Donald Trump's desire to buy Greenland from Denmark shouldn’t came as a surprise. Why was the government of Washington interested in the island? The territory has a geopolitical and strategic value since WW II. The Americans in fact exploited it planning the Atlantic defense line against the Nazis. In recent years, after the opening of new Arctic routes, Greenland has rediscovered its importance in the dispute between the powers and, not surprisingly, China has been interested in this territory too. In addition, the island is rich in natural resources that are sought after both in Washington and in Beijing. The proposal was welcomed with irony and in Copenhagen they found it ridiculous. Greenland has declared that it is not for sale, but it is interested in improving economic relations.
Eastern Europe and Russian Federation
Russia, nuclear accident caused by the test launch of a missile. On August 8 a nuclear explosion, occurred in the base of Nenoska, caused the death of 7 Russian functionaries assisting to the test of a new experimental missile. Radiation levels resulted 16 times normal, and it arose worries about the health of the civilians living in the surrounding zones.
The missile that caused the blast would be a prototype for implementing the new military technologies announced by Putin in the past months. It would be art of Russia’s attempt to show its power, before the arms race against the U.S. and, probably, against China too.
Several missiles tests had been carried out in the base of Nenoska and among those, many failed, but this event has been classified as a tragedy, that would be second-to-Chernobyl.
However, the doctors were not aware of the radioactive contamination of injured; therefore the event got even graver.
Donbass, the United States support the Ukrainian cause. U.S. Special Representative Kurt Volker, who’s responsible for relations with Ukraine, called on the international community to not recognize the “internal conflict” status, assigned to the Donbass dispute, and shared by Russia.
According to Volker, Russia can no longer deny the involvement of Russian citizens in the war, in order to disendorse all responsibilities on the matter. Volker sustains that it is important that citizens understand that Russia played a role in the Donbass conflict, and that the causes of this last cannot be associated only to the Ukrainian separatism.
Andrea Maria Vassallo e Mario Ghioldi
Middle-East and North Africa (MENA)
Gaza, high tension along the Strip. A peak of violence was recorded in relations between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday 16 August. In fact, following the Hamas-backed "return march" in the early afternoon, the Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted several rockets launched from the Strip against the Israeli territory in the evening. Also, during the protest, there had been several clashes between protesters and the Israeli army, which would have led to the wounding of thirty Palestinians and the killing of at least three of them.
Furthermore, according to some Israeli media, a Palestinian would have injured two Israelis by speeding them up with his car near a Jewish settlement in southwest of Bethlehem, in the West Bank. Israeli authorities accuse Hamas of the situation that has arisen, while this last, in turn, puts responsibility at the initiative of individuals.
Iran, the hypothesis of a new nuclear agreement seems to be opening. US President Donald Trump reported Iran's willingness to enter into a new nuclear deal during a rally in New Hampshire. At the same time, the president remarked that "America will never bow to another nation". The announcement follows a critical period in which there were heavy clashes between the two nations, especially on the issue of oil tankers. However, the decline in relations has occurred since Iran’s retirement from the nuclear agreements; since that time the tension has always remained high, while the Iranian economy has progressively impoverished because of the US sanctions. Moreover, news of the last few days concern the issuance of a US mandate for the confiscation of the Iranian oil tanker "Grace 1", motivated by the fact that the tanker has tried to access the American financial system, being intentioned to operate for banking fraud and money laundering.
Yemen, clashes in Aden. On August 10 the Southern separatists conquered the presidential palace and the port of Aden, that’s the currently seat of the (internationally recognized) Yemeni government. The militants have overwhelmed the forces serving President Hadi, supported by the international Saudi-led coalition. Riyadh demanded an "immediate ceasefire" and threatened to "use military force against anyone who violated it". Later, the Southern Transitional Council (which controls the separatist rebels) ordered the withdrawal from Aden, accepting the truce proposed by Saudi Arabia. Therefore, government forces loyal to President Hadi (supported by the coalition led by the Saudis) must face not only the Houthi rebels (supported by Iran), but also the Southern separatists (supported by the Arab Emirates). Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, the two main Sunni powers of the Gulf, as well as historical allies, are thus found in contrast in the Yemeni chessboard.
Vincenzo Battaglia e Federica Sulpizio
Terrorism and International Security
Cairo, a car explodes in front of a major cancer hospital. On August 4, a car launched in the wrong direction struck other three cars in front of the National Cancer Institute, in the center of the Egyptian capital (The victims toll is at least 19 dead and 30 injured). The explosion was very strong, apparently too powerful to have been caused only by the collision of the cars. In fact, shortly after the incident, the Ministry of the Interior declared that the car contained explosive material; it was therefore a car bomb. The hypothesis of a premeditated attack was also confirmed by the President al Sisi, who talked about a "terrorist act". According to Egyptian authorities, members of the Hasm movement, a group close to the Muslim Brotherhood, are responsible for the attack.
Kabul, attack during a wedding celebration
On August 17, a suicide attack hit a hotel where a wedding was being celebrated. At the time of the explosion, there were hundreds of people in the building, and among these, there are about 60 dead and 180 wounded. In the past months the Taliban carried out various attacks in places where the weddings of Afghan soldiers (or their relatives) were celebrated. However, the Islamic group denied its involvement in the attack, condemning it.
Also, ten days ago a car bomb exploded in the same area, causing about fifteen deaths. Therefore, despite the ongoing negotiations between the Taliban and the US, Afghanistan continues to experience a situation of absolute precariousness and instability.
Laura Vaccaro Senna e Vincenzo Battaglia
United Nations topics: the dispute between Kashmir and Hong Kong, and the fight against Ebola.
The Security Council will be reunited behind closed doors to analyze the situation in Kashmir, after the lifting of India's autonomy to Indian Kashmir, a territory claimed by Pakistan.
Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights based in Geneva has requested an immediate investigation into police behavior towards protesters. The Office said it had examined credible evidence from law enforcement officers who employ non-lethal weapons in ways prohibited by international law.
Moving to the ebola issues, the contagion keeps afflicting Congo and neighboring countries, it is feared that the virus could expand to Uganda and Rwanda.
However good news comes from the United States: it seems that two experimental therapies work on 90% of patients. The WHO has declared that they will be offered to all the sick in the Congo.
Framing The World is a project conceived and created by the members of Mondo Internazionale team of associates.
Andrea Maria Vassallo: East - Europe and Russia Federation
Federica Sulpizio: Middle East and North Africa
Laura Vaccaro Senna: Terrorism and International Security
Leonardo Aldeghi: Economy and International Finance
Leonardo Cherici: West Europe and European Union
Marcello Alberizzi: Sub-Saharan Africa
Mario Ghioldi: South America, West Europe and Russia Federation
Marta Stroppa: Human Rights
Michele Pavan: North America, South America, Oceania and International Organizations
Stefano Sartorio: Asia and Far East
Vincenzo Battaglia: Middle East and North Africa; Terrorism and International Security
Original article:https://mondointernazionale.com/framing-the-world-numero-xv issued on 5 August 2019.