The World Today for January 27, 2020

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JPMorgan Chase recently purchased a second building in Paris for hundreds of employees moving from London to the French capital due to Britain’s exit from the European Union at the end of the month. As the Financial Times reported, the new building will help the New York investment bank “serve European-based clients seamlessly from major cities across the continent including Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin.”

JPMorgan Chase will still keep thousands of employees in London. But the Paris move shows Brexit is causing a cascade of changes big and small throughout the United Kingdom and Europe.

On the same day the bank news broke, the BBC reported that British officials will need to negotiate arrangements for the one-mile-long border between the British territory of Gibraltar and Spain, an EU member. Around 15,000 Spaniards enter Gibraltar every day to work. Stopping each one to inspect their passports would be costly. A hard border would also likely annoy British subjects. In the referendum on Brexit in 2016, around 96 percent of Gibraltar’s approximately 32,000 citizens voted to remain in the EU.

Meanwhile, the House of Lords rebuffed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, wrote City AM, a British newspaper. The peers voted in favor of giving European citizens a physical document, not just digital verification, to prove they have the right to continue living in the country after Brexit. Currently, EU nationals can live in Britain without a visa. After Brexit, a new program must take over.

The House of Commons is expected to overturn the Lords’ move, however.

The vote occurred after Northumbria University researchers released a poll that found that Europeans in Britain felt they needed a physical card to show they could live and work in the country, reported the Guardian. They didn’t trust the government’s digital system.

Johnson is moving in directions one might not have expected, including a push to enhance trade with Africa as Britain’s trade with wealthy Europe is bound to decline, the Associated Press reported. The plan is to invest and benefit from expected economic growth in the world’s poorest region, where China and Russia are investing heavily now.

But, writing in Al Jazeera, journalist Abubakr Al-Shamahi warned of Britain benefitting negatively from African wealth. “The danger is that the UK turns into a tax haven, and one that will attract more and more capital from the developing world, depriving them of tax revenues they desperately need,” he wrote.

The nitty gritty details and unforeseen consequences of Brexit are coming into view.



Left Behind

Iraqi security forces launched a major crackdown on anti-government protesters over the weekend after an influential Shiite leader withdrew his support for the demonstrators, NPR reported.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr had previously backed the demonstrators’ demands for a complete cleanup of the Iraqi government, which they consider corrupt and controlled by Iran.

Al-Sadr opposes foreign interference in Iraq, but in recent months he has aligned himself closer to Iran and pro-Iran parties and demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the country, according to Reuters.

His withdrawal stunned protesters, many of whom have been demonstrating since October over corruption, unemployment and poor public services.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi submitted his resignation in November as a result of the unrest, but is still in place as a caretaker leader.

Protesters have rejected other potential candidates for prime minister due to their ties with pro-Iran parties and the traditional political elite.

More than 600 people have died at the hands of the security forces or militia gunmen since the protests began. The Iraqi government attributes these deaths to “unknown groups.”

Separately, three rockets struck the US Embassy compound in Baghdad on Sunday, CNN reported. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.


Not Pointing Fingers

Fighting broke out between Libya’s warring factions on Sunday, shortly after the United Nations announced that several countries have been violating the arms embargo covering the war-torn country since the pledges made last week at an international conference in Berlin, the Associated Press reported.

The U.N. support mission in Libya said that several nations that participated in the conference threatened the “fragile truce” in the North African nation by providing factions with advanced weapons and foreign fighters, AP reported separately.

The mission did not name any specific nation.

Since the ouster and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, Libya has been divided between the UN-backed government in Tripoli and rival forces loyal to military commander Khalifa Hifter.

Hifter’s forces have laid siege to Tripoli since last April, and threatened to plunge Libya into chaos rivaling the conditions that immediately followed Gaddafi’s 2011 ouster.

Russia and Turkey brokered a ceasefire earlier this month. Many foreign powers vowed to halt foreign interference and honor the U.N. arms embargo at the Berlin summit.

Despite the ceasefire, groups loyal to Hifter have seized several large oil export terminals, resulting in losses of more than $255 million in the six-day period ending Jan. 23, the country’s national oil company said Saturday.


Bringing Attention

Thousands of people gathered in several Australian cities Sunday to protest the celebration of Australia Day on Jan. 26, a date that marks the arrival of British settlers in 1788, the Guardian reported.

Demonstrators have dubbed the celebrations Invasion Day to symbolize the beginning of British colonialism and to commemorate the struggle and killing of the indigenous First Nation people.

Protesters have been calling on non-indigenous Australians to “pay the rent,” a form of donation to help First Nation families to pay for funeral costs of their loved ones that died in frontier wars and massacres, Agence France-Presse reported.

Since Australia Day was formally established as a public holiday in 1994, rallies against the celebration have steadily grown to bring attention to the injustices faced by indigenous people and to call on the government to change the date of the celebration.

“This is a day of mourning for our people,” Uncle Robbie Thorpe, a Krautungalung man of the Gunnai Nation told the Guardian.


The Real Culprit

The question of what really killed the dinosaurs has divided the scientific community for years.

Scientists have debated whether the Chicxulub meteorite that hit Earth 66 million years ago was the event that changed the planet’s evolutionary course, or whether a series of volcanic eruptions that occurred around the same time was responsible for the mass extinction, the New York Times reported.

Researcher Pincelli Hull and her team, however, wrote in a new study that the evidence implicates the asteroid that fell in what is now the Gulf of Mexico as the culprit.

Hull’s team analyzed ocean sediment from the North Atlantic to find clues as to what the ancient world looked like.

Previous research suggested that after the asteroid impact, volcanic eruptions released lava and gas emissions that heated up the planet, which then contributed to the extinction event.

Hull’s team found that the planet did get hot at one point due to large amounts of gases released from volcanic eruptions, but that was 200,000 years before the space rock wiped out the giant lizards.

Hull said that any harmful warming caused by gas emissions was already over by the time the impact happened, thus revealing the asteroid as the real perpetrator.

She suspects, nevertheless, that volcanism might have been responsible in determining why life on land developed faster than life in the ocean, but more research is needed to resolve that mystery.

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