The World Today for November 05, 2020

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Making Friends

Sudan and Israel were technically at war for decades. Recently, however, the East African country became the third nation this year after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain to normalize relations with the Jewish state.

Former Israeli ambassador to South Sudan, Haim Koren, provided an intricately detailed history of relations between his country and the predominantly Muslim Sudan. He wrote how Sudanese and Arab countries issued the infamous Khartoum Resolution in the country’s capital in 1967 calling for no peace, no recognition and no negotiations with Israel.

That’s why the peace agreement announced on Oct. 23 was viewed as a foreign policy victory for President Donald Trump, the Financial Times reported.

But many Sudanese citizens are less than happy. Protesters at a small rally in Khartoum, the capital, recently chanted “no peace, no negotiation, no reconciliation with the occupying entity,” wrote Al Jazeera.

Opponents say the pact reached by Israeli officials and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is invalid because Sudan has had an unelected transitional government since former President Omar Bashir was ousted last year amid protests related to the country’s poor economy under international sanctions.

As the BBC explained, Bashir is now facing charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. Currently, a group of military and civilian officials run the country under a power-sharing agreement.

Under the deal to normalize relations, Israel and Sudan will reach accords on trade and migration issues in the coming weeks, Reuters wrote. Among the first goods traded were massive shipments of wheat that Sudan’s desperately poor people needed.

Writing in the Guardian, columnist Nesrine Malik said the US essentially “blackmailed” Sudan into accepting an agreement in exchange for taking the country off the US’ list of state sponsors of terrorism and further easing sanctions that have devastated the economy, two of the primary goals of Sudan’s nascent leadership. Under the arrangement, Sudan agreed to pay American victims of Sudanese-orchestrated terror attack conducted by al Qaeda whose leader Osama bin Laden once hosted: These include the 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and on the USS Cole in 2000. The payment amounts to a total of $355 million.

General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council of Sudan’s transitional government, rejected that logic, however, saying he and his colleagues had little choice but to jump for any opportunity to normalize relations not just with Israel but the world, reported the Associated Press.

This Brookings Institute podcast echoed that sentiment, saying the US-Sudan-Israel deal was enormously important for the resilience of the transitional government. An expert at the Atlantic Council called it a “watershed” moment that will help Sudan rise again.

Considering the state of things in Sudan, that’s no small thing.



Waiting to Exhale

While Americans waited anxiously on election results in numerous states Wednesday, so too did people around the world, the Washington Post reported.

Asian stocks on Wednesday were mostly flat as traders awaited the election outcome. In China, people mocked the elections as an indication of the “US’ serious problems” while following closely: By Wednesday morning, #USelection had been viewed 3.4 billion times on Chinese social platform Weibo.

Russian media harped continuously on the idea that US democracy is fraying, with the country facing post-election violence or wider internal conflicts. And in Western Europe, where Trump is deeply unpopular, leaders said they were bracing for uncertainty.

The front page of French daily Le Monde featured a headline: “Trump-Biden: The United States is tearing itself apart,” next to an editorial about “a democracy in danger.” German officials worried about polarization and hoped for a Biden win without really saying so. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, however, was more open, tweeting an endorsement of Biden, following years of public clashes with Trump.

In Australia, John Hewson, former leader of the conservative Liberal Party, said the US election exposes a “fiction” of the perception that America is the world’s leading democracy. Nigerian journalist Mary-Ann Duke Okon tweeted that the US media “is sounding like they’re reporting on Africa’s elections.”

Still, international election observers on Wednesday praised the US election. Even so, the group condemned President Trump’s “baseless allegations” of fraudulent ballot counts: “Baseless allegations of systematic deficiencies, notably by the incumbent president, including on election night, harm public trust in democratic institutions,” said a member of the OSCE group that observed the elections.

Meanwhile, some foreign news outlets like German daily Bild treated the election as they would their own, running non-stop US election coverage. In Hong Kong, where many pro-democracy protesters see Trump as a bulwark against China, prominent YouTubers produced their own live-streamed commentary and analysis of the US election results.

And in some countries, ordinary citizens put up flags and signs for either Biden or Trump.

In India and Israel, people prayed for a Trump victory.

Others just prayed for American democracy.

“I hope for an outcome like what we have learned from the Americans: that the rules of democracy are accepted by everyone,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Meanwhile, some like Jennifer Curtin, director of the Public Policy Institute at the University of Auckland, hosted small parties to watch the elections. She told the Post: “Everybody’s just holding their breath.”


Hitting Close To Home

Brazilian prosecutors filed graft charges against the son of President Jair Bolsonaro, a move that complicates the populist leader’s vow to stamp out corruption in Brazil, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Flavio Bolsonaro, a senator and the president’s eldest son, as well as 16 others, have been accused of money laundering, embezzlement and running a criminal empire.

Authorities have been investigating the 39-year-old senator over allegations that he took part in a scheme to siphon off taxpayer money in his former job as a state deputy in Rio de Janeiro. He has denied the charges and said the accusations are part of a conspiracy against his father.

Meanwhile, the case has raised political tensions in Brazil and has pitted Bolsonaro’s family against the judiciary and the media.

Bolsonaro was elected in 2018 on the promise of ending Brazil’s endemic corruption exposed by Operation Car Wash, an investigation that uncovered a graft scheme largely orchestrated by members of the opposition leftist Workers’ Party.

However, Sergio Moro, a former Car Wash judge and also a former justice minister in Bolsonaro’s cabinet, accused the president of trying to interfere in federal criminal investigations and failing to support anti-graft legislation.


Au Revoir

The United States formally exited the Paris climate accord Wednesday, becoming the first and only country to leave the 2015 landmark agreement aimed at fighting climate change, CNN reported.

President Donald Trump’s administration formally notified the United Nations of its intentions to exit last November and has shown no interest in rejoining the global climate fight.

Under the accord, countries pledged to enhance their commitment to lowering greenhouse gas emissions every five years: The US pledged to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 percent compared to 2005 levels by 2025 when it first joined the agreement.

The Trump administration, instead, has significantly rolled back regulations aimed at reducing emissions.

Analysts also pointed out that the US departure means the end of American contributions to a global fund to help smaller and poorer countries that are suffering the consequences of climate change, such as rising sea levels and heatwaves, NPR reported.

The US originally pledged $3 billion to those nations to help them transition from fossil fuels and adapt to a hotter Earth.

Nevertheless, the exit is a mere formality and the US could return to the agreement if it so chooses.


Avoiding Side Effects

Human anatomy books will need to be updated very soon because scientists recently came across a new organ in the throat region, Sky News reported.

Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute discovered a new set of salivary glands while searching for prostate cancer cells using a unique scanning method known as PSMA PET-CT.

The method involves injecting a radioactive “tracer” into the patient, which then binds with the PSMA protein found in prostate cancer cells.

PSMA is also found in salivary gland tissues, which allowed the team to uncover a new set of glands around 1.5 inches in length.

Naming them tubarial salivary glands, they reported in their study that the glands help lubricate the upper throat behind the nose and the mouth.

The team also conducted studies on 100 patients and two cadavers where they recorded the presence of the new organ.

The research team suggested that the organ’s discovery could help reduce some of the side effects of treating cancer in the neck and mouth. Doctors using radiotherapy try to avoid the three main salivary glands, which can make it difficult for the patient to eat, speak or swallow if damaged.

“If we can do this, patients may experience fewer side effects, which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment,” said lead author Wouter Vogel.

COVID-19 Global Update

More than 180 nations worldwide have confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The following have the highest numbers worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*:

  1. US: 9,487,080 (+1.09%)
  2. India: 8,364,086 (+0.60%)
  3. Brazil: 5,590,025 (+0.43%)
  4. Russia: 1,699,695 (+1.14%)
  5. France: 1,591,152 (+8.88%)
  6. Spain: 1,284,408 (+1.99%)
  7. Argentina: 1,205,928 (+0.89%)
  8. Colombia: 1,108,086 (+0.79%)
  9. UK: 1,102,305 (+2.34%)
  10. Mexico: 943,630 (+0.56%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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