The World Today for October 15, 2021

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NEED TO KNOW

A Working Democracy

CAPE VERDE

The people of Cape Verde work hard to improve their country.

Some have formed citizens groups to document illegal fishing and preserve the legacy of the sea for their children, as the Guardian wrote. Others have set up boxing programs for impoverished children who might otherwise turn to crime and violence on the country’s streets, as Deutsche Welle reported in a remarkable video. Volunteers band together to protect endangered sea turtles.

“It’s incredible. It’s a feeling of duty done because we spend 60 days here, 45 days preserving a nest, waiting for it to hatch,” University of Cape Verde student Lusa Rafaela Tavares told Africanews. “It is an enormous satisfaction when we manage to put those little turtles to the sea.”

An archipelago of islands off the coast of Senegal in West Africa, Cape Verde is expected to conduct a well-run presidential election on Oct. 17, as strategic communication consultant Paul Ejime wrote in Global News Network Liberia. Freedom House agrees, ranking the country high on its index of civil rights and other criteria that affect liberty.

The two frontrunners in the race are Carlos Veiga of the ruling Movement for Democracy and José Maria Neves of the opposition African Party for the Independence of Cape Verde, explained Global Voices. Both are former prime ministers. Neves is campaigning on a platform of social justice and change while Veiga is appealing to unity in the face of the pandemic.

Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva and his Movement for Democracy won parliamentary elections earlier this year, giving him a second term in power, despite critics who said he could have handled the coronavirus pandemic and a controversial extradition case involving Venezuela and the US better.

The country’s tourism-dependent economy shrank 14 percent in 2020, Al Jazeera reported, citing the International Monetary Fund. It was expected to bounce only halfway back this year. Tourism officials now see the industry gaining momentum, however, as the worst of the pandemic appears to have faded in Europe, noted Macau Business.

Correia e Silva couldn’t have necessarily done much to prevent the country’s overreliance on tourism, the World Bank concluded. He and future leaders could push to develop other sources of commercial activity that would help ordinary Cape Verdeans rather than the owners of seaside resorts and other mega projects that soak up investment in the country, the report added.

If they follow the lead of their people, either Veiga or Neves will do just fine.

THE WORLD, BRIEFLY

Promises, Promises

FRANCE

A French court ruled Thursday that the government has failed to meet its own greenhouse gas reduction targets, the latest in a series of verdicts putting pressure on France to meet its environmental goals, Agence France-Presse reported.

The ruling came after four environmental groups – backed by a petition signed by 2.3 million people – took the French government to court in 2019. The groups asked the court to determine whether the government had failed to achieve its climate targets between 2015 and 2018.

The court found that France exceeded its CO2-equivalent target by 15 million tons over that period. It noted that the government failed to abide by its own “carbon budget” based on the United Nations climate agreement signed in Paris in December 2015.

The Paris administrative court ordered the government “to repair the damage” by Dec. 31, 2022. Failure to meet the deadline would result in about $90 million in penalties every six months.

Environmental advocates welcomed the ruling, which will pressure the French government to comply with its pledges to reduce greenhouse emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, and become carbon neutral by 2050.

In July, France’s highest administrative court ordered the government to honor its commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions by March 31, 2022.

Boiling Over

LEBANON

Deadly clashes erupted in Beirut on Thursday, considered the worst violence in the Lebanese capital in years as tensions over an investigation into the 2020 port explosion that killed more than 200 people boiled over, the Financial Times reported.

The violence began when unknown gunmen attacked a rally organized by Iran-backed group Hezbollah and its Shia ally, the Amal Movement. At least six people died and dozens were injured.

The two groups said the attack was aimed “to drag the country into sedition.” They later accused the far-right Christian party, Lebanese Forces, of staging the attack. However, LF head, Samir Geagea, denounced the fighting and blamed the clashes on the proliferation of weapons.

The attack occurred as Hezbollah and Amal supporters were protesting against the judge leading the Beirut port blast.

The paramilitary and political force has demanded the removal of Tarek Bitar – the second judge to lead the investigation – accusing him of political bias. Earlier on Thursday, a court dismissed another appeal to remove Bitar.

The judge has attempted to charge and subpoena multiple former ministers and officials from across the political spectrum over the explosion. A series of leaked documents revealed that many officials were aware of the danger posed by ammonium nitrate stockpiles that were left in the port for years but took no action.

The recent violence comes as Lebanon grapples with an economic crisis that has pushed a majority of the population into poverty.

Permission Granted

THE NETHERLANDS

Members of the Dutch royal family can marry a person of the same sex without having to give up their right to the throne, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced this week.

Rutte’s announcement comes after a recently published book said the Netherlands did not allow same-sex royal couples, Sky News reported.

Under the current rules, royal marriages need the approval of the Dutch parliament. This has led members of the Dutch royal family to give up their claim to the throne in order to marry without the parliament’s permission.

In a letter to lawmakers, Rutte said that the times have changed since one of his predecessors addressed the issue in 2000.

The Netherlands legalized gay marriage in 2001 but the changes did not apply to the royal family, according to USA Today.

Rutte noted, however, that the question of how gay marriage impacts the succession of a royal couple’s children will be determined in the future.

The announcement means that 17-year-old Crown Princess Catharina-Amalia can marry a woman without having to give up her throne. She has not commented on the matter.

Heirs to the throne in other countries have mostly hidden their sexuality out of fear of being dethroned or disowned.

Even so, a few have come out: In 2018, Lord Ivar Mountbatten – a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II – became the first royal in British history to marry a partner of the same gender.

In India, Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil was the first openly gay royal when he came out in 2006.

DISCOVERIES

Viral Groove

Scientists recently discovered the way music spreads is similar to how viruses do, the Guardian reported.

Researcher Dora Rosati and her team noted that mathematical models used to study the spread of infectious diseases can also be applied to learning how some songs become more popular among listeners than others.

In their study, they analyzed a database of almost 1.4 billion song downloads and focused on the top 1,000 songs downloaded in Britain between 2007 and 2014.

Their findings showed that the standard model of epidemic disease – known as the SIR model – performed very well in describing song download trends.

Rosati’s team also found the most popular music genre by calculating the basic reproduction number (R0) – which rates a pathogen’s ability to spread, assuming the population has zero immunity through infection or vaccination.

It turns out the most popular wasn’t pop but electronica music: It had an R0 at 3,430, which makes it about 190 times more transmissible than measles.

However, they noted that transmission rates can change over time and the spread of electronica doesn’t mean that more of that genre is being downloaded. Rather, the quick transmission is thanks to the dedication of fans, according to Rosati.

The study could help scientists – and the music industry – predict how new music releases could take off.

“We might be able to use these same models to learn things like how long on average an individual will listen to a song, how many people in total will download it, or how long a song might be popular for,” Rosati said.

Weekly World Quiz

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 239,630,162

Total Deaths Worldwide: 4,882,363

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 6,577,885,358

Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*

  1. US: 44,767,938 (+0.19%)
  2. India: 34,037,592 (+0.05%)
  3. Brazil: 21,612,237 (+0.07%)
  4. UK: 8,356,596 (+0.54%)
  5. Russia: 7,773,388 (+0.39%)
  6. Turkey: 7,570,902 (+0.41%)
  7. France: 7,174,580 (+0.13%)
  8. Iran: 5,754,047 (+0.21%)
  9. Argentina: 5,270,003 (+0.03%)
  10. Spain: 4,982,138 (+0.04%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

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