The World Today for June 08, 2022

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Stumbling Ahead

UKRAINE

The residents of Bucha, the Ukrainian town where Russians allegedly committed some of the worst war crimes of the conflict, have been cleaning up their streets. They’ve hauled ruined tanks, military vehicles and civilian cars and trucks to a lot on the edge of the Kyiv suburb, creating a junkyard-war memorial.

Russian forces occupied Bucha and terrorized the town until they withdrew in early April after being thwarted by Ukrainian forces from taking the capital of Kyiv, the New York Times wrote. Ukrainian officials are building a case against Russian soldiers now, reported Ukrayinska Pravda, an independent Ukrainian news outlet, via Yahoo! News.

Now liberated, the residents are cleaning up. At Bucha City Hall, Vadym Yevdokymenko was recently helping residents at local morgues find loved ones who had died in the fighting. “Most of the stories are pretty sad,” he told National Public Radio. “But at the very least, we find the bodies of people so that the family members don’t have to wonder what happened to them. They’re able to give them a dignified burial and they’re able to say their goodbyes.”

Leaders in other Ukrainian towns are also moving forward with robust rebuilding efforts as Ukrainians return to their sometimes-destroyed homes now that the war has shifted focus to the Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, wrote the Associated Press. As the Washington Post explained, Ukrainians were clearing rubble and drawing up reconstruction plans to prove that Russia has failed to break their spirit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that his country will need at least $600 billion to replace what Russia has destroyed. It is not clear who will pay or if the international community can muster that sum. The Marshall Plan, which involved the US giving $13 billion in economic aid to Europe after World War II, is worth only $150 billion today.

Analysts at the Atlantic Council think Russia should pay. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski agreed. In Euractiv, Jablonski argued that Western governments should seize Russian assets and use them to help the Ukrainians.

No matter who writes the check, grand plans to spend that money are already being drawn up.

The Centre for Economic Policy Research, a British-based think tank, issued a blueprint for the reconstruction of Ukraine, for example. The first task is clearing landmines and ensuring safety, noted France 24. Then come infrastructure repairs. Then the quick restoration of transportation links, housing and schools. The report noted that new buildings and infrastructure should not repeat the Soviet-style work that had existed since the country was part of the Soviet Union.

Maybe the first step should be making sure the war is definitively over.

THE WORLD, BRIEFLY

Welcome, Entropy

ISRAEL/ WEST BANK

The Israeli government failed to pass a bill that would extend legal protections to Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, a major setback that could collapse the fragile ruling coalition and create a legal conundrum in the territory, the Associated Press reported.

The vote would have prolonged an emergency regulation that has been in place in the West Bank since Israel captured it during the 1967 Six-Day War. The regulation creates a separate legal system for the half a million Jewish settlers there: It applies parts of Israeli law, both criminal and civilian, and allows for settlers to vote in elections, subjects them to compulsory military service and forces them to pay taxes to the state.

Three million Palestinians, on the other hand, are subject to another set of rules and have lived under military rule for six decades – a situation that human rights groups describe as “apartheid,” the newswire wrote

The regulations are set to expire at the end of the month and if they aren’t extended, it will create a legal quagmire for settlers and Palestinians.

The vote’s failure adds new headaches to the eight-party coalition of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Made up of parties from across the political aisle, it was formed last year following four inconclusive elections in two years. The political union was created to oust longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and coalition members have been attempting to work out their differences to keep him out of power.

However, Monday’s vote underscored the deep divisions and weaknesses of the coalition, as well as creating a paradoxical situation in parliament: Opponents of the bill would vote for legislation in order to keep the coalition, while settlement supporters – including Netanyahu’s rightwing Likud party – would vote against it to derail the government.

While Bennett’s coalition is still standing, the situation has created further uncertainty about the union’s survival.

The Tiny Victory

SOUTH AFRICA

Emirati authorities arrested two brothers at the center of a government scandal in South Africa, offering a boost for South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and his anemic anticorruption drive, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Police detained Atul and Rajesh Gupta in Dubai on an Interpol red notice, a global alert through which governments can get help in detaining and later extraditing suspects.

South African officials have accused the Gupta brothers of gaining lucrative government contracts by using their close ties to former President Jacob Zuma and paying off key officials in the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The brothers have previously denied any wrongdoing and are expected to challenge their extradition in Dubai courts.

The arrests mark a modest win for Ramaphosa, who came to power four years ago following Zuma’s resignation amid corruption allegations. The former president, who has denied wrongdoing, was jailed last year after he failed to appear in front of a government-appointed commission examining suspected misconduct under his presidency. His arrest sparked days of rioting and looting across South Africa.

Zuma has since been released on medical grounds.

Ramaphosa has been under fire over the sluggish pace of corruption probes involving government officials and corporate executives.

The president is also fending off accusations that he covered up the 2020 theft of more than $4 million from one of his South African game farms, money that was allegedly hidden in furniture.

That has renewed scrutiny on the president’s wealth especially as the country is facing record unemployment and spiking inflation.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa is preparing to confront supporters of Zuma in an election for the leadership of the ruling ANC, which, if he loses, may terminate his presidency.

The Grass Is Greener

MOROCCO

Morocco is establishing a regulatory agency that would oversee the country’s cannabis cultivation for medical use, the latest move by the deeply conservative North African kingdom to legalize the growth and sale of the narcotic plant, the Middle East Monitor reported.

The National Agency for the Regulation of Cannabis Activities (ANRAC) will be tasked with controlling all stages of production, starting from seed importation and plant certification to the marketing of medicinal cannabis-based products.

ANRAC will also set up the first processing and manufacturing cooperatives, made up exclusively of local growers.

The agency’s creation comes a few months after the Moroccan government legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes in three northern provinces. Officials said in March that other provinces could be added, “depending on the interest shown by national and international investors in activities linked to the cannabis production chain.”

Last year, Morocco passed a law that legalized the production and export of cannabis for medical, cosmetic and industrial uses, according to Agence France-Presse.

Morocco is the world’s biggest producer of cannabis resin – known as hashish – according to a 2020 report by the UN. Hashish was banned in Morocco in 1954 but has been tolerated as its cultivation provides a livelihood for at least 60,000 families, farming across nearly 136,000 acres.

The country now believes that farming cannabis for medical purposes can become a profitable industry, putting Morocco on the worldwide market.

UKRAINE, BRIEFLY

  • Russia claimed Tuesday that it had taken wide sections of eastern Ukraine following a weeks-long assault and the recent deployment of more troops, the Associated Press wrote. According to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Moscow’s forces control 97 percent of the Luhansk region.
  • The Russian military announced on Tuesday that the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, which were recently captured by Russia, had been demined and are ready to carry grain, according to the Washington Post. Meanwhile, Moscow is under fire for holding hostage millions of tons of Ukrainian wheat, a critical food source, for political advantage in the midst of a deepening food crisis, the New York Times added.
  • Russian lawmakers passed legislation Tuesday that would eliminate the European Court of Human Rights’ jurisdiction in Russia after Moscow declared it would leave the court, Reuters reported. The parliament passed two measures: One removing the country from the court’s jurisdiction and a second setting March 15 as the cut-off point, with rulings against Russia made after that date not to be implemented.
  • Mariupol, the Ukrainian city that has been under siege for months, is possibly facing a cholera epidemic, according to local officials, NBC News noted. An adviser to the mayor of the captured port city claimed Tuesday that rotting waste and bodies had polluted the city’s drinking water, raising the likelihood of a cholera epidemic.

DISCOVERIES

Sewage Stout

The tiny nation of Singapore has taken a new approach to enjoy a cold brew while tackling the issue of water scarcity, according to the Independent.

The Southeast Asian country has created a craft beer that is mostly made out of sewage water.

Beer is more than 90 percent H2O. However, water remains a precious resource in Singapore and the country recycles its water by treating its sewage water to create NEWater.

The recycled liquid is mainly used for industrial purposes and air-conditioning. But during dry spells, recycled sewage is put into reservoirs before the water is purified to then be used as drinking water.

The local brewery Brewerkz and Singapore’s national water agency launched NEWBrew, a blond ale that uses 95 percent “ultra-clean” NEWwater. With a “toasted, honey-like aftertaste,” the new beverage has been welcomed by beer aficionados – despite its stomach-churning origins.

“It definitely goes down smooth,” one man told the BBC. “I could probably if I wanted to, drink a whole lot of those.”

NEWBrew will be sold in packs of three cans, costing $4.50.

But aside from its oddball factor, Brewerkz owner, Tan Wee Han, told the New Straits Times that the product is “proof that sustainability can be delicious.”

Water scarcity is becoming a serious problem as global temperatures rise.

In April, the United Nations warned that 25 percent of children could suffer water shortages by 2040 due to the impact of the climate crisis.

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 533,044,683

Total Deaths Worldwide: 6,302,273

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 11,669,302,995

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

  1. US: 85,008,228 (+0.15%)
  2. India: 43,190,282 (+0.01%)
  3. Brazil: 31,266,163 (+0.23%)
  4. France: 29,852,463 (+0.04%)
  5. Germany: 26,583,016 (+0.32%)
  6. UK: 22,537,186 (+0.05%)
  7. South Korea: 18,188,200 (+0.07%)
  8. Russia: 18,090,459 (+0.02%)
  9. Italy: 17,543,136 (+0.16%)
  10. Turkey: 15,072,747 (+0.00%)**

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over 24 hours

**Numbers have been adjusted by affected country

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