World roundup: May 24 2023
Stories from Pakistan, Sudan, Ukraine, and elsewhere
TODAY IN HISTORY
May 24, 1667: King Louis XIV of France orders his army to invade the Spanish Netherlands, kicking off a conflict known as the War of Devolution. The name comes from Louis’ contention that sovereignty over the Spanish Netherlands and Franche-Comté had passed (“devolved,” get it?) to him because of his marriage to Spanish royal Maria Theresa. She and Louis had agreed to renounce her inheritance in return for a hefty dowry payment from the Habsburgs, but that dowry never materialized and so Louis argued that the renunciation was null and void. The war was largely concluded on French terms and ended with the May 1668 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle (not to be confused with the more famous 1748 treaty by the same name), under which Louis agreed to quit the Spanish Netherlands and Franche-Comté but retained possession of several key northern frontier towns. Those towns proved to be footholds for subsequent French forays into the region.
May 24, 1991: The military arm of the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front enters the city of Asmara, securing (as it turns out) Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia and thus marking the end of the Eritrean War of Independence. May 24 is commemorated in Eritrea annually as Independence Day.
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
The 2023 Global Slavery Index, a product of the NGO Walk Free, finds that some 50 million people were “living in conditions of modern slavery” (a state it defines as “forced labour, forced or servile marriage, debt bondage, forced commercial sexual exploitation, human trafficking, slavery-like practices, and the sale and exploitation of children”) in 2021, compared with some 40 million in 2016. Clearly this is not trending in a positive direction, something the report attributes to a mix of the pandemic, climate change, war, and other assorted causes. The report singled out North Korea, Eritrea, and Mauritania (in that order) as the countries with the highest prevalence of slaves. Members of the G20 have contributed greatly to the problem as well, with India, China, Russia, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States among the countries with the highest number of people in a state of slavery. Collectively, G20 members annually import some $468 million in goods deemed “at risk” for forced labor.
There was a minor exchange of fire across the Israeli-Syrian border on Wednesday. According to Israeli officials someone on the Syrian side fired on an unmanned Israeli surveillance drone. The Israeli military then returned fire toward the location where the human beings who shot at the mechanical object appeared to be positioned. There’s no indication of casualties.
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