World roundup: November 30 2022
Stories from China, South Africa, Russia, and elsewhere
PROGRAMMING NOTE: I want to preface today’s roundup by saying that I received a vaccination yesterday and as of this morning have experienced pretty much every listed side effect. I’m writing this before I get into the news so let me just say that if this one is a little brief and/or comes out a bit earlier than usual it’s because I’m not feeling well. We’re also going to forego the voiceover for today. Hopefully this will have passed by tomorrow.
In today’s global news:
Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.
The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.
The United Nations’ COP27 climate summit wrapped up while I was away and, as usual, it wound up being something of a mixed bag. The big development from a positive standpoint was an agreement on creating a “loss and damage” fund wherein wealthy carbon emitting nations can compensate developing nations for the destructive effects of climate change. The summit was considerably less successful in terms of adopting more ambitious carbon emissions standards, perhaps because of the unusually prominent role that fossil fuel companies played in the event.
High levels of debt, exacerbated by the US Federal Reserve’s strong dollar policy, are reportedly forcing countries across the developing world to slash spending on basic infrastructure and social welfare programs. Those cuts are undermining efforts to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty, and even with those cuts the International Monetary Fund estimates that some 60 percent of lower income countries are either in or approaching default. Pressure to pay off debt may also influence the way countries use their credit, forcing them to eschew long-term development projects in areas like education and look instead to projects that will generate a more immediate return on investment. Debt relief may be essential to avoiding a “lost decade,” but debt relief is an increasingly complicated process given the plethora of creditors, both public and private, to which these countries are indebted.
AFP is reporting that the Russian military deployed new reinforcements to parts of northern Syria that could be targeted by a potential Turkish invasion, chiefly the towns of Tell Rifaat and Kobane in Aleppo province. Syrian Kurds have been asking the Russians to take steps to deter Turkey and these deployments could be part of that effort, though that’s unclear at this point.