Wednesday's world stories

Apr 7, 2021 - World

The borders on America’s corporate civic engagement

As U.S.-based companies have spoken out against Georgia’s new voting law, some politicians on the right have pointed out that these same companies have stayed quiet on human rights violations in China — and the lawmakers are alleging hypocrisy.

Axios Re:Cap is joined by Axios China author Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian to discuss what’s happening in China, what U.S. corporations have and haven’t said, what to make of these allegations and the expectations they set.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

U.S. prods Israel to provide more water to Jordan

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty

The Biden administration has encouraged Israel to agree to a Jordanian request for additional water, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli-Jordanian relations have recently sunk into a new crisis after a period of slow improvement, and the water supply is another point of tension.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

U.S. and Israel wary of potential Hamas win in Palestinian elections

Checking the electoral roles in Hebron, West Bank. Photo: Hazem Bader/AFP via Getty

Both the Biden administration and the Israeli government are concerned about a potential Hamas victory in the upcoming Palestinian elections, but neither will say so publicly so as not to be blamed for trying to sabotage the vote, Israeli officials tell me.

Driving the news: In a call last Friday with Secretary of State Tony Blinken, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi stressed that Israel wouldn't put any obstacles in the way of the vote, but raised concerns that divisions within President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party could pave the way for a Hamas win.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Biden reverses Trump's aid cuts to Palestinians, including to UNRWA

Biden (L) with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Atef Safadi/Pool/Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken announced on Wednesday that the U.S. was reversing Donald Trump's cuts in aid to the Palestinians.

Why it matters: The step was taken over Israeli opposition and fulfills a campaign promise from President Biden as he attempts to reengage with the Palestinians. The U.S. will provide more than $235 million in total aid, of which $150 million will go to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which supports Palestinian refugees.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Jordan's king breaks silence, says family rift “nipped in the bud"

King Abdullah II of Jordan gives a joint press conference with the German Chancellor (not in picture) following talks on economic issues and the bilateral relationship of their two countries on September 17, 2019. Photo: TOBIAS SCHWARZ / Getty Images

Jordan's King Abdullah II said Wednesday that the attempted "sedition" involving his half-brother had caused him "pain and anger" but has now been quashed, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: His first public statements on the rift inside the royal family, which began last Saturday with several arrests and allegations of a coup plot, seem designed to assure Jordanians that he is firmly in control.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Apr 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

Toshiba could be going private in largest Asia buyout

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Private equity firm CVC Capital Partners has offered to buy listed Japanese conglomerate Toshiba Corp. for around $20 billion.

Why it matters: This could be the largest leveraged buyout of an Asian company, topping Bain Capital's 2018 deal for a majority stake in Toshiba's flash memory unit (now known as Kioxia).

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Israel risks tensions with Biden by striking Iranian ships

Netanyahu at a Cabinet meeting. Photo: Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty

Israel could be risking escalation with Iran and tensions with the Biden administration by continuing to strike Iranian ships — a risk that is exacerbated by Israel's political crisis and dysfunctional interim government.

Why it matters: An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps ship was attacked in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen on Tuesday, the same day the Vienna talks opened.

IMF proposes temporary tax on wealthy to help fight inequity

Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

IMF fiscal chief Vitor Gaspar in an interview with Financial Times called for an additional tax on high-earning individuals and companies that remained stable through the pandemic, saying it would show solidarity with those who struggled.

Why it matters: The temporary tax would go toward reducing social inequities that have widened under economic and health strains. Younger and poorer people have suffered the most during the pandemic, the IMF said in its April 2021 Fiscal Monitor.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Apr 7, 2021 - Economy & Business

More spending expected as IMF projects 6% global GDP growth

Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Unprecedented government borrowing and spending helped cushion the global economy from the coronavirus pandemic and will need to stay in place for some time to ensure a healthy recovery, according to top economists at the IMF's spring meetings.

Driving the news: At the opening of its spring meetings on Tuesday the IMF again revised up its forecast for global growth this year, now projecting the world will see 6% GDP growth, the highest since the 1970s.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

China warns of "robust" response if U.S. boycotts Beijing Olympics

A sculpture depicts Olympic figure skaters for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics at Shougang Park on Dec. 16, 2020 in Beijing, China. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

The Chinese government on Wednesday warned the U.S. that it would respond strongly if Washington boycott's next year's Winter Olympics set to be held in Beijing, AP reports.

Driving the news: The message comes after a State Department spokesman said at a briefing Tuesday that a joint boycott by the U.S. and its allies "is something that we certainly wish to discuss," in response to a question about how to punish China for what observers have described as a genocide against Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Israel's election: Ideological foes weigh pact to oust Netanyahu

Naftali Bennett (L). Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the first crack at forming Israel's next government, but the job could ultimately fall to a much less well-known figure: Naftali Bennett.

Why it matters: Bennett's right-wing Yamina party won just seven seats in the March 23 elections, but an unprecedented set of political circumstances has created an opening for the former defense minister and tech entrepreneur to replace Netanyahu, with the support of the center-left.

Updated Apr 7, 2021 - World

Brazil's daily COVID death toll tops 4,000 for first time

Cemetery workers carry a coffin during the burial of a COVID-19 victim at the Sao Joao municipal cemetery in Porto Alegre, Brazil, on March 26. Photo: Silvio Avila/AFP via Getty Images

Brazil confirmed more than 4,000 COVID-19 deaths in a 24-hour period for the first time on Tuesday, the health ministry announced.

Why it matters: A surge in cases and deaths, driven in part by relaxed mitigation measures and a more contagious local variant, has overwhelmed the country's health system.

Apr 7, 2021 - World

Malaysia has sent back over 200 containers of illegal plastic trash

Workers in front of containers filled with plastic waste at a port in Selangor, Malaysia, in May 2019. Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Malaysia has sent 267 containers of illegal plastic waste back to the countries where they came from them since 2019 and the country in the process of returning another 81, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: Malaysia became the main importer of recyclable plastic after China banned imports of plastic waste in 2018. Malaysia has grappled with how to manage a growing amount of unlicensed shipments of unrecyclable trash.