Thursday's world stories

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 8, 2021 - World

Dispute over rare-earths mine shapes Greenland's election

Election day in Nuuk. Photo: Christian Klindnt Soelbeck/AFP via Getty

A snap election in Greenland has dealt a potentially fatal blow to a mining project that had been expected to produce around 10% of the world's rare-earth materials.

Why it matters: Rare-earths are key ingredients in batteries and magnets for everything from cell phones to electric cars. China dominates the industry — a source of concern in Washington because of the economic leverage it provides Beijing.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Apr 8, 2021 - World

Russian troops mass near Ukraine's border, raising threat of wider war

Zelensky visits the troops in Donbas. Photo: Presidency of Ukraine Handout via Getty Images

The simmering conflict in Eastern Ukraine has threatened to boil over the past few days, with Russia massing troops near the border and pro-Kremlin media raising the specter of war.

Why it matters: U.S. European Command went into high alert in light of the Russian movements, which some experts speculated could presage an active Russian military intervention in the Donbas region of Eastern Ukraine, where Ukraine has been fighting pro-Russian separatists for seven years.

Venezuela military campaign displaces thousands

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Map: Axios Visuals

Venezuela has launched an unexpected assault near its border with Colombia, presumably to attack armed groups and dissident guerrillas that push drugs and contraband in the area, but civilians have been forced to flee and some have reportedly been killed.

The big picture: The sudden military strikes in Apure state come after years of President Nicolás Maduro’s regime being hands-off in the border region

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Sens. Menendez, Risch unveil bipartisan bill to counter China

Sen. Jim Risch, right, speaks to Sen. Menendez, left, during a confirmation hearing on March 23. Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and ranking member Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) on Thursday announced their finished bipartisan proposal to counter China's rising political and financial power.

Why it matters, via Axios' China reporter Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: This bill marks a culmination of years of growing bipartisan concern, and the rise of an increasingly authoritarian China. If it passes, it will send a strong signal to Beijing that both parties are unified in defending democratic values from authoritarian encroachment.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Swiss students fake COVID-19 positives as prank, putting entire class in quarantine

A trio of students at a school in Basel, Switzerland, got more than they bargained for when they faked positive COVID-19 tests in a bid to get out of school, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The episode highlights the tenuous loopholes in remote schooling students as well as possible issues with Switzerland’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, as the trio falsified SMS messages from the app.

The result: The prank resulted in 25 classmates — plus several teachers — at Basel’s Kirschgarten High School being quarantined for 10 days.

What's next: Although the school won't expel the students for their prank, it is planning to pursue criminal charges for falsifying “health-relevant documents,” reports Reuters.

  • “This is not just a childish prank, this is a serious incident,” said Simon Thiriet, a spokesperson for Basel’s education department.

CBP picked up a record number of children at the southern border in March

An migrant girl from Central America in Brownsville, Texas. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. authorities picked up a record number of unaccompanied children —nearly 19,000— at the southern border in March, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement on Thursday.

Why it matters: Crossings of unaccompanied minors are on the rise and are expected to continue for months, possibly reaching as many as 26,000 by September, Axios previously reported.

Holocaust survivors' campaign reminds world "It Started With Words"

Holocaust survivor Manya Bigunov lights a torch during a Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day ceremony in memory of the 6 million Jewish men, women and children murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators, at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem on April 7. Photo by Heidi Levine/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Amid a rise in online anti-Semitism, Holocaust survivors are sharing their experiences on social media in honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day Thursday.

Why it matters: The #ItStartedWithWords campaign is aimed at educating people on the Nazi genocide — and how hate speech paved the way for mass murder.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Leaders call for calm after a week of unrest in Northern Ireland

Nationalists and Loyalists riot April 7 in Belfast. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Leaders in Northern Ireland Thursday called for calm and an end to the unrest that has rocked the country for nearly a week, AP reports.

Why it matters: Tensions between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland have been rising since Brexit upset the political balance between the two, culminating in the violence the nation has seen in the last week.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Myanmar's ex-U.K. ambassador says military attaché occupied embassy, locked him out

Ousted ambassador of Myanmar to the U.K. Kyaw Zwar Minn holds up a three-finger salute outside the Myanmar Embassy in London, April 8. Photo: Ian West/PA Images via Getty Images

Myanmar's former ambassador to the United Kingdom says he was pushed out of the embassy after Myanmar's military attaché overtook the building, BBC reports.

Why it matters: "There was a coup in Myanmar in February. Now there is the same situation in central London," Kyaw Zwar Minn said through a spokesperson Thursday.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Hong Kong democracy activist Nathan Law granted asylum in Britain

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Nathan Law. Photo: David Cliff/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nathan Law, a former lawmaker and prominent pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, announced Wednesday that he has been granted asylum in the U.K.

Why it matters: Britain's decision to grant Law asylum, and to offer incentives to other Hong Kong residents to resettle in the U.K., will likely increase tensions between the U.K. and China, Reuters reports.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

Australia to end sexual harassment exemptions for politicians

Photo: Sam Mooy via Getty Images

Politicians and judges in Australia will no longer be exempt from rules barring workplace sexual harassment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Thursday.

Why it matters: Morrison has faced backlash for his government's management of sexual abuse scandals.

Apr 8, 2021 - World

New Zealand suspends all travel from India over COVID cases at border

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference in Wellington, New Zealand, on Tuesday,. Photo: Mark Coote/Bloomberg via Getty Images

New Zealand has announced a temporary entry ban on all travelers from India, including NZ citizens, after a spike in COVID-19 cases at the border from the South Asian nation — which set another pandemic record on Thursday.

Driving the news: NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced at a briefing the 17-day suspension after 17 of the 23 new coronavirus infections confirmed Thursday in returned travelers in managed hotel quarantine were from India.