Friday's world stories

Jul 30, 2021 - World

UN: Dearth of food in Ethiopia's war-torn Tigray could leave 400,000 in famine

Aid workers move bags of yellow lentils that are to be distributed through an aid operation run by USAID, Catholic Relief Services and the Relief Society of Tigray. Photo: Jemal Countess via Getty Images

The UN World Food Programme expects to run out of food in Ethiopia's war-ravaged region on Friday, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Violence in Tigray has led to thousands of deaths, forcing roughly two million people to flee their homes and over five million to rely on emergency food aid. The shortfall will leave "400,000 people on the verge of famine," the agency told CNN.

Jul 30, 2021 - World

EU adopts new framework for Lebanese sanctions

Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The European Union on Friday announced it had adopted a legal framework for new sanctions against Lebanese individuals responsible for obstructing or undermining democracy and the rule of law in the country.

The big picture: Lebanon has been without a working government since August of last year, when Prime Minister Hassan Diab resigned after a deadly explosion in Beirut.

Jul 30, 2021 - World

Blinken: Russia will "force" State to fire 182 local embassy, consulate workers

A national flag flown outside the U.S. Embassy on Novinsky Boulevard in central Moscow. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The United States has been forced to lay off more than 180 local employees and contractors at its embassy in Moscow and two consulates, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Friday.

Driving the news: "Starting in August, the Russian government is prohibiting the United States from retaining, hiring, or contracting Russian or third-country staff, except our guard force," Blinken said in a statement.

Biden to announce sanctions, other efforts to address crisis in Cuba amid protests

Photo: Sarah Silbiger/UPI/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden will announce sanctions against one entity and two Cuban individuals this afternoon and provide details on his administration's efforts to improve internet connectivity in Cuba, a senior administration official said Friday.

Why it matters: After initially hoping to place the issue on the back burner, the White House has recently ramped up its focus on Cuba amid protests on the island and in the United States, congressional backlash and political pressure from the South Florida Cuban community.

Jul 30, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Kamala Harris to travel to Singapore and Vietnam for first overseas trip

Kamala Harris. Photo: Ken Cedeno/Sipa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris will travel to Singapore and Vietnam next month for her second foreign trip since taking office, her spokesperson confirmed Friday.

Why it matters: Harris will become the first vice president to ever visit Vietnam, and the highest-ranking Biden official to travel to Asia as the administration looks to rally an international coalition to curb China's influence.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Jul 30, 2021 - World

SEC clamps down on Chinese IPOs

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Chinese companies will be unable to go public in the U.S. unless they make new risk disclosures, according to a statement released Friday morning from SEC chair Gary Gensler.

Why it matters: Chinese companies, and tech startups in particular, are already under growing pressure from their own government. Now they're also getting squeezed by U.S. officials.

Jul 30, 2021 - World

Japan expands COVID-19 emergency amid case spike

People wearing face masks cross Shibuya crossing on July 30, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

Japan expanded its coronavirus state of emergency to four more areas in addition to Tokyo on Friday amid record spikes in infections, AP reports.

The big picture: The state of emergency now includes Saitama, Kanagawa and Chiba, near Tokyo, as well as in the western city of Osaka, effective Monday until Aug. 31.

Jul 30, 2021 - World

Hong Kong protester sentenced to 9 years in first national security conviction

Hong Kong defendant Tong Ying-Kit arrives at court after being accused of deliberately driving his motorcycle into a group of police officers. Photo: Getty Images/Getty Images

Pro-democracy protester Tong Ying-kit was sentenced Friday to nine years in prison on charges of terrorism and inciting secession brought under Hong Kong’s national security law, AP reports.

Why it matters: The 24-year-old Tong is the first person convicted under the sweeping law, which China imposed last year to help crack down on massive protests that erupted in mid-2019.

First Afghan allies and their families arrive in the U.S.

Head of the US Central Command, General Kenneth McKenzie, speaks in the U.S. embassy compound in Kabul on July 25, 2021. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

The first plane with more than 200 Afghans who served as interpreters, contractors or other ally roles for the U.S. military has arrived in the U.S. — the first of many such flights as troops are withdrawn from the region.

Why it matters: More than 700 Afghan allies and their families are preparing to be brought into the U.S. in the coming days on special immigrant visas. More than 70,000 Afghans have received those since 2008.

Jul 29, 2021 - World

Rich world’s pandemic selfishness won't be forgotten

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

The failure of rich countries to share vaccines and financial assistance with poorer ones during the pandemic will exacerbate the rise in global poverty and could come back to bite them, Nobel Prize-winning economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee tell Axios.

Why it matters: Duflo initially believed the pandemic would produce a “more cooperative world order” as rich countries felt compelled to show solidarity with the developing world, potentially boding well for future collaboration on issues like climate change. Now she fears the opposite.

Women are leading the new Latin American literature boom

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: David Levenson, Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Gone are the whimsical elements, and in come the suspense, the gothic and the noir. The new Latin American Boom is here, and it is being led by women.

What’s happening: Writers like Argentines Samanta Schweblin and Mariana Enríquez, Mexican Fernanda Melchor and Chilean Lina Meruane have made international waves with books that comment on quotidian violence — gender and otherwise — as well as othering through pulse-racing, enthralling and occasionally beautiful horror.

Jul 29, 2021 - World

Lawmakers demand NBA players cut ties with Chinese firms accused of "human slavery"

Dwyane Wade. Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Some Republican lawmakers are demanding that NBA players end their endorsement contracts with Chinese sports retailers Anta and Li-Ning, which continue to source cotton from the Xinjiang region, Politico reports.

Why it matters: The U.S. government has warned that businesses with supply chains and investments in Xinjiang — where China has been accused of carrying out a genocide against Uyghur Muslims — run a "high risk" of violating U.S. laws on forced labor.

Jul 29, 2021 - Health

Israel to offer third COVID vaccine dose to people over 60

A woman receives her third dose of COVID19 vaccine at Sheba Medical Center on July 14, 2021 in Israel. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israel will begin offering a third shot of the coronavirus vaccine to people over the age of 60 starting Sunday, Haaretz reports.

Why it matters: Israel will become the first country to begin giving booster shots, per Haaretz. The country will offer doses to those over 60 who received their second dose at least five months ago.

Jul 29, 2021 - Health

European Union surpasses the U.S. in COVID-19 vaccinations

A line of people wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències de Valencia, on July 28, 2021. Photo: Rober Solsona/Europa Press via Getty Images

The member states of the European Union together have administered more coronavirus vaccine doses per 100 people than the United States, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The new figures highlight the pace at which the 27 member states of the E.U. are vaccinating their citizens, and stand in stark contrast to the speed of vaccinations in the U.S., which has stagnated.

Jul 29, 2021 - World

Heavy flooding displaces thousands in Rohingya refugee camps

Rohingya refugees work amid the debris of a house in Balukhali camp on July 27, 2021. Photo: Tanbir Miraj/AFP via Getty Images

Relentless heavy rainfall spanning over three days has killed at least six people and displaced thousands in Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Driving the news: About 2,500 shelters have been damaged or destroyed by the monsoon rains and strong winds that have hit camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.

Biden administration outlines goals to slow migration

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks during a press conference in Guatemala City on June 7. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris has big goals for improving conditions in Central America to help slow migration from the region toward the United States.

Driving the news: Senior administration officials unveiled five sweeping goals during a call on Wednesday: Bettering economic prospects; rooting out corruption; promoting human rights, labor rights, and a free press; preventing gang violence; and combating sexual, gender-based and domestic violence.

Updated Jul 29, 2021 - Sports

In photos: Tokyo Olympics day 6 highlights

An underwater view of swimmers including Team USA's Caeleb Dressel (R) in the final of the Olympic Tokyo Games men's 100m freestyle on July 29. Photo: François-Xavier Marit/AFP via Getty Images

There's been plenty of Olympics drama on day six of the Tokyo Games Thursday — notably China's women's swimming team beating the U.S. and Australia in the record-setting 4x200-meter freestyle relay.

The big picture: Katie Ledecky helped the U.S. win silver, which also beat the previous world record smashed by China's team. Team USA grabbed two more swimming gold medals, when Caeleb Dressel won the men's 100m freestyle and Bobby Finke triumphed in the first men's Olympic 800m freestyle.

Updated Jul 29, 2021 - Sports

China wins Olympic gold in women's 4x200m freestyle relay, sets world record

Junxuan Yang, Muhan Tang, Yufei Zhang and Bingjie Li of Team China react after winning the gold medal in the women's 4 x 200m freestyle relay final. Photo: Al Bello/Getty Images

China grabbed Olympic gold in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, in a surprise record win in Tokyo Thursday.

The big picture: Katie Ledecky made up time as Team USA's final swimmer to help the U.S. take silver. Australia, which was the heavy favorite, won the bronze. All three teams finished ahead of the previous world record pace.

Updated Jul 29, 2021 - Sports

Simone Biles reacts to "love and support" over Olympics decision

U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles blows a kiss whilst watching the men's all-around Final on day five of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Japan on Wednesday. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Simone Biles tweeted her thanks Wednesday for the support she's received after pulling out of two Olympic gymnastics events to focus on her mental health.

What she's saying: "the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍" Biles said.

Jul 29, 2021 - World

First look: Lawmakers form bipartisan Uyghur caucus

Uyghurs of the East Turkistan National Awakening Movement appeared outside the White House last October. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

House lawmakers are forming a bipartisan caucus to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its human rights violations against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, Axios is first to report.

Why it matters: While the United States economy relies heavily on trade with China, relations between the two global powers are tense. The Chinese Communist Party's human rights violations are at the center of many complications.