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The Daily Brief: US Refuses Russian Demands to Bar Ukraine from Joining NATO

The United States and NATO have both urged Russia to escalate tensions on the Ukrainian borders, warning against invitations and of harsh sanctions.

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800px Norges statsminister Jens Stoltenberg. Nordiska radets session i Stockholm 2009

Johannes Jansson/norden.org, CC BY 2.5 DK, via Wikimedia Commons

Summary:

  • The United States has refused to bar Ukraine from joining NATO, a demand which Russia has made citing security concerns. 
  • The request is made amidst Russia troop build up at the Ukrainian border, which is speculated will lead to an invasion despite denial from the country. 
  • Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the United States would continue to act “with equal focus and force to bolster Ukraine’s defenses and prepare a swift united response to further Russian aggression,” sending three different military “assistance[s]” this week. 
  • NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also replied, calling on Russia to “once again to immediately de-escalate the situation. NATO firmly believes that tensions and disagreements must be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy”.
  • The US, along with Europe, has also stated they will enforce economic sanctions on Russia if need be. 
  • However, US companies warn against sanctions as Russian oil prices have reached a significant high at $90 a barrel due to a tightening market. 
  • Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko stated that the proposals will be studied and discussed in the upcoming weeks. 

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Syrian Prison Reclaimed from IS

File:Raqqa Syrian Democratic Forces 3.jpg
Qasioun News Agency, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


  • A Syrian prison has been reclaimed by Kurish forces after the Islamic state (IS) seized it last week. 
  • The IS attempted to hold a mass prison break on Thursday, resulting in the deaths of 181 people including militants, inmates, and police. 
  • Although the Syrian Democratic Forces stated the prison was mostly under control, they warned members of IS may still be hiding in places unchecked. 

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FDA Halts the Use of Regeneron and Lilly Antibody Drugs to Treat Omicron

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Logo_of_the_United_States_Food_and_Drug_Administration.svg

  • Two emergency use authorizations (EUA) were halted by the FDA for two monoclonal antibody combinations used to treat mild to moderate COVID-19 cases. They were deemed not effective against the dominant Omicron variant.
  • Monoclonal antibodies are lab-produced proteins that imitate the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful pathogens such as viruses, like COVID-19, but viruses can mutate quickly over time, causing certain treatments to become ineffective. 
  • The two discontinued treatments were from Regeneron (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N) and will continue to be paused until new data emerges on its efficacy against the Omicron. As of January 15, The Omicron variant is estimated to account for more than 99% of cases in the US, therefore, patients affected with a variant other than Omicron is highly unlikely.
  • Regeneron released a statement that “pending regulatory discussions, new therapeutic candidates could enter the clinic in coming months”. Meanwhile, Lily had no immediate comment but emphasized it’s December statement claiming that its antibody candidate, Bebtelovimab, continues to maintain neutralization activity against all known variants. 

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Journalist Lourdes Lopez Shot to Death in Tijuana, Mexico

  • On Sunday night, Journalist Lourdes Maldonado Lopez was shot and killed in northern Mexico’s border city of Tijuana, making this death the third killing of a journalist in Mexico in the past two weeks. 
  • Lopez covered corruption and politics and had been attacked previously for her work. Last week, she announced that she won a 9-year labor lawsuit case against the news outlet Primer Sistema de Noticias and its owner, Jaime Bonilla, who was the former governor of Baja California, where Tijuana resides. Bonilla was an ally of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and has served as a member of Obrador’s National Regeneration Party. 
  • In 2019, Maldonado had publicly pleaded for President Obrador’s “support, help and labor justice” at his daily press conference, stating, “because I fear for my life”. At the time, Lopez was placed under enhanced security, which the government provides to protect journalists and human rights activists. 
  • Lopez was found dead with one gunshot inside the car outside her home, just days after Martinez, a known photographer for national and international press,  was also assassinated. When Bonilla was asked about Lopez’s case, he stated that he had always had a good relationship with her” and doesn’t know why she had asked the president for protection because  “there was never a threat”.

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US Coast Guard Searching for 39 Missing People Off Florida Coast

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David Broad, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • On Tuesday, US Coast Guard rescues teams were sent to the Atlantic off Florida to search for 39 people reported missing after the team found a man clinging onto the hull of a capsized boat. It is believed that the boat was utilized for human smuggling.
  • The rescued man stated that the boat had left Bahamas Bimini Islands, about 50 miles east of Miami, in a boat with 39 people on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, the group’s boat capsized after hitting rough weather about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet, between Miami and Cape canaveral, but no one was wearing a life jacket. The Coast Guard dispatched more vessels and aircraft to look for the victims. 
  •  Cutter crews, helicopter teams, search planes and the US Navy air were informed and cross-crossed the area, spanning more than 1,300 miles between Bimini and Fort Pierce Inlet. They will continue to search throughout the night. 
  • Captain Jo-Ann Burdian stated in a news conference that finding the migrants alive is their highest priority and that it is dire that they rescue them as quickly as possible, because “the longer they remain in the water…exposed to marine environment…it becomes more unlikely that the survivors will be found”.

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Boris Johnson Refuses to Step Down as MPs Await Gray’s Report

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U.K. Prime Minister, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Boris Johnson refuses to step down as prime minister even after facing heavy backlash over his lockdown parties in Downing Street. During the Prime Minister’s Questions session, he was questioned by UK opposition leader Keir Stamer of changing his story over his gatherings and misleading parliament. This all took place before the release of an official report into allegations of partying during lockdown submitted by civil servant Sue Gray.
  • Sir Keir Stamer and other MPs called on Johnson to keep his promise to publish the report in full and in the same format that Johnson receives it. Johnson stated that he will not only hand over the report but give them ample time to study it before making a Commons statement on it. Though it is not clear when Gray will turn in her report on the investigation into lockdown breaches.
  • The public is outraged that the Prime Minister and his staff flouted the COVID restrictions that he had placed in order to curb the spread of Coronavirus. Johnson has repeatedly apologized for the “bring your booze” gathering in May 2020, stating that he considered it a work event, and a June 2020 surprise birthday party, claiming that he had no knowledge about it in advance. 

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Daily Brief

Salman Rushdie Severely Stabbed due to his Publication of the Book “The Satanic Verses”

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Salman Rushdie 2014
  • Salman Rushdie, an author, was severely stabbed in his neck and abdomen on stage by a suspect named Hadi Matar, causing him to be on a ventilator and potentially losing an eye.
  • An Iranian leader back in the 20th century wanted Rushdie killed because of his novel, Satanic Verses, that many Muslims found disrespectful. This led Salman to go into hiding for almost a decade.
  • Translators from different countries reading this book were harshly stabbed to death when the book came out and Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini called for Salman’s execution for three million dollars.
  • The Iranian government has not yet responded to this issue, but many Iranians in the media claim him to be an apostate who later became an atheist.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

China Threatens Consequences if Pelosi Visits Taiwan

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  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed inTaiwan. Prior to the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry has voiced their disapproval, stating that “China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in response  that “The speaker will make her own decisions about whether or not to visit Taiwan,” and that the US is looking to Beijing to “act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
  • The US has made it clear that members of Congress routinely visit Taiwan and that this trip is non-threatening and has precedent. Even so, some officials have expressed concern that China may invade Taiwan’s air defense zone or send missiles near Taiwan in retaliation.
  • Pelosi has criticized China’s leadership and vocalized support for Taiwan in the past. She is currently on her tour of Asia, with scheduled visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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Odesa pristav
  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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US Stock Market Investing in the United States
  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

North Korea Could Possibly Be Preparing another Nuclear Test

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  • North Korea could be preparing a seventh nuclear test, especially after Mr. Kim announced that the country is fully ready for any military confrontation with the US at a Korean War Anniversary event. 
  • A US special representative in North Korea states that Jong-Un has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year—31 to 25. Jong-Un also stated that threats from the US required North Korea to achieve the urgent historical task of strengthening its self-defense. 
  • Jong-un also stated that South Korea is reviving a plan to counter North Korea’s threat by mounting precautionary strikes; in June alone, South Korea launched 8 missiles of its own.
  • The North Korean regime is especially angry with South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol and his so-called Kill Chain strategy. This strategy allows South Korea to launch ballistic missiles and air strikes on North Korean targets if it ever feels threatened. 
  • North Korea has also not been getting as much engagement with Washington ever since Biden replaced Trump, and could be hinting at some sort of deliberate escalation by the North, and preparations have been underway at the Punggye Ri test site since March.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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Black Sea port of Theodosiya panoramio
  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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