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Russia Requesting Military And Economic Aid From China, According To US Officials

According to US officials, Russia has asked China for military and economic assistance, including drones, as a part of their unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The official’s declined to state what exactly China’s response was to the request, but it is known that they did respond.

The news of the request was brought up to White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan during a conversation with his Chinese counterpart, Yang Jiechi. Sullivan explained to the media afterwards that providing Russia with support from China would be a “concern.”  

“We also are watching closely to see the extent to which China actually does provide any form of support, material support or economic support, to Russia. It is a concern of ours. And we have communicated to Beijing that we will not stand by and allow any country to compensate Russia for its losses from the economic sanctions,” Sullivan said.

Russia continued its attack to western Ukraine this weekend, firing off missiles near the city of Lviv, and hitting a large military base close to the Polish border. The blasts reportedly killed dozens of people. 

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China claims that it was not asked by Russia for military aid or any other type of assistance. Liu Pengyu, spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in the US, said in a statement, “I’ve never heard of that. The Ukraine situation is indeed disconcerting, China has and will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

“The high priority now is to prevent the tense situation from escalating or even getting out of control. … China calls for exercising utmost restraint and preventing a massive humanitarian crisis.”

Beijing is currently trying to strike a neutral tone regarding the international conflict. Chinese domestic media coverage has, however, promoted Russian disinformation campaigns and described the war as a “special military operation. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki and other US officials have been critical of Beijing’s response overall. 

“Beijing has seemingly endorsed false Russian claims that the US is developing chemical weapons in Ukraine.”

“Our assessment right now is that China is abiding by the requirements that have been put in place, but we would continue to encourage any country to think a lot about what place they want to — what role they want to play — in history as we all look back,” Psaki said Wednesday.

Sullivan said that the “US has made it clear to Beijing that there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale efforts to give the Kremlin a workaround to US sanctions.”

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“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world. While the US believes China, in fact, was aware before the invasion took place that Vladimir Putin was planning something, they may not have understood the full extent of it. Because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others,” Sullivan explained. 

Sullivan also expressed to the media this weekend that while the “Biden administration is concerned about the possibility of escalation with respect to Putin’s nuclear posture, we have not seen anything that would require us to change our nuclear posture at this time.” 

“We are watching this extremely closely, and obviously, the escalation risk with a nuclear power is severe, and it is a different kind of conflict than other conflicts the American people have seen over the years,” he said, before explaining the administration’s decision to reject Poland’s offer to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine through the US and German air base. 

“The President listened to the assessment of his intelligence community, he listened to the advice of his military commanders, he consulted his NATO allies, and he ultimately determined that the risk-benefit analysis of flying planes from NATO bases into contested airspace over Ukraine did not make sense, was not something that he would authorize.

The US is focused on providing other anti-air systems that could help the Ukrainians make progress in terms of dealing with the threat that is coming from the air from the Russian side,” Sullivan explained.

The national security adviser also reiterated that Russia “would pay a severe price if they chose to use chemical or biological weapons in Ukraine. Russia’s accusations against Ukraine preparing to deploy chemical weapons is a tell, a tell that they themselves may be preparing to do so and then trying to pin the blame on someone else– that’s a classic page out of the Russian playbook.”

Russia And Ukraine Conflict Update: Ukraine Rejects Moscow’s Offer Of Safe Housing For Citizens

Moscow announced this week that they would provide corridors for residents of Ukraine’s two main cities if they decided to flee to Russia or Belarus; a move that Ukraine called an “immoral stunt to exploit the suffering under Russian bombardment.” 

Russian and Ukrainian delegations assembled for a third round of talks when the announcement was made. The two previous rounds of delegation didn’t offer many solutions for citizens besides a pledge to open up routes for humanitarian access. 

“In a few minutes, we will start talking to representatives of a country that seriously believes large-scale violence against civilians is an argument. Prove that this is not the case,” Ukrainian negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak said.

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A spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy called the move “completely immoral, Russia is trying to use people’s suffering to create a television picture. They are citizens of Ukraine, they should have the right to evacuate to the territory of Ukraine.”

The United Nations refugee agency stated that more than 1.7 million Ukrainians have now fled their home country to seek safe housing in Central Europe. A multitude of international sanctions has also isolated Russia from global commerce. 

Russia is the world’s biggest exporter of oil and gas. Prices of oil spiked above $139 a barrel this Monday, the closest the nation has come in nearly 14 years to reaching the all-time high of $147. Investment banks say that the prices could even approach $200 this year is Russian supply continues to dwindle. 

The general staff of Ukraine’s armed forces say that Russian forces “were beginning to accumulate resources for the storming of Kyiv,” which is a city of more than 3 million people. So far 2,000 citizens have been evacuated from Irpin, a suburb in Kyiv that has been enduring heavy attacks. 

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In a speech to the nation late on Sunday, Zelenskiy described one family “cut down as they tried to escape Irpin on Sunday, Russians responsible for such atrocities will never be forgiven. For you there will be no peaceful place on this earth, except for the grave.”

Ukraine also said on Monday its forces had “retaken control of the town of Chuhuiv in the northeast, a site of heavy fighting for days, and of the strategic Mykolayiv airport in the south.”

The United Nations has called for safe passage for all people who are cut off from lifesaving aid across Ukraine. One psychiatric hospital near Kyiv has been running out of water and medicine with 670 patients trapped inside. The WHO said at least 6 people have been confirmed killed within nine attacks on health care facilities since the start of the conflict. 

Moscow has acknowledged that nearly 500 of their soldiers have been killed, but Western countries and Ukraine said that number is actually likely to be in the thousands. Russian authorities, however, have imposed a near total media blackout on non-official information, making it nearly impossible to verify the actual amount of deaths. 

Evacuation efforts have been stalled in multiple areas around Ukraine due to safety concerns, but ideally leaders will be able to continue to provide aid and refuge through the UN.

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Ukraine Pushing For Cease-Fire In Talks With Russia As Fighting Continues 

Russian and Ukrainian officials met on Monday as violence continues around the cities involved in the conflict. Ukraine is pushing for an immediate cease-fire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the country ahead of the talks.

Kyiv is currently coming under attack from heavy Russian shelling. The city has been resistant to invasion with the help of military assistance from countries across the world and global sanction efforts. In addition to the violence, the Russian military has also stated that its nuclear deterrent forces have been put on high alert after Putin’s orders. 

Russian forces are now being accused of carrying out massive shelling and attack operations inside of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, after graphic videos were posted to social media showing the assault and its devastating aftermath. 

United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said that 102 civilians, including seven children, were killed across Ukraine since Thursday, noting that those figures were likely an underrepresentation of the national death toll. 

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More than half a million of Ukraine’s 44 million citizens have fled the country according to the head of the U.N. refugee agency. Others are being forced to seek shelter inside metro stations and parking garages while missile strikes and gunfire take over the cities. 

A strict 39-hour curfew was in effect in Kyiv this weekend and was lifted this Monday after Russian troops invaded. Residents were able to go out and replenish essential supplies while dodging the violence. 

There’s been a concentrated effort to make Putin pay for the invasion economically as well. Sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies have greatly impacted Russia’s economy. Russia’s central bank kept the stock market closed and raised its interest rate to 20 percent from 9.5 percent in an attempt to improve the plummeting national currency. 

The United States has also announced that it would be expanding sanctions on Russia’s central bank, making it so Americans will be blocked from doing any business with it, and freeze any assets the banks may hold in the U.S.. 

“Russia’s economic reality has changed due to the heavy sanctions, but they were prepared and able to handle the damage,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated. 

Russia has also closed its airspace to airlines from the European Union and several other countries as a means of retaliation for the current ban on travel from Russian planes over its airspace. 

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that he doubted the talks with Russia would actually produce results, but Ukraine’s forces have slowed Russia’s advance and they still hold the capital, Kyiv, and Kharkiv. 

“The bulk of Putin’s ground forces remain more than 30 km [18 miles] to the north of Kyiv. Logistical failures and staunch Ukrainian resistance continue to frustrate the Russian advance,” Britain’s Ministry of Defense said in a post on Twitter Monday morning.

“With the operation moving slower than anticipated, Russia was bringing in more troops, weapons and equipment. They underestimated the resistance they were going to meet and that’s why they’re making less progress,” according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. 

“Armed with government-issued machine guns, homemade Molotov cocktails and shovels to build barricades, civilians have helped to reinforce their army’s desperate but for now effective resistance. They will soon be joined by prisoners with combat experience who will now be released,” Zelenskyy stated. 

Zelenskyy has stated that Putin is intending to remove Ukraine’s pro-Western government to potentially replace it with a Moscow-friendly regime. Putin also recently issued a directive to increase the readiness of Russia’s nuclear deterrent forces. Russia has thousands of nuclear warheads in its arsenal. 

“The move is reckless and dangerous. There’s no reason for that. NATO is no threat to Russia. Although NATO moved to increase its presence in Eastern Europe in the wake of the Ukraine invasion, it had no intention of becoming involved in the conflict itself. We have a responsibility to make sure that this doesn’t spiral out of control. That will be extremely dangerous,” Stolenberg stated.

Russia Planning On Targeting Critics In Ukraine To Be Sent To Camps Or Killed, US Reports 

The United States has officially warned the United Nations that it believes Russia has plans to kill a large number of critics, dissidents, and vulnerable populations in Ukraine after an expected invasion. These vulnerable populations are at risk of being sent to camps, or killed. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied the report this week claiming it was “absolute fiction.” Ambassador Bathsheba Nell Crocker, the US representative to the Office of the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva, recently made a statement in a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Backelet, that backs up the initial US report. 

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We have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.”

Crocker also said in the letter that the U.S. believes “Russia would likely target those who oppose Russian actions, including Russian and Belarusian dissidents in exile in Ukraine, journalists and anti-corruption activists, and vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons.” 

The document warns of potential large-scale human rights violations and abuses, especially for protestors who will likely be met with unjust force.

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“We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations.”

The matter was discussed last week after Secretary of State Antony Blinken brought up the issue with the UN Security Council. Additionally, the US raised concerns over Russia’s treatment of vulnerable populations in Ukraine during a debate at the UN Human Rights Council on December 15th. 

The office of France’s President, Emmanuel Macron, made a statement this past weekend in which he discussed how he brokered an agreement in principle that would have President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet to discuss the situation in Ukraine. 

As of right now there are more than 150,000 Russian troops camped out outside Ukraine. Sources close to the White House claim that the potential meeting between presidents has not changed the reality that Russia has plans for an imminent invasion.

1987 CFC Ban Prevented Global Temperatures From Increasing By 2.5 Degrees Celsius

In 1987, the Montreal Protocol banned the use of ozone-depleting chemicals across the globe. It came into effect on September 15th 1987, and remains the only UN treaty that has been ratified by every country in the world – 198 UN states. A new study has found that, if not outlawed, these chemicals would have caused a 2.5 degrees Celsius rise of extra global warming by 2100.

The landmark environmental agreement, named: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, regulates the production and use of approximately 100 man-made chemicals which are referred to as Ozone depleting substances (ODS). 

Those chemicals were identified as damaging to the stratospheric Ozone layer, which protects the globe and all of its organisms, due to harmful levels of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, causing global temperatures to rise. 

The globe is already facing the catastrophic consequences of global rising temperatures, and governments, companies and individuals across the world are being urged to do more to cut carbon emissions and combat the current climate crisis. 

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An international team of scientists have found, however, that the continued use of chemicals such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), banned in the Montreal Protocol, would have contributed to temperatures rising by an additional 2.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century.  

The researchers estimated that the use of CFCs could raise global temperatures to approximately 3.5 degrees Celsius by 2100. CFCs could be used in refrigerators, insulation foams and aerosols. The study found that the ongoing depletion of the ozone caused by CFCs and greenhouse gasses would have drastically compromised Earth’s ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. 

Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that the agreement was “perhaps the single most successful international agreement”.

The ozone layer shields the earth and its flora from damaging UV rays. Increasing a plant’s exposure to UV can damage its tissues, restricting growth and limiting its ability to photosynthesise. Photosynthesis allows vegetation to pull CO2 from the atmosphere. CO2 is a toxic planet heating greenhouse gas, and the damage to plants would have also released additional CO2 currently stored in healthy vegetation. 

Speaking to The Guardian, lead researcher in the study, Dr Paul Young, said: “a world where these chemicals increased and continued to strip away at our protective ozone layer would have been catastrophic for human health, but also for vegetation… with our research, we can see that the Montreal protocol’s successes extend beyond protecting humanity from increased UV to protecting the ability of plants and trees to absorb CO2.”

“Although we can hope that we never would have reached the catastrophic world as we simulated, it does remind us of the importance of continuing to protect the ozone layer… Entirely conceivable threats to it still exist, such as from unregulated use of CFCs.”

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Not only are CFCs damaging to the Ozone layer, they are also a greenhouse gas themselves. According to the BBC, “The scientists estimated there would be: 580 billion tonnes less carbon stored in forests, other vegetation and soils and an extra 165-215 parts per million (40-50%) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

The study doesn’t indicate that we have successfully beat climate change, just avoided further damage. There is still much more to be done when it comes to combating the climate crisis. 

The Earth has already warmed between 1.1 and 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The Paris Climate Agreement aims to limit that warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and keep it well below 2 degrees Celsius – to prevent the cataclysmic impact and irreversible damage this increase would have on the world. To do this, governments across the world are urged to drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions among other actions. 

A report from NASA, entitled Why Global Temperatures Matter, examined the IPCC special report on climate change, and detailed the chain of events that global warming has, from the impact on wildlife, ecosystems to human survival. It explained: ‘at 1.5 degrees Celsius warming, the report projects that climate-related risks to human health, livelihoods, food security, human security, water supply and economic growth will all increase, and will increase even more at 2 degrees warming.’

Lead researcher in the study Dr Paul Young, of the Lancaster Environment Centre said to BBC Radio 4’s Inside Science program:

“What we see in our ‘world-avoided experiment’ is an additional 2.5C warming above any warming that we would get from greenhouse-gas increases… The science was listened to and acted upon – we have not seen that to the same degree with climate change.”

However, he also noted “But I would be cautious of using it as a positive example for the climate negotiations… It’s not [directly] comparable – but it’s nice to have something positive to hold on to and to see that the world can come together.”

Myanmar’s Deposed Civilian Leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, Faces Two Years In Jail 

Myanmar’s deposed civilian leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is currently facing two years in jail after her original sentence was halved by the country’s military this week. 

Previously, Suu Kyi was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of incitement and breaking Covid-19 rules. This marks the first verdict against the Nobel Peace Prize winner since the military seized power back in February. 

Suu Kyi, 76, was Myanmar’s state counselor and de facto leader of the country before she was ousted and detained by the military ten months ago and slammed with almost a dozen charges that when combined added up to a maximum sentence of 100 years. 

According to media reports, several of the charges involved corruption, which each carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, violating Covid-19 pandemic restrictions during the 2020 election campaign, incitement, illegally importing and possessing walkie talkies, and breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act — which carries a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.”

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Suu Kyi has rejected all allegations and her supporters are claiming that the charges against her are political. The Zabuthiri Court in Naypyidaw initially sentences Suu Kyi to two years in prison after they found her guilty of incitement, and two years after being found guilty of violating section 25 of Disaster Management Law. The military later cut down both sentences to one year. 

Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, Ming Yu Hah, said in a statement, “the farcical and corrupt decision is part of a devastating pattern of arbitrary punishment.”

“The harsh sentences handed down to Aung San Suu Kyi on these bogus charges are the latest example of the military’s determination to eliminate all opposition and suffocate freedoms in Myanmar.”

“There are many detainees without the profile of Aung San Suu Kyi who currently face the terrifying prospect of years behind bars simply for peacefully exercising their human rights. They must not be forgotten and left to their fate,” Yu Hah expressed. 

More than 1,300 people have been killed by Myanmar security forces since the initial coup, and more than 10,000 individuals have been arrested according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. 

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The United Nations Security Council called for an immediate cessation of violence across Myanmar as troops continued to increase tension and hostility towards civilian militias. Nationwide protests against the junta troops have been occurring since the coup, and all have been met with brutal crackdowns and media suppression. 

“As violence escalates, displacing tens of thousands of people and setting up a humanitarian crisis in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, the situation in Myanmar today is alarming in the extreme. Without a decisive, unified and swift international response this can and will get worse.”

The verdict came one day after security forces entered into a protest in the city of Yangon. At least five people were killed due to a vehicle plowing through anti-junta protesters. One reporter who witnessed the incident told media outlets that it was a military vehicle that rammed through demonstrators. 

According to a statement from Myanmar’s military, eleven protesters were arrested, including two men and one woman who were injured. The statement from the military did not acknowledge the reported deaths or vehicle attack. 

The UN in Myanmar condemned the incident slamming the “reported attack on a number of unarmed civilians in Kyimyindaing Township, Yangon, in which a vehicle belonging to security forces rammed into protesters who were then fired upon with live ammunition leading to deaths and injuries to numerous people.”

 United Nations Health Expert Condemns US Over Threat To Abortion Rights 

Special rapporteur for the United Nations, Dr. Tlaleng Mofokeng, is calling on the US Supreme Court to uphold the right to abortion in America. Dr. Mofokeng is arguing that the US is risking undermining international human rights laws and are indirectly threatening the right to a safe abortion for other countries around the world. 

Dr. Mofokeng is one of many global observers whose main job is to travel the world and defend human rights. She argues in a brief filed in a US court that by overturning abortion rights, the nation would be violating international human rights treates that were ratified by the US; including the convention against torture, and forcing a woman to carry their pregnancy to term, regardless of the personal risk for the mother and child. 

In an interview, Mofokeng told the media she could have “filed a brief on abortion rights, in any other court, in any other abortion case, globally. However, the US courts are dealing with the direct threat posed to abortion rights in the supreme court’s upcoming session.

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“We have this joke among us that when the US sneezes the rest of the world catches a cold. So we know that politically that what happens in the United States… does have an impact in precedents elsewhere in the world.”

Roe vs Wade is the famous 1973 court case that gave Americans the constitutional right to an abortion in privacy. At the time, the case invalidated numerous state abortion bans and restrictions, and allowed individuals to terminate a pregnancy up to the point where the fetus can survive outside the womb; around 24 weeks. 

“If that gets overturned, it has catastrophic implications, not just for the US. I fear overturning Roe would embolden global attacks on reproductive rights.”

Mofokeng’s  most recent UN report outlined “the challenges Covid-19 posed to reproductive rights, and how colonialism continues to impact global policies on reproduction, from sterilization to abortion bans.”

“It means that even those people who are conservative, who are anti-rights, in any country in the world, will actually now start referencing the US court as an example of jurisprudence that should be followed, and this is why this is so dangerous.”

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“If Roe … [were] overturned, many US states will implement bans or near-bans on abortion access that will make individual state laws irreconcilable with international human rights law. This would cause irreparable harm to women and girls in violation of the United States’ obligations under the human rights treaties it has signed and ratified,” Mofokeng’s brief argued.

“The denial of safe abortions and subjecting women and girls to humiliating and judgmental attitudes in such contexts of extreme vulnerability and where timely health care is essential amount to torture or ill treatment.”

In one recent analysis, the Guttmacher Institute found “26 states are certain or likely to outlaw abortion should Roe be overturned.”

“The rise in global anti-gender and anti-women’s rights is such that people will grasp at anything that seems to make their case solid, and  the case before the supreme court now relies on non-medical, non-scientific misinformation,” said Mofokeng.

“It means we have a risk of now having global jurisprudence – or at least influences in the global world – using jurisprudence that’s ill-informed. And that’s very dangerous, to undo the court’s decisions takes decades, sometimes a lifetime, – and that’s why it’s dangerous.”

United Nations Reports Record High Greenhouse Gas Levels Throughout World 

The United Nations announced this week that greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere hit record levels in 2020, and the world is “way off track on capping rising temperatures.”

The UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) released a report that showed carbon dioxide levels surged to 413.2 parts per million in 2020, which shows an exponential rise in the rate of emissions last year when compared to the rest of the decade. There was, however, a temporary decline in emissions during the initial phase of Covid-19 lockdowns. 

WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas said “the current rate of increase in heat-trapping gases would result in temperature rises far in excess of the 2015 Paris Agreement target of 1.5 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average this century.

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“We are way off track. We need to revisit our industrial, energy and transport systems and whole way of life. We need a dramatic increase in commitments from our world’s nations.”

Glasgow, Scotland hosted the climate talks where the UN met to discuss capping the global warming rates on Earth at the 1.5-2 degrees Celsius upper limit originally set out in the Paris Agreement. 

“It is going to be very, very tough this summit. I am very worried because it might go wrong and we might not get the agreements that we need and it is touch and go, it is very, very difficult, but I think it can be done,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a news conference.

The crown prince of Saudi Arabia claimed that the nation will be aiming to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2060, adding that they also plan on doubling emission cuts within the next decade alone. 

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The nation of Ottawa offered an official plan where they would have developed nations donate up to $100 billion a year to poorer countries to tackle climate change by 2023. This plan calls on more developed nations to put in more effort when it comes to helping poorer nations. 

According to a poll performed by Reuters, economists found that hitting the Paris Agreement goal of net-zero carbon emissions will require more investments from richer countries. If the world continues on as it is, the average global temperature will increase by “1.6C, 2.4C and 4.4C by 2030, 2050 and 2100 respectively, which would also result in 2.4% lost output by 2030, 10% by 2050 and 18% by 2100,” according to the median replies to the poll.

In London, climate activists are taking action into their own hands by blockading major roads and disrupting traffic in the city’s financial district; similar protests are occuring all throughout Europe as well. 

“Greenhouse gas emissions are provoking climate catastrophes all over the planet. We don’t have time. It’s already late and if we don’t join the action against what’s happening, we won’t have time to save what is still left,” said Alberto, 27, a sociologist who took part in a sit-in protest in Madrid which blocked off one of the largest shopping streets in the city.

Human Rights

Human Rights Lawyer Says Syria Is ‘One Of The Greatest Humanitarian Catastrophes In History’

Nearly ten years ago the Arab Spring uprose, a movement that spread throughout the Middle East and eventually would hit the country of Syria. Syria has been ravaged by protests that moved throughout the Southern part of the nation before hitting the capital of Damascus, which is also the home of the country’s leader Bashar al-Assad. 

The protests initially called for Assad’s resignation, and while citizens were hopeful that they would be able to overthrow their leader, Assad and his regime remained in place and held their ground. Syria’s military force quickly showed their alliance to Assad by training soldiers to use deadly force on the peaceful protesters, and ever since the nation has been condemned by international leaders and human rights groups who claim that Syria is killing its citizens for expressing their rights and opinions. 

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It’s been 10 years since the beginning of this Civil War that has left Syria in ruins. According to data from the United Nations, more than 400,000 people have been killed, and it’s estimated that close to 1 million have been severely injured. The UN also estimates that nearly half of the country’s residents have been thrown out of their homes since the start of this war ten years ago, and 5 million citizens have been forced to become refugees outside of the nation’s borders, with another 6 million internally displaced. 

London-based human rights lawyer, Toby Cadman, recently spoke to the media about the past decade and current state of Syria as a nation, calling it “one of the greatest humanitarian catastrophes in history.” 

“What started as a peaceful protest has descended into this conflict of which there is no accountability.”

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The conflict within Syria eventually became a proxy war with Russia and Iran after the two nations showed their support for Assad. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have all expressed their support for the peaceful protesters. The US has been in and out of this decade-long conflict. The Obama Administration initially backed the rebels by attacking the Islamic State while the Trump Administration launched a missile attack in 2017. The Biden Administration then quickly launched a rocket attack as well against certain facilities in eastern Syria that the Pentagon claimed was used by Iranian-backed militia. 

Assad is still currently in charge of Syria while the nation continues to struggle everyday. Residents have found that the healthcare system is practically nonexistent, the economy is constantly on the brink of collapsing, and about 80% of all Syrians are currently living in poverty with 60% at risk for hunger. 

“There’s no future for any peace and prosperity in Syria as long as the Assad regime remains in power.”

The al-Assad family has ruled Syria since 1971, and it’s expected that Bashar al-Assad will be re-elected in an upcoming “democratic” election. as-Assad has also shown no interest in working with the UN or other international bodies to work on rebuilding his country and helping the millions of citizens currently struggling.

Climate

Most Countries Have Failed to Meet Climate Goals, U.N. Reports

In a report that the New York Times describes as “bleak,” the United Nations has warned that the world is headed towards climate catastrophes, as the world’s biggest polluters, the United States and China, have expanded their carbon footprint last year. Even countries that have pledged to substantially reduce carbon emissions have failed to do so to an extent that would prevent Earth’s temperature from increasing by 2 degrees celsius, a change that scientists around the world argue would have disastrous consequences on civilization and the nature of life on the planet. As such, the report urges the world’s 20 richest countries, including the world’s richest country, the United States, to take immediate and profound action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and switch to renewable energy. This is a tall order, particularly considering the fact that the US is currently in the process of withdrawing from the Paris accord and does not officially recognize the existence of climate change.

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According to the annual assessment, global greenhouse emissions have increased by 1.5 percent every year this decade, a trend which must be reversed in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. If this change is not made promptly, the U.N. predicts that increasingly intense droughts, stronger storms, and widespread food insecurity can be expected. Another organization, the World Meteorological Organization, separately produced a report with similar findings, which found a steady increase in the rate of man-made CO2 emissions since the start of the nineteenth century. 

While nearly every country in the world pledged to reduce carbon emissions drastically four years ago under the Paris Agreement, many countries, including some of the world’s greatest offenders, have so far failed to meet their own goals. Even if every country fulfills the goals they set for themselves as part of the agreement, however, global temperatures are still predicted to increase by 3.2 degrees Celsius, endangering billions of people and presenting potentially apocalyptic consequences in the long term. As such, the U.N.’s call for immediate drastic action is at once dire and warranted, given the reality of the problem as exposed by global scientific consensus.

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While the findings of the most recent U.N. report, among others, seem bleak, there is reason for optimism in the fact that technologies to reduce emissions drastically already exist, but require extensive political willpower to deploy at the necessary scale. In order to meet universally agreed-upon climate targets, the world will have to replace the combustion of fossil fuels, in particular coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel, with renewable forms of energy like solar and wind. Furthermore, people will need to move away from gas-powered vehicles, replacing them either with public transportation infrastructure or electric cars. And other technologies, such as carbon-recapture systems, are currently in development and may one day reverse some of the consequences of carbon emissions.

However, many countries are not taking the necessary steps to prevent catastrophe in the UN’s eyes. Canada, for instance, has pledged to reduce carbon emissions within their own borders but has expanded fossil-fuel production for sale in other countries, and sales of inefficient gas-powered S.U.V.s around the world have increased. That being said, things are moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly. Renewable energy is expanding rapidly, though not nearly as fast as needed, and coal use is declining due to both climate concerns and economic factors. And the political action necessary to persuade world leaders to combat climate change more aggressively is underway, as millions of young people around the world have taken to the streets to demand change. Though climate change skeptics will tell you otherwise otherwise, this political action, in addition to investments and deployments of climate-friendly technologies, has the potential to determine the fate of civilization itself.