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drone

US Media Reports Israel As Being Responsible For Drone Attacks At Iranian Military Plant

According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Israel was responsible for drone attacks on a military plant in Iran; specifically in the central city of Isfahan. The New York Times cited a senior intelligence official who was familiar with the conflict between Israel and Iran. 

A US Department of Defense spokesperson also told CNN that the US has not conducted strikes or operations in Iran. 

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“We’ve seen the press reports, but can confirm that no US military forces have conducted strikes or operations inside Iran. We continue to monitor the situation, but have nothing further to provide.”

The Israel Defense Forces and Iran’s Defense Ministry have not offered any information regarding the attack.

“An explosion has occurred in one of the military centers affiliated to the Ministry of Defense. The explosion had left some damage, “but fortunately there were no casualties,” said the deputy head of security for Isfahan governorate Mohammad Reza Jan-Nesari to the Fars News Agency.

IRNA, a state news agency, also stated “the explosion had been caused by “small drones.”

“There was an unsuccessful attack by small drones against a defense ministry industrial complex and fortunately with predictions and air defense arrangements already in place, one of them (struck),” IRNA said.

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“The air defense system of the complex was able to destroy two other drones. Fortunately, this unsuccessful attack killed no one and minor damage was sustained to the roof of the complex.”

Within the past few years there have been several explosions that have occurred around Iranian military and nuclear facilities. 

According to Iran’s Supreme Nation Security Council, as reported by CNN, “In July 2020, a fire tore through the Iranian Natanz nuclear complex, a site that has been key to the country’s uranium enrichment program, in Isfahan Province, south of the capital Tehran. Iranian authorities decided not to publicly announce the findings on what caused the fire due to security concerns.”

In 2021, Natanz experiences a blackout, which Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization labeled a “terrorist action,” with a potential involvement from Israel.

No further reports on the recent explosion have been made at this time from either nation. 

wealth

The Top 1% Gained Twice As Much New Wealth As The Rest Of The World Within Two Years

Over the past two years, the world’s wealthiest individuals have acquired twice as much new wealth as the rest of the world, according to Oxfam’s annual inequality report.

covid

China Foreign Minister Calls International Travel Restrictions For Citizens ‘Unacceptable’

The United States, Canada, France, and Japan are among the countries implementing restrictions for travelers from China due to an ongoing concern over their rise in Covid-19 cases. Nations are asking travelers to provide a negative Covid-19 test before arrival at their destination.

China has responded by calling these international restrictions on travelers “unacceptable,” following more than a dozen nations’ announcements of the new restrictions. 

China’s recent spike in Covid-19 cases came after Beijing lifted their zero-Covid policies in December, which has led to a sudden rise in hospitalizations and deaths; crematoriums have also reported being overwhelmed according to the Aljazeera publication. 

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Beijing is continuing to follow through with their reopening plans, and have even gotten rid of their mandatory quarantine requirements for individuals arriving into the city. Foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning held a briefing this week to discuss the reopening and recent international travel restrictions from other countries. 

“Some countries have taken entry restrictions targeting only Chinese travelers. This lacks scientific basis and some practices are unacceptable.” 

Ning also warned that China may “take countermeasures based on the principle of reciprocity.”

France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stated that the restrictions made sense, and as a nation they are “performing [their] duty in asking for testing.” 

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Overall, the international travel restrictions will impact everyone traveling out of China, not just its citizens. The US and other countries have stated that Beijing hasn’t been fully honest regarding their infection data and risk factors surrounding new variants. 

“As health workers nationwide battle a surge in cases, a senior doctor at one of Shanghai’s top hospitals said 70 percent of the megacity’s population may now have been infected with COVID-19,” state media reported.

Chen Erzhen, a member of Shanghai’s COVID expert advisory panel, estimated that “the majority of the city’s 25 million people may have been infected.

Now the spread of the epidemic in Shanghai is very wide, and it may have reached 70 percent of the population, which is 20 to 30 times more than [in April and May],” he told Jiangdong Studio.

us ukraine

Ukraine President Zelensky Heads To White House To Strengthen Defense Against Russia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is taking his first overseas trip since Russia initially invaded Ukraine to meet with President Joe Biden regarding further defense against Russian missile and drone attacks.

Korea

North Korea Launches 23 Missiles, Crossing Maritime Border with the South

According to the South Korean military, North Korea launched at least 23 missiles to the east and west of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday. It is the highest number of short-range missiles fired by the North in a day, with one missile landing in waters farthest south than ever before.

Many kinds of missiles were fired, including surface-to-air missiles that landed in surrounding waters. A short-range ballistic missile landed near South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the division of Korea in 1948. According to CNN, this is North Korea’s 29th launch this year.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said one missile landed in international waters 104 miles (167 kilometers) northwest of South Korea’s Ulleung island, which is also around 16 miles (26 kilometers) south of the Northern Limit Line. The NLL is a de facto maritime boundary between the two countries, which North Korea does not recognize.

An air raid warning on Ulleung island was sounded, and citizens evacuated to raid shelters. The sirens eventually lifted at 2 p.m. local time on Wednesday. 

The launches came shortly after North Korea’s threats to utilize nuclear weapons and have the U.S. and South Korea “pay the most horrible price in history” if they were to take any action against Pyongyang. The hostile rhetoric is in response to ongoing large-scale South Korean and U. S. military drills.

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South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said North Korea’s missile test was an “effective territorial encroachment” and ordered that “a stern response be swiftly taken so that North Korea’s provocation pays a clear price.”

As a direct response, South Korea launched three air-to-surface missiles from fighter jets into waters north of the NLL at an equal distance to that which the North Korean missile had earlier landed south of the line, according to JCS.

“Our military’s precise strike showed our will to firmly respond to any North Korean provocations including short-range ballistic missiles, and our capability and readiness to precisely target the enemy.”

Japan’s Defense Ministry shared that North Korea also conducted another launch later on Wednesday, including a ballistic missile that fell into waters outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). 

“North Korea has rapidly escalated its provocations, launching more than a dozen missiles today alone and reportedly firing more than 100 artillery shells into the Japan sea since announcing an extremely provocative statement earlier in the day.”

According to CNN, no damage to aircraft or vessels has been confirmed as of right now.

The international response was swift. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said that North Korea is launching missiles at an “unprecedentedly high frequency” and called for a National Security Council meeting to be held. 

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Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong tweeted about the rising tensions in the region.

“North Korea’s unprecedented launch of multiple ballistic missiles is recklessly threatening the security of the Republic of Korea. North Korea’s actions continue to undermine Indo-Pacific stability and violate multiple UNSC resolutions. Pyongyang must cease this action.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s overnight missile launch.

“It’s unprecedented in the sense that there were so many this day, but they have been continuously launching missiles over the past year. And we have continued to condemn them because they break multiple Security Council resolutions.”

The UN’s nuclear watchdog also warned that North Korea could be gearing up for a nuclear test, breaking its five-year hiatus. Satellite imagery showed heightened activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site. 

Rafael Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the agency has acknowledged North Korea’s preparation for a test.

“Everybody is holding its breath about this, because another nuclear test would be yet another confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead, in a way that is incredibly, incredibly concerning. Further tests, of course, means that they are refining the preparations and the construction of their arsenal. So we are following this very, very closely. We hope it doesn’t happen, but indications unfortunately go in another direction.”

war

Putin Declares Martial Law in Four Annexed Ukrainian Regions

On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in four regions of Ukraine that Moscow annexed last month in a violation of international law. The order will allow authorities to impose curfews, imprison undocumented immigrants, establish checkpoints, detain people for up to 30 days and enforce other “security” measures.

Putin said his order will be effective starting Thursday. His decree gives law enforcement agencies three days to submit specific proposals to enforce the security plan. It also mandates the creation of territorial defense forces, a type of civilian militia, in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia, the four annexed regions Russia does not fully control.

“We are working to solve very difficult large-scale tasks to ensure Russia’s security and safe future, to protect our people. Those who are on the front lines or undergoing training at firing ranges and training centers should feel our support and know that they have our big, great country and unified people behind their back.”

The upper house of Russia’s parliament, the Federation Council, promptly and unanimously confirmed Putin’s declaration. The decree will also bestow regional governors in areas of Russia with more power to “ensure security,” signaling more restrictive measures to come throughout Russia.

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The third paragraph of the martial law order states, “if necessary, other measures provided for by the Federal Constitutional Law of January 30, 2002, No. 1-FKZ ‘on martial law’ may be applied in the Russian Federation during the period of martial law.”

For the Russian people, this decree could impose restrictions on travel and public gatherings, suspend activities of political parties, public organizations and religious groups, tighten censorship, and strengthen the hold of law enforcement agencies on the population. Putin also wants to establish a coordination committee to increase communications and collaboration between government agencies as the country continues its violent invasion of Ukraine.

Putin has been dealing with growing unrest at home after the “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens to sustain what he still labels a “special military operation.” Protests have erupted all over Russia, and upward of 200,000 citizens have left the country to evade the draft. Military draft offices have been set on fire, and an anti-war sentiment is spreading inside Russian borders. According to a Russian official, authorities have tightened security around the offices due to the increased attacks.

As of Tuesday, around half of Russia’s regions had fulfilled their draft quota. Last Friday, Putin said he assumes “in two weeks all mobilizing measures will be over.”

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Mike Martin, a war studies visiting fellow at King’s College London, posted a series of tweets critiquing Putin’s decision to draft civilians.

“In reality, the mobilization was having greater effects on negative political stability at home than it was ever going to have in positive term (for the Russians) on the battlefield. And we’ve already seen some of those mobilized civilians dying on the battlefield in Ukraine … with no training … a criminal pointless waste of life.”

It is the first time the Kremlin has declared martial law since World War II.

On Wednesday, Putin also signed an order instituting wartime measures in regions bordering Ukraine, such as Crimea, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, Rostov and three others. The areas have been critical strategic locations for Russia’s assault on Ukraine but have come under Ukrainian fire in recent weeks.

The order will allow for economic mobilization in these regions, restricting movement in and out of the territories, temporarily resettling residents, tightening public order in critical facilities, and introducing a special mode of operating transport, energy facilities, and communication systems. Authorities will also be given control “over the operation of printing houses, computer centers and automated systems, and the use of their work for defense needs.”

Many of the provisions of the laws signed on Wednesday are nebulous, giving the state additional flexibility in enforcing additional measures.

missile

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Over Japan, South Korea And US Respond 

According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan early on Tuesday morning. South Korea and the US responded by conducting a joint strike package flight and precision bombing drill, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told ABC News Tuesday. 

The Japanese government initially issued a “J-Alert” to citizens through its emergency warning system, telling residents to remain indoors in sturdy buildings or underground for safety. 

The government didn’t try to attempt to shoot the missile from North Korea down after determining it didn’t pose a threat, according to a spokesperson from Japan’s government. 

Residents in both Hokkaido and Aomori, and surrounding northern areas, were advised to report any debris sightings to police or fire officials immediately. 

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The last time North Korea flew a missile over Japan was in 2017, but this launch marks the seventh time that the nation has witnessed a missile from North Korea. 

Since January of this year, North Korea has shot 21 ballistic missiles and two cruise missiles, which is considered a record-breaking number of launches in a single year, according to reports from ABC. Tuesday’s launch was North Korea’s fifth missile test in a week. 

Japanese government chief spokesperson Hirokazu Matsuno spoke with the media at a press conference where he warned citizens not to touch or pick up any debris. 

“We ask that people return to life as usual, calmly,” Matsuno emphasized. 

“No damage has been reported so far and a search is underway for debris. Officials are gathering information and will work with South Korea and the U.S.,” another spokesperson said. 

“North Korea’s actions threaten Japan and the international community. Missile launches like this go against the U.N. resolutions. Japan will launch a strong protest against North Korea in light of this. All new information will be shared promptly.”

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“The United States strongly condemns the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) dangerous and reckless decision to launch a long-range ballistic missile over Japan,” The White House said in a statement Tuesday. 

Jake Sullivan, US National Security Adviser, spoke with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea about the launch as well, according to Adrienne Watson, a White House National Security Council spokesperson. 

“In both calls, the National Security Advisors consulted on appropriate and robust joint and international responses, and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan reinforced the United States’ ironclad commitments to the defense of Japan and the ROK [South Korea],” Watson explained. 

In response, Jaechun Kim, a professor in South Korea, stated that the US, Korea, and Japan need to “mobilize cooperation from like-minded countries in non-UN sanctions to thwart North Korea’s provocations.” 

“A unified front must be established that imposes sanctions on North Korea, as they did on Russia. This is the only way to penalize North Korea for its bad behavior.” 

“North Korea just does what it needs to do these days. So, with or without China’s support, it is quite likely for the North to conduct the 7th nuke test. It will be interesting to see whether Xi Jinping will throw his weight behind Kim Jong Un,” Kim said.

dollar

Surging US Dollar Wreaks Havoc on Global Economy

The U.S. dollar is the strongest it has been in the last 20 years. The rising value of a dollar has worldwide ramifications, with international currencies plummeting in comparative value and foreign central banks hiking up interest rates to protect price stability.

The dollar continues to strengthen as the U.S. Federal Reserve continues its aggressive monetary policy, raising interest rates to bring down inflation in the U.S. economy. The Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. dollar against an average of six major global currencies, including the euro, Swiss franc, Japanese yen, Canadian dollar, British pound and Swedish krona, has risen 15% in 2022.

A stronger dollar can purchase more foreign currency. The British pound plummeted to a record low on Sept. 26, reaching $1.03 against the dollar in a near historic dollar-to-pound parity. Historically, the pound has always been valued higher than a dollar, usually upward of $1.20 against the dollar.

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The effects of a strengthening dollar reverberate throughout the global financial system since the dollar is the currency used in most international transactions. Recent shocks to the global economy, such as the war in Ukraine, supply chain disruptions and the pandemic, push up the dollar’s value even higher since companies and other countries stow their reserves in dollars during economic volatility.

The dollar is traditionally seen as a symbol of “stability and security” in terms of crisis. Moreover, despite ongoing inflation, the U.S. economy is still more stable than other nations’ economies. Consumer spending is still strong, and unemployment is still low.

George Saravelos, Deutsche Bank’s head of foreign exchange research, noted the building tension in the global economy.

“The dollar is experiencing its largest valuation overshoot since the 1980s. Amid extreme volatility, a global chorus of discomfort is slowly building.”

American tourists and U.S. consumers benefit from a stronger dollar since goods and services produced in other countries and sold in the U.S. become less expensive to purchase. A stronger dollar also helps U.S. companies import goods at lower prices. Tourists traveling abroad can also buy goods at lower prices since the dollar has stronger buying power.

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However, American businesses that export goods struggle under a strengthening dollar since goods made in the U.S. become more costly and less attractive to buyers in other countries. Multinational businesses that operate in other countries also make less profit when they convert revenue in foreign currency to U.S. dollars.

Smaller emerging economies worldwide especially struggle with the rising cost of the dollar since international companies borrow and trade money in dollars. The world’s commodities, like oil, industrial metals, wheat and soybeans, are priced in dollars and increasingly more expensive to import. Petrol now costs more in several countries worldwide. Countries with debt denominated in dollars will also see higher interest payments, no matter the initial exchange rate.

As reported by the NYTimes, Mr.Obstfeld, a U.C. Berkeley economist, spoke on the far-reaching impact of the Fed’s monetary policy.

“Central banks have purely domestic mandates, but financial and trade globalization have made economies more interdependent than they have ever been and so closer cooperation is needed. I don’t think central banks can have the luxury of not thinking about what’s happening abroad.”

At the same time, the consequences may be even worse for the global economy if the Fed does not bring down historical inflation rates in the U.S.

Central banks around the world are trying to raise the value of their currencies by increasing interest rates, similar to what the Fed is doing in the U.S. The U.K. increased its rate by 2%, and analysts predict they may raise it to as high as 6%. The European central bank has increased its interest rate by 1.25 percentage points. These rising rates may push many countries into a recession if raised too high by decreasing borrowing and spending and reducing economic activity.

italy

Giorgia Meloni To Become Italy’s Most Far-Right Prime Minister Since World War II

Giorgia Meloni is set to become the first female prime minister in Italy after a general election. The Brothers of Italy leader is now a part of the most far-right government Italy’s seen since the fascist era of Benito Mussolini.

war

Bodies Found in Ukrainian Mass Grave Show Signs of Torture

Ukraine found a mass burial site of 440 graves Thursday in a forest on the outskirts of Izium. Soldiers made the discovery after retaking control of the Kharkiv region five months after its Russian occupation.

Most bodies showed signs of torture, and many had ropes tied around their necks and hands. Wooden crosses were erected atop some graves, each demarcated with only numbers and no names. One grave, marked by a cross, held the bodies of 17 Ukrainian soldiers. Their hands were also bound, and their bodies indicated they were shot at close range.

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Ukrainian President Zelensky said that there is evidence that Russians “shot at the buried for fun.” The graves are the latest discovery in the campaign of violence against Ukrainian civilians during Russia’s occupation of Ukraine. President Zelensky said Saturday that “more than 10 torture chambers” were also found alongside the mass graves. The chambers contained tools for electrical torture.

Forensic workers are trying to determine what happened to the victims before death. One forensics worker,  Andreiy Vladimirovich Sergienko, shared with DW the effects of witnessing the scenes’ horrors.

“We then place the bodies in bags and transport them in a morgue. I feel horrible. This is a horrible moment in my life, and the first such experience in all of my five years of service.”

The United Nations announced Friday that they would send investigators to Izium to inspect the mass graves.

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According to war crimes prosecutors, most of the bodies were those of local residents. Prosecutor Voldymyr Lymar told DW that some of the bodies could be identified while others are in a later stage of decomposition and require further testing. Lymar spoke about the number of war crime cases that have been opened in Kharkiv alone.

“More than 4,000 criminal proceedings have already been opened regarding war crimes committed by servicemen of the Russian Federation. I will not tell you the exact number because it is constantly evolving: It increases by the minute.”

In March, officials found a similar mass grave site containing 116 bodies in Bucha after soldiers liberated the city from Russian control.

Amnesty International, an international nonprofit group that focuses on human rights, has documented several violations of International Law by the Russian forces. Among them are “unlawful attacks on civilians, residential buildings and civilian infrastructure, unlawful killing and other war crimes.”

The General Prosecutor Office of Ukraine opened 32,000 cases of Russia’s war crimes since the beginning of the occupation.