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Politics and petroleum have brought down Africa’s two biggest economies, South Africa and Nigeria, as both nations look down the barrel of recession. Oil giant Nigeria will release quarterly growth figures Wednesday that most likely will confirm the economy is in recession. And the South African economy, the continent’s most established and mature, has seen slowing growth, with a contraction of 1.2 percent in the first quarter, as the population grows faster than the economy.
New peace talks between Aung San Suu Kyi’s government and Myanmar’s myriad guerrilla armies, that began on Wednesday, were designed to end decades of bloodshed and set the country on a new path. The outcome could be significant, helping to determine what happens for decades to come in a country where China, the U.S. and India are vying for influence.
After nearly a decade of painstaking discussions, India and the United States signed a landmark defense agreement Tuesday that will increase the military cooperation between two of the world’s largest democracies. The agreement was finalized during a visit to Washington by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, and it was touted as a symbol of deeper defense ties between the two nations in an increasingly tense part of the world.
The burkini has become perhaps the most potent symbol in France’s long-running battle over its vaunted secular identity. This summer’s heated debate over bans on the full-body swimwear by beach towns on the French Riviera has reverberated around the world, with widely different reactions. In Britain and the United States, the modest outfits are being seen as part of a multicultural model of integrating minorities. In China, where face-covering swimwear has long been popular among wrinkle-fearing beachgoers, many do not understand what the fuss is about.
The latest series of military exercises in Russia have unnerved its Western neighbors, who are concerned that Russia may be preparing for a military campaign. The Russian military is indeed preparing for war, but that does not mean the Kremlin actually plans to initiate one anytime soon. Rather, the current and pending exercises are meant to, well, exercise the troops, for all contingencies, including worst-case scenarios, but also to send a signal to potential adversaries and “disloyal” neighbors.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Sometimes when a complex mess suffers an added complication, it can in fact make matters simpler -- such is the case in northern Syria now. For months, U.S. support for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a predominantly Syrian Kurd force that also includes Arab tribes and other factions, has led them to take large swathes of territory from ISIS quite effectively and establish Kurdish control over the territory. But there's always been one problem: that territory is along the Turkish border and Turkey considers the SDF's main component, a Syrian Kurdish militia called the People's Protection Units (YPG) to be terrorists.
Russia questioned on Tuesday a report by the United Nations and a global chemical weapons watchdog that blamed Syrian government forces for two chlorine gas attacks, saying the U.N. Security Council could not use the conclusions to impose sanctions. A year-long U.N. and Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) inquiry, unanimously authorized by the 15-member Security Council, also found that Islamic State militants used sulfur mustard gas.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he did not know who was behind the hacking of U.S. Democratic Party organizations but the information uncovered was important, Bloomberg news agency reported on Friday. Putin said it might be impossible to establish who engineered the release of sensitive Democratic Party emails but it was not done by the Russian government.
The United States admitted its 10,000th Syrian refugee this week in a resettlement program announced by President Obama last fall, according to The White House. Under pressure from Europe and other countries confronting the global migration crisis last fall, Mr. Obama had raised the number of Syrian refugees who would be offered legal status to at least 10,000 in the 2016 fiscal year.
The Brazilian Senate on Wednesday impeached Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, and removed her from office for the rest of her term, the capstone of a power struggle that has consumed the nation for months and toppled one of the hemisphere’s most powerful political parties. The Senate voted 61 to 20 to convict Ms. Rousseff on charges of manipulating the federal budget in an effort to conceal the nation’s mounting economic problems.
SWIFT, the global financial messaging system, on Tuesday disclosed new hacking attacks on its member banks as it pressured them to comply with security procedures instituted after February's high-profile $81 million heist at Bangladesh Bank. In a private letter to clients, SWIFT said that new cyber-theft attempts - some of them successful - have surfaced since June, when it last updated customers on a string of attacks discovered after the attack on the Bangladesh central bank.
China is taking a more inclusive tack in instituting cybersecurity standards for foreign technology companies, allowing them to join a key government committee in an effort to ease foreign concerns over the controls.