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THREE STORIES IN THE KEY OF: US-STYLE THANKSGIVINGS AROUND THE WORLD

THREE STORIES IN THE KEY OF: US-STYLE THANKSGIVINGS AROUND THE WORLD

Many countries around the world observe some sort of autumn harvest festival but some, for various reasons, have actually adopted their own versions of the US Thanksgiving tradition. Here’s a global Thanksgiving sampler dish from Kevin Allison:


Liberia: Beginning in the 1820s, thousands of free blacks and former slaves set out from the US for the new colony of Liberia, which had been established by the American Colonization Society, an unlikely coalition of northern abolitionists and southern slaveholders founded to promote the migration of African-Americans to Africa (or, alternatively, their deportation from the United States). Within a few decades, most of the colony’s original settlers had succumbed to disease, and today their descendants comprise just 5 percent of the country’s population. But Liberians still gather every November 1 to dine on roasted chicken, mashed cassava, and green bean casserole in homage to the original American holiday traditions that their ancestors brought across the Atlantic.

Grenada: The celebration of American Thanksgiving in the tiny Caribbean island nation of Grenada dates back to the Cold War. In October 1983, the country’s popular Marxist leader, Maurice Bishop, was overthrown and killed by his deputy prime minister, sparking violent protests across the country. Citing concerns about the safety of American students at a local medical school, then-US President Ronald Reagan launched an invasion, code-named Operation Urgent Fury, to restore order on October 25. Elections followed a year later, and Grenada has remained a democracy to this day. Since then, Grenada has celebrated October 25 officially as Thanksgiving Day, to honor the US intervention.

Canada First!: Many historians date the first Thanksgiving-style celebration in Canada to 1578, when the pirate-explorer Sir Martin Frobisher made safe passage to present-day Newfoundland – a full four decades before the America’s Pilgrim forebearers sat down for their autumn harvest with Wampanoag Indians in today’s Massachusetts. Canada may have Given Thanks first, but over the years the occasion has taken on trappings of its American counterpart – including a main dish of turkey, allegedly popularized by pro-British colonists who left the newly independent United States for Canada after the American Revolutionary War.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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