Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko gestures while celebrating Independence Day in Minsk.

REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

0: Belarusian President — and Russian-language meme star — Alexander Lukashenko has a novel approach to inflation: ban it. Beginning on Thursday, he says, “any price increase is prohibited. Prohibited!” Whether this will produce zero price growth or have 0 effect remains to be seen.

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Rescuers work at a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine.

REUTERS

Russian strike on Zaporizhzhia provokes anger and fear

Ukraine’s foreign minister said Thursday that seven Russian missiles hit residential buildings overnight, killing a still unknown number of people in Zaporizhzhia, a city located in a region annexed by Russia in recent days and the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. President Putin has ordered Russian troops to take control of the plant. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Mariano Grossi was in Kyiv Thursday as part of talks on creating a zone of protection around it to avoid a catastrophe. Last week, at least 25 people were killed and many more wounded by a missile strike on a humanitarian convoy in this same region. It’s a reminder that though Russia is losing ground at the moment in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, it can still inflict great damage, including to civilians. And it’s one more attack that raises fears for nuclear safety.

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Paige Fusco, with image by DonkeyHotey

Earlier this week, US gross national debt hit a new high, clocking $31 trillion. Gasp! That’s almost twice what it was a decade ago, and debt is now equal to well over 100% of GDP, hovering at the highest levels since World War II.

Is steadily rising US debt a problem, or is the risk of a financial meltdown overblown? Here’s a quick guide to the debate over debt.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Ukraine on offense

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree on Tuesday asserting that all the lands that Russia’s Vladimir Putin claimed to annex last week — and Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014 — remain part of Ukraine. Zelensky and his generals appear to believe that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia, and they have battlefield advances to back up their case. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based military think tank, has reported that Ukraine has made “substantial gains” on both the eastern and southern fronts over the past few days and that the units they’re defeating are “some of Russia’s most elite forces.” No wonder Zelensky and many others would swat away suggestions from billionaire eccentric Elon Musk that Ukraine might trade land for peace. Russia has acknowledged recent losses, and blame continues to land on the country’s military brass. It’s not clear how far Ukraine can extend its current gains, but the recapture of Crimea, in particular, will be even more difficult than the more immediate tasks ahead for Ukrainian forces. But for now, Ukraine has pushed the Russian military, and the Kremlin, onto its heels.

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A pharmacist uses his phone light to serve customers during a nationwide blackout in Dhaka.

REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain

140 million: A massive outage in Bangladesh has left some 140 million people — and the world’s second-largest garment exporting industry — without power. As of this writing, the cause isn’t known, but the South Asian country’s power grid has suffered shortages since high fuel costs forced the government to shutter diesel-powered power plants earlier this year.

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A TV monitor announces the news of North Korea's ballistic missile launch in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.

Reuters

5: Early Tuesday, North Korea reportedly launched a single intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan, where residents in Hokkaido and Aomori were urged to seek shelter. The missile — Pyongyang’s most provocative test since January, and its first test over Japan in five years — is believed to have landed in the Pacific Ocean.

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UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng attend the annual Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Britain

Hannah McKay via Reuters

Truss’s tax U-turn

Will it be enough? New British PM Liz Truss’s government has reversed course on its economic agenda. Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng told the Conservative Party conference on Monday that a proposal to scrap the UK’s 45% tax rate for high-income earners would be axed. He cited the recent market chaos and vowed that there would be “no more distractions” in pursuing the rest of the government’s proposed tax policies. This caps a dismal couple of weeks for the new Tory leadership during which the Bank of England tried to calm markets after Kwarteng introduced £45 billion ($49 billion) worth of tax cuts despite sky-high inflation. The upheaval also caused the pound to plummet against the greenback (it regained some value on Monday). Truss and Kwarteng said they changed tack after listening to voters struggling amid the cost-of-living crisis. But it had become clear that the plan would have struggled to pass the House of Commons. The top tax rate accounted for just £2 billion of the proposed tax cuts, so this reversal will only go so far in placating opponents and markets. Truss addresses the party conference on Wednesday, and after her rocky start, we’ll be watching to see whether she can win support for her economic plan – and revive her party’s dismal approval rating enough to stay in the top job.

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Applicants looking at job offers displayed on a glass window of a recruitment agency in Manila, Philippines.

Reuters

The Philippines: From remittances to migrant worker superpower?

Being an Overseas Filipino Worker is nothing to sneeze at. When OFWs, as they're popularly known, go home for Christmas carrying huge cardboard boxes of gifts, they have a dedicated customs line and huge billboards thanking them for doing such a good job. Why? Because the remittances they send make up almost 10% of GDP. What's more, the Philippine labor diaspora is among the world’s biggest at 10% of the population — and a prized voting bloc. That’s why President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. spent almost as much time visiting OFWs in the US and the Gulf as he did on the domestic campaign trail. It paid off: Marcos killed it with OFWs, who helped him last May win a plurality of the vote for the first time since his authoritarian dad was in charge. Now, Marcos Jr. wants OFWs to play an even bigger role in his administration. For one thing, he’s asking them to go beyond remittances and actually invest in crucial business sectors such as tourism. For another, Marcos thinks the Philippines can punch above its tiny diplomatic weight by leveraging the power of its huge expat workforce to achieve political goals like trade deals. If a pandemic-era deployment ban on Filipino nurses worsened a global shortage, imagine what would happen to the shipping industry if Manila called back a quarter of the world's seafarers.

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