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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UK Prime Minister Liz Truss

GZERO Media

British Prime Minister Liz Truss’s first few weeks in office have been a hot mess.

Markets are in a tizzy, the pound tumbled to a record low against the US dollar, and interest rates have surged. Unsurprisingly, Brits are increasingly disillusioned with their new government and Truss’s Conservative Party.

Truss’s month-long premiership has been dubbed the worst start to a new government in British history. How did she get here and what does this mean for her party — and British politics — going forward?

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GZERO Media

Developed and emerging economies alike have seen the value of their currencies plummet in recent months due to the economic reverberations of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Food and fuel shortages have put upward pressure on prices, and inflation has soared to record highs in some places. While inflationary pressures are surely being felt in the US, the greenback has reached a two-decade high compared to other major currencies. This is in part because the US Federal Reserve’s measures to curb inflation have boosted investor confidence. However, a strong US dollar can have painful consequences for other states, particularly import-reliant ones, because most global commodities are priced in US dollars. We take a look at the value of currencies used in the world’s largest economies compared to the US dollar before and after Russia invaded Ukraine.

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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A woman speaks on the phone outside a money exchange office in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

Reuters

16.6: Remittances to Mexico in the year leading up to July rose a whopping 16.6% to $32.8 billion, in large part due to the US’ post-pandemic booming labor market. Unemployment levels remain very low in the US – a good thing for Mexican remittances – though that could change as the US Federal Reserve doubles down on its effort to quell inflation.

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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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A woman cries in support of Mahsa Amini and Iran's women's movement

Reuters/ GZERO Media

They come from the capital city and from rural townships. Some wear makeup and jeans while others are clad in traditional robes though they leave their silver hair uncovered. They are all Iranian women uniting against the Islamic Republic’s oppressive regime.

Nationwide protests – that have spread to Iran's 31 provinces – broke out on Sept. 17 after Mahsa Amini, 22, a young Iranian woman, was allegedly beaten to death by the regime’s “morality police” for failing to fully cover her hair.

🌖A symbol like the moon🌖. Mahsa, a name of Persian origin that means like the moon, has emerged as a symbol of the ayatollahs’ oppressive system that sometimes sends women to “reeducation centers” for failing to comply with strict modesty requirements – sometimes with deadly consequences.

Iran has a long tradition of mass demonstrations, including those that led to the 1979 revolution and the country’s current system of clerical despotism. However, in recent years many of the country’s mass movements have had their momentum halted by brute government force. Will this time be different?

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British pound coins are seen in front of displayed stock graph.

Reuters

Bank of England to the rescue?

The Bank of England stepped in Wednesday to try and calm markets that had gone haywire after the Conservative British government, led by new PM Liz Truss, introduced £45 billion ($49 billion) worth of tax cuts despite sky-high inflation. The bank will fork out £65 billion ($70 billion) to buy government bonds “at an urgent pace” to try to revive investor confidence and boost the pound, which recently fell to a record low against the US dollar. This development comes after the International Monetary Fund issued an unusual rebuke this week of British fiscal policy, warning that the tax cuts would exacerbate inequality. There are also concerns that some pension funds, which invest in government bonds, could be made insolvent following the collapse of UK government bond prices in recent weeks. Though the bank’s intervention is significant, there’s no indication that the Truss government is willing to reverse course (i.e. limit borrowing) to regain market trust. Meanwhile, in a keynote speech Wednesday, Labour leader Keir Starmer said Tories had “crashed the pound,” noting that “this is a Labour moment.” Indeed, Labour is currently trouncing the Conservatives in the polls, but Starmer would need to maintain this momentum until the next general election, which must be held by January 2025.

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