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What We’re Watching: Wisconsin riots turn deadly, COVID-19 spreads in Gaza, Xinjiang (still) on lockdown

What We’re Watching: Wisconsin riots turn deadly, COVID-19 spreads in Gaza, Xinjiang (still) on lockdown

Chaos and anti-racism riots in Wisconsin: A white teenager was arrested Wednesday on murder charges a day after killing at least one of two people shot dead amid street protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Also on Wednesday, the NBA postponed several playoff basketball games after players for the Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin's home team, went on strike to protest racial injustice. Although the exact details are still unclear, the two killings occurred after a group of armed civilians — which police described as vigilante militia groups — clashed with protesters once police had cleared the area to enforce a curfew. The protests were sparked by the case of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, who has been left paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on Sunday. We're watching to see if the protests and riots spread to other parts of the country as was the case back in June, when the killing of George Floyd (also a Black man) by a white police officer in Minneapolis ushered in a wave of mass rallies calling for a national reckoning on racial justice and police brutality, including proposals to reform the police itself in many US cities (and around the world, too). The unrest in Kenosha also takes place as the US presidential election campaign ramps up — President Trump will likely push his tough law-and-order approach to dealing with violent protesters to draw a contrast with his opponent Joe Biden, whom Trump wants to portray as soft on crime.


Coronavirus in Gaza: The Gaza Strip has been placed under lockdown for 48-hours after community transmission of COVID-19 was detected there for the first time. Until now, all known cases in Gaza were linked to quarantine facilities where travelers returning from abroad were required to remain in isolation for 21 days. But these new cases — and one death —were all linked to a family living in the al-Maghazi refugee camp with no known travel record. To date, blockades and restrictions on movement imposed by Israel have spared the impoverished Strip, run by the militant group Hamas, from widespread infection. Gaza, home to over 2 million people, hosts some of the most densely populated refugee camps in the world, where social distancing is impossible. Coupled with a crippled healthcare system, poor sanitation and regular power outages, a deadly outbreak of disease in the enclave would be catastrophic, health experts warn.

China keeps Xinjiang locked down: Residents of China's northwestern Xinjiang region are fed up with the draconian measures that authorities have continued to impose to stop the spread of the coronavirus, despite the fact that the region has not registered a positive case for more than a week. After several COVID-19 outbreaks were reported there in late July, Beijing ordered a sweeping lockdown in Xinjiang, with harsh restrictions such as punishing violators by handcuffing them to their homes or forcing ethnic Uighur residents — who have long been victims of human rights violations by the Chinese government — to take traditional Chinese medicine to ward off the coronavirus. What's more, the strict stay-at-home order remains in place despite the fact that the region has not registered a positive case for more than a week. Xinjiang residents can't take it anymore, and have gone to social media to vent their frustration. Although the lockdown is roughly similar to the one China imposed in Wuhan to contain the first outbreak of COVID-19 back in February, its duration and severity have prompted concerns that Beijing is being too harsh on its anti-coronavirus strategy in Xinjiang, where community services are not as developed as Wuhan's, so people banned from going outside to buy food are often left hungry in their own homes.

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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