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Curated by Peter Hulm

News from 2020 not involving COVID-19, unless it predicts the impacts. See also: POST-COVID for assessments and reports on what comes next.

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Non-COVID news for June 2020


The 10 Most Neglected Refugee and Displacement Crises in the World — 22 June 2020


How to Avoid Conflict in DR Congo's Mineral Mining Heartland

"To create economic opportunities for artisanal miners, the DRC government should create artisanal mining zones and remove impediments to industrial subcontracting of artisanal miners. Mining companies should meet their legal obligations to support community development, and standard-setting organisations should make clear that they see industrial-artisanal cooperation as responsible corporate behaviour."

crisisgroup (LINK)

The Airline Industry Blocked Disclosure of Trade Data, Helping Conceal the Airlift of N95 Masks From the U.S. to China


Soil Scientist Wins $250K Prize for Helping Farmers and Fighting the Climate Crisis

Rattan Lal, a professor of soil science and the director of the Carbon Management and Sequestration Center at The Ohio State University, has pioneered farming techniques that prevent soil from losing vital nutrients and even put nutrients back into soil.

ecowatch (LINK)


U.S.-Iran standoff: rare cooperation

Iran's Chabahar port spared from US sanctions in rare cooperation. Despite escalating tensions, both countries see Iran's Chabahar port as key to stabilising neighbouring Afghanistan.

aljazeera (LINK)


Inside the Trump Administration's Decision to Leave the World Health Organization

Despite Trump's declared exit from the WHO, officials continued working toward reforms and to prevent withdrawal. The White House gave little direction on what to do next. The American ambassador in Geneva, Andrew Bremberg, kept negotiating with the WHO director general on the reforms demanded by the president, including an independent inquiry into the WHO's response to the pandemic. Dozens of scientists, doctors and public health specialists detailed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention kept working at their posts at the WHO's Geneva headquarters and in the field, fighting Ebola and other diseases in Africa and elsewhere.

propublica (LINK)


Study Finds Only 2.5 Percent of the World's Coral Reefs Are Currently Being Actively Protected

These numbers are significantly lower than previous estimates.

newswise (LINK)

Crytocurrencies / Crime

500 Estonian Crypto Companies Lose Permits After $220B Scandal

Europe's biggest money laundering scandal: hundreds of billions of dollars of dirty money was detected in the Estonian unit of Denmark's largest lender Danske Bank A/S. More than 500 companies — about a third of the total — swhich had failed to start operations in Estonia within six months of being licensed, have seen their permits withdrawn.

cointelegraph (LINK)

Politics / Aid

USAID staff demand action from agency leaders over 'systemic racism'

"USAID's credibility and effectiveness abroad are undermined by systemic racism and injustice at home."

nbcnews (LINK)


Trump Administration Refuses To Disclose Which Businesses Received $500 Billion In Government Bailout

The move will prevent oversight of 4.5 million businesses that took a government Paycheck Protection Program loan. One critic called it "unconscionable, jaw-dropping corruption". The lack of transparency is a stark break from the past. Normally, the Small Business Administration discloses the names of borrowers from the program on which it based.

huffpost (LINK)


Trump targets International Criminal Court for sanctions over war crimes probe

President Trump signed an executive order authorizing economic sanctions and travel restrictions against workers from the International Criminal Court who are investigating American troops and intelligence officials for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan.

axios (LINK)


The U.S. Fed Keeps Denying Its Role in Increasing Inequality

The Federal Reserve expects low inflation, says rates will stay close to zero through 2022 and keeps lying about the role of central banks in increasing inequality.

Net inflation stats gloss over specifics, including food prices that have been rising at an annual rate of 17.5%.

The Fed [plays a] pronounced role in exacerbating inequality by propping up artificially high asset prices, effectively locking low and middle income households out of the mechanism for economic advancement.

coindesk (LINK)

Rights / China

HSBC publicly supports Hong Kong security law after pressure from former Governor (LINK)


Hong Kong most expensive city to be an expat

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, jumped five spots to steal second place, in part due to currency fluctuations. Japan's capital Tokyo rounded out third place in a top 10 list dominated by Asian cities, including Singapore (5th) and Chinese megacities like Shanghai (7th) and Beijing (10th). Zurich was 4th, Bern 8th, Geneva 9th.

cnbc (LINK)


More than 1,000 metric tons of microplastics rain down on US parks and wilderness

A survey of 11 remote western locations found that, over a year, the fragments had traveled through the atmosphere like rain or water particles.

theguardian (LINK)


Zoom admits it complied with Chinese government to suspend activist users

Video conferencing software company Zoom has admitted that it suspended the accounts of users in the United States and Hong Kong at the request of the Chinese government, and that it intends to add the ability to block or remove meeting participants from mainland China.

digitaltrends (LINK)


Commonwealth leaders reject second term for Baroness Scotland after corruption allegations

Earlier this year the British government suspended its funding of the Commonwealth Secretariat, the body that runs the international organisation from London.

UK diplomats told Lady Scotland that Britain's annual £4.7m voluntary contribution would be withheld until her secretariat improved its financial procedures.

The secretariat insisted it was implementing recommendations made by external auditors. The UK decision came after Lady Scotland was criticised by auditors for "circumventing" usual competitive tendering rules when she awarded a lucrative consultancy contract to a company run by a friend.

The auditors also discovered that procurement rules had been waived by the secretariat on no fewer than 50 occasions over three years.

bbc (LINK)


US facial recognition technology likely illegal in Europe

The European Data Protection Board said that "the use of a service such as Clearview AI by law enforcement authorities in the European Union would, as it stands, likely not be consistent with the EU data protection regime."

politico (LINK)


Columbus statue beheaded in Boston, another toppled in Richmond

Anti-racism protesters in Virginia toppled a Christopher Columbus statue, set it on fire, and then threw into a lake, decrying the explorer as a symbol of genocide. Another Columbus statue was beheaded in Boston.

dw (LINK)

Banksy proposes a new statue to replace torn-down UK monument

"Here's an idea that caters for both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don't. We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down. Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated."

foxnews (LINK)

Trump ‘will not even consider' removing names of Confederate leaders from U.S. bases

Trump's announcement via tweet basically slapped down those Pentagon officials open to discussing the issue, which has emerged as a way of achieving racial reconciliation. In a series of tweets, Trump argued the bases have become part of a "Great American Heritage".

globalnews (LINK)

J.K. Rowling defends herself after accusations of making "anti-trans" comments on Twitter

Rowling laments that society today is in the "most misogynistic period I've experienced".

cbsnews (LINK)

Friends Say Elderly Protester Shoved by Buffalo Police Is a Catholic Peace Activist, Not Antifa as claimed by Trump

time (LINK)


Carbon Dioxide Levels Just Hit 417ppm, Highest In Human History

May 2020 hit a record high, 417 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide as measured at the Mauna Loa Observatory, which has continually measured CO2 in the atmosphere since 1958.

forbes (LINK)


13,500-year-old bird figurine discovered in China is a game-changer for prehistoric art

"This discovery identifies an original artistic tradition and pushes back by more than 8,500 years the representation of birds in Chinese art," researchers said in a press release. "The figurine differs technologically and stylistically from other specimens found in Western Europe and Siberia, and it could be the missing link tracing the origin of Chinese statuary back to the Palaeolithic period."

cnn (LINK)


MIT visionaries under 35: includes Camille François: "She uses data science to detect disinformation and harassment campaigns"

Last year, François and colleagues at Oxford used her approach to help the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence better understand Russian activities during and after the 2016 presidential election.

technologyreview (LINK)


Apple becomes the first $1.5 trillion U.S. company—despite COVID-19

Apple is the first U.S. company to exceed $1.5 trillion in value. (Saudi Aramco is the only other company that has crossed this milestone; it was worth $2 trillion after its first day of trading post-IPO.)

fastcompany (LINK)


UN staff 'not banned from anti-racist demos'

In a letter to staff that followed public pushback from the UN's own special rapporteur on freedom of assembly, [the Secretary-General] insisted that a memo from its ethics board [late last week] did not mean that staff were required to "remain neutral or impartial in the face of racism".

theguardian (LINK)


IBM's CEO said the firm will stop offering facial recognition software and called for 'national dialogue' on the use of the technology in law enforcement

"IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms," he said in a letter.

businessinsider (LINK)


UN guide offers resource for blockchain education

The UN is using a blockchain for land record management in Afghanistan, for a supply chain solution in Africa, for vendor payments via smart contracts in Kazakhstan, and much more.

coingeek (LINK)


Biden clinches Democratic nomination, with little of traditional fanfare

Mr. Biden pulled together the 1,991 delegates needed to become the nominee Friday after seven states and the District of Columbia held presidential primaries.

csmonitor (LINK)


NFL apology over treatment of players' anti-racism protests

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has apologised for the way the United States National Football League has handled players' protests against racial injustice and police brutality. Colin Kaepernick and others began kneeling in 2016 as the national anthem was played.

aljazeera (LINK)


2 Buffalo Police Officers Charged With Shoving 75-year-old Protester To Ground, all 57 members of their unit, the Emergency Response Team (ERT), resigned their positions with the team on Friday and sought reassignment within the department.

The severity of the charge, which carries a penalty of up to seven years in prison, is partly because of the age difference between the protester and the men charged.

npr (LINK)

Colin Kaepernick has more support now, still long way to go

The 32-year-old Kaepernick hasn't played in the NFL since 2016. Kaepernick still wants an opportunity to play. A workout in Atlanta last November that was organized by the NFL turned chaotic and resulted in no job offers.

apnews (LINK)


French forces kill al Qaeda's North Africa chief in Mali, defence minister says

Droukdel was killed on Thursday near the Algerian border, where the group has bases from which it has carried out attacks and abductions of Westerners in the sub-Saharan Sahel zone, the government said.

france24 (LINK)


Cameroon army says missing journalist Wazizi died in custody, denies torture

Cameroon's army on Friday confirmed anglophone journalist Samuel Wazizi died in detention last year, accusing him of associating with terrorists but denying allegations he had been tortured.

The army said Wazizi died "as a result of severe sepsis" on August 17, 2019, 15 days after the press watchdog group RSF says he was arrested. The military's statement — 10 months after the fact — came after Cameroon's journalist union reported that Wazizi died and said the army had tortured him.

Wazizi had worked for the local CMTV channel in one of two regions where anglophone separatists have launched an armed campaign for independence from French-speaking Cameroon. He was arrested in the city of Buea on August 2 and "accused of speaking critically on the air about the authorities and their handling of the crisis," Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says.

newswires on france24 (LINK)

Environment / Economy

Trump opens Atlantic sanctuary to commercial fishing

Trump also announced he would create a task force to identify international markets for United States seafood.

aljazeera (LINK)


Iran stockpiled enriched uranium at nearly 8 times the limit — UN

The UN nuclear watchdog has said the finding violates the terms of Iran's 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has also reportedly continued to enrich uranium to a purity of up to 4.5%, higher than the 3.67% allowed.

dw (LINK)


As Protests Sweep the US, the UN Tweets Platitudes

Amid curfews in New York City, constant marches and protests, sirens from the streets and helicopters whirring above, the United Nations top leader, António Guterres, has not appeared before the media to say anything directly about the convulsions exploding across the five boroughs and far beyond. Instead, he has relied on his spokespeople to provide responses.

PassBlue (LINK)


Prosecutors charge 3 more officers in George Floyd's death, upgrade original charge to second-degree murder

The most serious charge was filed against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd's neck and now must defend himself against an accusation of second-degree murder. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

apnews (LINK)


Former President George W. Bush: 'It is time for America to examine our tragic failures'

Bush did not speak out publicly on police killings during his two terms as president, despite two major cases, according to The New York Times. And he did not refer to policy brutality specifically, instead speaking of racism and saying black Americans "are harassed and threatened in their own country".

nbcnews (LINK)

Non-COVID news from May 2020

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