Russia’s role and interest in keeping simmering conflicts across the former Soviet republics have damaged the prospects of peace. This is also true for the South Caucasus. "Russia is interested only in keeping its influence in the region [...] which is undoubtedly imperialist at its core,” one researcher says.

The Kremlin claims that Rosselkhozbank, Russia’s fifth-biggest lender, only funds farmers and the food industry. But an investigation has found that amid the Russian pressure, Rosselkhozbank quietly arranged to lend up to $350 million to a little-known Hong Kong trading house that ships oil from Rosneft, the Russian state oil company.

Albert Ho was granted bail in August 2022, with media reporting he needed medical treatment for lung cancer. The judge who granted bail told Ho that if his bail will be revoked "he won’t be able to receive any kind of private medical care”.

The two men are accused to possess books which “provoke hatred or contempt” for the central government, the Hong Kong SAR government and Hong Kong’s judiciary. Meanwhile, the UN called upon the authorities to repeal the sedition laws and refrain from using them to suppress the expression of critical and dissenting opinions.

Cambodia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kenya are among the latest targets for English private schools aiming to expand overseas, often in partnership with property developers looking to build luxury developments or even entire cities.

The prosecutor accused three people of acting as foreign agents with ties to overseas organizations, but refused to name the organizations. The defence lawyer said “not knowing the identity” of the alleged foreign government or entity made any mitigation difficult given the foreign agent allegation.

Every year, the Committee to Protect Journalists documents the number of journalists behind bars worldwide. The 2022 edition sets a grim record of 363 names. But Wikileaks founder Julian Assange fails to appear on the list as has been the case since he was dragged from London’s Ecuadorian Embassy in 2019 and locked in solitary confinement at Belmarsh Prison, dubbed “Britain’s Guantánamo.”

“The practical impacts [...] of Chinese control over our communications infrastructure, our ocean territory and the resources within them, and our security space, aside from impacts on our sovereignty, is that it increases the chances of China getting into conflict with Australia, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand, on the day when Beijing decides to invade Taiwan,” David Panuelo said in a letter.

While the World Health Organization says it's continuing to urge China to share data and cooperate with investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the United Nations' health agency is also calling out the United States.

The man whose leaking of the Pentagon Papers and decades of anti-war activity have inspired generations of whistleblowers and activists, announced on social media that he was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer, and doctors have given me three to six months to live. Whistleblowers and activists hailed a man one collaborator said "has been a beacon of integrity and truth, willing to say and do what the warmakers and nuclear-holocaust planners find completely unacceptable."

Albania has largely steered clear of piling on huge Chinese debt in exchange for development. But PM Edi Rama said his country will not completely leave the initiative as it is important for countries to “talk as much as we can to each other” and to “put ourselves in the shoes of others.”

"After more than a decade of austerity, the UK lives with private affluence – if only for the privileged few – amid public squalor,” a new report says. Economic policies generated a lose-lose-lose for the UK economy after 2010, leading to stagnant productivity, falling living standards, and worse public services. The study published by the Progressive Economy Forum in brief: - Given that spending increases were matched by increased tax revenues, public spending could have been increased by 3% every year between 2011-2019, which amounts to £540bn for the entire period. - The analysis compares this with some numbers: "A large hospital costs around £1 billion to construct, while the total NHS budget in 2018-19 was around £114 billion. In 2023, every 1% pay increase for NHS workers on the Agenda for Change pay scale, which includes nurses and midwives, would cost around £700m [...]. An extra £91bn in 2019 [...] would be enough to fund the entire education budget." - In the scenario described by the researchers, the UK's debt-to-GDP ratio would have been 3 percentage points lower by the end of 2019 despite the increase in public spending. - Claims by former governments that a reduction in the size of the state would raise confidence in the ability of the government to service its debt, leading to lower interest rates, greater macroeconomic stability, and thereby higher growth, are outweighed by labour market mechanisms. - This is because "cuts to government spending, particularly on benefits and public sector employees, increase the cost of being unemployed and worsen the public sector employment alternatives available to private sector workers", the researchers say. Consequently, the bargaining power of private sector workers weakens so they become willing to work for lower wages. - The results are higher employment and economic activity, but at lower wages and worse conditions. The indirect effects of this were severe and highly unequal in the UK since 2010 as the costs fell overwhelmingly on women and the lower paid - an effect the researchers call "exploitative austerity." - There's no need a return to austerity in 2023, the report goes on. Balanced budget increases in spending (meaning that public spending goes hand in hand with tax revenues) are necessary to "break the doom loop of austerity".

Crowds were protesting against a government plan that would give parliament the power to override the Supreme Court through a simple majority vote, and de facto control over court nominees. The new rules have pitted PM Netanyahu’s far-right government against the country’s civil society, academic and business elite, and former government ministers and military figures.

Social media users accused banks of being “shameless” in encouraging pensioners to take out loans, as the number of foreclosures on properties increased by more than one-third last year. House prices plummeted in 2022, and confidence in the market remains shaky.

Iran's IRGC, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is not only a military force used to suppress protests and spread terror, it also controls more than half of Iran’s economy, according to estimates.

On April 8 last year, a ballistic missile equipped with a cluster munition warhead dispersed 50 small bombs, known as submunitions, over the train tracks and station in Kramatorsk, where hundreds of people were waiting for evacuation trains. At least 58 people were killed and over 100 others were injured, according to Human Rights Watch.

In the first two weeks of the Russian invasion, an average of four to five hospitals were attacked daily. The result was the destruction of care facilities, ambulances, critical health infrastructure, theft of supplies as well as assaults, torture, and ill-treatment of health workers such as doctors, nurses, and paramedics.

Since Russian forces first occupied Crimea in 2014, numerous civil society organizations have been established in Ukraine and across Central and Eastern Europe to expose Moscow’s false narratives. Now counter-disinformation groups have adapted to Russian tactics, researcher says.

The US has transferred two brothers from its Guantánamo Bay detention centre to Pakistan, bringing the total number of people held at Guantánamo down to 32. Guantánamo came to symbolise the excesses of the US “war on terror” because of harsh interrogation methods that critics have said amounted to torture.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled biometric privacy claims accrue under state law every time a person provides their biometric information without prior informed consent, but also suggested damages should not be so large as to bankrupt businesses. In last week's ruling, damages would have added up to $17 billion.

If passed as written, it would preemptively ban the use of the COVID-19 vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna as well as countless other mRNA vaccines that are now in development, such as shots for RSV, a variety of cancers, HIV, flu, Nipah virus, and cystic fibrosis, among others.

"Both sides know that Beijing can make no commitment and get away with it", said Dolkun Isa from the World Uyghur Congress. Instead, any forthcoming bilateral meeting should be used by the EU to commit to follow up the UN report on Xinjiang and set up an independent, international investigative mechanism into crimes against humanity.

The author and entrepreneur Raymond Baker accuses the US and China, which together account for over 40% of the world’s nominal GNP, of knowingly exploiting secrecy in global economic relations. Now, the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine and climate change even worsen inequality within and among nations. [Highly recommended book if I may say so. I've read it, too, and although I don't agree in every aspect, Baker's arguments are very legitimate.]

The protests were sparked by cuts to monthly allowances paid to retirees under China’s vast public health insurance system. The changes, gradually introduced since 2021, come as local government finances are strained following years of strict and costly zero-Covid policies.

A new generation of younger, female, Indigenous, Black, Latinx and queer farmers are still contending with US land prices out of reach, and old attitudes that minimize a healthier, more sustainable food production. By focusing on voices not typically part of mainstream man-to-man economic discourse, however, their new approach celebrates an economy waged as life—not as war.

Rights groups accuse Beijing of abuses against Uyghurs, the ethnic minority that numbers about 10 million in Xinjiang, including the mass use of forced labour in internment camps. China is also alleged to have forcibly sterilised women in the province.

The former Conservative party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that the governor of Xinjiang, Erkin Tuniyaz, should be arrested if he arrives in the UK. Tuniyaz, who is due to visit the UK next week and may meet officials, is accused of overseeing widespread attacks against the Uyghur ethnic group and other Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang.

Erkin Tuniyaz, the Chinese Communist Party deputy secretary in Xinjiang and chairman of the Xinjiang government, who is slated to meet with UK and EU officials in February, gave a speech in 2018 in which he instructed officials to ensure that “absolutely secure” measures were adopted to prevent people from escaping from political education camps and police detention facilities. The US sanctioned Tuniyaz in 2021 for his role in Xinjiang abuses.

The communist party’s propaganda machine pulled out all the stops to ensure the public opinion was in accordance with party narrative (and, yes, countries in "the west" are frequently trying the same).

"What they're accusing Julian of, they could accuse [...] any other journalist, any other publisher, any day they choose. ... If we want an open and accountable democracy, where you can expose corruption and criminality, if that is the society that we want, Julian has to be free", his wife Stella Assange said.

The US football forward Alex Morgan has questioned the possible sponsorship deal between the world's football federation Fifa and Saudi Arabia’s tourism authority for the upcoming Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this summer. Both host countries' federations have also decried the move because of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, especially when it comes to women and LGBTQ individuals.

“In recent years the residential school system for Tibetan children appears to act as a mandatory large-scale programme intended to assimilate Tibetans into majority Han culture, contrary to international human rights standards,” three UN experts say.

The 32 year old Afghan, who completed his MSc at a leading university last year, despite spending more than a year in a succession of single hotel rooms with his wife and two children under the age of three, now says he is having to choose between an academic career or a place to live.

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