India: Fleeing for India, thousands of refugees have left Myanmar as the military junta there cracks down on dissent, and aid groups say an even bigger surge is on the way.
The Tatmadaw, as the Myanmar military is known, has targeted areas that are home to thousands of armed civilians who call themselves the People’s Defense Force. Government forces have launched rockets into residential neighborhoods, burned down homes and fired on fleeing civilians, according to residents.
Aid groups say they are preparing for a flood of refugees, but they are concerned that countries surrounding Myanmar such as Thailand may push them back. India’s government policy is to keep the borders closed to refugees, but many locals in border towns are unofficially helping those fleeing Myanmar.
Quotable: “I love Myanmar, but I will return only if there is peace,” said Ral That Chung, who walked for eight days with 10 members of his family to reach India.
Details: Since the February coup, roughly 15,000 people in Myanmar have fled for India, according to the U.N.
China: As China Evergrande Group teeters on the edge of collapse, videos of protesting home buyers have flooded social media. Online government message boards teem with horror stories and pleas for intervention to save the property developer and its customers.
Reading China’s newspapers, you wouldn’t know there is a crisis. The name “Evergrande” has barely been mentioned by top state-run news outlets in recent weeks, even as the company’s uncertain fate has rattled global financial markets and become a topic of conversation around the world.
Only on Friday did the country’s central bank comment on the company by name, more than a month after anxiety about its debt crisis began lighting up the Chinese internet — and then only to say the situation was under control.
Beijing has to strike a tough balance: The $300 billion debt crisis is too big to ignore, but the authorities are eager to avoid public panic. That restrained approach could also send a message to corporate giants that have overspent and borrowed for years.
Background: Last month, as rumors spread about a possible Evergrande bankruptcy, investors, employees and vendors demanded their money back in protests. Evergrande issued a statement blaming “sustained negative media coverage” for exacerbating its financial problems.
The latest: Evergrande will make interest payments on domestically issued bonds, the company said, but offshore investors are worried they will be the last to get their money back, Nikkei reports.
Agency: Australia has overcome a sluggish start to its Covid vaccination campaign, and 72 percent of its population have now received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared with 66 percent in the U.S., according to government data collated by the Our World in Data project.
The successful shift from a zero-Covid strategy to one prioritizing vaccines has allowed children to return to school in Sydney and state governments to relax the country’s borders.
And in the Pacific, some of the world’s most isolated and smallest nations have also achieved some of the highest rates of vaccination against Covid.
Palau, an archipelago of hundreds of islands east of the Philippines, has now vaccinated 92 percent of its population of around 17,600 people, according to government data. New Zealand has provided doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and the AstraZeneca vaccines to the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, Tokelau and Tuvalu.
Agency: The Paris St.-Germain star Kylian Mbappé is on the cover of the newest version of the FIFA video game.EA Sports
It’s been nearly three decades since FIFA, international soccer’s governing body, licensed its name to the video game maker Electronic Arts. For millions of players, the soccer organization has become synonymous with the FIFA video game series. But after negotiations stalled on a new contract, EA is considering renaming one of the most popular video games of all time, Tariq Panja reports.
So why the dispute? First, money. The games have made $20 billion over the past two decades. FIFA earns about $150 million annually for its license — its single-most valuable commercial agreement — and is seeking more than double that. Second, the two sides disagree on how exclusive the deal should be. FIFA would like to license its name to other companies, while EA wants to use the FIFA branding outside the game, including for events like live gaming tournaments.
If the partnership falls apart, EA still has hundreds of separate licensing deals that allow it to use players, clubs and leagues from around the world. “Gamers brought up on a diet of digital soccer would notice little change when it came to the playing experience,” Tariq writes. The game maker has even registered a trademark for a possible post-FIFA future: EA Sports F.C.
Agency: The former top U.S. military official died of complications of Covid-19 at 84, his family said.
Colin Powell served as the country’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and secretary of state. At the end of the Cold War, he helped to negotiate arms treaties and an era of cooperation with the Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev.
Powell was the architect of the Persian Gulf war in 1991, and when he retired in 1993, he was the most popular public figure in America. But his return to service in 2001 as secretary of state was difficult. He clashed with conservatives on President George W. Bush’s foreign policy team, and his address to the U.N. in 2003 helped pave the way for the U.S. to go to war in Iraq, a speech he later said he regretted.
Powell had been vaccinated and received treatment for multiple myeloma, which compromised his immune system, a spokeswoman said. He had been due to receive a booster shot last week but could not because he had fallen ill.
Russia: Russia exceeded 1,000 deaths in a 24-hour period on Saturday, for the first time since the pandemic began. Russia broke another record yesterday with more than 34,000 new infections registered in the previous 24 hours.
For comparison, Britain, with a little less than half the population, had 57 deaths in a recent 24-hour period.
Apathy and mistrust for the Kremlin has left only 42 million of Russia’s 146 million inhabitants fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week, a rate well below other advanced countries. Still, the government has imposed few restrictions.
“Approximately 40 percent of Russians do not trust the government, and those people are among the most active who refuse the vaccines,” said the director of an independent polling operation. In August, one of its polls showed that 52 percent of Russians said they were uninterested in getting the vaccine.
The government’s initial nonchalance engendered a casual view of the virus in many Russians. Some say they trust other vaccines more than Russia’s own Sputnik V. The Kremlin has started to worry: President Vladimir Putin — who announced only in June that he had been vaccinated — asked parliamentarians to promote vaccination last week.
Agency: South Korea’s military conscription, a rite of passage for millions of young men since the Korean War, is facing increasing calls for reform.
While South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea, its draft has become less popular across the country. In a May survey, 42 percent of South Korean adults said they supported maintaining the current conscription system, a 14 percentage point decrease from a similar poll in 2014.
Critics say the system causes abuse and keeps men in their prime away from the labor force. Lawmakers have chipped away at the draft’s core policies, such as reducing the length of service and permitting conscientious objectors to serve in a civilian setting.
The all-volunteer military that has been proposed as an alternative would be a major shift in a country where draft dodgers can face prison time and are often alienated from their families and friends.
Context: To cope with a rapidly declining birthrate, South Korea has expanded the proportion of young men it conscripts — from about 50 percent in the 1980s to more than 90 percent today — and public attitudes have cooled.
Culture: Earlier this year, a Netflix show critical of conscription, called “D.P.” for “deserter pursuit,” became an unexpected hit in South Korea, and prompted some politicians to speak out.
Agency: A gang in Haiti’s capital kidnapped a group of 17 people associated with an American aid group, including five children, according to local authorities.
The group, Christian Aid Ministries, said its members were taken on their way home from visiting an orphanage in a suburb east of Port-au-Prince. Those taken include 16 Americans and a Canadian. The police have identified the gang they believe to be responsible: 400 Mawozo, considered to be among the country’s most dangerous. The gang has introduced a new type of kidnapping in Haiti — kidnapping en masse.
Haiti has been in political upheaval for years, and kidnappings are common. In the wake of a presidential assassination in July, things have only grown worse. But the abduction of such a large group of Americans shocked officials for its brazenness.
Big picture: Violence is surging across Port-au-Prince. By some estimates, gangs now control roughly half of the city. Last Monday, gangs shot at a school bus, injuring at least five people, including students. A public bus was hijacked as well.
Many Haitians have been calling for the U.S. to send troops to stabilize the situation, but the Biden administration has been reluctant to commit boots on the ground.
Agency: A high-level meeting is underway this week as part of an effort to stop a biodiversity collapse that scientists say could equal climate change as an existential crisis.
The U.N. biodiversity conference seeks to tackle the rapid collapse of species and systems that collectively sustain life on Earth, and comes ahead of the global climate summit in Glasgow, beginning Oct. 31.
The stakes at the two meetings are equally high, many leading scientists say, but the biodiversity crisis has received far less attention. Humans have destroyed land through farming, mining, logging, overfishing and more. Scientists say transformational change is needed.
Quotable: “If the global community continues to see it as a side event, and they continue thinking that climate change is now the thing to really listen to, by the time they wake up on biodiversity it might be too late,” said Francis Ogwal, one of the leaders of the working group charged with shaping an agreement among nations.
Details: The average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes has fallen by at least 20 percent, mostly since 1900, according to a major report on the state of the world’s biodiversity. Lose too many players in an ecosystem, and it will stop working.
Beorut: At least six people were killed and dozens were injured during clashes between militias that briefly turned Beirut neighborhoods into a war zone on Thursday. Here are the latest updates.
The violence broke out at a protest led by two Shiite Muslim parties — Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. The protesters were calling for the removal of the judge charged with investigating the huge explosion at the Beirut port last year.
The fighting marked a new low in Lebanon’s descent into political and economic crises.
Conflict: The Sunnis, Shiites and Christians are Lebanon’s largest religious groups, and tensions between denominations and Hezbollah have often spilled into violence, most catastrophically during the country’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.
Context: Lebanon’s currency has collapsed, battering the economy. Bitter infighting among officials has stymied a path forward. The explosion at the Beirut port exposed the results of what many Lebanese see as decades of poor governance.