In Other News…

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Alexei Navalny, above, is currently one of the most controversial figures in Russia. He is part of just one of the biggest international stories currently.

Other than the obvious, how’s the world doing?

 

This question has become difficult to answer recently.  With a pandemic topped by what is essentially a political schism, there isn’t much front page space left.  Therefore, what normally is front page worthy news is currently getting little attention, if any at all.  This doesn’t mean that they aren’t notable events that everyone should know.  But whether it’s here in the US or on the other side of the world, there are plenty of important things someone tired of covid and politics can explore.  These are some of those stories.

 

Faceoff between India and China

One country attempting a land grab from another is nothing new, but can still mean a lot.  A current example of this is what is happening in the mountainous area of Sikkim.  The land technically belongs to India, but China, which borders it, has been slowly creeping into the area over the past few months.  They are building new villages in this region that they carved out for themselves, seemingly as an attempt to further claim it.  This tactic, known as salami slicing, is not new for China, as they previously attempted it in the South China Sea.  Their construction projects are growing at a rate that is alarming for India, which is starting to see miles worth of its land dissolve into another nation.  Therefore, the government is paying increasingly close attention to the issue.  100,000 troops on both sides, for example, are deployed in just one mountainous region.  Recently, a minor battle was reportedly fought in the area.  Neither country reported any deaths as a result of the conflict, but both are being very vague about the situation.  They appear to be playing it down, for potentially good reasons.  The Chinese foreign ministry claims that there are current military talks and leaders are working to diffuse the situation.  However, many possibilities remain open.  This could be a forgettable incident, or could transform into something much worse.

 

Alexei Navalny

Most criticism of Russia comes from outside its borders.  However, a growing amount of people from within the nation are voicing their disapproval of the government.  The leader of those voices is Alexi Navalny, a 44 year old lawyer and blogger.  Over the past few years, he has gained significant support in Russia, which is almost completely controlled by Vladamir Putin and his allies.  Navalny is almost as anti-Putin as possible, calling him a corrupt leader and claiming his United Russia party is filled with “crooks and thieves.”  Unsurprisingly, he is often arrested for what seems to be ridiculous reasons.  He also attempted to challenge Putin in his reelection in 2018, but wasn’t even allowed on the ballot.  Despite all of this, Navalny’s support is only growing.  However, he was poisoned in August by a nerve agent painted on his doorknob, most likely carried out by Putin’s government.  He was nearly killed, but received treatment in Germany that managed to save him.  What vaults Navalny into the news once again was his immediate arrest after returning to Russia following his recovery.  Putin claims it is necessary, as he has supposedly been working with the US.  Navalny says it is an attempt at keeping him quiet.  So far, it isn’t working.  He released an hour long youtube video on January 19th that claims Putin has built a massive palace, complete with an ice rink and casino.  As of January 27th, the video has a whopping 97 million views.  Navalny must now face the test of staying relevant while in prison.  He has organized countless protests before and is likely to try and do the same again.  Based on where he is now, it doesn’t seem like he tires of challenging tyrants.

 

The 2021 Olympics

Remember when the 2020 Tokyo Olympics were supposed to happen?  Understandably, most people don’t.  It was pushed back to 2021, with the anticipation that it would be safe by then.  Even that may be a stretch by today’s standards.  At the very least, it would be a logistical horror to get on the road.  The event, which is typically one of the largest and most anticipated occurrences in the world, is set to begin on July 23rd.  On January 27th, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) vowed this will happen.  This isn’t impossible to pull off.  Leagues such as the NBA managed to run incredibly successful bubbles, and even the NFL was able to have a typical full-length season despite some hiccups.  However, the Olympics is far larger than either of these leagues, with 11,000 athletes participating in 2016.  That number is large on its own but doesn’t even consider the tens of thousands of officials, journalists, and other individuals needed to work the event.  Even despite all the potential issues this can present, Florida offered to host if Japan backed out.  However, this doesn’t mean Japan has lost interest in hosting.  In fact, they are more determined than ever to do so.  While many plans are yet to be laid out, it is expected that there will be some spectators attending, with a possible contact tracing app that would keep track of potential outbreaks.  Many people in the country are becoming sick of all the Olympic talk, with one poll showing 77% of the Japanese do not want it hosted this July.  Cancelling it, though, can be a massive detriment to the Japanese economy, which could partially explain why the organizers are so persistent.  Yet getting the Olympics to happen could also serve as a symbol for many of human resilience and a return to normalcy.

 

Thankfully, not all current events are about Covid or the political state of America.  It can be easy to occasionally forget how large the world really is.  Taking note of this is healthy, or at least much healthier than being obsessed with and overwhelmed by just the front page.  It can be helpful to look beyond that, even if the other stories are not necessarily happy.  Regardless of the content, an occasional search for news from across the globe can be a good break from America and show us what is occuring in the rest of the world.