The World This Week

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The World This Week
Olympics in Japan, Six months of military rule in Myanmar, and a political opening in Lebanon

  GP Team

The World This Week #130, Vol. 3, No. 31

Keerthana Nambiar, Vibha Venugopal, and Rashmi Ramesh

Japan: The Olympics continue in Tokyo, amidst controversies
What happened?
On 1 August, it will be the tenth day of the Tokyo Olympics 2020. The games were inaugurated by Japan's Emperor Naruhito with the theme of "Moving forward" to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach quoted "We can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger if we stand together – in solidarity. This is why, the IOC has adopted the Olympic motto to our times: faster, higher, stronger – together. This feeling of togetherness – this is the light at the end of the dark tunnel."

What is the background?
First, a brief background to the Olympic games in Tokyo. This would be the 120th Olympic games. It is the fourth time Japan is hosting the Olympics. With 11,000 athletes from 206 nations across the world where 49 per cent are women, the IOC hereby marks the first "gender-balanced" games in its history. The 2020 games view the introduction of new disciplines like 3x3 basketball, freestyle BMX, surfing, skateboarding, mixed-gender events in existing sports, and many more.

Second, the intense political determination. The Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's vision was to contain the virus outbreak, host a successful Games and call a general election. That has been subdued after the recent surge in Tokyo turning the games into a damaging scandal. This determination is the underlying political agenda for Suga to survive as party leader as the general elections are coming up in October. Furthermore, Japan's vaccine rollout has substantially lagged considering other developed nations. This has led to a greater public dissatisfaction pressurizing Suga ahead of the elections.

Third, the divided opinions and the controversies. There has been strong public opposition against the games because of the spike it may cause in the Covid-19 cases.  In a survey released in May, 83 per cent of the people did not want Japan to conduct the Olympics. The Japanese doctors union were highly against conducting the games and backed out from offering medical support. Therefore, the IOC stepped up to offer medical help for the Olympics. It also downplayed the opposition in Japan and went ahead with the international support it could garner. Covid-19 being the giant elephant in the room, anti-Olympic protests are widely increasing as new coronavirus cases broke the country's records. The protesters gathered near the stadium holding banners reading "Cancel the Olympics! Save lives!" and "No Olympics". This Olympics has been shadowed by controversies starting with the logo plagiarism to athletes testing positive with Covid-19, the first-ever transgender weightlifter from New Zealand, the long spectre of doping tests, and the unprecedented heatwave in Tokyo.

Fourth, the economic riddle. In March 2021, the organizers decided to ban foreign spectators, thus diminishing any revenue from the Olympics as overseas visitors tend to spend more than domestic spectators. The economic losses from cancelling the Games are estimated to be less than the losses from a single state emergency. Japan has by far had four emergency situations during the pandemic. On the other hand, the IOC has seemingly cornered Japan and will accordingly make a full income from its broadcast rights and direct sponsors.

What does it mean?
Every Olympic Games has produced a festive story. Even though the Tokyo Olympic games have been mired in controversy, it is meant to revitalize the public spirit during the pandemic. It allows talents across the world to a single platform. Also, the Games are exceptional occasions for diplomacy, wherein Japan will weather the controversies and deliver a 'safe and secure' Olympics amidst the pandemic.

Myanmar: Six months of the military rule
What happened?
On 1 August, Myanmar will complete six months of military rule and deposition of the NLD led government. Reuters, on 1 August, referred to Myanmar's military ruler Min Aung Hlaing promising new multi-party elections. It also quoted him announcing: "Myanmar is ready to work on ASEAN cooperation within the ASEAN framework, including the dialogue with the ASEAN special envoy in Myanmar." 

On 30 July, the UN News referred to a statement issued by UN's top aid official in Myanmar, Acting Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator Ramanathan Balakrishnan saying: "The situation to be characterized by instability and a deteriorating socio-economic and security situation...The UN will continue to call out human rights violations and is committed to stay and deliver lifesaving humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar."

On 31 July, a report released by the Human Rights Watch quoted Brad Adams, its Asia Director saying: "Myanmar's junta has responded to massive popular opposition to the coup with killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of people who merely want last year's election results to be respected and a government that reflects the popular will...These attacks on the population amount to crimes against humanity for which those responsible should be brought to account."

What is the background?
First, the consolidation of military rule during the last six months. The coup began on 1 February, when the military junta led by Gen Min Aung Hlaing nullified the November 2020 elections. Ever since, the regime started detaining hundreds of lawmakers, activists, and civil officials. It also started blocking access to various social media, intensifying surveillance, and imposing night blackouts. The regime refused to heed to international requests and warnings. 

Second, the political trial. The detention of Suu Kyi and her top allies brings to a closure the experiment with democracy in Myanmar, which followed a half-century military rule earlier. After the four months of detention, Aung Sang Suu Kyi is under trial by a junta court. She faces a mix of charges that include the following: illegally possessing walkie talkies, flouting of the COVID-19 restrictions during the elections in 2020, causing fear and alarm, unspecified breaches of the 'Official Secrets Act' and accepting USD 600,000 cash and 11 kilograms of gold from a former political ally. 

Third, internal protests and regime repression. Since the coup began, resistance by people began in many forms. Thousands started protesting over the weeks in the cities and villages around Myanmar. This includes blockade and intense confrontations by the journalists, students and the pro-democracy medical staff and public on strike, avoiding the hospitals run by the junta. The regime came down heavily, which led to the casualties being over 900 protestors and several thousand being arbitrarily arrested and detained.

Fourth, the regional response, or the lack of it. In April 2021, the ASEAN, as a part of their Leaders Meeting in Jakarta, announced an ambitious five-point consensus calling for the following: an immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar; a constructive dialogue among all parties concerned; a special envoy to facilitate mediation; provide humanitarian assistance; and a special envoy and delegation to meet with all parties concerned. Three months later this meeting, ASEAN's role remains limited. In July, Singapore's foreign minister, in his response to a Parliamentary question, stated: "We recognise that implementation of the Five-Point Consensus has been slow and a little disappointing." The ASEAN is yet to appoint a special envoy.

Fifth, the international responses. The US has led the international effort to persuade the military administration to reverse course, desist from additional violence, restore the country's democratic route, release all those who have been wrongfully jailed, and hold those responsible for the coup and brutality against the people accountable. But the impact of international response and sanctions remain limited. The UNSC remains divided, with Russia and China backing the military regime in Myanmar.

What does it mean?
First, the regime response so far does not provide a level playing field to those who demand the restoration of democracy. Second, the international response remains ineffective, with limited impact over the sanctions, and also due to the support provided by Russia and China to the regime. Internal developments within Myanmar and the divided and ineffective external responses means the military regime will continue to consolidate its rule.

Lebanon: Appointment of a new PM raises hope for a revival of the economy
What happened?
On 26 July, Lebanon's President Michael Aoun appointed Najib Mikati as the PM-designate, responsible for forming a new government for a country that has not had a functioning government since the crisis began in 2019. Mikati is a former two-time Prime Minister and one of the most successful business tycoons in the country. His appointment comes in the backdrop of Saad Hariri's resignation, citing differences with the President and accepting his failure to form a government. Post his appointment, Mikati stated: "alone I do not have a magic wand to achieve miracles. We are in a very difficult situation… it is a difficult mission that can succeed only if we all work together."

On 30 July, The European Union adopted a legal framework to impose sanctions on the Lebanese political elite, officials, and entities, for lack of governance and economic crisis. 

What is the background?
First, the political crisis. Failing economic policies clubbed with political instability has pushed Lebanon into a war-like situation in the absence of war. Since Hassan Diab resigned in August 2020, Lebanon has been facing a political crisis. Lebanese leaders have failed to reach a consensus and provide a stable government. In October 2020, Saad Hariri, a former Prime Minister (2009-2011 and 2016-2020) was appointed as the PM-designate after Diab's resignation. However, he also failed to form a government, due to differences with President Michael Aoun and Hezbollah’s role in cabinet formation. Hariri resigned in July 2021. Najib Mikati's appointment comes in the above background. 

Second, Lebanon's political arrangement with multiple power centers. Iran-backed armed political outfit Hezbollah, the Forward Movement, and Shi'ite Amal Movement decide the composition of the government. Alongside, the two Christian majority parties- the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces hold considerable sway in the system. Lebanon's political structure may also be a reason for the diverging interests that are evident currently. The Lebanese National Pact of 1943 provides for a Maronite Christian President, a Sunni Prime Minister and a Shi'ite Speaker for the National Assembly. 

Third, the economic crisis. The Lebanese economic policy has been chaotic due to extensive deficit expenditure, and unsustainable mismanaged monetary policies. The GDP and per capita income fell by 40 per cent in 2020, pushing half the population into poverty. The Lebanon Economic Monitor released by the World Bank in May 2021, concluded that the country's economic situation might be one of the worst crises in over 150 years. Marking the anniversary of the Beirut blast, France will hold an international donor conference along with the UN in August, to raise funds for the deteriorating situation in Lebanon. 

Fourth, the trigger and the protests. On 4 August 2020, Beirut witnessed a major blast at the port, killing more than 200 people and injuring thousands. The incident has left a trail of destruction in the capital city, and triggered massive protests on the streets demanding action and justice. Lebanon was in the midst of an economic crisis prior to 2020. However, the pandemic and the blast dealt a severe blow, challenging recovery in every aspect. 

Fifth, the protests and related social challenges. Mass protests challenged both the then government and the larger direction in which the country was headed to. UNICEF warned about the impending water crisis, with approximately four million people, including one million refugees are at the risk of losing access to safe water resources. Additionally, the population suffers from long blackouts, shortage of food, medicines, fuel, and exceptionally high rates of unemployment. 

What does it mean?
First, a hope in Najib Mikati. Most of the political parties have announced support for Mikati. Barring the two Christian parties, he has the support of the Sunni, Shia, and Druze politicians, which may pave the way for a government. With optimism in the market, in the form of a slight rise in the value of Lebanese currency against the US Dollar, there is hope in the right direction. He stated that the first priority was to implement the French roadmap for recovery. It must also be noted that Mikati does not hail from a political dynasty unlike other politicians, instead is a successful entrepreneur.  Second, a functioning government is a compelling necessity. Mikati is touted to form a government in a time of extreme crisis and is expected to take along the diverging political interests. It is time that the Lebanese political blocs come on the same platform to avoid further free fall of the economy and living conditions. 

Also, in the news …
By Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: Satellite images show a new silo site in China   
On 26 July, the Federation of American Scientists in a report revealed, satellite images showed Beijing is constructing a second nuclear missile silo field near Hami in Xinjiang province. The field can house around 110 silos. Last month, the Washington Post reported China is building 120 silos in Gansu province. According to the New York Times, "It may signify a vast expansion of China's nuclear arsenal- the cravings of an economic and technological superpower to show that, after decades of restraint, it is ready to wield an arsenal the size of Washington's, or Moscow's." On 30 July, NPR shared satellite images showing a possibility of the new tunnel and roads added at the site, at Lop Nur. Researchers at the Federation of American Scientists estimated 250 underground missile silos under construction. No statement has been made by Beijing yet. 

China: Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosts Taliban delegation            
On 28 July, Beijing hosted the Taliban delegation in Tianjin. Foreign Minister Wang Yi described the group as the "pivotal military and political force" of the country. He also said it was "expected to play an important role in the process of peace, reconciliation, and reconstruction." Chinese Foreign Ministry said the Taliban has committed that it "will not allow any force to use Afghan territory to do anything harmful to China."

China: Hong Kong Court sentences protestor for nine years in first National Security case
On 30 July, Tong Ying-kit, a Hong Kong protestor was convicted under Hong Kong national security law for nine-year of imprisonment. He was accused of driving a motorcycle in a riot scene while carrying a flag with the protest slogan "Liberate Hong Kong, Revolution of our times." The three judges for the national security cases rule that "the slogan was capable of inciting others to commit secession." They sentenced Tong, considering the totality principle of court, "to serve two and half years of his terrorism sentence consecutively with the six and a half years of incitement to secession charge, bringing his total time in prison to nine years." Reuters reported, according to the judge's ruling Tong's "motorcycle was potentially a lethal weapon, and his actions were a deliberate challenge mounted against the police." Amnesty International and Human Rights group criticized this move.

South Korea: Proposes talks with North Korea 
On 30 July, Seoul proposed talks with Pyongyang, through the new video conference system. The offer was made through the recently restored inter-Korean hotline after 14 months on suspension. Unification Minister Lee In-young said: "The North has received our proposal. We hope Pyongyang will respond positively so that the video system can be installed at the earliest time." The Korea Herald reported that Lee stressed, "that ministry would work to complete the system for the virtual conference or safe in-person talks as soon as possible."

Australia: Fire breaks out in Tesla megapack battery unit
On 30 July, a fire broke out in Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Megapack battery unit while testing the world's biggest energy storage project run by French company Neoen. The energy project is known as the Victorian Big Battery. Neoen's Managing Director Louis de Sambucy said: "Neoen and Tesla are working closely with emergency services on-site to manage the situation" and added "there will be no impact to the electricity supply" as the site had been disconnected from the grid.

New Zealand: Passes a new bill to outlaw conversion therapy
On 30 July, New Zealand passed a new bill that proposes, anyone performing the conversion on a person younger than 18 or on someone with impaired decision-making capacity would be subjected to three years of imprisonment. The bill stated, and any practice intended "to change a person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression" will face five years of imprisonment. Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said: "Conversion practices have no place in modern New Zealand. They are based on the false belief that any person's sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression is broken and in need of fixing." He added, "Health professionals, religious leaders, and human rights advocates here and overseas have spoken out against these practices as harmful and having the potential to perpetuate prejudice, discrimination, and abuse towards members of rainbow communities."

Philippines: President Duterte restores troops pact with the US
On 30 July, President Rodrigo Duterte restored a deal governing US troop's presence in the Philippines after a meeting with US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin. The Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the two countries, provides the rules of rotation of the US troops in and out of the country for war drills and exercise. In the joint press briefing, the US Defense Secretary said, Duterte's decision provides for "some degree of certainty going forward" to the US.

South Asia This Week 
India: Antony Blinken's meeting with high ranking Indian officials and Tibetan leaders. 
On 27 July, Antony Blinked visited India and held a meeting with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The two leaders extensively discussed COVID-19 management, Quad and Afghanistan. Blinken also met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. On 28 July,  Blinken held a meeting with the Dalai Lama in Delhi.

Sri Lanka: Colombo seeks to strengthen economic ties with New Zealand  
On 29 July, the State Minister of Regional Cooperation and New Zealand's High Commissioner discussed the strengthening of economic ties and sought investments in economic zones and Colombo port city. Both agreed on diversifying and expanding trade relations. The talks also focused on further means of cooperation in areas of sports, education, and renewable energy.

Pakistan: Imran Khan says Islamabad not responsible for Taliban's action
On 29 July, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan should not be held "responsible" for the Taliban's action after the US and its allies' withdrawal from Afghanistan. He further added, "We are not responsible, neither are we spokespersons for the Taliban." Earlier this month, after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's allegation over Pakistan's "negative role in the Afghan peace process," he responded, it is "extremely unfair to blame Islamabad for the situation in Afghanistan." Khan also emphasized building stronger relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Pakistan: NSA meets American counterpart to discuss the Afghan security situation
On 29 July, the National Security Adviser, Moeed Yusuf, and his American counterpart Jake Sullivan met in Washington DC. Both highlighted an "urgent need for reduction in violence and a negotiated political settlement in Afghanistan." Yusuf in a tweet said he, "had a positive follow-up meeting with NSA Jake Sullivan today in Washington" and "took stock of progress made since our Geneva meeting and discussed bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest." This was the second meeting between the two officials.

Afghanistan: Taliban attacks a UN office
On 30 July, the United Nation office in Herat was attacked, killing one security guard. The UN said: "the attack targeting entrances of the clearly marked United Nations facility was carried out by Anti-Government Elements." Also said, "Attacks against civilian UN personnel and compounds are prohibited under international law and may amount to war crimes." Tolo News reported the attack was conducted by the Taliban. However, the Taliban has not responded to the allegation yet. 

Afghanistan: SIGAR report says Afghan government faces "existential crisis"
On 30 July, the US SIGAR report stated a significant rise in Taliban's attacks after the signing of the US-Taliban agreement of February 2020. The report highlighted: "The overall trend is clearly unfavourable to the Afghan government, which could face an existential crisis if it isn't addressed and reversed." The report covered increasing attacks, districts captured by the Taliban, humanitarian assistance, money spent by the US in the reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. The report mentioned, "from March to May 2021, US Forces-Afghanistan (USFOR-A) recorded 10,383 Taliban attacks." ANDSF also re-established its control in some districts. 

Afghanistan: RSF demands security for journalists
On 30 July, Reporters without borders organization, RSF, and other organizations said, with the rising attacks in the country the safety of journalists is a key concern. Head of RSF'S Iran-Afghanistan, Reza Moini said: "We call on the international community to ensure the safety of journalists in Afghanistan." RSF officials also emphasized the release of four journalists who were arrested earlier this week. Tolo News reported, the organization called their detention "illegal."

Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Tajikistan: Construction of camps for Afghan refugees
On 28 July, the governor of the Jayhun border region in Tajikistan announced the construction of a camp for the Afghan refugees as the neighbouring countries foresee a large influx of refugees amidst increasing violence in Afghanistan. The camp is based in Khatlon, near the border and will be funded by Tajikistan and other international parties The region head said: "A 2.24-hectare land plot in the Panj jamoat of Jayhun district was allocated for the construction of a camp for the potential refugees from Afghanistan."

Azerbaijan: Gas-sharing agreement with Russia 
On 27 July, the national media in Azerbaijan reported that a gas-sharing agreement had been signed with Russia. The two companies engaged in the contract are Azercontract and Gazprom. According to the agreement, Azerbaijan will providing gas to Russia in the summer season while Russia will return the favour during the winter season. The news agency said: "Against the background of the rapid growth of gas production in the country, Azerbaijan gets an opportunity to create additional volumes of its own gas for the winter, when the level of domestic consumption increases significantly."

Iran: The US Secretary of State pushes for hastening the nuclear talks 
On 29 July, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a statement regarding the Vienna talks during his visit to Kuwait. He reconfirmed that the US would continue to encourage constructive negotiations but emphasized the fact that the talks cannot carry on forever. He said: "We're committed to diplomacy, but this process cannot go on indefinitely. We look to see what Iran is ready to do or not ready to do and remain fully prepared to return to Vienna to continue negotiations. The ball remains in Iran's court."

Qatar: Emir gives approval for new electoral law 
On 29 July, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani approved the first legislative election in the country. The polls will be held in October 2021 and will elect 30 seats out of 45 in the Shura Council. The remaining 15 seats will be appointed by the Emir, as per tradition. However, all members of the council will hold the same powers and duties. Their responsibilities will include approving the government policies, budget, proposing policies and controlling the executive authority. The new electoral law aims to encourage greater citizen participation and is an initiative of the Emir. 

South Africa: Government representative condemns Israel's observer status to the African Union 
On 28 July, the South African government revealed that it was not notified regarding the decision to include Israel as an observer to the African Union. The South African representative claimed that the decision was taken unilaterally without consulting the members of the regional organization. The government spokesperson said: "The African Union's decision is even more shocking in a year in which the oppressed people of Palestine were hounded by destructive bombardments and continued illegal settlements of the land". South Africa reaffirmed its opinion that Israel should not be granted observer status until it accepts a peace plan with no preconditions. 

Ethiopia: Martin Griffiths arrives and examines famine situation 
On 29 July, the UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Ethiopia to discuss ways to help the famine-hit regions of the country. He is scheduled to meet with Ethiopian officials and will also travel to Tigray and Amhara regions. On 27 July, the World Food Programme cautioned that the agency would run out of food if the trucks stuck in Afar were not allowed to move. However, the government of Ethiopia blamed the Tigray forces for blocking the roads. The UNICEF also raised concern regarding severely acute malnutrition in more than 1,00,000 children in the country. 

Eritrea: Refugees in Ethiopia demand protection of rights 
On 29 July, close to 300 Eritrean refugees protested in front of the UNHCR office in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa.  They blocked the road to the office of the UNHCR and held banners reading "Stop abuse of Eritrean refugees" and "Protect the rights of the refugees." The protestors demanded humanitarian assistance from the UN body and said: "We want the world to know that Eritrean refugees are suffering in Ethiopia. We feel neglected and forgotten."

Europe and The Americas This Week
Turkey: Wildfires wreck havoc in multiple provinces
On 28 July, almost 98 fires broke out in different provinces in Turkey due to extremely dry winds and warm temperatures. On 31 July, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the wildfires affected region and "disaster areas." After almost four days of constant fire fighting, he said: "We have declared our regions affected by forest fires as 'Disaster Areas Affecting General Life.' We will continue to take all necessary steps to heal our nation's wounds, compensate for its losses, and improve its opportunities even better than before." As of now, 88 fires have been brought under control. 

Luxembourg: Amazon data protection law
On 30 July, Amazon revealed that a fine of USD 887 million had been issued on the company for violating the EU's data protection laws. The Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection explained that Amazon's access to user's personal data did not agree with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation. It has asked Amazon to rework a few of its practices. However, Amazon has denied violation of the law and said: "Maintaining the security of our customers' information and their trust are top priorities. There has been no data breach, and no customer data has been exposed to any third party."

The EU: Eurozone formally out of recession with two per cent growth in economy 
On 29 July, the EU's statistical agency Eurostat revealed that the Eurozone was officially out of recession after the second quarter of 2021 recorded a two per cent growth. Even though the regional bloc continues to have a three per cent depreciation as compared to the pre-pandemic figures, the gradual shift is a relief to the 19 countries within the bloc. Italy and Spain have been the key players who helped in getting the EU out of its economic slowdown. Germany, however, was not able to reach its goal of two per cent growth but managed to come close with 1.5 per cent growth in its GDP. 

Russia: Space module mishap pushes ISS out of position 
On 29 July, the jet thrusters of the Nauka module was thrown out of control due to the reconfiguration work conducted by the Russian mission controllers. Nasa officials said: "The module's jets inexplicably restarted, causing the entire ISS to pitch out of its normal flight position some 400km above the Earth." The mission's flight director soon declared a "spacecraft emergency." The fault in the control was initially noticed by the automated ground sensors which then led to the loss of attitude control. The mishap did not cause any harm or damage to the seven crew members on the space station. 

Peru: New President Castillo appoints moderate leftists to the new cabinet 
On 30 July, Pedro Castillo appointed Pedro Francke as the Finance Minister and Guido Bellido as the Prime Minister. The appointments have created a setback for investors who hoped for a moderate cabinet. Guido is a Marxist hardline, while Francke is moderate. The two leaders extended support for each other and pledged to work together for the benefit of the country. 

The US: President Biden imposes new sanctions on Cuba 
On 30 July, the US placed sanctions on the Cuban police force and two other leaders for suppressing protests in the country. The US Treasury Department spokesperson said: "The sanctions are a reaction to the actions to suppress peaceful, pro-democratic protests in Cuba that began on 11 July." President Joe Biden also met with Cuban-American leaders at the White House and said: "There will be more, unless there's some drastic change in Cuba, which I don't anticipate. The United States is taking concerted action to bolster the cause of the Cuban people."

Mexico: Top security official confirms buying Pegasus from Israel
On 28 July, Mexico's top security official revealed that the previous Mexican administrations spent over USD 61 million to purchase the Pegasus spyware. The Public Safety Secretary explained that more than 31 contracts had been signed by the previous two governments. These contracts were at times disguised as other purchases and were signed by front companies to avoid taxation. Mexico's Financial Intelligence Unit head said: This implies or at least presumes the existence of acts of corruption, by selling (the spyware) at inflated prices to the government between the years 2012 and 2018."

The US: Testimony by police on Capitol Hill
On 27 July, the US Capitol Police Sgt. Aquilino Gonell delivered a speech recalling the incident when rioters breached the Capitol on 6 January. He said: "I did not recognize my fellow citizens, or the United States they claimed to represent." He compared the violence from the attack to a medieval battle and called the rioters vicious and relentless. 

The US: Congress Trump taxes, may bring him back to power 
On 30 July, the Department of Justice announced that the IRS must reveal the income tax returns of former President Donald Trump. The Department explained that it had made a request to see Trump's tax return to understand how the IRS audits the Presidents' tax returns. The move is directly opposed to its previous decision which supported the IRS' refusal from showing his tax returns when Trump was the President. 

About the Authors
Rashmi Ramesh is a PhD Scholar in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Keerthana Nambiar and Vibha Venugopal are research interns at NIAS. Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at NIAS.

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