The World this Week

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The World this Week
Biden as the Democratic Presidential Candidate in the US, Russia-EU meddling in Belarus, Coup in Mali and another ice sheet melt in Iceland

  GP Team

The World This Week # 81, 23 August 2020, Vol 2 No 34

Vivek Mishra, Sourina Bej, Abigail Fernandez & Rashmi Ramesh

Democratic Convention in the US and the formal nominations of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden

What happened?
On 20 August, the Democratic party concluded its four-day Democratic National Convention (DNC). Former US Vice-President Joe Biden took the centre stage by formally accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for the post of President.

Kamala Harris made history with her formal nomination as the first black woman and person of Asian descent on a major party's national ticket. This sets a definite tone to the US Presidential election in November, later this year, pitting Joe Biden against the sitting US President, Donald Trump.  

What is the background?
First, the purpose of party conventions. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the Democratic Party. The primary objective of the Convention is to officially nominate a candidate for the President and Vice President and turn the presumptive status on the nominee to a final one. The pre-election conventions are also a platform for the Presidential candidate to speak directly, and connect with voters.

The DNC this year was unique in many respects. First, it was largely online; it was originally planned to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Convention's broadcasts drew 122 million views across digital platform live streams and attracted 85.1 million to television broadcasts. Second, it created history in nominating a black woman of mixed India descent to one of the highest offices in the country. Kamala Harris was once a top contender for the Presidency but decided to drop out of the race, owing to difficulties in fundraising and too many contenders at the Primaries stage.

Second, the highlights of 2020 DNC. In his acceptance speech, Biden said, "The current President has cloaked America in darkness for much too long — too much anger, too much fear, too much division. Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the Presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness." Among the star speakers were: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; former First Lady Michelle Obama; independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders; Jill Biden; former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State John Kerry; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; former President Barack Obama; Kamala Harris, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The speeches of Barack and Michelle Obama stood out.

The Convention served as a platform to target Trump as incompetent, corrupt and lacking empathy.

What does it mean?
The DNC has also put a nail in the coffin of other Presidential candidates by finalizing their presidential nominee. Several other candidates dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. This included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.  

The Republican Convention will follow later, and President Trump will be its nominee. This clears the path for a straight fight between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Biden's support has surged in the recent past, and closely allied Democratic groups raised $70 million during their four-day Convention. However, Trump's campaign and closely allied groups pulled in $165 million during the political fundraising month of July.

The level of support for both candidates shows that the Presidential race is likely to go to the wire. 

Amid protest, Belarus becomes a new sphere of contention between the EU and Russia

What happened? 
On 20 August, the European Union (EU) leaders spoke out in solidarity with the Belarusians. The latter has been protesting for their democratic rights and demanding the resignation of President Alexander Lukashenko, who has been in power for the last 26 years and who was once referred to as 'Europe's last dictator.' The statement by the EU comes after its officials held a virtual emergency summit wherein it concluded that "we don't recognize the results presented by the Belarus authorities."

The EU also has threatened sanctions against "a substantial number" of Belarusian leaders linked to violence and election fraud. In addition, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that the elections "were neither fair nor free," and condemned the "brutal violence" against peaceful protesters.

Simultaneously, on the eve of the meeting, in a telephonic conversation, the Russian President Vladimir Putin attempted to discuss ways to encourage talks between the Opposition and the President. As the EU and Russia engage on Belarus, the external actors have determined the progression of the protest. 

What is the background? 
First, Belarus as the next sphere of influence between the EU and Russia. Belarus remains in a constant political space of negotiation where it risks falling under the Russian influence. Some believe, causing unrest with Lukashenko could drive Belarus into the hands of Russia, which has offered military help to Lukashenko. Drawing parallels with the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the invasion in Crimea, it is believed that Russia could end up intervening during the unrest. In this backdrop, Belarus has emerged as the point of contention wherein the EU, in trying to support the Opposition, wants to sway the country's foreign policy dynamics with Russia. Even though the President of Belarus shares a close association with Russia, the Belarusians want only to secure a regime change and are not seeking a relationship with the EU, Moscow or NATO, even though these external actors have an influence in the outcome of the protest.    

Second, the attempt by Russia to retain Belarus under its sphere of influence. With the EU seeking to take control of the narrative emerging from the Belarus protests, Russia has equally tried to engage with Belarus, offering support to the regime. While the Opposition receives support from the neighbourhood that includes the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia and the EU, Russia has extended support to the regime. The repeat of a Ukraine moment looms large in the region, but Russia has to take note - that unlike Crimea and Ukraine, the Belarusians share a common affinity with the Soviet culture. Anti-Moscow sentiment is not leading the protest movement within Belarus. 

Third, the democracy deficit in Eastern Europe and the protests against strongmen. This is not the first instance where the proletariat has rose against a system inherited from the Cold War Soviet era in East Europe. In the post-Cold War era, even though democratization took place, the institutional transition is yet to gain ground leading to frequent protests like in Belarus and the rest of East Europe. Democracy from below, remains a challenge in the region, where autocratic rulers like in Hungary, Lavinia and Poland remain. The protest for regime change in Belarus has emerged in this backdrop and the strong leadership has been challenged as gaining legitimacy more from outside than from the people of the country. 

What does it mean? 
First, the presence of external support has strengthened the opposition voices to the protest movement. Ahead of the virtual EU meeting, opposition leader Tsikhanouskaya released a video calling on the EU to support the "awakening" and not recognize the "fraudulent elections" that have sparked the mass protests." Thus, one sees how internal protest is drawing on external validation to strengthen its voice against the President in this process of regime change.

Second, with equal and opposite support from Russia, the military clampdown to throttle the protest will remain contingent on how the neighbourhood reacts to the regime's relation with Russia. Poland being one of the NATO members has been strenthening troops on its borders with Belarus, but that could be interpreted by Belarus President and his alliance with Russia in the content of western Europes' effort to contain Russia's sphere of influence. 

Coup in Mali: Plunging further into chaos

What happened?
On 19 August 2020, President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita announced his resignation, three years before his final term was due to end. It was reported that the soldiers detained him at gunpoint along with Prime Minister Boubou Cissé who was taken to a military camp near the capital Bamako. In a televised address he stated that he was also dissolving the government and the Parliament, adding: "I want no blood to be spilled to keep me in power."

Later, the soldiers behind the coup, calling themselves the National Committee for the Salvation of the People pledged on state television to stabilize the country and oversee a transition to elections within a "reasonable" period. Although the coup attracted global condemnation, the news of Keita's resignation was received with celebration with anti-government demonstrators extending their support to the military.

What is the background?
First, the political crisis in Mali. Political tensions have been brewing ever since the re-election of Keita in 2018. In March 2020, there were renewed tensions, after a dispute over the results of a parliamentary election, where Mali's constitutional court overturned the results of 30 seats, a move that was advantageous for ten candidates in President Keita's party. In June, the opposition, under the "5 June Movement" (M5-RFP) which is made up of religious leaders, politicians and civil society members, took to the streets demanding the resignation of Keita, accusing him of allowing the country's economy to collapse and mishandling of the already worse security situation especially the deadly violence associated with Islamic extremists and ethnic separatists. Due to this turmoil, the regional bloc, Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) called for the creation of a "consensus government of national unity"; however, this was followed by massive protests from the Opposition.

Second, the anger against the President was not limited to civilians. The military had its own grievances which included lack of salary payment and complaints about the government indifference about soldier deaths. The inability of the government to resolve the crisis is likely to have pushed the military into action.

Third, Mali is no stranger to political unrest. The 2020 coup comes eight years after Mali's last coup in 2012 which saw Malian soldiers overthrow the then-president Amadou Toumani Toure after they revolted in the camp to protest against the government's inability to manage the rebel groups in the north and over elite corruption.

What does it mean?
A coup once again has resulted in destabilization of Mali, leaving the country's Presidency, and stability in a mess. As uncertainty looms large, with no clear agenda or solution, Mali will only be pushed further into chaos. The absence of a strong leader with a popular appeal could also have devastating consequences not only for stability in the country but for the wider region. Further, whether the military can be trusted to keep up to its claims remains a question to be answered.

As the insurgency in northern Mali has spread into the country's central regions and into Niger and Burkina Faso, which has become the epicentre of violence. There are major doubts about what happens now with the counter-insurgency efforts by international players such as France and the US in the region.

Most countries in North Africa face challenges due to the unstable status of democracy, economic inequality and religious and ethnic insurgency which persist across the region. Further, the region has a long history of strongmen who have spent decades in power. Some are still in power; it is the fight against these strongmen that often leads these coup attempts plunging the country into chaos.

Greenland: The ice sheet melts at a record rate 

What happened?
According to a recent study, based on satellite data, the Greenland ice sheet melted at a record rate in 2019. The study shows that it melted the most in 2019, greater than any year previously recorded. The research also reveals that between 2003 and 2016, the ice sheet lost 255 billion tons of ice on an average annually, while 532 billion tons were lost in 2019 alone. 

What is the background?
First, the concerns about the 'great Arctic melt'. Climate change debates across the world unwaveringly address the developments in the Arctic. Studies have shown that only two per cent of the Arctic's old and thick ice remains, and is being replaced by new and more fragile ice cover. 

Second, the changing weather patterns and unpredictability. 2012 was one of the warmest years on record, and a similar pattern continued. However, 2017 and 2018 were colder years with abnormally cold temperatures during summers and stronger winters. 2019 was again unusually warm with recording-breaking temperatures in the Arctic. Scientists attribute this to the "blocking patterns" of weather that was responsible for warm air circulation over Greenland for longer periods. This also means that the winter was warmer and witnessed less snowfall and ice accumulation.

Third, the larger picture of Climate change as a global phenomenon. No event related to climate change can be viewed in isolation from the other. Unusually warm and dry summers across the globe, floods in India, Bangladesh and China, wildfires in the US and near-ice free Arctic, are minuscule pictures of the larger catastrophe in the making. 

Fourth, the gap between awareness and action. There have been extensive studies on climate change and the dangers it is posing. Yet, there is a gap between awareness and the actions being taken to address the issue, both at the national and international levels. Countries and leaders either deny the existence of climate change or are unwilling to walk the talk even though they recognize the gravity of the problem. There are no serious international collaborations on climate change that have the backing of all the major powers together. The existing international mechanisms fail to make countries accountable for their actions. While protests by civil society do matter, not many changes can be expected at the governance level.

What does it mean?
First, reaching a point of no return. Until 2000, the ice sheet accumulated nearly the same amount of ice that it shed. But, in the past two decades, the rate of accumulation has been remarkably low. Greenland's ice sheet may now have reached a point from where the melt is irreversible. It implies that the ice sheet will continue to contract even if the average temperature of the planet does not increase, which is far from reality. 

Second, the rise of sea level. The Greenland ice sheet holds the second-largest amount of ice, after Antarctica, therefore crucial for maintaining the sea level. In 2019, this was the single biggest cause for the rise in sea level, about 1.5 metres. If the sheet melts completely, the sea level will rise by seven metres, capable of subsuming island countries and major coastal cities. It has an impact on how we look at the borders, habitations, biodiversity and economy.  

South Asia This Week
by Rashmi Ramesh & Abigail Miriam Fernandez

India and Bangladesh: Foreign Secretary's visit to Dhaka
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla visited Dhaka and held talks with his counterpart and also with the Prime Minsiter. COVID-19, border killings and infrastructural development were the focus of the talks. According to a media report, India and Bangladesh "discussed a two-year road map for bilateral ties."

India will supply vaccines for COVID-19 to Bangladesh on a priority basis. The two sides agreed to mutually address the issue of border killings that have increased recently. With regards to the infrastructural projects, India's MEA announced that a monitoring mechanism would be set up, to look into the joint projects being carried out by both countries. The mechanism will monitor the completion of rail links between Akhaura-Agartala, Khulna-Mongla, and Chilahati-Haldibari; Rampal Maitree Power Plant; and India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline. 

Sri Lanka: Towards a new Constitution
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, while addressing the inaugural session of the ninth Parliament announced that Sri Lanka would get a new constitution in the coming days. The constitution will be formulated on the principle of "one country, one law for all the people". The President said that repealing the 19th Amendment introduced by the previous government is the first step towards this. It curtailed Presidential powers, limited the Presidential terms for two times and gave more powers to independent agencies. The Rajapaksas who viewed this Amendment as an impediment to them coming to power, will now strengthen their iron grip over the Sri Lankan political scene. 

India and Nepal: Talks over bilateral projects
Officials of the India-Nepal Oversight Mechanism held a virtual meeting over the progress and implementation of the bilateral projects. This was the first meeting since the border row between the two escalated. The focus of the meet was on Indian-funded projects, cross-border railway lines, and economic and development cooperation schemes. Nepal has proposed a meeting of the Boundary Working Group in September, with an aim to discuss technical issues and reduce the tension with regards to the border dispute.

Kanak Mani Dixit, a renowned scholar, opined that the border issue must be addressed before it trickles down to societal and economic aspects; and regardless of the possession, he has suggested Limpiudhara to be declared as a "zone of peace".

India and China: Talks over disengagement at LAC
The Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC) met for the fourth time since the escalation of tensions between the two countries at the LAC. The talks aimed at breaking the impasse and facilitating the continuation of the dialogue at the military level. The disengagement process has been stalled for over a month, after making a slight progress in the first phase. China has not accepted India's demand for a return to the pre-May 2020 positions along the LAC. 

Pakistan: Not to recognize Israel unless Palestinians are given their due, says PM Imran Khan
On 18 August 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan made a strong statement on Israel and Palestinem in the context of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) establishing ties with Israel: "Whatever any country does, our position is very clear. And our position was made clear by [Pakistan's founder] Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah ... in 1948: that we cannot ever accept Israel as long as Palestinians are not given their rights and there is no just settlement," adding "My conscience will never allow me to accept Israel, which is responsible for so many atrocities against the Palestinian people." Palestine in response thanked him for his "strong response" on Israel and appreciated the government for extending support to the Palestinian cause.

COAS Bajwa meets his Saudi counterpart in Riyadh
On 17 August 2020, Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa along with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed arrived in Saudi Arabia at the Pakistan embassy in Riyadh on an official visit. During their meeting with the Saudi leadership, they discussed prospects of military-to-military ties, including military cooperation and ways to boost it as well as other topics of common interest. Further, this meet took place amid a diplomatic spat that has threatened Riyadh's financial lifeline to the country and recent statement by Pakistan's Foreign Minister demanding Riyadh show leadership in the OIC, especially concerning the Kashmir issue.

Pakistan: Foreign minister visits China; both countries agree to safeguard common interests
On 21 August 2020, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with his Chinese counterpart in the Chinese province of Hainan to hold the second round of the China-Pakistan Foreign Ministers' Strategic Dialogue. Both agreed to reach a consensus to collectively take measures to safeguard their common interests and promote peace, prosperity, commitment for enhancing mutual strategic trust, strengthening cooperation, maintaining the momentum of high-level exchanges, further advancing the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative, promoting bilateral relationship to a higher level, and delivering greater benefits to both countries and the two peoples.

Pakistan: The PTI completes two years
On 18 August 2020, Pakistan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan presented its two-year performance report, reviewing its various achievements from different sectors including governance, economy and diplomatic affairs. The Federal Minister for Planning and Development, Asad Umar summed up the progress stating how the PTI government "stabilized economy after inheriting the worst external crises, faced down Indian threat after Balakot with courage" and managed the biggest global COVID threat by "successfully balancing lives and livelihoods." However, the PML-N and PPP criticized the government's performance with PML-N chief and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif terming it an "unmitigated disaster."

East Asia This Week
by D. Suba Chandran & Harini Madhusudan 

Myanmar: Fourth Session of the Peace Conference comes to an end
On 21 August, Myanmar successfully concluded the fourth session of its Peace Conference; members from the military, government and ethnic armed organizations took part in the session. There was an expectation that the fourth session would provide a breakthrough. There was an internal frustration regarding the progress of the peace process since the "Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement" that was signed in 2015 between the government, and the ethnic armed organizations hit a roadblock in 2018.  According to the Irrawaddy, the fourth session concluded with the members "agreeing on principles and a plan to move the country's stalled peace process forward under a new government beyond 2020." It also quoted Aung San Suu Kyi commenting: "a new plan for building a democratic federal union beyond 2020."

Thailand: The Three-Fingered Salute continues
The protests led by the students in Thailand continues; this week, they protested in front of the Ministry of Education in Bangkok. Much to the dismay of the Education minister, he was heckled and not allowed to talk, when he appeared in front of them. Since July 2020, the current round protests led by the students have intensified demanding elections, and reforms to the Monarchy and the constitution. The government continued its efforts to silence the protestors; on 20 August, it detained some key figures, including a member of "Rap Against Dictatorship" and a lawyer. They have been charged with sedition.

China: The US suspends the Extradition Treaty with Hong Kong
The US State Department suspended the extradition treaty with Hong Kong. This move comes after the US has imposed sanctions on political leaders and Carrie Lam, ended preferential economic treatment and targeted Hong Kong journalists based in the US with visa delays in the past month. Hong Kong hit back at the US by issuing a reprimand for taking a unilateral decision in withdrawing from the treaty and stated that the US action could be seen as an attempt of the US to try and use Hong Kong as a pawn in the troubled US-China relations. 

China: Multiple floods devastate the Yangtze Basin
Floods in the southern parts of China have caused the water from Yangtze River to rise and hit the Three Gorges dam. The authorities have chosen to open several outlets of the dam to discharge the water, making it the largest release since its construction. Between June and early August, over 30 billion cubic metres of floodwater was intercepted by dams and reservoirs on the Yangtze. Millions of people are affected by the floods in China which have killed hundreds of people, led to mass evacuations, submerged roads and laid high economic costs on the Chinese economy. 

North Korea: Kim Jong Un delegates power to sister Kim Yo Jong
An announcement on the power-sharing arrangement was made during the week where Kim Yo Jong has now been appointed to deal on the relations with the US and South Korea and report back to her brother. The reports suggest that the explosion at the Inter-Korean liaison office in June might have been under her authority. The handing over of power comes at a crucial time when floods, the coronavirus and the international sanctions have laid a strain on the country's economy. 

South Korea: Religious centre at the centre of an increase in infections. 
The latest figures on the COVID from South Korea point to the neighbourhood around the Sarang Jaeil Church. Twenty per cent of the traced 3,400 members of the church have tested positive with many other members missing. It is believed that the spread of the virus could be due to the mass anti-government rally arranged by the church's leadership to mark 75 years of Korean Liberation on 15 August 2020. The rise in cases has led to a ban on worship and entry into the church and its vicinity. 1,900 new cases were recorded in South Korea in the past week while the ministry continues to track down hundreds more. 


The Middle East and Africa This Week
by Vibhav Kandlur 

Sudan: The U-turn in formalizing ties with Israel
Sudan's foreign ministry spokesman Haidar Badawi was dismissed from his position after he made unauthorized statements on the government normalizing ties with Israel. "There is no reason to continue hostility between Sudan and Israel," Badawi was quoted as saying and added that there were communications in place. These developments come in a week after UAE and Israel formalized their ties. In February, Sudan's military general Lt Gen Abdel al-Burhan had secretly met Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda raising speculations of a thaw in the relations. The decision being backtracked could be a result of disapproval from the civilian wing of the transitional government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. The secret meeting between al-Burhan of the military wing and Netanyahu was welcomed in the Sudanese social media, and there were no protests reported. Overall, it shows that there are differences within the transitional government over sensitive issues.

Iran: The US' push to punish Tehran finds resistance in the UNSC
The United States found resistance from the UNSC, including its closest allies, France and the United Kingdom after the Trump administration sought to extend the arms embargo against Iran. Barring one, the rest either rejected or abstained from voting against Iran. The European Union had particularly abstained on the ground that the US had unilaterally withdrawn from the JCPOA in May 2018 and as a result, cannot impose "snapback" sanctions. The EU was earlier unhappy with the US plan in the Middle East over the idea of a "Muslim NATO", a military alliance between the Arab states. Russia and China had vetoed against the decision in full support extended to Iran. These developments indicate that the Trump administration miscalculated on possible support being received from allied states like the European Union. The resistance can also be a result of an emerging new order in the Middle East with a thaw expected between Israel and the GCC nations. 

The UAE: Possible sale of F-35 fighters invites mixed responses
The UAE has stated that the hurdles to purchase the F-35 lightning from the US have been removed following an agreement with Israel. But a sale of the advanced stealth fighters to an Arab state would require a deeper review because of the American policy for Israel. The move has been controversial as it has created some confusion among agencies and Congressional committees over President Trump's senior advisor, Jared Kushner's secret push to sell the aircraft to the Gulf country. Trump has also said that a potential sale was "under review" while addressing the press conference and added that the UAE has enough funds to purchase these aircraft. These developments have, however, raised concerns in Israel as it maintains a qualitative military edge over the Arab countries. Although the UAE had not openly stated about the intentions of purchasing the F-35, it has been widely speculated that the aircraft could give it a potential edge to counter Iran's threats.


Europe and the Americas This Week
by D. Suba Chandran 

External Threat to Belarus: The NATO rejects the claims of the Belarusian President
Alexander Lukashenko, the President of Belarus, has accused the "foreign powers" referring to the NATO for building troops along the borders of Belarus. In particular, he has accused Poland and Lithuania of building troops, and also recently visited the border near Poland. The NATO, according to the BBC, has denied the statements and said: "no threat to Belarus or any other country and has no military build-up in the region. Our posture is strictly defensive."

Alexei Navalny, a Putin critic in Russia, who is feared to be poisoned, now reaches Berlin
A strong and open critic of the Russian President Putin, Alexei Navalny has been in a coma and is believed by his supporters to be poisoned. Early this week, he was returning to Moscow from Tomsk, a town in Siberia, and is believed to be poisoned in the airport while having tea. The flight had to make an emergency landing at Omsk, another town in Siberia, where he was getting treated. The hospital officials did not allow Navlany's doctor to attend to him. Initially, they stated that he was weak to be shifted when a German foundation sent a medical evacuation flight to bring him to Berlin. Finally, on Saturday morning, Navalny is brought to Berlin. 

Voting by Mail: The US House takes action, with passing a Bill for USD 25 billion to augment the US Postal Service
On 23 August, the US House passed a bill with 257-150 majority to provide additional funding to the US Postal Services, so that there is no delay in voting by mail for the forthcoming Presidential Elections. The Democrats are afraid that the Trump administration is purposefully slowing down the vote by mail process; the latest removal of mailboxes and the decommissioning of mail sorting equipment are a part of a conspiracy. They also fear that the recently appointed Postmaster General - Louis DeJoy, is a donor to the Trump campaign and will go slow. Trump has already made his position clear on the issue – vote by mail; he is not in favour.

Tik Tok plans to file a lawsuit against Trump's Executive Order
One of the leading Chinese social media applications – Tik Tok, along with WeChat was banned in the US, by an Executive Order issued by President Trump in early August. The order was to take place within 45 days in those areas that are subject to the US jurisdiction. For the Trump administration, the Tik Tok and a few other Chinese social media applications pose an economic and security threat to the US. For Tik Tok, the US administration did not follow the due process in issuing the Executive Order. On 22 August, the Tik Tok has said that it would file a lawsuit challenging the Presidential Order issued on 6 August.

Sparked by 12,000 bolts of lightning, the wildfires return to California, to ravage in north and south
This week, there were multiple clusters of wildfires in the State of California, mainly north of San Francisco and in the east of San Jose. Ignited by a series of lightning, the wildfires are now reported to be raging across 300,000 acres of land. According to a WSJ report, "more than 13,700 firefighters drawn from state, local and federal agencies are battling the blazes, which have caused at least five deaths and forced more than 115,000 people to evacuate their homes."

About the Authors 

Dr Vivek Mishra is a Research Fellow at the ICWA, New Delhi. Harini Madhusudan and Rashmi BR are PhD Scholars at NIAS, Sourina Bej and Abigail Miriam Fernandez are Project Associate and Research Assistant respectively, and Vibhav Kandlur is a Research Intern at NIAS. D. Suba Chandran is a Dean at NIAS and the Editor of TWTW. 

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