As the semester is going towards the end and the exam session is approaching, this edition of the Monday Briefing takes us first to Myanmar, where a new sentence of guilt is indicative of an ongoing crisis. In other news, Twitter’s takeover by Elon Musk, the latest on the international response to the Ukraine war, the latest on the Iran nuclear deal, an admission of human rights violations in Colombia, and much more. Find it all in this week’s #MondayBriefing
Among the many countries that have recently experienced a socio-political shakedown and are currently undergoing a transition phase that has multiple controversial implications, Myanmar undoubtedly provides a compelling example, and this week’s condemnation of its former leader Aung San Suu on corruption charges allows us to reflect on the ramifications of the country’s situation.
Previously known as Burma, Myanmar is in South-East Asia. It gained independence from the British in 1948 and from 1962 to 2011, it was ruled by armed forces, when a new government began ushering for a return of civil rule. In February 2020, after a general election in which Aung San Suu’s party National League for Democracy (NLD) won by a landslide, the military, which was supporting the opposition party, seized control of government, claiming that there had been election fraud, a claim that was denied by the election commission.
Aung San Suu has therefore been detained ever since. She became famous in the 1990s for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for her campaigning for democracy, and then, in 2015, she led the NLD in the first openly contested election in 25 years. Her international reputation, however, suffered a big blow due to Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya minority. In 2019, she even appeared in front of the International Criminal Court to respond to allegations of genocide, which she openly denied.
The country is effectively run by the military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, who, among other things, has led the trials on Aung San Suu on twelve charges. In January, she was found guilty for violating the country’s official secrets act, while this week, she was found guilty on corruption charges. She still faces ten charges, each carrying up to 15 years of jail.
While the future is uncertain and this de facto seems like a transition period, the unrest that permeates the population’s routine makes the country’s situation quite precarious and given that there are problematic implications with all forces at play, it is hard to think of an outcome that is truly desirable.
Around the World
António Guterres United Nations chief heads to Moscow amid criticism from Ukraine. The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, has told Russia’s foreign minister on Tuesday he is ready to fully mobilise the UN’s resources to evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol amid criticism of his role in the crisis. “Thousands of civilians are in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, and many have evacuated,” he said, adding he had come as a messenger of peace.
Twitter accepts Elon Musk’s $44bn takeover offer. Twitter’s board has agreed to sell the company to the chief executive of Tesla, who said he wanted to make Twitter “better than ever” through new features, open-source algorithms, a cleansing out of bots and authentication of “all real humans.”
Time running out to reach Iran nuclear deal, warn experts. After the US pulled out of the Iran nuclear non-proliferation deal in 2018, Iran also reduced its compliance with the agreement by accumulating uranium enriched to near-weapons grade. Now, talks around the revival of the nuclear deal are heading to a stalemate over the US’ refusal to lift the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization. Experts warn of the high costs entailed if a new agreement is not signed.
European gas prices soar after Gazprom halts supplies to Poland and Bulgaria. Russian Gazprom has completely suspended gas supplies to Bulgarian Bulgargaz and Polish PGNiG due to non-payment in roubles. Bulgaria and Poland were the first two nations to have their gas supplies halted after Russia threatened to cut supplies unless it was paid in roubles. The supply cut caused a 20% increase in gas prices.
China’s Covid Lockdown Outrage Tests Limits of Triumphant Propaganda. A month into Shanghai’s harsh lockdown its residents are trying to voice their anger about food shortages and delays in medical care. A high volume of online posts discredits China’s zero-Covid policies. These issues are not being acknowledged by local authorities, whom instead are counteracting with censorship and propaganda.
Russia planning operations to destabilise pro-EU Moldova, officials warn. A series of explosions in Transnistria, a separatist pro-Kremlin region of Moldova, have signaled how Moscow could stand to gain from the region’s destabilization. Transnistria would present Russia with an invasion route into western Ukraine. Already, the region hosts about 1,500 Russian troops along with a large ammunition depot.
Biden asks Congress for $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, saying ‘the cost of this fight is not cheap.’. President Biden called on Congress on Thursday to approve $33 billion in additional aid for Ukraine, arguing that American weapons and humanitarian assistance are helping to beat back Russian invaders in a conflict with enormous consequences for the United States and the world.
Donald Trump held in contempt in New York attorney general’s investigation. A New York judge has held Donald Trump in contempt and fined him $10,000 a day, following the former president’s failure to hand over documents to prosecutors investigating his business practices after he had been subpoenaed.
U.S. GDP Falls 1.4% as Economy Shrinks for First Time Since Early in Pandemic. The U.S. economy shrank in the first quarter as supply disruptions weighed on output, but underlying strength in consumer and business spending suggested growth will soon resume.
Germany Drops Opposition to Embargo on Russian Oil. EU countries have been debating on a possible ban on Russian oil, while certain member states have remained cautious about the economic impact of such a measure. Germany was one of the main opponents to such a ban, yet, on April 27th, it was announced that Germany would lift its objection to a full Russian oil embargo if it was given sufficient time to replace Russia with other suppliers. This is expected to accelerate a possible phaseout of oil purchases by the EU from Russia.
Turkey’s Leader Lands in Saudi Arabia, Seeking to Ease Tensions. The visit of President Erdogan to Saudi Arabia marks an attempt to mend the two countries’ weakened relations after the killing of Saudi dissident, Jamal Khashoggi, in Istanbul’s Saudi Consulate. Turkey has been battered by inflation and is still heavily reliant on Russian gas imports. Hence, the search for closer cooperation with nearby oil-rich Saudi Arabia is partly seen as an effort to boost Turkey’s economy.
Colombian General and 10 Others Admit to Crimes Against Humanity. A group of Colombian military officials have admitted in court to orchestrating the deaths of at least 120 civilians between 2002 and 2008. The officials would recruit the victims, mostly students and farmers, on the promise of jobs and afterwards kill them. These deaths would then be recorded as combat kills of rebel fighters as part of a deliberate scheme to falsely inflate the Colombian government’s successes in fighting its civil war
Stop all’obbligo mascherine, ma «raccomandate» al lavoro. L’obbligo di indossare la mascherina rimarrà valido «fino al 15 giugno nel trasporto pubblico locale e a lunga percorrenza, per gli spettacoli nei cinema, nei teatri e per tutti gli eventi e competizioni sportive che si svolgono al chiuso. Sarà così anche per lavoratori, utenti e visitatori delle strutture sanitarie, socio-sanitarie e socio assistenziali, incluse le rsa», dichiara Roberto Speranza, Ministro della Salute. Tale strumento di protezione rimarrà comunque fortemente raccomandato all’interno dei luoghi di lavoro, sia pubblici che privati.
La Corte Costituzionale ha stabilito che è illegittimo dare automaticamente ai figli il cognome del padre. Mercoledì la Corte Costituzionale ha deciso che sono costituzionalmente illegittime le norme che impongono di dare automaticamente ai figli il cognome del padre, in una decisione probabilmente storica le cui conseguenze concrete andranno chiarite a questo punto con le interpretazioni dei giuristi e con la loro traduzione in una nuova prassi burocratica, in attesa che la Corte depositi le motivazioni.
Fare la calciatrice in Italia sarà una professione. Nel consiglio federale di martedì la Federazione calcistica italiana (FIGC) ha completato il passaggio al professionismo del movimento femminile. Dal primo luglio la Serie A — il massimo campionato nazionale — diventerà quindi un torneo professionistico a tutti gli effetti e si verrà a creare una vera e propria professione a norma di legge, quella di calciatrice. Per la prima volta nella storia dello sport italiano, ci saranno delle atlete professioniste.
Istat, il Pil italiano in negativo: -0,2% nel primo trimestre. L’economia italiana scivola come d’attese in terreno negativo nel primo trimestre del 2022, anche se il contraccolpo è – secondo le stime preliminari Istat – meno grave di quel che si potesse prevedere. Tra gennaio e marzo il Pil italiano, espresso in valori concatenati con anno di riferimento 2015, corretto per gli effetti di calendario e destagionalizzato, è diminuito dello 0,2% rispetto al trimestre precedente (chiuso a +0,7%) ed è cresciuto del 5,8% in termini tendenziali. Nel Documento di economia e finanza, il governo aveva previsto un calo sul trimestre precedente dello 0,5%
Il richiamo di Mattarella per l’1 maggio: la sicurezza sul lavoro è dovere inderogabile. “La sicurezza nei luoghi di lavoro è un diritto, una necessità, assicurarla un dovere inderogabile. Questa esigenza fondamentale sarà al centro della cerimonia di dopodomani, Primo Maggio, al Quirinale”, dice Sergio Mattarella, ricordando Lorenzo Parelli, il ragazzo morto durante l’esperienza di scuola-lavoro. E continua: “Anticipiamo la celebrazione della Giornata del Lavoro, in omaggio a Lorenzo e a tutti coloro che hanno perso la vita sui luoghi di lavoro, affinché si manifesti con piena chiarezza che non si tratta di una ricorrenza rituale o astratta ma di un’occasione di richiamo e riflessione”
Alessandro Orsini, la Luiss chiude l’Osservatorio del professore. “L’Eni ha deciso di interrompere la collaborazione”: L’ateneo romano chiude il sito del professor Orsini, a causa del mancato rinnovo della collaborazione con Eni, che sosteneva il suo progetto. “L’accordo di collaborazione con Eni per la realizzazione dell’Osservatorio sulla Sicurezza Internazionale, affidato dall’ateneo al professor Alessandro Orsini, è giunto a scadenza da circa due mesi e non sarà rinnovato. Per questa ragione – si legge – i canali di comunicazione dell’Osservatorio, incluso il sito internet Sicurezza Internazionale, da oggi non sono più attivi”.
- Even though the Italian Ministry of Health has revoked the mandate for masks indoors for most scenarios, masks will continue to remain mandatory in Bocconi at least until June 15th. Starting today, though, the green pass will no longer be needed to access Bocconi facilities.
In Case You Missed it:
Liepa Seskeviciute wrote about the War on Drugs in the Philippines and its detrimental consequences, exploring whether this policy would change after this year’s presidential election.
L’associazione studentesca Keiron ha scritto sulle cooperazioni internazionali di polizia.
Elisa Latora wrote about Hamilton: An American Musical and questioned whether its “color-blind” casting can withstand the changing social and political climate.