World roundup: October 8 2021

Stories from Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Poland, and more

INTERNATIONAL

In today’s global news:

  • Worldometer is tracking COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

  • The New York Times is tracking global vaccine distribution.

  • As expected, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced Friday that it’s secured agreements from 136 countries to implement a new global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent. When it comes into effect in 2023, the new minimum rate will reduce international tax competition and the use of certain countries as tax havens for multinational firms. It won’t reduce those things by very much, however, because a 15 percent rate is still fairly low by OECD standards and because several low tax countries have still not agreed to adopt the new floor.

  • The Nobel Committee awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to Philippine journalist Maria Ressa and Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov. Both have founded independent media outlets despite the restrictive journalistic conditions in their respective countries, and they’re being treated as symbolic representatives of the journalistic world at large.

MIDDLE EAST

SYRIA

According to Syrian state media, an apparent Israeli missile strike on the T4 airbase in Homs province has left at least six soldiers wounded. The strike took place late Friday evening and, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, targeted a “drone depot” on the base.

Syrian media is also reporting that Bashar al-Assad has lifted his uncle Rifaat’s exile and that the latter has returned to Syria to escape potential legal jeopardy in France. Rifaat was once a key figure in the Syrian military and government under his brother, Hafez, and was among other things heavily implicated in the 1982 Hama Massacre. He risked it all on an attempted coup in 1984, and when that failed Hafez “promoted” him to a figurehead vice presidency and sent him on a one-way diplomatic visit to the Soviet Union. He’s spent the past 25-ish years living in France and Spain, popping up here and there as when, for example, he complained in 2000 that it should have been him, and not Bashar, who succeeded Hafez as Syrian leader. A French court has convicted him on fraud charges, and while it’s unlikely he would’ve served any prison time at his advanced age, he was in danger of losing his considerable fortune. It’s unlikely he’ll be allowed to do much in Syria other than live quietly.

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