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This Week in the World

This Week in the World | 3.16.20

Illustration credit: Tia Marchiselli

Russian Far East Attracts Rebels, Renegades

by Hal Conte

The Far Eastern Hectare Program, which offers 2.5 acres of free land to those who want to move to the most sparsely populated regions of the Russian Federation, has provided refuge for those Russians who oppose government policy. Sergei Lunin, an anarchist, recently shocked the liberal intellectuals of Moscow when he chose to participate in the state program, but he says that land offers people the chance to be their “own dictator,” ahead of a constitutional referendum viewed as likely to grant Vladimir V. Putin the power to rule until 2036.

Image source: Davide Monteleone


Italian, Canadian Citizens Missing Since 2018 Found In Burkina Faso

by Hal Conte

Edith Blais and Luca Tacchetto, who vanished in December 2018 travelling to Tongo for volunteer work, were discovered by U.N. troops escaping to Mali after being kidnapped by an unknown terrorist or group. Dressed in the clothes of the regional Tuareg people, the two were unaware of the recent virus outbreak and startled by locals who met them with elbows.

Image source: AP


Greek ExFinance Minister Exposes Eurogroup With New Leaks

by Hal Conte

EuroLeaks, a WikiLeaks-like website with tapes of secret meetings of European leaders from the height of the Eurocrisis, appeared last week as a project led by Yanis Varoufakis, the colorful Greek leftist who was briefly finance minister in 2015 when it looked as if the country might exit the EU. “There is no transparency in the European Union,” Varoufakis said in a video. “The Eurogroup’s three does not keep minutes, the European Union Council is still shrouded in total opacity. It’s about time we change that,” he said.

Image source: DiEM25


Saudi Arabia, Russia Set Off Global Oil Price Clash

by Hal Conte

Oil prices fell by over 45 percent since the beginning of the year after Saudi Arabia commandeered OPEC to cut production dramatically in the face of the coronavirus, starting a price war with Russia, which wanted to keep prices lower believing higher prices from OPEC would benefit the US fracking industry. Saudi Arabia responded by increasing production even more, and Russia replied in kind. It is the biggest market disruption since the 1930s.

Macron Shellacked In French Local Vote

by Hal Conte

Emmanuel Macron’s party, En Marche!, lost across the board in local elections Sunday with a turnout of just 44 percent. Paris’s Socialist mayor, Anne Hidalgo, came in ahead of a traditional right-wing candidate with over 30 percent of the vote while En Marche! got just 17 percent. Green, Gaullist, and left-wing candidates also won in Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux, Grenoble, although Macron’s prime minister Édouard Philippe, was able to defend Le Havre for the party against a comeback by the city’s longtime ruling Communist Party.

Image source: Eliot Blondet