Xpat Weekly Update: The 5 Most Important Global Stories This Week

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1. Chinese Losing Confidence in Their Currency?

Among the many implications of China’s growing role in global economics is that domestic issues can affect finances worldwide (witness the reverberations caused by the Chinese stock market decline earlier this year.) The New York Times reported this week on another issue from China, capital flight.

As the Chinese economy stumbles, wealthy families are moving money out of the country, worried that the value of the currency will fall and their savings will be worth less. The full implications are not yet clear — money needs to go somewhere and may boast investments in the U.S. and elsewhere — but the exodus of capital is casting doubt on China’s economic prospects and shaking global markets, which prefer stability above all else.

Over the last year, companies and individuals have moved nearly $1 trillion out of China.

New York Times

2. The Smell of a Wider War in Syria?

Evolving events in Syria continue to suggest a wider war is building in plain sight, with no clear end point. The conflict midwifed in large part by blundering American efforts to recruit, arm and empower nearly anyone willing to “fight ISIS” continues to have unavoidable consequences.

One of the most significant this week was threats by Saudi Arabia to invade/deploy troops into Syria. Though presented in the west as a positive example of a “coalition effort” against ISIS, the Saudi threat is seen by many in the Middle East as a dramatic escalation of the anti-terrorism fight into a full-on battle between nation-states. Russia’s prime minister, for example, has warned of a “permanent world war” if the Saudi troops are sent into Syria.


3. Six Killed in Shooting Rampage in Saudi Arabia, 28 in Turkey Bombing

Violence in the Middle East is rarely contained within the borders of any nation, as militias, terror groups and state-sponsored actors take the fight into the heart of opposition lands. Unable to defeat a foe on the battlefield, groups employ classic small wars strategies such as targeted killings and suicide bombs, often aiming for as much a political effect as a strategic one.

Two examples stand out in this week’s news. The worst took place inside the Turkish capital of Ankara, where a bomb killed 28 people, 27 of whom were Turkish soldiers. Turkey has accused Kurdish militia groups of the attack, and vows retaliation. Turkey is already shelling the Kurds across its eastern border, and engaged in fighting in northern Syria against Kurdish forces. A second incident occurred inside Saudi Arabia, where a gunman shot and killed six people in a government building. Violence inside the tightly-controlled Kingdom is rare, and thus always significant.

Washington Post

4. Gravitational Waves Detected, Confirming Einstein’s Theory

The direct detection of these ripples in spacetime not only confirms Einstein’s famous theory of general relativity, it opens the “dark universe” to study for the first time. Astronomy generally uses the electromagnetic spectrum (visible light, X-rays, infrared) to study the universe, but objects that do not radiate in the electromagnetic spectrum will go unnoticed.

With the new ability to detect gravitational waves, this will change. “Gravitational waves provide a completely new way of looking at the universe,” said physicist Stephen J. Hawking. “The ability to detect them has the potential to revolutionize astronomy.”


5. January 2016 Shatters the Global Warming Monthly Record

January 2016 was the hottest January globally since records began in 1880. And it didn’t just edge out the previous record holder for January, it crushed it. These results follow several of the months in 2015 which were the hottest on record, leading to 2015 overall being the hottest year ever recorded. The earth is getting hotter, and the time to begin to reverse the human-made components of the change is shrinking.


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