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This Week Around The World Jan. 17-23

Jan. 19 London, UK: Boris Johnson dismissed calls from opponents to resign over a series of lockdown parties, according to Reuters. The lockdown parties in question are a series of events hosted at Downing Street held during COVID-19 lockdowns. Johnson apologized last week to parliament for attending a party on May 20, 2020, claiming to only have been present for 25 minutes to thank staff. An investigation into the parties has uncovered an email from a senior advisor to Johnson’s private secretary Martin Reynolds advising not to go ahead with the May 20, 2020 party. Johnson has denied the claims that he was warned the gathering would break COVID-19 regulations. However, Dominic Cummings—another former advisor who left the government in November 2020—said at least one other advisor told Reynolds the party should not go forward. Cummings also claimed that Johnson agreed on the drinks for the party. “Nobody told me that what we were doing was, as you say, against the rules,” Johnson told reporters on Jan. 18. “I thought that I was attending a work event.” On Jan. 19, Christian Wakeford—a representative of the Bury South constituency in northern England—left Johnson’s Conservative party after calling the lockdown parties “disgraceful.” “My decision is about much more than your leadership and the disgraceful way you have conducted yourself in recent weeks,” Wakeford said. “I can no longer support a government that has shown itself consistently out of touch with the hard working people of Bury South and the country as a whole.” David Davis quoted a fellow former conservative lawmaker. “You have sat there too long for the good you have done,” said Leo Amery to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in 1940. “In the name of God, go.”


Ongoing, Ukraine: Russia has positioned several thousand troops and artillery near the Ukrainian border, which it has previously invaded in 2014, according to Reuters. “Russia will be held accountable if it invades—and it depends on what it does,” said U.S. President Joe Biden to reporters on Jan. 19. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do.” Biden’s remarks resulted in various world leaders scrambling for unity, after his suggestion that the United States and its allies would disagree on how to respond if Russia were to invade Ukraine. On Jan. 20, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that several allies were “considering to increase deployments of NATO troops in the eastern part of the alliance,” but considered Biden’s remarks “not at all” a green light for Russia to invade Ukraine. UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping that its allies would stand against dictatorship, at the annual Australia-United Kingdom Ministerial Consultations on Jan. 21. According to Reuters, Russia’s actions may have resulted in almost the exact opposite of Putin’s desires, by sparking back up NATO’s unity and alliance. Neutral countries Finland and Sweden returned to the discussion of possibly joining NATO. French President Emmanuel Macron offered to send troops to Romania, which Romania accepted. The current status is “certainly NATO’s defensive posture, [but] we’ll have to strengthen even further,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said, “I think the U.S. moving additional capabilities to Europe now is definitely in the works, because the situation demands it.”


Jan. 21 Apiate, Ghana: A truck carrying explosives through a mining village in Ghana detonated in transport, flattening a village and killing at least 13. The 66-foot-wide explosion was caused by a collision of a motorcycle with the truck, and the government stated a roadside power transformer could’ve played a role. “We’ve seen damage to lives and property here that is just indescribable,” said Daniel Adu-Gyamfi, a volunteer with the response team who is a student from a nearby mining college. “Yesterday…you could see human remains all over the place.” The ministry of lands and natural resources ordered the suspension of Ghana’s chief inspector of mines, responsible for supervising all mines used in the area. The truck carrying the explosives was owned by Maxam, a Spanish company, and was en route to the Chirano gold mine, operated by Toronto-based Kinross. The ministry of lands and natural resources also suspended Maxam from manufacturing, transporting or supplying explosives until after a pending investigation into the explosion. The driver of the truck was able to lower the potential death toll by warning the motorcyclist, nearby school teachers, students and other community members in the small amount of time between the collision and the detonation of the explosives on the truck.