The Washington Post – Sharif Hassan and Susannah George / ‘There’s no humanity left’: A family buries a mother and her unborn child in Afghanistan
- Hajar Sarwari was in labor with her second child at a west Kabul maternity ward on Tuesday morning when gunmen shot her twice in the abdomen, killing her and her unborn child. Three gunmen killed 24 people in a Doctors Without Borders maternity ward.
- “There’s no humanity left in this country,” said Sarwari’s husband, Mohammad Hussain Yaqoobi, his speech slow and halting. The burial was one of many across Kabul on Wednesday morning. Hospital officials said the mothers of 10 newborns were among Tuesday’s dead, alongside two infants, pregnant women, nurses and a security guard. Sixteen were wounded.
- More funerals were held about 100 miles to the east, in Nangahar province. A suicide bombing there on Tuesday killed 32 and wounded 133. The attacker struck just hours after the hospital rampage began and targeted a funeral gathering for a prominent local security official.
- The Islamic State claimed responsibility. The Taliban denied responsibility, but the militants have increased attacks on Afghan forces in other parts of the country for weeks, inflicting heavy casualties. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani responded by directing his forces to resume offensive operations against the Taliban.
- The New York Times – Mujib Mashal and Fahim Abed / From maternity ward to cemetery, a morning of murder in Afghanistan
The Guardian – Shaun Walker and Jennifer Rankin / Hungary’s coronavirus laws prompt new showdown with Brussels
- The European parliament will discuss Hungary’s controversial coronavirus laws on Thursday. In late March Hungary’s parliament gave Orbán the right to rule by decree indefinitely as part of a package of measures aimed at fighting coronavirus. The European commission vice-president Vĕra Jourová will take part.
- The law was criticised for failing to include a sunset clause to give clear time limit to the state of emergency and for introducing potential jail sentences for people who spread false information, which in recent days has led to raids on individuals criticising the government on Facebook.
- Hungarian government officials have branded Thursday’s hearing a “lynching” and a “witchhunt”, and Orbán has said he is too busy to attend. Orbán has offered to send his justice minister, Judit Varga, to speak in his place, but the suggestion was rebuffed by David Sassoli, the parliament’s president, who said only the president or prime minister could address the hearing.
- On Tuesday police arrested a 64-year-old man in the town of Szerencs who had posted a Facebook status criticising the government’s coronavirus response and called Orbán a “cruel tyrant”. Although he was released without charge, the police posted a video online of officers taking the man away for questioning.
- Politico – Zosia Wanat and Lili Bayer / EU top court’s authority challenged by Poland and Hungary
- Foreign Affairs – Marta Figlerowicz / Democracy on pause in pandemic Poland
Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / Will a global depression trigger another world war?
- 2020 is looking to be the worst year that humankind has faced in many decades: coronavirus, a world economy in free fall, a plague of locusts in Africa… Even if all those things magically disappeared tomorrow—and they won’t—we still face the looming long-term danger from climate change.
- Given all that, what could possibly make things worse? Here’s one possibility: war. It is therefore worth asking whether the combination of a pandemic and a major economic depression is making war more or less likely. What does history and theory tell us about that question?
- For starters, we know neither plague nor depression make war impossible. So if you think major war simply can’t happen during COVID-19 and the accompanying global recession, think again. But war could still be much less likely. The pandemic is making all governments more pessimistic about their short- to medium-term prospects.
- Pandemic-induced pessimism should be conducive to peace. COVID-19 is also likely to reduce international trade in the short to medium term, and trade issues have been a source of considerable friction in recent years. If one takes a longer-term perspective, however, a sustained economic depression could make war more likely.
- Financial Times – Richard Milne and David Crow / Why vaccine ‘nationalism’ could slow coronavirus fight
The New York Times – Brad Plumer / In a first, renewable energy is poised to eclipse coal in U.S.
- The United States is on track to produce more electricity this year from renewable power than from coal for the first time on record, new government projections show, a transformation partly driven by the coronavirus pandemic, with profound implications in the fight against climate change.
- It is a milestone that seemed all but unthinkable a decade ago, when coal was so dominant that it provided nearly half the nation’s electricity. And it comes despite the Trump administration’s three-year push to try to revive the ailing industry by weakening pollution rules on coal-burning power plants.
- As factories, retailers, restaurants and office buildings have shut down nationwide to slow the spread of the coronavirus, demand for electricity has fallen sharply. And, because coal plants often cost more to operate than gas plants or renewables, many utilities are cutting back on coal power first in response.
- The decline of coal has major consequences for climate change. Coal is the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, and its decline has already helped drive down United States carbon dioxide emissions 15 percent since 2005. This year, the agency expects America’s emissions to fall by another 11 percent, the largest drop in at least 70 years.
- Bloomberg – Brian Eckhouse / Virus guts U.S. clean-energy jobs gained since ’17, report says
- Politico – R. Daniel Kelemen and Jacob Soll / The EU is undermining its democracies while funding its autocracies
The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.