Welcome to Newscoop Footnotes —
the weekly review of important news no one’s talking about.
Hi, I’m Zoe Licata.
All kinds of important issues and events are proceeding under the radar right now. We’ll bring just a few of them to your attention here.
* As U.S. influence on the world stage continues to shrink, Vladimir Putin, president of Russia, is extending his influence to countries and regions around the globe in a way likely to affect the strategic geopolitical balance in those areas. Bosnia is among them. Following the 1992-95 Bosnian War, Bosnia was comprised of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (that’s mostly Bosniak and Croat), and Republika Srpska (mostly Serb). Now, with Bosnian elections coming in October, the Kremlin is encouraging Bosnian Serb separatists, assisting them in building what is effectively a paramilitary force. In fact, as calls for a partition of neighboring Kosovo also gain traction, the ambition for a “greater Serbia” is growing. This does not bode well for the peace and stability of Bosnia, nor for the region.
* Next, as reported by Foreign Policy, Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has been hard at work trying to implement policies that will eliminate UNRWA, the UN agency that provides humanitarian aid to millions of Palestinian refugees. Kushner’s overall objective is to abolish refugee status for Palestinians, in order to take the return of refugees off the table in any future settlement for Palestinians with Israel. The effort is widely seen as cynical and naive on the part of Kushner and others in the Trump administration, and more likely to lead to greater instability rather than an end to the conflict.
* In October 2016 in London, a group of leading scientists from around the globe met to discuss the potential for building what they called a Human Cell Atlas. Just as the Human Genome Project provided a reference map for all human genes, a Human Cell Atlas would create a map of every cell type in the human body — describing the cellular basis for all health and disease.
In October 2017, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative funded 38 pilot projects around the globe to build tools and technologies to support the atlas. Now, on August 9th, the global charitable foundation Wellcome has committed 7 million pounds in first funding for scientists at 7 UK research institutes to scale the initiative. A very exciting project moves forward.
* And finally, U.S. vice president Mike Pence this week announced plans for a U.S. Space Force by 2020. “Space Force all the way!” tweeted President Trump. In response, Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz tweeted back: “Although ‘Space Force’ won’t happen, it’s dangerous to have a leader who cannot be talked out of crazy ideas.”
This has been the latest edition of Newscoop’s Footnotes – important events getting too little attention. Tune in next week for more.
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