Timeframe: March 19 to March 25, 2022
Contributors: Affan Bin Saber, Farhan Uddin Ahmed, GM Sifat Iqbal, and Safin Mahmood
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More than a dozen members of the security forces have been killed in an attack in northern Burkina Faso
At least 15 Burkina Faso soldiers and army auxiliaries were killed in an attack in the country’s north, three security sources said on Thursday.
The attack took place on Wednesday in the north-central region of the West African country, a hotbed of violence linked to al Qaeda and Daesh, and was carried out by unidentified gunmen, sources said.
A source said the soldiers were guarding water pipes that were often destroyed by the gangs, which cut off access to several parts of northern and eastern Burkina Faso.
Rebels there have dug up roads, besieged towns, destroyed water facilities and undermined efforts to deliver food and supplies to trapped civilians.
A government spokesman did not respond to requests for comment on the attack.
Burkina Faso is one of several West African countries battling a violent armed group that took root in neighboring Mali and has spread across the region over the past decade.
Thousands have been killed and more than two million displaced in the Sahel region south of the Sahara.
Frustration over the authorities’ failure to restore security has fueled two military takeovers in Burkina Faso and two in Mali since 2020.
Source: TRT World
UN calls for foreign intervention in Haiti as violence surges
The United Nations has called for the deployment of an international “specialized support force” to impede Haiti’s accelerating tumble into extreme violence after more than 530 people were killed in the opening weeks of this year.
The UN human rights office said that already this year its staff had counted 531 killings, 300 injuries and 277 kidnappings in gang-related incidents, mostly in Haiti’s gang-throttled capital, Port-au-Prince.
Haiti’s collapse will reportedly be on the agenda when the US president, Joe Biden, visits Canada this week, with Washington reportedly seeking to persuade Ottawa to spearhead a security intervention aimed at stabilizing the violence-stricken Caribbean nation.
Haiti’s long-running crisis intensified after the 2021 assassination of its president, Jovenel Moïse, at his Port-au-Prince residence. Since then, politically connected gangs have seized control of more than 60% of the capital, Haitian politics has been plunged into a morass of infighting, the resource-starved police force has mutinied, and an already dramatic humanitarian crisis has intensified.
But the catastrophic track record of foreign interventions in Haiti, stemming back to the 19th century, makes many people – in Haiti, and abroad – profoundly wary of yet more international interference.
“You won’t go there for three months or six months,” Gilles Rivard, a former Canadian ambassador to Haiti, told the Washington Post this week. “You will go there for at least a couple of years.”
Source: The Guardian
2. Economics & Business
Bangkok and Dhaka are eager to investigate FTA potential to increase bilateral trade
In order to increase their bilateral commerce, Bangladesh and Thailand have decided to carefully investigate the possibility of an FTA (free trade agreement). Bangladesh has informed the Thai side that the Ministry of Trade is conducting a qualitative feasibility assessment in this respect.
The Joint Trade Committee (JTC) will be held in Dhaka this year at a mutually suitable time to assess the full spectrum of bilateral trade and investment portfolios and maximize the volume and variety of trade. Bangladesh and Thailand agreed to conduct the JTC there. To assist establish a better balance in bilateral trade, Bangladesh asked the Thai side to loosen Thailand’s trade regulations by removing non-tariff obstacles, reducing or eliminating duties, etc. for Bangladeshi exports. The third Foreign Office Consultations between Bangladesh and Thailand took place on Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen led the group from Bangladesh, and Sarun Charoensuwan, Permanent Secretary of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed the team from Thailand. The conference was also attended by senior representatives from the ministries of foreign affairs, commerce, agriculture, industries, civil aviation, tourism, and the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA). The discussion covered the whole spectrum of bilateral ties between Thailand and Bangladesh. Bangkok hosted the second FOC last year. Both parties acknowledged the already strong bilateral relationships and underlined their determination to take those ties to new heights in the coming months. The two sides decided to continue looking at potential areas of cooperation while praising the increasing speed of engagement and excitement in relation to political, economic, social, and cultural connections.
The foreign secretary praised Thailand’s accomplishments and experiences in poultry, fishing, and other agro-based industries, according to UNB, and asked for the Thai government’s assistance in developing capacity in agro-based industries through training and technology transfer. Moreover, he advocated joint ventures and research projects on aquaculture and marine biodiversity. The foreign secretary commended the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General of South Asia and Central Asia Division for visiting the Cox’s Bazar Rohingya Camp the following day and urged Thailand to take a more proactive role in ensuring the voluntary, dignified, and sustainable repatriation of Rohingya people currently seeking refuge in Bangladesh to their native Myanmar.
Source: The Financial Express
Japan to spend $15 billion on inflation aid ahead of local elections
Japan is set to allocate an additional ¥2 trillion ($15.1 billion) in aid to cushion the impact of high inflation ahead of local elections next month.
Economy Minister Shigeyuki Goto told reporters Wednesday that the expenses would come from reserve funds already budgeted for the fiscal year ending this month. The measures include handouts for low-income families and their children and support for households that use liquefied petroleum gas, according to Cabinet Office documents.
The additional measures signal concerns in Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling coalition about the impact on voters and firms from the strongest inflation in four decades. Economists say the long-term impact of the move on prices and Bank of Japan policy may be limited.
“The BOJ will exclude the impact from the new measures because they are likely to last for as little as a year,” said Takahide Kiuchi, a former BOJ board member and economist at Nomura Research Institute. “The government is doing this for the upcoming local elections rather than fiscal policy.”
Source: Japan Times
3. Science & Technology
Defenders of TikTok Step Up in Congress Amid Growing Scrutiny
Progressive members of Congress, including Rep. Jamaal Bowman, are planning a public defense of TikTok against bipartisan efforts to ban the app in the US. While many lawmakers have expressed concern over TikTok’s data collection practices, Bowman and over 20 TikTok creators argue that the app inspires creativity, brings joy, and supports the livelihoods of millions of Americans.
Some fellow progressives, including Reps. Mark Pocan and Robert Garcia, will also join Bowman in the defense of the Chinese-owned app. The hesitation to ban TikTok extends beyond these members of Congress, but opposition to the app has been high on Capitol Hill.
Foreign language tutoring AI bot
A reading comprehension education AI system has been created by the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) that enables you to learn foreign language by hearing, speaking, and reading by conversing with an AI teacher. It is anticipated to play a significant role in the growth of AI-based language learning services.
With the introduction of a reading comprehension AI tutor from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI), deep learning-based dialog processing technology was for the first time ever used in reading comprehension instruction. It is anticipated that as a result, both foreigners and Koreans would be able to acquire the language more quickly and efficiently. The study team’s reading comprehension AI tutor technology aids students in learning English reading and hearing based on textbooks, much like private instructors. Moreover, it poses questions on the textbook’s material, has discussions about what was read, and assesses the students’ replies. This makes it easier for students to see the value of learning with private instructors. Also, students will be able to get non-face-to-face instruction at home or elsewhere in English reading comprehension, which was previously only feasible through face-to-face instruction. AI-based conversational foreign language teaching technologies and services have previously been created and offered by ETRI. English voice recognition, pronunciation assessment, and free conversation processing technologies from ETRI are combined with EBS’s AI PengTalk. This service is used as a public education English-speaking learning service for elementary schools nationwide.
“I expect that AI technology for reading will be of tremendous service to local and international learners who wish to study reading with native English professors,” said Lee Yoon-geun, director of the ETRI Artificial Intelligence Research Center.The research team is now working on a technology that will automatically evaluate essays that students have written about reading material. It will also keep up its follow-up investigation to provide AI tutoring services that assist in speaking, listening, and writing in addition to writing. The researchers completed a number of tasks throughout the project, including 35 patents, 41 publications that were published, 21 technology transfers, and the adoption of 2 international standards.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is obtained solely from the aforementioned third parties. Youth Policy Forum (YPF) is not responsible for any misinformation or misrepresentation.