Monday, March 20

Monday, March 20

Todd Marshall
5 min

The most important foreign affairs events of the week

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* Today we have two important pieces of news for March 17. Better safe than sorry, right?

March 13, 2023

“The Biden administration on Monday approved the controversial Willow oil project, clearing the way for one of the largest new oil and gas developments on federal land in Alaska in 20 years, despite fierce opposition from environmental activists. The move came as President Joe Biden also signaled sweeping future action to bar offshore drilling on 2.8 million acres in the Arctic Ocean in an appeal to critics who said he betrayed his commitment to fight climate change. In this sense, Biden’s effort to close off the spigot to future drilling in the region highlights the challenge the president faces in delivering on his much-touted climate goals.”

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The transitive verb bar means “to obstruct or impede; block; to prohibit or prevent (someone) from doing something.”

In this context, the noun spigot means "blockage consisting of an object designed to fill a hole tightly; a regulator for controlling the flow of a liquid from a reservoir.”

March 14, 2023

“Emmanuel Macron risks his political future by reshaping France at the very point where it is most resistant to change. Mr. Macron’s proposition aims to raise the legal age of retirement from 62 to 64 years. However, the president can expect more than a million French citizens to rally in protests around the country, hoping to beat back the change. With his attempt to overhaul France’s pension system, Mr. Macron has taken on the fierce French resistance to a world of unbridled capitalism. Furthermore, the president argues that if France is to invest in the transition to a green economy and in defense at a time of war in Europe, it cannot pile up deficits financing a retirement age that reflects the shorter life spans of a bygone era.

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We highlighted the entire sentence to illustrate a zero conditional sentence used within a larger text.

March 15, 2023

“On Wednesday, Credit Suisse Group saw its stocks hit a new low as worries about the financial system spread across the Atlantic. The week before, the Silicon Valley Bank stocks had crashed after investors panicked, as venture-capital firms began pulling their money out of SVB and urged their portfolio companies to do the same. The second largest bank in Switzerland then said that it would borrow up to US$53.7 billion, from the Swiss central bank to shore up its liquidity. Credit Suisse’s plans mark the latest bombshell in a week full of them, as global banks struggle to fend off growing concerns that they and their overseers haven’t sufficiently prepared for a world characterized by high inflation, high interest rates and high investor anxiety.”

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The phrasal verb shore up means “support, strengthen, reinforce, prop, brace, underpin, augment, buttress.”

The phrasal verb fend off means “prevent the occurrence of; prevent from happening.” Close synonyms are “ward off”, “forefend”, “avert”, “stave off”, and “avoid”.

March 16, 2023

“In their first bilateral summit in 12 years, the leaders of South Korea and Japan portrayed their meeting in Tokyo as a sort of springtime, after an extended period of frosty ties. A potential thaw between the two key U.S. allies could yield big dividends for the Biden administration and its Asia policy. The two leaders agreed to resume reciprocal visits and security dialogues, and took steps to resolve trade disputes that erupted in 2019. They also agreed to normalize an intelligence-sharing agreement, which South Korea had threatened to scrap. They also discussed cooperation in dealing with North Korea.”

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The noun thaw means “a relaxation of reserve, restraints, or tensions.”

The transitive verb scrap means “to discard or abandon as useless; cancel.”

March 17, 2023 (part one)

“President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey gave the go-ahead for Finland’s application to join NATO, removing a significant hurdle for the Nordic nation’s bid to join the alliance. However, he maintains the veto on Sweden's bid, based on accusations that the Swedish government is harboring alleged Kurdish terrorists and other dissidents. For Finland to join NATO after decades of military nonalignment would be a major shift in the balance of power in the region between the Western military alliance and Russia. It would also be a significant diplomatic and strategic defeat for Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, who made clear before invading Ukraine last year that his intention was to block NATO’s eastward expansion.”

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The noun hurdle means “a barrier; problem; obstacle.” The transitive verb, however, means “to overcome or deal with successfully; surmount.”

The transitive verb harbor (harbour in British English) means “to give shelter to; to maintain secretly; to conceal; hide.”

March 17, 2023 (part two)

“On Friday, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) issued warrants of arrest for Vladimir Putin and Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, Russia’s Commissioner for Children's Rights. Both face accusations of committing war crimes associated with the Russia-Ukraine war. The ICC alleges that Lvova-Belova and Putin were conducting unlawful deportation of population (children) and unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia. The crimes were allegedly committed in Ukrainian occupied territory at least from 24 February 2022, and there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility for the aforementioned crimes. Nevertheless, Russia does not recognize The ICC jurisdiction and has not signed the Rome Statute.” 

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The transitive verb allege means “to assert without proof; to state; attest; to express an opinion, judgment, or position.” Close synonyms are “aver”, “asseverate”, “avow”, “claim”, and “affirm”.

The adjective aforementioned means “mentioned previously (chiefly in legal documents); stated or mentioned before or already.”