This Week’s Under-reported News Summary April 1, 2020

Compiled by Bob Nixon

  • U.S. aid cut may push Afghanistan closer to the brink
  • A tale of two crises in Colombia
  • Warehouse workers suspect Amazon’s promise of PTO for part-time workers is bait and switch

Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cut $1 billion in U.S. aid to Afghanistan after efforts failed to settle the ongoing split between Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah. Both men claim to have won last year’s September 28 presidential election, which has hampered peace talks with the Taliban. The major cut in U.S. aid could trigger new instability inside Afghanistan’s security forces at the same time the Covid-19 virus begins to ravage one of the world’s poorest nations.

Under pressure from the Trump administration, Colombia has stepped up military raids of coca plantations, to reduce the nation’s growing export of cocaine. At the same time, heavily armed police guard against angry coca farmers and drug gangs to protect drug eradication campaigns.

(“Burning Leaves, Spurning Leavers,” The Economist, March 19, 2020)

The coronavirus pandemic has been a major windfall for increased business and profits for online retail giant Amazon. With retail stores across the world largely shut down, Amazon has pledged to hire 100,000 additional workers, increase pay and offer paid time off in warehouses and distributions centers. However Amazon workers complain that Amazon is short-changing workers’ safety, as staff in 10 Amazon distribution centers tested positive for Covid-19. At the same time, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos enriched himself by selling $3.4 billion worth of Amazon stock prior to the virus-induced Wall Street crash.

This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.

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