World news digest

World news letter – April 4, 2023

Today’s world news letter covers billions of rupees sleeping in Indian bank accounts, diplomatic relations in the Middle East and between Cuba and Somalia, sports betting in Ghana, the influence of social background in France, illegal immigration in Spain, and more.

Dolphins probably died on Japanese beach trying to protect pregnant females

On April 3, several dozen dolphins were found washed ashore on a beach of Ichinomiya, a town located in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo. Many melon-headed whales were dead when surfers tried to rescue some. The national museum of Nature and Science concluded they tried to protect weakened pregnant females. They picked up six dead animals and dissected three. Two of them were pregnant and expected to give birth in a few days. One had pneumonia symptoms and difficulty breathing. The melon-headed whales live in warm waters but probably went into a cold-water area, got disorientated, and were carried to the coast by strong winds and waves, drifting to the shore as they lost strength.

India and billion dollars of unclaimed deposits

The Reserve Bank of India has announced the development of a web portal that will centralize all unclaimed deposits older than ten years to help people trace money sleeping in banks. At the end of February 2023, there were 350 billion rupees (4.3 billion dollars) sitting in inactive accounts from public sector banks, according to the minister of State in the Finance Ministry Bhagwat Karad. The growing amount is mainly due to depositors failing to close their savings accounts and notify banks to redeem their money or because the heirs of deceased depositors don’t claim the funds from the banks.

Warmer relations between Saudia Arabia and Iran in China

The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia met in China for the first time in several years. The two rival countries agreed to open embassies, resume officials’ visits and facilitate visas for citizens. China acted as a facilitator as it brokered an agreement to restore ties between the two countries in March, showing the growing influence of Chinese diplomacy in the region.

Saudi Arabia and Iran broke formal ties in 2016 after Iranian protesters attacked Saudi diplomatic missions when Saudi Arabia executed a prominent Shia Muslim leader, Nimr al-Nimr. Iran has a Shi’ite majority, while Saudi Arabia is mostly a Sunni Muslim population. They held different positions regarding the war in Syria. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is in a military conflict with the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, which has been fighting a Saudi-backed government after taking over the capital, Sanaa. There are major shifts in the power dynamic of the region.

Cuba and Somalia will restore long-broken diplomatic ties

Cuba has sent an ambassador to Somalia for the first time in 46 years, renewing ties with the Horn of Africa country. Cuba and Somalia had established good diplomatic relations in 1972, as they were both in the Soviet bloc during the Cold War. But they broke ties in 1977 after Havana sided with and sent troops to Ethiopia. Ethiopia was then in conflict with Somalia during the Ogaden War as Somalia invaded the Ethiopian region. Somalia then shifted to the U.S. side of the bloc.

A tax on sports betting wins in Ghana

The Parliament of Ghana on March 31 passed a bill to implement a 10 percent tax on earnings from lotteries, games of chance and sports betting. The tax is expected to be deducted before the payout. With this tax and two other bills increasing excise duty and income tax, Ghana aims to expand its tax base and increase public revenue by 4 billion cedis a year (376 million dollars). It hopes it will help secure an International Monetary Fund program of 3 billion dollars.

Illegal immigration in Spain cut by half in 2023’s first quarter

Spain’s Interior Ministry reported that illegal immigration decreased by 50 percent during the first quarter of 2023 compared to 2022. They recorded 4,300 illegal entries in Spanish territory, down from 8,700 in the first quarter of 2022. Last year, many immigrants crossed the border from Morocco to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as Morocco and Spain’s relations were at a low point after Spain welcomed a leader of the Polisario front for medical treatment. Relations between Morocco and Spain related to Western Sahara have improved.

Since then, Spain has supported Morocco with more than 30 million euros (33 million dollars) to help fight against illegal migration and human trafficking. At the end of 2022, the European Union pledged to send half a billion euros to Morocco to cooperate in tackling illegal immigration.

Illegal immigration in Ceuta and Melilla decreased by 78 percent in the first quarter from 1,200 people to 270. But the main entry point remains the Canary Islands, located west of Morocco and Western Sahara, with 2,200 illegal immigrants reported by Spanish authorities, down 63 percent to last year. Illegal immigration from the Baleares and the peninsula grew by 16 percent.

Social background the primary driver of unequal financial opportunity in France

The unequal income access opportunities are mainly due to social background in France, according to a France Stratégie report.

Social background, whether parents are working class or have upper-management jobs, is the main predictor for the future income gap. The income gap – 1,100 euros (1,200 dollars) per month separates a quarter of people from privileged backgrounds from a quarter of people from modest backgrounds – is almost twice as large as the gap between men’s and women’s salaries (600 euros), the second most important factor in income disparity during the first part of working life. Geographic location and migration history are weak indicators of someone’s access to opportunities. The income gap related to one’s social background is mainly caused by different education levels and degrees, unlike the income gender gap, mostly due to unequal professional characteristics (lower pay, employment rate, job position).

Too many coins lost in Latvia

The Bank of Latvia wants to reduce the circulation of one and two-cent euro coins. Every year, Latvians lose nearly 50 metric tons of these two coins, 10 million of one cent and 8 million of two cents.

Apple on Wednesday revealed the look of its first retail store in India.

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