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Ukraine Crowdfunds Aid in Cryptocurrency

The Ukraine government and an NGO supporting the military have raised $63 million in cryptocurrency donations since the start of the conflict, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic

The more than 120,000 donations to date include non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, TRON, Polkadot, Dogecoin and Solana. The majority of donations were in Bitcoin and Ether, though Ukraine also received donations in over 100 other digital currencies, according to a Washington Post analysis. The Post also found that $1.86 million appeared to come from the sale of NFTs created by Julian Assange and the digital artist Pak. Several million dollars in crypto donations have also been received by Come Back Alive, a Ukrainian NGO which supports the military.

The call for crypto donations first came from Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov and was then shared by the government’s official Twitter account. This isn’t the first time the country has crowdfunded a fight against Russia — Ukraine asked for donations to buy military equipment and medical supplies when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. 

Brazil Braces for Tense Presidential Runoff

Source: Bloomberg

Brazilian presidential candidates Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Jair Bolsonaro will head to a runoff on October 30, as neither candidate won 50% of the vote in Sunday night’s election. The results surprised Brazilians watching the polls, which predicted that Lula would win the election in the first round. Instead, Bolsonaro secured much more of the vote than expected with 43.3%, while Lula received 48.4%.

Lula, Brazil’s left-leaning former president, and right-wing current president Bolsonaro have led a tense season of presidential campaigning as a divided nation chooses between the two candidates. Bolsonaro, in a similar move to former U.S. President Trump, has already sown seeds of doubt in Brazil’s electronic voting system, implying that a win for Lula would be due to fraud. Lula is a two-term former president who served jail time for corruption convictions that were eventually overturned. Bolsonaro’s response to the pandemic led Brazilian federal police to call for him to be charged with spreading misinformation that led to over 680,000 deaths, but Brazil’s recovering economy may boost his support in the runoff.

Bolsonaro’s right-wing Liberal Party also did better than expected in the Senate and the lower house, the Chamber of Deputies. Right-leaning allies now control half of the Chamber of Deputies, with 83 seats, while Lula’s coalition controls 139 seats. In the Senate, Lula’s coalition won five seats, vs. the right-wing alliance’s six seats. 

Renewable Energy Is Growing But Needs to Be More Accessible

Source: UN

The world is making progress in moving from fossil fuel use to climate-friendly, renewable energy, but still won’t meet the United Nations’ goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Energy is the biggest contributor to climate change, responsible for 60% of global greenhouse gas emissions. But millions of people still lack access to electricity, and the pandemic increased disparities in access.

As of 2019, 17.7% of the world’s energy consumption was renewable, according to the United Nations’ sustainable development goals. Total renewable energy use increased by a quarter between 2010 and 2019. That is the fastest rate of growth since 2012, owing to the increased use of hydropower, wind and solar power.

But to reach the U.N.’s global climate goals, the annual improvement of energy intensity needs to speed up from the most recent rate of 1.9% to 3.2% by 2030. Increasing global access to electricity will also be a key part of moving away from fossil fuels. About 15% of the world, or 1.1 billion people, don’t have access to electricity, and an estimated 3 billion people burn coal, wood or animal waste for cooking and heating.

The UN Will Miss Its Goal of Gender Equality By 2030

Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 2022 Goalkeeper’s Report

Women worldwide spend more than three times as many hours on unpaid household work and child care, leaving a gap between reality and the United Nations’ target for reaching gender equality by 2030, the Gates Foundation reports. In 2015, leaders from 195 countries pledged to achieve gender equality by 2030, but at the current pace of progress, most countries won’t reach gender equality until at least 2108.

One reason is that global shocks like COVID-19 significantly disproportionately affect women. In 2022, men have an estimated 72% labor force participation rate, compared to women’s 47%. Men have also recovered from unemployment during the pandemic at a rate that’s two times higher than women. The availability of child care is directly related to women’s participation in the workforce — in low- and middle-income countries, unpaid caregiving duties took up more than half of a woman’s working hours. 

But even before the pandemic, the World Bank reported that the difference between women and men’s earnings over a lifetime is $172.3 trillion. While no country has currently reached gender parity, Denmark ranks number one in the U.N.’s Gender Equality Index. The U.S. ranks 38th, well behind many countries in Europe, New Zealand, Canada, the U.K., Singapore, and Israel, despite having one of the highest national per capita incomes in the world.

Italy Elects First Far-Right Leader Since Mussolini

Source: Reuters

Italy elected its most right-wing government since World War II in Sunday’s election, according to the latest vote tallies. Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy party won the majority (26%) of the vote, setting Meloni on course to be the country’s first female prime minister

A right-wing coalition between the Brothers of Italy, Matteo Salvini’s far-right Northern League, and Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right Forza Italia won the majority of the seats in the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, with around 44% of the vote. Italy’s center-left alliance received 26% of the vote, though the center and center-left parties individually won more votes than the right. In the previous 2018 election, the Brothers of Italy, a party with neofascist origins, won only 4% of the vote.

The 2022 election was triggered by a vote of no confidence in outgoing prime minister Mario Draghi, who resigned in July despite winning the confidence vote. Italy’s national unity government lasted 18 months before falling apart under the pressure of parliamentary infighting, debt, a cost of living crisis, and the Ukraine conflict.

Meloni has pledged her support for Ukraine and NATO. But the Northern League and Forza Italia’s reportedly close ties to Russia, and admiration for Russian President Vladmir Putin, have caused concern among Western allies about a right-wing shift in Europe.

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