LAW AND BORDERS
Greece and Turkey are in a standoff over the flow of migrants.
In 2015, Europe experienced an influx of migrants and refugees, many escaping the Syrian civil war. That influx slowed when the EU reached a 2016 deal with Turkey to block migrants and refugees from entering the bloc through Greece – which it shares a border with.
The Syrian regime has been trying to retake Idlib (a northwestern province near Turkey) from rebel control. For weeks, Turkey has clashed with Syrian forces over this. The humanitarian crisis there has caused almost 1 million Syrians to flee toward Turkey.
How is Turkey handling that?
By opening its doors to Europe through the border it shares with Greece. Since Saturday, Greece says it's stopped more than 30,000 people from coming across the border, using things like tear gas and water cannons. Now, Turkey is deploying police to its border to stop Greece from sending migrants back its way.
The EU is siding with Greece on this one – and wants Turkey to abide by the terms of the 2016 deal. Turkey says the EU isn't giving it enough money to support the roughly 4 million Syrian refugees there and is seemingly using this as a negotiating tactic to get more funding.
Now, if you're wondering, could more sides be involved in this...the answer is yes. Russia. Yesterday, Turkey and Russia agreed to a cease-fire in Idlib where fighting is going down. Russia backs the Syrian government and there were fears that the fighting was going to lead to a direct conflict between Turkey and Russia. The hope is this cease-fire will prevent that.
A few years ago, the migrant crisis had the world's attention. Now, Turkey feels it has to face it alone. And seems to be risking a standoff with Greece to make the case for additional support. In the meantime, thousands of migrants are apparently caught in the middle.
What's still a concern…
COVID-19. As of today, 20 states have reported infections as officials try to keep the virus under control. The president is expected to sign an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill to fund things like research for vaccines and expanding health care to seniors and others on Medicare. Meanwhile, there's the financial impact. Bond yields are down – which prompted the Fed to cut its benchmark interest rates earlier this week. And yesterday, mortgage rates hit a record low as a result. Meaning, you could get better borrowing terms when you buy or refinance a home. Something we get into more here.
More cruise ship woes: California's governor is barring a Grand Princess cruise ship from disembarking at San Francisco after a traveler from an earlier trip died of the coronavirus. And at least two others were confirmed to be infected. Dozens of passengers were tested and officials are trying to track the thousands of passengers that disembarked from the earlier cruise.
What the ICC has its eye on...
Afghanistan. Yesterday, the International Criminal Court gave the go-ahead for a possible investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan. If the prosecutor moves forward, she could look into incidents involving the Taliban, Afghan forces, and the US. It would be the first time the ICC would be investigating the behavior of US forces – something the US gov is not a fan of. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the timing of the ruling "reckless," coming days after the US and the Taliban signed a historic deal. But human rights groups are supporting the decision.
Who's bowing out...
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Yesterday, the Democratic presidential candidate said 'I'm out' after disappointing results on Super Tuesday, including losing her home state of Massachusetts. Warren – a progressive who ran on cracking down on corruption – hasn't endorsed anyone just yet. Her exit leaves only one other female Dem candidate in the race: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), though polls show her far behind the two other Dem candidates, former VP Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).
...Oh and speaking of women, a new UN study found almost nine out of 10 people are biased against them. And that almost 50% feel men are superior political leaders. So that's fun.