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Weekly News Update December 14-18, 2020

As the Arctic opens to global activity, its importance in the geopolitical struggle between NATO and Russia continues to grow. Norway is in a unique position in this relationship, with one of the few direct borders between a NATO member state and Russia. Norway’s relations with Russia are understandably complex, with deep economic ties and a history of regional cooperation, but also mutual suspicion and elevated concern. Norwegian State Secretary Audun Halvorsen joined us for a conversation on the state of Norwegian-Russian relations and their future trajectory.


Missions of the Russian Federation, the Republic of South Africa and the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam to the United Nations co-hosted a

Side-event dedicated to the 60th anniversary of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples

This monumental document gave a powerful impetus to the colonial territories’ movement for independence, proclaimed the necessity of bringing colonialism to a speedy and unconditional end, and ultimately changed the world. Its implementation has freed some 750 million people, or one-third of the world’s population at the time, from colonial occupation, drastically changed the political map of the world and resulted in the establishment of over 80 new states in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania.




As the majority of students continue to receive an all-remote education amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, the New York City Council will vote today on legislation from Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams to track remote learning attendance and assess the effectiveness of the practice for students across the city. It is expected to pass after being voted out of the Committee on Education on Tuesday. The legislation, Intro 2058-A, would require the Department of Education (DOE) to report on a monthly basis student attendance data during the use of remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendance data would be disaggregated by: School, School district, Grade level, Gender, Race or ethnicity, Individualized education program status English language learner status, Status as a student in temporary housing, Status as a student residing in shelter "Monitoring student engagement is an essential way to determine the effectiveness of remote learning- whether fully remote or hybrid, every student will be using remote learning in the coming months," said Public Advocate Williams of the bill. "Tracking student attendance rates allow us to hold the DOE accountable for ensuring our students have the ability to access all of their classes remotely. The money and energy the Administration has spent in rushing to re-open, and then close, in-person classes could have been better spent improving remote learning and fulfilling our obligation to provide students with safe and equitable education. This bill will help to correct that error and imbalance. I thank Council Member Treyger for his leadership on these issues and Speaker Johnson for making this a priority." Collecting, categorizing, and making public this attendance information will help to determine whether the Department of Education is equitably and effectively implementing remote learning, particularly for students of greatest need - and hold them accountable for any inadequacies. The information shared will help the DOE tailor their approach to better meet the needs of our students and families and maximize the effectiveness of remote and hybrid learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill will be voted on alongside companion legislation from Council Member Mark Treyger, Intro 2104-A , which would require the DOE to report a breakdown of the number and percentage of students who participated in remote learning and the hybrid mode language access as well as a series of metrics include language accessibility, access to remote learning in juvenile facilities, access to city-issued remote learning devices, and other information. At a Council hearing held by the Committee on Education at the end of May, the DOE stated that the student engagement rate was about 86%, compared to in-person attendance, which was roughly 93%. That discrepancy was likely due to the fact that many students, especially those in temporary housing, shelters, and foster care, did not receive laptops, tablets, iPads, Chromebooks, or any other devices needed to connect to virtual classroom sessions. Months later, many student engagement issues remain unsolved. "COVID-19 has impacted every single person in this city, but its impacts have not been evenly felt. Inequities in remote learning mirror inequities in the spread of COVID-19. In order to know how much support is needed for our students and educators, we need data that illustrates the gaps. Additional specific data on remote learning participation is the only effective way to acknowledge the problem and allocate resources where necessary to eliminate gaps of inequity," said Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education. "I thank Public Advocate Williams for his partnership and leadership on Intro 2058. I'm proud that this bill is passing today as part of a remote learning transparency package with my Intro 2104."

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Al-Othaimeen Congratulates Transitional Government and People of Sudan on removal from State Sponsors of Terrorism List

Date: 14/12/2020

OIC Media Center

The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, congratulated the government and the people of Sudan on the US administration’s decision to officially and definitively remove Sudan from the state sponsors of terrorism list. Al-Othaimeen stressed that this step is important for Sudan’s future and is taken within the framework of the efforts the transitional government has been exerting to restore Sudan to its normal relations with the international community after a long period of suffering due to Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The Secretary General expressed his great satisfaction with this long-awaited decision, stressing the OIC full support for the government of Sudan and its sincere endeavors aimed at achieving stability, development and prosperity for its honorable people. He also praised the efforts of the long dialogue led by the Sudanese diplomacy with the US side, which was revealed by both of His Excellency Head of the Sovereign Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and Prime Minister, His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Hamdok, in their statements as they welcomed the US decision, and praised the efforts of some OIC Member States that remained supportive of lifting Sudan from the list of terrorism.

Al-Othaimeen explained that the OIC has been demanding, in all its meetings at the level of the Summit and the Council of Foreign Ministers and through its communication with the US side, that Sudan should be removed from the list of terrorism. The Secretary General expressed his hope that this step would be a promising start for a bright future and a prosperous comeback of Sudan to its rightful position in the regional and international arena. He wished that it would enhance the leading role of Sudan in bolstering the joint Islamic action and Islamic solidarity.

The Secretary General called on the international community to support Sudan in this critical phase of its history, reiterating the OIC commitment to harnessing all its capabilities to support the transitional government in line with the resolutions adopted in this regard, the last of which was the resolution on solidarity with Sudan adopted by the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Niamey - Republic of Niger, held on 27-28 November 2020.



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