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Azerbaijan pays for pro-war PR campaign

The country tries to win U.S. sympathy while targeting Armenian Christians

People pray in an improvised bomb shelter in the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Associated Press

Azerbaijan pays for pro-war PR campaign

AZERBAIJAN: While ethnic Armenians living in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh face religious and ethnic cleansing, Azerbaijan has hired six K Street lobbying firms and spent more than $1 billion convincing U.S. media and policymakers its oil and gas reserves are at stake in the battle that reignited in late September. Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of shelling a historic cathedral and other churches in Nagorno-Karabakh, where Christian Armenians live inside the mostly Islamic Azerbaijan. The fighting has displaced up to half of the population, with many taking refuge in church basements, according to locals.

GLOBAL: An alarming global rise in suicide rates appears to be linked to the economic and social impact of COVID-19. In Malawi, police reports indicate suicide rates rose 57 percent compared to the same period last year. In India, therapists report a significant rise in self-harm and suicidal ideation since the start of the pandemic. In Japan, where suicide numbers have dropped in recent years, they rose drastically in August, mostly among women and school-age children. A U.S. study predicts 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” over the next decade because of the effects of the coronavirus.

AFGHANISTAN: Taliban forces are testing the limits of U.S. disengagement, launching an offensive in Helmand province before winter sets in that’s provoked U.S. airstrikes this week in support of Afghan security forces. The renewed fighting comes despite a peace agreement and planned U.S. withdrawal. The renewed fighting has displaced more than 5,000 families, relief workers say, creating “an urgent need for food and shelter."

NORTH KOREA: Leader Kim Jong Un shed tears as he issued a rare apology for his failure to guide the country through its coronavirus outbreak.

VIETNAM: Prolonged flooding in central Vietnam is affecting close to a million people.

SPACE: Eight nations have signed NASA’s Artemis Accords, a step toward establishing norms of behavior and rules for exploration of the moon as space operations rely more on public-private partnerships and international relations.

ISRAEL: Shlomo Sulayman, one of the oldest people in the world, passed away in Netanya at the age of 117. Born in Yemen, Sulayman witnessed the deterioration of his country’s once-vibrant Jewish community at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula and came to Israel in 1949. He walked to synagogue every day until the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

I’M READING Vesper Flights by Helen Macdonald. And following this crazy story in Midland, Texas.

Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine’s first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run From ISIS With Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C.



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