News Timeline: August 2021

August 4 – World / North America / Latin America / East Asia / South Asia

Global Health: Coronavirus, or COVID-19

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases surpasses 200 million worldwide due to the spread of more infectious Delta variant and low vaccination rates, especially in poor countries.   The World Health Organization (WHO) calls for a moratorium on Covid-19 vaccine boosters until at least 10 percent of the population in every country is vaccinated.

The United States, Brazil, Indonesia, India and Iran represent about 38 percent of all global cases each day.  The United States accounts for one in every seven infections reported worldwide.  Florida with its low vaccination rates becomes new epicenter of Covid cases.  Unvaccinated people represent nearly 97 percent of severe cases.[1]

More on Covid’s Toll Compared With Other Things That Kill Us

(Aug 23): North America: United States

The F.D.A. grants full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, a first for a Covid shot in the U.S.  It paves the way for new vaccine mandates.[2]

August 5 – Africa / International Organizations:

Ethiopia / Eritrea / UNESCO

Ongoing conflict

The Tigrayan TPLF forces take control of Ethiopia’s historic town of Lalibela as the conflict between the Tigrayans and the central government spills beyond the Tigrayan region.  Lalibela, a historic town in the region of Amhara, is famous for its 12th-century rock-hewn churches, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site.  The town is also a popular pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians.   Local Amhara forces who are allied with the central government fled the area before the Tigrayan forces enter the town.[3]

More about Rock-Hewn Churches in Lalibela as a World Heritage Site

Background:  The Ethiopian army has been engaged in a military conflict with the TPLF since November, after Tigrayan forces attacked government military installations in the Tigray region.   Neighboring Eritrea is also militarily involved. This conflict together with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Ethiopia’s economy.

More on Ethiopia’s economy battered by Tigray war

August 7 – Middles East:

Israel / Iran

An investigation led by explosives experts into a July 30th drone attack on an Israeli MT Mercer Street merchant tanker that killed the ship’s captain and a security guard concludes that the drone was Iranian made.  The ship was sailing past the Omani island of Masirah when it was attacked by a drone loaded with a military grade explosive.[4]

Iran and Israel’s shadow war explained

August 9 – International Organizations: UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

IPCC Report on climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report, which concludes that the effects of human-caused climate change are now “widespread, rapid, and intensifying”.  This warming is affecting weather and climate extremes in every world region, such as recent heatwaves in Greece and western North America, and floods in Germany and China. 

IPCC report key points:

  • Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900,
  • The past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850,
  • The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971,
  • Human influence is “very likely” (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice,
  • It is “virtually certain” that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe.

It is believed that deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases could stabilize rising temperatures.[5]

Established in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change.  Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it has 195 member-states.

More about the IPCC Report on climate change

IPCC Report

More on drought in western U.S.

More on Greece fires

More on California fires

August 12 – Africa: Zambia

Democratic elections

Businessman Hakainde Hichilema wins a landslide victory in Zambia’s presidential elections defeating incumbent Edgar Lungu by more than a million votes.  This was Hichilema’s sixth attempt at winning the presidency.  During the campaign, he promised to address corruption and the lack of jobs especially for young people.  In his speech, Lungu accepts defeat and promises a smooth transition of power.  This is Zambia’s third peaceful transfer of power to an opposition candidate, making it one of Africa’s most democratic country.[6]

Zambia elections: what you need to know

Hakainde Hichilema supporters celebrate victory

A legacy of dignity shapes an African election

August 14 – Latina America: Haiti


A powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake strikes Haiti, killing at least 2,000 people and injuring more than 12,000, with many more missing.  An estimated 600,000 people are in need of assistance.  Combined with the Covid-19 crisis, hospitals are overwhelmed to provide treatment to the sick and injured.  Haiti has been recently hit and devastated by a series of natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew in 2016, while dealing with a political crisis after the assassination of its president last month.  Armed gangs attack convoys of aid agencies and rescue workers.[7]

In pictures: Desperate search after Haiti quake

More on Haiti – political and economic crises and natural disasters

August 15 – South Asia / North America:

Afghanistan / United States

The fall of Afghanistan

After a lightning 11-day offensive on cities across Afghanistan, the Taliban fighters capture the country’s capital, Kabul, taking the U.S. and other countries by surprise.  The Afghan government surrenders with President Ashraf Ghani fleeing into exile to the United Arab Emirates.  The Taliban declares that the war is over, giving foreign forces until the 31st of August to leave the country.  Remembering the oppressive rule of Taliban before the U.S. invasion combined with rumors of reprisal killings by the insurgents, thousands of Afghan civilians try to leave the country in panic.  The U.S. and other countries are hastily evacuating all their diplomatic staff and their citizens.[8]

(Aug 26): In the chaos of rushed evacuations, a suicide bomb at Kabul airport kills at least 182 people, including 13 U.S. service members.  The attack was planned by a terrorist group, Islamic State.

(Aug 30): The United States withdraws its last remaining troops from Afghanistan, ending 20 years of operations there and efforts to create a stable democracy.  Since August 14, the U.S. has managed to evacuate about 130,000 people out of Afghanistan.  They include U.S. citizens and their families, permanent residents, and Afghans who worked for the American military or NATO, as well as others vulnerable under the Taliban rule such as journalists.[9]

Why Afghan forces proved no match for the Taliban

The U.S. War in Afghanistan: How It Started, and How It Ended

The Taliban takes over Afghanistan

President Joe Biden’s speech after Afghanistan withdrawal

Taliban leader Abdul Ghani Baradar emerges as victor of 20-year war

‘People are afraid’: Kabul deserted and women in tears as city falls to Taliban

The fall of Afghanistan (scroll down for video)

[1] Reuters. “Covid cases surpass 200 million around the globe as delta variant spreads.” NBC. August 4, 2021. Accessed September 20, 21 from

[2] “The F.D.A. grants full approval to the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.” The New York Times. “Covid-19 Updates.” Published Aug. 23, 2021. Updated Sept. 28, 2021. Accessed October 27, 2021 from

[3] “Ethiopia: Tigray forces seize UNESCO site Lalibela.” Deutsche Welle (DW). August 5, 2021. Accessed September 27, 21.

[4] Frank Gardner. “Mercer Street: Tanker blast evidence points to Iran, says US.” BBC News. August 7, 2021. Accessed September 20, 21.

[5] Matt McGrath. “Climate change: IPCC report is ‘code red for humanity’.” BBC News. August 9, 2021. Accessed October 7, 2021.

[6] “Zambia election: Hakainde Hichilema beats President Edgar Lungu.” BBC News. August 16, 2021. Accessed September 29, 2021.

[7] “Haiti earthquake: Devastation and more than 2,000 dead. BBC News. August 19, 2021. Accessed October 14, 2021.

[8] Emma Graham-Harrison and Luke Harding. “The fall of Kabul: a 20-year mission collapses in a single day.” The Guardian. August 15, 2021. Accessed September 30, 2021.

[9] Ben Fox and Ellen Knickmeyer. “US expects to admit more than 50,000 evacuated Afghans.” AP News. September 3, 2021. Accessed October 21, 2021 and Amanda Macias. “U.S. winds down Kabul mission after helping evacuate 116,000 people in just over 2 weeks.” CNBC News. August 30 2021. Accessed October 21, 2021.