World this week
The international arms trade declined by just over 5% in 2018-22 compared to 2013-17, according to the latest report from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The institute examines and compares the global arms trade in four-year periods, to better reflect overall trends rather than looking at the weapons business over only 12 months. By contrast, arms imports by European countries - the vast majority of which came from the United States - increased by 47%, and those by European NATO countries by as much as 65%. The reason behind that is, unsurprisingly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine ranks 14th on the list of worldwide weapons importers. Considering 2022 alone, Ukraine comes in third. SIPRI usually refers to "arms transfers" in its report, meaning both the arms trade and free military assistance, the latter of which is Ukraine's main supply of weapons. This kind of military aid usually consists of older equipment or surplus stock from donor nations. Qatar was the top importer of arms in 2022, followed by India.
Swiss bank Credit Suisse said it will move to shore up its finances, borrowing up to $54 billion from the central bank after its shares plunged, dragging down other major European lenders in the wake of bank failures in the United States. Credit Suisse said it would exercise an option to borrow up to 50 billion francs ($53.7 billion) from the central bank. Fanning new fears about the health of financial institutions following the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank in the U.S., at one point, Credit Suisse shares lost more than a quarter of their value on Wednesday (Mar. 15).
The share price hit a record low after the bank's biggest shareholder - the Saudi National Bank - told news outlets that it would not put more money into the Swiss lender, which was beset by problems long before the US banks collapsed. The additional liquidity would support Credit Suisse's core businesses and clients, the bank said in a statement.
After clashing with supporters of Imran Khan outside his home for two days in a row, police in Pakistan paused their efforts to arrest the ousted premier for failing to appear in court last week on graft charges. Police had besieged the 70-year-old opposition leader's house in the eastern city of Lahore since Tuesday(Mar. 14) as his supporters hurled rocks and bricks, and swung batons snatched from officers. Police fired tear gas and clashes went on into the afternoon Wednesday before subsiding.
Violence was also reported between Khan's supporters and police in other major cities, including Karachi, Islamabad, the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta and elsewhere. The government sent additional police to Lahore's upscale area of Zaman Park, where Khan lives. Khan at one point emerged from his house to meet with the supporters who had defended him from arrest, and said he was ready to travel to Islamabad on March 18 under the arrest warrant.
The James Webb Space Telescope has captured the rare and fleeting phase of a star on the cusp of death. NASA released the picture this week at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. The observation was among the first made by Webb following its launch in late 2021. Its infrared eyes observed all the gas and dust flung into space by a huge, hot star 15,000 light-years away. A light-year is about 5.8 trillion miles.
Shimmering in purple like a cherry blossom, the cast-off material once comprised the star's outer layer. The Hubble Space Telescope snapped a shot of the same transitioning star a few decades ago, but it appeared more like a fireball without the delicate details. Such a transformation occurs only with some stars and normally is the last step before they explode, going supernova, according to scientists.
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