Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 19 November – Sunday 26 November:

On Sunday night, Argentina’s final election results were released, showing that Argentines have elected libertarian outsider Javier Milei, 53, as their new president.He will take office on December 10.With almost all votes counted, Mr Milei had won close to 56% in the run-off, ahead of his left-wing rival, Sergio Massa, with 44%. Milei’s victory has been described as “a political earthquake” and has been welcomed by ex-President Donald Trump, who said Mr Milei would “Make Argentina Great Again”. Brazil’s former leader Jair Bolsonaro said that “hope would shine again in South America”. Sometimes dubbed “El Loco” (the madman) by his critics, Mr Milei has promised drastic changes, which include ditching the local currency, the peso, for the US dollar and “blowing up” the central bank in order to prevent it from printing more money and driving inflation. He has also proposed cutting welfare payments and slashing bureaucracy by closing the ministries of culture, women, health and education, among others. “From being the richest country in the world, today we are (ranked) 130. Half of Argentines are poor and the other 10% are destitute. Stop this impoverishing model of the caste. Today we embrace the Libertarian model so as to return to being a global power,” he said.

On Monday, U.S. Defence Secretary Llyod Austin arrived in in Kiev. Austin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Defense Minister Rustem Umerov during the unannounced visit to the country. In Kiev, Austin announced a new security assistance package for Ukraine valued at up to $100 million which includes air defence, artillery ammunition and antitank weapons among other materiel. Austin said “What happens here matters not just to Ukraine, but to the entire world. This is about the rules-based international order. This is about … not living in a world where a dictator can wake up one day and decide to annex the property of his peaceful neighbour. That’s not the world we want to live in.”

On Tuesday, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrived in Kiev, where he announced a new €1.3 billion package, which includes four systems of IRIS-T missiles, 155-millimetre ammunition and anti-tank defence mines. German military support for Ukraine’s defence is valued at €5.4 billion for 2023 — after €2 billion in 2022. The German government aims to supply €8 billion in 2024, however the current budget crisis in Germany may affect those plans. 

On Tuesday, Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, pleaded guilty to a felony charge concerning his failure to prevent money laundering on the platform. Zhao announced he was stepping down from his position as CEO. U.S. authorities said Binance deliberately withheld information from law enforcement, undermined sanctions controls and failed to report suspicious activity, including transactions related to child sexual abuse, drugs and terrorism. “Binance turned a blind eye to its legal obligations in the pursuit of profit. Its wilful failures allowed money to flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform,” said US Treasury Secretary Yellen. The exchange platform is accused of failing to prevent and report suspicious terrorist transactions including by Palestinian militant-Islamist group Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Qaeda and the “Islamic State” (IS). The Treasury also accused Binance of not reporting or preventing transactions by ransomware attackers and money launderers. The platform also allegedly connected traders between US users and others in sanctioned jurisdictions including Iran, North Korea, Syria and the Crimea region. The Treasury Department announced that Binance had agreed to pay “the largest settlements in history,” with a penalty of $3.4 billion and a further $968 million. Binance will also be put under a five-year mentorship

In the early hours of Wednesday, the Israeli cabinet approved a deal with Hamas for the release of Israeli hostages. According to Israel, 50 Israeli hostages taken by the militant group Hamas during the October 7 terror attacks will be freed —all of them women and children. In exchange, Hamas said Israel will release 150 Palestinian women and children held in Israeli jails. The deal also includes a four-day cease-fire. Israel said it would extend the lull by an additional day for every 10 hostages released by Hamas. Ahead of the deal’s approval, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed a pause in fighting would not mean the end of the war on Hamas. “We will continue the war until we achieve all of our war aims: To eliminate Hamas, return all of our hostages and our missing, and ensure that there is no element in Gaza that threatens Israel,” he said in a video released on social media. Netanyahu argued that under the deal “not only will the war effort not be harmed, it will enable the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] to prepare for the continuation of the fighting.” The Israeli prime minister had told the cabinet that accepting the deal with Hamas was “a difficult decision but it’s a right decision.”

On Wednesday, artificial intelligence foundation OpenAI said that co-founder Sam Altman will return to his role as CEO after being fired from the position last week Friday. A new board has also being announced which includes former Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, ex-US Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, and Quora CEO and current director Adam D’Angelo. The sudden dismissal of Altman caused chaos within the ranks of the artificial intelligence company with nearly all of OpenAI’s over 700-strong staff threatening to leave on Monday unless the board stepped down and reinstated Altman. His return comes amid intense lobbying by major investors, including Microsoft and has the backing of their CEO Nadella, according to Altman.

On Wednesday, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced a larger than expected cut in social security contributions and said new business incentives would be made permanent in a bid to accelerate sluggish economic growth. Hunt said he was cutting the rate of national insurance, a form of social security, paid by employees by 2% to 10%, as well as a smaller cut for self-employed workers. The UK’s economy is now forecast to grow by 0.6 percent this year instead of shrinking by 0.2 percent, as earlier predicted. “After a global pandemic and energy crisis, we have taken difficult decisions to put our economy back on track,” Hunt said. “Rather than a recession, the economy has grown. Rather than falling as predicted, real incomes have risen. Our plan for the British economy is working. But the work is not done.”

On Thursday, a knife attack in the Irish capital of Dublin left three children and two adults injured. The attack occurred outside the Gaelscoil Colaiste Mhuire primary school, when a man in his 50s attacked around 13:30 as the pupils emerged from the school. A five-year-old girl was seriously hurt, while a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl sustained less serious wounds, and the boy has since been discharged from hospital. A woman in her 30s was seriously injured too. In response to the attack, protestors took to the streets of Dublin and clashed with police. Speaking Friday, the police chief detailed the extent of the “huge destruction” caused by what he said was a “riotous mob,” with video showing the looting of shops including one of Dublin’s major department stores. According to the police chief, four buses and one tram were destroyed and 11 police vehicles damaged. Thirteen shops in the city center were also seriously damaged. One police officer was seriously injured in the clashes.

On Saturday, Ukraine said Moscow had launched 75 drones into the country, mostly aimed at the capital. It is the largest drone attack since the war began. The attack came as Kiev marked the Holodomor, the Soviet-engineered starvation that killed millions of Ukrainians during the Stalin era. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the attack an act of “wilful terror”, saying “the Russian leadership is proud of the fact that it can kill”. The attack, which used Iranian-designed Shahed kamikaze drones, reportedly began hitting different districts of Kiev in the early hours of Saturday, with more waves coming as the sun rose. The air raid warning lasted for six hours.

On Sunday, Ukraine launched a retaliatory attack on Russian territory, including the capital Moscow. Russia’s Ministry of Defence said “Air defence destroyed four Ukrainian drones over the territory of the Bryansk, Smolensk and Tula regions.” Earlier, Russia said some drones were shot down over the Moscow region. The Russian army said it had also downed two Ukrainian missiles headed for Russia over the Sea of Azov, between the two countries. Russian officials said they had foiled more than 20 Ukrainian drone attacks over Sunday. 

In the week ahead:

On Monday, Elon Musk will meet Israeli President Isaac Herzog along with Israelis whose relatives have been held by Hamas in Gaza.