Two Major Stories Over Last Year That Aren’t About the Pandemic

Ever since the World Health Organization announced that the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak in Wuhan had become a pandemic concern in 2020, news media outlets around the world have become fixated on this issue, particularly during the most challenging months when the COVID-19 contagion and mortality rates skyrocketed while hospitals were forced to operate well over their emergency capacity.

There is no question that the media industry has an obligation to keep us informed of important matters such as the coronavirus pandemic, but newsroom editors also know that they should not ignore other matters that can be of interest to their audiences. To this effect, quite a few significant news stories should have stood out over the last year or so, but they were likely drowned out over the din of pandemic news coverage.

We can’t blame news media or even ourselves for missing out on major non-pandemic news stories; this has been an extraordinary time for humanity, and it is only natural to see COVID-19 content being presented front-and-center. As time goes by and pandemic conditions continue to improve, we will see more news stories like this one being highlighted. Let’s take a look at three interesting news stories that deserve a second look:

Bitcoin Becomes Legal Tender in El Salvador

In June 2021, El Salvador became the 1st country in the world to declare the cryptocurrency token known as Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. This development is quite momentous because Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele scrapped a plan for his country to issue a sovereign digital currency that would have returned some level of financial autonomy to the Central American nation.

By choosing to go with Bitcoin instead of a fiat token, President Bukele opened an interesting can of worms that economists around the world thoroughly enjoy investigating. El Salvador has essentially become a laboratory for central banking experiments; even government employees are now getting their paychecks in Bitcoin, and they are terrified by the token’s inherent volatility. The International Monetary Fund has urged El Salvador to either abandon Bitcoin or at least scale down utilization of the token by excluding it from public sector payrolls.

ISIS Expands Within Afghanistan

When the Taliban took control of Afghanistan after 20 years of being hunted by American military forces, leaders of the ISIS international terrorism organization shifted their focus towards the war-torn country. Similar to what ISIS accomplished in Iraq and later Syria, the group has been taking advantage of the chaos enacted by the Taliban regime, and the ultimate goal is to take over an entire region in order to declare a caliphate.

Hundreds of people, mostly Shia muslims, have been killed in acts of terrorism conducted by ISIS in Afghanistan since mid-2021. What is even more concerning about this situation is that intelligence agents believe that ISIS has thoroughly infiltrated Taliban ranks with special operatives who are tasked with sabotaging government operations. Geopolitical analysts are afraid that ISIS could become problematic to the point of requiring foreign military intervention, and this would be an opportunity for Russia to establish a stronger presence in the Middle East; let’s not forget that President Vladimir Putin has already positioned two large military bases in Syria.

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