UN chief: World at ‘pivotal moment’…Breakdown of global order… Press freedoms crumble as authoritarianism spreads…

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UN chief: World is at `pivotal moment’ and must avert crises

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a dire warning that the world is moving in the wrong direction and faces “a pivotal moment” where continuing business as usual could lead to a breakdown of global order and a future of perpetual crisis. Changing course could signal a breakthrough to a greener and safer future, he said.

The U.N. chief said the world’s nations and people must reverse today’s dangerous trends and choose “the breakthrough scenario.”

The world is under “enormous stress” on almost every front, he said, and the COVID-19 pandemic was a wake-up call demonstrating the failure of nations to come together and take joint decisions to help all people in the face of a global life-threatening emergency.

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Press freedoms crumble as authoritarianism spreads

The press is being pulverized in places where democracy is deteriorating, leaving the world with little visibility into how those regions are transforming under authoritarian rule.

Why it matters: The COVID-19 pandemic was already taking a huge toll on press freedoms around the world. A new wave of geopolitical tension is exacerbating the issue.

Driving the news: In Hong Kong last week, Next Digital, a media company founded by press tycoon Jimmy Lai, said it was shutting down in response to new Chinese Communist Party restrictions that made it impossible to continue operating.

  • “The climate of fear is unbelievable,” said Mark Clifford, an independent non-executive director of Next Digital’s board. Clifford and other members of the board resigned, citing that environment.
  • “It’s not a kleptocracy, like Russia. They don’t want money. They just really want to silence this voice,” he continued. Beijing regulators essentially made it impossible for the company to operate financially.

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