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Turkey agreed to not stand in the way of Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids

Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids are looking more likely

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg with his hand out, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, and three other people, all looking off camera and wearing suits. Various flags are against the wall of what appears to be a conference room with a very blue floor.
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Here’s what you need to know

Turkey agreed to not stand in the way of Sweden and Finland’s NATO bids. An eastward expansion of NATO is looking more likely.

China is easing covid restrictions for international travelers. Quarantines have been reduced, and on Friday, leader Xi Jinping will make his first foray out of the mainland—to Hong Kong—since the pandemic began.

Garuda Indonesia has reportedly righted the ship. The government-backed airline made a dent in its debt, lowered its cost, and leaned into domestic travel.

An Indian journalist was arrested for insulting religion. Founder of Indian fact-checking site Alt News, Mohammed Zubair, has been through this before, and concerns of media freedom in the country grow.

The US Congressional hearings on the Jan. 6 insurrection made a surprise testimony. A former aide to Donald Trump’s chief of staff said the then-president knew his supporters were armed, tried to wrest control of a car from his security detail, and threw a plate against a wall.

South Africa’s energy strike is back in negotiations. Eskom workers were called back for wage talks after throwing gasoline bombs at the homes of the utility company’s higher-ups.

What to watch for

A heavily protested NATO summit in Madrid, which opened yesterday and lasts through tomorrow, is shaping up to be a key meeting for the future of the war in Ukraine, with Russia and China sitting at the center of security discussions.

The top agenda items have been military support for Ukraine and bolstering defenses in eastern Europe. Heads of state are also expected to consider Finland and Sweden’s bids to join the military alliance, and formerly opposed Turkey now seems to be on board.

In a counter to China’s influence, this will be the first summit where NATO’s Asia partners, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, get a seat at the table. As the bloc drafts a new Strategic Concept for the next decade, China’s naval ambitions in the Indo-Pacific and Africa will likely also be a priority security concern.

What’s up with wheat?

Wheat prices, which have ballooned because of the war in Ukraine, pandemic-fueled supply chain shortages, and severe weather, are finally deflating. In the US, the price for a bushel of wheat fell to $9.39 yesterday, down 27% from its record high in March of $12.94, a level not seen since Russia’s invasion began.

A line graph showing US futures grain prices.

The decline in wheat prices is just one sign that food inflation may have peaked. But why the drop? The markets are responding to Russia and Turkey saying they want to discuss a safe passage to ship Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea, which could free up millions of metric tons of grains that are stuck in Ukrainian ports. Just how much wheat will be available will depend on which ports have been destroyed or need de-mining.

Where global air travel is still behind

The pace of global air travel’s great recovery differs across the world. While demand in North America this year will almost be equal to that of 2019, Africa’s numbers will be significantly lower.

Air travel’s global recovery will be slowest in Africa in 2022
Image copyright: Quartz

Quartz Africa reporter Alexander Onukwue wrote about why the rebound in passengers taking to the sky will be slowest in Africa this year in the latest Quartz Africa Weekly. Keep up with the continent by signing up today (it’s free!) and reading our latest edition.

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