🌐👀 Global Eyes, Banana Republic Edition
Find out what happened around the world this week with our all-in-one Sunday Reader. Because you can handle it.
You asked for it, you got it. The whole banana.
★ New feature. For those of you who haven’t the time to read everything, I’ve put a star before articles that are especially notable for their deep reporting, coherent analysis, unusual insight, or careful prose. They’re not necessarily the week’s most newsworthy items—they’re chosen for excellence in the craft.
⚡️ Breakthrough. For the first time, ignition has been confirmed in a nuclear fusion experiment. (Partly paywalled.)
We have ignition. An analysis has confirmed that an experiment conducted in 2021 created a fusion reaction energetic enough to be self-sustaining, which brings it one step closer to being useful as a source of energy.
🏹🛡 The battlefield of the future: The war in Ukraine shows that you’ll be seeing a lot more of these five weapons.
🏹🛡 The war in Ukraine has proven four weapons obsolete: From trenches to tanks, modern warfare is consigning these weapons systems to history.
🐒🦠 Monkeypox deals fatal blow to global health solidarity. Despite most monkeypox deaths occurring in Africa, the continent has yet to receive any vaccines.
A new virus has emerged in China and infected around 35 people, sparking concern that a new pandemic could be on the way. Scientists say that it’s too soon to determine whether the viral outbreak will be deadly and whether it can spread easily between humans. The Langya henipavirus, known as LayV, has been documented by scientists spreading among animals in some parts of China, most notably among shrews.
Advances in weaponry, biology, and computing could spell the end of the species, either through deliberate misuse or a large-scale accident. Societies face risks whose sheer scale could paralyze any concerted action. But governments can and must take meaningful steps today to ensure the survival of the species without forgoing the benefits of technological progress.
⌁ What is a semiconductor? An electrical engineer explains how they’re made and how they work.
🍌 What is a banana republic? A political scientist explains how they’re made and how they work.
The upshot is that the dollar system is not a giant anachronism with a bulls eye on its forehead … It is a sprawling, resilient network of state-backed, commercially driven, profit-orientated transactions, lubricated by the easy availability of dollars, interwoven with American geopolitical influence, a repeated game in which intelligent players continuously gauge their advantages and disadvantages and the (very few) alternatives open to them and then, when all is said and done, again and again come back for more.
The Russian military machine is dying in Ukraine. It continues to suffer an unsustainable rate of casualties, with its mechanized infantry suffering the heaviest number of losses and losing its ability to conduct successful large-scale offensive operations.
Moscow’s Kherson troops are nearly cut off after Ukrainian strikes damaged road and rail bridges. Western intelligence said Russia was now only able to resupply its forces in the southern region using two pontoon ferry crossings. (Paywalled.)
Striking deep behind enemy lines, the Ukrainians are depleting Russia’s combat potential, slowing its advance in the east and creating new vulnerabilities in the south.
War is when your friends die. When you see this breathless cruelty of death. You remember talks with this brave young man, a talented scientist, now he's gone. Or a woman who cares about her rose garden, and you thought of her as the kindest person on earth. She’s gone too.
When we say that this war gets the best people, it’s not a metaphor. Best people, the kindest, the bravest, the most empathetic, go to the frontline as volunteers and do not come back. You sometimes ask yourself whether you are worth their sacrifice. Of course not. Whether this earth is worth their sacrifice. Not sure.
The truth of this war: This a necrophilic sadist force that swallows life, destroys it, smashes all biophilia it sees on its way. The war is the abyss that makes life a rare species. Life is a baby. Your country is a baby. You are a baby. Fragility is the law of everything.
Battle for the Donbas: Why Putin should fear the Ukrainian resistance.
In the first weeks of the summer, the number of attacks mounted by partisan fighters has been increasing in the Russian-occupied territories, particularly in Kherson, the provincial capital on the Dnipro River … On June 18, the head of the prison there, appointed by the Russians, was injured in an explosive attack. Four days later, a car bomb killed a high-ranking member of the regional administration. And ten days ago, an attack on a vehicle belonging to the head of the region’s pro-Russian administration was thwarted. He had already narrowly survived an attack in June. …
Recently delivered Western weapon systems like the American HIMARS, a multiple rocket launcher with a range of eighty kilometers (about fifty miles), allow Ukrainian forces to attack targets deep inside the occupied areas. There have been increasing reports in recent days of Russian ammunition and fuel depots being destroyed and command centers coming under fire. All of which clearly shows that assistance from Ukrainians in those areas—such as passing on locations of Russian troops and depots—is crucial at this stage of the war. The resistance has become Kyiv’s fifth column.
How real is the danger from Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant? Don’t worry about it. The things are built to withstand anything, even a Russian invasion.
Inside Kharkiv’s underground world: To escape Russian bombardments, more than 100,000 inhabitants of Ukraine’s second-largest city have been living underground for six months. Traumatized, some still refuse to leave these tunnels, which have been transformed into cavernous cities. (Partly paywalled.)
Many in the Donbas feel betrayed—by Kyiv. Elderly residents of the Donetsk region have stayed here because they tend to trust Russia more than their own government. Why?
Mykolayivna describes the Euro Maidan protests in Kyiv as a “US-backed coup.” Under Russia-friendly President Viktor Yanukovych, she says, “we at least had stability, and my pension was higher.” … She says she also had Russian television reception prior to the war, but the channels from across the border are blocked now. She finds out in telephone calls with her relatives in Russia these days what people are thinking there and what is allegedly happening in Ukraine. “I don’t believe the Bucha massacre really happened,” Mykolayivna says.
★ Can America’s most fearsome Howitzer repel Russia’s forces in Ukraine? The highly maneuverable and massively powerful M777 must overcome Russia’s considerable heavy artillery:
The towed 155mm cannons have already changed the dynamic of the war by providing necessary cover for Ukrainian infantry lines and answering Russian advances, destroying troop bridges, and delivering chaos from above. With nearly two decades of time served in war zones worldwide, the M777 is proving the enduring relevance of agile artillery on a modern battlefield.
★ What’s at stake in Ukraine and why you should care: A typically fluent and thoughtful lecture by Timothy Snyder:
★ Putin is just following the manual. A utopian Russian novel predicted Putin’s war plan. (If you read only one item today, it should be this one.)
No one can read Vladimir Putin’s mind. But we can read the book that foretells the Russian leader’s imperialist foreign policy. Mikhail Yuriev’s 2006 utopian novel, The Third Empire: Russia as It Ought to Be, anticipates—with astonishing precision—Russia’s strategy of hybrid war and its recent military campaigns: the 2008 war with Georgia, the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the incursion into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions the same year, and Russia’s current assault on Ukraine. … The Third Empire is rumored to be popular and highly influential in the Russian leader’s circle; one Russian publication described it as “the Kremlin’s favorite book.”
For the last three decades, the United States has bent over backward to acknowledge Russia’s security concerns and allay its anxieties. The United States has done so at the expense of relations with more willing partners in Eastern Europe—Ukraine in particular. Instead of supporting the early stirrings of Ukrainian independence in 1991, for example, Washington sought to preserve the failing Soviet Union out of misplaced fear that it might collapse into civil war. And instead of imposing heavy costs on Russia for its authoritarianism at home and antidemocratic activities abroad, including in Ukraine, Washington has mostly looked the other way in a fruitless effort to deal cooperatively with Moscow.
The justification for this Russia-centric approach to Eastern Europe has fluctuated between hopes for a good relationship with the Kremlin and fears that the bilateral relationship could devolve into another cold war—or worse, a hot one. But the result has been US national security priorities based on unrealistic aspirations instead of actual outcomes, particularly during moments of crisis. Even as evidence mounted that Russia’s belligerent behavior would not allow for a stable or predictable relationship, US policy stayed the course, to the detriment of both US national security interests and the security of Russia’s neighbors.
🧵 Russian discourse is largely centered on how much consumption standards have fallen or will fall. And nothing else matters.
Russia is not an idealistic irrational society as many picture it. It’s an ultra-pragmatic culture. If you think it can be moved by the killed Ukrainian civilians (or Russian soldiers KIA), you are insane. Decrease in consumption standards, that’s the only thing that really hurts.
(Claire—Clearly rooted in the experience of communism. The most visible manifestation of the Soviet Union’s singular bleakness, and what I most noticed as a visitor, was the absence of consumer goods.)
The perception of the President in Russia is entirely different from any democracy. I believe that person raised and that lives in a democratic society can not imagine the scale of the disaster. I would say that Putin in Russia has made himself something like God, a holy person. …
Having observed many Russians, I think the big difference between democratic systems and Russia is that Russians feel like they owe something to their President and not the other way around. Not the President is working for people, but people work for the President. Of course, it’s not people who question presidents’ decisions, but presidents who question people. It is a system similar to “1984” or any other anti-Utopian book. That’s how bad things are. So Putin managed to build a system where many see him as a holy person with a sacred mission. At this point, we can also relate to emperors, who often compared themselves to Gods and holy things. By the way, recently Putin compared himself with Peter I. …
Germans suffered from dictatorship for some 14 years, whereas Russians have suffered from it for centuries. There have been weakenings, but these were brief. And this enormous obedience might also explain a large amount of dictatorship in post-Soviet space. …
Sadly, since the war started, I have still met people that say, “Well, both sides are bad,” “The USA bombed Iraq,” “America wants to start WWIII,” etc. They don’t understand what Russia is.
Meduza obtained an archive of more than a million hours of videos from polling stations in Russia’s September 2021 parliamentary elections. The footage indicates that these lawmakers were elected thanks to 17.1 million stuffed ballots.
Our political map shows how different issues, attributes, personalities and opinions interact with one another. The closer the plot points are to each other the more closely related they are. Here we see that while the most positive views of Truss and Sunak are both to be found in the more Conservative-supporting top-right quadrant, the view that Truss would make the better prime minister of the two is most prevalent in solidly Conservative and Leave-voting territory. This is where we are also mostly likely to find those who prefer a PM who always says exactly what they think, prioritizes tax cuts, and stayed in Boris Johnson’s government rather than resigning. Peak support for the view that Sunak would make the better PM is found further over into the liberal and Remain-voting part of the map.
For now, most of Finland’s and Sweden’s contributions to NATO are strategic: In the event of a confrontation with Russia, NATO will now have access to dozens more air and naval bases across Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea. Sweden faces much of the Baltic, and its inclusion in NATO practically links all the nations bordering the Black Sea, in a full ring of alliance. It will also make Russia’s ability to project military power into the region much more difficult. Meanwhile, Finland has hundreds of first-rate artillery pieces that could contribute to the NATO Response force.
🇫🇷 French military chiefs sound the alert on the state of the armed forces. Speaking before the Assemblée Nationale’s defense committee, military leaders detailed France’s limits in the face of a potential high intensity conflict. (Partly paywalled.)
A leaked email exchange between Prime Minister Morawiecki, his chief of staff, and a right-wing pundit shows how in a Poland controlled by nationalists, scholars whose scientific research goes against the official party line are automatically condemned as “enemies of the state.”
🇲🇪 Eleven people were killed, including two children, in a shocking mass shooting in Montenegro related to a family dispute.
🇮🇹 Leaked manifesto: Italian right-wingers will dump Euroskepticism in bid for power. Their draft program for government pledges Italy’s “full adhesion” to EU integration while seeking changes to recovery fund deal.
One “clear internal influence attempt” Vasvári cited was a discussion among senior court officials and a prime suspect in a corruption case about firing the investigating judge or making life “uncomfortable” for them at work, according to redacted secret documents leaked to Hungarian media. The case centres on Fidesz MP and former deputy justice minister Pál Völner, who has been accused of accepting bribes—charges he denies. Völner was not involved in discussions to fire the investigating judge. In an unusual move, a senior judge appointed by the Fidesz-controlled parliament decided a judicial investigation into the case would remain secret, not only to the public but even to fellow judges.
Gazprom has ramped up flows to Hungary via the Turkstream pipeline. A reward for loyalty.
Nuclear power? Yes please! Germany sees tidal shift in sentiment toward atomic energy.
🇩🇪🇨🇳 Why Germany won’t get tough on Beijing, even if it invades Taiwan. The German economy is even more dependent on China than it is on Russia:
Germany’s big concern over antagonizing Moscow was losing access to cheap energy. With Beijing, it’s about losing the foundation of its economic prosperity. In recent years, China has overtaken the US to become Germany’s biggest trading partner, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the country’s €2.6 trillion in foreign trade last year. What’s more, China, which has propelled the German economy for decades, remains a key growth driver.
US allies most vulnerable to Russia press for more troops, weapons. About 100,000 US troops are deployed across Europe, with a growing center of gravity in the east. But for those on Russia’s doorstep, it’s not yet enough.
🇫🇷 The death of the lost Beluga. The poor thing. (In French.)
Across the Indian subcontinent, communities that had coexisted for almost a millennium attacked each other in a terrifying outbreak of sectarian violence, with Hindus and Sikhs on one side and Muslims on the other—a mutual genocide as unexpected as it was unprecedented. In Punjab and Bengal—provinces abutting India’s borders with West and East Pakistan, respectively—the carnage was especially intense, with massacres, arson, forced conversions, mass abductions, and savage sexual violence. Some seventy-five thousand women were raped, and many of them were then disfigured or dismembered.
By 1948, as the great migration drew to a close, more than fifteen million people had been uprooted, and between one and two million were dead. The comparison with the death camps is not so far-fetched as it may seem. Partition is central to modern identity in the Indian subcontinent, as the Holocaust is to identity among Jews, branded painfully onto the regional consciousness by memories of almost unimaginable violence. The acclaimed Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal has called Partition “the central historical event in twentieth century South Asia.” She writes, “A defining moment that is neither beginning nor end, partition continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future.”
🇮🇳 India at 75: A guide to the world’s longest constitution, which governs the world’s largest democracy.
🇵🇰 Pakistan at 75: The country bears little resemblance the secular and democratic vision of its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
I WAS BORN in the city of Bombay … once upon a time. No, that won’t do, there’s no getting away from the date: I was born in Doctor Narlikar’s Nursing Home on August 15th, 1947. And the time? The time matters, too. Well then: at night. No, it’s important to be more … On the stroke of midnight, as a matter of fact. Clock-hands joined palms in respectful greeting as I came. Oh, spell it out, spell it out: at the precise instant of India’s arrival at independence, I tumbled forth into the world. There were gasps. And, outside the window, fireworks and crowds. A few seconds later, my father broke his big toe; but his accident was a mere trifle when set beside what had befallen me in that benighted moment, because thanks to the occult tyrannies of those blandly saluting clocks I had been mysteriously handcuffed to history, my destinies indissolubly chained to those of my country. For the next three decades, there was to be no escape. Soothsayers had prophesied me, newspapers celebrated my arrival, politicos ratified my authenticity. I was left entirely without a say in the matter …
—Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children.
Partition Unbiased at least he was when he arrived on his mission, Having never set eyes on the land he was called to partition Between two peoples fanatically at odds, With their different diets and incompatible gods. “Time,” they had briefed him in London, “is short. It’s too late For mutual reconciliation or rational debate: The only solution now lies in separation. The Viceroy thinks, as you will see from his letter, That the less you are seen in his company the better, So we’ve arranged to provide you with other accommodation. We can give you four judges, two Moslem and two Hindu, To consult with, but the final decision must rest with you.” Shut up in a lonely mansion, with police night and day Patrolling the gardens to keep the assassins away, He got down to work, to the task of settling the fate Of millions. The maps at his disposal were out of date And the Census Returns almost certainly incorrect, But there was no time to check them, no time to inspect Contested areas. The weather was frightfully hot, And a bout of dysentery kept him constantly on the trot, But in seven weeks it was done, the frontiers decided, A continent for better or worse divided. The next day he sailed for England, where he could quickly forget The case, as a good lawyer must. Return he would not, Afraid, as he told his Club, that he might get shot. —W.H. Auden
🇺🇳 Human rights in Afghanistan, August 15, 2021 to June 15, 2022: Report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan didn’t have to turn out this way, David Petraeus argues.
David Petraeus is wrong: The Afghanistan war was never winnable.
US says Al Qaeda hasn’t regrouped in Afghanistan. A new intelligence assessment of the Al Qaeda threat was prepared after a drone strike killed Ayman al-Zawahri. Outside counterterrorism specialists said it was overly optimistic.
Another Congressional delegation has arrived in Taiwan, which is sure to send China into further conniptions.
China is Prepared for War. Are We? In Asia, the United States is on peacetime footing against a country gearing up for conflict.
How Chinese is Taiwan? President Xi is rewriting Beijing’s colonial past:
The government in Beijing likes to portray its attitude towards Taiwan as the final resolution of its anti-colonial struggle; the end of its self-described “century of humiliation” at the hands of foreign powers. But the opposite is true.
The tone of Beijing’s latest White Paper on Taiwan differs markedly from those issued before the Xi Jinping era:
China this week closed its largest ever military drills in the Taiwan Strait with a series of important statements, including the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council issuing its third White Paper, the title of which reveals the “new normal” of its Taiwan policy. The title of this third White Paper on Taiwan reads: “The Taiwan Question and China’s Reunification in the New Era.” The paper contains content quite distinct in tone and tenor from the two earlier White Papers on Taiwan.
China-US decoupling gushes out. Top Chinese SOEs to delist from NYSE as US regulators push to inspect their books in ways Beijing views as “crackdowns.”
In a flurry of statements on Friday against the backdrop of escalating US-China tensions, five of China’s biggest state-owned companies announced their intent to delist from the New York Stock Exchange—PetroChina Co Ltd, China Life Insurance Co, China Petroleum & Chemical Corp, Aluminum Corp of China and Sinopec Shanghai Petrochemical Co, which represent more than US$300 billion in market cap.
🇹🇼🇺🇸 Taiwan’s Patriot missiles to receive massive US upgrade. China’s recent missile and fighter jet overflights exposed holes in Taiwan’s missile defenses that a Patriot overhaul won’t credibly fix.
🇮🇩 Indonesia’s turning point: With courtroom battles ongoing, press freedom is hanging in the balance:
[U]nlike in countries where the decks are stacked, with the legislature, judiciary and press co-opted by authoritarian powers, all is not lost in Indonesia. Civil society has proven that it can mobilize and that institutional levers can be pulled. But this upcoming period will be crucial. Buffeted by competing winds, the Indonesian government will decide whether to move forward with the current version of the new criminal code. Actors at the local level, like police and prosecutors, will decide whether to enforce—or not enforce—rights-positive guidelines and laws. The judiciary will consider cases with wide-ranging consequences for press freedom and freedom of speech, like that of Muhammad Asrul. And even if the criminal code is passed, it awaits a barrage of constitutional challenges, putting the judiciary in the spotlight.
Abiy Ahmed Ali, the country’s prime minister and Nobel laureate, is the conductor of this orchestra. At the center stage, Ahmed directs the tempo of the Tigray-Ethiopia conflict. With a baton in his right hand, he commands his soldiers to commit genocidal acts against the people of Tigray, and the symphony that comes out of this score by Ahmed is a harmony of hunger, tears, pain and blood.
Ethiopia’s war ended. Now there’s hunger and strife. (Paywalled after the first few articles.)
Ethiopian officials admit using Biafra tactics to starve Tigray. Events in Tigray are eerily reminiscent of the 1967-1970 Nigerian civil war.
The verification of results has been stopped several times after complaints by supporters of the main candidates. On Saturday night, Mr Odinga’s supporters entered a restricted area and accosted electoral officials, accusing them of tampering with the vote. Amid the melee, Mr Odinga’s chief campaign manager was able to get to the lectern used by top electoral commission officials, where he criticized the result verification process. “I want to announce to the nation that Bomas of Kenya is a scene of crime,” said Saitabao Ole Kanchory, before the microphone was switched off and he was led away. Bomas is the name of the cultural center in the capital, Nairobi, which is being used as the main tallying centre. Mr Ruto’s supporters accused their opponents of interfering with the tallying process.
Riot police have been deployed inside the building to reinforce security. There have been calls for peace from several leaders and bodies including the Catholic church which asked for “patience and civility” and urged the main candidates to show “restraint and statesmanship” as anxiety grows.
Save for a few mostly inconsequential skirmishes, and one unfortunate murder, this year’s election easily passes as one of the most peaceful in Kenya’s recent history. The election, followed keenly by audiences in the region and beyond, stands out for a number of firsts.
🎧 Election hustle: The enterprising young Kenyans who see the election campaign as a way to extract cash from competing candidates.
Terrorists, bandits and other violent non-state agents have taken over swathes of areas in northern Nigeria. In the recent weeks, terrorists have carried out audacious attacks within the territory around the capital Abuja. Most recently personnel of the presidential brigade of guards were ambushed. Nigeria’s next president faces a collapsing security situation.
Overall, we found that the informal sector has a lot to offer the future of African cities. We therefore recommend that public policy focuses more on regularizing the sector, instead of displacing it. This is often done to make way for elitist big capital projects. Also, we warn that ignoring or marginalizing the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on the sector could spell a social bloodbath on the continent.
How al Qaeda and ISIS are digging into Africa. The terrorist groups’ African franchises are now punchier than those in the Middle East. (Paywalled.)
The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Addis Ababa was once a US-China collaboration project. The loss of the US CDC-inspired facility to Chinese influence was a tragic error and own goal.
🌍 Middle East
🌾 Four ships have now sailed from Ukraine carrying grain to the Middle East. (Claire—Is this pace anything like what it has to be to stave off famine? It doesn’t seem as if it could be anywhere near enough?)3
🇸🇦🇮🇷☢️ Crown Prince warns that Saudi Arabia will make nuclear bomb if Iran does. “Without a doubt if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we would follow suit as soon as possible.”
🇺🇸🇮🇷 Justice Department charges member of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps with trying to assassinate John Bolton.
The Iranian regime is determined to impose their debased and tyrannical ideology on all of us, by de facto or de jure means. We did not need further proof of this, but the attack on Rushdie has given it to us. All the more so because the attack took place in a nation where freedom of speech is enshrined as one of its supreme values. In the name of that value, it is time for the Iranian regime to face the same fate it imposed on Rushdie and everyone else who has dared speak against it.
“I don’t know Salman Rushdie but I am happy to hear that he was attacked since he insulted Islam,” said Reza Amiri, a 27-year-old deliveryman. “This is the fate for anybody who insults sanctities.” “This is pleasing and shows those who insult the sacred things of we Muslims, in addition to punishment in the hereafter, will get punished in this world too at the hands of people,” he said. Others, however, worried that Iran could become even more cut off from the world as tensions remain high over its tattered 2015 nuclear deal. “I feel those who did it are trying to isolate Iran,” said Mahshid Barati, a 39-year-old geography teacher. “This will negatively affect relations with many—even Russia and China.”
The details of the draft were finalized in Vienna on Monday after 16 months of talks. As the EU worked on it in close co-ordination with Washington, the terms suggest that U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is prepared to make greater concessions than expected to secure a deal—especially by reducing pressure on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a powerful military organization with near-ubiquitous political and economic influence in Iran that the US has designated as a terrorist organization.
🇮🇱 Jerusalem terror attack: Eight wounded, among them a pregnant woman who was critically injured. The shooter has turned himself in to the police.
🇪🇬 At least 41 killed in Egyptian church fire. Church officials, citing the health ministry, say 14 others were injured in fire in Giza city in Greater Cairo.
Rival Iraqi factions took to the streets of Baghdad to call for a new government with supporters of religious scholar Moqtada al-Sadr demanding early elections and his Iran-backed opponents saying the results of last October’s poll should be honored. Thousands of al-Sadr’s followers prayed outside parliament on Friday in a show of support for the populist leader who has called on the judiciary to dissolve parliament by the end of next week.
… We found that, compared to online audiences, partisan TV news consumers tend not to stray too far from their narrow sets of preferred news sources. For example, most Americans who consume mostly MSNBC rarely consume news from any other source besides CNN. Similarly, most Americans who consume mostly Fox News Channel do not venture beyond that network at all. This finding contrasts with data from online news consumers, who still receive sizable amounts of news from outside their main archetype.
From liberation to turmoil: Social media and democracy. (Partly paywalled.)
The echo chamber is overstated: The moderating effect of political interest and diverse media. (Partly paywalled.)
Polarization and partisan selective exposure. (Paywalled.)
The mass on Saturday followed several moves against the church in recent weeks, including the investigation and confinement of a prominent priest who had been critical of President Daniel Ortega’s government. A day before the gathering, the Vatican for the first time expressed concern over the recent actions.
🇨🇴 Colombia to restart peace talks with ELN rebels. The new government gave the green light to resume peace talks with the country’s largest remaining rebel force, a key electoral promise that brought leftist President Gustavo Petro to power earlier this week.
Argentina’s already-high levels of inflation got supercharged in July when then Economy Minister Martín Guzmán abruptly resigned, blowing open a political crisis long brewing inside the country’s ruling coalition. President Alberto Fernández replaced Guzmán with little-known economist Silvina Batakis, who lasted only three weeks in the job before Fernández tapped Sergio Massa, a seasoned political operator and one of the leaders of the Peronist coalition, for the role.
🇵🇾 Paraguay’s vice president will quit. Hugo Velázquez Moreno said he would resign next week, shortly after he was included on a US corruption list for his alleged involvement in offering bribes to a public official.
Last year, Venezuela recorded 4.3 suicides per 100,000 people, according to estimates by the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, but in the western Andean state of Merida that figure was more than double at 9.9. No studies exist to explain the high incidence of suicide in the peaceful, mountainous state of 860,000 people, where agriculture and tourism fuel the economy.
The Mexican border cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito and Ensenada were hit by gang violence that included vehicles being set ablaze and road blockades. The US Consulate in Tijuana instructed its employees “to shelter in place until further notice” around midnight because of the violence. It was the third time this week Mexican cities have seen widespread arson and shootings by drug cartels. The gangs appear to be targeting stores, vehicles and innocent bystanders in response to disputes or attempts to capture gang members.
Sanders is no fan of Bolsonaro, and less so that the chances of him scheming to steal the election aren’t zero. It’s why the Vermont lawmaker plans to introduce a “Sense of the Senate” resolution once Congress returns from the August recess, which would both show senators’ support for a free and fair election and call on the US to break ties with Brazil if it’s led by an illegitimate regime.
Brazil’s Wall Street turns on Bolsonaro. As the president’s threats to disregard October’s election results intensify, high-profile Brazilian business leaders abandon their former ally.
Brazil’s economy minister sneers at France, calls Paris “insignificant.” (In French.)
✍🏼 By the Cosmopolitan Globalists
🇬🇧 Our beloved John Oxley has hit the big time. He’s just published two essays that caused a stir in the UK, and now we can no longer afford him:
The crisis at the heart of the Conservative Party: The Tories struggle to decide what they want to do and are unable to implement the few ideas they have.
A Tory party that’s out of ideas will soon find itself out of power: Conservatives must believe there are conservative answers to the problems Britain faces. Why aren’t we hearing them?
★ 🇷🇺🇺🇦 We highly recommend this essay by Thomas Gregg: “Stalin, Putin, and Ukraine: Tracing the connections between two genocidal crimes, one past, one present.”
Everywhere there was hunger, nakedness, disease, madness, death. Finding no food in the countryside, people fled to the cities and starved there. Squads of workers patrolled the streets in trucks, picking up the corpses of those who’d died overnight. Most were simply dumped in pits and bulldozed under, no effort being made to identify the dead or record the location of the site. The famine created orphans by the tens and hundreds of thousands. State orphanages filled up and overflowed, so schools were closed and the buildings used to house children found wandering in the streets. But there was little or no food, no medicine, no blankets, no running water, and the children died in droves. …
At the time of the famine, news about its horrors trickled out, to be reported in the Western press. These stories were denounced by socialists in Europe and America as provocations and lies designed to sully the image of the world capital of socialism. …
Something similar is happening today among those groups, Left and Right, who oppose American-led efforts to support the Ukrainian government and people in their resistance to Putin’s vicious war of conquest. Either they say that no US national interests are at stake in the Russo-Ukrainian War or that Putin has some justification for his actions. One complaint often heard from these precincts is that the Ukrainian government is “corrupt” and therefore unworthy of support—as if that excuses Russian war crimes. Another is that Putin is merely reacting to “NATO aggression.” Or we’re told that the Russians are waging a war of liberation to rescue ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine from the oppressive rule of a foreign power—a rather hilarious claim given the fact that Putin and his cabal have made no bones about their actual objective.
What these isolationists and appeasers never mention is the historical background sketched above—which explains why the Ukrainian people have so fiercely resisted the invader. They remember the Holodomor and they know that V. Putin is reprising the policy of J.V. Stalin. For Ukrainians, the war now raging is a battle for survival. And the prevention of genocide is most assuredly in the American national interest, because a world in which such things are permitted to happen would be a dangerous world indeed—not least for America.
🇹🇳 The EU has midwifed a dangerous new dictatorship in Tunisia, argues David Patrikarikos:
It’s common in European capitals to lament the curdling of the Arab Spring into winter; less common is to hear the same lament for multiple failings of EU governments. Most of what happened during those revolutions across the Middle East was and is obviously beyond their control. But the case of Tunisia shows that when you are content only to mouth the platitudes of democracy, you not only fail to support it but end up enabling its opposite: autocracy. In the end, while the diplomats in Brussels and Berlin sleep and dine in comfort, it is the people on the ground who suffer, as they always do.
★ 🎧🇷🇺🇸🇾🇺🇦 At the EuroFile, Syrian activist Mouaz Moustafa and Ukrainian activist Michael Sawkiw join Monique Camarra and Olga Lautman to discuss Russian war crimes. (No paywall.)
This is probably the most important episode Olga and I have done together. Russian-made terrorism started first in Russia, when it is widely suspected the Russian intelligence services bombed apartment buildings and set off a terror campaign across the country.
What Putin did at home, to his own people, was exported abroad—because this is how Putin and his war party govern. Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism across the globe, and a terrorist state itself.
That’s what we talked about. Terror in Syria and Ukraine, and what is being done to address this from various angles.
Mouaz tells us that they’ve stopped counting the dead in Syria. The last count was at 500,000 souls but that doesn’t even come close to the real number of Syrians and Russians and other ethnic groups that were murdered. That’s the population of Florence. They were butchered by the Russian and Assad forces.
We have forgotten that the war in Syria is still ongoing, but Syrian activists, who are still trying to establish a democratic state, have not. Not in Syria and not in Ukraine.
Syrian activists stepped in quickly to aid their Ukrainian brothers: They were the first. They know where all this violence will lead, and after the horrors of Bucha, we have all seen where this will go if we don’t rise to Ukraine’s defense now.
We hope you listen to the entire podcast. Michael and Mouaz offer us advice and something to hold on to as we move into the next stage of Russia’s war of aggression and genocide in Ukraine.
🥢 The CCP is confused
Claire—I remember like it was yesterday how the UK voted for Brexit and the EU promptly went so nuts they sent fighter jets into the UK’s airspace, shot rockets over the island, and blasted missile after missile across the English Channel. You do not mess with the EU.
🦇 Bat of the Day
🇺🇦 Ukraine World notes that Russian propaganda has graduated from accusing Ukraine of “Nazism” to charging it with “Satanism.” The interview below, with Kirill Frolov, a Russian Orthodox fundamentalist close to Patriarch Kirill, was published in RIA Fan. (The outlet is part of the media factory set up by Yevgeny Prigozhyn, aka “Putin’s chef,” godfather inter alia of the St. Petersburg troll factory and the Wagner Group.)
Russia is conducting a special operation not only to denazify Ukraine, but also to save the native Russian lands of Little Russia, Novorossiya and Transcarpathian Russia from the quasi-religion of globalists promoting LGBT values. This opinion was shared by the head of the Association of Orthodox Experts Kirill Frolov in an interview with the international editorial office of the FAN. …
According to Kirill Frolov, the promotion of LGBT ideology in Ukraine is carried out by direct order of US President Joe Biden. The expert noted that the destruction of traditional values is a program of globalist circles, including the American leader, who demonstratively appointed a lesbian as his spokesman.
“For globalists, this is a Satanic quasi-religious program that they are trying to impose on the whole world. Thus, Zelensky acted as a stubborn, consistent conductor of this Satanism. He writes in detail how to circumvent the constitutional ban on the legalization of same-sex marriage, calling them civil partnerships. But this is the same thing, and thereby Zelensky destroys the values on which Orthodox Little Russia, Novorossiya, Transcarpathian Rus and other native Russian lands have stood for centuries,” explained the head of the Association of Orthodox Experts.
As Kirill Frolov noted, if earlier the project “Ukraine” was perceived as a Russophobic and Uniate concept, now it can be stated that it is also anti-Orthodox, anti-human. According to the FAN’s interlocutor, in connection with the above, the special operation of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has another goal on the territory of the “independent one.”
“Russia, which has a mission to save the world from evil, and its army, realize not only the civil duty to denazify Ukraine, but also the religious duty to save its historical lands from Satanism, from the new globalist quasi-religion.
“Now every person who doubted should side with Russia. After Zelensky’s statement, any soldier of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, any employee of quasi-state structures, if he is baptized, even a schismatic or union, if he considers a marriage between a man and a woman sacred, is simply obliged to side with the Russian army, surrender to it. Otherwise, he must remove the cross from himself, because Zelensky showed himself as a global Satanist, and the fight against his regime is a sacred duty of every baptized person, even if he is forced to serve in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and this satanic state,” Kirill Frolov concluded.
Today’s animals: Elephants, kittens, and puppies
(I couldn’t choose.)
From a reader: “[Pollster] Ashcroft is a weird dodgy guy but he has massive samples—~10,500 in this one. Tory 2019 voters are very very different as well. All the data are on his website.”
I was recently told by a member of the Afghan family many of you have tried to help that the Taliban had executed “at least ten thousand” people since coming to power. “They started a genocide of Tajiks and Hazara. They kill Panjsher and Baghlan citizen often; they rape girls and women in Panjsher and Baghlan. They demolish the houses of Tajiks. People from Panjshiri province dont have the right to leave Afghanistan, and everyday the Taliban arrest them and carry them off to unknown places. Taliban commanders and soldiers kidnap girls and marry them by force. There are no longer any international NGOs to prevent them from doing this.” I expressed astonishment that massacres on this scale had been so little reported. The family member said that of course it wasn’t: Who would dare report it? They’d kill you. I can’t verify these numbers, but I don’t find it implausible. Leaving as we did—abandoning this family and so many others to those merciless wolves—is an indelible stain on our honor.
Here’s my back-of-the-envelope calculation, based on a bag of rice in my kitchen. Tell me if you spot an obvious mistake. (I don’t have any flour, so we’ll assume grain and rice are interchangeable.) Let’s say you need 2,000 calories a day to survive, so 585 grams of rice would feed one person for a day. Divided by .585 kg of rice per person per day, a ton of rice would therefore feed 1,550 per day, or 220 people per week, or 50 people per month. Now, one of those ships, according to the article, is carrying 12 tons of grain. So it can feed 600 people for a month—which is definitely better than nothing, but we’ve got 50 million people in 45 countries teetering on the edge of famine, so this is a joke, right? (Update: Keen-eyed readers spotted my mistake: The ship is carrying 12,000 tons, not 12 tons. Thank you, keen-eyed readers!.)