Adrem68, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
On the fifth day of the UN COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow, UK, over 40 countries, including Poland, Vietnam, and Chile, have pledged to stop investing in new coal power generators and intend to phase out coal use by the 2030s for larger economies and the 2040s for smaller economies. This marks a huge commitment for several world countries and a small step towards saving the planet.
Coal usage is associated with various detrimental outcomes to the environment and health of people including air pollution including respiratory problems and is an established contributor to global warming. Despite these facts being known for several decades now, the use of coal has not been minimised as it is the powerhouse for several facilities and amenities we enjoy today. Coal is responsible for providing 37% of global electricity as of 2019, it is used to hold up buildings and offices. It is also used to produce cement and steel. With its numerous uses replacing coal is a risky and expensive endeavour, hence the reluctance of major coal consuming countries from signing the pledge.
China, India, The United States and Australia are some of the countries that have not signed the pledge and it is unlikely they will do so unless a cheaper substitute is not discovered. China and the US are the world’s largest coal dependent nations; this raises concerns over the effectiveness of this plan to phase out coal – can climate change be halted fast enough if major coal emitters are not cooperating? Infact China had reportedly increased its coal consumption capacity by 40GW in 2019 and despite its initiatives to ‘go green’, coal consumption seems to be on the rise.
It is important to note that there are no strict repercussions if the conditions of the pledge are not met, and this is simply a goal that countries wish to achieve. Developing countries are being encouraged to sign the pledge, but it is the giant consumers that need to step up to make the difference needed to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There are other key drivers of climate change such as oil and gas which need to be actioned in the conference and whilst they were on the table, nothing concrete materialised from COP26 as far as we know.
African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo
African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Kenya, Gabon and Ghana are amongst the African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions as they voted against the UN Security Council renewing Western imposed sanctions regime on the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo on 30th June 2022. As well as these three countries, China and Russia also abstained from the vote.
The sanctions included an arms embargo, a travel ban and asset freezes, as well as the state being banned from providing weapons to non-government entities operating in the democratic Republic of Congo. One other facet of the resolution is a notification requirement which some representatives claimed served as a hindrance to the DRC’s ability to limit armed groups and defend their country. It is worth noting that the DRC has children as young as 6 working in mines for large corporations.
Gabon’s Edwige Koumby Missambo stated that the requirement impeded the Democratic Republic of Congo’s power to effectively and immediately counter the activities of anti-government armed groups, and that it should be lifted in definitive terms so the Congolese Armed Forces could defend their country. She said that the international community should respect the sovereignty of the country and put the interest of civilians first and foremost. Missambo said that, “Halting operational capacities in the area of security of a state that is led by democratically elected authorities is tantamount to giving license to armed groups whose agenda is to foment terror and chaos among civilians.”
Gideon Kinuthia Ndung’u of the Kenyan delegation, while praising the steps of the new resolution to lift the notification requirement on non-lethal military equipment used for humanitarian and training purposes, stated that it did not properly address the appeal made by the Democratic Republic of the Congo to fully lift the notification requirement. He said that there was a failure to acknowledge the recent steps that the government of the DRC had taken for better security and control of its weapons and ammunition management system.
Nicolas de Riviere of the French delegation which was the main drafter of the resolution voiced his regret that the resolution did not receive unanimous support as some African states refuse to back renewal of sanctions.
￼Udaipur, India: Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims
Unfortunate incident of Hindu tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur, India
Kanhaiyai Lal Teli, a Hindu Tailor beheaded by two extremist Muslims in Udaipur in the western state of Rajasthan, India. Tell was murdered by the two Muslim extremists who came into his shop on Tuesday. Mr Lal was stabbed multiple times, his throat was slit, and he was then beheaded. The act was filmed on a mobile phone and posted online. In the video, Mr Teli could be heard screaming.
The attack came following rising religious tensions between Muslims and Hindus in India after the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) now ex-official Nupur Sharma made derogatory comments regarding the Prophet of Islam.Sharma made the comments on live television and sparked countrywide protests, some of which turned violent, as well as being strongly condemned by many Islamic countries. Three Islamic countries summoned their Indian ambassadors to address the comments. Following global condemnation, Sharma was suspended by the BJP and her comments were retracted. Another party official expressed support for Sharma’s comments and was expelled from the party.
The controversy gave way to protests across India as well as rising communal violence between Hindus and Muslims. In the Eastern Indian state of Jharkand, two Muslim men were killed in a protest on June 10, which was held calling for Nupur Sharma’s arrest.
Kanhaiya Lal had posted support for Sharma’s comments on a Whatsapp status, to which some Muslims took offence, and he was arrested but afterwards granted bail. His wife Jashoda claimed that they had received death threats from extremist minded Muslims in the days before her husband’s murder and had skipped work following his bail because of the threats. Mr Teli also filed a complaint with the police concerning the death threats. His killer’s pretended to be customers to the shop and first had their measurements taken by Mr Teli.
The perpetrators cited vengeance for Mr Telis’s Whatsapp status supporting Umur Sharmar’s comments. Brandishing knives they used to kill Mr Teli in another video in which they claimed responsibility for the murder, they addressed Prime Minister Modi; “Listen, Narendra Modi, you have lit the fire but we will douse it…I pray to God that this dagger will one day reach your neck too.”
The murderers were arrested within hours of the killing while attempting to flee the city on motorbikes. The chief minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot announced their arrest on Twitter and stated authorities would “ensure strict punishment and speedy justice”.
A prominent Muslim religious organisation, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, condemned the incident and said it was “barbaric, uncivilised and there is no room for justification of violence in Islam..no citizen should take law in his own hands. Let the law prevail.”
The BJP party has been accused of helping cause rifts between Hindus and Muslims and marginalising the lattersince Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to office in 2014.
Following the attack, authorities shut down internet across the state of Rajasthan over concerns that it would cause further unrest within the community. The murder gave way to protests in Rajasthan.
Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict
Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine-Russia Conflict, which can be seen as in March this year, 26 African states failed to votes in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In March of this year, twenty-six African states failed to vote in agreement with the UN resolution condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Seventeen African states abstained from the vote, eight were not present, and Eitrea remained the only African nation to vote against it. Out of the 54 nations that make up Africa, 28 voted in favour of U.N resolution. In contrast of Africa’s 51%, 81.29% non-African countries represented in the U.N voted in favour of the resolution – and what’s more, only four heads of African states showed up, with the rest sending representatives.
But why is there such a marked divide on the question of Russia-Ukraine, compared to the rest of the world? Why is Africa taken Hostage on Ukraine – Russia Conflict? And what did they have to say about it?
Memories of Apartheid
For some African nations, their reluctance to take sides in this world-engulfing conflict can be traced back to recent history. When Europe was backing the apartheid government of South Africa, it was Russia, then the Soviet Union – ever the opportunist superpower searching for political and financial hegemony -which provided military training, ammunition and morale to the South African movement fighting to take back their country from the racially discriminatory system of Apartheid headed by the government in Pretoria.
As veteran South African freedom fighter Obbey Mabena said, speaking to the CNN’s David Mckenzie on the struggle for apartheid, “We had to decide if we wanted to continue living on our knees, or to die fighting. We found that there is a country like the Soviet bloc that is ready to give us everything that we need. To give us food, uniforms, to give us training, weapons.”
Mackenzie asks, “So these were Russian soldiers treating you with respect?”
“With the greatest of respect, they came there, they were friends with us. For the first time we came across white people who treated us as equal beings …Russia is our friend. Our friend’s enemy is our enemy.”
The response by Ukraine’s most powerful backer, the United States, did not seem to be pleased with the outcome of the African vote on the UN resolution in March, condemning Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. As US ambassador to the African Union Jessica Lapenn said that, “we look for a strong African response to Russian aggression and welcome the opportunity to partner with Senegal and other Africans on both the response to Russia’s aggression but also to address the implications of it globally”.
Global Food Crisis
Indeed, that may be the case. In a recent address to the African Union, mirroring earlier attempts to garner support from the continent for Ukraine’s plight, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky claimed that Africa had been taken hostage by Russia citing the looming food crisis as shortages of grain and fertiliser to the continent come as a result of Russia’s naval blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea port.
Before the war began, Russia and Ukraine were Africa’s biggest exporters of wheat, accounting for about 40% of its total exports – currently twenty million tonnes of grain have been left stranded at the Black Sea port of Odessa due to Russia’s naval blockade, ushering in a new crisis for the continent. President Macky Sall, Head of the African Union met with Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month to highlight the detrimental effects of the blockade on Africa’s food supply.
While possible, it is more difficult to grow wheat in Africa than other countries due to the climate, and the lack of equipment available for timely harvesting, hence, much of it is imported.
The Red Cross reports that in Africa, “Over 100 million people are struggling without the food that they need.” One of the reasons cited for this is the global rise in prices due to the conflict in Ukraine.
But that’s not the only way – nor the least detrimental – that the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is hurting Africa. Sanctions aimed at Russia by the West have particularly hurt Africa’s economy, from Russia being one of the main providers of Africa’s defence and military equipment, to Western sanctions halting investment into the Russian economy and impeding billion dollar nuclear energy deals that help provide electricity to many countries in the north of the continent.
That effect has petered out to impact the looming food crisis even further, as the Russian Swift banking system has been suspended by Western states, making it impossible for Africa to pay for its food imports like grain and fertiliser from Russia. Such has been the effect that some have considered diversifying the region’s wheat sources, the first time in years.
China, an ally to Russia in the war, is now Africa’s biggest trade partner. Speaking to Forbes, Daan Roggeveen, who writes about urbanisation in China and Africa, said, “Right now you could say that any big project in African cities that is higher than three floors or roads that are longer than three kilometres are most likely being built and engineered by the Chinese. It is ubiquitous.”
The foreign minister of South Africa, Naledi Pandor, the UN resolution vote against Russian activity in Ukraine states that, “The response we got was, take it or leave it. And in the face of that arrogance, we thought the only decision we could make was abstain. Perhaps our colleagues in the West don’t understand the fact that we are very weary of aligning to one position or another.”
For a continent in which its loyalties are immensely divided, between its trade partners, food exporters and aid providers, that indeed may be the case.
So perhaps Zelensky’s claim that it is only Russia that has taken Africa hostage- tha needs to be re-examined. Rather, it seems Africa is being held hostage by the world, as each brings up past favours and debts to coerce the unaligned continent into fighting for their side, in a war that will reap no benefits for the continent itself. And perhaps, like in the past, it will be left struggling in the aftermath without support or compensation.
Argentina’s Economy Minister Quits
- Argentina’s economy minister, Martin Guzmán, resigned from his post after a week of economic crisis in a 7 page letter published on Twitter.
- Guzmán initiated office in 2019 taking lead in restructuring Argentina’s debt.
- In addition to the global rise of food and energy costs, Argentina is battling with 60% inflation.
- In his letter of resignation, Guzmán calls for a “political agreement within the governing coalition.”
- Many speculate his statement was in reference to his deputy – Cristina Fernández de Kirchner – whom he was openly at odds with when approaching the country’s economic problems.
- Prior to the resignation, Fernández took to criticizing economic policy starting with Guzmán’s inflation strategy.
The End of Roe v. Wade Has Dangerous Consequences for Women’s Health
When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, they did not just steal bodily autonomy from women, but also their future health. By overturning Roe, the Supreme Court has now put pressure on physicians prescribing life saving medications to women.
Abortion has now been banned in six states, and that number is likely to rise swiftly to 16 states. Twelve states have passed trigger laws. Some states have not completely banned abortions, however they have implemented gestational age limits on abortions. While other states have not decided whether or not to ban abortions, the courts and lawmakers will be deciding the fate of women. Only 20 states have abortion protections in place.
These new bans have also brought into question the future of birth control. Will states begin restricting or even outlawing birth control? Although Republicans have dismissed concerns about banning birth control, Democrats have been warning that it is a distinct possibility. Indeed, after Missouri’s strict new ban on abortion went into effect, one major hospital system in Kansas briefly stopped providing emergency birth control, even to victims of rape.
But the potential healthcare ramifications of these laws do not end there. Many drugs cause birth defects in pregnant women, which raises the question: If women cannot legally terminate a pregnancy, can these drugs legally be prescribed to women of child-bearing ages in states with abortion bans?
“I believe that prescribing is going to become much more defensive and conservative,” rheumatologist Mehret Talabi told Medscape. “Some clinicians may choose not to prescribe these medications to patients who have childbearing potential, even if they don’t have much risk for pregnancy.”
Teratogens are medications which can cause birth defects. Many teratogenic medications include treatments for acne, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
“Doctors are going to understandably be terrified that a patient may become pregnant using a teratogen that they have prescribed,” Talabi said. “While this was a feared outcome before Roe v. Wade was overturned, abortion provided an escape hatch by which women could avoid having to continue a pregnancy and potentially raise a child with congenital anomalies.” “
Other physicians also shared their fears that doctors would now be wary of prescribing many medications, some of those with little data on pregnancy.
Dr. Megan Clowse, a Duke University rheumatologist who works with women who are or wish to become pregnant, told Medcape: “Women who receive these new or teratogenic medications will likely lose their reproductive autonomy and be forced to choose between having sexual relationships with men, obtaining procedures that make them permanently sterile, or using contraception that may cause intolerable side effects..”
Dr. Clowse noted that many drugs commonly prescribed to patients with rheumatic diseases, including methotrexate, mycophenolate and cyclophosphamide, are linked to birth defects and loss of pregnancy..
“I am very concerned that young women with rheumatic disease will now be left with active disease resulting in joint damage and renal failure,” she said.
One of these drugs, methotrexate, is an effective cancer treatment and many rheumatic conditions, but has also been used to cause abortions. “If legislators try to restrict access to methotrexate, we may see increasing disability and even death among people who need this medication but cannot access it,” Dr. Talabi said.
Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist Dr. Sunanda Kane told Medscape she feared that several of the teratogenic medications used in her field to treat viral hepatitis, constipation and inflammatory bowel disease, would now be affected. While she said doctors in her field generally only prescribe medications with high teratogenic potential to women of childbearing age when they use multiple forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy, she noted that doctors may be less likely to prescribe such drugs if abortion is not available as a legal option.
“The removal of abortion rights puts the lives and quality of life for women with rheumatic disease at risk,” Dr. Clowse added. “For patients with lupus and other systemic rheumatic disease, pregnancy can be medically catastrophic, leading to permanent harm and even death to the woman and her offspring. I am worried that women in these conditions will die without lifesaving pregnancy terminations, due to worries about the legal consequences for their physicians.”
Critics claim, G7 failed to combat food crisis
G7 failed to combat the food crisis. The summit which comprised diplomats from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, discussed several issues, with the Ukrainian War at the top of their agenda.
The G7 gathered last week to discuss how to tackle the global food crisis that has been exemplified through the Russian and Ukrainian War, however critics claim that the G7 failed to combat food crisis issues. The summit which comprised diplomats from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US, discussed several issues, with the Ukrainian War at the top of their agenda.
On 28th June, the G7 promised to spend $4.5 billion this year to address the global hunger crisis. Amid this pledge, the G7 has urgently requested for the Russian Government to end the blockade of Ukrainian Sea ports. The blockade has led to a halt of Ukraine’s exports including essential goods such as cooking oil and in particular, cereals such as maize and wheat. As of April 2022 the price of oils has increased by 137.5% compared to the averages of 2014-2016, whilst the price of cereals has increased by 69.5% compared to the 2014-2016 averages. In a statement on the support for Ukraine, the G7 stated, “We urgently call on Russia to cease, without condition, its attacks on agricultural and transport infrastructure and enable free passage of agricultural shipping from Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea.”
The $4.5 billion pledge is to help those who are the most vulnerable from hunger and malnutrition, but it will not be enough to help protect all those suffering from the global food crisis.
Several activists have called out the G7 for falling short on what is needed to tackle the crisis. Max Lawson, the Head of Inequality Policy at Oxfam stated, “The G7 have simply failed to take the action that is needed”. Additionally, Lawson expressed that, “The $4.5 billion announced is a fraction of what is needed. The G7 could have done so much more here in Germany to end the food crisis and prevent hunger and starvation worldwide”.
Furthermore, the World Food Programme (WFP) urged the G7 to, “act now or record hunger will continue to rise and millions will face starvation”. The WFP’s plan requires $22.2 billion from the G7 to help those who are suffering from the crisis, however, the G7 pledge is far from it, $17.7 billion less than what is needed. This comes after the WFP suspended food assistance to South Sudan due to a lack of funding and priorities elsewhere. South Sudan is one of the worst affected countries by the global food crisis as internal conflict, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change has all led to inflated food prices within the country.
South Sudan is not alone, extreme weather and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic previously inflated global prices, the Ukrainian War only exemplified it. Climate change has led to the increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as flooding, droughts and megafires. The recent earthquake in Afghanistan and flooding in Bangladesh
are just some examples as to how climate change has increased the likelihood of extreme weather to occur. Extreme weather has damaged crops in several countries, thus, not only damaging the supplies of food for the countries themselves but also for the rest of the world. Alongside extreme weather, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely inflated global food prices. The pandemic caused supply chain disruptions which increased food prices. However, the downside of supply chain disruptions is panic buying and hoarding, which increased the demand leading to further inflated prices.
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