- 100,00 Russian troops began military exercises in Belarus close to the Ukrainian border for 10 days.
- Russia plans to conduct naval drills in the Sea of Azov and the Blkack Sea, blocking shipping lanes close to Ukraine, and leaving it open to possible invasion.
- UK and US continue to monitor Russia’s movements surrounding Ukraine and, in a Moscow meeting, UK tries to persuade Russia to remove troops from Ukraine but Russia refuses, causing the frosty divide between UK and Russia to grow.
Both US and European officials continue to monitor President Vladimir Putin’s tactical maneuvers as they try to anticipate when Russia might transition from threatening to invade Ukraine to launching an invasion.
On Thursday, 100,000 Russian troops began 10 days of military exercises in Belarus; this deployment, known as Allied Resolve 2022, demonstrates a great threat to Ukraine as Belarus is Russia’s closest international ally and shares a long border with Ukraine. Russian fighter jets launched air patrols and Russia’s s-400 air defense systems were deployed near Ukraine’s border. In addition to this, Russian marines, who normally practice urban warfare in eastern Siberia, more than 2,500 miles away from Ukraine, were positioned near the border.
On top of the military drills in Belarus, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated that Russia plans to conduct extensive naval drills in the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea which would fully block shipping lanes and leave Ukraine vulnerable to a multi-faceted invasion. Russia has announced coastal warnings specifying missile and gunnery firing exercises. Ukraine stated that Russia is abusing international law by conducting these drills and is trying to achieve its own geopolitical agenda. Nevertheless, Russia claimed that all these drills fall under international law and promised to remove its troops from Belarus after the exercises conclude on February 20.
Russia continues to repeatedly accuse the West of being responsible for escalating tensions on the matter of Russia invading Ukraine. In order to prevent a ground invasion, the US continues to monitor Russia’s movements along the Ukrainian border, such as where the troops are positioned, when they leave their training areas, and how Russia is utilizing its military equipment. US officials also continue to closely watch for any cyber aggression on Ukrainian critical infrastructure, as Russia can use this tactical route to decrease public confidence in the Ukrainian government. The US forces are also not authorized to enter Ukraine if a war were to break out, so Biden suggested that Americans leave the country as soon as possible because the US may not be in a position to help Americans if Russia were to invade.
UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss met with Russia’s Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Thursday in order to diffuse this crisis; Truss tried to diplomatically persuade Lavrov to remove Russian troops away from the Ukrainian border, but Lavrov refused to listen and, in turn, recited Russia’s demands back to Truss. One of those demands being that Ukraine,which has deep social and cultural ties with Russia and was once part of the Soviet Republic, cannot join the NATO alliance. Truss simply stated that this expansion of NATO was not a threat to Russia and that the country was using aggressive methods to “relitigate the past,” such as supporting an armed rebellion in eastern Ukraine since 2014. Despite diplomacy talks taking place amongst Britain and Russia, there appears to be little progress made on this matter.
Meanwhile, in a joint conference with NATO Secretary General, Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned that the decision about Russia invading Ukraine “is probably the most dangerous moment…in what is the biggest scrutiny crisis that Europe has faced for decades.
Similarities between Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II made history countless times during her exceptional reign. One significant record was when she became the first British monarch to reach sixty-five years on the throne. Queen Victoria’s had been the longest-reigning monarch before that.
Both these female monarchs shared numerous similarities, from their successful love stories to their unconventional paths to the crown.
A love match
Victoria was only sixteen when she fell for her first cousin, Prince Albert of Germany, who was known to be determined and clever. From the age of thirteen, Elizabeth was infatuated with her cousin, Prince Philip of Greece, and Denmark.
Both Queens married successful foreign husbands who proved to be loyal supporters and dedicated fathers.
Victoria and Albert had nine children, five of whom were girls and four boys. Before Albert’s early death in 1861 at 42, paintings were portrayed of the Royal Family which showed the virtuous couple surrounded by their angelic children.
Elizabeth and Philip had a 73 years old marriage and have four children, eight grandchildren, and ten great-grandchildren.
Devoted to their job and the loss of their consorts
Queen Victoria’s reign of sixty-three years and seven months defined the British period of the Victorian era. Victoria was an active and present monarch, though her husband’s passing left her in a period of secluded mourning. Going forward, she only wore black which earned her the nickname, ‘the Widow of Windsor’.
Queen Elizabeth was committed to her reign of seventy years and 214 days, fulfilled her duties, and carried out hundreds of public engagements each year. She remained married to Prince Philip until the Duke passed in 2021, at the age of ninety-nine. They took their roles seriously.
Queen by chance
King Edward, Elizabeth’s uncle had abdicated therefore placing the crown on her father’s head and also her own. Victoria’s father, Prince Edward – Duke of Kent – was fourth in line to the throne after his elder brothers, but since none of them had any children, his daughter was left to inherit the throne.
Justice in their rulings
Many countries don’t have rulers that uphold the true values of justice but both Queens were known for being just. Most importantly, they did not allow religious persecutions. In 1858 Victoria announced in a royal court that people of the country were allowed to practice their religion and would not be discriminated against on the basis of it.
Similarly, under Queen Elizabeth, the UK has become a multicultural country unlike any other European country. Imam Qari Asim, chairman of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, said that the Queen had a “dignified relationship” with Muslims.
Evaded many assassination attempts
A grim similarity, but Victoria had seven known assassination attempts throughout her reign as the Queen. Some of the attempts were more ambitious than others but she never had any direct contact with the assass, except for Robert Pate who walked up to the Queen in 1850 and hit her head with his cane resulting in long term bruising.
Similarly, Elizabeth had five known assassination attempts, that she escaped by herself. Two of the attempts were made while she was sleeping in her own bed and she managed to stall the assassins long enough for help to arrive.
Their love for animals
Victoria was known for her love of animals especially horses and dogs and Elizabeth also followed the same path when it comes to adoring horses and dogs. They were both passionate about breeding horses and knew how to ride them.
Especially, Elizabeth who evaded an assassination attempt by riding her horse skillfully. Queen Elizabeth also left behind at least four of her beloved dogs out of which two were corgis.
The British Monarchy: a force for good or bad?
“To you, living in new surroundings, we send a message of true sympathy and at the same time we would like to thank the kind people who have welcomed you to their homes in the county,” a 14-year-old Princess Elizabeth, sat beside her younger sister Margaret, attempting to rally an American nation, from her own home in the English countryside of Windsor.
It was 1940, and Britain, engaged in war against the formidable Nazis, desperately needed allies. On the insistence of her Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, the future sovereign delicately conveyed her empathy to those with whom she shared little more than age. 70 years later, Queen Elizabeth II would address her own troubled nation as it entered another battle, this time against an invincible and evasive force. But for the ears of a disillusioned public, the sound of empathy would seem little more than a performative gesture, rehearsed and read out in a room adorned with treasures from distant lands.
At her passing, where tributes poured in from world leaders, honouring the unfaltering service of Britain’s longest reigning, a fresh wave of anti-monarchist criticism took over, calling for the demise of an institution whose imperialist legacy shunned wondrous townships, and resourceful fields into perpetual penury. But as Britain and the Commonwealth experience a new era, the question is whether there remains a place for this tradition. A controversial Twitter thread by Africa Archives shortly after the announcement of her death, suggests not.
The thread, about the Great Star of Africa, tells its readers this “largest clear-cut diamond” which “was mined in South Africa back in 1905” was “stolen” and renamed ‘Cullinan I’ after the mine’s chairman, Thomas Cullen by the British. Given to them, “as a symbol of friendship and peace, yet it was during colonialism”, it tells of theft. The allegation triggered replies disputing it and criticising its insensitivity.
Whilst its accuracy is not certain, historians believe the jewel was bought by the Transvaal government in 1907, during the British rule in South Africa, and given to the then-monarch, King Edward II.
But the wash of reproval the late monarch received at her death, is aptly analysed by Matthew Smith, a history professor at University College London:
“I think when people voice those views, they’re not thinking specifically about Queen Elizabeth. They’re thinking about the British monarchy as an institution and the relationship of the monarchy to systems of oppression […] And that’s a system that exists beyond the person of Queen Elizabeth.”Mathew Smith, UCL
Her moral character
She embodied morals that set her apart from the history to which she remained bound till her death. An example is seen when, at an event marking her Diamond Jubilee in 2012, she spoke of the “proud track record” of religious groups in “helping those in the greatest need”. She played her part in safeguarding religious freedom, stating at the same event that the role of “the established Church” was “not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in the country”. And she did, in practice.
Writing a few days after the news of her passing, social science researcher, Dr Rakib Ehsan recounts the many times she exemplified true leadership: “She was the first British monarch ever to enter a mosque when she visited the Islamic Centre in Scunthorpe.” And that act of thoughtfulness she extended further: “It was in the same year, on her first visit to a Hindu temple in Britain, that the Queen removed her shoes as a sign of respect.”
Her regard for religious tolerance was not unique to her. Queen Victoria, another long-reigning monarch, displayed similar concern when, following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the British Government passed the India Act, shifting administrative authority from the East India Company, to herself. The proclamation sought to open the doors to greater protections for Indians by declaring them: British citizens. It sought an end to racial and religious discrimination, so, “all shall alike enjoy the equal impartial protection of the Law”.
Although where it did protect those it regarded as subordinate, the monarchy, under the same Queen Victoria, had its own faults. Taking the example of the Great Irish Famine of 1847, when she forced the Turk Sultan Abdulmejid to lower his country’s aid donations beneath her own, it implies greed and ego on her part. In the same way, Queen Elizabeth II’s own record is not unmarred. Last year, The Guardian revealed that the monarch had used her consent procedure by vetting 67 laws, given to her by the Scottish government, which said it would leave the Commonwealth if it became an independent state. The revelations, criticised as anti-democratic, allowed her to be exempted from laws that could have affected her Balmoral estate. As the new King, King Charles III ascended the throne, he too garnered criticism, when it transpired that, through a ‘sovereign to sovereign’ inheritance act passed in 1993, he did not have to pay a 40% levy on the income passed down to him.
Monarchies vs Republics
But ridding an old establishment isn’t an elixir to the vice of exceptionalism, which marks the criticism against it. In the USA, where the Treaty of Paris ended the monarchy in 1783, data released by the government reported that more than 326, 000 Americans experienced homelessness on a single night in the 2021. A 2018 study looking at monarchies against republics in 137 countries found that property rights were better protected in the former. It also found that monarchies delivered better economic performance. Instead of “assuming that monarchies are backward”, the study’s lead, Mauro Guillen concluded, is to, “reduce the number of years that politicians sustain power” before they become “abusive”.
As more and more countries break away from the Commonwealth, and assume total government, projecting political despair on this old tradition, which still holds widespread support, takes away from the acts of humanity she displayed in her lifetime. For her critics, the monarchy is performative. But for her part, she played it well.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blames Prime Minister Modi For The Hate Crimes In India
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blames PM Modi for rise in hate crimes in India.
Rahul Gandhi, member of the Indian National Congress, lambasted Prime Minister Modi at a rally at the Ramlila Ground in the capital New Delhi. Speaking to a large crowd of his supporters before setting off on a long march across the country next week, opposition leader Gandhi accused Modi of pursuing big business at the expense of smaller industries, poor farmers and workers and for creating a 2-tier society – where the rich get richer and the poor are unable to escape poverty. He also raised concerns about increased hate crimes being driven by an atmosphere of fear and division created by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) policy of Hindu-Muslim polarisation, where the main objective seems to be to push a Hindu nationalist ideology.
Gandhi claimed the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and essential food items like wheat, have shot up 40-175 percent since Modi came to power 8 years ago. And rising food and energy prices have pushed inflation to an 8-year high. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, unemployment rose to nearly 8.5 percent, with the third largest economy in Asia suffering from several waves of covid outbreaks and nearly half a billion working age Indians worryingly no longer interested in working.
Narendra Modi has overseen a very definite shift to the right since his success in 2014 with the BJP which is strongly affiliated with the fascist-inspired Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In 2019 for instance, the passing of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Bill paved the way for legitimization of anti-Muslim sentiment and “explicitly and blatantly seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law” contrary to the original secular Indian constitution. The impact of Hindutva supremacist policies against left-leaning, socialist and pluralist supporters have begun to be felt in all sections of Indian society including education and universities, police, the media and the judiciary. Violent attacks and lynchings against all minorities including Christians have risen particularly in states ruled by the BJP. And BJP politicians openly engage in hate speech, being responsible for 297 out of 348 incidents since 2014, increasing by a huge 160% in just three and a half months.
These divisive and extreme ideas have even reached UK towns and cities. A recent Hindutva gathering was held in Leicester – an area with a large multi-ethnic population. Speakers attempted to stir up hatred against the Pakistani community by announcing a boycott of their restaurants. And the recent Indian cricket win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup at the end of August, also led to violence between the two sets of fans, with racist anti-Pakistani videos being shared on social media.
Despite Gandhi’s promise to “defeat the ideology of the BJP and the RSS”, Modi – almost Trump-like – still remains vastly popular. A recent poll showed 53% of those surveyed want him to remain PM in 2024 with just 9% supporting Gandhi, signalling either the nation’s approval of extremist and racist policies or its disapproval of the Congress party’s establishment agenda. Since losing heavily in 2014 to the BJP, Congress and in particular Gandhi has “demonstrated a total lack of connection with the public and has not a shred of credibility left” according to Baijayant Jay Panda, a national vice-president of the BJP. Congress will need to ensure that the 5-month long, end-to-end Unite India March through all 12 states, appeals to the masses’ desire for unity and an end to the division “on the basis of religion, caste and language that is being promoted by the ruling party”, Otherwise India could be heading for a distorted vision of its original secularist and pluralist dream where some Indian citizens are more equal than others, purely based on religious identity.
Tributes pour in for globally admired Queen Elizabeth II
World leaders paid tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II after the much loved monarch died aged 96
Always smiling, always working till the very end, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a constant symbol of continuity amidst an ever changing world. She will be sorely missed the world over.
Aged 96, her last moment seen by the public was at work, welcoming the new prime minister just days before her demise. “The example, the duty, the selflessness,” former Prime Minister John Major said about her qualities. And it wasn’t just British leaders who honoured her.
“Curious, thoughtful, funny and so much more.”Justin Trudeau
“She was one of my favourite people in the world, and I will miss her so,” Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid tribute.
Described as the world’s greatest public servant by former prime minister David Cameron, her 70-year reign was marked by dignity, dedication, immense grace and exemplary leadership.
“The world’s greatest public servant and indeed, the world’s most experienced diplomat.”David Cameron
The new monarch, King Charles III said his mother’s demise was a “moment of great sadness” and that her loss will be deeply felt the world over.
He said: “We mourn profoundly the passing of a cherished sovereign and a much-loved mother. I know her loss will be deeply felt throughout the country, the realms and the Commonwealth, and by countless people around the world.”
Despite her frailing health, she was emotionally and mentally strong as she attended events and continued working with her warm and comforting smile till the very end. Just days ago she met the new Prime Minister Liz Truss, looking frail but smiling broadly. She has been widely praised for her work ethic and resiliance throughout her 70-year reign. Aged 21, she pledged to serve the people of the Commonwealth.
“I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service”
She added: “God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.”
Admired the world over, tributes have flooded in for the longest-reigning British Monarch who celebrated her 70th Jubilee just months ago.
Prime Minister Liz Truss said The Queen was “the rock on which modern Britain was built”, and she “provided us with the stability and strength that we needed”.
His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Head of the worldwide Ahmadiyya Muslim Community said it was a truly great and tremendous loss and prayed for the family.
“Her Majesty served her people with immense dignity, grace and unwavering dedication throughout her long reign.”Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad
The Pope said he was deeply saddened by the news and offered his condolences.
“A life of unstinting service to the good of the Nation and the Commonwealth, her example of devotion to duty.”Pope Francis
Other leaders described her as “kind-hearted” and “wise” as they flocked to pay tribute.
“Elizabeth II rightfully enjoyed the love and respect of her subjects, as well as authority on the world stage.”Russian president vladimir putin
“A beacon of wisdom and principled leadership”King Abdullah II of Jordan
“Scotland loved, respected and admired her”First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon
“A Queen of hearts who marked her country and century forever”French President Emmanuel Macron
“Working until the very end on behalf of the people she loved. A life that was completely and utterly devoted to the service of others.”New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern
“A reign defined by grace, elegance and a tireless work ethic”.Barack Obama
“What a grand and beautiful lady she was – there was nobody like her!”Donald Trump
“I will never forget her warmth and kindness.”Indian PM Narendra Modi
“Extraordinary sense of duty… a remarkable source of reassurance to the British people.”Irish President Michael D Higgins
￼Islamophobia in America: New Dimensions of Hate
Islamophobia in America: New Dimensions of Hate
New studies are showing that American Muslims are more likely to hold Islamophobic sentiments about other Muslims than their other American citizens, likely due to popular media, which for at least two decades has consistently been unfair in their portrayal of Islam, Muslims and Arabs. Many scholars highlight that this is part of “the Islamophobia Industry”.
A recent study carried out by the Institute for Social Policy (ISPU) found that a quarter of American Muslims believe that other Muslims are prone to violence in comparison to only 9% of the wider population believing this. Results also revealed that one fifth of Muslims agree that Muslims are less civilised than other Americans, with only 5% of the public agreeing with the statement. Because it is known that America is not unfamiliar with having Islamophobic tendencies, it surprising to see statistics suggesting that it’s Muslim population are holding these negative views, and more likely to do so. Findings argue that the ‘steady drumbeat of bigoted ideas’ are responsible for these detrimental impacts on Muslim identity and self-image.
Another study conducted by the Pew Research Center also found that US Muslims believe others don’t always see Islam as part of mainstream US society. Pittsburgh elementary teacher Salima Khan* stated “the media had brainwashed me into thinking that, yes, I was a “different type” of Muslim” and comments like “you’re not like other Muslims because you’re not aggressive” or “how come you and your family aren’t terrorists?” would “never surprise” her, but leave her with a conflicted identity. As a result, she often “detached and agreed to the propaganda.” Similarly, high school senior Sarah Malik* said “despite wanting to be a “source of representation” it’s challenging to avoid the impact of assumptions on Muslims, especially when she faces remarks like “don’t get too close to her, she might blow up and say Allahu Akbar” from her peers. This shows that though media may have more of an impact on Americans Muslims and their identity, it doesn’t take away from the fact that other Americans aren’t still expressive about the negative ways they feel about Muslims.
A particularly vocal group about their dislike for Muslims is the far-right. Obvious during Trump’s administration, who proposed a Muslim ban and famously stated “I think Islam hates us” , the religious-right, particularly rallied off these messages and even used Islamophobic sentiment to promote support for the state of Israel. Slogans like “support Israel, end jihad” suggest to the public that because Israel faces a Muslim threat – that of the Palestinian state – supporting Israel will be essential to aide Americans in their fight against the threat of Islam. Many prominent figures within the right-wing community even go as far as calling Islam the “new Nazism” to emphasise the Muslims threat to both Israel and the West. Thus Islamophobia has become integral to the survival of American state security for many right-wing groups.
In short, despite that American Muslims seem to be more prone to holding negative sentiments about Islam, it seems this actually creates more of an issue with their self-image, and has still been contributed to by the way they have been treated, rather than viewed in American society as a whole, something that conducted studies may not be able to factor into their research.
Russia on alert as Liz Truss becomes British Prime Minister
New British prime minister Liz Truss doesn’t have the best history with Russia.
As a child playing board games, she hated losing. If there were any risk of her not winning she would quietly disappear, says her brother. Today she has won the highest seat in government and becomes the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
She paid tribute to Boris Johnson as she took over leadership of the government. “You stood up to Vladimir Putin… you were admired from Kyiv to Carlisle,” she claimed in her victory speech.
Her victory hasn’t impressed Russian politicians and media who have been scathing in their criticism of the former foreign secretary.
One politician, Leonid Slutsky said “the thoughtless sanctions policy of Downing Street” is to blame for the energy crisis in the UK and the new prime minister will probably have to tell Britons to “turn off the lights”. One newspaper commented that she made Boris Johnson “look like a real giant of thought”.
An Oxford graduate, she worked for years as an accountant before entering the world of politics. She took some defeats early in her political career. She became a councilor in Greenwich in the early 2000s and in 2010 became the MP for South West Norfolk.
Since then she has served as Education Minister, Environment Secretary, Secretary of the Treasury, Justice Secretary, and of course under Boris Johnson most recently served as International Trade Secretary, and then as Foreign Secretary.
As she becomes Prime Minister she has the Ukraine conflict to manage which she is very familiar with. But some are weary of her management of the situation as earlier this year Putin went as far as to say that he decided to put Russia’s nuclear deterrence forces on high alert following statements from Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Truss held a press conference with her Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov in Moscow earlier this year saying that no one is undermining Russia’s security and that Russia must remove its troops in Eastern Europe if it is serious about diplomacy.
Her comments came as Russia and Ukraine began military exercises and the UK committed an additional 1,000 troops in a “humanitarian role”. The Russian foreign minister, however, said UK representatives came “unprepared” for diplomatic talks and that “facts bounced off” her.
At home according to a YouGov poll, only 12% of Brits expect Truss to be a good or great Prime Minister. 24% believe that she will however be better than Boris. Many domestically will be looking at how she handles the energy crisis and soaring living costs. While the international community will be watching just how the new Prime Minister will handle the Ukraine conflict as the UK is a leading player on the world stage.
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