Category : Globalization

(Church Times) MPs hear horror stories as the UK prepares to host conference on freedom of religion

The plight of Christians, Muslims, and humanists around the world was raised in a Westminster Hall debate on Tuesday morning, in advance of an international conference on Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) next week.

The session was opened by the Prime Minister’s special envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief, Fiona Bruce MP.

“Millions of people today are being denied their FoRB,” Ms Bruce told the gathering of parliamentarians. “FoRB violations are getting worse in severity and scale. Right across the world people are losing their jobs, education, homes, livelihoods, families, freedom, access to justice, even life itself, simply on account of what they believe.”

The international Ministerial Conference on FoRB next week will gather more than 500 politicians, faith leaders, and experts to share best practice on protecting religious freedom and to inspire more action to be taken.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Religious Freedom / Persecution

(Economist) How to win Ukraine’s long war

On the face of it, a long war suits Russia. Both sides are using huge amounts of ammunition, but Russia has vastly more. The Russian economy is much larger than Ukraine’s and in far better shape. In pursuit of victory, Russia is willing to terrorise and demoralise the Ukrainians by committing war crimes, as it did by striking a shopping mall in Kremenchuk this week. If needs be, Mr Putin will impose grievous suffering on his own people.

However, the long war does not have to be fought on Mr Putin’s terms. Potentially, Ukraine has vast numbers of motivated fighters. It can be supplied by the West’s defence industry. In 2020, before sanctions, the economies of nato were more than ten times bigger than Russia’s.

Ukraine’s turnaround begins on the battlefield, by stopping and reversing the Russian advance. Mr Putin’s generals will continue to have more weapons, but the sophisticated nato systems now arriving have longer range and greater accuracy. By adopting tactics devised in the cold war, when nato too was outnumbered by the Red Army, Ukraine should be able to destroy Russian command posts and supply depots. Ukraine scored a success on June 30th, when it used nato weapons to drive Russian forces off Snake Island, a strategic prize in the Black Sea. It should aim to impose a “hurting stalemate”, in which it takes back similarly symbolically important territory, such as the city of Kherson, imposing a heavy price on Russia.

If Russia starts to lose ground on the battlefield, dissent and infighting may spread in the Kremlin.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT front page) A More Muscular NATO Emerges as West Confronts Russia and China

Faced with a newly aggressive Russia, NATO leaders on Wednesday outlined a muscular new vision that names Moscow as the military alliance’s primary adversary but also, for the first time, declares China to be a strategic “challenge.”

It was a fundamental shift for an alliance that was born in the Cold War but came to view a post-Soviet Russia as a potential ally, and did not focus on China at all.

But that was before Feb. 24, when Russian forces poured across the border into Ukraine, and Chinese leaders pointedly did not join in the global condemnation that followed.

“The deepening strategic partnership between the People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests,” NATO leaders said in a new mission statement issued during their summit in Madrid.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, History, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Gallup News) World Unhappier, More Stressed Out Than Ever

Emotionally, the second year of the pandemic was an even tougher year for the world than the first one, according to Gallup’s latest annual global update on the negative and positive experiences that people are having each day.

As 2021 served up a steady diet of uncertainty, the world became a slightly sadder, more worried and more stressed-out place than it was the year before — which helped push Gallup’s Negative Experience Index to yet another new high of 33 in 2021.

As it does every year, Gallup asked adults in 122 countries and areas in 2021 if they had five different negative experiences on the day before the survey — and compiled the results into an index. Higher scores on the Negative Experience Index indicate that more of a population is experiencing these emotions.

In 2021, four in 10 adults worldwide said they experienced a lot of worry (42%) or stress (41%), and slightly more than three in 10 experienced a lot of physical pain (31%). More than one in four experienced sadness (28%), and slightly fewer experienced anger (23%).

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Psychology

(Economist) How to fix the world’s energy emergency without wrecking the environment

Energy shocks can become political catastrophes. Perhaps a third of the rich world’s inflation of 8% is explained by soaring fuel and power costs. Households struggling to pay bills are angry, leading to policies aimed at insulating them and boosting fossil-fuel production, however dirty.

Mr Biden, who came to power promising a green revolution, plans to suspend petrol taxes and visit Saudi Arabia to ask it to pump more oil. Europe has emergency windfall levies, subsidies, price caps and more. In Germany, as air-conditioners whine, coal-fired power plants are being taken out of mothballs. Chinese and Indian state-run mining firms that the climate-conscious hoped were on a fast track to extinction are digging up record amounts of coal.

This improvised chaos is understandable but potentially disastrous, because it could stall the clean-energy transition. Public handouts and tax-breaks for fossil fuels will be hard to withdraw. Dirty new power plants and oil- and gasfields with 30- to 40-year lifespans would give their owners more reason to resist fossil-fuel phase-outs. That is why, even as they firefight, governments must focus on tackling the fundamental problems confronting the energy industry.

One priority is finding a way to ramp up fossil-fuel projects, especially relatively clean natural gas, that have an artificially truncated lifespan of 15-20 years so as to align them with the goal of dramatically cutting emissions by 2050.

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Posted in Corporations/Corporate Life, Ecology, Energy, Natural Resources, Globalization, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(W Post) U.S. intelligence document shows Russian naval blockade of Ukraine

Newly declassified U.S. intelligence shows that a Russian naval blockade has halted maritime trade at Ukrainian ports, in what world leaders call a deliberate attack on the global food supply chain that has raised fears of political instability and shortages unless grain and other essential agricultural products are allowed to flow freely from Ukraine.

Russia’s navy now effectively controls all traffic in the northern third of the Black Sea, making it unsafe for commercial shipping, according to a U.S. government document obtained by The Washington Post.

The document, based on recently declassified intelligence, analyzed the density of Russian naval activity along portions of Ukraine’s southern coast and the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia occupied and annexed in 2014. The blockade that ensued following Russia’s invasion in February halted civil maritime traffic, “entrapping Ukrainian agricultural exports and jeopardizing global food supplies,” according to a U.S. official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the intelligence.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) A world grain shortage puts tens of millions at risk

At the beginning of 2022 the world-spanning system which makes this possible was already in a ropey state. The number of people with access to food so poor that their lives or livelihoods were at immediate risk had risen from 108m to 193m over the past five years, according to the un’s World Food Programme (wfp). A lot of that near-doubling of “acute food insecurity” was due to the covid-19 pandemic, which reduced incomes and disrupted both farm work and supply chains; a good bit more was down to rising prices of energy and shipping as the effects of the pandemic wore off. Things were made worse by swine flu in China and a series of bad harvests in exporting countries, some of which were due to La Niña conditions that began in the middle of 2020. La Niña is a recurrent pattern of currents and wind patterns in and over the equatorial Pacific which has worldwide effects, just as its also-troublesome counterpart El Niño does.

Global grain stocks were, admittedly, quite high. But they were mostly in the hands of well-off importing nations, not those of exporters keen to sell them or poor importers likely to need them. “If we do not address the situation immediately,” David Beasley, who runs the wfp, told the Munich Security Conference in February, “over the next nine months we will see famine, we will see destabilisation of nations and we will see mass migration.”

Just six days after he spoke those words Russia rammed a rifle barrel into the already creaking machinery. In 2021 Russia and Ukraine were the world’s first and fifth biggest exporters of wheat, shipping 39m tonnes and 17m tonnes respectively—28% of the world market. They also grow a lot of grain used to feed animals, such as maize and barley, and are the number one (Ukraine) and number two (Russia) producers of sunflower seeds, which means they have 11.5% of the vegetable-oil market. All told, they provide almost an eighth of the calories traded worldwide.

Ukrainian food exports were promptly throttled by the war; Russian ones were dented by the indirect effects of sanctions. Grain prices shot up. Having fallen back a little as the shock wore off, they are now on the rise again. On May 16th, the first day of trading after India imposed its restrictions, wheat prices in Chicago, the global benchmark, rose by 6%; on May 18th they were 39% higher than they were when Russia launched its invasion.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization

(FT Big Read) Is the global economy heading for recession?

If Leo Tolstoy were writing about today’s business conditions, he might have noted that happy economies are all alike but every unhappy economy is unhappy in its own way.

China’s growth prospects have been hammered by strict Covid-19 lockdowns in a bid to quell its Omicron outbreak; the US Federal Reserve risks turning an American boom into bust; Europe’s households are enduring a cost of living crisis; and the situation is worse in many poorer emerging markets, where food crises and even famines beckon.

These four different but imposing problems each stalk the global economy as it recovers from the pandemic and it is not surprising the mood is darkening.

According to Robin Brooks, chief economist of the Institute of International Finance, the confluence of these shocks suggests the world economy is already in trouble. “We’re in another global recession scare now, except this time we think it’s for real,” he says.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization

(FT) The truckers who keep our world moving

Archie Norman, chair of Marks and Spencer, said this week: “Some of the descriptors, particularly of animal products, have to be written in Latin and in a certain typeface.” Every sandwich containing butter, he said, requires an EU vet certificate, which means employing 13 vets and budgeting for 30 per cent more driver time.

Six-mile queues at Dover and 18-mile lines at Calais this year were caused by post-Brexit checks, worsened by small numbers of lorries with the wrong paperwork.

We can expect more delays in September, when a new security system may require drivers to leave their vehicles for facial or body scans, and more again next year when trucks will be inspected at the new inland border at Sevington, near Ashford, Kent.

The metaphor of supply “chains” makes the process sound orderly and smooth, but from the first this journey along them was more like an adventure through a wild ecosystem in which we were a prey, dashing between safe habitats such as lorry parks and filling stations, hunted by authorities, legislation and customs rules that sought to charge, delay or stop us.

It was not that the trucks had any deficiency to bother the police or the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which regulates haulage in Britain. It was that many drivers loathe and avoid the DVSA, and checkpoints of all kinds in all countries. 

“They’re not on your side. They’re out to get you. It’s like they want to punish you for doing your job,” Ian said. “They want to fine you and take your money.”

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Travel

(Economist Cover story) The coming food catastrophe

Mr Putin must not use food as a weapon. Shortages are not the inevitable outcome of war. World leaders should see hunger as a global problem urgently requiring a global solution.

Russia and Ukraine supply 28% of globally traded wheat, 29% of the barley, 15% of the maize and 75% of the sunflower oil. Russia and Ukraine contribute about half the cereals imported by Lebanon and Tunisia; for Libya and Egypt the figure is two-thirds. Ukraine’s food exports provide the calories to feed 400m people. The war is disrupting these supplies because Ukraine has mined its waters to deter an assault, and Russia is blockading the port of Odessa.

Even before the invasion the World Food Programme had warned that 2022 would be a terrible year. China, the largest wheat producer, has said that, after rains delayed planting last year, this crop may be its worst-ever. Now, in addition to the extreme temperatures in India, the world’s second-largest producer, a lack of rain threatens to sap yields in other breadbaskets, from America’s wheat belt to the Beauce region of France. The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by its worst drought in four decades. Welcome to the era of climate change.

All this will have a grievous effect on the poor. Households in emerging economies spend 25% of their budgets on food—and in sub-Saharan Africa as much as 40%. In Egypt bread provides 30% of all calories. In many importing countries, governments cannot afford subsidies to increase the help to the poor, especially if they also import energy—another market in turmoil.

The crisis threatens to get worse.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

A [London] Times article on the new Christian app “glorify”

Both Beccle and Costa understand, nevertheless, that while A-list investors are incredibly helpful, they remain a means to an end. It is the millions of ordinary people looking for meaning and connection that remain their focus. “Everyone’s looking for connection. But a lot of people are getting that connection from the wrong places,” says Beccle. “Because you can jump on your phone and hop on TikTok or Instagram and suddenly you’ve got that superficial connection you think you need, only not to have it as soon as you put your phone away. And so you feel like you have to pick it back up again.”

Both men say they are surprised by the number of people who do not identify as Christian, but who nevertheless find themselves using the app every day. “Increasingly, people are opening themselves up to exploring this side of themselves,” says Costa. He and Beccle hint that the long-term plans for Glorify are grander and more ambitious than simply being a place where users can have some scripture read to them or send prayers to their friends. “The people who have invested in us saw a really big vision. Something gigantic. And they were willing to back that,” says Costa. “We’re very aware of the scale of what we can do. And this is the exciting bit. There’s a crisis of faith in many countries, and it’s spreading. We are reacting to that crisis and breaking down the barriers to provide more access points for people to be able to connect with God.”

Perhaps it will happen. After all, if you can create a piece of technology that manages to unite the Kardashians and Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in their praise, then who knows what else you can do? Beccle seems excited. Costa seems amazed to be here at all. It feels, he says, like “an answer to prayer”.

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Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Globalization, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(Church Times) Poor nations must have access to Covid vaccine, African faith leaders argue

Prominent faith leaders in Africa, including Anglican and Roman Catholic archbishops, have implored the world’s governments to support a People’s Vaccine movement, to ensure that the world’s most vulnerable people have protection against the Covid-19 virus.

On the eve of the global Covid-19 summit of world leaders convened by President Biden, 45 faith leaders issued a joint People Vaccine Alliance statement, calling for an “immediate action to address the massive inequities in the global pandemic response”.

The statement, issued on Thursday, says: “We are one global family, where our problems are tightly interconnected. However, we know the greatest impediment to people getting their vaccinations, tests, and treatment is inequity.

“World leaders must renew their approach to tackling the response to the global pandemic by treating Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatment — not as commodities but as public goods, which all people have the right to access. We encourage world leaders to unite and stand in solidarity with people from low-income countries by supporting a People’s Vaccine.”

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Posted in - Anglican: Latest News, Africa, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Roman Catholic

(Economist) The war in Ukraine is spurring transatlantic co-operation in technology

A command centre to scan the digital realm for global disinformation campaigns. Standardised plugs for electric cars that will work both in America and in the European Union (eu) and so lower the cost of building the infrastructure needed to decarbonise. A transatlantic team to scout for attempts by China and others to manipulate global technical standards in their favour. These sorts of initiatives sound like common sense, but they are difficult in a world where even allies have competing regulators, vying for technological dominion. Happily, a transatlantic diplomatic undertaking that most people have never heard of is trying to change all that.

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The group in question, called the “Trade and Technology Council” (ttc), will convene in Saclay, a suburb of Paris, on May 15th and 16th. A constellation of grand officials from either side of the Atlantic—including America’s secretary of state, commerce secretary and top trade negotiator, and the eu’s commissioners for trade and competition—will be meeting for the second time. Whereas their first meeting in September in Pittsburgh was mainly meant for participants to get to know each other, the gathering in France will assess progress on their work so far and set goals for the next two years.

It is a momentous task. The ttc is the West’s response to efforts by China and others (notably Russia after its invasion of Ukraine) to build an autocratic digital world and bring the physical supply-chains that underpin it under their control. “The big question is whether democratic governments can develop a meaningful alternative,” explains Marietje Schaake of the Cyber Policy Centre at Stanford University. If America and the eu resolve their differences in tech, other countries are bound to follow their lead: the pair account for 55% of the global market for information technology, whose value is expected to reach a staggering $4.4trn this year, according to Gartner, a consultancy.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(Economist) Why weapons crucial to the war in Ukraine are in short supply

Of all the assistance America has provided to Ukraine, the gift of 5,500 or so Javelins has been perhaps the most welcome. Armed with these light anti-tank missiles, Ukrainian forces managed to stall, and eventually reverse, the Russian advance on their capital, Kyiv. Little wonder, then, that the Javelin has acquired exalted status among Ukrainians, celebrated in music and paintings (an image of the Virgin Mary holding a Javelin has gone viral).

The Javelin features a fearsome combination of power and precision. It is a “fire-and-forget” weapon, allowing soldiers to take cover quickly after firing. It can strike targets more than 3km away and hit the top of the tank—its most vulnerable part.

In all, America and its allies have provided more than 60,000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. These include not just the Javelin but also the Panzerfaust from Germany and Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons (NLAWs) from Britain and Sweden. All have helped (along with other types of weapons). More than 3,000 Russian tanks and other armoured vehicles in Ukraine have been destroyed, damaged, abandoned or captured, according to Oryx, an open-source intelligence blog. With Russian forces narrowing their focus on Donbas, however, still more weapons are needed. More than 10,000 Russian armoured vehicles remain in operation (with thousands more in storage), according to Mark Cancian of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. President Joe Biden has asked Congress for a whopping $20bn more in military aid. But assistance in the form of Javelins and other anti-tank systems could soon dry up.

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Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Science & Technology, Ukraine

(WSJ) Biden Officials Divided Over Easing China Tariffs to Slow Inflation

The Biden administration is split on whether to pare back tariffs on imports from China in an effort to cut consumer costs and reduce inflation, as the White House gives renewed consideration to a step that has divided officials.

On one side of the debate within the administration are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, who favor easing the tariffs on some of the roughly $360 billion annually of Chinese imports put in place under the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

On the other are Trade Representative Katherine Tai and others who are reluctant to relinquish U.S. leverage over China in a continuing effort to reshape Chinese economic behavior, according to the people.

President Biden has been undecided on the question but has recently revisited the issue as the White House looks to reduce the highest inflation in four decades, according to one of the people. The discussions come as the administration on Tuesday started a legally required review of the Trump-era duties. The U.S. Trade Representative is required to study the impact on tariffs first imposed in 2018 on the economy after four years.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., China, Economy, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General

(Reuters) In pictures: Easter 2022 celebrations around the world

There are 25 in all.

Posted in Easter, Globalization, Holy Week, Photos/Photography

Easter Alleluias

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Easter, Globalization

(Guardian) In pictures: Good Friday around the world

Look through them all.

Posted in Globalization, Holy Week, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Photos/Photography

(Church Times) Africans starve while the world watches Ukraine

Humanitarian organisations have warned that the huge response to the war in Ukraine is overshadowing other crises around the world that are in need of urgent attention.

Charities and NGOs have begun urging governments and individuals not to forget the millions who are suffering in other countries.

The United Nations has warned that the situation in Somalia, where 4.5 million people are at risk of starvation owing to the worst drought in a decade, is deteriorating rapidly. The focus of the international community on Ukraine was sucking all the oxygen out of the room, Adam Abdelmoula, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, said last week.

The UN has said that $1.46 billion (£1.1 billion) is required to meet the immediate needs of Somalis. Only three per cent of that has been secured.

“The outlook was already grim prior to the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis,” Mr Abdelmoula said. “We have been overshadowed by the crisis in Tigray, Yemen, Afghanistan — and now Ukraine seems to suck all the oxygen that is in the room. . .

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Poverty, Ukraine

(RNS) World Council of Churches faces calls to expel Russian Orthodox Church

The World Council of Churches is under pressure to oust the Russian Orthodox Church from its ranks, with detractors arguing the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill, invalidated its membership by backing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and involving the church in the global political machinations of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The debate garnered a response on Monday (April 11) from the Rev. Ioan Sauca, acting general secretary of the WCC, which claims 352 member churches representing roughly 580 million Christians around the world.

Sauca, a priest in the Romanian Orthodox Church who has visited Ukrainian refugees and publicly criticized Kirill’s response to the invasion, pushed back on the suggestion of expelling the ROC, arguing doing so would deviate from the WCC’s historic mission to enhance ecumenical dialogue.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Orthodox Church, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) Fearmongering works. Fans of the truth should fear it

Hungary’s way of life is under attack, if you believe the ruling party. A Jewish billionaire plots to flood the country with a million Muslims. Perverts want to teach its children sexual deviance. The opposition are spoiling for war with Russia. The only way to stay safe is to back Viktor Orban, the prime minister. On April 3rd his party, Fidesz, won roughly half the vote and, thanks to gerrymandering, two-thirds of seats in parliament. Mr Orban called it a triumph for “our brand of Christian democratic, conservative, patriotic politics”. It was actually a victory for the paranoid style.

The threats the regime describes are largely imaginary. Hungarians are free to follow their traditions if they choose. George Soros has no power over their borders. There is no global conspiracy to corrupt Hungarian children. And the fact that the opposition do not share Mr Orban’s admiration for Vladimir Putin does not mean they are warmongers. No matter. Since Mr Orban took office in 2010 he has won control of nearly every significant media outlet. The opposition leader, Peter Marki-Zay, had only five minutes on public television during the campaign—barely enough to introduce himself, let alone dam a river of lies.

Mr Orban’s victory entrenches a corrupt and semi-authoritarian regime in the heart of the European Union, the world’s premier club of liberal democracies.

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Posted in Anthropology, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Psychology

(WSJ) A Quarter of Africans Face Food-Security Crisis Partly Due to Ukraine War, Red Cross Says

A quarter of Africa’s population is facing a food-security crisis driven by severe drought, raging wars and a rise in world food prices caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned Tuesday.

Some 346 million people, from Mauritania in the west to the Horn of Africa in the east, are affected by food insecurity, Dominik Stillhart, the agency’s global operations director, told reporters in Nairobi.

“What we don’t want to see is the response that comes too late, and that is why it is so important to draw attention to the situation now,” Mr. Stillhart said.

Russia and Ukraine were major grain suppliers before the war, and the conflict is causing pain across the developing world, spurring price shocks, constraining imports of basic commodities and causing food shortages, with poorer nations in Africa especially affected.

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Posted in Africa, Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty, Russia, Ukraine

(NYT) Bristling Against the West, China Rallies Domestic Sympathy for Russia

While Russian troops have battered Ukraine, officials in China have been meeting behind closed doors to study a Communist Party-produced documentary that extols President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia as a hero.

The humiliating collapse of the Soviet Union, the video says, was the result of efforts by the United States to destroy its legitimacy. With swelling music and sunny scenes of present-day Moscow, the documentary praises Mr. Putin for restoring Stalin’s standing as a great wartime leader and for renewing patriotic pride in Russia’s past.

To the world, China casts itself as a principled onlooker of the war in Ukraine, not picking sides, simply seeking peace. At home, though, the Chinese Communist Party is pushing a campaign that paints Russia as a long-suffering victim rather than an aggressor and defends China’s strong ties with Moscow as vital.

Chinese universities have organized classes to give students a “correct understanding” of the war, often highlighting Russia’s grievances with the West. Party newspapers have run series of commentaries blaming the United States for the conflict.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(UN) World is seeing the greatest number of conflicts since the end of WWII, U.N. says

Two billion people, or a quarter of the world’s population, now lives in conflict-affected areas, according to the United Nations.

An estimated 84 million people were “forcibly displaced because of conflict, violence and human rights violations,” and an estimated 274 million people will need humanitarian assistance due to conflict, the U.N.’s Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday. In remarks to the U.N.’s Peacebuilding Commission, Guterres said the world is experiencing the highest number of violent conflicts since 1945, as World War II drew to a close.

Guterres said the world is grappling with the most conflict since 1945, and proposed a plans to bring stability to places such as Yemen, Myanmar, Syria, Sudan and Ukraine.

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Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Violence

(Economist) A half-a-trillion-dollar bet on revolutionising white-collar work

Two decades ago India’s information-technology (IT) firms were the stars of the rising country’s corporate firmament. The industry’s three giants, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys and Wipro, became household names at home and familiar to chief executives of big businesses abroad, who had outsourced their companies’ countermeasures against the feared “millennium bug”, expected to wreak havoc on computers as the date changed from 1999 to 2000, to Indian software engineers. By the mid-2000s the Indian IT trio’s revenues were growing by around 40% a year, as Western CEOs realised that Indian programmers could do as good a job as domestic ones or better, at a fraction of the price. Then, following the global financial crisis of 2007-09, revenue growth slowed to single digits. For years afterwards the stars seemed to be losing some of their shine.

Now they are back in the ascendant. Having declined as a share of GDP between 2017 and 2019, exports of Indian software services ticked up again as the world’s companies turned to them for help amid the disruption to operations and IT systems wrought by the pandemic. In the last financial year they reached an all-time high of $150bn, or 5.6% of Indian GDP (see chart 1). NASSCOM, a trade body, expects the industry’s overall revenues to grow from $227bn last year to $350bn by 2026.

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Posted in Globalization, India, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Science & Technology

(Economist) The post-post-cold-war world–The war in Ukraine is going to change geopolitics profoundly

Mr Biden has been keen on arms control since he first ran for the Senate, the same year that Nixon went to China. Last year he extended the New start treaty, which limits American and Russian deployments of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 each. He has also tried to entice China into arms-control talks. And he has argued that America should shift to a doctrine declaring that the “sole purpose” of nuclear weapons is to deter nuclear attack.

Such a change now looks unlikely. China is fast building up its nuclear warheads. The Pentagon reckons a total in the “low-200s” in 2020 might reach 1,000 or more by 2030. America’s allies have lobbied hard for America to preserve “extended deterrence”, which leaves open resorting to nuclear weapons against superior conventional forces. Russia’s threats supply a powerful new argument. Mr Abe says Japan should think of hosting American nuclear weapons, as Germany does. This would be a big shift from Japan’s long-standing “three non-nuclear principles”: not making nukes, not possessing nukes, and not allowing nukes to be stationed in the country.

Like much of the new geopolitics, the effect on nuclear strategy around the world will depend to some extent on what transpires in Ukraine. “If Putin’s threat is seen to be successful, it could spur further proliferation,” says James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think-tank. “If the threat ends up being seen as bluster because nuclear weapons are not usable, then it might end up actually reducing proliferation pressures.”

But some worries apply however the war ends. A wounded but victorious Russia may feel emboldened to further threaten nato; a Russia bogged down by a Ukrainian insurgency may want to lash out at those equipping Ukrainian fighters; a Russia which tries to topple its leader will be unstable. The early years of the cold war, notes Thomas Wright of Brookings, were filled with danger—from the Soviet Union’s blockade of West Berlin in 1948-49 to the Cuban missile crisis of 1962—before detente eventually brought greater predictability. As Mr Wright points out, “We are at the beginning of a new era, and beginnings can be dangerous.”

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

(Telegraph) Ambrose Evans-Pritchard–Putin’s energy shock is broadening into a world food crisis, so brace for rationing

Record food commodity prices are an ordeal by fire for some 45 poorer countries that rely heavily on food imports: the Maghreb, the non-oil Middle East, swaths of Africa, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan. The World Food Programme warned of “catastrophic” scarcity for several hundred million people last November. The picture is worse today.

“Everything is going up vertically. The whole production chain for food is under pressure from every side,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, the ex-head of agro-markets at the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“I have never seen anything like it in 30 years and I fear that prices are going to go much higher in the 2022-2023 season. The situation is just awful and at some point people are going to realise what may be coming. We’re all going to have to tighten our belts, and the mood could get very nasty even in OECD countries like Britain,” he said.

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Posted in Dieting/Food/Nutrition, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Poverty, Russia, Ukraine

(Economist) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

“There will be no escalation in the coming week either, or in the week after that, or in the coming month,” declared Vladimir Chizhov, Russia’s envoy to the European Union, on February 16th. “Wars in Europe rarely start on a Wednesday.” And indeed it was early on Thursday, February 24th, as dawn broke over Ukraine, that Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, took to television to declare war on Ukraine in the form of a “special military operation” to “denazify” the country.

Within minutes explosions were heard near Kyiv’s main airport, as well as in many other cities. Video footage taken in Ukraine showed cruise missiles slicing through the air and slamming into buildings. Mr Putin had launched what is sure to be Europe’s most intense war in a generation—possibly its largest since the second world war. It will shake his regime to its foundations, debilitate Russia’s economy and fracture Russian society. It will shatter existing assumptions about European security. It could well send shock waves through the global economy.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., England / UK, Europe, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Ukraine

Pray for Ukraine and Peace in the World

Posted in Globalization, Military / Armed Forces, Russia, Spirituality/Prayer, Ukraine

(NYT front page) With Indoor Ski Resorts and Curling Schools, China Lifts Xi’s Sports Dream

In the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, which has sweltering temperatures for much of the year, children are ditching their flip flops for skis and hitting the indoor slopes.

Out west, high up on the Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai Province has become an unlikely center for curling, the traditional Scottish sport known as “ice kettle” in Chinese.

Over in the northeastern province of Liaoning, a group of retired men gather every day in the winter to strap on helmets and hockey pads and face off on an outdoor ice rink.

Such scenes, once rare, are growing more common as the ruling Communist Party charges ahead with an ambitious campaign to transform China — large parts of which have never seen a single flake of natural snow — into a global winter sporting power.

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Globalization, Politics in General, Sports