About: the world this week, 11th July to 17th July 2021 – a truly ‘incredible’ week. Read on to find out how ‘incredible’!


The Netherlands

Last week I wrote about the assassination attempt on prominent Dutch Crime Reporter-Journalist, and TV Presenter, Peter R de Vries, 64, who was shot, minutes after leaving a TV studio, in a Central Amsterdam Street. Five shots were fired at close range and he was hit in the head. Over the past week, he was struggling for his life in Hospital and this week the fight came to an end – he died due to injuries of the shooting.

Since 2019, Peter de Vries was on the hit list of the Netherlands’ most wanted criminal. Police now need to hunt down the killers and make the most wanted, not wanted any longer.

His family said that Peter lived by his conviction, ‘On bended knee is no way to be free’.

Truth-Unravelers are always on the cross-hairs of those wanting to stay hidden forever. And it’s a dangerous life they live.

America Quits Af’gone’istan

United States (US) President Joe Biden has decided that 31st August 2021 will be the end date for the nearly 20 years war in Afghanistan, days earlier than his original 11th September deadline. The US put boots on the ground after the 9/11 attacks in the US, to end the rule of the deadly Taliban and take down the terrorist Al-Qaeda Organization.

Later, the US along with the North Atlantic Treat Organization (NATO) Allies facilitated setting-up an Afghan Government leading to adopting of a new Constitution, Presidential, and Parliamentary Elections – happening in Afghanistan after at least 30 years. But America’s longest war has claimed the lives of more than 2300 US troops and about 35000 Afghan civilians.

President Biden said, ‘The US cannot sacrifice any more American lives in an un-winnable war. We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build. And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country’. I couldn’t agree more. Fighting another Country’s dirty war has never been easy. You set your own targets and move on. What, with Osama Bin Laden finished-off (in Pakistan) and Al-Qaeda ‘reasonably contained’ long ago – that’s victory enough to celebrate.

The US definitely did its best. Together, with the NATO Allies, the US had trained and equipped near about 300,000 military personnel-of the Afghan National Security Force and hundreds of thousands of Afghan National Defense and Security Forces over the last two decades. It ’s now over to them to engage in battle with the Taliban and force an outcome on the seemingly endless, fruitless war.

However, with the official Afghan Security Forces failing to quickly fill the vacuum created by the US Troops withdrawals, the Taliban got sucked-in and began capturing vast swathes of territory. And enforcing its archaic rules and hard-line Islamic Laws. Looks like Afghanistan is going back to where it was twenty years ago.

India has temporarily pulled out its staff from its Consulate in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in the wake of intense fighting near the city.

In other heartbreaking news, Reuters photo-journalist Danish Siddiqui was killed on Friday, caught in a crossfire, while covering a clash between Afghan Security Forces and the Taliban near a border crossing with Pakistan.

Siddiqui was part of the Reuters photography team to win the 2018 Pulitzer Prize of Feature Photography for documenting the Rohingya Refugee Crisis. It was a series described by the judges as ‘shocking photographs that exposed the world to the violence Rohingya refugees faced in fleeing Myanmar’. RIP Danish Siddiqui.

It may be a long struggle, but I wish the Afghans are able to grow the muscle to fight-off the Taliban and gain the confidence to build themselves a strong, developed country.


Cuba was discovered by Christoper Columbus in October 1492: he found himself on the Island while searching for ‘that famous route’ to India. Cuba then came under Spanish rule and served as a staging ground for the exploration of the nearby North American mainland. In 1898, the United States having grown in to a powerful nation, defeated Spain, which gave up all claims to Cuba, ceding the Island to the US. Thereafter it was ruled by US popped-up Governments.

In a fiery revolution in 1959, Fidel Castro led a 9000 strong guerrilla army into the Cuban capital of Havana and seized power, nationalising all American businesses in Cuba.

In 1961 Castro proclaimed Cuba a Communist State allying with the then USSR, following the disastrous, abortive US sponsored invasion by Cuban Exiles, in the Bay of Pigs Incident. The US went on to break off all diplomatic ties with Cuba.

There was also the much-talked about Cuban Missile Crisis, when Castro agreed to allow USSR to deploy Nuclear Missiles on the island (obviously targeting the US) but was subsequently resolved, with the USSR removing the missiles in exchange for the US secretly withdrawing its nuclear missiles in Turkey and agreeing not to invade Cuba. That is touted as one of President John F Kennedy’s (JFK) famous acts of adroit leadership.

Ever since, Cubans have been living under a communist government.

Nearly one million people emigrated to the US, leaving the island and its troubles behind. Those who have stayed have dealt with oppression and economic instability, driven in part by US sanctions.

In 2016, President Obama became the first sitting US President to visit Cuba in 88 years. And called on Congress to lift the embargo put in place by JFK. He began gradually dismantling years of sanctions. And eased travel restrictions for Americans, bringing economic opportunity to the island. But in 2017, President Donald Trump stepped-in and undid the changes.

The pandemic’s impact on tourism has added pressure to the already fragile economy. And the country’s been seeing food and medicine shortages as well as rising inflation, which could reach about 500% this year.

Last weekend and earlier this week, thousands of Cubans took to the streets across the island nation, in frustration, to protest chronic shortages of basic goods; curbs on civil liberties; and the government’s handling of a worsening coronavirus outbreak, marking the most significant unrest in decades. They also called for an end to the communist government. At least one person died during a clash between protesters and police. And over a hundred others have been arrested or reported missing.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel blamed the US Sanctions for the abysmal economic conditions in the country.

Earlier this week, President Biden said he stands with the Cuban protesters. But many want him to do more. We need to watch this space.

Space Edge

We have coolly travelled hundreds of kilometres(km) horizontally on Earth so often that a distance of 80 to 100km is ‘no big deal’. Many do it every day, on work or other kinds of travel, which should take a couple of hours to cover that kind of distance on land. But then, look up straight into the sky and say ‘Space’. They say a vertical distance of 80 km or more is the beginning of the edge of Space- a boundary we see all the time but cannot draw a line to.

It’s been difficult to pin the edge of Space at a particular altitude. In the 1900’s Hungarian Physicist Theodore Von Karman determined the boundary to be around 80 km above sea level in what is called the Karman Line. Today the Karman line is set at an imaginary boundary roughly 100 km above sea level.

To get a better perspective, ‘using the space between your ears’, the International Space Station orbits around the Earth at a height of about 400 km above the Earth’s surface. And that is well and truly in Space.

How about testing that boundary, going to the edge of Space to see the voluptuous curves of the Earth?

No better person to do that than UK Billionaire, Entrepreneur, Sir Richard Branson, 70, founder of the Virgin Group of Companies, who did just that on 11th July 2021. Blasting off from the New Mexico Desert in the United States, he flew high above New Mexico in a vehicle named ‘Unity’ that his company, Virgin Galactic, has been developing for the last seventeen years.

Branson was accompanied by Unity’s two pilots, Dave Mackay and Michael Masucci, and three Galactic employees – Beth Moses, Colin Bennett and Sirisha Bandla.

Sirisha Bandla, an Aeronautical Engineer, and a woman of Indian origin, became an overnight sensation in the Indian Media, and some called her the second Indian woman to fly in to Space – after NASA’s Astronaut Kalpana Chawla (who died when the Columbia Space Shuttle crashed during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere in 2003).

The flight lasted just more than an hour and included roughly four minutes of weightlessness. Branson and the crew returned safely to hug Earth again, after about an hour after lifting-off.

Unity is a sub-orbital vehicle, which means it cannot achieve the velocity and altitude necessary to keep it up in Space to circle Planet Earth. It is designed to give its passengers stunning views at the top of its climb and allow them a few minutes to experience weightlessness.

Unity is first carried, by a much bigger rocket-powered aeroplane, to an altitude of about 15 km from where it is released. A rocket motor of Unity then ignites to blast the vehicle skyward. The maximum height achievable by Unity is about 90km. Passengers are allowed to unbuckle and float to a window for the sights.

Unity folds its tail-booms on descent to stabilise its fall before then gliding home.

Sunday’s flight is the first step in Virgin Galactic’s hopes to begin commercial spaceflights with private customers next year with a reported cost of about USD 250,000 per person for a journey to space. The company has already got the necessary approvals to fly passengers on future commercial flights to sub-orbital space.

Meanwhile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is waiting in the wings to do a similar stunt…A to Z and beyond? I’m sure the Google Brothers, the Facebook Founder, the Microsoft Founder…and others Founder are looking skywards to cross new boundaries and measure their own curves.

Football and Tennis

The finals of the Euro 2020 Football Tournament was held in England’s Wembley Stadium between Roberto Mancini’s Italy and Gareth Southgate’s England, both coming back from years of being bruised and booted out of winning an International Tournament – 55 years ago for England and 15 years ago for Italy.

England took the lead with a goal in the opening two minutes but Italy poked in an equaliser in the second half. The game played on to a goal-less extra-time period and as a consequence, into the murderous penalty shootouts. In the end, Italy beat England 3-2 to take the Euro 2020 Crown to Rome, and the hero of the game turned out to be Italian goal-keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who made two great saves. Once again it was a bleeding heartbreak for England, failing at the penalty shootouts.

Thereafter English fans went berserk unleashing hooliganism of the worst kind inside and around Wembley Stadium, London, followed by racial abuse of the players who failed in their penalty shots. England has blackened its reputation forever. Unacceptable behaviour. You win some and lose some – you win more in the Game by showing grace in defeat.

Argentina’s Football superstar Lionel Messi has often been pilloried for failing to be part of a Tournament-Winning Argentinian Team despite earning innumerable wins for the Football Clubs he played for. That finally came to and end with Argentina winning their first major title in 28 years last Saturday with Argentina beating Brazil 1-0 win to win the Copa America Cup. Messi picked up his first ever title in a blue-and-white shirt after more than a decade of club and individual honours. He also finished as the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with four goals and was elected joint best player along with Brazil’s Neymar.

In the Wimbledon Ladies Finals, Australian Ashleigh Barty beat Czech Republic’s Karolina Pliskova in a gruelling three-set match, 6-3, 6-7(4), 6-3 lasting near about two hours. The women’s finals has never gone so ‘incredibly’ deep since 2012. Long hailed as the player with the perfect game for grass, Barty held her ‘incredible’ nerve to take home the Trophy.

This is Barty’s maiden Wimbledon Title and fifty years since Evonne Goolagong became the first indigenous Australian to win the Wimbledon Title. She received the Trophy from the Duchess of Cambridge who came wearing a solid green dress, matching the colours of Wimbledon. That’s style!

I’ve tried to use as many ‘incredible’ words as I could, to match Barty’s ‘incredible-aced’ post-game interview during which she thanked her incredible team.

In the Men’s Finals, Novak Djokovic went on to win his sixth Wimbledon Crown, and a 20th Grand Slam beating Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in a four-set duel, which was pretty straight, after the first set was won by the runner-up.

Overall, there were some ‘incredible’ shots played throughout the Tournament that makes you want to get back to the grass, to eat the shots.

More revealing and ‘incredible’ stories coming up in the weeks ahead. And by the way, Richard Branson said flying to the edge of Space was an ‘incredible’ experience!


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