About:the stories of the world this week 21 August to 27 August, trying to kill a brain, a drying-up Biblical lake, education still being denied, a country loosens-up to the LGBT, chess and tennis, a Dancing Queen, and a music diva sings again.
The Russia-Ukraine war reached a grim six-month anniversary, on 24 August, and it’s a dark-tunnel conflict where we are unable to see any light at the end. I think, a lot depends on Russia switching-on a light and declaring some kind of pyrrhic victory.
In a dangerous incident in Ukraine, the World narrowly avoided a ‘radiation disaster’ when the last regular power line supplying electricity to Ukraine’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was temporarily cut-off, by shelling. Luckily the diesel generators kicked-in automatically, as programmed, and the Station Staff reacted quickly after the blackout to prevent any damages. What if something went amiss, or if the Plant remains disconnected from the Ukraine Grid? That’s as close as one can get to the next nuclear disaster.
Meanwhile, somebody is trying to get to the ‘brain’ of Russian President Vladimir Putin. This week, the daughter of Russian ultranationalist and political commentator Alexander Dugin – dubbed ‘Putin’s brain’ – died when the Toyota Land Cruiser she was driving was ripped apart by a powerful explosion – a car bomb – on the outskirts of Moscow.
Dugin is known for developing an extreme rightwing view of Russia’s place in the world. He is described as a Russian Fascist who has helped shape Putin’s expansionist foreign policy. He is the high priest of a virulent brand of Russian nationalism that has become increasingly influential in Russia: from fringe ideologue to the leader of a prominent strand of thinking that sees Russia at the heart of a ‘Eurasian Empire’ defying Western decadence.
Dugin is the spiritual founder of the term ‘the Russian World’, and helped revive the expression ‘Novorossiya’ or New Russia, which included the territories of parts of Ukraine, before the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Well, that’s the brain… thinking.
Looks like the bomb was intended to kill the brain, but with the daughter taking the wheel in a last minute brain-wave swap, the brain was saved. And of course Russia was quick to blame Ukraine as the brain behind!
We Need Education
There is another continuing, hard-to-come-to-terms issue, which is almost a year – over 340 days- old: teenage girls in Afghanistan have been kept away from School by the Taliban, simply because of their gender. And this is denial of a basic human right, which almost every other country on the Planet takes for granted.
How do we bring an unflinching Taliban to book?
Lakes are drying up everywhere and it’s the turn of the Sea of Galilee in Northern Israel, which is actually a fresh water lake. It has sustained life for millennia and is Biblically famous as the sea, in and around, where many of Jesus Christ’s miracles were performed. The lake irrigates vineyards and local farms that grow everything from green vegetables to wheat and tangerines. Its archeology, hot springs, and hiking trails bring tourism and livelihoods for local communities.
The climate crisis is causing huge fluctuations in the lake’s water levels. Now it happens to be fairly full, but just five years ago, it hit a record low.
But the Israeli government thinks it has found a solution – its own kind of miracle: It plans to pump water from the Mediterranean Sea, desalinate it, and send it across the country to top up the lake when needed. That should help keep the faith!
It’s OK to be Gay in Singapore, but…
Singapore is repealing a law that bans gay sex, effectively making it legal to be homosexual in the conservative City-State.
When the British colonized Singapore in the 1930s, they introduced penal code 377A, making it a crime for men to have sex with each other. And even after colonial rule ended, Singapore opted to keep the law in place. Men who had gay sex faced up to two years in prison.
But now, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is thinking ‘out with the old and in with the new’. And announced the decision on national TV, which comes after years of fierce debate on the issue.
LGBT activists in Singapore have hailed the move as ‘a win for humanity’. And Singapore is the latest place in Asia to move on LGBT rights, after India, Taiwan, and Thailand.
However, there is a catch, Lee said that though the government will be abolishing the decades-old law, gay marriage is not being made legal, at this point of time. And that the Government will amend the country’s constitution to reinforce the definition of marriage as only between a man and a woman. It’s unclear when the change will come into effect, and when Gay-Marriages will also be decriminalised.
That’s equivocating at its best?
India just hosted the Chess Olympiad and coming on the wings of the Tournament, one of its youngest Grand Masters, 17 yrs old Praggnanandhaa Rameshbabu defeated World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen for the 3rd time this year, in the FTX Crypto Cup. Previously he check-mated the Champion at the Chessable Masters in May, and Airthings Masters in February.
The kid is growing-up for sure. And Chess is returning to the country of its birth!
This week, 21-time Grand Slam Champion and this year’s Wimbledon Title winner Novak Djokovic announced his withdrawal from the upcoming US Open Tennis Tournament, which plays from 29 August to 11 September.
Djokovic has remained unvaccinated against Covid-19 throughout the pandemic, and current United States (US) Rules stipulate that any non-US citizen must be fully vaccinated against the virus in order to receive a visa and enter the country. The Tournament Director said, “Novak is a great champion and it is very unfortunate that he will be unable to compete at the 2022 US Open, as he is unable to enter the country due to the federal government’s vaccination policy for non-US citizens. We look forward to welcoming Novak back at the 2023 US Open”.
Previously, he was unable to compete at The Indian Wells and The Miami Open in March due to the same US travel regulations. Djokovic was deported from Australia in January this year, preventing his participation in the Australian Open, due to his refusal to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Djokovic’s withdrawal has taken place after the start of the qualifiers, hence a ‘lucky loser’ will be included in the draw. The loser better make best of the chance!
In the year 2019, on 10 December, when Sanna Marin, 34, of Finland’s Social Democratic Party was sworn in as Prime Minster, she became the World’s youngest serving State leader and youngest Prime Minister in Finland’s history. Suddenly, the world seemed to grow younger! Old head on young shoulders was what danced in the mind.
You don’t grow old on becoming a Prime Minister (PM), do you? The young do what they do. And last week videos of the young Sanna shaking a leg and dancing while partying with friends in a private setting, leaked to the media. And the Opposition was quick to shake a finger and accuse Sanna Marin for being un-PM like and bringing disrespect to the Office of the PM.
Responding to these accusations, Marin acknowledged partying ‘in a boisterous way’ but said she was angry that the footage was leaked to the media. She said alcohol was consumed but that she was not aware of any drug use at the party.
The world heard and women across the world posted videos on social media of themselves dancing, to support Sanna Marin’s dance show.
She agreed to take a drug test after senior opposition politicians argued there was a ‘shadow of doubt’ hanging over her, despite her insistence that she had never taken drugs and was not compromised beyond drinking some alcohol.
This week, Marin’s office announced the negative results of the drug test, taken after an opposition MP called on her to get tested: no drugs had been found in her system.
Just when the Dance Floor lights were switched off came another accusation. During a party hosted by the PM in her official residence in Helsinki, Kesaranta, after the Ruisrock Music Festival in July, topless photos of guests were leaked. In it, two well-known women influencers can be seen kissing each other covering up their bare chests with an official-looking sign reading ‘Finland’: the photo was taken in the downstairs toilets used by guests.
Sanna Marin again apologised for the topless photo of guests and admitted “the picture is not appropriate, we had sauna, swam and spent time together,” Marin said. “That kind of a picture should not have been taken but otherwise, nothing extraordinary happened at the get-together,” she added.
Trouble never comes alone, does it? It brings its brothers, sisters, and friends, and family along. I’m sure Sanna Marin would get wiser. And what’s wrong with her dance moves?
Britney, Spears Ahead
This week Singer Britney Spears released her first new music since being freed from a conservatorship that controlled almost every aspect of her life for about thirteen years.
‘Hold Me Closer’ – a duet with Sir Elton John – hit music streaming sites marking Spears’ return to music after a six-year hiatus. The song also incorporates three of Sir Elton John’s classic hits.
Fresh out of her conservatorship, Britney Spears, 40, married Personal Fitness Trainer and Actor, Sam Asghari, 28, on 9 June 2022. Her ex-husband, Jason Alexander, tried to crash the event. This is technically her third wedding and second marriage. Britney was married to Jason Alexander in 2004 in Las Vegas for just 55 hours, and then married Kevin Federline that same year. Britney and Kevin have two children, boys Sean and Jayden, from their marriage.
Great to listen and see Britney do it again.
More crashing stories coming-up in the weeks ahead. Dance with World Inthavaaram.