WORLD INTHAVAARAM, 2023-09

About-the world this week, 26 February to 4 March 2023: the struggle in Iran; migrants to Italy; getting to the Earth’s core; origin of the Covid-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s Presidential Election; Trains in Greece; Israel and Palestine; India’s northeastern State Elections.

Everywhere

The struggle in Iran continues and this time the news is about 650 girls being deliberately poisoned. Though none have died, dozens have been admitted to hospital with respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. This and other chemical attacks on women, seems to a revenge for the role young women played in the recent protests against forced hijab, and against the Islamic Regime.

This Sunday, more than 80 migrants and refugees died when their boat capsized off the coast of Southern Italy. This included a one month old baby and twin toddlers. The vessel carrying about 200 people, broke apart while trying to land near Italy’s Crotone. On board the boat, which had set out from Turkey a few days earlier, were people from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Obviously, these refugees were escaping the oppressive regimes or poor living conditions in their respective countries, seeking a better life elsewhere.

The United Nations Missing Migrants Project has registered more than 20,000 deaths and disappearances in the Central Mediterranean since 2014. More than 220 have died or disappeared this year alone-and we have just started- it estimates.

Italy is one of the main landing points for migrants trying to enter Europe by sea, with many seeking to travel on to richer northern European nations. But to do so, they must brave the world’s most dangerous migration route.

Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has urged the European Union to act to stop clandestine migrant boat journeys. Italy accused migrant rescue charities for encouraging migrants to make the dangerous sea journey to Italy, and sometimes work in partnership with traffickers.

There are also calls for more regular migration channels to Europe, and action by Governments in the region to address multiple causes pushing people to try the sea crossings. And often ending in disaster.

That’s a haemorrhage of human life in such troubled spots of the world.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, it is about 530 days since the Taliban banned teenage girls from school. Afghan women and girls continue to be denied education by the ruling Taliban in their tunnel-vision governance of the Country. And this is impairing and pushing back basic freedom for women in Afghanistan.

It’s about time Space research is given some space, to rest awhile. And for a change, Scientists have turned their eyes inward, to what lies beneath our feet.

We learnt in school that Planet Earth comprises four layers-moving from the outside to the inside: an outer rock crust, then a rocky mantle, an outer core made of molten-liquid magma, and a solid metallic inner core – about 2440 kilometres (km) wide.

Scientists have long wondered what really lies at the very centre of the Earth. And the latest research findings suggest that our planet has a distinct ball of iron – a 640 km ball of iron-nickel alloy -within its metallic core, which actually is a hidden layer, or an ‘innermost inner core’. This is according to a new study published this week in the journal Nature Communications.

The monumental finding suggests that the Earth has five major layers instead of four. And detecting the new layer, more than 1600 km beneath our feet, is significant. If offers new details scientists could use to help unlock some of the oldest mysteries about our planet and how it was formed, how it has evolved, and how it will continue doing so. It also enables better understanding of Earth’s magnetic field.

Now we know that we cannot simply dig through the Earth from one end to the other, without hitting an iron ball wall.

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, there was a strong suspicion that it could have been caused by a laboratory accident in China’s Wuhan. We were then so engulfed in fighting the coronavirus that we paused that ‘origin button’ to find ways of managing the effects of the pandemic. Now we are almost done, and the proverbial skeletons are crawling out of the Chinese cupboard.

The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director, Christopher Wray wasn’t wary at all when he acknowledged that the FBI believes the Covid-19 pandemic was likely the result of a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China. Of course China, on its part, infuriated by the accusation, simultaneously pointed fingers at the United States.

A John Hopkins Hospital Doctor has also said that it is no brainer that the coronavirus was from a lab. And the origins were never a secret? Maybe we may never really know?

In Nigeria the result of the Presidential Election was announced and Bola Ahmed Tinubu was declared the winner. The elections were controversial, with Opposition Parties decrying it as rigged.

Tinubu, of the ruling All Progressive Congress Party defeated Vice President Atiku Abubakar of the opposition People’s Democratic Party, and Peter Obi, the popular Third Force candidate. This is one of Nigeria’s most fiercely contested Elections since returning to democratic rule in 1999.

Tinubu hails from the same party as outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari and previously served as the Governor of Lagos State. Tinbu will serve as Nigeria’s 5th President.

On the wheels of the recent train derailing accident in the United States comes a head-on collision between two trains, near the city of Larissa, Tempi, Central Greece, killing dozens of people and injuring scores of others. The two trains, a Passenger Train carrying more than 350 people and a Freight Train collided, both of which were travelling for several kilometres on the same track. At some point, the Passenger Train had changed tracks and switched to a cargo-track setting-up the head-on collision.

Greece has a poor track record of railway passenger safety compared with other countries in Europe. It has the highest railway fatality rate per million train kilometres from 2018 to 2020 among 28 nations on the continent.

Israel and Palestine are forever at each other’s throats in what seems to be a never-ending war in the over 100 years conflict. In recent times, especially since the start of this year, there has been an intensification of violence between the warring factions, with deaths mounting on both sides.

The current violence is mainly taking place in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – areas occupied by Israel since the 1967 Middle East war, which began to escalate in March 2022.

In a period of days, Israel was rocked by a series of deadly Palestinian attacks and the Israeli military launched an open-ended operation in the West Bank in response, resulting in nightly raids into the occupied territories.

Israel says it has to continue its operations to weaken the militant groups and thwart attacks, while Palestinians say the attacks are a response to Israel’s actions and overwhelmingly more powerful military. There is also no political peace process, which could offer the prospect of a permanent solution, leaving decades-old grievances – the Palestinians’ want of a state and Israel’s want of security chief among them – festering.

Each side blames the other, but there are also longer-term underlying causes.

Palestinian attackers and those who support them say they are fighting Israel and the occupation and avenging Israeli assaults.

Some of the Palestine attacks have been carried out by ‘lone wolves’-individuals who were not acting on the orders of an organisation. Other attacks have been carried out by Palestinian militant groups, including the newly formed ‘Lions’ Den’, whose popularity on the Palestinian street has surged.

Israel’s ongoing operation in the West Bank, called ‘Break the Wave’, is targeting militant groups with arrest raids to stop them from launching attacks. The raids, however, are often taking place in densely populated refugee camps and other urban areas, where they meet resistance from gunmen and often turn bloody.

This week there was a flood of visits to India, by other countries, to attend the G20 Foreign Ministers Meet under the chairmanship of India. Russia and the US briefly met face-to-face in a you-dare, I-dare, cinematic fashion, the first since the Russia-Ukraine War. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to end the war and urged Russia to reverse its suspension of the New START nuclear treaty.

India’s efforts to bridge differences and produce a joint statement stumbled due to differences over the war. However, an ‘outcome document’ was produced.

In India news, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) heading the Government at the Centre kept its winning streak in State elections that come its way – this time in northeastern India. Three States swooned to the BJP’s charms.

The State of Nagaland got its first-ever couple of woman MLA’s and the BJP kept its Government allying with the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). The major alliance partner NDPP improved its performance this year by 7 seats, winning 25 of 60 seats seats. The BJP won 12 seats and the relationship continues.

The two women who created History are, NDPP’s Hekani Jakhalu from the Dimapur seat, who won by 1536 votes, and NDPP’s Salhoutuonuo from Western Angami constituency, who won by a razor-thin 7 votes.

In the Sate of Tripura, the BJP won a majority on its own – just crossed the half-way mark. In the State of Meghalaya it was a hung result and it tied-up with the National People’s Party (NPP) after winning 2 seats to the NPP’s 26 and hopes to form a Government with others joining in.

While the Congress Party of India was being trounced all over India and bleeding seats – except for a few solo ‘historic’ wins- its key Leader, trimmed his beard slipped into a suit-boot mode, and sporting a new look, visited his Alma Mater, Cambridge, in London, United Kingdom. He lectured students on the art of ‘Learning to Listen in the 21st Century’ and about promoting ‘new thinking’ in democracy. He also bashed India with, ‘Indian Democracy is under attack’, which is not good for his and India’s health.

He peddled lies such as claiming he had the Pegasus malware in his phone and that he was told by ‘intelligence officers’ that his calls are being recorded. The fact is, no evidence of the Pegasus malware was found in a Supreme Court inquiry. He and many other politicians who claimed they were being snooped on and tried to raise a political controversy over it, never submitted their phones to the probe panel. Of the 29 phones that were submitted, only 5 were found to be infected with ‘some kind of malware’ and none of them was confirmed to be Pegasus.

An Ambassador ‘lies’ abroad for the welfare of his country. A scion of India’s Grand Old Party, lovingly called ‘Pappu’ in India, lies abroad to defame India. Some never learn.

Meanwhile, we are listening and thinking, for sure. Maybe, grow a new beard to trim later on?

More growing-up stories and uplifting ones coming in the weeks ahead. Vote for World Inthavaaram.

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