Who or What Are You?

The writer wrongly starts from the idea that Jesus would be an incarnated being. Nowhere in the scriptures can such an idea be found. On the other hand the Bible (the inspired and infallible Word of God) is very clear that Jesus is a son of man and son of God, having had a birth (a beginning), a death (an end of life) and a resurrection whereafter he was made higher than angels (before having been lower) to come to sit next to his heavenly Father, the Only One True God Who is One and not two or three.

He comes to say we are one of those created things, and in that he is right. We even would add that we are created in God’s image. As created beings, we are unusually exceptional and no human will succeed in putting together such an ingenious being.

We remember that

surgeons have learned that when the connections between the halves of the brain are removed, we do not become two people. In fact, the individual experiencing this ‘disconnection’ does not notice any perceptible change even though, at that point, they have two equal, functioning brains. Researchers have also found that while there are localized areas in the brain that control body functions, they have found no areas that control abstract functions like mathematics, logic, ethics, creativity or morality.

More than once people have tried to play for God and played with human bodies and cells, but to no avail.

The writer of a book entitled “Worshiping Alone”, intended to help us put God first in our lives and keep Him there, remarks

We are told that every cell in each of our bodies is replaced at intervals of about seven years or so. That includes muscle, bone, sinew, nerve tissue – everything.

and then wonders

If the physical body is changed regularly and matter is the only reality, then how is it possible that ‘you’ remain ‘you’?

He probably also had to take sometime before knowing himself and before deciding to become a Christian, though he had been associating with Christians for a while before that, but much more so after he so called discovered who Jesus would be, but not who he realy is. In that aspect, he still has to grow (though he is already a retired chaplain) and come to believe God Who declared Jesus to be His only begotten beloved son.

He does not think he had much choice about becoming a follower of Christ, though everybody has lots of possibilities to make a particular choice. Though he thinks he was sort of pushed and pulled into it by the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. It can well be that God the Holy Spirit, or the Power of God, He says that this Holy Spirit planted a seed in him — a deep desire to know more and more. So we sincerely hope he shall be opening his mind to have it filled by biblical knowledge, giving the inside all people need to find themselves fitting into the world. Only when there is that connection made with the Divine Creator, man shall come to rest and shall be pleased to walk in God’s Way.

Though there is a for centuries going on the dilemma, people have to be willing to put aside their own gods, and choose for the God of Israel, as their only One God to worship.

There is a continuous going on call from the Most High, but the majority of people are not interested in hearing it, let stand listening to it. Most people consider His Word as a fabrication of mankind and old-fashioned, outdated.

But next to coming to know God there is the coming to know His son, the sent one who is authorised to speak and handle in the name of the Mightiest, God of gods and King above all gods of all. That son of God, is the one who is the light for the world.

The chaplain writes

The desire to know more about Christ and to think and behave more like Him actually becomes a process that lasts a lifetime. (It is happening to me and could be happening to you.) The process is called sanctification. Through that process we become increasingly unlike other people in our thoughts and behavior. It’s actually a wonderful feeling. {About God everyday}

It is through that search for ‘the self’, for getting to know oneself, then getting to know the one who can bring you to the knowledge of his heavenly Father, that people can come connected with their inner being and with the Divine Maker of their being.

From the moment we are born we have to grow and pick up knowledge. Our physical body at a certain point in our life shall come to a point that it will not be growing any more. We may have reached a growth peak but that shall not be the end of our development. Our mind and spirit shall still have growth potential.

As written in the previous posting we shall come to a certain point in life when we shall look back at certain points in our life to remember how we developed and how we handled particular situations. Then each of us shall come to find out in which way we could stay in control of ourselves and how situations influenced us and did make us change direction.

At the end it is important that we did learn from our experiences and come to see how there is the controller of our body, ‘the self‘ or  ‘you’ exist independently of the external and visible body, being brought aware that we do have our “animal” self, and our “spiritual” self.

The blogger of the underneath article reminds us

“If the spiritual aspect within any human being were to be removed, what would remain would be a large mammal. That large mammal would then behave like any other mammal. A very clever mammal too be sure, but chasing all its drives and urges in very predictable, mammalian ways.”{Caring For Your Inner Animal}

Furthermore, he points to the difficult fact of humans growing up and making decisions.

At the beginning of each of our lives we exist as functioning and reasonably affective spirits. But sadly, the spirits of many humans are neither exercised or nourished, rather they are left to atrophy over time to the extent that they are unable to effectively govern their animal minds. Some may even be in such poor condition that their human minds are in control. In some individuals that condition may have progressed so far that they have lost awareness of their spiritual aspect and may even deny its very existence. It seems that such individuals are almost always burdened with legal, financial and relationship problems. {Caring For Your Inner Animal}

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Preceding

  1. Living in this world and viewing it
  2. Made on purpose and for a purpose

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Additional reading

  1. Today’s thought “Being made prosperous and numerous on conditions” (May 13)
  2. Today’s thought “For I know whom I have believed” (November 24)
  3. Today’s thought “Bearing fruit” (November 13)
  4. Today’s thought “Fools despise wisdom” (March 23)
  5. Today’ Thought “The word … is at work in you believers” (May 17)
  6. Today’s thought “Call to listen to God ” (December 08)

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Related

  1. #MondayThoughts – Introspective
  2. #MondayThoughts – Which Are You?
  3. #MondayThoughts – Growing Into You#MondayThoughts – Hope Blossoms Constantly
  4. #MondayThoughts – You Are So Much More
  5. I Was Thinking…
  6. The Art of Ending Things and The Lost Art of Closing Rituals
  7. Scattered to the Wind
  8. Reemergence
  9. Tuesday 26th October – Literacy – ‘Who Am I?’
  10. Who am I? what am I?
  11. What am I…
  12. You are a human.
  13. Humaning
  14. A Wonder
  15. Supply & Demand Equilibrium

God Everyday

Every book in the Bible speaks of spiritual beings. Not just God-the-Father and The Holy Spirit, but Christ (before and after His incarnation) Angels, Seraphim, Cherubim, Watchers (Daniel 4), Disembodied Human Spirits (what remains after physical bodies have died) and, of course, Satan and his followers.

Do any of those things really exist? They all do – and you are one of them. (Psalm 139:14)

A dominant philosophy in the world today (especially in the scientific world) is materialism – the theory that matter is the only reality and it is without purpose. Materialism says that everything in the universe including our very existence can be reduced to the workings of simple atomic particles. However, there is a great and growing pile of scientific evidence that proves that belief is wrong. One place to start examining the philosophy of materialism is the statement “simple atomic particles”. That statement itself is…

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Living in this world and viewing it

Living on this globe

How you want to turn it, you, when living in this world, shall always be confronted by this world “Willens of Nillens” = whether you want it or not.

In September – October since being retired, I take the time to see other parts of the world, and go on holiday in Southern Europe. After two years with some rain and snow in France at that  time, this year we went to Northern Italy, La Spezia, beautiful enchanting Cinque Terre, Lucca, Tellaro, Pisa, Monte Catini, San Gimignano, Genova, Varèse, a.o. in the hope to have some nice warm weather. After the powder snow on the Saint Gotthard Pass (Passo del San Gottardo) we entered a warm Italy.

File:Spezia.jpg
Vista da est – La Spezia

Politics

Though strangely enough there was not so much to see and hear about the Italian elections, except the blockage of more than 1 hour and a half in La Spezia, everything went calmly.

Though it is not because we did not notice much of the politics going on here in Italy and the rest of the world, that the politics had not those places in their grip. According to Jake Meador

Politics ought to be defined by fidelity to the common good of all the members of society.

Normally when at home and seeing how the world turns I cannot get rid of the fact that people, in general, have become victims of politics. Politicians know how to make skilful use of manipulating data and the audience they wish to appeal to the voters.

But our modern Western politics are defined by a determination to bend the natural world and human life to its own political and economic ends. This wholesale rejection of the natural order is behind the dominant revolutions in our history, and defines our experience in Western society today ― our racialized hierarchy, modern industry, and the sexual revolution. {What Are Christians For?: Life Together at the End of the World}

Golden Sixties and Boom Generation

After the Golden Sixties television had become the first national mass medium, but by the turn of the century was pushed in the corner by internet‘s social media. In the United States and other Western countries, the Sixties became noted for its counterculture. I admit, as a hippie, during the 1960s and 1970s, I also demonstrated against the Vietnam War (1955–75), the nuclear or atomic armament and joined some countercultural movements that rejected the mores of mainstream what we called the destructing ‘American way of life‘ and the destruction of or environment. We were one of the first fighters and first green (activist and political) parties, defending the planet and the green around us.

Living in communes

Many who did not understand our movement found it scandalous. Their idea of us living together in one house, sharing the kitchen and living rooms, us not minding running around naked, did them believe we went to bed with everybody, having free sex, like nothing. Many denounce the decade as one of irresponsible excess, flamboyance, the decay of social order, and the fall or relaxation of social taboos. True, many of us broke with a lot of taboos and dared to question lots of things. We just did not want to accept everything as granted or not to be so because it had been so for years.

Intrigued in human development

We wanted to know more about the human being and were intrigued by the works of Goethe, Sigmund Freud on psychoanalysis and Jung trying to go into the depths of “Behaviourism” and “Psychotherapy.”

We saw how people had become slave of the industry or work. We were convinced answers were not to find in our industrialist world, but should be looked for in our inner self and in the ‘spiritual world‘. We wanted to get to know the laws of the spiritual and come to see beyond our worldly world. We were conscious that spiritual growth was an existential part of our growing up. For us, man had become too bound to the surrounding material, and we thought there should be another way, to make life more useful and ‘richer’.

Steiner um 1905.jpg
Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner, Austrian occultist, social reformer, architect, esotericist, and claimed clairvoyant, who founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy.

Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian-born spiritualist, lecturer, and founder of anthroposophy, had us under his spell and got us behind his teaching method. We also were aware we could not continue to poison our body by all sorts of chemicals, so wanted to get rid of all sorts of chemical fertilisers, insecticides but also chemical medication, aiming to bring the body and mind back in balance by the use of herbs, phytotherapy and homoeopathy.

Social feeling and communism

Lots of people had difficulty with our ‘social ideas’ that for the middle class and high society were too extreme and considered ‘communist’ and to be rejected and completely eliminated. We ourselves found ourselves between different Marxist, Leninist, Maoist and other leftish movements, often going into deep arguments, with the philosophic writings of the 19th and 20th century, hold against Mao‘s Red Carnet. He knew very well that

“political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,”

and some of those Maoist groups were much too aggressive and revolutionary, for our Western idea. Some were convinced to abandon Western liberalism for Marxism and Leninism as the answer to the capitalist movement that was introduced by the Americans after Wold War II. Many students believed they had to bring a change in society. We had lots of dreams of a society where everybody could live in peace and accept the other how the other wanted to be.

The 1960 generation of students, was divided in different groups pro- and contra certain communist parties. Neither the French Communist Party nor orthodox Marxism held many attractions. Instead, several of us had Che Guevara as our idol, whilst others Ho Chi Minh, and Mao Zedong, whose writings we all came to study. But for some, like me, those Maoists or Chines communists were too extreme and too aggressive for trying to reach their goals. But one one line we all seemed to agree:

Images of carpet bombing, napalm attacks, and massacres of civilians by U.S. forces in Vietnam

were things we had to react against and resist.

Church religion and faith

Being mostly brought up in very traditional Roman Catholic families, the Baby boomers also started questioning their church and faith. Me too, went looking for the truth and did some church shopping, before I found a non-trinitarian church, worshipping the Only One True God. In the 70’s lots of discussions about religion and beliefs got us very busy and exited. Several religious movements from the East also found their way into the West. Music groups like the British musical quartet the Beatles helped a lot in bringing the spirit of Asian religious movements. At the same time we in the theatre made social and critical pieces and often were referred to as avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists. Working as collaborative creative teams, we sought a synergy between word and image.

Questions of the present youngsters

Most of us now retired, notice similar questions coming up again by the youngsters of today. Like it happens all the time, the circle seems to be rounded and putting the ends together again.

Where am I? What is this place? What am I supposed to do now?

Folks who have been thrust into a new season of life are jolted with questions like these. Moving house, job changes, the wonders of marriage and children — they all have a way of alerting us to things that had gone unnoticed. When our surroundings are too familiar, we tune out what may be glaringly apparent. {Living in a World Charged with the Grandeur of God – ‘What Are Christians For?’ }

Dreams not realised

Having reached retirement age, we do wonder what all of our dreams have come true, but also have to admit that many who used to (in 1968) be on the bandwagon have abandoned, not to say betrayed, our ideas of that time. Many have become bourgeois figures over the years who have become all too comfortable with the growing industry. With a lot of idealism, we brought a student revolt. We thought we could change the world. But the reality was very different and much more painful. Many of our aspirations and hopes were nipped in the bud.

Today, we notice lots of people start feeling not at home in this world where they are pressed to do so many things they not really like so much. Again their lies the question on the tip of their tongue, where and why we are living this way and would it not better to do it another way?

Place for God

The big difference between our generation in the sixties and the present generation, is that now there is no place for God and there is not much looking for the spiritual element in life.

In What Are Christians For? Life at the End of the World, Jake Meador suggests Christians have fallen prey to this dullness of vision and he aims to reacquaint them to creation — the world and everything in it, made by our Creator God.

This place feels less and less like home to many believers who are struggling to make sense of our current cultural climate. But that may not be a bad thing. According to Meador — the editor in chief of Mere Orthodoxy — it may be a sign that our eyes are refocusing on things that previously fell into our collective blind spots. {Living in a World Charged with the Grandeur of God – ‘What Are Christians For?’ }

Aids to living in a fake world

A lot of young people are displeased with what the world has to offer them now. They have sought refuge in escaping into a ‘non-existent and unrealistic world using the modern technology of computers along with as many chemical drugs. Indeed, drug use has skyrocketed and has become a matter of course for many young people.

Grown up in their parent’s houses, who tried to provide everything for them they now want to make their own nest, but are confronted with the difficulties for hiring or buying a place to make their own family. It becomes more and more difficult to be able to support the new or young family. And the present economical crisis is not helping.

Standing at the centre

Meador begins by showing that Christians in the West have bought a house — our cultural and political milieu — sight unseen, and we’ve carried on trying to live and flourish in it without inspecting the frame or the foundation.

Meador treks through modernity and reveals the underbelly of Enlightenment thinking. In short, the Enlightenment turned the universe into something in which we stand at the center.

In a way after World War II we also thought everything came to turn around us. Our parents were so concerned about us and our future and tried to make the best for us whilst we found ourselves in that safe bubble created by our parents. Though in a certain way we thought the world turned around us, mankind being in the centre of it all.

Quest for autonomy

We had learned that we, as part of the creation had received everything around us because the Divine Creator provided it for us all. But the present generation does not believe such a thing.

We now view creation and culture not as gifts and as evidence of the beautiful diversity of a gracious God, but as objects for our valuation and callous extraction. Rather than being stewards who bear God’s image through virtuous dominion, we, in our quest for autonomy (which really began in Gen. 3), became tyrants who traded a good life with God in his world for an extension of mere existence. {Living in a World Charged with the Grandeur of God – ‘What Are Christians For?’ }

It has become clear that multiples now want to prove their independence not only from their parents but also from any religion. Many are convinced that they will do it themselves. For them, there does not need to be a god and if there is one, they do not need Him (they think).

Perhaps today in Europe it is a little bit like the colonizers of the New World.

Meador writes about the white colonialists who were

“so confident . . . in their own superiority to the people they encountered that they did not feel it was necessary to listen to them or to learn from their ways of living in what was, to the Europeans, a strange new place, and what was, to the Indigenous peoples, their home” (45).

Of course, colonizers should’ve confessed their lack of knowledge about life in a new land and, more importantly, recognized that these foreign peoples were and are image-bearers of God. But Meador’s position seems to collapse both the sociocultural and theological underpinnings to their movement in the first place, arguing their social pride was in fact “unbelief”—a decidedly theological claim. Meador suggests that cross-cultural contact provides opportunities to both give and receive, to teach and learn, but the theological frameworks among the two cultures are left unmentioned. {Living in a World Charged with the Grandeur of God – ‘What Are Christians For?’ }

Blinded by the god of this world

Already in ancient times the apostle Paul noticed that

“the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 4:4)

With the hoopla of goods around them that make life easier, many have closed their eyes and ears to the One Who makes everything happen and provides for people. Several may have learned from their parents, like we did, Who is the Giver of Life, but they do not want to know. They

“suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18)

Their parents are considered not the ones to influence their life … they prefer to give their ears to the many influencers on the net. They have seen how their parents became victims of the politicians and bankers their actions and do not want to fall in the same trap of this greedy capitalist world, though still love all those capitalist goods and love the wealthy way of living.

The Book of books, the Bible, warns of coming times of unbelief, people stumbling over certain teachings of Jesus, people who do not truly believe that a New Order will ever come, people getting lofty ideas, and a period that children will protest or go in against the teachings and rules of their parents, followed by a time of more natural disasters (earthquakes, droughts, floods, etc.). As a Christadelphian and Jeshuaist, I believe we have come into that period growing towards the end of time.

We can clearly see that with unbelief a poisonous root of all kinds of evil has entered this world. Worse of all is that lots of people are not aware that it is a hideous cancer which gnaws at the spiritual health not only of churches but also of the society where mankind has to find a decent living.

The present generation is willing to put more faith in those influencers they can find on the net, in place of putting faith in their parents their experiences and in the many wise words written by so many living beings before them.

Idolising personal autonomy

The current generation that has come of age is convinced that they can handle it on their own. By banishing Jehovah God, society has gone wild.

Meador shows that the “unmakings” of a proper view of the land, vocation, the family, and more culminate in a threat to reality itself, which left Western civilization with no foundation for meaning and purpose apart from an idolizing of personal autonomy.

When the centrality of God in creation waned, humanity became disenchanted with what was left. Wonder was replaced with efficiency, test scores, and the race to die with the most things.

Meador concludes,

“Much of our recent history in the West is a protracted attempt to replace the weight and significance of love, rootedness, and neighborly affection with self-creation, self-realization, and self-actualization” (95).

In short, the house that the Enlightenment built has significant cracks. {Living in a World Charged with the Grandeur of God – ‘What Are Christians For?’ }

Finding purpose and meaning in life

What not has changed and keeps troubling the mind in every generation are the questions about meaning and purpose in life. Each generation becomes confronted with similar questions. As in all previous generations, there is hope in the future, though today that is very fragile, many doubting that there woudl be a good future for them and their kids. Like all times everyone keeps seeking the answer to the notorious question:

What is the meaning of life?

What is the best standard for making the best out of life?

Many wonder if we need standards for living, though they should know we need certain laws and regulations to avoid chaos. With it arises

How do we impose this moral standard on others — especially those who do not hold to the same standard?

The question is also

Who can decide which standards have to be folloed?

How do we convince others one action would cause more harm than another?

Or

How do we convince a theist to utilise a non-theistic standard?

Or

How does a theist convince a non-theist there is a theistic standard?

As soon as a certain law is presented others could question that law and could be saying

“why should your moral law be binding on me?”

People should be aware that we cannot impose our own meta-ethics on others. People should always be free to reject it for another meta-ethic, or for making a different determination even within one’s own meta-ethic. People have to learn to agree to disagree.

Distance from the natural order

Meador argues for individual evaluations of technological advancements and shows that technology often removes us from creation. The “distance” from the natural order, which the technical evolution has brought with it, seems to be problematic for both, the German Catholic priest, author, and academic Romano Guardini and Nebraskan historian Jake Meador.

It can rightly be said that the ease offered by 21st-century technological inventions has alienated young people from the more important things in and for life.

I am afraid for many the inner harmony to the world is gone. Growing up in an active Christian environment we received training in a way of living funded on the Scriptures. There was a sort of moral law to reality no less real than the law of gravity and that life is harmonious and pleasant when our choices, desires, and actions are aligned with that natural order. We had learned that humanity has a context, but for the present generation that context seems to be gone, and now many are like making their way through a vast immense swamp.

Because we have learned that reality is not as harmonious and beautiful as our parents wanted us to believe, our children saw how the world has treated us and how it is violent and without pardon for us and others.

According to Meador

To thrive, humanity doesn’t need to be drawn into the inner life and logic of the natural world, but instead needs to exert control over the world in order to make it a place hospitable to human flourishing. In the former imagining of reality, the world is primordially peaceable and orderly, in the latter it is primordially chaotic and violent. {The Self is a Problem}

The present twentiers came to feel as if both the world and society have become threats to their self,

for they are the sources of violence and chaos that so often assail the individual, inhibiting them in their attempt to articulate their authentic self in the world. For the magicians and scientists, the self is a problem because much of reality actively militates against the true expression of one’s self. {The Self is a Problem}

Though several want to hide their self, by presenting themselves better or differently than they really are. The many profiles on the internet, be it on Facebook or Instagram often are presenting “a ‘would like to be’ state” of themselves.

It looks like we have come into a world where people cling to a kind of brute materialism, creating enormous changes for how the human person is imagined and how the good life is imagined.

the natural law arguments would come to be seen as deeply unnatural for how they violate and vitiate the natural capacities of the human person, artificially constraining the freedom of the individual and imposing on them a variety of unchosen chains that can only have the effect of imprisoning the human soul. {The Self is a Problem}

Being oneself

Like we tried to break the chains of the pre-war generation, our children also want to cut the wire which ties them to us.

The American philosopher and Marxist humanist writer Marshall Berman writes,

Only when men retain their natural individuality — their authenticity — can they participate in nature as a whole, and enjoy the forms of happiness that nature has made available to man in the world.

The distinguished Professor of Political Science at The City College of New York and at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, teaching political philosophy and urbanism, like many of the Boomers discovered Karl Marx‘s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 proving it to be a revelation and inspiration, and as such became the foundation for all his future work.[ Christopher Hitchens (1999-11-16). “Marshall Berman’s Love Affair With Marx”. Village Voice. Archived from the original on 2011-06-04. Retrieved 2014-06-26.] Like we wanted to be ourselves our children want that too, because they believe the same as us

A man can be happy only if he can be — himself.

But

a society which deprives every man of the primary source of his happiness cannot hope to satisfy its members; hence it must inevitably disintegrate from within.

For many of the boomer generation, there is still the centrality of God in creation, but for our children that might be gone. Humanity became disenchanted with what was left. Wonder was replaced with efficiency, test scores, and the race to die with the most things. Meador concludes,

“Much of our recent history in the West is a protracted attempt to replace the weight and significance of love, rootedness, and neighborly affection with self-creation, self-realization, and self-actualization” (95). {What Are Christians For? Life at the End of the World}

In short, the house that the Enlightenment built has significant cracks. {What Are Christians For?: Life Together at the End of the World}

Finding oneself in this world

Several youngsters do not find themselves fitting in this world. In the Corona period the number of psychiatric difficulties, eating disorders and suicides have increased enormously and are now a true medical problem to meet them.

Meador finds it perhaps worth noting

the disturbing overlap between this defense of suicide and the particular ways that concern for suicide is used to justify certain approaches to transgender questions. If “affirmative care” for transgender individuals is a matter of life and death, as many on the left now argue, then this is implicitly to agree with Montesquieu, claiming that if trans individuals are denied such care then they have a right to withdraw their consent to participate in our society and, indeed, our world and to enact this choice through suicide. The logic of the contemporary sexual revolution, then, can be found many centuries ago in these Enlightenment era philosophes. {The Self is a Problem}

I believe the sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was the time we grew up with, making ourselves free from the Christian chains and conservativeness. we put the prude, prudence and embarrassment away and went for nudism. But today that social movement that challenged traditional codes of behaviour related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and the developed world from the 1960s to the 1970s, has been put in the cupboard again by our children, who seem to be again very prudish and too shy to show their own nakedness.

Looking around

Coming to know oneself and finding a place in this world it is important to know what is going on and how to tackle the events around oneself.
That is one of the reasons of existence of this blog. I do hope to give some overview of what happens in the world and how we can place ourselves in these turbulent times, and finding a way to lead a pleasant life.

This site wants to show there is an other way in life than being stuck at work, in an office or factory. Too many people have grown into their work so their work determines their life. The world has become many, and they have become of the world. Back-stabbing, gossip, and even unnecessarily putting someone down, have for many become second nature.

Here at this site, we want to show there is a much better way to enjoy life and deal with all that is happening in the world around us. But for that, one has to really want to see what is going on and how others think they can deal with those events.

Hopefully, then, we may also find young people as readers of this page and encourage them to want to think about all these events and make them reflect on what has been written down in past writings. To this end, we want to open the doors with the necessary information and background so that every reader of these pages can draw his or her own conclusions.

Happy reading!

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Preceding

  1. Entering 2022 still Aiming for a society without exploitation or oppression
  2. Media Literacy
  3. Background of Faith
  4. Man has a purpose

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Come to read more

  1. Less for more
  2. Subcutaneous power for humanity 1 1940-1960 Influenced by horrors of the century
  3. Subcutaneous power for humanity 2 1950-2010 Post war generations
  4. Subcutaneous power for humanity 3 Facing changing attitudes
  5. Subcutaneous power for humanity 5 Loneliness, Virtual and real friends
  6. Establishment of a European Pillar of Social Rights
  7. Lower and middle-class youth becoming tiny cogs in a larger whole that they cannot control
  8. 19th and 20th Century Shifts in bourgeoisie
  9. 2019 was #4 a Year of much deceit in Belgium and the rest of Europe
  10. Searching for fulfillment and meaning through own efforts, facing unsatisfaction and depression
  11. How to Find the Meaning of Life and Reach a State of Peace
  12. Where people find meaning in life
  13. The meaning of life – Finding purpose
  14. Hollowness of democracy
  15. Eyes on pages and messages on social media
  16. The Y generation in conflict with itself
  17. Looking at an Utopism which has not ended
  18. A new voice calling for peace
  19. Are people willing to take the responsibility for others
  20. Baby Boomers reaching retirement age, Demographic trends and New blood from abroad

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Additional reading

  1. Science, belief, denial and visibility 2
  2. Parenting in changing times
  3. A History Of The Culture Wars
  4. Looking at a conservative review of Shop Class As Soul Craft
  5. From Guestwriters 2015 in review
  6. Background of Faith
  7. Continued nostalgic Christmas memories
  8. 72 Synod Fathers on the topic “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the contemporary world”
  9. Only the contrite self, sick of its pretensions, can find salvation
  10. To whom do we want to be enslaved
  11. Man has a purpose
  12. My 2 Words
  13. Curious creature or Positivist man
  14. True happiness, love and perfection
  15. Looking for True Spirituality 2 Not restricted to an elite

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Related

  1. Who or What Are You?Why are we born into this physical world?
  2. Wherever the sensory world is the spiritual world is present as well  
  3. Everything surrounding us is the external expression of the spiritual world
  4. The dawn of the sixth post-Atlantean cultural period
  5. The reality of the spiritual world was to me as certain as that of the physical
  6. A Medium of Conjunction of Heaven with Man
  7. The Irrationality of Relying on Science Alone: God and Science Are Not At War
  8. Living in the World
  9. In the world, but not of the world…
  10. Becoming Intimate With God
  11. The Proceeding Divine
  12. Beyond This WorldThe weird and wonderful strings of fate that bind us to one another; when things that happen are just meant to be.
  13. Guarding Your Stuff
  14. “Unbelief had shut -them out” -day of the Lord – September 25 2022
  15. The Danger of an Unbelieving Heart
  16. The danger of unbelief
  17. I didn’t ask to be born!
  18. Believing, While Getting Help for Our Unbelief
  19. Taking Care with Something That’s a Done Deal
  20. Ikigai Diagram and Your Life Purpose
  21. Espoir
  22. I have seen the beauty
  23. The Purpose We Seek
  24. A Boring Game?
  25. This Battle
  26. 1 March, Tuesday — the Rat Race
  27. Having the capacity to honour the noblest and best and to be honoured with the most essential
  28. Seemingly Impossible Cycle of Life
  29. Does your actual life reflect your purpose?

Views from the Observer for August 2022

TikTok Has Changed Everything, Especially Book Publishing
TikTok’s algorithms take us deeper into ourselves, yet the viral app has profoundly shifted how books get publicity and find new audiences.
By Ann Kjellberg

READ MORE

Author Salman Rushdie Was Attacked on a Lecture Stage at Western New York’s Chautauqua Institution

 

Author Salman Rushdie was attacked at a lecture on August 12, so Observer’s Courtney Vinopal was quick with an observation on the event. Rushdie is a novelist and outspoken public intellectual, known for the banning of his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses on charges of blasphemy against Islam and the death threats that followed.

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The Report
New York’s Antiquity Trafficking Unit is Looking to Arrest a Former Source Turned Suspect

Forever on the mayhem beat, Observer’s reporter Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly reported on Georges Lotfi, an art collector and Antiquities Trafficking Unit informant who has recently come under fire for legal trouble himself.

 

A valuable source for prosecutors who pursue art traffickers in New York has suddenly turned suspect.

 

For the past few years, Lebanese art collector Georges Lotfi provided information regarding looted artwork to the Antiquities Trafficking Unit (ATU) of New York’s District Attorney Office. However, Lotfi has now been brought to the forefront of an ATU investigation himself, with an arrest warrant charging him for criminal possession of stolen property.

 

“Over the years, [Lotfi] has provided me with detailed information about looting practices globally,” wrote Robert Mancene, a Homeland Security agent involved with the investigation, in an affidavit filed to secure the arrest warrant. Mancene claims Lotfi even provided him with a hand-drawn diagram explaining how international traffickers smuggle antiquities.

American Airlines Is the Latest Air Carrier to Buy Supersonic Jets
American Airlines has put down a deposit for 20 supersonic jets that can fly at twice the speed of today’s fastest commercial aircraft.
By Sissi Cao

 

West Nile, the Virus You Forgot About, is Back in New York City
Two cases of West Nile virus have been reported in New York City while mosquitos infected with the virus have been detected across in all five boroughs.
By Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly

 

Journalists Are Fleeing the New York Daily News Under Its New Owner Alden Global Capital
Twelve journalists at the New York Daily News have resigned in the last three months, according to the newsroom’s union, representing about 20 percent of the paper’s total staff.
By Courtney Vinopal

New Law Requires NY Museums to Label Nazi-Looted Art

 

Over at Hyperallergic, writer Elaine Velie reports on new legislation in New York that will require New York’s museums to label Nazi-looted art. This is interesting because the focus isn’t so much on repatriation of art but more on recognizing the ways in which a work can carry history that should be recognized for an audience to grasp.

The Next Dimes Square Is Just Around the Corner

I unpacked the discourse around the micro-neighborhood forming in the waking life of Chinatown, Dimes Square.

 

In her 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs wrote “I have been dwelling upon downtowns.” If Jacobs, arguably the critical mother of urban planning, were still alive she would no doubt weigh in on the micro-neighborhood-meets-art-scene that is Dimes Square in what was formerly just called Chinatown.

 

Dimes Square is specifically a small section of Chinatown, which Vanity Fair’s Nate Freeman describes as “just the three-block stretch of Canal between Allen and Essex and the two-block stretch of Division before it hits Seward Park.” I first went to what is referred to as Dimes Square in 2019. I was on a date at Dimes with a reporter I was seeing at the New York Times. The food was good and I left with a postcard featuring two ladybugs fucking. The small vibes of transgressiveness that define what is cool in New York City were definitely there, among the various diners who could easily be seen on your favorite timeline or heard on a podcast that maybe you had listened to. For a brief period of time during the early on in the pandemic renting an apartment in Chinatown was suddenly somewhat affordable. The rest is, sadly, history.

 

In 2022 there is so little actually unique about Dimes Square when you look at the history of gentrification in New York City; what is notable in the current moment is grotesque and full of post-fascist aesthetics, so it seems that the cultural fascination and obsession is a sign of overall decline.

Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton Talk About Taking Their Children’s Book Empire to the Stage
After a mouse popped up in a Broadway theater, Julie Andrews and her daughter turned into a children’s book. Now ‘The Great American Mousical’ is headed toward a run in Los Angeles.
By Harry Haun

The Essay

I Was Stranded in Canada on 9/11, and Even I Learned from ‘Come From Away’

This work by Amy Polacko is a fantastic look at Broadway’s smash musical Come From Away and what it means to spend your time in this country.

 

Broadway’s smash hit Come From Away is scheduled to close on October 2, after more than 1500 performances.

 

I never wanted to see it. In fact, I had decided I would refuse to watch it.

Because back in 2017 when I heard a new show on Broadway was opening about Americans stranded in Canada on September 11, I was horrified. How could someone make such a nightmare into a singing and dancing buffoonery? Who would go to this show—especially in New York? It seemed sacrilegious to me.

 

Thankfully, a lot of people did go see “Come From Away.” Thousands around the globe, from Dublin to Sydney to Shanghai, and, yes, spots in Canada too.

 

I put off going despite the rave reviews, until four years later when a friend’s daughter working in the box office discovered I was one of them: the “plane people” or “come from aways” as Newfoundlanders call outsiders. She insisted on gifting me and my 13-year-old son tickets to see the five days that changed my life put to music. How could I say no?

After Nearly a Decade of Debate, There’s a New Definition of ‘Museum’
An international committee overseeing the museum industry has put forward a new definition for ‘museum,’ after a previous suggestion was shot down for being too progressive.
By Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly

Carefully Worded Definition of “Museum” Eschews Neutrality

 

Hyperallergic writer Jasmine Liu wrote an update on the International Council of Museum’s ongoing debate over whether museums will have a broader or more narrowed definition.

Stories from The New York Times for the 4th week of August 2022

August 22

A photo provided by the Russian government said to show investigators at the site of a car bombing outside Moscow.Russian Investigative Committee/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A brazen attack near Moscow rattles Russians

Russia has opened a murder investigation into the car bombing that killed Daria Dugina, 29, a hawkish political commentator who was the daughter of a prominent backer of President Vladimir Putin. The attack in Moscow has injected new uncertainty into the six-month war in Ukraine and rattled Russia’s elite.
Russian media outlets described the car bombing as a “terrorist attack.” It occurred on Saturday on a highway and shattered the windows of houses in a wealthy suburb. They said the intended target had been Dugina’s father, the philosopher Aleksandr Dugin, who had taken a different vehicle at the last minute.
Though an adviser to Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, said that the country had played no role in the attack, associates of Daria Dugina’s claimed that Ukraine was behind the bombing. It came in the wake of a number of Ukrainian attacks in the Russian-controlled peninsula of Crimea, and amid calls in Russia for Putin to launch a new assault on Ukraine in retaliation.
Who is Aleksandr Dugin? Often described as “Putin’s brain,” he is a longtime proponent of the idea of an imperial Russia at the helm of a “Eurasian” civilization locked in an existential conflict in the West. His daughter was not well known in Russia beyond ultranationalist and imperialist circles.
For more: In the Kremlin-controlled news media, the war is not about Ukraine, but about a long history of enemies trying to keep Russia down.
Imran Khan, the former prime minister of Pakistan, at a political rally in Islamabad on Saturday.Sohail Shahzad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Imran Khan is charged under antiterrorism act

Pakistan’s former prime minister, Imran Khan, was charged under the country’s antiterrorism act yesterday, in a drastic escalation of the tense power struggle between the country’s current government and its former leader that threatens to set off a fresh round of public unrest and turmoil.
The charges came a day after Khan, the former cricket star who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April, gave an impassioned speech to hundreds of supporters at a rally in Islamabad, condemning the recent arrest of one of his top aides and vowing to file legal cases against police officers and a judge involved in the case.
Khan has not yet commented publicly on the charges. He has not yet been arrested, according to a leader of his political party. Many fear that if he is arrested, it may plunge the country into a new round of public unrest and violent street protests.
Charges: The police report detailing the charges against Khan said that his comments at the rally amounted to a deliberate and illegal attempt to intimidate the country’s judiciary and police force, local news outlets reported.
A market in Kairouan, in northern Tunisia.Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

The unraveling of Tunisia’s democracy

As the protests that led to the Arab Spring withered over the past decade and authoritarian leaders across the region regained their grip on power, Tunisia remained the region’s greatest hope for democratic change. But in the past two years, its president, Kais Saied, has swept away checks on his power to establish one-man rule, writes Vivian Yee, The Times’s Cairo bureau chief, in an analysis.
Veterans of the democracy-building experiment say multiple missteps helped erase Tunisians’ faith in their government. The country cycled through 10 prime ministers in 10 years, none of which could right the former regime’s wrongs or achieve economic progress. A decade from the revolution, Tunisia had greater corruption, higher unemployment, widening poverty and deeper debt.
Most of Tunisia’s post-revolution leaders barely even realized they needed an economic plan. They had speedy, but shortsighted, solutions to address unemployment: hiring thousands of civil servants on government salaries and borrowing from abroad to pay for it. Overall, this costly mistake stoked inflation and burdened the country with ever-growing debt.
Quotable: “It was a race among parties to buy support and votes,” said Ezzeddine Saidane, an economist. Later, when the need to cut the cost of civil servants’ wages became obvious, “politicians lacked the political courage to fire thousands of people at once,” he said.
Around the World
Wallace Woon/EPA, via Shutterstock

August 23

Outside Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Hundreds of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago

The first batch of documents retrieved by the National Archives from Donald Trump in January included more than 150 marked as classified, a number that helped prompt the criminal investigation that led F.B.I. agents to search Mar-a-Lago this month, people briefed on the matter said. So far, the government has recovered more than 300 classified documents from Trump since he left office, they added.
The extent to which such a large number of highly sensitive documents remained at Mar-a-Lago for months, even as the Justice Department sought the return of all material that should have been left in government custody when Trump left office, suggested to officials that the former president or his aides had been cavalier in handling it, not fully forthcoming with investigators, or both.
The specific nature of the sensitive material that Trump took from the White House remains unclear. But the 15 boxes he turned over to the archives in January included documents from the C.I.A., the National Security Agency and the F.B.I. spanning a variety of topics of national security interest, a person briefed on the matter said.
Absences: Among the items officials knew were missing were Trump’s original letters from the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and the note that Barack Obama had left before he departed the White House.
Related: The federal judge who signed the warrant authorizing the search of Trump’s Florida residence directed the government yesterday to propose redactions to the sealed affidavit used to justify the search, saying that he remained inclined to make portions of it public.
Refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo at a U.N. reception center in Uganda.Badru Katumba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A record humanitarian aid shortfall

Funding to ease the world’s humanitarian crises is far behind what is needed for critical requirements like shelter, food, water, power and education, the U.N. reports. Crises including the war in Ukraine, the pandemic and drought have sent demand soaring. Though donations from wealthy countries have grown, they have not kept pace.
The U.N. agencies responsible for humanitarian aid need $48.7 billion this year to aid more than 200 million people. More than seven months into 2022, they have raised less than one-third of that. “This is the biggest funding gap we’ve ever seen,” said Martin Griffiths, the chief of the U.N.’s humanitarian and emergency relief office.
That bleak overview hides a stark contrast: The Russian invasion has generated particular geopolitical urgency, and as a result money for programs to help Ukrainians has been relatively plentiful. But money for people in most other parts of the world has not.
Implications: Because of the funding gap, camps for Syrian refugees in northern Iraq have cut access to clean water, sanitation and electricity. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, many people forced from their homes face life without shelter or basic tools like fishing or farming gear. In South Sudan, there will be no secondary school this fall for some refugee children.
A memorial in Moscow for Daria Dugina.Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Russia accuses Ukraine of a murder

Russia’s domestic intelligence agency has accused Ukraine of assassinating Daria Dugina, an ultranationalist commentator who died in a car bombing on Saturday, as figures in Russia’s pro-war camp clamored for retaliation. Dugina was the daughter of Aleksandr Dugin, a hawkish political theorist connected to Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Ukraine has denied any connection to the attack.
The agency, the F.S.B., said that the attack “was prepared and committed by the Ukrainian intelligence agencies” and carried out by a Ukrainian woman traveling with her child, who then crossed the border into Estonia. Pro-Kremlin voices have aimed their wrath at Estonia as well as Ukraine, suggesting that Estonia, a NATO member, was sheltering the assassin and warning of retribution.
It was not immediately possible to verify either the allegations or the denials. Russia has shut down independent reporting and has made it a crime to dispute the Kremlin’s account of the war with Ukraine. Russian claims about atrocities, provocations and battlefield setbacks have repeatedly proved false. The F.S.B. has long been dogged by suspicions that it blames others for crimes it committed itself or ones it was trying to cover up.
Putin: The accusations highlight the growing domestic political pressure that the Russian president is facing six months after he ordered the invasion of Ukraine. Putin offered his condolences to Dugina’s parents in a statement, calling her “a bright, talented person” killed in a “vile, cruel crime.”
In other news from the war:

August 24

Captured Russian tanks lining Khreshchatyk Street, a normally elegant shopping venue in Kyiv.Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Bracing for Independence Day

Ukraine will mark two key dates today: 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union and six months of war waged by Russia.
There’s a sense of fear hanging over the independence anniversary: Ukrainian and U.S. officials have warned that Russia might use the day for a show of force. President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed that Ukraine would react quickly with a “strong response” if Moscow were to strike Kyiv.
They are concerned that possible missile attacks could come in response to a string of Ukrainian assaults on Russian military targets in Crimea. Speculations that Ukraine killed Daria Dugina, a hawkish commentator, have also heightened tensions. Hundreds attended her memorial in Moscow, and many called for revenge.
Reaction: Across Ukraine, security is being tightened. Officers are fanning out on the streets. Big celebrations have been banned, and people have been urged to pay special attention to air-raid sirens, which many residents of cities far from the front simply ignore now.
Nuclear: Yesterday, the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the fighting near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine. Countries traded harsh accusations, and a path forward to avert a nuclear disaster remained unclear.
World War II wrecks are creating hazards for local river transport and fishing on the Danube River.Fedja Grulovic/Reuters

Drought reveals riverbeds’ secrets

Europe’s rivers, starved by drought, have revealed shipwrecks, relics and bombs.
The Danube River is running so low on water that the wreckage of more than a dozen German warships, sunk in 1944, has resurfaced — possibly endangering other boats. In Italy, the foundations of a 2,000-year-old bridge in Rome emerged in the Tiber, while fishermen found a 450-kilogram bomb in the Po River. And in Spain, a four- to five-millennium-old megalithic monument rose near Madrid.
The extreme heat hasn’t just revealed antiquities. It has strained Europe’s ability to create its own energy supply by reducing hydropower in Norway and threatening nuclear reactors in France, and led to restrictions. Britain banned the use of outdoor hoses after England experienced its driest July since 1935, while some Spanish towns have restricted water usage.
Climate: The drought has caused alarm across the continent, where heat waves are increasing in frequency and intensity at a faster rate than almost any other part of the planet. Global warming plays a major role.
Details: So-called hunger stones have also resurfaced. The stones carry engravings from years past when water levels dropped, and the local populations knew the harvest would be bad and the ensuing year tough. One, found in the Czech Republic, reads: “If you see me, weep.”
Some policymakers in Britain see the overall growth in wages as a sign of trouble.Alice Zoo for The New York Times

U.K. labor shortage drives inflation

Britain is in the middle of a red-hot labor market. In an effort to attract and retain workers, many employers are raising wages.
In some senses, it’s a great time to be a worker. But the wage increases may be sowing the seeds of faster inflation. Last week, Britons learned that the annual rate of inflation reached 10.1 percent in July, the fastest pace since 1982, as energy prices rose and businesses passed higher costs — for supplies and also labor — on to their customers.
And the rising cost of living is causing serious problems. For most, earnings aren’t rising fast enough to keep up with inflation, which follows years of lackluster wage growth.
Contributing factors: Brexit drove workers from Britain. And the labor market also shrank due to a pandemic-related increase in sickness, and people re-evaluating life choices or taking early retirement.
Context: The number of job vacancies has exploded to nearly 1.3 million, a record high. Half a million people, considered “economically inactive,” aren’t working or looking for work. There has also been a large increase in the number of people who are counted as “long-term sick.”
What’s next: The central bank is forecasting a long recession starting later this year. But hiring has hardly slowed.
Continue reading the main story

Canada returned or sold back land to Indigenous communities after decades of court battles. They are now huge players in Vancouver’s hyperactive real estate market.

August 25

“What is the end of the war for us?” President Volodymyr Zelensky asked. “We used to say, ‘Peace.’ Now we say, ‘Victory.’”Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

Ukraine marks six months of war

Yesterday, on Ukraine’s Independence Day, a Russian attack killed at least 22 people and wounded 50 at a train station in eastern Ukraine, near Dnipro.
But despite the missile strike, one of the deadliest on Ukraine’s railways in recent months, Ukraine stood defiant as the country celebrated its separation from the Soviet Union. In a slickly produced address earlier in the day, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Ukraine “reborn” six months after Russia invaded.
But for many civilians on the front lines, Independence Day is just another day of war. Victory is a distant prospect for either Ukraine or Russia. “We have constant shelling going on here, round-the-clock, so it won’t be anything new if we’re shelled on Independence Day,” one woman said.
Fuel: Germany, Europe’s largest economy, issued its first nationally mandated energy-saving measures yesterday in response to a looming crisis.
Analysis: Times correspondents look at how the war has reshaped Ukraine and Russia. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and the number of refugees has surpassed 6.6 million. Here’s the war in numbers.
Aid: President Biden said the U.S. would deliver nearly $3 billion worth of weapons to Ukraine, the U.S.’s single largest package of military aid to Ukraine’s forces.
“All of this means people can start finally to climb out from under that mountain of debt,” President Biden said.Al Drago for The New York Times

U.S. to lessen student loan debt

President Biden announced a plan yesterday to wipe out significant amounts of student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans.
The move could be significant: Across the U.S., 45 million people owe $1.6 trillion for federal loans taken out for college — more than they owe on car loans, credit cards or any consumer debt other than mortgages. By some estimates, the plan could cost $300 billion or more.
For months, progressive Democrats have pushed Biden for bigger cancellations, arguing that debt forgiveness is necessary to address racial disparities in the economy. This plan is less than they hoped.
But Biden’s plan sought to address the economic concerns by targeting the size of the relief. The White House had to weigh questions of fairness: Some argue that widespread debt forgiveness is unfair to those who tightened their belts to pay for college. The White House also had to balance fears that the plan could make inflation worse ahead of the midterm elections.
Details: Biden said he would cancel $10,000 in debt for those earning less than $125,000 per year and $20,000 for those who had received Pell grants for low-income families.
What’s next: The plan will almost certainly face legal challenges: Biden used executive action, rather than legislation, to forgive the loans. Republicans are slamming the program as “Biden’s bailout for the wealthy.”
Rebel fighters outside Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, last year.Finbarr O’Reilly for The New York Times

Fighting erupts near Tigray region

Fighting erupted on the border of the Tigray region yesterday, ending a five-month cease-fire between rebels and the Ethiopian government.
Tigrayan rebels, the Ethiopian government and local residents confirmed that fighting was taking place around Kobo, a town in northern Ethiopia, following weeks of military buildup on both sides of the front line. Each side accused the other of firing first.
The clashes raised fears about another wave of violence in a ruinous civil war, which could further endanger the six million people already trapped in one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. Millions are already on the verge of full-blown famine.
Background: The conflict started in November 2020. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government cut off access to the region in July 2021, after Tigrayan rebels expelled government forces, earning their first major victory.
Recent: An uneasy calm had reigned since March, when both sides agreed to a truce to allow humanitarian aid deliveries.

Anthony Wallace/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • South Korea broke its own record for the world’s lowest total fertility rate last year after six straight years of declines. Experts project future drops.

August 26

A Russian Army recruiting billboard that reads: “Serving Russia is a real job!”Dmitri Lovetsky/Associated Press

Putin to expand Russia’s military

Vladimir Putin ordered a sharp increase in the size of Russia’s armed forces yesterday, signaling a lengthy commitment to the war in Ukraine.
The Russian president raised the target number of active-duty service members by about 137,000, to 1.15 million, as of January of next year. He also ordered the government to set aside money to pay for the growth.
Some analysts described the move as a clear signal that, after a full six months of fighting, Putin had no plans to relent.
Putin may also be trying to rebuild his forces. Experts have attributed the slowing pace of Russia’s offensive to a lack of manpower. And Western estimates of Russia’s casualties, including both deaths and injuries, have run as high as 80,000.
Analysis: Putin’s decree represents a stunning reversal of years of efforts by the Kremlin to slim down a bloated military. But a national draft would destroy the veneer of normalcy that Russia has sought to maintain, despite economic sanctions and the continued fighting.
Liz Truss is trying to appeal to the 160,000 or so dues-paying members of the Conservative Party who will choose the next British prime minister.Phil Noble/Reuters

Liz Truss channels Margaret Thatcher

Liz Truss, Britain’s foreign secretary, is the odds-on favorite to become the country’s next prime minister.
With less than two weeks left in a race against Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, Truss has projected an aura of inevitability, stuck to the Conservative Party orthodoxy and wrapped herself in the mantle of Margaret Thatcher, a conservative icon.
But Truss, 47, has offered very few clues about how she would confront an economic crisis that many experts view as the gravest in a generation. Instead, she has vowed to cut taxes, shrink the size of the government and discard the remaining E.U. regulations.
History: If she triumphs, Truss will become Britain’s third female leader, after Theresa May and Thatcher, an anti-Communist warrior and free-market evangelist who took power during a time of comparable economic hardship in 1979.
The New York Times

How China could blockade Taiwan

China probably still lacks the ability to quickly invade and seize Taiwan, but it is honing its ability to blockade the self-governed island.
In an effort to force concessions, or as a precursor to wider military action, Beijing could ring the island in ships and submarines to prevent vessels from entering or leaving Taiwan’s ports. A blockade would seek to repel U.S. forces, and China would most likely also use warplanes and missiles to dominate the skies.
Taiwan could be vulnerable: Most of its 23 million people are concentrated on its western flank — closest to China — along with its industry and ports. Even a limited blockade would threaten one of the world’s busiest trade routes.
Technology: China sees information as a key battleground. It may try to disable undersea cables that carry about 90 percent of the data connecting Taiwan to the world.
Continue reading the main story

Virginia Mayo/Associated Press
Mack Rutherford, 17, became the youngest pilot to complete a solo flight around the world in a small plane when he landed in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday.
The Belgian-British pilot flew nearly 30,000 miles (more than 48,000 kilometers) and made stops in 30 countries. “Very happy to be here after five long months,” he said while disembarking.

Bloomberg looking at the 4th week of August 2022

August 22

Ukraine is showing off wrecked Russian tanks in Kyiv for this year’s Independence Day celebrations. It’s not the military display President Vladimir Putin had in mind when he launched Russia’s invasion.

The war that Russia — and some of Ukraine’s allies — expected to end in days with a victory parade for Putin will hit the six-month mark on Wednesday, the day Ukrainians observe 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union.

It’s a bittersweet moment for Ukrainians daily asserting their independence in the face of enormous suffering and destruction inflicted by the Russian army.

Key reading:

For Putin, the day is a measure of how much has gone wrong in the war, with Kyiv defiant and Russian forces making little headway in eastern Ukraine after taking huge casualties.

The Ukrainian army, buoyed by explosions at Russian military facilities in Crimea, sounds increasingly confident it can push back the invasion, backed by advanced weaponry from its US and European allies.

Putin marked Russia’s State Flag Day today with a speech saying the emblem symbolized the “victories of our ancestors.” He’s wrapped his war in patriotism, appealing to Russians for support while hiding the scale of losses and crushing any protest.

 

It’s worked so far — there’s no widespread dissent in Russia, where many have tuned out the war. But a car bombing outside Moscow at the weekend that killed the daughter of a far-right ideologue and advocate of the invasion may hint at tensions below the surface.

While it’s unclear so far who was responsible, an exiled former Russian lawmaker claimed it was the work of anti-Putin partisans.

For all the setbacks, the Russian leader hasn’t abandoned his aim of subjugating Ukraine.

But the fact Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is delivering an Independence Day address at all symbolizes the scale of Russia’s failure after six months of war.

A mural by street artist Sasha Korban depicting the hands of a military man sewing together parts of the Ukrainian flag in Kyiv. Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

Reliance on Russia | China’s purchases of crude, oil products, gas and coal from Russia rose to $35 billion since the war in Ukraine began, from about $20 billion a year earlier. While import values have been inflated by the global spike in energy prices, China is still taking more volumes, sometimes at discounted rates, from its strategic ally.

  • Chinese banks lowered their benchmark lending rates while authorities stepped up support for the property market with additional loans to help ease a worsening housing crisis and bolster borrowing demand.

Germany may have to turn to nuclear power to plug its energy gap as it struggles to replace all of its imports of Russian natural gas for the winter, Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economy Minister Robert Habeck said. With Europe gripped by its worst energy crisis for decades, politicians are looking at all alternatives including atomic power, a technology Berlin had decided to exit permanently by the end of the year.

Iran chat | President Joe Biden spoke yesterday with the leaders of the UK, France and Germany as the US and the European Union seek to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran that was abandoned when the Trump administration backed out in 2018. The leaders discussed talks toward reaching a deal, including the need to strengthen support for partners in the Middle East.

Marriage hurdle | Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the government will repeal a colonial-era law that criminalizes sex between men, but will bolster rules preventing same-sex marriages by amending the Constitution, in a compromise with conservative and religious groups. “We need to find the right way to reconcile and accommodate both the traditional mores of our society, and the aspiration of gay Singaporeans to be respected and accepted,” he said.

Supporters attend the annual “Pink Dot” event in support of the LGBTQ community in Singapore on June 18. Photographer: Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has centralized power and increased political repression since being elevated by his father to become the kingdom’s de facto ruler. Yet he’s also ended or relaxed restrictions on entertainment and how men and women can mix, developments being given flight by a gusher of oil revenue that means Saudi Arabia’s economy is the fastest growing in the Group of 20. As Vivian Nereim reports, the resulting social and economic shift is reshaping the kingdom.

August 23

With the campaign for Brazil’s presidential election intensifying, defeat for the incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro, suddenly looks less of a given.

Bolsonaro and his main challenger, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, set out their stalls in separate media appearances yesterday, less than six weeks before Latin America’s most significant vote.

Key reading:

Lula, the leftist former president who holds a wide lead in all polls, talked trade and the role of industry in Brazil’s economy, and backed free elections in neighboring Venezuela, toning down his party’s traditional support of the socialist regime.

But it was Bolsonaro who surprised by moderating his tone.

In a rare interview with the country’s most-watched television show — like his US soulmate Donald Trump he prefers communicating via social media — the combative right-wing president sought to reach out to Brazilians, pledging to accept the election result and playing down clashes with the Supreme Court.

Bolstering Bolsonaro and undercutting Lula’s appeal is the reality that the outlook for the region’s biggest economy is a little less dire.

Unemployment is near a seven-year low and demand has been bolstered by a multibillion-dollar blitz of government aid.

That money, which began flowing to voters this month, may be having an impact: One poll last week showed Bolsonaro closing the gap on Lula to 15 percentage points, down from 26 points in December.

Few would bet on a Bolsonaro victory amid widespread poverty fueled by rampant inflation. Still, tax cuts have helped reduce gasoline and cooking gas costs, even if prices of some staples like milk are still soaring.

The question is whether government action can sway voters by the expected Oct. 30 runoff.

Either way, inflation, rather than his disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, now looks to be key to Bolsonaro’s fate. —  Alan Crawford

People watch Bolsonaro’s interview on a big screen in Minas Gerais State yesterday. Photographer: Douglas Magno/AFP/Getty Images

Tough test | The predominant political force in Angola since independence from Portugal in 1975 will face its sternest electoral challenge in 30 years when it squares off tomorrow against a rejuvenated opposition. Henrique Almeida and Candido Mendes report how the Unita party’s new leader Adalberto Costa Junior has tapped into public outrage over rampant poverty, graft and unemployment, threatening the MPLA and President Joao Lourenco’s rule in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer.

  • Costa Junior said in an interview with Mendes that he will scrutinize the country’s debt burden and plans to overhaul the constitution should his group win the vote.

Constitutional quandary | Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha is under pressure to step down as political opponents and activists argue he has completed a maximum of eight years in office today. Yet many of his supporters say years as junta leader starting in 2014 should not be counted and that his term only officially began when the military-backed constitution became effective in 2017.

August 24

Six months into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and the war on the ground is bogged down. Moscow’s forces are struggling to advance, but equally Kyiv’s troops aren’t pushing them back.

Six Months of Putin’s War Unravels Russia’s Superpower Image

The war has exacted a terrible toll on Ukraine and its people, while inflicting heavy casualties among Russian troops and destroying large parts of its military machinery. What Putin gains from it in the end in Ukraine, if anything, remains to be seen.

Ukraine Strategy Targets Russian Army’s Lifelines in Kherson

Putin’s War Sends Russian Economy Back to 2018 in Single Quarter

If his goal though was also to sow turmoil more broadly, he has arguably already succeeded.

The war has reverberated far beyond Ukraine’s borders. It has added to existing food shortages as inflation runs rampant in many countries, expanding poverty and despair in poorer corners of the world. Ukrainian grain may be on the move again after months, but it’s still slow going.

Putin is using energy as a weapon with Europe, toying with governments by turning the spigot of natural gas on and off and sending prices spiking, with warnings of an awful winter ahead for businesses and consumers alike.

 

Europe and the US have rallied behind Ukraine, sending weapons and financial aid and slapping sanctions on Russia, while NATO has grown more cohesive and is expanding its membership to Sweden and Finland. Still, the war has exacerbated the divide between the Group of Seven nations and what is often termed the Global South.

Countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East have refused to sign onto sanctions and have largely acted like it’s business as usual with Moscow. Some have resented being called upon to take a more critical stance against Russia, saying for starters that they can’t afford to economically.

Very little has gone right for Putin in Ukraine, a reflection both of his own military’s missteps and the hardy resistance of Ukrainians.

But as someone who thrives on creating disarray around the world to leverage Russia’s influence, he may feel he has accomplished at least a version of his mission. — Rosalind Mathieson

A memorial of flowers and flags at Independence Square in Kyiv. Photographer: Julia Kochetova/Bloomberg

Running dry | The Yangtze River is at its lowest level for this time of year since records began in 1865, affecting farms that provide much of China’s food and disrupting massive hydroelectric stations. Read how the drought is hitting megacities like Shanghai, adding to the challenges China faces in reviving an economy battered by Covid lockdowns and posing yet another test for President Xi Jinping as he closes in on an unprecedented third term in power.

  • Hong Kong authorities are increasingly using a colonial-era sedition law to curb dissent in the city, Hayley Wong writes.
  • Read our interview with Japan’s ambassador to the US to find out why Asia is entering a “sinister period” of tensions.
Exposed banks along the Yangtze River in Wuhan on Monday. Source: Bloomberg

Hitting back | US forces carried out airstrikes in Syria against groups tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. US Central Command said the strikes were in response to attacks like one on Aug. 15 that hit an American military base near a key border crossing in Syria. President Joe Biden’s administration is signaling it will remain tough on Iran even as it weighs a return to the nuclear accord abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump.

  • A senior House Republican demanded that Congress be given a chance to review any agreement to revive the Iran nuclear deal, highlighting the obstacles Biden may face in implementing a fresh accord.

Security concerns | The US National Archives engaged in a sometimes tense back-and-forth for months with Trump and his representatives as the government sought to assess potential national security damage from documents he took from the White House. While Trump returned 15 boxes with 100 classified documents, including some with the highest-level classification, in January, the FBI seized more than 20 additional boxes in its Aug. 8 search of his Mar-a-Lago residence.

Term limit | Thailand’s constitutional court ordered Prayuth Chan-Ocha to stop performing his duties as prime minister until it rules on a petition by opposition parties seeking his removal on grounds that he exceeded an eight-year term limit. Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan will act as a caretaker leader from today until the court makes a final decision.

August 25

Momentum appears to be building toward a new nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that could unleash oil onto global markets grappling with supply in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Washington and Iran have now responded to a European Union rescue plan for the 2015 accord that limited Tehran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions, including on crude exports.

It’s still not clear just how enthusiastic the US is about the plan, but the EU has said Iran has been “reasonable” in its response.

The hardline leadership in Iran, under growing economic pressure, has dropped a demand that a US terrorist designation of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps be rescinded. The fact that both sides have responded privately without too many public barbs is a sort of progress in itself after some 18 months of fraught diplomacy.

In another sign of change afoot, Israel dispatched its defense minister to the US to discuss the deal — which it vehemently opposes.

A successful nuclear accord would lead to an additional 500,000 to 1 million barrels per day entering international markets from Iran at a time when high energy prices are stoking inflation with oil back at $100 a barrel. A European ban on seaborne imports of Russian crude in December could exacerbate the continent’s energy crunch.

 

At the same time, OPEC+ members are backing caution from group leader Saudi Arabia, which has floated the prospect of actually cutting output.

This comes as the clock ticks for US President Joe Biden ahead of midterm elections in November. He’s faced opposition to reviving the deal from both Republicans and Democrats and Congress looks set to become even more hostile.

While John Kirby, spokesman for Biden’s National Security Council, acknowledged progress has been made, he cautioned: “Gaps remain. We’re not there yet.” — Sylvia Westall

A banner depicting Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in Tehran. Photographer: Morteza Nikoubazl/AFP/Getty Images

Energy crisis | The spike in European energy prices is threatening to dwarf the $279 billion in funds that politicians have earmarked to shield businesses and households. With Russia squeezing gas deliveries and power-plant outages further sapping supply, governments have focused mainly on lowering utility bills, an approach that may not only be overwhelmed by the price surge but risks making the crisis worse.

Economic rescue | China announced 19 new policies to ignite economic growth, which is weakening due to a resurgence in Covid cases, a deepening property crisis and power shortages spurred by a severe drought. The measures — unveiled by the State Council, the country’s Cabinet — include more than 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) in new funding to boost investment and consumption.

Deadly toll | The US and Europe condemned Russia for a missile strike on a railway station in Ukraine’s Dnipropetrovsk region that killed at least 25 people, including two children, and wounded 31. The attack late yesterday “fits a pattern of atrocities,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Hours earlier, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu claimed Kremlin forces had slowed their offensive to limit civilian casualties.

  • Biden said a new $2.98 billion arms package for Ukraine is aimed at ensuring it can “defend itself over the long term.”
  • Nuclear inspectors will be given wider powers than initially sought to investigate attacks against a Russian-occupied atomic plant in Ukraine.

Time is ripe | Kosovo and Serbia have no alternative but to reach an agreement on normalizing ties, Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in an interview, adding that the “time is ripe” to do so during his term in office. Kurti, who took power last year, said he’s ready for a deal to move both nations closer to EU membership, which can only happen once they mend their relationship.

Popular appeal | Pakistan’s military-backed establishment faces a dilemma: The more they seek to boot Imran Khan out of politics, the greater the risk the former premier becomes even more popular. Since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in April, Khan has sought to rally his supporters to hit the streets and push for a fresh national vote. The campaign has been paying off lately, with Khan’s party winning key by-elections.

  • Khan was granted preemptive bail today in a terrorism case as he appeared in front of an anti-terror court judge to explain his position on the complaints he faces.
Supporters of Khan at a rally to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Pakistan’s independence in Lahore on Aug. 13. Photographer: Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images 

August 26 – 27

Europe is tightening its collective belt in the energy confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who’s counting on a winter of economic pain and social distress to weaken the continent’s resolve in opposing his war in Ukraine.

European Union leaders have already earmarked almost $280 billion to ease the crisis but face mounting pressure to do more to curb soaring energy bills.

Thermostats are being dialed down and lights dimmed to reduce consumption as record prices intensify an inflation spike and roil economies. UK consumers learned today it will cost almost three times as much to heat their homes this winter compared to last year.

Blunt message | Biden cast Republicans as committed to “destroying America” and said he had no respect for adherents of former President Donald Trump. At a rally in Maryland kicking off his midterm election campaign with sharpened critiques of the GOP, Biden touted a recent stretch of legislative wins and told voters they needed to turn out to protect those policies.

Call to arms | Putin ordered his army to boost its troop total by 137,000 to 1.15 million, the highest level in more than a decade, as Russia digs in for its war against Ukrainian forces backed by the US and its allies. The decree didn’t explain the reason for the increase or where the new recruits would come from but avoided a mass mobilization and an official declaration of war.

  • Ukraine is working to prevent an accident at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant after it lost its connection to the national grid, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, calling for pressure to force Russian troops there to withdraw.
Keeping power | Angola’s ruling party maintained its 47-year grip on power and secured a second mandate for President Joao Lourenco in the OPEC-member’s closest election since the end of a civil war two decades ago. The electoral commission said the MPLA won just over 51% compared with about 44% for the main opposition Unita party, which has threatened to refuse to concede defeat.
Stability pledge | Brazilian presidential front-runner Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva promised to run a stable and credible administration if elected in October. During a prime-time interview on the nation’s most-watched news show, the former president who governed between 2003 and late 2010 sought to reassure voters who have doubts about a third mandate for the leftist.

August 28

Intercepted foreign communications and intelligence gathered by spies were among the classified defense and intelligence material that former US President Donald Trump stashed improperly at his Mar-a-Lago estate, according to an unsealed FBI affidavit.

Joe Biden said the philosophy espoused by supporters of Trump is “like semi-fascism” as the US president started his campaign for the congressional midterm elections in November.

Ukraine celebrated 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union this week as Vladimir Putin’s invasion passed the six-month mark, with Russian forces suffering huge casualties and causing enormous suffering and destruction.

China pumped a further 1 trillion yuan ($146 billion) into the economy, with funding largely focused on infrastructure spending.

And in Europe, with Russia squeezing gas deliveries and power-plant outages sapping energy supplies, pressure mounted on governments to ease the burden on consumers ahead of the approaching winter.

Delve into these and more of this week’s top political stories in this edition of Weekend Reads. — Karl Maier

A man mourns during a ceremony for the fallen soldiers of Ukraine at the Lychakiv Cemetery in Lviv on Wednesday. Photographer: Yuriy Dyachyshyn/AFP/Getty Images

Trump’s Return of Top Secret Files Convinced FBI He Had More
The FBI indicated in the affidavit supporting its search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate that records he kept contained information about clandestine human sources and data collection authorized under a secret body known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, Jack Gillum writes.

  • Months before FBI agents executed the search warrant, a lawyer for the former president insisted to a top Justice Department official that Trump had been acting in “good faith.”
  • Five key takeaways from the affidavit.

Six Months of Putin’s War Unravels Russia’s Superpower Image
Putin’s invasion has upended fundamental assumptions about Russia’s military and economy. Marc Champion outlines how wrong expectations of officials and analysts in Washington and Europe proved to be.

  • Putin ordered his army to boost its troop total by 137,000 to 1.15 million, the highest level in more than a decade.
  • Nuclear inspectors will be given wider powers than initially sought to investigate attacks against a Russian-occupied atomic plant in Ukraine.

Biden Touts Debt Relief, Climate Wins in Test of Midterm Message
The president kicked off his campaign for the midterm elections by casting Republican candidates as committed to “destroying America.” As Jordan Fabian and Nancy Cook write, Biden touted recent legislative wins and said “the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.”

  • Biden announced a sweeping package of student-debt relief that forgives as much as $20,000 in loans for some recipients, a move he said would help a generation “saddled with unsustainable debt.”

Trump, DeSantis and Cheney Expose Fault Lines in GOP Identity
The US Republican party is searching for its identity ahead of the crucial midterms, with confidence waning that it can reclaim control of Congress and face the 2024 presidential vote from a position of strength. Mario Parker explores what is going wrong for the GOP.

Japan Set to Become One of World’s Biggest Defense Spenders
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s ruling party is looking to double spending over five years from this year’s 5.4 trillion yen ($39.5 billion), Isabel Reynolds writes. That could propel Japan from ninth in the world for military spending to a likely third spot behind the US and China, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI.

Kishida rides in a tank in Tokyo on Nov. 27, 2021. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

US, Iran Near Nuclear Deal Whose Final Push May Still Take Weeks
Washington and Tehran may need several weeks to resolve their differences over key details of an emerging deal to revive a landmark nuclear agreement, sources say. Jonathan Tirone, Golnar Motevalli and Samy Adghirni detail the gaps that remain.

  • Growing public anger over worsening living standards is putting pressure on Iran’s ruling hardliners to make concessions and reach an accord.

China’s Historic Drought Spawns Power Crisis in Test for Xi
Drought is hitting megacities like Shanghai, adding to the challenges China faces in reviving an economy battered by Covid-19 lockdowns and posing yet another test for President Xi Jinping as he closes in on an unprecedented third term in power.

  • China announced 19 new policies Wednesday aimed at beefing up efforts to rescue economic growth.
  • Hong Kong authorities are increasingly using a colonial-era sedition law to curb dissent in the Asian financial hub.

Goodbye Hot Showers. Here’s How Europe Is Slashing Energy Use
Europeans are taking colder showers, offices are turning down thermostats and stores are dimming lights to avoid blackouts and freezing homes this winter in the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine.

  • Also see Brian K Sullivan’s report on how rivers across the globe are disappearing.
  • Europe’s record-breaking heat wave will be just an average summer in less than 15 years — even if countries meet their climate goals — with regular droughts and fires set to become the norm.
Part of the Guadiana river has dried up in the central-western Spanish region of Extremadura on Aug. 16. Photographer: Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images

Singapore Housing Barrier Becomes Even Higher for LGBTQ Buyers
The authorities’ move to bolster rules preventing same-sex marriages could be a serious blow to the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in one of the city-state’s most important wealth and lifestyle areas: housing. Natalie Choy explains why.

Angola President Wins Second Term in Closest Vote in Decades
The ruling MPLA party maintained its 47-year grip on power in Angola and won a second mandate for President Joao Lourenco in this week’s election — a result the opposition rejected. Henrique Almeida and Candido Mendes write that the vote was the most hotly contested in Africa’s second-biggest oil producer since a civil war ended in 2002.

Imran Khan’s Street Politics Sets Up Showdown With Army 
Pakistan’s military-backed establishment faces a dilemma: The more they seek to boot Imran Khan out of politics, the greater the risk the former premier becomes even more popular. Kamran Haider and Ismail Dilawar explain how his campaign to rally supporters for a fresh national vote is paying off.

  • Pakistan has appealed to foreign donors for help as unprecedented rains trigger a humanitarian crisis and threaten the economy.

Border Reopening Stalls as Maduro Mulls Impact of Colombia Trade
Gustavo Petro’s inauguration as Colombia’s first leftist president was expected to lead to a quick reopening of the border with Venezuela and a reboot of their often acrimonious relations. Patricia Laya looks at why the process has stalled.

Even From Jail, Najib Will Remain a Kingmaker in Malaysia
Najib Razak is in prison after Malaysia’s top court upheld the former prime minister’s conviction for his role in one of the world’s largest financial scandals. Yet as Niluksi Koswanage, Philip J. Heijmans and Ravil Shirodkar write, he will loom large over the next battle for control of parliament.

Microplastics in bear and deer feces in Taiwan

Scientists have found microplastics in bear and deer feces in Taiwan, highlighting how the tiny flakes and particles are polluting natural ecosystems and being ingested by animals and humans even in some of the world’s most remote places. As Aaron Clark reports, plastic was found in fecal matter from protected species including black bears, sambar deer, otters, yellow-throated martens and leopard cats, according to a study by Greenpeace East Asia and local experts.

Two Formosan Black Bears enjoy honey ice at Taipei City Zoo in 2003. Photographer: Sam Yeh/AFP/Getty Images

Climate bill’s subsidy bonanza gives new allure to carbon capture

US companies that cut carbon emissions could qualify for subsidies on even the smallest projects under new climate legislation, unleashing a potentially unprecedented wave of investment in green technologies.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed by Congress this month will boost a host of clean technologies. Among them will be startups developing more efficient ways to capture and store carbon, which is going to be crucial to meeting global climate goals.

The technology either involves collecting carbon dioxide emitted by a factory, a method that’s been around for decades, or taking it directly from the air and then storing it underground. One of its biggest drawbacks has been the cost. And while the US already had a tax credit to support carbon capture, it was too paltry to attract much interest from industry and only available to larger operators.

Under the new regime, the US government will offer a tax credit of $85 for every metric ton of carbon emissions captured from a smokestack and stored — up 70% from current levels. Industrial projects like factories that produce steel or cement, need to capture 12,500 tons or more of CO2 a year to qualify, down from 100,000 tons a year under the previous system. Direct air capture qualifies for tax credits worth as much as $180 per ton for projects that trap as little as 1,000 tons of CO2 per year. And the credits will be paid directly to the operator, providing a clear source of revenue even for relatively small installations.

With all that new support, American companies could be capturing around 100 million tons of carbon dioxide a year within a decade, more than 10 times the amount currently sequestered for tackling climate change each year, according to Boston-based environmental organization Clean Air Task Force.

With new projects launching this year, researcher BloombergNEF estimates the most ambitious climate law in US history could deliver more than $100 billion to scale up technology, decarbonize industry and provide clean power.

“It used to be you had to be a really large CCS plant to claim the tax credit. The numbers now are so low,” said Julia Attwood, analyst at BloombergNEF. “That’s a big boost. It means very small facilities just testing out their technology can access it.”

The tax credit is also crucially directed more toward industrial applications than power plants. That means it’s harder for coal or natural-gas burning plants — power sources that could be directly replaced by solar or wind farms — to qualify for support. Instead, industries such as cement production, which currently have no alternatives to cut emissions, can more easily access the assistance.

“These industries that really need to use carbon capture as their decarbonization strategy finally have the option,” said Matt Bright, carbon capture policy manager at Clean Air Task Force. “It’s opening a new market for hard-to-abate industrial sectors.”

As the climate bill spurs industrial interest in carbon capture, it could also give a big push to new technologies to make it all happen.

The hefty incentives and reduced thresholds are already making a difference to some startups. One example is Mantel, a company that was founded earlier this year and has just raised $2 million in a seed funding round led by The Engine, a venture capital firm spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Carbon capture involves the separation of carbon dioxide from a mixture of gasses. It’s typically achieved using a chemical that specifically bonds with the greenhouse gas. This step releases a lot of energy, which is usually lost. The next step involves the addition of more energy in a separate chamber to break the bond, releasing carbon dioxide as a pure gas and regenerating the capture chemical. That can then be compressed into a liquid and buried deep underground in places that otherwise hold oil and gas.

The whole process is quite energy intensive, which makes carbon capture expensive. Mantel’s idea is to reduce energy loss in the capture step. This is done by carrying out the entire capture and release process at a temperature higher than 600°C using molten salt made of boron and other elements.  Mantel says that any heat released in the first step of the capture process can be used in the regeneration step, reducing overall energy consumption by 60%.

The startup has shown that its process can work at a lab scale. The money it has raised should allow it go from capturing just grams of CO2 per day to capturing kilograms.

“We’ve been trying to find cheaper ways to do carbon capture. And one of those ways is to do the carbon capture at a high temperature,” said Cameron Halliday, Mantel’s chief executive officer. “If we can do this cheaper, we could do carbon capture across the world and address huge problems with climate change.”

Mantel’s technology can’t simply be retrofit into existing power plants or factories; the boiler where fossil fuels are now burned would have to rebuilt. That’s not going to be cheap, but Halliday argues that, because it cuts energy costs so much, the economics could work out.

And under the new US climate bill, even some of Mantel’s pilot efforts could qualify for subsidies, potentially helping the company scale up faster. “If we could build that demonstration plant a little bit larger than we had anticipated, then we could tap into $85 a ton,” Halliday said. “That’s part of the reason why this is so timely.”

Will Mathis and Akshat Rathi

China battles an “unparalleled” heatwave

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