There seems to be no end in sight to the war in Ukraine. On the contrary it continues to escalate. The latest ratchet up has been the decision by the USA to supply the Ukrainian army with cluster bombs. These are nasty weapons which scatter and explode over a wide area. They are specifically designed to kill people rather that destroy infrastructure, military installations or communication hubs. They also have a sting in the tail – some of the bomblets remain unexploded, effectively becoming anti-personnel mines. These can turn wide swathes of territory into virtual no-go areas.
On March 4 2023, the 193 members of the United Nations reached a major milestone. They agreed on a treaty to manage and protect the high seas– the marine areas that lie outside the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of coastal states. The high seas are an essential part of the global ecosystem. They cover 50 percent of the Earth’s surface, produce half the oxygen we breathe, provide a home to 95 percent of the planet’s biosphere, are a critical sink for carbon dioxide, and help regulate the Earth’s temperature.
Over the last past several decades marine fish stocks worldwide have been under intense threat. There have been many high sounding declarations and agreements to reduce catch effort, to use more environmentally friendly fishing gear, to prevent illegal fishing and to impose “closed seasons
” to allow stocks to recover.
Developing countries are facing a combination of crises that are unprecedented in recent times. Over the last three years they have had to face the COVID-19 crisis, the food crisis, the energy crisis, the climate change crisis, the debt crisis and, on top of all this, a global recession. The crises have overlapped, and each has added to the problems created by the previous ones.
Developing countries – in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America and in the Middle East - are facing a combination of crises that are unprecedented in recent times. Over the last three years they have had to face the COVID-19 crisis, the food crisis, the energy crisis, the climate change crisis, the debt crisis and, on top of all this, a global recession. The crises have overlapped, and each has added to the problems created by the previous ones.
This aphorism which dates back to the late 1940s points out that one’s position on issues (where you stand
) is shaped by your relationship with the events taking place (where you sit
The USA and its allies have repeatedly stated that promoting women’s rights was one of the key reasons they were in Afghanistan. The US military top brass, in a letter to marines stated that they were in Afghanistan “for the liberty of young Afghan girls, women, boys, and men who want the same individual freedoms we enjoy as Americans”.
There are several points of similarity between the war in Afghanistan and the war in Viet Nam. The Taliban, like the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, proved to be formidable tacticians and fighters. They managed to contain a far better equipped opponent and mount effective counteroffensives; access sufficient domestic and foreign funding to pay their fighters and support their families; build a formidable intelligence network; and acquire necessary technical capabilities in areas such as repair and maintenance of small arms.
There is nothing honourable about murder. And murdering someone of your own family, your own child - a daughter, someone you held in your arms and rocked to sleep when they were babies? This is such a horrifying crime that there are no words to describe it – certainly not the word Honour. And yet it happens! It happens in Pakistan and to the shame of all of us in the diaspora, it has been brought to Italy.
Following Prime Minister Imran Khan’s comments about the need to promote ‘Pakistaniyat,’ a debate has been underway on what constitutes this ideology and what unites Pakistanis around the world. While this may be a contentious and polarising debate, one thing is for certain: the game of cricket is something which brings us all together.
Italy, as other countries, has been struggling to balance the health and economic challenges posed by COVID-19. Controlling the spread of the virus implied restrictions on economic activity, on school and college attendance, and on personal movement. It also had to deal with the economic and social implications of a fall of almost 10% in GDP. This has been hard for a country which, even before the pandemic, was one of the slowest growing economies in Europe, with unemployment, especially among young people in the South of the country, at alarming levels.
We met 22-year old Ali B. in a park in Rome’s city center on a rather cold and windy April evening. We could not share a meal, or even a coffee, as all restaurants were shut due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions. He had travelled down from Cerveteri (a small town about 50km north of Rome) where he works for an old couple. They provide boarding and lodging as well as a decent salary and social security benefits. In return, he has to cook for them and look after the kitchen.
The notion of “Clash of Cultures” is most frequently used as a justification for anti-immigrant prejudice and, particularly in Europe and in the USA, for islamophobia. The reasoning goes as follows: immigrants, especially Muslims, have a deeply different culture from the hosting communities and these differences create unsurmountable tensions and conflicts.
Lockdowns, social distancing, face-masks and other restrictions on personal and social behaviour have helped slow the progress of the COVID-19 virus. Enough to allow health systems to start catching their breath, for doctors to work out treatment protocols, and for work to start on a vaccine. There is now a need to take stock of the many other impacts the pandemic is likely to have, particularly at the economic and political level.
As the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly around the globe, so did various theories about what caused the pandemic. According to the standard scientific theory, the virus originated in bats; crossed over to humans, probably via another intermediate host; and then spread rapidly across the globe.
As the COVID-19 virus spread rapidly around the globe, so did various theories about what caused the pandemic. According to the standard scientific theory, the virus probably originated in bats and then crossed over to humans, probably via another intermediate host. It then spread rapidly across the globe, piggybacking on the international travel network.
Globalization has been a driver for increased prosperity world-wide, but it has been in reverse in the last years due to the growth of populism in the USA and Europe. The COVID-19 pandemic may well provide further momentum to increasingly national-interest oriented policies in the west.