The World Today for September 05, 2022
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NEED TO KNOW
The Long Road
Just over six months after the start of the Russo-Ukrainian War, Sébastien Roblin at NBC News was thinking that Ukraine’s current counteroffensive to liberate the city of Kherson might prove to be the decisive gambit to bring about the beginning of the end of the carnage.
Ukraine’s recent success against its much larger neighbor comes after the US and other Western countries sent more sophisticated weaponry, especially artillery, to the country, Newsweek reported. Ukrainian officials have also shown pluck. They’ve used decoys to trick Russia into firing expensive missiles at non-targets, the Washington Post wrote.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy even recently put destroyed Russian tanks on display for his nation’s Independence Day in the capital of Kyiv, noted Bloomberg.
But entrenched in eastern Ukraine after gaining ground in the region earlier this summer – see this Reuters infographic for a month-by-month status report of each side’s territorial gains and losses – Russia has not signaled any interest in peace negotiations.
The assassination of Darya Dugina, the 29-year-old daughter of Alexander Dugin, a political thinker and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who has written about why Russia has the right and responsibility to take over Ukraine, as well as news reports of drunk Russian units, have not deterred Putin.
In fact, Russia appears to be girding for a long fight. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov recently said the country’s military plans were proceeding apace, according to Al Jazeera. “All of our goals will be reached,” he said.
As the Associated Press wrote, Putin has ordered his country’s generals to acquire 137,000 more conscripts, starting next year. It’s not clear if that means he will be instituting a broader draft – Russian men already must serve a year in their armed forces – or other means of attracting troops.
Meanwhile, the resolve of the US and others to keep funneling weapons to Ukraine, and Europeans to withstand inflation and soaring energy costs have become other factors in whether one side prevails over the other, as the New York Times wrote.
The numbers tell the story of what will continue to happen until these many forces play out. Ukraine claims to have lost 9,000 military personnel and killed more than 45,000 Russian troops, National Public Radio reported. At least 5,600 civilians have died, an estimate that is likely to be low, according to the United Nations. Thirteen million Ukrainians have been displaced from their homes. Half are in Europe, while the rest are somewhere else in Ukraine.
The toll won’t be going down much anytime soon.
THE WORLD, BRIEFLY
No, We Can’t
Chilean voters overwhelmingly rejected the country’s new leftist constitution Sunday, a highly-ambitious charter that aimed to transform the country into a more egalitarian society, the Washington Post reported.
Chile held a referendum over the weekend asking voters to approve or reject a new constitution that would replace the 1980 charter created during the regime of strongman General Augusto Pinochet.
The current constitution is considered the most market-friendly in the world.
But election officials said that around 62 percent of voters rejected the proposed constitution, while 38 percent approved it.
The 388-article document faced intense criticism over its length, and that it was too left-leaning and too radical – particularly in its proposed structural changes to Chile’s political and judicial systems.
It would have guaranteed certain unprecedented civil rights, especially to women and Indigenous and LGBTQ individuals, as well as legal access to abortion. It also ensured access to high-quality education, healthcare and water and included a long list of environmental protections.
One of the core proposals described Chile as a “plurinational” country made up of autonomous Indigenous nations and communities. This change caused much friction among voters, as many feared it would divide the country.
The resounding rejection marks a significant shift by Chileans following the mass protests of 2019. At the time, thousands of working- and middle-class people took to the streets to protest the inequalities in the country.
Politicians afterward proposed drafting a new constitution to quell the unrest: In a 2020 referendum, Chileans voted in favor of compiling a new charter.
But the process was marred by misinformation, confusion and controversies that split voters over the final draft.
Sunday’s vote also dealt a major blow to Chile’s young leftist President Gabriel Boric, who famously pledged to voters last year that “if Chile was the cradle of neoliberalism, it will also be its grave.”
The rejection will make it harder for Boric to implement his bold agenda.
Even so, he accepted the results and called on lawmakers and leaders to start working with a wider group of people on a new charter “that unites us as a country.”
The Prodigal Son
Former Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa returned to Sri Lanka over the weekend, less than two months after he fled the country following mass protests over the nation’s collapsing economy, Voice of America reported.
Rajapaksa returned to the capital Colombo from Thailand, where he had been staying on a temporary visa. Since fleeing Sri Lanka in July, he had been in exile in the Maldives and Singapore, before settling in Thailand.
His return follows months-long demonstrations in Sri Lanka over the country’s economic woes. In May, Sri Lanka defaulted on its foreign debt of about $51 billion, while also experiencing severe fuel shortages and soaring prices.
Many protesters have blamed Rajapaksa and his family for the economic collapse. The unrest escalated to the point that protesters stormed the presidential palace, as well as the residence of Rajapaksa’s brother, and former prime minister, Mahinda.
The demonstrations, however, died down after Rajapaksa’s successor President Ranil Wickremesinghe launched a crackdown on the movement. Protesters had accused Wickremesinghe of lacking political legitimacy and protecting the Rajapaksa family.
Now, many Sri Lankans and local civil society groups said that the former strongman leader should be prosecuted.
Still, political analysts noted that Rajapaksa’s return could open the way for the powerful family to reassert itself politically in Sri Lanka.
Going To Extremes
Argentinian leftist Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirschner survived an assassination attempt this week, an incident that sent shockwaves across the Latin American nation amid political polarization and an economic crisis, Al Jazeera reported.
On Thursday night, a gunman standing a few steps away from Kirschner pulled the trigger – but the weapon did not fire. He was immediately apprehended.
Authorities continue to search for a motive for the attempt, but local media said the suspect – identified as 35-year-old Fernando Andres Sabag Montiel – appears from his tattoos and social media profile to have embraced far-right ideologies, the New York Times added.
The incident sent shockwaves across Argentina and prompted condemnation from world leaders. Argentinian President Alberto Fernandez – unrelated to the vice president – called it the “most serious event” in the country since its return to democracy in 1983 after years of military rule.
The assassination attempt comes as Argentina experiences deep political polarization and an economic crisis worsened by surging inflation.
At the same time, the vice president has become embroiled in a corruption case – she faces a 12-year prison sentence if found guilty. Her supporters have been holding rallies outside her house in Buenos Aires, saying she is a victim of political persecution.
Meanwhile, analysts suggested that the incident could boost Kirschner’s bid to run for president in next year’s election.
She previously served as Argentina’s president from 2007 to 2015.
- The Group of Seven industrialized nations will impose a price restriction on Russian oil, with the goal of undermining the Kremlin’s finances while keeping energy flowing to the West, the Washington Post wrote. The price cap plan aims to reduce the massive energy profits Russia is using to fund its conflict in Ukraine while avoiding price shocks that could devastate the global economy.
- Russian energy giant Gazprom canceled its Saturday deadline and continued its gas cutoff to Europe indefinitely, the New York Post reported. The state-owned energy corporation cited necessary repairs as the reason for its decision on Friday but did not specify when it plans to put the Nord Stream 1 Pipeline, which transports natural gas to Europe via Germany, back online. Meanwhile, a number of European governments hurried this weekend to implement steps aimed at addressing high energy costs and inflation, amid growing concerns that rising prices spurred by the Ukraine crisis could exacerbate societal discontent, the New York Times added.
- A fleet of 13 ships carrying more than 280,000 tons of grain and agricultural products left Odesa’s ports Sunday, the Guardian noted. According to Ukraine’s infrastructure ministry, it was the single largest shipment of such goods to depart Ukraine since the government reached an export agreement with Russia, the UN, and Turkey on July 22.
As the conflict in Ukraine enters its sixth month, we are planning to change our Ukraine, Briefly format to a weekly wrap-up of the top events in relation to the war, appearing on Fridays. We will continue to feature a deeper look at the Ukraine conflict and its impact on the world once a week in our Need To Know section.
Your DailyChatter Team
Big City Farm
Some crops prefer the hustle and bustle of big cities instead of quiet, open spaces, according to Science Alert.
Urban farming has become more popular in recent years and current estimates show that 15 to 20 percent of the global food supply is produced in cities – although some believe that figure is an overestimate.
A group of researchers investigating the feasibility of urban agriculture as a means of boosting food security, resilience, and sustainability, analyzed 200 studies covering more than 50 countries and 2,000 data points, they wrote in a new paper. Their analysis focused on ‘gray’ spaces, such as roads and rooftops, as well as green ones, such as parks and allotments.
While it wasn’t clear which urban spaces were the best for growing produce, researchers found that some types of crops are partial to cities.
“Surprisingly, there were few differences between overall yields in indoor spaces and outdoor green spaces, but there were clear differences in the suitability of crop types to different gray spaces,” lead author Florian Payen said.
For example, tomatoes and leafy green veggies have higher yields in hydroponic environments, where water – instead of soil – is used. Meanwhile, lettuce and broccoli were naturally suited to be grown vertically.
Payen cautioned that more research is needed to determine whether humankind should start moving our crops to the cities, such as further investigating the costs of running a climate-controlled environment.
Still, developing urban agriculture could be advantageous in a variety of ways, such as avoiding supply chain problems or lowering the environmental cost of food production.
COVID-19 Global Update
Total Cases Worldwide: 604,393,632 (+0.57%)
Total Deaths Worldwide: 6,495,433 (+0.14%)
Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 12,153,494,212 (+0.22%)
Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*
- US: 94,748,404 (+0.59%)
- India: 44,462,445 (+0.11%)
- France: 34,780,903 (+0.34%)
- Brazil: 34,456,145 (+0.25%)
- Germany: 32,247,828 (+0.64%)
- UK: 23,738,076 (+0.12%)
- South Korea: 23,606,740 (+2.52%)
- Italy: 21,938,269 (+0.60%)
- Japan 19,460,588 (+5.01%)
- Russia: 19,442,127 (+1.67%)
*Numbers change over seven days