The World Today for October 10, 2022

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Great Russia


When Ukrainian forces recently retook the city of Lyman from Russian occupiers, resident Elena Kharkovska was surprised to learn that Russian President Vladimir Putin had considered her to be one of his constituents for one day. Lacking electricity or communications while the bullets and bombs were falling around her head, she didn’t know that Putin had unilaterally annexed her region of Donetsk on the day before Russian troops withdrew.

“I didn’t hear anything about it. I’m in shock,” Kharkovska told the New York Times. “Nobody told us anything. It’s funny to me because it recalls a saying, ‘Without me, they married me.’”

Lyman is a logistics hub on the northern edge of Donetsk, one of the regions that Russian forces had occupied since the spring, a few months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Washington Post wrote. It had been key to supplying Russian troops in eastern Ukraine.

After the Ukrainian army drove the Russians out, the locals helped themselves to their weapons and other goods, “rejoicing” that they were gone, the Wall Street Journal noted.

As CNBC explained, in addition to Donetsk, Putin annexed three other Ukrainian regions where Russians had held sway prior to the recent successful Ukrainian counteroffensive. Donetsk and Luhansk were “self-declared republics” that Russia had informally occupied since 2014. The two other regions were in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia in southern Ukraine.

At a ceremony announcing the annexation, Putin took a dig at the US and Europe that have supplied sophisticated weapons to Ukraine, frustrating the Russian leader’s grandiose visions of a Great Russia. “The West is looking for new opportunities to hit us and they always dreamt about breaking our state into smaller states who (would) be fighting against each other,” he said. “They cannot be happy with this idea that there is this large country with all (these) natural riches and people who will never live under a foreign oppression.”

Russia’s parliament rubber-stamped Putin’s plans a few days after the referendums even though Russia didn’t continue to control much of the territories anymore, CNN wrote. In fact, it’s not even clear which sections of Ukraine actually come under Putin’s proclamation, the Guardian added, citing Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov’s recent “surprising admission” that Russian officials were still determining those boundaries.

In those Ukrainian regions that remain under Russian control, a complicated situation is emerging. An unknown number of people there would prefer their land to become part of Russia, noted Deutsche Welle. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians have fled west, however, to avoid Russian rule. Pro-Ukraine rallies in the occupied regions are commonplace. Anti-war protests are also becoming more pronounced in Russia, too, coincidentally, as Yahoo! News reported. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of young men have fled the country, afraid of being drafted.

Doesn’t sound so great.


Over The Top


Indonesian authorities brought criminal charges against six suspects, including three police officers, for their roles in last week’s stadium stampede that killed 131 people, considered one of the deadliest crowd disasters ever recorded, the Associated Press noted.

The tragedy occurred on Oct. 1 during a soccer match between two local football clubs, Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya, in the city of Malang, in the East Java province. The match ended with the defeat of Arema FC – the home team – which prompted hundreds of the soccer club’s fans to enter the field in anger.

That prompted police to fire tear gas and use batons to push back supporters, causing panic among the fans. Many tried to leave the stadium premises but could not get out because of delays in opening some exits, while other gates were too narrow for the crowd to use – resulting in many individuals getting crushed.

Officials said 40 children were among the fatalities.

The charges include negligence resulting in death or serious harm, as well as violations of Indonesian sports law and the ethical code for officials, according to National Police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo. Maximum penalties reach up to five years in prison.

An investigation by the Washington Post showed that police and poor stadium management were responsible for the stampede: Crowd control specialists told the newspaper that police fired at least 40 rounds of non-lethal munitions – including tear gas and flashbangs – “sporadically” and without a clear strategy.

They added that the police actions were in violation of national protocols and international security guidelines for soccer matches.

According to recommendations by international and regional soccer governing bodies, stadium exits must be unlocked at all times during games for safety reasons. These guidelines do not necessarily apply to domestic or national league games, but they constitute a safety norm, as is the suggestion against using tear gas as a crowd-control measure.

Amnesty International Indonesia’s Wirya Adiwena said the police’s actions represented a systematic problem in Indonesian law enforcement.

In 2020, the organization documented 43 cases of police violence during protests, including videos of policemen using tear gas in confined quarters and using water cannons at close range.

Peace and Politics


The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian human rights campaigners on Friday in a slap to Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February, NBC News reported.

Ales Bialiatski, a jailed human rights advocate from Belarus, the Russian human rights organization Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organization the Center for Civil Liberties were named as the 2022 laureates at a ceremony in Norway’s capital, Oslo.

“They have made an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human rights abuses and the abuse of power,” said Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen. “Together they demonstrate the significance of civil society for peace and democracy.”

Nominations for the prize had taken place before the Kremlin launched its invasion, but many believe the awarding of the prize to these three reflects the ongoing dismay in much of the world over the war.

Reiss-Andersen denied suggestions that the choice of winners this year was designed to send a birthday message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who turned 70 on Friday. She added, however, that Putin’s regime represents “an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists.”

International leaders and human rights advocates lauded the committee’s decision but some Ukrainian officials were not happy with the award, according to CNN.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, posted on Twitter that the Russian and Belarusian laureates had not organized any resistance to the war.

What Is Your Emergency?


Haiti is considering begging foreign police forces for help dealing with its out-of-control security situation and rising gang violence, Al Jazeera reported.

On Friday, Haitian Foreign Minister Jean Victor Geneus made a plea for international police support during an Organization of American States (OAS) summit in Peru. Geneus warned that criminals are wielding power through control of a fuel terminal, causing “great havoc.”

Violence in Haiti’s capital has skyrocketed in recent months as gangs battle to control key neighborhoods and roads. The country has also been plagued by natural disasters and political instability following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in July last year.

Haitians have also taken to the streets to protest the situation and shortages. Many have demanded the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, whose interim government indefinitely delayed last year’s elections because of rising political instability.

Meanwhile, the US and international organizations have expressed concern for the country’s plight and pledged commitment to restoring Haiti’s security.

Questions remain, however, as to who would lead the international force and whether the United Nations would participate. Still, many Haitians are not very supportive of foreign forces in the country, partly because of past experiences with UN peacekeepers.

The international body previously sent peacekeepers in 2004 and 2017 to strengthen and stabilize government institutions. But their mandate was not renewed following a series of accusations of sexual abuse and a 2010 cholera outbreak that killed nearly 10,000 people.

The outbreak was related to a sewage leak from a UN peacekeeping base, resulting in condemnation and popular distrust of the organization.

In 2016, the UN apologized for its part in the outbreak.


Light Pollution

LED lights are known for being energy-efficient and less costly to run, but scientists cautioned that their widespread use can come with adverse consequences, the Guardian reported.

In a new study, a research team studied images captured from the International Space Station and noticed that a number of European countries are rapidly switching from older, orange-colored sodium lights to bright and bluish LEDs.

While this might save nations money, researchers worry that this rapid transition could cause “substantial biological impacts” across the continent.

One of the chief issues is the effect on human sleep cycles: Past studies have suggested that the blue light from LEDs – such as those in phones and computers – can impact a person’s sleep.

The emitted light can suppress melatonin in humans, the hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. This can alter sleeping habits and result in a myriad of chronic health conditions over time.

Meanwhile, blue light can also modify the behavior of other creatures, such as bats and moths, by causing them to move toward or away from light sources.

Darren Evans of Newcastle University, who was not involved in the study, said the paper supported his previous findings that local street illumination had significantly reduced the quantity of night-time insect populations in the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, David Smith of the UK-based conservation charity Buglife cautioned that the British government should introduce targets to reduce light-pollution levels.

“We should consider light from a wider biological perspective than that of just humans (and) we must focus on better quality lighting that is harmonious with our natural world,” he added.

COVID-19 Global Update

Total Cases Worldwide: 621,460,179 (+0.55%)

Total Deaths Worldwide: 6,557,440 (+0.16%)

Total Vaccinations Worldwide: 12,723,216,322 (+0.36%)**

Countries with the highest number of confirmed cases worldwide as of 4 a.m. ET*

  1. US: 96,699,237 (+0.31%)
  2. India: 44,614,437 (+0.04%)
  3. France: 35,983,605 (+1.05%)
  4. Brazil: 34,707,233 (+0.10%)
  5. Germany: 33,948,632 (+1.68%)
  6. South Korea: 24,979,770 (+0.60%)
  7. UK: 23,957,310 (+0.27%)
  8. Italy: 22,815,736 (+1.27%)
  9. Japan: 21,567,543 (+1.99%)
  10. Russia: 20,900,611 (+0.74%)

Source: Johns Hopkins University

*Numbers change over seven days

**Data taken from the World Health Organization as of Oct. 4, 2022.

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