Adrian Olivier,

Sunday 6 August – Sunday 13 August:

On Sunday, The Indian Space Research Organisation confirmed that India’s Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft entered lunar orbit and “successfully underwent a planned orbit reduction maneuver….The retrofiring of engines brought it closer to the Moon’s surface”. The moon-lander is expected to land on the moon on August 23 which, if successful, would make India the fourth country to achieve the feat after the United States, the Soviet Union and China. This is India’s second attempt at a soft landing on the moon – its previous attempt by Chandrayaan-2 failed in 2019.

On Monday, the U.S. acting deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland announced that she had held “frank and difficult” talks with some of Niger’s junta leaders in the capital Niamey. Nuland was denied access to ousted president Bazoum and Abdourahmane Tchiani, the self-proclaimed head of the military government. The State Department reiterated its demands that Bazoum be reinstated. The U.S., with its two military bases in the country (which house 1,100 troops as well as drones used to strike Islamic State and Al Qaeda in the region) has said it is prepared to help with a “negotiated solution” to the conflict, while refusing to call the events a coup. Were the U.S. to recognise a coup in Niger, American law on foreign aid would limit what security assistance Washington can provide the country. So far, Washington has not received any request to remove its troops and does not have any indication that it will be forced to do so, according to anonymous U.S. officials. One official said: “our drone base in Niger is extremely important in countering terrorism in the region…If that closed down, it would be a huge blow.”

On Monday, U.S. scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, announced that on 30 July, the historic breakthrough in December last year of net energy gain in a nuclear fusion reaction was repeated in the National Ingnition Facility (NIF). The December breakthrough achieved fusion ignition by generating 3.15 megajoules of energy output after the laser delivered 2.05 megajoules to the target. The final results are still being analysed, but the second fusion reaction produced a higher energy yield than in December. Nuclear fusion involves smashing together light elements such as hydrogen to form heavier elements, releasing a huge burst of energy in the process. Fusion energy raises the prospect of plentiful – almost limitless – clean power: the reactions release no greenhouse gases or radioactive waste byproducts. A single kilogram of fusion fuel, which is made up of heavy forms of hydrogen called deuterium and tritium, provides as much energy as 10m kilograms of fossil fuel.

On Monday, Belarus began military exercises in the Grodno region of the country close to the Sulwalki Gap – the sparsely populated stretch of land running 96 kilometers (60 miles) along the Polish-Lithuanian border. It links the three Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia with the rest of the NATO alliance and separates Belarus from the heavily militarised Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, which lies on the Baltic Sea. Belarus’ military said it was using Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group to train its troops based on experiences from “the special military operation” (Russia’s invasion of Ukraine). It said that includes the “use of drones as well as the close interaction of tank and motorised rifle units with units of other branches of the armed forces.” As the exercises began, more Wagner troops may have arrived in the country – with a Wagner-linked Telegram group called Grey Zone reporting that there are 7,000 Wagner mercenaries in a military camp close to Asipovichy, a town 230 kilometres north of the Ukrainian border. 

On Tuesday, Representatives from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela met in the Brazilian city of Belem for a two-day meeting of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO). Brazilian President Lula has promised to get Amazon deforestation down to zero by 2030 and the summit was a chance for the first time to “have a common policy for the Amazon for preservation, security, borders”. The Amazon rainforest is twice the size of India and is one of Earth’s great carbon sinks. The summit’s joint final declaration, called the Belem Declaration created an alliance for combatting deforestation, though countries are left to pursue their individual deforestation goals (no joint decision about getting deforestation down to zero by 2030), and also established a scientific body which will meet annually to produce reports on the Amazon – akin to the UN International Panel on Climate Change. 

On Monday, it was announced that the U.S. will deliver the first Abrams tanks to Ukraine by September. The U.S. has pledged to deliver 31 Abrams to Ukraine. It is unclear how many tanks will be delivered in the first instalment. Army acquisition chief Doug Bush said in a briefing about the tanks: “They have to get to Europe, and then to Ukraine, along with all of the things that go with them: ammunition, spare parts, fuel equipment, repair facilities. So you know, it’s not just the tanks, it’s the full package that goes with it. That’s still on track.”

On Tuesday, Russia signed a law to allow the Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) to be equipped with heavy weaponry. British intelligence attributed the new law to the aborted Wagner mutiny. Rosgvardia is an organisation of around 200,000 frontline personnel led by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s former bodyguard Viktor Zolotov. 

On Tuesday, Interpol announced more than 100 arrests, the blocking of 208 bank accounts, and the seizure of over 2 million euros in relation to an investigation into West African criminal groups involved in internet scams. The investigation, Operation Jackal, involved law enforcement agencies in 21 countries across 6 continents and targeted cybercrime groups like the Nigerian gang “Black Axe”. Interpol described Black Axe as “a violent mafia-style gang renowned for cyber-enabled financial fraud, in particular business email compromise schemes, romance scams, inheritance scams, credit card fraud, tax fraud, advance payment scams and money laundering”.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi dissolved the lower house of the Pakistani parliament, the National Assembly, on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The day before, former Prime Minister Imran Khan was notified of his disqualification from holding public office (for the second time) for 5 years. Khan has appealed the conviction, and his legal team has argued he is being held in unacceptably tough conditions at Attock prison, about an hour’s drive from Islamabad. Under Pakistan’s laws, no one with a criminal conviction can lead a party, run in elections or hold public office. 

On Wednesday, the outgoing Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a countrywide state of emergency for 60 days in response to the killing of presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio at a campaign rally in the capital, Quito. 9 others were injured in the attack. Villavicencio, 59, was a vocal critic of corruption and organised crime. 6 people were arrested in connection with the crime. Lasso’s statement said This is a political crime, which has the character of terrorism, and we do not doubt that this murder is an attempt to sabotage the electoral process”. 

On Thursday, West African heads of state began an emergency summit in Nigeria to discuss their joint actions over the coup in Niger. In an opening speech to heads of state of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigerian President Bola Tinubu said the bloc would be assessing solutions to the situation as the coup “poses a threat … to the entire West African region”. After Tinubu spoke, an official communique was read out, which included a resolution asking the bloc’s defence officials to “activate the Ecowas standby force with all its elements immediately”. However, military intervention is something ECOWAS officials have said would be a last resort. The bloc also said it would enforce all measures, in particular, “border closures, travel bans, and assets freeze, on all persons or groups of individuals whose actions hinder all peace efforts in ensuring the smooth and complete restoration of constitutional order”. ECOWAS were due to meet in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, on Saturday to discuss how to tackle the Niger crisis after they approved the deployment of a stand-by force, however the meeting was canceled due to “technical reasons”. With no credible military threat, it seems unlikely that Niger’s junta will hand over power. 

On Thursday, Poland announced it would send additional troops to the Belarusian border to support the border guard in stemming illegal migration. Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak announced that “about 10,000 soldiers will be on the border, of which 4,000 will directly support the Border Guard and 6,000 will be in the reserve…We move the army closer to the border with Belarus to scare away the aggressor so that it does not dare to attack us”.

On Friday, cryptocurrency exchange FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried left a federal courtroom in handcuffs when a judge revoked his bail after concluding that Bankman-Fried had repeatedly tried to influence witnesses against him. The judge said he concluded there was a probability that Bankman-Fried had tried to influence both anticipated trial witnesses “and quite likely others whose names we don’t even know” to get them to “back off, to have them hedge their cooperation with the government.”

By Sunday, at least 93 people had died in the fires that consumed the historic town of Lahaina on the Hawaiian island of Maui, and officials have warned that the blaze had left a “highly toxic” aftermath as well as a potentially contaminated water supply. The fires began burning on the island early on Tuesday, putting more than 35,000 people on Maui – as well as homes, businesses and utilities – at risk, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency said in a statement on Wednesday. The fast-moving flames were fanned by strong winds from Hurricane Dora. 

One thought on “The World That Was”
  1. A couple of comments on the American stuff:
    Victoria Nuland is satan incarnate. Niger is right to beware of all dealings with her. The fire in Maui is now the deadliest wild fire in US history. 93 dead and thousands more missing and only about 10% of the affected area searched. The US President* when asked about the catastrophe while on a beach vacation by a reporter offered only “No comment”.

    Also, I am closely following the plite of the white farmers in South Africa. The Boers(?). Is there any word on their situation? I’ve seen a couple of reports that Russia has offered them asylum in a dedicated farming community between St. Petersburg and Moscow. Its such a bitter indictment of the current moral depravity in the Biden regime that we haven’t lifted a finger to help them. Yet we have a wide open southern border with Mexico welcoming all manner of immigrants as long as they’re not white! Infuriating!

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