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European Population and its Drug Problem, a 2022 overview

Photo by Colin Davis

Being present across European countries and in direct contact in the streets, markets, any kind of shops, associations, schools, administrations, and agencies, with the youth, parents and the populations at large gives the right and objective data on how the European population perceives and behave facing the drug problem.

This extents from:

-the young lady who was smoking with friends a “joint” of cannabis for ten years before she realised that her behaviour was slowly changing,

-the desperate old mother whose son is going to the shooting room instead of the rehabilitation centre,

-the father who at the info-stand, in front of his teenage daughter, testified that driving after a party with friends, he had been tested drug positive by the police, lost his driving license and then realised his wrong-doing and hardly stopped the drug use, 

-the monitor of a driving school who had students under drug influence, to be less stressed,

-school professors are happy to have access to educational materials on drugs to enlighten their students,

-an hospital nurse in favour of drug prevention actions instead of this “harm reduction”,

-school professors asking for lectures on drugs to their students and enjoying their positive feedback,

-this former cocaine user who explained the hell he had to go through before getting out of the addiction and how good he feels now,

-and many more… about the harmful effects and dreadful results of drug use, in accordance with these words from Ron Hubbard in the sixties:

Research demonstrates that the single most destructive element present in our current culture is drugs”.


All these people have a common viewpoint regarding drug use: they did not know when they started how harming the drugs could be and that they were never told about the dwindling spiral they were engaging into, “otherwise they will never start in the first place”. And alcohol is part of the picture, starting with the adolescents and the binge-drinkings !

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ground cannabis on clear plastic bag

This is in the middle of the last century, popularised by the Beat Generation, the Hippie movement and artists that started the rock culture of drug experimentation such as with the Beatles (Day Tripper-1965, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds-LSD-1967); Jimmy Hendrix (Purple Haze-Cannabis-1970); J.J. Cale (Cocaine-1976); Eric Clapton the guitar legend addicted to heroin in the 1970, the movie actors as Marilyn Monroe (died in 1962 at age 36 of an overdose), Judy Garland in 1969, and Bruce Lee in 1973, etc., also writers as William Burroughs (Junkie-1953, heroin), Aldous Huxley (The Doors of Perception-1954, mescaline), Jack Kerouac, a Beat writer (On The Road-1957, benzedrine), Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing-1972, all drugs), Stephen King, Paulo Coelho…, that the recreational use of drugs became the symbol of the youth rebellion, uprising, protest and social upheaval, and of political dissent. And since then, drug use has drastically increased, pervading all society levels.

Today, in the 2022 Drug Report of the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), the Director summarised the drug trends by: “Everywhere, Everything, Everyone”. Indeed, health, education, the justice system, social welfare, economy, political system, governments, and communities are concerned by the drug problem, and in its wake are found: war, corruption, crime, misery, and lost lives.                                           

In addition, within the EU (European Union), EMCDDA reports that drug problems interfere with and complicate the resolution of other vital issues such as homelessness, the management of psychiatric disorders and self-harm (suicide), the reduction of youth criminality, the exploitation of vulnerable people meanwhile greater levels of violence and corruption are observed.


Across the EU the EMCDDA (Report 2022) estimated that some 83.4 million or 29% of the people aged 15 to 64 have used illicit drugs in the last year,  compared to the 284 million people worldwide (UNODC Report 2022).

In Europe:

  • the cannabis is the most widely used by 22.2 million people (584 tonnes of resin and 155 tonnes of herbal were seized in 2020 );
  • then the stimulants with 3.5 million of cocaine users (213 tonnes were seized in 2020). An increased use of crack cocaine is noted in Belgium, Ireland, Spain, France, Italy, Portugal and Germany. In 2021, the highest loads of crack cocaine residues in the waste waters of 13 European cities were found in Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Antwerp (Belgium);
  • 2.6 million of people are MDMA (ecstasy) users;
  • 2 million for amphetamines, and,
  • 1 million of heroin or opioid users. Opioids account for the greater harm in the illicit drug use and are present in 74% of the fatal overdoses reported.

Is noted that people with drug problems use a range of illicit substances, medicinal products and other non-controlled psychoactive substances.

During the COVID-19 measures and restrictions, the European illicit drug market reacted fast with a rapid bounce back in drug supply and use, returning to a business-as-usual model.

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As a result, it is estimated that some 6 500 overdose deaths (mean age of 41 years) occurred in the extended European Union in 2020. They are due to polydrug toxicity, illicit opioids and medicines (such as benzodiazepines, methadone, buprenorphine, oxycodone, fentanyl) and alcohol. There are also signs of increased harm among young people with the use of hallucinogenic and dissociative drugs such as ketamine, GBL (industrial solvent, addictive) and GHB (a powerful sedative) both known as “rape drugs” and the nitrous oxide (N2O-the laughing gas can become a neurotoxic with repeated uses).       

Facing drugs, the young people are the most vulnerable. They are exposed to drugs earlier than ever due to their easy availability, the aggressive promotions, the multiplication of shops and dealers, the innovations in the digital illicit drug market and above all the lack of factual data, information and education on the subject ! This is crystal clear when talking across Europe with youth, students and even parents, themselves eager to know more on the harming effects of drugs, to be able having facts to dialogue efficiently with their young children and educate them preventively on this subject.


First, we need to keep in mind that the natural drugs found either in plants or small animals are secondary metabolites, poisons, whose only function is to protect them against predators -including humans!- thus ensuring the survival of the species.

Then, all the psychoactive drugs/substances are fat-soluble (liposoluble). The human brain is a well blood-irrigated organ which contains nearly 60% of lipids (dry weight). This explains that the psychoactive drugs are able to cross fast the hemato-encephalic barrier and interfere with the release/reuptake of the neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) in the neurons of the nucleus accumbens (NAc) part of the complex “reward and pleasure system” in the mesolimbic area of the brain. The NAc is also involved in the reinforcement functions (Bassareo and Di Chiara, 1999) for food search and incentive motivation at the origin of the addiction problem by self-administration. So, any substance that modifies the DA release/reuptake is a candidate for abuse. 

The main characteristics of a drug as a psychoactive substance, besides the toxicity and dependence, are the alteration of perceptions, the capacity to think, memory and of the state of consciousness. This last point (alteration) is not valid for tobacco smoking. Note however that in Europe, 9 out of 10 lung cancers are caused by tobacco leading to the European Commission’s Beating Cancer Plan (June 2022).


To regulate the development and the availability of the drug, the International Drug Control Conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), were ratified. The protection of the populations in the EU is subjected to the European Social Charter (1961 & 1996), the Charter of Fundamental Rights (2000/C 364/01) and for the youth to the European Charter of the Rights of the Child ( 1979, Rec.874 – 17.4 b).

Despite these Conventions and Charters, despite the Europol, South Eeast Law Enforcement Center, Frontex, Customs, and other agencies, drugs are circulating in full illegality.

The active pro-drug legalisation organisations are omitting to learn from the catastrophic health results after marijuana legalisation in countries as States of Colorado and Washington (2012), Massachusetts (2013) in USA, Uruguay (2013) and in Canada (2018) with now 21% of addicted. This is a good business for pharmaceutical firms and the mental health sector.

“Alcohol and nicotine provide poor models for legalisation. The tax revenues reaped from these drugs are dwarfed by their social and health costs. The same is true for marijuana and any other illegal drug” comments the Institute for Behavior and Health (USA).

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Too many European politicians/governments are under the powerful lobbying of organisations and firms with vested interests in the production and/or sale of drugs (or precursors). Indeed, they never consider the subsequent costs generated by illegal drug and alcohol abuse.

Only for hospital-based treatment in then 21 EU member states, this was estimated according to a 2014 study (Lievens D. et al) to be 7.6 BILLION euros.

But there are also expenditures for harm reduction, shooting rooms with doctors, nurses and supplies, berthings, more accidents in the workplaces, on the road (25% by drivers under alcohol influence and 15% for other drugs), misdemeanours and crimes, school droppings, various related illnesses, to say a few. And all these of course supported by the taxpayers!

A positive point from the European Commission is the implementation of the new EU Drugs Strategy 2020-2025 with: “… the aims to ensure a high level of health promotion, social stability and security and contribute to awareness raising” as well as for the 2021-2030 EU Strategy on Road Safety concerning all illegal psychoactive substances, including alcohol.


Today, when the THC (psychoactive substance) of the cannabis resin reaches 21% and in the herbal 11%, prevention is more than ever needed to help to avoid the early initiation of drug use with the linked health and mental disorders and the further reaches to other drugs.

“Care starts with evidence-based prevention and addressing perceptions and misperceptions of risk, including by taking a hard look at the message our societies are sending to young people.” said the UNODC Executive Director in the World Drug Report 2022.

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Photo by Blaz Erzetic

The key point is to preventively raise the awareness of the youth and parents on what drugs are and do. “It is ignorance that blinds and misleads us. Open your eyes, O miserable mortals!”  said Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).

And this starts at school at an early age until ideally the twenties with an age-adapted education on the drug subject included in school curricula. And as “It Takes a whole village to educate a child” (an old African proverb), this education must also involve the families, all the community leaders, official organisations and authorities, and youth associations, with the care and economic support of the States, and with no one left behind.

“By closing schools, you will open prisons, said the writer-humanist Victor Hugo, let’s do the opposite!

Educate and Inform

Educate and inform: this is what, as like-minded associations, the Foundation for a Drug-Free Europe and its hundred of Say No To Drugs associations and groups, with the support of the Foundation for a Drug-Free World, are doing across Europe with their prevention campaign named “The Truth About Drugs.

The drug problem is not a fatality and the “war on drugs” is not yet lost! “The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing, said Edmund Burke (1729-1797).

Get educated on drugs too, to live a happy life with goals achievement! 

Iran’s persecution of Baháʼís has escalated since June 2022

Iran’s persecution of Baháʼís has escalated since June 2022

As reported by the Baháʼí Community in Brussels (BIC), the “quiet campaign to strangle the Baháʼí community is now taking a more overt violent turn, reminiscent of the earlier days of the Revolution in Iran”.

On July 31, according to this religious minority, “there were raids on the homes or businesses of 52 Baháʼís across Iran and the detention of 13 individuals including three former members of the long-disbanded, seven-member, informal leadership group of the Baháʼís of Iran. Each of the seven, including the three detained on July 31, already served a ten-year prison sentence beginning in 2008”.

Sina Varaei, Policy Officer of the BIC in Brussels, told The European Times that on August 2, “the Iranian government escalated the persecution by targeting the village of Roshankooh in Mazandaran province, where a large number of Baháʼís live. Approximately 200 Iranian government officials sealed off the village and used heavy earthmoving equipment to demolish homes of Baháʼís”.

Developments retaking from June

In June, 44 Baháʼís were arrested, arraigned, sentenced, or imprisoned. This total included 26 people in the city of Shiraz who, as reported by Varaei “were sentenced to a combined 85 years in prison for, according to the authorities, ‘causing intellectual and ideological insecurity in Muslim society’. The Baháʼís had, in fact, been gathering in Shiraz as part of their efforts to address local community needs and to assess the severity of the region’s water crisis. More than twenty Baháʼís in 4 cities, Shiraz, Tehran, Bojnourd, and Yazd, were arrested, jailed, or subjected to home searches during the first three weeks of July 2022″.

“In isolation, these actions over the last two months are troubling enough” sentences Brussels activist. “However, when one combines them with system-wide actions taken in the last 18-24 months, including the endorsement by appellate courts of real property confiscations from anyone who is a Baháʼí, the significant expansion of state-sponsored hate propaganda to over 950 articles and videos (from roughly 22 per month in 2010-2011) posted on the internet or broadcast per month, and the enactment of amendments to Articles 499 and 500 of the Iranian Penal Code, which effectively criminalize any activity in support of any unrecognized religious minority, one sees an emergent pattern that strongly suggests a deliberate, systematic effort to substantially increase the persecution of the Baháʼís of Iran”.

Major fall in global food prices for July, but future supply worries remain

Major fall in global food prices for July, but future supply worries remain

Food prices dropped significantly in July, marking the fifth consecutive monthly decline since hitting record highs earlier in the year in the wake of the war in Ukraine, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported on Friday.

The UN agency has published its latest eagerly awaited Food Price Index, the barometer that tracks monthly changes in the international prices of five food commodities: cereals, vegetable oils, dairy products, meat, and sugar. 

The index averaged 140.9 points in July, nearly nine points down from June. The decline was led by double-digit percentage drops in the cost of vegetable oils but also cereals, with the recent UN-brokered deal on Ukrainian grain exports a contributing factor. 

Welcome but wary 

“The decline in food commodity prices from very high levels is welcome, especially when seen from a food access viewpoint,” said Maximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist. 

“However, many uncertainties remain, including high fertilizer prices that can impact future production prospects and farmers’ livelihoods, a bleak global economic outlook, and currency movements, all of which pose serious strains for global food security.”  

In July, FAO’s Vegetable Price Index decreased by 19.2 per cent compared to June, marking a 10-month low. International quotations for all oil types fell, the agency said, with palm oil prices declining due to prospects of ample export availability out of Indonesia, for example.   

Additionally, sunflower oil prices also dropped markedly amid subdued global import demand, despite continued logistical uncertainties in the Black Sea region. Vegetable oil values were also pushed down by lower crude oil prices. 

Black Sea export deal 

The Cereal Price Index also reflected an 11.5 per cent decline last month, though remaining 16.6 per cent above July 2021.  Prices of all cereals in the index declined, led by wheat.   

World wheat prices dropped by as much as 14.5 per cent, FAO said, partly in reaction to the Russia-Ukraine deal on grain exports from key Black Sea ports, and also because of seasonal availability from ongoing harvests in the northern hemisphere. 

July also saw an 11.2 per cent decline in coarse grain prices.  Maize was down 10.7 per cent, again due in part to the Black Sea Grain Initiative and increased seasonal availabilities in Argentina and Brazil. Additionally, international rice prices also declined for the first time this year. 

Sweet news 

The Sugar Price Index fell by nearly four per cent, amid concerns over demand prospects due to expectations of a further global economic slowdown, a weakening in Brazil’s currency, the real, and lower ethanol prices resulting in greater sugar production there than previously expected.  

The downward trend was also influenced by indications of greater exports and favourable production prospects in India. Meanwhile, the hot and dry weather in European Union countries also sparked concerns over sugar beet yields and prevented sharper declines. 

FAO further reported that the Dairy Price Index decreased 2.5 per cent “amid lacklustre trading activity”, yet still averaged 25.4 per cent above last July. 

While the prices of milk powders and butter declined, cheese prices remained stable, boosted by demand in European tourism destinations. 

Mixed picture for meat 

Meat prices also continued the downward trend, dropping by half a per cent from June due to weakening import demands. However, poultry prices reached an all-time high, boosted by firm import demand and tight supplies due to Avian influenza outbreaks in the northern hemisphere. 

The FAO Meat Price Index was also down in July, by 0.5 percent from June, due to weakening import demand for bovine, ovine and pig meats. By contrast, international poultry meat prices reached an all-time high, underpinned by firm global import demand and tight supplies due to Avian influenza outbreaks in the northern hemisphere.

10 things that make cats really happy

white and gray cat on brown wooden table
Photo by Roberto Huczek

When we share a home with our adorable meowing animals, their happiness is paramount. After all, owners are responsible for keeping purring animals safe. A number of feline health problems can occur due to stress. So we need to make sure we provide the right environment for the cuddly pet.

What can we do to improve the quality of life of our domestic cat? We give you 10 ideas.

1. Places to scratch

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Photo by Daniel Zopf

It probably didn’t take long after you brought home your first kitten to realize how important cat scratching posts are. If you value your belongings, you know that you have two choices – you can either say goodbye to your favorite sofa or buy a scratching post.

Cats need different scratching surfaces to sharpen their claws, play, spread scent or stretch their backs. Different materials include sisal rope, cardboard or scratch mats. Each of these materials provides a different feel for the pet to caress for, so your cat can exercise its natural instinct to scratch.

2. Cozy nooks for a nap

We all know that cats love a good place to nap. Some purring animals prefer to have secluded places to nap, while others don’t mind being outdoors and even a noisy place in the home. These cats can fall asleep just about anywhere after a long grooming session, whether it’s a cozy plush cat bed in the corner or a hammock on the windowsill.

3. Adventure and exploration

All cats love a good adventure now and then. When a cat is too bored, it will do mischief just to make up for it. Even if you can’t let your cat explore nature, you can still provide plenty of entertainment at home.

Thanks to the ever-growing pet toy market, there are so many great ideas for entertainment such as:

• Mice and balls

• Cat caves

• Wall mounts

• Suspension bridges

• Shelves

• Cat tree

• Catnip toys

4. Delicious, appetizing treats

What cat would turn down a tasty treat? Not many, that’s for sure. Every time your cat behaves well or responds to your command – you should reward it with a treat. These small, tasty treats show your kitty that you love them and are there to pamper them. However – be careful with the quantities, as treats are very high in calories and before you know it, your pet is already a few kilos more than it should be.

5. Quality food and fresh water

Having a source of fresh water and a regular feeding schedule is extremely important when you have a cat. They rely on consistent feeding and deserve to have clean water that prevents the growth of bacteria and potential disease.

If the purring friend eats from unsanitary bowls, it can cause some diseases, which will not make you or your cat happy.

6. Games

Cats really can entertain themselves for the most part. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to play with you every now and then. It is very important to give your purring pet time to play, preferably every day. This is how you become closer to your purring friend.

7. Variety of toys

If cats have the same old boring toys day after day, they will lose interest and start looking for fun with other objects that are not meant for that. Change the cuddly companion’s toys, and if you want, you can even make him balls or toys using corks for your cat to have fun with. Shoe boxes are also much loved by purring animals.

8. Love and attention

Some cats are incredibly sweet and never seem to want to give you a moment of peace. Others, however, are more remote and self-contained and don’t require as much attention. Regardless of the nature of the purring pet – you need to make sure that you show it attention and affection.

9. Clean environment

Failure to keep your cat’s litter box, food and water bowls, and resting areas clean can lead to a series of behavioral problems that can be difficult to correct. Cats are happy when their objects and especially their litter box are kept clean.

10. Keep them good company

Compatibility between pets and people is essential. Your cat wants a calm environment. It doesn’t matter if it’s the family dog ​​stressing out your cat or a screaming baby. If your cat spends most of its time in stress – it is unlikely to be happy. Some purring animals are very happy when they have a companion, so if your cat is like that – consider a second or perhaps a dog to have fun with.

Keeping your cat happy is really not a big challenge – we need to watch what he likes, provide enough entertainment, games with us and take the necessary care.

11 Signs You’re a Great Dog Owner

brown and white dog wearing pink and black polka dot dress
Photo by Karsten Winegeart

Having a pet is one of the most rewarding things that can happen to a person, there’s no doubt about that. If you conduct a survey among four-legged owners, the results will certainly confirm that for a large number of them it is difficult to imagine life before their furry companions. And it can’t be otherwise – our dear dogs give us their sincere, unconditional love, loyalty and are always by our side, no matter what. Do you reciprocate your pet?

• 1) You can only fall asleep peacefully when your dog is also around – comfortably settled in his bed.

• 2) All your family photos include your pet.

• 3) You only go on vacation to dog-friendly places and hotels.

• 4) You call the quadruped by diminutive names.

• 5) When you travel without your dog, you stop at pet stores to get him a “souvenir”.

• 6) Your dog has its own account on one of the social networks.

• 7) Pamper your pet with high-quality accessories and fun additions such as bow ties or bandanas.

• 8) You keep seeing your puppy on Skype or Facetime when you’re apart.

• 9) ou talk to your dog as if he/she were a person.

• 10) Say words like “walk” or “dinner” only when it’s time for the specific activities so the dog doesn’t get overly excited.

• 11) You don’t mind curling up on one side of your bed while the pet is contentedly stretched out on ¾ of it.

And in order to become an even more awesome owner in the eyes of your pet, we offer you several ways to make dog walks more fun.

All dog owners know that they should take their pets out at least twice a day, for a minimum of 30 minutes. Of course,

we all have times when going outside in the company of our four-legged friend is far from our most preferred activity. Doing the same thing every day inevitably gets boring, and the mandatory walk of your furry companion is no exception.

At the same time, however, we know that it is important to stick to the animal’s daily routine. We have good news for you – there is a way to combine the useful with the pleasant!

• Let your dog navigate you

An easy way to diversify your furry friend’s walk is to let him decide where to go. Instead of taking your standard route – let your pet navigate the direction and guide you. Of course, in most cases the animal will probably stick to the well-known path, but this game is a great way to give your four-legged friend a chance to show you what is interesting to him.

• Let your pet sniff around

Walks are primarily physical exercise, but they are also a great way to keep your dog mentally stimulated.

Since most four-legged friends are at home all day while we’re at work, a walk is the only time of day they have a chance to explore the world outside. If you’re not a fan of stopping every two steps, schedule a few “sniff breaks” during your outing.

• Go to a nearby park

If a walk in your own neighborhood seems boring and tedious, why not go to a nearby park? Exploring new paths, smells and noises can be unexpectedly fun for your pet, and for you too! You can meet new friends with four legs, and this will have a good effect on the socialization of both of you.

• Invite a friend

When was the last time you invited a friend to go for a walk together? You will be surprised how much more fun and enjoyable a walk in the park can be if you communicate with a loved one in the meantime and share what happened to you “face to face” and not through social networks. As a bonus – the extra attention will make your pet happy too!

• Change the tempo

What pace do you keep while walking your dog? Are you a brisk walker, jogger, or fan of the slower, more pleasant moments outside? Try switching up your pace every now and then – it’s a really good and fun way to add some variety where speed is a key component.

• Add training

While walking your dog is a good time to make things a little more fun by adding a few quick exercises. You can repeat and reinforce basic commands – your pet has been proven to focus and keep his attention outside more easily if he has previously tired himself out.

• Get goodies as an incentive

You can try some fun games outside by bringing along some of your furry friend’s favorite treats. Throw them in the grass and have fun together until the animal finds them. Activities that involve nose work sharpen your furry companion’s natural abilities and instincts. In this way, on the one hand, you make the time outside more pleasant, and on the other hand, you offer the animal additional mental stimulation.

• Set goals and make a game out of it

Decided you need a little more physical activity this week? Or do you think there are places in your neighborhood that for one reason or another you haven’t yet had the chance to visit with your pet? The goals related to your dog’s daily walk can be the most varied, the only rule is to stick to them and always note your progress!

Unprecedented global challenges are ‘not insurmountable’ – UN chief

Unprecedented global challenges are ‘not insurmountable’ – UN chief
Nearly a year ago, the UN chief released his report, Our Common Agenda (OCA), a blueprint for global cooperation moving forward, and reinvigorated multilateralism. On Thursday, he updated the General Assembly on progress made so far, saying the need for the report’s proposals “has only increased.”
“In addition to the triple planetary crisis of climate breakdown, air pollution and biodiversity loss, and the immense suffering caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts are raging across the world”, said Secretary-General António Guterres.

The ripple effects of the war in Ukraine, are contributing to surging food and energy prices, which are hitting vulnerable developing countries the most”, he added, “but while the problems before us are unprecedented, they are not insurmountable”.

Gloomy forecast

Mr. Guterres painted a grim picture of “unabated and growing” global shocks, and a world economy in which “developing countries are being squeezed dry” as new COVID variants again disrupt lives, throwing “the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) …further off course”.

Meanwhile, the climate catastrophe is “mounting by the day” as global greenhouse gas emissions are “at their highest levels in human history – and rising”.

And the risk of nuclear confrontation is “more acute than it has been for decades”.

“Business as usual will almost certainly guarantee a future of constant crises and devastating risks,” stated the UN chief.

‘Have we woken up?’

The report provides a framework and opportunity to “unite the international community around solutions to this situation,” he said.

“Our Common Agenda was intended as a wake-up call. One year on, we must ask ourselves: have we woken up?”.

It proposes a new global deal to divide up differently power and resources and re-establish social contracts to better manage future shocks and global crises.

The UN chief updated Member States on parts of the Agenda already in motion, including “well advanced” preparations for the Transforming Education Summit in September.

“The largest-ever gathering of learners and teachers will provide an opportunity to mobilize ambition, action, solidarity and solutions; to reimagine education systems fit for the future; and to generate fresh momentum for SDG4 and the 2030 Agenda overall,” said the Secretary-General, noting that the Pre-Summit in June had been “a remarkable success”.

And in September, he will speak about reforming international financial architecture “to tackle historic weaknesses and inequalities,” which will include short-term actions for immediate relief for developing countries, and long-term measures to guarantee resilience.

Agendas for change

The UN’s “five agendas for change” are fostering a “new culture and new capabilities” in the fields of data, digital, innovation, behavioural science, and strategic foresight.

New initiatives are being launched to “unleash the potential of data for people, planet and the SDGs,” he said, pointing to UN Behavioural Science Week that engaged thousands on how to translate scientific method into impacting people and a Futures Lab to strengthen long-term outcomes of programmes.

“Last week the General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, demonstrating your commitment to this important goal,” the Secretary-General continued.

Summit of the Future

He spoke in detail about the planned Summit of the Future, describing it as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reinvigorate global action, recommit to fundamental principles, and further develop the frameworks of multilateralism so they are fit for the future”.

Human rights and gender equality will be cross-cutting themes, with a consistent focus on a renewed social contract that includes marginalized groups.

“Inclusion of a wide range of voices is not only the right thing to do, but also the only way we will arrive at meaningful solutions,” he said.

UNHCR/Diego Moreno

Women in Rio Negro preparing the soil for planting.

Leaders’ Pact

The UN chief hoped that the Summit would yield an inter-governmentally negotiated Leaders’ Pact for the Future to “reinvigorate the multilateral system and make it fit for the challenges of today and tomorrow”.

It should re-focus efforts on existing climate commitments; address international peace and security threats; realize ambitions on human rights, international justice, and gender equality, including safeguarding rights in digital spaces.

“The Pact for the Future must demonstrate to the world that while we face daunting challenges, we can overcome them with co-operation, compromise and global solidarity,” he said.

The Secretary-General set out proposed tracks for and possible outcomes of the Pact, beginning with a New Agenda for Peace to better address “all forms and domains of threats” and prevent the outbreak and escalation of hostilities on land, at sea, in space and in cyberspace.

His second proposal, a Global Digital Compact, seeks an open, free and secure digital future and his third, a Declaration on Future Generations, includes establishing mechanisms to consider their needs as well as a dedicated envoy.

Stopping arms race in space

He hoped that the Summit would yield a high-level political agreement on the peaceful use of outer space, his fourth proposal, including a commitment to negotiate an international instrument to prevent an arms race there.

An emergency platform to manage future global crises in a “fast, coordinated way,” was his fifth proposal, saying the UN was uniquely placed to manage it.

“The world has paid a high price for our ad hoc responses to recent global shocks…No single organization exists to gather stakeholders in the event of such a global crisis”.

Despite the success of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he stressed: “We do not yet have the mechanisms we need”.

Twin summits

In closing, he drew links between the proposed Summit of the Future, and next year’s SDG Summit in New York, to “rescue the SDGs”.

The twin summits aim to create conditions for a sustainable, inclusive future, which together with the Paris Agreement on climate change, are “our last, best chance to deliver on people’s demand for a multilateral system that manages and solves global challenges in a timely, effective and fair way”.

4 summer dangers for cats and how to protect them

brown tabby kitten
Photo by Tran Mau Tri Tam ✪

dangers for cats – All through the long and hard winter, summer is the only thing we think about. When it happens – we are all more than happy and can now quite calmly even start to complain about the heat. While we take care of ourselves, drink more water and wear a hat in the sun, we should not forget our pet.

Whether your purring pet lives inside or goes outside periodically, there are some risks for them during the hot months.

1. Shedding of fur

With the warmer weather, your cat may begin to shed the fluffy winter fur to replace it with lighter summer fur. This can lead to hairballs or more serious problems. This is a period when purring animals may ingest more fur than usual as they wash frequently. This can lead to hairballs or vomiting and even some dangerous blockages that require veterinary attention. To deal with the situation, it is important to regularly brush your pet more often than usual to remove dead fur. That way it will stay on the brush instead of going into the cat’s stomach.

2. Risk of skin burns

The good thing about this danger is that it is quite rare in domestic cats. An exception exists in the hairless representatives, such as the Sphynx, as they have no fur to protect them, which makes them a good “target” for the scorching rays of the sun.

Although you will rarely notice your cat lounging by the window in the heat of the day, still – provide enough shade or even move the purring pet to a cooler place.

3. Heat stroke

Hot temperatures are not only dangerous for us, but also for pets. Heatstroke is a scary thing, and it can look a little different in cats than you might expect. Cats don’t normally breathe with their mouths open, so any dog-like panting is a problem. Also, any lethargy or difficulty walking requires prompt veterinary attention.

If you suspect that the cat is warmer than it should be – you can use lukewarm water and spread it on the cat’s belly, paws or ears. However, if you are concerned that your purring pet is not looking well – see your vet. Older cats, kittens and those with illnesses are prone to heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke include high body temperature, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, stumbling, lethargy, vomiting and sweaty paws.

4. Insect bites or stings

Whether a purring pet lives outdoors or indoors, the danger of insects exists. Of course, indoor cats are less likely to be bitten or stung, but the risk is there. For purring friends walking outside – the danger becomes very real. Therefore, do not miss the deworming of the pampered pet. While this alone will not save the cat from being bitten, it will protect it from possible parasites and diseases that the insect may infect it with.

Although this is the favorite season for many of us, we should not underestimate the risks of warm weather and taking care of the pet. Even if your cat stays at home – provide it with enough shade and fresh water to drink from at any time.

New Research Demonstrates the Power of Sport For People With Disabilities

New Research Demonstrates the Power of Sport For People With Disabilities

University of Illinois study findings demonstrate the mental health and wellness benefits of adaptive sport

Our findings demonstrate the mental health and wellness benefits of adaptive sport for people with disabilities, especially during times when our daily lives are disrupted”
— University of Illinois Research Lead Dr. Jules Woolf

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, UNITED STATES, August 1, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — According to the Center for Disease Control, one in 4 U.S. adults – 61 million Americans, have a disability that impacts major life activities. Of those, 47 percent of people with a disability ages 18 to 64, reported they get no aerobic physical activity. For many of these Americans, the benefits that physical activity can have on their whole health are not widely understood.Existing, independent, peer-reviewed academic research has previously demonstrated that adaptive sports has positive, lasting physical and psychological effects – yet more work is needed. In December 2020, Move United, the national leader in community adaptive sports, partnered with a research team at the University of Illinois Department of Recreation, Sport and Tourism to conduct a study with over 1,000 individuals with a disability across the country. The study was conducted in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic and looked at the benefit of Move United programming.

Research Lead Dr. Jules Woolf and his University of Illinois team recently published a paper in the Journal of Leisure Studies entitled “Disasters and catastrophes: the impact on people with disabilities’ leisure-time physical activity participation and associative mental health and well-being.”

Some of the keys findings published in the journal included:

• The social aspect of being active is important.

• More simply, participating with others is important for people’s mental health, especially when our lives are facing upheaval.

• Military veterans were more likely to be in the Heavily Impacted group that had poorer mental health and well-being indices, which is concerning given the challenges this population already experiences.

• For some people with disabilities, such as those with limb loss, continuing to be physically active during disasters may be more about motivating participation. In contrast, for others, such as those with TBI, tailored outreach and programming may be needed to overcome barriers to being active.

“Our findings demonstrate the mental health and wellness benefits of adaptive sport for people with disabilities, especially during times when our daily lives are disrupted. And importantly, it shows that people with different disabilities or different life experiences, such as veterans, experience these disruptions differently. That has major implications for adaptive sport programming and outreach,” Woolf said.

To learn more about adaptive sports opportunities across the country, visit moveunitedsport.org.


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Bishops of Africa: It is painful to see young people leave the continent

Bishops of Africa: It is painful to see young people leave the continent. - Vatican News

Paul Samasumo – Vatican City

At the end of the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) held from 25 July to 1 August 2022 in Accra, Ghana, on the theme, Ownership f SECAM: Security and Migration in Africa and the Islands, the Bishops issued a communique signed by the new President of the continental body, the Ghanian Bishop of Wa Diocese, Cardinal-designate Bishop Richard Kuuia Baawobr.

It pains to see young people leave

“One can emigrate for various reasons: natural, economic, political, intellectual. Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights makes migration a right. This is why migration cannot be considered illegal but could be irregular …. To all intending migrants, especially young people who seek to exercise their right to migrate, we urge them to do so in a manner that is administratively acceptable and with full knowledge of the challenges that await them,” said Bishop Baawobr.

Pope Francis with some young African migrants & refugees

The SECAM Bishops’ communique adds, “We wish to express our pain in seeing our youth leaving our countries, knowing that they are going to suffer and possibly lose their lives, and we lament our inability to stop them from leaving. We commit ourselves to take measures that will encourage their free choice and the ones that will involve them in the construction of their countries,” reads the statement.

Bishop Baawobr presented the communique at the SECAM Plenary Assembly’s closing Mass held Sunday at the Holy Spirit Cathedral of Accra, Ghana. 

The new leadership of SECAM

Pastoral care and programmes for migrants

“We encourage our youths not to lose hope and to hold on to God through a life of holiness,” the Ghanaian prelate said, adding, “Migration is a normal social phenomenon that is linked to the history of humankind. It has a Biblical basis. Thus, according to the book of Deuteronomy, the offering of the first fruits of the harvest to the Lord was accompanied by a solemn profession of faith: ‘My Father was a wandering Aramaean. He went down to Egypt, where he lived as a sojourner with the small number of people who accompanied him’ (Dt 26, 5),” said Bishop Baawobr.

The suffering and deaths of migrants are not linked directly to the fact of migration as such, he said. Still, migration can involve suffering such as the abuse of the social status of migrants, exploitation, and ignorance, among other violations, affirmed the SECAM President.

Migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.

The SECAM Bishops want Africa’s socio-political decision-makers to erect structures and conditions that discourage irregular migration. These structures should include good governance, employment opportunities, multifaceted security, political and social inclusion as well as the promotion of social justice. The Bishops further implore transit and host countries to respect the rights and human dignity of migrants.

Migrant young woman with child in Libya.

The Bishops’ communique encourages Christian communities on the African continent to develop active pastoral care for migration, summarised in four actions: welcome, protect, promote and integrate. 

Renewing SECAM

The Bishops of Africa dedicate time in the communique to promoting renewal and recommitment  to the continental body, SECAM. They appeal, in particular, to a new generation of African clerics and the Catholic faithful who perhaps are no longer familiar with the initial ideals of SECAM. They underline the importance of SECAM as a continental body of pastoral solidarity hence the urgency for re-engagement with the broader African Church. 

“SECAM is the organ of pastoral solidarity for the Church in Africa and Madagascar,” the African prelates emphasise and insist that it is, therefore, “urgent that SECAM should strive through concrete engagement of all her members to be financially and materially self-sufficient. We, your pastors, commit ourselves to henceforth support fully the mission of SECAM and urge you to identify with her in order to make her more dynamic and functional in the execution of her mission of evangelisation,” reads the Bishops’ message on the future of SECAM.

Insecurity on the continent

The Bishops encourage social and political stakeholders and decision-makers to continue to do their utmost to fight against insecurity on the continent. The Church, too, must take an important part in this search for peace and security. 

“This is why the Church must play her prophetic role, by firmly and clearly denouncing situations of insecurity and their causes. She must also continue to offer everyone reasons for hope and peace in collaboration with organisations working for reconciliation, justice and peace,” urged Bishop Baawobr.

SECAM and Social Communications

Social Communications as a priority of SECAM

In their communique, the Bishops of Africa once again place social communications as a pastoral priority on the continent. It was widely discussed in the aftermath of the first African Synod and led to the establishment of many Catholic diocesan radio stations in Africa. 

“As Church family of God in Africa and Madagascar, we remain committed to engaging the world of media through the traditional, modern and social means of communication and the new discoveries of the digital era. We shall intensify the ethical and technical formation of the professionals and practitioners of Church communications while engaging with the philosophies and ideologies that underpin contemporary media institutions, practice and expertise in order to help make them agents of communion, reconciliation and peace,” Bishop Baawobr told the Accra Cathedral congregation. 

The Synodal process in Africa

The Bishops of Africa also gave a collective nod to Pope Francis’s synodal process.

“This process of synodality has already begun at the level of basic Christian communities, parishes, dioceses, nations and regions. We are now entering the continental phase, whose assembly will be celebrated in the month of March 2023. We invite all the faithful to support this dynamism and to make it theirs through prayer and lifestyle,” said Bishop Baawobr.

Breaking: Shocking demolition of homes and land grabs signals intensifying persecution of Iran’s Baháʼís

Breaking: Shocking demolition of homes and land grabs signals intensifying persecution of Iran’s Baháʼís | BWNS

BIC GENEVA — In a cruel escalation, and just two days after previous attacks on Baháʼís across Iran, up to 200 Iranian government and local agents have sealed off the village of Roushankouh, in Mazandaran province, where a large number of Baháʼís live, and are using heavy earthmoving equipment to demolish their homes.

  • Roads into and out of the village have been blocked.
  • Anyone who tried to challenge the agents were arrested and handcuffed.
  • Agents have confiscated the mobile devices of those present and prohibited filming.
  • Neighbors have been warned to stay in their homes and barred from filming or photographing.
  • Four homes that were under construction have already been destroyed.
  • The authorities are installing robust metal fences to restrict access of the Baháʼís to their own homes.

The Baháʼís in Roushankouh have been targeted many times in the past with land confiscations and home demolitions. But this move follows weeks of intensifying persecution of the Baháʼís: over 100 have been either raided or arrested in recent weeks.

“We ask everyone to raise their voice and call for these dreadful acts of blatant persecution to be immediately stopped. Every day there has been fresh news of persecution of the Baháʼís in Iran, demonstrating unmistakably that the Iranian authorities have a step-by-step plan that they are implementing, first blatant lies and hate speech, then raids and arrests, and today land grabs, occupations, and the destruction of homes,” said Diane Ala’i, representative of the Bahá’í International Community (BIC) to the United Nations in Geneva, referring to the past several weeks. “What will be next? The international community must act before it is too late.”

Stone statue found in Transnistria, which is 500 years older than the pyramids


Archaeologists of the Pridnestrovian State University discovered the oldest stone sculpture in the Northern Black Sea region in the Slobodzeya region.

According to preliminary data, it is from 4.5 to 5 thousand years old. In other words, it is about 500 years older than the Egyptian pyramids.

As the leading researcher of the research laboratory “Archaeology” of the Pridnestrovian State University, Candidate of Historical Sciences Sergey Razumov, told reporters, the statue is an anthropomorphic stele, that is, a stone slab on which a rough image of a person is applied. At the same time, an image is carved on one side of the slab, and an ocher pattern is applied on the other – obtained from burnt clay with a high content of iron oxides, mixed with vegetable or animal fat. According to Sergei Razumov, such slabs usually depicted facial features, a belt, feet, weapons, signs of power.

The image has been preserved for so many years, thanks to the fact that this slab was laid face down on the burial, over which the barrow was then poured.

The burial belongs to the so-called pit cultural-historical community. A common feature of this community, which spread over the territory from the Danube to the Urals, is the burial of the dead in rectangular pits. Indo-European cattle breeders belonged to it, semi-nomadic tribes who moved across the steppe, lived in wooden carts, although they also knew agriculture.

Over time, this mound turned into a small cemetery, which was used for about 2 thousand years. The last discovered burial in it dates back to the Cimmerian time, that is, 2700-2300 years ago.

As noted by the head of the laboratory, Doctor of Historical Sciences Vitaly Sinika, over the past decades, the mound has been completely plowed up and almost leveled with the surrounding surface. To find it, we had to analyze data from old maps, aerial photography and satellite images.

A total of 7 burials were found in the barrow. The first of them, which refers to the period 2900-2700 years ago, was located directly under the arable land. Vitaly Sinika did not rule out that in the course of further work it would be possible to find two to five more burials.

As for the oldest of the found graves, the one that was covered by the slab found, it belongs to the early Bronze Age. Unfortunately, the remains buried in this grave were poorly preserved. Over time, the boards on which the slab was laid rotted, the stone collapsed into the grave and crushed the bones. Therefore, anthropologists who will analyze the finds will face significant difficulties. It is possible that they will not even be able to establish who was buried in the grave – a man or a woman, and this information will have to be obtained on the basis of DNA studies.

Be that as it may, Vitaly Sinika emphasized that the remains found under the slab are unlikely to belong to an ordinary person. There are no deposits of such a stone nearby, the slab for the statue had to be delivered from afar, and then also processed.

“Most often, in burials covered with such steles, there is nothing but human bones,” the archaeologist explained. – Because the significance of this stele exceeded everything possible that could be put in this grave. Very rarely, as my colleague who studies this period says, they have gold and silver temple decorations – such spirals of wire. So far, we have not had this, but according to the materials of past excavations, this has happened. ”

The finds found in the excavated burial mound will be the subject of study by anthropologists and other specialists. Thanks to this work, in six months or a year, a certain amount of unique information will be obtained in a variety of scientific areas.

As for the found stele, as Vitaliy Sinika emphasized, it is capable of becoming an adornment of the museum collection.

Source: newsstipmr.com

Scientology’s religious order’s anniversary included in Spain’s Religious Holiday Calendar

Director of Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence (Spain's Prime Minister's Office) showing the calendar of religious festivities
Photo credit: Church of Scientology

Next August 12th 2022 will mark 55 years since Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard established, starting in the Spanish Canary Islands as a research project into the spiritual nature of humankind, what has become the religious order of the religion professed by Scientologists.

Therefore, such a historic date for Scientology, included in a calendar of religious festivities, researched and produced by Spain’s Prime Minister’s office, public Foundation Pluralism and Coexistence, becomes a commemoration in itself.

We work for a society that is informed, respectful of the diversity of beliefs and committed o the processes of improving coexistence, placing value on the road travelled to the current framework of rights and freedoms, which includes religious freedom, and promoting a better knowledge of the diversity of beliefs and religious practices.” says the website of the state foundation.

The calendar, which this year includes the Scientology festivities in their paper edition, briefly describes it as the “Anniversary of the Scientology fraternity called the “Sea Organisation”. On August 12th, 1967, on one of Ron Hubbard’s sojourns in the Canary Islands, the religious order of Scientology (called the “Sea Organisation”) was formed.”

And continues saying that “This religious order is dedicated to safeguarding the purity of Scientology’s doctrinal and administrative teachings. Its members take eternal vows and devote themselves exclusively to the religion.”

2022 08 04 11.45.18 www.pluralismoyconvivencia.es 6bdccb99bd3f 1024x617 - Scientology’s religious order’s anniversary included in Spain’s Religious Holiday Calendar
screenshot from official website of Fundacion Pluralismo y Convivencia

Scientology’s questions and answers website provides a more in-depth yet basic explanation of the Sea Organization and explains that it “was established in 1967 and once operated from a number of ships. It was formed to assist L. Ron Hubbard with advanced research operations and supervise Church organizations around the world. The Sea Organization is entrusted to minister the advanced services of Scientology.”

The members of this modern religion believe in being immortal souls, so those who find the vocation of the religious order “commit for an eternity,” says Ivan Arjona, President of the European Office of the Church of Scientology for Public Affairs and Human Rights. The official website explains that:

“The first Sea Organization members formulated a one-billion-year pledge to symbolize their eternal commitment to the religion and it is still signed by all members today. It is a symbolic document which, similar to vows of dedication in other faiths and orders, serves to signify an individual’s eternal commitment to the goals, purposes and principles of the Scientology religion.”    

Frank K. Flinn, PhD and Adjunct Professor in Religious Studies from the Washington University, Saint Louis, Missouri, in a research paper called “The Sea Organization and its Role within the Church of Scientology”, said:

Members of the Sea Organization commit themselves wholeheartedly and eternally to fulfill the Creed of Scientology: to uphold the rights of humans, including their spiritual right to sanity and to affirm the basic goodness of humankind and the overarching goal of survival which is closely connected with the salvation of the spirit.

Positions in the Sea Organization (over 7000 worldwide) are analogous to that of members of religious orders in other religions. “They are at the forefront of spearheading the Church’s massive social mission,” says Arjona, “including some of the world’s largest nongovernmental drug prevention and human rights education campaigns and many other global programs that touches the lives of millions”. Seems obvious then that Sea Organization members are acutely aware of the world in which they live, and their service, according to the church and parishioners, is fully dedicated to helping humankind. “They do not live cloistered lives”, says Arjona (a member of the Sea Org himself), “but are very much a part of this challenging society that needs so many vocations”.

(source: EINPresswire)

How the KGB would carry out a spy coup in Northern Ireland


Why Ireland failed to accept the Bolshevik revolution – although on paper it tried to do so

On January 30, 1972, British soldiers shot 26 civilians during a protest march in Northern Ireland. Of these, 14 people died and the rest were injured. The soldiers don’t even show mercy as the protesters run away and keep the pressure on. Some of the people have returned to help the wounded, but as thanks they also receive a bullet. Other victims were cut by rubber bullets, batons and kicks with military clubs. The British Army is simply on a roll and clearly has no mercy.

With a tribunal of inquiry set up with accusations that it was yet another abuse of rights, the judges concluded that the soldiers were innocent because they only used force against provocateurs and people who were carrying weapons – weapons such as oil bombs. The jury selected does not have a single Irishman. Bloody Sunday, as the day will be remembered, has caused some countries to think much more seriously about their influence on the island.

Ireland is the nest of spies who are always working to destabilize and increase tension. Favorites among all cadres are precisely the residents of the KGB, whose aspirations are to directly influence the West. After Dublin is shaken by the chaos and effect of the protests, Soviet agents rush to develop another interesting story – the officialization of the spy ring.

At the same time, institutions such as the CIA, MI6 and J2 – Irish military intelligence – began to report very serious activity in the Eastern Bloc.

In late 1972, the KGB organized the so-called Operation Splash. The purpose of the occupation is to supply weapons to the Irish Revolutionary Army, which professes to some extent Marxist ideas. In case you’re wondering if this could even be credible information, it’s described in considerable detail in Mitrokhin’s archives, who tells the secret history of the KGB in a long and not-so-romantic book.

The vessel sent is named Gearbox and is to pass through the fishing grounds, dropping anchor about 50 miles off Northern Ireland. The military organization must wait for the arsenal of 70 automatic rifles, two light machine guns, 10 Walthers and about 41,600 magazines covered in special containers to be handed over. The Russians throw the weapon into the fishing nets and in this way the same will reach the fishing boats.

Yuri Andropov has given permission for this mission, but officially does not want to have any connection with the USSR. The weapon sent was collected from West Germany, while military experts took pains to lubricate the old guns with special German oil, removing any doubt from them.

A few hours after the ship’s departure, a fishing boat will pass by to collect everything needed and start the little revolution. This is the first documented delivery, but it certainly won’t be the last. The IRA will get many more tools for waging war.

The KGB is making every effort to open a Soviet embassy somewhere in Ireland. Paddy Donegan – Foreign Secretary – would repeatedly refuse such an invitation. The first talks were documented as early as 1973. The informal ones continued for decades, but there is always a reason why diplomacy fails. Whenever the press asks him why he refuses, he explains very simply:

“If the USSR sends 22 diplomats to Dublin, they will come with at least 22 more partners. Of their total number, about 30 will be spies.’

Paddy’s connection to the USSR is Mr. No, or Andrei Gromyko, who has often demonstrated how he can twist the arms of the Western powers and find loopholes in every respect. Moscow’s dream is to get closer to London and he is the only man for this mission. Gromyko also once served as ambassador to the US, so opening a new consulate in Dublin is a no-brainer at this stage.

The battle between David and Goliath can be screened in the negotiations of the two with the search for an option in which no one gets hurt. The problem is that the Kremlin really wants to send at least 20-30 people. Paddy disagrees and against the backdrop of Moscow’s wishes, he proposes to open an Irish embassy in the USSR.

The Russians are ready to compromise and allow the entire diplomatic team to be a maximum of 6 people. Meanwhile, 17 people will fly to Dublin. The deal is signed at the UN headquarters in New York and marks the beginning of one of the newest and most advanced KGB spy bases in Western Europe. Even if we don’t want to admit it, it’s a small and unofficial holiday.

Anatoly Caplin will go to Dublin as the first ambassador to Ireland. Gennady Salin will be appointed first secretary and press secretary, while Viktor Lipasov arrives to fill the role of second secretary, along with his wife Irina. The USSR begins to arrange the pieces on the chessboard and everything becomes more than interesting. The Soviet delegation gets its quarters on a very special street – George Orwell.

The sum of 720,000 dollars was paid for their small complex of approximately 5 acres. After two years, the USSR claimed that the buildings were outdated and needed new ones, planning to demolish their old building and erect a new one with an additional 18 apartments, a library and even a cinema. And if the people of Dublin see nothing wrong, every intelligence begins to express dissatisfaction and look for a new way to sabotage Russian ambitions. People like Michael Quinn will point out some troubling facts:

“Irish J2 Military Intelligence is involved in the complete monitoring of people entering and exiting the estate on George Orwell Street, also known as ‘Orwell Road.’ MI6 spies, meanwhile, have been busy removing the IRA from Northern Ireland. Every opinion was considered at the table; forged letters, propaganda, sabotage of IRA weapons, even murder.

However, British Prime Minister Ted Heath wanted more. False stories were told that the IRA was involved in fraud, witchcraft and it was even claimed that Soviet grenade launchers would soon arrive on Irish shores. Another suggestion was to invent legends about bombs causing cancer.’

The Crown is slowly and surely losing its influence over Ireland, but it doesn’t mind sabotaging any flirtations with the USSR. The investment in propaganda is more than good, but the more important question: how successful is it? Of course, the CIA gets in on the fun too. The Washington Post will claim that this will be the first Russian intelligence coup that will go down in the history of the century.

Fortunately, a group of Americans and West Germans are working undercover with Crypto AG, a Swiss company run by Boris Hagelin. He is known for creating a special machine for encrypting information, which has been in the arsenal of Soviet agents since 1952.

The spies sell Hagelin’s device to all interested intelligence agencies around the world. Ireland paid the sum of $1.25 million in the early 1980s, and with the new equipment it became clear that the CIA could decipher anything sent from Dublin.

At that time, the KGB was walking in the most reliable place in the world – the pubs. Hitting the most vulnerable groups is more than enough as legends of a coup by the IRA, the movements of the British army, as well as the focus of NATO and the dispatch of American submarines begin to circulate.

More than 90 Russian intelligence agents have been able to transfer directly from Britain to Ireland so that the number of diplomats can still be maintained. Entering England may be considered a more difficult task, but in the meantime we must not forget that Ireland is open to anyone who wants to live there.

Gamophobia – the fear that prevents us from committing


Often people make excuses or make excuses, but they don’t recognize their fear of marriage

Gamophobia is an excessive fear of commitment or marriage. In this case, it is not about the temporary nervousness that comes over someone when he is about to connect his life with another person. It consists of excessive anxiety that can be accompanied by panic attacks.

Like other phobias, there is a fear that goes beyond the limits of the rational. And although it seems unfounded, it becomes so intense that it can be paralyzing. A person may even experience a panic attack.

The main characteristic of gamophobia is the irrational fear of marriage. This is accompanied by another series of traits that are typical of people with this disorder.

Such manifestations are the following:

    • Intense emotional response

It is common for the symptoms of gamophobia to manifest themselves when the affected person is faced with a situation where they are asked to consider marriage as an option. This can also happen at the very idea of ​​getting married or seeing another couple that does. This leads to chaotic or unusual behavior that is incomprehensible to others.

    • Lack of justification

Those who suffer from this disorder lack the ability to explain why. If asked, they do not find reasons for their behavior or try to minimize it. They often claim that this is a personality trait, but it doesn’t really cause them any problems.

  • Avoidance

They also often try to avoid any situations and even conversations related to marriage. If they are forced to undergo this, they may have a panic attack. Their fear provokes feelings of guilt and shame.

    • Physical manifestations

The anguish and anxiety they experience when faced with marital situations usually manifests itself in a series of physical reactions, such as the following:

• Difficulty breathing

    • Excessive sweating

    • Sensation of suffocation

    • Chest pain

    • Vertigo

    • Digestive problems

    • Increase in blood pressure

    • Muscle strain

    • Nausea

To overcome gamophobia, the first thing you need to do is recognize that you have a problem. Often people make excuses or make excuses, but they don’t recognize their fear of marriage. Therefore, this step is not so easy to take.

Once you have determined that you do have a psychological problem, you should get the help of a professional. There are different types of therapy that can help in these cases.

    • Exposure therapy

It is a behavioral psychotherapy that is usually very effective in treating gamophobia.

    • Cognitive therapy

This type of psychotherapy focuses more on identifying, analyzing, and correcting misconceptions about marriage.

    • Psychodynamic therapy

This type of therapy is based on an open and free conversation about the person’s feelings.

    • Medicines

In general, medication does not serve to overcome the phobia as such. However, in some extreme cases they can help mitigate the reactions caused by gamophobia and partially stabilize the mood.

Prolonged drought led to social tensions and the collapse of Mayapan


Scientists conducted an interdisciplinary study of materials from the city of Mayapan, the largest political capital of the Maya of the postclassic period. They found that as long as rainfall in the region remained at a sufficient level, the population of the city continued to grow. But prolonged droughts have led to increased social tensions and violence. Mayapan was eventually abandoned in the middle of the 15th century. It is noteworthy that, it seems, the researchers managed to find a collective burial of representatives of the Kokom dynasty, who were killed as a result of an uprising around 1441. This is reported in an article published in the journal Nature Communications.

At the turn of the 1st and 2nd millennia of our era, the crisis of the classical Mayan society occurred. Many territories were practically depopulated, state associations collapsed, many cities disappeared, and the social structure and economy collapsed. A number of scientists see climate change as the cause of this process, while others defend the idea that internal structural problems in Mayan society were to blame. At the initial stage of the postclassic period, around the second half of the 10th – mid-11th centuries, the city of Chichen Itza flourished, which controlled most of the northern Yucatan. However, soon he and several other cities fall into decay, and Mayapan establishes dominance over the peninsula at the end of the 12th century.

Mayapan is the largest political capital of the Maya of the postclassic period. It was inhabited from about 1100 to 1450 and exceeded the size of any city located in the lowlands of the Maya of Belize, Guatemala and Mexico, acting as the center of political, economic and religious life. Since the second half of the 13th century, Mayapan was ruled by the Kokom dynasty, whose power was largely based on control over trade with other regions. However, in 1441, the Kokoms were overthrown as a result of an uprising led by the Shiu dynasty, and Yucatan, as a result, was divided into a dozen and a half states that were at war with each other, but were closely connected by trade. Today Mayapan is the ruins of an ancient city. Archaeologists have discovered in it the remains of a city wall, several thousand buildings, including monumental temples, a sacred cenote (natural well), numerous art objects, burials and other things associated with the Mayan civilization.

Douglas Kennett of the University of California at Santa Barbara, together with colleagues from Australia, the UK, Germany, Canada, Mexico and the US, combined archaeological, historical, osteological and paleoclimatic data to test the link between climate change, civil conflict and political collapse. Mayapana in the XIV-XV centuries. Scientists also conducted radiocarbon analysis of the remains of 205 people to confirm or refute the information from written sources about a number of significant events in the history of the Mayapan, recorded using the Mayan calendar: from the period of “terror and war” (1302-1323) to the murder of representatives of the Kokom dynasty ( 1440-1461), as well as the political decline and abandonment of the city (after 1450).

To find out the climatic conditions in which the Maya lived during the studied period, scientists conducted an analysis of stable oxygen isotopes in speleothems, and also studied changes in the salinity level of water in a small lake located about 27 kilometers from Mayapan. As a result of this work, scientists found that around 1100–1340, a sufficient amount of precipitation fell in the region. This was accompanied by an increase in population that peaked around 1200–1350, after which the population began to decline, reaching a trough around 1450. This conclusion is confirmed by written sources.

Radiocarbon analysis of the remains from a collective burial excavated near the temple showed that 25 individuals died around 1302-1362. In three of them, scientists found post-mortem traumatic brain injuries, cuts on the bones, indicating dismemberment and deliberate desecration.

According to the researchers, this burial may correspond to historical evidence of conflicts in the Yucatan (possibly, these are sacrificed prisoners of war). Another type of collective burials are two objects from 1360-1400, excavated near ceremonial structures, which contained desecrated human remains with ritual pottery. A number of remains demonstrate that people died a violent death (wounds with stone knives in different parts of the skeleton), in addition, some of the remains were dismembered and burned. According to scientists, this is consistent with historical data on the struggle within the ruling factions. Notably, this event coincided with a major drought in Central Mexico. Historical evidence of Mayapan massacres is also consistent with evidence of population decline and architectural construction.

Another collective burial was found near the temple of Kukulkan. Scientists have suggested that it may correspond to the burial of representatives of the Kokom dynasty, who were killed by Shiu. The skulls and bones of the postcranial skeleton belonged to at least nine individuals, seven of whom were children. Scientists found traces of stab wounds in two people. Based on radiocarbon analysis, this event occurred between 1440–1460. Moreover, paleogenetic analysis confirmed that the buried were genetically close to each other on the maternal line.

The researchers concluded that Mayapan’s population decline coincided with a period of extreme drought (around 1350-1430). As a result, famine followed, trade was disrupted, and Mayapan was eventually abandoned, and its inhabitants founded many small states throughout the Yucatan. The scientists also concluded that the prolonged hardship caused by climate change led to social tensions fueled by politicians. This eventually led to more and more violence. In addition, they confirmed the written data about the decline of this city between 1441-1461.

Photo: Location of the city of Mayapan on the map and the plan of this monument. The letters MB indicate the places where collective burials were discovered.

Douglas Kennett et al. / Nature Communications, 2022

Queens of Egyptology


We have all heard the name Howard Carter and know that he is the discoverer of the famous tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt. However, history knows no less colorful ladies who left an important scientific legacy in Egyptology. I personally have a special sentiment and interest in two of them, with whom I feel connected in a special way.

We have all heard the name Howard Carter and know that he is the discoverer of the famous tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt. However, history knows no less colorful ladies who left an important scientific legacy in Egyptology. I personally have a special sentiment and interest in two of them, with whom I feel connected in a special way.

Natasha Rambova

she is like a heroine from a movie. Her birth name was Winifred Kimball Shawhennessy. In the 1920s, she was a student of the Russian ballet master and choreographer Teodor Kozlov, and in his honor, when she was 17, she adopted the artistic pseudonym Natasha Rambova, which gradually became her official name. Later, she became one of the most extravagant designers of costumes for theater productions and film productions, and created her own fashion line. Her name is constantly mixed up in love affairs with both men and women.

They say that her mentor Teodor Kozlov and the actress and film producer Alla Nazimova, with whom they created the classic “Salome” in 1922, were also madly in love with her. Natasha Rambova played many roles in Hollywood, created costumes that are emblematic of the spirit of the time. She also went down in history with her stormy two-year marriage, followed by an equally stormy divorce from Hollywood’s sex symbol at the time, Rudolph Valentino. Spicy, passionate and uncontrollable, Rambova is fascinated by all forms of art, but also by esotericism and spiritualism, and more than once declares to the sweet and melodramatic

Valentino that it is completely impossible for her to stay at home, look after children and set the table for afternoon tea. A few years after her divorce from Valentino in 1925, she married the aristocrat Alvaro de Urzaiz, and in 1936 she visited Egypt for the first time – the country that enchanted her forever and with which she would connect her life. He is then 39 years old.

Natasha spends nearly a month in Luxor. It was there that she met Howard Carter – a fateful meeting, because from that moment she decided that she would devote the rest of her life, all her means, energy, strength and emotions to the science of Egyptology. At that time he wrote in his personal diary: “I felt as if at last, after a long journey and wandering, I had returned home. The first days I was in Thebes, I couldn’t stop my tears, they just flowed from my eyes. But no!… these weren’t tears of sadness, but some kind of emotional release, some kind of impact from the past – a return to yourself and to the place you’ve loved for too long and you’re finally back, where it’s always been. your heart I’m home, I’m finally home!!!’

Natasha Rambova’s research and contribution to the development of Egyptology is truly remarkable. He began collecting and studying various religious texts, until one afternoon, looking for information in the Cairo library, he met the director of the Institute at the time, the Russian-born Egyptologist Alexander Piankov. This acquaintance would lead to some of the most serious research and the publication of valuable books related to the sacred religious texts of Ancient Egypt – the pyramid texts from the pyramid of King Unas of the Fifth Dynasty of Egypt at Saqqara. Rambova took up research and editorial work and actively helped Piankov in his studies. Finds solid funding from foundations, helps field research in Luxor. The team obtained permission to photograph and study the inscriptions from the golden shrines that surround the sarcophagus of Tutankhamun in his tomb in the Valley. He worked as an editor on the first three volumes of the series “Egyptian religious texts” by Alexander Piankov and continued to deal with Egyptology until his last breath.

Nina McPherson Davis

She is the wife of another very talented and famous Egyptologist – Norman de Garris Davis. A true lady, a talented artist, copyist and Egyptologist, she is also known for her impeccable personal style – her long dark hair is always braided and smells of jasmine, her dress is unfailingly elegant and she always welcomes guests for afternoon tea at her house in Kurna, on The West Bank of Luxor, with fine china cups on a white linen tablecloth.

A fateful trip in 1906 to Alexandria linked her life to Egyptology. Then Nina was 25 years old and with a group of friends toured the sights of Ancient Egypt. Over a cup of tea, she meets Norman de Garris Davies, who is 16 years older than her. By this time, Norman was already an established Egyptologist, clearly stating his serious work and dedication to science. Behind him was work as an Egyptologist and copyist, and together with Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie worked at Dendera (1897-1898).

He then headed the Egypt Exploration Fund mission, resulting in 11 volumes of copies of tombs from Saqqara, Amarna, Sheikh Said and Deir el-Gebrawi. Between 1905 and 1907 he worked with George Reisner on the Giza Plateau, as well as with James Henry Breasted, describing and studying the monuments in Nubia. Love between the two ignited at first sight, and upon returning from her trip, Nina was already engaged to Norman, and a year later, in 1907, they were married in London. In the same year, Norman headed the epigraphic mission to Egypt of major ancient Egyptian necropolises. He and his wife, Nina, settled in Luxor, where Norman began his work at Sheikh ab del-Qurna. Almost their entire life together was spent there studying the texts and images from the tombs of several major ancient Egyptian necropolises. This will become their life’s work.

From 1913, Nina began working as a copyist for the Metropolitan Mission, just like her husband. This job requires extreme precision, an accurate eye and a talented hand. It is often dark and uncomfortable to work in the tombs. There is a lack of natural light in which to see the true colors. Texts and reliefs are destroyed, parts are missing, images are covered with layers of dust and dirt. Nina started using mirrors in her work to provide more light in the rooms.

Together with Norman, they began to use a new technique in their repaintings – instead of watercolor paints, they used tempera paints, with which they gave volume and density to the images. Nina mastered the technique, style and form of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and imagery to such an extent that her renderings can still easily fool even the professional eye today. They live in a small house in Luxor, where in the evening they like to listen to music on their old gramophone, drink tea, and after dinner continue to work until the early hours of the next day.

Sir Alan Gardiner, one of the most famous British Egyptologists, was impressed by Nina’s talent and managed to organize several solo exhibitions of her in London and Oxford, and Rockefeller himself was included as a donor. With his help, two volumes of her works were published.

For the first edition of his Egyptian grammar, Sir Alan Gardiner asked Nina and Norman to produce a hieroglyphic character pool. They do, and in fact the grammar that all Egyptologists use today is based on the hieroglyphs written by Nina and Norman de Garris Davies.

In 1939, because of the complicated political situation immediately before the Second World War, the two left their house in Kurna and returned to England. Half of their belongings remain in Egypt, clearly indicating their intention to return and continue their work. However, on November 5, 1941, Norman died in his sleep of heart failure. Left alone, Nina never returned to Egypt and devoted her entire life to arranging, editing and publishing her husband’s unfinished works.

We need bright personalities to lead us to God


Interview with priest Georgiy Chistyakov

A conversation about spiritual mentorship with Father Georgi Chistyakov (August 4, 1953 – June 22, 2007) — priest, philologist, historian, human rights defender. He is considered a follower of Prot. Alexander Men. Like him, he is a highly erudite priest, pastor, historian, philologist, connoisseur of classical and several European languages. He is engaged in charity work, takes active public positions, in 2003 he opposed the Russian Federation’s war in Chechnya.

The interview was taken in 2003, but is still completely relevant today because of the observations and conclusions of Fr. George.

– Father George, from your point of view as an Orthodox priest, how sick is Russian society?

“It’s sick.” And it’s seriously sick. After all, after the fall of the Soviet regime, we found ourselves free, but in sufficiently harsh conditions of penury and unemployment, it was impossible for us to avoid the disadvantages. The problems associated with making independent decisions on many of the most important life issues faced people in all their fullness. We were used to the state solving all problems for us. That is why society is sick with asthenia – weakness. And the new Russian state simply abandoned us.

Although… I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. It might be for the better. Because a person must be able to decide too many things independently, without relying on the state. However, as of now, this is still not happening. How then can we help society, you will ask. Civil society structures will help you answer this question. I have been involved in the activities of non-governmental organizations for many years. Fortunately, now they are already working not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg, or let’s say, in Nizhny Novgorod, but also in many other cities of the country. The only problem is that often these organizations are still weak and need financial support from the side. Otherwise, they – so necessary to people – cannot work.

I am talking about the cases when people come together and with joint efforts solve a common problem; for such associations as, for example, associations of parents of children suffering from Down syndrome or diabetes, organizations of relatives of alcoholics, associations of pensioners and people with disabilities… There are many!

And the Church is also one of the elements of civil society. Sobriety groups, groups to help the poor, the homeless can be created at the temples. There they feed and clothe the wanderers. The people who are engaged in this work without any reward. It is a public work requiring a high degree of personal feeling. A feeling that you are doing important work, a sense of responsibility towards that work. A significant element of the church’s charitable activity is the work with disadvantaged elderly people living at the border or below the poverty line. For them, it is necessary to look for clothes, medicines, glasses, to collect money to buy the necessary things.

However, people turn to the temple not only for material, but of course also for spiritual help. And it is very important that the priest and the layman, who meet the person with his problems at the threshold of the church, should really be able to give him this spiritual help. When someone starts believing in God, he becomes stronger. Helping him to grow spiritually to confront the trouble he has fallen into is the most important task.

– What, in your opinion, is the most serious handicap destroying Russian society?

“I don’t even know where to start.” Everything is very serious: poverty, drug addiction, alcoholism… Facing people living below the poverty line, you can’t help but say that the main Russian problem is poverty. But when you meet relatives of alcoholics and parents of drug addicts, who sold everything to save their children, and what they couldn’t sell, their children stole to buy a dose, it becomes clear: the main problems for Russia it is drug addiction and alcoholism.

But there are quite a few other cruel handicaps. One of them – the high prices of good medical care. People don’t have enough money for her. Therefore, often, instead of turning to doctors, they go to magicians and psychics. Instead of taking medicines, they use folk remedies, nutritional supplements, etc.

I cannot help talking about such a dangerous disease as the terrible bitterness of the population… To the rich, to migrants, to refugees, to representatives of other nationalities, religions and confessions. For example, to Catholics. All that we call xenophobia. This disease also absolutely needs to be treated. It’s scary when a person is bitter against everyone and everything.

– Can this bitterness be eradicated somehow?

– First, you need to talk to people. All too often resentment stems from ignorance. From the fact that a person lives, operating not with facts, but with ancient mythologies of hatred for everything foreign. He fishes them in his unconscious and they begin to develop and bear very terrible fruit. In fact, it turns out that people are very poorly informed about the given problem. They simply hate, for example, Caucasians without knowing them. When you start talking to a person who feels hatred, it already gives a positive result.

Secondly, as a priest, I cannot help but say that prayer heals a person, that depth that is discovered in him heals him. When our self lacks depth, when we are superficial, when we turn to mythology, we are all very aggressive. When the person begins to approach the problem at least a little deeper, this aggressiveness drops quickly enough. And then she just disappears.

Finally, true faith in God heals a person. Superficial religiosity, in which a person makes a cross, buys an icon or, on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, takes holy water from the temple, does not change him. But when a person experiences something great related to God, he becomes another, the aggressiveness leaves his heart. This is a very difficult process. We don’t get rid of anything else with as much effort as aggressiveness. Moreover, it is constantly fueled by material difficulties and the conditions in which we live.

– How do we acquire this true faith? Through suffering?

– Of course, it is easy to say, as Dostoevsky did, that suffering purifies the soul. In practice, this does not always happen. Today, we see the opposite result: suffering embitters a person, makes him more aggressive.

I think that the meeting plays a very big role. When someone on his life path meets a person who sincerely believes in God, who carries this pure, joyful, bright faith, then he can really change very quickly. That is, the meeting with the true believer is something very significant. Another issue is that many newly converted Christians do not believe brightly and joyfully, but carry some dark aggressive faith within themselves. For many of them, putting a cross around their neck, boots on their feet, growing a longer beard and starting to profess aggressive views and hatred towards Catholics, Protestants, Jews – this is precisely what it means to convert to Orthodoxy. In fact, all this horror has nothing to do with Orthodoxy, and even less with faith in God.

We are in dire need of bright teachers who lead us to the Truth and to God. Such was, for example, the recently deceased Metropolitan Antony Surozhki. He was 89 years old. He was an old, very sick man, he lived in London. He has not returned to Russia for many years, but his books are published here. Numerous recordings of his talks, videotapes, and audiotapes exist.

Once the TV presenter Vladimir Pozner asked me not without irony: “What would you do to improve the situation with faith in God, so that it would start helping people in Russia?” I answered that I would show Metropolitan Anthony on TV more often . “Another metropolitan,” Posner, who does not particularly like the clergy, retorts me with some irritation. “Not another one, but Antony. He is like that – the only one.”

A representative of the first emigration, Metropolitan Anthony during the years of the war in France was a participant in the Resistance. As a doctor surgeon. He did not receive any theological education, he became a saint during his lifetime, one might say, because he was extremely simple, ascetic in life and absolutely accessible to everyone and everyone; he didn’t even like to be addressed as ‘you’, he preferred the friendly ‘you’, including by people who were 30 or more years his junior.

It was a true bearer of Christ’s light, which truly enlightens all. For Bishop Anthony, each person was, to use the evangelical expression, a “pearl of great price” for which everything in the world could be sacrificed. He knew how to comfort and strengthen a person, but most importantly, to show what you need to do with yourself to become better. In his presence, not only the desire to change themselves for the better, but also the practical vision of what is needed for this appeared in people. And everything described happened because he knew how to love. He knew how to press to his heart, he knew how, if we may say so, to take everyone somewhere in the depths of his own “I” and keep him there. Like a child. At the same time, there was no pampering and no sentimentality in his attitude towards people.

“… Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful,” says Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. If we try to understand what the word “merciful” (in Greek “oiktirmon”) means, it will turn out that it comes from the Greek word “oiktos”, that is, “pain”; thus, he who accepts another’s pain as his own is merciful. It is in the indicated sense of the word that Metropolitan Antony was merciful. Communicating with such bright people gives a lot. But the trouble is that they are always infinitesimal. Dmitri Sergeevich Likhachev was also like that, and in India – Mother Teresa. Who else? I do not know. Our task as believers is to develop in people a sense of God, to teach them with the help of books, personal conversations and moments of trust in life. Sometimes this happens at confession in the church, sometimes – on the train on the way to the villa. In these moments, you can convey something to the person face to face, sow the seed that God, who is invisibly present in our lives, heals our hearts.

I wish people in Russia would read the Gospel more. Today, Orthodoxy begins with the fact that, for some unknown reason, people are given crosses. I would distribute the Gospel. This is an amazing book. When you start reading it, you really become someone else. During the August coup in 1991, we, together with my friend Father Alexander Borisov, distributed Gospels in front of the White House. The young people who were then standing around the building were infinitely grateful. At some point I took my Bible out of my pocket and we read aloud. For the people this was a huge discovery as they had never heard anything like it. They were literally transforming before our eyes.

The word of Jesus changes the person. Therefore, if we talk about spiritual help for the country, then this is evangelization. I know how much she gives from her experience in meetings with drug addicts and alcoholics, with young people and with sick children.

For more than 11 years now, my friends from the parish of St. Kozma and Damyan” in Shubino and I work at the Republican Children’s Clinical Hospital. We have to look for money for medicine, for clothes, for children’s books and, alas, for funerals. Let’s organize their free time, set up a small theater, musical meetings, draw… They love to draw. During these years we managed to hold several wonderful exhibitions of children’s drawings. Their authors are seriously ill children for whom spiritual help is needed no less than medical help. We read the Gospel, and we see how much it gives them. When you start reading it aloud, in some mystical way a real encounter with the living Jesus takes place. Jesus himself from the pages of the Gospel comes down to us. And invisibly he finds himself among us. Such is the effect produced by this one-of-a-kind book. Of course, children feel the presence of Christ in their lives thanks to the fact that together with them we pray and read the Gospel. It is a family prayer meeting like no other. Children with disabilities feel like full-fledged people, precisely because God is with them, precisely because they live with the joyful feeling of God’s presence in their lives.

Of course, there is another problem – that is the adoption of sick children. Children with vision problems, hearing problems, with severe diseases that need to be treated over the course of years through numerous operations. Initially, such children were adopted mostly in the USA, Italy and other countries. Now many Muscovites have adopted such children. To adopt a child with health problems, which you will have to “carry in your arms” for the rest of your life – this is a feat. That such children began to be taken in Russia, and not only abroad, is a very important sign! A sign that society is coming out of the dead end, from the state of crisis. A sign that we will not perish.

Source: www.predanie.ru

Iran may ban keeping pets as ‘symbols of the West’


Iran’s parliament is considering a bill that could introduce a virtual ban on keeping pets in the country, reports the BBC. If it is adopted, it will be possible to own animals only with special permission from the government commission. For the importation into Iran of any animals, up to rabbits and turtles, a fine of about $ 800 will be provided. They are considered a “symbol of Westernization” unacceptable for an eastern country.

According to the President of the Iranian Association of Veterinarians and an opponent of the bill, Dr. Payam Mohebi, the debate on this issue began more than a decade ago. Then the bill was not approved, although it was periodically returned to its discussion. However, against the background of the current strengthening of conservative sentiments in Iran, the bill may be approved in the near future.

The list of animals affected by the bill includes not only dogs, but also cats and many other species.

The BBC correspondent in Tehran also reports that cases of arrests for walking dogs in parks and other public places have increased in Iranian cities. Animals are confiscated from those arrested.

• Contrary to popular stereotype, the Qur’an does not forbid Muslims from keeping dogs if they are useful – for example, as guards or assistants in hunting. Muslim theologians consider dog saliva and hair ritually unclean and recommend keeping dogs not in the home, but in the yard. There is no ban on keeping other animals – cats, birds, hamsters, rabbits – in Islam. According to Muslim tradition, cats were the favorite animals of the Prophet Muhammad.

• Before the “Islamic revolution” in 1979, Iran was one of the most progressive countries in the east in terms of keeping pets. He was the first in the Middle East to pass animal protection laws; in 1948, the first state organization to monitor compliance with them appeared here. Even members of the royal family had dogs. One of the most popular cat breeds in the world – Persian – was bred in Iran (Persia). There is a museum in Tehran dedicated to the history of this breed.

Photo: Police officer in Iran issues a fine for transporting a dog in a car

Switzerland gears up for rolling blackouts


Switzerland is considering moving to rolling blackouts due to energy shortages.

This was announced on Wednesday by the director of the Association of Swiss Electricity Companies (VSE) Michael Frank, tass.ru reports.

“We plan, if necessary, to gradually introduce ever more stringent measures to save electricity,” Reuters quotes him as saying. % electricity”.

Frank estimates that these measures will help reduce the country’s electricity consumption by a quarter.

As a last resort, “individual regions will go offline in rotation for periods of four hours,” he added.

The source of the energy crisis in the country, the official considers the shortage of gas after the reduction of Russian supplies and the shutdown of nuclear power plants in France for maintenance.

On June 14, Gazprom announced that it was forced to reduce gas supplies via Nord Stream compared to the plan due to the untimely return of gas pumping units by Siemens from Canada. As a result, the gas flow to Germany was reduced to 40% of the pipeline’s capacity. As a result, Berlin agreed with Ottawa, as an exception to the sanctions, to return the unit to Europe.

Source: itar-tass.ru

The church as a disaster


Written by Protodeacon Andrey Kuraev

When we compare the first century of Christian history even with the fourth, we cannot help but note the magnitude of the spiritual catastrophe of the Christian project as such.

The evaluation of the success or failure of a project is determined by the ratio of intention and results. So, what did the first Christians believe and dream about?

Above all: they believe they hold the keys to immortality in their hands. Death is not for those who have partaken of the Body of the Risen Christ and themselves become part of Him. They will never see death again.

But still, Christians began to die, not only those who were executed, but also those who were remembered in a natural way – from diseases and old age.[1] The question arises “How so?”. And here comes the answer of the apostle Paul – in the sense that death returns to them through their fault: “He who eats and drinks unworthily eats and drinks his condemnation, because he does not discern the body of the Lord. Therefore there are many weak and sick among you, and many are dying” (1 Cor. 11:29-30).

Ask any churchman today what it means to receive communion unworthily and he will tell you that it is receiving communion “without preparation”, i.e. without a three-day fast and reading the rule.

But the apostle Paul writes about something else. Sin committed during or after taking the antidote neutralizes its effect.[2] People lose the immortality they were just gifted with. But today we are not bothered or traumatized by the stories about the saint, who, staying in a blessed state of prayer, nevertheless died (see the legend about the kneeling death of Rev. Seraphim Sarovsky).

The second unfulfilled dream of the first Christians was about the imminent return of Christ.

They think that Christ will soon return (“you will not reach the cities of Israel”[3]) and therefore it is not worth staying here for a long time.

There is a modern word “call center”, but hardly anyone, even among the employees of these centers, guesses that their name has a common root with the Greek word “church”. In Greek, Church is “ecclesia” (from here comes the Italian chiesa, the French eglise, the Spanish Iglesia). This word is usually translated as “assembly”. This is somewhat correct historically, but not quite true, philologically speaking. It is historically correct, because the word “ecclesia” refers to the assembly of citizens, for example the assembly of the Athenians. The Greek translation of the Old Testament with this word conveys the Hebrew “kagal” – the assembly of Israel (hence Ecclesiastes – Kogelet).

The word ἐκκλησία derives from the verb ἐκκαλείν (“to call”), as in Ancient Greece members of the ἐκκλησίας were called by heralds who went around the city calling for an assembly.[4]

“Many are called, few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). Call – kliti (κληtoί); chosen ones – eklikti (ἐκκλητοί).

So, the ecclesia is an assembly of the called, of the plucked up. In fact, we are torn from our usual order of life by this otherworldly call that comes from afar, from the Transcendent God. And people respond to this call and come.

So the Christian is defined not so much by his past as by his future; his identity is in his vocation, not his background.

Accordingly, the Church is a gathering of people who have felt themselves wanderers in this world. This idea of ​​wandering is very important to mystics and neophytes. Even from the night voice that calls Abraham on his way,[5] to the Gnostic “Hymn to the Pearl” the theme of the voice that calls to the Exodus passes. Let’s remember, for example, the epitaph that Grigoriy Skovoroda ordered to be carved on his grave: “The world hunted me, but it did not catch me.” Or text the message to Mr. Anderson: “Wake up Neo, the Matrix is ​​holding you!”.

The Christian is a foreigner and a stranger in this world, and according to Christian ideas, one should not completely overlap with the local order of things. At least with something he should distance himself from it, separate himself from this world, feeling the pull of the Supreme.

The people who experience this feeling of their foreignness in this world, hear the voice of the Heavenly Father, respond to it together and thus form the Church – the Ecclesia.

But behold, the apostles go through all the cities of Israel and even a little more, and Christ does not return. Instead of passing quickly through the world, the Church has to settle for a long time “in this world” and accordingly absorb its miasma and tricks.

The third dream of the first Christians is the dream of mystical anarchism. Living by grace, not by law. Live theocratically, not hierarchically. They dream that each person will hear the will of God in his heart without seeking the advice of elders or superiors.

The Apostle Peter expresses this dream of the Church on the very birthday of the Church – on the day of Pentecost, with a quote from the Book of the prophet Joel:

“… and behold, in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters will prophesy; your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; and in those days I will pour out My Spirit on My servants and My servants, and they will prophesy… And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:17-21).

“And behold, afterward I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. I will also pour out my Spirit on male and female slaves in those days. And I will show omens in heaven and earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes. And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; because salvation will be on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, as the Lord says, and among the rest whom the Lord will call” (Joel. 2:28-32).

The essence of this dream is religion without intermediaries. For every person to have direct access to God, at that – two-way, online. May God directly address you, hear you and you hear Him. You don’t need to look for a postman priest. As such, a promise is unilateral, without conditions. It does not say that only chaste virgins or youths will be given prophecy.

For the ancient prophet, this is not asceticism, nor is it ecclesiology. This is eschatological sotiriology: the end of the known order of things is coming (“The sun will turn into darkness and the moon into blood”); it is obvious to all (“signs of heaven and earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke”). But there is a “portal” for evacuation, and it is Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

By quoting this most vivid apocalyptic text, the apostle shows us that the “last day” is coming right now. The evacuation is announced (with a slight change in the password: “the name of the Lord” is now the name of Jesus Christ, not Yahweh).

Has this come true in the history of the Christian Church? Well, go to the temple with your dream or prophecy and tell about it to a priest or to the whole congregation, or write to the Synod about it… Besides, the Synod does not make any decisions based on visions at all.

So there is a dream of a mystical anarchism, where God will directly give visions and counsels to every heart, without the involvement of priests, hierarchs and elders. But it is necessary to build a church with iron discipline and a complex hierarchy.

The main problem of the Church is also expressed in the words of the Apostle Paul: “You were going well: who prevented you from obeying the truth?” (see Gal. 5:7, translation note). In the centuries-long marathon, the Christian idea is visibly expiring.

The phenomenon that Max Weber calls masters, heroes, “virtuosos of religiosity” can also be considered a symptom of the disease. If there are “virtuosos”, then there are also “mediocres”, which are obviously more numerous.

Today it is clear to us – not all Christians are saints. But at first they thought it wouldn’t be like that.

One of the unique features of the Gospel, which also manifests itself in the Pentecostal faith, is the abolition of the division of the world into a profane and a sacred zone, fundamental to religious culture.

The basis of traditional culture is the system of taboos, the main of which separates the sacred from the profane. This is the holy spring, and this is an ordinary watering hole. This is the sacred grove, and this is just the taiga… In the Gospel, however, these divisions are removed. Everything is God’s.

And there is no longer any separate holy temple mountain: every place is holy.

There is no holy nation. Where two or three are gathered together in the name of Christ, there He is also. And in general, the Kingdom of God is in the heart of even the solitary believer.

There is no Sabbath: God is always with us. Every minute and day is holy, i.e. God’s. If the heathen thought that he had the right to freely dispose of profane recreation as his right, now it turns out that this too is not his, but God’s.

“Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). In Valeria Alfeeva’s short story “Jvari”, the Georgian monk says to the heroine: “This is not right at all – to have a separate time for prayer and a separate time for life, which does not resemble prayer at all. There should be no interruption. All life must be addressed to God as a prayer.”

Now there is no longer anything that is separate and opposed to the rest of God’s creation. A person can do something significant for God not when he does some manipulations with His idol or image, but when he treats another person in some way. An ordinary person, not a saint either, and sometimes even extremely unpleasant in every respect. But if you did something for him, you did it to Me. Now every poor man is Job and even Christ. The Law of Insulting Imperial Majesty can be applied to insulting any bum. Because he is also an icon of God. It is better to leave the temple, leaving the prepared sacrifice unoffered, but to make peace with your domestic “enemy”.

The whole Gospel story is a series of scandals: God – the Holy of Holies – enters something impure by definition (from the woman’s womb to the heathen judgment on Himself, the Cross, the grave of another and the hell of another).

However, according to the laws of dialectics, the word “everything” is treacherous. The words “holy” and “profane” are related. If there is nothing to relate to, then the meaning of this word is at least greatly weakened.

“All is sanctified” is the same as “all is profane.” Because there is no border.

Christians eat the object of their cult. They eagerly devour like a dog (τρώγων – John 6:54) and gather for their Sacrament like vultures (ἀετος) over a corpse (Matt. 24:28). Indeed, the Gospel is the greatest profane project in history.

The Holy Gifts are offered by us to God, and then they return to us again and are taken outside the altar – fanum – and distributed to the people.

We eat what God did not burn, so it is the Holy Communion with us that is profane… The waste from the ritual is profane. And it is with them that Christ is identified. At the Last Supper as His Body, He consecrates precisely the afikoman – the bitter bread of the Exodus (from Egypt, note trans.), the bread of the homeless.

Afikoman is the dedication of the holiday. Eating the leftovers. Translated into the words of modern liturgical practice, Christ performs the Sacrament by what we call “the consumption of the Gifts.” This is reaching the very border between the holiday and the everyday, between the sacred and the secular.

In addition, the afikoman is that part of the Passover unleavened bread that was proper to leave until the end of the festive meal – in case a poor person or a traveler came, in accordance with the commandment: “and rejoice before the Lord your God, you … and the stranger , the orphan” (Deut. 16:11). It is this afikoman who breaks Christ as His Body.[6] The Eucharist is the bread of the stranger and the poor, the bread of the homeless.

“In every tree is the crucified Christ. In every class is the Body of Christ”.[7] Everything is sacred. And all Saturdays are for man. And “the mystery of our salvation” is “for us men.” Putting the Body of Christ into the mouth of a leper – isn’t this both profanation and sacralization?

To give up all to gain all. In fact, this is the “law of the grain”. To dissolve in the other, to let it inside you – so that the other becomes a part of you.

The ethos of the Gospel is an ethos of total profanation. A sacrament not of the altar, but a sacrament of my neighbor. Already with the apostle John the Theologian, we see this redirection of the religious vector from the God-Who-is-not-seen in the direction of man and the small circumstances of his life. The apostle, who begins his speech with “In the beginning was the Word,” ends it with the simple “children, love one another.”

Hence: “The brother asked the old man: there were two brothers; one kept silence in his cell, continued his fast even up to six days a week, and assigned himself many labors. The other ministered to the sick. Whose work is more pleasing to God? The old man answered him: that brother who fasts for six days, even if he hangs on his nostrils, and then he will not be able to compare with the one who serves the sick” (From the Ancient Crutches).

This is one of the main and vital paradoxes of Christianity.

However, in the history of the Church, a division between secular and profane arises again (instead of “do everything for the glory of God”). And the more time passes, the more distinct these boundaries become.

In 2017, St. Petersburg Metropolitan Varsanufy (Sudakov) clarified what profanation is: “Many temples have not yet been returned to us. And they tell us: serve in them, in these museums that we have. We, of course, can and do serve in them. But I do not know how the praise to God amounts to these temples. Because the sanctity of the temple is being violated. Who enters there after our service, who walks there and what they do there…”[8]

Indeed, this conclusion is difficult to reconcile with the Gospel account: the Sacrament of Salvation takes place on Calvary – in that place where, both before and after the Sacrifice of the Redeemer, quite ungodly things happen.

Nor have I come across any record of Christ ordering the burning of the inn where He administered the Last Supper. Or at least the table and the mats on which He and the apostles rested.

The first Christians dreamed of many things.

They believe that all social barriers will collapse and there will be neither slaves nor masters.

They think that those cold words “mine” and “yours” will disappear and there will be common ownership.

But Christ is not coming back.

Our expedition to planet Earth turns out to be “forgotten”. Instead of a portal to the Otherworld, the “Stargate” becomes a gathering place for the neighbors. Money becomes “neighbors”. Dreams of a holy life become an ordinary parish life, and for some – a source of income.

The Parousia does not happen. Death remains. Human quarrels – too. And it becomes imperative that they learn to live in the mud of earth’s history. It will say: with whom you get together – that is who you become.

As a result, the early history of the Church looks like a series of catastrophes, that is, of catastrophic failure of dreams.

This catastrophe of expectations is described by the later formula: the first Christians await the return of Christ, and to them comes the Church. And they have to start church-party construction.

The new religion gained mass and became institutional.

Again a division between pastors and parishioners arises.

Again, a hierarchical pyramid is built with the corresponding career aspirations. And even “ecclesiastical-administrative mechanism”.[9]

A calendar of fasts, holidays and prayers appears again. In other words, enforced discipline takes the place of voluntary thirst for prayer and aspiration (“Typical” instead of “pray without ceasing”).

Again a division of secular and profane appears (instead of “do everything for the glory of God”).

Church real estate and those who dispose of it and profit from it appear again. “Heaven-goers” get hemorrhoids in the form of earthly real estate and struggle to preserve and expand it, corporate and national interests arise. This politicization is actually the inevitable path of any religion in its serious propagation.

Again, instead of “don’t worry about tomorrow” comes high-minded calculation in the style of “realpolitik” and the fight for the “interests of the Church”.

The apostles from the beginning dream of living in a world where everything is guided by love and by the Spirit, where the heavy burden of law and instructions do not exist. The first decree of the apostolic council was “it is forbidden to forbid”.[10] Because Christ abolished “the law of commandments” (Eph. 2:15).

The subsequent church statutes, however, are not at all lighter than the Pharisaic “traditions”.

Suddenly we find ourselves stuck in the world of the law, the world of the covenant that is declared old. The balance of centuries of spiritual selection can be likened to the publican who is proud that he is not a Pharisee.

Resurrection of the dead does not happen. No one can turn water into wine. And the Second Coming does not come after the missionary sweep of all the lands and inventories of the “canonical territories”. They have to deal with the earthly, although, as before, they call themselves the “heavenly host”. Something about this transformation of the group of refugees from the world into a corporation of earthly power turns out to be successful, even human. But the Miracle of the awakened conscience, the Miracle of the direct Epiphany somehow gets lost. And that is why those who enter church life because they seek God and not some ideology are discouraged.

The church becomes like everyone else. She becomes the subject of property-legal relations, quarrels and envy. And even “ecclesiastical law gives way to church politics”.[11]

The world tames the “citizens of heaven.”

The grounding of the Church, with her own consent, is proceeding successfully and applies for centuries to come. The monks, the sectarians, the reformers, the Protestants are pulling a little… But the “Union of the Sword and the Plow” (the union of the imperial sword and the bishop’s plow) stops them. Grounding is an absence of our unworldliness. The church many centuries ago ceases to be an institution that is “not of this world”, it turns out to be very firmly anchored to various oligarchic strata and plunder. That is why the speech of its hierarchs sounds self-interested, partisan and lobbyist.

The Church is an ancient legal institution. There is a hint of bitterness in this statement. Ancient… So already a long time ago, even at our very sources, we are stuck in the world of the law, in the world of the illusory overcome Old Testament. We still need some external regulatory discipline.

The dream of the first generation of Christians is a dream of the death of both the state and the law. The end of the time of the Jewish law and of the Roman law has come; now we live by grace. Our consciences, our hearts are renewed. The power of love, not the law of love, but the power of love reigns through Christ in our hearts. And therefore we need no courts, no outward forms even of piety, much less any regulation of complex social relations. The grace of Christ will change everyone.

But the preaching of “freedom in Christ” even during the lifetime of the apostles gave rise to a number of excesses. And they have to switch to reminding of simple “rules of decency”. For example, to call on women to wear towels (1 Cor. 11 ch.). And in general to ask everyone not to indulge in such sexual intemperance, about which “not even among the heathens a word is spoken”.[12]

Christians begin to come into conflict with each other. Even the apostles had to make concessions because of the imperfection of their disciples. The Christians from the Jews began to scandalize the Christians from the Hellenes. The question of how to deal with the money that people bring into the general treasury turns out to be “eternal”. It turns out that these pennies are just looking to stick to someone’s particular little hands.

This is how deacons appear. So that the apostles do not interfere in financial matters and are not distracted from the sermon. The deacons were supposed to listen to the complaints of the parishioners against each other, to “tend the tables” and be in charge of the treasury. And in this regard, gradually everything becomes as with men, and not as with the holy angels. And the conflict between love and harsh law by coercion is resolved in favor of the latter.

It turns out that Christians lack neither a grace-enhancing reason, nor simply an inner voice of conscience to resolve the completely non-theological disputes between them. Courts appear to be necessary. And the courts found that written collections of ecclesiastical laws were necessary.

Gradually everything becomes as with men, and not as with the holy angels. And as a result, it turns out that the Church has not freed itself from this conflict between love and harsh law. And although the Church considers itself a moral society, at the same time it turns out that we cannot live simply by morality.

The reason is simple. It turns out that in the same person, the ecclesiastical-hierarchical height and the moral-moral height may not coincide. And even religious giftedness (responsiveness to the Call, a sense of Him) may not be accompanied by giftedness in moral sense. It turns out that Pharisaism is not at all a private episode of Jewish history, it becomes a disease of the Christian community itself, and especially of its leaders. A person can pray a lot, sincerely, with tears, and at the same time not feel the pain of another at all, he can be a merciless tyrant or a merchant. A virtuoso in religion may be a total fool in ethics.

This is where the need for a law comes from. If I cannot be sure that the bishop will always judge according to the highest Christian criteria; that his words, deeds, actions will always coincide with the mercy and selflessness of Christ, then I need a law. The law at least somehow protects me – the little one, in front of the big boss. The conflict between morality and law turns out to be unlived: law is still needed and “law” passes into “our age.”

The creed professes faith in “one, holy, conciliar and apostolic church.” Alas, we have to put the emphasis on the word “faith”, that is, the church (community of people) with such qualities is not obvious, but an object of faith.

Patr. Cyril has the following beautiful statement: “We must understand very clearly that the power in the Church is not the secular power. Power in the Church is not shouting, it is not scolding, it is not dismissal, it is not furrowed brows, it is not stomping the foot, it is not loud words, but it is love”.[13]

However, it is better to specify: “I believe in the one holy Church, in which the power is not the power of shouting and not the stamping of the foot, but the power of love.” And we believe in what is not obvious. We believe in what contradicts everyday experience. I also believe in the patriarch’s words, I believe…but I don’t see. More precisely: the power of love is too rarely and timidly manifested sometimes through the crudely obvious System of stomping, shouting and scolding.

It seems to Christians, shaken by the Sermon on the Mount, that it is not at all appropriate for them to clarify their relations with each other through legal means. And “with the outsiders” (1 Cor. 6:5-6; trans. note) it is not fitting to judge one another, but to yield to one another until sunset.

A modern specialist in ecclesiastical law assures us: “The canons serve to preserve that original image of the Church which appears on the day of Pentecost”.[14]

But the “image of the Church” in the biblical account of Pentecost is altogether radically incompatible with canon law. In that day, no one could even think about canonical boundaries, about ecclesiastical court, about penances, hierarchies and money. Could anyone have imagined on the day of Pentecost that Christians would need an ecclesiastical court and “doctors of ecclesiastical law”?

That “image of the Church” is in tongues of fire, prophecies and miracles. Where is the fire, where are the prophecies and miracles in the canonical collections?

“Your young men shall see visions” (Acts 2:17). And what do the canons say about the dreams of young people? On that day, the apostle Peter said: “You now see and hear the Holy Spirit.” Who has learned from the canons to see and hear the Spirit? Which canon law professor?

And the account of that day: “And all the believers were together, and they had everything in common; they sold property and goods and divided them among all, to each according to his need” (Acts 2:44-45). Are the canons true to this communism? Do they punish for deviation from it?

No, church canons were not born at Pentecost at all. They are its antipode and substitute. These are bishops who realized church life in the categories of power and consolidated their authority with canons created on the model of Roman law.

The gifts of Pentecost are given to the weak. And canons protect the strong. There are many canons that protect the rights of the bishop in relation to his colleagues and subordinates. And there is not a single canon that protects the lower clergy and laity from the arbitrariness of the bishop.

Of course, this transformation doesn’t happen overnight. That is why canons exist, truly filled with love. But the canonists, who serve the ambitions of the bishopric, declare precisely these canons obsolete.

We can only believe in the Church, which is holy, as one believes in the unseen and in spite of the seen. Some people see the holy essence of the Church. For them are the words of Nikolay Zabolotski: “The soul wanders in the invisible, overwhelmed by its stories. With an unseeing gaze she sends nature to the outer world.”

However, those who do not have such insight see in the Church only the outer gilding, which looks like mud to them from above…

But my biggest pain is not about who and what we look like, but about how Christians themselves have changed since the Gospel era.

Was it possible for the apostles on the first day of this era to set about regulating the question of the inheritance of their personal property? And in the Orthodox canon law there are quite a few decrees on how to try to distinguish the personal property of the bishop from the church wealth.[15] So, such a problem also appears in the life of the “successors of the apostles”.

Here is a description of the Church by the Apostle Paul: “we are considered… strangers, but we are well known; we are thought to be dying, and behold, we are alive; they punish us, but they cannot kill us; they grieve us, and we are always joyful; we are poor, but we make many rich; we have nothing, but we possess everything” (2 Cor. 6:8-10).

As long as the Church is apostolically poor, as long as there is neither luxury nor grandeur in it, it is invisible to the competitive-predatory gaze. If she is hated, it is precisely because of her faith, not because of political alliances and ambitions or because of material possessions.

But then it is covered with the heavy crimson robes of imperialism, the wet snow of real estate clings to it, the mud of gold and the fog of compromising but “useful” connections makes it noticeable to those who want to see in it not the Church of God, but an ordinary participant in ordinary contests for purely earthly prizes.[16]

Much of the history of the Church’s illness is understood by the formula: big congregations need big buildings. Large buildings require large maintenance costs. And big money needs big security. Who can provide this security? The prince. So great care must be taken so that the prince does not take away the real estates and incomes of the bishops and does not trouble the “parishioners”.

The imp gave us too fat a gift. Constantine in the 4th century and we suffocated with him. The church acquires a lot of church property and the center of the church’s cares and activities shifts sharply…St. John Chrysostom has a magnificent simile: “As too large shoes injure the feet; so also too large a dwelling wounds the soul”.[17] And again, his words are: “All collected church property should be immediately distributed to the poor” (Six words about the priesthood 3, 16).

History shows that small religious groups that can meet in homes are less vulnerable to collaborationism and repression than those whose lives are built around huge and lavish cathedrals and services.

Everything is logical. However, as a result we look like this:

“Money has gravity. At an amount that exceeds ‘N’, they begin to distort the space and reality around them. And they begin to guide their owner. According to Maslow’s pyramid, the first need is safety. And if we own at least one billion, we already have to pay negative interest so that they don’t take that billion from us. The billion gains consciousness, teeths, and begins to lunge at passers-by, defending itself. He spends some part of himself on the protection of his body, as the state spends on an army. “One hundred billion” in the same hands means that the concern is only about one thing – how to survive.

It can only survive in one way – by buying an army and police to guard the financially gravitational object. That is precisely why, from the time of the baptism of the Kyiv residents in Pochayna, the church actively interfered in politics and administration. If you want to keep your tithe, one way or another you will have to negotiate with the prosecutor, the police chief, the minister, etc. This is inevitable. Otherwise, you will have to live like the barefoot monks and rely only on alms. Because nothing really threatens them.

Therefore, the interests of the ROC-MP will always be political. They cannot leave their pasture unattended, or it will be torn up and plundered by revelers of the Sunday kind[18] or strict Roman Catholics with their shish-kebab picnics. The billion requires protection from the administration and the ROC is simply doomed to invest in the protection of its financial pasture at the level of power.

Money has ruled the ROC for a long time. They naturally become disinterested in the surrounding reality, paying no attention to their patriarchs and metropolitans. No prayer helps here, because the laws of physics, including financial laws, are stronger than miracles. It’s impossible because it’s… impossible. I will remind you that at the beginning of his career, Kiril Gundyaev was considered a too progressive and liberal hierarch, hardly a young reformer. Check it out now.

The power and authority of the church in the days of the Russian Empire were unimaginable. Its authorities, of course, were obedient to the tsar-father, but they did whatever they wanted with the common people, including issuing sex licenses and drawing up the monthly menu. They imposed penances, deprived children of inheritance and organized deliberate public obstructions. They could not allow them to study, to work and in general they were arbitrarily as they wanted.

Therefore, as soon as the Bolsheviks pushed the formation, the delighted parishioners ran to throw their batyushkas from the belfries, and the Chekists, who were about to come after them, noticed with disappointment that they were too late and there was no one in particular to shoot. Note the flying revolutionary calls calling for the shooting of the White Guard, the kulak and the pop. Well, let’s assume that for the first two it is more or less understandable for military and economic reasons. But why pop? Why not conductors or carriage drivers for example? Or some shaggy futurists out there? Why the poor monk?

Well, that’s exactly why. The Russian Orthodox Church has constantly invested in power a negative interest from the revenues, obtaining a license to oppress ordinary residents, simple people, guilds, in every sense. She returned the investment from them, collected the profit, paid the negative interest to the authorities and started the new season according to her church calendar.

And today, a hundred years later, the situation has not changed. The money sack requires mercenaries to guard it. That is why the issue is not even that the ROC is losing electoral and fiscal share. At the same time, he lost it through his own fault, because for centuries he was engaged in proselytizing and robbing his own flock – instead of evangelization and missionary work.

Without the tsar-father, as a guarantor of the integrity and integrity of the accumulated billion, the Russian Orthodox Church is not good at all.

In Russia, the Church arose as a puppy taken from the street, completely dependent on the owner and the evening pan of milk. And although during these years the puppy has grown and reached the size of a fat guarded shepherd, it is still so touchingly pressed to the chest of another prince, it feels good in his arms and tries devotedly to lick daddy on the nose. In general terms, there is nothing special about the financing of confessions by the state – it is enough to recall the “Constantine gift”. After that, though, you will – you won’t, you have to get back on your feet and learn to walk on your own. But the church of the Muscovites turned out to be too homely, born, like slippers with pompoms, unwilling to let go of the pacifier and get off the master’s lap, and even received the decrees for the collection of the tithe due to it from the hands of its master. Can you imagine such a thing in Europe, where Philip the Fourth of France waged veritable trade and customs wars with Pope Boniface? Over time, however, it becomes clear that you will not raise a hunting or shepherd dog from this Moscow puppy, only the career of a yard guard dog remains. Home church. From all exits on a common platform, from all these unions, intercommunions and all other ecumenisms, the frightened priests refuse, swinging the censer above their heads – no one should approach. We are not coming to you – and you are not coming to us. The puppy has become a yard dog and will not go farther than the length of the chain. Therefore he snarled at anyone who approached the court, accusing everyone of proselytizing. One gets the feeling that the ROC-MP perceives even the unbaptized in Russia as its property, only with a deferred right of use. Like unripe apples in your own garden. He tolerates the Muslims because the owner let Uncle Abdullah sniff him, sternly said “No!” and threatened him with a finger. So the watchdog of Russian spirituality squints suspiciously from his hut with a cross and a bell at the unpleasant uncle in a turban and slippers, but he is not ordered to descend on the “friend of the house”. For now. The Moscow guard dog does not care who he serves, as long as there is something in the pan. It is known that the owner will put it. Even if suddenly the relations worsen and they start sending the priests to Solovki, not to the monastery, but to a concentration camp – you just have to be patient and wait. The dog knows that he will be forgiven sooner than some cyberneticians, geneticists and other saxophonists out there. The Hound knows that it will prove more useful to the Master than the Cybernetics.[19]

Christianity has gone too far in its rigor. Because his main thesis is irreconcilable: all humanity is progressing towards hell. The ship of salvation is one – the Church… Whoever is outside of it is doomed to destruction.[20] But whoever is in the Church also sins every day and is excommunicated from it with his sins.

On October 29, 2017, ep. Pitirim (Tvorogov), who was rector of the MDA for a short time, delighted his parishioners with the message that only three percent of Orthodox Christians would escape hell.[21] Not just from the inhabitants of the Earth, namely three percent of the Orthodox.

That’s logical. The last times will therefore be the last, because the flow of those being saved will become scarce. But to name precisely our time “the last” and precisely to apply these three percent to your flock – this is theological hooliganism.

Now let’s bring these eschatological statistics to the level of personal shepherding. “Abba Isaac of Tivey saw a brother who had fallen into sin and condemned him. When he returned to the desert, an Angel of the Lord appeared, standing in front of his door, and said: I will not let you out. Abba begged him, saying: what is the reason? – The angel answered him: God sent me to you with the words: ask him, where will he order Me to throw the fallen brother? – Abba Isaac immediately threw himself on the ground, saying: I have sinned before You, – forgive me!” (Ancient Paterik 9, 5).

Suppose I am a bishop and a man stands before me. He claims to be a Christian, but he breaks both the commandments and the church rules. According to church law I must remove this ungodly man from church communion. But I believe that by doing so I am condemning him to eternal torment. I recall the case of Isaac of Tyvei…

In general, the Church had to make a choice: either to be a tiny “community of saints”, or to become a mass, popular, state religion, in practice with the liquidation of its requirements to the parishioners.

In Christianity, a certain duality was originally laid down: the path of the lonely Saul, called and called to hunt for the Pearl and became Paul. Or the path of common, joint wandering. This is the way of the “twelve”, headed by Jacob, the brother of the Lord. The two motives sounded simultaneously in the hearts of the apostles and the first ones who continued their work: the motive for the personal exit and the motive for the responsibility for the congregation.

And here in this second motive there is a turning point: “caring for the flock” becomes a justification for any personal compromises of the shepherds. “For the good of the Church.” And insofar as the ultimate good is thought of as infinite (“eternal salvation”), it turns out to be out of proportion to anything else on earth. In avoiding the greatest evil (“eternal destruction”) and striving for the greatest good, it is easy to lose sight of the commensurability between ends and means.

One of the reasons for the victory of the Bolsheviks (perhaps not the main reason for the historian) lies in the fact that they set for themselves and for society an impossible goal – happiness for all mankind. According to Karl Marx, everything past and present is now only prehistory. The real history of mankind will begin only when we (Bolsheviks) come to power. When the end is so great, in its splendor and in its grandeur the means somehow dim, fade, and die out.

Bolshevism is often referred to as the secularization of Christianity (of messianism). That is to say, the working class is here in the role of “collective messiah”. In practice, church ideologues long before the Bolsheviks provided the recipe for justifying the most mass terror “in the name of”.

But mass terror, the “pole of evil,” does not equal simply evil. That which serves to justify the extermination of the bourgeois or the heretics may also justify lesser meannesses. To waste a destiny. To eliminate one person. Not to hear someone’s cry of pain.

The declared goal is great: it is the salvation of souls in eternity. And again, in the splendor and majesty of such a goal, all the shortcomings of the means attracted (as bait) to the realization of the Great Project pale and dim. That is why it is so easy to accept the “wise decision”: the survival of the Church is more important than a few broken destinies and betrayals. You can transgress, break the law, you can do business with folk-pagan quackery, giving it a Christian color. And to consider all this as “service to God”. Along the dry, the wet also burns. Our end will justify our means. Or to put it in modern terms: the image of the Church is more important than children’s tears.

Alas, it is not so much the end that justifies (sanctifies) the means as the means that demonize the end. Should you have spoken unrighteousness for God’s sake and lied for his sake… He will punish you severely, even if you are hypocrites in secret (Job 13:7, 10).

The apparatchik, inclined to compromise for the sake of his personal career, has his logic. The minister, who is ready for anything for the sake of the Church, also has his logic. The two models can be intertwined.

It is difficult to constantly have in mind the “eternal salvation of mankind” as a guide for daily administration. However, the bishop acts easily: he equates the Church with himself, and the good of the Church with his own interests. The bishop ceases to distinguish between “state interest and personal interest”. He begins to think that his interests are the interests of the Church, and accordingly, what is profitable for him is profitable and useful for the Church as well.

And all this is added to the set of banal worn-out wisdom: “If I don’t sign it, someone else will, and if I sign it and stay in my post, I will do a lot of good for people”; “One Swallow Spring Doesn’t Make”; “I have obligations above all to my family”; “We in the party will gradually change the situation from within”…

When it comes to compromises and concessions, that is, a conflict of values, it is important to understand how the hierarchy of these values ​​is constructed. And therefore it is also a matter of self-esteem for some people. The egocentrism inherent in all of us can sometimes multiply the ideological race. I, therefore, my function, my competences are unique and irreplaceable, they elevate me above other people, therefore preserving my life and potential is important for everyone. And therefore these “all” must guard me as the apple of their eye, and I can sacrifice them for myself (for my “service”).

This moral mutation is greatly aided by the identification of the VIP-managers, the rulers, with the very process from which they derive profit, i.e., the identification of the episcopate itself with the Church as such.[22]

And here is Patr. Cyril justifies the compromises of patr. Sergius: “In order to preserve the apostolic succession itself, so that even in prisons, in camps, priests can be secretly ordained and monks can be ordained – for all this the most blessed miter. Sergius undertook this…”.[23]

And in order to secretly ordain priests in the camps, it seems that what was undertaken by Sergius was not necessary at all. This is precisely what the confessors who disagreed with him did, and ended up in prisons not without his consent.

“Therefore, in order to save the Church, the most blessed Mitr. Sergius undertook…” – this is the ecclesiology of today’s Patriarch Cyril.

The same can be said when it comes to saving a library collection or a museum. But in general, wasn’t it accepted in our country to say that the Church is headed by the Savior and that she saves us (us, including the patriarchs), and not we – her…

It has a noticeable patristic distinction. Cyril of Patr. Alexius II.

Alexius felt not exactly shame, but some internal sense of discomfort at Mitr’s Declaration. Sergius of 1927 and the subsequent political servility of patriarchal figures. He, of course, could not call Sergius a traitor or a heretic. But even if he considered Sergius a “God-wise saint” and a model of a church leader, he also did not want to. Alexius’ position is: it’s over, forget it. We are already different.

And here, Patr. Cyril, on the other hand, sincerely and with conviction not only repeats, but also multiplies the dithyrambs about Sergius. And even canonized it as a holy prayer book.

We cannot call Cyril’s appeal to the clergy otherwise: “Let us remember, brothers, that by the prayers of St. Sergius…”.[24] “We believe that Saint Sergius is still praying to God for his earthly fatherland, for the Church. Through his prayers, may God protect the Russian land. Amen”.[25]

If the Russian land is protected by the prayers of Reverend Sergius Stragorodsky, you are worried about it. However, if the patriarch seriously proposed this canonization – at the synod of bishops, hardly anyone would object…

The political context of such a radical justification is also worrying. “The All-Russian Saint Sergius of Stragorod”… And who elevated him to such a general church luminary? The God-given leader Joseph the Terrible and his God-moved right hand. And it is time to count him among the saints. Tremble, liberals!

Are we going in this direction, or am I wrong and Sergius’ furious apology from today’s patriarch is just a psychological search for self-justifications? Hiding behind tradition? Could this be a defense not only from external criticism, but also from internal one? And this is to some extent a remorseful remorse, more precisely a reaction to her, but also a testimony to her persistent and living call? Or is this a personal gratitude: without the Sergianism, the lightning-fast career of Nikodim (Rotov) would not have taken place, and without Nikodim Volodya Gundyaev would still be sitting in front of the geological desk as narrow as analog? Or is the motive for such self-defeating apologia in the desire to endorse and reinforce the dogma of patriarchal infallibility? In other words, the people must believe that the patriarchs cannot be wrong.

But it is a fact that the 21st century patriarch’s protection of the most controversial of the Soviet-era church leaders is not mandatory. “The life feat of St. Sergius led to the emergence of a new generation of episcopate, of clergy capable of protecting the Church and strengthening the faith of Christ. None of this would exist, nor would the employees of my generation and the next generation, if Patr. Sergius, sacrificing his authors, had not done what he did by restraining the hand of the persecutors”.[26]

It turns out that the generation of confessors and martyrs failed to “protect the church”, unlike the collaborators… The moral and human cost (“in the world’s hardest currency”) is not important. The main, important thing is “the new generation of episcopate”.

It is no longer a defense of the weak man’s dangerous and wholly worthless choices, a defense against moral rebukes now delivered from a safe zone. It is the creation of an image, of a sacred precedent, of a norm. You see, this means that one must serve – even the ungodly authorities. No moral distancing from them. Their satisfaction and joys are forever ours too. If they have to chase and kill their own because of goals set by the pursuers – we will help. Because of staying in power, and because of being likened to the “new generation of episcopate”.

Sergius and his followers have honestly kept their promise: henceforth they take all their “moral” assessments of current events from the pages of the Pravda newspaper, rejoicing and mourning together, by order and for the pleasure of their persecutors. More precisely, not to their own, but to the persecutors of people who were actually in chains, and not in the confiscated and handed over to them ambassadorial estates.

The moral reprehensibility of “Sergianism” is not only in false declarations. The declarations are meant for export, for the outside, for the ears of the executioners. It is worse that Sergius and his followers implement in the internal church life a cadre church policy originating from the enemies of the Church. The canons affirm that a new bishop cannot be appointed during the lifetime of the previous one, if he has not expressed his consent to it. But with his decrees, Sergius deprived the arrested bishops of their cathedrals, i.e. he aggravated their harsh punishment by the secular authorities with ecclesiastical punishment. And in the place of those arrested, he appointed new bishops. With this, in fact, he canonized Soviet repression.

In 1929, the chief liquidator and anti-churchman Tuchkov[27] boasted: “Mitr. Sergius, as before, is completely under our influence and fulfills all our instructions. By the Synod of Sergius, a circular was issued to the diocesan bishops assigning them responsibility for the political trustworthiness of the cult’s officials and with a prescription for repression along church lines for a[nti]s[soviet] activity. Sergius himself also undertook repression, dismissing offending priests”.[28]

The circular mentioned by Tuchkov to Mitr. Sergius of April 2, 1929 states: “To spiritual persons, unwilling or unable to quickly acquire a correct attitude to the state and public order, it is necessary to apply one or other church measures of influence.”

In December 1927, Tuchkov ordered an aide to convey to the Leningrad Chekists: “Report that we will influence Sergius to ban the ministry of several opposition[ion] bishops, and then Yerushevich (referring to Peterhofsky, then head of the Leningrad Diocese Ep. Nicholas) to forbid certain priests”.

The former manager of the affairs of the Synod of Sergius, archbishop. Pitirim (Krylov), in his testimony at an interrogation in 1937: “Mitr. Sergius (Stragorodsky) himself gave orders to the bishops not only not to give up secret cooperation with the NKVD, but even to seek this cooperation”.[29]

According to the canons of St. Gregory of Neocaesarea, all Christians who have fallen into sin are those who, although they have not apostatized from the faith, but for one reason or another have assisted the pagans against the Christians by directing them to the homes of Christians (Gregory of Neocaesarea , rules 8 and 9).

He who helps the enemies of the Church by pointing out and removing zealous Christians should be deprived of the priesthood. And what to do with the patriarchs and synod composition from Soviet times? As what to perceive miter. Sergius?

What kind of person is he who sent an archbishop into exile? Ermogen (Golubev). And among the signatories of this synodal decree was the future patriarch Alexius (Riediger)? Macarius (Shistun), who bought his elevation to the episcopate by denunciation of his fellow student Pavel Adelheim?[31]

As for the “Declaration” – I will not blame Sergiy for it. There is no “sergeism” and there never was. This is the usual and centuries-old servility of the Orthodox bishops, which was very clearly manifested in the Ottoman Empire.

Such definitions were given to this phenomenon: “sergianism, i.e. conscious trampling of the ideal of the holy Church for the sake of preserving external decorum and personal well-being” (svmchk ep. Damascene (Cedric), 1934). “Giving up ecclesiastical freedom, you at the same time preserve the fiction of canonicity and orthodoxy. This is more than a violation of individual canons” (prot. Valentin Sventsitsky, 1928).

That’s right. But what’s new here? All this has happened before.

For the “feat of Mitr. Sergius, I can’t speak at all. And here, however, there is nothing new, nothing modern. He is not a demon and he has not made the Church worse. Because there is nowhere worse. Targeting rubbish like “your hierarchs welcomed Stalin” – “therefore yours applauded Hitler” speaks only of the fraternity of the accusers. They share genetics.

If a person is not a hero, it does not mean that he is complete garbage… He is just a person spoiled by the housing problem and who was persistently told in seminary that obedience to authority is the most important thing in the world. But elevating such devices to moral authorities and beacons is not your job either. All the more worth rejecting the claims of moral leadership and superhuman wisdom emanating from their epigones.

All contemporary hierarchs of Sergius were “lave”. And Patr. Tikhon, and Metropolitans Peter and Joseph. None of them told the Bolsheviks the truth about them to their face. No one called for “lithium marches.” However, there are varying degrees of allowable trade-offs. To depose bishops at the will of atheists and to impose ecclesiastical punishments for political reasons – this is precisely Sergius’s choice.

Did Sergius really manage to feel the limit where the pressure weakened and the church structure – with a creak, but withstood? Perhaps the same results by 1941 would have happened if the church had resisted the “Solovetsky line” of resistance?

It was not the “wise Sergius” who stayed the hand of the persecutors. The War stopped them. All the time between the Declaration[32] and the War was filled with a progressive suffocation of church life.[33]

Was it even worth it to fight so fiercely to preserve the “unity of the Church” around you? Perhaps scattering, dispersing the church structures, uniting them around the pastors and not around the diocesan administrations, would have helped the people more?

“The unity of church government preserved at a colossal cost – by allowing the ungodly into the personnel policy of the church – only made it easier for the atheistic authorities to carry out their tasks, since they had to deal with a strictly centralized system. Practice has shown that the unified church government in the Soviet totalitarian society from the late 1920s and 1930s more suited the secular authorities than it helped the church hierarchs to resist their pressure”.[34]

When the hawk pounces, the flock scatters, but gathers back together after the attack. God has ordained it so for the birds. Are we less valuable to Him and will He not find a way to gather His people after the persecution ends? This is the survival distraction model. Perhaps, under the extraordinary conditions, the actions of the beloved canonical rules of our bishops should have been simply suspended: to forget about all “canonical restrictions” and to give the right to every pastor to minister at any point where he is approached and where he found himself – without any internal church “registration”. To forget about all the administrative and financial powers of the bishop, leaving for him one thing: the right to ordain, moreover, outside the boundaries of his diocese. Simply to trust the promise of the Head of the Church: where two or three are gathered in My name, there I am.

Before patr. Cyril was faced with a choice: to convince or to obey. In both internal church relations and “external relations” he chooses the latter. A sermon with the intonation of a “dominant”, which does not bestow, but compels, forces. And cleaves the air with the fist of his right hand, in time with his words.

The main error of this style is forgetting that both in its essence and in relation to the circumstances of this century, the twenty-first, the faith of Christ can only be optional, voluntary, freely chosen.

Defining who “we” are is important to church self-awareness. And to understand that the church “we” is far from equal to the national and civil “we”. To understand that “we” as Orthodox will never be universal again, that “we” will no longer be able to achieve complete agreement among ourselves and submission of everyone to our views. Therefore, we must learn to live in a diverse world and find our audience. And, of course, this audience can be consciously conservative. For example, Amish or Old Believers live in the USA according to their own charters. It is their right. However, they do not impose their way of life and their opinion on the entire American society, they do not consider themselves the “voice of the nation”. And in Russia and Ukraine (and in the entire Orthodox world) there is an obvious dissonance: the Orthodox try to distance themselves from modern civilization at the same time, and at the same time claim the role of its moral and even political leader.

Attempts to regain the status of the leader and to prove the universal usefulness of oneself become a caricature reproduction of the saddest catastrophes of church history – a total replacement of the Main with the secondary. Everywhere and for quite a long time in church life (and in mine) this substitution has been going on: instead of the experience of the Kingdom – “Russian hockey championship”: “Field hockey is the only type of sport that is under the patronage of the Russian Orthodox Church, and the final tournament for the Patriarch’s Cup, held on Red Square, has long become one of the most remarkable events in the sporting life of Russia”.[35]

The replacement of the Main with the secondary is a leitmotif in the speeches of military chaplains (regardless of position, rank and place of service), shamelessly crying that their “church serves Russia”.[36] In response, they heard from the Deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, the head of the Main Military-Political Department of the army, Andrey Kargapolov: “The Orthodox faith rests on love for the fatherland”.[37]

And in the end – the Orthodox faith will not rely on the foreign agent Yeshua. In the same interview, another general “wisdom” sounds: “The military is Orthodox, in the sense that it fights for justice.”

This reduction of Christianity to the level of a tribal religion and an imperial ideology is not simply a desire to please the superiors. I would very much like to say that this is someone’s personal bad taste or personal sin. Unfortunately, it can no longer be said that “we were oppressed, therefore under the pressure of the authorities…”. No – we ourselves. And with pleasure.

In the supposedly free year of 2017, it suddenly turned out that foreigners could not enter the church-theological graduate school, “because foreign citizens and stateless persons are not accepted to study in the educational program for the church-theological graduate school.

Once spoken, the gospel word should sear the conscience once and for all… No shock breakthrough? Nothing, then we will proceed to a long-term siege or preparation of “groups of influence”…

St. John Chrysostom begins his talks on the Gospel according to Matthew as follows: “Truly, we should not need the help of the Scriptures, but we should have a life so pure that instead of books, the grace of the Spirit serves our souls and as they are written with ink, even so our hearts may be written by the Spirit. However, since we have rejected such a grace, let us at least make use of the second way.”

So there are Christians of the first kind—whose “hearts are written by the Spirit.”

There are also Christians of the second type – they are those who do not listen to God within themselves, but hope to know His will through Scripture and its study (they are the ideal audience for the ideal missionary).

There is a third type of Christian – those who do not want to do theology seriously and devote a whole life to the study of the Scriptures or to prayer, but who do not mind devoting even a part of their time to religion. Icons, calendars, canons, typicons, church books appeared for such spiritually disabled people… It is because of them that the “special clothes” of priests and monks appeared, so that professional Christians could be recognized by the lamps and epaulettes, and not because “you have love among themselves”.

Well, what if religion isn’t inherently very interesting to people? These will be Christians of the fourth variety – in name only. And then there is one hope for the missionary: in a conversation about non-religious topics, to arouse interest and confidence in himself, so that he can then answer a religious question that happened to arise on his own.

Indeed, to turn the religious life of mankind into a zone of total profound wise silence about the Main and the Unattainable is not the way either. We should not neglect the little ones. We must also consecrate the cabbage garden, and the well the mole fell into, and the new car. We must keep the conversation going both about the weather and about feeding the geese…[39] “Are you not interested in knowing about Golgotha ​​and the empty tomb? Well, nothing, then let’s talk about the education of children, about the horrors on television, about the harm of drug addiction…”.

This is inevitable. However, we should not present the palliative economy as the very essence. Christ has long since disappeared from the agenda of the “Christmas Readings” (there is more and more talk of “The Great Victory”). On the occasion of the second millennium of the Nativity of Christ, our church was unable to publish a single book about the Jubilee.

That is why such missionary projects appear:

“In the state circus of Udmurtia, there was a performance in which animals took part in clothes with Nazi symbols. The circus stated that the event was ordered by the Izhevsk and Udmurt Diocese. Trainers dressed as Red Army men bring on stage a monkey in a Nazi-like uniform and goats with swastikas on their sacks. The performance of trainers in Soviet military uniform, together with animals bearing Nazi symbols, is used not simply as an image of the victory over fascism, but in itself is a trampling and worldwide condemnation of the ideals of Nazi Germany,” the diocese comments. “. [40]

Well, yes, at Christmas there is nothing else to talk about with the children… And Whose Christmas is it? Maybe on “The Great Victory”?

Indeed, over the years, the words “church” and “circus” have become more and more synonymous…

Of almost all church activity it can be said, “It is not for Him.” And how can a conference be held on the topic that we are representatives of the Kingdom of God on the wrong earth? If we were the ones – it would be obvious even without conferences. The same can be said for missionary conferences. And for the lectures on asceticism and spirituality in the seminaries. Those who know are silent. And those who speak…

* For the first time, this translation was published in the journal Christianity and Culture, no. 5 (172), 2022, pp. 21-47; the text is part of the not yet published book Paradoxes of Church Law, which the author has provided in advance especially for his Bulgarian readers to dveri.bg (ed. note).

[1] The thanatology of the early Christians seems to be close to Tolkien’s ideas about the mortality of elves: an elf can be killed in battle, but he himself is immortal (more precisely, elves are conditionally immortal: they live as long the world lives, and Christians, of course, believe that they will outlive this world).

[2] Below – see St. Petersburg biblical scholar Archim. January (Ivliev):

“The apostle Paul throughout the First Epistle to the Corinthians seeks to correct the disorder in the church he addresses. The apostle openly and sharply writes that the services of the Corinthians do not at all deserve to be called the Lord’s Table. They take place in the private homes of wealthy Christians and are associated with the common dinner. The wealthy members of the Church come early, and eat and drink with what they have brought with them. The poorer Christians, slaves and laborers came later and found only pitiful remnants. The apostle is outraged by this situation. That poor people, even during the feast of the Lord’s Supper, should feel their dependence and subordination means humiliation of those who are brothers and sisters. The Apostle Paul reminds the Corinthians that their behavior is strikingly contrary to the essence of the Table. The apostle is indignant that rich Christians are not tormented by remorse at all. Yet they provide the Church with their homes! They supply the bread and the wine! In their circles, it was accepted, for example, during professional holidays, that those who have more merit to society should receive more. Obviously, they have not yet grasped the basic truth of the Christian faith: people from different walks of life gather in the Church and they all have equal dignity, all deserve equal respect. When the apostle asks the rich whether they have no houses where they can eat and drink, he wants to tell them: in their houses they can behave according to their social position. But during the Lord’s Supper, the rules of the Church apply.

The close relationship with Christ also binds the celebrants themselves in a close fellowship. They become one Body. The apostle distanced himself from the Corinthian dreamers who thought that at that moment they were already living in the new reality of “perfection” and resurrection. They seem to transgress beyond the Cross. Because of them, the apostle adds his own interpretation to the text about the Last Supper: The Lord’s Supper is a proclamation of the Lord’s Death “until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26). Perfection is yet to come!

By the unworthy reception of the Lord’s Supper, the apostle does not understand the individual unworthiness of the individual Christian: this place is often so understood in later pastoral care. The Apostle Paul writes about specific things, about carelessness, about the lack of a sense of solidarity among the rich in Corinth, about their selfishness. He who offends the poor sins against the Lord Himself, for they are the brothers and sisters for whom Christ died. Also, the examination of oneself in v. 28 is directed not to one’s own moral dignity in general, but very specifically to the love and respect of the poor. All this derives with inner necessity from the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, because this celebration is a memory of Jesus’ Sacrifice for people. To celebrate God’s solidarity with people and at the same time to behave in a non-solidarity way is an impossible contradiction, an absurdity and an insult to God (v. 27).

In v. 29, the Body of the Lord means not only the Eucharist, but also the Body of the Church. This shows that the situation in Corinth was absolutely intolerable and contradicted the essence of the Church by definition. Therefore, the apostle Paul thinks that the society of the Corinthian Christians is sick. They are not living as the Body of Christ as they should be. In v. 31 the apostle calls for critical self-examination. If the Church critically examines its behavior, it can avoid the condemnation of the Judgment of God. In v. 32, the apostle understands the cases of sickness and death as signs of the Lord’s judgment, which is already taking place in the present time. This judgment is intended to enlighten the Corinthians and call them to repentance so that they can be saved from condemnation at the Last Judgment of God (cf. 1 Cor. 5:5). In the Church there is no place for “pious selfishness” (From: Iannuariy (Ivliev), archim. New Testament roots of orthodox teaching about sacraments – here).

[3] “… you will not enter the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes” (Mat. 10:23).

[4] Bolotov, V. V. Lectures on the history of the Ancient Church, item 1, St. Petersburg. 1907, pp. 11-13.

[5] “… now get up, get out of this land…” (Genesis 31:13).

[6] See: Uspensky, N. “Anaphora” – In: Bogoslovskie trudy, 13, 1975, pp. 46 and 49.

[7] Poem by Anna Akhmatova from 1946 (trans. note).

[8] See: https://youtu.be/fcvqppwyuuQ.

[9] Statement of Mitr. Hilarion (Alfeev) – http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/2251597.html.

[10] “For it pleased the Holy Spirit and us not to impose any more burden on you, except these necessary things: to abstain from idol sacrifices and from blood, from drowning and from fornication, and not to do to others what which is not pleasing to you. By guarding against this, you will do well. Hail!” (Acts 15:28-29). This forbids the Jews to oblige the Greeks to be circumcised, and to keep the Sabbath and the kosher rule.

[11] Verkhovsky, P. V. “Politics and law in church affairs” – In: Tserkovnaya Pravda, 1913, 18, p. 531. Prof. Pavel Vladimirovich Verkhovsky (1879-1932) was a historian and jurist, a teacher at the Warsaw University, and then at the University of Don. In 1917 he was a member of the Pre-parliamentary Council.

[12] 1 Cor. 5:1: “Everywhere it is heard that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not spoken of even among the Gentiles, namely, that someone keeps his father’s wife.”

[13] Word of March 30, 2014: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/3614762.html.

[14] Prot. Dmitry Pashkov, lecturer at the Department of General and Russian Church History and Canon Law of PSTGU: https://web.archive.org/web/20220515140106/http://dysha.info/public/azbuka/6838-chto-takoe-cerkovnye-kanony-obyasnyaem-na-palcah-fomaru.html.

[15] See: Episcopal Succession in the Orthodox Church (Canonical Norm) by Prof. S. Troitsky. Prof. Dr. S. Troitsky is a lecturer at the University of Subotica: https://azbyka.ru/nasledstvo-episkopa-v-pravoslavnoj-cerkvi-kanonicheskaya-norma.

[16] “In the face of the Church, the state sees a reliable social partner, but at the same time considers that funds are needed to finance this cooperation, and we are trying to properly build our relations with the state in order to receive support from it” – Smolensk Miter . Isidor, http://smoleparh.ru/novosti/novosti-vazhnoe/2017/03/seminar-grantovyie-proektyi-kak-resursyi-razvitiya-initsiativ-pravoslavnyih-organizatsiy/.

[17] “Shoes that are bigger than your feet hinder you because they prevent you from walking. It is the same with the house, which is bigger than necessary – it prevents you from going to heaven” (Creations, 2, 1, SPb. 1896, p. 35).

[18] Sunday Adelaja (b. 1967) is a Ukrainian preacher of Nigerian origin, founder of the charismatic church “Embassy of God”. He has been repeatedly accused of financial and sexual crimes (ed. note).

[19] See: https://gorky-look.livejournal.com/216405.html; http://gorky-look.livejournal.com/71378.html.

[20] The chapter “Why there is no salvation outside the Church” in my book Gifts and Anathemas is devoted to the development of this thesis.

[21] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aId_zSn1Db0&feature=emb_logo.

[22] On 19.11.2020, Mitr. Hilarion, in an interview with the Not Yet Posner YouTube channel, said: “We have about four hundred thousand priests and over thirty-nine thousand of them have no problem with the church”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuHIwVK6eds&feature =emb_logo, 70th minute. From what has been said, it appears that the four hundred thousand are not the church, but something external to it. This formula can only be understood if by “church” we understand the “ruling class.”

[23] See: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4982452.html.

[24] See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMpu2MjlFMU, 2 hours, 31 minutes, 20 seconds.

[25] See: http://www.patriarchia.ru/db/text/4982452.html.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Tuchkov is the head of the Sixth Department of the State GPU-OGPU, whose competence was the fight against religious organizations in the USSR. In the fall of 1923, he stopped by Hilarion’s (Troitsky) cell and offered him freedom in return for “certain favors.” Hilarion replies: “Though I am an archpastor, I am a hot-tempered man. Please come out. I might lose control of myself.” He never goes free. Another dialogue: after the death of Patr. Tikhon is brought miter. Cyril from exile in Moscow. Tuchkov kindly calls him a future patriarch and offers him “legalization”. “Evgeniy Aleksandrovich,” Kirill said calmly. “You are not a cannon, and I am not a projectile, so that you can shoot the Orthodox Church with me.” And until his death in 1944, he did not go free.

[28] Cited by: Safonov, D.V. “Testamentary Epistle” of Patriarch Tikhon and “Declaration” of the Deputy Patriarchal Custodian Mitr. Sergius: http://www.pravoslavie.ru/archiv/patrtikhon-zaveschanie3.htm.

[29] CA FSB RF, d. R-49429, l. 151-152.

[30] “I can speak with open condemnation of anti-religious persecutions. I don’t even think they would throw me in jail. I would just end my days somewhere in a monastery, as happened to one of my fellow bishops. To this day, I think with horror of what would happen to my flock if by my “decisive” actions I would leave them without communion, without the opportunity to visit the temple” (Patr. Alexius, Speech at Georgetown University on November 15, 1991) . By the way, miter. Alexius, in his capacity of managing the affairs of the sick patr. Alexius the First, quite helped that same “a fellow of mine” to end up in a monastery and fall from the chair. It is about an archbishop. Ermogen (Golubev). “Mitr. Alexius reports based on documentary data in the case of Archbishop. Hermogenes and on the basis of his statements, pointing out the damage he is causing to the Church with his activities, and in civil terms he is putting himself in a very uncomfortable position, in connection with which the members of St. The Synod feels a sense of deep sorrow”. Transcript of the hearing of the Archbishop’s case. Ermogen (Golubev) at a meeting of St. Synod of July 30, 1968 (http://portal-credo.ru/site/?act=lib&id=2199).

[31] “It was Filaret (Denisenko) who forced Lonya to write a denunciation to me in 1970. This denunciation is included in my sentence: “In the seminary where I studied together with Adelheim, he spoke out against the performance of the anthem of the Soviet Union and to songs praising the Soviet state. The persons who performed the hymn and the songs, Adelgeim called chameleons bowing to the power” (Case sheet 178, item 2)”: https://www.pravmir.ru/protoierej-pavel-adelgejm-iz-seminarii-menya -vygonyal-lichno-filaret-denisenko/. And the seminarian was sent to a camp for three years.

[32] In the Declaration of Mitr. Sergius of 1927 regarding “your joys [satisfactions] are our joys” has a clarification: “Any blow to the Union, be it a war, a boycott, some public calamity, or just a murder from around the corner, like that of Warsaw, is regarded by us as a blow aimed at us’. The Warsaw murder – this is the murder of Pinchus Lazarewicz Weiner (pseudonym of Piotr Lazarewicz Vojkov), the murderer of the royal family. “The verb ‘to shoot’ was his favorite word. He used it on the spot and off the spot, on every occasion. He always remembered the period of War Communism with a heavy sigh, speaking of it as an era that “…gave space to energy, determination, initiative.” Isn’t the loss of such a valuable staff a problem for the church? And the “successes of collectivization”, storytelling and dispossession – are all these successes, or are they precisely the “social disasters”? Against this background, the call of the patriarch to the clergy is especially touching and touching: “I call you to be honest!”.

[33] There is a lot of material here: http://pstgu.ru/download/1430915885.7_mazyrin_84-98.pdf.

[34] Firsov, S. L. Time in destiny. About the genesis of “sergianism”, St. Petersburg. 2005, p. 255.

[35] See: http://www.rusbandy.ru/news/7266/.

[36] More honest is the anti-gospel of Nepal. The state motto of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is clearly against the gospel: “Mother and country are more valuable than the kingdom of heaven.” It remains only to reach the finale of the Magic Compass trilogy: “… the kingdom of heaven is done. We will build a heavenly republic.”

[37] See: https://nvo.ng.ru/realty/2020-07-09/1_1099_church.html.

[38] See: http://www.doctorantura.ru/images/pdf/norm_doc/pravila_priema_aspir.pdf.

[39] One story from the 19th century is unforgettable for me: A woman stopped the Optina elder Ambrosius and said that she was hired by the landlady to herd the turkeys. The turkeys did not last, they died and the mistress wanted to fire her. “Father,” cried the poor woman through tears, “at least you help me.” I have no more strength left, I struggle with them myself, I see them more than my eyes, and they are dying. Mistress will kick me out. Take pity on me, darling.’ Those present there laughed at her stupidity – for such a thing to come to the old man. And the old man talked to her flatteringly, asked her how she fed them and, having advised her how and otherwise to raise them, blessed her and sent her away. To those who laughed at the woman, he said that her whole life consists of these turkeys” (Poselyanin, E. Starets Amvrosii. Pravednik nasheho vremne, SPb. 1907).

I will also note that the distance from the Trinity Council to the metropolitan chambers (thirty meters) in the Lavra of St. Mitr. Filaret (Drozdov) traveled in two hours. The people who came for his blessing did not allow him to go faster. And the Bishop was in no hurry.

[40] See: https://www.bbc.com/russian/news-55632831.

Patriarch Kirill is a pagan, “Russian World” is a heresy


Author: Epiphanius Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine

The idea of ​​the “Russian World” is a heresy, and Moscow Patriarch Kirill has adopted a pagan and anti-Orthodox imperialist and nationalist ideology, which is why he must be condemned by the Orthodox world and removed from his post. This is what Epiphanius, Metropolitan of Kyiv and All Ukraine and Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, called for in a letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew dated July 28. (The full text of the letter – below here.)

The first reaction of Vakhtang Kipshidze, deputy spokesman of the Moscow Patriarchate, was that this appeal came from something that is not even a church, but a schismatic structure whose claims should not be taken seriously. (The Orthodox Church of Ukraine was established in December 2018, and a month later Patriarch Bartholomew gave it a tomos granting autocephaly. The Russian Orthodox Church did not recognize this decision – note ed.) The OCU is trying to please the Ukrainian authorities and participate in the campaign against the entire Russian people, including against the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, he added.

The Moscow Patriarch then said that the claim of “malicious people” that the Russian Orthodox Church exists only for Russians, for Muscovites, does not correspond to reality. The explanation was that it is in more than 60 countries around the world and for him the Orthodox, wherever they live, are part of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Cyril made the comment in the “Christ the Savior” church in Moscow at a meeting with children from Ukraine – from the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics and from Kharkiv Oblast. For him, this meeting was “a great joy”, “because everything affecting Donbas, Luhansk region, Kharkiv region – where people are suffering today – worries me a lot and hurts my heart, because all the Orthodox people who live there – these are children of the Moscow Patriarchate”.

After Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine, the patriarch touched on the topic several times in his sermons. According to him, the peoples of Russia and Ukraine are one whole, which external forces tried to separate, and Russia has never attacked other countries, but “only defends its borders”.

Kirill has been sanctioned by Canada and Great Britain, and the intervention of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán prevented the European Union from doing the same at Lithuania’s proposal.

Here is the letter that the Ukrainian Metropolitan sent to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Your Holiness,

In accordance with the decision of the Council of Bishops of May 24 of this year I call on you to initiate examination and condemnation on a pan-Orthodox level of the activities of the Moscow Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev and the ethnophyletic and racist doctrine of the “Russian World” preached by him.

On February 24, 2022, the Russian Federation insidiously, without an official declaration of war, launched a full-scale military aggression against Ukraine. The war launched by Russia in the center of Europe as early as February 2014 is being waged with the aim of destroying Ukrainian statehood and striking with extreme cruelty. A true genocide is being committed against the Ukrainian people before the eyes of the whole world. The aggressor is destroying peaceful Ukrainian cities, shelling hospitals and schools, raping and torturing women and minors, killing and maiming children. Among those killed by the Russian troops are the clergy of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, religious teachers from other faiths. About 200 religious buildings, mostly Orthodox churches, were completely or partially destroyed as a result of the Russian shelling.

Russia is a country that has linked its identity with Orthodoxy for centuries. But in recent decades, the Christian faith in Russia has been subjected to paganism – insidiously replaced by a civil religion that rests on the Orthodox tradition, but is alien to the spirit of the Gospel and the content of the Orthodox faith of the Holy Fathers. Many Russian soldiers who invaded our country identify with Orthodoxy. But the deeds done by the invaders testify to them as criminals who have lost their living connection with Christ and His Church.

Each murdered child, each raped woman, each destroyed residential building and temple is not only a war crime, but also an act of denying Christ, as a result of which the criminal finds himself outside the fertile fence of the Church. But the moral responsibility for the committed crimes is borne not only by the direct perpetrators, but also by their ideological inspirers – Moscow Patriarch Kirill and like-minded hierarchs, who for decades propagated, and now blessed, the ethnophyletic and racist doctrine of the “Russian World”.

Many of the elections for the patriarchal chair of Metropolitan Kirill (2009) connect certain hopes for the revival of church life. But today, when twelve and a half years have passed since Cyril occupied the Moscow see, it is obvious that the announced reforms did not take place and the only real achievements of the 16th Moscow patriarch were the concentration of power in the hands of one man with a complete degradation of the real church council and complete dependence of the Church on the Russian state.

Metropolitan, and later Patriarch Kirill, was never a standard for professing the Orthodox faith. Some theological statements of Bishop Cyril – for example, the identification of the Third Hypostasis of the Holy Trinity with the “Divine energy eternally originating from God the Father” – even caused controversy and temptations among the clergy of the Russian Church. Cyril’s almost complete indifference to theological problems kept him from completely falling into the realm of heresy. The situation changed when the hierarch, whose attention had long been focused on geopolitical problems, decided to participate in the creation of the doctrine of the “Russian World” – a nationalist ethnophyletic theory of the special role of the Russian nation and state in the world and in the Church.

On Orthodox Sunday, March 15 this year, the Declaration on the “Russian World” was promulgated, which was initially signed by more than 340 Orthodox theologians from around the world, whose number has now increased to a thousand. As noted in this Declaration, the “Russian World” is an unorthodox heretical doctrine, close to the teaching of ethnophiletism, condemned at the Council of Constantinople in 1872. “We reject the heresy of the “Russian World” and the shameful actions of the Russian authorities in allowing the war against Ukraine, caused by this vile doctrine, which has no justification – for the complicity of the Russian Orthodox Church, as actions deeply non-Orthodox, non-Christian,” noted the Orthodox theologians who signed the Declaration. Similar assessments were expressed in another public document – Open Address to the Heads of the Orthodox Churches.

While sharing most of the statements contained in the above Appeals, we also wish to draw Your Holiness’ attention to another heretical aspect of the “Russian World” doctrine that significantly distorts Orthodox anthropology. It is about denying the rights of peoples to historical self-determination or historical fatalism inherent in the doctrine of the “Russian world” in the interpretation of Patriarch Kirill. According to the latter’s mythological historical concept, Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians supposedly belong to the common civilization of the “Russian World” and as such have no moral right to further historical self-determination. Their choice, made in the past, supposedly obligates them to be a part of the Russian world or the Russian state for the rest of their lives.

The denial of the freedom of entire peoples is combined in the worldview of Patriarch Kirill and his like-minded people with a racist theory in spirit, according to which Russia and the “Russian world” are something fundamentally better and higher than other nations, and Russia’s historical neighbors – Ukrainians and Belarusians – have the right to exist and have a future only as part of the Russian reality. Within this racist concept, which divides peoples and states into “real” and “artificial”, it is also quite logical in principle to deny the right of the people of Ukraine to full canonical church independence (autocephaly) and statehood.

At the same time, it is important to understand that the ideology of the modern Russian Orthodox Church poses a threat not only to Ukraine, but also to the entire Orthodox world. “Just as Russia invaded Ukraine, so the Moscow Patriarchate, headed by Patriarch Kirill, became an invader in the Orthodox Church, for example in Africa, causing division and discord,” noted the Orthodox theologians in the aforementioned Declaration.

It is important to realize the connection between the doctrine of the “Russian World” and the specific church decisions initiated by Patriarch Kirill in recent years – from the severance of Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate (October 15, 2018) to the creation of the “Patriarchal Exarchy of Africa” . Armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine (2022). At least since October 2018, all actions of Patriarch Kirill have been subordinated to a specific political goal. He seeks to radically increase the presence of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, to weaken the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek-speaking local churches as much as possible, and thus impose on the Orthodox world the hegemony and dictates of the Moscow Patriarch.

In the current situation, it is extremely important that the Catholic Church responds properly to the challenges arising from pagan Russian Orthodoxy. As the Gospel testifies, “every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit” (Matthew 7:18). Acting according to this principle commanded by our Savior, the Church must collectively recognize that the tree that today bears the “fruits of war” is poisonous, that is, condemn the doctrine of the “Russian world” as heretical.

We call on Your Holiness and the Superiors of the Local Orthodox Churches to also look into the activities of Patriarch Cyril as soon as possible, related to his opposition to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and many Local Orthodox Churches, and if this activity is recognized as containing signs of schism, to bring the Patriarch to justice to canonical responsibility.

In view of the above, we ask Your Holiness and His Beatitude the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches to canonically qualify several decisions of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, adopted in 2018 – 2021, which, in our opinion, do not correspond to the principles of Orthodox ecclesiology:

• a decision to interrupt (unilaterally) the Eucharistic communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchate of Alexandria, the Church of Cyprus and the Church of Greece;

• the decision to create – contrary to the canonical tradition and the sixth rule of the First Ecumenical Council – the church structures of the Moscow Patriarchate on the canonical territory of the ancient Patriarchate of Alexandria.

On behalf of the bishops of our Church and the numerous victims of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which the Patriarch of Moscow openly and unequivocally publicly approves and supports, we appeal to Your Holiness and the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches with a request:

• to condemn the doctrine of the “Russian World” and recognize it as heretical;

• to qualify the actions of Patriarch Kirill in the canonical territory of the Patriarchate of Alexandria as schismatic;

• to deprive Kiril Gundyaev of the right to occupy the Moscow Patriarchate.

With sincere brotherly love in Christ, we ask Your Holiness and His Beatitude the Heads of the Local Orthodox Churches to continue offering their prayers for the suffering people of Ukraine and to grant the request expressed in this letter – objectively, in accordance with the teachings and sacred canons of the Church, to examine the activities of the current heads of the Russian Church.

On behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine


Metropolitan of Kyiv and all Ukraine

Primate of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine

Photo: Metropolitan Epiphany during the service in Istanbul in January 2019 at the recognition of a Ukrainian church that is not subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate © president.gov.ua

The Vanished Tomb of Alexander the Great


One of the unsolved mysteries of antiquity is the time-worn tomb of Alexander the Great. His biographer Arrian / Arrian of Nicomedia, or Flavius ​​Arrian, is a Greek who lived in the Roman Empire, historian, politician and philosopher. It is considered the most reliable source for the life of Alexander the Great. He does not mention funeral preparations, but Diodorus Siculus/Siculus (90 BC – c. 30 BC) ancient Greek historian, author of the Bibliotheca historica (“Library of History”) consisting of 40 books , divided into three parts, takes up the challenge in its “library”. Diodorus recounts that Alexander’s body was mummified in Egyptian fashion (he was, after all, the previous pharaoh of Egypt) and placed in a massive golden anthropoid sarcophagus (similar to Tutankhamun’s sarcophagus), which was then placed in another golden coffin , covered with porphyry. Alexander’s tomb is placed in a huge and richly decorated carriage. She departs, drawn by 64 mules from Persia for the long journey to Alexander’s final resting place. The motorcade even has its own team of road builders to level the road. The final destination is said to be Egypt, specifically the temple of Amun Ra in the oasis of Siwa, in the Western Desert. However, Ptolemy Soter, one of Alexander’s generals who would eventually discover the Greco-Egyptian lineage of Egypt’s Ptolemaic pharaohs, marched his army into Syria to meet the cortege. Ptolemy suggests Alexandria (instead of Siva) as the endpoint of Alexander’s sarcophagus.

Others claim that Perdiccas, another of Alexander’s generals, actually escorted the cortege back to Aigai in Macedonia—the place where Alexander’s ancestors were buried. Perdiccas was named regent for Alexander IV, the infant son of Alexander the Great, and so it is often assumed, as Aelian writes, that Ptolemy Soter forcibly appropriated the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great from the general Perdiccas and took it to Alexandria for propaganda purposes.

It would be logical for Alexander’s tomb to be in Egypt: thus the claims to the throne of the underage Alexander IV, of Ptolemy himself, would be legitimized. Alexander IV was the rightful heir to the empire, and the only circumstance which negated his inheritance was the fact that he was not pure Greek; as the son of Roxana, Alexander’s Persian (Bactrian) wife. So what would Ptolemy really have done with Alexander’s sarcophagus to further his claim to the throne of Egypt?

It is entirely possible that Ptolemy hid the sarcophagus in Levan, Phoenicia, as a method of minimizing the influence of the Alexandrian royal dynasty. When he met the cortege, Ptolemy is said to have taken the sarcophagus to Syria, an area that included the entire Levantine coast.

The problem is that Alexander the Great’s tomb is completely missing from history. Its location is one of the greatest mysteries of the archaeological world. So where does Alexander’s ornate sarcophagus finally rest?

And the great search begins. Archaeologists, historians, writer-researchers over the years have been “discovering” the tomb of Alexander the Great.

In 1887, Osman Hamdi Bey, director of the Ottoman Imperial Museum in Istanbul, reported a major find in Sidon, Lebanon. Two sets of underground chambers have been discovered and opened. There are a large number of sarcophagi. One of these is a magnificent sarcophagus carved from Greek Pentelian marble (the same used as the Acropolis), which is surrounded by some of the finest classical Greek sculpture ever discovered. The sarcophagus is of the right age and context to be associated with Alexander; but this “discovery” also brings several problems, as the descriptions of the sarcophagus in Diodorus’ “Library of History” do not match this marble sarcophagus, and the location where it was found also seems unlikely. Faced with these difficulties, the sarcophagus was attributed to Abdalonim, a Phoenician king of Sidon appointed by Alexander himself.

After millennia of searching, archaeologists believe they have found the tomb of Alexander the Great. Now at least two researchers are confident they have solved the mystery.

Two modern experts may have finally solved this age-old mystery. Author and researcher Dr. Andrew Michael Chugg (“The Lost Tomb of Alexander the Great”) and archaeologist Liana Suvaltsi, each in their own way, believe they are getting closer to the truth…

There are many more questions about Alexander’s burial than – clear answers. According to National Geographic, modern historians largely agree that the ancient king was buried in Alexandria, Egypt.

When he died at the age of 32, his advisers initially buried him in Memphis, Egypt, before deciding on Alexandria. His tomb becomes a place of worship. A period of earthquakes and rising sea levels begins, threatening the city.

Suvaltsi believes that the tomb of Alexander is located in the ruins of ancient stronghold in Siwa, Egypt. In 2019, Calliope Limneos-Papakosta, director of the Hellenic Research Institute of the Alexandrian Civilization, succeeded in excavating under present-day Alexandria and made a huge breakthrough in finding the ruler’s tomb.

“This is the first time that the original foundations have been discovered,” says archaeologist Fredrik Hibbert. “It gave me goosebumps when I saw it.”

Although a promising leap forward, Alexander’s tomb has yet to be found. History says that his body disappeared when the Roman emperor Theodosius banned pagan worship in 392. The two competing theories of Chug and Suvaltsi nevertheless converge.

According to the Express, Suvaltsi believes Alexander’s wish was to be buried in the temple of the Egyptian god Amun Ra. This led her to request a permit to excavate the oasis of Siwa in 1984, which the Egyptian authorities granted her in 1989. They discovered lion statues, an entrance, and a 5,651 sq. ft. Hellenistic royal tomb. Suvaltsi believes that the carvings and inscriptions that refer to the transportation of a body were written by Alexander’s famous companion, Ptolemy.

At the time Suvaltsi said: “I have no doubts that this is Alexander’s tomb… I want every [fellow Greek] to feel proud because Greek hands have found this very important monument.”

Although in 1995 it was announced that the tomb of the ancient king had finally been discovered, the Greek government called on the Egyptian government to stop the excavations – as tensions between the two archaeologists grew. Suvaltsi continues to fight to resume excavations as Chug’s latest discoveries become promising.

Dr. Andrew Chugg believes that the sarcophagus of Nectaneb II in the British Museum in London contains the real clues to the true location of Alexander’s remains.

Chug has a different theory when it comes to Alexander the Great’s tomb. He explains in his book that the original temple of Alexander, near Memphis in Egypt, in the Serapeum complex, was built by Pharaoh Nectaneb II. Now, 16 years after the publication of his book, new evidence appears to support this thesis. A piece of masonry found in the foundations of St. Mark’s Cathedral in Venice exactly matches the dimensions of Nectaneb II’s sarcophagus in the British Museum – which may confirm the location of Alexander’s tomb.

Since his body disappeared in 392 and the tomb of St. Mark appeared at the same time, Chug believes that Alexander’s body was stolen from Alexandria by Venetian merchants who mistook it for St. Mark. He was then sent to Venice and has been venerated as Saint Mark in the cathedral ever since.

For Chugg, who says the fragment found in Venice is “just the right height and length” to form the outer shell of a sarcophagus in Britain, this means the remains, in Venice, are of Alexander the Great.

Even the British Museum is now convinced, having changed some of its Curator’s Comments sections to reflect this new evidence:

“This object was wrongly thought to be associated with Alexander the Great when it entered the collection in 1803,” it still reads…but! – missing the important word “wrong”.

The “discoveries” will continue. Archaeologists will argue. But perhaps the lost tomb of Alexander the Great will never be found.

Illustration: Alexander the Great – Roman mosaic

Tomb of a Mongol warrior with a horse, saber and arrows found in Transnistria


In the vicinity of the village of Glinoe, Slobodzeya region, Pridnestrovian archaeologists discovered the burial place of a noble Mongol warrior.

His belonging to the highest military aristocracy is evidenced by a set of weapons and a horse burial arranged near the tomb, reports novostipmr.com

Employees of the research laboratory “Archaeology” of the Pridnestrovian State University made this discovery while studying the destroyed barrows. Excavations, in fact, rescue – they allow you to find and preserve ancient artifacts that contain unique historical information. This year, research was made possible thanks to a presidential grant under the program for supporting social and cultural projects.

Among the artifacts of the warrior’s tomb: iron arrowheads of various shapes, a dagger and a long saber, separate parts of a birch bark quiver have been preserved. The primary analysis of these objects and the elements of the burial rite (the shape of the pit, the orientation of the skeleton) made it possible to determine the time attribution of the burial: this is the end of the 13th century – the era of domination of the Golden Horde in the steppes of the Northern Black Sea region.

Judging by the size of the skeleton, the man during his lifetime was not tall – barely 1.6 meters. Interestingly, the saber found with him is 1.3 meters long. This is clearly visible in the photograph. The hilt is located at the shoulder bones of the buried, and the edge of the blade reaches the lower leg. The warrior wielded a saber almost as tall as his.

This speaks of the strength and dexterity of a person, which is confirmed by his broad bones. The shape of the skull and prominent cheekbones, in turn, speak of its Mongoloid origin.

The quiver set indicates that this man was a skilled archer. He knew how to handle arrows with different tips, differing in shape and weight. Among them are massive three-lobed and diamond-shaped.

When skillfully used at short range, they pierced armor and chain mail, making them very effective against heavily armed infantry or cavalry.

For seven centuries, corrosion has deformed metal objects, and now they are fragments of iron slag. For example, archaeologists assembled a saber literally piece by piece. And it takes at least another six months to restore the artifact.

Doctor of Historical Sciences Vitaly Sinika, who heads the expedition of the Research Laboratory “Archaeology”, suggested that the burial of the Mongol warrior may be a reflection of the internecine war in the Golden Horde between Khan Tokhta and the governor of the western territories, Beklarbek Nogay. At the end of the 13th century, Nogai ruled the lands between the Danube and Dnieper rivers and was so strong that he pursued an independent policy and minted his own coin. Even the emperor of Byzantium, Michael Palaiologos, intermarried with him, marrying his daughter Euphrosyne for Nogai.

The powerful beklyarbek (ruler over rulers) helped one of the descendants of Genghis Khan Tokhte win the struggle for power in the Golden Horde. But Tokhtu, who took the throne, was worried about the independence of his ally, which ultimately led to a military conflict. The battle between Nogay and Tokhta, according to Arab sources, took place in 1300 in the place of Kukanlyk. Historians localize this toponym in different ways: some believe that this is the Kuyalnik estuary, others believe that we are talking about Lake Kuchurgan. One way or another, but the battle ended in the defeat and death of Nogai.

It is possible that a Mongol warrior from the vicinity of Glinoye participated in this Kukanlyk battle, which took place somewhere between the Dniester and the Southern Bug. He could be seriously wounded and die during the retreat of the remnants of Nogai’s troops. So far, this is only a version, further research will either confirm or refute it. And the fact that archaeological excavations make it possible to discover new grains of the ancient history of Pridnestrovie is confirmed every season.

Source novostipmr.com

FIFA and UNODC wrap up year-long global programme to tackle match manipulation in football

FIFA and UNODC wrap up year-long global programme to tackle match manipulation in football

Vienna (Austria), 4 August 2022 – FIFA and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) concluded its first-ever international integrity education programme, designed to support all 211 member associations in their efforts to tackle match manipulation in football.

Launched last year by FIFA in collaboration with UNODC, the FIFA Global Integrity Programme aimed to educate and build integrity capacity within 211 member associations, and to share knowledge and resources with integrity officers in football.

Since its launch in March 2021, some 400-plus representatives from governments and football associations across the globe took part in 29 workshops which covered several key topics, including establishing an integrity initiative, reporting mechanisms, competition protection, cooperation between and among member associations and law enforcement.

“Corruption and cheating have no place in our societies, and certainly no place in the world’s most popular sport. Through the Global Integrity Programme, FIFA and UNODC have made a real impact in advancing integrity in football. We will continue working in partnership with FIFA to protect the beautiful game from match fixing and other crimes, and to leverage the global force that is football in our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” said UNODC Executive Director Ghada Waly.

Gianni Infantino, FIFA President said: “Integrity, good governance, ethics and fair play – these are values that lie at very heart of football and are fundamental to ensuring trust and confidence in our sport. Bringing together over 400 participants from around the world, the FIFA Global Integrity Programme delivered together with the UNODC has provided an important platform to educate and strengthen ongoing efforts to combat match-manipulation and protect the integrity of football.

“I would like to thank the UNODC and Ms. Ghada Waly for the ongoing collaboration and look forward to continuing our future work and programmes together.”

As part of the FIFA Global Integrity Programme, workshops were held all six confederations, including the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the Confederation of African Football (CAF), the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF), the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), and the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).

The FIFA Global Integrity Programme was developed in line with FIFA’s overall vision of making football truly global and the UNODC’s objective of supporting governments and sports organizations in their efforts to safeguard sport from corruption and crime.

How to Survive Death, a book that provides “a safe trip between lives”

Niels with his book
Photo credit: Thorsten Overgaard

“How to Survive Death” is also about the author’s journey, an autobiography, from rebellious youth to a fulfilling life, helping others achieve their full potential. On that journey, he never stopped searching for better answers to life’s mysteries—solutions that consistently work. Many of those who read the book will tell you that you can find those answers in it.

Niels profile - How to Survive Death, a book that provides "a safe trip between lives"
Niels Kjeldsen, Credit photo: NK

Death could be considered as natural as life itself. There is no life without death. It begins and goes on for some time, hopefully long, but for sure, it ends. And it’s better to know before it ends. Perhaps you can learn something about it, something not so bad, something even magical, that is worth knowing.” says Niels Kjeldsen, the author of the book “How to Survive Death“.

In the last chapter “What to do and what not to do when you leave the body” Kjeldsen approaches the “three parts of man” and hints that you may finish being equipped with “enough information to help any being that wants to know. It guarantees a safe trip between lives. You and your loved ones need that.

In this hectic life that we live in “far too many things can happen so why not be on the safe side. It’s like a spiritual ‘life insurance’ you get” said Kjeldsen to The European Times.

how to survive death cover2 - How to Survive Death, a book that provides "a safe trip between lives"

Of course, Kjeldsen says, “you can leave it up to luck and hope everything goes well“, but according to the author who has studied the subject for many, many years “it’s not recommended. Do not hope before you go, but know before you go” affirms with serenity and certainty. 

After death, whether the body is cremated or buried, we know that flesh perishes. “But what about the spirit that animated the body, that gave it personality? What happens to it after body death? Some call this entity that runs the body the spirit or soul” says the author. 

Others use different names. How come there are so many different opinions about such an important subject? This is what is covered in this book. In the last chapter, you will find body, mind, and spirit defined in detail with the appropriate references. 

For the longest time, science has been unable to recognize the spirit, for the simple reason that the spirit is non-physical, and science has too often dealt exclusively with the material universe. However, Niels Kjeldsen continues, “the technological age has finally advanced enough to prove that there is a spiritual aspect to life and that it can be measured“. 

The reason for this book“, tells the author “is to clarify where the soul goes after the body is dead“. Why does one want to know? Well, when you reach a certain age or lose too many loved ones, death is sort of thrown in your face, like it or not. It is worth knowing that “death might not be as bad as you have been led to believe” concludes.

You were not given an instruction book on how to live life when you were born, but you’ve had plenty of advice—good or bad—along the way. There’s been no instruction at all on how to handle the end of this life properly” Niels tells me, “this book remedies the omission“.

I must say that Niels had left me with the candy two centimetres away from my lips, and now I can tell you, after the easy and capturing reading of the 117 pages, that this book is certainly for you, whether you believe it now or not. I hope you also enjoy the reading.

UNODC port security training brings results with interception of 36 radiated tortoises in Madagascar 

Radiated tortoise. © David Clode / Unsplash

Toamasina and Mahajanga (Madagascar), 3 August 2022 — radiated tortoises – 11 billion goods per year, tens of millions of people – global ports are busier than ever bringing us the items and transport needed to house, feed, and move humans around the world. Ports are often spread over thousands of hectares of sea and land, meaning that criminals have many opportunities to steal or smuggle illegal weapons, drugs, and more. 

Wildlife smuggling is one such example. Thousands of endangered or protected wildlife and plants are trafficked dead or alive across the globe every year, and container shipping is the most commonly used method to conduct this illegal trade, according to the United Nations Development Programme

“For too long, organized criminal groups have illegally exploited flora and fauna as a low-risk, high-profit activity that could be pursued with impunity, in every region of the world,” remarked Ghada Waly, Executive Director for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Improving port governance and security can therefore have a deep impact on countering such criminal activities, which is why UNODC, through its Global Maritime Crime Programme, trained over 110 officers working at the Madagascar ports of Toamasina and Mahajanga over four weeks in June-July 2022. Participants included officers from many different agencies involved in port security – the police, immigration, customs, fire brigade, port management, and private sector operators at the port. 

The training had an immediate, concrete impact – one short day after the training concluded, a joint team of officers who had attended the training intercepted the smuggling of 36 radiated tortoises. The tortoises, native to southern Madagascar, are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to rampant poaching for their meat and the illegal pet trade. The intercepted tortoises were on their way to Comoros before being sent on to Asia, a common trafficking route for these kinds of species. 

“This interception is a direct result of the training delivered by UNODC,” said Mr. Jean-Edmond Randrianantenaina, the Director General of Madagascar’s Agence Portuaire, Maritime et Fluviale (APMF).

Further information

With Financial support from the European Union (EU), UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), in collaboration with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and INTERPOL, are implementing a programme on Port Security and Safety of Navigation in Eastern and Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean Commission is coordinating this project across nine countries in the region: Angola, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, and Tanzania. To learn more about GMCP, click here.

Houses of Worship: A Dream of Faith, Thailand’s White Temple—Wat Rong Khun

Houses of Worship: A Dream of Faith, Thailand’s White Temple—Wat Rong Khun

Thailand is home to the second largest population of Buddhists in the world, with some 64 millions Buddhists and 41,000 temples. Buddhism came to Thailand as early as the 3rd century BCE during the reign of Ashoka.

Theravada is the primary school of Buddhism in Thailand today and is traditionally conservative in doctrine and monastic discipline. The adherence to tradition can be seen in temples of Thailand (also called wats). From Wat Phra Kaew, regarded as the most sacred temple of Thailand, located in the Grand Palace, commonly called in English the Temple of the Emerald Buddha for the statue of Buddha which is a religious icon for the country; to Wat Phra Phutthabat, one of the oldest temples in the country and home to a stone which is said to have a footprint of the Buddha.

But in the northernmost region of Thailand stands a temple which is an amalgam of traditional and modern design—Wat Rong Khun. Renowned for its artistry and stark beauty it is known to English speakers simply as the White Temple and is one of the favorite locations for visitors in all of Thailand.

(JJ Harrison, CC BY-SA 3.0)

The temple was created by Thai artist ​​Chalermchai Kositpipat, originally from the province Chiang Rai where the temple is located, who became well known in the 1980s and 90s for art done in a contemporary style but with Buddhist imagery throughout it. ​​Chalermchai took this further with Wat Rong Khun, using traditional Thai and Hindu architecture and Buddhist symbology and mixing it with elements of modern pop culture. There are even murals which include modern cultural references of The Matrix, Marvel characters, spaceships and the 9/11 terrorist attacks which are set into a context of Buddhist imagery.

969px Wat Rong Khun wall painting - Houses of Worship: A Dream of Faith, Thailand’s White Temple—Wat Rong Khun
A mural of modern events and pop culture through the lens of Buddhist traditions. (E2v, CC BY-SA 3.0)

In the details of the temple the artist attempts to depict Dharma—the nature of reality regarded as a universal truth taught by the Buddha, which tells of a release from human passion or desire and accordingly a rise to new spiritual heights and understanding. When you arrive to the temple grounds you are first confronted with temptation including demons adorned with bottles of alcohol, you then cross a bridge over a sea of writhing human sculptures and arrive at the temple proper. The progression is meant to represent the transition from the cycle of life and death to the land of Buddha. The building, pristine white and shimmering glass outside and in, is demonstrative of the peace sought through the faith.

The Wat Rong Khun opened to visitors in 1997. Personally funded by ​​Chalermchai, the work continues on Wat Rong Khun to this day, and is planned for much, much more—so much so that it is expected to continue until 2070. As Chalermchai put it, “Only death can stop my dream, but cannot stop my project.”

White Temple panorama 1024x351 1 - Houses of Worship: A Dream of Faith, Thailand’s White Temple—Wat Rong Khun
(JoelRoue, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Horn of Africa faces most ‘catastrophic’ food insecurity in decades, warns WHO

Horn of Africa faces most ‘catastrophic’ food insecurity in decades, warns WHO
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Tuesday that the Greater Horn of Africa is experiencing one of the worst hunger crises of the last 70 years.  
More than 37 million people are facing acute hunger, with approximately seven million children under the age of five acutely malnourished in the region.  

While finding food and safe water is the absolute priority, WHO said that ensuring a strong health emergency response is needed to avert preventable disease and deaths.  

The UN agency is calling for $123.7 million to respond to rising health needs and prevent a food crisis from turning into a health crisis.  

“The situation is already catastrophic, and we need to act now,” said Ibrahima Soce Fall, WHO Assistant Director General for Emergencies Response. “We cannot continue in this underfunding crisis”. 

Severe drought  

The Horn of Africa includes Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya.  

Climate change, conflict, rising food prices and the COVID-19 pandemic have compounded one of the worst droughts in the region in recent decades, according to the WHO appeal

“There are now four seasons where the rain didn’t come as predicted and a fifth season is estimated to also fail. Places where there is drought the problem keeps worsening and worsening,” said WHO Incident Manager Sophie Maes.  

“In other places like South Sudan, there have been three years of consecutive flooding with almost 40 per cent of the country being flooded. And we are looking at something that is going to get worse in the near future.”  


Thousands of animals have perished due to the extreme drought ravaging Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa.

Hunger crisis 

Over 37 million people in the region are projected to reach the third level of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification scale (IPC3) and higher in the coming months.  

This means that the population is in crisis, and only marginally able to meet minimum food needs by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies. 

The effects of drought are particularly severe in eastern and southern Ethiopia, eastern and northern Kenya, and southern and central Somalia.  

Food insecurity in South Sudan has reached the most extreme levels since independence in 2011, with 8.3 million people comprising 75 per cent of the population facing severe food insecurity. 

Cost of inaction 

Acute malnutrition leads to increased migration as populations move in search of food and pasture, according to WHO. 

And disruptions often result in deteriorating hygiene and sanitation as outbreaks of infectious diseases, like cholera, measles, and malaria, are already on the rise.  

Moreover, weak vaccination coverage and health services with insufficient resources could see a widespread increase in the number of disease outbreaks in country and across borders.

Care for severely malnourished children with medical complications will be severely impacted and result in high child mortality rates.  

Disruptions in access to health care can further increase morbidity and mortality, as emergency conditions force populations to modify their health-seeking behaviour and prioritize access to life-saving resources such as food and water.

New global alliance launched to end AIDS in children by 2030

New global alliance launched to end AIDS in children by 2030
While more than three quarters of all adults living with HIV are receiving some kind of treatment, the number of children doing so, stands at only 52 per cent. In response to this startling disparity, UN agencies UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO, and others, have formed a global alliance to prevent new HIV infections and ensure that by 2030 all HIV positive children can get access to lifesaving treatment.
The new Global Alliance for Ending AIDS in Children by 2030, made up of UN agencies, civil society groups, governments and international partners, was announced at the landmark International AIDS Conference, which comes to a close in Montréal, Canada, on Tuesday.

‘Healthy, informed generation’

Addressing the conference, Limpho Nteko from Lesotho shared her journey from a surprise HIV diagnosis to pioneering the women-led mothers2mothers programme to combat gestational transmission of HIV. Pregnant when diagnosed, Ms. Nteko highlighted the importance of community leadership in combating HIV:

“To succeed, we need a healthy, informed generation of young people who feel free to talk about HIV, and to get the services and support they need to protect themselves and their children from HIV”, she told delegates.

“mothers2mothers has achieved virtual elimination of mother-to-child transmission of HIV for our enrolled clients for eight consecutive years – showing what is possible when we let women and communities create solutions tailored to their realities.” 

Ms. Netko’s emphasis on community leadership will now be backed by the resources of an international coalition.

Four pillars for action

 Together, stakeholders in the alliance have identified four pillars of collective action:

  1. Close the treatment gap among breastfeeding adolescent girls and women living with HIV and optimize the continuity of treatment.
  2. Prevent and detect new HIV infections among pregnant and breastfeeding adolescent girls and women.
  3. Promote accessible testing, optimized treatment, and comprehensive care for infants, children, and adolescents exposed to and living with HIV.
  4. Address gender equality, and the social and structural barriers that hinder access to services.

The potential success of the alliance rests on its unifying nature. UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima argues that, “by bringing together new improved medicines, new political commitment, and the determined activism of communities, we can be the generation who end AIDS in children. We can win this – but we can only win together.”

Only through collaboration at all levels of society, can holistic solutions be created to effectively prevent further HIV transmission, said UNAIDS.

By localizing solutions, while mobilizing worldwide commitment and resources, the alliance aims to stimulate innovation and hone the technical excellence needed to solve this pressing issue. 

Pirated books thrive on Amazon — and authors say web giant ignores fraud

Pirated books thrive on Amazon — and authors say web giant ignores fraud

Amazon is getting flooded with counterfeit versions of books, angering customers and authors alike who say the site is doing little to fight the literary fraudsters. 

Forgeries sold by third parties through Amazon range from e-books to hardcovers and fiction to non-fiction — but the issue is especially widespread for textbooks, whose sky-high sticker prices draw in scammers, publishing industry sources say. 

“The damage to authors is very real,” Matthew Hefti, a novelist and attorney who has found counterfeit versions of his own book on Amazon, told The Post. “It’s such a pervasive problem.”  

The end result is that readers are getting stuck with illegible books that bleed ink or fall apart, while authors and publishers lose revenue to the publishing pirates.

Amazon, however, takes a cut of third-party sales regardless of whether the books they ship are real or fake, giving the company no incentive to crack down on coutenterfeits, people in the publishing industry gripe. They say the site that’s typically known for speedy service is excessively slow to respond to their concerns about fakes. 

‘Pages unreadable’

Martin Kleppmann, a computer science researcher and academic, has seen one-star Amazon reviews of his data modeling textbook roll in for years, with angry customers complaining about unreadable text, missing pages and other quality issues. He blames counterfeiters, who he says have sold pirated versions.

“This book is very badly printed,” reads one angry review of Kleppmann’s book. “Ink goes everywhere after 10 minutes reading.” 

“Pages are printed overlapped,” another review reads. “About 20 pages unreadable.” 

“Pages are printed overlapped,” a reviewer said.
One the of overlapped and poorly printed pages in an alleged pirated text.

A third reviewer gripes that they had to order Kleppmann’s book from Amazon three different times before they received a usable copy. The two counterfeits had see-through paper and other defects. 

“I see lots of negative reviews complaining about print quality,” Kleppmann told The Post, adding that his publisher has asked Amazon to fix the issue but the company hasn’t done anything. 

Amazon spokesperson Julia Lee said in a statement to The Post, “We prioritize customer and author trust and continuously monitor and have measures in place to prevent prohibited products from being listed.”

Amazon spent more than $900 million globally and employed more than 12,000 people to protect customers from counterfeit, fraud and other forms of abuse, Lee said.

One Amazon reviewer said they had to buy Kleppmann’s book three times to find a non-counterfeit copy.

But Kleppmann isn’t the only author who’s struggled with counterfeits on Amazon. Google deep learning researcher Francois Chollet complained about counterfeiters in a popular Twitter thread earlier in July, accusing Amazon of doing “nothing” to crack down on widespread counterfeit versions of his textbook. 

“Anyone who has bought my book from Amazon in the past few months hasn’t bought a genuine copy, but a lower-quality counterfeit copy printed by various fraudulent sellers,” Chollet wrote. “We’ve notified [Amazon] multiple times, nothing happened. The fraudulent sellers have been in activity for years.” 

Even The Post’s own columnist Miranda Devine saw fake versions of her book about Hunter Biden, “Laptop from Hell,” spread on Amazon last year.

After Devine’s publishers notified Amazon about the issue, the counterfeits remained on the site for days, she said. 

Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on the specific examples of counterfeits in this story.

‘Endless game of whack-a-mole’

Amazon generally requires authors and publishers to comb the site for counterfeit versions of their own books, then fight through layers of bureaucracy to get the fakes taken down, according to intellectual property attorney Katie Sunstrom. 

“The burden is on the seller to get Amazon to stop the infringers and counterfeiters from selling on their system,” Sunstrom told The Post. “There’s no impetus on Amazon to take care of it.” 

Kleppmann’s publisher, O’Reilly Media, told The Post that it routinely files complaints with Amazon about fraudulent sellers, but that the company is often slow to address their concerns. 

“It is an endless game of whack-a-mole where accounts simply resurface days or weeks later,” O’Reilly vice president of content strategy Rachel Roumeliotis told The Post, adding that Amazon will respond to “individual symptoms as discovered by publishers” but does nothing to stop the “systemic flow” of counterfeits. 

An example of an alleged pirated book from Amazon.

“Amazon spends a lot of time trying to combat the perception its marketplace perpetuates fraud because it’s known that there is a problem — yet its platform and policies are built in ways that facilitate it,” Roumeliotis said. 

Counterfeits spreading unchecked can put authors’ careers at risk, according to Hefti. 

Beyond cutting into the profits authors make off books they’ve already published, counterfeit sales don’t count toward official sales figures. Lower sales figures will, in turn, make it more difficult for authors to ink future book deals, Hefti said. 

“The model is so exploitative for writers,” he said. “I don’t even know if there is any fixing it, at least not without Amazon having to spend a ton of money and lose a bunch of existing profit.”

Pope visits elderly and sick at Fraternité St. Alphonse Centre

Pope visits elderly and sick at Fraternité St. Alphonse Centre - Vatican News

By Vatican News staff reporter

Welcomed in the garden of the facility by the permanent guests and those who commonly frequent the Centre, a total of around 50 people gathered to meet the Pope on Thursday.

According to the Holy See Press Office, they included elderly, people living with various addictions and HIV/AIDS, and the director in charge, Fr. André Morency.

Pope Francis met informally with them, listening to their stories and prayers.

Pope Francis blesses a guest at the Centre

When greeting them at the conclusion of their time together, he gave them an icon of Mary, “The Most Holy Lady of Jerusalem.”

A modern religious creation, this icon of the Theotokos (Mother of God) is very popular among pilgrims to the Holy Land, because the original is placed on a highly venerated altar inside the Church of the Assumption of Mary, which is liturgically celebrated on August 15.

The Pope meeting with guests at the Fraternité St Alphonse Center

The stop at the Fraternité St Alphonse Center for hospitality and spirituality took place as he traveled from the Sainte Anne de Beuprè Shrine, where the Pope presided over Mass Thursday morning, to the Archbishopric of Quebec, where he went for a private lunch.

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Myanmar Military Junta’s Executions

G7 Foreign Ministers’ Statement on the Myanmar Military Junta’s Executions
The text of the following statement was released by the G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union.

Begin Text:

We, the G7 Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union, strongly condemn the four executions by the military junta in Myanmar.

These executions, the first in Myanmar in over thirty years, and the absence of fair trials show the junta’s contempt for the unwavering democratic aspirations of the people of Myanmar. Those executed were prominent members of the democratic opposition – democracy activist Kyaw Min Yu (known as “Ko Jimmy”), former Member of Parliament Phyo Zeyar Thaw, as well as Aung Thura Zaw and Hla Myo Aung. Our thoughts are with the families of the four victims and with those of the many others who have been killed, arrested or tortured in Myanmar since the military illegitimately took over power in February 2021.

We continue to condemn in the strongest terms the military coup in Myanmar and express deep concern about the political, economic, social, humanitarian and human rights situation in the country.

We call on the military regime to immediately end the use of violence, to refrain from further arbitrary executions, to free all political prisoners and those arbitrarily detained and to return the country to a democratic path. We continue to support efforts by ASEAN, and call for the military to meaningfully implement all aspects of the ASEAN Five Point Consensus. This includes an inclusive process of dialogue with a broad range of democratic opposition. We also continue to support efforts by the United Nations, and encourage effective coordination between the ASEAN Special Envoy and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General on Myanmar.

End Text

Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second Day

Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second Day

By  — Staff Reporter

Leh, Ladakh, UT, India – As soon as His Holiness the Dalai Lama reached the pavilion at the teaching ground, Chhering Dorjey Lakruk, Vice President of the Ladakh Buddhist Association (LBA) made the customary offering of a mandala and other representatives presented silk scarves to him. Chanting of the ‘Prayer of Three Continuous Practices’ was followed by a recitation of the ‘Heart Sutra’.

2022 07 29 Leh N01 SA19381 - Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second DayHis Holiness the Dalai Lama greeting a young Ladakhi girl in traditional dress as he arrives for the second day of teachings at the Shewatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, UT, India on July 29, 2022. Photo by Tenzin ChoejorHis Holiness informed the public that since today is the first day of the sixth month of the Tibetan lunar calendar, early this morning he offered prayers and offerings to Palden Lhamo. He then led the congregation in reciting a prayer in praise of the female Dharma Protector that he had composed.

Turning to Shantideva’s ‘Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ His Holiness explained that it is an effective text to follow if you wish to lead a meaningful life.

“Tibetans and people of the Himalayan region are familiar with mantras such the six-syllable mantra of Avalokiteshvara (Om Mani Padme Hung) and mantra of Arya Tara (Om Taré Tuttaré Turé Svaha), but they should also consider themselves fortunate and try to lead a meaningful life by being warm-hearted and focussed on ultimately attaining enlightenment.

“Having given a general introductory teaching yesterday, today I’ll resume my reading of the text right from the start.”

He began to read the second chapter, making the occasional comment as he gave the transmission of Shantideva’s book.

2022 07 29 N02 SA19459 - Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second DayHis Holiness the Dalai Lama reading from Shantideva’s ‘Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ on the second day of teachings at the Shewatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, UT, India on July 29, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor“‘Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ is an excellent guide to the ways to cultivate the awakening mind of bodhichitta. I keep a copy beside my bed and read it whenever I can. What’s more, people interested in learning about emptiness, will benefit from studying the ninth chapter of this book.

“Followers of the Nalanda Tradition are familiar with the practice of generating the awakening mind which gives rise to both health and happiness. When we take refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, we have to understand that the Dharma is something we must develop within so we can traverse the paths and grounds culminating in the omniscient state of Buddhahood.

“The mantra of the ‘Heart Sutra’ indicates the step-by-step path to Buddhahood.

When Avalokiteshvara recites the mantra, “Tadyata gaté gaté paragaté parasamgaté bodhi svaha” (“It is thus: Proceed, proceed, proceed beyond, thoroughly proceed beyond, be founded in enlightenment”), he is telling followers to proceed through the five paths.

“This is what it means: Gaté gaté—proceed, proceed—indicates the paths of accumulation and preparation and the first experience of emptiness; paragaté – proceed beyond—indicates the path of seeing, the first insight into emptiness and achievement of the first bodhisattva ground; parasamgaté—thoroughly proceed beyond—indicates the path of meditation and the achievement of the subsequent bodhisattva grounds, while bodhi svaha—be founded in enlightenment—indicates laying the foundation of complete enlightenment.

2022 07 29 Leh N04 A743190 - Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second DayUmbrellas covering most of the crowd as rain falls during the second day of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s teachings at the Shewatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, UT, India on July 29, 2022. Photo by Tenzin Choejor“Our final goal is the attainment of enlightenment, and to reach it we must combine the awakening mind, which is part of the method aspect of the path, with an understanding of emptiness, which consists of the wisdom aspect of the path. We need to keep these in mind and train ourselves to follow the path to enlightenment in life after life.”

Reading the 8th verse of the second chapter of the book,

Eternally shall I offer all my bodies
To the Conquerors and their children
Please accept me, you Supreme Heroes,
Respectfully shall I be your subject.

His Holiness remarked that the main purpose of offering yourself as a servant to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is to work altruistically for the welfare of all sentient beings.

As he read verses 23 and 24 of Chapter Three:

Just as the previous Ones Gone to Bliss
Gave birth to an Awakening Mind,
And just as they successively dwelt
In the Bodhisattva practices; 2/23

Likewise, for the sake of all that lives,
Do I give birth to an Awakening Mind,
And likewise shall I too
Successively follow the practices. 2/24

His Holiness reported that he reflects on the awakening mind as soon as he wakes up in the morning. These verses are used as formula for generating bodhichitta and taking the bodhisattva vows. The remaining verses of third chapter highlight the beneficial qualities of bodhichitta. His Holiness then read steadily through the rest of the book, making occasional comments on the way.

2022 07 29 Leh N05 SA19462 - Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ – Second DayMembers of the audience following the text as His Holiness the Dalai Lama reads from Shantideva’s ‘Entering the Way of a Bodhisattva’ on the second day of teachings at the Shewatsel Teaching Ground in Leh, Ladakh, UT, India on July 29, 2022. Photo by Tenzin ChoejorAt the beginning of the ninth chapter His Holiness noted that the instructions contained in the previous chapters are all intended to support the development of the perfection of wisdom, which is the focus of this chapter. He clarified that the way the word ‘mind’ is used in the second stanza of Chapter Nine refers to a dualistic perception. Generally speaking, there are various aspects of mind such as the omniscient mind of a buddha, the non-dualistic mind of a realized being who is totally absorbed in emptiness; as well as valid cognitions, assumptions, direct perceptions, inferential cognitions, doubts and so forth.

Having completed the transmission of the book in one session, His Holiness urged his audience to read it and use it as a basis for cultivating bodhichitta and an understanding of emptiness.

“We’ll meet again tomorrow,” he announced, “when I’ll be giving the empowerment of Avalokiteshvara, the embodiment of great compassion.

Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak, despite ‘encouraging’ grain deal

Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak, despite ‘encouraging’ grain deal
The war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending, more than five months after the Russian invasion, and fighting is intensifying, the UN Security Council heard on Friday. 
Ambassadors were briefed by UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo, who pointed to the recent agreement on the safe resumption of grain exports via the Black Sea as a bright light in the conflict, though acknowledging the dim prospects for peace. 

“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” said Ms. DiCarlo, officially the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. 

She added that the UN is making every effort to support implementation of the deal, which was signed last week in Türkiye. 

Diplomatic efforts needed 

The war’s impact globally is “glaringly clear”, said Ms. DiCarlo, noting that the consequences will only become more pronounced the longer fighting lasts, particularly with the onset of winter.  

“Despite the encouraging developments on grain and fertilizers, we remain deeply concerned about the lack of prospects for a shift towards a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts to end the war,” she told the Council. 

“Escalatory rhetoric from any side, including about expanding the conflict geographically or denying Ukraine’s statehood, is not consistent with the constructive spirit demonstrated in Istanbul.” 

UNIC Ankara/Levent Kulu

Secretary-General António Guterres (left) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the signing ceremony of Black Sea Grain Initiative in Istanbul, Türkiye..

Attacks continue unabated 

Ms. DiCarlo said that since her last briefing in late June, deadly attacks by Russian forces have continued unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble. 

The number of civilians killed, wounded, or maimed has also increased. As of Wednesday, there were 12,272 civilian casualties, including 5,237 deaths, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR

“This represents at least 1,641 new civilian casualties since my last briefing: 506 killed and 1,135 injured. These are figures based on verified incidents; the actual numbers are considerably higher,” she said. 

Winter threat 

Ms. DiCarlo also warned of reported efforts to alter administrative structures on the ground, including attempts to introduce local governing bodies in Russian-controlled areas, which raise serious concerns about the political implications of the war. 

“As the conflict enters a more protracted phase, attention is increasingly turning to its longer-term humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction, and socio-economic impact. As summer wanes, the need for winterization planning is also becoming pressing,” she said. 

“Regrettably, political dialogue has virtually ground to a halt, leaving people without the hope that peace will come anytime soon.” 

UN agencies also continue to document damage and destruction to civilian infrastructure such as homes, schools and healthcare facilities.  

The impact on the health sector is “particularly alarming”, she said, as there have been 414 attacks so far, resulting in 85 deaths and 100 injuries. 

“This includes 350 attacks on facilities in areas of conflict, where on average around 316,000 patients were treated per month,” she said. 

Assistance to millions 

Since the start of the war, the UN and humanitarian partners have provided aid to some 11 million people, including in the form of food and livelihood assistance, protection services, mine clearance, and in accessing safe water and sanitation. 

Nearly six million Ukrainian refugees have found shelter across Europe. Since the war began on 24 February, border crossings from Ukraine have totalled more than 9.5 million, while crossings to Ukraine numbered 3.8 million. 

“We are concerned that winter will make it harder for the displaced or the returnee community to have access to shelter and health care,” said Ms. DiCarlo. 

image1170x530cropped 25 - Ukraine: Prospects for end to war look bleak, despite ‘encouraging’ grain deal © UNICEF/Ashley Gilbertson VII

A twelve-year-old boy visits his mother in hospital for the first time since she was injured a month ago, by flying shrapnel.

Impacts on women 

She also drew attention to the war’s specific impact on women and girls, particularly in areas such as food security and health. 

Women’s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, is rapidly deteriorating, as is access to newborn and child healthcare. They are also now largely responsible for home-schooling, as access to education is severely hindered due to the constant threat of bombing. 

“Further, women in Ukraine face significantly increased safety and protection risks,” she added. 

“Incidents of gender-based violence, including allegations of sexual violence in conflict have increased, but services for survivors are not provided in full. It is also likely that many victims and survivors are currently unable to report their cases.” 

Ms. DiCarlo stressed that it is especially for these reasons why women must be meaningful participants in discussions and initiatives to shape the future of the country, including peace negotiations, recovery efforts, peacebuilding and accountability efforts.  

Scientists Discover a Massacre: “Assassin” Cells Murder Innocent Cells

Scientists Discover a Massacre: “Assassin” Cells Murder Innocent Cells
svg%3E - Scientists Discover a Massacre: “Assassin” Cells Murder Innocent Cells

Scientists discovered that a fourth of the progenitor cells in the testis are “murdered” by phagocytes, despite the fact that these cells are not doing anything “wrong.”

University of Haifa research has identified killer cells.

A process that involves the “murder” of living, newly-generated cells has been discovered for the first time in recent research conducted at the University of Haifa. The research, which was described in the esteemed journal Science Advances, discovered that throughout the cellular differentiation process in fruit flies, phagocytic cells consume and destroy healthy living cells.

“We found that phagocytes can function as ‘murderers.’ It is well-known that phagocytic cells swallow and dissolve dead cells, but we show for the first time that they also kill newly-created normal cells. Essentially we have characterized a new mechanism of cell death. The more we know the mechanisms of cell death, the better we understand how to cope with various diseases, particularly cancer”, explained Professor Hilla Toledano, head of the Department of Human Biology at the University of Haifa and author of the study.

The origin of several bodily tissues, including skin, hair, stomach, and testicles, may be traced back to stem cells. By continuously supplying new cells to replace the old ones, these powerful stem cells enable tissue replenishment. Each stem cell in this process splits into two cells, one of which is retained for use in the future and the other of which develops to take the place of the lost cell in the tissue.

In the current investigation, Professor Toledano, Professor Estee Kurant, and a group of scientists from the University of Haifa looked at the sex cells of fruit flies. Since many molecular processes in fruit flies and humans are similar, they can be used as an effective model in this situation.

Fruit fly studies are useful due to the capacity to monitor processes in live tissues and the simplicity of genetic alteration, which allows for the exact identification of cellular processes. Six Nobel Prizes have been given throughout the years to scientists who discovered biological mechanisms in fruit flies that are conserved in humans.

As previously mentioned, the division of a stem cell into two cells—a stem cell and a cell known as a progenitor—begins the differentiation process of sperms in male fruit flies. This process continues until functional sperms are formed. The researchers already knew that one-fourth of these progenitor cells perish and do not develop into sperms from past studies. The purpose of the present study was to better understand what happens to these cells.

The body has a well-established and crucial mechanism called cell death. Under normal circumstances, cells have the ability to “commit suicide” when a severe mutation has occurred or after they have served their purpose. Phagocytes come to “eat” dying cells, effectively taking their contents away and dissolving them. It is known that phagocytes sometimes “eat” immune system cells that have finished their job of defending the body against intruders.

In the current study, the researchers found that the phagocytes “murder” a quarter of the progenitor cells in the testis although these cells are doing nothing “wrong” and are simply in the process of differentiation; they are still new cells and they are not abnormal in all respect.

In the first stage, the researchers prevented the eating abilities of the phagocytes and found no dead cells in the tissue. In other words, the phagocytes are responsible for the death of the progenitor cells.

In the second stage, the researchers used real-time imaging to monitor live tissue and discovered that the progenitor cells are swallowed alive by the phagocyte, and only then the death process is initiated. “We found for the first time a process entailing the ‘murder’ of completely normal cells. We still do not know why this happens. Perhaps this process aims to supply nutrients to maintain a functional population of stem cells throughout the lifetime of the organism” Professor Toledano suggested.

In addition to the understanding of a new mechanism, this study can contribute to our abilities to develop drugs and means to control cell death, and particularly, of course, for treating cancer. “Tumors are characterized by constant growth and the disruption of the process of natural cell death. If we manage to introduce phagocytes in this process that are capable of eliminating the live cancer cells, we will be able to control the growth of the tumor. The more we learn about mechanisms of cell death, the better we can harness these processes to get rid of cancerous cells,” Professor Toledano concluded.

Reference: “The phagocytic cyst cells in Drosophila testis eliminate germ cell progenitors via phagoptosis” by Maayan Zohar-Fux, Aya Ben-Hamo-Arad, Tal Arad, Marina Volin, Boris Shklyar, Ketty Hakim-Mishnaevski, Lilach Porat-Kuperstein, Estee Kurant and Hila Toledano, 17 June 2022, Science Advances.
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm4937

EP leaders condemn Prime Minister Orbán’s recent racist declarations

EP leaders condemn Prime Minister Orbán’s recent racist declarations

EP political group leaders adopted a statement Friday condemning the openly racist declarations by PM Viktor Orbán and underlined that these declarations are in breach of EU values.

Statement of the Conference of Presidents:

“We, the leaders of the Political Groups of the European Parliament, strongly condemn the recent openly racist declaration by Prime Minister Orbán about not wanting to become “peoples of mixed race”. Such unacceptable statements, which clearly constitute a breach of our values, also enshrined in the EU Treaties, have no place in our societies. We, as well, deeply regret the persistence in defending these inexcusable statements by Prime Minister Orbán on further occasions. Racism and discrimination, in all forms, must be unequivocally condemned and effectively tackled at all levels.

We call on the Commission and the Council to condemn urgently this statement in the strongest terms. We also reiterate European Parliament calls on the Council to finally issue its recommendations to Hungary in the framework of the procedure in Article 7 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU), also addressing new developments affecting the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights and to determine that there is a clear risk of a serious breach by Hungary of the values referred to in Article 2. We remind the Council that Member States have the obligation to act together and put an end to all the attacks on the values enshrined in Article 2 of TEU and request that the issue is added to the next European Council leaders’ meeting agenda.

We urge the Commission to treat with priority the ongoing infringement procedures against Hungary’s violation of EU rules prohibiting racism and discrimination and make full use of the tools available to address breaches of values enshrined in Article 2. We also welcome the Commission’s decision to trigger the Rule of Law Conditionality Regulation against Hungary and expect next steps in that regard following the second letter of 20 July. We reiterate our call on the Commission to refrain from the approval of the Hungarian national plan under the Recovery and Resilience Facility until the fulfillment of all relevant criteria.

We take the opportunity to reiterate that there is no place for racism, discrimination and hate speech in our societies. We call for further actions by EU Governments and at EU level, including against the increasing normalisation of racism and xenophobia, and underline the need for a monitoring and accountability mechanism to ensure the effective application of EU anti-racism legislation and policy.”

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Orban infuriated Muslims in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Russian representative of FECRIS: “Russia has always been a bone in the throat of the US, UK and their satellites”

With V.A. Kolokoltsev, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation
With V.A. Kolokoltsev, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation

Archpriest Alexander Novopashin, Russian correspondent member of the FECRIS (European Federation of Centres for Research and Information on Sects and Cults[1]), recently called Ukrainian “Nazis”, “Satanists” and “cannibals”. On July 20, in a lengthy interview for his birthday, he continued supporting the war in Ukraine, in a quite pro-Kremlin paranoid rhetoric:

“Russia has always been a bone in the throat of the United States, Great Britain and their satellites. They spared no expense to weaken our country, divide the peoples, and ultimately take over our territory, our natural resources. All these years, we managed to hold back their onslaught, to more or less effectively resist”, he answered to the question “what do you think is the main threat that our country is currently fighting?”

In the straight line of Patriarch Kirill and the Kremlin, he considers the war to be done for “protecting Russian civilization, protecting the Russian world.”

Again, even inside Russia, Novopashin considers there are threats that are not sufficiently addressed by the authorities. These threats are what he calls cults, citing Pentecostals and neo-pagans. “Such associations are under the scrutiny of Western intelligence agencies (usual rhetoric from FECRIS). They even get financial help. To then use for their own purposes. For example – I have said this more than once and will say it again – it is reliably known that neo-pagan and neo-Pentecostal organizations took an active part in the “orange revolution” of 2004 and the “Euromaidan” of 2014 in Kyiv”.”

Talking about his anti-cults center called The Information and Advisory Center for Sectarianism at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an affiliate organization linked to FECRIS, Novopashin said: “has been one of the most famous centers of its kind in the country for many years. They call us and come not only from the city and the region, but also from other cities and regions. Questions about sects are also addressed from the “other side”, from abroad. Nothing has changed in our work over the past quarter of a century.”

Praising Vladimir Putin for his support to the Russian Orthodox Church, Novopashin reminded that: “[Putin] repeatedly speaks of the need to protect the traditional Russian spiritual and moral values, the bearer of which for more than two thousand years has been the Russian Orthodox Church. It, the Church, is assigned a certain role in countering extremism and terrorism.” This discourse about the sportection of “spiritual values is not without reminding the Nazi Heydrich directive (Nuremberg D-59) in 1937, which refered to a list of “Cults” to be destroyed by the Reich in order to protect the “spiritual health” of German citizens.

Vladimir Putin must have been pleased with Novopashin, because by decree of the President of the Russian Federation of July 15, 2022, for his great contribution to the preservation and development of spiritual, moral and cultural traditions, as well as many years of fruitful activity, Archpriest Alexander Novopashin was awarded the Order of Friendship.

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Russian representative of FECRIS: “Russia has always been a bone in the throat of the US, UK and their satellites” 16

[1] FECRIS is a French-based umbrella organization that coordinates with member associations in more than 40 EU countries, and beyond. It was created in 1994 by a French anti-cult association named UNADFI and receives all of its funding from the French government

A nice talk with rising pop singer Fior who just released “Overdose”


Fior is a young and beautiful singer who just released her third single: “Overdose”. Fior was already known as a rising model, and in 2022 she decided it was time to start her musical career for real, a dream she had since she was a kid. And as for everything she does, she does it well and all the way!

“Overdose” is a great track that you will enjoy, but first, we had the opportunity to have an open conversation with Fior, which we transcribe for you here at The European Times:

Bro: Hi Fior, let’s start by the beginning. I’d like to know when and how you realized that you were a professional artist, that you were going to give your life to it, and what obstacles you met to start. 

Fior: When I was eight years old my father bought me a toy piano and I taught myself to play by ear, so I suppose that was when I discovered my love for music. But it wasn’t until I discovered Adele when I was 13 years old that I realized this is what I want to do with my life. Even though I was too young to understand or have experienced the things that Adele was singing about, the way that she made me feel in my soul, I knew that I wanted to make people feel that way one day. She inspired me to teach myself how to sing and write music. The biggest obstacle I have had to overcome is my confidence. Even though I’ve been singing and songwriting since I was 13 it took me until I was 20 to finally share my music with anyone outside of my home. I still get nervous singing in front of other people, I’m not sure that’s something that ever goes away but I hope with time it gets easier. But I love nothing more than being in the studio making music, I could spend forever in a recording booth. I just really love to sing my heart out.

fior 07 578x1024 - A nice talk with rising pop singer Fior who just released "Overdose"
A nice talk with rising pop singer Fior who just released "Overdose" 19

Bro: I understand that, and it’s a blessing you finally overcame your confidence issue. So, got it for the studio, and I can definitely feel it when I hear your songs. Then what about singing on stage?

Fior: I only put out my first single this year in January so I haven’t started touring yet, but I’ve been working with a movement coach pretty consistently for the last year and I’ve also shot four music videos so I’m definitely becoming more comfortable with an audience as I practice. I’ve also had the chance to perform at a live music night in Miami Beach that was a lot of fun, and I love to pop into karaoke at whenever I can as I find that to be great rehearsal for performing in front of a crowd without any pressure. 

So I would say that even though it makes me absolutely terrified I still give performing my all. Believe it or not some of the biggest artists in the world have all been very vocal about their terrible stage fright, Adele, Barbara Streisand, Rhianna, Katy Perry, Cher! So it brings me comfort that I’m not alone in feeling this way, it’s part of the journey, and I am really looking forward to touring so I can conquer my fears!

Bro: Great. I look forward to it and sure, you won’t be the first to be terrified by stage performance! So should we focus a bit on your single « Overdose »? It’s not speaking about drugs. It’s about love addiction. “Craving it”, you say. What’s behind this? Personal story? I don’t want to be too curious, but I try to understand what’s your motivation in that song, where it comes from and what you want to convey?

Fior: I would call it a lust song. Romantic attraction is a curious chemistry. When you meet someone new and begin to fall for them there’s an electric feeling in your veins, butterflies in your stomach, just an overall rush of adrenaline. That euphoric feeling is very addictive. For attraction junkies it’s hard to accept when the intoxication fades, you’re always looking for another high, and it can become a cycle of preventing true love because you’re overdosing on new love.

Bro: Got that. So, what’s the message, besides the lust (if there is one)?

Fior: It’s really both a message and an introspection on how toxic these behaviors can be. If you’re addicted to the lust that comes with a new relationship it can lead to bad choices and also make it hard to move beyond the early stages of romance to a long term commitment.

I definitely advocate for long-term relationships, but I have been guilty in the past of staying in a unhealthy relationship for too long because I was always trying to get back the euphoric feeling from the start of the relationship. This is something I addressed in my first single ”Let Me Go”.  But I have since learned that healthy couples trade the wild excitement of that early stage for the security of attachment, and it’s important to work on healthy relationships to keep the fire alive.

Bro: Thank you Fior for your honesty and openness in discussing these difficult issues. But your song does the job, it definitely has an empowerment feeling for those confronting such situations. So, to finish this interview, could you first tell us what are your plans for 2022 / 2023? And then the last question: how do you see your life in 2033? Like that, when we’ll meet again in 10 years, we’ll have fun comparing reality and you ideas, whatever happened in between.

image2 682x1024 - A nice talk with rising pop singer Fior who just released "Overdose"
A nice talk with rising pop singer Fior who just released "Overdose" 20

Fior: I’ve been in the studio pretty much every day working on new music, I’m planning to put out at least two new singles and music videos before the end of this year. Two of my songs were just picked up by Spotify editorial playlists this week so I’m really empowered and excited about that. I also have a music video for Overdose premiering in the next couple weeks. And I’m also working on an EDM EP that I plan to release in the first quarter of 2023. I’m a very versatile artist, and a huge fan of EDM too. I never want to stop pushing boundaries in music. Next year I’ll be ready to start performing gigs, hopefully touring in festivals and clubs. And in 10 years from now I believe I will have made my mark in music and be touring the world stage! It’s what I’ve always imagined for myself since I was a little girl! 

Bro: Thank you Fior. I have no doubt you will accomplish your dreams and give others all what you have to give. And let’s make an appointment for same date in 2032! Meanwhile if you pass by Brussels or Paris, give a call. 

And here you should now listen to “Overdose”:

Italy loses Draghi as its leader — for now

Italy loses Draghi as its leader — for now

The fall of the Italian government led by Mario Draghi on July 20 caused a shock in the country for three main reasons. The first is that Draghi, who was president of the European Central Bank between 2011 and 2018, enjoys an unparalleled reputation in Italy as a competent and authoritative public servant, and Italian public opinion assigns him a far higher rating than any of the party leaders who are running for his job now. The second is that Draghi’s firm Euro-Atlantic leadership has made Italy a relevant player in the Russia-Ukraine crisis. The third reason is that precisely that combination of Euro-Atlantic reliability and personal authority has made Draghi the guarantor of the many benefits that Italy derives from its cooperation with the European Union. The Draghi government’s program coincided with the reforms of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, allowing Italy to receive a total of around 200 billion euros (11% of its GDP) from the European Union by 2026. Thanks to these huge resources the country has a chance to overcome the 30-year stagnation of its economy, the consequences of the health crisis of 2020, and the geopolitical and economic traumas produced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

For all these reasons there was a reaction of bewilderment and even indignation in the country when the parties’ political gimmicks brought down Draghi’s broad unity government after 17 months. The political consequences are hard to fathom. Before Draghi’s resignation, polls showed that an early vote would favor the only opposition party, Brothers of Italy, a rising political formation on the far right of the parliamentary spectrum led by Giorgia Meloni. It is a party that is often identified with “post-fascist” nostalgia, combining evocative nationalist sentiments with an aspiration for social and ethnic uniformity, and which has strong affinity with the authoritarian model today represented in Europe by the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán. Credited in the polls with the potential vote of almost one in four Italians, Brothers of Italy could lead a right-wing coalition to obtain a majority of seats in the Italian parliament.

Draghi’s fall may seem outlandish to foreign observers. But the intensification of political turmoil was inevitable as the end of the legislature approached. The 2018 elections gave rise to a populist legislature with the majority of seats assigned to two parties that shared similar demagogic rhetoric and ended up governing together for roughly one year: the Five Star Movement, conventionally placed on the left of the political spectrum, and the League on the right. After two governments led by Giuseppe Conte and characterized by an unusual level of incompetence, in February 2021 Mario Draghi received the mandate to lead a government of national unity. The only political formation that did not participate in the Draghi government was Meloni’s far-right Brothers of Italy.

In July 2022, the approaching end of the legislature in spring 2023 awakened the instincts of all Italian parties. Since the never-resolved crisis of political credibility that arose with the corruption scandals of the early 1990s, no government majority in Italy has ever been reconfirmed in the next election. Thus it has been consistently convenient for all political parties to present themselves to the voters from the opposition benches. In the last months of this legislature, the more populist government parties ran for the door.

The first move, the last serious mistake in an endless chain, was made by Five Star Movement leader Conte preannouncing his exit from the governing coalition. The right-wing parties immediately understood that Conte had broken the alliance with the other large party on the left, the Democratic Party, a strong supporter of Draghi. In the event of an election, therefore, the left camp would not have been able to form a coalition. Immediately, the right-wing parties that were participating in the government — Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and Matteo Salvini’s League — brought about the fall of the government and — together with Brothers of Italy — called for new elections. Draghi could not help but climb the Quirinale hill and give President Sergio Mattarella his resignation.

The coincidental action of Conte, Salvini, and Berlusconi raised the suspicion that the fall of Draghi was the work of the influence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who saw Draghi as the leader of the larger European Union countries most strongly opposed to the Russian military and diplomatic strategies. There is abundant proof of Putin’s interest in Italy’s political development, but no evidence yet of Moscow’s direct influence on the three leaders who conspired against Draghi. However, Berlusconi and Salvini are at risk of being blackmailed by Putin, having cultivated business relations with Moscow, either personally or through members of their parties.

In this situation, President Mattarella’s reaction was perhaps the decisive factor in the whole story. Instead of carrying out arduous consultations to save the legislature, the president of the republic called new elections at the shortest possible notice, on September 25. In this way, Mattarella gave the parties just one month to present by August 21 their lists of candidates. It is an extremely short period to reduce the conflicts and infighting that characterize the potential coalitions of the right and of the left.

The schedule is even more demanding if one considers that the elections will be conducted under a new electoral law. This new law reduces the number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies from 630 to 400 and cuts the Senate from 315 to 200 seats. Furthermore, the new provisions make it more difficult to form tactical coalitions as in the past, built more to steal votes from opponents than to affirm unified programs and a single coalition leader.

Unity is problematic on the left. After the Five Star Movement broke with the Democratic Party, the latter must seek new alliances in the center rather than on the left. Much of the Democratic Party’s hopes rest on future cooperation with Carlo Calenda’s Azione, a new centrist political formation that has been on the rise and drains support from Berlusconi’s party.

However, the lacerations are perhaps just as deep on the right, where Meloni claims the right to be or choose the leader of a new government under a previous agreement with Forza Italia and the League that assigned the leadership of a right-wing coalition to the party with the most votes. Berlusconi is by no means of the same idea, and it cannot be excluded that he and Salvini join forces to have a different prime minister. Brothers of Italy, at that point, could stand alone at the polls rather than run with the others in a coalition. To avoid that eventuality, a preliminary agreement between Meloni, Berlusconi, and Salvini was reached on July 27. But the agreement does not seem watertight: Brothers of Italy’s current advantage is given by its role as the sole opposition party during the whole duration of the past legislature. It is unlikely that this advantage can last once Meloni becomes the government’s leader, and in a matter of months, Berlusconi and Salvini would be tempted to challenge Meloni.

Mattarella’s choice to start the election now forced the parties to expose their weaknesses in public. Under the new electoral law, a little more than a third of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies are elected under the first-past-the-post system rather than allocated with the proportional system. Depending on who wins about 30 more competitive seats, one coalition or the other should win an absolute majority. Confidential polls of mid-July assigned an 80% probability of a victory by the right-wing coalition. Meloni, Salvini, and Berlusconi are still the frontrunners, but today the vote looks more uncertain than it looked then.

And now for the dream. Should no absolute majority emerge from the vote, the parties would be unable to form their favored ruling coalitions in a fragmented parliament. In that case, Mattarella would have to search for another super-partes (impartial) leader to form a cross-party coalition or technical government, a tradition ingrained in Italian politics since the country’s unification in 1861. A solid number of Italians hope that, come October, Italy’s party leaders will be forced to knock on the door of Mario Draghi’s sheltered house in Umbria, resurrecting after 2,500 years the legend of Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman consul who in an emergency was asked to leave his retirement in the countryside and resume power.

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President Metsola: “An opportunity to transform Ukraine”

Roberta Metsola addressing the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, Ukraine
© European Union | European Parliament President Roberta Metsola addressing the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, Ukraine

Dear President Zelenskyy,

Dear President Nauseda,

Dear Speaker Stefanchuk,

Dear Members of Verkhovna Rada,

Thank you for having me with you here today. It is a privilege, but more importantly it is a responsibility for me, as the President of the European Parliament to again have the honour of addressing the Verkhovna Rada on this important day.

The Day of Ukrainian Statehood is always important but this year, the anniversary has taken on an ever more important meaning. All of Europe marks this day with you. In solidarity. In friendship and in a bond as Europeans that I hope will be formalised soon.

Today we celebrate not only the foundations of Ukrainian statehood, but also the courage, determination and resolve of all Ukrainians fighting to preserve Ukraine’s statehood and its territorial integrity. For all those who have died and who give their lives still.

Today is symbolic not just for Ukraine and for Ukrainians but for all of Europe. It is the day that we reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine as a European nation. As a nation free to make its own choices. Free to choose its own destiny. Free and proud to stand up for the values that bind us all.

Putin wants a future – where history can be re-written, where spheres of influence exist, iron curtains are drawn closed, where might is right, and where personal liberty and dignity denied. With their actions, it is clear that Russia wants a return to a past we had consigned to history books. A past where Europe’s geographical integrity and Europe’s freedom to choose with whom to cooperate and how to integrate is called into question. For him the real enemy is democracy, freedom and truth. Our way of life is seen as a threat to autocracy. That is what is at stake.

That is a past we can never return to. We will never accept the invasion of a peaceful and independent European country like Ukraine.

We will never turn a blind eye to the atrocities and crimes committed by Russia on Ukrainian soil. What happened in Irpin, in Bucha, in Mariupol, in so many other cities.

We will never forget that over six million Ukrainians were forced to flee the country and another eight million have been displaced internally.

And we will always remember the courage, the defiance, the resistance of Ukrainians, your resistance, who fought through pain and sorrow to inspire the world.

Friends, dear colleagues, let me say that we are with you and we will be with you when we start to re-build and make new again.

On this important day for independent and sovereign Ukraine, I want to assure you that Ukraine belongs with us. With nations that cherish the values of freedom, independence, democracy, the rule of law, the respect for human rights.

Your place, as cemented already by Grand Prince Volodymyr the Great, is among European nations.

And now, the torch is in your hands to take it further.

With us, you are among equals, among friends. We will stand by Ukraine’s side in times of tragedy as in times of prosperity.

These are not just words.

Granting Ukraine candidate status on 23 June confirms our commitment to walking side-by-side towards your full membership of the European Union. It may not be an easy road, but the European Parliament, your strongest advocate, is there for you, to assist you on every step of the way. We are ready to provide expertise and advice to strengthen your parliamentary democracy. We will also continue to support the Verkhovna Rada with any help you may need to operate smoothly under these very difficult circumstances and with any assistance needed to fight the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

On behalf of the European Parliament, I assure you that we will dedicate all resources, energy and know-how available to helping the Verkhovna Rada. A strong parliament is crucial for the stability of any democracy.

And we will go further.

When I was there with you, at the Verkhovna Rada on 1 April, I said that we will together rebuild Ukraine – every city and every town from Mariupol to Irpin, from Kherson to Kharkiv.

Today I will go further. This is an opportunity to transform Ukraine. To build-back better. A modern Ukraine. A sustainable Ukraine. A resilient Ukraine.

The Ukraine Solidarity Trust Fund together with the Ukraine reconstruction platform and Ukraine’s Recovery Plan are our masterplan. But we also know that Ukraine needs resources coming from different sources – from international financial institutions, but also from the private sector and from frozen assets. Rest assured that the European Union will continue to look for all the means to achieve this.

The European Parliament together with the Verkhovna Rada will continue to follow closely the coordination of finances and spending for the relief and reconstruction. In this context, the strengthening of Ukrainian state institutions, which play a crucial role in implementing reforms consistent with Ukraine’s European path, is vital.

Friends, we know that you and your citizens are not only fighting for your own freedom but you are fighting for ours too. I know how essential it is for the rest of the democratic world to continue to provide military support to Ukraine, and as I promised you and President Zelenskyy on 1 April 1 in Kyiv, I and the European Parliament will continue to do everything in our power to see that happen.

Dear President,

Dear Speaker,

Dear Members,

Dear colleagues,

Dear friends,

Thank you for your commitment to Europe.

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts, for your remarkable sacrifice and for your personal commitments in sustaining a vision of a European future for your country, against all odds.

Thank you for standing up and showing the world.

You will prevail.

Slava Ukraini.

Top rights expert questions ‘double standard’ on Ukraine’s war displaced

Top rights expert questions ‘double standard’ on Ukraine’s war displaced
A top UN-appointed human rights expert on Thursday raised the issue of an alleged “double standard” in Poland and Belarus towards those forced to flee the war in Ukraine.
Mr. González Morales was referring to third country nationals who had been based in Ukraine at the outbreak of the war, particularly people of African descent and other racial and ethnic minorities, who he maintained had not found it so easy to integrate into Polish communities.

Victims of ‘same war’

“Even for those that have fled the same war, although all were accepted for entry into Poland and have received assistance from the State, third country nationals are not protected under the same legal framework,” Mr. González Morales said, adding that “this double standard approach” had prompted a sense of discrimination among third country nationals.

“Those with specific vulnerabilities including the ones with irregular migratory status face heightened difficulties in obtaining residence permits and proper shelter.”

The Special Rapporteur’s comments came at the end of his official visit to Poland and to Belarus – including the border area between the two countries.

Weaponising the vulnerable

That was where tensions flared late last year when between 2,000 and 4,000 migrants – many from Syria, Iraq and other parts of the Middle East – were forced to camp out in freezing conditions, before the political dispute was resolved.

Mr. González Morales said that although the border area was “relatively calm compared to last winter”, some migrants who included new arrivals had remained stranded between Poland and Belraus, “and subject to violence and pushbacks from both sides”.

On the Belarusian side, migrants had been put in “de facto detention” at a closed Temporary Logistical Centre, where they were now sheltering.

Children and pregnant women shut in

On the Polish side of the border, the Special Rapporteur explained with concern that “migrant children and those with their families – and pregnant women – remain detained in closed immigration facilities”.

He insisted that children and other vulnerable individuals “should not be locked up” because of their migration status.

“Alternative reception and care options exist in Poland,” Mr Morales said, before urging the authorities “to immediately release unaccompanied children, children with their families, pregnant women and individuals with mental conditions into open facilities”.

The Polish government had provided “significant support to a huge number of refugees fleeing Ukraine”, the Special Rapporteur continued.

He added that this State assistance, combined with the “solidarity and generosity” of Polish people to Ukrainian people, had resulted in more than two million of them staying in Poland.

“This explains why I do not see refugee camps in Poland,” Mr. González Morales noted.

INTERVIEW: End ‘punitive and discriminatory laws’ to beat AIDS

INTERVIEW: End ‘punitive and discriminatory laws’ to beat AIDS

Mandeep Dhaliwal, the director of HIV and health at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is concerned that the proliferation of such laws is hampering the UN’s response to the virus, which is also being hit by a host of interconnected global crises.

Mandeep Dhaliwal: It is a pivotal time and opportunity to galvanize people around getting the AIDS response back on track. For the UNDP, the HIV/AIDS response is all about reducing inequalities, improving governance, and building resilient and sustainable systems, and this is really where we need to step up action if we’re going to regain lost ground.


UN News What are the links between HIV/AIDS and development?

Mandeep Dhaliwal: HIV and other health issues are drivers and indicators of human development. For example, the war in Ukraine is having a dramatic effect on the cost of living, and 71 million people in the developing world have fallen into poverty in just three months.

That has consequences on everything from the financing of HIV/AIDS programs, to access to services, prevention, and treatment.

We’re seeing widening inequalities within and between countries, and we know that, in these kinds of crises, the impact is disproportionately borne by the most vulnerable and marginalized in our communities.

We’re seeing the cascading effects of multiple overlapping crises: the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the financial crisis, the food and energy crisis, and the climate crisis.

All of these are contributing to backsliding on HIV, and a decline in the resources available to countries. There is an incredible strain on already fragile, weak, and often fragmented health systems, and COVID has just deepened that.

There are 100 million displaced people. It’s a global record, and they’re at increased risk of acquiring HIV. They face barriers to accessing HIV and health services and are often cut off from support networks.

Economic growth prospects are down. The World Bank projects that 52 countries will face a significant drop in their spending capacity through 2026.

These 52 countries are important because they’re home to 43 per cent of the people living with HIV worldwide. But now, the HIV response, especially in Africa, is in jeopardy.

UN News: Do you think we can eradicate AIDS?

Mandeep Dhaliwal: I think we can get to the end of AIDS as a public health threat, but that’s going to require an urgent scale up of efforts in the next five years, to really address some of the persistent challenges in the AIDS response, particularly around young and adolescent women in sub-Saharan Africa, and marginalized populations globally.

This includes men who have sex with men, sex workers, transgender people, and people who use drugs, who’ve always been more vulnerable and at greater risk of acquiring HIV.

And that requires removing punitive and discriminatory laws which keep these people away from services, and away from accessing prevention. The data demonstrates that countries that have removed these kinds of laws do better in terms of HIV responses.

Unfortunately, that’s not the norm, and most of the countries with these laws are not on track to reforming their legal and policy environments.

So this conference is also an opportunity to bring attention to the historic targets which were adopted by Member States in the 2021 political declaration on HIV [these targets involve major reductions in reducing HIV/AIDS related stigma, criminalization, gender inequality and violence]

If we can achieve that, we can get to the end of AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

UN News: When the theme for this conference – re engage and follow the science – was chosen, was that a message to those governments who put these laws in place?

Mandeep Dhaliwal: Yes. There’s a lot of science out there now which shows that decriminalization yields public health and HIV benefits. Prevention is more effective particularly in marginalized populations. It leads to better access to services and social support.

It is also a message to not forget about HIV. There’s still a job to be done, and we have to regain the ground we’ve lost over the last couple of years.

image1170x530cropped 23 - INTERVIEW: End ‘punitive and discriminatory laws’ to beat AIDS © UNICEF/Frank Dejong

A family undergoes a HIV screening test at home in southwest Côte d’ivoire.

UN News: Against the backdrop of this very difficult international landscape, what do you think is the best-case, realistic outcome of this conference?

Mandeep Dhaliwal: One is a commitment to drive action on removing punitive and discriminatory laws, eliminating stigma and discrimination, and protecting people from violence.

The other is a commitment to follow the science. Science is moving at a pace that we’ve not seen before. For example, there is now a long acting anti-retroviral, which would be very good for prevention in key populations. But it needs to be priced at a point that makes it affordable and accessible in developing countries.

I’m hoping that the conference addresses this issue because it’s a theme that has run through the COVID pandemic, certainly around COVID vaccination, and it’s a theme that the HIV community is familiar with, especially when it comes to access to treatment.

We’ve had 40 years of the HIV pandemic and we were making progress, but you can’t take progress for granted.

We are entirely capable of dealing with multiple pandemics at the same time: HIV, TB, malaria, COVID, and now Monkeypox, which has been declared a public health issue of international concern.

We can do it, but it requires investment, action, and commitment. We should all be advocating for the full replenishment of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, which will take place at the end of September in New York.

We really have to step up our investment, our action, and our commitment to finish the job on HIV because the best way to be better prepared for future pandemics is to deal with the ones that you’ve already facing.

United Kingdom: How sensationalist journalism obscures view of reality

United Kingdom: How sensationalist journalism obscures view of reality | BWNS

LONDON — What is the role of journalists in promoting understanding and dialogue, especially in a media environment that is often driven by sensationalism?

This was among the questions explored by two experienced journalists in the United Kingdom—a former BBC reporter and a writer for The Guardian newspaper—along with members of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs of that country in a recent podcast produced by that Office titled In Good Faith: Truth and Standards in Media.

“Writers have to be free from prejudice, fair-minded, and be able to look at issues with a sense of justice,” said Carmel Kalani, of the Office of Public Affairs.

Ms. Kalani drew on an analogy from the Bahá’í teachings to describe the power of the media in raising public consciousness, stating: “Newspapers, social media, and other forms of media are like ‘the mirror of the world.’ They are ‘endowed with hearing, sight, and speech.’”

One of the implications of this, she said, is that articles and other forms of expression by journalists have the potential to inspire in all of us a sense of oneness with our fellow human beings.

“When journalists tell a story, they shape the world we live in, they shape what we see as possible,” said Ms. Kalani, explaining that the media can unlock the “immense capability of people to bring about unity and peace.”

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In recent years, the Office has brought together many journalists, representatives of civil society, and leaders of faith communities to examine different aspects of the media in light of spiritual principles, such as the oneness of humanity.

Despite this tremendous potential, certain practices place pressure on journalists to produce reports that are sensationalist, such as surprising people in distress for an interview.

“There’s something called the ‘door-knock’ in journalism, whereby you have to go and knock on somebody’s door, who’s in the middle of a story, usually through no fault of their own… and ask them for a comment on their doorstep,” said John McManus, former BBC reporter and head of communications for the Jesuits in Briton.

“It [is] purely to fill time and a news story,” continued Mr. McManus, as he explained that this approach typically does not yield any new facts. Instead, it caters to the audience’s appetite for the dramatic and can distract attention from the real issues.

Mr. McManus added that many journalists are uncomfortable with practices in their field that lead to sensationalist news coverage and stressed the importance of empathy and preservation of human dignity when reporting. “At the heart of all these stories are human beings with feelings. … They’ve all got family. So I always try to remember that, [which] moderates my thinking and actions.”

Remona Aly, a reporter for The Guardian, stated: “You have this sense of responsibility to whoever you’re interviewing. … I really try hard to maintain that protection. I say [to the interviewee] ‘you can look over the article afterwards so that you’re comfortable with it.’”

Discussions also looked at how biases and false dichotomies can reduce multi-faceted issues to simplistic representations of reality that reinforce social, political, economic, and religious divides, leading to sensationalist news coverage.

Mr. McManus, speaking about the responsibility of journalists to maintain objectivity, stated: “Things are not black and white. You can hold two different points of view in your mind which are both correct, because we know that human life is infinitely varied and complex.”

Reflecting on this discussion, Nancy Warren, of the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs, explains that this podcast series is part of the ongoing efforts of the Office to contribute to the discourse on the constructive role of media in society.

“People begin their journalistic career with very high ideals, but they eventually find it difficult to write in a way that is in line with their principles,” she says.

“The forums offered by the Office—be they podcasts, online discussions, or in-person gatherings—provide a space for journalists to explore prevalent issues in their field in light of spiritual principles that resonate with their moral convictions.”

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The podcast series “In Good Faith,” produced by the Bahá’í Office of Public Affairs in the UK, invites journalists to profound discussions on how the media can play a constructive role in society.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the Launch of the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism

Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the Launch of the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Good afternoon, everyone.

First, let me say it is always a particular pleasure to visit our neighbors at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  Lise, thank you so much for hosting us.  It’s wonderful to be here.

And Rina, to you, to our special envoy, to the team working with you, to the many others who are involved with today’s launch, I am grateful for all you’ve done to bring all of us together today, but for the work that’s being done every day that I’ll have a chance to talk about over the next few minutes.  But to our colleagues across the entire U.S. Government, civil society, thank you as well for supporting equality, supporting opportunity, for women and girls across Afghanistan.

And a special thanks to the extraordinary panelists that we’ve had today.  I’m really looking forward to getting a chance to speak with you directly shortly.  But as you all know, they’ve served in Afghanistan in different ways, in different roles, but there is one thread that runs throughout their public service.  Each has helped strengthen the rights of Afghan women and girls, as well as members of other vulnerable groups, for decades.

Today, they represent many others across Afghanistan and around the world who have dedicated their lives to this deeply vital and deeply honorable mission.

As the panelists made clear, we meet at a difficult time for Afghan women and girls.

Since the Taliban took over a year ago, they’ve reversed a great deal of the openness and progress that had been made over the previous decades.  They’ve silenced civil society and journalists.  In March, they banned independent international media like Voice of America and BBC from airing in Afghanistan.  They continue to intimidate and censor Afghan media outlets.  They stifled the free practice of religion for Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Perhaps most notably, they failed to respect the human rights of women and girls.  Instead, under the Taliban, women and girls have largely been erased from public life.  As a report released yesterday by Amnesty International showed, the Taliban have systematically restricted women and girl’s rights to free movement, decimated the system supporting domestic violence victims, and contributed to surging rates of child, early, and forced marriage.

The Taliban’s decision to ban girls from attending secondary schools, a decision that happened while some girls were literally walking to school and others were already sitting at their desks, was a reversal of commitments they made to the Afghan people and to the world.  For 314 days and counting, the girls of Afghanistan have sat at home while their brothers and cousins have been receiving educations.  It’s a terrible, terrible waste.

It’s especially difficult to accept because we all remember how different it was not so very long ago.  Prior to the Taliban’s takeover, thousands of women across Afghanistan held public office from the village level right up to the national level.  Women entered professions previously closed to them.  They started businesses.  They were doctors, nurses, scientists, artists.  And women didn’t just study in schools across Afghanistan; they ran them.

These gains weren’t felt only by women and girls.  As we’ve seen again and again throughout history from country to country, when equality and opportunity increase for one group of people, they tend to increase for other groups as well.  As the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan were strengthened, we saw members of various ethnic and religious communities – Hazaras, Hindus, Sikhs, Sufis – take more prominent roles in Afghan public life.  Afghans with disabilities did as well.  The LGBTQI+ community found ways to build a community.  So the changes in Afghanistan during the past year have been painful for so many.

We continue to urge the Taliban to reverse their decision on girls’ education, to make good on their commitment to the Afghan people, to allow girls to learn.  The evidence is overwhelming.  Investing in girls’ education, women’s political inclusion, it leads to stronger economies.  It leads to healthier individuals and families.  It leads to more stable, more resilient societies.  These are the things that people of Afghanistan want for their futures.  That’s why so many members of Afghan society – men and women, rural and urban dwellers, religious scholars, people across religions and cultural backgrounds – have all, all called for the Taliban to let women and girls go to school again.

The United States will continue to amplify these voices and do all that we can to support progress for Afghan women, girls, and other at-risk populations.

Earlier this year, we joined partners across the international community – including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, the European Union, and others – urging the Taliban to let girls go back to school.

Last month, we supported a Human Rights Council urgent debate that allowed us to hear directly from Afghan women leaders.  We co-sponsored a resolution that will allow us to hear from them again this coming September.  And as we help enable their voices to be heard, others will hear them as well.

Over the past year, we’ve continued our partnerships with Afghan civil society groups working on issues of equality, inclusion, opportunity for women, religious and ethnic communities, and other at-risk populations.

And critically, with today’s launch of the U.S.-Afghan Consultative Mechanism, we are taking these relationships to the next level.  That’s why I’m so pleased about today.

It’s going to make it easier for Afghan civil society groups to communicate and collaborate with American policymakers across a whole range of shared priorities – from supporting income-generating activities for Afghan women, to strategizing ways to help Afghan human rights monitors safely document abuses, to devising new methods to promote religious freedom.

What we want to do is to make our partnerships with Afghan civil society more effective, more rigorous, more productive, more purposeful.  And that’s what this new initiative is all about.

So let me simply share my profound appreciation for our American civil society partners, who do critical work to support women leaders and civil society organizations in Afghanistan, and for our Afghan partners for sharing your perspectives, for sharing your recommendations.

What’s remarkable to me and I think to so many of us is how, even in the face of threats, violence, intimidation, the women and girls of Afghanistan – and other vulnerable, targeted people – have simply refused to back down.  These groups have never stopped believing in a brighter future for their country.  They are determined to do all they can to make that future real.

The women who have taken to the streets to protest for their rights are one such group.

In December, when members of the Afghan National Security Forces were targeted despite the Taliban’s supposed amnesty, women protested.  In January, when female public servants were dismissed from their jobs, women protested.  In March, when the Taliban instituted an edict directing women to cover their faces in public and to only leave home when, quote, “necessary,” women protested.

Many of them have said they will never, never stop raising their voices.

The work we’ve done here today will ensure that we – and people around the world – continue to hear them, continue to listen to them, as we work together for a more stable, peaceful, prosperous, and free future for Afghanistan and for every Afghan man and woman.

Thank you very much.  Thank you all for joining us today.  (Applause.)

Pope invites Canadian clergy to confront challenges of secularized world

Pope invites Canadian clergy to confront challenges of secularized world - Vatican News

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ

Pope Francis, on Thursday evening – the fifth day of his Apostolic Journey to Canada – presided at Vespers with Bishops, clergy, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec.

During his homily at the event, the Holy Father highlighted the significance of meeting at the Cathedral of the Church, whose first bishop, St. François de Laval, opened the Seminary in 1663 and devoted his ministry to the formation of priests.

He pointed out that readings at the vespers speak about elders (presbyters), noting that St. Peter urged them to tend the flock of God willingly, and so, the Church’s pastors are invited “to show that same generosity in tending the flock, in order to manifest Jesus’ concern for everyone and his compassion for the wounds of each.”

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

Pastors, a sign of Christ

Tending the flock, the Pope said, should be done “with devotion and tender love” – as St. Peter urges – guiding it and not allowing it to go astray, because “we are a sign of Christ.” Pastors should do this willingly, not as a duty, like professional religious personnel or sacred functionaries but “zealously and with the heart of a shepherd.”

The Pope pointed out that the pastors too are “tended” with Christ’s merciful love and feel the closeness of God. This, he affirmed, is “the source of the joy of ministry and above all the joy of faith.”

Christian joy

“Christian joy is about the experience of a peace that remains in our hearts, even when we are pelted by trials and afflictions,” the Pope said, “for then we know that we are not alone, but accompanied by a God who is not indifferent to our lot.”

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

He explained that this is not a “cheap joy” like the world sometimes proposes, or about wealth, comfort and security, rather, “it is a free gift, the certainty of knowing that we are loved, sustained and embraced by Christ in every situation in life.”

“So, let us ask ourselves a question: How are we doing when it comes to joy? Does our Church express the joy of the Gospel? Is there a faith in our communities that can attract by the joy it communicates?”

Threats to joy of faith

Reflecting on the joy of the Gospel in our communities, the Pope pointed at secularization as one of the factors that “threatens the joy of faith and thus risks diminishing it and compromising our lives as Christians.”

He laments that secularization has greatly affected the lifestyle of contemporary men and women, who relegate God to the background. “God seems to have disappeared from the horizon, and his word no longer seems a compass guiding our lives, our basic decisions, our human and social relationships,” the Pope said.

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

Considering the ambient culture, Pope Francis cautions against falling “prey to pessimism or resentment, passing immediately to negative judgments or a vain nostalgia.” He, rather elaborates two possible views of the world: the “negative view” and the “discerning view.”

Negative v. discerning views

The first view – the negative – is “often born of a faith that feels under attack and thinks of it as a kind of “armour”, defending us against the world,” the Pope said, adding that this view complains that “the world is evil, sin reigns” and risks clothing itself in a “crusading spirit.”

The Pope warns against this, as it is “not Christian” and “not the way of God.” He notes that God detests worldliness and has a positive view of the world, blesses our life and makes himself incarnate in historical situations to “give growth to the seed of the Kingdom in those places where darkness seems to triumph.”

We are called “to have a view similar to that of God, who discerns what is good and persistently seeks it, sees it and nurtures it.  This is no naïve view, but a view that discerns reality,” Pope Francis insists.

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

Secularization and secularism

To refine our discernment of the secularized world, the Holy Father recommends drawing inspiration from Paul VI who saw secularization as “the effort, in itself just and legitimate and in no way incompatible with faith or religion” to discover the laws governing reality and human life implanted by the Creator. Paul VI also distinguished between secularization and secularism which generates subtle and diverse “new forms of atheism,” including consumer society, pleasure set up as a supreme value, a desire for power and domination, and discrimination of all kinds.

As Church and as shepherds of God’s People and pastoral workers, therefore, the Pope says it is up to us to “make these distinctions” and “make this discernment”, adding that if we yield to the negative view, we risk sending the wrong message – as though the criticism of secularization masks “the nostalgia for a sacralized world, a bygone society in which the Church and her ministers had greater power and social relevance.”

“God does not want us to be slaves, but sons and daughters; he does not want to make decisions for us, or oppress us with a sacral power, exercised in a world governed by religious laws. No! He created us to be free, and he asks us to be mature and responsible persons in life and in society.”

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

Secularization: a challenge for our pastoral imagination

Secularization, continued the Pope, “demands that we reflect on the changes in society that have influenced the way in which people think about and organize their lives” – not the diminished social relevance of the Church.

Consequently, “secularization represents a challenge for our pastoral imagination,” and “an occasion for restructuring the spiritual life in new forms and for new ways of existing.” Thus, a discerning view “motivates us to develop a new passion for evangelization, to look for new languages and forms of expression, to change certain pastoral priorities and to focus on the essentials.”

Communicating the joy of the faith

Pope Francis goes on to stress the importance of communicating the Gospel and the joy of faith to today’s men and women, insisting that it is a proclamation of “a witness abounding with gratuitous love” that should take shape in “in a personal and ecclesial lifestyle that can rekindle a desire for the Lord, instil hope and radiate trust and credibility.”

Indicating three challenges that can shape prayer and pastoral service, the Pope said that the first is “to make Jesus known,” and return to the initial proclamation, amid the spiritual deserts created by secularism and indifference. He added that we must find new ways to proclaim the Gospel to those who have not yet encountered Christ and this calls “for a pastoral creativity capable of reaching people where they are living, finding opportunities for listening, dialogue and encounter.”

Vespers at the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec

An occasion for conversion

The second challenge -witness- said the Pope, requires us to be credible, as the Gospel is preached effectively “when life itself speaks and reveals the freedom that sets others free, the compassion that asks for nothing in return, the mercy that silently speaks of Christ.”

On this note, the Pope thought of the Church in Canada that has been set on a new path after being hurt by the evil perpetrated by some of its sons and daughters. The Holy Father also spoke of the scandals of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people.

“Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims. The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: never again! … never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”

To defeat the culture of exclusion, Pope Francis advocates that bishops and priests start from themselves and should not feel themselves superior to our brothers and sisters. Likewise, pastoral workers should “understand service as power.”

Fraternity, the third challenge, means the Church will be “a credible witness to the Gospel the more its members embody communion, creating opportunities and situations that enable all those who approach the faith to encounter a welcoming community one capable of listening, entering into dialogue and promoting quality relationships.”

“The Church is called to embody this love without borders, in order to realize the dream that God has for humanity: for us to be brothers and sisters all.”

Amidst stalled HIV prevention, WHO supports new long-acting prevention drug cabotegravir

Amidst stalled HIV prevention, WHO supports new long-acting prevention drug cabotegravir
The UN health agency on Thursday recommended the use of a new long-acting “safe and highly effective” prevention option for people at “substantial risk” of HIV infection, known as cabotegravir (CAB-LA).
New World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines advise countries to use the new potentially game-changing drug which is not yet available for sale, as a pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for HIV, and as part of a comprehensive approach to prevent the virus from spreading.

Those using most PrEP medications on the market, have to remember to take their medication daily, a greater challenge for what is a preventative medicine.

“Long-acting cabotegravir is a safe and highly effective HIV prevention tool, but isn’t yet available outside study settings,” said Meg Doherty, Director of WHO’s Global HIV, Hepatitis and Sexually Transmitted Infections Programmes.

The drug was approved in the United States last December, and the United Kingdom the following month.

Critical moment

Key populations – including sex workers, men having sex with men, intravenous drug users, people in prisons, transgender individuals, and their sexual partners –accounted for 70 per cent of global HIV infections last year.

Moreover, 4,000 new infections that occurred every day in 2021, were within that group.

As HIV prevention efforts have stalled, the new guidelines were released ahead of the 24th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2022) – which officially begins on Friday – with 1.5 million new HIV infections last year, the same as in 2020.

“We hope these new guidelines will help accelerate country efforts to start to plan and deliver CAB-LA alongside other HIV prevention options, including oral PrEP and the dapivirine vaginal ring,” said the WHO official.

Game-changer drug

CAB-LA is an intramuscular injectable, long-acting form of PrEP.

The first two injections are administered four weeks apart, followed thereafter by an injection every eight weeks.

In randomized controlled trials, the antiretroviral was shown to be safe and highly effective among cisgender women, cisgender men who have sex with men, and transgender women who have sex with men.

Together, these landmark studies found that use of CAB-LA resulted in a 79 per cent relative reduction in HIV risk compared with oral PrEP, where adherence to taking daily oral medication was often a challenge, according to WHO.

Long-acting injectable products have also been found to be acceptable and sometimes preferred in studies examining community PrEP preferences.

© UNICEF/Soumi Das

A woman is tested for HIV in Uttar Pradesh, India.

Coalition force

The UN health agency also launched a new coalition to accelerate global access to the drug.

Convened by WHO, Unitaid, UNAIDS and The Global Fund, the coalition will identify interventions needed to advance near and long-term access to CAB-LA, establish financing and procurement for the drug, and issue policy guidance, among other activities.

“To achieve UN prevention goals, we must push for rapid, equitable access to all effective prevention tools, including long-acting PrEP,” said Rachel Baggaley, WHO’s Lead of the Testing, Prevention and Populations Team at Global HIV, Hepatitis and STI Programmes.

“That means overcoming critical barriers in low and middle-income countries, including implementation challenges and costs.”

Key actions

WHO will continue to support evidence-based strategies to increase PrEP access and uptake, such as through adopting and including CAB-LA in HIV prevention programmes.

It is also working with Unitaid and others to develop projects that answer outstanding safety issues and implementation challenges.

And the WHO Global PrEP Network will host webinars to provide up-to-date information on CAB-LA to increase awareness.

In April, it was added to WHO’s list of Expressions of Interest for prequalification evaluation by the health agency.

Prevention choices

Both oral PrEP and CAB-LA are highly effective.

The new CAB-LA guidelines are based on a public health approach that considers effectiveness, acceptability, feasibility and resource needs across a variety of settings.

They are designed to help CAB-LA delivery and the urgently needed operational research on address implementation and safety and will inform decisions on how to successfully provide and scale up CAB-LA.

The guidelines highlight critical research gaps, and also recognize that accessing current PrEP services are challenging for some.

“Communities must be involved in developing and delivering HIV prevention services that are effective, acceptable and support choice,” WHO spelled out.

Sudan Sentences a Woman To Be Stoned to Death Based on Islamic Law

Sudan Sentences a Woman To Be Stoned to Death Based on Islamic Law

Stoned to Death – On June 26 in Sudan, Maryam Alsyed Tiyrab was convicted and sentenced to execution by stoning on a charge of adultery, a violation of Islamic law.

Tiyrab, 20, a citizen of Sudan, was accused of adultery, a crime classified as Hudud in the Islamic law system. Hudud crimes include highway robbery, apostasy, illicit sexual intercourse and drinking alcohol, and may be punished by the amputation of hands and feet, flogging and even death. Although the last sentence of death by stoning in Sudan was overturned by the Sudanese High Court, the penalty is still permitted by law.

The African Center for Justice and Peace Studies (ACJPS) stated, “The application of the death penalty by stoning for the crime of adultery is a grave violation of international law, including the right to life and the prohibition of torture and cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” Further, they report that Tiyrab was tried without representation of a lawyer, the trial was held without a formal complaint from the police and that her “confession” was illegally obtained.

Stoning is torture per the UN Convention Against Torture, which Sudan ratified August 10, 2021, but no legal reforms to remove stoning from the Sudanese criminal codes have been ratified. In July 2020, progress was made under a transitional government, including a repeal of flogging from the criminal codes. But the prime minister and other leaders at that time were removed by a military coup d’etat on October 25, 2021—the 2nd time in the past four years that Sudan’s head of state has been overthrown.

“The death by stoning case is a reminder that the criminal law reforms during the transition [government] were not complete, and that such harsh, archaic punishments are still officially on the books,” stated human rights lawyer and Human Rights Watch’s Sudan researcher Jehanne Henry.

The head of Sudan’s sovereign council, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, stated on July 4, 2022, that he intends to dissolve the sovereign council and allow for talks of civilian government to resume in Sudan. But when, and whether this will have an effect for Tiyrab, remains to be seen.

ACJPS, based in Uganda and formed in 2009, has a mission of creating a Sudan committed to all human rights, the rule of law, and peace, in which the rights and freedoms of the individual are honored and where all persons and groups are granted their rights to non-discrimination, equality and justice.

Brazil: Eduardo Cunha’s Return

Eduardo Cunha
Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons

The former President of the Chamber and deputy Eduardo Cunha, had his mandate revoked in 2016, due to accusations of passive corruption and money laundering. A former militant of the MDB, Eduardo Cunha is now back in political life. He can now run for the 2022 elections as a member of PTB.

Eduardo Cunha was one of the most powerful and influential figures in Brazilian politics when he was President of the Chamber of Deputies. So powerful, in fact, that he was one of the main orchestrators of Dilma Roussef’s (PT) impeachment in August 2016. The process gave way to Michel Temer’s (MDB) presidency. 

Shortly after the impeachment, however, in September, Eduardo Cunha had his mandate revoked, for the reasons already cited. The nullification was approved in the Chamber by 450 votes, which was considered a “major loss to Cunha” at the time. It was the longest process of its kind, lasting 11 months. 

The formal accusation against Cunha was that he lied to the Investigative Parliamentary Commission (CPI) on Petrobras about having bank accounts in Switzerland. The former deputy was supposed to not be politically active until 2027.

However, the Regional Federal Court of the 1st Region (TRF-1) released Cunha from his sentence, making him eligible to contest elections. – “The change comes after an injunction granted by judge Carlos Augusto Pires Brandão (…), which suspends the legal effects of a resolution of the Chamber that determined the ineligibility of Cunha and the prohibition of holding federal positions. Although effective immediately, the determination is provisional and it will be up to the Court to evaluate the defense’s request. – According to PTB’s official site.

Cunha’s lawyer, Mr. Fábio Luiz Bragança Ferreira, said: “The injunction granted by TRF-1 recognizes something we have been advocating for some time: that the sanctioning action of any court, whether jurisdictional, administrative, or political, must be subject to the constitutional guarantees of due process of law and full defense. Adding to that is the proximity of elections, when the voter will have the opportunity to express himself as our democratic regime demands”.

It is not clear, however, if Cunha still has the amount of influence he had before the nullification of his mandate. And it is unknown whether he will be a viable candidate for PTB.

Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia to Conduct First Visit in the Country

woman in green dressed sitting beside green vegetable and two gray donkey's
Photo by Erik Hathaway

GENEVA/ADDIS ABABA (25 July 2022) – Members of the UN International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia are undertaking a visit to Ethiopia from 25 to 30 July 2022. This will be the Commission’s first visit to Ethiopia since it was established by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council on 17 December 2021.

The International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia is an independent body mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to, among other things, conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into allegations of violations and abuses of international human rights law and violations of international humanitarian law and international refugee law in Ethiopia committed since 3 November 2020 by all parties to the conflict.

The Commission’s three experts – Ms. Kaari Betty Murungi – Chair (Kenya), Mr. Steven Ratner (USA), and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy (Sri Lanka) are supported by a Secretariat based in Entebbe, Uganda.

While in Ethiopia, the Commission will interact with a wide range of interlocutors. On 30 July, the experts will issue a communiqué on their visit.


Hong Kong book fair bars ‘pro-democracy’ publishers

Hong Kong book fair bars ‘pro-democracy’ publishers

Three independent publishers were allegedly rejected for books on 2019 protests

Three independent publishers were allegedly barred from the Hong Kong book fair for printing pro-democracy books on the 2019 protests. (Photo: Unsplash)
Published: July 25, 2022 06:30 AM GMT
Updated: July 25, 2022 07:25 AM GMT

The organizers of Hong Kong’s annual book fair, dubbed one of Asia’s largest literary events, has barred three independent publishers allegedly for their pro-democracy stance, media reports say.

Organized by Hong Kong Trade Development Council, the 32nd edition of the book fair runs from July 20-26 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, reported Portuguese-language newspaper, Hoje Macau.

The theme of this year’s festival is “History and City Literature” with the tagline “Reading the World: Stories of Hong Kong.”

The previous fair was held in 2019 as it was suspended for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The event usually attracts about one million visitors.

This year, the organizer has faced criticism for rejecting attendance applications of three independent publishers — Hillway Culture, Humming Publishing, and One of a Kind — without citing any specific reason.

Raymond Yeung Tsz-Chun founder of Hillway Culture alleged that they have been banned for their “political” and “sensitive books.”

“As far as the book fair is concerned, we do not censor books in advance”

“Publishers like us, who put out political and so-called ‘sensitive’ books, are starting to be censored,”  the UK’s  Guardian newspaper quoted Yeung as saying.

Writers and publishers also alleged that independent publishing houses that show the political realities in Hong Kong are being censored and their voices muzzled.

Novelist Gabriel Tsang, who works with publisher Spicy Fish Cultural Production Limited said that writers and publishers might have to think about different approaches to expressing opinions under current circumstances.

“Many writers have their own intentions, and they must think a lot about whether they can have work published. They may use some allegory or use many rhetoric skills, rather than directly expressing what they wanted to express originally,” Tsang said

The council, however, dismissed allegations of censure and rejection of publishers for political reasons.

“As far as the book fair is concerned, we do not censor books in advance,” said the council’s deputy executive director, Sophia Chong.

“Media reports say writers and publishers have come under higher levels of scrutiny”

She noted that the authorities can decide on whether to allow or not

“Publications can be displayed at the book fair as long as they are lawful and classified as Class I articles,” said Chong.

Hoje Macau reported that during the last book fair the publishers exhibited books related to the pro-democracy protests that have swept the city since 2019.

Following the protests that crippled the former British colony, China’s communist regime has imposed draconian national security law in June 2020 to crush all forms of dissent in the semi-autonomous city once dubbed one of the world’s freest cities.

Dozens of pro-democracy politicians, activists and supporters have been arrested and jailed under the law, while pro-democracy and independent media outlets have been shuttered. Media reports say writers and publishers have come under higher levels of scrutiny and censorship.

Hillway Culture’s Raymond Yeung, was arrested in April and charged for allegedly taking part in illegal assemblies during the 2019 unrest. One of a Kind has published books about the city’s 2019 protests and Occupy Central, a large-scale civil disobedience movement in 2014.

“Government uses a series of laws against journalists including the national security law”

The crackdown on free speech has been extended to restrict the freedom of journalists and authors across Hong Kong.

In a report — In the Firing Line: The Crackdown on Media Freedom in Hong Kong — released by Hong Kong Watch, the perilous situation of the free press was highlighted.

The working environment for local and foreign journalists in Hong Kong has become increasingly difficult as the government uses a series of laws against journalists including the national security law, intimidation and police violence, mass sackings, intervention, and censorship of media outlets, it reported.

This led to the closure of Apple Daily, Stand News, and other media outlets.

RTHK, the local public broadcaster, lost its former editorial independence, resorting to spreading fear and alarming self-censorship across media outlets in the city.

Observers lamented that the barring of independent publishers has effectively damaged the spirit of inclusivity at Hong Kong’s book fair that it has long upheld and was lauded for.

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