Good Morning. We cover Russian atrocities, a simmering political crisis in Pakistan, and a Taliban ban on growing poppies for opium.
Resistance: This is how Kyiv withstood Russian attacks and, like already legendary fighters, repulsed Russians from the small garrison town of Vasylkiv.
Background: Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, has repeatedly tried – and failed – to subjugate Ukraine.
Ripple Effects: The war has pushed up food costs in East Africa, which is facing what may be its worst drought in four decades.
state of war:
The move – a defiant attempt by Khan to remain in power despite losing military support – threatens to plunge the country into a constitutional crisis. On Saturday, Khan said he would not accept the vote’s result, dismissing it as part of an American conspiracy against him.
Opposition leaders accused Khan of treason and called on the country’s Supreme Court to intervene, calling it “unprecedented” and a “blatant violation” of Pakistan’s constitution. A hearing was scheduled for Monday.
Analysis: The maneuver risked destabilizing the fragile democracy in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation that supports the Taliban. Since Pakistan became an independent country in 1947, none of its prime ministers has completed a full term.
Profile: Khan, a former cricket star, was elected in 2018 on a nationalist pledge to fight corruption and distance Pakistan from the US, with whom it had a troubled history. If Khan is ousted, many experts say Pakistan could grow to match the US and the West.
Taliban ban poppy cultivation
The insurgents-turned-rulers of Afghanistan banned the cultivation of opium flowers on Sunday. The decree also banned the use, sale, transfer, purchase, import and export of wine, as well as heroin and other drugs.
The move will have far-reaching consequences for the many farmers who have turned to illegal harvesting amid the country’s brutal drought and economic crisis.
Many farmers had planted the crop – which can be stored for some time after harvest – as an investment. They expected supply to dwindle and prices to rise, even though they knew the Taliban might curb cultivation. The Taliban’s announcement on Sunday came during the poppy harvest.
Context: Afghanistan accounts for about 80 percent of the world’s opium supply.
Background: In the 1990s, the Taliban made several half-hearted attempts to restrict opium before enacting a ban on opium poppy cultivation shortly before the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001. After that, for two decades, the Taliban turned to harvesting to fuel their war machine.
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Asia and Pacific
The Thai government is launching a campaign to get the world to call Thailand’s capital Krung Thep Maha Nakhon (Bangkok). Thai citizens would prefer their leaders to focus on fixing the country’s ailing economy.
ART AND IDEAS
A microplastic storm
For as long as there has been marine life, there has been sea snow – a ceaseless drizzle of death and debris that sinks from the sea’s surface to the depths.
Now, tiny bits of plastic have infiltrated the slowly sinking flakes, which are the deep sea’s main food source and a pipeline that carries ocean carbon to the sea floor. The normally buoyant microplastic sinks with the flakes.
This is new information: Scientists originally assumed that plastic mainly floats on the surface. However, a recent model found that 99.8 percent of the plastic that entered the ocean after 1950 sank below the first few hundred feet. Scientists have found 10,000 times more microplastics on the sea floor than in contaminated surface water.
They are just beginning to understand the consequences. As microplastics increase the surface area of ocean snow, the mix could transport more carbon to the seafloor, altering our planet’s ancient cooling process.
Sinking microplastics can also damage deep-sea food webs. “The plastic is a diet pill for these animals,” a carbon cycle scientist told the Times.