One week after Hurricane Ida came ashore over half a million people are still without power. Some of the hardest-hit areas could be without power until 29th September. Mayor David Camardelle said, ‘It looks like a bomb went off. We have no water, we have no electricity, we have no food.’ Residents have been waiting in long queues for water, ice, food and fuel, and the situation has been made worse by extreme heat without air conditioning. On 9th September forecasters watched category 3 Hurricane Larry and Tropical Storm Mindy that are heading towards Bermuda and Canada causing ‘significant swells’ along America’s east coast. Louisiana’s Governor said, ‘We know there are a lot of people out there who are hurting. We're going to continue to work hard every single day to bring additional relief and to make progress.’ But Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy said residents need more help now.
The Taliban is giving American-made military equipment to Iran. A report by Iran International showed images posted on social media of equipment in Tehran and armoured tanks and Humvees being transported towards Tehran. Two of the images were posted by the acting Defense Minister of Afghanistan. Last week Iran offered to resume fuel shipments to Afghanistan to prevent an economic collapse. Basic services like electricity are under threat, and there are food and cash shortages. On September 8th the Taliban showed that it is re-establishing its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with a caretaker government of hard-liner men from the 1990s. The theocratic Taliban core remains unchanged with several members of their governing body listed as terrorists. Few were non-Pashtun. Pray for the Taliban to respect women and minorities rights. See
On the heels of last month’s warning from the UN climate science panel that extreme weather and rising seas are hitting faster than expected, over 50 ministers, heads of climate organisations and development banks met in Rotterdam this week and called for November’s COP26 climate talks to treat adaptation as ‘urgent’. They want more money and political will to help people adapt to the new reality. In a communique, they said adaptation – which ranges from building higher flood defences to growing more drought-tolerant crops and relocating coastal communities – had not benefited from the same attention, resources or level of action as efforts to cut planet-heating emissions. That has left people worldwide ‘exposed to a climate emergency unfolding faster than predicted’, they said.
Political leader, Aleksei Navalny, is documenting corruption and ostentatious spending by government officials and launched ‘Smart Voting’ to loosen the chokehold the Kremlin-allied United Russia party has on elected legislatures nationwide. Authorities have stepped up a crackdown on anything connected to Smart Voting in the runup to September’s elections to the lower house of parliament - crucial for cementing United Russia’s political life and key to constitutional manoeuvering ahead of 2024’s presidential election. Navalny used the Smart Voting tactic to secure victories for hundreds of opposition candidates in local elections in 2018, 2019 and 2020. On August 24th Smart Voting went high-tech with a downloadable app that identifies in most races the candidate most likely to defeat their ruling party rival, regardless of party affiliation or ideology, and urges voters to cast their votes for that candidate. Navalny is now experiencing police intimidation, attempts to block the Smart Voting website and fake Smart Voting sites flooding the Internet.
The National Health Service has been providing free health care to all UK citizens based on their need for medical care rather than their ability to pay for it since its inception in 1948. This mandate does not extend to social care such as home care and residential care, which is means-tested. There is no overall limit on social care costs so thousands of frail and elderly people have had to sell their homes to pay for residential care. See Only those with savings, homes and assets worth less than £23,250 currently receive free council help with residential care. On 8th September Boris Johnson revealed plans to fund England’s social care and help the NHS recover after the pandemic. Employees, employers and self-employed will pay 1.25p more in the pound for National Insurance from April 2022. It will raise £12bn annually for the NHS and a proportion will be moved into social care over the next three years. Care cost contributions are to be capped at £86,000 from October 2023. If someone has less than £20,000 their care will be free and from £20,000 - £100,000 costs will be subsidised on a sliding scale.
The leader of Wiltshire Council, Richard Clewer, was astounded to learn that there are 1,350 empty Ministry of Defence homes in the county and is calling for some of the properties to be used as temporary housing for Afghan refugees. But he said the MoD ‘have not been terribly easy to talk to about this’ and he was frustrated by the delays. ‘Even setting aside the Afghan issue, to find out there are over 1,300 empty properties in Wiltshire while we are looking at the need to build further housing and have a waiting list, it really is deeply frustrating.’ Devizes MP Danny Kruger has backed the plans and says he has raised the issue with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. ‘Afghans have helped us and we have to help them,’ he said.
Priti Patel is preparing to send back small boats carrying migrants in the Channel despite warnings from the French authorities that it could endanger lives. Border Force staff are being trained to employ ‘turn-around’ tactics at sea. Plans developed for two years would allow UK officers to force small boats back into French waters. It is unclear if the proposals would include taking migrants back to French shores. The proposals have already been rejected by the French government on the grounds that ‘safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy.’ Border Force will only deploy the tactics, developed in consultation with maritime experts, when they deem it safe to do so. Training is due to conclude this month. Conservative MPs want the home secretary to break international law and send all migrants arriving illegally by boat straight back to France.
An Independent Inquiry found child sexual abuse in most UK religious organisations. Some had no child protection policies in place at all though many had strong safeguarding policies. They examined evidence from 38 religious organisations in England and Wales about ‘known’ prevalence of child sexual abuse. Numbers are unlikely to reflect the full picture. There was blatant hypocrisy and moral failing of religions claiming to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse. Organisational and cultural barriers to reporting child sexual abuse are numerous, varied and difficult to overcome. These include victim-blaming, an absence of discussion around sex and sexuality, and discouraging external reporting, thus prioritising the organisation’s reputation above the needs of victims of sexual abuse. 250,000 children receive ‘supplementary schooling’ from a faith organisation.