The Prince of Wales has warned the climate crisis will ‘dwarf’ the impact of coronavirus. In a recorded message at the virtual opening of Climate Week on 21 September, he said that Covid-19 provided a ‘window of opportunity’ to reset the economy for a more ‘sustainable and inclusive future’ and the pandemic was ‘a wake-up call we cannot ignore’. In his message, he said, ‘Without swift and immediate action, at an unprecedented pace and scale, we will miss the window of opportunity to “reset” for a more sustainable and inclusive future. The environmental crisis has been with us for far too many years - decried, denigrated and denied. It is now rapidly becoming a comprehensive catastrophe that will dwarf the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’ There is growing concern among citizens globally about climate change, although there are big differences about the level of urgency required to tackle the issue.
Without warning and with no explanation, Twitter suspended the accounts of Voice for Justice UK, ParentPower, 40 Days UK, and RSE Authentic. Twitter has not responded to requests for an explanation and for reinstatement. All four UK organisations are conservative and support traditional family values in education, seeking to protect children from abuse and exploitation. They also seek to uphold Christian belief and freedom of speech. None of them has at any time expressed or endorsed views contrary to or prohibited by Twitter’s terms of service. On the contrary, while supporting the family and upholding traditional moral values, all four respect individual freedoms and the right of choice, and campaign for children to be protected from exposure to materials that will cause demonstrable harm.
The UK could carry out Covid ‘challenge trials’, where healthy volunteers are deliberately infected with coronavirus to test possible vaccines. Challenge studies were used to test vaccines for flu, cholera and typhoid, but there were treatments to prevent volunteers from falling ill. Coronavirus trials have the added risk that should volunteers become unwell, the only drugs available will control the disease not remove it. University student Alastair Fraser-Urquhart will volunteer if the trial goes ahead. He said, ‘I think it might save thousands of lives and bring the world out of the pandemic sooner.’ Professor Peter Horby said the trials have the potential to advance science and help us to better understand coronavirus. ‘The risk in a healthy young adult with no underlying conditions is extremely low. What's been holding things up are ethical considerations.’
Countries across Europe are seeing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases after successfully slowing outbreaks early in the year. Albania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Montenegro, and North Macedonia saw higher case numbers in August than they did earlier in the year. Belgium, Italy, and the UK, Europe's worst-hit countries, are seeing a resurgence but, so far, nothing like March and April. Of the three, the UK's figures look the most worrying. France, Poland, the Netherlands, and Spain are taking action to curb a second wave. WHO’s regional director hopes the number of confirmed infections worldwide, creeping towards 30 million, will serve as a wake-up call. He said, ‘We have a very serious situation unfolding before us. There have been five million confirmed cases and more than 228,000 fatalities across Europe since the pandemic began. But we can fight it again'. See
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya urged the EU to approve sanctions on officials accused of rigging the recent presidential election. Despite six weekends of mass protests against President Lukashenko over the disputed vote on 9 August, the EU has not followed through on its threat to impose sanctions on 40 Belarusian officials. ‘EU leaders have reasons not to push sanctions but I asked them to be more brave’. The opposition leader, who fled to Lithuania after the election, said: ‘Sanctions are important in our fight because they could force the so-called authorities to start dialogue with us in the opposition council.’
Covid-19 has plunged the world into an economic crisis and accelerated digitisation in the workplace. Adopting digital technology creates opportunities for millions of new businesses and jobs, but millions without access to technology are left jobless. Unequal access to the internet and technology will impact the unskilled and offline communities in the developing world where connectivity is expensive, slow and unreliable. For example, a vegetable trader in Nairobi may make basic mobile phone payments but cannot sell his produce online because most of his buyers are neither online nor aware of e-commerce. Governments in developing countries lack the funds, and private companies lack financial incentives to invest in broadband for all. The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic will discourage investing digital infrastructure where it is most needed. Pray for the 3.2 billion people who will remain unconnected, those who don't have laptop jobs or access to virtual education or work, to find ways to survive in post-pandemic times.
Taiwan has reported a sharp rise in incursions by Chinese warplanes into its air defence identification zone. Foreign minister Joseph Wu urged Beijing to ‘return to civilised international standards’ after a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said there was no so-called median line in the Taiwan Strait ‘as Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory’, to be taken by force if necessary, even though the island has been self-ruled for more than 70 years. Beijing has ratcheted up pressure on the democratic island since the 2016 election of President Tsai who rejects its view that Taiwan is part of ‘one China’. Taiwan accuses China of violating a long-held tacit agreement after China’s fighter jets began crossing the median line of the waters that separate the two sides. Now tension between the two is at its highest in years, with Taiwanese fighter jets scrambling to intercept the Chinese aircraft last week.
The Philippines have a Christian majority, with a population of over 100 million. 8-10 million Filipinos live abroad, working as nurses, engineers, domestic servants, nannies, casual labourers and sailors. Many are enthusiastic and effective witnesses for Christ, often in countries where Christianity is most restricted or persecuted. Some have suffered greatly for their faith. The Philippines struggle against poverty, injustice, corruption, poor infrastructure, unreformed land laws, tropical storms, and heavy-handed government. A rampant drug trade has evoked the murder of thousands, with victims rarely those responsible for drug trading. The government’s ‘war on drugs’ looks like a war on slum-dwellers - where most victims come from. The Church includes vibrant and charismatic grassroots movements devotedly following Jesus and moving in the Spirit. Their problems are those associated with rapid growth: splits, false teachings, personality cults, and widespread poverty. Pray for continued growth of Christian ministries among the urban poor.