Foreign Correspondence, Vol 58
This DJ is making sure the world hears Ukrainian stories
Hello, and happy Friday! I completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon in London last weekend, which was as beautiful as it was challenging. But something tells me that the pain of running 13.1 miles around the seat of British government is no match for the pain of actually being in government—especially if your name is Liz Truss. As of this writing, the British prime minister (who I wrote about a few correspondences ago) has just sacked her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng and, if reports are to be believed, is about to embark on some serious economic u-turns in a bid to calm the markets after her government revealed a package of tax cuts that tanked the pound and even invited rare scolding from the International Monetary Fund.
The situation is so dire—and her hold on the premiership so tenuous—that her time in power has been likened to “the shelf-life of a lettuce.” More as we get it.
In podcast news: I joined this week’s Bunker panel to discuss the protests in Iran, the OPEC oil crisis, cuts to the BBC World Service, and much more. You can tune in via all good podcast apps (find yours here).
What I’ve written
For TIME’s Next Generation Leaders list, I profiled Daria Kolomiec, a Kyiv-based DJ and podcast host who is fighting Russia’s invasion with Ukrainian culture and stories:
Promoting Ukrainian culture is Kolomiec’s own personal front line in this war. In June, she traveled to New York City with a bag full of rare vinyl records to introduce Americans to Ukrainian artists such as Volodymyr Ivasyuk, who many Ukrainians believe was assassinated in 1979 by Soviet authorities. Then as now, Russia has been trying to quash Ukrainian identity, Kolomiec says. “It was repressed for centuries,” she says. “Now I can share it with people, and they can love it too.” Click here to see who else made the list
Following this week’s United Nations vote condemning Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, I wrote about what the abstentions reveal about the extent of Russia’s international isolation:
Despite U.S. cajoling, dozens of nonaligned countries in Latin America, Central Asia, and Africa continue to remain on the sidelines—perhaps because, like New Delhi and Beijing, they don’t see it as in their interest to do otherwise. This is particularly true for developing countries that rely on Moscow for arms, energy, and investment.
Following the announcement of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize, I wrote about the decision to honor Belarusian, Ukrainian, and Russian human rights advocates:
By honoring these particular laureates, the Nobel committee appeared to underscore the importance of civic society in combating authoritarianism. … Nowhere has the need to recognize human rights defenders been more relevant in the past year than in Russia, where Vladimir Putin’s desire to quash democracy in neighboring Ukraine has resulted in the months-long invasion, or in Belarus, where the longtime dictator Alexander Lukashenko has supported Putin’s war effort all the while suppressing democracy and its advocates at home.
In the aftermath of Thailand’s worst mass shooting, I wrote about the country’s notorious gun problem:
Thailand is believed to have more than 10 million privately-owned guns in circulation, according to a database run by the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health. With enough guns to arm nearly one in every seven people living in the country, Thailand claims one of the highest gun ownership rates in Southeast Asia. It also has one of the highest gun homicide rates to match.
What I’ve read
This excellent profile of Kari Lake, Trumpism’s leading lady (The Atlantic)
Lake is an elegant, polished speaker. Unlike Trump, she doesn’t ruminate on flushing toilets or offer random asides about stabbings and rapes. She presents a calm self-assurance that can make even the wackiest conspiracy theories seem plausible. “She could talk about lizard people and you’d be like, ‘What is up with those lizard people? That is a great point!’” an Arizona Republican operative told me. What other MAGA Republicans possess this kind of magnetism? Although Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is regarded as the most likely contender to inherit the mantle of Trumpism, onstage he is a charmless, wax-statue version of Trump. No, there’s something about Lake that makes people—viewers, voters—want to buy what she’s selling.
The FT’s lunch with Elon Musk (The Financial Times)
Why does a serious guy with serious ideas indulge in silly Twitter games that could also cost his followers dearly? “Aren’t you entertained?” Musk roars with laughter. “I play the fool on Twitter and often shoot myself in the foot and cause myself all sorts of trouble . . . I don’t know, I find it vaguely therapeutic to express myself on Twitter. It’s a way to get messages out to the public.”
This fascinating piece on China’s Xi Jinping and how he became the most powerful leader in modern history (TIME)
Never before in human history has the global economy—and the livelihoods of so many billions—been so at the whim of one man. “The future is bright for Xi Jinping,” says professor Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, “and dark for everybody else.”
What I’m thinking about
The shambolic nature of British politics (and my undying love of The Office).
Until next time,