How are world leaders reacting to Putin’s military threats?

Welcome to Friday’s Early Edition I.

In Russia, many of those who oppose Vladimir Putin’s latest decree – or fear being drafted for it – have bravely protested or fled. “Thousands of Russian men – our fathers, brothers and husbands – are being thrown into the meat grinder of war. What will they die for? What will mothers and children cry for?” said the opposition movement Vesna. Since the announcement of a partial military mobilization – which could see 300,000 people called up for duty (although some estimates go as high as a million) – miles of queues emerged on Russia’s borders. At the same time, hundreds of people in Russia were arrested for protesting. A brave woman in a wheelchair at an anti-war rally called the Russian president a “fucking bald nutcase” and said: “He’s going to drop a bomb on us and we’re all still protecting him.” I’ve said enough.” But what about the world leaders, where do they stand and are they going to do something? After the headlines, let’s look at the latest developments.

Today’s news and why it matters

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng are under pressure to keep the economy from sliding into recession after the Bank of England forecast a contraction in GDP and hiked interest rates. The Chancellor is set to announce his financial statement today, including a package of tax cuts and regulatory reforms that he argues will boost economic growth. “The Chancellor’s financial statement on Friday is now a critical moment,” warned David Bharier of the UK Chamber of Commerce. “It has the unenviable task of supporting the economy while avoiding additional inflationary stimulus.”

Homeowners face a rise in average mortgage payments of up to £273 a month after Thursday’s rate hike. Experts said the 0.5 percent hike in the base rate to 2.25 percent was bad news for homeowners, warning of a flagging housing market and a possible spike in evictions.

The 1.25 percentage point increase in social security will be reversed from November 6, That’s what Kwasi Kwarteng announced. The tax hike was only introduced from April to fund health and social care, but Liz Truss had promised to scrap the hike during the campaign to become the next Tory leader.

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Labor is considering abolishing the House of Lords if it wins the next election, a leaked report shows The guard disclosed. Gordon Brown’s constitutional review recommends replacing it with an upper house of nations and regions.

Hospital admissions for Covid in England are up 17 per cent in a week, show new numbers. It’s the first time there’s been a significant increase since the numbers began falling in early July. “All leading indicators point to the beginning of another wave,” warned Dr. Kit Yates from Independent Sage.

What are other nations saying about Russia?

  • Great Britain: Liz Truss said Putin’s threat to use nuclear weapons was a “desperate” attempt to “justify his disastrous failure”, but British diplomats said they took his remarks “very seriously”. “The threat of using tactical nuclear weapons, which would be tragic, or using larger nuclear weapons, is very real,” a British diplomatic source said. “We have seen Putin lie and bluff throughout this war. But we’ve also seen him make some sensible decisions, so it’s hard to know.” Meanwhile, ex-Defense Secretary Liam Fox warned: “We’ve miscalculated with Putin before. We cannot afford to miscalculate again. He is a tyrant with the behavior of a tyrant.” And James Cleverly, the new foreign secretary, told the UN that Russia would soon hold “sham referendums” on Ukrainian territory to create another pretext for war, and urged other countries to “reject this charade”.
  • The USA: president Joe Biden said Russia’s new nuclear threats showed a “reckless disregard” of the nation’s responsibilities as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In his speech to the UN General Assembly this week, he said, “We will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression.” A senior White House official has since said that while Putin’s veiled threats to use nuclear weapons are being taken seriously, the US is taking theirs “strategic deterrent attitude” would not change.
  • Russian Allies: While the West’s response followed predicted lines, the reactions of nations more friendly to Russia caused some intrigue. Some analysts believe Moscow’s escalation of the conflict could offer China an opportunity to take a subtle step away from Russia. Turkey has reacted unhappily to Putin’s latest moves, particularly regarding the “sham referendum” being held in Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine, while urging India to back up anti-war comments with action. At the same time, Putin’s empire in Central Asia is crumbling, and five of the six full members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Russia’s analogue of NATO, covering the region are in various states of war. And how I‘s Keiron Monks points out that if Russia’s power in the region wanes, other players may be ready to fill the vacuum.
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An activist holds up a sign playing the word mobilization as “no funeral” during a protest in Moscow (Photo by Contributor/Getty Images)

Around the world

Donald Trump has said that presidents can “declassify anything” by “thinking about it” when he gave his first televised interview since the FBI raided his Mar-a-Lago home last month. “If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify the classification simply by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even if you think about it,” he told Fox News. “You are the President, you make this decision,” adding, “I have cleared everything.”

Deforestation for agriculture and fires have been blamed for new figures suggesting carbon emissions in the Amazon more than doubled in 2019 and 2020 compared to the last eight years. Scientists behind a new study say a “collapse” in law enforcement in recent years has encouraged deforestation.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi has canceled an interview with veteran CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour after she refused to wear a headscarf at their meeting in New York. Amanpour said no previous president had requested this when interviewing her outside of Iran. It comes amid protests over the death of a woman jailed in Iran for allegedly violating headscarf rules.

Authorities on Tasmania’s west coast are faced with the gruesome task of disposing of 200 pilot whales after they were mass stranded on a beach. The dead whales are expected to be towed to deeper waters to “reduce the risk of the carcasses coming back and being washed up on the beach”. Scientists will also conduct autopsies on the whales to find clues as to why they came ashore.

Good news for cold-water lovers: An icy bath could help reduce body fat and reduce the risk of diabetes, according to research. However, experts also urged caution: “Many of the health benefits claimed from regular colds may not be causal. Instead, they can be explained by other factors, including an active lifestyle, stress management skills, social interactions, and a positive attitude.”

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Watch out for…

Response to Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget, which begins at 9.30am in Parliament.

thoughts for the day

The latest census results do not mean that the reunification of Ireland is imminent – far from it, writes Roisin Lanigan. More revealing than the religious findings were the results on national identity in Northern Ireland.

What surer sign that pre-Covid life is back than the return of the underwired bra? asks Frankie Graddon. The entire fashion landscape is shifting away from a casual, at-home aesthetic toward a smarter, more glamorous look.

The Woman King deserves to be as big as Black Panther. What went wrong? asks Kuba Shand-Baptiste. It seems poised to breathe new life into the historical film genre, but harsh judgments remain.

Viola Davis and John Boyega in The Woman King (Photo: Sony Pictures via AP)

cultural break

Terry Pratchett: A Life With Footnotesis a loving portrait of a brilliant but cantankerous authorsays Willow Smith. This is not a critical biography, but it is not sycophantic either – it portrays Sir Terry Pratchett as cranky but generous, with a ruthless sense of the ridiculous.

Sir Terry Pratchett (Photo: Joseph Branston/SFX Magazine/Getty)

The Great Reading

This rehab pilot aims to keep addicts out of jail — but some fear the opposite will happen, reports Ellie Broughton. “Troubleshooting courts” offer drug addicts cleansing assistance — and possibly jail if they fail.

Problem-solving courts are touted as a way to avoid short prison sentences by using other strategies to keep minor offenders away from crime (Photo: Getty Images)


England’s OneLove armband risks being an empty gesture, writes Daniel Storey. The Football Association has begun its journey of bringing justice to Qatar’s migrant workers and abused communities. But it just has to be the beginning.

Harry Kane wears the OneLove bracelet (Picture: FA)

Something to brighten your day

May the shock be with you: The US military’s Space Force has revealed his official song, and the reaction was more comical than cosmic. We are the mighty watchful eye / Wardens beyond the blue / The invisible frontline / Warriors brave and true / Reaching out into space boldly / There are no limits to our skies, they say. As some have pointed out: I hope the aliens aren’t music critics.

The US Space Force releases a song (Photo: Staff Sgt. Kayla White/US Air Force via AP)

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