Discover the Future of Hearing with Horizon Devices!

Introducing Horizon devices, the revolutionary world's first hearing aids with dual processing. Prepare to experience double the power and double the clarity, bringing you a new dimension of sound quality like never before...

Continue reading...

February 26, 2023

A Grim Anniversary

At the one year anniversary of the start of the Ukraine war, countries around the word stood silent to mark the occasion. Poland announced the country will be sending 14 German-made Leopard 2 tanks to support the ongoing fighting. Another earthquake has struck Turkey, with rescuers once again left desperately searching in the rubble for survivors. And finally, stolen Angkorian crown jewellery has resurfaced in London, leaving experts “stunned” by the discovery. After decades of being hidden, they will go on public display in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, allowing this jewellery to shine once again.

The Eiffel Tower lit up in the colours of Ukraine on the one year anniversary in Paris, France

A Grim Anniversary

This week marked one year since the start of the Ukraine war, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky describing the invasion as “the hardest day of our modern history,” pledging Ukrainian victory over Russia. In a news conference, he downplayed the possibility of near-term peace talks, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “is no longer the same person” he once was. According to the OHCHR, the war has killed over 8,000 civilians alone since the war began last year, with over 400 of those children.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, is urging political leaders to expedite the delivery of Western weapons in order to counter Russia's attacks. Zelenskyy has been making daily appeals for more advanced weapons, intensifying his requests as Russia deploys new tactics and weaponry against the smaller Ukrainian army.

The targeting of civilians has strengthened international backing for Ukraine in its fight against the Kremlin's invasion, and NATO has warned that Russia is preparing for a prolonged conflict. While winter has led to a reduction in fighting, military experts predict that both sides will likely launch a fresh offensive when the weather improves.

On Friday, US President Joe Biden rejected China's proposed peace plan for the Ukrainian conflict, stating that it would only serve to benefit Russia. "If Putin is applauding it, so how could it be any good?" Biden said in an interview with ABC News. "I’m not being facetious. I’m being deadly earnest." Adding, I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if the Chinese plan were followed,". 

Beyond his criticism of the peace plan, Biden outright rejected the notion of China negotiating peace in the war, calling it irrational, commenting on the prospect of China providing lethal weaponry to Russia, a concern that US officials have raised in recent days.

While he did not elaborate on the potential repercussions of China supplying arms to Russia, he implied that China would face the same "harsh sanctions" as any other nation or entity that had provided weapons to Russia.

The United States was Ukraine's largest donor for a significant period of time, having provided over $29.8 billion in military aid alone from Jan. 24, 2022, to February 2023, according to the U.S. government. Moreover, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a German think tank, reported that the U.S. had committed roughly $16 billion in financial aid and $10.5 billion in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

However, in late 2022, the European Union's total contributions surpassed those of the United States, as per the Kiel Institute's analysis.

In Ukraine, the war rages on, with numerous regions of Ukraine remaining under daily attack with strikes and shelling causing widespread damage. Infrastructure for energy has been targeted using missiles and drones resulting in the loss of power, heating, and water in many cities.

The conflict has claimed the lives of over 6,900 civilians, displacing over 8 million people from their homes. According to the World Health Organisation, at least 9.6 million people will suffer from mental health disorders due to exposure to the trauma of the war.

Despite Russia having lost more than half of the territory it seized at the outset of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has categorically rejected relinquishing any Ukrainian land in any potential peace settlement with Russia meaning that unfortunately, there is no clear resolution to the conflict in sight.

A man looks on at the devastation of his house in Turkey

Second tremor in Turkey traps even more under rubble

Following another earthquake in Turkey, rescuers are once again searching for those trapped under rubble. The second 6.4 magnitude tremor struck near the city of Antakya, close to the Syrian border. The region has already been devastated by massive earthquakes on 6th February that have claimed the lives of 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria, leaving tens of thousands more homeless. It is worried that these tremors will further hinder efforts to rescue those trapped under the rubble.

A second 6.4 magnitude tremor struck near the city of Antakya, close to the Syrian border. The region has already been devastated by massive earthquakes on 6th February that claimed the lives of 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria, leaving tens of thousands homeless.

Weakened buildings from the previous tremors collapsed in both countries on Monday. According to Turkey's disaster and emergency agency, the earthquake occurred at 20:04 local time (17:04 GMT) at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), followed by a 5.8 aftershock three minutes later, and subsequent aftershocks, although these were not as severe.

Dr. Fahrettin Koca, the health minister for Turkey, said 294 people have sustained injuries, with 18 of them being classified as serious. Fortunately, the death toll has been relatively low this time as the earthquake struck an area that was mostly empty following the 6 February quake, which had already caused significant damage to the region. 

Reports from Antakya indicate that ambulances and rescue crews faced fear and chaos as they attempted to reach the worst-affected areas, where the walls of already-damaged buildings had collapsed.

Muna al-Omar, a local resident, recounted her experience to Reuters news agency, saying that she had been in a park in the city centre with her seven-year-old son when the new earthquakes hit, and that she had feared the ground would open up beneath them.

The Turkish government has disclosed that over 600 individuals are currently under investigation in connection with buildings that collapsed during the deadly earthquake on 6 February. On Saturday, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag stated that 184 suspects, including construction contractors and property owners, had already been arrested. 

For years, experts had raised concerns that widespread corruption and government policies meant that many new structures were not safe. 

The death toll from the disaster in Turkey and Syria has now surpassed 50,000. Mr Bozdag made the remarks during a televised address from south-eastern Turkey, where the 7.8 magnitude quake occurred and was later followed by another powerful tremor. His comments highlight how the investigation has broadened; just two weeks ago, the authorities had stated that they had issued 113 arrest warrants. 

The mayor of one of the towns near the epicenter of the quakes is among those who have been detained, according to Turkish media reports. Following the incident, more than 160,000 buildings collapsed or were severely damaged in Turkey, leading to questions about whether human failings exacerbated the impact of the natural disaster. 

Opposition parties and some construction experts have accused President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's administration of failing to enforce building regulations and of attempting to shift the overall blame for the disaster. They argue that government policies have enabled amnesties for contractors who have disregarded building codes to spur a construction boom, even in regions prone to earthquakes.

One of the recovered treasure pieces - experts are trying to work out what some of the items were used for

Stolen Angkorian crown jewellery resurfaces in London

A vast trove of Cambodia's Angkorian crown jewellery, some dating back to the 7th Century, resurfaced in London last summer, it has been revealed. The stolen items belonged to British antiquities smuggler Douglas Latchford. Experts say they have never seen most of the jewellery before and are stunned by its existence.

It has been revealed that last summer in London, a vast trove of Angkorian crown jewellery belonging to Cambodia, some of which date back to the 7th Century, resurfaced. The stolen items were previously owned by British antiquities smuggler Douglas Latchford. 

According to experts, most of the jewellery has never been seen before, and its existence has left them stunned. The collection has since been secretly returned to Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, and is set to be displayed at the country's national museum. 

Latchford passed away in 2020 while awaiting trial in the US, and his family promised to return the stolen collection to Cambodia after his death, but the authorities were unsure of what would be returned and how.

Last summer, Cambodia's investigative team, led by Brad Gordon, became the first representative to see the jewellery when he visited London. Gordon recounted his emotional reaction upon seeing the jewellery for the first time, saying that he "felt like crying" at the sight of the "crown jewels of ancient Cambodian civilization" packed into four boxes in the back of a car. 

The resurfaced collection consists of 77 pieces of gold and jewel-encrusted jewellery, including crowns, belts, and earrings. Experts believe that a large bowl, also included in the collection, dates back to the 11th Century and is possibly made of solid gold.

Although it has yet to be tested, it is believed to have been used as a rice bowl for Angkorian royalty.

Cambodian authorities suspect there may be more Angkorian jewellery yet to be found. Evidence from Douglas Latchford's email correspondence suggests that he was attempting to sell the collection from a north London warehouse in secret as late as 2019. However, the Metropolitan Police in London declined to comment on whether Latchford's UK associates are also being investigated.

Last year, the BBC met with looters who had turned into government witnesses in Cambodia, and identified items they had stolen from temples and sold to Latchford. Some of these items have been matched to museum pieces in British museums in London like the British Museum and the V&A.

Despite the political implications of the return of the collection, with an election coming up in July, ordinary Cambodians are eager to have all the looted items returned. The jewellery will soon be put on public display in Phnom Penh, after decades of being hidden inside dusty boxes.

Enjoyed this week's article?

Why not subscribe to get all this direct to your inbox? One email a week, no spam, unsubscribe at any time.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Join our weekly news update. Read our Terms

Enjoyed this article? Share it!