News That Matters

26/05/2023 ---- 02/06/2023

In a crucial move to prevent a financial catastrophe, the U.S. Senate passed a bipartisan legislation lifting the government's debt ceiling to $31.4 trillion. The Senate voted 63-36 to approve the bill, which had already been passed by the House of Representatives with a 314-117 vote. The timely decision came as the Treasury Department warned of an inability to pay bills on June 5 if Congress failed to act. President Joe Biden praised Congress for their timely action and plans to sign the bill into law as soon as possible.

The statutory limit on federal borrowing will now be suspended until January 1, 2025, allowing the government to continue borrowing money to pay its bills and avoid defaulting on its $31.4 trillion debt. The legislation also includes about $1.5 trillion in spending reductions over the next 10 years, which the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated would save $1.5 trillion over that period.

The last close call with a default occurred in 2011, which led to the first-ever downgrade of the government's credit rating. This time, the Senate vote saw bipartisan support, with 44 Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 2 independents voting in favor of the bill. The House of Representatives vote had 165 Democrats and 149 Republicans supporting it. President Joe Biden is expected to enact the measure into law soon.

The debt ceiling suspension will last until January 1, 2025, during which time the government will have the ability to borrow money without limit. The legislation also caps non-defense spending, expands work requirements for some food stamp recipients, and claws back some Covid-19 relief funds.

The passage of this bill comes as a relief to many who feared the consequences of a default on the nation's debt, which could have led to a severe financial crisis affecting not only the U.S. economy but also the global financial system. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy thanked the negotiating team, Representatives Garret Graves and Patrick McHenry, for their efforts in reaching this bipartisan agreement. President Joe Biden also expressed his gratitude to congressional leaders for their cooperation in averting a potential financial disaster.

This bipartisan debt limit deal demonstrates the ability of both parties to come together and make difficult decisions for the good of the nation. With the debt limit suspended through January 1, 2025, the government can now focus on addressing other pressing issues and continue working towards a stable and prosperous future for all Americans.


The Nord Stream gas pipeline explosions in September have raised concerns about energy security, as the search for the perpetrators behind the attack on the undersea pipelines carrying natural gas from Russia to Europe continues. The incident resulted in a massive release of methane gas and reduced Europe's energy dependence on Russia, increasing US influence.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh alleges US Navy divers planted bombs that destroyed the Nord Stream 2 pipeline in September, citing an unnamed source. However, the Pentagon, White House spokesperson Adrienne Watson, and CIA spokesperson Tammy Thorp have all denied these claims. Swedish officials suspected "gross sabotage," and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the situation "serious." Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says Moscow believes the US and NATO were involved in the explosions. However, an investigation involving 23 diplomatic and intelligence officials in nine countries found no evidence that Russia was behind the attack.

The attribution of the attack remains challenging, as the damage occurred in the exclusive economic zones of Sweden and Denmark. Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has highlighted the attack's demonstration of the vulnerability of energy networks. Russia remains a key suspect due to its recent history of bombing civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. However, skeptics argue Moscow had little to gain from damaging pipelines that generated billions in annual revenue.

New information has surfaced, such as unidentified aerial drones appearing around Norwegian oil and gas facilities around the time of the Nord Stream attacks. The New York Times cites anonymous US intelligence officials suggesting a pro-Ukrainian group could be responsible. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov calls the report a "co-ordinated fake news media campaign." German investigators searched a ship in January suspected of transporting explosives, and German media links a boat used in the attack to a Polish firm owned by two Ukrainians.

The Nord Stream pipeline explosions have intensified the energy crisis in Europe and strained the relationship between Russia and the West. As the world awaits the results of the ongoing investigations, the need for increased security and cooperation in protecting critical energy infrastructure has never been more crucial. The truth behind the Nord Stream pipeline explosions remains elusive, casting a shadow of uncertainty over global energy security.


India is grappling with the devastating effects of heatwaves as temperatures soar to 45°C (113°F) in recent weeks. The Indian Meteorological Department has issued heatwave alerts for some states, and with the southwest monsoon delayed until the first week of June, the situation is becoming increasingly dire for the country's vulnerable communities, particularly poor and daily-wage laborers working in outdoor industries such as construction.

In April, 13 people died from heatstroke in Maharashtra, and over 12 suffered from heat-related illnesses. Heatwaves have claimed more than 17,000 lives in India over the past 50 years, with South Asia being one of the regions most vulnerable to climate change. Temperatures in South Asia are now at least 2°C (3.6°F) hotter than in pre-industrial times, increasing the risks of heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.

India is expected to lose 34 million jobs by 2030 due to heatwaves, and agricultural productivity and food security are also at risk. Despite having a lower per capita carbon footprint than Western industrialized nations, the Earth's surface temperature is on track to rise 2.7°C above preindustrial levels by 2100, pushing over 2 billion people worldwide outside the climate comfort zone – including 600 million in India.

In mid-April, a record-breaking heatwave struck Bihar, India, where temperatures exceeded 44 degrees Celsius. Bihar is the third-most populous Indian state, with a population of over 100 million, and has the country's lowest per capita GDP. Agriculture accounts for 77% of employment and 25% of the state's GDP, making it particularly vulnerable to the impacts of heatwaves.

Bihar established a Heat Action Plan (HAP) under the responsibility of the Disaster Management Department (DMD). However, insufficient infrastructure and funding have hindered the implementation of HAP actions. Over 500 public drinking water outlets have been built, but few are visible or accessible. Furthermore, the Heat Action Plan was formulated without input from climate researchers, leading to a lack of comprehensive understanding of the problem.

Aditya Valiathan Pillai, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, highlights the need for proper funding, implementation, and review of HAPs. Environmental activist Devopriya Dutta emphasizes the need for authorities to work on ground-level implementation to prevent further loss of life.

Recurring heatwaves in New Delhi are also affecting outdoor workers, with the Indian Meteorological Department issuing heatwave warnings on May 22 as temperatures in certain areas crossed 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). Since 2010, an estimated 6,500 people have died from heat-related illnesses.

A drastic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions is needed to prevent further heatwaves, with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calling for a 45 to 50 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. Unfortunately, many Indian cities' heat action plans are inadequate or not implemented properly, highlighting the need for better city planning and housing infrastructure to adapt to heat stress.

India's escalating heatwave crisis demands urgent and comprehensive action. With millions of lives and livelihoods at stake, it is crucial for authorities to invest in effective heat action plans, improved infrastructure, and greenhouse gas emissions reductions to protect the country's most vulnerable populations and ensure a sustainable future.


The rising demand for greener jet fuel has led to the increased use of animal fats as an alternative to fossil fuels. However, a new study warns of potential unintended environmental consequences. The demand for fuel derived from animal by-products is expected to triple by 2030, but there may not be enough animal fat to meet this growing need. This scarcity could force other industries to rely more on palm oil, a major generator of carbon emissions.

Since 2006, the use of animal fat-based fuel in Europe has grown fortyfold, driven by UK and EU governments promoting waste materials for greener aviation. The UK aims for 10% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030, while the EU targets 6%. However, due to sustainability concerns, the UK is considering limiting the use of animal fats and used cooking oil in aviation. This increased competition for animal fats may force industries like pet food manufacturing to seek alternative ingredients.

Transport accounts for 27% of Europe's greenhouse gas emissions, with cars contributing 12% of all emissions. Road freight emissions from trucks and vans are increasing, and aviation is the most climate-intensive transport mode. Shipping is responsible for over a tenth of transport CO2 emissions and is a significant source of air pollution. As 94% of transport's energy comes from oil, sustainable finance is crucial for decarbonizing the economy.

Addressing air quality issues requires well-enforced air pollution legislation and transforming urban mobility to tackle climate change. Rail is one of the greenest transport modes, and a higher share of rail journeys is necessary for decarbonization. Climate tools, such as cross-sector measures and agreements, can aid this transition.

Transport & Environment, Europe's leading clean transport campaign group, has expressed concerns over the climate impacts and potential fraud related to the growing demand for animal fats biofuels. Major airlines have deals with oil suppliers for SAF, which often include animal fats. A study on using purified animal fat as an additive in diesel fuel found that a blend ratio of up to 40% in standard diesel performs well for target engines, making it technically feasible and economically attractive while reducing the fuel's carbon balance.

The food industry generates fatty effluents, which are mostly eliminated in water treatment plants. Animal fats consist of triglycerides, proteins, water, and minerals. Fatty waste is classified based on its free fatty acid (FFA) content: 'yellow grease' (<15%) or 'brown grease' (>15%). Fatty waste is a cheaper source than vegetable oil, making it a potential feedstock for biofuel. Biodiesel is considered a possible substitute for standard diesel fuel, and heterogeneous catalysis offers a low-cost alternative for biodiesel fuel production.

In conclusion, while animal fats provide a promising alternative for greener jet fuel, the potential environmental impacts must be carefully considered. The increasing demand for animal fat-based fuel may lead to unintended consequences, such as increased reliance on palm oil and competition for resources among industries. As we pursue a greener future in transportation, it is essential to evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of various fuel sources, ensuring that our efforts to combat climate change do not inadvertently harm the environment.


Moscow and Kyiv were targeted by drone attacks on Tuesday, marking the first time residential areas in the Russian capital have been hit since the invasion of Ukraine. Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin reported minor damage to several buildings but no casualties, while at least one person was killed in Kyiv. President Putin blamed the incident on "terrorist activity" and an attempt to intimidate Russians. Russia's Defense Ministry claims that Kyiv targeted Moscow with eight drones in a "terrorist attack," with three drones taken down by jamming control systems and five shot down with air defense systems. Reports suggest that up to 32 drones were involved in the attack.

Despite its distance from the frontline and strong air defenses, Moscow has not been immune to drone attacks. Earlier this year, air defense systems were installed in the city, and two drones were shot down over the Kremlin earlier this month in what was claimed to be a Ukrainian assassination attempt against Putin. The drones used in these attacks are believed to be a new type capable of flying long distances.

Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak denies Kyiv's involvement in the Moscow attack, and observers suggest the strikes were aimed at sowing fear ahead of Kyiv's counteroffensive. Meanwhile, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed the transfer of some tactical nuclear weapons from Moscow to Minsk, raising concerns amid global proliferation and Moscow's threats with its atomic arsenal. The US, EU, and Belarusian opposition leaders have denounced the move to deploy Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

Ukraine claims to have thwarted the largest overnight drone attack on Kyiv since the Russian invasion began, destroying 52 of 54 explosive drones launched by Moscow, including over 40 in Kyiv, resulting in two people killed and three injured. In response, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy announced new sanctions against 220 companies and 51 individuals linked to Russia.

The ongoing conflict has also impacted sports, with exiled football teams Shakhtar Donetsk and Dnipro-1 set to play each other in safer western Ukraine with the league title at stake. As for the military situation, Ukraine is preparing for a counter-offensive against Russian forces, with no specific date given for the assault to retake territory from Russia. Ukrainian forces have been targeting Russian control centers and military equipment since February 24th last year, and the battle for Bakhmut has been acknowledged as costly, but necessary.

In conclusion, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has entered a new phase with the increased use of drone attacks and escalating nuclear tensions. As both sides prepare for a potential counteroffensive, the world watches anxiously, hoping for a peaceful resolution to this devastating conflict.


Breastfeeding is widely regarded as the gold standard for infant nutrition, with the American Academy of Pediatrics endorsing exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. However, only 26% of U.S. infants are exclusively breastfed at six months, with insufficient milk production being the primary reason for breastfeeding cessation. To increase milk supply, many mothers use galactagogues – substances that stimulate milk production – but their safety and efficacy remain uncertain. A recent study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explores the prevalence of galactagogue use among breastfeeding mothers in the United States and emphasizes the need for further research on their safety and efficacy.

Conducted between December 2020 and February 2021, the study involved a cross-sectional online survey of 1,294 adult women breastfeeding a singleton child in the U.S. Results showed that 58% of participants reported using galactagogues, with 55% using foods and beverages, 28% using herbal products, and 1.4% using pharmaceuticals. Over 40% of participants identified oats, lactation cookies, brewer's yeast, alcoholic beer, sports drinks, and combinations of herbal products as effective galactagogues for increasing milk production.

The study found higher intake of galactagogues among older or currently employed mothers, those who delivered through cesarean section, or first-time breastfeeding mothers. This high prevalence highlights the need for future research on the safety and efficacy of commonly used galactagogues and supportive initiatives to educate breastfeeding mothers about best practices for increasing milk production and meeting breastfeeding goals.

Perceived insufficient milk is a major reason for early breastfeeding cessation, and the use of galactagogues is a common strategy employed by breastfeeding mothers to increase milk supply. However, there is limited evidence on the safety and efficacy of these substances, and the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine does not recommend using galactagogues due to a lack of safety and efficacy information.

The study's main outcome measures were self-reported current or previous use of galactagogues and their perceived effects on milk production. Results revealed varying effects of specific galactagogues on milk production, with higher galactagogue use among first-time breastfeeding, breastfeeding pumped milk, formula supplementation, and perceived insufficient milk.

In conclusion, breastfeeding mothers in the U.S. commonly report using galactagogues to increase milk supply, underscoring the need for more research on the safety and efficacy of these substances and enhanced breastfeeding support. As the demand for effective and safe ways to increase milk production grows, healthcare professionals and researchers must collaborate to better understand the potential benefits and risks associated with galactagogue use. In the meantime, breastfeeding mothers should consult with their healthcare providers and seek evidence-based guidance on best practices for increasing milk production and meeting their breastfeeding goals.


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has won re-election, securing another five years in power with 52.14% of the votes in the second round. Erdogan's main opponent, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, received 47.86% of the votes, pledging to continue the "struggle for democracy" after a bitter campaign marked by nationalist tones. Over 64 million Turks at home and abroad were eligible to vote, with a turnout of around 85% for the second round of voting. Erdogan's AK Party and its allies won 323 of 600 seats in the parliamentary election held alongside the leadership race on May 14.

Local elections are set for March, with Erdogan aiming to retake cities like Istanbul and Ankara. In Taksim Square, Istanbul, crowds gathered to celebrate Erdogan's third term in power after winning over 27.7 million votes. The Turkish president plays a significant role internationally, increasingly looking east while remaining a member of the West's NATO defensive alliance.

In his victory speech, Erdogan identified inflation and earthquake recovery as top priorities for his new term. Inflation in Turkey was at 50.5% in March, down from 85.6% in October. Erdogan promises to rebuild cities affected by earthquakes, improve lives, and further reduce inflation. He also seeks to mediate in the Russia-Ukraine war and enable grain exports through the Black Sea.

Erdogan's NATO relations have been complicated, as he purchased a Russian missile defense system, straining ties with Sweden. However, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, along with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, congratulated Erdogan on his victory.

The European Union and Turkey have been at odds on numerous issues, with the European Commission critical of Erdogan's authoritarian rule. The EU is concerned about the deterioration of democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights, and independence of the judiciary in Turkey, but recognizes its importance as a partner on migration, climate protection, and energy security.

EU leaders have criticized Turkey's territorial violations against Greece and Cyprus and called for the release of activist Osman Kavala, sentenced to life in prison in 2022. Relations between the EU and Turkey have been characterized by ups and downs for decades. Turkey's goal remains joining the EU, but accession talks are unlikely to be revived soon. The EU suspended accession negotiations with Turkey in 2018, but they have not been completely broken off. About 70% of the Turkish population still wants to join the EU.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has been critical of Turkey but calls for cooperation within NATO. The EU and NATO expect Turkey to approve Sweden's accession to the military alliance after Erdogan's reelection.

Erdogan's triumph in the Turkish elections marks a new chapter for Turkey and its international relations. With a focus on rebuilding cities affected by earthquakes, cutting inflation, and mediating in international conflicts, Erdogan's third term in power promises to be an eventful one. As Turkey navigates its complex relationships with the EU and NATO, the world will be watching closely to see how this new era unfolds.


Imagine a world where microscopic plastic debris and seaweed harbor deadly bacteria that could impact human health. This scenario may be closer to reality than we think. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University and international institutions have recently published a study in the journal Water Research, revealing that Vibrio bacteria, a leading cause of marine-related human fatalities, can stick to and potentially adapt to plastic marine debris and Sargassum seaweed. This is a cause for concern, as Vibrio bacteria are responsible for deadly human diseases, and the presence of Sargassum has increased since 2011 in the Sargasso Sea and the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt.

The study focused on the genomes of 16 Vibrio cultivars isolated from various sources in the North Atlantic Ocean. These cultivars displayed a full complement of pathogenic genes, suggesting that new Vibrio species may be represented among them. The researchers also found that these bacteria have an 'omnivorous' lifestyle, targeting plant and animal hosts, which could contribute to their rapid biofilm formation, hemolytic, and lipophospholytic activities, consistent with pathogenic potential.

One of the most alarming findings of the study is the first Vibrio spp. genome assembled from plastic debris. This indicates that Vibrio pathogens can "stick" to microplastics and might be adapting to plastic, posing a significant threat to human health. The presence of plastic marine waste is a global concern due to its longevity in marine ecosystems, which can persist for decades. As these plastics accumulate in the ocean, they may provide a breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria like Vibrio.

Another critical aspect of the study is the relationship between Sargassum spp., plastic marine debris, and Vibrio bacteria. Sargassum, a brown macroalga, has been rapidly expanding in the Sargasso Sea and the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt. The researchers discovered that beached Sargassum may harbor high amounts of Vibrio bacteria, raising concerns about the harvest and processing of Sargassum biomass. Until the risks associated with Vibrio bacteria are thoroughly investigated, caution is advised regarding the use of Sargassum for various applications.

The study's co-authors come from various international institutes and received support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other grants. Their work highlights the importance of understanding the interplay between Sargassum spp., plastic marine debris, and Vibrio bacteria in order to assess the potential risks associated with these emerging pathogens.

In conclusion, the world's oceans are facing a hidden threat in the form of Vibrio bacteria that can stick to and potentially adapt to plastic marine debris and Sargassum seaweed. As the presence of Sargassum and plastic waste continues to increase, so does the risk of deadly human diseases caused by these pathogens. It is crucial to continue researching the relationship between these factors and develop strategies to minimize their impact on human health and the marine environment. The ocean's dark side may be hidden beneath the waves, but it is a danger that we cannot afford to ignore.


The G7 has agreed on sanctions against Russia during a summit in Japan, cutting off 70 companies from exports and imposing 300 sanctions against individuals, entities, vessels, and aircraft. Last year, the G7 imposed a $60 per-barrel price cap on Russian oil and diesel. The UK has banned Russian diamonds and imports of metals, targeting 86 individuals and companies. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy attended the G7 summit in Hiroshima, where US President Biden agreed to train Ukrainian pilots on American F-16 fighter jets, with training taking place in Europe in the coming weeks.

The G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, took place amid new nuclear threats from Russia, North Korea, and Iran. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the summit, where G7 leaders called for "a world without nuclear weapons." The leaders visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, participated in a tree-planting ceremony at the "flame of peace," and laid wreaths. Biden is the second sitting American president to visit the memorial site, and while no U.S. president has apologized for the bombing, Biden made no public remarks during his visit.

The battle for the city of Bakhmut has continued for eight months, making it the longest and bloodiest battle in the war. Analysts believe that Bakhmut's fall would give Russia tactical advantages but not decide the war's outcome. The G7 Hiroshima summit concluded on May 21, with a communiqué released a day before closing, targeting China and reaffirming support for Ukraine. The G7 leaders agreed on an initiative to counter economic coercion from actors like China and Russia and established a new body to deal with "economic coercion."

In a concerning development, Russian and Belarusian defense ministers signed a document on deploying Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, leading to a Western backlash and threats of new sanctions on Belarus if it hosts Russian nuclear weapons. Belarus claims to be compelled by "unprecedented" Western pressure and insists that the deployment does not violate international agreements.

On May 24 an armed group attacked the Russian Belgorod region bordering Ukraine, resulting in one civilian killed, nine injured, and 550 residents temporarily evacuated. Shelling and mortar fire have increased since Kyiv re-took parts of the Kharkiv region from Russian forces. In response, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu promised a harsh response to similar attacks. Responsibility was claimed by anti-Kremlin groups Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps, mostly made of Russian citizens; Kyiv denies involvement.

As the conflict continues to unfold, the international community must work together to find a resolution that upholds peace, security, and the sovereignty of nations. With the G7 taking action against Russia and supporting Ukraine, the world watches and hopes for a peaceful outcome.