A family arriving from Afghanistan cross into Pakistan at the ‘Friendship Gate’ crossing point, 7 September 2021. Saeed Ali Achakzai/Reuters/Alamy

On 13 September, nearly a month after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres convened a conference in Geneva to raise at least $600m in aid for the country. Donors outdid themselves, pledging more than $1bn, and Guterres hailed the generosity as a sign of international solidarity with the people of Afghanistan. The money, he said, would allow the UN to help Afghans “ in their time of dire need “.

It’s true. Afghanistan’s need is great even though the country sits on a wealth of natural resources. …


Why cover the Russian exercise as an election?

On Sunday, September 19, two days after Russians started to cast something that was called a vote, exit polls were clear: President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party was expected to maintain its grip over the State Duma, or lower house.

The whole thing was confirmed the next day.

Much of the world’s media reported the developments as even-handedly as possible. The regime’s assertions were carried first; then came the opposition lament and the crisp claims by independent observers that the three-day parliamentary elections were neither free nor fair.

It felt a bit…


Politico’s ‘Declassified’ weekly column, advertises itself as looking at the lighter side of politics.

They certainly lived up to their billing in reporting the spat between Nicki Minaj and the British government over her Nicki Minaj’s cousin’s friend’s swollen testicles. Nowhere else have I read so succinct and hilarious a rundown of what happened after Ms Minaj recounted “the heartbreaking tale of her cousin’s friend, who got the vaccine only to have his balls swell up and become impotent, resulting in his girlfriend calling off their wedding”.

First up, there was England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty who denounced those…


Photo by Andrew Stutesman on Unsplash

France is hopping mad that the US, UK and Australia have announced a new three-way defence alliance. The subtext was obvious: Australia gets to share America’s highly sensitive nuclear submarine, something to which only Britain hitherto had access.

It’s an anti-China move but someone other than China is annoyed. France is hopping mad at the so-called AUKUS agreement. The ostensible reason is that Australia walked away from a deal it awarded to French bidders in 2016 to build a new fleet of diesel-powered submarines. France may yet try and recover the billions it has lost by Australia breaking the contract.


Image by Amber Clay from Pixabay

Two accounts about Afghanistan in September in two different publications merit attention.

Yaroslav Trofimov’s September 16 piece (paywall) from Baraki Barak in Logar province, south of the Afghan capital Kabul is in the Wall Street Journal.

Jim Huylebroek has written (paywall) in the New York Times from Chak-e Wardak, a district in Wardak Province. His story appeared on September 15.

Both pieces paint a picture of an Afghan countryside that is suddenly — and somewhat shockingly — enjoying an unaccustomed peace. Suddenly, after decades, people aren’t fearing gunfire and warring troops.

I found it interesting that two reports, in two…


Afghan refugees are processed at Ramstein Air Base in Germany, 8 September 2021. Olivier Douliery/ Reuters/ Alamy

Despite the outpouring of international sympathy for Afghans who fled their country after the Taliban takeover last month, it’s by no means certain this will translate into receiving the refuge they are entitled to under international law.

Austria, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland and Russia have categorically said they won’t accept new Afghan arrivals. Slovenia’s foreign minister even reportedly issued an outrageous warning of “terrorist attacks on European soil”.

In the United States, where tens of thousands of Afghans are expected to be resettled, some of the more ambitious and Trumpian members of the Republican Party are using the new refugees as…


The funny thing about California’s recall election is its sad build-up. There were occasional mentions that Governor Gavin Newsom was polling well but, overall, the media conveyed a sense of dread. Going in to the September 14 election it seemed very very likely that California’s Democratic governor would lose the Republican-led recall attempt.

The serious air time given to the Republican Party’s chorus of election fraud — even before the first ballot was cast — created a surreal sense. Everything seemed to suggest that America and a section of its voters was willing, nay happy, to refuse to accept the…


Emma Raducanu at Wimbledon in 2018. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Author: si.robi

Britain is celebrating Emma Raducanu’s stunning success as “the first British woman to win a singles grand slam since Virginia Wade in 1977”.

That’s good. In fact, that’s great. But think about this.

Had we left the European Union right round the time Romania-born, Canada-based Ian Raducanu was moving his family from Canada to the UK, would there have been a “British” success at the US Open?

In other words, would Mr Raducanu brought his wife Renee and two-year-old Emma over to Britain? And would they have stayed?

Considering the numbers of Europeans who left the UK after Brexit, voluntarily…


The Atlantic magazine has featured the baby at the centre of the Roe v Wade case.

Shelley, now 51, was the foetus that her mother Norma McCorvey wanted to abort. Ms McCorvey, anonymous at the time, won the constitutional right to abortion for all American women. But not in time to abort her own baby. She bore Shelley and gave her up for adoption.

Shelley, who has three children of her own, spoke to The Atlantic about the reality of her life as someone who shouldn’t have been born.

As the US refocuses attention on the 1973 Roe v Wade…


Volunteers sort through donations at the Afghan and Central Asian Association in west London, September 2021 | Kirsty O’Connor / PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo. All rights reserved

As the last evacuation flights left the international airport in Kabul at the end of August, I received an urgent email from my local council in London.

“As you know from the news,” it said, “there is a massive effort for donation [sic] for the Afghanistan Refugees as many of them are coming to the country with nothing. [We have] a mass of donations but the problem is […] urgent help is needed sorting everything.” The email ended on a plaintive note: “This is a massive task and any help you could give would be very greatly appreciated.”

I’ve been…

Rashmee Roshan Lall

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on https://www.rashmee.com email me at rashmee@rashmee.com http://muckrack.com/rashmeerl

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