Ron DeSantis’ Presidential Announcement Derailed by Technical Difficulties

On 24 May incumbent Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election. This announcement took place on Twitter Spaces, the social-media sites livestream service, and was hosted by Elon Musk, the owner of Twitter. DeSantis stated that he wanted to launch his campaign on Twitter because of his distrust of the mainstream media.

However, moments into the livestream technical issues began to arise. Sound cut out purportedly due to the sheer number of Twitter users who had joined the event—approximately 500,000—and the event was consequently delayed by almost half an hour. By the time it relaunched only half of the original users tuned back in. Not long after the event had concluded, he tweeted out a campaign video explaining his ambitions in more detail.

A spokesperson for former US President Donald Trump, DeSantis’ primary rival for the Republican nomination, took advantage of the shoddy launch, stating: “Glitchy. Tech issues. Uncomfortable silences. A complete failure to launch. And that’s just the candidate!”. Whether or not this misfire will be enough to quash DeSantis hopes of becoming President remains to be seen, but it is safe to say that the event did not go as well as he would have hoped.

NGO Warns Burkina Faso Crisis has been Neglected

On Thursday, the Norwegian Refugee Council released a report which names Burkina Faso the world’s most neglected displacement crisis. This annual list is based on three criteria: lack of humanitarian funding, lack of media attention, and a lack of international political and diplomatic initiatives. NCR’s Secretary General Jan Egeland stated that, “The powerful response to the suffering inflicted by the war in Ukraine demonstrated what the world can deliver for people in need. Political action for Ukrainians has been impactful and swift, borders kept open, funding plenty, and media coverage extensive. Those in power need to show the same humanity towards people affected by crises in places such as Burkina Faso and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”

Two million people have been displaced in the country’s five years of conflict with militias. Militias have forced school closures and attacked water sources, causing 800,000 people to have no access to essential services. Since the launch of this year’s humanitarian response plan in April, Burkina Faso has received only 18% of the $882 million requested. Reportedly, for every dollar raised per person in need in Ukraine in 2022, just 25 cents were raised per person in need across the world’s ten most neglected crises. Seven out of ten of the world’s most neglected crises are in Africa yet, despite growing needs, total aid to Africa was 7.4% less in 2022 than in 2021.

Japanese Court Finds Non-Recognition of Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional 

Last Tuesday, a Japanese court ruled that the country’s non-recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, in a major win for sexual minorities in Japan. 

Deciding a case brought by a male same-sex couple against the state, the Nagoya District Court held the current government policy to be in violation of the Article 14 right to equality and the Article 24 provision that marriage should be based on “individual dignity and the essential equality of the sexes”. 

This ruling is the second to find a ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The first came from the Sapporo District Court in a suit by three same-sex couples in 2021. However, that decision was thrown into uncertainty by subsequent rulings in Osaka and Tokyo upholding the ban. 

In the present case, lead lawyer Yoko Mizutani told journalists that the new decision in Nagoya “has rescued us from the hurt of last year’s ruling”. The ruling was greeted with cheers from activists and allies waving rainbow flags outside the court. 

Japan is now the only G7 country which does not yet recognise marriage equality. Currently, same-sex couples are able to enter civil unions in more than 300 Japanese municipalities covering some 65% of the population. However, they have no parental or inheritance rights, amongst other limitations. 

The court’s decision will need to be passed into law to allow same-sex couples to marry. Though opinion polls show that around 70% of Japanese people support same-sex marriage, attitudes within Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are unwelcoming. A proposed law to introduce new protections for the LGBT community earlier this year was significantly watered down after serious opposition from LDP panels. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference that the government did not believe the marriage laws were unconstitutional, while Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in February sacked a close aide who told reporters that he does “not even want to look at” LGBTQ people.

The new decision is expected to put more pressure on the Japanese government to establish marriage equality, adding to the current push from the Japanese people, diplomatic missions, and other G7 nations.

Scientists Say Earth is Past Safe Limits for Humans

A group of top scientists has found conditions on our planet to be already past safe limits for humans in seven out of eight key thresholds needed to protect life on Earth. 

The research was published in the journal Nature last Wednesday by the Earth Commission, a team of dozens of scientists representing leading global research institutions. It assessed the planet’s health using eight factors including climate, biodiversity, water, natural ecosystems, and land use. 

Seven thresholds were found to have exceeded “safe” limits, entering “risk zones” for humans to suffer significant harm through threats such as extreme climate conditions, worsening water quality, lower food security, and displacement and loss of work due to flooding.

Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and co-author of the report, said it was “very worrying” that most of the boundaries had already been breached. He explained that the effects were already visible, citing devastating floods in Pakistan last year as an example. 

Despite these worrying findings, the Commission hopes the report will underpin the setting of “new science-based targets for businesses, cities and governments”, extending beyond climate. Mr. Rockström emphasised that it is possible to “build back” Earth’s systems, although governments and companies would have to act “very, very fast.” 

Rail Disaster in India; Death Toll Approaches 300

At least 275 people have been confirmed dead and more than 1,100 injured from India’s worst rail disaster in two decades. 

Last Friday in the Balasore District of eastern India’s Odisha State, two passenger trains collided after one struck a stationary freight train at full speed and derailed. India’s railways minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Sunday that the derailment was caused by an electronic signalling error that led a train to wrongly change tracks. Railway officials said that more than 2,200 passengers were onboard the trains, and at least 23 cars were derailed. 

Authorities arrived swiftly at the scene to rescue victims and clear the wreckage. Cars were so mangled that heavy cranes and cutting equipment were used. 

The deadly accident has occurred at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is focusing on modernising India’s railroad network – a legacy from the British colonial era – which has been historically fatal, seeing more than 100 passengers killed every year before 2017. However, following heavy government investment, rail safety has generally improved.

Mr. Vaishnaw has promised that an investigation will be carried out. Mr. Modi also visited the crash site, and said the government would do its utmost to help victims and strictly punish anyone found responsible.