Instead of an interview this week, I'll leave you with a poem.
Loving the World
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
by Mary Oliver
I love you all, and I love the world. Until next week,
What I'm writing:
• I provide a look at what made it into the $768 billion annual defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, and what is noticeably absent (Nord Stream 2 sanctions!).
• A new bill proposed by Senate Republicans illustrates a significant divide between the White House and Congress on approaching the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
What I'm reading:
• The European Parliament passed a resolution accusing China’s Linglong tire company of forced labor practices and mistreating the Vietnamese workers constructing a factory in northern Serbia. Lazo Letters has an interview about this case.
• The European Parliament also expressed concerns about pressure on the media and judiciary in Slovenia — overcoming opposition from Prime Minister Janez Janša’s allies in the legislature’s leading center-right group, the European People's Party, Lili Bayer reports for Politico Europe. One of our first interviews was about the situation in Slovenia.
• A top-secret U.S. military cell repeatedly killed civilians in Syria. It also circumvented rules imposed to protect non-combatants as it launched tens of thousands of attacks against the Islamic State, the New York Times reports.
• The U.S.'s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the Biden administration’s bid to end the Trump-era remain in Mexico policy, which requires non-Mexican migrants to stay in Mexico until their U.S. immigration court dates, CNN reports.
• U.S. lawmakers are calling on the Treasury Department and State Department to sanction Israeli spyware firm NSO Group, and three other foreign surveillance groups, for assisting authoritarian regimes with carrying out human rights abuses.
• The European Union is considering changes that could chip away at the bloc's borderless model, the New York Times reports.
• A German court ruled that the Russian state orchestrated the murder of a Chechen former separatist fighter in a Berlin park in 2019, the New York Times reports.
• The bank NatWest was fined £265 million ($350.9 million) for failing to prevent the laundering of around £400 million in the first criminal money laundering case against a U.K. bank, Reuters reports.
• Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party lost a seat in North Shropshire that it held for almost 200 years, the Washington Post reports. There have been tons of reports and speculation this week about BoJo's waning popularity.
• Croatia is set to become the newest member of the Schengen zone.
• A report by the Protecting Rights at Borders initiative identified around 6,200 illegal pushbacks of asylum seekers and migrants from the borders of Balkan countries, Balkan Insight reports.
• The U.S. is determined to walk Bosnia “back from the cliff” amid secessionist threats from Serb nationalists and is exploring sanctions, the Guardian reports.
• The Bulgarian parliament approved a new government led by political newcomer Kiril Petkov. His party, Continuing the Change, won Bulgaria’s third parliamentary election this year after running a campaign focused on ridding the country of corruption, Politico Europe reports.
• A former U.S. defense contractor was arrested for allegedly attempting to send information to Russia, the U.S. Justice Department said. John Murray Rowe Jr. is charged with trying to communicate national defense information to aid a foreign government. You can read the affidavit here.
• While complaining about Russophobia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the war in eastern Ukraine is starting to look like genocide, the BBC reports.
• NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg dismissed Russia's suggestions that NATO is planning on deploying banned long-range missiles in Europe, Reuters reports.
• Russia provided the U.S. with concrete proposals for the binding security guarantees Moscow wants from the West, including a pledge that NATO will not expand eastwards or deploy specific weapons systems in Ukraine and other countries that border Russia, Reuters reports. The U.S. will get back to the Russians next week to propose a format for future conversations, according to a Senior Biden administration official.
• Ukraine’s new defense minister Oleksii Reznikov blamed Germany for blocking the supply of weaponry to Kyiv through NATO, the Financial Times reports.
• Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis submitted his resignation over revelations that Lithuanian railways continued to transport potash shipments from Belarus despite U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg reports. But Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė refused his resignation.
• Syarhei Tsikhanouski, the husband of Belarus’s opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, was sentenced to 18 years in jail for organizing mass unrest and inciting social hatred, the Guardian reports.
• Turkey and Armenia will appoint special representatives to discuss steps to normalize their diplomatic ties, the Associated Press reports.
• The ruling socialist Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDUM) elected Dimitar Kovachevski as its new leader, paving the way for him to take over from Zoran Zaev as North Macedonia’s prime minister, Politico Europe reports.
• Nicaragua cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, the Wall Street Journal reports.
• Colombia’s national police were responsible for the deaths of 11 people during two days of protests against police brutality last year, according to an independent investigation requested by the mayor of Bogotá and supported by the United Nations, the Washington Post reports.
• The U.S. announced new restrictions on Cambodia, including an arms embargo, citing the “growing influence” of the Chinese military, as well as corruption and human rights abuses, Al Jazeera reports.
• Pham Doan Trang, a Vietnamese activist known for her writing on women’s empowerment and environmental issues, was sentenced to nine years in prison for disseminating anti-state propaganda, the Washington Post reports.
• Before he was murdered, Haitian President Jovenel Moïse was working on a list of powerful politicians and business people involved in Haiti’s drug trade. He intended to hand the list over to the U.S. government, the New York Times reports.