Long stories short
- President Biden said American troops would defend Taiwan if China attacked.
- Alla Pugacheva, Russiaâ€™s most famous pop star, denounced the war in Ukraine.
- Hurricane Fiona knocked out all power across Puerto Rico.
500 agendas and a funeral
A sumptuous sunset bathed Westminster in light on the Queenâ€™s last evening in London. Were the gods trying to say something? Even hard-boiled republicans have to admit the marathon of remembrance drawing to a close with her funeral today has shown a self-sustaining power.Â
Call it magnetism. The funeral has drawn 500-odd emperors, kings, presidents and heads of government to Westminster Abbey. The crush is a serious tribute to the Queenâ€™s longevity and her success as an embodiment of soft power abroad. But when the guests go home her country will need all the friends it can get.
A reminder: the Queen died two days into a tenure in Number 10 in which Liz Truss had already
- promised an unfunded ÂŁ170 billion energy bill bailout;
- doubled down on trickle-down economics to save the economy and the public finances; and
- faced a crisis of personal legitimacy arising from her elevation to prime minister on the strength of the support of about 0.1 per cent of the electorate.
Post-Elizabethan Britainâ€™s global standing will rest on its status as a trading power and its relationships with the US, Europe and the Commonwealth. All are shaky.
Trade. The details are for another day but the numbers are bad. Overall trade values are high, but only because of spiralling gas prices which are also responsible for the worst UK trade deficit in more than quarter of a century.
US. Biden arrived early for the funeral but postponed a planned bilateral meeting with Truss until later this week. Not unrelated: his insistence that Trussâ€™s hardline Brexit cabinet unbends on the Northern Ireland Protocol if it wants a US-UK trade deal. Possibly unrelated but certainly unhelpful: this Sunday Times / Sarawak Report scoop on Trussâ€™s chief of staff, Mark Fullbrook, who turns out to have been helping the FBI with enquiries about an alleged $300,000 plot to bribe a Puerto Rican politician.
Europe. The UK has set a solid example on how to respond to Russia in Ukraine but Truss pandered to her partyâ€™s Europhobic ultras as a leadership candidate, saying the jury was out on whether Franceâ€™s Emmanuel Macron was â€śfriend or foeâ€ť. He has resisted rising to the bait, paid elegant tributes to the Queen and â€“ as Lord Ricketts notes â€“ deserves an apology.
Commonwealth. All 56 member states are represented at the funeral. Not all are happy with the status quo. The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda plans to hold a referendum on becoming a republic within three years. Jamaica is likely to follow. New Zealandâ€™s Jacinda Ardern says itâ€™s only a matter of time before her country chooses its own head of state.
China matters as an export market and potential partner in the fight against climate change, so its funeral delegation was allowed to view the Queen lying in state despite an attempted veto by Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle. He tried to keep Vice President Wang Qishan out of Westminster Hall because of Chinese sanctions against MPs whoâ€™ve dared to call out Chinese genocide in Xinjiang, but was overruled.
India matters as the go-to case study of what Global Britain might mean in the real world. More trade? More visas? Modi is not at the funeral but Indiaâ€™s president, Droupadi Murmu, is. She is a former teacher and provincial governor, and a quiet reminder of non-hereditary ways to choose a head of state.
Russia matters as an exporter of death, destruction and misinformation, so was disinvited. Its foreign ministry called the decision to bar diplomats as well as Putin â€śimmoralâ€ť and â€śblasphemousâ€ť to the memory of the Queen, though it was in keeping with fresh confirmations of Russiaâ€™s pariah status from China and India at last weekâ€™s Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in Samarkand. Indiaâ€™s PM Narendra Modi told Putin this was â€śnot an era of warâ€ť.
The Queen inherited the remains of an empire on which the sun never set. She bequeathed a country struggling to find its new place in the sun â€“ and flummoxed by Saudi Arabia. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the alleged murderer and human rights abuser, said he wouldnâ€™t be at the funeral but would fly in anyway to pay his respects to the royal family. King Charles is fond of Saudi Arabia, which heâ€™s visited 12 times. A diplomatic bear trap looms.
Rites of passage
The Queenâ€™s funeral marks the end of a remarkable ten days in national life. The monarchy will evolve. But it is not among the institutions in greatest need of radical reform
CAPITALÂ ECONOMY, BUSINESS AND FINANCE
Nigeria is running out of dollars. It has plenty of naira, its own currency, but hard currency earnings from oil are tanking because of theft and â€“ who knew? â€“ because itâ€™s that time of year when 100,000 of the countryâ€™s wealthiest families need dollars to pay overseas school fees, so demand is intense. One result, the FT reports, is that airlines are struggling to convert local naira earnings into dollars to repatriate them, with the knock-on effect that Emirates has suspended flights to and from Nigeria until the central bank releases $265 million of $464 million the Dubai-based airline says itâ€™s owed. Part of the context is economic populism. Nigerians are promised some of the worldâ€™s cheapest petrol. That means huge and growing subsidies as world oil prices rise. Abuja is committed to paying them, but canâ€™t afford them. Itâ€™s a rum-old situation for Africaâ€™s biggest oil producer.
TECHNOLOGYÂ AI, SCIENCE AND NEW THINGS
ATACMS v Shahed drones
The war in Ukraine is about national identity, fighting spirit, megalomania, geopolitics and 21st-century intelligence. And hardware. First Ukraine needed Turkish Bayraktar drones and showed the world how useful they could be against lumbering Soviet-built armour. Then American-built HIMARS guided rocketry proved crucial for destroying Russian command posts and ammunition dumps, enabling this monthâ€™s advance in Kharkiv province. Now Ukraine wants longer-range US rockets, the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), to probe even further behind enemy lines. Meanwhile Russia wants Iranian Shahed-136 attack drones, and no wonder. The NYT quotes Ukrainian officers who have seen them obliterate US-supplied mobile howitzers â€śnot like artillery that hit us beforeâ€ť. The problem is that Russia is getting its drones while Ukraine isnâ€™t getting any ATACMS, yet.
The 100-year lifeÂ health, education AND GOVERNMENT
Not so sweet
Despite the distraction of a state funeral, the UKâ€™s treasury under its new management has found time to announce a review of current anti-obesity strategy, with a view to scrapping the sugar tax introduced in the teeth of industry opposition under David Cameron. Liz Truss criticised â€śtaxes on treatsâ€ť for those on low incomes during her leadership campaign and argued for cutting red-tape for business ahead of this weekâ€™s mini-budget. Healthcare workers arenâ€™t pleased. Rachel Clarke, a palliative care doctor, wrote in the Times that by slashing the restrictions Truss â€świll condemn even greater numbers of societyâ€™s most disadvantaged members to illness, suffering and early deathâ€ť. Graham MacGregor, a professor of cardiovascular health and chair of campaign group Action on Sugar said it would be a â€śnational scandalâ€ť to support the food industry over decreasing obesity. But ThĂ©rĂ¨se Coffey, the health secretary and a close ally of Truss, is â€śon-boardâ€ť.Â
Our planetÂ CLIMATE AND geopolitics
Fossil fuel database
The first public database tracking fossil fuel production, reserves and emissions worldwide launches today, ahead of critical climate talks at the UN general assembly this week and COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November. The Global Registry of Fossil Fuels, developed by the Carbon Tracker think tank and the Global Energy Monitor, includes data from 50,000 oil, gas and coal fields in 89 countries and represents the first public inventory of countriesâ€™ remaining reserves â€“ useful for investors and activists. It found that the US and Russia still have enough fossil fuel underground to blow through the worldâ€™s remaining carbon budget, or what the world can afford to burn to keep global warming under 1.5C. â€śWe already have enough extractable fossil fuels to cook the planet. We canâ€™t afford to use them all â€“ or almost any of them at this point,â€ť said Stanford Universityâ€™s Rob Jackson, who was not involved with the database. Global oil consumption is forecast to rise by at least 2 million barrels a day at least until the end of 2023.
CULTURE soCIETY, IDENTITY AND BELONGING
Last Thursday, an asylum seeker in his early 20s walked down a street in Marthaâ€™s Vineyard, a summer playground for American celebrities and presidents off the coast of Massachusetts. A burger in a nearby restaurant cost $26 â€“ more than the migrant made in a month in Venezuela, CNN reported. The young man did not plan to travel to Marthaâ€™s Vineyard; around 50 people were put on planes from Texas under plans made by Floridaâ€™s Ron DeSantis as Republican governors transport migrants to liberal areas to draw attention to record crossings across the southern border. The White House called the flights â€śshameful, reckless and just plain wrongâ€ť. DeSantis promised more of them. After 44 hours, the migrants were taken to temporary housing at a military base, and volunteers who sheltered them at an Episcopal church packed up the cot beds and said the place felt lonely. â€śThe governor of Florida got it wrong,â€ť said church organist Charles Rus. â€śI think he thought we wouldnâ€™t know what to do. And actually people here really give a damn.â€ť
The week ahead
19/9 â€“Â Queen Elizabeth IIâ€™s state funeral; 560 port operatives and maintenance engineers at Liverpool docks begin strike action, 20/9 â€“Â Liz Truss to attend UN General Assembly in New York; ÂŁ150 disability cost of living payment sent to six million people, 21/9 â€“Â MPs return to House of Commons and swear oaths to King Charles III; deadline for Scottish National Party to file written submissions to Supreme Court on holding a second Scottish independence referendum, 22/9 â€“ Bank of England to announce delayed interest rate decision; health secretary ThĂ©rĂ¨se Coffey to set out plans for NHS, 23/9 â€“Â Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to announce mini-budget, two men to be charged over new IRA terrorism offences 24/9 â€“Â Labour Party conference begins in LiverpoolÂ
19/9 â€“Â Sergey Lavrov holds briefing in Moscow on Russian priorities at UN; trial due to begin of Donald Trump supporter Tom Barrack on allegations he illegally acted as an agent of the UAE; Climate Week begins in New York; 20/9 â€“Â Milan fashion week starts, 21/9 â€“Â Washington National Cathedral memorial service for Queen Elizabeth II; World Alzheimerâ€™s day; Earthshot Prize innovation summit; US Federal Reserve interest rate decision; Belize and Malta national days, 22/9 â€“Â Transatlantic dinner hosted by Antony Blinken with 27 EU member states; European Central Bank General Council; court hearing to indict former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan for contempt of court; public holiday for day of mourning in Australia for the Queen, 23/9 â€“Â Fridays for Future global climate strike; Autumn equinox in northern hemisphere, 25/9 â€“Â Second round of regional and local elections in Russia; Italy holds election after collapse of coalition led by Mario Draghi; Jewish new year, Rosh Hashanah
Thanks for reading. Please do share your thoughts and let us know what you think.Â Email email@example.com.
Additional reporting by Phoebe Davis and Jessica Winch.
Photographs Getty Images
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The Queenâ€™s funeral
Ten official days of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II end with a state funeral at Westminster Abbey and a burial at St Georgeâ€™s Chapel in Windsor. This is what to expect