By Editor

We regret that due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to produce the June issue of the Nile Journal.
Space Travel4The July issue is dedicated to change. In the May issue, I thought that with the availability of the COVID-19 vaccines, happy days were almost here again. Unfortunately, that was wishful thinking because the pandemic is still wreaking havoc in many places; India had not yet seen its worst case in May and June. This month, the epicenter appears to have shifted to Indonesia. This means that no population should feel safe so long as it is not vaccinated.

Another troubling sign is that the worldwide distribution of the vaccine is woefully unequal. Even worse, as of July 10th, whereas the developed countries have already vaccinated more than 70% of their citizens, Africa, the least developed continent, has vaccinated just 4% of its population.

Furthermore, the growing number of vaccine rejection and hesitancy as well as inaccessibility is creating the opportunity for the virus to linger around and the longer it does, the more it mutates to new variants. There are already multiple COVID-19 variants from the UK, USA, South Africa, India, etc., the most concerning of which is the delta variant, which is estimated to be up to 60% more infectious, requires more hospitalization and probably causes more deaths. The good news is that so far, the current vaccines are effective against all known variants of COVID-19. This makes it imperative that no pockets of vulnerable people should be left unvaccinated anywhere in the world if the transmission and the emergence of more virulent variants of the virus is to be prevented.

Meanwhile, since our last publication, several interesting events have taken place. The world’s number one rated female tennis player, Naomi Osaka of Japan, withdrew from the French Open and did not even enter the British Open due to her concerns about press interviews. Of course, some people are sympathetic while others think she is just a whiner. The 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics postponed due to the pandemic, is scheduled to start on July 21st, 2021. Yet, the looming shadow of the pandemic will not allow it to be the usual international sport’s extravaganza the world is used to. Argentina led by Lionel Messi, one of the world’s best soccer players, won the Copa América for the first time in 28 years on July 10th, beating its rival, Brazil, moreover on its own turf. In Europe, Italy beat England also on its own home field in an unlikely shootout–results leaving some English fans spitting racist fire at the three black players who missed their shots. Of course, such fans forgot that all the non-black players also failed to score to win the game outright in regulation and in overtime. They wer simply sore losers.

Looting in South Africa
Cuban Demonstration3The last month witnessed different forms of political demands for change. In South Africa, the former president, Jacob Zuma, was sentenced to 15 months in jail for refusing to testify to an anti-corruption committee. His supporters cried foul and demanded his immediate release. Unfortunately, demonstrations which followed turned into looting of shops, which left at least 72 people dead as of July 14. Obviously, the social contradictions between the haves and have nots created and left by apartheid have not been resolved. Meanwhile, the President of Haiti, Jovenel Moäse who was accused of illegally overstaying his term, was assassinated on July 7th by hired Colombian assassins. Meanwhile, another troubled island nation, Cuba, reportedly had massive demonstrations in multiple cities demanding for change. To the north of Cuba, after twenty years, the USA and its NATO allies have finally accepted the futility and failure to impose their will on Afghanistan. They have decided to withdraw their troops from Afghanistan, leaving the pro-western government which they helped install vulnerable to an anticipated takeover by the Taliban. It is uncertain what these events mean in the long run.

Not to be forgotten is commercial space travel which became a reality on July 11 when Billionaire Richard Branson and others flew to 53.5 miles above the earth surface. However, for a while this will remain a playground only for the super rich.

Thus, it appears that with or without the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is still up to its old games, the continuum of the struggles for change.