This year’s G7 meeting in Japan holds special significance, not only for its location.
The leaders of the world’s most advanced democracies are meeting in Hiroshima, the site of the world’s first ever nuclear attack – a fitting reminder of the risks of nuclear war as they discuss Russia and the conflict in Ukraine.
China, just a short flight away, will also be on the agenda as they discuss its offer to play peacemaker, despite its close relationship with the aggressor.
There’s a lot to get through before US President Joe Biden flies back to the US to deal with a looming debt ceiling crisis.
Not far from the leaders’ meeting venue is the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, where dozens of timepieces are displayed, many still stopped at 8:16 a.m.
That was the time on August 6, 1945, that a US Army Air Force B-29 bomber dropped a single atomic bomb over the city, killing 70,000 people with its initial blast, and leaving tens of thousands of others to die slowly from burns or radiation-related illnesses.
The bomb, nicknamed “Little Boy,” was the first step in a nuclear arms race that almost 80 years later sees a world with roughly 12,500 nuclear warheads – many of them exponentially more powerful than Little Boy – in possession of nine nuclear-armed countries, according to the Federation of American Scientists.
Two years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some of the US scientists who developed those atomic weapons established the Doomsday Clock, an annual indicator of how close the world is to nuclear disaster.
According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, “the Clock now stands at 90 seconds to midnight – the closest to global catastrophe it has ever been.”
There are several reasons for that: China is building up its nuclear arsenal; North Korea has been testing nuclear-capable missiles at a record rate; Iran continues to move toward developing its own nuclear weapons.
But the Bulletin says the main reason the clock is at its most dangerous level is the biggest topic the G7 leaders will face in Hiroshima – Russia’s war on Ukraine – and the potential for the conflict to escalate “by accident, intention, or miscalculation.”
Threats from Moscow
Russia’s invasion of its western neighbor is now well into its second year.
Moscow’s arsenal of almost 6,000 nuclear warheads always looms large, especially as the war has been in a stalemate – if not swinging in Ukraine’s favor – as Kyiv’s forces are bolstered by weapons supplied by most of the countries gathering in Hiroshima.
When Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida – who hails from Hiroshima – visited Kyiv in March, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised him for keeping the G7 united behind Ukraine.
Prime Minister Kishida stated that, as the G7 Presidency, Japan would maintain the unity of the G7 in imposing strict sanctions against Russia and providing support to Ukraine,” a joint statement from the two leaders said.
Don’t expect any cracks in G7 unity over Ukraine at the summit.
Britain has just delivered advanced missiles to Ukraine and is pledging to lead a coalition to provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets; Germany just announced its biggest aid package yet for Ukraine, $3 billion worth of tanks, armored vehicles, reconnaissance drones and ammunition; earlier this month, the US Defense Department announced a $1.2 billion package to bolster Ukraine’s air defenses and artillery stockpiles.
The biggest challenge for the G7 leaders may be keeping that momentum going. Economic resources are not unlimited and all face domestic pressures as their countries continue to recover from the pandemic.
But US President Joe Biden seems unwavering.
“You remind us that freedom is priceless; it’s worth fighting for as long as it takes,” he told Zelensky in Kyiv in February. “And that’s how long we’re going to be with you, Mr. President: for as long as it takes.”
A summit on China’s doorstep
About a thousand miles to the west of Hiroshima is Beijing, whose military buildup is a big concern for G7 host Kishida and Japan’s most important ally, the United States.
With one eye on China and the other on North Korea, Kishida in December promised to double Tokyo’s military budget. The plan could see Japan have the world’s third-largest military budget, behind the US and China.
There doesn’t seem to be any question Biden has Kishida’s back when it comes to China. After all, tens of thousands of US troops are based in Japan, and the two allies in January announced a significant strengthening of their military relationship, with new US Marine units being set up to boost Japan’s defense.
Britain too is strengthening military ties with Japan, announcing in January a “historic defense agreement” that would allow them to deploy forces in each other’s countries.
One of Tokyo’s biggest concerns with Beijing is its stance on Taiwan, the self-governed island over which the Chinese Communist Party claims sovereignty despite never having controlled it. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has not ruled out the use of force to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control.
In military exercises last August, Chinese missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the vicinity of Japanese islands near Taiwan.
But the G7 isn’t nearly as united on China as they are on Russia.
After French President Emmanuel Macron visited Beijing in April he said Europe must not become “just America’s followers” when asked about the prospect of China invading Taiwan.
Europe must not get “caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy,” Macron said.
That didn’t go over well in the US and with some of Macron’s European partners, and can be expected to be a topic of conversation, at least behind closed doors, at the G7.
This is now a bumper summit
The meeting in Hiroshima was supposed to be followed next week by a summit in Australia of the leaders of the informal Quad alliance: the US, Japan, India and Australia.
But with domestic economic concerns boiling in Washington, Biden said he would be needed at home right after the G7, so the Quad meeting has now been hastily arranged in Hiroshima.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hopes the Quad discussions won’t be a sideline event.
“The Quad is an important body and we want to make sure that it occurs at leadership level and we’ll be having that discussion over the weekend,” he said.
The meeting will be the third in-person leaders’ gathering of the Quad. Known formally as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the group was founded over 15 years ago but has seen increased prominence in recent years, in what analysts see as a response to China’s increasingly assertive foreign policy.
The leaders are expected to discuss deepening their cooperation on a range of issues from critical and emerging technologies, to climate change and maritime domain awareness, according to a statement released by the White House last month.
Debt ceiling looms
Biden cutting his Pacific trip short provides some symbolism in itself, that for all the talk of new economic orders in the world, the US economy remains the most significant force.
The US president said he could not justify the trip to Australia, with a stopover in Papua New Guinea, because his presence in Washington could help get the US Congress to pass legislation raising the US government’s debt ceiling.
Should Congress fail to do so by June 1, and the US government default on its debt, the effects could could shred the US economy and imperil the financial security of millions of Americans.
It would ripple around the world. According to the Congressional Research Service, about 30% of US government debt is held by foreigners with interest paid on that 30% of the debt totaling $184.4 billion in 2022.
Two of the biggest holders of that debt, Japan and Britain, will be at the table with Biden in Hiroshima.
I am an experienced financial analyst & writer who is well known for his ability to foretell market trends as well.
Unraveling the Mystery: The Curious Case of 52 Weeks in a Year Despite 4 Weeks per Month
Time, an intangible force that governs our lives, is divided into various units to bring structure to our existence.The interplay of leap years, irregular month lengths, and the 4-week-month cycle harmoniously crafts the curious phenomenon of 52 weeks in a year, answering the question of how many weeks in a year.
Among these units, weeks and months stand as fundamental components, each offering its own rhythm and cadence. A perplexing puzzle arises when we consider the relationship between weeks and months: why does a year, which comprises 12 months, have 52 weeks and not 48 weeks, given that there are typically 4 weeks per month? In this exploration, we embark on a journey to demystify this conundrum, examining the intricate interplay of calendars, leap years, and the fascinating history that shapes the way we measure time.
The Dance of Weeks and Months: A Seeming Paradox
At first glance, the arithmetic seems straightforward: with four weeks per month, shouldn’t a year consist of 48 weeks? However, this simple calculation belies the complexity of calendar systems and the irregularities that emerge when trying to fit neatly divisible units of time.
The Gregorian Calendar: A Key Player
Navigating the intricate dance of leap years and month irregularities provides the intriguing answer to the query: how many weeks in a year? To comprehend this enigma, we must turn our attention to the Gregorian calendar—the most widely used calendar system in the world today. In the Gregorian calendar, a standard year is composed of 365 days, divided into 12 months. This division creates a challenge when reconciling months and weeks due to the uneven number of days in a month.
Leap Years: An Essential Adjustment
The fusion of leap years, varying month lengths, and the steadfast 4-week cycle yields the definitive response to the oft-asked question: how many weeks in a year?The addition of leap years is the crux of the matter. A leap year, occurring every four years, serves as a corrective mechanism to account for the discrepancy between the calendar year and the actual time it takes for Earth to complete its orbit around the sun. Leap years add an extra day, February 29th, to the calendar. This adjustment ensures that the calendar remains synchronized with the astronomical year.
Interestingly, the introduction of leap years influences the distribution of weeks in a year. Since leap years have 366 days—52 weeks and 2 days—the balance between the 4-week-month cycle and the leap year adjustment creates the familiar pattern of 52 weeks in a year.
Weeks and Months: A Harmonious Imbalance
To dissect this phenomenon, let’s delve into the interaction between weeks and months within a leap year and a non-leap year.
- Non-Leap Year (365 days): In a non-leap year, 365 days are divided into 12 months, each averaging 30.44 days. While most months have 30 or 31 days, February has 28 days. This irregularity affects the consistency of the 4-week-month cycle.
- Leap Year (366 days): In a leap year, the additional day accommodates the 4-week-month cycle. Months in a leap year have 30 or 31 days, but February has 29 days. This extra day contributes to the harmonious alignment of 52 weeks within the year.
Cultural and Historical Influences
In unraveling the curious interaction between leap years, irregular months, and the consistent 4-week cycle, we uncover the precise solution to the timeless query of how many weeks in a year.The origin of the 7-day week, widely adopted today, has cultural and historical roots that span across civilizations. The ancient Babylonians, Egyptians, and Romans all contributed to the development of this temporal framework. Over time, religious and societal practices solidified the 7-day week’s prevalence.
In the context of months, the lunar calendar used by many ancient cultures contributed to the variation in month lengths. Lunar months, determined by the moon’s phases, resulted in months of varying durations. When the Roman calendar was reformed to align with the solar year, the challenge of reconciling lunar and solar cycles further contributed to the irregular month lengths.
Calculating Weeks in a Year: A Precarious Balance
By skillfully accommodating leap years and the ebb and flow of month lengths, we arrive at the calculated answer to the frequently pondered question: how many weeks in a year?The calculation of weeks in a year is a delicate equilibrium between the 4-week-month cycle and the need to synchronize the calendar with astronomical realities. The introduction of leap years, while seemingly unrelated to weeks, plays a pivotal role in creating the consistent pattern of 52 weeks within a year.
Cultural Significance and Implications
Amidst the intricate interplay of calendar mechanics, leap years, and month irregularities, we find the definitive solution to the intriguing question: how many weeks in a year? The 52-week pattern, despite the irregularities of months, has become ingrained in our daily lives. It influences the way we plan schedules, allocate workdays, and celebrate annual events. The harmonious blend of weeks and months provides a sense of balance, even as we navigate the complexities of time.
Within the tapestry of calendar complexities, the synchronization of leap years, month lengths, and the steadfast 4-week cycle seamlessly unveils the precise answer to the perennial question: how many weeks in a year? The perplexing relationship between 52 weeks in a year and the 4-week-month cycle is a testament to the intricacies of calendar systems, leap years, and the historical evolution of how we measure time. This enigma reveals the delicate balance achieved through the interplay of irregular month lengths and the correction introduced by leap years. As we ponder this curious case, we gain a deeper appreciation for the remarkable precision and artistry inherent in the human endeavor to tame the boundless flow of time.
Ody Team is a qualified social media expert at Coding The Line, London. He had graduated from the University of Cambridge
US accuses Russia of ‘harassing’ drones in Syria, releases video
The United States has accused Russian fighter jets of flying dangerously close to several of its drones over Syria, setting off flares and forcing the MQ-9 Reapers to take evasive action.
US Air Forces Central released a video of Wednesday’s encounter, showing a Russian SU-35 fighter closing in on the drone.
Footage showed the Russian pilot positioning his aircraft in front of the Reaper and turning on the afterburner, dramatically increasing speed and air pressure and making it harder to operate the drone, the air force said in comments accompanying the video.
So-called parachute flares were also released.
“The Russian SU-35 fighter aircraft employed parachute flares in the flight path of US MQ-9 aircraft,” the air force said. “Against established norms and protocols, this forced US aircraft to conduct evasive manoeuvres.”
Three US drones were airborne at the time of the incident on Wednesday morning, Lieutenant General Alexus Grynkewich, the commander of the Ninth Air Force in the Middle East, said in a statement.
He accused the Russian aircraft of “harassing the drones”, which he said were engaged in a mission against ISIL (ISIS).
“Russian military aircraft engaged in unsafe and unprofessional behaviour while interacting with US aircraft in Syria,” he said, adding that the actions threatened the safety not only of US forces but also Russian forces.
Army General Erik Kurilla, head of US Central Command, added that Russia’s violation of ongoing efforts to clear the airspace over Syria “increases the risk of escalation or miscalculation”.
About 900 US forces are deployed to Syria to work with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces against ISIL. No other details about the drone operation were released, and the statements did not reveal where the incidents took place.