Welcome to Thursday, where Boris Johnson announces he is resigning as Conservative party leader and will step down as prime minister in the fall, after pressure mounted from a series of scandals. Meanwhile, for The Conversation, researcher Michael David Barbezat focuses on a real-life event mirrored in the new season of popular Netflix series Stranger Things: the American “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s.
[*Yapese - Micronesia]
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• Boris Johnson resigns as party leader: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his resignation as the Conservative Party leader, and will step down as prime minister in October after clinging to power after scores of party allies called on him to bow out in the last few days following his involvement in yet another scandal.
• A new key battleground in Ukraine: As Russian forces have seized nearly all the eastern region of Luhansk, the British Defense Ministry said Sloviansk would be the next key battleground in the Donbas region as Russians are progressing towards the city.
• First Mecca pilgrimage with solo women: The annual Hajj pilgrimage begins today with hundreds of thousands of Muslims making their way to Mecca’s holy site. This year and for the first time, women can take part in the pilgrimage without needing a male guardian.
• Heads of FBI and MI5 warn of China threat: In a rare joint address, Britain’s MI5 director general Ken McCallum and U.S. FBI director Chris Wray warned Western countries of a surge in China’s commercial spying. They added that it is a threat to economic and national security.
• Italy’s Genoa bridge trial to start: Four years after the collapse of Genoa’s Morandi bridge in Italy that left 43 dead, a trial opens with 59 defendants charged with manslaughter and undermining transport safety.
• Hong Kong suspends COVID-19 flight bans: Hong Kong’s new leader John Lee has announced the suspension of the policy that penalized airlines if they carried at least five COVID-19 cases, saying it was “not effective.” This happens amid the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
• Avatar 2 runtime: Canadian-U.S. moviemaker James Cameron teased the length of Avatar 2: The Way of Water set to be released on Dec. 2022, saying it would run for about 3 hours. Good/bad news?
Spanish daily ABC devotes its front page to the world-famous San Fermin bull-running festival in Pamplona, which made its comeback on Wednesday after a two-year halt due to the coronavirus pandemic. Five people ended up in the hospital after bulls were let loose in the medieval Spanish northern city.
The price for lithium has surged six-fold since the start of the year to a record $78,000 per ton in April, putting the brakes on efforts in tackling climate change. The increase is reportedly linked to the metal being a crucial element to the batteries of electric vehicles, for which demand has doubled over the past year. EVs prices have skyrocketed, causing delay in the transition away from combustion engines.
Stranger Things resurrects the U.S. satanic panic of the 1980s
One of the major plotlines of the fourth season of Netflix's hit show Stranger Things, set in 1986, takes inspiration in the real satanic panic that swept the United States in the 1980s.
📺 In Stranger Things, season four, some residents of the all-American but cursed town of Hawkins hunt down the show’s cast of heroic misfits after labeling them as satanic cultists. The satanism accusation revolves around the game Dungeons and Dragons and the protagonists’ meetings to play it with other unpopular students at their high school as part of the Hellfire Club. The athletic and popular Jason Carver wrongly blames its players for the very real supernatural horrors at the heart of the plot.
😈 In the 1980s, TV pundits, politicians, and religious leaders really thought Dungeons and Dragons was an entry point to satanic worship. It was part of a larger hysteria about a supposed enormous conspiracy, frequently called today the “Satanic Panic.” Central to it was the idea that networks of cults were conducting occult rituals, orgies, and human sacrifices, involving the abuse and murder of children. Specialists tie the proliferation of belief in this conspiracy to anxieties resulting from accelerating social changes.
🍕 The Satanic Panic, or demonic occult conspiracy theory, is still with us. Actually, it has taken on new forms, as part of Pizzagate or QAnon. Believers of both conspiracies frequently allege that their social and political enemies ritually abuse children following ancient tropes of cult evil. As in the past, such accusations can justify violence ironically performed in the name of eradicating evil. Belief in discredited, but familiar, demonic conspiracies makes it likely this familiar mistake will happen again.
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The world is bloody messy.
— New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardem urged policymakers to be wary of hardening alliances and polarization. In a speech to foreign policy think tank the Lowy Institute in Sydney, Australia, Ardem urged more nuanced approaches to the war in Ukraine and tensions with China. “Even as China becomes more assertive in the pursuit of its interests, there are still shared interests in which we can and should seek to cooperate,” she said.“The honest reality is that the world is bloody messy. And yet, amongst all the complexity, we still often see issues portrayed in a black and white way. We must not allow the risk of a self-fulfilling prophecy to become an inevitable outcome for our region.”
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