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Obsessed? Frightened? Wakeful? War in Ukraine sparks return of doomscrolling | Anxiety

The pace of the crisis in Ukraine has created a brain-tangling complexity for anyone trying to understand what is going on. Now doomscrolling is back in ways not seen since the beginning of the Covid pandemic.

Mental health experts are warning that public engagement comes with a cost in terms of anxiety that should not be ignored. Paul Salkovskis, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford, who worked on measures to help people deal with Covid-related anxiety, said: “Clearly there are some people who are already anxious, who will be significantly more anxious, as happened with Covid – we saw a big increase in some subtypes of anxiety in the clinic. There will be some of that with this situation, but I don’t think it’s going to be the dominant response.”

The cognitive theory of anxiety suggests that it is a response to threat, which can be entirely rational but needs intervention when it becomes disabling, explained Salkovskis, who is also a consultant at Oxford Health NHS foundation trust.

“The question is, why for some people is it particularly severe? And why is it particularly persistent?”

Uncertainty plays a role in assessing those questions, he said, and is part of the motivation underlying behaviours such as doomscrolling: the urge to understand the nature of the threat – how likely it is, what the consequences might be, how you might cope and who might be able to help.

There are important differences between the impact of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The requirement to socially distance made it harder for people to support each other, Salkovskis said.

Public reaction in the UK and elsewhere to the war may seem trivial compared with the horrific realities for the people caught up in it, but it has also driven political action. Anger at the suggestion by Kevin Foster, the immigration minister, that Ukrainian refugees might apply for fruit-picking visas to come to the UK seemed to provoke a rapid change of policy at the Home Office.

The modern response that many have of watching events unfold on social media means there are fewer people to empathise with, since other social media users seem distant and anonymous, even if they are identifiable. Dr Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist and honorary research associate at Cardiff university, said the fact the crisis was still unfolding meant people were experiencing a kind of perpetual cliffhanger that made it harder to disengage.

“It would be great if you could just say, I don’t want to engage with this Ukraine situation, because it caused my anxiety to spike,” he said. “But because of the way the world works now, you’re cutting yourself off. It’s a lose-lose scenario.”

Yet the war has more clarity than the pandemic, he added. “For most people, the big bad guy has attacked the underdog, and the underdog has put up more of a fight and the bully’s not getting his own way. It’s easier for our brains to understand. With the virus, it was harder to do that. It had no goals, no agenda – it’s just a pathogen. One of the reasons for the conspiracy theories was that people wanted to put some sort of narrative or order on to things.”

Ukrainian refugees in Romania
The suggestion by immigration minister Kevin Foster that Ukrainian refugees, such as those seen here in Romania last week, apply for fruit-picking visas caused widespread anger. Photograph: Robert Ghement/EPA

Professor Barbara Sahakian, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Psychiatry, said many people had been dealing with chronic stress since the lockdowns began, with threats from Covid and the cost of living, as well as the environment.

“Now there are threats to European and global security,” she said. “To some, it may seem that there is never any good news any more. This is, of course, not true but it is important that people do not spend time doomscrolling but instead show resilience and gain mastery over the situation.”

Juliet Landau-Pope, a productivity coach from London, has been looking for ways to help Ukrainians. She said: “I’ve had the news on round the clock. I’ve been waking up in the night and checking my phone, reading newspaper reports, and watching BBC constantly, CNN, the Times of Israel.”

She has been searching out personal testimonies on Twitter, trying to find different sources of information. “It’s the fact everything has happened so quickly,” she said. “It’s not a question of what’s happening on a day-to-day basis, but hour by hour.”

She is recovering from Covid and had been looking forward to going out again. “But I’ve lost all inclination to socialise. It feels too trivial.” Instead, on Saturday she went to a local church to donate clothes for Ukrainian refugees.

It’s a pattern of behaviour familiar to Kay Worboys, a copywriter who became so concerned by her obsession with Covid facts that she began to train as a counsellor.

“Last week, I could feel myself falling into the same trap I was in during the spring of 2020,” she said. “In the early days of Covid, I was online all the waking hours, looking for all the facts and figures. When I stopped to make food or a cuppa, I put the radio on. Before bed, I’d watch the news. Then, of course, I found I couldn’t sleep. And then last week I felt those old habits creeping in. Checking the news, having the radio on, doomscrolling on the train home, before bedtime, after watching the news.”

Worboys became exhausted, anxious, angry and upset, particularly by some graphic images of a war victim she encountered on Twitter. “I’ve now limited myself to checking four times a day,” she said.

Anna Cargan, who runs Buildabundle, a second-hand children’s clothes website, has also been trying hard not to engage. “I suffered an anxiety disorder in the past and I don’t want to go back there,” she said. “I’m not avoiding it completely – that would be impossible – but I’m definitely not immersing myself in news. Me scrolling won’t help Ukraine. I’m looking to donate to charities.”

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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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Aviation and Telecom Industries Reach Compromise on 5G Deployment

The Voice Of EU | In a significant development, AT&T and Verizon, the two largest mobile network operators in the United States, have agreed to delay the deployment of 5G services following requests from the aviation industry and the Biden administration. This decision marks a crucial compromise in the long-standing dispute between the two industries, which had raised concerns over the potential interference of 5G with flight signals.
The aviation industry, led by United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby, had been vocal about the risks of 5G deployment, citing concerns over the safety of flight operations. Kirby had urged AT&T and Verizon to delay their plans, warning that proceeding with the deployment would be a “catastrophic failure of government.” The US Senate Commerce Committee hearing on the issue further highlighted the need for a solution.
In response, US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) head Steve Dickson sent a letter to the mobile networks, requesting a two-week delay to reassess the potential risks. Initially, AT&T and Verizon were hesitant, citing the aviation industry’s two-year preparation window. However, they eventually agreed to the short delay, pushing the deployment to January 19.
The crux of the issue lies in the potential interference between 5G signals and flight equipment, particularly radar altimeters. The C-Band spectrum used by 5G networks is close to the frequencies employed by these critical safety devices. The FAA requires accurate and reliable radar altimeters to ensure safe flight operations.

Airlines in the US have been at loggerheads with mobile networks over the deployment of 5G and its potential impact on flight safety.

Despite the concerns, both the FAA and the telecoms industry agree that 5G mobile networks and airline travel can coexist safely. In fact, they already do in nearly 40 countries where US airlines operate regularly. The key lies in reducing power levels around airports and fostering cross-industry collaboration prior to deployment.
The FAA has been working to find a solution in the United States, and the additional two-week delay will allow for further assessment and preparation. AT&T and Verizon have also agreed to not operate 5G base stations along runways for six months, similar to restrictions imposed in France.
President Joe Biden hailed the decision to delay as “a significant step in the right direction.” The European Union Aviation Safety Agency and South Korea have also reported no unsafe interference with radio waves since the deployment of 5G in their regions.
As the aviation and telecom industries continue to work together, it is clear that safe coexistence is possible. The delay in 5G deployment is a crucial step towards finding a solution that prioritizes both safety and innovation. With ongoing collaboration and technical assessments, the United States can join the growing list of countries where 5G and airlines coexist without issue.

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