38% of Europeans no longer afford three meals a day

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Monday, 27th November 2023

Rising prices have pushed almost one-third of Europeans into a “precarious” financial situation, recent surveys have found. Euronews says the second European Barometer on Poverty and Precariousness examined Europeans’ ability to make purchases and found that it has declined over the past three years, forcing a majority of them to skip meals and resort to making difficult financial choices. Of the 10,000 surveyed, 29 per cent said their financial situation was “precarious” and any unexpected expense would make their balance tip.  Nearly one in two Europeans think that they face a high risk of falling into a precarious situation in the next few months, succumbing to rising prices and relatively stagnant pay.

Another survey found 5.7 million low-income households in the UK lacking enough money for food, which it called a “horrendous new normal”. Nearly one in 12 Italians live in ‘absolute poverty’ due to higher inflation. From only being able to buy food which is discounted to turning to food banks run by large associations to feed themselves, rising food prices have had varied – yet sizable – effects on food habits, according to the survey. Of the people surveyed, 38 per cent say they are no longer able to have three meals a day on a regular basis, while only 42 per cent said they have never skipped their breakfast, lunch, and dinner due to financial constraints.

War in the Middle East: more hostages freed, “truce can be extended”

The fourth and final day of truce between Israel and Hamas has begun. Israel has received the list of 11 other hostages who should be released today, after the 17 freed yesterday, including three Thais. And now there is also an extension of the ceasefire, which was supposed to expire today. Benyamin Netanyahu, speaking with Joe Biden, said that “there is an agreement plan that provides for the release of 10 hostages for each additional day of truce”.

As for Israel, it fulfilled its part of the agreement by freeing 39 Palestinians, all minors. Meanwhile, 237 aid trucks and seven fuel tankers entered Gaza from Egypt – the highest number so far. Three days without fighting and raids have brought some relief to Gaza’s more than two million residents, most of whom have been forced from their homes. For this reason, efforts to extend the truce are more lively than ever. Egypt and Qatar have continued to speak with Hamas and, according to a source close to the Palestinian movement, there is a willingness to take a further pause of “two to four” days to “guarantee the release of 20 to 40 Israeli prisoners”. The pressure on Israel is carried out above all by the United States and Qatar, which played a central role in mediating the original agreement.

Photo credit:  Israel Defense Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Biden underlined that “the agreement” between the parties “is working” and explained that his goal is to “extend the pause in fighting beyond tomorrow”. He then telephoned Netanyahu and, the White House said, the two leaders “agreed that they will continue to work to secure the release of all hostages.” While the Israeli prime minister made it known that progress is being made, with “an agreement plan that provides for the release of 10 hostages for each additional day of truce”. Netanyahu, however, made clear that Israel’s overall plans for Gaza remain unchanged. After the ceasefire, he explained to Biden, “we will resume with all our strength to achieve the objectives of the war”. A concept also reiterated previously, during a visit to the troops located in the north of the Strip: “We will go to the end”, which means not only the release of all the hostages, but also “the destruction of Hamas” and obtaining “the guarantee that Gaza can no longer represent a threat to Israel”.

On the other hand, tension also remains high in the West Bank: Israeli forces operating in the occupied territory killed at least eight Palestinians – five were killed in the militant stronghold Jenin, while three others were killed in separate areas of the West Bank. Four military commanders of the armed wing of Hamas, the Al-Qassam Brigade, were also killed in the Gaza Strip. This included the commander of its northern Gaza brigade, Ahmad Al-Ghandour, the highest-ranking member of the Brigade to have been killed in Israel’s retaliation in Gaza since Hamas’ 7th October attack.

Photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu/Getty Images

Sanchez stands by Gaza comments that angered Israel

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has defended comments he made about the Israeli offensive in Gaza which angered Israel, saying “it was a question of being humane”. Visiting the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt on Friday with Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Sanchez said the “indiscriminate killings of innocent civilians” in the Palestinian territory was “completely unacceptable”. Both leaders called for a permanent ceasefire in the war-battered territory, with the Belgian premier also denouncing the destruction in the Gaza Strip as “unacceptable”. The Israeli foreign ministry swiftly summoned the ambassadors of Spain and Belgium for a “harsh rebuke” over the comments by the two countries’ leaders, accusing them of supporting “terrorism”. “Condemning the vile terrorist attacks of a terrorist group like Hamas and at the same condemning the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza, is not a question of political parties nor of ideology, it is a question of being humane,” Sanchez told a gathering of his Socialist party in Madrid to applause from the audience.

Concern for Pope after he reveals lung inflammation

There is international concern for the heath of Pope Francis after the 86-year-old on Sunday showed signs of serious ill health as he held a traditional Angelus prayer remotely instead of in St Peter’s Square. He later appeared via video link from the chapel of the Vatican guesthouse Santa Marta, his residence. At several points during the seated performance, the pope appeared exhausted, was audibly short of breath, and twice coughed heavily. He had a band-aid and what looked like a cannula, or thin tube doctors use for intravenous medications, in his right hand. On Saturday, the Vatican announced that Francis had to cancel all appointments due to a “mild flu”. It was later announced that Francis had undergone a CT scan in a hospital in Rome to rule out lung complications, but the results were negative. The pope has been treated twice in hospital this year, first for pneumonia and later he had open abdominal surgery for a hernia under general anesthetic, spending nine days in hospital. One part of one of the Pope’s lungs was removed when Francis was a young man in his native Argentina. Pope Francis also confirmed his trip to Dubai next weekend for the COP28 climate conference. Some 70,000 people, including national leaders, are expected, except for US President Joe Biden or Vice-President Kamala Harris, a US official said Sunday.

Photo credit: ANSA

Luxon sworn in as new prime minister of New Zealand

Former airline boss Christopher Luxon formally took office as New Zealand’s prime minister Sunday, vowing to tame inflation and bring down interest rates. Luxon, 53, once chief executive of Air New Zealand, took over six weeks after his conservative National Party won national elections, ending a six-year Labour Party reign ushered in by Jacinda Ardern. “The number one job is to fix the economy. We have to reduce the cost of living and get inflation under control so we can lower interest rates and make food more affordable,” he pledged. Luxon becomes the 42nd prime minister of New Zealand after cobbling together a coalition government in protracted talks that came to an end Friday, six weeks after the election. His National party has formed a three-party coalition with the conservative ACT and populist New Zealand First parties to govern in the 123-seat parliament.

Photo credit: Marty Melville / AFP

Tributes pour in after Terry Venables dies aged 80

Tributes have been pouring in for “a true football icon”, Terry Venables, who has died aged 80 after a “long illness”. As a player, Venables made over 500 appearances for Chelsea, Tottenham, QPR, and Crystal Palace. He made his real mark as a coach, also managing Crystal Palace and QPR. England said in a statement: “Having won two senior caps as a player, Terry went onto manage the #ThreeLions between 1994 and 1996 – proudly leading us to the semi-finals of Euro 96. “Our thoughts and condolences are with Terry’s family, friends and former clubs.” Gary Lineker, former England striker Alan Shearer, and Paul Gascoigne were first to paid tribute to the legend.

Tennis: Italy beat Australia to win Davis Cup after 47 years

A dominant Jannik Sinner outclassed Australia’s Alex de Minaur to help Italy secure their first Davis Cup title for 47 years. Matteo Arnaldi beat Alexei Popyrin 7-5, 2-6, 6-4 in a nervy opening singles match to put Italy 1-0 up in Malaga, Spain. Sinner then backed up his sterling week with a 6-3, 6-0 win over De Minaur. “It has been an incredible feeling for all of us, obviously we are really happy,” Sinner said. It is the second time Italy have lifted the Davis Cup, having previously won the title in 1976.

There were scenes of jubilation as the Italy team flooded on the court to celebrate with Sinner, who raised his arms in the air after De Minaur’s backhand skewed wide to ensure victory. Italy arrived for the final eight with some expectation around them, largely thanks to Sinner’s stellar form. The 22-year-old has lost just three of his past 23 matches, winning titles in Montpellier, Toronto, Beijing and Vienna, and beat world number one Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals round-robin stages. World number four Sinner had already starred for Italy on Saturday, saving three match points against Djokovic to level the tie against Serbia before partnering Lorenzo Sonego to victory in the doubles to book Italy’s final spot.

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