EU considers call for Gaza ‘humanitarian pause’

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Tuesday, 24th October 2023

EU foreign ministers mulled calling for a “humanitarian pause” in Gaza during a meeting on Monday, but fell short of considering a full ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Euronews reports the EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, who chaired the meeting in Luxembourg, said he “anticipated” that the bloc’s 27 Heads of State could call for a “pause” in the conflict to ensure humanitarian aid reaches civilians in the Gaza strip when they meet for a summit later this week. UN chief António Guterres first called for a “humanitarian ceasefire” to ease “epic human suffering” in Gaza last Wednesday. But Borrell says the EU’s possible call for a pause falls short of the UN’s ambitions for a full humanitarian ceasefire.

Dramatic water shortage in Gaza

“There are a hundred people, including a two-month-old baby, in a building with only six bottles of water,” RAI News quotes Humza Yousaf, head of the local government of Scotland, saying on the fate of his wife’s parents trapped in the Gaza Strip. Their condition is worthy of “torture”, said the First Minister and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), who has Pakistani family roots and whose wife is of Palestinian origin. The politician’s in-laws were in the Strip visiting relatives when the conflict broke out.

Erdogan submits Sweden’s NATO bid for ratification

According to Anadolu, Turkey’s parliament is set to vote on Sweden’s bid to join NATO after President Erdogan submitted a protocol for Stockholm’s admission into the military alliance. Erdogan had delayed ratification of Sweden’s membership, accusing Stockholm of being too soft on Kurdish militants and other groups he sees as security threats. Turkey has also been angered by a series of Quran-burning protests. All 31 NATO allies must endorse Sweden’s membership. Turkey and Hungary are the only two allies that have yet to ratify it. For its part, the Nordic country has welcomed the move. Sweden and its neighbour Finland abandoned decades of military non-alignment after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s troops to invade Ukraine in February 2022. Finland joined the military alliance in April.

Photo credit: NATO

China cautions Finland and Estonia

China Daily says the Chinese government has cautioned Finland and Estonia about an ongoing investigation into damage to undersea cables in the Baltic Sea, which authorities have described as ‘sabotage’. It comes after Finnish police revealed that a Hong Kong-registered ship called the New Polar Bear was sailing in the vicinity of the Finland-Estonia gas and communications pipeline when it was badly damaged in October. Investigators say it will take months to fix, and that the damage was caused “by an external mechanical force”, rather than an explosion. Attempts will be made to raise the large, heavy object found on the seabed close to the damaged pipe for technical examination.

Photo credit: Finnish Navy/Handout via REUTERS

Run-off for Argentinian presidencey needed

Argentinian Economy Minister Sergio Massa and the ultra-liberal economist Javier Milei will face each other in the run-off for the presidency on 19th November, according to the still partial but now irreversible results of the elections. La Prensa says that, with 76.12 per cent of the votes counted, Massa obtained 35.9 per cent in the first round and Milei 30.51 per cent. In third place was the conservative and tough former security minister Patricia Bullrich, with 23.61 per cent. Turnout, at 74 per cent, was the lowest since the return to democracy.  Whoever emerges victorious from the polls in the second round will have to deal with the country’s difficult economic situation.

Left: Argentina’s current Economic Minister and left-wing presidential candidate Sergio Massa; right: far-right libertarian presidential candidate Javier Milei. Photo credit: Natacha Pisarenko/AP/Matias Baglietto/Reuters

Off-duty pilot tries to crash air craft

An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot attempted to crash an aircraft, which was flying on the Everett-San Francisco route. Aviation News reports the man, Joseph David Emerson, 44, was sitting on a jump seat in the cockpit when he suddenly lunged for the onboard controls during the cruise flight and attempted to shut down both engines. According to the airline, the captain and first officer “responded quickly”, engine power was not lost, and the crew secured the aircraft without incident. There were 80 passengers and four crew members on board; no one was injured. Emerson was handcuffed and the plane landed in Portland. He was travelling to San Francisco, where he was supposed to be part of the crew of a 737. FAA said the crash was ‘‘not related in any way to current world events’’. The FBI is investigating; the reasons for the gesture are currently unknown.

Photo credit: Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

World’s oldest dog dies

Expatica says Portugal has said goodbye to Bobi, the oldest dog in the world, who died at 31 years and 163 days. The sad news was shared on social networks by Karen Becker, a veterinarian who attended its 31st birthday party on May 11th. Record-breaking Bobi, a purebred Rafeiro do Alentejo, held the Guinness World Record as the oldest dog of all time – a remarkable achievement for a breed of livestock guarding dog with an average life expectancy of 12/14 years. He set the new world record in February.

Photo credit: Guinness World Records

Several killed in ‘superfog’ road crashes

According to USA Today, at least seven people have been killed after a superfog of smoke from south Louisiana marsh fires. The dense fog caused multiple massive car crashes involving 158 vehicles, authorities said. Twenty-five people were injured and the number of fatalities may increase as first responders clear the scenes and searching for victims, Louisiana State Police said.

Photo credit: Lance Scott

Main photo credit: European Union

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