Global News Digest – 20th October 2023

Today's top world news, in a nutshell.

Biden calls for urgent funds for Israel, Ukraine

Washintgon Post reports President Biden has launched a new mission to convince Americans they should spend billions more on supporting Israel and Ukraine in their wars, arguing that only the US’s involvement can prevent global chaos. “American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe,” said Biden. The US president sought to link Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022. “Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to annihilate a neighbouring democracy,” he said.

Biden will ask Congress for US$100 billion in new spending, including US$60 billion for Ukraine and US$14 billion for Israel, a source familiar with his plan told Reuters. The request will also include US$10 billion for humanitarian aid, US$14 billion for border security and US$7 billion for the Indo-Pacific region, the source said. Half of the US$60 billion Biden is requesting for Ukraine would go toward replacing and modernising US weapons stocks, the source said. By lumping the Israel and Ukraine priorities together in one package, Biden is testing whether Republican lawmakers can be persuaded to set aside their opposition and go along with spending on Ukraine, whose 20-month-old war with Russia has absorbed billions of dollars already in US weapons with no end in sight. The package is expected to be formally unveiled today.

Israel to evacuate city close to Lebanese border

According to Asia News, the Israeli army has announced plans to evacuate the northern city of Kiryat Shmona later today, after days of clashes with Hezbollah fighters along the border with Lebanon. Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and allied Palestinian factions have traded cross-border fire with Israel for days, after Hamas gunmen attacked communities in southern Israel on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli officials. At least 3,785 Palestinians were killed and 12,493 wounded in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October7, in retaliatory Israeli bombardments, according to figures from its Hamas-run health ministry.

Rafah border crossing to open

According to Egyptian media, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, will open later today to allow the passage of trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. Meanwhile,  Israeli jets have hammered Gaza, hitting 100 sites in 24 hours as global protests are continuing over the Gaza hospital strike which killed 500 people. Israel denies involvement, though Palestine’s UN mission accuses the Israelis of “disinformation” and propaganda about the incident

Algerian football league suspended in solidarity with Palestinians

Algeria has suspended its domestic football league in “solidarity” with the Palestinian people. The 16-team Algerian league is currently four games into its domestic season but has been suspended “until further notice”. Meanwhile, UEFA has also confirmed that the Euro 2024 qualifier between Belgium and Sweden, which was halted due to the fatal shooting of two Swedish fans in Brussels on Monday, will not be resumed or replayed. “Both the Royal Belgian Football Association and the Swedish Football Association, given the circumstances, explicitly expressed their desire not to play the remaining match time and to consider the result at the halftime interval (1-1) as final,” read a statement, with both teams being awarded one point in Group F. The decision was made less complicated than it might have been given that Belgium has already qualified for Euro 2024, while Sweden is already out.

UK: Labour wins two byelections in one day

In the UK, Labour won two Conservative safe seats in a double byelection victory overnight. Politico says voters in Mid Bedfordshire and Tamworth swung significantly to Labour, in what is a woeful result for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Tory party. Mid Bedfordshire, the former seat of Boris Johnson ally Nadine Dorries, saw a 20.5 percent swing, transforming the 24,664 Tory majority into a 1,192 Labour one. The new MP is Alistair Strathern, 33. In Tamworth, the seat of disgraced former Conservative MP Chris Pincher, also saw a huge swing of 23.9 percent, with a 19,634 Tory majority turned into a 1,316 one for Labour, electing Sarah Edwards, 35, as the new MP.

Canada recalls 41 diplomats from India

Toronto Star says Canada has recalled 41 of its diplomats from India after the Indian government said it would revoke their diplomatic immunity, in an escalation of their dispute over the slaying of a Sikh separatist in Canada. The moves come after Canada’s allegations that India may have been involved in the June killing of Canadian citizen Hardeep Singh Nijjar in suburban Vancouver. India has accused Canada of harbouring separatists and terrorists, but dismissed the allegation of its involvement in the killing as absurd and has taken diplomatic steps to express its anger over the accusation.

Netflix grows

Streaming pioneer Netflix showed resilience by gaining more quarterly subscribers than in the past three years despite strikes by Hollywood’s writers and actors, sending its shares up 16.23 per cent on Thursday. Wall Street Journal says Netflix shares rose to US$402.37, putting them on course for the biggest one-day percentage gain in nearly three years. “The management deserves an Emmy for managing investor expectations,” Bernstein analysts wrote in a note, adding that paid-sharing has opened up a bigger-than-expected market of potential subscribers for Netflix. Delays for some of its biggest shows are “problematic” for Netflix because “it doesn’t have the same back catalogue as Disney+ to fall back on”, said Sophie Lund-Yates, lead equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Photo: Jonathan Ernst/ Pool/Getty Images

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