Date-rape drugs wreck Chancellor Scholz’s summer party
At least nine women were given a date-rape drug at a an invite-only event attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and MPs, his Social Democratic Party said Saturday. “There’s quite a lot of emotion,” a spokesperson for the SDP’s parliamentary group told AFP, confirming a report in the Berlin newspaper ‘Tagesspiegel’. The spokesperson did not rule out further cases adding to the nine who were hit by the attack with so-called “KO drops” – a tasteless liquid drug that is easily mixable with drinks and which gives a range of undesirable effects, from short-term memory loss to fainting. “This is a scandalous event, which we immediately reported to the Bundestag police,” said the leader of the SPD parliamentary group Mathias Martin in a message to Bundestag members. A spokesperson for the Social Democrats assured that everything possible is being done to clarify what happened.
Tory heavyweights enter race to replace Johnson
A trio of Conservative heavyweights, including former health ministers Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt, late Saturday announced their bids to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, meaning eight contenders have entered the already acrimonious leadership race. Javid, also a former finance minister, and Hunt, who finished runner-up to Johnson in the last contest in 2019, were joined on the growing candidate list by current Chancellor of the Exchequer Nadhim Zahawi, who was only appointed to that post on Tuesday. None of the trio are frontrunners in recent polls, but are among the most high-profile to have launched campaigns so far. Hours earlier, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would run, adding yet another candidate to the typically-unpredictable political contest. But Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who has impressed in the role and been one of Tory members’ favourites in several recent surveys, announced he would not stand after a discussion with colleagues and family. The early frontrunner is former finance minister Rishi Sunak, who helped kickstart the cabinet revolt that led to Johnson’s forced resignation on Thursday. Sunak and Javid both resigned late Tuesday, triggering dozens of more junior colleagues to follow suit and forcing their ex-boss to then quit as Tory leader 36 hours later. Attorney general and arch-Brexiteer Suella Braverman, the relatively unknown former equalities minister Kemi Badenoch, and backbench Tory MP Tom Tugendhat have also announced their candidacies. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is among those expected to still join the crowded field. The likely months-long campaign, potentially pitting more than a dozen Tory MPs and multiple factions of the ruling party against each another, is set to be formalised Monday when a committee of backbenchers will meet to agree the timetable and rules.
Japan heads to the polls
Japanese voters cast their ballots Sunday in an upper house election, just two days after former prime minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated while on the campaign trail. The election, which is expected to see Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party increase its majority, has been overshadowed by the murder. But Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and other politicians have insisted the shock killing would not halt the democratic process. He also took time to pay condolences at Abe’s family home in Tokyo, where the former premier’s body arrived on Saturday afternoon from a hospital in western Japan.
Biden in Saudi Arabia to strengthen partnerships
US President Joe Biden said that the upcoming mission to Saudi Arabia aims to strengthen “a strategic partnership” that “respects fundamental values”. In an editorial in ‘The Washington Post’, Biden, who will travel to Israel and Saudi Arabia next week, explained, “I know that many disagree with my decision to go to Saudi Arabia. My views on human rights have been clear for years and fundamental freedoms are always on the agenda when we go on missions and they will also be in this case.” The controversy surrounding Biden’s trip is mainly linked to the murder of the Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi after which the American president himself declared he wanted to isolate the oil monarchy.
Ukraine: 600,000 citizens without electricity
About 600,000 Ukrainian citizens do not have access to electricity. ‘Kiev Independent’ quotes the Ministry of Energy of Kiev saying most are located in the regions of Donetsk (350,000), Luhansk (130,000), Mykolaiv (30,000) and Kharkiv (28,000). “In the past 24 hours, electricity has been restored to 22,300 consumers who have been cut off due to hostilities, the ministry said, adding that in some areas emergency recovery work is complicated due to intensified hostilities, demining operations and the occurrence of new damage to the electricity grids.
Russia threatens broad Ukraine offensive
Ukrainian defenders battled Saturday to contain Russian forces along several fronts, officials said, as the US urged China to align itself with the West in opposing the invasion following an ill-tempered G20 meeting. A missile strike on the northeastern city of Kharkiv wounded three civilians, its governor said, though Russia’s main attacks appeared focused southeast of there in Luhansk and Donetsk. Those two provinces, parts of which were held by pro-Russian separatists before the conflict began in February, comprise the eastern industrial region of the Donbas. Ukrainian officials reported strikes in both on Saturday, while Britain’s Ministry of Defence said Moscow was assembling reserve forces from across Russia near Ukraine. Luhansk Governor Serhiy Gaidai said Russian forces were “firing along the entire front line”, though a subsequent Ukrainian counter-attack that hit weapons and ammunition stores had forced Moscow to halt its offensive.
Zelensky sacks Kyiv’s envoys
Meanwhile, President Zelensky Saturday sacked Kyiv’s ambassadors to India, Germany, Norway, the Czech Republic and Hungary, the presidential website stated. However, no reason was immediately given for the decision. Zelensky has urged his diplomats to cobble up international support and military aid for Ukraine as it tries to fend off Russia’s invasion, Reuters reported.
LGBTQ Pride march takes over Madrid
Hundreds of thousands of people waved rainbow flags and danced to techno music at Madrid’s Pride march Saturday as the event returned following two years of Covid-enforced cancellations. Demonstrators in the Spanish capital gathered in the late afternoon behind a large banner with the slogan “visibility, pride and resilience”. Several ministers from Spain’s left-wing coalition government, including Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, joined the march.
Women’s Euro 2022: Netherlands rally to hold Sweden
The Netherlands staged one of their best reactions to salvage a 1-1 draw against Sweden to start their Euro 2022 campaign on Saturday. Sweden were looking to exact revenge for their World Cup semi-final exit to the Dutch three years ago and took a deserved led at half-time through Jonna Andersson’s calm finish. But the Netherlands hit back to level through Jill Roord’s strike in front a record crowd of 21,342. In the other game in Group C, Portugal fought back from conceding twice in the first five minutes to snatch a 2-2 draw against Switzerland. Two matches from Group D will be played today: Belgium v. Iceland at 6pm and France v. Italy at 9pm.
Wimbledon: Novak Djokovic chases 21st Grand Slam
Nick Kyrgios says he will be playing for “the ultimate glory” and “tennis immortality” when he faces Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon men’s final. Serbia’s Djokovic is bidding for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon title and a 21st Grand Slam overall this afternoon. Kyrgios is aiming for a first major singles trophy. In the women’s singles final Saturday, Elena Rybakina – born in Russia but made in Kazakhstan – won the title when she title beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 3-6 6-2 6-2 to become Kazakhstan’s first Grand Slam singles champion.