G-7 ministers demand Russian withdrawal from Zaporizhzhia
G-7 foreign ministers Wednesday warned that the Russian military occupation of the Ukrainian Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant raised the risk of a dangerous nuclear accident, while also demanding Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine. In a joint statement, they demanded Russia hand back full control of the plant, located in the southeast of the country along the Dnieper River. Shelling near the nuclear power plant in recent days damaged some of the facilities and injured a security guard, according to Ukrainian officials. It is unclear if the shelling came from Russian or from Ukrainian forces. The G-7 foreign ministers said Russia’s occupation of the nuclear plant endangers the region and “undermines the IAEA’s ability to monitor Ukraine’s peaceful nuclear activities for safeguarding purposes”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres had earlier said that “any attack to nuclear plants is suicidal.” The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting this evening (9 pm Malta time) to address the crisis at the nuclear complex, diplomatic sources told AFP.
Fighting continues near Donetsk as Russia’s offensive grinds on
Heavy fighting raged around the eastern Ukrainian town of Pisky on Thursday as Russia pressed its campaign to seize all of the industrialised Donbas region. An official with the Russia-backed Donetsk People’s Republic said Pisky, on the frontlines just 10 km northwest of provincial capital Donetsk, was under control of Russian and separatist forces. Ukrainian officials denied that the heavily fortified town, a key to the defence of Donetsk, had fallen.
China completes drills around Taiwan, plans ‘regular patrols’
Beijing said it “successfully completed” major military exercises around Taiwan, and repeated military threats against the self-ruled island following a visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.The Chinese People’s Liberation Army on Wednesday announced military exercises around Taiwan had been completed, but left the door open for more drills in the future. In a brief announcement, it said it “will keep an eye on the changes in the situation in the Taiwan Strait”. Taipei insists that such visits by Western officials are routine and accuses China of using the trip as a pretext to increase military threats. According to media reports, China’s navy continued activities near an unofficial buffer in the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday afternoon, and fighter jets were flying close to the line. Taipei said 17 Chinese fighter jets crossed the median line. A Taiwan Defence Ministry spokesman on Wednesday said Taipei would “fully adjust the allocation of forces based on factors such as the enemy threat”.
Trump refuses to testify in New York probe
Former US President Donald Trump said Wednesday he declined to testify in a civil investigation into his family’s business practices after he appeared at the New York Attorney General’s office. “I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” Trump said. New York State Attorney General Letitia James is examining whether Trump Organization inflated real estate values. She said her investigation uncovered significant evidence that the Trump Organization overstated asset values to obtain favourable loans and understated them for tax breaks. Earlier this year, Trump was held in contempt by a New York judge for failing to hand over documents that were sought as part of the probe. Trump has denied wrongdoing and called the investigation the “greatest witch hunt in US history”. Meanwhile, the FBI searched Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago estate on Monday, in a separate federal investigation into whether he illegally removed classified documents from the White House toward the end of his term as president. Trump and Republican lawmakers have slammed the FBI operation as politically motivated.
‘Threats are always worrying’ – FBI director
FBI director Christopher Wray said he was concerned about the threats received by Donald Trump’s supporters after the search by his agents of the former president’s residence in Florida. “It’s not something I can talk about,” he told ABC News in Omaha, Nebraska, about the feds blitz. However, he added, “the threats to law enforcement are worrying”. Wray, like the Secretary of Justice, Merrick Garland, and the agents who carried out the search are targeted by criticism from Republicans and by threats, in some cases of death, on social networks of Trump supporters.
Palestinian workers forced to get off Israeli bus
An Israeli public transport firm has apologised after it was revealed that 50 Palestinian workers were forced to get off one of its buses. The incident happened in an ultra-Orthodox suburb of Tel Aviv after three Jewish passengers got on and refused to travel with Arabs on board. The bus firm said one of them had posed as a transport ministry official and threatened the bus driver. Israelis and Palestinians use the same bus to go to and from the West Bank. Under Israeli law, transport operators are not allowed to operate segregated services. More than 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank have permits to cross into Israel and West Bank settlements, where they are employed as gardeners or construction workers.
50 migrants missing after boat sinks off Greek coast
An air and sea rescue operation is underway after some 50 people went missing when a migrant boat sank in the Aegean Sea. The vessel foundered at dawn off the islands of Karpathos and Rhodes after setting sail on Tuesday from Antalya, southern Turkey, heading for Italy. According to the statements of 29 rescued people, there were 80 people on the boat.
Langya virus infects dozens in China
A new virus has infected dozens of people in China, with researchers suggesting shrews might be a “natural reservoir” for the virus. Research published in ‘The New England Journal of Medicine’ said that the Langya henipavirus was found in 35 people in the Chinese provinces of Henan and Shandong. Scientists said that 26 of those people had a range of symptoms, including nausea, fever, vomiting and cough. Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has proclaimed a “resounding victory” over Covid-19, after almost two weeks without any officially registered cases in the country.
Nose up for the night of shooting stars
The classic appointment with the shooting stars of St Lawrence is back! The Perseid meteors’ peak is expected between tonight and August 13. After a memorable 2021, this year’s show will be compromised by the full Moon. Known as the tears of San Lorenzo, the meteor shower of the Perseids is a phenomenon due to the dust grains left by the Swift-Tuttle comet that burn on impact with the Earth’s atmosphere, producing spectacular trails of light in the sky. The phenomenon is connected to the martyrdom of San Lorenzo, burned on a grill and whose recurrence falls precisely in the days when the Perseids are easily visible.
Real Madrid win UEFA Super Cup
Goals from David Alaba and Karim Benzema gave Real Madrid a 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt and a fifth UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday. For RFeal Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti this is trophy number 23 of his coaching career (not forgetting the 14 as a player). The clash, in Helsinki’s Olympic Stadium, was the first time the two sides had met in a European decider since 1960, when Madrid dismantled Frankfurt 7-3 through four goals to Ferenc Puskas and three to Alfredo di Stefano in the European Cup final. The match also highlighted the growing gap between the Champions League and Europa League competitions, with Madrid being the ninth Champions League team to win the competition in the past 10 years. Only city rivals Atletico Madrid have won the Super Cup when qualifying via a Europa League win in the past decade, having done so by beating Real in the 2018 edition. In the 10 years before, Champions League and Europa League participants won five Super Cups each. Frankfurt joined Hamburg (1977 and 1983), Dortmund (1997) and Bremen (1992) as losing Super Cup finalists from Germany, with only Bayern Munich (2013 and 2020) having won the showpiece event.