Global Review – 11th June

Speculation the Pope could resign by August

Pope Francis has fuelled speculation he could resign by August by cancelling his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo and in South Sudan scheduled from July 2 to 7, not to thwart the results of the knee therapies still in progress. Rumours of his resignation flew last summer, when he was hospitalised for a scheduled surgery on his colon, and again this year as he has been in visible pain when walking and has begun using a wheelchair. The pope has told friends he doesn’t want to undergo knee surgery, reportedly because of his reaction to anesthesia when he had 13 inches of his large intestine removed in July 2021. But several recent events scheduled for the end of August have added fuel to the fire: first, the Pope announced he would create new cardinals at a consistory on August 27, followed immediately by an unusual meeting of the world’s cardinals, who ordinarily only come together when it’s time to elect a new pontiff. Although the meeting, on paper, is focused on reviewing the Pope’s recent reform of the Vatican’s central bureaucracy, it has also been widely interpreted as a chance for cardinals to get to know one another. All this talk of conclave had ramped up speculation that the Pope could be thinking of resigning soon, but an announcement from the Vatican this weekend sent the flames of speculation soaring: while all of the cardinals are in Rome, Pope Francis will make a day trip to the cathedral in L’Aquila where Pope Celestine V is interred. Celestine V was the first pope in history to resign by choice. An unwilling pontiff from the beginning, Celestine was a monk who was chosen as pope as a sort of olive branch in a church torn between competing factions. He resigned after five months as pope. These three events – the August consistory, the visit to Aquila and the cardinals’ get-to-know-you meeting – combined with images of the pope wincing in pain as he walked to his chair for Pentecost Mass last Sunday, have led some to believe the pope could be planning an August resignation. He has completed the reform of the Roman Curia, the logic goes, so maybe it is time to hand the reins to someone else.

China will ‘not hesitate to start war’ over Taiwan

Beijing will “not hesitate to start a war” if Taiwan declares independence, China’s defence minister warned his US counterpart, in the latest salvo between the superpowers over the island. The warning came as Wei Fenghe held his first face-to-face meeting with US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialogue security summit in Singapore. US-China tensions have been soaring over democratic, self-ruled Taiwan, which lives under constant threat of invasion by China. Beijing views the island as its territory and has vowed to one day seize it, by force if necessary. Wei warned Austin that “if anyone dares to split Taiwan from China, the Chinese army will definitely not hesitate to start a war no matter the cost”, defence ministry spokesman Wu Qian quoted the minister as saying during the meeting. Austin will deliver a speech at the forum on Saturday, followed by Wei on Sunday.

Fresh clashes rock Libyan capital

Clashes between armed groups erupted in Libya’s capital on Friday night, according to local media, as the country reels from a failed coup attempt three weeks ago. Heavy exchanges of gunfire and explosions ricocheted across several districts of Tripoli, according to an AFP journalist, while images broadcast by local press showed civilians fleeing heavily trafficked areas. The intense fighting involved two influential militias from western Libya. No casualties or motive for the fighting were immediately apparent, but it is the latest violence to rock the country as two rival prime ministers vie for power.

‘Mariupol buildings demolished with bodies inside’

Russian forces occupying the Ukrainian city of Mariupol demolished 1,300 residential buildings without removing the hundreds of corpses left in the rubble, according to Mayor Vadym Boychenko. The mayor says that at first “the occupants involved the residents of Mariupol in carefully dismantling the rubble” but then when they saw the actual number of bodies found, they immediately dismissed local residents. The real number of corpses under the rubble of the destroyed houses is frightening: between 50 and 100 people were killed in almost all the destroyed buildings and 1,300 buildings were demolished in the city. The Municipality estimates that at least 22,000 residents of the southeastern Ukrainian city were killed during the first three months of the war.

Sharp rise in food prices

Global food commodity prices have hit an all-time high following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Alongside the continuing humanitarian crisis, the conflict has destabilized Ukraine’s economy, with the World Bank predicting a more than 45% fall in economic output in 2022. The Russian Federation and Ukraine, combined, supply around 30% of global wheat exports and around a fifth of the world’s maize. Shortages of these and other commodities have destabilised global supply chains, sending food prices soaring. The FAO Food Price Index shows a 12.6% increase in global food prices, the highest price levels recorded in the index’s three-decade history.

Former Bolivia president gets 10 years’ sentence

The former interim president of Bolivia, Jeanine Añez, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for conducting a coup against her left-wing predecessor Evo Morales in 2019. Añez, 54, was convicted “of the crimes of unconstitutional resolutions and negligence of duty”. She was tried for her actions as a senator, before she assumed the interim presidency on November 12, 2019. Opponents accused Morales of committing fraud in that year’s October election to secure a fourth consecutive term until 2025. .

Leaders reach migration pact – Biden

President Joe Biden and 20 other Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday announced what is being billed as “a roadmap for countries to host large numbers of migrants and refugees”. Analysts say “The Los Angeles Declaration” is perhaps the biggest achievement of the Summit of the Americas. A set of principles announced on the summit’s final day includes legal pathways to enter countries, aid to communities most affected by migration, humane border management and coordinated emergency responses.

Johnson hails court ruling on Rwanda flight as ‘welcome news’

A High Court judge’s decision to refuse to grant an injunction to halt a flight expected to deport dozens of people from the UK to Rwanda on Tuesday has been hailed as “welcome news” by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The judge said each case should be considered on an individual basis and there was no need for an injunction. The case was lodged by a variety of charities, action groups and unions. There are 31 people expected to be on Tuesday’s flight, but as many as 130 people have been already told by the Home Office that they could be deported. The controversial plan to send migrants who enter the UK illegally more than 4,000 miles away to east Africa has been widely criticised ever since it was announced in mid-April.

Ecuador will go to the World Cup – FIFA

The Fifa Disciplinary Commission has decided to close the proceedings against the Ecuadorian Federation regarding the potential ineligibility of  Byron Castillo. The reasons for the dismissal are not yet known, but the International Federation has not accepted the requests of Chile, which asked for victory at the table in the qualifying matches in which Castillo had taken the field and, as a consequence, the right to participate in the next World Cup.

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