Global Review – 12th August

Sweltering 48.80C in Syracuse: hottest temperature in Europe?

Sicily may have registered the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe: 48.80C. The reading, which needs to be verified by the World Meteorological Organisation, was recorded in Syracuse on Wednesday. The current official record in Europe is 480C, registered in Athens, Greece, in 1977. The latest heatwave in Italy is being caused by an anticyclone, nicknamed Lucifer, moving up from Africa. Lucifer is forecast to head north across mainland Italy, further raising temperatures in cities including the capital, Rome. Italy’s health ministry has issued “red” alerts for extreme heat in several regions and the number of cities that face the highest health risk will rise from eight to 15 by Friday.

Poland passes Media Reform Bill

Polish lawmakers approved a Bill on Wednesday that the opposition says aims to silence a US-owned news channel critical of the government, leading to a swift denunciation from the United States, one of Warsaw’s most important allies. The Bill would strengthen a ban on firms from outside the EUcontrolling Polish broadcasters. It will now go to Senate.

Belarus tells US: ‘Cut embassy staff’

Belarus on Wednesday ordered the United States to reduce its embassy staff in Minsk after Washington imposed a fresh round of sanctions on the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko.Belarus has also revoked its consent for the appointment of Julie Fisher as US ambassador to the ex-Soviet country. Western governments, including the United States, have slapped Belarus with several sets of sanctions over the regime’s crackdown on dissent that began when protests erupted across the country following a disputed election last year.

New criminal charges against jailed Navalny

Russia has announced it has filed new charges against Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, guilty of having created “a non-profit organisation, FBK, that violates the rights of citizens”. FBK’s activities are said to have“entailed inciting citizens to commit illegal acts”. Navalny now faces a fine of up to 200,000 rubles (€2,320), hard labour or imprisonment for up to three years.

US win first round against Assange extradition stop

The United States has won the first round in the appeal process against the decision of the British judiciary not to grant the extradition of Julian Assange, accused of espionage. The judges of the High Court have recognised the American government to broaden the arguments with which to appeal the decision of the district judge Vanessa Baraitser not to grant the extradition, citing the concrete risk of suicide for the founder of Wikileaks. Amnesty International had asked US President Joe Biden to “do the right thing” and drop the charges against Assange.

Judicial review into Trump’s purchase of golf courses

Scotland’s highest court has granted permission for campaigners to seek a judicial review of Donald Trump’s unexplained wealth amid ongoing calls to scrutinise how the former US president was able to purchase two golf resorts in the country. Politicians and campaigners have called for investigation into how Trump funded the all-cash purchases of his two Scottish golf resorts of Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links in Aberdeenshire. Trump had spent more than $300 million (€255.5m) in buying the resorts.

Another week’s lockdown for Melbourne

Australia’s second-biggest city Melbourne will stay locked down for a second week after reporting 20 new COVID-19 cases as it struggles to stamp out infections caused by the highly infectious Delta variant of the pandemic. Melbourne had been due to exit the lockdown today. Meanwhile, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that the country’s borders will remain closed until at least the end of the year.

Slice of royal wedding cake fetches €2,186

A slice of cake from the 1981 wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer sold for £1,850 (€2,186) at an auction on Wednesday – with a warning not to eat it. The 40-year-old slab of marzipan and thick white icing decorated with the royal coat of arms fetched more than three times its asking price. The cake was originally given to Moyra Smith, who worked for Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at her Clarence House residence in central London. Following Smith’s death, her family sold it at the same auction house in 2008 for £1,000 to a private collector, who has now sold it at a profit.

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