Covid ‘still an emergency’ – WHO
“The COVID pandemic is far from over,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned. He told an emergency committee that the virus remained “a public health emergency of international concern” and invited governments to “evaluate the restoration of restrictions” to respond to the new spike in infections. He said he was “concerned” because “cases continue to increase, putting further pressure on health systems, and deaths are unacceptably high”. The virus, he adds, “remains a public health emergency of international significance”.
EU ranks over guarantees for new loans to Ukraine
The European Union ranks on guarantees to provide new loans to Ukraine. From the package promoted for €9 billion in May, the Commission has for now to be content with paying only one billion because it does not require the guarantees of member states (being able to draw it already from the existing budget). “Ukraine is facing a major funding crisis. For this year we are talking about €39 billion. We have seen commitments in the G20 for about €20 billion but clearly more is needed; for this there is the proposal of the Commission to reach €9 billion,” explained European Commission vice president Valdis Dombrovskis at the end of an Ecofin meeting. The money will be used to cover the most immediate financial needs and ensure the critical functions of the Ukrainian state, which has suffered extensive damage to its infrastructure and lost access to financial markets following the Russian invasion.
In case of resignation, Pope Francis will be ‘bishop emeritus of Rome’
Pope Francis explained in an interview that, in the event of his resignation, he would like to be considered simple “bishop emeritus of Rome” and not “Pope emeritus”. Francis explained that, if and when he ever retired, he would not live in the Vatican or return to his native Argentina. The Pontiff added that in that case he would like to devote himself to the confession of the faithful, to the practice of charity and to visit the sick. He also praised the choice of Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2013, and who “leads a life of retirement, reading, studying and writing”.
Tories to begin voting in leadership race
Tory MPs are to cast their first votes in the contest to replace Boris Johnson as party leader and prime minister. After nominations closed, the eight hopefuls took part in a hustings event in Parliament as part of efforts to secure support from their colleagues. They have to secure 30 votes in the first round to stay in the race. The candidates are Kemi Badenoch, Suella Braverman, Jeremy Hunt, Penny Mordaunt, Rishi Sunak, Liz Truss, Tom Tugendhat and Nadhim Zahawi. Voting will start at 14:30 with a result expected at 18:00 (Malta time). ‘The Guardian’ says former chancellor Rishi Sunak remains the frontrunner, with more than 40 backers.
Labour says Johnson ‘refusing’ to allow no confidence vote
Meanwhile, Britain’s Labour Party said Boris Johnson was “running scared” after he rejected its motion for a vote of no confidence in the government – a move the party is describing as “unprecedented”. Leader Sir Keir Starmer confirmed earlier that he would table a motion for the vote to take place today – which could trigger a general election if the Tories lose – but the government is not allowing it to happen. But a government accused Labour of “playing politics” by tabling a motion of no confidence in the government and the prime minister when Boris Johnson had already resigned.
Croatia to adopt the euro in 2023
European ministers on Tuesday gave their approval for Croatia to adopt the euro just as the single currency fell to its lowest level against the US dollar in two decades. The eastern European country will officially become the 20th member of the eurozone on January 1, 2023 – nearly a decade after first becoming an EU member. Croatian Finance Minister Zdravko Marić described Tuesday as “a big day for the European Union, for European monetary Union”.
‘Trump knowingly incited Capitol mob’
US lawmakers on Tuesday accused Donald Trump of inciting a mob of followers to attack the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in a last-ditch bid to remain in power fuelled by a chaotic meeting with some of his most ardent supporters. The House of Representatives committee also produced evidence that aides and outside agitators knew before the riot that Trump would urge thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol that day. In video testimony shown during the hearing, witnesses described a loud late-night six-hour meeting on December 18, 2020, where Trump disregarded White House staffers who urged him to concede the November 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden. Instead, Trump sided with outside advisers who urged him to keep pressing his baseless claims of election fraud. Committee members said Trump ultimately was responsible for the chaos that followed. Trump, a Republican who has hinted he will seek the White House again in 2024, denies wrongdoing.
Spain to impose tax on power companies and banks
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has announced his government would introduce temporary taxes on power companies and banks that are supposed to generate revenue for €7 billion between 2023 and 2024. In a speech to Parliament on the “State of the Nation”, he announced a series of measures that would try to ease the effect of inflation on households’ pockets. The government plans to raise €2 billion annually in 2023 and 2024 from a tax on extraordinary utility profits made this year and next. “The tax on financial institutions will bring €1.5 billion in revenue per year,” Sánchez stressed.
Europe swelters as heatwave spreads
Soaring temperatures have gripped parts of Europe, which has barely recovered from its last heatwave. Droughts and forest fires have hit Spain and Portugal and the scorching heat has spread to Italy, France and the UK. Temperatures are set to peak on Thursday in France and Spain and authorities have cancelled traditional fireworks displays on France’s national day to reduce the risk of fires.
6 dead in police-narcos clash in a Brazil favela
An armed confrontation between drug traffickers and police officers left at least six dead and five injured in a favela in north Rio de Janeiro. The shooting began when a group of men attacked a bomb squad police vehicle near the Manguinhos slum. Reinforcements were sent to the scene where an intense confrontation took place. Two men who allegedly participated in the attack were arrested by the police, who seized drugs, guns and several magazines.
Sri Lanka president flees to Maldives
Sri Lanka’s embattled president flew out of his country to the Maldives early Wednesday, in a prelude to his resignation after months of widespread protests against his island nation’s worst-ever economic crisis. Gotabaya Rajapaksa is believed to have wanted to go abroad before stepping down to avoid the possibility of being detained. He, his wife and a bodyguard were among four passengers on board an Antonov-32 military aircraft. On arrival in the Maldives they were driven to an undisclosed location under police escort., an airport
Euro 2022: Germany beat Spain to advance to quarter-finals
Eight-time European champions Germany defeated Spain 2-0 to secure top spot in Group B and avoid a Euro 2022 quarter-final tie with hosts England, taking just three minutes to go in front on Tuesday. Except for hosts England, who rocked the Richter scale with their seismic 8-0 success against Norway on Monday, and France, who barely broke sweat as they put Italy to the sword in their opening clash on Sunday, the best teams at this tournament so far have been Germany and Spain. In an earlier match from the same group, Pernille Harder’s second-half goal ensured Denmark kept their hopes of progressing from Group B alive as they overcame a determined Finland. The Finns were later knocked out of the tournament following group leaders Germany’s 2-0 win over Spain. Today’s matches: Group C: Sweden v. Switzerland and the Netherlands v. Portugal.