Global Review – 14th June

Fitch lowers world growth estimates, weighs inflation

Fitch has revised downwards its global growth estimates following the inflation rush. According to the US rating agency, the world economy will grow by 2.9% this year, 0.6% less than expected in March. The estimates have been reduced for the United States to 2.9% (-0.6%) and for the eurozone to 2.6% (-0.4%). Fitch notes the difficulties in energy and food supplies linked to the war in Ukraine “are having a faster impact on European inflation than expected”.

Russian forces cut off last routes out of Sievierodonetsk

Russian forces have cut off the last routes for evacuating citizens from the eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, as the Kremlin pushed for victory in the Donbas region. The last bridge to the city was destroyed, trapping any remaining civilians and making it impossible to deliver humanitarian supplies, said regional governor Sergei Gaidai, adding that some 70 per cent of the city was under Russian control. Late yesterday, President Zelensky said the battle for the eastern Donbas would go down as one of the most brutal in European history. The region, comprising the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk, is claimed by Russian separatists.

Scholz pledges weapons for Ukraine

Germany will continue to supply state-of-the art weapons to Ukraine according to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Speaking before his meeting with Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Scholz reiterated Berlin’s commitment to supply Ukraine with modern weaponry. “It is clear that Ukraine needs additional weapons for its defence,” Scholz said, adding that Germany would supply Ukraine with a state-of-the-art anti-aircraft system and an artillery detection radar, among other things.

Trump slams inquiry as ‘Kangaroo Court’

Former US President Donald Trump has blasted the congressional inquiry into the Capitol riot as a “Kangaroo Court”. In a 12-page statement, he said the investigation was designed to distract Americans from the “disaster” of Democratic-led governance. It came after the committee held two public hearings accusing Mr Trump of an attempted coup to remain in power. The panel on Monday detailed evidence of divisions among Trump aides over whether to accept his election loss. Supporters of Mr Trump stormed Congress on  January 6, 2021, in a bid to thwart certification of Joe Biden’s election victory. “Seventeen months after the events of January 6th, Democrats are unable to offer solutions,” Mr Trump, a Republican, said in his statement.

Trump detached from reality’ – William Barr

Donald Trump lost touch with reality as he deluged aides with wild voter fraud conspiracy theories in the wake of his election defeat to Joe Biden, former attorney general William Barr said in videotaped testimony revealed Monday. Speaking at the January 6 Capitol riots inquiry, various testimonies all pointed to the same thing: that Trump knew the election was not “stolen”, while raising $250-million in funds that were allocated elsewhere. In addition, Trump’s closest legal adviser, Rudy Giuliani, was “definitely intoxicated” on election night while persuading the losing candidate to declare victory. The panel is holding six hearings throughout June to outline its case that the riot at the seat of US democracy in Washington was the culmination of a seven-step conspiracy by Trump and his inner circle to overturn his defeat to Biden.

Toronto van killer handed life sentence

The man accused of killing 11 people and injuring 15 others in 2018 was sentenced to life imprisonment, without any possibility of parole for 25 years. He mowed down passers-by with a van on the sidewalk of one of the busiest streets in Toronto. The judge refused to name the killer, referring to him as John Doe, in order not to give him the notoriety he “sought from the beginning”. The man told investigators that he wanted to kill as many people as possible and that he had drawn inspiration from the misogynistic ‘incel’ movement, made up largely of online groups of young people frustrated by their inability to have a romantic or sexual relationship with a partner.

Cuba sentences 381 people over anti-government protests

Cuban authorities have sentenced 381 people – including 16 young people aged between 16 and 18 – who took part in unprecedented anti-government protests last July, the public prosecutor said on Monday. Of those, 36 people were sentenced to up to 25 years in prison for sedition. A total of 297 received prison sentences while the 84 others, including 15 youths, were given the option to commute their sentences with community service. Mass protests broke out across Cuba on July 11 and 12 with demonstrators demanding “freedom” amid economic strife, medical and food shortages, and anger at the government. A crackdown by security forces left one dead, dozens injured and 1,300 people detained.

US approves first pill for treatment of alopecia

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday approved a drug called ‘baricitinib’ as the first oral tablet for treating severe alopecia areata, an auto-immune disorder affecting more than 300,000 people in the United States every year. Alopecia causes either temporary or permanent patchy hair loss that can affect any hair-bearing site of the body, leading to emotional distress. ‘Baricitinib’, known by the trade name Olumiant, works by interfering with the cellular pathway that leads to inflammation. After 36 weeks, almost 40 percent of those on the higher dose grew back 80 percent of their scalp hair, compared to around 23 percent of the lower dose group, and five percent of the placebo group.

Actors call for responsible gun depictions

A number of Hollywood actors have signed a letter calling for movies and television shows to depict responsible gun ownership and to limit scenes involving children with firearms. The open letter, penned in response to recent US mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, said it time to take on gun safety. Suggested measures include showing characters locking their guns up safely, and holding discussions before production begins about whether alternatives to guns could be used without “sacrificing narrative integrity.”

US writer jailed for life over spouse killing

A US writer who penned an essay titled “How to Murder Your Husband” was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for fatally shooting her spouse. Nancy Crampton Brophy, 71, will be eligible to apply for parole in 25 years, a judge in the northwestern state of Oregon told her. Crampton Brophy’s month-long murder trial heard how the author had used a gun barrel bought on eBay to kill her husband in the hope of collecting $1.5 million in life insurance. The weapon, which she claimed had been acquired as research for a new novel, has never been found. Chef Daniel Brophy was found on the floor of a classroom in a now-defunct culinary institute where he worked, in June 2018. He had been shot twice.

Australia qualifies for 2022 World Cup

Australia qualified for a fifth straight World Cup after a 5-4 penalty shootout win over Peru in their intercontinental playoff on Monday. The teams failed to score in regulation and extra time at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, and goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, sent on as a substitute in the dying seconds of extra time, proved to be the star for Australia by saving the last penalty from Alex Valera. Australia will meet defending champion France in the opening game of Group D on November 22, and later take on Tunisia and Denmark. The final place at the World Cup will be filled in the same stadium this evening when Costa Rica meets New Zealand.

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