Global Review – 14th September

Norway’s left-wing opposition wins election in a landslide

Norway’s left-wing opposition headed by Labour Party leader Jonas Gahr Støre has won a landslide win in a general election after a campaign dominated by the future of the country’s oil industry. The 61-year-old millionaire who campaigned against social inequalities unseated a centre-right coalition headed by Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg, which had been in power since 2013. “We waited, we hoped, and we have worked so hard, and now we can finally say it: We did it!,” Støre, who is likely to be the next prime minister, told cheering supporters after Solberg conceded defeat. With 97.5% of the votes counted, Labour and four other centre-left parties could swing to a combined majority of 100 seats, up from the current 81. A minimum of 85 seats is required to win a majority in the 169-seat parliament.

EU system for deporting migrants encourages illegal migration

Inefficiencies in the EU’s system for returning illegal migrants to their countries of origin have the opposite effect to that intended, according to a special auditors report. European Court of Auditors chief Leo Brincat told reporters that instead of putting people off from making the journey to Europe, they were actually encouraged to do so. In its report, ECA said that of around 500,000 people who have been ordered to leave the EU since 2008, only 29% were finally deported. But just 19% who entered from outside continental Europe have been sent back.

$1billion in aid to Afghanistan

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has said that the people of Afghanistan face perhaps “their most perilous hour” following the Taliban take-over of the country last month. He said that poverty rate was spiralling and one in three Afghans would not know where their next meal would come from.At the end of the conference on aid for Afghanistan, Guterres announced he had promises for about a billion dollars in aid. The Taliban last week assured the UN in writing that there would be safe access to aid and freedom of movement for humanitarian workers operating in Afghanistan.

Taliban ‘carrying out reprisal killings’

UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has said there were credible reports that the Taliban have been carrying out reprisal killings of former member of the Afghan security forces. Speaking to the Human Rights Council, she said there had also been cases where former government officials and their relatives had been arbitrarily detained and were later found dead. Meanwhile, the BBC reports it had found that at least 20 civilians had been killed in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley, which has seen fighting between the Taliban and opposition forces, despite promises of restraint.

Blinken faces contentious congressional hearing

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken beat back criticism of the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan at a contentious congressional hearing where at least one Republican called on him to resign. In testy exchanges with lawmakers, Blinken defended President Biden’s decision to pull out, blaming the previous Trump administration for lacking a plan. “We inherited a deadline. We did not inherit a plan,” Blinken said, referring to the Trump administration’s agreement to remove all US forces from Afghanistan by May 1.

COVID jabs to 12-15 year olds in England

In England, children aged 12 to 15 will be offered one dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as of next week. Announcing the decision, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Commons he had accepted the chief medical officer’s recommendation to expand vaccination to those aged 12 to 15– protecting young people from catching COVID-19, reducing transmission in schools and keeping pupils in the classroom. Government has not yet decided whether the age group will get a second dose.

COVID dogs at Miami airport

The first two dogs trained to recognise COVID have entered service at Miami airport, the first use of dogs in the battle against the virus. They smell the masks of employees who pass through a checkpoint to detect the presence of the virus in sweat, breath and odours due to the metabolic changes that COVID causes in the human body: if dogs report the smell of the virus, that individual would be asked to take a quick test immediately.

Higher electricity rates in Italy, Spain and Portugal

From 1 October the electricity bill in Italy would increase by 40%, Energy Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, told a workers’ union conference in Genova. “Last quarter, the electricity bill increased by 20%, next quarter it will increase by 40%,” he said. Average electricity prices in Spain and Portugal remain skyrocketing and today they will reach €154.16 per megawatt hour, the highest ever recorded.

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