Global Review – 15th January

Centre-left worried as centre-right back Berlusconi for president

Italian centre-right parties have confirmed they want Silvio Berlusconi to be the next president of Italyand they said they would seek wide support for him in parliament, saying he was “the right person to hold this high office at these difficult times”. Italy’s centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which has categorically ruled out backing Berlusconi as head of state, said it was “disappointed and worried” by the decision. The 5-Star Movement, which has the largest number of parliamentarians, reiterated it could never support Berlusconi, who has been convicted of tax fraud and still faces trial tied to his “bunga bunga” sex parties.Voting among more than 1,000 parliamentarians and regional delegates begins on January 24, with Berlusconi potentially standing in the way of Prime Minister Mario Draghi getting the post.

Johnson apology for parties on eve of Philip’s funeral

Dominating Saturday’s front pages of the British nationals are the latest allegations of parties at Downing Street while lockdown restrictions were in place. The Times says cabinet ministers have warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he is in the “last chance saloon”. It comes after Downing Street apologised to Buckingham Palace for two staff parties held in No 10 on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. The gatherings, which were not attended by Boris Johnson, took place in April last year. The Times says Sue Gray, who is investigating the parties, has been left “blindsided” by the new revelations. The Guardian says 13 parties held on government premises, mostly in Downing Street, at the time of coronavirus restrictions have been disclosed. The paper has spoken to senior figures in Conservative constituency associations who have said that support for Boris Johnson is fading, with some members leaving the party and cancelling their membership. The Financial Times Weekend reports the prime minister’s future now “hangs by a thread”.

US fears Russia planning ‘false flag’ operation in Ukraine

The US administration believes Moscow is planning a “false flag” operation in eastern Ukraine to justify an invasion. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that according to US intelligence, Russian operatives were already in position and that Moscow started conducting a social media disinformation campaign. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov dismissed the reports, saying they were based on “unfounded” information.

Martin Shkreli fined $64m, banned from drug industry

Convicted “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli has been ordered to return $64 million in profits his company made by inflating the price of a life-saving drug used by cancer and AIDS patients. Shkreli, who is currently serving a seven-year prison sentence for securities fraud after he was convicted in 2017, hasalso been barred from ever working in the pharmaceutical industry again. In 2015, Shkreli’s companyacquired the rights to Daraprim, and then raised the price of the drug from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill – a 5,000% increase. He had defended the decision as “capitalism at work”.

Anti-government protest in Tunis

Tunisian police used water canons and tear gas Friday to prevent demonstrators accessing the central Avenue Bourguiba, on the eleventh anniversary of the 2011 Revolution. Despite the ban on anti-COVID gatherings and demonstrations, the opposition took to the streets to protest against what they call the “coup” by President Kais Saied. Six people, who the police said were found in possession of several thousand dinars to be distributed to cause unrest, were arrested.

Greece tells over-60s to get vaccinated or face €100 monthly fine

Greek authorities have made it mandatory for the over-60s to be vaccinated or face a fine of €100 a month until they are. Medical professionals who are unjabbed have been suspended and face the prospect of being sacked if they fail to comply. Protests have been held against the latest government rulings.

Djokovic back in detention, case to be heard on Sunday

An Australian court has set the hearing over Novak Djokovic’s visa cancellation case for Sunday morning as the world number 1 tennis player fights to overturn the decision by the Australian government to remove him from the country. Djokovic has handed himself in to immigration officers for detention and has been ordered to surrender to officials in Melbourne for an interview. The government ordered that he return to pre-deportation detention. Commenting on the situation, Rafael Nadal said, “The Australian Open is much more important than any player. The Australian Open will be a great Australian Open with or without him,” concluded the Spaniard.

Canadian doctor delivers ‘miracle’ baby on flight

The BBC quotes a Canadian doctor telling of her joy after delivering a “miracle” baby on an overnight flight to Uganda. Dr Aisha Khatib, a professor at the University of Toronto, was about one hour into her Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Entebbe when the call went out: a Ugandan migrant worker travelling home from Saudi Arabia was about to deliver her first child. The baby, early at 35 weeks, was born healthy, and was named Miracle Aisha, after the doctor.

Milkman fathered over 800 children’

Randall Jeffries was a milk delivery man in the 1950’s and 60’s in Southern California. Over the years he began to form relationships with his female customers, mainly wives of servicemen. San Diego Daily News reports a rash of adults in the area recently had controversial DNA test results where it was clear that their father was not of blood relation. Jeffries was DNA-tested as a possible contributor to at least some of the births in question. And after hundreds of tests and re-tests, it was to show that he did in-fact sire more than 800 children. “All these years I thought I was sterile. My wife and I never had any children. To think that at age 97, to hear such news! What a blessing. I now feel so fulfilled and cannot wait to meet all my children”, says Randy.

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