Global Review – 15th September

London stops to embrace Queen Elizabeth

Thousands of mourners are paying their respects to Queen Elizabeth, as she lies in state in Westminster Hall. She was brought in a procession from Buckingham Palace, with Princes William and Harry, along with King Charles III, walking behind the coffin. Guns were fired in Hyde Park and Big Ben tolled every minute in the sombre ceremony. Some flights in and out of Heathrow Airport were disrupted in order to ensure silence over central London during the procession. There are long queues of more than two kilometres along the South Bank of the Thames as people wait to view the coffin. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to file past in the coming days.

A short service followed, led by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, which was attended by senior politicians including Prime Minister Liz Truss and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. Later in the afternoon, the hall was opened to the public. Several thousands people joined the queue to pay their respects to the late monarch, which on Wednesday evening stretched 3.8km to London Bridge. The government has warned that people could face long waits to get into Westminster Hall – but this has not deterred the mourners, many of whom spoke of their emotion at being part of such a momentous event. The Queen’s funeral will be held on Monday and preparations are continuing at pace.

Swedish PM resigns as right-wing parties win vote

Sweden’s prime minister says she will stand down after her government was defeated in Sunday’s election. Magdalena Andersson’s centre-left coalition looks set to narrowly lose to a bloc of right-wing parties, 176 seats to 173, with 99% of the votes counted. Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson is now expected to form a government. The bloc includes the Sweden Democrats, a far-right party that has campaigned against rising gang shootings. The final result is still to be confirmed after a recount, which is standard practice in Sweden.

‘Never so close to the end of the pandemic’ – WHO

The end of the Covid pandemic, after two and a half years and millions of victims, appears to be near, according to WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Last week, the number of weekly deaths dropped to a minimum since March 2020,” said Tedros. And he added: “We are have never been in a better position to end the pandemic. We are not there yet, but the end is at hand.”

Pro-Trump candidates win New Hampshire primaries

A retired general and outspoken Donald Trump supporter has won the Republican Senate nomination in New Hampshire. Don Bolduc will face Democrat Maggie Hassan in November, who analysts suggest is at risk of losing her seat. Defeating the incumbent could give Republicans the seat they need to regain a majority in the Senate. The states’ two primaries for the House of Representatives – the lower chamber of Congress – were also won by Trump-supporting candidates.

EU moves to cut peak electricity use by 5%

EU chief Ursula von der Leyen has called for cuts to electricity use across the bloc and windfall taxes on energy firms to tackle high prices. She told the European Parliament that gas and electricity prices had hit all-time highs after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She called for electricity consumption to be cut at peak hours by at least 5%. But plans for a cap on the price of natural gas, a key Russian export to the EU, were put on hold. The plan outlined in Strasbourg targets “excess revenues” with proposals to skim the profits of low-carbon electricity producers and implement a de facto windfall tax on the oil, gas and coal sectors. The money raised, estimated to be €140 billion, would go to families and businesses across the EU’s 27 states.

von der Leyen’s speech ‘falls short on policy vision

Europe’s response to Russia’s war in Ukraine dominated European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s annual speech on Wednesday. “Europe’s solidarity with Ukraine will remain unshakeable,” the Commission chief said, promising more finances to rebuild the country and to keep EU sanctions against Russia in place. But, according to Euroactive, she provided little substance when it came to several important files and pressing issues facing the bloc. In an address meant to serve as a policy compass to steer the bloc over the next 12 months, von der Leyen fell surprisingly short of consequential policy announcements. The European Commission stepped back from earlier plans to cap the price of Russian gas, proposing instead to set up a new task force with EU member state representatives that will attempt to negotiate deals with key suppliers such as Norway. Some of the conspicuously-absent issues were defence, food security and farming, Europe’s new climate and environment legislation, and there were only passing nods to digital and transport policies.

Russian officials call on Putin to resign

In the wake of a hasty Russian withdrawal, as Ukraine’s counter-offensive in Kharkiv continues, as many as 49 municipal deputies in Russia have signed a petition calling on President Putin to resign. The petition, tweeted by St Petersburg municipal deputy Ksenia Tortstrom, makes no mention of the war in Ukraine but says Putin’s actions “harm the future of Russia and its citizens”. However, there’s just a 23% chance of a regime change in Russia during 2022.

Russia threatens US over long-range missiles to Kiev

The Russian ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, has issued a stark warning to the US over its intended supply of long-range missiles to Kiev. He told Sputnik news agency, “If Kiev got the long-range missiles it requested from the United States, major Russian cities, as well as industrial and transportation infrastructure, would fall into the area of ​​possible destruction. Such a scenario would mean direct US involvement in a military confrontation with Russia.” Antonov was reacting to a statement by the spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, to CNN, who said that in the “next few days” the United States would provide additional military aid to Kiev. “The Ukrainian forces,” Kirby said, “are on the offensive in the Donbass and the Kherson region and the US wants them to have the tools they need to move forward, including “very effective” artillery systems capable of striking beyond the Russian lines.”

Russia opposed to Zelensky addressing UN General Assembly

Zelensky is scheduled to speak to the United Nations General Assembly on September 21, and the assembly is due to consider on Friday a proposal for him to address the annual gathering of world leaders in a recorded video. Russia is opposed to Zelensky speaking. After talking to President Putin, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was hopeful a UN-brokered deal on Ukrainian Black Sea grain exports would be expanded to include Russian ammonia – a main ingredient in nitrate fertiliser. Shortages of fertilizer are contributing to a global food crisis.

Zelensky sees damage in recaptured towns

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky heard firsthand what people in recaptured northeastern towns experienced under Russian forces while a major city struggled to contain damage to its water system from Russian missle attacks. Kryvyi Rih, the largest city in central Ukraine with an estimated pre-war population of 650,000, was targeted by eight cruise missiles on Wednesday.

Singer R. Kelly guilty of child sexual offenses

The famous American R&B singer, R. Kelly, was convicted by a Chicago jury for three counts of child abuse and acquitted by a fourth. He is also guilty of three of the five counts of soliciting minors for sexual activity. The star was instead acquitted of having conspired to obstruct justice in a 2008 trial. Kelly, 55, had already been sentenced in 2021 to 30 years for organised crime and sex trafficking – a sentence that now risks being extended further.

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