Global Review – 16th May

India blocks wheat exports due to rising prices

In what experts described as “a new shock to the food market”, the Indian government has blocked the export of all types of wheat with immediate effect. India, the second largest producer in the world, announced its decision 24 hours after the release of its annual inflation data, which rose to 8.38%, with retail prices hitting an all-time high for eight years. India said its decision was in response to “an increase in global wheat prices that has jeopardised the food security of India and of neighbouring and vulnerable countries”. The country consumes most of the wheat it produces, but it set a goal of exporting 10 million tons of wheat in 2022-23. Much of this would go to other developing nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand. The Indian government wants to prevent wheat from going “to countries where it could simply be accumulated or not meet the food needs of vulnerable countries”. Ukraine and Russia account for one third of world exports of wheat and barley. Since the invasion by Moscow, Ukraine’s ports have been blocked and civilian infrastructure and grain silos have been destroyed. It is estimated that the price of the cereal has increased by about 40% since the beginning of the year.

‘Price of rice increased by 21%’ – Coldiretti

Coldiretti, the largest association representing Italian agriculture, has said the price of rice had already recorded a 21% jump in the last year due to the collapse in grain shipments caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine. World rice consumption in 2022 will reach a record 521 million tons – an increase of over nine million tons of 2021.

UN committed to lower the price of wheat

The United Nations will make a series of initiatives to try to lower the prices of wheat and bread, which are affecting families in the Mediterranean and in North Africa, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said on Rai-Play. He said the UN will discuss the issue on Tuesday and Wednesday in New York. On June 8, Italy will host a Mediterranean dialogue at FAO “for new UN policies to help lower the price of food raw materials”. Nearly 4.5 million tons of grain were blocked in Ukrainian ports due to the Russian invasion, according to Martin Frick, an official of the UN World Food Programme. “Hunger should not become a weapon,” Frick said, calling for the resumption of Ukrainian food supplies to other nations to alleviate the global food crisis.

‘Ukraine can win war with Russia’ – Stoltenberg

Ukraine can defeat Russia’s invasion, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday after an alliance meeting in Berlin to discuss anticipated membership bids by Finland and Sweden, as well as providing further support to Ukraine. The NATO chief said Russia was not achieving its strategic goals in Ukraine: “Russia’s war in Ukraine is not going as Moscow had planned. They failed to take Kyiv,” he said, adding, “They are pulling back from Kharkiv and their major offensive in Donbass has stalled.” UK military intelligence says Russia has probably lost a third of the ground combat forces it committed in the February invasion.

Finland, Sweden confirm intention to join NATO

Finland has confirmed its intention to join NATO, at a joint news conference given by its president and prime minister. Sweden’s ruling party also backed membership for its country, paving the way for a joint application with its neighbour. NATO will do its best to make sure that Finland and Sweden will have an expedited application process, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana told DW on Sunday.

Russia threatens to deploy tactical nuclear weapons

Russian state television has said Moscow may deploy tactical nuclear weapons to its European borders if Finland and Sweden allow military bases on their territory after joining NATO.  It said: “Their official reason is fear. But they’ll have more fear in NATO. When Nato bases appear in Sweden & Finland, Russia will have no choice but to neutralise the imbalance and the new threat by deploying tactical nuclear weapons.”  Dmitry Medvedev, deputy chairman of Russia’s security council, said weeks ago that Russia could deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles in its Kaliningrad exclave between Poland and Lithuania, in responce to NATO’s Nordic expansion.

‘Fighters of Mariupol not the subject of negotiations’ – Moscow

The fighters of the Azov battalion, barricaded in the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, cannot be the subject of political negotiations. Ria Novosti was quoting Vldimir Medinsky, presidential adviser and head of the Russian delegation to the Russia-Ukraine talks. Meanwhile, the adviser to the mayor, Petro Andryushchenko, denounced the Russians for using “incendiary or phosphorus bombs”.

227 Ukranian children dead, 420 injured

The Ukrainian Attorney General has said on Telegram, 227 children have been killed and more than 420 have been injured since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result of the bombing of Ukrainian towns and villages by the Russian armed forces, 1,748 educational institutions were damaged, 144 of which were completely destroyed.

Melania Trump’s three-word bombshell

Three words from former US First Lady Melania Trump was all it took to kick off fresh speculation husband Donald Trump could be preparing to run for president – again! In her first interview since leaving the White House in January 2021 after Donald Trump’s crushing election defeat, the 52-year-old spoke with Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Pete Hegseth about her infamous Vogue snub, her NFT projects and the leadership of Donald Trump’s successor, Joe Biden. But it was one major clue about the Trumps’ future plans that raised eyebrows, with the mother of one hinting to the network the couple could be plotting a presidential comeback. “I think we achieved a lot in four years of the Trump administration,” she said of her husband’s single term in office. When pressed directly about whether she would return to the White House if Mr Trump decided to go after the top job again in 2024, she confirmed it was a possibility.

North Korea reports further COVID deaths

North Korea on Sunday reported a total of 42 deaths from “fever” after admitting its first-ever COVID-19 cases days before. Overall North Korea has reported 820,620 suspected cases so far, with 324,550 still receiving medical treatment. Lockdown policies have been implemented across the country.

Pope rallies from knee pain to proclaim 10 new saints

Pope Francis created 10 new saints on Sunday, rallying from knee pain that has forced him to use a wheelchair to preside over the first canonisation ceremony at the Vatican in over two years. His Holiness stood for a long period at the start to greet priests concelebrating the Mass, presided over the nearly two-hour ceremony and then stood and walked for a good 15 minutes after it ended to greet dozens of cardinals and bishops. Later he took a lengthy, seated popemobile ride around St Peter’s Square to greet some of the tens of thousands of people who came out to celebrate the Catholic Church’s newest saints. They include a Dutch priest-journalist who was killed by the Nazis, a lay Indian convert who was killed for his faith and a half-dozen French and Italian priests and nuns who founded religious orders.

One dead, five wounded in California church shooting

A person has been killed and five others wounded in Laguna Woods, Southern California, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said. The attack occurred at a church. A suspect has been detained in connection with the shooting. It was the second mass shooting of the weekend in the United States after an 18-year-old man allegedly opened fire, killing 10 people and injuring three others, in a supermarket in Buffalo. President Joe Biden defined the massacre in Buffalo as “an act of internal terrorism”. He spoke of “a repugnant and racially-motivated crime perpetrated in the name of the disgusting ideology of white nationalism”.

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