Global Review – 16th October

‘Reunification of the motherland will be achieved’ – Xi

The reunification “of the motherland will take place and will certainly be achieved,” vowed ChinesePresident Xi Jinping, addressing the Taiwan issue in the opening speech of the 20th Congress of the Communist Party, winning the standing ovation of the delegates. “Resolving the Taiwan issue is a matter for Chinese people themselves, and must be resolved by Chinese people alone. We will adhere to striving for the prospect of a peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and greatest efforts, but will never commit to abandoning the use of force, and reserve the option to take all necessary measures,” Xi told the 2,300 delegates at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. He also hailed Hong Kong’s transition from “chaos to governance”, after the imposition of a national security law in 2020 that has quashed dissent in the once outspoken city. Xi touted the fight against Covid-19 while reiterating support for the private sector and allowing markets to play a key role even as China fine-tunes a “socialist economic system”. Xi said the party of 96 million members “has won the largest battle against poverty in human history”.

Scholz calls for EU expansion, military autonomy

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz called for the expansion of the European Union on Saturday, saying it would allow the bloc to remain geopolitically important. Speaking at the Congress of the Party of European Socialists in Berlin, Scholz said it was important to reform some of the EU’s treaties so that new members could join. “A united European Union of 27, 30, 36 states, with then more than 500 million free and equal citizens, can bring its weight to bear even more strongly in this world,” he said. “That the EU continues to grow eastward is a win-win for all of us,” he added.

Scholz also pushed for changes to the bloc’s unanimity principle, which means every member has to agree in order for decisions to be taken in foreign affairs and tax policy. While the principle helps the EU present a more united front, it has also been criticised for slowing action on urgent topics like sanctioning Russia. Scholz said he knew it would take “a lot of convincing” when it came to the matter of gradually phasing out unanimity. “But I also say clearly: if a geopolitical Europe is our aspiration, then majority decisions are a gain and not a loss of sovereignty.” Scholz said he supports more military autonomy of the EU, and called for co-ordinated procurement of weapons and equipment as well as the establishment of an EU rapid reaction force by 2025.

Malta’s Abela on “with courage for Europe”

Malta’s Prime Minister and Labour Party leader Robert Abela also addressed the Euro Socialist Congress on the theme “With Courage for Europe.” During one of the man sessions, Abela answered questions on the PL’s electoral successes refering to the party’s major principle that “people come first”. He explained this was the need for a just and sustainable society sensible to people’s realities. He said climate change was proving to be a serious threat and Malta was prepared to be first in de-carbonisation and digitalisation, two main pillars of Malta’s economic vision.

Letta speech irks Meloni

A speech by Italian Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta on the sidelines of the congress of European socialists in Berlin, irked Prime-Minister-in waiting Georgia Meloni who accused him of dis-unity and called for an apology. Letta had said that “the beginning of this (Italian) legislature is the worst that could have been”. Speaking and commenting on the elections of the presidents of the Chamber and Senate, he warned: “The legislature begins with an incendiary logic by those who won the elections. Those who have won, instead of reconciling the country, are dividing it. This is the opposite of what the country needs right now.”  From Rome, Meloni was quick to reply: “Your words are very serious and are a damage to Italy, its highest institutions and its international credibility. Letta, apologize immediately!” she urged him. “Our commitment will be to unite the nation, not to divide it.”

Russians kill Kherson orchestra director

The director of the Kherson Philharmonic, Yuriy Kerpatenko, was killed by the Russian army in his home for refusing to perform in a concert organised by the occupation forces, the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture reports on Facebook. It said that “after Kerpatenko refused to cooperate with the occupiers, the Russian army shot him to death in his own home”.

11 killed in ‘terrorist’ attack at military site – Moscow

Russia said two gunmen from a former Soviet state on Saturday attacked a military training ground killing 11 people who had volunteered to fight in Ukraine and wounding 15 others. Russia’s defence ministry said the attack in the Belgorod region, which borders Ukraine, happened during a firearms training session. As the war in Ukraine entered is 235th day, there has been a new Russian attack with kamikaze drones on the city of Zaporizhzhia,while the Ukrainian army advances south, in the region of Kherson. However, Moscow said the counter-offensive had failed. In Kiev, the situation of electricity supplies has stabilised and there were no further plans to suspend electricity in the capital after yesterday’s Russian attack. The head of the Ukrainian electricity company thanked citizens of the capital and the regions of Kiev, Zhytomyr, Cherkasy and Chernihiv for reducing consumption.

Death toll in Turkey’s mine explosion reaches 41

The last miner who was reported missing after the explosion in the Amasra coal mine, in northwestern Turkey, was found dead yesterday morning. This was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived at the scene of the tragedy, specifying that the death toll from the explosion had “risen to 41 victims”. Thus ended the rescue operations that had been going on for over 20 hours after the explosion that took place Friday night.

‘Plot to oust’ Truss

‘The Sunday Express’ reports a “secret plot to oust” British Prime Minister Liz Truss, claiming it’s been told that around 100 MPs are backing a plan to bring the PM’s “catastrophic stint in No 10 to an end and appoint her successor without a contest”. ‘The Sunday Mirror’ reveals that “rattled” Conservatives want Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to replace Truss. Some of the MPs turning on Truss want Wallace to “step in”, the paper claims, with Mr Sunak back in the role of chancellor. ‘The Sunday Times’ says the new chancellor Jeremy Hunt has taken “full control” by delaying Truss’s flagship 1p cut to income tax by a year. The 19% rate will now take effect in April 2024 when Rishi Sunak previously said it should, the paper reports. Mr Hunt’s self-proclaimed “clean slate” on the mini-budget would add to the sense among some Tories that the PM is “increasingly powerless”, it adds. ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ writes that Hunt has the backing of the governor of the Bank of England. Andrew Bailey.

Success in world-first spina bifida surgery

A baby girl, Robbie, is the first human to receive experimental surgery involving the placement of a stem cell patch that repairs and restores damaged tissue to the spine. The pioneering spina bifida surgery, involving a team of 40 from the University of California Davis, occurred when Robbie was still developing in her mother’s womb. This novel fetal surgery “could change the life of a developing baby with spina bifida, who otherwise could be born paralysed from the waist down”. Robbie was kicking her legs soon after being born, which was a great sign. Spina bifida is a neural tube defect that occurs early in pregnancy when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly. The neural tube is the structure in a developing embryo that eventually becomes the baby’s brain, spinal cord and the tissues that enclose them.

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