Global Review – 18th May

‘China Eastern jet deliberately crashed’ – WSJ

US investigators believe someone on board deliberately crashed a China Eastern flight in March, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The China Eastern flight was travelling from Kunming to Guangzhou when it inexplicably plunged from an altitude of 29,000 feet into a mountainside, killing all 132 people on board. The black box flight data recorders recovered from the site were sent to the United States for analysis. That data shows that someone – possibly a pilot or someone who had forced their way into the cockpit – input orders to send the Boeing 737-800 into a nosedive, according to Wall Street Journal.

Pollution behind 1 in 6 global deaths in 2019 – study

Pollution caused about nine million people to die prematurely in 2019, according to a new global report, with experts raising alarm over increasing deaths from breathing outside air and the “horrifying” toll of lead poisoning. The Lancet Commission on pollution and health said the impact from pollution on global health remains “much greater than that of war, terrorism, malaria, HIV, tuberculosis, drugs and alcohol”. Human-created waste in the air, water and soil causes heart disease, cancer, respiratory problems, diarrhoea and other serious illnesses. Pollution is an “existential threat to human health and planetary health, and jeopardises the sustainability of modern societies”.

UK sets out new law to fix post-Brexit N.Ireland trade

Britain set out steps on Tuesday to try to break the deadlock with the European Union on trade with Northern Ireland, lining up a new law that would effectively override parts of a Brexit deal and further inflame ties with Brussels. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told parliament the planned legislation would ease the movement of goods, apply Britain’s tax regime in Northern Ireland and hand London more say over the laws governing the province. She said the legislation would not break international law. However, the new law would change parts of the so-called Northern Ireland protocol, agreed with the bloc as part of the deal over Britain’s exit from the EU. European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said such action was “not acceptable” and that Brussels would respond with all measures at its disposal. Ireland described the move as one “of great concern”.

Libyan rivals fight in Tripoli

Clashes erupted in Libya’s capital Tuesday as parliament-appointed prime minister Fathi Bashagha tried to take control of government from a rival administration that has refused to cede power. Bashagha entered Tripoli overnight after two months of stalemate between Libya’s rival administrations, but withdrew hours later as fighting rocked the capital, his office said. The crisis risks plunging Libya back into prolonged fighting after two years of comparative peace. The stalemate has already led to a partial blockade of Libya’s oil facilities, cutting its main source of foreign revenue by half.

Kim slams ‘immature’ response to COVID outbreak

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un slammed his country’s response to its first officially-confirmed COVID-19 outbreak as “immature”, accusing government officials of inadequacies and inertia as fever cases swept the country. North Korea reported 232,880 more people with fever symptoms, and six more deaths after the country’s first admission of the COVID outbreak last week. Since its first acknowledgement of the COVID-19 outbreak, the North has reported 1.7 million patients with symptoms, including 62 deaths as of Tuesday evening.

Tripled weapons production, purchases in US

The production of weapons in the United States has tripled since 2000, with a leap in the last three years that testifies to the rush of Americans to arm themselves, according to a report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Since 2009, purchases of semi-automatic Glock-style pistols, purchased for self-defence, have outstripped shotguns in purchases. The report also reveals that authorities have recovered 19,344 homemade guns, so-called ‘ghost guns’ built by purchasing components online, in 2021, ten times more than in 2016. The production of weapons in the United States rose by 3.9 million units in 2000 to 11.3 million in 2020.

Russia considering withdrawing from WHO and WTO

The Russian Parliament is considering withdrawing from the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organisation, according to the vice president of the assembly Pyotr Tolstoy, as quoted bythe newspaper ‘Kommersant’. Meanwhile, Russian agency Tass cites Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev declaring Russia will not allow World War III to break out. However, at the same time, he said, “in the event of an attack it will respond in a super powerful way”.

West committing energy suicide – Putin

The West is heading towards “a sort of energy suicide” with the imposition of sanctions against Russian supplies, President Putin told Russian oil companies in Moscow. “In the long term it will suffer the consequences, it is causing damage to the European economy,” added Putin. “The sanctions have led to the fact that the price of oil on the markets increases dramatically and the prices of oil products are growing at a dizzying rate. The West has ignored Russia’s legitimate security concerns and has promoted and supported neo-fascist and Nazi elements in Kiev’s leadership over the years”. His remarks came as EU members have failed to negotiate a proposed embargo on Russian oil as part of broader action by the West against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.

Biden to host leaders of Sweden, Finland amid NATO bids

US President Joe Biden will host Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson of Sweden and President Sauli Niinistö of Finland at the White House for a meeting Thursday amid their push to join NATO even though Turkey has expressed reservations. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has spoken to Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, will see him again on the margins of a special UN Security Council meeting later today in New York.

Russia to interrogate Mariupol evacuees

Russia has said it intends to interrogate the 264 Mariupol defenders taken from the Azovstal plant about alleged war crimes by the Ukrainian regime against the civilian population” in Ukraine’s east. The Russian Embassy in The Hague said it would disclose “videos of witnesses’ evidence of crimes” at a presentation next week. They claimed they’ll show “human rights violations and killings of civilians by Ukraine’s troops and nationalist organisations, as well as shelling by the Armed Forces of Ukraine of peaceful objects in Donbas”. Russian troops kept up their blockade of the Mariupol plant on Tuesday.

‘We need a new Chaplin’ Zelensky tells Cannes

The 75th Cannes Film Festival has kicked off with a video address from President Zelenskyy. He poke at length about the connection between cinema and reality, refering to films like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator” as not unlike Ukraine’s present circumstances. “We need a new Chaplin who will demonstrate that the cinema of our time is not silent,” said Zelenskyy, who drew a standing ovation.

Queen makes surprise public appearance

Queen Elizabeth appeared Tuesday at Paddington Station to see the east-west Elizabeth Line, named in her honour and which is due to open to the public on May 24. The 96-year-old monarch was seen smiling as she toured the station with a cane in hand. Her public appearances are being closely watched as Britain prepares to celebrate the monarch’s 70 years on the throne with four days of Platinum Jubilee festivities next June.

Tory MP arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault

A British Conservative MP remains in custody after being arrested on suspicion of rape and sexual assault offences. The man, in his 50s, was also arrested on allegations of abuse of position of trust and misconduct in a public office. The Police said the alleged sexual offences all took place in London between 2002 and 2009. Party Chief Whip Chris Heaton-Harris confirmed the MP involved has been asked not to attend Parliament while the investigation is ongoing.

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