Global Review – 18th October

EU foreign ministers approve Ukraine aid, Iran sanctions

EU foreign ministers meetng in Luxembourg have approved increased financial aid and military training for Ukraine and new sanctions targeting Iran’s morality police. They pledged €500 million in additional funding for arms deliveries to Kyiv, as well as a scheme to train 15,000 soldiers starting in November. The new tranche raises EU’s arms contributions to Ukraine to €3.1 billion.

The top diplomats, including Malta’s Foreign Minister Ian Borg, also approved new sanctions on Iran’s “morality police,” tasked with enforcing Iran’s Islamic dress code, following the death in police custody of Jina Mahsa Amini, who had been detained for allegedly wearing attire considered inappropriate. European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wrote, “We stand by the courageous Iranian women. In addition, the support of Iran to Russia’s war against Ukraine will receive a clear response from the EU.”

EU proposes major fund for energy inflation

The European Union has announced plans for a €40-billion fund to combat incoming energy inflation. It will give governments the ability to tap existing cohesion funds to support smaller companies affected by gas and electricity price hikes, and to help vulnerable households. The energy costs crisis has hit European households and businesses alike. The fund will join current contributions by member states of €500-billion towards cushioning the energy crisis.

Hunt reverses ‘almost all’ of Liz Truss tax plan

Britain’s new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt has reversed “almost all” of Liz Truss’s tax cuts in what the opposition said was a “complete humiliation” for the prime minister. Chancellor Hunt said the country now needed to increase taxes and cut spending to rebuild stability and confidence. He announced the government would ditch nearly all of the programme that helped Ms Truss win the leadership of the ruling Conservative Party just over a month ago. Labour Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury Pat McFadden said the move was a “complete humiliation”. Meanwhile, Liz Truss has apologised for having “gone too far and too fast” with the reforms that have triggered economic turmoil, adding that she still plans to lead the Conservatives to the next general election.

France prepares for major disruptions

France expects a day of major disruptions Tuesday after unions called a nationwide transport strike as they remain in deadlock with the government over walkouts at oil depots that have sparked fuel shortages. The move comes after workers at several refineries and depots operated by energy giant TotalEnergies voted to extend their strike action. Unions in other industries and the public sector have also announced action to protest against the twin impact of soaring energy prices and overall inflation on the cost of living. Beyond transport workers, unions hope to bring out staff in sectors such as the food industry and healthcare, CGT boss Martinez told France Inter radio. Their action will kick off what is likely to be an autumn and winter of discontent as his flagship domestic policy of raise the French retirement age.

Waves of Russian drones strike Kiev

Russian “kamikaze drones” hit Kiev on Monday, killing at least three civilians and injuring three others, local officials said. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of President Zelensky’s office, wrote on the Telegram 19 people had been rescued from the residential building and rescue work was continuing. Zelensky said Russia had launched a barrage of drone and missile attacks across the country, but that the strikes would not “break” Ukrainians.

Russia and Ukraine swap 218 prisoners

Moscow and Kiev Monday carried out one of the biggest prisoner swaps of the war so far, exchanging a total of 218 detainees, including 108 Ukrainian women. The Ukrainians said there were 12 civilians among the freed women,  adding that 37 of the women had been captured after Russian forces took the giant Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol in May. The Russians had earlier said 110 Ukrainians, mostly women, would be freed in turn for the release of 80 Russians “civilian sailors” and 30 military personnel.

13 die in Russia military plane crash

The final toll from the crash of a Russian military plane into an apartment building in Yeysk, in southern Russia, is 13 dead, including three children, and 19 injured. This was announced by the ministry of emergency situations, as reported by the Russian media, specifying that “the rescuers have finished digging in the rubble”. The building in Russia’s southern border with Ukraine had been engulfed in a huge fireball after the fighter-bomber slammed into it with tonnes of fuel exploding.

Australia’s food price warning as floods devastate farmers

Australians are bracing for the biggest cost-of-living crisis in 30 years to get even worse as widespread flooding across Australia’s east coast threatens yet another spike in food prices. Fresh foods like citrus fruits, winter vegetables and protein like poultry are now facing shortages as analysts predict torrential rainfall in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania could spoil harvest season. Treasurer Jim Chalmers sounded the alarm on Monday, warning that Australians must prepare for higher grocery bills as the fallout from the nation’s latest flooding crisis becomes clear. It comes after new data on Monday revealed supermarket prices have already risen about 8% over the September quarter – much faster than the June quarter’s 10-year high.

Lula compares Bolsonaro to the governments of Italy and Hungary

Brazilian the leftist leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has compared President Jair Bolsonaro to the centre-right governments of Italy and Hungary. Lula and Jair are running in the ballot for the highest office in the state. “We saw what happened in Italy,” said Lula at an election meeting with hundreds of religious, “The fascist-led far right won the elections. We know what happens in Hungary. The family of the current President Bolsonaro represents this segment. angry of the international right”.

Colombian drug cartel head gets  35 years

Colombian drug trafficker Rendon Herrera, known as “Don Mario”, was sentenced in New York to 35 years in prison and to pay over $45 million, after pleading guilty to charges brought last year. Herrera, 57, was the head of the “Gulf clan”, Colombia’s most powerful drug cartel.

Benzema wins first Ballon d’Or

Karim Benzema has been rewarded for his career-best 2021-22 season with his first Ballon d’Or in a ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris. Real Madrid captain Benzema was a strong favourite for the top award on Monday after inspiring the Spanish giants to a LaLiga and Champions League double last term. He was the clear winner after scoring 44 goals in 46 matches and earning a fifth European crown in the 2021-22 campaign. Bayern Munich’s former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was the runner-up, with Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne third and Robert Lewandowski fourth. Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah was ranked fifth and Paris Saint-Germain’s prolific France international Kylian Mbappe only sixth. Lewandowski won the Gerd Muller Award, presented to the best striker. Barcelona teenager Gavi won the prestigious Kopa Trophy. The 18-year-old midfielder became the second successive Barca player to land the award, given to the best player in the world under the age of 21, after fellow midfielder Pedri had the honour last year.

Putellas wins Ballon d’Or Feminin

Barcelona and Spain midfielder Alexia Putellas took home a second straight Ballon d’Or Feminin award on Monday to become the first two-time winner. Putellas was recognised in 2021 after winning the Champions League with Barca, before returning to the final this year. She was then denied the opportunity to feature at the Women’s Euro 2022 after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament on the eve of the finals. Beth Mead, who inspired England’s Euros triumph, finished second.

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