Global Review – 19th July

‘Ferocious European heat heads north’ – BBC

Western Europe faces more sweltering temperatures today as a ferocious heatwave heads north, the BBC reports. In France and the UK extreme heat warnings were issued while northern Spain recorded temperatures of 43OC on Monday. Wildfires in France, Portugal, Spain and Greece have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Two people were killed in the blazes in Spain with the country’s prime minister linking the deaths to global warming, saying: “Climate change kills”. That toll comes on top of the hundreds of heat-related deaths reported in the Iberian Peninsula, as high temperatures have gripped the continent and triggered wildfires from Portugal to the Balkan region. Some areas, including northern Italy, are also experiencing extended droughts. In France, heat records were broken and swirling hot winds complicated firefighting efforts in the country’s southwest.

‘Hottest day ever’

Soaring temperatures across the UK continue to lead many of the London papers. The Metro reports that the heatwave has brought school and airport closures, caused roads to melt, and forced hospitals to cancel operations. The paper says the highest temperature recorded on Monday was 38.1OC, but the UK record of 38.7OC set in July 2019 is expected to be broken today. The Telegraph reports on warnings that the heatwave may leave emergency services unable to cope. The paper says that ambulance services are braced for a busy 24 hours and that temperatures were forecast to remain above 20OC overnight – conditions which can be deadly for elderly and vulnerable people.

World democracy and freedom under assault

Britain’s Prince Harry told the UN Monday that the overturning of constitutional rights in the United States was part of “a global assault on democracy and freedom”. The Duke of Sussex addressed the UN General Assembly in New York at an event marking Nelson Mandela International Day. “This has been a painful year in a painful decade,” he told delegates. He cited the continuing fallout from the pandemic, climate change, disinformation and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine before alluding to the Supreme Court’s recent overturning of America’s nationwide right to abortion. “And from the horrific war in Ukraine to the rolling back of constitutional rights here in the United States, we are witnessing a global assault on democracy and freedom, the cause of Mandela’s life,” Harry said. He paid tribute to Mandela, as “not only a man of conscience” but “a man of action”.

Another €500 million EU tranche for Ukrainian army

Agreement at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels sees a new tranche of €500 million of aid to the Ukrainian army within the European Peace Facility fund. “Europe continues to commit itself to peace and the defence of our values,” wrote EU Council president Charles Michel in a tweet. “I welcome the political agreement on the fifth tranche for Ukraine under the European Peace Facility. EU support for the Ukrainian Armed Forces now amounts to €2.5 billion. Europe is alongside Ukraine.”

EU eyes double gas imports from Azerbaijan

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen says the EU is looking to double gas imports from Azerbaijan as it seeks non-Russian suppliers after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. “Our goal: double the gas delivery from Azerbaijan to the EU in a few years. Azerbaijan will be a crucial partner for our security of supply and on our way to climate neutrality,” she says on Twitter. In May, EU leaders agreed to stop most Russian oil imports by the end of the year, but put off an outright ban on Russian gas, which in 2021 amounted to 155 billion cubic metres – nearly 40 percent of EU’s needs.

Record Gazprom gas supply to China

“On July 17 a new record was set for the daily volume of Russian gas supplies to China through the Power of Siberia pipeline,” Gazprom has made it known, according to reports from Tass. The company previously reported that supplies to China grew by 63.4% in the first half of 2022. Gazprom chief Alexei Miller said the programme for sending gas to eastern routes has been accelerated and will continue to grow. The agreement between Russia and China currently provides for the supply of 38 billion cubic metres per year.

Erdogan renews threat to block Nordic NATO bids

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed his threat to block the NATO membership bids of Sweden and Finland, less than a month after dropping his opposition to them joining the US-led defence alliance of which Turkey is a member. On the eve of a summit with Russia and Iran, Erdogan said Turkey was still prepared to “freeze the process” of the two Nordic countries joining NATO if they did not meet Ankara’s conditions to act against Kurdish militants living within their borders. The Turkish leader warned Sweden particularly that it “does not have a good image”. Erdogan will today meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Tehran to discuss ways of resuming grain exports from Ukrainian ports that have been blockaded by Russian forces.

US promises $1.2 bn to feed Horn of Africa

US aid chief Samantha Power on Monday promised $1.18 billion to help avert famine in the Horn of Africa and urged other nations including China to do more to fight a food crisis aggravated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Power voiced alarm that the war, as well as climate change, were worsening hunger around the world, just after a decade of progress had been “obliterated” by the Covid pandemic. Announcing a visit to the Horn of Africa this weekend, Power said that at least 1,103 children there are known to have died and some seven million other children are severely malnourished.

EU meets on new Russia sanctions

EU foreign ministers meet to discuss imposing more sanctions on Russia, including the possibility of banning gold purchases from the country. The EU has so far approved six packages of sanctions on Russia. Putin admitted Monday that the country’s tech companies faced “colossal” problems in accessing financing due to Western sanctions.

Sunak widens lead after latest poll

Former finance minister Rishi Sunak widened his lead in the latest round of voting Monday by Conservative MPs to decide Britain’s next prime minister, but the race to get in the final two tightened. Sunak won the support of 115 Tory lawmakers, followed by Penny Mordaunt on 82 votes, Liz Truss on 71, Kemi Badenoch on 58 and Tom Tugendhat on 31, who drops out as the last-placed candidate, the party announced. MPs will keep voting until only two candidates remain, the winner then being decided by the party members. Sky News Monday scrapped a planned debate between the remaining contenders for tonight after Sunak and Truss pulled out.

13 inmates killed in Ecuador prison clashes

Thirteen inmates lost their lives in a fight in an Ecuadorian prison, which also caused two injuries, according to the public body responsible for prisons. Staff

added that they had “regained control” of this prison, “with the support of the police and the army”. In this same prison, last May, 44 prisoners had died during clashes between rival gangs. During this uprising, 220 prisoners fled. Almost all of them were then apprehended.

Belgium reach Euro 2022 quarter-finals

Belgium secured the last spot in the Euro 2022 quarter-finals as Tina De Caigny’s goal beat Italy 1-0 in sweltering temperatures in Manchester on Monday. The Hoffenheim striker’s predatory finish early in the second half made sure of second place in Group B behind France to set up a last eight meeting with Sweden on Friday. Despite scoring a late penalty, a 1-1 draw for Iceland against a much-changed France was not enough for them to progress as they became the first side to bow out of a women’s Euro from the group stage unbeaten. In just their second ever major tournament, Belgium reached the knockout phase for the first time to round off a miserable few weeks for Italy, dashing hopes which had been high for the Azzurre. There will be no matches today.

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