Global Review – 19th October

Centre-left wins big in Italian elections

The Italian centre-left has won eight out of 10 cities in the runoff of regional elections: it snatched Rome and Turin from the Movimento Cinque Stelle and conquered Savona. The centre-right won Cosenza and Isernia and kept Caserta, while the former Northern League fiefdom got Varese. The centre-right held on to Trieste for the fourth time. Socialist leader Enrico Letta described the result as “a triumphal victory”. Observers said that after an election where only  43.9% voted, and a subdued electoral campaign among the candidates but very tense among the national leaders after the Forza Nuova assault on the CGIL, the geography of the great Italian cities has been redrawn – now almost all in the hands of the centre-left.

China says recent test was spacecraft not missile

China said Monday its launch of a new spacecraft in August was merely a test to see whether the vehicle could be re-used, denying a Financial Times report that they had tested a rocket carrying a hypersonic missile. The Foreign Ministry said the launch was of “great significance for reducing the use-cost of spacecraft and could provide a convenient and affordable way to make a round trip for mankind’s peaceful use of space”. The Financial Times had reported China had launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through space, circling the globe before cruising down toward its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles.

Russia closes NATO’s Moscow office

Foreign Minister Serghei Lavrov has announced the closure of the NATO intelligence office in Moscow in retaliation for the Alliance’s decision to revoke the accreditation of eight Russian mission officials to the same alliance. The office is set up at the embassy of Belgium. At the same time, Moscow will suspend its mission to NATO.

State of emergency in Ecuador over drug violence

Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso declared a state of emergency in the country struggling with a wave of drug-related violence, and ordered the mobilisation of the police and army on the street. In a live TV address, he said the moves come into effect immediately.

Italian police use water cannons, tear gas on no-vacs

Italian police in full riot gear used water cannons and tear gas on Monday to clear a sit-in at the port of Trieste, where opponents of the government’s mandatory COVID-19 health pass had tried to block access. Italy’s largest commercial port had been the focal point of protest over the introduction of new rules last Friday that require all workers either to show proof of vaccination, a negative coronavirus test or recent recovery from infection.

Bild director fired over ‘abuse of power’

Julian Reichelt, the director of Bild Zeitung, Germany’s most popular and widespread tabloid, was fired after the publication of an article in the New York Times entitled “Sex, lies and a secret payment”. He had already been suspended last spring, but then reinstated. According to the reports Reichelt had entrusted a 25-year-old journalist – with whom he had a relationship – a very prestigious assignment, despite the fact that she herself expressed the belief that she was not ready for such a position. Furthermore, he allegedly guaranteed the journalist an “extraordinary” payment of over €5,000, recommending her “not to disclose this extra salary to anyone”.

Colin Powell dies of COVID-19

Colin Powell, the first Afro-American US Secretary of State and top military officer, died on Monday after complications from COVID-19, albeit he was fully vaccinated. He was 84. He was named to senior posts by three Republican presidents and reached the top of the US military as it was regaining its vigour after the trauma of the Vietnam War.

Protests at Winter Olympics torch lighting

The countdown to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games started Monday with the Olympic flame being lit in ancient Olympia in Greece amid human rights protests. Demonstrators made their reservations clear about the Winter Olympics being held in China, despite the country’s record in Tibet, Hong Kong and with the Uyghur minority. Chinese organisers will take part in an official handover of the Games at the Panatheitic Stadium on Tuesday, which dates back to the second century and was used in the first Olympic Games in 1896.

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