Global Review – 20th September

Autocrat world leaders to skip upcoming UN sessions

When the high-level segment of the UN General Assembly sessions begin today, Tuesday, September 20, the official list of speakers include 92 heads of state and 56 heads of government, including Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela. But the “usual suspects”, mostly leaders of authoritarian regimes, are missing – including Vladimir Putin of Russia, Xi Jinping of China, Kim Jong-un of North Korea, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and the much-maligned military leaders of Myanmar. Some of these autocrats stand accused of war crimes, genocide, human rights abuses, persecution of journalists and clamping down on gender empowerment and civil society organizations – all at cross purposes with the UN. A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, described the absentees as “a veritable political rogues gallery”. Speaking at the closing of the 76th session of the General Assembly, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the current session, like the previous one, was marked by a series of deepening challenges. “Rising prices, the erosion of purchasing power, growing food insecurity and the gathering shadows of a global recession” plus a “global pandemic that refused to be defeated and the emergence of another health emergency in monkeypox”. And deadly heatwaves, storms, floods and other natural disasters, he added. But speaking of the coming 77th session, Guterres said it will continue to test the multilateral system like never before.

EU bread price sky-rockets

The price of bread has never been higher in the European Union with Eurostat noting that in August the price increased by an average of 18% compared to the same month of 2021. It descroibed this as a “huge” increase, considering that a year ago the price of bread was on average three percent higher than in August 2020. The monthly data also show a significant increase in global inflation, albeit not that high, from 3% to 10%. The increase in the price of bread was seen in the various countries: the highest average rate of change was recorded in Hungary (+ 66%), followed by Lithuania (+ 33%), Estonia and Slovakia (+32%). The lowest rate was recorded in France (+ 8%), the Netherlands and Luxembourg (both + 10%). The price of other food products is also increasing. According to Eurostat data, all food prices have increased in general, with particularly marked growth in the prices of cooking oils and fats. The increases are mainly attributed to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which significantly disturbed the global markets and markets of both nations, usually large exporters of cereals, wheat, corn, oilseeds (especially sunflowers ) and fertilizers.

With the war I changed my mind about Putin’ – Salvini

A week before the Italians go to the polls, Lega secretary Matteo Alvini has distanced himself from Russia, telling Bloomberg, “My opinion of Putin really changed during the war, because when someone starts invading, bombing, sending tanks to another country, well, everything changes.” What will not change for the leader of the League, however, is Italy’s international position: “For the foreseeable future, China is our main competitor. We must fear it because it is not a democracy and is ready to invade the European market with its products and goods.” Forza Italia leader Silvio Berlusconi adds to the dose, confirming the unity of the centre-right also on foreign policy: “We are in Europe, in NATO, in the West, we absolutely must have the same policies that all other countries have,” he told SkyTg24, answering a question on the criticisms leveled by Salvini on sanctions against Russia. “These sanctions certainly did a lot of harm to Russia. I went to Russia many times for my friendship with Putin and I noticed that in terms of history and culture it is a truly European country. But today it is the opposite of what we wanted.”

Britain and the world bid sombre, final farewell to Queen Elizabeth II

Britain said farewell to Queen Elizabeth II on Monday at a historic state funeral attended by world leaders, before a ceremonial journey past hundreds of thousands of mourners to her final place of rest. Huge crowds gathered in London to watch as the queen’s flag-draped coffin, topped with the Imperial State Crown, her orb and sceptre, was carried slowly to a gun carriage from parliament’s Westminster Hall where it had lain in state since Wednesday. To the tune of pipes and drums, the gun carriage – used at every state funeral since Queen Victoria’s in 1901 – was then drawn by 142 junior-enlisted sailors in the Royal Navy to Westminster Abbey. The thousand-year-old church’s tenor bell tolled 96 times at one- minute interval, one for every year of her life, and stopped a minute before the service began at 11:00 am. In his funeral sermon, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised the queen’s life of duty and service to the UK and the Commonwealth. “People of loving service are rare in any walk of life. Leaders of loving service are still rarer,” he told the 2,000 guests, who included Malta’s President and Mrs George Vella.

The coffin was then borne, to the rhythmic strains of funeral marches, on a three-hour journey through the streets of London to Windsor Castle, west of the capital. All along the route, a sea of arms were raised aloft, clutching mobile phones, to record the choreographed display of military precision. The last chants of “God save the Queen” were heard as onlookers scattered flowers on the road, and muffled church bells rang in the distance. A private burial took place late Monday in the King George VI Memorial Chapel, conducted by the Dean of Windsor, the official website of the royal family said. “The Queen was buried together with the Duke of Edinburgh,” a statement said, referring to her husband of 73 years Prince Philip who died last year.

‘Harry did not sing the anthem’: the media denies it

Did the Harry, Duke of Sussex not sing the “God Save The King” at the end of the grandmother’s funeral ceremony? Social media reported he did not as a spite against his father King Charles who in these days of mourning, through some decisions, would have humiliated him in the eyes of the royal house and the world. For some, however, Harry at the end of the ceremony would have committed a lack of respect towards the new sovereign,, who would have decided for him and for his wife Meghan a future away from the royal family, so much so that the grandchildren Archie and Lilibet, will become respectively prince and princess but without acquiring the title of Royal Highness – a decision that would have sent Harry and Meghan into a rage. And if that wasn’t enough, another no less revealing one has been added: Charles would have excluded his second son and his wife from the receptionon the eve of the state funeral with the heads of state and world leaders. The couple would have been excluded from the list of the Palace, because the presence was foreseen only for members of the Royal Family ‘on duty’. But the media defended Harry and assured one and all that he did sing the national anthem.

Hurricane Fiona pummels Dominican Republic

Hurricane Fiona dumped torrential rain on the Dominican Republic on Monday after triggering major flooding in Puerto Rico and widespread power blackouts in both Caribbean islands. US National Hurricane Centre forecasts continuing rains and possible new catastrophic floods in both Puerto Rico and in the eastern Dominican Republic. The hurricane was still strengthening and “life-threatening and catastrophic flooding and mudslides” were possible. Meanwhile, Puerto Rican authorities have reported the death of two persons as a result of Hurricane Fiona.

5 killed in Iran protests

Five people were killed in Iran’s Kurdish region on Monday when security forces opened fire during protests over the death of a woman in police custody, a Kurdish rights group said, on a third day of turmoil over an incident that has ignited nationwide anger. Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old from Iran’s Kurdistan province, fell into a coma and died following her arrest in Tehran last week by the morality police, sparking demonstrations in numerous areas including the capital.

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