Russian invasion of Ukraine will have ‘severe costs’
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “any further aggression by Russia against Ukraine would have “high costs”. His comment came in a tweet at the end of an 80-minute secure video summit with US President Joe Biden and the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Poland, the United Kingdom and the European Union, to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. TGCom24 quotes EU sources saying the summit gave full “support for Ukraine” and that there was “full transatlantic unity” in response to Russia. A meeting between Russian, Ukrainian, French and German leaders will be held tomorrow, Wednesday when the Elysée will propose a de-escalation path to Putin.
US places up to 8,500 troops on alert
CNN quotes Pentagon spokesman John Kirby saying as many as 8,500 US troops have been put on heightened alert for a possible deployment to Eastern Europe as Russian troops mass on Ukraine’s border. The “prepare to deploy” orders are the latest step the US has taken to prepare for a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine that officials have warned could be imminent. Kirby said Russia continues to add “battalion tactical groups” to the border with Ukraine and in Belarus. Moscow denies it is planning to invade, accusing the US and NATO of “hysteria” and of escalating tensions over Ukraine.
Avalanche of blank ballots in Italian presidential election
In Italy, intense inter-party talks continued throughout yesterday in a bid to arrive at a common name to replace Sergio Mattarella as the country’s president. As expected, the first round ended in an avalanche of blank ballots (672), as talks were held between La Lega leader Matteo Salvini, Giuseppe Letta (Partito Democratico) and Giuseppe Conte (Movimento Cinque Stelle). The day revolved around the name of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who at one time met the three leaders. However, centre-right difficulties persist regarding his move to the Quirinale. Another vote will be held today at3pm.
The “unusual” names of the Italian count
The first vote in the Italian presidential election contained a myriad of names from the world of sport, entertainment and journalism, such as former goalkeeper Dino Zoff, and TV hosts Bruno Vespa andAmadeus (Sebastiani). Among the null votes, was also one for Pepito Sbazzeguti, anagram of Giuseppe Bottazzi, the Peppone of the “Don Camillo” films. There were also votes for porn stars.
‘Johnson had a birthday party during lockdown’
Downing Street has admitted that staff gathered inside No 10 to celebrate Boris Johnson’s birthday when the first COVID lockdown was still in place. ITV News reports up to 30 people attended the June 2020 event, sang Happy Birthday and were served cake. No 10 said staff had “gathered briefly” to “wish the prime minister a happy birthday”, adding that he had been there “for less than 10 minutes”. Rules at the time banned indoor gatherings of more than two people.
George Floyd murder: 3 on civil rights trial charges
Prosecutors in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights have accused the men of standing by as fellow Officer Derek Chauvin “slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them”. Former Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are broadly charged with depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority. Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin pressed him to the ground with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine-and-a-half minutes while the 46-year-old Afro-American was facedown, handcuffed and gasping for air. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders from intervening. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter last year.
Biden curses Fox News reporter
Reuters reports President Biden was caught on a hot microphone cursing a Fox News reporter at a White House event on Monday after the journalist shouted a question about the impact of rising inflation on this year’s congressional elections. As journalists were ushered out of a meeting of Biden’s Competition Council, Peter Doocy, a White House correspondent with whom Biden regularly spars, asked if it was OK to ask about inflation and if it was a political liability. “That’s a great asset, more inflation,” Biden responded sarcastically over a din of reporters shouting questions, apparently not realizing his microphone was still on. “What a stupid son of a bitch,” he added.
Military seizes power in Burkina Faso
The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré. The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover. Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency. His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location. The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.
8 dead, many injured in stampede at Africa stadium
At least eight people died and many others, including children, were injured following a crowd stampede near one of the gates of the Olembe stadium in Yaounde, where the match between Cameroon and Comoros, valid for the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations was being played. Among the dead was also a child while a newborn, trampled on by the crowd, was hospitalised. Cameroon won 2-1, booking their place in the quarter-finals and will now play Gambia who registered a 1-0 victory over Guinea.