Global Review – 25th July

Call for maximum working temperature capping

Trade unions have called on the European Commission to impose maximum temperature limits for outdoor workers, after three people died while on shift in Madrid during last week’s withering heatwave. While a handful of EU member states have legislation limiting working hours in excessive heat, the thresholds vary and many nations have no nationwide heat limits at all. According to research by the polling agency Eurofound, 23% of all workers across the EU were being exposed to high temperatures a quarter of the time. That figure rises to 36% in agriculture and industry and to 38% for construction workers. Previous research has linked high temperatures to a number of chronic conditions and an elevated risk of workplace injury. The European Trade Union Confederation(ETUC) said that most EU nations have no maximum temperature legislation for workplaces, although Belgium, Hungary and Latvia all have some curbs on activity. ETUC’s deputy secretary general Claes-Mikael Stahl said, “Politicians, in the comfort of their airconditioned offices. can’t continue to ignore the danger to our most vulnerable workers,” he said.

Europe, US battle fierce wildfires amid heatwaves

Firefighters in Europe and the US on Sunday battled major wildfires that have forced hundreds to evacuate, as soaring temperatures in Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as California and New York, raised fears of more blazes. Greece is in the grip of a heatwave that began on Saturday and is expected to last 10 days. Temperatures were set to rise to 42OC in some regions. In Spain, a heatwave that has persisted for two weeks was expected to produce record-high temperatures of 45OC in the southern region of Cordoba. In all, fires in France, Spain and Portugal have already burned more land so far this year than was destroyed by flames in all of 2021. The World Health Organization said on Friday Europe’s heatwave had led to “more than 1,700 needless deaths… in Spain and Portugal alone”. Firefighters in Britain were battling blazes in London on Sunday, days after the mercury climbed to 40.3OC and smashed the country’s temperature record. The London Fire Brigade urged the public to cancel barbecues and remove rubbish from grassland. The United States meanwhile sweltered in scorching heat set to exceed already record-setting temperatures, worsening an out-of-control wildfire in central California. Tinderbox conditions in California sparked a fire on Friday near the Yosemite National Park and its giant sequoia trees, two days after President Biden warned that climate change represented a “clear and present danger”. Air-conditioned shops in France will be ordered to keep their doors closed or risk being fined, a minister said Sunday announcing an upcoming rule to combat energy wastage. Leaving the doors open when the air conditioning is on leads to “20% more consumption and… it’s absurd,” French Minister of Ecological Transition Agnes Pannier-Runacher told RMC radio. Some cities in France passed municipal by-laws in July, imposing fines for offending air-conditioned shops. The government now plans to extend this to the whole country, with a fine of up to €750.The minister said there were also plans to restrict the use of illuminated signs.

Pope arrives in Canada to apologise to the native peoples

Pope Francis has arrived in Canada for a pastoral trip, during which he will apologise to indigenous peoples for the abuses committed in Catholic residential schools. Welcoming for him at Edmonton Airport, Alberta, were Canada’s Governor General Mary May Simon, a native of Inuk, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The meeting with survivors of abuse on Monday is a fundamental step in the efforts of the Catholic Church to reconcile with native communities. On board the papal plane, the Holy Father told reporters that it was a “penitential trip” and urged prayer in particular for the elderly and grandparents.   

Myanmar executes democracy activists

Myanmar’s junta has executed four prisoners, including a former lawmaker from Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, state media said Monday, in the country’s first use of capital punishment in decades. The four, who included another prominent democracy activist, were executed for leading “brutal and inhumane terror acts”, the ‘Global New Light’ of Myanmar newspaper said. The paper said the executions were carried out “under the prison’s procedure” without saying when or how the four men were killed. The junta has sentenced dozens of anti-coup activists to death as part of its crackdown on dissent after seizing power last year, but Myanmar had not carried out an execution for decades.

Italy: “PD’s break with M5s irreversible” – Letta

The electoral campaign for the early vote of September 25 continues with centre-right and Partito Democratico and M5s in search of agreements and strategies within their respective camps. PD chief Enrico Letta defined the break with the M5s as “irreversible”, spoke of “collective suicide” for the fall of Prime minister Mario Draghi and relaunched the idea of an open progressive front. Fratelli d’Italia’s Giorgia Meloni, tipped to become Italy’s first woman prime minister, denounced what she termed as “the mud machine” which has restarted during the wekk-old the electoral campaign. She said the reason is that “they are aware of the imminent defeat”. On Wednesday, the centre-right are scheduled to meet for the first official summit of the coalition.

Tunisians vote on constitution

Tunisians vote today on a constitution seen as a referendum on President Kais Saied, whose charter would give his office nearly unchecked powers in a break with the country’s post-2011 democratic trend. Voting runs 11:00 pm(Malta time) at some 11,000 polling stations across the North African country. Around 9.3 million out of Tunisia’s 12 million people – civilians aged over 18 –  have opted in or been automatically registered to vote, according to the electoral commission. They include about 356,000 registered overseas, for whom polling began on Saturday. Opposition parties and civil society groups have called for a boycott, while the powerful UGTT trades union has not taken an official stand on the vote. The referendum comes a year to the day after Saied sacked the government and froze parliament in a dramatic power grab, as Tunisia grappled with surging coronavirus cases on top of political and economic crises.

Migrants’ maxi-landing in Sicily

Two vessels of the Port Authority landed on the Nuremberg pier in Messina, after having rescued a fishing boat off the coast of Libya with 500 migrants on board. Only 179 have landed in Messina, in addition to the bodies of five people who died from causes not yet ascertained. The others were diverted to Portopalo di Capo Passero, Catania and Crotone. The migrants included 30 unaccompanied minors. Meanwhile, at least 17 migrants from Haiti, including a child, died off the Bahamas when the boat they were on capsized.

2 dead, 4 injured in Los Angeles shooting

Two people were killed and four others were injured in a shooting in Los Angeles, in what seems to have been a clach between gangs. Fox reports the attacker was taken into police custody. Various American media oulets said several people were involved in the fight.

Google founder discovers Elon Musk was his wife’s lover

Elon Musk had a brief affair last fall with the wife of Sergey Brin, the co-founder of Google, which is why Brin filed for divorce earlier this year and ended the longtime friendship between the two billionaires of the technology sector. ‘The Wall Street Journal’ reports the Tesla founder had often talked about his visits to his friend’s house in Silicon Valley on social media. After the discovery, the two would have fiercely quarreled. It’s just one of the personal problems Musk faced this year amidst corporate challenges, production outages at his automaker Tesla, and the litigation surrounding his withdrawal of the $44 billion Twitter offer. WSJ also recalled that Brin wrote Musk a cheque for $500,000 in 2008 when Tesla, in the midst of a financial crisis, was having difficulty increasing production. In 2015 Musk gave Brin one of Tesla’s first electric SUVs.

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