Global Review – 26th September

Czech vote results confirm populist advance

In the Czech Republic municipal elections, the main opposition populist party Ano (Action of the displeased citizen) of the former premier Andrej Babis has gained significant points in the big cities and also reported success in the first round of the elections for the renewal of part of the Senate. The parties of the ruling coalition instead won in the country’s two largest cities, Prague and Brno. In the first round of the Senate elections – where the turnout was 42.65% – the relative majority went to Ano, ahead of Ods, Kdu-Csl and TOP 09. But in the second round, which will be held next Friday and Saturday, the populists will have 17 ballots to challenge the parties of the government coalition. But regardless of the results of the second round, the parties of the ruling coalition will retain a majority in Parliament. As for the municipal vote, where the turnout was 46.07%, the definitive results show that the populist movement Ano won in eight of the 13 cities in the 13 regions, while the other five victories go to the parties of the government coalition of centre-right.

UAE agrees to supply Germany with gas, diesel

The United Arab Emirates agreed Sunday an “energy security” deal with Germany to supply liquefied natural gas and diesel as Berlin searches for new power sources to replace Russian supplies. Emirati industry minister Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber called it a “landmark new agreement” that “reinforces the rapidly-growing energy partnership between the UAE and Germany”, at a signing attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the UAE’s state news agency WAM reported. Scholz was on a visit to the UAE as part of a Gulf tour that also includes stops in Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Korea, US begin naval drills

South Korea and the United States began their first combined naval exercise near the peninsula in five years early Monday, a day after Pyongyang conducted a ballistic missile launch. Washington is Seoul’s key security ally and stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect it from the nuclear-armed North. South Korea’s hawkish President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office in May, has vowed to beef up joint military exercises with the United States, after years of failed diplomacy with North Korea under his predecessor. The South’s navy said in a statement the four-day exercise will involve more than 20 vessels and an assortment of aircraft, which will conduct drills on anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare operations, tactical manoeuvers and other maritime operations.

2,000 protesters arrested in RussiaUkraine

The war in Ukraine entered its 215th day today. In Russia, over two thousand demonstrators were arrested during the protests against the partial mobilisation wanted by President Putin. Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church, announced in his sermon that soldiers who die in Ukraine will be absolved of all their sins. Anad, according to Ukraine’s President Zelensky, Putin’s nuclear threats may have to be taken seriously: “I don’t think he’s bluffing. For him, war is a very expensive and bloody toy.” On the war front, the Russians hit Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region, with S-300 missiles, damaging several homes and a hospital, according to the city council. Also, Russian kamikaze drones have hit the southern city of Odessa, on the Black Sea, but no casualties have been reported. Ukrainian air defense forces shot down one of the drones.

‘Enlisted Russian will not be able to leave Russia’

Independent site Meduza, quoting a source in the Kremlin, reports that probably from September 28, men of mobilisation age in Russian will be banned from leaving the country. According to the source, to cross the border they will have to obtain a permit from the Military Commissariat, a sort of “exit visa”. On September 21, Putin announced the “partial” mobilisation. Defense Minister Sergy Shoigu said that about 300,000 people will be mobilized.

Iran rails against Western stance on protests

Iranian government officials have hauled in the British and Norwegian ambassadors over their respective countries’ “interference and hostile” media coverage of the current anti-government protests. Iranians have erupted in spontaneous and nationwide protest against the government following the death, in custody, of 22-year-old Kurdish woman Mahsa Amini at the hands of the country’s morality police. More than 40 people have been killed in the protests,

among them Hadith Najafi, the girl who symbolised the protests in Iran. Her death was reported by various social networks. Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad on her Twitter profile, said, “Her sister told me that she was killed by six bullets in the city of Karaj.”

Four arrested in Belgian minister’’kidnap plot’

A fourth man has been arrested following a reported plot to kidnap the Belgian justice minister. The suspect, a 21-year-old Dutch man, was detained by police in the Netherlands, according to the National Public Prosecutor’s Office. Three other Dutch men were also arrested in Holland on Friday night. It comes after a car containing firearms was found outside Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne’s home earlier this week. The minister has since been placed under tighter police surveillance.

23 died as boat sinks in Bangladesh river

At least 23 people have died and dozens more are reported missing after a boat sank in a river in northern Bangladesh. The police specified that they had “recovered 23 bodies”, while “firefighters and divers are at work in search of the missing”. The boat was carrying at least 50 worshipers headed for a Hindu temple when it suddenly capsized and sank in the middle of the Karotoa River near the northern city of Boda. According to local media, at least 10ten people were rescued and taken to hospital. Thousands of Hindus from Bangladesh, a predominantly Muslim country, visit Bodeshwari temple every year. Sunday marked the beginning of Durga Puja, the main Hindu festival in Bangladesh – as in eastern India – which draws large crowds to temples.

Cubans vote on allowing same-sex marriage, adoption

Cubans went to the polls Sunday to vote in a landmark referendum on whether to legalize same-sex marriage and adoption, allow surrogate pregnancies and give greater rights to non-biological parents. President Miguel Diaz-Canel and his wife cast their ballots early at a Havana polling station in what he said is a needed revision of the country’s 1975 Family Code. The new code, he told reporters, “is a fair, necessary, up-to-date, modern norm that gives rights and guarantees to all people, to the full diversity of families, of people and of creeds”. The updated code would represent a major shift in a country where authorities, in the 1960s and 1970s, sent homosexuals to militarised labour camps.

Hong Kong cardinal among activists on trial over protest fund  

A 90-year-old Hong Kong cardinal goes on trial alongside four fellow democracy supporters Monday over their role in running a fund to help defend people arrested in anti-government protests. Cardinal Joseph Zen, one of Asia’s highest-ranking Catholic clerics, was originally detained earlier this year under a national security law that Beijing imposed on Hong Kong to quell dissent. His arrest for “colluding with foreign forces” sent shock waves through the city’s Catholic community and renewed criticism of the Vatican’s warming ties with Beijing, including from fellow senior clerics. Police have not yet charged Zen with a national security offence, which can carry up to life in jail. Instead, he and his fellow defendants are being prosecuted for failing to properly register their defence fund as a society.

Rihanna to return to Super Bowl halftime show

Nine-time Grammy winner Rihanna will be the central singing attraction at next year’s Super Bowl. Rihanna posted the news on her social media over the weekend, holding a football and confirming her attendance. In recent years, she had put music aside, at least publicly, to focus on her cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty.

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