Global Review – 27th June

Centre-left wins big in Italian elections

A sensational win for the centre-left coalition candidates in Sunday’s Italian administrative elections. Although the turnout fell to 42.18%, the result gives the centre-left seven mayors (Verona, Parma, Piacenza, Alessandria, Catanzaro, Monza, Cuneo), four for the center-right (Lucca, Frosinone, Barletta, Gorizia), and two in the civic lists (Como and Viterbo). The surprise was Verona, won by Duamiano Tommasi, which returned to the left after 15 years of domination by the centre-right. Alexandria also returned to the centre-left after five years of centre-right leadership. A “great success for the Democratic Party and the centre left”, exults Democratic Party leader Enrico Letta, according to whom the result strengthens the government. “In the end linearity and seriousness paid off: we win because responsibility is more important than everything; in this difficult moment we need a serious and linear policy. This is a result that strengthens us with a view to building a centre-left that is also a winner at the national level for next year’s elections. From tomorrow morning we will all work to prepare for the elections.”

Thousands protest in Madrid against Nato summit

Carrying the hammer and sickle flags of the former Soviet Union, thousands protested in Madrid Sunday against a Nato summit which will take place in the Spanish capital Thursday and Friday amid tight security. Nato is expected to consider the bid, opposed by alliance-member Turkey, for Finland and Sweden to join. “Tanks yes, but of beer with tapas,” sang the demonstrators, who claimed an increase in defence spending in Europe, urged by Nato, was a threat to peace.

$600 billion in global infrastructure

At the G7 Summit in Germany, the United States, together with G7 partners, agreed to invest $600 billion by 2027 to invest in infrastructure around the world. Announced the plan, US President Joe Biden said this has the clear intention of countering China’s influence in emerging and developing countries – a response to the so-called ‘Beijing Belt and Road’. “The peoples of the world will see the advantage of collaborating with democracies. We will beat the competition”, assured the American president. Meanwhile the final draft of the summit, reported by Bloomberg, confirms financial, military and humanitarian support for Ukraine “as long as it is necessary”. Among the most urgent problems addressed are the European gas price ceiling, the food crisis and the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, with a light on energy and inflation. Leaders also discuss the possibility of forming a climate club. “Ukraine needs more weapons and financial aid and Europe will support it,” said the President of the European Council Charles Michel.

Ukraine asks for more weapons

As missiles struck the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, hitting an apartment block and a kindergarten, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the G7 must respond with more weapons and tougher sanctions on Russia. Biden called the strikes acts of “barbarism”.

Allies won’t ‘splinter’

At the start of a bilateral meeting, President Biden thanked German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for showing leadership on Ukraine and said Russian President Vladimir Putin had failed to break their unity. “Putin has been counting on it from the beginning that somehow the NATO and the G7 would splinter. But we haven’t and we’re not going to,” Biden said.

One dead as Russia strikes Kyiv

Russian strikes hit a residential building in Kyiv in the first attack on the capital in almost three weeks, Ukraine says. One person died and four people, including a seven-year-old girl, were taken to hospital following the early morning strikes. The top three floors of a building in the Shevchenkivsky neighbourhood were completely destroyed and several fires broke out, spewing thick smoke. Russia says its strike on Kyiv hit a weapons factory, dismissing as “fake” reports that it struck a residential area of the Ukrainian capital.

Russia in default on foreign debt

Russia defaulted on its foreign currency debt for the first time since 1918, Bloomberg reports. The default was triggered when the grace period expired on $100 million of unpaid bonds, blocked due to wide-ranging sanctions against the Kremlin in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The $100 million relate to two bonds, one denominated in dollars and one in euros, maturing in 2026 and 2036. Moscow should have paid the two bonds exactly a month ago, but was given a “grace period” of one month, expiring on June 26th.

France to rethink coal power station closure

France has become the latest country to reconsider its energy options because of the war in Ukraine, announcing Sunday it was looking into reopening a recently closed coal-fired power station. The energy transition ministry said it was considering reopening the station at Saint-Avold in eastern France this winter, “given the situation in Ukraine” and the effect it was having on the energy markets.“We are keeping open the possibility of being able to put the Saint-Avold station back in action for a few hours more if we need it next winter,” said a ministry statement, confirming a report on RTL radio.

Ghislaine Maxwell put on suicide watch

Jailed former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been placed on suicide watch – despite not being suicidal – according to her lawyers, who said they would move to postpone her sentencing for sex trafficking if she remained in isolation. Ms Maxwell has been denied access to legal documents and time to meet with lawyers and this has “prevented her from preparing for sentencing,” which is set for tomorrow, Tuesday, her lawyers said. Maxwell  was convicted in New York federal court for helping the late financier Jeffrey Epstein sexually abuse girls.

Police break up Istanbul Pride march

Turkish police on Sunday forcibly intervened in a Pride march in Istanbul, detaining more than 150 demonstrators and an AFP photographer, AFP journalists on the ground and an NGO reported. The governor’s office had banned the march around Taksim Square in the heart of Istanbul but protesters gathered nearby under heavy police presence earlier than scheduled. Police detained protesters, loading them into buses.

The £150,000 tree house that Johnson wanted to build for his son

Boris Johnson wanted to build a £150,000-tree house for his son Wilf in Checkers Park, the official country residence of the British prime ministers. But he was advised to abandon the idea for security reasons. The premier and his wife and Carrie had thought of the gift for their son in autumn 2020. According to ‘The Times’, there was also a Tory donor, Lord Brownlow, willing to pay the bills and plans had been made, complete with bulletproof glass, for the tree house. The project was abandoned because the security services claimed that the house would be visible from the street. In Downing Street they had also pointed out to the premier that the cost of the project, more than a house in many areas of the country, would not have sounded appropriate. Brownlow is the same Tory donor involved in the Johnson Downing Street apartment renovation scandal.

Qatar warns against unauthorised use of World Cup logo

Qatar warned Sunday against the use of unauthorised vehicle license plates with the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 logo, after it auctioned off dozens of number plates for hundreds of thousands of dollars.“It is prohibited to copy and install the World Cup logo on the vehicle number plate,” tweeted the interior ministry, warning that violators would face legal action. Fifty license plates bearing the World Cup logo were put up for auction in May, with the most expensive one going for €468,000. In May, five people were arrested “for promoting the sale of clothes bearing the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022logo without obtaining prior approval from FIFA, which protects its trademarks.

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