Global Review – 27th October

US accelerates nuclear weapons upgrade plans in Europe

The United States accelerates plans to update the deployment of new nuclear bombs in NATO bases in Europe. According to sources quoted by ‘Politico’, the arrival in Europe of the updated B61-12 gravity bombs, originally scheduled for next spring, is now expected in December. The rumour about replacing older weapons with newer versions comes at a time of high tension following Moscow’s threats about the possible use of nuclear power in Ukraine. “We will continue to support Kiev, together with our allies and partners around the world, while defending itself from Russia’s brutal aggression,” President Biden affirmed during a meeting with the leaders of the American defence chiefs. “We must keep NATO strong and united”, highlighted the US president.

Putin oversees ‘massive nuclear strike’

President Putin has overseen a military drill of a “massive nuclear strike” in a repeat of the exercises carried out just days before Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian TV showed Putin watching the button being pressed on missiles that were launched across the continent to simulate “retaliation for the enemy’s nuclear strike”. It came amid heightened fears that Russia might use nuclear weapons to revive its flagging campaign in Ukraine and the Kremlin’s recent noise over a ‘dirty bomb’. Russia’s nuclear forces launched a Yars inter-continental ballistic missile from an area north of Moscow and a Sineva ballistic missile from the Barents Sea to a remote site in the far east in Operation Thunder on Wednesday. Russia conducts annual nuclear exercises. The most recent was five days before its troops invaded Ukraine, eight months ago. The US was told about the latest drill under the terms of the New Start arms treaty. NATO is also staging nuclear exercises involving 14 countries.

Pentagon tests hypersonic weapon parts

A Virginia launch pad successfully saw the testing of a rocket containing dozens of components linked to the Pentagon’s hypersonic weapons programme.The test at Nasa’s Wallops Flight Facility experimented with the technology, which sees hypersonic missiles launch from the rocket in the upper atmosphere, moving towards targets at more than five times the speed of sound.

‘Ukraine belongs to us’ – Chechen leader Kadyrov

Calling the war in Ukraine a “jihad”, Chechen leader Ramzanv Kadyrov said in a video posted on his Telegram channel: “I give you my word: we will attack them every day. We will not take these demons prisoner. We will burn them. Our territory is Odessa, Kiev, Kharkiv. Ukraine belongs entirely to us.”

Greenhouse gases levels peak in 2021

The levels of the three main greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen dioxide) in the atmosphere reached new highs in 2021, according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization. CO2 reached 415.7 parts per million, methane at 1,908 parts per billion and nitrogen dioxide at 334.5 parts per billion. The values ​​are 149%, 262% and 124% of pre-industrial levels, respectively. The increase in CO2 from 2020 to 2021 was higher than the average annual increase of the last 10 years.

Sunak postpones budget to November

Rishi Sunak is reconsidering tax rises and major public spending cuts after a dramatic improvement in the state of the nation’s finances. The new Prime Minister on Wednesday delayed the medium term fiscal statement from next Monday to November 17 to allow Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to rework the plans. An analysis to be published later today shows that the fortnight delay is expected to shrink the size of the black hole in the public finances by up to £15 billion. The improving economic picture means Sunak is now examining whether some of the sweeping measures drawn up for the Octoberstatement can now be watered down or cancelled altogether. The delay means that the Bank of England will now set interest rates on November 3 without knowing the new taxation and spending policy.

Meloni easily wins Senate confidence vote

Italy’s first far-right-led government since World War II can get down to business after new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni easily won the second of two required confidence votes in Parliament on Wednesday. In the Senate, 115 voted in favour and 79 against, while five abstained. Meloni’s victory was a key marker consolidating her position of power as the newly-voted head government. “Immediately to work to respond to urgencies facing Italy,” Meloni said in a tweet after the vote. Ahead of the Senate vote, Meloni responded to criticism that her governing policy goals, presented in a lengthy speech to the lower house on Tuesday, omitted any reference to peace from her support for Ukraine and that her economic policies would encourage tax evasion and endanger substantial EU pandemic recovery funds. She said reallocating some of the EU funds was necessary because projects were decided before the war in Ukraine drove up energy and raw materials costs.

Pope says even nuns and priests watch online porn

Pope Francis has warned seminarians about porn. In a meeting with seminarians studying in Rome, the Pontiff underlined: “It is a vice that has so many people, and also priests and nuns! The devil enters from there!”  He said he was not speaking only of criminal pornography, which was  already degeneration. But of somewhat ‘normal’ pornography. And he warned them to “be careful of this”. However, the Pope told the young seminarians that mobile phones and all digital devices must be used, to help them move forward, to communicate. “This is fine,” he said adding that “care must be taken not to waste too much time. But also not to use them as a tool for pornography.”

Iranian police shoot, arrest protesters

Iranian police opened fire and used tear gas to disperse demonstrators who had gathered in the cemetery in Saqqez, where Mahsa Amini is buried, to commemorate her, 40 days after her death. Hengaw, an organization based in Norway that deals with human rights violations in Kurdistan, said arrests were also made. Meanwhile, women foreign ministers from a dozen nations jointly condemned Iran’s violent crackdown on women’s rights. “As women foreign ministers, we feel a responsibility to echo the voices of Iranian women,” said a joint statement issued by ministers from Albania, Andorra, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Iceland, Kosovo, Libya, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway.

New Israeli air strikes over Damascus

The Israeli army has carried out several air strikes over Damascus during the night, according to the Syrian Ministry of Defence. This is the third raid of its kind in less than a week. Explosions were heard in the Syrian capital overnight, according to witnesses. “The Israeli enemy carried out an assault from the leadership of the occupied Palestinian territories targeting several sites in the vicinity of Damascus and causing damage,” the Syrian defense ministry said.

Australians condemn ‘suffering’ behind Qatar World Cup

Australia’s national football team Thursday condemned human rights abuses in Qatar ahead of the World Cup– beginning on November 20 – becoming the first participating side to collectively criticise the host country. Football Australia said the reported exploitation of migrant workers during stadium construction “cannot be ignored”, and urged Qatar to legalise same-sex marriage.

‘Respect Qatari LGBTQ laws at World Cup’

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been accused of “shockingly tone deaf” comments after telling LGBTQ fans heading to the World Cup in Qatar to respect local laws and cultures. Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf state. “One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation,” Cleverly told LBC radio on Wednesday. “They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.” Three Lions Pride, a LGBTQ England fan group, described Cleverly’s comments as “an extremely unhelpful intervention.”

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