Global Review – 2nd August

US kills al Qaeda chief al-Zawahiri

Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US strike in Afghanistan over the weekend, President Joe Biden said on Monday – the biggest blow to the militant group since its founder Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. Zawahiri, an Egyptian surgeon who had a $25 million bounty on his head, helped coordinate the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. The United States carried out a drone strike in the Kabul on Sunday.

Conjoined twins separated with help of virtual reality in Brazil

Conjoined twins born in Brazil with a fused head and brain have been separated in what doctors described Monday as “the most complex surgery of its kind”, which they prepared for using virtual reality. Arthur and Bernardo Lima were born in 2018 in the state of Roraima in northern Brazil as craniopagus twins, an extremely rare condition in which the siblings are fused at the cranium. Joined at the top of the head for nearly four years – most of that spent in a Rio de Janeiro hospital outfitted with a custom bed – the brothers are now able to look each other in the face for the first time, after a series of nine operations culminating in a marathon 27-hour surgery to separate them. London-based medical charity Gemini Untwined, which helped carry out the procedure, described it as the “most challenging and complex separation to date”, given that the boys shared several vital veins. “The twins had the most serious and difficult version of the condition, with the highest risk of death for both,” said neurosurgeon Gabriel Mufarrej of the Paulo Niemeyer State Brain Institute (IECPN) in Rio, where the procedure was performed.

Zelensky on wheat: ‘Still early to celebrate

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said tonight that it is “too early” to celebrate a full resumption of Ukrainian grain exports, after the first ship left from the port of Odessa. “At this moment it is too early to draw a conclusion and make any predictions; we are waiting to see how the agreement will work and if security is truly guaranteed,” Zelensky said in his usual evening daily speech.

UN chief warns of ‘nuclear annihilation’

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Monday that a misunderstanding could spark nuclear destruction as the United States, Britain and France urged Russia to stop “its dangerous nuclear rhetoric and behaviour”. At the opening of a key nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference in New York, Guterres warned that the world faced “a nuclear danger not seen since the height of the Cold War”. Citing Russia’s war with Ukraine and tensions on the Korean peninsula and in the Middle East, Guterres said he feared that crises “with nuclear undertones” could escalate. “Today, humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation,” Guterres told the tenth review conference of the NPT – an international treaty that came into force in 1970 to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. He called on nations to “put humanity on a new path towards a world free of nuclear weapons”.

‘There can be no winners in a nuclear war’ – Putin

“There can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed,” according to Russian president Vladimir Putin, as quoted by the Russian state news agency Tass. “We advocate equal and indivisible security for all members of the world community,” he continued. The president also stated that “as a State party” to the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty “and one of its depositories, Russia consistently follows the letter and the spirit of the treaty”.

US committed to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons

The United States is committed to prevent Iran from possessing the atomic bomb. This was stated by US President Joe Biden on the occasion of the Tenth Conference of the Nuclear Weapons Non-Proliferation Treaty, recalling that the US “through diplomacy, in coordination with our allies and regional partners, has presented a proposal to ensure a mutual and full return to the Iran nuclear deal in order to ensure that Tehran does not acquire nuclear weapons”. Biden also spoke about the role of Russia and China on the issue: “After the brutal and unprovoked aggression of Ukraine, which tore apart peace in Europe and poses a threat to international law, Russia must demonstrate that it is ready to resume a commitment to dialogue with the United States for the control of nuclear weapons,” he said, stressing that China also has a responsibility to “start negotiations that reduce the risk of miscalculations and destabilising military dynamics”.

Iran: We can build atomic bomb’

Iran is technically capable of building the atomic bomb but this goal is not currently planned, ‘Mehr, quotes the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation, Mohammed Eslami, as saying. The Iranian official also criticised Israel on allegations that Tehran is building nuclear weapons.  

China preparing for military provocations’ – USA

“China seems to be preparing for further actions” in the coming days, including military provocations,” said the spokesman for the US National Security Council, John Kirby, in a briefing at the White House. “This type of operations are dangerous because they can lead to a calculation error and consequently to an escalation,” he warned.

Tensions after Chinese threats on Pelosi’s planned visit to Taiwan

Taiwanese defence officials have cancelled the leave of some soldiers and officers “to immediately prepare” for the chance of war in response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Asia. US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi is set to visit Taiwan today, three people briefed on the matter told CNBC, despite growing Chinese threats that have put Taiwan on high alert. Taiwanese officials told CNN that she is expected to stay in Taiwan overnight. Pelosi is also scheduled to visit Taiwan’s parliament on Wednesday morning and meet with President Tsai Ing-wen before continuing her Asia trip, according to ‘The Liberty Times’, a Taiwanese media outlet. She has aleeady visited Singapore, and indicated Malaysia, South Korea and Japan among the stops of his Asian tour.

Kosovo-Serbia tensions flare

Tensions flared between Kosovo and Serbia over the weekend, raising concerns about the possibility of fresh unrest in the Balkans at a time when Western allies are focused on the war in Ukraine. The NATO-led international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, known as KFOR, said in a statement it was monitoring the situation in Kosovo closely and is “prepared to intervene if stability is jeopardised.” Ethnic Serbs in northern municipalities of Kosovo bordering Serbia blocked roads and skirmished with police on the eve of the implementation of a law requiring them to replace their license plates with Kosovo plates. The new rules had been due to come into effect Monday and would have required Serbian ID and passports holders to obtain an extra document to enter Kosovo, as is already the case for Kosovars entering Serbia.

Monkeypox: Illinois declares a state of emergency

The US state of Illinois has declared a state of emergency in the face of a significant increase in monkeypox infections. Democratic Governor Jay Robert Pritzker said the infections have “particularly affected members of the LGBTQ+ community”, assuring all the necessary resources will be guaranteed to protect security and access to health services. 520 infections have been registered in Illinois so far.

Kentucky flood victims rise to 37

The death toll from floods in eastern Kentucky has risen to 37, while heavy rain continues to hinder recovery operations and threaten further damage. And there are still very many missing, Andy Beshear, governor of the south-central state of the United States, tweeted. A series of new incoming storms are expected. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for most of eastern Kentucky through Tuesday morning. Over 20 centimeters of rain fell over parts of eastern Kentucky last week in 24 hours, causing unprecedented flash floods.

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