EU yet to break stalemate over Russian oil embargo
EU member-states failed to agree on a deal Sunday on a revised package of sanctions over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine ahead of a leaders’ summit in Brussels but talks will continue during the week. Hungary is so far refusing to back a compromise despite proposals aimed at ensuring its Russian oil supplies, according to people familiar with the talks. EU ambassadors are scheduled to meet again this morning, but the lack of a deal means that sanctions could be a prime topic at the bloc’s two-day meeting starting today.
EC proposal to ban seaborne oil from Russia
The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, circulated a proposal over the weekend that would ban seaborne oil from Russia by early next year while delaying restrictions on imports through the giant Druzhba pipeline, which is Hungary’s main source of crude imports. Hungary had previously suggested that an exemption to pipeline deliveries would secure its support. An embargo on seaborne imports would be phased in over six months for crude and eight months for refined petroleum products. Russia shipped about 720,000 barrels a day of crude to European refineries through its main pipeline to the region last year. That compares with seaborne volumes of 1.57 million barrels a day from its Baltic, Black Sea and Arctic ports. However, the bulk of the pipeline deliveries are to Germany and Poland, which have signaled they will wean themselves off Russian supplies regardless of any EU action.
Zelensky removes security chief in Kharkiv
President Zelensky has removed the head of security in Kharkiv, saying he “did not work to defend the city”. Zelensky visited troops at the front in the city of Kharkiv and admitted that “conditions in the Donbass are indescribably difficult”. He also inspected the area’s destroyed infrastructure. According to local authorities, 2,229 homes were destroyed and 31 percent of the region has been occupied. Fighting continues in the Severodonetsk area of eastern Ukraine, where the situation is “even more difficult” than yesterday and “the enemy continues to attack,” the head of the Lugansk region’s military administration has said. Serhiy Gayday said 60 homes had been destroyed in the region and “continuous bombing” has made it increasingly difficult to enter or leave the region, stressing that evacuation is “very dangerous” and that priority is given to wounded. Meanwhile, the Mariupol authorities denounced new atrocities by the Russians who “in the premises of the Schyryi Kum supermarket created a landfill for the bodies of the fallen Ukrainians who resurfaced from the graves when they tried to fix the water pipes and even exhumed corpses”. Petro Andriushenko, a mayor’s adviser, said they were accumulating them “as if they were garbage.”
Biden grieves with Texas town as anger widens
US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited Uvalde to console residents mourning 19 children and two teachers who were gunned down at an elementary school in the small Texas town. They have tried to comfort families after the nation’s deadliest school shooting in a decade as federal officials announced they would review local law enforcement’s slow response to the attack. The Bidens wiped away tears as they visited memorials at the Robb Elementary School, laying white roses and paying respects to makeshift shrines to the victims. “Do something,” a crowd chanted outside Sacred Heart Catholic Church as Biden exited after attending mass. “We will,” he answered. Anger has mounted over the decision by law enforcement agencies in Uvalde to allow the shooter to remain in a classroom for nearly an hour while officers waited in the hallway and children inside the room made panicked 911 calls for help. The US Department of Justice on Sunday said it would review local law enforcement response at the request of Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin.
Skirmishes erupt in Al-Aqsa mosque
Tens of thousands of Israelis marched through and around Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday afternoon to mark Jerusalem Day. Some of them clashed with Palestinians and police. At least 60 people were detained for violence, Israeli media reported. Five Israeli police officers, three Israelis and 40 Palestinians were wounded. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday called on those taking part in the afternoon march to behave responsibly as he wished Israelis a happy Jerusalem Day.
Pope to name 21 cardinals
Pope Francis announced Sunday he would appoint 21 new cardinals, most of them from the developing world. Sixteen are cardinal electors under 80 and eligible to enter a conclave to elect his successor from among themselves after his death or resignation. Eleven of the electors are from, or based in, countries outside Europe or North America. After the August 27 ceremony to officially install them, known as a consistory, Francis would have appointed about 82 of the some 132 cardinal electors, increasing the possibility that his successor will be a man reflecting his positions on key issues. By then the first pope from Latin America would have appointed about 63 per cent of cardinal electors. It will be the eighth consistory since Francis, 85, was elected in 2013
Johnson to announce return of imperial measurements
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to bring back pounds and ounces in shops to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Ministers are preparing to consult on how to further incorporate imperial measurements in Britain after Brexit, with the prime minister reportedly keen to announce the move on Friday to coincide with the Jubilee. But the move has faced criticism from the Conservative backbenches with one calling the idea “a nonsense”.
Colombia: Leftist and right-wing populist go to second round
The early vote count in Sunday’s six-way presidential election in Colombia pointed toward a runoff in June, with leftist former rebel Gustavo Petro leading in a ballot held amid growing discontent over increasing inequality and inflation. Petro, a senator and front-runner throughout the campaign, had just over 40.33% of votes and was trailed by populist businessman Rodolfo Hernandez, who had almost 28.14%, with more than 97% of ballots tallied. A Petro win would add to a series of leftist political victories in Latin America as people seek change at a time of dissatisfaction with the economic situation. Chile, Peru and Honduras elected leftist presidents in 2021, and in Brazil, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is leading the polls for this year’s presidential election. Mexico elected a leftist president in 2018.
Kalush Orchestra Sells Eurovision Trophy For $900,000
Kalush Orchestra, the Ukrainian band that took home the Eurovision trophy in this year’s songwriting competition earlier in May, has auctioned off the crystal microphone to buy drones for their country’s army as it fights against Russia’s invasion. The band wanted to auction off their Eurovision trophy for one million euros and use the funds to purchase a set of three PD-2 drones.
‘Top Gun: Maverick’ nets box office records with $151 million
Tom Cruise earned the biggest movie launch of his career with “Top Gun: Maverick”, bringing in a projected $151 million at the box office during Memorial Day weekend. The Paramount film, which was delayed multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic, now holds the record for the second-best Memorial Day opening of all time behind Johnny Depp’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End”, which earned $153 million when it was released in 2007. Global totals were also expected to exceed $275 million despite not playing in either China or Russia, according to ‘The Hollywood Reporter’.
Hundreds of flight cancelations in US
Tens of thousands people in the US had their Memorial Day weekend plans come to a screeching halt after weather disruptions and staffing issues forced airlines to cancel hundreds of flights and delay thousands more. On Sunday, 403 flights within, into, or out of the country were cancelled, according to the flight tracking site Flight Aware.