Global Review – 3rd September

Iran seizes two US drone ships in the Red Sea

An Iranian naval flotilla briefly seized two American unmanned research military vessels in the Red Sea and released them shortly after, according to Iranian state media. “The Iranian navy destroyer Jamaran encountered several American unmanned research naval vessels on the international sea route while carrying out a counter-terrorism mission in the Red Sea,” state TV said, adding that the flotilla, “after twice warning a American destroyer, seized the two drone ships to prevent possible accidents. After securing the passage of international shipping, the flotilla released the two ships in a safe area.”The US Navy said its ships were taking photos of their surroundings and had been in the vicinity of the Southern Red Sea for more than 200 days.

Russia keeps gas pipeline to Germany switched off

Russia’s gas pipeline to Germany will not reopen as planned on Saturday, state energy firm Gazprom has said. In an announcement made just hours before it had been due to restart deliveries, the company cited what it said was a need for urgent maintenance work to repair key components. It said in a social media post on Friday evening, Gazprom said it had identified oil leaks from four turbines at the Portovaya compressor station at the Russian end of the pipeline, including the sole operational one. It claimed to have received warnings from Russia’s industrial safety watchdog that the leaks “do not allow for safe, trouble-free operation of the gas turbine engine”. Gazprom had shut down the Nord Stream 1 pipeline on Wednesday for what it said would be three days of maintenance.

G7 agree to price cap on Russian oil

G7 finance ministers gathered for a summit in Elmau, Germany, on Friday said they agreed to implement price caps on Russian oil to prevent Moscow from profiting from its war against Ukraine.The initial price cap will be calculated and adjusted accordingly, G7 finance ministers said. Immediate was Russia’s reaction with TASS quoting Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying, “If hostile countries put a ceiling on prices on Russian energy resources, Moscow will supply oil only to countries that adapt to market conditions.

Russian banks lose €25 billion due to sanctions

The Russian banking sector suffered losses of 1,500 billion rubles (€25 billion) in the first half of the year due to sanctions, the first deputy governor of the central bank, Dmitry Tulin, told the ‘Rbc’ newspaper. Tass quotes him as saying this is the first time in the last seven years the sector is in the red.

UN inspectors find ‘impacts’ at ‘violated’ Zaporizhzhia plant

Europe’s largest nuclear plant, the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia one, suffered damage in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and inspectors will remain on site to monitor the situation, the head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog said late Friday. “We are establishing a permanent presence on site, this time with two of our experts who will be continuing the work,” Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters after returning to Vienna from the plant. He added that both Ukraine and Russia agreed to have two IAEA inspectors stay at the plant permanently. Their continued presence will allow the UN agency to provide independent information to the international community about the situation at the plant. Grossi said this would have “an inherent very important stabilising effect”. Currently, six experts are still at the plant, with four returning after the weekend.

‘New’ Covid-19 strains possible this winter – EU

Entirely new Covid-19 variants could emerge this winter but existing vaccines should protect people from serious illness and death, the European Union’s drug agency said on Friday. The comments came as the 27-nation EU prepares to roll out a booster campaign ahead of a feared wave of new coronavirus cases later this year. It will include a mix of newly-approved jabs adapted for the now dominant Omicron strain, and the original vaccines developed to fight the virus that first emerged in 2019, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said.

China angry as US approves arms for Taiwan

China reacted angrily on Friday as the United States announced a 1.1 billion dollar arms package for Taiwan, warning Washington of “counter-measures”. Calling Taiwan an “inalienable” part of its territory, China, called on the US to “immediately revoke” the arms sales. Liu Pengyu, spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Washington, said the sale “sends wrong signals to ‘Taiwan independence’ separatist forces and severely jeopardises China-US relations and peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. China will resolutely take legitimate and necessary counter-measures in light of the development of the situation,” he said. The US arms package – the largest for Taiwan approved under President Joe Biden’s administration – includes $665 million for contractor support to maintain and upgrade a Raytheon early radar warning system in operation since 2013 that would warn Taiwan about an incoming attack. Taiwan will also spend some $355 million to buy 60 Harpoon Block II missiles which can track and sink incoming vessels if China launches an assault by water.

NASA Moon launch to attract up to 400,000 visitors

Up to 400,000 visitors are expected to flock to the Florida coast this evening, hoping to catch a glimpse – and hear the roar – of NASA’s rocket launch to the Moon. If the Space Launch System lifts off successfully, it will be not only awe-inspiring but historic for NASA, marking the first of its Artemis missions plotting a return to the Moon. The Kennedy Space Centre will be closed to the public, but spectators on local beaches will be able to see the most powerful vehicle that NASA has ever launched climb into the sky. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:17 pm (20:17 Malta time) on Saturday.

Shock, anger after assassination attempt Kirchner

Messages of shock and solidarity poured in from around the world yesetrday after a man tried to shoot Argentine Vice President Cristina Kirchner at point-blank range. As tens of thousands of Argentines took to the streets in a mass denouncement of political violence, the Pope, the UN, United States and Latin American leaders sent messages of support. Kirchner, 69, survived the attack outside her Buenos Aires home Thursday after a loaded handgun aimed directly at her face at close range apparently failed to go off.

Jane Fonda says she has lymphoma cancer

Academy Award-winning actress Jane Fonda on Friday said she had been diagnosed with a “very treatable” form of lymphoma and started a six-month regimen of chemotherapy. The 84-year-old, who starred this year in the final season of Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie,” disclosed her diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in an Instagram post. “This is a very treatable cancer. 80% of people survive, so I feel very lucky,” Fonda wrote.

Tennis: Serena Williams bows out of US Open

Serena Williams waved farewell to the US Open – and her illustrious career – amid emotional scenes after she lost to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic on a thrilling night in New York. Williams, who turns 41 this month, expects it to be her final match, ending a 27-year professional career that brought 23 major singles wins and sees the American widely labelled as the greatest of all time. Almost everyone rose to their feet when she departed the court. As she waved goodbye and gave a signature twirl, Tina Turner’s pop classic ‘Simply The Best’’ boomed out over the sound system.

UEFA fines 8 clubs for violating Financial Fair Play rules

The Financial Control Body of the European football governing body UEFA has formalised the settlement agreements with eight clubs for violating Financial Fair Play rules. They include Juventus, Inter, Milan and Rome  as well as Monaco, Beskitas, Olympique Marseille and PSG (the most sanctioned club of all). The eight clubs, which will also incurr  some limitations on the registration of new players, have been fined a total of €172 million, of which 15% will be paid immediately while the remaining 85% will be paid only in the event of failure to achieve the budget objectives .

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