Global Review – 5th August

Japan calls for ‘immediate cancellation’ of Chinese military drills

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida today condemned China’s firing of ballistic missiles during military drills around Taiwan, calling them a “serious problem that impacts our national security and the safety of our citizens”. Five Chinese missiles appear to have fallen in the country’s exclusive economic zone, Tokyo has said, with four of those believed to have flown over Taiwan’s main island.“China’s actions this time around have a serious impact on the peace and stability of our region and the international community,” Kishida told reporters after meeting US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for breakfast. “I told her that we have called for the immediate cancellation of the military drills.” Pelosi is in Tokyo for the final leg of an Asian tour that included a stop in Taiwan, infuriating Beijing, which has launched its largest-ever military drills around the self-ruled island in response.

US will ‘not allow’ China to isolate Taiwan – Pelosi

Speaker Pelosi said Friday that the United States will “not allow” China to isolate Taiwan, after her visit to the self-ruled island infuriated Beijing. Pelosi did not comment directly on the Chinese drills but argued that American politicians should be able to travel to Taiwan freely. “They may try to keep Taiwan from visiting or participating in other places, but they will not isolate Taiwan by preventing us to travel there,” she told reporters. “We will not allow them to isolate Taiwan,” she said, listing lower-level US visits to the island and reiterating that her trip was “not about changing the status quo” in the region. The 82-year-old politician defied stern threats from China to become the highest-profile US official to visit Taiwan in years, saying her trip made it “unequivocally clear” the United States would not abandon a democratic ally.

Bank of England warns of long recession

Gloomy news for the UK economy leads every front page of London’s dailies. The Financial Times says Britain faces a protracted recession with the worst squeeze on living standards for more than 60 years following the Bank’s move to raise interest rates. It says the economic downturn is to last 15 months with inflation set to hit 13%, and says the outlook is worse than for the US and EU. Under the heading “Britain slides into crisis”, The Times describes the Bank of England’s forecasts as “drastic”, while The Daily Telegraph says the recession will cause a “record drop in income”, brought on by rising energy prices. It quotes Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey as saying families face a “very big” shock as interest rates were raised to 1.75%, the highest since 2008. “The Big Squeeze” is the Metro’s headline. The paper says that rising interest rates mean people with £200,000 mortgages could be facing an extra £50 on their monthly payments as well as facing rising costs on food and energy.

Mediterranean reaches record temperature

The Mediterranean Sea’s surface temperature reached a record high 30.7°C in late July, and marine heatwaves are becoming increasingly common because of climate change – with dramatic consequences for biodiversity. As Europe battles wildfires and record drought on land, rising sea temperatures pose another kind of threat. On July 24, the temperature in the Mediterranean reached a peak of 30.7°C off the coast of Alistro in eastern Corsica, according to the Keraunos meteorological observatory. The next day, in the bay of Villefrance-sur-Mer – an idyllic beach town a few miles from Nice – a researcher at the local oceanographic laboratory recorded a temperature of 29.2°C.  “It’s unprecedented,” said the researcher, Jean-Pierre Gattuso. The Mediterraean’s temperature is usually between 21°C and 24°C at this time of year.  “What we’re seeing is a marine heatwave,” Gattuso said. “Like the heatwaves we get on land, it’s characterised by unusual temperatures for the season and can go on for several days or even weeks.”  In this case, Gattuso said, record temperatures have been continuing since the end of June and are affecting the entire western Mediterranean, from the heel of the Italian boot to Spain. 

4 alien fish species enter the Mediterranean

Four invasive alien species of tropical origin are reported in the Italian seas, for the first time in Sicily – all coming from the Suez Canal: spotted puffer fish, scorpion fish, dark rabbit fish and striped rabbit fish. A campaign is being mounted by the authorities to inform citizens about their characteristics and how to avoid taking risks, under the title “Attenti a quel 4!” The spotted puffer fish possesses a powerful neurotoxin which makes it highly toxic to consumption, even after cooking. The scorpion fish is one of the most invasive species in the world, while the dark striped rabbit fish are particularly invasive herbivorous species, both edible but can cause painful stings even after the animal’s death.

Zelensky accuses Amnesty of excusing Russian ‘terrorist state’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned Amnesty International for excusing Russian acts of “terror” after the rights group said Kiev’s forces were endangering civilians by establishing bases in residential areas. “There is no condition, even hypothetically, under which any Russian strike on Ukraine becomes justified. Aggression against our state is unprovoked, invasive and terrorist,” he added.

EU sanctions former Ukraine President

EU member states imposed sanctions Thursday on Ukraine’s ousted pro-Russian former president Viktor Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr for their alleged role in threatening Ukraine’s security. In a statement, the European Council said the pair were added to an existing EU sanctions list set up “in response to the ongoing unjustified and unprovoked Russian military aggression against Ukraine”.

Three grain ships to leave Ukraine on Friday

Plans are in place for three more grain ships to leave Ukraine today, Turkey said, following the departure of the Sierra Leone-registered Razoni on Monday. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said there are plans for three ships to set out from Ukrainian ports today under the deal to unblock the country’s grain exports, his ministry said on Thursday. Akar also said an empty ship was expected to head towards Ukraine after being inspected in Istanbul. The statement said Akar had held talks with Ukraine’s defence and infrastructure ministers to discuss the situation around grain deliveries.

US declares monkeypox a public health emergency

The United States has declared monkeypox a public health emergency – a move expected to free up additional funding and tools to fight the disease. The US tally topped 6,600 on Wednesday, almost all of the cases among men who have sex with men. “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level in addressing this virus, and we urge every American to take monkeypox seriously,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

Alex Jones ordered to pay $4.1m to Sandy Hook parents

InfoWars conspiracy monger Alex Jones will have to fork over $4.1 million to the parents of a child murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, a jury in Austin, Texas, determined on Thursday. Jones has called the shooting “a giant hoax” and accused the victims of being actors used to orchestrate an anti-gun false flag attack. Scarlett Lewis and Neil Heslin, the parents of a six-year-old killed in the shooting, sued Jones for defamation and were seeking $150 million in damages. The $4.1 million represents compensatory damages, and the jury will also decide whether to award punitive damages to the parents. The jury will hear testimony on that subject today. Last September, a Texas judge ruled against Jones in the lawsuit.

US basketball player gets to nine years in Russian jail

A Russian court sentenced US basketball star Brittney Griner to nine years in prison on Thursday after finding her guilty of deliberately bringing cannabis-infused vape cartridges into Russia – a ruling that President Joe Biden called “unacceptable”. Griner, who was arrested in mid-February, had admitted having the vape cartridges containing hashish oil but said it was an honest mistake. The court also fined her 1 million roubles (€15,560).

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