Johnson faces parliamentary inquisition after top ministers quit
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces two high-stakes encounters in parliament today after his government was rocked by the shock departures of two senior ministers. Rishi Sunak resigned as finance minister, and Sajid Javid as health secretary on Tuesday night. Both said they could no longer tolerate the culture of scandal that has stalked Johnson for months. They will now sit on the Conservative back benches at the weekly session of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons at 1100 GMT – which promises to be even more combustible than usual. Johnson then faces an hours-long grilling from the chairs of the Commons’ most powerful committees, who include some of his most virulent critics in the Tory ranks. The exits of Sunak and Javid were announced minutes after the prime minister apologised for appointing a senior Conservative, who quit last week after he was accused of drunkenly groping two men.
London newspapers: ‘Johnson on the brink’
The resignations dominate British newspaper front pages. Under the headline “Johnson on the brink”, The Times said the “apparently coordinated” move “dealt a potentially fatal blow to the prime minister”. “Johnson hanging by a thread as Sunak and Javid walk out” was the assessment from the prime minister’s former employers at The Daily Telegraph. The Guardian and Financial Times also said the Prime Minister was “on the brink” while the conservative Daily Mail tabloid was more colourful: “Can even Boris the Greased Piglet wriggle out of this?” The resignations came after Johnson only narrowly survived a vote of no confidence among Tory MPs a month ago.
Russian forces seize two foreign ships
Russian-backed separatists have seized two foreign-flagged ships in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, claiming that they are now “state-owned”. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic informed two shipping companies that their vessels had been subject to “forcible appropriation of movable property with forced conversion into state ownership” without any compensation for the owners. These are the ‘Smarta’, flying the Liberian flag, and the ‘Blue Star’, flying the Panamanian flag. According to the UN’s International Maritime Organization, more than 80 foreign-flagged ships remain stranded in Ukrainian ports, many of which are under Russian control.
SAS declares bankruptcy after airline pilots strike
Scandinavian airline SAS has declared bankruptcy the day after the strike of its pilots and in the United States has recourse to Chapter 11, assisted bankruptcy, to restructure. According to Bloomberg, 1,000 airline pilots went on strike and SAS had to cancel 78% of departures, equal to 236 flights. The Chapter 11 process is accessible to companies that have assets and businesses in the United States and allows them to continue operations while they are undergoing restructuring. The Group aims to cut a debt of $1.9 billion.
335 children have died since the beginning of the war in Ukraine
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has condemned Russia’s “senseless war” in Ukraine calling for an end to the “unbearable” suffering of civilians. Bachelet also asked for compensation for war victims, noting that more than 10,000 civilian deaths or injuries have been documented since the outbreak of hostilities across Ukraine, with 335 children among 4,889 deaths. In her latest appearance before the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet complained that “as we enter the fifth month of hostility, the toll of the conflict in Ukraine continues to increase”.
Russia hammers Donetsk region after seizing Luhansk
Russian forces struck targets across Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk region yesterday, a day after President Vladimir Putin declared victory in the neighbouring province of Luhansk after months of gruelling attritional warfare in which both sides lost many men. Donetsk and Luhansk comprise the Donbas, the industrialised eastern part of Ukraine that has seen the biggest battle in Europe for generations. Russia says it wants to wrest control of the entire Donbas from Ukraine on behalf of Moscow-backed separatists in two self-proclaimed people’s republics. After Russian forces on Sunday took control of Lysychansk, the last bastion of Ukrainian resistance in Luhansk, Ukrainian officials said they now expect Moscow to focus its efforts especially on the cities of Sloviansk and Kramatorsk in Donetsk.There was heavy fighting at the edge of Luhansk region, its governor Serhiy Gaidai told Ukrainian television.The governor of the last remaining eastern province partly under Ukraine’s control urged his more than 350,000 residents to flee as Russia escalated its offensive.
‘Rapid integration of the Balkans into the EU needed’
The integration of the Western Balkans into the European Union is a goal that must be achieved as soon as possible. This is the common belief of the presidents of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, and Albania, Ilirj Meta, who met in Ljubljana to strengthen friendship and excellent collaboration. Pahor reiterated his concern that a political community could be created in the region that would not be fully integrated into the Union.
Afro-American arrives handcuffed for autopsy
Jayland Walker was handcuffed when his body arrived at the coroner’s office for an autopsy, after he was killed with 60 gunshots by eight policemen at the end of a chase by car and then on foot to Akron, Ohio. CNN reveals that they examined the coroner’s medical report, complete with photos. The images also contain evidence of Afro-American Walker’s life-saving attempts, including what appear to be tourniquets and bandages applied to his body.
Chicago parade shooting suspect charged with murder
The man accused of opening fire with a rifle from a rooftop onto a crowd of people watching a July Fourth parade near Chicago, turning the holiday celebration into another national tragedy, was charged yesterday with seven counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, the suspect, 21-year-old Robert E. Crimo, would face a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Authorities said Crimo had planned the attack for weeks and had come to authorities’ attention at least twice before on reports that he threatened suicide or harm to others. They said the suspect fired more than 70 rounds from a rooftop at random onto people watching Monday’s parade in Highland Park, Illinois, and then made his getaway dressed in a disguise to blend in with the panic-stricken crowd.
EU countries restrict drinking water access
Amplified by human-induced climate change and water over-consumption, southern Europeans are feeling the consequences of more extreme heat waves and longer droughts. Now governments from Portugal to Italy are calling on citizens to limit water use to the bare minimum. But in some places this is not enough. While private consumption of water in the EU accounts for just 9% of total usage, around 60% is absorbed by agriculture. The situation is probably most dramatic in northern Italy, where the region is suffering its worst drought in 70 years. More than 100 cities have been called on to limit water consumption as much as possible. By the end of May, severe drought already prevailed in 97% of Portugal and two-thirds of Spain’s total land area is risk of desertification.
85,000 people in NSW face evacuation orders
There are now 85,000 people across Australia’s NSW under evacuation orders and warnings, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has said. In a flood update this morning, he said there were currently 108 evacuation orders across the state and 56 evacuation warnings. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has flagged the NSW floods as a sign “we need to act on climate change” as he prepares to tour flood-ravaged communities across the state today. Speaking on ABC Breakfast this morning, Albanese said experts had been warning governments for a “long time”. He announced a $1,000 disaster recovery payment will be made available to flood victims, on top of initial disaster assistance flagged earlier this week.