US to deploy long-range weapons in Germany

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Thursday, 11th July 2024.

In 2026 the US will start deploying long-range fire capabilities in Germany, the two countries have announced.

In a statement issued on the sidelines of the NATO summit, the two countries said that the “episodic deployments” are in preparation for longer-term stationing of such capabilities that will include SM-6, Tomahawk and developmental hypersonic weapons with longer range than the current capabilities in Europe.

“Exercising these advanced capabilities will demonstrate the United States’ commitment to NATO and its contributions to European integrated deterrence,” the statement said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “Germany is ready” to take on an increased leadership role.” He said his country has a “special responsibility” as the largest NATO country within Europe. “I will fully live up to that responsibility,” Scholz said.

NATO pledges further €40 billion in Ukraine military aid

NATO leaders on Wednesday pledged to provide Ukraine with a further €40 billion in military aid “within the next year” in its fight against invading Russian forces.

“Through proportional contributions, Allies intend to provide a minimum baseline funding of €40 billion within the next year and to provide sustainable levels of security assistance for Ukraine to prevail,” read a summit communique.

The commitment put forth was less, however, than the multi-year plan proposed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

The announcement came as US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump told Fox News Radio that NATO countries, “take advantage of us [the US] very badly”.  There is great concern among NATO partners that the US could refuse to continue its support for Ukraine should Trump win election this November.

At the same time, NATO leaders also called on China to stop providing Russia with military support and political cover in its war of aggression.

Russia bans ‘Moscow Times’ newspaper

The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office on Wednesday banned the online newspaper The Moscow Times. The website was blocked in Russia for allegedly discrediting the country’s military shortly after the start of Kremlin-backed invasion of Ukraine. The Prosecutor General’s Office classified the newspaper as an “undesirable organisation”. In November 2023, The Moscow Times was added to a list of “foreign agents.” Other Russian outlets such as Novaya Gazeta, Meduza, The Insider and Istories have also been classified as “undesirable” and banned. The Moscow Times said the designation came “as no surprise” and vowed to continue operating.

India and Austria talk peace for Ukraine

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Wednesday diplomacy was the only solution to end the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

“This is not an age of war. Problems cannot be solved on the battlefield,”  Modi told reporters in Vienna, speaking alongside Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer.

His state visit to Austria follows a two-day trip to Russia during which he was pictured hugging Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Modi said in general terms that he and Nehammer had “extensive discussions” on conflicts around world. He said India and Austria were “ready” to “provide all possible support” to “rapidly restore peace and stability” in Ukraine.

Nehammer said both countries shared the “common goal” to achieve a “comprehensive, just and lasting peace, in accordance with the UN Charter”. He told reporters it was important to understand India’s position on Ukraine and convey Europe’s concerns.

Von der Leyen promises Liberals: ‘no cooperation’ with Meloni’s ECR

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission who is bidding to muster a majority for a second term, promised the liberal family of Renew Europe that she would not establish a “structured cooperation” with Giorgia Meloni’s group.

“We had good exchanges with Ursula von der Leyen. Frank and tough questions from our side,” Valerie Hayer, the French MEP who presides Renew Europe, said on Wednesday after a meeting between the Liberals and the incumbent.

“We made very clear that we don’t accept any flirt with the far right. She gave us commitments. We will look at this very closely, of course.”

Since the elections to the European Parliament, von der Leyen, who belongs to the EPP’s moderate wing, has changed her tune and vowed to build a centrist, durable platform with the EPP, the S&D and Renew, which together would hold a 400-seat majority.

7.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Philippines

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake has hit the coast of the Philippines, according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre. The epicenter was located 148 kilometers southeast of Zamboanga city in western Mindanao, where about 457,000 people live.  At this time, no damage or casualties have been reported and no tsunami warning has been issued.

UK police arrest suspect in crossbow triple homicide

British police said Wednesday that they had arrested a 26-year-old male suspected of killing three women in the northwestern London suburb of Bushey a day prior.

The women, aged 25, 28 and 61, were found gravely injured in their home in the neighborhood on Tuesday evening and despite efforts by police and emergency services technicians, all three died at the scene.

The deceased were the wife and daughters of BBC Radio horse racing commentator John Hunt, who discovered the women upon returning from work at Lingfield Park Racecourse south of London.

Police said the suspect had been located in the Enfield area of north London, about 27 kilometers from the scene of the crime. He recieved medical treatment after being found with injuries. No shots were fired by police.

Hertfordshire police later named 26-year-old Kyle Clifford, as its main suspect. “Following extensive enquiries, the suspect has been located and nobody else is being sought in connection with the investigation at this time,” Detective Inspector Justine Jenkins from the local Major Crime Unit said in a statement.

Clifford is believed to have used a crossbow and other weapons in committing the crime.

In an earlier public statement, Hertfordshire Police Chief Superintendent Jon Simpson said the manhunt involved “armed police officers and specialist search teams responding at pace in the wake of what has been an horrific incident”.

Hamas refutes claims it agreed to deal without full ceasefire

A Hamas source tells the Saudi Al Arabiya outlet that reports about the group agreeing in principle to a hostage deal that doesn’t guarantee a “comprehensive ceasefire” are inaccurate. The Hamas official stressed that the group’s other fundamental demand is “a complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip”.

Israel continues to insist that it will not agree to an end to the war in Gaza before all of its war aims are met, including the destruction of Hamas as a military and governing authority, and the return of all 120 hostages still in Gaza.

In addition to talks in Doha, the source adds that there will also be discussions in Cairo. Mossad chief David Barnea is scheduled to meet with his US and Egyptian counterparts, along with the Qatari prime minister. “There is agreement on many of the outstanding points between Hamas and Israel,” reports the Saudi outlet.

However, the Hamas source alleges that Israel only wants to discuss the release of security prisoners, “while Hamas wants comprehensive negotiations”.

Israel calls for Gaza City evacuation

Israeli aircraft dropped leaflets on Gaza City on Wednesday, local and international media report. The leaflets told residents to leave the city as fighting there intensified.

The thousands of leaflets, addressed as “a call to everyone in Gaza City”, set out routes out of the city to the south and warned it would “remain a dangerous combat zone”.

The UN and other international organisations have decried Israeli evacuation orders as confusing and unsafe. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans have been displaced multiple times since October last year.

Deadly airstrikes in central Gaza ‘safe zone’

Israeli airstrikes killed 20 Palestinians in central Gaza, including six children, some of them inside a purported “safe zone” declared by the Israeli military, hospital authorities told the Associated Press.

At the same time, separate shelling hit three houses in the Nuseirat refugee camp, killing 12 people including five children.

This second straight night of deadly strikes in the town of Deir al-Balah and surrounding refugee camps came as mediators from the US, Egypt, and Qatar were meeting with Israeli officials in Doha to broker a deal for a cease-fire and hostage release.

Left-wing claims it can lead France as minority government

Parties making up the left-wing New Popular Front (NFP), which created the surprise by topping France’s snap legislatures elections, claimed they have the right to govern and vowed to constrain the far-right as they returned to the National Assembly.

“We are, from today, on the job. We are on the job with our partners in the New Popular Front, we are on the job with the France Unbowed group, and we still claim to govern this country,” Mathilde Panot, the parliamentary leader for the hard-left France Unbowed (LFI) party told reporters upon arriving at the National Assembly.

“[French President] Emmanuel Macron must bow to the choice of the ballot box,” she added.

The NFP secured as many as 193 seats, ahead of Macron’s centrist Ensemble coalition, which itself surprised by coming in second with 164 seats, and the RN and its allies, who walked away with 143 seats. None of them, however, won the 289 seats needed to secure an absolute majority and therefore the right to govern alone.

Marine Le Pen denounces ‘Macron’s unworthy circus’

Marine Le Pen denounced Emmanuel Macron’s “unworthy circus” after the publication of a letter to the French people from the head of state in which he asked for a “compromise” on the part of the “republican front” to “build a solid majority”.

“If I understood correctly, in his letter, Emmanuel Macron proposes to block LFI which he helped to elect three days ago and thanks to which the Renaissance deputies were also elected three days ago.

“This circus is becoming unworthy”, writes the head of the RN deputies in the National Assembly in X.

Man in China caught smuggling 100 live snakes in his trousers

A man has been caught trying to smuggle over 100 live snakes into mainland China by cramming them into his trousers, according to the country’s customs authority.

The unnamed traveller was stopped by customs officers as he sought to slip out of semi-autonomous Hong Kong and into the border city of Shenzhen, China Customs said in a statement. “Upon inspection, customs officers discovered that the pockets of the trousers the passenger was wearing were packed with six canvas drawstring bags and sealed with tape,” the statement said.

“Once opened, each bag was found to contain living snakes in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colours,” it added. The officers seized 104 of the reptiles.

EURO24: It’s England v Spain in Berlin’s final on Sunday

England will face Spain in the Euro 2024 final in Berlin on Sunday after a last-minute strike from substitute Ollie Watkins sealed victory over the Netherlands.

Gareth Southgate’s side looked to be going into extra time for the third successive game after Harry Kane’s contentious first-half penalty equalised a thunderous early strike from Xavi Simons until Watkins struck.

England dominated the first half, with Phil Foden outstanding, hitting the post with one long-range effort and drawing a fine save from Dutch keeper Bart Verbruggen.

The Netherlands, who saw Denzel Dumfries’ header hit the bar before the break, took control after the break and it required important interventions from keeper Jordan Pickford to keep England level.

England were facing another extra 30 minutes until a superb late strike on the turn from Watkins, on for Kane, sent England into their second successive European Championship final on a dramatic night in Dortmund.

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman criticised the use of VAR for “breaking football” after England were awarded the contentious penalty when Harry Kane was caught on the follow-through by Denzel Dumfries after the England captain had already shot over the bar. No penalty was given originally but referee Felix Zwayer then pointed to the spot after he went to the monitor as advised by VAR.

Virgil van Dijk called for officials to be ‘held accountable’ for their decisions as he launched a tirade on referee Felix Zwayer for showing in Netherlands’ dramatic Euro 2024 defeat by England. ‘I don’t know if I should say something about that,’ he told beIN Sports. ‘I said it to the Dutch media. I think it says it all that the referee went in quite quickly after the game. I had no time to shake his hand. But it is what it is, we lost. It is difficult to accept this. It has been a tough year. We had a big dream. We felt we could have achieved it.’

Copa America: Semi-final: Uruguay v Columbia 0-1 ((C olumbia lays Argentina in the final on Monday)

Europa League qualification: 7 pm: Floriana v Tre Penne Galazzano (San Marino)

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