Scholz issues pledge
Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday pledged not to ignore “controversies” during a high-stakes trip to China this week, which has sparked a storm of criticism. “We seek cooperation, when it is in the interest of both sides. We will not ignore controversies,” he wrote in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, ahead of his visit today together with a business delegation. Scholz listed “difficult topics” that he would raise, including respect for civil liberties, the rights of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang and free and fair world trade. He would be the first EU leader to visit China since late 2019.
Bolsonaro urges calm
Outgoing President Jair Bolsonaro on Wednesday asked his supporters to “unblock the roads” and demonstrate elsewhere as they push for military intervention to keep him in power. The far-right leaders’ supporters are rallying in front of military installations in major cities and have blocked highways in more than half the country’s states. The demonstrators, unwilling to accept the results of Bolsonaro’s Sunday election defeat to leftist ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have clogged roads and caused nationwide disruptions for three straight days.
Meloni to meet EU leaders
Italy’s new far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni was to meet EU chiefs in Brussels yesterday for the first time since her election, with the energy crisis expected to dominate the agenda. Meloni has vowed to put Italy’s interests first and the trip would be closely watched amid fears of turbulent relations ahead between the populist government in Rome and the bloc’s powerhouses. “Brussels should not do what Rome can do best,” Meloni was quoted as saying in a book to be published today, slamming “a Europe that is invasive in small things and absent in big matters.”
Francis aims to foster ties
Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, was yesterday to travel to the Persian Gulf state to foster ties with Islam in a voyage overshadowed by criticism of human rights abuses. The second voyage by a pope to the Arabian Peninsula after Francis’ 2019 trip to the United Arab Emirates is similarly aimed at encouraging interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Christians, and would include the pontiff leading a prayer for peace at a vast cathedral opened last year. Francis, 85, who would likely use a wheelchair due to recurring knee pain was to conduct a “courtesy visit” to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa following a welcoming ceremony.
Storm causes flooding
Tropical Storm Lisa yesterday slowed after making landfall in the country, causing flooding and plunging parts of the nation into darkness as it churned westward. The US National Hurricane Center has downgraded Lisa from a hurricane to a tropical storm, saying that as of midnight the eye hovered about 135km outside of Belize City and was moving toward Guatemala and southeastern Mexico at 19kph. For the next day or so, the storm system is expected to pack a gusty punch and deliver heavy rain, swells and flash flooding to Central America’s northern coast and the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula, further weakening as it moves inland.
Vaccines that protect against severe illness, death and lingering long COVID-19 symptoms from a SARS-CoV-2 infection were linked to small increases in neurological, blood and heart-related conditions in the largest global vaccine safety study to date. The rare events — identified early in the pandemic — included a higher risk of heart-related inflammation from mRNA shots made by Pfizer Inc, BioNTech SE and Moderna Inc, and an increased risk of a type of blood clot in the brain after immunization with viral-vector vaccines such as the one developed by the University of Oxford and made by AstraZeneca PLC. The viral-vector jabs were
A steam of sweat rose as hundreds of naked men tussled over a bag of wooden talismans, performing a dramatic end to a thousand-year-old ritual in Japan that took place for the last time. Their passionate chants of “jasso, joyasa” (“evil, be gone”) echoed through a ceder forest in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture, where the secluded Kokuseki Temple is ending the popular annual rite. Organizing the event, which draws hundreds of participants and thousands of tourists every year, has become a heavy burden for the aging local faithful, who find it hard to keep up with the rigors of the ritual. The Sominsai festival,
COLLECTIVE ACTION: Over 150 trainee doctors quit over the government’s plan to increase medical school admissions by 2,000 students next school year The South Korean government yesterday warned that trainee doctors were putting public health at risk after more than 150 tendered their resignations to protest a government plan to admit more students to medical schools. The South Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare said it had issued a back-to-work order to the 154 doctors at seven hospitals, warning that refusing to comply would result in punishment. The government plans to raise medical school admissions by 2,000 students for the 2025 academic year and to add 10,000 doctors by 2035. Currently, about 3,000 students enter medical schools each year. The plan has drawn intense protests
‘PUTIN IS RESPONSIBLE’: Authorities detained more than 100 people in Russia, as mourners remembered the opposition leader outside embassies around the world Floral tributes to Alexei Navalny, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest foe who died on Friday in a Russian penal colony, were removed overnight by groups of unidentified people while police watched, videos on Russian social media show. More than 100 people were detained in eight cities across Russia after they came to lay flowers in memory of Navalny, said OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression in Russia. Yesterday, police blocked access to a memorial in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and detained several people there as well as in another Siberian city, Surgut, OVD-Info said. Video footage shared on social media