“Russia, a menace to NATO security” says NATO Chief | Daily News

“Russia, a menace to NATO security” says NATO Chief

Leaders at the NATO Summit Madrid - Spain, June 27-30, 2022
Leaders at the NATO Summit Madrid - Spain, June 27-30, 2022

NATO leaders labeled Russia a menace to their security as they overhaul the alliance's defences in response to the war on Ukraine, NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg said. We'll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” Stoltenberg said, ahead of the unveiling of NATO's strategic blueprint.

The Ukraine war was the focus of a NATO summit in Madrid this week.

NATO allies will continue to supply Ukraine with weapons in its war against Russia for as long as necessary, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Madrid on Wednesday.

“It is good that the countries that are gathered here but many others, too, make their contributions so Ukraine can defend itself - by providing financial means, humanitarian aid, but also by providing the weapons that Ukraine urgently needs,” Scholz told reporters as he arrived for the second day of the NATO summit.

UKraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky told NATO leaders in a special address that Ukraine needs modern weapons and more financial aid in its fight against Russia's invasion.

“We need to break the Russian artillery advantage... We need much more modern systems, modern artillery,” Zelensky told the NATO Summit in Madrid via videolink.

He added that financial support was “no less important than aid with weapons”...”Russia still receives billions every day and spends them on war. We have a multibillion-dollar deficit, we don't have oil and gas to cover it,” Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine needs around US$ 5 billion a month for its defence.

More US Forces

President Joe Biden has announced that the US will increase its military forces across Europe with extra land, sea and air deployments, as he gathered with NATO leaders for the two-day summit in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Arriving at the meeting in Madrid, the US President announced the stationing of a brigade of 3,000 combat troops in Romania, two squadrons of F-35 fighters in the UK and two navy destroyers in Spain.

“The US and its allies are going to step up. We’re stepping up. We’re proving that NATO is more needed now than it ever has been,” Biden said in a short statement before the summit meeting began.

The US President also said the US fifth army corps would establish a permanent base in Poland, extra troops would be committed to the Baltic states and station extra air defence systems in both Germany and Italy.

It was, Biden said, a response to Russian aggression, adding: “Together with our allies, we are going make sure NATO is ready to meet threats across every domain, land, air and in the sea”, which came “at a moment when Putin has shattered peace in Europe and the very tenets of rules based order”.

The US sent a further 20,000 troops to Europe earlier this year, taking the total based across the continent to over 100,000. Wednesday’s announcements come on top of that and Biden said the US would “continue to adjust our posture” if necessary.

NATO’s new defence plans mean that 300,000 troops would be placed at high readiness to deter any Russian attack. The forces will be available at a few days or weeks’ notice to be sent into the front line if necessary.

The leaders attending the summit were due to sign off on a new NATO strategic concept, the first time the alliance has revised its vision statement since 2010. It will formally recognise that Russia poses “a direct threat to our security” according to the alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg.

The 2010 summit where the old document was agreed was attended by Russia’s then-President, Dmitri Medvedev, Stoltenberg recalled. “We agreed that Russia is a strategic partner for NATO and we had meetings with Russia at the NATO Summit. And of course, this will not be the case now.”

As the NATO Summit was on, Russia has said it would not be intimidated by US military reinforcements in Europe as tensions spiral over Moscow's military intervention in Ukraine.

“I think that those who propose such solutions are under the illusion that they will be able to intimidate Russia, somehow restrain it -- they will not succeed,” Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters.

‘Abortion’ violence in US

Fears over police violence and attacks by anti-abortion activists have been growing following a wave of incidents at demonstrations against the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, which upheld the constitutional right to an abortion.

Across the country, hundreds of thousands of people have gathered at protests objecting to the ruling. The protests have been overwhelmingly peaceful but some have seen incidents of police violence – including attacks on protesters – and an incident of a car driving dangerously through marchers.

Law enforcement cracked down on protests in multiple states, wielding batons and forcibly removing protesters from public spaces and firing teargas in Arizona.

Abortion rights activists across the country are sending a clear message after the overturn of Roe v. Wade: They're not backing down.

From Minnesota to California to Florida, more than a dozen protests were planned to denounce the Supreme Court's decision to eliminate the nearly 50-year-old federal constitutional right to have an abortion.

The fallout was swift: At least 10 states have effectively banned abortion since last Friday's ruling. And 26 states have laws indicating they could outlaw or set extreme limits on abortions.

Activists on both sides of the debate have rallied in jubilation or devastation.

The demonstrations for and against the ruling have been largely peaceful, but a few arrests have been reported.

States ban abortion as others move to protect access. The Supreme Court ruling allowed states to immediately begin setting their own abortion policy, leaving people across the country with varying levels of access.

Some states now have outright bans on abortions, with varying exceptions or none at all. They include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Utah and Wisconsin.

Meanwhile, some Democratic governors are trying to protect access to abortion. In Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers said he'd fight “with every power we have” after his Republican-controlled state legislature declined to repeal the state's 1849 law banning abortion, which is taking effect again following the Supreme Court ruling.

In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law Friday protecting non-California residents seeking reproductive health care in the state. It also protects anyone performing, assisting or receiving an abortion in the state from any potential civil action originating outside the state.

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota issued an executive order Saturday providing similar protections. “Our administration is doing everything we can to protect individuals’ right to make their own health care decisions,” Walz said in a statement.

In Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee promised to create a “sanctuary state” for reproductive choice for people across the country via an upcoming executive order.

Abortion Rights - UK

UK’s Deputy Prime Miniaster Dominic Raab has expressed doubts about including the right to an abortion in a forthcoming bill of rights, saying the matter was already “settled in UK law”.

A cross-party amendment intends to enshrine the right in the bill, though abortion in England and Wales was decriminalised in the 1967 Abortion Act, which exempts women from prosecution for the procedure if it is signed off by two doctors.

Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, said the justice secretary should “send a clear signal, as some of his Cabinet colleagues have done this week, that Britain respects the rights of women, and will he accept the cross-party amendment to the forthcoming bill of rights which enshrines a women’s right to choose in law?”

Raab said the position was “settled in UK law in relation to abortion, it’s decided by members across this house. It’s a conscience issue, I don’t think there’s a strong case for change.” He added: “What I would not want to do, is find ourselves, with the greatest respect, and in the US position where this is being relitigated through the courts rather than settled as it is now settled.”

The Labour MP Stella Creasy has said she will table an amendment to the forthcoming British Bill of rights to give women the fundamental right to an abortion. Creasy said she would expect MPs to be given a free vote on the issue, as a matter of conscience. She said the amendment would be tabled when the bill was published at second reading.

In a complex legal situation, only women in Northern Ireland have the guaranteed right to an abortion, after an amendment backed by MPs at Westminster in 2019 to the NI executive formation bill.

Abortions in Northern Ireland remain difficult to access, however. The UK Government has put in place a legal framework for the services but so far they remain restricted because of an impasse at Stormont.

With regard to England and Wales, the 1967 Abortion Act made terminations legal in Great Britain up to 24 weeks in most circumstances. But the law is framed in terms that mean abortion is not a right, but an exception when two doctors agree it would be risky for the mental or physical health of the woman. That phrasing has come under renewed scrutiny from campaigners.

Ocean Emergency

A long-delayed conference on how to restore the faltering health of the world's oceans kicked off in Lisbon on Monday, with the head of the UN saying the world’s seas are in crisis.

“Today we face what I would call an ocean emergency,” UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told thousands of policymakers, experts and advocates at the opening plenary, describing how seas have been hammered by climate change and pollution.

He said that humanity depends on healthy oceans. They generate 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and provide essential protein and nutrients to billions of people every day. Covering 70 percent of Earth’s surface, oceans have also softened the impact of Climate Change for life on land. But at a terrible cost.

“We have only begun to understand the extent to which Climate Change is going to wreak havoc on ocean health,” said Charlotte de Fontaubert, the World Bank’s global lead for the blue economy.

Making things worse is an unending torrent of pollution, including a garbage truck’s worth of plastic every minute, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

On current trends, yearly plastic waste will nearly triple to one billion tonnes by 2060, according to a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Microplastics—now found inside Arctic ice and fish in the ocean’s deepest trenches—are estimated to kill more than a million seabirds and over 100,000 marine mammals each year.

Solutions on the table range from recycling to global caps on plastic production.

Global fisheries will also be in the spotlight during the five-day UN Ocean Conference, originally slated for April 2020 and jointly hosted by Portugal and Kenya. “At least one-third of wild fish stocks are overfished and less than 10 percent of the ocean is protected,” Kathryn Matthews, chief scientist for US-based NGO Oceana, told AFP.

“Destructive and illegal fishing vessels operate with impunity in many coastal waters and on the high seas.”

One culprit is nearly US$ 35 billion in subsidies. Baby steps taken last week by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to reduce handouts to industry will hardly make a dent, experts said.

The conference will also see a push for a moratorium on deep-sea mining of rare metals needed for a boom in electric vehicle battery construction.

Scientists say poorly understood seabed ecosystems are fragile and could take decades or longer to heal once disrupted.

Another major focus will be “blue food”, the new watchword for ensuring that marine harvests from all sources—wild caught and farmed—are sustainable and socially responsible. Aquaculture yields—from salmon and tuna to shellfish and algae—have grown by three percent a year for decades and are on track to overtake wild marine harvests that peaked in the 1990s, with each producing roughly 100 million tonnes per year.

Israel Polls

Israel is set for its fifth election in less than four years after the approval of a bill to dissolve Parliament, following the collapse of a short-lived coalition government that banded together to oust the longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office.

Members of the Knesset voted unanimously on Tuesday in favour of the bill, with a deadline of midnight on Wednesday for it to be finalized as law.

The Foreign Minister, Yair Lapid, will take over as caretaker leader from the Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, as per an existing power-sharing agreement, and elections are expected to be held at the end of October, after several major Jewish holidays.

Bennett announced last week that attempts to stabilize his fractious government had been “exhausted”, in what appeared to be an effort to pre-empt the Netanyahu-led opposition, which had repeatedly threatened a vote of no confidence.

Lapid and Bennett ended Netanyahu’s record reign a year ago by forming a rare alliance of right, left and Arab parties that overcame significant ideological differences to remove him, but the coalition faltered amid infighting and defections that paralysed its ability to pass legislation.

Imperiled by its ideological divides from the outset, the final straw came after a failure to agree on extending legal protections for Israeli settlers living in the occupied West Bank.

The scandal-plagued former Prime Minister, Netanyahu, hopes to win a sixth term in office, despite being on trial for corruption on charges he denies.

Israel’s coalition and the opposition have sparred over the timing of the dissolution bill since last week: the government wanted quick approval of the legislation, while Netanyahu and his allies sought more time for talks on forming a new government from within the current Parliament, which would have averted new elections.

The opposition’s readiness to dissolve Parliament suggested Netanyahu’s efforts to form a new government had stalled.

While his Likud party is consistently leading in the polls, it is still unlikely that the rightwing-religious bloc, nor the centre-left bloc led by Lapid, would win an outright majority. Likud may now be able to work with other parties only if it promises to remove Netanyahu as leader.

The new elections come as Israel deals with the rising Cost of Living and an escalation in tensions with Iran. Israel held four inconclusive elections between 2019 and 2021 that were largely referendums about Netanyahu’s ability to govern while on trial.

India - Rising tension

Tensions were high in the Western Indian city of Udaipur, a day after police arrested two Muslim men accused of slitting a Hindu tailor’s throat and posting a video of it on social media, in a brutal attack representing a dramatic escalation of communal violence in a country riven by deep religious polarization.

The killing comes after months of rising tensions between Hindus and Muslims, and has raised fears it will spark increased violence.

Authorities suspended internet services in the city and surrounding Rajasthan state, in an attempt to prevent the gruesome video from being shared; while rushing additional police to Udaipur and banning large gatherings in an attempt to prevent religious unrest from escalating. In New Delhi, a few dozen people associated with right-wing groups demonstrated against the killing and demanded the culprits be hanged.

In recent months, there have been a spate of attacks by Hindu nationalists on minority groups – especially Muslims – who have been targeted for everything from their food and clothing style to interfaith marriages. Muslim homes have also been demolished using bulldozers in some Indian states, in what critics call a growing pattern of “bulldozer justice” against the minority group.

Experts worry that the latest incident could worsen India’s religious fault lines that critics say have deepened since Hindu-nationalist Modi came to power in 2014.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot promised a speedy investigation into Lal’s killing. “I again appeal to all to maintain peace,” Gehlot said in a tweet.

Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar's deposed civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been moved from house arrest to solitary confinement in a prison in the capital Nay Pyi Taw.

The Nobel laureate, 77, was arrested when the military overthrew her elected government in February 2021.

For the past year she has been held at an undisclosed location in the capital.

Ms Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to 11 years in jail, and denies a host of charges which have been widely condemned as politically-motivated.

Her move to solitary confinement makes her more isolated than ever - she became a global democracy icon during a previous period of military rule when she spent 15 years in detention, but almost all of it was under house arrest.

It's thought Ms Suu Kyi, who remains highly popular in the country, will attend trial hearings from a special court set up inside prison.

Her colleague, ousted President Win Myint, is in similar solitary confinement in the jail.

According to the sources, Ms Suu Kyi is in good health, with three female prison staff assigned to assist her.

A brief statement from the military government confirmed her move to prison, saying it was in accordance with criminal laws in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Human rights groups have condemned the secret trials as a sham. The closed-door hearings have been shut to the public and media, and Ms Suu Kyi's lawyers are forbidden from speaking to journalists.

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