Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region: governor

Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region: governor
Rescuers evacuate an elderly civilian from Russian shelling in Kharkiv region on May 17, 2024. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AFP)
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Updated 18 May 2024
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Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region: governor

Nearly 10,000 evacuated in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region: governor
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plays down Russia’s gains in the offensive
  • Moscow has been attacking several settlements including Vovchansk, just five kilometers from the border

KYIV: Nearly 10,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv region since a ground attack launched by Russian forces on May 10, the regional governor said.
The assault may only be the first wave of a wider offensive, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said.
Over a week after its launch, “a total of 9,907 people have been evacuated,” governor Oleg Synegubov said.
They were fleeing Russian soldiers who managed to advance between five to 10 kilometers (three to six miles) along the northeastern border before being stopped by Ukrainian forces.
Synegubov said Ukraine’s armed forces had repelled two attempts to break through defenses overnight.
The situation was “under control” with “defenders in certain areas conducting assault... and combing operations.”
Moscow has been attacking several settlements including Vovchansk, just five kilometers from the border.
“In the area of the city of Vovchansk, Ukrainian troops are reinforcing their defense,” Synegubov said.
A day earlier, he said Russian forces have started to destroy Vovchansk and all but 200 of its residents have fled due to fighting.
Russian forces have taken 278 square kilometers (107 square miles) between May 9 and 15, their biggest gains since the end of 2022, AFP calculated using data from the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).
Russia’s offensive “could consist in several waves. There was the first wave” in the Kharkiv region, Zelensky said journalists.
Zelensky played down Russia’s gains in the offensive but added: “We have to be sober and understand that they are going deeper into our territory. Not vice versa. And that’s still their advantage.”
Speaking about the offensive during a visit to China on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was a response to Ukraine shelling border regions.


Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’

Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’
Updated 51 min 43 sec ago
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Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’

Macron warns far-right, hard-left policies could lead to ‘civil war’
  • French politics were plunged into turmoil by Macron calling snap legislative elections after his centrist party was trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN)

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron on Monday warned that the policies of his far-right and hard-left opponents could lead to “civil war,” as France prepared for its most divisive election in decades.
French politics were plunged into turmoil by Macron calling snap legislative elections after his centrist party was trounced by the far-right National Rally (RN) in a European vote earlier this month.
Weekend polls suggested the RN would win 35-36 percent in the first round on Sunday, ahead of a left-wing alliance on 27-29.5 percent and Macron’s centrists in third on 19.5-22 percent.
A second round of voting will follow on July 7 in constituencies where no candidate takes more than 50 percent in the first round.
Speaking on the podcast “Generation Do It Yourself,” Macron, 46, denounced both the RN as well as the hard-left France Unbowed party.
He said the far-right “divides and pushes toward civil war,” while the hard-left France Unbowed party, which is part of the New Popular Front alliance, proposes “a form of communitarianism,” adding that “civil war follows on from that, too.”
Earlier Monday, French far-right leader Jordan Bardella said his RN party was ready to govern as he pledged to curb immigration and tackle cost-of-living issues.
“In three words: we are ready,” Bardella, the RN’s 28-year-old president told a news conference as he unveiled his party’s program.
Bardella, credited with helping the RN clean up its extremist image, has urged voters to give the euroskeptic party an outright majority to allow it to implement its anti-immigration, law-and-order program.
“Seven long years of Macronism has weakened the country,” he said, vowing to boost purchasing power, “restore order” and change the law to make it easier to deport foreigners convicted of crimes.
He reiterated plans to tighten borders and make it harder for children born in France to foreign parents to gain citizenship.
Bardella added that the RN would focus on “realistic” measures to curb inflation, primarily by cutting energy taxes.
He also promised a disciplinary “big bang” in schools, including a ban on mobile phones and trialling the introduction of school uniforms, a proposal previously put forward by Macron.
Prime Minister Gabriel Attal of Macron’s Renaissance party poured scorn on the RN’s economic program, telling Europe 1 radio the country was “headed straight for disaster” in the event of an RN victory.
On Tuesday, Attal will go head-to-head with Bardella in a TV debate.
On foreign policy, Bardella said the RN opposed sending French troops and long-range missiles to Ukraine — as mooted by Macron — but would continue to provide logistical and material support.
He added that his party, which had close ties to Russia before its invasion of Ukraine, would be “extremely vigilant” in the face of Moscow’s attempts to interfere in French affairs.
Macron insisted that France would continue to support Ukraine over the long term as he met with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
“We will continue to mobilize to respond to Ukraine’s immediate needs,” he said alongside Stoltenberg at the Elysee Palace.
The election is shaping up as a showdown between the RN and the leftist New Popular Front, which is dominated by the hard-left France Unbowed.
Bardella claimed the RN, which mainstream parties have in the past united to block, was now the “patriotic and republican” choice faced with what he alleged was the anti-Semitism of Melenchon’s party.
France Unbowed, which opposes Israel’s war in Gaza and refused to label the October 7 Hamas attacks as “terrorism,” denies the charges of anti-Semitism.
In calling an election in just three weeks Macron hoped to trip up his opponents and catch them unprepared.
But analysts have warned the move could backfire if the deeply unpopular president is forced to share power with a prime minister from an opposing party.
RN powerhouse Marine Le Pen, who is bidding to succeed Macron as president, has called on him to step aside if he loses control of parliament.
Macron has insisted he will not resign before the end of his second term in 2027 but has vowed to heed voters’ concerns.
Speaking on Monday, Macron once again defended his choice to call snap elections.
“It’s very hard. I’m aware of it, and a lot of people are angry with me,” he said on the podcast.
“But I did it because there is nothing greater and fairer in a democracy than trust in the people.”


At least eight die in inferno near Moscow, TASS says

Smoke billows from a burning administrative building in Fryazino in the Moscow Region, Russia June 24, 2024. (Reuters)
Smoke billows from a burning administrative building in Fryazino in the Moscow Region, Russia June 24, 2024. (Reuters)
Updated 24 June 2024
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At least eight die in inferno near Moscow, TASS says

Smoke billows from a burning administrative building in Fryazino in the Moscow Region, Russia June 24, 2024. (Reuters)
  • Black smoke billowed from the building outside Moscow and flames roared up its walls
  • Some people were trapped on the top floors but were unable to escape

MOSCOW: Two people jumped to their death from the top floors of a burning eight-story former Russian electronics research institute on Monday and at least six others died in the fire, state-run TASS news agency reported.
Black smoke billowed from the building outside Moscow and flames roared up its walls. Some people were trapped on the top floors but were unable to escape.
One man was shown jumping from the upper floor of the building by the Baza Telegram channel. Another, with serious burns, fell from the upper floors, footage published by Shot Telegram channel showed.
It was not immediately clear what caused the fire.


Malaysia arrests eight over alleged Daesh links: minister

Malaysia’s home minister on Monday said police detained eight people with suspected links to Daesh. (File/AFP)
Malaysia’s home minister on Monday said police detained eight people with suspected links to Daesh. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 June 2024
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Malaysia arrests eight over alleged Daesh links: minister

Malaysia’s home minister on Monday said police detained eight people with suspected links to Daesh. (File/AFP)
  • The suspects were rounded up over the weekend in various parts of the Muslim-majority country
  • The six men and two women were from diverse backgrounds, including unemployed and educated professionals

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s home minister on Monday said police detained eight people with suspected links to the Daesh group who were purportedly planning attacks against the king and the premier.
The suspects were rounded up over the weekend in various parts of the Muslim-majority country, minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said in a statement.
He said an initial investigation by the police “has also found that there are threats against His Majesty the (king), the prime minister, prominent figures and top leadership of the Malaysian police force.”
The six men and two women were from diverse backgrounds, including unemployed and educated professionals, added the minister.
In March, a machete-wielding attacker suspected of ties to an Al-Qaeda linked group stormed a police station in the state of Johor and killed two officers.
The attacker, who police said had links to Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), had slashed one officer before grabbing a gun and shooting another.
JI has been blamed for a series of deadly bomb attacks in the region including the 2002 bombings in the Indonesian resort island of Bali that killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.
Police inspector-general Razarudin Husain in March said that Malaysia would be scaling up security.


Afghan fans aglow after historic Australia T20 World Cup win

Afghan fans aglow after historic Australia T20 World Cup win
Updated 24 June 2024
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Afghan fans aglow after historic Australia T20 World Cup win

Afghan fans aglow after historic Australia T20 World Cup win
  • Afghanistan seized on a poor Australian field performance to post 148-6 in their innings before bowling 2021 champions out for 127 
  • Cricket Australia has withdrawn from bilateral series because of “deterioration in human rights” for women in Afghanistan

KABUL: Beleaguered Afghans were riding high Monday after a historic weekend T20 World Cup victory over Australia spread a rare mood of euphoria across the country.
“With every ball, every run, every boundary, every wicket, I wasn’t able to hold my emotions,” said university student Zamir Afghan in the capital Kabul.
“It was very early morning, but I was jumping, screaming, I was not able to contain myself,” the 20-year-old told AFP. “I couldn’t stop my tears.”
Afghanistan seized on a poor Australian field performance to post 148-6 in their innings before bowling the 2021 champions out for 127 — their first ever win over Australia.
“Afghanistan as a nation has suffered a lot, such moments are rare for us,” said Afghan.
Whilst cricket is hugely popular in Afghanistan, the match over 11,000 kilometers (7,000 miles) away in Arnos Vale on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, took place around dawn local time.
Though the last ball was bowled around 8:30 am (0400 GMT) on Sunday, many diehard fans had been awake to witness the win.
In eastern Khost city, around 1,000 raucous cricket fans gathered to bask in the glow of fireworks early on Sunday morning in half an hour of revelry swiftly broken up by Taliban security forces.
An uncowed smaller crowd came together again at night, clapping as they lit off more pyrotechnics.
Since the Taliban took over in August 2021 and introduced an austere vision of Islam, scenes of public jubilation have been rare.
“Such moments are special for everyone,” said 18-year-old fruit shop worker Saddam Saleh. “Beating the mighty Australia is not something small.”
The result bolsters Afghanistan’s chances of reaching the semifinals in the competition co-hosted by the USA and West Indies, though they must first face Bangladesh on Tuesday.
“In sports there are always ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, but there is a very good chance for Afghanistan to qualify,” said 28-year-old Usman Ahmadzai.
“They even have the potential to be in the final and be champions — we couldn’t wish for more.”
Afghanistan has been isolated since the withdrawal of foreign forces and the collapse of the US-backed government, with diplomats wary of engaging with Taliban rulers.
The isolation has spilled into the world of sport. Cricket Australia has withdrawn from bilateral series because of the “deterioration in human rights” for women and girls in Afghanistan.
“The Afghanistan national team responded to their disrespect on the pitch,” said 32-year-old Shahid, who goes by only one name.
“No one should ever underestimate the greatness of Afghanistan.”


Delhi minister stages hunger strike for more water to city amid extreme heat

Delhi minister stages hunger strike for more water to city amid extreme heat
Updated 24 June 2024
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Delhi minister stages hunger strike for more water to city amid extreme heat

Delhi minister stages hunger strike for more water to city amid extreme heat
  • Millions of Indians face water shortages every summer when water demand rises in farms, offices and homes against a limited supply
  • A prolonged heatwave this year has worsened the shortfall, including in Delhi and the southern tech hub of Bengaluru

NEW DELHI: A Delhi city minister has started an indefinite hunger strike to demand more drinking water for India’s capital, where taps in some of its poorest neighborhoods are running nearly dry in the middle of searing heat.
“There are 2.8 million people in the city who are aching for just a drop of water,” Delhi Water Minister Atishi said on Monday, the fourth day of her fast.
Millions of Indians face water shortages every summer when water demand rises in farms, offices and homes against a limited supply, but a prolonged heatwave this year has worsened the shortfall, including in Delhi and the southern tech hub of Bengaluru.
Delhi relies on the Yamuna River that runs through the capital for most of its water needs but the river slows down during dry summer months, causing shortages that lead to protests and calls for better water conservation.
Atishi blamed the neighboring farming state of Haryana for guzzling up a large share of river water.
Haryana’s government responded that it was Delhi’s mismanagement that was causing water shortages. Experts said a federal-level review of decades-old water sharing pacts was needed to accommodate population growth.
Delhi, a city of 20 million people, is one of the world’s most densely populated capitals, where upscale neighborhoods and manicured lawns are just a few miles away from unplanned working-class areas and slums.
But, in contrast to growing unplanned development over the years, the city’s water allocation from rivers has remained unchanged since 1994, said Depinder Kapur, the director of water program at think tank Center for Science and Environment.
“What was true 10-15 years ago is not true anymore. So, there is a situation of crisis and it’s a distribution issue,” he said.
The Delhi government is working on plans to improve the groundwater table by reviving lakes and storing water overflow from the Yamuna during the seasonal monsoon rains, but officials say the summer shortfall is difficult to tackle by these measures alone.
“Water crisis in Delhi is a year-long crisis because extreme temperatures are not going anywhere,” said environmentalist Vimlendu Jha. “Delhi needs a comprehensive water management plan in which Yamuna can’t be the only major source of water.”