Russia is revising its nuclear doctrine, Kremlin says

Russia is revising its nuclear doctrine, Kremlin says
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has said that work is under way to bring the doctrine into line with current realities. (Reuters)
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Updated 24 June 2024
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Russia is revising its nuclear doctrine, Kremlin says

Russia is revising its nuclear doctrine, Kremlin says
  • Vladimir Putin said last month that Russia might change its official nuclear doctrine setting out the conditions under which such weapons could be used

MOSCOW: Russia, the world’s biggest nuclear power, has started updating its nuclear doctrine, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday, citing an earlier statement by President Vladimir Putin.
“President Putin has said that work is under way to bring the doctrine into line with current realities,” Peskov told a briefing, without elaborating.
A senior member of the Russian parliament said on Sunday that Moscow could reduce the decision-making time stipulated in official policy for the use of nuclear weapons if it believes that threats are increasing.
Putin said last month that Russia might change its official nuclear doctrine setting out the conditions under which such weapons could be used.
The war in Ukraine has triggered the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.


Russia and Iran finish preparing comprehensive cooperation agreement, TASS reports

Russia and Iran finish preparing comprehensive cooperation agreement, TASS reports
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Russia and Iran finish preparing comprehensive cooperation agreement, TASS reports

Russia and Iran finish preparing comprehensive cooperation agreement, TASS reports

MOSCOW: Russia and Iran have completed the preparation of a comprehensive cooperation agreement, the state-run TASS news agency reported on Tuesday, citing the Russian Foreign Ministry.
The agreement will be signed soon, TASS said.


Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics

Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics
Updated 23 July 2024
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Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics

Macron’s political gamble casts shadow over Paris Olympics
  • As he prepares to welcome more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of spectators for Friday’s opening ceremony along the Seine, Macron is a fragile force

PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron hoped the Paris Olympics would cement his legacy. But a failed bet on a snap legislative election has left him politically stunted, casting a lingering shadow over Macron’s moment on the international stage.
As he prepares to welcome more than 100 heads of state and tens of thousands of spectators for Friday’s opening ceremony along the Seine, Macron is a fragile force — an unpopular president presiding over a caretaker government as it hosts the world’s largest sporting event amid heightened security fears.
“Macron expected to welcome the Games like an emperor,” said French historian Patrick Weil. “But now he’s a lame duck.”
Walking around the Olympic Village on Monday, Macron defended his decision to dissolve parliament and denied the ensuing political instability would overshadow the Games.
“It was me who decided,” he said, referring to his determination to call the election ahead of the Games.
“There is no bitter taste. On the contrary, we did the things that needed to be done before (the Olympics). Now we can fully focus on the Games.”
And in a bid to keep the crisis at bay for a few weeks, he appeared to suggest he was unlikely to name a prime minister until the Games were over.
“There is a sort of truce,” he said.
Macron called the legislative vote after a thumping by the far-right National Rally (RN) in last month’s EU election, saying he wanted the poll to provide clarity.
Instead, French voters delivered a hung parliament and no bloc has so far been able to form a government, leaving Macron’s previous cabinet to manage day-to-day affairs in a caretaker capacity.
“The Olympics are a great break, an extraordinary moment, a brilliant showcase for our country,” said far-right lawmaker Julien Odoul. “But the difficulties of our compatriots continue despite the Olympic Games. And this National Assembly is currently not in a position to provide a response.”
Macron aides, Olympics officials, lawmakers and public figures stressed to Reuters that the show would go on, with years of security and logistics planning unaffected by the politics. But some acknowledged the fallout from the political crisis would hang over the Games.
Socialist lawmaker Christine Pires-Beaune said Macron’s expedited vote had left many French bewildered and angry.
“We have never been in such a thick fog,” she said.
It was not supposed to be this way.
In his New Year’s Eve address to the nation last December, Macron spoke with pride and optimism about the year ahead.
“Only once in a century does one host the Olympic and Paralympic Games,” he said. “2024 will be a year of determination, of choices and of regeneration.”
But more than six months later, Macron’s hopes of regenerating his mandate have evaporated, while the political crisis provoked by his quickfire election has also contributed to weaker-than-expected tourist appetite for the Games.
Flight and hotel bookings to Paris during the Olympics have come in lower than expected, Reuters reported earlier this month, with experts pointing the finger at high travel and accommodation costs, security fears — and political tumult.
The ceaseless drama of the US election — which has so far included an assassination attempt against Republican candidate Donald Trump and President Joe Biden dropping out of the race — has also lured eyeballs away from Macron’s flagship event.
At the Olympic Village on Monday, Macron shook hands with volunteers, wearing a confident smile.
“We are ready,” the president told police officers before thanking Olympic Village staff for their work.
French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera acknowledged that the last few weeks had been “difficult politically.”
But she rejected the idea that the political crisis had stained the Games. She said France could breathe a sigh of relief that the far-right had not won enough seats to form a government, as some polls had projected.
“I think that the Games will allow the country to come together more than ever this summer,” she told Reuters.
Arielle Dombasle, a US-born French singer and actor, recently set social media alight with her performance of a stomping, operatic Olympic number at Paris City Hall, in which she was dressed in a white, hooped, floor-length skirt and peroxide wig.
“There is a terrible bashing among the French of the Olympics, which are nevertheless an astonishing international gathering of the most extraordinary human specimens: the man who jumps the highest, the woman who swims the fastest,” she said.
“There is an atmosphere of anxiety. The world is in disorder, to say the least. But these Games are the occasion for the greatest celebrations.”


Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue

Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue
Updated 23 July 2024
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Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue

Typhoon prompts cancellation of Taiwan air force drills but naval exercises set to continue
  • The Air Force 5th Tactical Mixed Wing announced the cancellation, citing adverse weather conditions

TAIPEI: The arrival of typhoon Gaemi prompted the cancellation of air force drills off Taiwan’s east coast on Tuesday, although naval and land exercises are set to continue in other parts of the self-governing island democracy, which China threatens to invade.
The Air Force 5th Tactical Mixed Wing announced the cancellation, citing adverse weather conditions.
According to the Central Weather Bureau, Typhoon Kaemi is heading westward toward China after bringing moderate flooding to Taiwan’s east coast. Major cities such as Kaosiung, Tainan, Taichung and the capital Taipei were spared any major damage.
Military spokesperson Sun Li-fang said the annual Han Kuang military exercises are on track to continue with adjustments to ensure the safety of personnel and equipment, although some sea and air exercises would be altered due to the weather.
This year’s drills follow the election of Lai Cheng-te as president, who continues the Democratic Progressive Party near-decade in power. The party rejects Beijing’s demands that it recognize Taiwan as a Chinese territory.
Taiwan’s military has long relied on support from the United States, but has in recent years reinvigorated its domestic arms industry, producing submarines and training aircraft that compliment upgraded weapon systems purchased from abroad.


After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas

After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas
Updated 23 July 2024
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After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas

After protests, Bangladesh government to formally accept ruling on job quotas
  • Protests that erupted last week turned violent, resulting in the killing of almost 150 people
  • Protesters want overturned a high court decision that reinstated quota system for government jobs 

DHAKA: The Bangladesh government is expected to formally accept on Tuesday a court ruling to lower quotas for state jobs, media reported, meeting a key demand of the students who had been protesting for days.

Calm prevailed in Dhaka and most major cities in Bangladesh for a second day amid a curfew and an Internet and telecoms shutdown that the government imposed after the protests that erupted last week turned into one of the worst outbreaks of violence in recent years, killing almost 150 people.

The protesters wanted the government to overturn a high court decision last month that reinstated a quota system putting aside nearly 60 percent of government jobs for certain people, including families of those who fought in Bangladesh’s war of independence.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had scrapped the quotas in 2018.

On Sunday, the Supreme Court agreed to scrap most of the quotas and Hasina approved the verdict late on Monday.

The government’s acceptance of the court ruling is expected to be published in its formal record on Tuesday, media reports said, in line with one of the demands of the protesters.

Hasina on Monday blamed her political opponents for violence and said the curfew, imposed since Friday, would be lifted “whenever the situation gets better.”

The protesters have given the government 48 hours to meet 8 demands, which include a public apology from Hasina and the reopening of the university campuses that were shut when the violence began.

Malaysia on Tuesday joined the list of countries trying to evacuate its citizens from Bangladesh because of the violence, with the foreign ministry saying the flight was expected to arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday afternoon.

India also said at least 4,500 Indian students had returned home over the last few days from Bangladesh. 


Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign

Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign
Updated 23 July 2024
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Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign

Joe Biden continues to recover from COVID-19, stays out of public view after ending his 2024 campaign
  • The president was last seen in public late Wednesday after arriving at a US air base in Dover, Delaware
  • Joe Biden had completed his 10th dose of the COVID-fighting medication Paxlovid on Monday morning

REHOBOTH BEACH, Delaware: President Joe Biden’s “symptoms have almost resolved completely” from COVID-19, according to his physician, as the president on Monday remained out of public view for the fifth straight day.
Biden called into the Wilmington, Delaware, headquarters of his former campaign during a visit by Vice President Kamala Harris, whose bid for the White House has been endorsed by Biden. The president sought to pep up the staff, urging them to give “every bit” of their “heart and soul” to Harris. Biden also vowed to be “out on the road” campaigning for his vice president.
“If I didn’t have Covid, I’d be standing there with you,” said Biden, whose voice sounded a touch gravely.
The president was last seen in public late Wednesday after arriving at a US air base in Dover, Delaware, after testing positive for COVID-19 while campaigning in Las Vegas earlier in the day. He then motorcaded to his vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The White House says Biden plans to return to the White House on Tuesday afternoon.
Biden’s physician, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, said that the president had completed his 10th dose of the COVID-fighting medication Paxlovid on Monday morning and continued to perform all of his presidential duties.
“His symptoms have almost resolved completely. His pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate and temperature remain absolutely normal,” O’Connor wrote. “His oxygen saturation continues to be excellent on room air. His lungs remain clear.”
The White House said Biden received separate briefings on Monday from homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall and national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Both briefings were conducted virtually.
Biden’s public schedule for the week has remained clear as he recovers from the virus, but he said in his letter on Sunday that he planned to deliver an address to the nation this week to discuss his decision to end his candidacy.
Biden plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Thursday, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the White House announcement.
Biden also plans to meet at the White House later this week with the families of Americans who are still being held hostage in Gaza, according to a statement from the group of families who met privately with Sullivan earlier Monday.
It would be the second time that Biden has met with the families. The families again publicly urged Israel and Hamas to come to an agreement on a ceasefire deal that would release their loved ones. Biden in late May proposed a three-phased deal aimed at returning remaining hostages taken by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel and could potentially lead to a permanent truce to end the nine-month war in Gaza.
“We’re going to keep working to an end to the war in Gaza,” Biden said during his call-in to the campaign headquarters. “I’ll be working really closely with the Israelis and with the Palestinians to try to work out how we can get the Gaza war to end, and Middle East peace, and get all those hostages home. I think we’re on the verge of being able to do that.”