The world in brief
Catch up quickly on the global stories that matter
Updated 4 hours ago (11:11 GMT+1 / 06:11 New York)
Stockmarkets in Europe followed those in Asia and America by opening with sharp drops on Thursday. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell by 2% in the early morning. On Wednesday American markets recorded enormous losses after warnings from retailers aggravated worries about high inflation and an economic slowdown. The S&P 500 index fell by 4%, its biggest fall since June 2020. After Target, a representative big-box retailer, complained of higher costs, it lost around a quarter of its stock market value—more than at any time since the Black Monday of 1987.
President Joe Biden offered support for the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO ahead of meetings with leaders from both countries in Washington on Thursday. Any application for membership requires ratification by all existing NATO members. But Turkey blocked the start of negotiations on the Nordic countries joining and Croatia’s president suggested that he would try to influence the country to vote against.
Russia said it has taken 900 of the Ukrainian fighters who surrendered at Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks to prison camps in the part of eastern Ukraine it controls. Meanwhile Ukraine held its first war-crimes trial. A Russian soldier pleaded guilty to killing a civilian in the village of Chupakhivka and now faces life imprisonment. And America reopened its embassy in Kyiv, which it closed in February ahead of the invasion, in a gesture of solidarity against “the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression”.
Mr Biden invoked the Korean-war-era Defence Production Act to try and alleviate America’s shortage of baby formula. The country is running low because of supply-chain snafus and the halting of production at a big manufacturing facility in Michigan. The DPA requires suppliers to serve formula-makers before their other customers. Mr Biden also announced that the armed forces would fly in formula from overseas.
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The European Commission announced a €210bn ($220bn) plan to end the EU’s reliance on Russian oil and gas by 2027. The proposal entails importing gas from elsewhere, accelerating the transition towards rebest casino sites 0able energy and reducing energy consumption by more than originally planned. Europe currently gets 40% of its gas and 27% of its imported oil from Russia. Meanwhile Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said there was “no shortcut” for Ukraine to join the European Union more easily than other countries.
Melvin Capital, a hedge fund once ranked among Wall Street’s most successful, announced its winding-down. Mortally wounded during the meme-stocks mania of the pandemic’s first year, Melvin was done in by the current slump. It lost half its asset-value shorting GameStop back when Reddit- and Robinhood-fuelled retail investors were raising the roof. A $2.7bn bailout from Citadel only postponed the inevitable.
French utilities giant EDF warned that outages at its nuclear plants, which reduced its total power output, would drag down its core earnings this year by around €18.5bn ($19.4bn). The French government’s plans to cap energy prices for households are expected to further sink earnings. In response, shares fell 1.8% in early trading.
Fact of the day: 1.5m, the number of cases of unidentified “fever” in North Korea just over one week after it recorded its first case of covid-19. Read the full story.
Can a global food crisis be averted?
The UN Security Council has a lot on its plate. The body, currently chaired by America, will meet on Thursday to discuss food security. Last year Ukraine supplied around one-tenth of the world’s traded wheat, 13% of its corn and nearly half its sunflower oil—enough to feed 400m people. But this year its ports are blockaded by Russia. That, along with droughts ravaging other breadbaskets such as America, France and India, is keeping grain prices near record levels.
If the war endures, the crisis will get worse. Ukraine’s summer harvest will be disrupted; so will planting the next one. Meanwhile, a global crunch in fertiliser, of which Russia is a major exporter, may crimp crop yields worldwide.
Peace in Ukraine is the obvious fix. Failing that, opening the Black Sea to its exports would go a long way. But Russia, intent on strangling Ukraine’s economy, does not seem minded to let that happen.
The Buffalo shooter in the dock
“White supremacy is a poison,” warned Joe Biden on Tuesday. “And it’s been allowed to fester and grow right in front of our eyes.” America’s president made his speech during a visit to Buffalo, a city in New York state, three days after a white supremacist shot 13 people, ten of them fatally, in a supermarket there. Eleven of the victims were African-American. Authorities called the shooting “racially motivated violent extremism”.
Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old suspected gunman, will appear in court today charged with first-degree murder. A 180-page manifesto he allegedly wrote and posted online suggests that he was inspired by the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, which asserts that non-white people are being brought to historically white lands to replace the white population. Once fringe, this poisonous idea is becoming more widespread—in America and beyond. New York’s attorney-general is investigating social-media platforms, including Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord, where such ideas fester.
Mariupol’s last defenders begin to surrender
For nearly a month thousands of Ukrainians were holed up inside the Azovstal steelworks in the port city of Mariupol. But now nearly 1,000 fighters inside the plant have surrendered to Russian troops. Russia says that at least 900 have been taken to prison camps in Russian-controlled towns inside Ukraine.
Russian television has presented the Ukrainian surrender as a decisive victory. But the end of the siege is more a propaganda victory than a military one. It frees up some Russian forces, but around half of the 13,000 troops first sent to subdue Mariupol have already been redeployed elsewhere in Ukraine.
For its part, Ukraine wants its troops to come best casino sites 0. Iryna Vereshchuk, the deputy prime minister, says 52 wounded soldiers will be exchanged for Russian prisoners of war once their condition has stabilised. But deputies in Russia’s Duma are pushing a law that would block any exchange. Instead they want to treat the Ukrainian soldiers as war criminals.
Another religious dispute in India
The Kashi Vishwanath temple and the Gyanvapi mosque stand side-by-side in Varanasi, a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Their proximity should be an example of religious comity in Hinduism’s holiest city. Instead it has become another source of sectarian tension.
Last month a local court ordered an investigation into claims that symbols of Hindu deities exist within the mosque, which was built by Muslim rulers four centuries ago over the ruins of an earlier Kashi Vishwanath temple. That has fuelled Hindu activists’ demands to be allowed to worship inside the mosque, which would violate a religious-protection law. A leaked video survey of the mosque’s interior seems to indicate that one idol does exist, although the mosque’s authorities dispute that. On Thursday India’s Supreme Court will hear a case on the legality of the survey. Police in the city are on high alert. In the 1990s a similar dispute, over a mosque and temple in Ayodhya, triggered riots that killed more than 2,000 people.
Drilling into Britain’s musical mainstream
“English girl named Fiona, African girl, Adeola / Body-ody shaped like cola.” In “Body” Tion Wayne and Russ Millions, two musicians from London, rap over a beat punctuated by skipping snares. In 2021 “Body” became the first drill track to top the singles charts in Britain. Drill, a genre derived from rap, has acquired a controversial reputation. One London police unit studies track lyrics to gather intelligence on gang violence, and sometimes censors specific references.
Yet evidence of a direct link between drill and crime is contested. And, as the success of “Body” attests, drill has fully penetrated Britain’s musical mainstream. That will be on display at the Ivor Novello songwriting award ceremony in London on Thursday, where “Body” is among the nominees for best contemporary song. Some gongfests, such as the Brits, have been criticised for being inattentive to musical innovation in Britain. But the Novellos have a history of recognising exciting best casino sites 0 genres—including drill.
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Thursday: According to Maradona, what was responsible for scoring a controversial goal against England in the 1986 football World Cup?
Wednesday: Which actor played John Connor in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”?
To make a discovery is not necessarily the same as to understand a discovery.Abraham Pais