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Our selection of Things you need to know The Week: July 18 – July 24

July 18

Zelensky fires Ukraine top prosecutor and spy chief
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed Sunday that he had fired the country’s top prosecutor and the head of its domestic intelligence agency, in the biggest shakeup of his government since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Zelensky’s government announced the dismissals of the prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, and Ivan Bakanov, the leader of the Security Service of Ukraine, in brief decrees. Zelensky said suspected cooperation with Russia by some of Venediktova’s and Bakanov’s employees raised “very serious questions” about their leadership. The government has opened 651 cases of high treason against law enforcement personnel, Zelensky said. More than 60 employees of the prosecutor’s office and security service are believed to be working against the state in occupied territories. [The New York Times, The Hill]
Ukraine resists Russian push in Donetsk
Ukrainian forces resisted Russia’s renewed push to take control of Donetsk over the weekend. Russia’s military attacked settlements on the highway leading from the Luhansk region to the industrial cities of Donetsk, but met stiff resistance, were “firmly repulsed, suffered losses, and withdrew,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Sunday. Russian forces have intensified bombardments of towns and cities in Donetsk since capturing Lysychansk, the last city in the neighboring Luhansk region that Ukraine controlled. Moscow, which gave up on capturing the capital city, Kyiv, early in its invasion of Ukraine, has said the goal of its “special military operation” now is to seize Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists already had a foothold. Ukraine still holds about 45 percent of Donetsk. [CNN]
Pakistan’s ruling party suffers setback after raising gas prices
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday demanded early parliamentary elections after his party swept Sunday’s by-elections and won control of Punjab, the country’s most populous province. “The only way forward from here is to hold fair & free elections,” tweeted Khan, whose party was ousted from power in April. “Any other path will only lead to greater political uncertainty & further economic chaos.” The party of the current prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, conceded that it lost most of the 20 by-elections for the provincial parliament. The setback came after Sharif raised taxes and lifted a gasoline subsidy, nearly doubling pump prices, to meet the terms of an International Monetary Fund bailout and avert a potential economic collapse. [The Wall Street Journal]
H&M says it’s pulling out of Russia
H&M said Monday it will leave Russia, joining a growing number of companies pulling out in the wake of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. H&M suspended its Russia operations in early March as Western nations imposed sanctions on the country, and it will reopen stores temporarily to sell off inventory. H&M is the world’s second biggest fashion retailer, and Russia was its sixth biggest market. The move by the Swedish company, which has 170 stores in Russia, will affect about 6,000 employees. Before the invasion, the company had been adding stores in the country while cutting back in some other markets. Chief Executive Helena Helmersson said in a statement that continuing to do business in Russia was “impossible given the current situation.” [Reuters]

July 19

Deadly European heat wave spreads to U.K. 
The heat wave that has fueled wildfires in Spain, France, and Portugal reached the United Kingdom on Monday. The temperature is expected to reach an all-time U.K. record of 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday. The government declared a national emergency. British schools, sports facilities, and summer camps shut down. Trains were canceled. Bob Ward, communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, said the temperatures were “well above anything we’ve ever seen before,” and warned the heat wave could result in 2,000 deaths. At least 1,100 people have already died of heat-related causes in Spain and Portugal. Spain’s prime minister blamed global warming, saying: “Climate change kills.” [The Wall Street Journal, The Associated Press]
Gazprom tells European customers it can’t guarantee gas supplies
Russia’s Gazprom has told European customers it can’t guarantee it will maintain their regular gas supplies under their current contracts, Reuters reported Monday, citing a copy of a letter it reviewed that was sent by the Russian state gas monopoly. Gazprom said the potential cutoff of gas was due to “extraordinary” circumstances, signaling a potential escalation of tensions between Europe and Moscow over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In its July 14 letter, Gazprom said it was invoking a force majeure or “act of God” clause, a standard element of business contracts describing extreme circumstances that release a party in the contract from their legal obligations. [Reuters]

Trump's new hat

July 20

Heat wave hits U.K. with its hottest day ever
A heat wave ravaging Europe brought temperatures of 104.5 degrees Fahrenheit to the United Kingdom, shattering the country’s record for its highest temperature ever registered. Before Tuesday, Britain’s record high was 101.7 degrees, set in 2019. The heat wave has fueled wildfires from Portugal to the Balkans, and caused hundreds of heat-related deaths. Stephen Belcher, the chief scientist at Britain’s Met Office weather agency, said such extreme temperatures would be “virtually impossible” without climate change, and he warned that similar heat waves could hit Europe every three years without big carbon-emission cuts. Many homes and businesses in normally cool Britain lack air conditioning, so the heat has disrupted travel, health care, and schools. [The Associated Press]
House passes bill protecting same-sex marriage
The House on Tuesday passed legislation seeking to protect same-sex and interracial marriage. Democrats said a federal law was necessary to safeguard marriage equality because the recent Supreme Court ruling overturning 1973’s Roe v. Wade and the national right to abortion could signal that other constitutional protections are at risk. Bill co-sponsor Rep. David Cicilline (D.-R.I.) said “millions of LGBTQ families … are worried about the Supreme Court’s intention to rip away more freedoms.” Forty-seven Republicans joined all Democrats in approving the Respect for Marriage Act, which faces an uncertain future in the 50-50 Senate. Rep. Mike Johnson (R.-La.), one of the 157 Republicans who voted against the legislation, said Democrats were grandstanding and the “bill is completely unnecessary.” [The Hill, The Wall Street Journal]
Secret Service says it can’t restore purged Jan. 6 texts
The Secret Service has determined it won’t be able to restore purged texts from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, to give to the House select panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing a senior official briefed on the matter. The National Archives said Tuesday it was seeking information on “the potential unauthorized deletion” of agency communications, and asked the Secret Service to report back within 30 days. The Jan. 6 committee last week issued a subpoena for the texts, which members said over the weekend they expected to receive within days. Investigators say the texts could help determine what then-President Donald Trump said and did as his supporters attacked the Capitol. [The Washington Post, The Hill]

The wild things

Mississippi’s last abortion clinic drops lawsuit against state ban
Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on Tuesday withdrew its lawsuit asking a court to block a state law banning most abortions. The move came after clinic owner Diane Derzis told The Associated Press she had sold the facility and wouldn’t reopen even if a state court ruled in her favor. “If the clinic is not in a position to reopen in Mississippi, it no longer has a basis to pursue this case in the courts,” said Rob McDuff, a Mississippi Center for Justice attorney who was on the clinic’s legal team. The clinic, which was known as the Pink House for its bright paint job, plans to open a new facility soon in Las Cruces, New Mexico. [The Associated Press]
Indiana doctor threatens defamation lawsuit against state AG
Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana physician who provided an abortion for a 10-year-old abuse victim from Ohio, has notified Indiana’s Republican attorney general, Todd Rokita, that she is considering a defamation lawsuit over Rokita’s criticism of her work as an abortion provider. “He is wrongly accusing her of misconduct in her profession, so we want that smear campaign to stop,” attorney Kathleen DeLaney told NPR on Tuesday. “We want him and his office to stop intimidating and harassing health-care providers generally who are simply doing the job that they went to medical school to do.” Rokita has said he was investigating whether Bernard properly reported the abuse and abortion to the state. Several news organizations obtained records showing she filed all required paperwork. [NPR]

July 21

Cheetahs to stage a comeback in India
Cheetahs are coming back to India, and environmental officials are hopeful that they are here to stay. In 1952, due to hunting, habitat loss, and a lack of food, India’s indigenous cheetah population was declared extinct. The country’s supreme court ruled in 2020 that cheetahs could be reintroduced in a “carefully chosen location,” and over the last two years, officials have been working with their counterparts in Namibia on a plan to safely transport eight cheetahs to India. In August, the cheetahs will be brought from Namibia to the Kuno-Palpur National Park in the state of Madhya Pradesh, which has “cheetah-friendly terrain,” BBC News reports. Bhupender Yadav, India’s environment minister, wrote on social media that bringing the cheetah back to India will “rekindle the ecological dynamics of the landscape.” Officials said the main goal of this project is to “establish viable cheetah metapopulation in India that allows the cheetah to perform its functional role as a top predator.” [BBC News]
Russia expands its wartime goals in Ukraine
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday that Moscow now aims to take control of part of Ukraine’s south, not just the eastern territories where its military offensive has been focused in recent weeks. Lavrov said Russia’s objectives could expand further if Western countries continue to provide Ukraine with more long-range weapons, including the HIMARS multiple rocket launchers the United States has sent. “This is an ongoing process,” Lavrov told RIA Novosti, the Russian state news agency. Ukraine’s military has used the rocket systems to target far-off Russian munition depots and other facilities, limiting Russian advances. Lavrov’s comments marked a departure from previous statements by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia wanted to “demilitarize” Ukraine but not occupy it. [The New York Times]
E.U. tells member states to cut gas usage as Nord Stream pipeline reopens
The European Union on Wednesday told its member states to slash their usage of natural gas consumption by 15 percent until March due to ongoing concerns about the stability of deliveries through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline from Russia to Germany. The pipeline accounts for more than a third of Russian gas exports to the trading bloc. Gas flows through the pipeline resumed Thursday at reduced levels after a 10-day shutdown for maintenance. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a day earlier that any delays by the West in providing parts or repairs could result in further cuts. Supplies through Nord Stream were reduced before the maintenance shutdown due to a dispute over sanctions imposed to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. [Reuters, The Washington Post]
Heat wave spreads to Central Europe
The heat wave that brought record-high temperatures to Britain and fueled wildfires in Portugal, Spain, France, and Greece extended into Central Europe on Wednesday. Several cities in Germany reported all-time highs. The temperature in Hamburg, for example, jumped to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the farthest northern location in Germany ever to record a temperature above 40 degrees Celsius, according to the German weather website Kachelmannwetter. More than 1,000 deaths have been blamed on the extreme weather in Portugal alone. The European Union’s Copernicus climate monitoring service warned that extremely dry and hot conditions are increasing the likelihood that wildfires could spread. [The Washington Post]
Heat wave pushes up price of natural gas
Natural gas futures jumped 10 percent on Wednesday as utilities struggled to produce enough electricity to keep up with demand while Americans crank up air conditioners during some of the hottest weather on record. “The entire country is running their air conditioners,” said Eli Rubin, senior analyst at the energy consultant EBW Analytics. Natural gas futures have risen 48 percent this month, reversing last month’s decline. Commodity prices had started falling, raising hopes of containing a key driver of inflation, but the heat wave, which is affecting more than 100 million Americans, is pushing prices for raw materials back up and increasing cost pressures again. [The Wall Street Journal]

The GOP climate plan

Senators reach bipartisan deal aimed at preventing another Jan. 6
A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday released a proposal to update the Electoral Count Act to prevent a repeat of the Jan. 6, 2021, attempt by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn President Biden’s election. Trump and his allies used the 1887 law to pressure then-Vice President Mike Pence to block certification of the 2020 presidential election results. Bipartisan negotiators, led by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), propose explicitly stating that the vice president’s role in tallying Electoral College votes is strictly symbolic. The changes would also raise the bar for lawmakers wishing to challenge an election result. The senators urged members of “both parties to support these simple, common-sense reforms.” [Politico]

July 22

Hawley's bravery

Jan. 6 panel says Trump ‘chose not to act’ during Capitol attack
Then-President Donald Trump watched the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack on TV in his dining room and rejected pleas from aides to tell the mob of his supporters to stop the violence, members of the House select committee investigating the riot said at a hearing Thursday. Trump “chose not to act” during the 187 minutes between leaving a “Stop the Steal” rally and when he finally told the mob to disperse, said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). As Trump’s national security staff was hearing how close rioters got to then-Vice President Mike Pence — and rioters chanted calls to hang him — Trump tweeted that Pence was a “coward” for refusing to block the certification of President Biden’s victory over Trump in the 2020 election. [The Washington Post]
U.N.-backed deal seeks to restore Ukraine grain exports
Ukraine, Russia, Turkey, and United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres have agreed to sign a deal Friday to resume Ukrainian grain exports, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office said Thursday. Russia and Ukraine are major wheat exporters, but the war between the two nations has disrupted shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, leaving 20 million tons of grain stuck at the port of Odesa. The stalemate has pushed food prices higher and triggered a global food crisis. The agreement was finalized in negotiations in Istanbul last week, although the details were not immediately released. Guterres said the U.N. and Turkey have been pushing for a “package deal” that would let Ukrainian exports resume and facilitate shipments of Russian grain and fertilizer. [Reuters]
House passes bill that would codify right to contraception
The House on Thursday passed a bill seeking to protect access to birth control, aiming to shield it from any future Supreme Court decision like Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the right to an abortion. All Democrats and eight Republicans voted for the bill. The measure marked Democrats’ latest response to the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Since the Dobbs ruling, red states have rushed to tighten abortion restrictions or ban the procedure altogether. “This extremism is about one thing: control of women. We will not let this happen,” said bill sponsor Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.). The House voted on July 15 to codify abortion rights without GOP support. [USA Today]
Judge temporarily blocks Louisiana abortion ban
A judge ruled Thursday that Louisiana abortion clinics can keep operating until a lawsuit challenging the state’s near-total abortion ban is resolved. State district Judge Donald Johnson in Baton Rouge gave attorneys on both sides 30 days to work out their trial plans. Louisiana’s “trigger” laws have twice taken effect only to be blocked since the Supreme Court’s June ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision conferring the right to an abortion. Johnson said the state ban’s “vagueness” prevents medical professionals from being sure whether, “or to what extent, they continue to perform or assist” in abortions. The state could appeal. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry has said the case is likely to end up at the state Supreme Court. [The Associated Press]
100 million under heat alerts across U.S.
More than 100 million people spent Thursday under excessive-heat warnings or heat advisories in the Lower 48 states, as a heat wave continued to push temperatures as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit. At least 16 states that are home to about 60 million people recorded highs in the triple digits, while a half-dozen more saw temperatures in the upper 90s. Many communities in Texas and Oklahoma are enduring one of their hottest summers ever. Both states had spots that recorded 115-degree temperatures on Tuesday, although Thursday was a bit cooler. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a heat emergency through Monday. Dozens of local heat records have been shattered this week. Meanwhile, a heat wave in Europe has been blamed for hundreds of deaths. [The Washington Post]

July 23

Ukraine and Russia reach deal on Black Sea grain exports
Ukraine and Russia reached a deal on Friday that would allow grain exports from Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea to resume in order to ameliorate the global food shortages caused by the war. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the agreement “a beacon of hope” after ministers from the two warring nations signed the deal in Istanbul. The agreement was thrown into jeopardy the following day when Russian missiles struck the city of Odessa, one of the ports Russia had agreed to unblock. [Reuters, CNN]
Pentagon mulls sending fighter jets to Ukraine
Spokesman John Kirby said Friday that that Pentagon “is making some preliminary explorations into the feasibility of potentially providing fighter aircraft to Ukraine.” He added that the United States would not be able to “execute” this plan “immediately or even in the short term.” Ukrainian forces would need to be trained to fly and maintain U.S.-made aircraft. They would also need spare parts to make necessary repairs. Despite these hurdles, receiving American fighter jets would be a major win for Ukraine, which has been requesting them since the war began in February. [The Wall Street Journal]
Orbán urges new Ukraine strategy focused on peace, not victory
Nationalist conservative Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said Saturday that the European Union should adopt a new Ukraine strategy “which should focus [on] peace talks and drafting a good peace proposal … instead of winning the war” against Russia. Sanctions, he argued, have not been effective in undermining Russia’s will to fight, and European governments are falling “like dominoes” as rising energy prices take their toll. Orbán, a controversial figure in Hungary and in Europe as a whole, won a fourth term in April after refusing to ban imports of Russian oil and gas or to allow weapons being sent to Ukraine to be shipped through Hungary. [Reuters, The Week]
Bannon found guilty in contempt trial
A jury found Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress on Friday, after prosecutors accused the ex-adviser to former President Donald Trump of deciding he was “above the law” by ignoring a subpoena from the House committee investigating the Capitol riot. “This case is not complicated, but it is important,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly Gaston said during closing arguments. “The defendant chose allegiance to Donald Trump over compliance with the law.” Bannon defense lawyer Evan Corcoran claimed that his client “didn’t intentionally refuse to comply with anything.” Depending on his sentencing in October, Bannon could be the first person in over half a century to be jailed for contempt of Congress. [The Week, The Washington Post]

July 24

California wildfire burns nearly 12,000 acres and forces over 6,000 people to evacuate
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) declared a state of emergency on Saturday as a wildfire ripping through Mariposa County has burned nearly 12,000 acres, forced more than 6,000 people to evacuate, and sent authorities scrambling to protect the giant sequoias in nearby Yosemite National Park. State fire officials said that, as of Saturday night, the fire was zero percent contained. About 400 firefighters have been deployed to fight the blaze, along with four helicopters, said CalFire spokeswoman Natasha Fouts. [BBC, CNN]
Trump tells Florida crowd there’s ‘no chance’ he’ll step away from politics
Former President Donald Trump on Saturday told the crowd at the Turning Point USA Student Action Conference in Tampa, Florida, that he won two presidential elections and “may just have to do it again.” Trump also said that “if I renounced my beliefs, if I agreed to stay silent, if I stayed home, if I announced that I was not going to run for office, the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop … But that‘s what they want me to do, and you know what? There’s no chance I’d do that.” The crowd responded with a chant of “Four more years!” [Fox News, Politico]
Ukrainian forces launch counteroffensive in Kherson Oblast
Ukrainian forces have launched a counteroffensive into Kherson Oblast, the first part of the country to fall under Russian control when the invasion began in February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday. Ukrainian artillery is reportedly targeting bridges in the region, aiming to hinder the delivery of supplies to the Russian occupiers. Zelensky said his country’s forces are advancing “step by step” into the region, but civilians in liberated areas have been asked to remain quiet about troop movements in order to maintain operational security. [BBC, Institute for the Study of War]
Russian foreign minister to blame U.S. for food shortages during trip to Africa
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visited Egypt on Sunday as part of a trip to Africa that will include stops in Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In an op-ed published in all four countries, Lavrov wrote, “”We know that the African colleagues do not approve of the undisguised attempts of the U.S. and their European satellites to gain the upper hand, and to impose a unipolar world order to the international community.” He also blamed the global food crisis on the West. African public opinion is split on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and no African countries have imposed sanctions on Russia. [The New York Times, NPR]
World Health Organization declares monkeypox a global emergency
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday declared monkeypox a global emergency. He said he made this declaration despite a lack of consensus among public health experts on the emergency committee, the first time a director-general has taken such an action unilaterally. “Although I am declaring a public health emergency of international concern for the moment, this is an outbreak that is concentrated among men who have sex with men, especially those with multiple sexual partners. That means that this is an outbreak that can be stopped with the right strategies,” Tedros said. [The Associated Press]

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A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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