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Vladimir Putin, known for his reluctance to address his main opponent in Russia directly by name, notably changed his approach following the death of Alexei Navalny. After securing his fifth term as president, Putin acknowledged Navalny’s passing, describing it as a sorrowful event. He also hinted at a potential agreement for Navalny’s involvement in a prisoner exchange.

Navalny’s associates allege he was murdered while in custody in an Arctic jail by Russian authorities, whereas official Russian sources attribute his death to natural causes. US President Joe Biden condemned Putin’s regime, characterizing Navalny’s demise as further evidence of Putin’s brutality.

Putin recently disclosed that prior to Navalny’s death, he had been informed of a proposed swap involving individuals detained in the West. Putin claimed he had agreed to the swap on the condition that Navalny remained outside Russia, but the plan did not materialize due to unforeseen circumstances.

Some observers interpret Putin’s remarks as an effort to distance himself from Navalny’s death, while others see it as a sign that Putin no longer perceives Navalny as a significant threat. Previously, Putin had rarely mentioned Navalny by name, arguing that he was just one among many opposition figures.

Navalny’s associates assert that Putin’s recent acknowledgment of Navalny’s name signifies a shift in his stance, indicating that Putin no longer feels the need to avoid mentioning him. However, critics view Putin’s comments with skepticism, considering them as attempts to downplay his involvement or responsibility in Navalny’s demise.

The circumstances surrounding Navalny’s death are intertwined with discussions of a potential prisoner swap, allegedly involving Navalny and individuals held in the West. Despite Putin’s acknowledgment of the proposed exchange, the Kremlin has not officially confirmed these negotiations. Additionally, Putin has refrained from directly naming Vadim Krasikov, a Russian hitman implicated in a high-profile murder in Germany, despite allusions to his involvement.

Overall, Putin’s remarks and the events surrounding Navalny’s death underscore the complex dynamics of Russian politics and international relations, with lingering questions regarding accountability and justice.

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French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz are meeting in Berlin amid tensions over Europe’s response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Macron emphasized that Europe’s security, including France’s, is on the line in Ukraine, warning that a Russian victory would be detrimental to Europe. However, Scholz has been more cautious, rejecting the deployment of Germany’s Taurus cruise missiles.

Ukraine is facing a critical shortage of arms, exacerbated by the delay in a $60 billion US military aid package due to Republican opposition in Congress. Despite being the largest European contributor of military aid to Ukraine, Germany faces pressure to do more. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, also attending the meeting, urged their three countries to rally European support for Ukraine, emphasizing the need for tangible assistance over mere rhetoric.

Differences between Paris and Berlin have widened, with Scholz insisting that deploying long-range missiles would require German troops in Ukraine, a stance Macron disagreed with. Macron, while acknowledging the possibility, stressed France’s commitment to peace and warned of Russia’s expansionist ambitions beyond Ukraine.

Ahead of the meeting, Scholz assured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky of their commitment to organizing support for Ukraine. Zelensky emphasized Ukraine’s urgent need for armored vehicles, artillery, and air defense.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg highlighted Ukraine’s dire need for ammunition, attributing recent Russian advances to this shortage. He urged NATO allies to provide necessary support. A Czech-led initiative to procure weapons from outside Europe has secured funding for 300,000 shells, with deliveries expected by June.

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The French Senate has overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment to solidify women’s right to abortion, following a similar endorsement by the National Assembly. The vote, with 267 in favor and 50 against, reflects growing pressure to strengthen abortion rights amidst concerns over erosion in allied nations like the US and Poland.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a special joint session of both houses of parliament, away from Paris, in Versailles, to vote on the amendment. If passed with a three-fifths majority, a referendum won’t be necessary. An Ifop poll from November 2022 indicated strong public support, with 86% favoring the amendment.

While all major political parties in France support abortion rights, there was a revision in the language of the amendment, changing from endorsing the “right” to abortion to advocating for the “freedom” to have one. This adjustment, calling for “guaranteed freedom,” was approved by the Senate.

President Macron has pledged to make women’s freedom to choose abortion “irreversible” by enshrining it in the constitution. Justice Minister Éric Dupond-Moretti hailed the move as historic, positioning France as the first country to constitutionally protect women’s freedom in deciding about their bodies.

Conservative senators expressed feeling pressured to approve the amendment, with one anonymously stating concerns about familial repercussions if she voted against it.

The backdrop to this decision includes ongoing debates in the US, where abortion rights have been challenged, leading to restrictions in many states, and in Poland, where a near-total ban on abortion was imposed by the Constitutional Court in 2020.

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Alsu Kurmasheva, an American journalist working for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Prague, was detained after a visit to her family in Kazan, Russia. She was first detained on June 2 and then again recently, charged with failing to register as a foreign agent, which could lead to a five-year jail term.

The arrest of Alsu Kurmasheva comes after the detention of another American journalist, Evan Gershkovich, who was charged with espionage earlier in the year. Gershkovich’s employer and the US government refute the charges, suggesting that he is being held for potential exchange purposes.

Kurmasheva, who holds both US and Russian citizenship, is known for her work focusing on ethnic minority issues in central Russia. She was charged with collecting information on behalf of foreign governments under a law that is criticized for its broad interpretation, potentially encompassing even basic information about military personnel.

This incident adds to a series of events where Russian authorities have been accused of using repressive laws to target journalists and stifle independent reporting. Notably, several journalists and Kremlin critics have been labeled “foreign agents,” and some, including Nobel Peace Prize-winner Dmitry Muratov, have faced such accusations. Additionally, cases like that of Ivan Safronov, who was sentenced to 22 years on treason charges, and Dmitry Ivanov, sentenced to eight and a half years for sharing information about the Russian army, have raised concerns about the state of press freedom in the country.

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Italy’s Defense Minister, Guido Crosetto, criticized the country’s decision to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), calling it “improvised and atrocious.” Crosetto claimed that the initiative had not effectively boosted Italy’s exports, making China the primary beneficiary.

In 2019, Italy became the first developed economy to join the BRI, a move that was met with criticism from its Western allies. The BRI aims to connect China with Europe and other regions through infrastructure projects, but critics view it as a means for China to expand its influence.

Crosetto expressed the need to find a way to withdraw from the BRI without damaging relations with Beijing. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had previously mentioned the possibility of talks with China about potential withdrawal. The deal is set to be automatically renewed in March 2024 unless Italy formally requests to withdraw by December of this year.

China has been actively campaigning to persuade Italy to renew the agreement, emphasizing the mutually beneficial cooperation and fruitful results achieved through the BRI.

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A heatwave in Europe has led to red alerts for extreme heat in most of Italy’s major cities. The high temperatures, expected to peak on Wednesday, have put 23 cities on high alert.

The heatwave is affecting millions of people in the northern hemisphere and is accompanied by wildfires in Greece and the Swiss Alps. The heatwave is caused by a high-pressure system bringing warmer air from the tropics, while a jet stream remains stuck over central Europe.

The extreme heat is forecasted to continue through Wednesday in southern Europe, with temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F). Italy’s health ministry has activated “heat codes” in emergency rooms to handle the increase in heat-related illnesses.

There has been a 20% rise in patients admitted with symptoms such as dehydration, exhaustion, and heat stroke. Record-breaking temperatures of 41.8°C (107.2°F) were recorded in Rome. Red alerts are also in place in Spain, Greece, and parts of the Balkans. The heatwave is expected to continue into August, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

Other parts of the world, including the US and China, are also experiencing extreme heatwaves. Climate change is cited as a significant factor in the increasing frequency and intensity of heatwaves.

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Italy is currently experiencing extreme heat, leading to red alerts being issued for 15 cities, including Rome, Florence, and Bologna. This heatwave is part of a larger trend of increasing temperatures and longer heatwaves globally due to global warming.

The European Space Agency (ESA) predicts that Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and Poland may face extreme conditions, with potential record temperatures. Greece has already been experiencing temperatures of 40°C or higher, leading to the closure of tourist attractions like the Acropolis. There are concerns about the increased risk of wildfires in Greece and other areas with high winds.

Central parts of Europe, including Germany and Poland, are also affected by high temperatures. In contrast, the UK is experiencing heavy showers and cooler weather due to the southern shift of the jet stream. The current heatwave in Italy, named Cerberus, is expected to be followed by another heatwave called Charon, pushing temperatures above 40°C.

Heatwaves are also occurring in other parts of the world, including the US, China, North Africa, and Japan. The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events due to global warming have become the new normal, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

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A scorching heatwave continues to affect several European countries, with temperatures expected to break records in the coming days. Parts of Spain, France, Greece, Croatia, Turkey, and Italy may experience temperatures exceeding 40°C (104°F), with Italy potentially reaching up to 48°C (118.4°F), which could be the highest ever recorded in Europe, according to the European Space Agency. A red alert warning has been issued for 10 cities, including Florence and Rome. Last month was reported as the hottest June on record by the EU’s climate monitoring service Copernicus.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned that extreme weather events resulting from climate change are becoming the new norm. While periods of intense heat are part of natural weather patterns, they are increasingly becoming more frequent, intense, and prolonged globally due to global warming.

The heatwave has impacted tourists in Europe, with visitors experiencing symptoms such as nausea and dizziness in Athens. Efforts have been made to provide information on air-conditioned places for people to seek relief from the heat. Tragically, a man in Italy died from heat-related causes, and several visitors, including a British man in Rome, have suffered from heatstroke.

Authorities are advising people to stay hydrated by drinking at least two liters of water per day and to avoid dehydrating beverages like coffee and alcohol. Tourists in Rome expressed surprise at the extreme heat and stated they were trying to avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day. Some individuals emphasized the need for collective action to address climate change, urging governments and individuals to take responsibility and make changes such as reducing plastic usage, limiting air conditioning, and using electric cars.

The current heatwave, named Cerberus after the mythical three-headed dog from Dante’s Inferno, is expected to continue intensifying in the coming days. Spain has already experienced temperatures reaching 45°C (113°F), and the European Space Agency has predicted potential temperatures of 48°C (118.4°F) in Sicily and Sardinia, which could be the hottest ever recorded in Europe.

Additionally, other regions outside Europe, including parts of Canada, the United States, India, and China, have also witnessed record-breaking temperatures this summer. Sea temperatures in the Atlantic have reached record highs, while Antarctic sea ice is at its lowest extent on record. Furthermore, the development of El Niño, a weather pattern in the tropical Pacific, is expected to contribute to rising temperatures by an average of 0.2°C, exacerbating the effects of climate change, which has already increased average temperatures worldwide by approximately 1.1°C.

To put the current heatwave in historical context, scientists can analyze air bubbles trapped in ancient Antarctic ice, which suggests that the first week of July was the hottest week in around 125,000 years. During the Eemian period, which occurred over a million years ago, temperatures were estimated to be significantly higher, resulting in hippos inhabiting the Thames and sea levels being approximately 5 meters (16.4 feet) higher.

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The US and the EU have expressed “grave concern” about China’s “problematic and unilateral moves” in disputed seas in the Asia Pacific, saying they will work together to manage their rivalry with Beijing.

Following a high-level meeting, Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state, and Stefano Sannino, secretary-general of the European External Action Service, issued a joint statement saying China’s actions in the South China Sea, East China Seas, and Taiwan Strait “undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and the European Union.”

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As per the sources from 2012 to 2014 Denmark’s secret service helped the US spy on European politicians including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to DR, the alleged set-up, said in the report to have been codenamed “Operation Dunhammer”, allowed the NSA to obtain data using the telephone numbers of politicians as search parameters.

The Defence Intelligence Service (FE) collaborated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) to gather information, confirming to Danish public service broadcaster DR. Intelligence was allegedly collected on other officials from Germany, France, Sweden and Norway.

In 2013 similar allegations was emerged. They were not aware of Danish involvement until the DR report, which was shared with other European media over the weekend said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and a spokesperson for Angela Merkel.

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