A 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia's main island of Java on Saturday, the United States Geological Survey said, shaking the same town devastated by another quake last month that left more than 330 people dead.The quake struck on land at a depth of 112 km (70 miles) and the epicentre was located 18 kilometres southeast of the West Java city of Banjar, according to the USGS.There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.The country's meteorological agency, known as BKMG, gave a higher magnitude of 6.4 for the quake, which also shook buildings in capital Jakarta, according to an AFP journalist.The agency said the tremor had caused buildings to shake in the West Java town of Garut and warned residents near the epicentre to beware of potential aftershocks.But there was no threat of a tsunami, it said.Indonesia experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide.Last month a shallow 5.6-magnitude tremor hit the town of Cianjur in West Java, killing 331 people, injuring thousands and leaving tens of thousands homeless after it collapsed buildings and triggered landslides.Many were found buried under rubble in the days following the quake with only several successful rescues reported, including an operation to free a six-year-old boy which was described as a "miracle" by emergency workers.Residents of the town were shaken again by Saturday's quake and it caused some roofs to be lightly damaged, local military official Haryanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told local broadcaster Kompas."It made us feel like we were swaying. We could see hanging lamps swaying," he said.A 6.2-magnitude quake that shook Sulawesi island in January last year killed more than 100 people and left thousands homeless.
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Anwar Ibrahim, today announced his new Cabinet which consists of 28 ministers.The new Government includes the two Deputy Prime Ministers, the leader of the United Malays National Organization Party (UMNO), Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, and the member of the Alliance (Sarawak Parties), Fadillah Yusof, who are the two largest allies of the People's Justice Party (PKR) headed by the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Anwar Ibrahim, together with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Zambary Abdul Kadir, the Minister of Defense, Mohamad Hasan, Minister of Economy, Rafizi Ramli, and the Minister of Trade and International Industry, Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, (the former Minister of Finance).Ibrahim stated in a speech on state television, that the new ministers will take the oath of office before King Abdullah of Pahang on Saturday, pointing out that, in order to accelerate efforts in the implementation of their tasks and duties, he will hold a special meeting with the new ministers to brief them of some new rules, directives and methods.He confirmed that the government would prioritise good governance, alleviation of the burden on the people, economic recovery and rationalisation of spending. He added that his new government would be strong as it is supported by two thirds of the total number of the House of Representatives with diverse alliances and political parties.The new Malaysian government is characterised by a smaller number of its (28 ministers) compared to its predecessor, headed by Ismail Sabri (31 ministers), and to the government of the former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin (32 ministers).It's worth mentioning that Anwar Ibrahim, 75, was sworn in last Thursday by his country's king, becoming the tenth prime minister in Malaysia's history.
Huw GRIFFITH Elon Musk kicked Kanye West off Twitter on Friday "for incitement to violence," after the rapper posted a picture that appeared to show a swastika interlaced with a Star of David.The post came hours after an interview with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, in which West sparked outrage by declaring his "love" of Nazis and admiration for Adolf Hitler.West had also shared a picture of a shirtless Musk getting sprayed with water, captioned: "Let's always remember this as my final tweet."In response, Musk said: "Just clarifying that his account is being suspended for incitement to violence, not an unflattering pic of me."Musk, who previously called himself a "free speech absolutist," has repeatedly said he believes all content permitted by law should be allowed on Twitter, and sought to remake the social media organization after he took control in October.In an hours-long appearance on Infowars, the show fronted by Jones, West — now known as Ye — wore a black mask completely covering his face, as he ranted about sin, pornography and the devil."I like Hitler," West said several times.West hid his face completely under a mask that had neither eye nor mouth slits.However, Jones addressed him as West as they spoke, Infowars billed the interview as being with West, and at one point Jones took West's cellphone and posted a tweet on his account that appeared in real-time.West, who has hinted he is running for US president in 2024, has spoken openly about his struggles with mental illness, but his erratic behavior has continued to raise concerns.The businessman has seen his commercial relationships crumble after a series of anti-Semitic comments, as the one-time titan of fashion and music appears to have entered a disturbing spiral.- 'I love Nazis' -On Infowars, West drew shocked laughter and even disagreement from far-right host Jones."I see good things about Hitler also," he told Jones."This guy... invented highways, invented the very microphone that I used as a musician, you can't say out loud that this person ever did anything good, and I'm done with that."Hitler did not invent either of those things."I'm done with the classification, every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler."I like Hitler."Jones, a serial provocateur who was ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for claiming one of America's deadliest school shootings was a "hoax," interjected that "the Nazis were thugs and did really bad things."West did not back down."But they did good things too. We gotta stop dissing the Nazis all the time... I love Nazis," West said.Hours after the interview, social media platform Parler, a favorite of conservatives for its hands-off approach to moderation, said a deal for West to buy the outfit was off."Parlement Technologies would like to confirm that the company has mutually agreed with Ye to terminate the intent of sale of Parler," the network said on Twitter."This decision was made in the interest of both parties in mid-November."In October, German sportswear giant Adidas severed its lucrative tie-up with West after the star made anti-Semitic statements, including threatening to "go death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE," using a misspelled reference to US military readiness.Paris fashion house Balenciaga and US clothing retailer Gap also ended ties with West, who appeared at a Paris fashion show wearing a shirt with the slogan "White Lives Matter," a rebuke to the Black Lives Matter racial equality movement.- Fuentes -West appeared on Infowars alongside Nick Fuentes, the same white supremacist with whom West had dinner last week at former president Donald Trump's Florida estate, in a meeting that provoked outrage.Thursday's livestream sparked immediate condemnation from the Republican Jewish Coalition, which dubbed the three men "a disgusting triumvirate of conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and anti-Semites.""Given his praise of Hitler, it can't be overstated that Kanye West is a vile, repellent bigot who has targeted the Jewish community with threats and Nazi-style defamation," a statement from the group said."Conservatives who have mistakenly indulged Kanye West must make it clear that he is a pariah. Enough is enough."
India opened its G20 presidency on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi calling for an end to war, implicitly rebuking longstanding ally Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.New Delhi and Moscow have ties dating back to the Cold War, and Russia remains by far India's biggest arms supplier.India has shied away from explicit condemnations of Russia over the war despite its economy being stung by the soaring oil and commodities prices that followed.Modi has pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the conflict, including at a face-to-face meeting on the sidelines of a major regional summit in September.He reiterated that call in an article outlining India's ambitions for the G20 forum - of which Russia is a member - released by the government and published by the Telegraph newspaper in Britain."Today, we do not need to fight for our survival - our era need not be one of war. Indeed, it must not be one!" Modi wrote.The invasion of Ukraine, a country known as the "breadbasket of Europe", has periodically disrupted grain shipments and raised the spectre of a global food crisis.Modi said India would "seek to depoliticise the global supply of food, fertilisers and medical products, so that geo-political tensions do not lead to humanitarian crises"."As in our own families, those whose needs are the greatest must always be our first concern."New Delhi has long walked a tightrope in its relations with the West and Moscow - and the Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the difficulty of that balancing act.It has repeatedly brushed off calls from Washington to condemn Moscow, despite pursuing greater security ties with the United States.Putin visited New Delhi last year, bear-hugging Modi and hailing India as a "great power" as the two men bolstered military and energy ties.The Asian giant of 1.4 billion people is also a major consumer of Russian oil, ramping up discounted purchases in the wake of a Western embargo.
Delegates from nearly 200 countries meet in Montreal next week to hammer out a new global biodiversity deal to protect ecosystems and species from further human destruction.The meeting follows crucial climate change talks in Egypt in November, where leaders failed to forge any breakthroughs on scaling down fossil fuels and slashing planet-warming emissions.Observers are hoping the COP15 biodiversity talks in Montreal will deliver a landmark deal to protect nature and reverse the damage humans have done to forests, wetlands, waterways and the millions of species that live in them.Around 50 percent of the global economy is dependent on nature, but scientists warn that humanity needs to drastically - and urgently - rethink its relationship with the natural world as fears of a sixth era of mass extinction grow."Our planet is in crisis," said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the head of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), at a briefing ahead of the talks, adding that a global agreement on biodiversity was "crucial to ensure that the future of humankind on planet Earth is sustained".So far, humanity has proven woeful at this, with one million species at risk of extinction.The so-called post-2020 biodiversity framework, delayed by two years because of the pandemic, will map out an official plan for nature until mid-century for most countries, with the exception of the United States, which has not signed up.It will include key targets to be met by 2030.But it comes after countries failed to meet a single one of the targets set for the previous decade.With new rules affecting key economic sectors - including agriculture, forestry and fishing - and covering everything from intellectual property to pollution and pesticides, delegates are grappling with an array of sticking points.So far, only two out of the 22 targets in the new deal have been agreed upon."We have to admit that success is not guaranteed," an EU source close to the talks said. "We have a very difficult situation ahead of us."Finance fightWhile China currently chairs COP15, it is not hosting this year's meeting because of the ongoing pandemic.Instead, it will be held from December 7 to 19 in Montreal, home of the CBD, which oversees the negotiations.Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the only world leader attending. Chinese President Xi Jinping has not said he will join, and neither side has invited other leaders to come, with time quickly running out.Observers fear the leaders' absence sucks the momentum out of the negotiations and could scupper an ambitious final deal.Divisions have already emerged on the key issue of financing, with wealthy countries under pressure to funnel more money to developing nations for conservation.A group of developing nations, including Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia, this year called for rich countries to provide at least $100 billion annually - rising to $700 billion a year by 2030 - for biodiversity.But many Western nations are reluctant to create a distinct fund for nature.Currently, most biodiversity funds for the developing world come from existing funding mechanisms, which often also include climate finance.On Thursday, the UN Environment Programme said investments for nature-based solutions must increase to $384 billion per year by 2025, more than double the current figure of $154 billion per year.Another fight is brewing over the issue of "biopiracy", with many mainly African countries accusing wealthy nations of pillaging the natural world for ingredients and formulas used in cosmetics and medicines, without sharing the benefits with the communities from which they came.Indigenous rightsOne cornerstone target that has received broad support is the 30 by 30 target - a pledge to protect 30 percent of land and seas by 2030. Only 17 percent of land and about seven percent of oceans were protected in 2020.So far, more than 100 countries formally support the goal, according to the EU-backed High Ambition Coalition which tracks the target.The new goal will rely heavily on the involvement of indigenous peoples, who steward land that is home to around 80 percent of Earth's remaining biodiversity, according to a landmark UN report on climate change impacts this year."It's not going to work if indigenous peoples are not fully included," Jennifer Tauli Corpuz of the non-profit Nia Tero told AFP."We completely lose the integrity of the document", added Corpuz, who is part of the indigenous caucus to the talks.Other items in the framework: elimination or redirection of hundreds of millions of dollars in harmful government subsidies; promoting sustainable farming and fishing, reducing pesticides; tackling invasive species and reforestation.But implementation is perhaps the most crucial agenda item to ensure the pledges made are actually carried out by governments."We need goals and targets that are measurable and they need to be related to clear indicators," the EU source said, calling for "robust monitoring, planning, reporting and review".
Nearly half of Ukraine's electricity grid remains damaged, a private operator said on Thursday, a week after the latest Russian strikes on the country's energy infrastructure disrupted power to millions of people."Russia has destroyed 40 percent of the Ukrainian energy system with terrorist missile attacks. Dozens of energy workers were killed and wounded," DTEK company said in a statement on social media.After suffering military defeats on the ground, Russia began targeting Ukrainian energy facilities in October, causing severe damage and power shortages.Last week, a latest series of massive strikes on these sites left entire regions across Ukraine cold and dark."Electrical engineers are doing everything possible and impossible to stabilise the situation regarding energy supply," the company said, saying its technical teams are working "day and night" to quickly repair the infrastructure.Authorities said Wednesday that nine people had died in fire-related accidents in the country over the past 24 hours, as Ukrainians are forced to find alternate heating sources.
South Korea's military said it scrambled fighter jets Wednesday as six Russian and two Chinese warplanes entered its air defence zone without notice.Japan's military also said it had scrambled jets in response to flights over the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, by Russian and Chinese aircraft.Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the Chinese H-6 bombers repeatedly entered and exited the Korea Air Defence Identification Zone (KADIZ) near South Korea's southern and northeastern coasts early Wednesday.Hours later they returned to the zone from the East Sea, accompanied by Russian warplanes including two Su-35 fighter jets and four TU-95 bombers, it added.All the warplanes eventually left the zone and none violated South Korea's airspace, Seoul said.An ADIZ is an area wider than a country's airspace in which it tries to control aircraft for security reasons, but the concept is not defined in any international treaty."Our military deployed air force fighter jets even before Chinese and Russian aircraft entered the KADIZ to take tactical measures in case of contingency," the JCS said in a statement.Beijing and Moscow appeared to have "engaged in a combined air exercise", Seoul's Yonhap news agency reported, citing unnamed "observers".Japan's Joint Staff said two Chinese H-6 bombers "entered the Sea of Japan and then flew north" on Wednesday morning."Around the same time, what appears to be two Russian aircraft flew south over the Sea of Japan and then turned around," it said, adding that it had scrambled jets in response.The incident comes as Washington pushes China, North Korea's most important ally, to use its influence to help rein in Pyongyang, which has conducted a record-breaking blitz of missile launches this year.Chinese President Xi Jinping recently told Kim Jong Un that he was willing to work with the North Korean leader for "world peace".Pyongyang earlier this month fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in one of its most powerful tests yet, declaring it would meet perceived US nuclear threats with nukes of its own.The United States has accused Beijing and Moscow of protecting Pyongyang from further punishment.The two countries in May vetoed a US-led effort to tighten sanctions on North Korea in response to the North's earlier missile launches.
French emergency services rescued 240 migrants heading in small boats across the Channel to the southern coast of England within a 24 hour period this week, local authorities said.The 240 were rescued in five different operations between Monday and Tuesday off Calais on France's northern coast, France's Maritime Prefecture of the Channel and the North Sea said in a statement late Tuesday.According to the UK authorities, 426 migrants were detected crossing the Channel on Monday after very few crossed the week earlier during a period of bad weather.Britain and France this month signed a deal for UK authorities to increase what their French counterparts are paid to prevent the crossings, as ties warm under new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.UK police on Tuesday arrested a man suspected of playing a "key role" in the deaths of at least 27 people who drowned attempting to cross the Channel in a dinghy last November in the deadliest such tragedy.Among the 27 - aged seven to 47 - were 16 Iraqi Kurds, four Afghans, three Ethiopians, one Somali, one Egyptian and one Vietnamese migrant.Attention has however now switched to Albanian nationals, who have been crossing the Channel in unprecedentedly high numbers.
Britain's government on Wednesday rejected union pay demands after ambulance workers joined nurses in voting to go on strike."Our economic circumstances mean unions' demands are not affordable," Health Secretary Steve Barclay said, after the Unison union confirmed the ambulance service faced its biggest strike in 30 years.Paramedics, ambulance technicians and emergency call handlers will walk out for 24 hours before Christmas, Unison announced late Tuesday after its members held a strike ballot.The strike will affect London and four other regions of England as the ambulance service joins nurses across most of Britain in striking over government pay offers, which fall well short of double-digit inflation.The Royal College of Nursing is holding the first strike in its 106-year history on December 15 and 20.Unison general secretary Christina McAnea said it was a "tough call" for the ambulance workers to also strike."But thousands of ambulance staff and their NHS (National Health Service) colleagues know delays won't lessen, nor waiting times reduce, until the government acts on wages," she said.The nurses' strike will be sandwiched between the first of a series of two-day walkouts by national railway workers, while postal service employees will stage fresh stoppages in the run-up to Christmas.Numerous other public and private-sector staff, from lawyers to airport ground personnel, have also held strikes this year as Britain contends with its worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.
Former Chinese leader Jiang Zemin, who steered the country through a transformational era from the late 1980s and into the new millennium, died Wednesday at the age of 96, state news agency Xinhua said.Jiang took power in the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and led the world's most populous nation towards its emergence as a powerhouse on the global stage."Jiang Zemin passed away due to leukemia and multiple organ failure in Shanghai at 12:13 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2022, at the age of 96, it was announced on Wednesday," Xinhua reported.Xinhua said the announcement of his death was made in a letter expressing "profound grief" at Jiang's death, addressed to the whole Communist Party, military and Chinese people.His death came after all medical treatments had failed, it said."Comrade Jiang Zemin was an outstanding leader... a great Marxist, a great proletarian revolutionary, statesman, military strategist and diplomat, a long-tested communist fighter, and an outstanding leader of the great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Xinhua quoted the letter as saying.Jiang's death comes as China sees a flare-up of anti-lockdown protests that have morphed into calls for wider political freedoms - the most widespread since the 1989 pro-democracy rallies that were crushed the year Jiang took power."During the serious political turmoil in China in the spring and summer of 1989, Comrade Jiang Zemin supported and implemented the correct decision of the Party Central Committee to oppose unrest, defend the socialist state power and safeguard the fundamental interests of the people," state broadcaster CCTV said on Wednesday.State broadcaster CCTV said flags would be flown at half-mast at Chinese government buildings.When Jiang replaced Deng Xiaoping as leader in 1989, China was still in the early stages of economic modernisation.By the time he retired as president in 2003, China was a member of the World Trade Organization, Beijing had secured the 2008 Olympics, and the country was well on its way to superpower status.Analysts say Jiang and his "Shanghai Gang" faction continued to exert influence over communist politics long after he left the top job.In the immediate aftermath of the announcement, Chinese state media all posted the same black-and-white photo of a chrysanthemum on their official accounts on social media platform Weibo.Jiang is survived by his wife Wang Yeping and two sons.
Britain on Tuesday ousted China's nuclear firm CGN from construction of its new Sizewell C nuclear power station, which will now be built with remaining French partner EDF.The announcement came one day after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak warned that the "golden era" of UK-China relations was "over", adding Beijing posed a "systemic challenge" to UK interests and values.Sunak's Conservative government is stripping CGN of its controversial 20-percent stake.The UK plans to invest £700 million ($843 million) in the project, a figure that was matched by EDF in a 50:50 joint venture.Sizewell C, which is under development on the Suffolk coast in eastern England, will power the equivalent of about six million homes.London says it will start producing electricity at the earliest in 2035.Nuclear and renewables, such as offshore wind power, are seen as critical to ramp up Britain's energy security, after key producer Russia's invasion of Ukraine sent household gas and electricity bills rocketing this year.The Sizewell decision sparks questions about CGN's role alongside EDF in the construction of Hinkley Point, southwestern England, in Britain's first new nuclear power plant in more than two decades."The UK government's investment in Sizewell C will support the project's continued development," the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said in a statement on Tuesday."The investment also allows for China General Nuclear's exit from the project, including buy-out costs, any tax due and commercial arrangements," it added.'Energy sovereignty'The UK says Sizewell will deliver cleaner energy than fossil fuels and create thousands of jobs for the local area and national economy."The government's historic £700 million stake in Sizewell C is positioned at the heart of the new blueprint to Britain's energy sovereignty, as plans to develop the new plant are approved today," the BEIS added."This is expected to create 10,000 highly skilled jobs and provide reliable, low-carbon, power to the equivalent of six million homes for over 50 years."The project represents a "revitalisation" of the UK nuclear industry with the first state backing of a nuclear project in more than three decades, it said.Tuesday's news also comes after Britain launched an official energy-saving campaign this week to encourage Britons to use less energy in a policy U-turn, as it seeks to curb total energy demand by 15 percent by 2030."Today's historic deal giving government backing to Sizewell C's development is crucial to this, moving us towards greater energy independence and away from the risks that a reliance on volatile global energy markets for our supply comes with," added Business and Energy Secretary Grant Shapps."This is at the heart of a package of measures that... will ensure secure supply for now, and for generations to come."The UK has a total of 15 nuclear reactors at eight sites around the country, but many of them are now approaching the end of their lifespan.Britain is also turning to nuclear energy to help meet its long-running target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.The government added on Tuesday that it would establish a new vehicle, Great British Nuclear, that will be tasked with overseeing development of more projects, with a further announcement expected in the new year.
US President Joe Biden is monitoring unrest in China by protesters demanding an end to Covid lockdowns and greater political freedoms, the White House said Monday, as rallies popped up in solidarity around the United States.The comments came after hundreds of people took to the streets in China's major cities over the weekend, in a rare outpouring of public frustration that has spread to international Chinese-speaking communities."He's monitoring this. We all are," National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday.Kirby would not describe Biden's reaction to the demonstrators' demands, saying: "The president's not going to speak for protesters around the world. They're speaking for themselves."But he stressed US support for the demonstrators' rights."People should be allowed the right to assemble and to peacefully protest policies or laws or dictates that they take issue with," Kirby said.Earlier Monday, the US State Department implied that China's strict lockdown policies were excessive, with a spokesperson saying "it's going to be very difficult" for China to "contain this virus through their zero-Covid strategy."Discontent has been brewing for months in China over harsh coronavirus control measures, with relentless testing, localised lockdowns and travel restrictions pushing many to the brink.That frustration was brought to a head after a deadly fire broke out last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region, with many blaming Covid-19 lockdowns for hampering rescue efforts.Around the United States, notably on university campuses, rallies sprang up Monday in support of the protests in China.'Solidarity'Around 100 people, many of them students, gathered in Washington to call for greater freedoms and mourn those who died in Urumqi."(Officials) are borrowing the pretext of Covid, but using excessively strict lockdowns to control China's population. They disregarded human lives," said a Chinese student surnamed Chen."I came here to grieve," the 21-year-old added.Referring to protests across China, another student Zhou, 22, said: "My friends and I never imagined things would develop so rapidly."Attendees held white sheets of paper symbolizing censorship and chanted slogans including "Freedom of speech! Freedom of assembly! Tear down the firewall!"In the evening, similar rallies were held in New York, on the campus of Columbia University, as well as at North Carolina's Duke University.Like at the protests in China, some in the crowds called for the resignation of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who recently secured a historic third term while consolidating power over the country's billion-plus population.Dozens of people gathered at the University of California's Berkeley campus chanted in Mandarin "Xi Jinping, step down!"There were also shouts in English of "Free China!"Earlier on Monday in Washington, around 25 members of the Uighur community gathered outside the State Department, and called on the United States and other democracies to apply further pressure on Beijing."We want them to issue a formal statement condemning the loss of lives, Uighur lives, and to call for full transparency on the real number of deaths that occurred," said Salih Hudayar, a Uighur-American who campaigns for Xinjiang independence."We're hoping that the international community supports these protesters in demanding accountability from the Chinese government," he added of protests in China.
Dozens of modern artworks removed from Kyiv to protect them from Russian strikes that have already done huge damage to Ukraine's cultural heritage will go on display at a Madrid museum on Tuesday.The works on show at the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum of Art as part of the "In the Eye of the Storm: Modernism in Ukraine 1900-1930" exhibition include oil paintings, sketches and collages.Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza founded "Museums for Ukraine" which is seeking to showcase Ukrainian art, using the museum which houses her late father's collection for the exhibition.The Madrid exhibition is one of a number of showings of Ukraine's cultural heritage across Europe, as well as an effort to raise awareness of the threat posed to the war-torn country's artistic legacy as fighting grinds on.Curators say it is one of the most comprehensive surveys of Ukrainian modern art in the period between 1900 to 1930.Many of the works have hardly been seen outside of Ukraine. The exhibition will run at the museum until April 30, and then go on show in Cologne in Germany from September 2023.'Vision' of Russia's destructionPresident Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video shown at a preview Monday that "this is a vision of what Russia is trying to destroy".After weeks of intense preparation, the pieces were loaded into two trucks in mid-November just before the Ukrainian capital came under intense missile fire.As it headed to the Polish border the convoy avoided passing infrastructure likely to be attacked, Thyssen-Bornemisza said.When the convoy reached the border, they found it shut because a missile had just landed in a Polish village killing two people.Thyssen-Bornemisza said she then asked Ukraine's ambassador to Spain for help, who in turn contacted "every politician he knew between Poland and Ukraine"."It took them 12 hours that night - they managed to get through," she said.UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural agency, says over 200 cultural sites in Ukraine, including museums, have been damaged since Russia invaded Ukraine in February.Krista Pikkat, UNESCO's cultural and emergencies director, said in October that "cultural heritage is very often collateral damage during wars -- but sometimes it's specifically targeted".'Talk about the war'The exhibition follows a chronological order.It starts with the 1910s when Ukraine was part of the Russian empire and ends in the 1930s when several artists died during purges carried out by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, said one of the show's curators Katia Denysova.Most of the works come from the National Art Museum of Ukraine.Among the works on display is "Composition", a Cubist-inspired painting by Vadym Meller and a realistic portrait of a soldier by Kostiantyn Yeleva."It is important for us to continue to talk about the war," Denysova said."But we also want to show with this project that Ukraine has so much more to offer."
South Korea ordered striking cement truck drivers back to work on Tuesday, a rare move that Seoul said was necessary because industrial action posed a danger to the economy.A broader truckers' strike, which started Thursday over minimum pay, is generating an estimated 300 billion won ($226 million) in daily losses, according to interior minister Lee Sang-min.The strike - the second major industrial action in less than six months - has again triggered concerns about the impact on global supply chains, already strained by prolonged Covid-19 lockdowns in China and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.While the walkout was organised by the 25,000-strong Cargo Truckers Solidarity Union, the back-to-work order only affects drivers specifically in the cement industry - around 1,000 of those involved in the action.The government said the construction sector had been particularly hard-hit by the truckers' strike, prompting the rare intervention.Due to the strike, "cement shipments plummeted by more than 90 percent, and ready-mixed concrete construction was suspended at about 50 percent of construction sites," finance minister Choo Kyung-ho told reporters, also slamming "illegal" actions to attack non-striking truckers.Tuesday's back-to-work order was issued by conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol, who accused the striking drivers of "threatening the daily lives of people" and jeopardising South Korea's industrial base.This is the first time such an order has been imposed since it was codified under the Trucking Transport Business Act in 2004."There is no justification nor rationale for taking people's lives and the national economy hostage in order to achieve their own interests," Yoon told a cabinet meeting.The order was necessary to avoid a more serious economic crisis, Yoon said.Truckers who fail to comply with the order may be punished with jail terms of up to three years and have their licences suspended, among other penalties.The truckers' union slammed the government's decision, accusing it of "ordering us to die"."The government made a decision to limit the basic rights of truckers by holding our livelihoods hostage," it said in a statement.With fuel prices rising, the drivers have been demanding the government make permanent the "safe freight rate" minimum pay scheme, which is set to expire at the end of the year.The government said last week it would extend the programme for three years but truckers say more of them will become vulnerable to overwork and safety risks without a permanent minimum wage guarantee."Hundreds of truck drivers have died of a heart attack inside a running vehicle. All of the cases have been counted as 'traffic accidents'," the union said.Negotiations were set to continue Wednesday after not reaching an agreement on Monday.
China said Tuesday it would speed up a push to vaccinate people aged 60 and older against Covid-19 after the country posted record daily case numbers in recent days.The announcement comes after a weekend of protests demanding an end to the country's strict zero-Covid policy, which responds to even small caseloads with harsh lockdowns and quarantine orders.Beijing's National Health Commission (NHC) pledged to "accelerate the increase in the vaccination rate for people over the age of 80, and continue to increase the vaccination rate for people aged 60-79".It also said it would "establish a special working group... to make special arrangements for the vaccination of the elderly against Covid"."It is necessary to conduct popular science education on the meaning and benefits of vaccination, and fully publicise vaccines' efficacy on preventing severe illness and death," it added.China's low vaccination rates, particularly among the older population, have long been seen as prolonging Beijing's no-tolerance approach to Covid.Just 65.8 percent of people over 80 are fully vaccinated, NHC officials told a press conference Tuesday.And China has not yet approved mRNA vaccines, proven to be more effective, for public use.Many fear that lifting that policy while swathes of the population remain not fully immunised could overwhelm China's healthcare system and cause over a million deaths.But the zero-Covid policy has stoked massive unrest, with people taking to the streets in China's major cities on Sunday to protest draconian lockdowns and broader restrictions on freedom of movement.A deadly fire last week in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang region, was the catalyst for the wave of outrage, with protesters blaming Covid restrictions for hampering rescue efforts - claims the government has denied.China logged 38,421 domestic infections Tuesday, slightly down from record highs seen over the weekend and comparably low when compared to caseloads seen in western countries during the height of the pandemic.
China's western Xinjiang region eased some Covid restrictions in its capital Urumqi on Monday, after a deadly fire in the city blamed on virus controls sparked protests across the country.People in the city of four million, some of whom have been confined to their homes for weeks on end, can travel around on buses to run errands within their home districts starting Tuesday, officials said at a press conference Monday.Certain essential businesses in "low-risk" areas could also apply to restart operations - at 50 percent capacity - while public transport and flights will start "resuming in an orderly manner", officials said a day earlier.Ten people were killed when a blaze ripped through a residential building in Urumqi on Thursday night, spurring crowds to take to the streets in multiple Chinese cities this weekend to protest against the country's strict zero-Covid policy.Many social media users blamed Covid lockdowns in Urumqi for hampering rescue efforts, but officials have instead said private cars obstructed firefighters.Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian on Monday lashed out at "forces with ulterior motives" for linking the fire with Covid.But in the wake of the protests, officials on Saturday said the city "had basically reduced social transmissions to zero" and they would "restore the normal order of life for residents in low-risk areas in a staged and orderly manner".Officials at the press conference on Monday said Urumqi would also resume parcel delivery services - but logistics workers would have to stay in a "closed loop" at company dormitories.China's unrelenting zero-Covid push has sparked protests and hit productivity in the world's second-largest economy, as the public grows weary of snap lockdowns, lengthy quarantines and mass testing campaigns.A series of new rules announced by Beijing earlier this month appeared to signal a shift away from the strategy, easing quarantine requirements for entering the country and simplifying a system for designating high-risk areas.But officials have instead dug in their heels, even shutting down large parts of China's capital as national case numbers shot past the 30,000 mark in recent days to record highs.Public anger boiled over on the weekend when hundreds gathered on university campuses and cities around the country demanding an end to the zero-Covid policy.In Beijing, the city government said on Sunday afternoon it will not allow snap lockdowns of residential areas to be in place for more than 24 hours.
Trains across Austria ground to a halt Monday as rail workers went on a 24-hour strike to demand higher pay.Usually bustling train stations were left deserted with about a million travellers left stranded."The railway union vida is on strike today from 00:00 to 24:00. For this reason, no trains can run all day throughout Austria and across borders," rail operator OeBB wrote on its website.Vida said that negotiations to increase the salary of 50,000 railway workers had failed, accusing employers of "mocking" employees with a "bogus offer".Vida wants salaries to increase by 400 euros ($415) - instead of the 208 euros offered - to cushion the effects of surging inflation, which stood at 11 percent year on year in October.Night train workers earn from 1,356 euros net per month, according to the union.Strikes are rare in Austria.Wage increases are usually set by collective bargaining between the Austrian Economic Chambers and unions representing different branches.In rail transport, the last strike lasting several days dates back to 2003.
Canada launched its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy on Sunday, outlining spending of C$2.3 billion ($1.7 billion) to boost military and cyber security in the region and vowed to deal with a "disruptive" China while working with it on climate change and trade.The plan, detailed in a 26-page document, said Canada would tighten foreign investment rules to protect intellectual property and prevent Chinese state-owned enterprises from snapping up critical mineral supplies.Canada seeks to deepen ties with a fast-growing Indo-Pacific region of 40 countries accounting for almost C$50 trillion in economic activity. But the focus is on China, which is mentioned more than 50 times, at a moment when two-way ties are frosty.Four cabinet ministers at a news conference in Vancouver took turns detailing the new plan, saying the strategy was crucial for Canada's national security and climate as well as its economic goals."We will engage in diplomacy because we think diplomacy is a strength, at the same time we'll be firm and that's why we have now a very transparent plan to engage with China," said Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.In Beijing, a foreign ministry spokesman said Canada's new strategy was "full of ideological bias, exaggerating and speculating the so-called China threat, and making groundless accusations and attacks against China"."China is strongly dissatisfied with this, resolutely opposes it and has already made stern representations to the Canadian side," the spokesman, Zhao Lijian, added.Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal government wants to diversify trade and economic ties that are overwhelmingly reliant on the United States. Official data for September show two-way trade with China made up less than 7% of the total, versus 68% for the United States.Canada's outreach to Asian allies also comes as Washington has shown signs of becoming increasingly leery of free trade in recent years.The document underscored Canada's dilemma in forging ties with China, which offers significant opportunities for Canadian exporters, even as Beijing looks to shape the international order into a more "permissive environment for interests and values that increasingly depart from ours," it added.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador led huge crowds of supporters on a march through the capital Sunday in a show of political strength by the left-wing populist.The rally came as allies of Lopez Obrador, known by his initials AMLO, jockey for position ahead of the next presidential election in 2024, in which he cannot run.Lopez Obrador, 69, was mobbed by supporters as he spent more than five hours walking a few kilometers (miles) through the crowds to Mexico City's main square, amid cries of "it's an honor to be with Obrador."An estimated 1.2 million people joined the rally, according to presidential spokesman Jesus Ramirez, although there was no independent confirmation of that figure.Lopez Obrador delivered a speech outlining what he considers to be the main accomplishments of his four years in office so far, including measures to alleviate poverty, improve public services and fight corruption.Mariachi bands entertained the president's supporters, who arrived on buses from around the country, many wearing purple, the color of his Morena party."The president is not alone," read a placard at the rally, while others vowed support for the government's controversial electoral reform plan."I like the way AMLO governs, always doing everything for the most vulnerable," said Alma Perez, a 35-year-old teacher who traveled from the southern state of Guerrero to join the march.Lopez Obrador "has done what no other president has done for the poor," said Ramon Suarez, a 33-year-old electrician."He has some areas in which to improve such as security, but that's not done overnight," Suarez added.It was the first such march led by a Mexican president in at least four decades, according to experts.The rally comes two weeks after tens of thousands joined an opposition protest against the president's proposed electoral reform.Lopez Obrador wants to "show muscle," said Fernando Dworak, a political analyst at the Mexican Autonomous Institute of Technology."It was a serious mistake by the opposition to believe that the president can be beaten on the streets," he told AFP, referring to the November 13 anti-government protest.'Oiled machinery'Lopez Obrador, who enjoys an approval rating of nearly 60 percent, owes much of his popularity to his social welfare programs aimed at helping the elderly and disadvantaged Mexicans.Mexican presidents are barred from serving more than one term, and Lopez Obrador again ruled out trying to change the constitution to stay in office."No to re-election," he told supporters.At the same time, Lopez Obrador is keen to see his Morena party hold onto power after he stands aside.Three of the president's allies and potential successors - Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard and Interior Minister Adan Augusto Lopez - accompanied him at the rally.Lopez Obrador knows "that in order for him to win elections, he needs oiled machinery that works all the time," said Gustavo Lopez, a political scientist at Tecnologico de Monterrey, a Mexican university.Opposition parties accuse Lopez Obrador of being an "authoritarian" populist who is "militarising" the country by giving a greater role to the armed forces in both security and infrastructure projects.His efforts to revamp the independent National Electoral Institute (INE) have proven particularly controversial.Lopez Obrador alleges that the INE endorsed fraud when he ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 2006 and 2012, before winning in 2018.He wants the organisation to be replaced by a new body with members chosen by voters instead of lawmakers and with a smaller budget.Critics see the plan as an attack on one of Mexico's most important democratic institutions.The reform would require support from at least two-thirds of lawmakers in Congress, and Lopez Obrador's political opponents have vowed to oppose the changes.
Britain must do more to defend its values of freedom and openness on the world stage, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will argue Monday in his first major foreign policy speech since taking office a month ago."Freedom and openness have always been the most powerful forces for progress," Sunak will tell dignitaries gathered at the Guildhall for the annual Lord Mayor's Banquet, according to extracts released by Downing Street."But they have never been achieved by standing still."Britain's "adversaries and competitors plan for the long term", he will say in the speech, referring in particular to China and Russia."In the face of these challenges, short-termism or wishful thinking will not suffice", he will add."So we will make an evolutionary leap in our approach. This means being stronger in defending our values and the openness on which our prosperity depends."That means delivering a stronger economy "because it is the foundation of our strength abroad", he will add.Earlier this month, Sunak visited Kyiv to offer further support to Ukraine in its fight against Russian forces."By protecting Ukraine, we protect ourselves," he will argue.In speeches over the summer, Sunak identified China as the number one threat to global and domestic security, vowing to crack down on its influence if he became prime minister.