A truck driver in Australia has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for hitting and killing four cops on an freeway. Mohinder Singh was drug-effected and sleep-deprived when his truck veered into an emergency stopping lane of Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway where the cops were standing on Apr 22 last year. Singh pleaded guilty to four counts of culpable driving causing death, among other charges.
The World Health Organization has urged a ban on the sale of live wild mammals in food markets in order to prevent the emergence of new diseases such as COVID-19. The WHO said that since traditional markets play a central role in providing food and livelihoods for large populations, prohibiting the sale of live wild mammals could protect the health of both, market workers and customers.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that a coalition of NATO-led troops in Afghanistan will leave the country in coordination with a planned US withdrawal by Sep 11. Around 7,000 non-US forces from mainly NATO countries, but also from Australia, New Zealand and Georgia, are present in Afghanistan. Blinken is currently on a visit to Brussels.
US President Biden proposed a summit meeting with Russian President Putin during a call on Tuesday. Biden is said to have stressed the US commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and voiced concern about a Russian military buildup in Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine alleges that Russia has put in place 41,000 troops at its border with eastern Ukraine and 42,000 more in Crimea.
Facebook accidentally took down the official page of the French town of Bitche, citing alleged offensive language. The small town lies in the region of Moselle. Authorities raised the matter with Facebook, and are awaiting a reply. They have since created a new page named after the town’s postcode, ’Mairie 57230.’ A nearby town of Rohrbach-lès-Bitche has renamed its page to avoid being removed.
According to statements by officials to the US media, an announcement is set to be given by US President Joe Biden where he will tell that US troops are set to leave Afghanistan by the 11th of September. A May deadline for a pull-out which was agreed by the Trump administration with Taliban will be missed by the US government.
In its Global Risk Assessment report, the US intelligence community said China is militarizing space and will match or exceed US technology in the next few years. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s report, which was released last week, said China People’s Liberation Army is poised to become the US’s greatest space adversary and already has ’counterspaceweapons capabilities.’
Following installation of multi-layered metal fencing by RCMP, blocking access to GraceLife Church facilities in Edmonton, congregants of the church held services in an undisclosed location on 11 April. The closure came after repeated violations of COVID-19 orders. Pastor John MacArthur in California called it ’a first for the western world to have the government lockout believers from church’.
US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for climate, John Kerry, said China’s President Xi Jinping has not committed to join a virtual summit on climate change, which the US will host on April 22 and 23. Talking to CNN, Kerry, terming China’s participation as ’critical,’ said the world can’t tackle the climate crisis without Beijing’s cooperation. Kerry said ’over 40 heads of state’ will take part.
Two weeks after it was freed from the Suez Canal, the giant container ship Ever Given has been impounded by a court in Ismailia. This comes as the Suez Canal Authority pursues the Japanese owners of the 220,000-ton megaship for the cost of the salvage operation and lost transit fees for the week that the canal was blocked. Reports say officials are seeking $900M in compensation.
The defense and foreign ministers of Japan and Germany held their first-ever security dialogue on Tuesday with an eye on China. During the talks, they shared their concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. In the virtual ’two-plus-two’ talks the ministers agreed to step up their cooperation in defense equipment and military technology transfers.
Japan has said that it would dump over 1 million tons of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean from 2023. This comes after the plant’s operator said its storage will be full in 2022. Japan’s decision has angered local fishermen and neighboring countries, including China. The Fukushima Daiichi plant was wrecked during the March 2011 earthquake.
Another blow has been given to hopes of vaccinating the whole world as soon as possible after the single-shot COVID-19 vaccine by Johnson & Johnson has been put on a pause by US. The usage of the jab has been put on hold following cases of six women experiencing low platelets as well as blood clots during the days following their vaccination. An investigation has been started regarding the cases.
A major annual intelligence report has warned that Chinese efforts to expand its growing influence constitutes one of the largest threats to the United States. The report also warned that China is capable of cyberattacks which have the potential of temporarily disrupting critical infrastructure in the United States. The Chinese threat is followed by that of Russia, Iran and North Korea.
Three protesters, and a police officer died following clashes between Islamists and the police in Pakistan, hours after authorities arrested the head of an Islamist political party. Supporters of Saad Rizvi, head of the Tehreek-e-Labiak Pakistan party clashed with the police, and authorities said they were still trying to bring the situation in Lahore under control Tuesday.
Amid concerns around its military exercises near Taiwan, China on Wednesday dubbed the exercises as ’combat drills.’ China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said Taiwan’s government and separatists were colluding with ’external forces’. They added that the exercise is ’a necessary action to address the current security situation in the Taiwan Strait and to safeguard national sovereignty.’
Twelve members of a far-right German group called ’Group S’ went on trial Tuesday. They are accused of being part of or supporting the group that plotted to carry out deadly attacks on Muslims to ’rock and ultimately overturn the state and social order of the Federal Republic of Germany.’ The had hoarded firearms, axes and swords for the planned attacks, but were busted in February 2020.