In U.S.A., midterm elections approach:
American voters will head to the polls in early November for critical midterm elections that will determine the makeup of the next United States Congress. The election results will set the tone for the rest of Joe Biden’s first term as president, as analysts have said they are likely to shake up a political arena already marked by deepening partisanship and polarisation. A number of local and statewide races will be held across the country on November 8, and US Senate and House of Representatives seats also will be up for grabs. History suggests the midterms could spell trouble for Democrats as the party in power. But with Biden scoring recent legislative victories and liberal voters rallying behind reproductive rights, a Republican victory is not guaranteed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday called the explosion on the Kerch Bridge that connects the Crimean peninsula to mainland Russia a “terrorist act” on civilian infrastructure carried out by the Ukrainian government’s special services. “This is a terrorist act aimed at destroying the critical civilian infrastructure of the Russian Federation. It was ordered, authored, and carried out by the special services of Ukraine,” Putin said, according to Russia’s TASS news agency. Early on Saturday, a truck exploded on the Kerch Bridge, collapsing parts of the bridge’s road section and setting a train on fire. At least three people were killed in the blast, and traffic was temporarily halted, although it resumed by Sunday. It’s not clear if the driver of the truck, who appeared to have died, was aware that there was a bomb inside the vehicle. Ukraine hasn’t officially taken credit for the incident, but an unnamed senior Ukrainian official told The New York Times that it was carried out by Ukraine’s intelligence services using a bomb loaded onto a truck. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because of a government ban on discussing the blast. While not officially taking credit, Ukrainian officials celebrated the attack. The Kerch Bridge was built after Crimea joined Russia in 2014 and was completed in 2018. It is seen as a symbol of Russia’s control over the peninsula, which Ukraine still considers its territory.
North Korea’s recent barrage of missile launches were the simulated use of its tactical battlefield nuclear weapons to “hit and wipe out” potential South Korean and U.S. targets, state media reported Monday, as its leader Kim Jong Un signaled he would conduct more provocative tests. The North’s statement, released on the 77th birthday of its ruling Workers’ Party, is seen as an attempt to burnish Kim’s image as a strong leader at home amid pandemic-related hardships as he’s defiantly pushing to enlarge his weapons arsenal to wrest greater concessions from its rivals in future negotiations. “Through seven times of launching drills of the tactical nuclear operation units, the actual war capabilities … of the nuclear combat forces ready to hit and wipe out the set objects at any location and any time were displayed to the full,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. KCNA said the missile tests were in response to recent naval drills between U.S. and South Korean forces, which involved the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan for the first time in five years. Viewing the drills as a military threat, North Korea decided to stage “the simulation of an actual war” to check and improve its war deterrence and send a warning to its enemies, KCNA said.
Internationally, Eurozone inflation rate reaches all time high:
For the first time ever, the annual rate of inflation in the Eurozone, measured by the Consumer Price Index, has reached double digits: it exceeded 10 per cent in September 2022, up from 9.1 per cent in August. Energy and food prices of course drove this acceleration in inflation, increasing by 41 per cent and 13 per cent respectively, but they were not the only items witnessing an increase in the inflation rate. Even if we leave out energy and food, the inflation rate in all other commodities taken together increased from 5.5 per cent in August to 6.1 per cent in September. Two-thirds of the increase in the inflation rate between August and September was thus on account of commodities other than energy and food. The narrative that the acceleration of inflation is entirely because of the energy and food shortage caused by the Ukraine war is thus not correct.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Monday expressed optimism that a new symbol could prove to be ‘revolutionary’ for the party, revitalise and make it even stronger in the future. Informally interacting with the mediapersons outside the court where he was brought for his bail case plea, Raut was asked for his reaction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) freezing the Sena’s iconic ‘bow and arrow’ symbol and its name (Shiv Sena) last week. “This is not the first time… In the past even Indira Gandhi had gone through a similar situation and the Congress symbol was frozen thrice and the Janata Dal also had been through one such experience,” Raut said. On the freezing of the ‘Shiv Sena’ party name by ECI (October 8), he said that it will make no difference as ‘the spirit of the party’ remains the same, and the people already know who the party belongs to. “It won’t be so easy for the Group of Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to get the Shiv Sena name and party symbol before the upcoming Andheri East by-elections… Entire Maharashtra is upset with the Shinde faction…” claimed Raut. The firebrand Sena MP is currently in judicial custody since his arrest on August 1 by the Enforcement Directorate in an alleged case pertaining to money-laundering and other charges.
In China, 4D shadow puppet show amazes spectators:
A 4D Chinese shadow puppet show, staged recently at a shadow puppetry theater on its first day of business in Tengchong city, southwest China’s Yunnan Province, amazed the audience with a brand new immersive viewing experience. “It’s such a novel show. I didn’t know shadow puppet shows could be enjoyed in such an immersive way. The combination of Chinese culture and modern technologies is really eye-opening,” an audience member said after watching the show on Oct. 3, 2022. Unlike traditional Chinese shadow puppet shows, during which puppeteers manipulate shadow puppets with rods to create the illusion of moving images on a translucent cloth screen illuminated from behind, the innovative 4D show combined traditional Chinese shadow puppet performance with modern technologies including holographic projection technology and modern scene simulation technology. “I want to surround the audience with the shadow puppets and let them feel they are a part of the show,” Liu Chaokan, a 30-year-old inheritor of Chinese shadow puppetry and the brains behind the 4D Chinese shadow puppet show, told reporters. Inspired by 4D movies, he came up with the idea of 4D shadow puppet show and has been making preparations for the show for nearly four years.
British arms company BAE Systems is negotiating with the US about possibly resuming production of the M777 howitzer after the artillery piece has played a prominent role in the Ukraine conflict, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday. According to the company, as cited by the outlet, several nations said they might be willing to buy the howitzers, production of which is now almost shut down. The company is said to be negotiating with the US Army about restarting the program. M777s were mainly manufactured in the UK, but often assembled in the US. Now, however, the company is winding down the production line, with the last batch of howitzers due to be delivered to India. Meanwhile, BAE told the outlet that if inquiries from possible customers, including a number of Central European countries, turn into actual orders, it could manufacture up to 500 new M777 pieces.
On Sunday, Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro decreed three days of national mourning after confirming the death of 22 citizens and the disappearance of 52 people in Las Tejerias, in the state of Aragua, as a result of a landslide that took place on Saturday night. To facilitate recovery actions, he also declared the communities of Las Tejerias, the epicenter of the landslide and flooding, as a “Natural Disaster and Catastrophe Zone.” Earlier in the morning, Maduro asked Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, his ministers and all security agencies to carry out “the maximum deployment” to attend to the people affected by the rains. From that moment, the Venezuelan President described the situation left by the rainfall as “difficult and painful.” Shortly after noon on Sunday, Rodriguez, who had traveled to the Santiago Mariño Municipality to assess the damage caused by the rains, confirmed that 22 citizens had died and 52 people were still missing.
The “resolute resistance” of Johann Ferreira, CEO of long-distance bus operator Intercape, in the face of unabashed official bullying was to be commended, Makhanda High Court Judge John Smith has said. “Unfortunately his company has paid dearly for this brave stance … but hopefully this judgment will serve to vindicate his belief that it was the right thing to do,” he said. Judge Smith handed down reasons on Friday for his earlier ruling directing Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula and Eastern Cape MEC for Transport Xolile Nqatha to take “positive steps’ to to put a stop to ongoing attacks, apparently at the hands of disgruntled taxi associations, against buses belonging to the long-distance bus operator. Ferreira had approached the court complaining that his buses had, since 2015, been subjected to widespread and ongoing acts of violence and intimidation, including the murder of one driver. As a result, Intercape had lodged more than 150 criminal cases, 70 in the Eastern Cape.