- A village in southern Spain has changed its name to Ukraine in solidarity with those caught up in the conflict more than 4,000 km (2,500 miles) away. On a sign at a roundabout at the village’s entrance, Ukraine has replaced Fuentes de Andalucia and the country’s blue and yellow flag has been painted alongside. Streets have been renamed City of Kyiv, Odesa and Mariupol in the village of more than 7,100 inhabitants east of Seville. “The main objective is to raise awareness about the conflict in Ukraine but also about where countries are at war in current times,” Francisco Martinez told Reuters as he stood in City of Kiev street.
- Nepal is asking citizens living abroad to deposit funds in domestic banks as part of efforts to ensure the financial system has enough liquidity and to preserve foreign exchange reserves, finance finister Janardan Sharma said on Saturday. Nepal, wedged between China and India, this month imposed curbs on luxury goods imports to rein in capital outflows. Foreign exchange reserves fell over 18% to $9.6 billion as of mid-March from mid-July – enough for around six months imports. By depositing their savings in Nepal, overseas Nepalis would continue to “maintain their link as well as benefit from 6 to 7% interest” offered by Nepali banks, Sharma said.
- President Joe Biden’s accusation made earlier this week that Moscow was committing “genocide” in Ukraine has raised concerns among officials in the White House and has not been confirmed by US intelligence agencies, NBC News reported on Friday, citing senior government officials. The claim of genocide “has so far not been corroborated by information collected by US intelligence agencies,” the report said. The news outlet quoted two State Department officials as saying that Biden’s remarks “made it harder for the agency to credibly do its job,” since it is up to the department to formally determine genocide and other war crimes.
- The latest data on opioid-related overdose deaths in the US has produced a startling detail: Opioid overdose deaths in adolescents rose far more rapidly than the general population between 2019 and 2021, according to a new analysis of mortality data released by the CDC. Data showed that deaths from opioid overdoses in teens aged 14 to 18 increased by a staggering 94% between 2019 and 2020 and by an additional 20% between 2020 and 2021. Per the data, the biggest driver of the deaths was the fentanyl in the drug supply. The synthetic opioid that’s 80x – 100x more powerful than morphine has been linked to 77% of all adolescent opioid overdose deaths since 2021. In other news related to the opioid pandemic, the NYT revealed earlier this week that McKinsey, the American consulting giant that has already been exposed for advising Perdue Pharma – the maker of Oxycontin, the drug widely credited with sparking the opioid epidemic – also advised the FDA on drug approvals while it was also advising Perdue. What’s worse, many of the same consultants responsible for advising Perdue also advised the FDA.
- Germany involved in ‘military biological activities’ in Ukraine. Berlin coordinated its work on biodefense with its US allies, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said. Russia has made public the facts that have come to light to date at the UN and other international organisations and called on the US authorities to provide detailed explanations, but, predictably, Washington does not appear to be ready to share with the public any meaningful information on its military biological programme in Ukraine.
- A court in the western Ukrainian city of Lvov has placed opposition politician Viktor Medvedchuk under arrest without the possibility of bail, local media reported on Saturday. Earlier, the court arrested 154 “objects of movable and immovable property” belonging to the politician. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky published a photo of the Opposition Platform – For Life politician in handcuffs and wearing Ukrainian army fatigues following his detention, saying Kiev would be willing to exchange Medvedchuk for Ukrainian PoWs being held by Russian forces. Ukraine’s security services published a second photo, showing Medvedchuk with what appears to be a large headwound above his brow. Oksana Marchenko said the wound was evidence that her husband had been beaten during his interrogation.
- Ukrainian banks store $6.8 billion worth of assets belonging to Russian or Belarusian companies, Ukrainian First Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Yevhenii Yenin said on Saturday. On 8 April, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that Kiev plans to nationalise all Russian assets to cover the costs associated with the hostilities. “If the banks follow recommendations of the national police and national bank, we can say that about 200 billion hryvnias [$6.8 billion] will not be allowed to be paid to Russia with corresponding tax payments and be used to fund the fighting in Ukraine,” Yenin said, as quoted by Ukrainian news agency UNIAN. The Ukrainian National Police has launched “additional financial controls” for over 7,000 Ukraine-based companies which “have Russian or Belarusian registration or owners,” Yenin was quoted as saying.
- Microsoft founder Bill Gates believes that the fight against the coronavirus pandemic could have been more efficient and lives could be saved if scientists focused more on developing therapeutics alongside vaccines. The billionaire suggested creating libraries of drug compounds for researchers to quickly find out if current treatments work against new pathogens, as well as to research ways of activating the so-called innate immunity, meaning the part of a person’s immune system that is the first to react to a foreign presence in the organism.
- Following Twitter’s adoption of a poison pill provision to prevent Elon Musk from acquiring more than 15% of the company, conversations between Musk and investors have picked up in a renewed bid to purchase the social media platform, sources told The New York Post. According to sources, the plan to purchase Twitter may be announced in the coming days, with one saying, “This is not over.” One option that is being considered would see Musk and the private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners launch a bid to take control of Twitter, the source said. Silver Lake Partners’ Co-CEO, Egon Durban, is a Twitter board member, and Silver Lake had plans to co-invest with Musk when he floated the idea of taking Tesla private in 2018. Silver Lake has declined to comment.
- Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has delivered a strong message to the United States amid tensions between New Delhi and Washington. Addressing the Indian-American community in San Francisco, Rajnath declared that India has never followed the principle of a “zero-sum game” in diplomacy, and believes in a mutually beneficial relationship. Rajnath’s remarks come amid US pressure on India over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s position on Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. Despite growing pressure from Washington, Delhi has maintained a neutral stance on the matter, having abstained from every UN vote since Russia launched its operation in Ukraine on 24 February. What’s more, India has purchased discounted oil from Russia, stressing that it’s putting the country’s national interests and energy security first, this ignoring a US-led sanctions campaign against Moscow.
- “The post-World War II United States foreign policy has rarely experienced domestic or global accountability – there are rare exceptions, as we saw with the condemnation of CIA regime change operations in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the 1975 US Senate Select Committee known as the ‘Church Committee.’ That was 45 years ago, before the age of government-controlled internet and media, that today stifles dissent and promotes politically-driven domestic narratives in the US,” says retired US Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a former analyst for the US Department of Defence. In March, the Russian Defence Ministry revealed that about 30 biological laboratories involved in developing components of bioweapons and funded by the Pentagon had been discovered in Ukraine during Russia’s special operation. The Biden administration denied any involvement whatsoever in the programme. However, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland on 8 March told US senators that “bioresearch facilities” in Ukraine actually exist. A 2010 BioPrepWatch article preserved in web archives and the US Armed Forces’ Counterproliferation Centre confirmed that America had maintained bioresearch cooperation with Kiev since 2005.
News Burst 17 April 2022