Welcome to Thursday, where China launches missiles in largest ever drills near Taiwan following Nancy Pelosi’s visit, Germany braces for a potential energy gas crisis next winter, and there’s good news from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Meanwhile, Die Welt visits Germany’s Baden-Baden, which went from the destination of choice for wealthy Russian tourists to a tourist ghost town.
[*Palauan, Republic of Palau]
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• China kicks off military drills:China launched missiles near Taiwan in unprecedented live-fire military exercises due to run until Sunday. This comes as a response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan earlier this week.
• Ukraine update: According to Ukrainian officials, about 6,000 civilians trying to evacuate Russian-occupied areas in eastern Ukraine are stuck on the road to the city of Zaporizhzhia due to floods hitting the country. Meanwhile, U.S. officials now believe Russia has fabricated evidence linked to last week’s explosion at a prison that killed Ukrainian prisoners.
• Taliban raises doubts about al Qaeda leader killing: A Taliban official declared that an investigation is under way “to find out about the veracity of the [U.S.] claim” that the leader of al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed in a U.S. drone strike.
• Myanmar junta charges Japanese journalist: The Myanmar junta charged Japanese journalist Toru Kubota with breaking an immigration law and encouraging dissent against the military. Kubota was arrested in early July while covering a protest in Yangon and faces at least two years of prison.
• Panic buying in Germany: Sales of electric heaters soared in Germany as the country braces for a potential energy gas crisis next winter. Germany turns towards alternative sources of energy as Russia is reducing gas supplies.
• Great Barrier Reef’s record coral cover: Australian marine scientists have recorded the highest levels of coral cover in 36 years on some parts of the Great Barrier Reef, a positive sign that coral is expanding. Global warming continues to be the Great Barrier’s biggest threat
• Sailor survived 16 hours in capsized boat: A 62-year-old French sailor survived 16 hours in his capsized boat in the Atlantic Ocean by using an air bubble. He was rescued by the Spanish coast guard that received a distress signal on Monday, which described the feat as “verging on impossible.”
Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar commemorates the two-year anniversary of the blast that killed more than 200 people, when 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate ignited in a warehouse in the port of Beirut. Lebanon’s investigation into the explosion has met political interference, with the country’s politicians filing more than 25 requests to dismiss the judges in charge of the probe. A civil case was filed in the U.S. in mid-July by a Swiss-based organization to seek $250 million in damages for the survivors and to uncover new evidence to push the investigation.
More than 708,000 people across the world tracked U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s flight on Flightradar24 when it landed in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei — making it the most tracked live flight in the website’s history. More than 2.9 million people tracked at least a portion of the flight, amid uncertainty that Pelosi would actually land on the island nation due to threats and warnings from China, which doesn’t recognize Taiwan’s independence.
Baden-Baden postcard: Haven for wealthy Russians reduced to tourist ghost town
For 200 years, the Black Forest spa town of Baden-Baden has been the destination of choice for Russian tourists, with oligarchs shopping in the luxury boutiques and buying up swathes of property. Now Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has changed all that and the town's once-bustling streets are empty, writes Hannelore Crolly for Die Welt.
🇩🇪 The small spa town near the Black Forest is home to around 1,150 Russian citizens, and a similar number of people with dual nationality. There are around 750 Ukrainians living there, and in recent months, almost 1,800 Ukrainian refugees have arrived. There is also an unknown but significant number of people of German origin who emigrated from Eastern Europe after the Second World War. People like I.T. expert Schneider, who was born in the North Caucasus region 43 years ago and has lived in Germany since 1994.
💸 The quiet streets are an unfamiliar sight in a city that has grown rich from the Russian tourists who have poured in over the last 200 years. Since 1793, when Princess Luise from Baden-Baden married the man who would later become Tsar Alexander, the fashionable spa town has attracted nobility and diplomats, literary greats and wealthy people from the East.
🇷🇺 Baden-Baden is twinned with both Yalta in Ukraine and Sochi in Russia. The Festspielhaus – the largest opera house in Germany has distanced itself from star conductor Valery Gergiev due to his connections to Putin, although Gergiev saved it from bankruptcy about 25 years ago. At the end of the day, a politician says, Baden-Baden is cutting off its nose to spite its face. “Many Russians invested in the town when it was struggling.” And its economy is dependent on the affluent Russian clientele. “Many people don’t seem to appreciate that.”
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We are seeing these excessive, outrageous profits from the oil and gas industries at a time when we are all losing money.
— During a press conference, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres slammed the “greed” of big oil and gas companies amid an economic crisis he said was caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Guterres also called on national governments to tax the companies' profits and use them to help the “most vulnerable.”
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