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A man wades with his motorbike through Zhengzhou, central China, where thousands were evacuated and a dozens killed following record rains
A man wades with his motorbike through Zhengzhou, central China, where thousands were evacuated and a dozens killed following record rains

Welcome to Wednesday, where heads of state find out they were Pegasus spyware targets, floods in central China kill trapped subway riders and not everyone is happy to see Jeff Bezos safely back from space. Just two days before the opening ceremony of Tokyo Games are set to begin, Olympics chief, Toshiro Muto, won't rule out an 11th-hour cancellation. Still, most expect the Games to go on, and Le Monde explains what's at stake for Japan.

• Macron, other heads of state targeted by Pegasus spyware: French newspaper Le Monde revealed that President Emmanuel Macron and several members of his government were among the thousands of phone numbers targeted for hacking via the Israeli spyware, Pegasus. Other high profile names on the list of leaked phone numbers include King Mohammed VI of Morocco and the prime ministers of Pakistan, Egypt and Morocco.

• Olympics chief won't rule out cancelling Games: As more athletes continue to test positive for the coronavirus, Tokyo 2020 Olympics chief, Toshiro Muto, says that should cases spike, he will not rule out a last-minute cancellation of the Games.

• COVID update: As cases continue to rise in Australia, another state, South Australia, has entered lockdown, leaving about half of the overall Australian population under lockdown once again. In France, the country's new "health pass' has officially gone into effect, requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to enter cultural venues, such as cinemas and museums. Meanwhile, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned the world may be in the early stages of another wave.

• 100 kidnapped Nigerian mothers and children rescued: Nigerian authorities were able to secure the release of 100 women and children who were abducted on June 8 in the Zamfara state. This group is among 1,000 people who have been kidnapped in Nigeria since December 2020.

• China floods kill subway riders: Severe flooding in the central Chinese province, Henan, has left at least 16 people dead, at least 12 of whom were trapped in a flooded subway line, and forced thousands to be evacuated. The heavy rainfall has "shattered records," dumping what the region would normally receive in one year over the last three days, and follows deadly floods in Western Europe and India.

• Hungary to hold referendum on anti-LGBT law: In a live Facebook video, Hungarian President Viktor Orban announced the government would hold a referendum on its controversial anti-LGBT law, which has been widely criticized across the European Union.

• Thousands sign petition to keep Bezos in space: Over 180,000 people have signed the Change.org petition "Do not allow Jeff Bezos to return to Earth." Should the petition reach 200,000, it will become one of the "top signed" on the Change.org website.

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Geopolitics

Venezuela-Iran: Maduro And The Axios Of Chaos In The Americas

With the complicity of leftist rulers in Venezuela, Bolivia and even Argentina, Iran's sanction-ridden regime is spreading its tentacles in South America, and could even undermine democracies.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro visiting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran on June 11. Venezuela is one of Iran's closest allies, and both are subject to tough U.S. sanctions.

Julio Borges

-Analysis-

CARACAS —The dangers posed by Venezuela's relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran is something we've warned about before. Though not new, the dangers have changed considerably in recent years.

They began under Venezuela's late leader, Hugo Chávez , when he decided to turn his back on the West and move closer to countries outside our geopolitical sphere. In 2005, Chávez and Iran's then president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, signed collaborative agreements in areas beyond the economy, with goals that included challenging the West and spreading Iran's presence in Latin America.

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