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Russia and China slam NATO after alliance raises alarm

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(Last Updated On: June 30, 2022)

NATO faced rebukes from Moscow and Beijing on Thursday after it declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges ” to global stability.

The Western military alliance was wrapping up a summit in Madrid, where it issued a stark warning that the world has been plunged into a dangerous phase of big-power competition and myriad threats, from cyberattacks to climate change, The Associated Press reported.

NATO leaders also formally invited Finland and Sweden to join the alliance, after overcoming opposition from Turkey. If the Nordic nations’ accession is approved by the 30 member nations, it will give NATO a new 1,300 kilometer border with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned he would respond if the Nordic pair allowed NATO troops and military infrastructure onto their territory. He said Russia would have to “create the same threats for the territory from which threats against us are created.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said Putin’s threats were “nothing new.”

“Of course, we have to expect some kind of surprises from Putin, but I doubt that he is attacking Sweden or Finland directly,” Kallas said as she arrived at the summit’s conference center venue. “We will see cyberattacks definitely. We will see hybrid attacks, information war is going on. But not the conventional war.”

China accused the alliance of “maliciously attacking and smearing” the country. Its mission to the European Union said NATO “claims that other countries pose challenges, but it is NATO that is creating problems around the world.”

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine had brought “the biggest overhaul of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War.”

The invasion shattered Europe’s peace, and in response NATO has poured troops and weapons into Eastern Europe on a scale unseen in decades. Member nations have given Ukraine billions in military and civilian aid to strengthen its resistance, AP reported.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who addressed the summit by video link, asked for more. He urged NATO to send modern artillery systems and other weapons and warned the leaders they either had to provide Kyiv with the help it needed or “face a delayed war between Russia and yourself.”

“The question is, who’s next? Moldova? Or the Baltics? Or Poland? The answer is: all of them,” he said.

At the summit, NATO leaders agreed to dramatically scale up military force along the alliance’s eastern flank, where countries from Romania to the Baltic states worry about Russia’s future plans.

They announced plans to increase almost eightfold the size of the alliance’s rapid reaction force, from 40,000 to 300,000 troops, by next year. The troops will be based in their home nations but dedicated to specific countries in the east, where the alliance plans to build up stocks of equipment and ammunition.

U.S. President Joe Biden, whose country provides the bulk of NATO’s firepower, announced a hefty boost in America’s military presence in Europe, including a permanent U.S. base in Poland, two more Navy destroyers based in Rota, Spain, and two more F35 squadrons in the U.K.

The expansion will keep 100,000 troops in Europe for the foreseeable future, up from 80,000 before the war in Ukraine began.

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Putin says Russia and North Korea will expand bilateral relations

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2022)

Russian President Vladimir Putin told North Korean leader Kim Jong-un the two countries will “expand the comprehensive and constructive bilateral relations with common efforts,” Pyongyang’s state media reported on Monday.

In a letter to Kim for Korea’s liberation day, Putin said closer ties would be in both countries’ interests, and would help strengthen the security and stability of the Korean peninsula and the Northeastern Asian region, North Korea’s KCNA news agency said.

Kim also sent a letter to Putin saying Russian-North Korean friendship had been forged in World War II with victory over Japan, which had occupied the Korean peninsula, Reuters reported.

The “strategic and tactical co-operation, support and solidarity” between the two countries has since reached a new level is their common efforts to frustrate threats and provocations from hostile military forces, Kim said in the letter. KCNA did not identify the hostile forces, but it has typically used that term to refer to the United States and its allies.

Kim predicted co-operation between Russia and North Korea would grow based on an agreement signed in 2019 when he met with Putin.

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Author Salman Rushdie on ventilator after stabbing in New York

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(Last Updated On: August 13, 2022)

Salman Rushdie, the Indian-born British author of a controversial book titled “The Satanic Verses” was stabbed as he was about to give a lecture in New York on Friday.

Police said Rushdie was stabbed “at least once in the neck, and at least once in the abdomen” after an assailant rushed to the stage and lunged at the 75-year-old writer just as he was being introduced to the audience.

Rushdie was airlifted to hospital where he spent hours in surgery. On Friday evening, Rushdie was on a ventilator and unable to speak.

“The news is not good,” Andrew Wylie, his book agent, wrote in an email to Reuters news agency. “Salman will likely lose one eye; the nerves in his arm were severed; and his liver was stabbed and damaged.”

Police identified the suspect as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from New Jersey.

Stacey Schlosser, who witnessed the attack, told The Associated Press that Rushdie was stabbed six to eight times before the attacker was restrained.

“Nobody knew what to do. Nobody knew how to react. I mean, there were tons of people that rushed the stage,” Schlosser said.

Rushdie’s book, The Satanic Verses, has been banned in several countries, as many Muslims consider it to be blasphemous.

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Justice Department seeks to unseal search warrants of Trump’s home

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(Last Updated On: August 12, 2022)

US federal agents were looking for documents relating to nuclear weapons when they raided former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida this week, the Washington Post reported on Thursday.

It was not clear if such documents were recovered at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, the Post said. Reuters could not immediately confirm the report, Reuters reported.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a judge on Thursday to make public the warrant that authorized the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, after Trump, a Republican, portrayed it as political retribution.

The request means the public could soon learn more about what investigators were looking for during the unprecedented search of a former president’s home.

The search was part of an investigation into whether Trump illegally removed records from the White House as he left office in January 2021, some of which the Justice Department believes are classified.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, the top law enforcement officer and an appointee of Democratic President Joe Biden, told a news conference that he had personally approved the search. The Justice Department also seeks to make public a redacted receipt of the items seized.

“The department does not take such a decision lightly. Where possible, it is standard practice to seek less intrusive means as an alternative to a search, and to narrowly scope any search that is undertaken,” Garland said.

His decision to publicly confirm the search was highly unusual. U.S. law enforcement officials typically do not discuss ongoing investigations in order to protect people’s rights. In this case, Trump himself announced the search in a Monday night statement.

Garland said the Justice Department made the request to make public the warrant “in light of the former president’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances and the substantial public interest in this matter.”

A source familiar with the matter said the FBI retrieved about 10 boxes from Trump’s property during the search.

Trump was not in Florida at the time of the search.

Late on Thursday, Trump called for the immediate release of documents related to the search.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the unAmerican, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents, even though they have been drawn up by radical left Democrats and possible future political opponents, who have a strong and powerful vested interest in attacking me, much as they have done for the last 6 years,” he said on his Truth Social platform.

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