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Prince Charles meets genocide survivors in Rwanda

The altar of Nyamata Church is draped with a bloodstained cloth. Its pews are gone; in their place stand rows and rows of clothing and personal effects which belonged to the people massacred here 28 years ago. The roof above is peppered with holes caused by shrapnel, after perpetrators in the killings threw grenades into the building.

In 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda targeted minority ethnic Tutsis and aldo shoes moderate Hutus in a three-month killing spree that left an estimated 800,000 people dead, though local estimates are higher.
In the basement below the church — which today stands as a memorial to the 1994 genocide — the skulls of unidentified Tutsi men are suspended above the coffin of a woman from the same ethnic group who died following an act of barbarous sexual violence.
Attackers targeted churches like this one, on the outskirts of the capital Kigali. More than 10,000 people were killed here over two days, according to the memorial’s manager Rachel Murekatete. A mass grave behind the building is the final resting place of more than 45,000 people from the surrounding area killed in the violence.
Clothes and other belongings of victims at the Nyamata Church Genocide Memorial.

Prince Charles appeared visibly moved as he was shown around the church grounds on Wednesday, where even now bodies discovered elsewhere are being brought, as former attackers identify other gravesites as part of the reconciliation process that began in 1999.
The heir to the British throne is in Rwanda for a Commonwealth leaders’ summit later this week. but his trip comes at an awkward time as a furor over the UK government’s radical plan to send asylum-seekers to Rwanda has erupted back home.
Britain’s government announced the deal with the east African country in April, but the inaugural flight a week ago was grounded after an 11th-hour intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also confirmed to attend the summit of Commonwealth leaders and is expected to meet with Prince Charles on Friday morning.
After being shown the grave site, the 73-year-old royal laid a wreath in honor of the victims buried here. On its card, a note from the royal written in the local Kinyarwanda language: “We will always remember the innocent souls that were killed in the Genocide Against the Tutsi in April 1994. Be strong Rwanda. Charles”
The royal then visited Mbyo reconciliation village, one of eight similar villages in Rwanda, where survivors and perpetrators of the genocide live alongside each other. The perpetrators publicly apologize for their crimes, while survivors profess forgiveness.
Prince Charles looks at the skulls of victims of the massacre.

Prince Charles meeting a genocide survivor at the Mybo reconciliation village.

The first day of his visit to Rwanda was heavily focused on learning more about the massacres nearly three decades ago. Rwandan footballer and genocide survivor Eric Murangwa had encouraged the prince to include Nyamata during his three-day visit to the country.
“We are currently living in what we call ‘the last stage veja sneakers of genocide’ which is denial. And having someone like Prince Charles visiting Rwanda and visiting the memorial … highlights how the country has managed to recover from that terrible past,” he told CNN earlier this month during a Buckingham Palace reception celebrating the contributions of people from across the Commonwealth.
Earlier Wednesday, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall met Rwanda’s President Kagame and first lady Jeannette Kagame and visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial and museum at Gisozi, where a quarter of a million people are interred.
“This memorial is a place of remembrance, a place where survivors and visitors come and pay respect of the victims of genocide against Tutsi,” says Freddy Mutanguha, the site’s director and a genocide survivor himself. “More than 250,000 victims were buried in this memorial and their bodies were collected in different places … and this place [has] become a final destination for our beloved ones, our families.”
Genocide survivor Freddy Mutanguha, director of the Kigali Genocide Memorial and museum.

Those families include his own, who once lived in the city of Kibuye in the country’s western province.
Mutanguha told CNN he heard as attackers murdered his parents and siblings during the genocide, saying: “I was in hiding but I could hear their voices actually until they finished. I survived with my sister, but I lost four sisters as well.”
Clarence House doesn't deny report that Prince Charles finds UK's plan to send migrants to Rwanda 'appalling'
Keeping their memory alive is now what drives his mission at the memorial.
“This is a very important place for me as a survivor because apart from being where we buried our family, my mom is down here in one of the mass graves, it’s a home for me, but also [it’s] a place where I work and I feel that responsibility. As a survivor I have to speak out, I have to tell the truth of what happened to my family, my country and to the Tutsi people,” he continues.
Graves at the Kigali Memorial for Victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

Mutanguha was keen to welcome Prince Charles to learn more about what happened here and help counter a growing online threat from genocide deniers, which he compares to holocaust denial.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
“That’s what actually concerns me because when the Holocaust happened, people didn’t learn from the past. When the genocide against Tutsi happened, you can see the deniers of the genocide … mainly those who committed genocide — they feel they can do it again because they didn’t finish the job. So, me telling the story, working here and receiving visitors, probably we can make the ‘never again’ the reality.”
A spokesperson for Clarence House said the royal couple nobull shoes were struck by how important it is to never forget the horrors of the past. “But also were deeply moved as they listened to people who have found ways of living with and even forgiving the most appalling crimes,” they added.
Prince Charles arrived in Rwanda on Tuesday night — the first member of the royal family to visit the country. He is in Kigali representing the Queen at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
The meeting is usually held every two years but was rescheduled twice due to the pandemic. It is the first CHOGM he is attending since being selected as the organization’s next head at the 2018 gathering.

Why some African countries are thinking twice about calling out Putin

Nelson Mandela was once asked why he still had relationships with, among others, Fidel Castro and Yasser Arafat, the Cuban and Palestinian leaders who had been branded terrorists by Western powers. The revered South African statesman replied that it was a mistake “to think that their enemies should be our enemies.”

This stance has largely typified some African nations’ response to the Russia-Ukraine war. Across the continent, on cloud shoes many appear hesitant to risk their own security, foreign investment and trade by backing one side in this conflict.
While there has been widespread condemnation of the attacks on Ukrainian civilians and their own citizens fleeing the warzone — from countries such as Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya — there has been a much more muted response from some key African nations.
Countries on the continent find themselves in a delicate position and will not want to get drawn into proxy battles, says Remi Adekoya, associate lecturer at England’s University of York.
“There’s a strong strand of thought in African diplomacy that says African states should maintain the principle of non-interference and so they shouldn’t get caught up in proxy wars between the East and the West. As some states did get caught up in proxy wars during the Cold War, for instance,” Adekoya told CNN.
They moved to Ukraine for an education. Now they're living in a city occupied by Russian forces
One influential voice that has made it clear he will not make an enemy out of Russian leader Vladimir Putin is South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
While addressing his country’s parliament Thursday, he said: “Our position is very clear … there are those who are insisting that we should take a very adversarial stance and position against, say Russia. And the approach that we have chosen to take … is we are insisting that there should be dialogue.”
After initially releasing a statement calling for Russia to immediately pull its forces out of Ukraine, South Africa has since laid the blame for the war directly at NATO’s doorstep for considering Ukraine’s membership into the military alliance, which Russia is against.
“The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from amongst its own leaders and officials over the years that its eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less instability in the region.” Ramaphosa said in parliament Thursday.
Former South African President Jacob Zuma also earlier issued a statement saying Russia “felt provoked.”
“Putin has been very patient with the western forces. He has been crystal clear about his opposition of the eastern expansion of … NATO into Ukraine … and is on the record about the military threat posed to Russia by the presence of the forces … it looks justifiable that Russia felt provoked,” Zuma said in a statement issued by his foundation on March 6.
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South Africa has strong ties to Russia and Ramaphosa has written about being approached to be a mediator in the conflict given its membership of BRICS — a group of emerging economies comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
The ties between the two countries also date back to apartheid times when the former Soviet Union supported South Africa and the African National Congress party in their liberation struggles. “Those favors have not been forgotten,” said Adekoya.
South Africa was one of 17 African nations to abstain on the UN resolution demanding that Russia immediately withdraw from oncloud shoes Ukraine on March 2. It took a similar stance during Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Nigeria and Egypt were among the 28 African nations that voted to condemn Russia, while eight others didn’t submit a vote. Eritrea was the only African country that outrightly voted against the resolution.
Zimbabwe’s foreign ministry said in a statement it was unconvinced that the UN resolution was driven towards dialogue, rather “it poured more fuel to the fire, thus complicating the situation.”

‘Strongman leadership’

Many of the countries that abstained from the UN vote are authoritarian regimes. They see Putin’s unilateral decision to invade Ukraine as a show of power and ego that they can appreciate and align with, Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, a political analyst and professor at New York’s Farmingdale State College, told CNN.
 One of those who have spoken out prominently in support of the Russian leader is Lt. Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the influential son of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.
 His father has ruled Uganda with an iron fist for 36 years and there has been speculation that Kainerugaba is a would-be successor when the 78-year-old Museveni eventually stands down.
 Kainerugaba tweeted that: “The majority of mankind (that are non-white) support Russia’s stand in Ukraine. Putin is absolutely right!”
  Some African countries have also hesitated in speaking out against Russia because they want to “keep their options open if they face existential threats or some kind of revolution in their own country in the future,” said Adekoya.
 “They saw Putin keep Assad in power in Syria because if not for Russia’s intervention, Assad’s regime would have fallen long ago,” he added.
 Adekoya also pointed out that some of the muted response stems from what is perceived as Western hypocrisy.
On GPS: Kenya's clarion call on Ukraine

Kenya’s UN Security Council representative Martin Kimani gave a powerful speech on the brink of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Kimani drew a parallel between Ukraine’s emergence as an independent state after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the experience of post-colonial states in Africa, criticizing Russian PresidentVladimir Putin’s buildup of forces and his support for redrawing Ukraine’s borders by recognizing the breakaway statelets of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Kenya rejects such a yearning from being pursued by force,” he said, referring to Russia’s recognition of the two territories as independent states. “We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.”
During the speech, he also mentioned kizik shoes other nations on the Security Council who had breached international law and faced no sanctions.  “He didn’t mention them by name, but he was talking about the US and UK who invaded Iraq in 2003 … and were never really held to account,” Adekoya said.
“There are many people in many parts of the world who would like to see other regions gaining strength and would like to see the end of Western domination of the world order, putting it simply … of course, no right-thinking person in Africa or anywhere in the world looks at what is going on in Ukraine now and thinks that it’s a good thing …  but many people do see the hypocrisy,” he added.

Establishing stronger ties

In recent years, Russia has established itself as one of Africa’s most valuable trading partners — becoming a major supplier of military hardware with key alliances in Nigeria, Libya, Ethiopia and Mali.
 Africa accounted for 18% of Russian arms exports between 2016 and 2020, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) think tank.
Some analysts say the support or non-censure of Russia speaks to a wider sentiment in parts of Africa that Western policy positions do not always work in their favor.
 “The message that Moscow is pushing is that if you are tired of the paternalistic way the West approaches you, we are going to be your security partners. It will be a relationship of equals,” Aanu Adeoye, a Russia-Africa analyst at Chatham House, told CNN.
Unlike many of its European counterparts, Russia is not a former colonial power in Africa and so has a wider scope of opportunity in making soft power moves that aim to challenge Western dominance on the continent.
The Soviet Union also had client relationships with many African states during the Cold War, and Moscow has looked to revive some of those ties.
Before the invasion, Russian state media outlet RT announced plans to set up a new hub in Kenya with a job ad that said it wanted to “cover stories that have been overlooked by other organizations” and that “challenge conventional wisdom about Africa.
 Yet Africa has often been at the heart of the tussle for influence in the great power competitions between key geopolitical players such as the US, China and Russia.
 Some countries are trying to leverage this position in a variety of ways.
Odugbesan-Omede explained that Tanzania, for example, has identified the current situation as a chance for its energy industry to profit. “Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, sees this an opportunity to look for markets to export gas,” she said.Tanzania has the sixth largest gas reserve in Africa. While some African countries will sustain some economic shock from the Russian-Ukraine fight, others are trying to weather the storm by looking for new avenues of profitability,” Odugbesan-Omede added.

‘Day Zero’: This city is counting down the days until its water taps run dry

Leonard Matana. 69, filling up a plastic container with water at a communal tap in the township of Kwanobuhle in South Africa.

Every day, Morris Malambile loads his wheelbarrow full of empty plastic containers and pushes it from his home to the nearest running tap. It’s much further than the usual walk to the kitchen sink — just a little under a mile away — but it’s not the distance that bothers him.

It’s the bumpy road — which runs between tightly packed shanty dwellings and beige public-funded houses — that makes balancing containers filled with 70 liters of water on his return a pain.
“Home feels far when you are pushing 70 kilograms of water in a wheelbarrow,” said on cloud shoes the 49-year-old resident from the impoverished South African township of Kwanobuhle.
Taps ran dry in parts of Kwanobuhle in March, and since then, thousands of residents have been relying on a single communal tap to supply their households with potable water. And the township is just one of many in the affected Nelson Mandela Bay area of Gqeberha city — formerly known as Port Elizabeth — that rely on a system of four dams that have been steadily drying up for months. There hasn’t been enough heavy rain to replenish them.
A week ago, one dam was decommissioned as levels dropped too low to extract any actual water — its pipes were just sucking up mud. Another is just days away from emptying out.
Now much of the city is counting down to “Day Zero,” the day all taps run dry, when no meaningful amount of water can be extracted. That’s in around two weeks, unless authorities seriously speed up their response.
The wider Eastern Cape region of South Africa suffered a severe multi-year drought between 2015 and 2020, which devastated the local economy, particularly its agricultural sector. It had just a brief reprieve before slipping back into drought in late 2021.
Like so many of the world’s worst natural resource crises, the severe water shortage here is a combination of poor management and warping weather patterns caused by human-made climate change.
Morris Malambile says pushing a wheelbarrow filled with water containers every day is "tiring."

On top of that, thousands of leaks throughout the water system means that a lot of the water that does get piped out of the dams may never actually make it into homes. Poor maintenance, like a failed pump on a main water supply, has only worsened the situation.
That has left Malambile — who lives with his sister and her four children — with no choice but to walk his wheelbarrow through the township every single day for the past three months. Without this daily ritual, he and his family would have no drinking water at all.
“People who don’t live here have no idea what it’s like to wake up in the morning, and the first thing on your mind is water,” Malambile said. His family has enough containers to hold 150 liters of water, but each day he fills around half that while the rest is still in use at home.
“Tomorrow, those ones are empty, and I have to bring them again,” he said. “This is my routine, every day, and it is tiring.”

Counting down to Day Zero

The prospects of meaningful rain to help resupply the reservoirs here is looking bleak, and if things keep going the way they are, around 40% of the wider city of Gqeberha will be left with no running water at all.
The Eastern Cape relies on weather systems known as “cut-off lows.” The slow-moving weather systems can produce rain in excess of 50 millimeters (around 2 inches) in 24 hours, followed by days of persistent wet weather. The problem is, that kind of rain just hasn’t been coming.
The next several months do not paint a promising picture either. In its Seasonal Climate Outlook, the South African Weather Service forecasts below-normal precipitation.
This isn’t a recent trend. For nearly a decade, oncloud shoes the catchment areas for Nelson Mandela Bay’s main supply dams have received below average rainfall. Water levels have slowly dwindled to the point where the four dams are sitting at a combined level of less than 12% their normal capacity. According to city officials, less than 2% of the remaining water supply is actually useable.
Fresh in the minds of people here is Cape Town’s 2018 water crisis, which was also triggered by the previous, severe drought as well as management problems. The city’s residents would stand in lines for their individually rationed 50 liters of water each day, in fear of reaching Day Zero. It never actually reached that point, but it came dangerously close. Strict rationing enabled the city to halve its water use and avert the worst.
And with no heavy rain expected to come, Nelson Mandela Bay’s officials are so worried about their own Day Zero, they are asking residents to dramatically reduce their water usage. They simply have no choice, the municipality’s water distribution manager Joseph Tsatsire said.
“While it is difficult to monitor how much every person uses, we hope to bring the message across that it is crucial that everyone reduce consumption to 50 liters per person daily,” he said.
A sign urging residents to restrict their water usage in the suburbs of Gqeberha.

To put that in perspective, the average American uses more than seven times that amount, at 82 gallons (372 liters) a day.
While parts of the city will probably never feel the full impact of a potential Day Zero, various interventions are in the pipeline to assist residents in so-called “red zones” where their taps inevitably run dry.
Earlier this month, the South African national government sent a high-ranking delegation to Nelson Mandela Bay to take charge of the crisis and to implement emergency strategies to stretch the last of the city’s dwindling supply.
Leak detection and repairs were a focus, while plans are being made to extract “dead storage water” from below the supply dams’ current levels. Boreholes were drilled in some locations to extract ground water.
Some of the interventions — including patching up leaks and trucking in water — mean some who had lost their water supplies at home are starting to get a trickle from their taps at night. But it’s not enough and authorities are looking to bigger, longer-term solutions to a problem that is only projected to worsen the more the Earth warms.
Workers constructing a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha.

South Africa is naturally prone to drought, but the kind of multi-year droughts that cause such misery and disruption are becoming more frequent.
A desalination plant — to purify ocean water for public consumption — is being explored, though such projects require months of planning, are expensive and often contribute further to the climate crisis, when they are powered by fossil fuels.
People in Kwanobuhle are feeling anxious about the future, wondering when the crisis will end.
At the communal tap there, 25-year-old Babalwa Manyube kizik shoes fills her own containers with water while her 1-year-old daughter waits in her car.
“Flushing toilets, cooking, cleaning — these are problems we all face when there is no water in the taps,” she said. “But raising a baby and having to worry about water is a whole different story. And when will it end? No one can tell us.”

Adapting at home

In Kwanobuhle, the public housing is for people with little to no income. Unemployment is rife and crime is on a steady rise. The streets are packed with residents hustling for money. Old shipping containers operate as a makeshift barbershops.
Just on the other side of the metro is Kamma Heights, a new leafy suburb situated on a hill with a beautiful, uninterrupted view of the city. It is punctuated by several newly built luxury homes, and residents can often be seen sitting on their balconies, enjoying the last few rays of sunshine before the sun dips behind the horizon.
Some residents in Kamma Heights are wealthy enough to secure a backup supply of water. Rhett Saayman, 46, lets out a sigh of relief every time it rains and he hears water flow into the tanks he has erected around his house over the last couple of years.
His plan to save money on water in the long run has turned out to be an invaluable investment in securing his household’s water supply.
Saayman has a storage capacity of 18,500 liters. The water for general household use, like bathrooms, runs through a 5-micron particle filter and a carbon block filter, while drinking and cooking water goes through a reverse osmosis filter.
Rhett Saayman standing next to one of his several water tanks at his home in Kamma Heights.

“We do still rely on municipal water from time to time when we haven’t had enough rain, but that might be two or three times a year, and normally only for a few days at a time,” he said. “The last time we used municipal water was in February, and since then we’ve had sufficient rain to sustain us.”
He added, “Looking at the way things are heading around the city it’s definitely a relief to know we have clean drinking water and enough to flush our toilets and take a shower. Our investment is paying off.”
Residents in many parts of the bay area are being asked to reduce their consumption so that water can be run through stand pipes — temporary pipes placed in strategic locations so that water can be diverted areas most in need.
This means some of the city’s more affluent neighborhoods, like Kama Heights, could see huge drop in their water supplies, and they too will have to line up at communal taps, just as those in Kwanobuhle are doing.
Looking ahead, local weather authorities have painted a worrying picture of the months to come, with some warning that the problem had been left to fester for so long, reversing it may be impossible.
“We have been warning the city officials about this for years,” said Garth Sampson, spokesperson for the South African Weather Service in Nelson Mandela Bay. “Whether you want to blame politicians and officials for mismanagement, or the public for not conserving water, it does not matter anymore. Pointing fingers will help no one. The bottom line is we are in a crisis and there is very little we can do anymore.”
Water drips out of a tap at a water collection point in the Walmer suburb of Gqeberha, South Africa. It is one of many collection areas set up in the city.

According to Sampson, the catchment areas supplying Nelson Mandela Bay need about 50 millimeters of rain in a 24-hour period for there to be any significant impact on the dam levels.
“Looking at the statistics over the last several years, our best chance of seeing 50-millimiter events will probably be in August. If we don’t see any significant rainfall by September, then our next best chance is only around March next year, which is concerning,” he said.

At least 285 people feared dead after magnitude 5.9 earthquake hits eastern Afghanistan

At least 285 people were killed and many more wounded after a magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit eastern Afghanistan Wednesday, according to the country’s disaster management authority.

The earthquake hit at 1.24 a.m. about 46 kilometers (28.5 miles) southwest of the city of Khost, which lies close to the country’s border with Pakistan, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The quake registered at a depth of 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), according to USGS, which assigned the quake a yellow alert level — indicating a relatively localized impact.
Most of the deaths were in Paktika province, where 255 people were killed and 155 others were injured in the districts of Giyan, Nika, Barmal and Zirok, according to the State Ministry for Disaster Management.
In neighboring Khost province, 25 people were killed and several others were injured, and five people were killed in Nangarhar province, the disaster management authority said.
Photos from Paktika province, just south of Khost province, show destroyed houses with only a wall or two still standing amid the rubble, and broken roof beams.
Local officials and residents have warned that the death toll is likely to rise, according to state-run news agency Bakhtar.
A team of medics and seven helicopters have been sent to the area to transport injured people to nearby hospitals, Afghanistan’s Ministry of Defense said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Najibullah Sadid, an Afghan water resources management expert, said the earthquake had coincided with heavy monsoon rain in the region — making traditional houses, many made of mud and other natural materials, particularly vulnerable to damage.
“The timing of the earthquake (in the) dark of night … and the shallow depth of 10 kilometers of its epicenter led to higher casualties,” he added.
A Taliban deputy spokesperson, Bilal Karimi, said the earthquake had been “severe,” and asked aid agencies to “urgently send teams” to the area affected.
In a tweet on Wednesday, the World Health Organization said its teams were on the ground for emergency response, including providing medicine, trauma services and conducting needs assessments.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif extended his condolences and an offer of support in a tweet on Wednesday. “Deeply grieved to learn about the earthquake in Afghanistan, resulting in the loss of innocent lives,” he wrote. “People in Pakistan share the grief and sorrow of their Afghan brethren. Relevant authorities are working to support Afghanistan in this time of need.”
Pope Francis said he was praying “for those who have lost their lives and for their families,” during his weekly audience on Wednesday. “I hope aid can be sent there to help all the suffering of the dear people of Afghanistan.”
The earthquake comes as the country is in the throes of a hunger crisis. Almost half the population — 20 million people — are experiencing acute hunger, according to a United Nations-backed report in May. It is a situation compounded by the Taliban seizing power in August 2021, which led the United States and its allies freezing about $7 billion of the country’s foreign reserves and cutting off international funding.

In Beijing’s BRICS summit, Putin is back on the world stage

Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pose during a BRICS meeting held during a G20 summit in Osaka in June 2019.

Western Europeans wilt in early summer heatwave, compounding climate change fears

A farmer pours water on his face as he works in a greenhouse in southern France on June 17 as western Europe struggles with a heatwave.

(Reuters)Spain is seeing its hottest early summer temperatures, one area of France banned outdoor events, and drought stalked Italian farmers as a heatwave sent Europeans hunting for shade and fretting over climate change.

Such was the heat that England’s upscale Royal Ascot Racecourse even saw a rare change of protocol: guests were allowed to shed hats and jackets once the royals had passed.
“Avoid over-exposing to the sun, hydrate and take care of the most vulnerable so they don’t suffer from heat stroke,” was the advice from Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in Madrid during an event, fittingly, about desertification.
Temperatures reached 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) in Madrid on Friday, the national weather agency AEMET said. A level not seen so early in the year since 1981.
Northern Italian regions risk losing up to half their agricultural output due to a drought, a farm lobby said, as lakes and rivers start to run dangerously low, jeopardizing irrigation.
The federation of Italian utility companies, Utilitalia, warned this week that the country’s longest river, the Po, was experiencing its worst drought for 70 years, leaving many sections of the vast, northern waterway completely dried up.
The heatwave piled pressure on energy systems as demand for air-conditioning risks driving prices higher, adding to the challenge of building up stocks to protect against any further cuts to Russian gas supplies.
‘Health risk’
In France, the Gironde department around Bordeaux prohibited public events including concerts and those at indoor venues without air conditioning, a local official said.
“Everyone now faces a health risk,” Gironde prefect Fabienne Buccio told France Bleu radio.
Temperatures in many of France’s areas hit 40 Celsius for the first time this year on Thursday and were expected to peak on Saturday, climbing to 41-42 Celsius. A record night temperature for June, 26.8 Celsius, was recorded in Tarascon, southern France.
Fourteen administrative departments were on red alert, with schoolchildren told to stay at home in these areas. Speed limits were lowered in several regions, including around Paris, to limit exhaust emissions and a buildup of harmful smog.
Britain’s weather service said Friday was the hottest day of the year so far, with temperatures above 32 Celsius in some parts of the southeast.
Parks, pools and beaches were packed, and while many enjoyed a day of fun and freedom after two years of periodic pandemic restrictions some were also worried.
“I’m from Cyprus and now in Cyprus it’s raining … and I’m boiling here, so something must change. We need to take precautions about the climate change sooner than later because undoubtedly it’s worrying for all of us,” said student Charlie Uksel, visiting Brighton, south of London.
“Now we are enjoying it, but for the long-term we might sacrifice.”
Mediterranean nations are more and more concerned about how climate change may affect their economies and lives.
“The Iberian peninsula is an increasingly dry area and our rivers’ flow is slower and slower,” Spanish leader Sanchez added.
Firefighters were battling wildfires in several parts of Spain, with Catalonia in eastern Spain and Zamora near the western border with Portugal the worst hit.
In Zamora, between 8,500 and 9,500 hectares turned to ashes.
The cloud of hot air was sparing Portugal on Friday, where temperatures were not as high as in other European nations, with Lisbon likely to reach 27 Celsius.
However, last month was the hottest May in 92 years, Portugal’s weather agency IPMA said. It warned that most of the territory is suffering from a severe drought.
Portugal’s reservoirs have low water levels, with the Bravura dam of the most affected at only 15% full.

Japan’s top court says government not responsible for Fukushima damage

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a strong earthquake, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, on March 17, 2022.

TokyoJapan’s government is not liable for damages demanded by people whose lives were devastated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the country’s top court said on Friday, the first such ruling in a series of similar cases.

The ruling’s effect as a precedent will be closely watched, media said.
A massive tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan’s northeastern coast on March 11, 2011 struck the Fukushima Daiichi power plant of Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and forcing hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Plaintiffs demanded damages from both Tepco and the country in several class-action lawsuits, and in March the Supreme Court upheld an order for Tepco to pay damages of 1.4 billion yen to about 3,700 people.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno declined direct comment when asked about the ruling at a news conference, though he said he was aware of it.
“Regardless of the ruling, we will stay close to those affected by the disaster and keep on doing our utmost for Fukushima’s reconstruction and revival,” he said.
About 470,000 people were forced to evacuate in the first days after the disaster, and tens of thousands remain unable to return even now.
Lower courts had split over the extent of the government’s responsibility in foreseeing the disaster and ordering Tepco to take steps to prevent it.

Why is Prince Charles headed to Rwanda?

The British royals are going back on tour, after two visits to the Caribbean earlier this year that were marred by anti-monarchy, anti-colonialism demonstrations.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were caught out by photo ops that some criticized for their colonialist undertones. The Prime Minister of Jamaica told the couple in public that his country would be “moving on.” Prince William later conceded that foreign tours were an “opportunity to reflect.”
A follow-up visit to the region by the Earl and Countess of Wessex then had to be rearranged to avoid Grenada, where there have been calls for the UK to pay reparations for slavery. There were concerns in the government that the issue could overshadow the visit.
A visit to Canada by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall last month was less contentious — while there is a republican movement there, it isn’t rooted to the same extent in issues of slavery and race.
The heir to the throne may be under more scrutiny in Africa next week, when he attends the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. While the Queen is the head of the Commonwealth, the role is purely ceremonial and the UK has no more power within the grouping than any other country.
Charles will represent her, which will help prepare everyone for the time when he takes over as head. The question that inevitably surfaces is whether he will be as effective as his mother, but he’s no doubt used to that. The more profound question that comes up is whether, with its origins in the British Empire, the Commonwealth is still relevant.
The Queen and Prince Charles at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in London in 2018.

The location of the 2022 meeting may provide one argument in favor of the organization. The host, Rwanda, only joined the group in 2009 and has no historical ties to the UK. In fact, this will be the first time a member of the royal family has set foot in the country.
“My wife and I much look forward to meeting Commonwealth leaders and, for the first time, being able to visit Rwanda,” Charles said ahead of the visit. “Over the years, I have learned a great deal from the ideas, concerns and aspirations which people across the Commonwealth have so generously shared.”
There will be other engagements built around the main event. Charles will visit a college and a wildlife sanctuary, and attend summits on sustainable business and tropical disease. Camilla will go to a library and later give a speech on violence against women and girls. Together they will lay a wreath at the Genocide Memorial and meet both survivors and perpetrators of the 1994 massacre of Tutsis.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also be attending “CHOGM,” as the meeting is known. He won’t be able to avoid questions on his asylum policy, following a storm back home. He has tried and failed — so far — to get legal clearance to fly people seeking asylum in Britain to Rwanda for processing, with successful applicants granted asylum there instead. Charles reportedly described the plan as “appalling.” Photographers will be looking for any signs of tension between the two, though the prince will be keen to avoid any accusations of political interference.
For the inside track on the Rwanda tour, look no further than this newsletter. We will be traveling with Charles and Camilla to and from Kigali. See you back here next week…

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?

The Queen hits another milestone!
There were no bells and whistles this time round but Queen Elizabeth II quietly broke yet another record in the past week. On Sunday, she officially became the second longest-serving monarch in world history. The Queen overtook Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died aged 88, having achieved 70 years and 126 days on the throne between 1946 and 2016. In case you’re wondering, the record for longest-ever reign belongs to Louis XIV of France. He ruled for 72 years, 110 days, from 14 May 1643 to 1 September 1715.
The Queen smiles during a Platinum Jubilee appearance in early June.

William and Kate attend Grenfell memorial service.
The Cambridges paid their respects to bereaved relatives and survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire on Tuesday — exactly five years to the day after the tragedy. The pair chatted with attendees before taking a seat for the multi-faith service at the foot of the building. They joined the congregation in a 72-second silence in memory of the 72 victims who perished in the fire that tore through the west London high-rise. Following the memorial service, the couple laid a wreath in honor of the victims. Back in 2017, William accompanied his grandmother to the site to meet members of the community affected by the blaze.
The Cambridges mark the fifth anniversary of the Grenfell Tower fire on June 14 in London, England.

DON’T MISS

Ahead of Prince Charles’ visit to Rwanda, two daughters have written a plea to the heir to the British throne for CNN. Carine and Anaïse Kanimba are the adopted daughters of Paul Rusesabagina, the hotel manager who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda.” He was convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison last September, in what his supporters said was a politically motivated show trial. The US State Department said last month that Rusesabagina had been “wrongfully detained.” In an op-ed for CNN, his daughters are asking the visiting royal “not to remain silent” and “to not shake the hand of the tyrant who is holding our father as a political prisoner.”
Read their message for Prince Charles here.

ROYAL TEA BREAK

Most of us have read the tales of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. At the very least you’ve probably seen the 1963 Disney classic “The Sword in the Stone.” Well, it turns out the Arthurian legend has even had a few blue-blooded fans over the centuries. In fact, King Edward III was so taken with it that nearly 700 years ago he created his own group of chivalrous knights — the Order of the Garter.
Now, this elite institution still exists, and every June it gathers for the annual Garter Day procession at Windsor, after which new members are welcomed into the fold, a lunch is put on and then it’s over to St. George’s Chapel for a service. The event is pretty spectacular, as traditionally the Queen and the knights — who are now both male and female — don fabulously grand velvet robes with plumed hats for the parade. Members of the order — 24 in total, as well as certain royal family members — are personally chosen by the sovereign, in recognition of an individual’s service to the nation through public office or to the monarch personally.
The Duchess of Cornwall was installed in the Order of the Garter this year.

This year’s event caused a bit of a stir as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was invested as a member of the Order of the Garter, becoming “Sir Tony.” Beyond the castle’s walls, Stop the War activists and members of the Free Assange movement protested the former leader’s appointment to the country’s most senior order of chivalry, chanting “war criminal” and holding placards. Separately, there was some royal drama after it was revealed Prince Andrew had been blocked from attending parts of the day. A royal source told CNN Monday that the embattled royal would only be going to the private events and would not be seen in public, in what was understood to be a “family decision.”
Max went deeper into Britain’s oldest and most senior order of chivalry over on TikTok:

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Prince Charles peeks at the ponies as he and Camilla — along with several other members of the royal family — enjoyed a day at the races for Royal Ascot 2022. Sadly, the Queen wasn’t in attendance, due to her mobility problems, and was probably watching from the comfort of her Windsor home down the road, especially as she had a couple of horses running on Gold Cup day. Both ended up coming second in their races but the events would have still delighted the monarch, according to her racing manager, John Warren.
He told Britain’s PA Media news agency that he was “disappointed for Her Majesty” but “she gets it.” He explained that horses are “her passion, and the Queen would have absorbed everything that was there to be seen. She is so engaged in it that it is nice to know that she is probably seeing more than we do!”

“If we come together to raise the importance of early childhood development, we’ll soon see that healthy, happy individuals make for a healthier, happier world. Which is why every second we spend with a child, is an investment in our collective future.”

The Duchess of Cambridge

Kate, who founded the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood last year, made the remarks as the organization unveiled new research into public perceptions of early childhood development on Thursday. One of the findings revealed that while nine in 10 agree on the importance of early years in shaping a person’s future, less than a fifth recognize the “unique” importance of the period between 0 and 5. Alongside the new research, the duchess hosted a roundtable discussion with representatives from the early years sector, including the UK Secretary of State for Health Sajid Javid and Minister for Families Will Quince.

Putin lambasts the West and declares the end of ‘the era of the unipolar world’

Putin unveils imperialist mission: Taking back land he says is Russia’s 02:59

(CNN)Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared the end of “the era of the unipolar world” in a combative speech that lambasted Western countries at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

“When they won the Cold War, the US declared themselves God’s own representatives on earth, people who have no responsibilities — only interests. They have declared those interests sacred. Now it’s one-way traffic, which makes the world unstable,” Putin told the audience.
The much-hyped speech was delayed by more than 90 minutes because of a “massive” cyberattack. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists in an impromptu conference call that the speech was postponed due to distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the conference’s systems.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack. Ukrainian IT Army, a hacker collective, named the St. Petersburg Forum as a target earlier this week on its Telegram channel.
Putin’s address at the annual conference, one of his more substantial speeches since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine almost four months ago, was seen as an opportunity for the world to get some insight into his thinking.
Once the Russian president took the stage in the western Russian city, he wasted no time on pleasantries and went straight into attacks on the United States and its allies.
“They live in the past on their own under their own delusions … They think that … they have won and then everything else is a colony, a back yard. And the people living there are second-class citizens,” he said, adding that Russia’s “special operation” — the phrase the Russian government uses to describe its war on Ukraine — has become a “lifesaver for the West to blame all the problems on Russia.”
After accusing western countries of blaming their problems on Russia, Putin tried to pin the blame for rising food prices on the “US administration and the Euro bureaucracy.”
Ukraine is a major food producer, but the Russian invasion has affected its entire production and supply chain. The United Nations has said the war has had a devastating impact on supplies and prices and warned it could push up to 49 million more people into famine or famine-like conditions.
European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week that food has become part of the Kremlin’s “arsenal of terror.”
Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of stealing Ukrainian grain, accusations that appear to have been confirmed by satellite images showing Russian ships being loaded with Ukrainian grain. On top of that, Russia is blocking maritime access to the Black Sea ports held by Ukraine, meaning that even the grain that is still under Ukrainian control cannot be exported to the many countries that rely on it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a session of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg on June 17, 2022.

The long-time Russian leader also blamed the West for trying to hurt the Russian economy, calling the sanctions on Moscow “crazy” and “reckless.”
“Their intention is clear to crush the Russian economy by breaking down the chain the logistical chains, freezing national assets and attacking the living standards, but they were not successful,” he added. “It has not worked out. Russian business people have rallied together working diligently, conscientiously, and step-by-step, we are normalizing the economic situation.”
The Russian president has long framed his decision to launch an invasion of Ukraine as a response to Kyiv’s growing diplomatic and security ties with the West. Last week, he hinted that his aim in Ukraine is the restoration of Russia as an imperial power.

Putin claims Russia ‘forced’ into the conflict in Ukraine

Speaking about his war on Ukraine on Friday, Putin went straight to his propaganda playbook, claiming Russia was “forced” into the conflict.
He called the invasion “the decision of a sovereign country that has an unconditional right … to defend its security.”
“A decision aimed at protecting our citizens, residents of the People’s Republics of Donbas, who for eight years were subjected to genocide by the Kyiv regime and neo-Nazis who received the full protection of the West,” he said.
The two areas — the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) — fell under the control of Russia-backed separatists in 2014.
The Kremlin has accused Ukrainian authorities of discriminating against ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the regions, a charge Kyiv has denied. Starting 2019, Russian passports were offered to the residents of the two entities.
Finally, in late February, Putin announced he would recognize them as independent, a move that was seen as the opening salvo of the war.
He said on Friday that Russian soldiers and the separatists were “fighting to defend their people” in the Donbas and the right to “reject any attempt to impose pseudo values of dehumanization and moral degradation from outside.”
No country other than Russia recognizes the two as independent. Ukraine and the rest of the international community considers the territories to be under Russian occupation.
The European Commission announced Friday that it was recommending Ukraine and neighboring Moldova as EU candidate states, with the commission’s chief Ursula von der Leyen saying that Ukrainians are “ready to die” for the European perspective.
Speaking about the European Union on Friday, Putin said the bloc had “lost its sovereignty.”
“The European Union has fully lost its sovereignty, and its elites are dancing to someone else’s tune, harming their own population. Europeans’ and European businesses’ real interests are totally ignored and swept aside,” he said.
He later added that Russia has “nothing against” Ukraine joining the EU.
“The EU is not a military-political bloc, unlike NATO, therefore we have always said and I have always said that our position here is consistent, understandable, we have nothing against it,” Putin said during a panel discussion following his speech.
“It is the sovereign decision of any country to join or not to join economic associations, and it is up to this economic association to accept new states as its members or not. As far as it is expedient for the EU, let the EU countries themselves decide. Whether it will be for the benefit or to the detriment of Ukraine is also their business,” he said.

Boris Johnson’s wish to pick fights with his old enemies risks making the UK a pariah

‘No way out’: Commentator predicts Boris Johnson’s future 02:10

London (CNN)UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government have spent much of this week fighting with the EU and rowing with a European human rights court, all while playing down accusations that they are breaking international law and pandering to his party’s base.

On Monday, Johnson’s foreign secretary, Liz Truss, revealed the long-awaited Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, a piece of legislation that, if passed, would allow the British government to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal it agreed with the EU in 2019.
Two days later, the EU responded by launching legal proceedings against the UK over its failure to implement parts of the protocol to date, while Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president, said that “there is no legal nor political justification whatsoever for unilaterally changing an international agreement … let’s call a spade a spade: this is illegal.”
UK government officials responded angrily by insisting that the bill, if passed, would be perfectly legal. Suella Braverman, the attorney general who gave the new bill a green light, went on television to defend the proposed legislation. In doing so, she accused the BBC of painting the EU as “the good guys” and told ITV’s political editor that his assertion the bill would break that law was “Remaniac make-believe.”
On Tuesday, the Johnson government found itself cursing the name of another European institution, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), after it was forced to abandon a flight that would transport asylum-seekers to Rwanda. The UK announced a deal in April under which asylum seekers in the country could be relocated and granted asylum in Rwanda. The UN’s human rights agency had previously warned the UK that the policy might be unlawful, as it could expose those refugees to human rights abuses in Rwanda.
Demonstrators protest outside of an airport perimeter fence against a planned deportation of asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda, at Gatwick Airport near Crawley, Britain, June 12, 2022.

The scheme had been widely criticized by human rights organizations, which succeeded in numerous legal challenges against individual removals but failed in their bid for an injunction suspending the flight. However, when the ECHR intervened on Tuesday night, saying that the last asylum seekers due to be on board had not exhausted their legal options in the UK, the plane was grounded.
Again, government ministers responded by insisting that the plan was lawful. Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab has since suggested that the UK will introduce its own Bill of Rights that could effectively allow it to ignore the ECHR.
Johnson’s willingness to have public spats with large, international institutions makes sense when you look at recent history. Both Johnson and his predecessor, Theresa May, picked fights with the judiciary and the EU during the most frustrating days of Brexit. This, so the theory goes among Conservatives, gave both leaders a boost among their core supporters for attacking elitist bodies that were blocking the will of the people.
“Historically, Boris has done well hitting out at big institutions like the EU and courts,” says a former government minister told CNN. “These were not artificial fights, both Rwanda and Northern Ireland are proper government policy. But the hardline way we’ve defended them suggests to me that Boris sees a silver lining,” they added.
In one sense, this logic makes sense. Johnson has been hit by scandal after scandal and has seen his personal approval ratings tank, along with national polling for his Conservative Party.
He has had to fight off a vote among his own party to remove him as leader and on Thursday night saw his own ethics adviser Christopher Geidt resigned, saying that Johnson’s government had put him in an “impossible and odious position.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks as he takes questions at the House of Commons in London, Britain June 15, 2022.

So, a fight with the lofty elites in Brussels and Strasbourg over real red-meat Conservative issues like Brexit and immigration could be just what Johnson needs to get things back on track.
However, every time a government becomes so fixated on domestic policy, it risks forgetting that allies and enemies around the world are paying attention.
CNN spoke to multiple Western diplomatic sources who said that Johnson’s government had cast a dark shadow over their perception of the UK. One senior Western official who has worked closely with the UK during the Ukraine crisis said that while allies still coordinated with the UK, the sense of concern that they don’t know what version of Johnson they will get has become normalized.
“He is not Donald Trump, but he is so unpredictable that it’s easy for allies to think of him as being like Donald Trump,” said a Western diplomat.
A European diplomat told CNN that “it’s hard to overstate just how much damage has been done. Trust has been hugely damaged.” They pointed to the issue over Northern Ireland, saying that “on our side, we know that there are solutions to the protocol. But those solutions rely on trust. Why should we trust him not to tear up any new agreement in the future?”
Western officials say, with some sadness, that there were moments in the immediate aftermath of Russia invading Ukraine where they thought Johnson might start behaving like a “stable and predictable” leader, as the Western diplomat put it.
A European official agreed, saying that “there were moments when we looked at the UK with some admiration and thought there might be some path forward. Ukraine was something bigger than our squabbles.”
However, the official continued that this feeling of optimism faded quickly, after Johnson compared the Ukrainian fight for freedom to Brexit.
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the National Service of Thanksgiving held at St Paul's Cathedral as part of celebrations marking the Platinum Jubilee of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, in London, Friday, June 3, 2022.

Conservatives in Westminster have mixed views on how bad this all is. Some worry that Johnson’s continued scandals and rhetoric are making the UK a pariah. Worse, they fear that a country like the UK — a longstanding member of the rules-based, international order — playing so fast and loose with international law sets a terrible precedent at a time when democracy is under threat in many parts of the world.
On the other hand, some MPs think that Johnson’s critics are getting worked up about something that normal people don’t care about. They say, not unreasonably, that a G7, NATO member with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council — and one that has in many respects led the way on Ukraine — is not about to get cut out by its allies.
Ultimately, Johnson’s international spats are most likely to play out in the domestic political arena. Some will love that he is taking a hardline stance. Others will feel a deepening sense of embarrassment that this man is their prime minister.
“If you are in Boris’s position, then you may as well double down on some of this stuff. What does he have to lose?” a senior Conservative MP told CNN. “Either things are so terminally bad that he’s doomed whatever he does, or he’s got two years to turn things around before the election. So why not go out there and have fights on your own pitch?”
That summary makes a lot of sense when you are sitting in Westminster, talking to people who spend too much time in Westminster. However, Johnson’s decisions seriously impact the lives of people who spend no time in Westminster and for whom this really is not a game. Especially as the UK is going through the worst cost-of-living crisis it has suffered in decades.
Johnson won’t know if his red meat gamble has paid off with the public until the next general election — unless he’s removed from office before then. There will undeniably be people who see him as the same Brexit street fighter who stands up for Britain against the bullies seeking to do it down.
But there will be an awful lot of people who think that instead of picking fights with the EU and ECHR, Johnson should be thinking of ways to improve their lives.