Here is a round-up of the top developments around the world today.
The first flight carrying fresh water and other aid to Tonga was finally able to leave on Thursday after the Pacific nation’s main airport runway was cleared of ash left by a huge volcanic eruption. The deliveries will be done with no contact because Tonga is desperate to make sure foreigners don’t bring in the coronavirus. It has not had any outbreaks of Covid-19 and has reported just a single case since the pandemic began.
UN humanitarian officials report that about 84,000 people — more than 80 per cent of Tonga’s population — have been impacted by the volcano’s eruption, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, pointing to three deaths, injuries, loss of homes and polluted water.
US President Joe Biden said he believes Vladimir Putin doesn’t want full-blown war in Ukraine and would pay a “dear price” if he moves forward with a military incursion. Biden, speaking at a news conference to mark his one-year anniversary in office, also said he believes that Russia is preparing to take action on Ukraine, though he doesn’t think the Russian president has made a final decision.
He suggested that he would limit Russia’s access to the international banking system if it did further invade Ukraine. Biden’s comments came hours after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Kyiv accused Russia of planning to reinforce the more than 1,00,000 troops it has deployed along the Ukrainian border and suggested that number could double “on relatively short order”.
A Pakistani court on Wednesday sentenced to death a woman for sending ‘blasphemous messages’ to her estranged friend.
Anika Attique was convicted by a court in Rawalpindi on the complaint of Farooq Hassanat, who had filed a case against her in 2020. She was charged with committing blasphemy against the prophet, insulting Islam and violating the cybercrime laws.
Tennis champion Novak Djokovic has an 80% stake in Danish biotech firm QuantBioRes, which is aiming to develop a medical treatment to counter Covid-19, the company’s chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday. CEO Ivan Loncarevic, who described himself as an entrepreneur, said the investment was made in June 2020 but declined to say how much it was.
QuantBioRes has around 11 researchers working in Denmark, Australia and Slovenia, according to Loncarevic, who stressed they were working on a treatment, not a vaccine. The company is developing a peptide, which inhibits the coronavirus from infecting the human cell, expects to launch clinical trials in Britain this summer, he added.
The Pentagon has declassified and publicly released video footage of a US drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians in the final hours of a chaotic American withdrawal that ended a 20-year war in Afghanistan.
The New York Times obtained the footage through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against US Central Command, which then posted the imagery to its website. It marks the first public release of video footage of the August 29 strike, which the Pentagon initially defended but later called a tragic mistake.
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