Following the election, socialist Frenchman Faure hopes to become prime minister

Olivier Faure, leader of France's Socialist party, has announced his readiness to become prime minister after the left-wing New Popular Front alliance won the parliamentary election on Sunday. Faure emphasized that his acceptance depends on dialogue with coalition partners.

Despite their victory, the left-wing alliance, which includes Socialists, Greens, and Communists, does not have enough seats to form a government independently. They called on President Emmanuel Macron to appoint a prime minister from their ranks. However, the election result has left France in a political deadlock, with no single party securing a majority.

The New Popular Front won 182 seats, the Macron alliance 168, and the far-right National Rally 143, leaving no clear majority in the 577-seat parliament. To avoid a no-confidence vote, any government must seek support from other parties.

President Macron has not commented publicly since the election and is due to attend a NATO summit in Washington. Instead of appointing a new prime minister, he asked outgoing Prime Minister Gabriel Attal to stay in office temporarily.

The Socialist party’s decision to nominate Faure reflects internal tensions within the Popular Front. Jean-Luc Mélenchon of France Unbowed proposed several potential candidates from his party, while others suggested Marine Tondelier of the Greens.

Mathilde Panot of France Unbowed called for Macron to appoint a prime minister from the New Popular Front, criticizing the continued tenure of caretaker Prime Minister Attal.

Additionally, there is internal friction within Mélenchon's party, with some expelled MPs forming their own group and urging Communists and Greens to join them. Clémentine Autain, one of the expelled MPs, expressed her willingness to serve as prime minister.

The Ensemble alliance, supporting Macron, also met to strategize, indicating plans to form a minority government with other mainstream parties, excluding both the far right and France Unbowed.

After the devastating strikes in Ukraine, Biden denounces "Russian brutality."

US President Joe Biden has condemned a series of Russian missile strikes that killed at least 38 people in Ukraine, calling it a "horrific reminder of Russia's brutality," and vowed to bolster Kyiv's air defenses.

The attacks injured at least 190 people across the country, including some at Ukraine's largest children's hospital in Kyiv on Monday.

Ukraine released photos on Tuesday of what it claimed were fragments of a Russian cruise missile that struck the Ohmatdyt hospital.

Russia asserted that the explosion was caused by a misfiring Ukrainian air defense missile, but the UN stated it was highly likely Moscow was responsible for the attack—a conclusion supported by analysts who spoke to BBC Verify.

This development comes as President Biden prepares to host a NATO summit in Washington later on Tuesday.

He indicated that additional support for Ukraine’s air defenses would be announced during the meeting.

Leaders from the 32 NATO member states, their partner countries, and the EU are gathering to mark the bloc's 75th anniversary. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky is also expected to attend.

For months, Zelensky has been urging Western allies to increase the supply of air defenses amidst escalating Russian attacks. UN officials noted that May was the deadliest month for civilian casualties in nearly a year.

The summit will focus on defense and deterrence in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but has requested to join as soon as possible after its conflict with Russia concludes. NATO's outgoing Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, has stated that Ukraine's membership is "inevitable," but not until after the war.

Russia vehemently opposes Ukraine joining the alliance, fearing it would bring NATO forces too close to its territory.

"We will be announcing new measures to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses to help protect their cities and civilians from Russian strikes," Biden said.

"I will be meeting with President Zelensky to reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine."

The UN Security Council is also convening on Tuesday at Ukraine’s request.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres joined Western officials in condemning Russia's missile attack on Ukraine.

Kyiv's mayor, Vitaliy Klitschko, declared July 9 as a day of mourning following the deadly attacks on the capital.


US forbids British courts from operating on British soil

 The US government has blocked a British court hearing from taking place on a British territory due to security concerns, according to official documents.

The supreme court of British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) was scheduled to hold a hearing this week on whether a group of migrants was being unlawfully detained on the island of Diego Garcia. The hearing, which the BBC planned to attend, was halted by the US government’s withdrawal of consent for lawyers and press to access the island.

Diego Garcia hosts a secretive UK-US military base with heavily restricted access. According to court papers, the US government stated it would not allow participants to board US military flights to Diego Garcia or provide transport, accommodation, or food on the island until its security and operational concerns were adequately addressed. This was confirmed by a witness statement from BIOT’s deputy commissioner, Nishi Dholakia.

The US expressed a willingness to reconsider the requests if they could be conducted in a manner addressing its concerns. The group of migrants arrived on the island in October 2021, claiming they had fled persecution and were attempting to sail to Canada for asylum when their boat encountered trouble near Diego Garcia.

Late last Thursday, just hours before the judge, UK government lawyers, those representing the migrants, and the BBC were due to board flights for the first leg of the journey, the court issued an order canceling the hearing. The US security concerns pertained to a scheduled site visit on the island, which included the migrant camp and several other areas of Diego Garcia.

Communications from July 3, titled “United States Notification to the United Kingdom of denial of the 6-12 July 2024 visit by the BIOT Supreme Court to Diego Garcia,” indicated that the site visit posed risks to the security and effective operation of the base. Court documents filed on behalf of BIOT’s commissioner stated that the US military commander’s assessment of the island was confidential and based on the US’s national security needs.

Tom Short, a lawyer from the UK firm Leigh Day representing some of the migrants, described the cancellation of this week’s hearing as “a devastating blow to our vulnerable clients” and called for the hearing to be rescheduled as soon as possible. Short emphasized the importance of the judge seeing the detention camp and the migrants attending the hearing in person.

A virtual court hearing on Tuesday, attended by lawyers in London and the migrants in Diego Garcia, aimed to determine the next steps in the case as discussions between the UK and US governments continue.

Migrants expressed their disappointment at the cancellation. “It has taken away all our hope,” one woman said. “We have been stuck in this place for almost three years. We were hoping that this hearing would provide us some relief.” Another man in the camp added, “It’s so stressful. We were hoping the hearing would end our misery.”

The UK took control of the Chagos Islands, including Diego Garcia, from its then colony, Mauritius, in 1965, evicting over 1,000 people to make way for the military base. Agreements signed in 1966 allowed for an initial 50-year period of US use of the territory, plus a further 20 years, which was extended in 2016 to expire in 2036.

BIOT is administered from London but is described as "constitutionally distinct” from the UK. Mauritius, which gained independence from the UK in 1968, claims the islands as its own, and the United Nations' highest court has ruled that the UK's administration of the territory is "unlawful" and must end.

Most personnel and resources on Diego Garcia are under US control, including accommodation, transport, restaurants, and shops. The US military commander can refuse access to areas operated or controlled by the US military for security reasons. BIOT's official website states that access is only permitted to those with connections to the base.


Parasites and old clothes found in North Korean trash balloons

Parasites from human waste and defaced Hello Kitty clothing have been discovered in bags of rubbish transported by North Korean balloons into South Korea, officials report.

Since May, Pyongyang has released over 1,500 waste-carrying balloons across the border in retaliation for a leaflet campaign against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Analysis of some balloon packages revealed the presence of "roundworms, whipworms, and threadworms" in the soil.

Despite these findings, South Korea’s Ministry of Unification has assured the public that the risk of infection from these parasites is low.

The balloons also contained slashed "western" clothes donated from the South, featuring characters like Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, and Hello Kitty, according to Reuters. Additionally, socks and heavily patched children’s clothing were found. This waste underscores North Korea's dire economic situation and its adversarial stance against South Korea, a ministry official stated.

The soil was likely contaminated with parasites due to the use of human feces as fertilizer instead of chemicals in North Korea, the ministry added.

North Korea claims the balloons are a response to propaganda sent northward by defectors and South Korean activists, who often send balloons carrying food, medicine, cash, and leaflets critical of the North's regime.

The cross-border propaganda war has intensified recently. As North Korea sent trash southward, South Korea has been broadcasting pop songs and news items over the border using powerful loudspeakers.

On Monday, more balloons were sent across the border, prompting South Korean officials to warn the public about falling objects.

An activist in the South informed AFP news agency that this week he had floated more balloons carrying propaganda leaflets towards the North.

South Korea's military has cautioned the public against touching the white balloons and attached plastic bags, describing them as containing "filthy waste and trash."

The latest wave of balloons began in May, with at least 260 balloons carrying rubbish landing in South Korea, leading authorities to advise residents to stay indoors.

In addition to anti-Pyongyang propaganda, South Korean activists have previously launched balloons carrying cash, banned media content, and even Choco Pies—a South Korean snack banned in the North.

In May, a South Korea-based activist group claimed to have sent 20 balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets and USB sticks with Korean pop music and videos across the border.

Exploding batteries ignite deadly fire at South Korean factory

A massive factory fire in South Korea, triggered by the explosion of several lithium batteries, has claimed the lives of at least 22 people.

The fire erupted on Monday morning at the Aricell plant in Hwaseong city, approximately 45 km (28 miles) south of Seoul.

Local TV footage showed large plumes of smoke and small explosions as firefighters battled the blaze. Part of the roof had collapsed.

South Korea, a leading producer of lithium batteries used in items from electric vehicles to laptops, faces a significant industrial disaster.

Fire official Kim Jin-young reported that the deceased included 18 Chinese, one Laotian, and two South Korean workers. One body remains unidentified, and at least one person is feared missing.

"Most of the bodies are badly burned, so it will take time to identify each one," Mr. Kim told AFP.

Among the 100 workers present when the fire started, eight were injured, two seriously.

The Aricell factory housed an estimated 35,000 battery cells on its second floor, where batteries were inspected and packaged, with more stored elsewhere.

Mr. Kim said the fire started with a series of battery cell explosions, though the cause of the initial explosions is unknown. Entry to the site was initially challenging due to the risk of further explosions.

The exact cause of the blaze remains unclear. Lithium batteries are prone to explosion if damaged or overheated.

Fire and disaster prevention expert Kim Jae-ho from Daejeon University noted that once a fire involving lithium batteries starts, it spreads rapidly, leaving little time for evacuation.

"Battery materials like nickel are highly flammable," he told Reuters. "There is often not enough time to respond compared to fires caused by other materials."

Firefighters had to use dry sand to extinguish the blaze, which took several hours to control, as lithium fires react intensely with water. Even after the fire is put out, there remains a risk of re-ignition due to chemical reactions.

Russia holds the US responsible for the deaths in Crimea and promises to retaliate

Russia has accused the US of being responsible for a Ukrainian missile strike on Sevastopol in occupied Crimea on Sunday, which officials claim killed four people, including two children, and injured around 150 more as missile debris fell on a nearby beach.

The Russian defense ministry stated that the missiles used by Ukraine were US-supplied ATACMS missiles, allegedly programmed by US specialists. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov condemned the strike as "barbaric" and accused the US of "killing Russian children." He referred to President Vladimir Putin's recent vow to target countries supplying weapons to Ukraine.

According to Moscow, the casualties were caused by falling debris after air defenses intercepted five missiles with cluster warheads launched by Ukrainian forces. Russian state TV showed footage of chaos on the beach in the Uchkuyevka area, with people fleeing and injured individuals being carried away on sun loungers.

The Russian defense ministry reiterated that all ATACMS missiles are programmed by US specialists and guided by American satellites. A White House National Security Council spokesperson told the BBC that Ukraine makes its own targeting decisions and conducts its own military operations. The US has been supplying ATACMS missiles to Ukraine for over a year, enabling Ukrainian forces to strike targets up to 300km (186 miles) away.

Despite Moscow's illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, only a few countries recognize the peninsula as Russian territory. Therefore, it does not fall under US restrictions on Ukraine using American-supplied weapons to strike Russian territory. However, Peskov emphasized that the US's direct involvement, resulting in Russian civilian casualties, would have consequences, though he did not specify what they would be.

The Russian foreign ministry summoned US Ambassador Lynne Tracy on Monday and issued a statement accusing the US of involvement in an "atrocity" and promising it would not go unpunished. Moscow has repeatedly threatened to target countries supplying weapons to Ukraine, considering them legitimate military targets.

Peskov asserted that the US is directly behind the attacks, referencing Putin's comments about who is operating these sophisticated missiles. Earlier this month, Putin warned that if Western countries continue supplying weapons to Ukraine, Russia might supply similar weapons to other regions in retaliation, hinting at an asymmetric response.

Ukrainian officials defended the strike, labeling Crimea a legitimate target. Mykhailo Podolyak, a top aide to President Volodymyr Zelensky, described the peninsula as "a large military camp" with numerous military targets concealed by civilians. The UN's human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine reports that at least 10,000 civilians have been killed since Russia's invasion in February 2022, with the actual number likely being much higher.

Heatwaves in the US and Mexico are 35 times more likely due to climate change

Scientists report that human-induced climate change has made the recent extreme heat in the US Southwest, Mexico, and Central America about 35 times more likely.
The World Weather Attribution (WWA) group analyzed the intense heat experienced from May to early June, which particularly affected US states like California, Nevada, and Arizona.
Mexico also faced deadly extreme temperatures during this period.
Attribution studies, which take time to complete, have not yet determined the specific impact of climate change on the ongoing heatwave affecting the central US, Northeast, and parts of Canada.
According to a new report, this type of heatwave is now four times more likely than in the year 2000, due to emissions warming the planet.
Experts warn that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, including heatwaves.
“The results of our study should be taken as another warning that our climate is heating to dangerous levels," said Izidine Pinto, a researcher at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute.
“Potentially deadly and record-breaking temperatures are becoming more frequent in the US, Mexico, and Central America due to climate change. As long as fossil fuel emissions continue, the heat will worsen, endangering vulnerable populations and raising living costs.”
The WWA study focused on the US Southwest, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras, which also experienced dangerously high temperatures.
The scientists found that the hottest five-day stretch in June across this region was made about 1.4°C warmer by climate change.
“Every fraction of a degree of warming exposes more people to dangerous heat," said Karina Izquierdo, Urban Advisor for the Latin American and Caribbean region at the Red Cross Climate Centre.
“The additional 1.4°C of heat caused by climate change could have meant the difference between life and death for many during May and June."
Mexican officials have attributed the heatwave to numerous deaths, including those of howler monkeys in the southern state of Tabasco.
The scientists emphasized the danger of high night-time temperatures, which prevent the body from resting and recovering.
The WWA group conducts rapid-attribution studies on weather events globally to assess the role of climate change in their severity.
These studies compare actual events to models of what likely would have occurred in a world without human-induced global warming.

UN worries that a landslide in Papua has buried 670 people

A massive landslide in Papua New Guinea has left around 670 people buried, according to the head of the International Organization for Migration in the country, Serhan Aktoprak. The landslide occurred in the Enga province, which is located in the north of the island nation in the south-west Pacific. Rescuers are at risk due to the ongoing land sliding and falling rocks, as well as the water running through the area. Local residents have been forced to abandon 250 homes in areas not directly affected by the landslide.

At least 1,000 people have been displaced as a result of the disaster. Gardens that had grown food and water supplies were almost completely wiped out. The landslide occurred at around 03:00 local time on Friday, when people were more likely to be sleeping. The exact number of fatalities from the landslide remains unknown, but the time of the landslide suggests that the death toll will rise.

By Sunday, just five bodies had been recovered alongside the partial remains of another. Challenges faced by teams trying to recover bodies include reluctance by grieving relatives to let heavy machinery near their loved ones. Debris from the landslide, including boulders, trees, and displaced soil, is up to 8m deep in some areas. Tribal violence along the main road could complicate relief efforts.

Local communities have started distributing food and water to those affected by the landslide. Provincial authorities will deploy aid including food, water, and hygiene products from Monday. The International Organization for Migration is providing non-food items such as blankets, bedding, and mattresses. As of Sunday, the National Disaster Centre, part of the Papua New Guinea government, had not requested help from other countries.

US extradition of a suspected killer of the Sinaloa cartel

The Sinaloa cartel's top assassin, Néstor Isidro Pérez Salas, has been extradited to the US from Mexico. Prosecutors claim that El Nini, also known as the Slacker, was a "lead assassin" working for the sons of drug kingpin Joaquín Guzmán, known as El Chapo. He is wanted in the US on drug trafficking and weapons charges, which he denies. US Attorney General Merrick Garland alleged that El Nini was part of the Sinola cartel's production and sale of fentanyl, a deadly synthetic opioid, in the US. 

He was detained in the organization's stronghold of Culiacán, the capital of Sinaloa. The arrest is part of an effort by US and Mexican authorities to stem the flow of fentanyl across the Mexico-US border, which contributes to the deaths of tens of thousands in the US every year. El Nini is one of the highest-profile extraditions to have taken place under Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pledged to "achieve peace and end the [drug] war."