US Vetoes Gaza Ceasefire at UN

Israel’s military on Tuesday reported intense fighting in the Khan Younis area of the Gaza Strip, while the United States vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that calls for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, scaled up aid access and rejects the forced displacement of Palestinians.

“Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace,” said U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield of the Algerian-drafted resolution.

For weeks, the United States, Egypt, Qatar and Israel have been involved in delicate negotiations aimed at the release of all hostages and an extended pause in the fighting.

“Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel, extend the hostages’ time in captivity, an experience described by former hostages as ‘hell,’ and extend the dire humanitarian crisis Palestinians are facing in Gaza,” Thomas-Greenfield said, adding “none of us want that.”

Senegal Leaves Presidential Election List Mainly Unchanged 

On Tuesday, Senegal’s Constitutional Council published an amended list of candidates for a presidential election delayed from February 25 to an undecided date, removing just one candidate from the initial list because she withdrew her application.

Last week, the council overturned a bill that delayed the vote to December — a move that had plunged the West African country into unchartered constitutional territory and stoked public anger against the government.

President Macky Sall, who said the postponement was needed due to a dispute over the candidate list, later pledged to abide by the court’s decision and hold consultations to organize the vote as quickly as possible.

The new candidate list was almost unchanged from the original list for the February 25 vote, apart from removing opposition contender Rose Wardini, bringing the number of candidates down to 19 from an initial 20.

The council said Wardini had withdrawn her application without providing further details.

Prominent opposition figures, including the firebrand jailed politician Ousmane Sonko and Karim Wade, the son of former president Abdoulaye Wade, remained excluded.

Navalny’s Mother Begs Putin to Release Her Son’s Body

The mother of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny pleaded Tuesday with President Vladimir Putin to intervene and release her son’s body to her so he can be buried with dignity.

A black-clad Lyudmila Navalnaya appeared in a video outside the barbed wire of the Arctic penal colony where the 47-year-old Navalny died on Friday.

“For the fifth day, I have been unable to see him,” Navalnaya said in the video. “They wouldn’t release his body to me. And they’re not even telling me where he is.”

“I’m reaching out to you, Vladimir Putin,” she said in the video posted on social media by Navalny’s team. “The resolution of this matter depends solely on you. Let me finally see my son. I demand that Alexey’s body is released immediately so that I can bury him like a human being.”

She said authorities have refused to tell her even where Navalny’s body is. Navalny’s team says Russian authorities have said the cause of death is unknown and refused to release the body for two weeks while an inquest into his death continues.

Swedish PM to Meet Hungary’s Orban Before Vote on Sweden’s NATO Bid

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson will visit Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest on Friday, three days ahead of the Hungarian parliament’s expected vote on approving Sweden for membership in NATO.

Orban said on Tuesday that it would be a “pleasure” to welcome Kristersson to Budapest, saying in a post on the X platform that they will be discussing how to strengthen “the defence and security policy cooperation between Hungary and Sweden.”

He added that during the meeting, they would also talk about “plans for the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the EU’s Strategic Agenda.”

On Tuesday, Hungary’s ruling party proposed holding the February 26 vote on the ratification of Sweden’s NATO bid and said it would support Sweden’s accession. Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said the development is “very welcome.”

Sweden, along with Finland, applied to join the Atlantic Alliance in May 2022 in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Finland became a NATO member in April of last year.

Taiwan Says Chinese Naval Forces Board Taiwan Tourist Boat

Taiwan says the Chinese coast guard boarded a tourist boat from the self-ruled island.

Taiwan’s coast guard says the boat carrying 34 passengers and crew was boarded for just over 30 minutes while on a sight-seeing trip near the Kinman archipelago, located just off the southern Chinese coastal city of Xiamen but controlled by Taiwan.

Kuan Bi-ling, the head of Taiwan’s Ocean Affairs Council, told reporters Tuesday in the capital, Taipei, that China’s actions harmed people’s feelings, created panic and went against the best interests of people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the 160-kilometer-wide waterway that separates the China and Taiwan.

Monday’s incident comes days after two Chinese fishermen drowned after their vessel capsized as they were fleeing Taiwan’s coast guard after they entered into restricted waters near Kinmen. Two other fishermen on board the vessel were taken into custody.

In response, China announced Monday that it would increase coast guard patrols in the waters of the Kinmen archipelago.

Australia Unveils Multibillion-dollar Navy Overhaul

Australia Tuesday announced a multibillion overhaul of its navy, which senior officials say is in response to “increasing geostrategic uncertainty.”

Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles told reporters Tuesday that the overhaul would give the navy the largest surface fleet since World War II.

The plan’s total cost over the next 10 years is estimated at $35.25 billion.

The revamp of Australia’s naval fleet intends to more than double the number of warships. Analysts say the reforms will help prepare the military for possible armed conflict in the Indo-Pacific region and a growing unease in Canberra about China’s military and territorial ambitions.

Under the Australian plan, up to 11 new general-purpose frigates and a fleet of drone-like boats can be operated remotely without sailors on board.

Last year’s review found Australia’s defence force was no longer “fit for purpose” and that the navy needed a more strategic combination of smaller and larger warships.

Zelensky Welcomes Sweden’s $683m Military Aid Package

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed a $683 million military aid package from Sweden on Tuesday as Ukrainian leaders continue to push for more international help in their fight against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Zelensky called Sweden’s support “a significant contribution to Ukraine’s resilience in the face of Russian aggression and a powerful investment in preserving peace and freedom in Europe.”

“Artillery ammunition, air defence, grenade launchers, combat boats, armoured vehicles, and other items are meeting some of our frontline warriors’ most pressing needs,” Zelensky posted on social media.

Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said the aid package was the largest yet his country is supplying to Ukraine and that the equipment and weapons meet “some of Ukraine’s most pressing needs.”

“Ukraine is not only defending its own freedom but that of all of Europe,” Jonson said. “Sweden will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. Russia cannot be allowed to win this war.”

On Tuesday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmyhal said that while Ukraine’s military has gotten U.S. and European support, it needs more long-range missiles to bolster its air defences against Russian attacks.

Ukraine’s biggest supplier of military aid, the United States, has not delivered a new round of aid since December, when funding ran out.

UN Experts Push to Criminalise Gender Apartheid

A panel of United Nations experts is calling for the international community to officially recognize “gender apartheid” as a crime against humanity, highlighting the severe oppression of women and girls under regimes like the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The five-member group of experts from the United States, China, Mexico, Uganda and Serbia, affiliated with the UN human rights body, say this recognition is already long overdue.

“Gender apartheid is not merely a theoretical possibility or legal construct but a real threat and lived reality for millions of women and girls around the world — a reality that is currently not explicitly codified in international law,” the experts said in a UN statement on Tuesday.

Drawing attention to Afghanistan as a stark example, the experts claim the de facto Taliban government has institutionalized a system of gender-based “discrimination, oppression, and domination.”

Since seizing power, the Taliban have barred women and girls from secondary education, most workplaces, many recreational activities and unaccompanied travel over longer distances.

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal from Trump-Allied Lawyers over 2020 Election Lawsuit

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Sidney Powell and other lawyers allied with former President Donald Trump over $150,000 in sanctions they were ordered to pay for abusing the court system with a sham lawsuit challenging the 2020 election results in Michigan.

The justices did not comment on leaving in place the sanctions against seven lawyers who were part of the lawsuit filed on behalf of six Republican voters after Joe Biden’s 154,000-vote victory over Trump in the state.

Among the lawyers is L. Lin Wood, whose name was on the lawsuit. Wood has insisted he had no role other than to tell Powell he would be available if she needed a seasoned litigator.

The money is owed to the state and Detroit for their costs in defending the lawsuit. The sanctions initially totalled $175,000, but a federal appeals court reduced them by about $25,000.

In October, Powell pleaded guilty to state criminal charges in Georgia over her efforts to overturn Trump’s loss in the state. She pleaded guilty to six misdemeanours accusing her of conspiring to interfere with the performance of election duties intentionally.

Assange Lawyers Make Last Bid to Prevent Extradition

Lawyers for Julian Assange on Tuesday made a last-ditch effort to prevent his extradition to the United States after fighting it for more than a decade.

Facing espionage charges, the WikiLeaks founder has already seen several attempts to fight extradition rejected. Addressing the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Assange’s legal team sought a new appeal hearing as hundreds of supporters rallied outside with “Free Julian Assange” signs.

His lawyers contend that his actions uncovered significant criminal misconduct by U.S. authorities and that their client risks “flagrant denial of justice” if forced into the U.S.

“He is being prosecuted for engaging in the ordinary journalistic practice of obtaining and publishing classified information, information that is both true and of obvious and important public interest,” Edward Fitzgerald, Assange’s lead lawyer, told the court.

WHO: Gaza’s Health System Hanging by a Thread Amid Ongoing Hostilities, Restrictions

The World Health Organisation warns that Gaza’s health system is hanging by a thread as health facilities throughout the Palestinian enclave cease to function, restrictions to access increase, medical supplies dwindle, and cuts in other humanitarian aid essential for patient care grow.

Gaza’s Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where an Israeli military operation is ongoing, is one of the latest casualties. WHO, together with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Palestine Red Crescent Society, recently conducted a high-risk mission to the medical facility to bring fuel and other essential supplies and evacuate patients in danger from the facility.

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