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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering Attempt on His Life

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Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico Recovering
Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition: Image CTN

Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico is no longer in critical condition after being wounded in an assassination attempt while leaving a government meeting on Wednesday, a government minister said.

The gunman shot Fico, 59, five times, leaving the prime minister in critical condition and requiring surgery hours later on Wednesday evening.

“I was very shocked… fortunately, as far as I know, the operation went well – and I guess in the end, he will survive… he’s not in a life-threatening situation right now,” Slovak Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister Tomas Taraba told the BBC’s News.

Taraba stated that one bullet passed through Robert Fico’s stomach and another struck a joint. News outlet According to an unidentified source, Fico has recovered from surgery and is in stable condition.

Defence Minister Robert Kalinak told a press conference hours earlier that Fico had suffered “serious polytrauma” as a result of many gunshot wounds. Slovakia’s Interior Minister Matus Sutaj Estok previously stated that Robert Fico was in a life-threatening condition while still in the surgery room.

“This assassination (attempt) was politically motivated, and the perpetrator’s decision came soon after the presidential election,” Sutaj Estok added, referring to the April election won by a Fico ally, Peter Pellegrini.

The shooting in the central Slovak town of Handlova, which Slovak media reported was carried out by a 71-year-old man, shocked the small central European country and prompted international criticism.

Robert Fico's shooting

The moments after Slovak PM shot: Screen Capture

Prime Minister Robert Fico’s shooting condemned

Slovakia, a NATO and EU member, has a relatively short history of political violence. Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Joe Biden joined Slovakia’s EU partners in voicing shock and condemnation over the shooting.

The country of 5.4 million has seen polarized political discourse in recent years, including the hard-fought presidential election last month, which helped Fico tighten his grip on power.

Fico has made rapid policy changes since taking office as Prime Minister in October of last year. Opposition critics describe it as a power grab.

His government has reduced its support for Ukraine while engaging in discussions with Russia, attempted to lower corruption punishments and dissolved a special prosecutor’s office, and is overhauling the RTVS public broadcaster amid appeals for media freedom protections.

Fico has long been skeptical of Slovakia’s major media, refusing to talk with certain outlets. Members of his party have recently criticized media and opposition actions. Following the attack, Robert Fico was brought to the hospital in Handlova, where he had been chairing a government meeting.

He was subsequently flown by helicopter to the provincial capital Banska Bystrica for emergency treatment, according to the report, adding that his condition was too bad to be sent to Bratislava.

Shooter a Former Slovakia Security Guard

A witness told Reuters they heard bullets as Fico exited a building to shake hands with a mob of people who had gathered to welcome him. Officers then wrestled a man to the ground.

According to Slovak media, the gunman was a former shopping mall security guard, author of three poetry books, and member of the Slovak Society of Writers. According to Aktuality.sk, his son stated that his father was the lawful bearer of a weapons licence.

“I have absolutely no idea what my father intended, what he planned, or what happened,” the son stated.

According to TA3, the attack hit the Marxist prime minister in the midsection. Fico, Slovakia’s dominant force for two decades, has faced criticism for embracing a more pro-Russian posture in the Ukraine conflict.

In a telegraph to Slovakia’s President Zuzana Caputova, Putin described the shooting as a “monstrous” crime, saying, “I know Robert Fico as a courageous and strong-minded man.” I sincerely believe that these qualities would help him endure this terrible scenario.”

Biden offered US assistance to Slovakia, stating in a statement: “We condemn this horrific act of violence.”

Progressive Slovakia, Slovakia’s largest opposition party, called off a planned rally and urged caution to avoid increasing tensions. Following the attack, parliament suspended debate indefinitely.

Fico’s career has spanned the pro-European mainstream and nationalistic viewpoints opposed to EU and US policies. He has also demonstrated a readiness to modify course based on public sentiment or changing political realities.

Fico, an admirer of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has become increasingly critical of Western support for Ukraine’s struggle against invading Russian forces.

Fico was forced to quit as prime minister in 2018 following huge protests sparked by the contract killing of Jan Kuciak, a journalist who was exposing high-level corruption. These protests exacerbated long-standing social tensions in Slovakia.

Source: CTN News

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Science

Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – The Webb Space Telescope discovered the earliest known merger of black holes.

These two massive holes and their galaxies formed only 740 million years after the universe-creating Big Bang. Scientists claimed Thursday that they have made the furthest distant detection of merging holes ever.

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Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

A black hole is 50 million times bigger than our sun. The other is estimated to be similar in size but buried in dense gas, making it difficult to measure.

Until today, astronomers didn’t know how supermassive black holes got so huge.

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Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

The current findings, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, imply that mergers explain how holes can expand quickly — “even at cosmic dawn,” according to lead author Hannah Ubler of the University of Cambridge.

“Massive holes have been shaping the evolution of galaxies from the very beginning,” Ubler stated.

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AP – VOR News Image

Webb Telescope Uncovers Merger Of Two Massive Black Holes From Early Universe

Webb, the largest and most powerful observatory ever launched into space, will be the successor to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope when it launches in 2021. The infrared observatory, a joint US-European initiative, scans the universe from one million miles (1.6 million kilometers) from Earth.

SOURCE – (AP)

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World

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

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BEIJING — On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated their “no-limits” friendship, which has expanded as both countries face mounting tensions with the West, and blasted US military deployments in Asia and the Pacific.

At their summit in Beijing, Putin hailed Xi for China’s recommendations to settle the conflict in Ukraine, which Ukraine and its Western allies have rejected as mostly adopting the Kremlin’s line.

Putin’s two-day state visit to one of his biggest allies and commercial partners comes as Russian forces launch an operation in northeastern Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, marking the most serious border incursion since the full-scale invasion began on February 24, 2022.

China claims to be impartial in the crisis, but it has supported the Kremlin’s accusations that the West led Russia into attacking Ukraine, and it continues to supply vital components required by Moscow for weapons manufacture.

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AP – VOR News Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

China, which has not condemned the invasion, suggested a broad-based peace plan in 2023, calling for a cease-fire and direct talks between Moscow and Kyiv. Both Ukraine and the West rejected the idea because it did not call on Russia to vacate Ukraine’s occupied territories.

China also lent a verbal nod to Russia’s narrative about Nazism in Ukraine, with a joint statement issued Thursday saying Moscow and Beijing should protect the post-World War II order and “severely condemn the glorification of or even attempts to revive Nazism and militarism.”

Putin has claimed the “denazification” of Ukraine as a primary purpose of the military action, falsely referring to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s government as neo-Nazis.

The mostly symbolic and ceremonial visit emphasized cooperation between two countries facing challenges in their relations with the United States and Europe.

“Both sides want to show that despite what is happening globally, despite the pressure that both sides are facing from the U.S., both sides are not about to turn their backs on each other anytime soon,” said Hoo Tiang Boon, a Chinese foreign policy researcher at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University.

While Putin and Xi stated they wanted to stop the war, they made no new ideas in their public remarks.

“China hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability and will continue to play a constructive role toward this,” Xi said in prepared remarks to the media in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People. His statements echoed China’s overarching peace initiative.

Earlier in the day, Putin was greeted in Tiananmen Square with military fanfare and cannon fire.

On the eve of his visit, Putin stated that China’s proposal may “lay the groundwork for a political and diplomatic process that would take Russia’s security concerns into account and contribute to achieving long-term and sustainable peace.”

Zelenskyy has stated that any negotiations must entail the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the departure of Russian soldiers, the release of all captives, a tribunal for those responsible for the assault, and security assurances for Ukraine.

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China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

Putin said he would brief Xi on the situation in Ukraine, adding, “We appreciate the initiative of our Chinese colleagues and friends to regulate the situation.”

Following Russia’s latest attack in Ukraine last week, the war has reached a crucial point as Ukraine’s depleted military awaits new supplies of anti-aircraft missiles and artillery rounds from the United States, which have been delayed for months.

China and Russia’s joint statement also harshly slammed US foreign policy, citing US-formed alliances as having a “Cold War mentality.”

“Both sides expressed serious concern about the consequences caused to the strategic stability of the Asia-Pacific region by AUKUS,” according to the statement, referring to the acronym for Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

China and Russia have accused the United States of installing land-based intermediate-range missile systems in the Asia-Pacific region under the guise of joint drills with allies. They claimed that the United States’ operations in Asia were “changing the balance of power” and “endangering the security of all countries in the region.”

The united declaration underscored China’s support for Russia.

“There’s so much Chinese falling over themselves to give Russia face and respect without saying anything specific, or committing to anything,” said Susan Thornton, a former diplomat and senior fellow at Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China Center.

The meeting was another endorsement of China and Russia’s amicable “no limits” friendship, which they signed in 2022, just before Moscow invaded Ukraine.

Since then, Russia has been increasingly economically dependent on China since Western sanctions have limited its access to most of the global commercial system. China’s expanding commerce with Russia, which reached $240 billion last year, has helped the country buffer some of the worst effects of sanctions.

Moscow has transferred most of its energy exports to China and relied on Chinese enterprises to purchase high-tech components for Russian defense sectors to avoid Western sanctions.

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AP – VOR News Image

China And Russia Reaffirm Their Close Ties As Moscow Presses Its Offensive In Ukraine

“I and President Putin agree we should actively look for convergence points of the interests of both countries, to develop each’s advantages, and deepen integration of interests, realizing each others’ achievements,” added Xi.

Xi congratulated Putin on the start of his fifth term in office and commemorated the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the former Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, which were formed after a civil war in 1949. In the March election, Putin eliminated all significant political opponents and faced no serious threat. He, like Xi, has not spelled out a succession strategy.

“In a famous song of that time, 75 years ago — it is still performed today — there is a phrase that has become a catchphrase: ‘Russians and Chinese are brothers forever,'” Putin stated.

During the war, Russia and China expanded their military ties. In recent years, they have conducted several cooperative war simulations, including naval drills and long-range bomber patrols over the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. Russian and Chinese ground forces have also moved to the other country’s territory to conduct joint training.

China continues to be a major market for Russian military hardware, while the country’s defense industry is rapidly developing, including the production of aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines.

Putin has already stated that Russia has shared highly sensitive military technologies with China, considerably improving its defense strength.

SOURCE -(AP)

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Business

YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

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YouTube Slowdown: The Culprit Might be Adblock Plus

HONG KONG — YouTube has disabled access to videos of a protest song in Hong Kong only days after a court approved an injunction prohibiting the song in the city.

In 2019, “Glory to Hong Kong” was an anti-government protest anthem. YouTube stated that it would comply with a removal order by blocking access to over 32 YouTube videos of the song that were designated “prohibited publications” under the injunction.

Attempts to access the YouTube videos from Hong Kong on Wednesday proved unsuccessful. A warning stated, “This content is not available on this country domain due to a court order.”

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AP – VOR News image

YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

The court approved the government’s application to ban the song, recognizing that it could be “weaponized” and used to foment secession.

“We are disappointed by the court’s decision, but we are complying with its removal order by blocking access to the listed videos for viewers in Hong Kong,” YouTube, controlled by Alphabet Inc., said in an emailed statement.

“We’ll continue to consider our options for an appeal, to promote access to information,” the business said, adding that it shared human rights organizations’ concerns about the ban’s stifling effect on free expression online.

According to YouTube, links to the 32 YouTube videos will also not appear in Google Search for Hong Kong consumers.

George Chen, co-chair of digital practice at Asia Group, a Washington-based business and policy firm, believes it is worth monitoring how forcefully Hong Kong authorities order internet platforms to delete music.

Chen, the former head of public policy for Greater China at Meta, stated that if the government started giving platforms hundreds of links to remove daily, investor trust in Hong Kong would surely suffer

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YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

“That will hurt Hong Kong’s reputation as a leading financial center because we know how important a free flow of data and information means to a financial center,” he stated. “So the government should be very careful and be aware of some unintended consequences that may impact its economic recovery and investors’ confidence.”

Internet and social media services, such as YouTube, often have protocols to address government removal demands.

Demonstrators frequently sang “Glory to Hong Kong” during large anti-government rallies in 2019. The song was then incorrectly played as the city’s anthem during international athletic events, rather than China’s “March of the Volunteers,” causing confusion among city officials.

According to local media, authorities previously arrested several individuals who sang the song in public for other infractions, such as playing a musical instrument in public without a permit.

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YouTube Blocks Hong Kong Protest Anthem After Court Injunction Bans Song In The City

Critics argue that barring the song’s broadcast or distribution further restricts free expression in the former British colony since Beijing initiated a crackdown following the 2019 demonstrations. They have also warned that the prohibition will disrupt the operations of major digital companies and harm the city’s appeal as a commercial hub.

SOURCE – (AP)

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