KEY COVID NOS. WORLDWIDE
Pos / Country / New Daily cases / Total Deaths / Daily Deaths / Active Cases / Deaths/1M Pop
World 4,91,794 / 41,24,198 / 8,010 / 1,31,73,936 / 529.1
1 USA 41,098 / 6,25,244 / 220 / 50,18,232 / 1,877
2 UK 46,558 / 1,28,823 / 96 / 9,78,940 / 1,887
3 Brazil 27,896 / 5,44,302 / 1,425 / 7,50,818 / 2,542
4 Indonesia 38,325 / 76,200 / 1,280 / 5,50,192 / 276
5 Russia 23,770 / 1,49,922 / 784 / 4,74,401 / 1,027
6 Spain 27,286 / 81,148 / 29 / 4,31,665 / 1,735
7 India 42,123 / 4,18,511 / 489 / 4,13,630 / 300
8 Mexico 5,307 / 2,36,469 / 138 / 3,32,022 / 1,814
9 Iran 27,444 / 87,624 / 250 / 3,19,690 / 1,029
10 Argentina 15,077 / 1,02,381 / 426 / 2,60,843 / 2,244
11 Honduras 894 / 7,482 / 21 / 1,78,283 / 743
12 Bangladesh 11,579 / 18,325 / 200 / 1,59,224 / 110
13 South Africa 8,928 / 67,676 / 596 / 1,58,437 / 1,126
14 Poland 104 / 75,219 / 4 / 1,53,341 / 1,990
15 Netherlands 6,699 / 17,783 / 5 / 1,35,155 / 1,035
16 Malaysia 12,366 / 7,241 / 93 / 1,33,703 / 221
17 Colombia 12,829 / 1,17,131 / 378 / 1,28,753 / 2,277
18 Thailand 11,305 / 3,502 / 80 / 1,26,765 / 50
19 Iraq 8,922 / 17,951 / 59 / 1,20,408 / 436
20 France 18,181 / 1,11,525 / 33 / 1,14,728 / 1,705
31 Pakistan 2,145 / 22,848 / 37 / 49,929 / 101
33 Philippines 4,516 / 26,844 / 58 / 46,806 / 242
FRENCH PROSECUTORS OPEN PROBE INTO ALLEGED PEGASUS MEDIA SPYING
French prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they had launched a probe into allegations over the use of the Pegasus spyware to target journalists in the country.
This is the first probe to be announced after media outlets began reporting on the use of the Pegasus spyware in multiple countries to snoop on politicians, dissidents, journalists and others.
News agency AFP reported the probe would focus on the use of the Pegasus spyware by Morocco's intelligence agencies to spy on French journalists.
Euro News reported the French Ministry of Justice said the Paris prosecutor's office would probe a string of allegations including "fraudulent access", "fraudulent entry of data", "invasion of privacy", "interception, diversion, use and disclosure of correspondence" and "sale without authorization of a technical device aimed at capturing data".
“The investigation has been entrusted to France's Central Office for Combating Technology-Related Crime of Information and Communication (OCLCTIC), an arm of the judicial police,” Euro News reported.
French media outlet Mediapart filed a complaint on Monday after the names of its journalists figured in the Pegasus revelations. French newspaper Le Canard Enchaine is also expected to approach authorities on the issue.
Mediapart revealed on Monday that the phone numbers of its co-founder and publishing editor Edwy Plenel and reporter Lénaïg Bredoux were targeted by Moroccan agencies. "Analysis has shown their phones were infected with the spyware by Moroccan agents in 2019 and 2020," Mediapart claimed.
According to reports, Moroccan agencies allegedly used Pegasus to target 1,000 French nationals including 30 journalists and media executives. The journalists targeted include staff of Le Monde, Le Figaro, AFP and France Télévisions.
CHINA REJECTS HACKING CHARGES, ACCUSES U.S. OF CYBERSPYING
China on Tuesday rejected an accusation by Washington and its Western allies that Beijing is to blame for a hack of the Microsoft Exchange email system and complained Chinese entities are victims of damaging US cyberattacks. A foreign ministry spokesman demanded Washington drop charges announced on Monday against four Chinese nationals accused of working with the ministry of state security to try to steal US trade secrets, technology and disease research.
The announcement that the Biden administration and European allies formally blame Chinese government-linked hackers for ransomware attacks increased pressure over long-running complaints against Beijing but included no sanctions. “The US ganged up with its allies to make unwarranted accusations against Chinese cybersecurity,” said the spokesman, Zhao Lijian. “This was made up out of thin air and confused right and wrong. It is purely a smear and suppression with political motives,” Zhao said.
ROCKETS HIT KABUL WHILE GHANI HOLDS EID PRAYERS
At least three rockets hit near the presidential palace on Tuesday shortly before Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was to give an address to mark the major Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
There were no injuries and the rockets landed outside the heavily fortified palace grounds, said Mirwais Stanikzai, spokesman for the interior minister.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack on its Amaq news channel.
Police quickly fanned out across the area. One car parked on a nearby street was completely destroyed; the police said it was used as launching pad for the rockets.
The palace is in the middle of a so-called Green Zone that is fortified with giant cement blast walls and barbed wire, and streets near the palace have long been closed off.
“This Eid has been named after Afghan forces to honour their sacrifices and courage, especially in the last three months,” Mr. Ghani said in his address to the nation following morning prayers.
“The Taliban have no intention and willingness for peace” Mr. Ghani said. “We have proven that we have the intention, the willingness and have sacrificed for peace.”
U.S. ASKS PAKISTAN TO KEEP WORKING WITH FATF TO 'SWIFTLY COMPLETE' ITS 27-POINT ACTION PLAN
The U.S. has urged Pakistan to continue working with the FATF to "swiftly complete" its 27-point action plan by demonstrating that terrorism financing probes and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of the UN-designated terror groups.
At its virtual plenary meeting last month, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) retained Pakistan on its 'grey list' for failing to check money laundering, leading to terror financing.
It asked Pakistan to investigate and prosecute UN-designated terrorists based in the country like Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder Hafiz Saeed.
The global body against money laundering and terror financing also asked Pakistan to work to address its strategically important deficiencies.
At his daily news conference on Monday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said while Pakistan had made progress on its first action plan of the FATF, it needed to work on its second action plan.
"We do recognise and we support Pakistan's continued efforts to satisfy those (first action plan) obligations. Pakistan has made significant progress on its first action plan with 26 of 27 action items largely addressed," Mr. Price said.
"We encourage Pakistan to continue working with the FATF and the international community to swiftly complete the remaining action item by demonstrating that terrorism financing, investigations and prosecutions target senior leaders and commanders of UN-designated groups," he said.
Price also said the U.S. encourages Pakistan to expeditiously work on its new second action plan.
FAUCI, PAUL CLASH ON VIRUS ORIGINS, TRADE CHARGES OF LYING
Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, angrily confronted Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul on Tuesday in testimony on Capitol Hill, rejecting Paul's insinuation that the US helped fund research at a Chinese lab that could have sparked the Covid-19 outbreak.
Paul suggested that Fauci had lied before Congress when in May he denied that the National Institutes of Health funded so-called ``gain of function'' research _ the practice of enhancing a virus in a lab to study its potential impact in the real world _ at a Wuhan virology lab. US intelligence agencies are currently exploring theories that an accidental leak from that lab could have led to the global pandemic.
``I have not lied before Congress. I have never lied. Certainly not before Congress. Case closed,'' Fauci told Paul before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, saying a study the senator mentioned referenced a different sort of virus entirely from the one responsible for the coronavirus outbreak.
``Senator Paul, you do not know what you're talking about, quite frankly,'' Fauci said. ``And I want to say that officially. You do not know what you're talking about.''
He added, ``If anybody is lying here, senator, it is you.''
It was the latest in a series of clashes between Paul and Fauci over the origins of the virus that caused the global pandemic.
COVID: FRANCE ROLLS OUT HEALTH PASS AS CASES SOAR
A new Covid health pass has come into effect in France amid a surge of new infections.
From Wednesday, people need proof of vaccination, a negative test or recent recovery from Covid to enter most museums and cinemas.
Later lawmakers will debate whether to extend its use in August for entry to cafes, restaurants and shopping malls.
It comes the day after Health Minister Olivier Véran announced 18,000 new infections in just 24 hours.
This was compared to fewer than 7,000 cases a day last week, a surge of 150%, as the highly contagious Delta variant spreads throughout the country.
"We have never seen this before," he told the National Assembly, saying Delta had led to far larger rises in cases than previous variants, like those first spotted in the UK or South Africa.
President Emmanuel Macron announced the plans for a health pass earlier this month, as well as compulsory vaccination for all health workers by September. Surveys suggest there is widespread vaccine hesitancy in France.
Mr Macron's plans have proved controversial. Protests against new coronavirus rules in France saw demonstrators vandalising two vaccination centres this week.
‘BEST DAY EVER’: BILLIONAIRE BEZOS HAS SUCCESSFUL SUBORBITAL JAUNT
Jeff Bezos, the world's richest man, soared about 107 kilometers above the Texas desert aboard his company Blue Origin's New Shepard launch vehicle on Tuesday and returned safely to Earth, a historic suborbital flight that helps to inaugurate a new era of private commercial space tourism.
"Best day ever," Bezos, accompanied by the world's oldest and youngest space travelers, said after his space capsule descended with three large parachutes and touched down, kicking up a cloud of dust.
The 57-year-old American billionaire, wearing a blue flight suit and donning a cowboy hat, was joined by three crewmates for a trip to the edge of space lasting 10 minutes and 10 seconds. After landing, Bezos and the other crew members exchanged hugs and popped champagne, spraying each other.
"Astronaut Bezos in my seat — happy, happy, happy," Bezos said in response to a mission control status check after the crew members buckled back in aboard New Shepard's capsule following a few minutes of weightlessness in space.
Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc, and his brother Mark Bezos, a private equity executive, were joined by two others. Pioneering female aviator Wally Funk, 82, and recent high school graduate Oliver Daemen, 18, became the oldest and youngest people to reach space.
The flight came nine days after Briton Richard Branson was aboard his competing space tourism company Virgin Galactic's successful inaugural suborbital flight from New Mexico. The two flights give credibility and inject enthusiasm into the fledgling space tourism industry that Swiss bank UBS estimates will be worth $3 billion annually in a decade.
"The demand is very, very high," Bezos told a news conference.
"We're going to build a road to space so that our kids and their kids can build a future. ... We need to do that to solve the problems here on Earth," Bezos added.
Bezos said the architecture and technology for the flight was "overkill for a little tourism mission."
"Big things start small," Bezos added.
CHINA THREATENS TO NUKE JAPAN OVER TAIWAN IN VIDEO: REPORT
A video where the Communist Party of China (CCP) is threatening Japan with a nuclear bomb for interfering in its handling of Taiwan has gone viral on social media, Fox News reported. The US channel carried a report which claimed that the video was aired on a channel approved by the CCP.
In the video, as claimed by Fox News, the CCP singled out Japan as the one exception to China's policy to not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear powers.
"We will use nuclear bombs first," the CCP says in the vide, according to Fox News. The report further claimed that China's ruling party threatened of using the nuclear bombs continuously "till Japan declares unconditional surrender for the second time."
According to Taiwan's local publication Taiwan News, the 5-minute-long video was uploaded on Sunday on China's YouTube-like platform Xigua and quickly gained two million views. It was later deleted, but copies of the video, which were uploaded by some users on YouTube and Twitter, still exist.
In the video, a narrator dares Japan to interfere when China liberates Taiwan, warning of a full-scare war if the island nation tries to do so, Taiwan News reported. The CCP video also talks about the tension between the two countries and atrocities committed by Japanese soldiers against the Chinese during Sino-Japan wars, Taiwan News further reported.
NIGERIA SECURES RELEASE OF 100 KIDNAPPED MOTHERS AND CHILDREN
The authorities in north-west Nigeria say they have freed 100 women and children - mainly mothers nursing infants - who were seized by bandits.
The group were abducted on 8 June in Zamfara state. Four people were also killed during the incident.
The Zamfara state government said they were released without any ransom being paid, but gave no further details.
The group will now be given medical checks and debriefed before they return to their homes.
A spate of kidnappings has taken place in the region during recent months.
Since December 2020, more than 1,000 people have been abducted. Most have later been freed, reportedly after ransoms were paid, but some have been killed.