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Suffering drought, heat, blackouts, Mexicans head to the polls

Suffering drought, heat, blackouts, Mexicans head to the polls

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Suffering drought, heat, blackouts, Mexicans head to the polls

 As Mexicans head to the polls on Sunday to elect their next president and thousands of state and local posts, much of the country is suffering historic drought, intense heat, and occasional power blackouts.

Water shortages may not be a new phenomenon in the Latin American country, especially in the populous capital Mexico City, but some voters are blaming the ruling MORENA party for the crisis and analysts say it could prove an important factor in the upcoming election, particularly in some closer-fought local races.

MORENA candidate Claudia Sheinbaum is still heavily favored to win the presidency, with some polls giving her a 20 point advantage over main opposition candidate Xochitl Galvez, a senator with the center-right National Action Party.

Whoever wins will have to contend with water shortages, with 30 of 32 Mexican states in drought, according to a May 15 chart from national water commission Conagua.

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“I hope that whoever comes in will solve this problem,” said Isabel Aleman, a 74-year-old resident of Ecatepec, the most populated municipality in Mexico State, just outside the capital.

“They promise the sun and the moon to get elected, and then they forget about their neighbors,” she added as she waited for a truck to deliver water to her home.

Dwindling rainfall, outdated infrastructure and the El Nino weather phenomenon have contributed to particularly strong droughts, experts say.

In Ecatepec and in many areas of Mexico City, the mega capital of 10 million people, tens of thousands of people have been without regular running water.

To get by, they wait for public water trucks or pay for their own private deliveries, an unwelcome expense for many of Mexico’s poor who already struggle to make ends meet.

The opposition has been swift to frame the water crisis as a result of poor governance by the ruling party. Clara Brugada, the MORENA candidate for Mexico City mayor and former leader of Iztapalapa, is the target of heavy opposition criticism.

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“If the water doesn’t reach you, don’t vote for MORENA,” read opposition campaign posters in Iztapalapa and across Mexico City.

MEXICO CITY UP FOR GRABS

Until late last year, Brugada was polling comfortably in front. But her campaign started losing momentum as water shortages, a lack of rain, and record high temperatures became daily headlines.

Brugada, who held a 15 percentage point advantage in November, now polls just five percentage points ahead of opposition candidate Santiago Taboada, according to a May survey by Mexican newspaper El Financiero.

Taboada has promised to help improve the water situation by increasing rainwater recycling and the fixing leaks, which result in huge water waste.

In an attempt to boost Brugada’s popularity, Sheinbaum has upped her presence at rallies in Mexico City since mid-April.

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Losing Mexico City would be a major political blow for leftist MORENA, which has come to dominate Mexican politics since winning the presidency in 2018.

It would also give the opposition hope and a vital political foundation to build on.

“Without a doubt, the government is concerned about winning Mexico City,” said Antonio Ocaranza, a consultant and former spokesman for President Ernesto Zedillo who ruled from 1994 to 2000 with the Institutional Revolutionary Party.

A win for Taboada would build the opposition’s momentum ahead of 2030, the next presidential elections, Ocaranza said,

“His victory… would be a blow for Claudia Sheinbaum who governed this city for five years and couldn’t manage to install her party’s candidate in place,” he added.

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UK’s Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

UK’s Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

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UK's Rwanda asylum scheme has cost 700 million pounds

 Britain’s now-scrapped plan to deport migrants who arrive illegally on British shores to Rwanda has cost taxpayers 700 million pounds ($904 million), new interior minister Yvette Cooper said on Monday.

“Two and a half years after the previous government launched (the Rwanda plan), I can report it has already cost the British taxpayer 700 million pounds,” she told parliament. 

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Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

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Hungary, Slovakia ask European Commission to mediate with Ukraine over Lukoil

Hungary and Slovakia have asked the European Commission to mediate a consultation procedure with Ukraine, Hungary’s foreign minister said on Monday, after Kyiv placed Russian group Lukoil on a sanctions list, stopping its supplies to the two countries.

Slovakia and Hungary have stepped up pressure on Kyiv after they said last week they had stopped receiving oil from Lukoil via Ukraine. Hungary receives 2 million metric tonnes of oil from the Russian group annually, around a third of its total oil imports, Peter Szijjarto said.

“I spoke with the Ukrainian foreign minister yesterday, he said they allow every oil transfer through, but it’s not true,” Szijjarto told reporters while in Brussels.

The two countries have now initiated a consultation with the European Commission, he said. “The Commission has three days to execute our request, after which we will bring the issue to court.”

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Szijjarto said if the consultation procedure did not bear fruit, Hungary and Slovakia would bring the issue to an international court of their choosing instead.

In an attempt to sell the freed-up crude volumes, Lukoil has added some 140,000 metric tonnes of crude oil to its original lifting plan for the Black Sea port of Novorossiis for July, market sources said.

Lukoil’s oil supplies via Druzhba’s southern spur account for some 50% of the pipeline’s flows. MOL’s refineries in Slovakia and Hungary totally depend on supplies from Lukoil.

As an alternative, Hungary may import oil from Croatia’s Omisalj sea port via the Adria pipeline, while Slovakia is landlocked and is only able to get oil via Hungary.

Since April, oil imports via Omisalj were at around 500,000 metric tons each month. Supplies include such oil grades as Basrah, Azeri BTC and CPC Blend.

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Russia continues to supply natural gas and oil to landlocked Hungary and Slovakia via Ukraine despite the war in the country and existing EU sanctions on Russian crude.

The countries have exemptions from oil sanctions to give them more time to transition to alternative sources of supply.

Both Slovakia and Hungary also supply energy to Ukraine. Szijjarto said Hungary provided 42% of Ukrainian electricity imports last month.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico said over the weekend that his country helped supply diesel to Ukraine, in comments in which he blasted the sanctions and said Slovakia would not be “hostage” to Ukraine-Russia relations.

On Monday Slovak Foreign Minister Juraj Blanar reiterated some of Fico’s comments, saying that the sanction had a bigger impact on Slovakia and the EU than Russia itself.

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Ukraine’s ban does not affect other Russian oil exporters whose oil was still allowed to transit through Ukraine.

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Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

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Russian troops mount pressure on Ukrainian logistics hub of Pokrovsk

Ukraine’s top commander said on Monday that Russian forces were staging relentless assaults to try to advance towards the town of Pokrovsk, a logistics hub in the east and that there was active fighting taking place along the entire front line.

Nearly 29 months after the full-scale invasion, Ukraine has stepped up its mobilisation effort to address its manpower shortages and been reinforced by supplies of Western artillery shells, but Russian troops have continued to inch forward.

“The enemy pays no attention to their fairly high level of losses and continues to push through towards Pokrovsk,” Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement from the eastern front.

Pokrovsk is less than 25 km (15 miles) from Russian-occupied land, according to open-source intelligence battlefield maps, and lies at an intersection of roads and a railway that makes it an important logistics point for the military and for civilians in the east.

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“Active combat operations of varying intensity are taking place along the entire front,” Syrskyi said, noting that Russian forces were also trying to capture floodplain islands near the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson.

FIGHTING RAGES IN EAST

Fierce battles, he said, also raged near several eastern villages and towns, including Krasnohorivka and Chasiv Yar, a strategic hilltop town whose capture would bring Russia closer to threatening important Kyiv-held Donetsk region cities.

That’s a balance to be found between perfect security, which is the priority. And there is no discussion.

Russia staged 39 assaults on the Pokrovsk front in the last 24 hours of a total of 117 registered along the front line, the military said in its daily battlefield readout.

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Russian forces captured two villages in the east over the weekend, Russian media said, citing the Defence Ministry.

Though Kyiv’s weary troops have been on the backfoot this year with Russia again on the offensive and keeping up the pressure, Moscow’s progress has been slow.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who travels to China this week on a diplomatic trip, estimated on Friday that Russia controlled 17.68% of Ukrainian territory compared with 17.61% on Jan. 1, 2024.

A senior NATO official said this month that Russia lacked the munitions and troops for a major offensive in Ukraine and would need to secure significant ammunition supplies from other countries beyond what it already has to do so.

LONG-RANGE STRIKES

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Russia has pounded Ukraine’s electricity system with airstrikes in recent months, causing regular power cuts across the country.

Ukraine has used domestic-made drones to attack targets in Russia and staged a major overnight strike that damaged its Tuapse oil refinery, its biggest on the Black Sea.

In his statement, Syrskyi said it was vital for Kyiv to conduct long-range strikes on Russian forces, echoing Ukrainian officials who have appealed to allies to allow Kyiv to use Western-supplied weapons to attack military targets inside Russia.

Russia has warned that the use of U.S. and Western weapons against targets inside Russia could trigger a new level of confrontation.

Ukraine is also grappling with a shortage of short-range anti-aircraft missiles to repel Russian reconnaissance drones and is having to rely on drones and other electronic warfare systems for defence, he said. 

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