World News in Brief: October 20

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Wednesday called on the US government to lift its decades-long trade embargo, or blockade, against the country.
Gas usage remained below average in German households and industry last week, the federal network regulator said on Thursday as it announced its latest weekly consumption data.
Gas usage remained below average in German households and industry last week, the federal network regulator said on Thursday as it announced its latest weekly consumption data.

* Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said on Thursday he would launch a drive this weekend to give government jobs to 1 million people, starting with 75,000 immediate appointments, as he tries to tackle criticism of widespread unemployment.

* Suella Braverman, home secretary of the United Kingdom (UK), resigned on Wednesday after breaching a security rule. However, she also noted her "serious concerns" about the direction of Prime Minister Liz Truss's government.

* Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Wednesday, declaring martial law in Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson from Thursday.

* NATO allies will act if Sweden or Finland come under pressure from Russia or another adversary before they become full members of the alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

* Sweden will involve itself more clearly and deeply in NATO's counter-terrorism activities, the country's recently appointed Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a joint news conference with NATO's secretary general on Thursday.

* Lebanon's parliament failed to elect a president for the third time on Thursday, bringing the country closer to institutional deadlock amid a deep financial crisis.

* Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi on Wednesday rejected certain "unsubstantiated claims" about Tehran's stance toward the conflict in Ukraine, saying Iran is ready to play a role in ending the crisis.

* Spain has reached an agreement with Portugal and France to substitute plans for a gas pipeline known as Midcat with a new submarine "green corridor" between Barcelona and Marseille that can carry natural gas and hydrogen, Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez said on Thursday.

* Yemen's internationally-recognized government appointed a new negotiating team to lead peace talks with Houthi militia over ending their years-long military conflict, a government official told Xinhua on Thursday.

* The Iranian Foreign Ministry on Wednesday imposed sanctions on a number of British institutes and individuals for "supporting terrorism and terrorist groups, promoting and instigating terrorism, violence and hate-mongering and violation of human rights."

* Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi and UN Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen on Wednesday discussed means to reach a political solution for the Syrian crisis.

* Israel and Bahrain have signed an agriculture cooperation deal, Israeli officials said on Thursday, bringing closer the countries that forged ties under a US-diplomatic push in 2020.

* Some medicinal syrups available in Indonesia contained ingredients linked to fatal acute kidney injury (AKI) in children, its health minister said on Thursday, as it investigates a spike in cases and 99 child deaths this year.

* Protesters in Chad on Thursday looted and set fire to the newly appointed prime minister's party headquarters, the party's vice-president said.

* New research suggested that a majority of US households are taking the possibility of an economic recession seriously, reported CNBC.

* Leaders of the 27 European Union countries meet on Thursday for the second time in two weeks to try to bring down energy prices, though persistent divisions between them mean the bloc is unlikely for now to put a ceiling on what it pays for gas.

* France has invested 7.5 billion euros (about 7.3 billion USD) on major projects since the country unveiled the France 2030 investment roadmap last year to support ecological and economic transitions.

* The German government needs to pump tens of billions of euros of additional funding into Uniper UN01.DE to weather a European gas crisis after a previous scheme to help the stricken gas importer was scrapped, two sources said on Thursday.

* How much Sweden's central bank has to raise rates depends in part on wage negotiations and fiscal policy responses to the current inflation crisis, Deputy Governor Per Jansson said in regular testimony to parliament's finance committee on Thursday.

* Inflation continues to surge in Austria, reaching 10.5 percent in September, the highest level since July 1952, Statistics Austria said on Wednesday.

* Workers at a TotalEnergies TTEF.PA biorefinery and a fuel depot in northern France have ended their strikes, a CGT union official said on Thursday, as a near-month-long wave of industrial action over pay appeared to run out of steam.

* Ukraine's energy minister said on Thursday the government was seeking a 20% reduction in energy use and that Ukrainians had responded to an appeal to limit their use of power.

* The United Kingdom's (UK) consumer prices index (CPI) rose by 10.1 percent in the 12 months to September 2022, up from 9.9 percent in August and returning to July's recent high.

* Five years since Islamic State was driven from its Syrian headquarters at Raqqa, the city is still slowly recovering from the devastation caused by the battle between US-backed forces and the jihadists.

* The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that COVID-19 is still a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), the WHO's highest alert level.

* Libyan Foreign Minister Najla al-Mangoush on Wednesday expressed the Libyan government's willingness to cooperate with the United Nations (UN) on the Libyan political process that leads to national elections in the country.

* UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was saddened to learn of the loss of dozens of lives and damage to infrastructure in Venezuela due to floods and landslides resulting from the heavy rainy season and the impact of tropical storms, said his spokesman on Wednesday.

* The United Nations on Wednesday said South Sudan's conflict has become increasingly complex as the level of suffering for millions of civilians remains intolerable, calling for an urgent need for action to shore up peace.

* NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has captured the iconic Pillars of Creation, where new stars are forming within dense clouds of gas and dust, the agency said on Wednesday.

* FIFA has rejected a number of bids for the 2023 Women's World Cup broadcast rights for being too low, the body's Chief Business Officer Romy Gai said as he called on broadcasters to seize the "opportunity" provided by the women's game.

* The Netherlands is to cull another 300,000 chickens on a farm in the south of the country after the detection of a highly infectious strain of bird flu there, the government said on Thursday.

* Africa's top public health body said on Thursday there was a risk that the Ebola outbreak in Uganda could spread but it was still manageable at this stage and emergency measures were not necessary.

* An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.9 jolted 58 km South of Boca Chica, Panama at 1157 GMT on Thursday, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The epicenter, with a depth of 10 km, was initially determined to be at 7.7 degrees north latitude and 82.3 degrees west longitude.

VNA, Reuters, Xinhua