World this week
A deal allowing the US to borrow more money moved closer to becoming law, days before the world's biggest economy is due to start defaulting on its debt. The measure easily passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 314-117, despite defections on both sides. The Senate was expected to vote next, which the bill needs to pass before it can be signed into law by President Joe Biden. The US government is forecast to hit its present borrowing limit on Monday, June 5.
That left lawmakers racing to avoid the US defaulting on parts of its $31.4tn debt, which underpins the global financial system. A default would mean the government could not borrow any more money or pay all of its bills. It would also threaten to wreak havoc on the global economy. However it has become a stage for political wrangling in recent years as both Republicans and Democrats seek to use it to gain concessions from the other side.
International efforts to defuse a crisis in Kosovo intensified as ethnic Serbs held more protests in a northern town where recent clashes with NATO-led peacekeepers sparked fears of renewed conflict in the troubled region. Hundreds of Serbs repeated at a rally their demand for the withdrawal from northern Kosovo of the special police and ethnic Albanian officials who were elected to mayor's offices in votes overwhelmingly boycotted by Serbs. The crowd then spread a huge Serbian flag outside the city hall in the town of Zvecan.
The rising tensions have fueled concern about another war like the 1998-99 fighting in Kosovo that claimed more than 10,000 lives, left more than 1 million people homeless and resulted in a NATO peacekeeping mission that has lasted nearly a quarter of a century. EU officials met with Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti on the sidelines of a conference in Bratislava, Slovakia. The leaders of France and Germany announced plans to meet top Serbia and Kosovo officials at a summit in Moldova.
Egypt and Turkey agreed to restore full diplomatic relations. The move follows a phone call from Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to congratulate the Turkish leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on his election victory on Sunday. The two agreed to arrange the exchange of ambassadors immediately. Egypt and Turkey fell out in 2013 after Erdogan described Sisi's overthrow of Egypt's then-President Mohammed Morsi an "unacceptable coup".
In later years the two countries backed opposing factions in Libya and were at odds over maritime borders in the gas-rich eastern Mediterranean. Egypt is also mending fences with Iran. The two countries are expected to exchange ambassadors later this year. Analysts say there is a move afoot in the Middle East to ease tensions that have been brewing between regional states - such as Egypt and Turkey - and that Turkey's president is especially eager to demonstrate his ability to bridge the gap between hostile states, both regionally and internationally.
Canada will soon become the first country in the world where warning labels must appear on individual cigarettes. The move was first announced last year by Health Canada and is aimed at helping people quit the habit. The regulations take effect Aug. 1 and will be phased in. King-size cigarettes will be the first to feature the warnings and will be sold in stores by the end of July 2024, followed by regular-size cigarettes, and little cigars with tipping paper and tubes by the end of April 2025.
"This bold step will make health warning messages virtually unavoidable," Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett said Wednesday. The warnings - in English and French - include "poison in every puff," "tobacco smoke harms children" and "cigarettes cause impotence." Health Canada said the strategy aims to reduce tobacco use below 5% by 2035. New regulations also strengthen health-related graphic images displayed on packages of tobacco.
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