-Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an inquiry into whether enough was done to prevent mass deaths in the southern flood-hit Krasnodar region. Mr Putin demanded to know how much warning people had been given about the impending disaster. Activists blamed the ferocity of the flood on the opening of sluice gates at a local reservoir. A separate criminal investigation is already under way into whether the 155 deaths were caused by negligence.
-French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met in Reims in France’s champagne region – where in 1962 their predecessors Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer officially turned the page on the second World War. After the unveiling of a commemorative plaque, the two attended a special service inside Reims Cathedral, again following a pattern set half a century earlier. The meeting between De Gaulle and Adenauer was a turning point in relations between the two countries that are now seen as the engine of Europe. However differences between Hollande and Merkel over how to tackle the eurozone’s financial crisis have put a strain on relations of late.
-A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (Sana) on 7 July shows naval Syrian vessels during an exercise at an undisclosed location Live ammunition was used during the Syrian military exercises. The Syrian armed forces have been conducting “large-scale” manoeuvres to test their “combat capability and readiness”, Syrian state media report. The exercises showed Syria was able “to defend [its] shores against any possible aggression”, according to state-run news agency Sana. Tensions along the border with Turkey have been raised after Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet last month. Meanwhile President Assad has accused the US of trying to destabilise Syria.
–Egypt’s new president has ordered parliament to reconvene in a move likely to put him at odds with the country’s powerful army. The Islamist-led lower house was elected after the fall of Hosni Mubarak. But generals dissolved it last month based on a ruling from the Supreme Court on election irregularities. That was just days before Mohammed Morsi was voted in as president. Now he has called the MPs back and says they should convene until a new parliamentary election to be held within 60 days.
-After Libyans cast ballots in a historic parliamentary election, officials today turned to the next step in determining the country’s political future: counting the votes. Authorities have started transporting ballot boxes from polling stations around the country to the main tally center in Tripoli, said Nuri Khalifa Al-Abbar, chairman of Libya‘s High National Election Commission. Tallying began at polling centers Saturday night. Some preliminary results could be announced Sunday or Monday, he said, according to the state-run LANA news agency.
-The equivalent of about 13 billion euros in development aid has been pledged to secure the peace in Afghanistan. Representatives from around 80 countries met in Tokyo to discuss how to continue helping one of the world’s poorest nations once NATO combat troops complete their pullout in 2014. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the aid would help consolidate the progress made in the country.
-Democratic Representative Barney Frank has wed his longtime partner, James Ready, becoming the first sitting US congressman to enter into a same-sex marriage. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick officiated the ceremony today and added some levity by saying Frank, 72, and Ready, 42, had vowed to love each other through Democratic and Republican administrations alike.
-Roger Federer won his seventh Wimbledon championship and 17th major title and regained the world No. 1 ranking by knocking off local favorite Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Sources: BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, Reuters, euronews, NYT, WSJ