Celebrating Cultures, Promoting Integration
Top News Stories that made the global headlines this week. Global Terrorism is on the rise, the American political cosmos seems to be heating, riots rage in the Indian capital and the European continent on the verge on another lockdown with Covid numbers spike over the holidays
Biden aims for Trump as Putin congratulates the President-Elect
The will of the people has prevailed. Donal Trump has lost multiple court battles for his claim that the November 3rd election saw widespread voter fraud in states including Michigan, Arizona, and Georgia. It seems that the former President will have to move out of the White House come January.
As Putin has finally come forth to congratulate the President-elect, Joe Biden has taken the opportunity to call Trump’s verbal attack on the election and election officials “simply unconscionable” and the attempts to overturn the result an “abuse of power”.
A bittersweet relief for the US as the vaccine rolls out.
After 300,000 deaths and counting, Dr Anthony Fauci has called the vaccine roll-out a bittersweet moment for the nation. Experts in the field have called the rapid development and delivery of the vaccine “extraordinary”, pointing out that vaccines usually take years if not decades to be developed.
30,000 tremors rock Antarctica
More than 30,000 tremors have rocked Antarctica since the end of August, according to new research. Scientists at the University of Chile record the spike in seismic activity – including one strong quake of magnitude 6.
“Most of the seismicity is concentrated at the beginning of the sequence, mainly during the month of September, with more than a thousand earthquakes a day,” the centre said.
Fashion mogul Nygard arrested on sex abuse charges
Canadian fashion mogul, Peter Nygard, was arrested on charges alleging he sexually abused women and girls. Almost a dozen women have come forward accusing Nygard of enticing them to his Bahamas property with false promises of a modelling career and money before drugging and then raping them. According to reports most of the girls were underage at the time.
For his part, Nygard has refuted all allegations, blaming the entire fiasco as a part of a conspiracy against him, spun by his Bahamas billionaire neighbour.
The authorities have since charged Nygard with sex trafficking, racketeering and other crimes and is set for a bail hearing on Jan 13th.
Iran hangs Paris-based dissent journalist
Ruhollah Zam, who was convicted of fomenting violence during anti-government protests in 2017, was executed on Saturday, Iran’s state television has reported.
The French foreign ministry said in a statement: “France condemns in the strongest possible terms this serious breach of free expression and press freedom in Iran. This is a barbaric and unacceptable act that goes against the country’s international commitments.”
The son of a pro-reform Shi’ite cleric, Zam fled Iran and was given asylum in France, but was detained by agents after he travelled to Iraq in September 2019 and brought to Iran.
Lebanese Prime Minister charged over deadly Beirut blast
A Lebanese judge has charged caretaker Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, and three ex-ministers with criminal neglect over the huge explosion at Beirut’s port that killed more than 200 people this summer. The explosion destroyed much of Beirut’s eastern coastal area, injuring at least 6,500, and displacing around 300,000 from their homes.
Diab’s government, which had stepped down in the wake of the blast, will be replaced when a new cabinet is formed.
Saudi facilities torturing migrants
African and Asian migrant workers are being locked up in unsanitary conditions, tortured, beaten and in some cases killed in Saudi Arabia, according to new research by Human Rights Watch.
Interviewees claimed they had seen people, who were badly injured, being taken out of the centre and never returned. One of the Indian men interviewed said he had a valid residency permit and had been working as an engineer for 25 years in Saudi Arabia, but he was accused of selling vegetables on the side.
Before the coronavirus pandemic began, 10,000 Ethiopians were deported from Saudi Arabia every month, mostly for being found without valid residency permits. Those who were interviewed said they had been given no opportunity to challenge their detention or deportation.
Yemen tops IRC emergency watchlist as most at risk of humanitarian catastrophe
Yemen is the country most at risk of a humanitarian catastrophe in the coming year, according to a report by the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Five years after the intervention of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two of the region’s richest countries, the conflict between Houthi rebels and the Riyadh-backed government, “remains intense and the humanitarian response is on the brink of collapse”, said the IRC, the largest international agency operating in Yemen.
The committee points out that “the World Food Programme has warned that Yemen could face famine in 2021”.
Boko Haram kidnap 330 boys in Nigeria
330 schoolboys were kidnapped from a school in Nigeria’s Katsina State. Governor Aminu Bello Masari said that 1 of the kidnapped boys has been rescued since the attack, in addition to 15 boys that were rescued by the military earlier. Nigeria’s Boko Haram jihadist rebels have claimed responsibility for the abduction of the students from the Government Science Secondary School in Kankara. The reason for the kidnapping is that the organisation believes Western education to be un-Islamic.
“The Nigerian government is in talks with the attackers in an effort to free the boys,” government spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
Ethiopia’s war-hit Tigray region regains some services
Ethiopia sent civil servants in Tigray back to work on Monday and ordered gun owners to disarm, as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government sought to restore normality in the northern region after weeks of war.
Some power and telephone lines were also restored in the region’s capital, Mekelle, following a communications blackout since federal troops’ Nov. 4 offensive. But there are still reports of large fuel and food price hikes, as well as water shortages.
Abiy has declared victory over the former local ruling party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The powerful TPLF dominated federal government for nearly three decades before anti-government protests propelled Abiy to office in 201
The government seized Mekelle, home to 500,000 people, on Nov. 28, and released a video last week entitled “Normalcy in the eyes of the residents” featuring interviews with Tigrayans. Additionally, Tigray’s airspace was reopened on Monday in efforts to regain normalcy.
French President tests positive for Coronavirus
President Macron is said to have developed COVID symptoms at his meeting with various EU ministers, the Elysee Palace has stated. His diagnosis has forced several other EU leaders to self-isolate as a result.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin who also was in contact with Macron has since tested negative. Meanwhile, Macron and his wife have chosen to “self-isolate for seven days in line with the health protocol applicable to everyone” a representative announced.
14 found guilty over the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attacks
In 2015, 17 people lost their lives in the attacks on the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, and a Jewish supermarket. The horrific attack, which was then caught on video, shook the entire country and the world. Now 14 individuals have been found guilty of being accomplices in the attacks; 11 people were convicted in court for the verdicts and 3 more were posthumously convicted – brothers Said and Cherif Kauachi and Coulibaly who were killed by the police. They all claimed allegiance to the Islamic State.
Von der Leyen claims “big differences” with Brexit deadline days away
Ursula Von der Leyen, the European Commission President, has said that progress has been made on the post-Brexit deal, however, “big differences remain” and “bridging them would be challenging”. Hope has risen with prospects of a breakthrough, however, it might be a little too late to iron out the remaining difference before the 31st December deadline.
Amidst the negotiations, the biggest obstacle between the EU-UK trade deal is fishing rights and fisheries. A UK spokesperson stated that the EU position on the topic was “simply not reasonable and needed to be modified significantly.” While both sides claim they are in efforts to mitigate the no-deal option, experts believe that regardless of the measures, the trade disruption would be massive.
Netherlands begins a “hard lockdown” as cases spike
Earlier this week, Dutch PM, Mark Rutte, spoke about imposing a new “hard lockdown”, as all other options to manage the increase in cases have now been exhausted. The coalition government was left with no other responsible choice when, despite repeated appeals from politicians and medical experts, it saw the daily rate of new infections passed the 10,000 mark on Sunday for the second time since the pandemic began. In particular, there was a noticeable spike in infections after the December 5th Sinterklaas celebrations, when families traditionally meet to exchange Christmas gifts.
Northern Ireland to go into six-week lockdown on St Stephen’s Day
Amid rising COVID-19 infections and severe pressure on hospitals, Northern Ireland will enter another lockdown, due to come into force at 00.01 am on 26 December. This will include the shutting of all non-essential shops as well the closure of pubs, bars and restaurants excluding takeaway services.
“The situation in terms of COVID is quite dire and we saw images this week that we never want to see repeated again,” Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill said, as she referred to patients being treated in car parks this week at over-capacity hospitals.
China’s Moon mission returns first fresh samples in more than 40 years
A Chinese lunar capsule has returned after collecting the first fresh samples of rock and debris from the Moon in more than 40 years.
The capsule, named Chang’e 5 Probe, landed in the Siziwang district of the Inner Mongolia region. The newly collected debris are thought to be billions of years younger than those obtained by the US and former Soviet Union, offering new insights into the history of the Moon and other bodies in the solar system.
The event takes place amid concerns over the Chinese space programme’s secrecy and close military connections, the US forbids cooperation between Nasa and the CNSA unless Congress gives its approval.
Fiji prepares for Cyclone Yasa
Fijians have been advised to move to higher ground as 16-metre waves and winds of up to 350km/h are expected, further imposing a nationwide curfew. People are preparing by boarding up their houses and businesses as memories linger 2016’s Cyclone Winston, which killed more than 40 people.
South Korea reports record number of daily COVID deaths
South Korea reported a record number of coronavirus deaths on Thursday. The country’s biggest wave of infections since the start of the pandemic has strained hospital resources and sparked panic buying in anticipation of a harsh new lockdown. Deaths were expected to rise after infections had spiked in Seoul and surrounding areas.
As people rush to stores to hoard essentials the government said it would give plenty of warning before imposing Level 3 curbs. “There won’t be a situation where all the supermarkets are closed and you can’t buy necessities,” Lee Sang-won, a senior official at the KDCA, told a briefing.
Hospitals were at a breaking point with only three critical care beds available as of Wednesday in greater Seoul, an area with a population of almost 26 million people. South Korea has now reported a total of 46,453 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 634 deaths.
India’s top court offers to mediate to end farmers’ protest
India’s Supreme Court on Wednesday offered to set up a mediation panel to end a three-week protest by tens of thousands of farmers who are demanding the repeal of new agricultural reform laws that they say will drive down crop prices and devastate their earnings. The farmers have been blocking half a dozen major highways on the outskirts of New Delhi for three weeks and say they won’t leave until the government quashes what they call the “black laws”, passed by Parliament in September.
In addition to blocking the movement of people, the massive protest has dealt a blow to manufacturing and business in northern India. Nearly 60% of the Indian population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. The government insists the reforms will benefit farmers and says they will enable farmers to market their produce and boost production through private investment.
Putin blames US for arms race as Russia develops new “hypersonic” weapons.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, stated during this annual news conference that Russia is developing new “hypersonic weapons” in response to a new arms race, which he says was triggered by the US. The Russian leader wants America to agree to a one-year extension of the START Treaty, which maintains a nuclear balance between the two nations and is set to expire in February.
Mr Putin added that he believed US president-elect, Joe Biden, was open to talking about negotiations on the issue but wanted more cooperation with Washington. Speaking earlier, the Russian leader said the president-elect could help resolve “difficult issues” between Moscow and Washington.
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