Major news stories from around the world this week


police attacked

French police attacked while shutting down massive New year rave party

over 2,500 ravers from France and abroad were caught partying on Friday morning.  The party took place despite France’s 8 pm to 6 am nationwide curfew aimed at dissuading public gatherings during the pandemic.

Party-goers appealed for understanding after months of nightlife-destroying lockdowns and curfews designed to limit coronavirus infections. The group, Techno+ who organised the event advised partygoers to self-isolate for a week and then get tested after attending the rave.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, are now considering an array of possible criminal charges against the organisers and the attendees. It is yet to be seen how the rave will result in terms of new covid cases, it most likely seems that the illegal rave could be the new super spreader event.

With France reporting more than 64,000 virus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic the result of the rave is yet to be seen.


Six killed and many injured as earthquake strikes Croatia

A  powerful earthquake rocked central Croatia on Tuesday morning, killing at least six people including a young girl. Search efforts are in full force in the hope of rescuing survivors stuck under debris. 

The earthquake, which hit around 11.30 am according to the US Geological Survey, rattled Petrinja and the surrounding area, just a day after a smaller earthquake struck in the same vicinity, causing some damage to buildings. The European Union’s Crisis Management Chief, Janez Lenarcic, said the bloc was preparing aid for member state Croatia.

Petrinja’s mayor, Darinko Dumbovic, said a kindergarten was among the buildings that collapsed from the force of the quake. Luckily, it was empty at the time. “The city is actually a huge ruin,” Dumbovic told national radio earlier in the day. “We are saving people, we are saving lives. We have dead people, we have missing people, injured people… it is a catastrophe.” 


Unprecedented surge as UK reports over 41,000 new cases 

The United Kingdom has reported a record 41,385 Covid cases and 357 deaths. NHS England said the number of people being treated for the virus in hospital is now 20,426, which is higher than the previous peak of about 19,000 in April.

Health officials in Wales and Scotland have also said they are at risk of becoming overwhelmed. Experiencing such a drastic spike in new cases has made it even tougher for hospitals, as they are trying to clear the backlog on non-urgent operations and procedures cancelled in the first wave – as well as trying to cope with the surge in Covid numbers. 

Dr Giri Shankar the incident director for the outbreak response at Public Health Wales said large numbers of patients, and staff sickness, have created an “incredibly challenging” situation. 

Similar reports have emerged in different parts of the country, as doctors have warned Scotland’s health system is “severely stretched”, while parts of Essex have recorded the highest weekly coronavirus case rates since the pandemic began. The BBC has been told the London Ambulance Service (LAS) received 7,918 emergency calls on 26 December – as many as at the height of the first wave of Covid-19.


17 crew missing after Russian fishing trawler sinks

A Russian fishing trawler sank Monday in the northern Barents Sea; 17 members of its crew are still missing, emergency officials said. Two other crew members have been rescued. According to a statement by the Russian Investigative Committee, the vessel with 19 crew onboard capsized and sank Monday morning. A criminal probe into the incident has been launched, and a search operation is underway.

Several vessels and an aircraft have been deployed. Russia’s Emergency Ministry initially suggested that an accumulation of the ice on the trawler could have caused it to sink but later said the vessel was more likely to have heeled over while pulling up the fishing nets, “scooped up water and sank.


Russia: COVID death toll is three times higher than reported

New data released Monday by the Russian statistics agency, Rosstat, showed that the number of deaths from all causes from January to November had risen by 229,700 compared to the same period last year. After the figures were released, Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova was quoted by Russia’s Interfax agency as saying “more than 81 per cent of the increase was due to Covid-19 and consequences of the disease.”

That means the virus-associated death toll is at least 186,000, or about three times previously reported. It would also give Russia the third-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world.


UN finds Netherlands violated human rights of stateless child

In a ground-breaking decision, the Human Rights Committee has found that the Netherlands has violated a child’s rights by registering “nationality unknown” in his civil records as this left him unable, under Dutch law, to be registered as stateless and therefore be given international protection as a stateless child.

The  UN committee is now urging the country to change its legislation. In its first-ever decision on the right of children to acquire a nationality, the UN Human Rights Committee determined on Tuesday that by registering the child as “Nationality unknown”, the Dutch authorities had violated his right to international protection and also to seek a nationality.

The committee pointed to official Dutch statistics showing that as of September 2016, an estimated 13,169 children under 10 were registered in the country as having unknown nationality,  many of them born in the Netherlands.





Bangladesh moves more Rohingya refugees to isolated island

Bangladesh has moved nearly 2,000 Rohingya refugees to a remote island. Four Bangladesh navy ships, carrying at least 1,800 Rohingya refugees,  left the Chattogram port for Bhashan Char island in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday, amid concerns many of the persecuted refugees were coerced into relocating to the flood-prone island.

Bangladesh sent the first group of 1,642 Rohingya to the island on 4 December. About 700,000 people from the Muslim minority group fled from Buddhist-majority Myanmar after August 2017, when they faced a harsh crackdown from Myanmar’s military.

Rohingya Muslims are not considered as citizens in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, with the crackdown including rape, murder and the torching of thousands of homes – a move declared as ethnic cleansing by the UN.


US and EU pressure China over the release of Wuhan journalist

The Chinese reporter was jailed on Monday after her coverage of the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Her imprisonment comes as the EU is set to sign a major investment deal with Beijing. The European Union and the United States have demanded that China release a journalist jailed for her reports on the early outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic from Wuhan.

Zhang was jailed on Monday for four years over allegations of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble,” her lawyer said. “According to credible sources, Zhang has been subject to torture and ill-treatment during her detention and her health condition has seriously deteriorated. It is crucial that she receives adequate medical assistance.”


Nepal protests: Thousands march against move to dissolve parliament

Thousands of opponents of Nepal’s Prime Minister, K.P. Sharma Oli, marched through the streets of Kathmandu on Tuesday, urging him to reverse his decision to dissolve parliament and call for early elections. The protesters, who say his decision on December 20 was unconstitutional, rallied outside his office despite coronavirus curbs on gatherings. 

The country’s top court will continue hearing dozens of petitions filed against Oli’s political move and his plans to press ahead with parliamentary elections next year. 


India confirms six cases of new Covid variant

Six cases of the more contagious variant of Covid-19 first identified in the UK have been confirmed in India. The six individuals who returned from the UK are being kept in isolation, officials said on Tuesday. Indian officials have begun contact-tracing close contacts and family members of the six who have tested positive for the new variant. Further, any passengers arriving from the UK will undergo RT-PCR tests at all airports in the country, 

Around 33,000 passengers arrived in India from the UK over the past month. Of those, 114 were found to be positive for coronavirus – their samples have been sent to ten labs for genome sequencing, according to the statement The samples found to be positive will then be genome sequenced by government-run labs in order to detect the new variant.

A new variant of coronavirus was detected: Should we worry about the mutation?





Ethiopian war criminals expected to leave Italian embassy after 29 years

Two officials have sentences commuted, ending what may be the world’s longest diplomatic asylum saga. The two convicted Ethiopian war criminals, who have been hiding inside an Italian embassy for nearly 30 years, have had their sentences commuted, meaning they are likely to finally leave.

Addis Tedla and Berhanu Bayeh were senior officials in the communist Derg regime, which ruled Ethiopia from the 1970s, until they fled into the Italian embassy in Addis Ababa on the night of May 27th, 1991. Their embassy stay is said to be the longest diplomatic asylum saga in history, lasting a full 22 years beyond WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s well-publicised seven years in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.


violence against opposition supporters ahead of elections in Uganda

Days after one of his bodyguards died during a confrontation with security forces, Ugandan presidential candidate, Bobi Wine, has said the only way to avenge his murdered supporters is to “liberate” Uganda.  “We all know the regime is doing this to crush our spirit, they’re doing this to demoralise us, they’re doing this to break our resolve,” Wine said during a press conference on Tuesday. “We are not going to give up. We are going to liberate this country. We are going to be free or we will die trying to be free.”

The country has been in a state of continuous strife Since wine expressed his intention to run in the election against long-ruling, 76-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. 





Saudi rights activist sentenced to six years in jail

Saudi women’s rights activist, Loujain al-Hathloul, one of Saudi Arabia’s most prominent women’s rights activists, was sentenced on Monday to nearly six years in prison under a vague and broadly worded law aimed at combating terrorism. She was found guilty of conspiring against the kingdom, alongside a series of other crimes set out in the country’s broadly-worded counter-terrorism laws.

According to state-linked media and her family, Hathloul, 31, has been held in pre-trial detention since May 2018. Hathloul had campaigned for the right for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and protested against the system of male guardianship, where men control aspects of the lives of female family members – from travel and jobs to marriage


EU ministers back US return to Iran nuclear deal under Biden

The US President-elect says he sees a return to the current 2015 agreement as to the best immediate route to regional stability. European powers are backing Joe Biden’s suggestion that the US returns to a landmark nuclear deal with Iran in its existing form, and leave their more contentious push to expand the accord to curb Tehran’s military and regional policies until later.

Germany, France and the UK committed, along with fellow accord signatories Iran, Russia and China, to “positively address” Washington’s possible re-entry, after President Donald Trump quit in 2018. Biden’s National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, emphasized that any progress toward preserving or even enhancing the deal would depend on international cooperation. 


Syrian refugees flee Lebanon camp after tents set on fire

Hundreds of Syrian refugees have fled their makeshift camp in north Lebanon after their tents were set alight when fighting broke out between local youths and camp residents. Amidst the violence, Damascus urged Lebanon’s judicial authorities and security forces to “shoulder their responsibility” to ensure that its nationals were protected

At least three people were wounded in the clash on Saturday in the Miniyeh region near the coastal city of Tripoli, after which youths set fire to the camp, Lebanon’s state-owned National News Agency said.

Tensions between refugees and residents have risen in Lebanon in recent years, Lebanon has received more than a million Syrian refugees since the start of the country’s civil war in 2011. Khaled Kabarra, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, said the nearly 400 residents who fled the camp went to other enclosed encampments or found temporary shelter in vacant schools and hotels.





Argentina legalises abortion, a milestone judgement in favour of women’s rights

Argentina becomes the third in South America to permit elective abortions and the largest Latin American country to do so after the government voted to approve the landmark law by 38 votes in favour and 29 against it.

Volcano erupts on Hawaii’s Big Island

Kilauea volcano erupted overnight for the first time in more than two years, placing Hawaii’s Big Island on a red alert Monday morning. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said the situation is “rapidly evolving.” About an hour later, the agency recorded a magnitude 4.4 earthquake located beneath Kilauea’s south flank. A red alert was then issued, meaning an eruption is “imminent” with the likely emission of significant volcanic ash into the atmosphere. 

Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano, last erupted in 2018 — a destructive event that lasted months. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands of people had to be evacuated.


Three dead after man opens fire in Illinois bowling alley

A US army sergeant has been charged in the deaths of three people and the wounding of three more in a shooting at an Illinois bowling alley, authorities said Sunday. Winnebago County state’s attorney, J Hanley, said Duke Webb, 37, an army special forces sergeant based in Florida, has been charged in the deaths of three people and the wounding of three more for the shooting at Don Carter Lanes, in Rockford, Illinois, late Saturday.




Grace Millane murderer also raped another tourist

The man who murdered British backpacker, Grace Millane, in New Zealand, raped another British tourist just months earlier, it can be revealed, after the convicted killer lost his appeal for his name to be suppressed. Jesse Kempson raped the British tourist when she refused sex following a date.

Kempson’s name had been suppressed because he had faced two further trials, but that order has been lifted by New Zealand’s Supreme Court after he lost an appeal against his murder conviction and sentence. Just as he did later with Ms Millane, Kempson took the victim out on a Tinder date before bringing her back to his Auckland motel room and then proceeding to rape her.





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