As per a tally from the Johns Hopkins University, two million people have died because of the novel coronavirus across the world. The US, which accounts for about four percent of the world’s population, has reported nearly 20 percent of all deaths globally. Nearly a million people have died due to COVID-19 related complications in the previous three and a half months alone.
The Netherlands government of Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s has resigned after thousands of Dutch families were wrongly accused of child welfare fraud and told to pay the money back. A recent report revealed that around 10,000 families had been made to repay tens of thousands of euros of subsidies after being wrongly accused of fraud, which led to many unemployment, bankruptcy and divorce cases.
Joe, the pigeon that was to be euthanized by authorities in Australia after reportedly crossing the Pacific Ocean, has been saved after he was found wearing a fake tag. Joe was to be killed for breaching the quarantine rules. ’Following an investigation, the department has concluded that Joe the Pigeon is highly likely to be Australian,’ the Dept. of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said.
’Abundant’ surface-to-surface ballistic missiles were fired and locally manufactured new drones were tested in a military exercise by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Friday. The drill was overseen by Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami in the central desert region. The drill has been conducted in the waning days of high tensions with US President Donald Trump’s administration.
A report by Green 2.0, an independent advocacy campaign that tracks racial and gender diversity within the environmental movement, has found that the green movement remains predominantly white. Data has shown that organizations added six people of color and eight women to their full-time staff from 2017 to 2020, and added two people of color and two women to their senior staff in that time.
Initial information from the country’s disaster mitigation agency showed that 34 people had died and 637 others were injured after a 6.2-magnitute earthquake hit Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Friday. The epicentre of the quake was six kilometres north-east of Majene city. 15,000 residents have been displaced. Many people are feared trapped under collapsed buildings.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the country’s withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty that allowed observation flights over military facilities. It comes after the US withdrew from the pact in November. The ministry said the US’s exit ’significantly upset the balance of interests of signatory states.’ It also noted that Moscow’s efforts to keep the treaty alive were snubbed by Washington’s allies.
Early trends in the Ugandan presidential election show President Yoweri Museveni leading his challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine. With 29.4% of ballots counted, Museveni has won 63.9% of the vote against Bobi Wine’s 28.4%. Uganda went to the polls Thursday. Kyagulanyi, who is a singer-turned-politician, said Museveni’s lead reflected the worst rigging in Uganda’s history.
A former defense minister who has been alleged by US prosecutors to being a drug capo has been exonerated by Mexico. This has resulted in massive outrage with claims that the armed forces of the country have become untouchable. Last October, Gen Salvador Cienfuego was arrested at the Los Angeles airport. It was alleged that he shielded a multimillion-dollar conspiracy to smuggle drugs to the US.
The city of Meissen crematorium, in the eastern state of Saxony, Germany, is resorting to stacking coffins one on top of the other as the country battles a new surge in coronavirus deaths during an intense second wave of the pandemic. Crematorium manager Joerg Schaldach said ’We have twice as many deaths as before. Those who die from coronavirus are extra and those are a 100 percent increase.’
North Korea showcased new submarine-launched ballistic missiles under development and other military hardware in a parade Thursday night. Leader Kim Jong Un took center stage in the parade celebrating a major ruling party meeting in which he vowed maximum efforts to bolster the nuclear and missile program. The moves are likely intended to pressure the incoming US government of Joe Biden.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health said Pfizer will temporarily reduce it supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine that it developed with BioNTech. It linked the temporary reduction in deliveries to ’an upgrade of production capacity.’ The NIPH said the reduction will affect all European countries. Pfizer is yet to comment on this. However, the company said it aims to make two billion doses in 2021.
The Hindu temple in Pakistan - Shri Paramhans Ji Maharaj Samadhi, was attacked by a mob of more than hundred people who set the religious site on fire. On Thursday, the regional government fired 12 policemen on the grounds of being unable to prevent the attack. 33 other police officers were also suspended for a year as a penalty.
The UN urged the US on Thursday to reverse its decision to declare Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels a terrorist group to prevent massive famine and death in the nation. However, the Trump administration has rejected the request. The US deputy ambassador, Richard Mills, said the country will take measures to reduce the impact on aid deliveries and commercial imports instead.
The family of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, will move the UK Supreme Court after a Scottish court dismissed their case to overturn his conviction as ’miscarriage of justice.’ A court in Edinburgh, Scotland ruled Friday that Megrahi was correctly convicted of bombing Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 passengers, crew and some on ground.
The prosecutor’s office in Brussels reported that four people, including two minors, remained in custody after a demonstration over the weekend death of a young Black man detained by police turned violent. Three of the individuals held were suspected of arson, and the fourth has been accused of rebellion. The police have made more than 100 arrests following the violence.
The United Nations reported that homes belonging to thousands of people were destroyed after a huge fire engulfed the Rohingya refugee camp in southern Bangladesh in the early hours of Thursday. More than 550 shelters home to around 3,500 people were either totally or partially destroyed in the blaze, as well as 150 shops and a facility belonging to a non-profit organization.
One of the ravens at the Tower of London is feared to have died. As per legend, if the tower has fewer than six ravens, the kingdom would fall, and with this latest, development, the tower is close to having fewer than six ravens. Ravenmaster Christopher Skaife confirmed that one of the birds, Merlina, known as the queen of the tower’s unkindness of ravens, is presumed dead.
A World Health Organization team of experts has arrived in China’s Wuhan to start its investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they will rely upon evidence provided by Chinese officials. The team’s arrival comes after months of negotiations between the WHO and Beijing. The WHO earlier said China was blocking the team’s entry, but Beijing said it was a misunderstanding.
A Paris court will begin hearing a complaint brought by NGOs and backed by two million citizens that accuses the French state of failing to act to halt climate change. The case is a result of a legal complaint filed by Greenpeace France, Oxfam France, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation and Notre Affaire a Tous, in March 2019. The NGOs are seeking to hold the state responsible for environmental damage.
A racing pigeon that survived a 13,000 km (8000 mile) Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to Australia now faces being euthanized as a quarantine risk. The bird was discovered in Melbourne on Boxing Day, having had disappeared from a race in Oregon, US, on 29 October. The bird’s (nicknamed Joe) trip has attracted the attention of the notoriously strict Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.
Incumbent President Yoweri Museveni is facing challenger Robert Kyagulanyi, a singer-turned-politician who is known by his stage name Bobi Wine, in the hotly contested presidential election in Uganda. Museveni, 76, says he is standing for stability in the country while Kyagulanyi, 38, says he is representing Uganda’s youth. Museveni has ordered the internet to be shut down during the election.
Mainland China has reported its first Covid-19 death in eight months. This is the first death since May. No details were provided, except that the person was in Hebei province, the main site of China’s worst outbreak in months and where new lockdowns have been imposed. The death comes as a team of experts from the WHO landed in Wuhan to investigate the origins of the pandemic.
Britain has banned travel from the whole of South America and Portugal over fears of a new Covid-19 strain found in Brazil. UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that as of 4am Friday, arrivals from over a dozen countries, including Argentina, Chile and Peru, will be halted ’following evidence of a new variant in Brazil.’ UK also banned travel from Panama and West Africa’s Cape Verde islands.