Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: A Burundian peacekeeper was killed during an ambush by rebels in the Central African Republic, the United Nations reported, the fifth soldier killed since a rebel offensive began.
  • AMERICAS: President-elect Joe Biden announced he is upgrading the White House science advisor position to cabinet-level — a change from the Trump administration as America grapples with the pandemic.
  • ASIA: India started vaccinating health workers in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already in progress.
  • EUROPE: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky talked with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel to discuss providing vaccines against the COVID-19 virus.
  • MIDDLE EAST: The Iranian Paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid increased tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the country.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Twitter has suspended accounts linked to FARC dissidents after Colombian police complained that they were being used to encourage violence, and Facebook said it has also removed related content from its platform.

Top Story

  • United States: Concerns grow over the slow roll-out of COVID vaccines throughout the country. 
    • The governors of several states accused the Trump administration of deception in promising to immediately distribute millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses from a stockpile that the U.S. health secretary has since acknowledged does not exist.
    • A highly contagious COVID-19 variant first detected in the UK could become the most dominant strain in the US by March, health officials reported.
    • President-elect Joe Biden has promised to increase supplies of the COVD-19 vaccine and set up new vaccination sites to meet his goal of 100 million shots in 100 days.
    • President-elect Joe Biden has selected David Kessler, a close adviser on the current pandemic, to help lead the incoming administration’s efforts to accelerate the manufacturing, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
    • The largest vaccine center in the United States was activated at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles County as the metropolitan area is about to hit the latest grim milestone of 1 million total cases.
    • Reporting: Reuters, BBC, AP. WaPoXinhua

Africa

  • Region: A Burundian peacekeeper was killed during an ambush by rebels in the Central African Republic, the United Nations reported, the fifth soldier killed since a rebel offensive began. (AFP)
  • Mali: A peacekeeper of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the North African country (MINUSMA) died of his injuries from an improvised explosive device/mine attack in the northeastern region of Kidal, MINUSMA confirmed in a press release. (Xinhua)
  • Rwanda: The Health Ministry reported 257 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, the first single-day increase of more than 200 since March 2020. (Xinhua)

Americas

  • Guatemala: The military has detained hundreds of migrants at its border as thousands of Hondurans, including many families with young children, continued to travel north as part of a caravan hoping to reach the United States. (Reuters)
  • United States: A Dallas-area real estate agent who is facing charges for allegedly being part of the pro-President Donald Trump rioters that overran the U.S. Capitol last week said she is a “normal person” who listened to her president. (AP)
  • United States: President-elect Joe Biden announced he is upgrading the White House science advisor position to cabinet-level — a change from the Trump administration as America grapples with the pandemic. (AFP)

Asia  

  • Hong Kong: The city-state condemned the United States over its latest sanctions on six pro-China officials, slamming the move as “insane, shameless and despicable”. (AFP)
  • India: The nation started vaccinating health workers in what is likely the world’s largest COVID-19 vaccination campaign, joining the ranks of wealthier nations where the effort is already in progress. (AP)
  • Japan: Tokyo reported 1,809 cases of COVID-19, its government announced. (Reuters)
  • Malaysia: The nation is taking legal action at the global trade watchdog against the European Union and member states France and Lithuania for restricting palm oil-based biofuels, the government announced. (Reuters)
  • South Korea: The country extended its current social distancing level for two weeks while easing business restrictions on cafes, gyms, and other indoor facilities. (YNA)

Europe

  • Region: President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky talked with Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel to discuss providing vaccines against the COVID-19 virus. (Interfax)
  • Azerbaijan: The nation will allow cafes and restaurants to open their doors to customers from Feb. 1, but other COVID-19 lockdown restrictions will be extended until April, the government reported. (Reuters)
  • Germany: The race to lead Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) appears wide open as her party heads into a key vote in choosing the chancellor’s successor. (DPA)
  • United Kingdom: Later this month, members of the Scottish National party will gather for a virtual National Assembly to discuss “alternative routes” to an independence referendum if the UK government refuses to authorize a vote that might end the centuries-old union of Scotland and England. (FT)

Middle East

  • Region: The United States called Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates “major security partners”, a previously unheard-of designation for the two countries home to major American military operations. (DPA)
  • Iran: The Paramilitary Revolutionary Guard conducted a drill launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean, state television reported, amid increased tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program and a U.S. pressure campaign against the country. (AP)

Tech & Communications

  • Social Media: Twitter has suspended accounts linked to FARC dissidents after Colombian police complained that they were being used to encourage violence, and Facebook said it has also removed related content from its platform. (Reuters)

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 16JAN21)
      • Confirmed cases: 93,943,702
      • Total recovered cases: 51,780,468
      • Deaths: 2,011,230
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 191
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (17JAN21)

  • Germany: Matchday 16 of the Bundesliga
  • Norway: 30th anniversary of Norwegian King Harald’s ascension to the throne
  • Russia: Navalny says he will return to the nation
  • United Kingdom: 75th anniversary of the first session of the UN Security Council

END