Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Together, Guinea’s government and the WHO said Guinea will receive more than 11,000 Ebola vaccines this weekend.
  • AMERICAS: Mexico summoned the US chargé d’affaires to Mexico City John Creamer after Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered fuel to remain within Texas as it deals with a freeze that has overwhelmed its energy grid.
  • ASIA: Myanmar’s Pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets in the city of Mandalay after security forces attempted to intimidate the public overnight.
  • EUROPE: Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned over plans to arrest top opposition leader Nika Melia.
  • MIDDLE EAST: The United Arab Emirates is reportedly partially dismantling its military base in the east African country of Eritrea.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: A Belarus court sentenced two television journalists with the Poland-based Belsat TV to two years in prison for filming a demonstration against Belarus’ embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko.

Top Story

  • Australia: Facebook blocks news access for Australian users.
    • Facebook is no longer allowing its users in Australia to view or share news articles on the site due to a controversial new law being considered by the Australian government.
    • Facebook was criticized for the move by news producers and politicians and also human rights advocates, as Facebook seemed to have removed not just news articles for its Australian users but also health pages, emergency safety warnings and welfare network pages.
    • Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was one of the politicians to criticize Facebook’s move, saying “Facebook’s actions to unfriend Australia today, cutting off essential information services on health and emergency services, were as arrogant as they were disappointing.”  
    • The dispute between Facebook and the Australian government could be a test for the future of online publishing worldwide, as governments elsewhere are closely monitoring the law as a test case for a global push to force tech giants into sharing revenues with content providers.
    • Reporting: BBC, AP, Reuters, DPA, WaPo

Africa

  • Region: Sudan recalled its envoy to Ethiopia for consultations amid a growing border dispute between the two countries that has resulted in a military buildup along their shared border. (AP)
  • Cameroon: Former Anglophone rebels are protesting against what they said were poor conditions at the government’s rehabilitation centers for rebels. (VOA)
  • Guinea: Together, Guinea’s government and the WHO said Guinea will receive more than 11,000 Ebola vaccines this weekend. (Reuters)

Americas

  • Region: Mexico summoned the US chargé d’affaires to Mexico City John Creamer after Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered fuel to remain within Texas as it deals with a freeze that has overwhelmed its energy grid. (Reuters)
  • Region: Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro said he was open to dialogue with the new US Biden Administration, even as he accused six US oil executives jailed in Caracas of spying for the CIA. (AP)
  • Colombia: A special team will investigate 416 human remains found in a cemetery in Puerto Berrio to determine if they were victims of the country’s internal conflicts. (AFP)
  • United States: Life expectancy dropped by one year in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

Asia  

  • China: Hong Kong’s High Court again rejected another bail application submitted by media tycoon and Beijing critic Jimmy Lai. (Reuters)
  • India: Farmers continue to protest the government’s new agriculture laws, this time by blocking railway lines in parts of the country. (AP)
  • Myanmar: Pro-democracy protesters returned to the streets in the city of Mandalay after security forces attempted to intimidate the public overnight. (AP)
  • Taiwan: BioNTech said it still intends to supply the country with its coronavirus vaccines after the country’s health minister complained about the firm withdrawing from a deal, possibly due to Chinese pressure. (Reuters)

Europe

  • Region: The Defense Ministers of NATO member-states will discuss the potential end of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. (DPA)
  • Finland: The US State Department approved the sale of multiple launch rocket systems to the country. (UPI)
  • Georgia: Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia resigned over plans to arrest top opposition leader Nika Melia. (AFP)
  • Netherlands: Lawmakers are set to debate a new, hastily drafted piece of legislation to provide backing to the government’s coronavirus curfew order after a judge ordered the measure scrapped earlier this week. (AP)

Middle East

  • Iran: Senior diplomats from the US, the UK, Germany, and France will hold a virtual meeting to discuss the next steps in saving the 2015 nuclear deal with the country. (DPA)
  • Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US President Biden over the phone for the first time since the President took office. (NYT)
  • United Arab Emirates: The country is reportedly partially dismantling its military base in the east African country of Eritrea. (AP)

Tech & Communications

  • Media: A Belarus court sentenced two television journalists with the Poland-based Belsat TV to two years in prison for filming a demonstration against Belarus’ embattled leader Alexander Lukashenko. (BBC)

World

  • Cyclones
    • Tropical Storm Dujuan
      • Location: 787 nautical miles SE of Manila, Philippines
      • Wind: 40 mph
      • Movement: NW at 5 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes
    • Vanuatu
      • Location: 147 km SSW of Port-Vila, Vanuatu
      • Magnitude: 6.2
      • Depth: 10 km
      • Map
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 18FEB21)
      • Confirmed cases: 109,987,995
      • Total recovered cases: 61,945,099
      • Deaths: 2,432,430
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192 
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (19FEB21)

  • Global: The leaders of G7 countries will hold a virtual meeting.
  • Global: The Munich Security Conference will hold a special virtual one-off broadcast of remarks by global leaders, including US President Joe Biden, due to the ongoing global coronavirus pandemic.
  • Global: The EU-Tajikistan cooperation council will hold a virtual meeting.
  • Europe: The 9th trilateral Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey foreign ministers’ meeting will be held. (to 20FEB)
  • Europe: European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will visit Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina to discuss migration issues. (to 20FEB)
  • Finland: Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas will visit and meet with her counterpart Sanna Marin and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
  • Somalia: Protests against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo could potentially be held.
  • Tunisia: Parliament will debate approving a bill under which all liability for potential complications suffered by coronavirus vaccine recipients will be held by the government. 
  • United States: The country is expected to officially rejoin the Paris climate agreement.
  • United States: The government will start processing some asylum applications.

END