Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for all sides to “urgently cease hostile actions” in the Central African Republic, where peacekeepers were deployed to prevent armed groups from disrupting upcoming elections.
  • AMERICAS:  Russia the perpetrator behind the massive, ongoing cyber spy campaign against the federal government and private sector, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated. making him the first Trump administration official to publicly blame Moscow for the computer hacks.
  • ASIA: India surged past 10 million COVID-19 cases, official data showed, the second-highest in the world although new cases appear to have decreased sharply in recent weeks.
  • EUROPE: The United States is halting work at two consulates in Russia, the State Department reported, citing safety and security issues at the facilities where operations had been curtailed over COVID-19.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Fresh construction work is happening at the sensitive underground Fordo nuclear site, in Iran satellite photos seen by the news agency Associated Press and unearthed by an anonymous Israeli defense analyst show.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: The United States added 77 Chinese entities, including chipmaker SMIC and the world’s biggest drone maker DJI, to its blacklist of companies with which it bans the export of US technology.

Top Story

  • United States: As cases continue to swell, attempts to counter the spreading COVID-19 pandemic increase. 
    • The nation has recorded more than 313,500 deaths and about 17.5 million infections, according to Johns Hopkins University.
    • Moderna Inc’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday became the second to receive emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
    • President-elect Joe Biden will receive his first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, as Vice President Mike Pence and US Congressional leaders began receiving their shots on Friday.
    • Congress passed a two-day stopgap spending bill Friday night, delaying a possible partial government shutdown and buying yet more time for frustratingly slow endgame negotiations on an almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package.
    • Reporting: BBC, Reuters, DPA, AP,

Africa

  • Region: Defense ministers from eastern African countries decided to expand the region’s rapid reaction forces by taking in a standby force from Sudan. (Xinhua)
  • Central African Republic: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for all sides to “urgently cease hostile actions” in the nation, where peacekeepers were deployed to prevent armed groups from disrupting upcoming elections. (AFP)
  • South Africa: The nation reported 8,725 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the national tally to 901,538, the country’s health department reported. (Xinhua)

Americas

  • Panama:  The country will next week reimpose nationwide curbs on movement by requiring men and women to carry out shopping on different days, the health minister announced, imposing drastic measures following a surge in COVID-19 cases. (Reuters)
  • Peru: The mountainous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu will re-open to tourists after an agreement was reached to cease protests by locals over train services, officials reported. (AFP)
  • United States: Russia the perpetrator behind the massive, ongoing cyber spy campaign against the federal government and private sector, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated. making him the first Trump administration official to publicly blame Moscow for the computer hacks. (WaPo)

Asia  

  • Australia: Sydney’s hotspot went into lockdown as authorities took steps to contain the outbreak in the city to keep Christmas open for travel. (DPA)
  • China: The country will soon start COVID-19 inoculations for workers in health care, transport, and border control, a senior official announced. (AP)
  • India: The nation surged past 10 million COVID-19 cases, official data showed, the second-highest in the world although new cases appear to have decreased sharply in recent weeks. (AFP)
  • Thailand: The nation has nine new local COVID-19 infections, the biggest one-day increase in local transmissions in more than seven months, health officials reported. (Reuters)

Europe

  • Portugal: The country recorded 4,336 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, bringing the national tally to 366,952, said the country’s Directorate-General for Health. (Xinhua)
  • Italy: The government announced a nationwide lockdown for the holiday season after experts warned the country was still at high risk from COVID-19. (DPA)
  • Russia: The United States is halting work at two consulates in the nation, the State Department reported, citing safety and security issues at the facilities where operations had been curtailed over COVID-19. (Reuters)
  • United Kingdom: Significant concerns have been expressed over the country’s preparedness for leaving the EU by an influential group of MPs less than two weeks before Brexit day on 31 December. (The Guardian)

Middle East

  • Qatar: Events happen in the country for the National Day celebration in Doha. (Xinhua)
  • Iran: Fresh construction work is happening at the sensitive underground Fordo nuclear site, satellite photos seen by the news agency Associated Press and unearthed by an anonymous Israeli defense analyst show. (AP)

Tech & Communications

  • Cybersecurity: The United States added 77 Chinese entities, including chipmaker SMIC and the world’s biggest drone maker DJI, to its blacklist of companies with which it bans the export of US technology. (EFE)

World

  • Cyclones:
    • Cyclone Yasa
      • Location:21.7S 178W
      • Movement:S
      • Wind:50 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
  • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global
    • Confirmed Cases as of 18DEC20: 75,768,382
    • Total Recovered Cases as of 18DEC20: 42,752,379
    • Deaths as of 18DEC20: 1,677,058
    • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191
    • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (20DEC20)

  • Global: United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation among developing countries of the southern hemisphere
  • Belarus: Protests expected against President Lukashenko
  • Thailand: Provincial Elections.

END