Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Uganda’s government prevented US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown from visiting opposition presidential election candidate Bobi Wine at his residence and accused the US of attempting to subvert the country’s recent presidential election.
  • AMERICAS: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged the US to reform its immigration system, as Guatemalan authorities blocked thousands of people from leaving Guatemala.
  • ASIA: A Thai court sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for insulting and defaming Thailand’s monarchy.
  • EUROPE: Russia said it was not fazed by some countries urging additional sanctions on Moscow over the detention of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, as it called the case purely a domestic issue.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Lebanon’s Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm said the country’s government received a request from Switzerland to cooperate with an inquiry investigating money transfers by the country’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: India’s Technology Ministry asked WhatsApp to reverse its privacy policy changes under which it plans to share some user data with Facebook.

 

Top Story

  • Global: A WHO panel says both the WHO and China should have responded quicker to coronavirus pandemic.
    • The World Health Organization-established Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response criticized both the WHO and China’s response to the initial spread of the coronavirus.
    • The Independent Panel, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, said the WHO should have declared an international emergency regarding the coronavirus at an earlier date.
    • The panel also criticized the WHO for declaring a pandemic in March 2020, weeks after most continents started reporting a high number of coronavirus cases.
    • The Independent Panel also criticized China for not implementing public health measures sooner during the initial spread of the coronavirus, saying Beijing could have applied their efforts “more forcefully” in January 2020. 
    • Additionally, the panel also criticized countries for not strictly enforcing measures such as early case detection, contact tracing, physical distancing and mask wearing.
    • Reporting: BBC, AP, AFP, NYT, UPI

 

Africa

  • Ivory Coast: The country’s largest cocoa growers’ association urged its members to go on strike as it threatened to block port deliveries in response to low prices and warehouse backlogs. (Reuters)
  • Libya: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres commended the recent “tangible progress” in resolving the country’s almost decade-long crisis and demanded all foreign troops and mercenaries leave the country by the week’s end, in a document submitted to the UN Security Council. (AFP)
  • Rwanda: The government reimposed strict coronavirus lockdown measures in capital Kagali, including banning movement into and out of the city. (Reuters)
  • Tunisia: Police arrested more than 600 people during a fourth night of protests by mainly young demonstrators angry with the country’s economic situation. (BBC)
  • Uganda: The government prevented US Ambassador Natalie E. Brown from visiting opposition presidential election candidate Bobi Wine at his residence and accused the US of attempting to subvert the country’s recent presidential election. (Reuters)

 

Americas

  • Region: Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador urged the US to reform its immigration system, as Guatemalan authorities blocked thousands of people from leaving Guatemala. (BBC)
  • Brazil: The country’s coronavirus vaccination campaign started. (NYT)
  • Nicaragua: Lawmakers approved a constitutional amendment enabling life imprisonment which government critics and the opposition fear could be used against the opposition, like other recent measures approved by the President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista party dominated Congress. (AP)
  • United States: President-elect Joe Biden intends to extend the travel restrictions barring travelers who recently visited Europe or Brazil. (Reuters)
  • Venezuela: Embattled President Nicolas Maduro issued an arrest warrant for US-based Citgo’s new Board of Directors member who was appointed by the opposition. (Reuters)

 

Asia  

  • Region: North Korea’s trade with China declined by 80% in 2020, according to the Chinese government’s customs data. (Reuters)
  • Region: Taiwan’s military conducted a drill aimed at countering an attack from China. (AP)
  • India: The developers of the country’s indigenous coronavirus vaccine warned people with weak immunity and other medical conditions including allergies to avoid their vaccine. (AP)
  • Thailand: A court sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for insulting and defaming the country’s monarchy. (AP)

 

Europe

  • Region: Russia said it was not fazed by some countries urging additional sanctions on Moscow over the detention of opposition politician Alexei Navalny, as it called the case purely a domestic issue. (Reuters)
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders are set to extend the country’s COVID-19 lockdown in response to the new strains. (DPA)
  • Italy: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is set to face a vote of confidence in the Senate. (DPA)
  • Russia: Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in prison over parole violations by a court. (VOA)

 

Middle East

  • Region: Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani urged Gulf Arab countries to hold talks with Iran. (AFP)
  • Region: The Palestinian Authority said it could receive Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus within days. (Reuters)
  • Israel: The Health Ministry confirmed a record 10,021 new daily coronavirus cases, even as the government continues its coronavirus vaccination campaign. (DPA)
  • Lebanon: Justice Minister Marie Claude Najm said the country’s government received a request from Switzerland to cooperate with an inquiry investigating money transfers by the country’s Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh. (Reuters)

 

Tech & Communications

  • Social Media: India’s Technology Ministry asked WhatsApp to reverse its privacy policy changes under which it plans to share some user data with Facebook. (Reuters)

 

World

  • Cyclones
    • Cyclone Eloise
      • Location: 358 nautical miles NE of Antananarivo, Madagascar
      • Wind: 60 mph
      • Movement: SW at 4 mph
      • Map
    • Cyclone Kimi
      • Location: 103 nautical miles E-SE of Cairns, Australia
      • Wind: 40 mph
      • Movement: NW at 1 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes
    • Argentina
      • Location: 29 km W-SW of Pocito, Argentina
      • Magnitude: 6.4
      • Depth: 20 km
      • Map
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 19JAN21)
      • Confirmed cases: 95,628,637
      • Total recovered cases: 52,747,605
      • Deaths: 2,042,733
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 191
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

 

Tomorrow’s Outlook (20JAN21)

  • Global: 40th anniversary of the end of the Iranian hostage crisis.
  • Global: The European Union-Cuba Joint Council will hold an informal meeting.
  • Asia: India will dispatch a shipment of coronavirus vaccines to neighboring Bangladesh.
  • Europe: Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa will present the European Council’s priorities to the European Parliament.
  • Europe: The European Parliament will hold a debate on tax havens.
  • Ghana: President Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to make new ministerial appointments.
  • Paraguay: President Mario Abdo Benitez will end his precautionary coronavirus self-isolation after having come into contact with Vice President Hugo Velázquez, who tested positive for the new coronavirus.
  • Russia: Opposition leader Alexei Navalny will appear in court to face charges of defaming a World War II veteran.
  • Russia: The country’s health authorities will reportedly hold discussions with the WHO over the use of Moscow’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines in emergency situations.
  • Syria: The UN’s Security Council will hold a meeting to discuss the situation in the country.
  • United States: The inaugural ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will be held.
  • United States: Outgoing President Donald Trump is expected to move to West Palm Beach, Florida.

 

END