Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: African countries have recorded 3,799,029 COVID-19 cases, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) announced.
  • AMERICAS: Six more people connected with the extremist Oath Keepers group have been arrested and charged for their role in last month’s Capitol riots, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia reported.
  • ASIA: Four retired Taiwanese military intelligence officers — including a major general — have been indicted for spying for China, prosecutors announced.
  • EUROPE: Gazprom has advised against fixating on specific dates for completing the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe, but declared they are sure that the project will be completed.
  • MIDDLE EAST: The United States plans no additional actions in response to pressure from Tehran ahead of possible talks on a return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the White House said on February 19.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: The lander and the rover of the Chang’e-4 probe have been switched to the dormant mode for the lunar night after working successfully for the 27th lunar day, the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of China National Space Administration reported.

Top Story

  • United States: The federal government is continuing to deal with Texas’s recovery from recent harsh winter weather. 
    • US President Joe Biden is set to enforce a major disaster for Texas, paving the way for more federal funds to be spent on relief efforts for the state.
    • At least 59 deaths across the U.S. have been blamed on the recent winter weather.
    • More than 140,000 homes and businesses are still without power in Texas.
    • Texas Governor Greg Abbott blamed the state’s widespread power outages on the grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), in a press conference.
    • Reporting: BBC, APBloomberg, CBS,

Africa

  • Region: African countries have recorded 3,799,029 COVID-19 cases, the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) announced. (Xinhua)
  • Eswatini: King Mswati III said he had recovered from COVID-19 after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen provided antiviral medication to deal with the illness. (Reuters)
  • Somalia: The African Union (AU) called on the nation’s political class to act in the interests of the country by avoiding narrow partisan political interests. (Xinhua)

Americas

  • Mexico: The first batch of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine against COVID-19 will come to the nation, the deputy health minister, Hugo López Gatell, announced at a news conference. (Reuters)
  • United States: A Russian man has been charged in California with attempting to aid a foreign terrorist organization, authorities reported. (AP)
  • United States: Six more people connected with the far-right Oath Keepers group have been arrested and charged for their role in last month’s Capitol riots, the Attorney for the District of Columbia reported. (DPA)

Asia  

  • Afghanistan: Three separate explosions in the capital city of Kabul killed at least five people and wounded two others, a police official reported, during a surge in violence in the war-torn country. (AP)
  • Indonesia: Severe flooding across several areas in the capital Jakarta forced more than a thousand people to flee their homes, with the country’s meteorology agency warning the conditions were set to persist for the next week. (Reuters)
  • New Zealand: The country launched its Covid-19 vaccination program but warned the initial rollout was only the beginning of a long battle against the pandemic. (AFP)
  • Taiwan: Four retired military intelligence officers — including a major general — have been indicted for spying for China, prosecutors announced. (AFP)

Europe

  • Region: Gazprom has advised against fixating on specific dates for the completion of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Europe but declared they are absolutely sure that the project will be completed. (Interfax)
  • Spain: Protests broke out again in several cities over the controversial arrest of a famous rapper who was sentenced to nine months in prison for insulting the monarchy and praising violence. (DPA)
  • Russia: The nation approved a third COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin stated on state TV. (Reuters)
  • Russia: Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny lost his appeal against what he said was a politically-motivated decision to imprison him for nearly three years. (Reuters)
  • United Kingdom: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has told the BBC that the country should donate vaccines to developing countries now rather than waiting until it has a surplus. (BBC)

Middle East

  • Iran: The United States plans no additional actions in response to pressure from Tehran ahead of possible negotiations on a return to the 2015 nuclear deal, the White House said on February 19. (RFE)
  • Syria: After ten years of civil war, the nation is currently suffering from its worst hunger crisis, according to the German aid organization Welthungerhilfe. (DPA)
  • Yemen: The country’s Saudi-backed government accused Houthi rebels of using civilians as human shields in their renewed attacks against Marib, its last major stronghold in the north. (AFP)

Tech & Communications

  • Space: The lander and the rover of the Chang’e-4 probe have been switched to the dormant mode for the lunar night after working successfully for the 27th lunar day, the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of China National Space Administration reported. (Xinhua)

World

  • Cyclones:
    • Tropical Storm Guambe
      • Location:25.7S 36.3E
      • Movement:S
      • Wind:85 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 20FEB21)
      • Confirmed cases: 110,770,701
      • Total recovered cases: 62,383,815
      • Deaths: 2,453,381
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (21FEB21)

  • Iran: IAEA chief reportedly visits the nation for technical discussions.
  • Laos: Parliamentary elections.
  • Niger: Presidential and legislative elections second round.
  • Norway: King Harald turns 84.
  • Zimbabwe: Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day.

END