Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Liberian officials said that at least 29 people, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, died in a stampede of worshippers at a Christian ceremony in Monrovia.
  • AMERICAS: The heads of state of Brazil, Guyana, and Suriname this week will take the first steps toward forging an infrastructure that would better share the neighboring South American countries’ energy and natural resources.
  • ASIA: Pakistani police said a bomb exploded at a crowded bazar in Lahore killing at least two people and wounding 26 others.
  • EUROPE: Russia accused the West of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine even as it blames Moscow for planning aggressive military action in the neighboring country.
  • MIDDLE EAST: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed developments in Syria with Russia’s special envoy.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that hackers gained access to the personal and confidential data of some 500,000 people.

Top Story

  • Global: China said it warned away a US warship in the South China Sea, but Washington denies such claims.
    • Chinese forces followed and warned away a US warship which entered waters near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, but the US Navy denied the ship had been warned off.
    • The Southern Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army said the US ship had “illegally” entered what Beijing regards as its waters.
    • The US navy said the USS Benfold “asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, consistent with international law”.
    • Last week, a 44-page study published by the State Department provided a rebuttal to China’s maritime claims and among those challenges was Beijing’s creation of straight baselines.
    • The South China Sea has become a major flashpoint in US-China relations, with Washington rejecting what it calls unlawful territorial claims by Beijing.
    • Reuters, AFP, CNN, Newsweek, The Guardian

Africa

  • Burkina Faso: Authorities disrupted access to Facebook due to security fears. (BBC)
  • Ethiopia: UN Secretary General António Guterres said there is “demonstrable effort to make peace” in the country after more than a year of civil war. (BBC)
  • Liberia: Officials said that at least 29 people, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, died in a stampede of worshippers at a Christian ceremony in Monrovia. (AP)
  • Madagascar: At least 10 people died following heavy rains in Antananarivo. (BBC)
  • South Africa: Amazon could pull out of a deal to create its Africa headquarters in Cape Town if a legal challenge by indigenous activists is allowed to proceed. (AFP)

Americas  

  • Region: The heads of state of Brazil, Guyana, and Suriname this week will take the first steps toward forging an infrastructure that would better share the neighboring South American countries’ energy and natural resources. (Reuters)
  • Brazil: Health authorities reported 204,854 new cases of COVID-19, breaking the country record for the second day in a row. (Reuters)
  • Haiti: A suspect in the assassination of President Jovenel Moise was extradited to the United States from the Dominican Republic. (AP)
  • United States: The Pentagon declassified and released video footage of a US drone strike in which killed 10 civilians in Kabul during the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. (AP)
  • United States: Senators dealt a death blow to President Joe Biden’s push to defend voting rights against what Democrats frame as an all-out assault by conservative states targeting racial minorities. (AFP)

Asia

  • Region: Foreign and defense ministers from Japan and France will discuss further security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific. (Reuters)
  • North Korea: State media reported the government is considering resuming testing of nuclear warheads and ICBMs in response to hostile US policy. (Reuters)
  • Pakistan: Police said a bomb exploded at a crowded bazar in Lahore killing at least two people and wounding 26 others. (AP)
  • Thailand: Officials said the country will resume its quarantine-free travel scheme from February 1, after the program was suspended due to the fast-spreading Omicron Covid-19 variant. (AFP)
  • Tonga: Five days after a devastating volcano and tsunami, humanitarian aid flights are finally on their way to the island from Australia and New Zealand. (AFP)

Europe

  • Region: Russia accused the West of plotting “provocations” in Ukraine even as it blames Moscow for planning aggressive military action in the neighboring country. (AP)
  • Austria: Parliament is due to vote on introducing a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults, the first of its kind in Europe. (AP)
  • Germany: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet his counterpart Annalena Baerbock in Berlin amid diplomatic efforts to de-escalate tensions with Russia over Ukraine. (DPA)
  • Germany: Health Minister Karl Lauterbach expects the number of coronavirus infections in the country to keep rising for several weeks. (AP)
  • United Kingdom: Talks are underway to remove US tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed during the Trump administration. (AP)

Middle East

  • Iran: The Armed Forces will hold joint naval drills with China and Russia on Friday. (Reuters)
  • Israel: The defense ministry said the country signed a three-billion-euro ($3.4 billion) deal to buy three innovative submarines from Germany. (AP)
  • Lebanon: The country’s healthcare system is crumbling amid an economic crisis that has led to an exodus of doctors and nurses, forcing private hospitals to close. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discussed developments in Syria with Russia’s special envoy. (Reuters)
  • Yemen: President Joe Biden said the United States is considering restoring its designation of the Houthis as a terror group. (AP)

Tech & Communications

  • Cybersecurity: The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that hackers gained access to the personal and confidential data of some 500,000 people. (AP)

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to Report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to Report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to Report.
  • Volcanoes:
    • Hunga Tonga-Hunga volcano, Tonga
      • Minor activity
      • Eruption warning
      • Source
    • Global Disease Outbreaks:
      • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 20JAN22)

Tomorrow’s Outlook (21JAN22) 

  • Global: Virtual meeting between US President Joe Biden and Japanese PM Kishida Fumio.
  • Barbados: Errol Barrow Day.
  • Dominican Republic: Día de la Altagracia.
  • France: EU environment and energy ministers’ informal meeting in Amiens. (to 22JAN)
  • Hong Kong: Ban on international flights from certain countries due to end unless extended.
  • Iran: Joint naval drills with China and Russia in the Indian Ocean.
  • Switzerland: Meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva.

END