Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Russia and Rwanda deployed troops to the Central African Republic to support the CAR’s incumbent government, with Rwanda making the decision to deploy troops after its peacekeepers in the CAR were attacked by rebels advancing to the capital city Bangui.
  • AMERICAS: The US Congress is expected to vote in favor of $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package.
  • ASIA: Thailand is currently experiencing its biggest coronavirus surge after the emergence of hundreds of new cases linked to a seafood market.
  • EUROPE: A court in Germany handed the 28-year-old Halle synagogue attacker a life imprisonment sentence.
  • MIDDLE EAST: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Iran to not dismiss the prospects of the US returning to the 2015 nuclear deal under President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: China criticized US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Chinese hackers could be behind a cyber espionage campaign against the federal government.

 

Top Story

  • United Kingdom: Countries isolate the UK over new coronavirus strain.
    • The spread of a new, highly infectious strain of the coronavirus in the United Kingdom prompted countries across the world to isolate the UK through travel bans.
    • India, Hong Kong, Canada, Switzerland, Germany, France, Ireland and a score of European countries all placed some form of travel restrictions on the UK, including flight bans and border closures.
    • France’s decision to close its borders with the UK for 48 hours resulted in long traffic lines as trucks are unable to get to the English Channel by boat due to the decision, though the entry of goods currently remains unaffected.
    • In response to the crisis, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to hold a crisis meeting with government officials over concerns related to “in particular the steady flow of freight into and out of the UK”, as concerns over supply chain shortages and empty supermarket shelves in the UK grew. 
    • Representatives of European Union member states are also expected to meet later today to discuss a coordinated response to the crisis caused by the new, highly infectious coronavirus strain in the UK.
    • Reporting: NYT, Reuters, AP, WSJ, BBC, AFP, WaPo

 

Africa

  • Region: Russia and Rwanda deployed troops to the Central African Republic to support the CAR’s incumbent government, with Rwanda making the decision to deploy troops after its peacekeepers in the CAR were attacked by rebels advancing to the capital city Bangui. (BBC)
  • Region: Representatives from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, and Sudan held a summit to discuss the “humanitarian crisis” in Ethiopia and rising “tension” between neighbors Kenya and Somalia. (AFP)
  • Algeria: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune announced that the government plans to begin its coronavirus vaccination campaign in January, though he did not specify which coronavirus vaccines will be used in the campaign. (AFP)
  • South Africa: Health authorities say a new strain of the coronavirus is the cause of the country’s recent surge in coronavirus cases. (AP)

 

Americas

  • Chile: President Sebastian Pinera said the country’s coronavirus vaccination program could start as early as sometime later this week. (Reuters)
  • Colombia: Bogota joined a growing list of countries to suspend all flights to the United Kingdom over concerns linked to a new coronavirus strain. (Reuters
  • Mexico: President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the army will operate the controversial Maya train project and use profits from the project to fund military pensions. (AP)
  • United States: Congress is expected to vote in favor of $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package. (AP)

 

Asia  

  • China: Hong Kong’s highest court upheld the city government’s right to invoke colonial-era emergency powers to ban the wearing of masks at public meetings. (Reuters)
  • India: Farmers started a 24-hour hunger strike in a bid to force the government to repeal its new agriculture laws. (Reuters)
  • Nepal: Political opponents of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli petitioned the Supreme Court with a challenge to Oli’s dissolution of parliament and the calling of an election, denouncing it as a “constitutional coup”. (Reuters)
  • Thailand: The country is currently experiencing its biggest coronavirus surge after the emergence of hundreds of new cases linked to a seafood market. (BBC)

 

Europe

  • Region: The European Medicines Agency is set to meet and discuss the authorization of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. (AP)
  • Bosnia & Herzegovina: The preliminary results of the first local elections in 12 years in the town of Mostar show the Croat and Bosniak parties winning the most votes and whose rivalry left the ethnically split town without a city council since 2012. (RFE-RL)
  • Germany: A court handed the 28-year-old Halle synagogue attacker a life imprisonment sentence. (DPA)
  • Turkey: Prominent Kurdish former lawmaker Leyla Guven, who went on a months-long hunger strike and was stripped of her parliamentary immunity in June, was sentenced to more than 22 years in prison on terror-related charges. (AFP)

 

Middle East

  • Region: Qatar and Oman both announced they would receive their first shipments of Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine this week. (Reuters)
  • Region: General Kenneth McKenzie, who heads US Central Command (CENTCOM), said Washington is “prepared to react” if Tehran attempts to mark the first anniversary of the killing of General Qasem Soleimani with an attack. (AFP)
  • Iran: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged Tehran to not dismiss the prospects of the US returning to the 2015 nuclear deal under President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration. (Reuters)
  • Iraq: The US blamed Iran-backed militias for a rocket attack targeting capital city Baghdad’s Green Zone, where the US embassy is located. (VOA)
  • United Arab Emirates: Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan confirmed the country’s temporary travel ban on visitors from Pakistan. (AP)

 

Tech & Communications

  • Cybersecurity: China criticized US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Chinese hackers could be behind a cyber espionage campaign against the federal government. (AP)

 

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes
    • Japan
      • Location: 98 km E-NE of Hachinohe, Japan
      • Magnitude: 6.3
      • Depth: 35 km
      • Map
  • Volcanoes
    • United States
      • Volcano: Kilauea volcano, Hawaii
      • No detailed information as the situation is currently “rapidly evolving”
      • Source: ABC News
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
  • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global
    • Confirmed Cases as of 21DEC20: 76,880,694
    • Total Recovered Cases as of 21DEC20: 43,337,583
    • Deaths as of 21DEC20: 1,694,288
    • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191 
    • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

 

Tomorrow’s Outlook (22DEC20)

  • Global: The UN Security Council will hold a meeting on non-proliferation.
  • Global: El Al Airlines will operate the first flight between Israel and Morocco, with a joint US-Israel delegation on-board.
  • Armenia: The opposition is expected to hold a general strike to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
  • China: All British flights to Hong Kong will be banned due to a new strain of the coronavirus.
  • Czech Republic: Parliament is expected to vote in favor of approving a proposed coronavirus state of emergency.
  • Israel: The deadline for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party to reach a budget agreement, failing which the ruling coalition government could collapse. 
  • Kazakhstan: Production of Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine in the country will begin.
  • United Kingdom: The government will release GDP figures for Q3 of 2020.
  • United States: The Bureau of Economic Analysis will release GDP figures for Q3 of 2020.

 

END