Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Lawmakers in DR Congo voted to oust Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, collapsing the government and providing President Felix Tshisekedi a chance to appoint loyalists to key ministries.
  • AMERICAS: US President Joe Biden signed executive orders aimed at moving the country away from fossil-fuels by pausing oil and gas leasing on federal land and targeting subsidies for those industries.
  • ASIA: Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who was first convicted and then acquitted in the 2002 beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl, as it also dismissed an appeal against Sheikh’s acquittal by Pearl’s family.
  • EUROPE: Protests broke out in Poland after the government announced the enforcement of a controversial near-total ban on abortion.
  • MIDDLE EAST: New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington will review its blacklisting of Yemen’s Houthi rebels over humanitarian aid concerns.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: Non-professional retail investors used social media website Reddit to outmaneuver establishment hedge funds Melvin Capital and Citron Research’s bets on Gamestop stock prices and profited at the hedge funds’ expense in the process.

Top Story

  • Europe: EU and AstraZeneca fail to resolve vaccine supply dispute.
    • The European Union and AstraZeneca held high-level emergency discussions over coronavirus vaccine supplies but failed to find a solution to the issue.
    • While both sides claimed that the emergency discussions were “constructive”, they were unable to reach any concrete agreement on the delivery of coronavirus vaccine doses to EU countries, with the EU criticizing AstraZeneca for “continued lack of clarity”.
    • The dispute between the two sides began after AstraZeneca said it would only deliver approximately a quarter of the 100 million vaccine doses the EU was expecting for the first three months of the year.
    • AstraZeneca cited production delays at plants in the Netherlands and Belgium for the change in plans, but the EU then demanded that AstraZeneca fulfill its commitments by diverting vaccine supplies from the company’s UK plants.
    • Following the emergency discussions, Belgian health authorities inspected a factory in the country that is in the vaccine’s production chain to find out if the delays in vaccine deliveries are due to production issues as AstraZeneca claims.
    • The EU’s dispute with AstraZeneca likely means more delays for the 27-country bloc’s coronavirus vaccination campaign, with at least one country (Spain) partially suspending its vaccination campaign due to a lack of doses.
    • Reporting: BBC, AP, AFP, WSJ, NYT, FT, Bloomberg

Africa

  • Chad: The IMF said the country has officially requested a debt restructuring under a new common framework agreed by the G20 countries last year. (Reuters)
  • DR Congo: Lawmakers voted to oust Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, collapsing the government and providing President Felix Tshisekedi a chance to appoint loyalists to key ministries. (Reuters)
  • Egypt: A man claiming to have witnessed the arrest of Italian citizen Giulio Regeni heard and saw the Italian student inside a police station in Cairo before he was found dead by a roadside. (Guardian)
  • Tanzania: The WHO urged the government to follow science after President John Magufuli called coronavirus vaccines dangerous and told people to use alternative remedies such as inhaling steam. (Reuters)

Americas

  • Region: The Organization of American States accused Venezuela of illegally detaining two Guyanese boats. (AFP)
  • Brazil: Vice President Hamilton Mourão announced that the military’s operation to curb illegal deforestation and fires in the Amazon rainforest will end on April 30. (AP)
  • Haiti: The country’s Ambassador to the US, Bocchit Edmond, refuted reports of President Jovenel Moise resigning on 7 February. (VOA)
  • Mexico: The UN human rights office in the country called for justice in the case of anti-dam activist Fidel Heras Cruz, who was killed in the southern state of Oaxaca last weekend. (AP)
  • United States: The Department of Homeland Security warned for the first time ever that the country faces a growing threat from “violent domestic extremists”. (NYT)

Asia  

  • Region: South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said the US and North Korea should seek an initial denuclearization deal that includes a halt to the North’s nuclear activity and a cut in its program in exchange for some sanctions relief. (Reuters)
  • Region: New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington rejects China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea beyond those permitted under international law and reaffirmed US support for Southeast Asian resisting Chinese pressure. (Reuters)
  • China: A WHO team investigating the origins of the coronavirus in Wuhan left their quarantine and started field work for their fact-finding mission. (AP)
  • Pakistan: The Supreme Court ordered the release of Ahmad Saeed Omar Sheikh, who was first convicted and then acquitted in the 2002 beheading of US journalist Daniel Pearl, as it also dismissed an appeal against Sheikh’s acquittal by Pearl’s family. (AP)
  • Philippines: The government said that the country’s economy contracted by 9.5% in 2020, marking its worst performance in three decades. (DPA)

Europe

  • Germany: Far-right sympathizer Stephan Ernst was sentenced to life imprisonment for assassinating pro-migrant politician Walter Lübcke. (BBC)
  • Poland: Protests broke out in the country after the government announced the enforcement of a controversial near-total ban on abortion. (BBC)
  • Russia: Authorities detained several allies of opposition politician Alexei Navalny and issued warnings to social media giants following the recent protests demanding Navalny’s release from prison. (AP)
  • United Kingdom: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to travel to Scotland amid growing support for another independence referendum. (Reuters)

Middle East

  • Region: Syrian businessman George Haswani denied having any links to last year’s port explosion in Lebanon. (Reuters)
  • Iran: The US said there was still a “long way” to go before it rejoined the 2015 nuclear deal. (VOA)
  • Israel: New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and reaffirmed Washington’s commitment to the country’s security. (Reuters)
  • Lebanon: One person was killed in clashes between security forces and protesters angry that a strict coronavirus lockdown has left them with no means to survive the country’s economic collapse. (Reuters)
  • Yemen: New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington will review its blacklisting of the country’s Houthi rebels over humanitarian aid concerns. (UPI)

Tech & Communications

  • Social Media: Non-professional retail investors used social media website Reddit to outmaneuver establishment hedge funds Melvin Capital and Citron Research’s bets on Gamestop stock prices and profited at the establishment hedge funds’ expense in the process. (Deutsche Welle)

World

  • Cyclones: Nothing to report.
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes:
    • Indonesia
      • Mount Merapi continues to spew hot debris.
      • Source
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global (as of 28JAN21)
      • Confirmed cases: 100,957,112
      • Total recovered cases: 55,841,645
      • Deaths: 2,177,045
      • Countries with confirmed cases: 192
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

Tomorrow’s Outlook (29JAN21)

  • Global: The World Economic Forum’s “Davos Agenda” will be held virtually, with French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva expected to speak during the event.
  • Global: The UN Security Council will discuss the Islamic State group.
  • Asia: China will conduct military exercises in the South China Sea just days after a US aircraft carrier group entered the sea. (to 30JAN)
  • Europe: The European Commission is expected to unveil proposals to tighten rules around the export of coronavirus vaccines to non-EU countries.
  • Europe: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, will hold the first online meeting of the “Lublin Triangle”.
  • Europe: The European Medicines Agency could decide on approval/disapproval of Oxford/AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine.
  • Europe: The European Banking Authority will conduct a “stress test” exercise for banks in EU member-states.
  • Germany: The government will release GDP data for Q4 2020.
  • Norway: The country will close its borders to almost all non-citizens due to new coronavirus strains.
  • Portugal: The government will suspend all flights from and to Brazil over the detection of new virus variants.
  • Russia: Detained opposition politician Alexei Navalny is expected to appear at the Moscow Regional Court for an appeals hearing.
  • Turkey: Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif will visit.
  • Vietnam: The 13th National Congress of the country’s ruling Communist Party will be held. (to 02FEB)

END