Key Storylines

  • AFRICA: Ugandan authorities released rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo from prison after intense pressure from the international community and watchdog groups.
  • AMERICAS: Argentina’s Congress voted in favor of a bill legalizing abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy.
  • ASIA: Ten Hong Kong activists were sentenced to between seven months and three years in jail for illegal border crossings, in a case that is drawing international attention and concern over the defendants’ treatment.
  • EUROPE: Russia banned additional British citizens from entry to the country following the UK’s sanctioning of Russian officials over the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
  • MIDDLE EAST: UN experts said US President Donald Trump’s pardoning of four Blackwater contractors convicted of killing civilians in a 2007 Iraq massacre violated “US obligations under international law” and called the decision “an affront to justice”.
  • TECH & COMMUNICATIONS: The targeted killing of journalists surged in 2020 according to Reporters Without Borders, including the targeting of journalists investigating organized crime, corruption and environmental degradation.

 

Top Story

  • Global: British government authorizes Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, as China’s Sinopharm announces late-stage trial data.
    • British authorities approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, marking the first government approval for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
    • The British government plans to start administering the vaccine as soon as next Monday as the country grapples with a record surge in coronavirus cases, as well as a new strain of coronavirus.
    • Oxford/AstraZeneca’s vaccine showed the most promise of any vaccine initially before falling to the wayside to Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines, but the British government’s authorization is expected to provide hope in the developing world, though not the developed world.
    • Elsewhere, Chinese company Sinopharm said its coronavirus vaccine candidate proved to be 79% effective in interim Phase 3 trials, though it did not include key data such as the sample size of the trials in its announcement.
    • Sinopharm’s announcement, which marks the first official announcement of late-stage trial data from a Chinese company on its vaccine candidates, is expected to provide the Chinese government confidence that it will be able to fulfill its pledge to supply other developing countries with a COVID-19 vaccine.
    • Reporting: AP, Reuters, NYT, WaPo, WSJ, BBC, Bloomberg, Guardian

 

Africa

  • Algeria: President Abdelmadjid Tebboune returned to the country after undergoing two months of coronavirus treatment in Germany. (BBC)
  • Ethiopia: Media watchdog, The Committee to Protect Journalists, said the recent arrest of a Reuters cameraman was a sign of the deterioration of press freedom in the country. (NYT)
  • Nigeria: Boko Haram’s landmines in the country’s northeast reportedly killed eleven people, including four soldiers. (AFP)
  • Uganda: Authorities released rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo from prison after intense pressure from the international community and watchdog groups. (AP)

 

Americas

  • Region: Dozens of Cuban citizens held a protest in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez, demanding they be allowed to cross over into the US to apply for asylum. (Reuters)
  • Argentina: Congress voted in favor of a bill legalizing abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy. (BBC)
  • United States: The country reported its first case of the new strain of coronavirus that originated in the UK. (AP)

 

Asia  

  • Afghanistan: Security forces reportedly gave up the control of nearly 200 checkpoints in the country’s restive Kandahar province in recent weeks and in some cases left behind their weapons to be seized by the Taliban. (AFP)
  • Cambodia: The country’s first crude oil extraction operations were started in the Gulf of Thailand following several years of delays. (Reuters)
  • China: Ten Hong Kong activists were sentenced to between seven months and three years in jail for illegal border crossings, in a case that is drawing international attention and concern over the defendants’ treatment. (Reuters)
  • Indonesia: The government banned the militant Muslim group, the Islamic Defenders Front, which has a long a record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking religious rivals. (AP)
  • North Korea: Kim Jong Un reviewed the agenda for the upcoming Workers’ Party Congress, the first in five years, according to state media reports. (AP)

 

Europe

  • Region: Russia banned additional British citizens from entry to the country following the UK’s sanctioning of Russian officials over the poisoning of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. (Reuters)
  • Croatia: At least seven people died after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck the country. (BBC)
  • Germany: The country reported more than a thousand daily coronavirus deaths for the first time since the pandemic began. (AFP)
  • Turkey: Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Ankara started discussions with the US over the formation of a joint working group to discuss the recent US sanctions on Ankara regarding its purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense systems. (Reuters)

 

Middle East

  • Region: The Cooperation Council invited Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani to the bloc’s upcoming summit, amid efforts to end the rift between Qatar and its regional neighbors. (AFP)
  • Region: Iranian Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian visited Iraq and met with the country’s Electricity Minister Majid Hantush and Central Bank Governor Mustapha Ghaleb, amid a major electricity crisis in Iraq sparked by Tehran reducing its natural gas supplies to Baghdad. (VOA)
  • Iraq: UN experts said US President Donald Trump’s pardoning of four Blackwater contractors convicted of killing civilians in a 2007 Baghdad massacre violated “US obligations under international law” and called the decision “an affront to justice”. (AFP)
  • Israel: Former US Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard, who served 30 years in prison in the US for spying on behalf of the country, was given a warm but low-key welcome by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his emigration to the country. (Reuters)

 

Tech & Communications

  • Media: The targeted killing of journalists surged in 2020 according to Reporters Without Borders, including especially the targeting of journalists investigating organized crime, corruption and environmental degradation. (AP)

 

World

  • Cyclones
    • Tropical Cyclone Chalane
      • Location: 20 nautical miles N-NW of Beira, Mozambique
      • Wind: 50 mph
      • Movement: W at 14 mph
      • Map
  • Hurricanes: Nothing to report.
  • Earthquakes: Nothing to report.
  • Volcanoes: Nothing to report.
  • Global Disease Outbreaks:
    • COVID-19 Coronavirus Disease: Global
      • Confirmed Cases as of 30DEC20: 82,051,958 
      • Total Recovered Cases as of 30DEC20: 46,444,403
      • Deaths as of 30DEC20: 1,792,251
      • Countries with Confirmed Cases: 191 
      • Sourcing: John Hopkins University

 

Tomorrow’s Outlook (31DEC20)

  • Global: The first anniversary of a coronavirus case being reported to the World Health Organization Country Office in China. 
  • Global: Belgium, Dominican Republic, Germany, Indonesia, and South Africa’s two-year UN Security Council terms will end. The countries will be replaced by India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, and Norway at the Security Council. (to 01JAN)
  • Global: A free-trade agreement between Vietnam and the United Kingdom will take effect.
  • Europe: Azerbaijan will start supplying gas to the European Union’s market as it is set to supply Bulgaria with natural gas via the Gas Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria and Trans-Anatolian pipelines.
  • Europe: Portugal will take over the presidency of the Council of the European Union from Germany. (to 01JAN) 
  • Algeria: A verdict is expected in the trial of anti-government activist Amira Bouraoui. 
  • Burundi: The government’s deadline to the UN to close its special envoy’s offices in the country.
  • Chad: French Prime Minister Jean Castex will visit and meet with President Idriss Deby before spending time with French soldiers deployed to the Sahel region. (to 01JAN)
  • China: The Defense Ministry will hold a press conference. 
  • China: Prosecutors will appeal against Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s bail. 
  • China: President Xi Jinping will deliver a speech ahead of New Year’s Day.
  • Ecuador: Campaigning for the country’s upcoming general elections will begin. 
  • France: President Emmanuel Macron will deliver a speech ahead of New Year’s Day.
  • Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel will deliver her annual New Year’s Eve speech.
  • Russia: President Vladimir Putin is expected to deliver his annual New Year’s Eve speech.
  • Sudan: The ruling coalition’s deadline for the formation of a new Legislative Council.
  • Turkey: A four-day New Year’s coronavirus lockdown will be imposed. (to 03JAN)
  • Turkey: Ankara expects to receive the first shipment of Chinese company Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine no later than this date. 
  • United Kingdom: The country’s Brexit transition period will expire.
  • United States: The government’s suspension of immigration will end.

 

END