Athens, the last European capital to build a mosque. After years of delays due to bureaucracy and protests by far-right groups, the first mosque in the city opened for prayers this week. It is a symbol of the first steps towards religious freedom of minorities.
Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine 90% effective in first interim efficacy analysis. Pfizer partner, BioNTech Se that is developing the vaccine, was funded by the German government. The vaccine was given to almost 44,000 people with only 94 contracting COVID-19. No serious side-effects were reported.
Young Norwegians are taking their country to court. While having a very green reputation, Norway’s number one income source remains the oil industry. A group of young Norwegian environmentalists aim to hold their country accountable in front of the Supreme Court.
UAE announces relaxing of Islamic laws for personal freedoms. The United Arab Emirates announced a major overhaul of the country’s Islamic personal laws, allowing unmarried couples to cohabitate, loosening alcohol restrictions, and criminalising so-called “honour killings”.
The UN condemned Israel’s largest demolition of Palestinian homes in a decade. Israel has carried out the biggest demolition of Palestinian homes in the occupied West Bank. According to the UN, Israel’s action was a ‘grave breach’ of international law.
Ethiopia on brink of a civil war. The situation threatens the stability of one of the world’s most strategic regions, the Horn of Africa, and the fracturing of one of the continent’s most powerful and populous countries. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed received last year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
Jihadism and Islamist attacks in Europe have been declining since 2017. Despite the longer term reductions in terrorism the new burst of terror attacks in Germany, France and Austria have politicians calling for a stronger counter-terrorism policy and anti-radicalization efforts in Europe.
China to allow coast guard to use weapons in waters it claims. China will allow its coast guard to use weapons when foreign ships are involved in illegal activities in waters it controls. When vessels fail to obey orders, such as to stop, weapons can be used.
Hotspots in four countries on brink of famine, UN warns. Burkina Faso, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria – are on the brink of severe levels of food insecurity. These countries are already facing a dangerous combination of conflict, mass displacement, economic crisis and climate and agricultural calamity.
The US will rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement, while Russia pledges to meet its Paris climate goals. The US officially withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement. Biden has vowed to immediately return to the agreement in January 2021. President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree ordering the Russian government to try to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement.
Global program dramatically cuts childhood hepatitis B cases by 80% worldwide. Due to a highly effective global vaccine program, the proportion of children under five who are chronically infected with Hepatitis B has plummeted significantly—to just under 1%. This is down from 5% 30 years ago according to the WHO.
Natural organisms in soil can power lights. Plants expel the excess energy from their photosynthesis through the roots, which can be captured to power small devices. This technology was described as the world’s most disruptive start-up in 2016 by Google, Bioo creates batteries that utilize soil microbes to generate electricity in a simple yet ingenious way.
China’s move to halt Ant Group Co.’s massive stock debut could reduce the fintech giant’s value by as much as $140 billion. The group will need to raise more capital to back lending, and seek national licenses to operate across the country before re-submitting a new IPO.
China to block key Australian Imports in Sweeping Retaliation. China has ordered traders to stop purchasing at least seven categories of Australian commodities, ratcheting up tensions with a key trading partner in its most sweeping retaliation yet. Commodities traders in China will find it more difficult to import products including coal, barley, copper ore and concentrate, sugar, timber, wine and lobster.
Singapore faces COVID-era labour shortages. Singapore raises the cost of hiring foreign workers. Despite foreign workers making up nearly 40% of the labour force, Singapore is prioritising the protection of domestic jobs during the pandemic.
Likely changes in US foreign policy under Biden:
Poland pauses abortion verdict after mass protests. Poland’s Law and Justice party is refusing to publish the Constitutional Tribunal that would ban abortions. This prevents the ruling from going into effect, but has also raised concerns as constitutional verdicts are supposed to be effected immediately.
Trump will lose special Twitter protections in January. US President Donald Trump will be subject to the same Twitter Inc rules as any other user when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on Jan. 20, the social media company confirmed this week.
Nigerian courts allow banks to freeze accounts linked to widespread protests. The government is targeting bank accounts linked to prominent participants in the deadly countrywide strikes and riots against police brutality and corruption.