World Newsletter

9 Dec 2020



US President-elect Joe Biden has set a goal of 100 million Covid

vaccinations in his first 100 days in office.

He said his first months in office would not end the outbreak and gave few

details on rollout strategy but he said he would change the course of


Introducing his health team for when he takes office on 20 January, he urged

Americans to "mask up for 100 days".

On Tuesday, a report paved the way for a Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to be

approved and rolled out for Americans.

President Donald Trump meanwhile attended a summit at the White House of his

Covid vaccination programme called Operation Warp Speed and hailed the

expected approval of vaccines.

The president-elect was attending a press conference in Delaware during

which he introduced California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as his

nomination for health secretary and his choice of Rochelle Walensky as head

of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mr Biden said: "My first 100 days won't end the Covid-19 virus. I can't

promise that. But we did not get into this mess quickly. We're not going to

get out of it quickly."

He said in the first "100 days we can change the course of the disease and

change life in America for the better".

But he warned that the coronavirus efforts could "slow and stall" if

Congress did not conclude bipartisan talks and urgently come up with


Getting children back to school would also be a priority, he said.





Britain said on Tuesday it would drop clauses in draft domestic legislation

that breached the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement after it clinched a deal with

the European Union over how to manage the Ireland-Northern Ireland border.

Michael Gove, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's most senior Ministers,

announced an "agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with

regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland".

The deal is separate to wider trade talks, which have yet to find a solution

on how to manage nearly $1 trillion of annual trade between Britain and the

EU, despite having just weeks until temporary arrangements expire.

But the agreement removes what was a major point of contention between

Britain and the EU, with Brussels warning that no wider trade deal would be

possible if London went through with its threat to unpick the exit treaty.

"I hope this may also provide some of the positive momentum necessary to

instil confidence and trust and allow progress in the wider context of the

future relationship negotiations," Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney






Australia on Tuesday finalised plans to make Facebook Inc and Google pay its

media outlets for news content, a world-first move aimed at protecting

independent journalism that has been strongly opposed by the internet


Under laws to go to Parliament this week, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the

Big Tech firms must negotiate payments for content that appears on their

platforms with local publishers and broadcasters. If they can't strike a

deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide for them.

"This is a huge reform, this is a world first, and the world is watching

what happens here in Australia," Frydenberg told reporters in the capital

Canberra. He added: "Our legislation will help ensure that the rules of the

digital world mirror the rules of the physical world ... and ultimately

sustain our media landscape."

The law amounts to the strongest check of the tech giants' market power

globally and follows three years of inquiry and consultation, ultimately

spilling into a public row in August when the US companies warned it may

stop them offering their services in Australia.

Facebook Australia managing director Will Easton said the company would

review the legislation and "engage through the upcoming parliamentary

process with the goal of landing on a workable framework to support

Australia's news ecosystem".

A representative for Google declined to comment, saying the company had yet

to see the final version of the proposed law.





8,848 metres - the answer to one of the most widely popular quiz questions,

and a number drilled into the minds of school students around the world for

decades, is set for a revision, with the world's tallest mountain getting a

new official height on Tuesday that adds a few centimetres to its already

lofty peak.

Nepal and China jointly announced the new height of Mount Everest as

8,848.86 meters in a high-profile virtual ceremony, with their Presidents

exchanging letters and their foreign ministers in attendance, all aimed at

showcasing both a deepening strategic relationship and the amicable

resolution of a long-running debate.

Everest - also known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Mount Qomolangma in China -

was "an important symbol of the China-Nepal friendship", China's President

Xi Jinping said, calling it a "peak of China-Nepal friendship".

The mountain lies on the border between Nepal and Tibet and the summit can

be accessed from both sides, although the Nepal route is more popular.

Mr. Xi said survey teams from both countries had spent more than a year on

the project and had "overcome all kinds of difficulties, solidly carried out

their work, and finally reached a conclusion on the snow-covered height

based on the International Height Reference System".





The US Supreme Court dealt a sharp blow to President Donald Trump's efforts

to overturn the election results, rejecting a request by some of his

Republican allies to nullify President-elect Joe Biden's victory in


The one-sentence rebuff Tuesday came without explanation and with no noted

dissents. It marks the first time the full high court has weighed in on

efforts by Trump and his supporters to reverse Biden's victory.

The order is a symbolic as well as substantive setback for Trump, who has

claimed without foundation that he lost the election because of widespread

fraud. Trump has predicted he would be vindicated at the Supreme Court,

which has a 6-3 conservative majority and three justices he appointed. He

and his supporters have suffered repeated losses at lower courts.

"Dozens of courts have rejected Trump and his allies' debunked and meritless

claims, and now the highest court in the land has joined them - without a

single dissent - in repudiating this assault on the electoral process,"

Biden campaign spokesman Michael Gwin said. "This election is over. Joe

Biden won and he will be sworn in as President in January."

The newest justice, Trump appointee Amy Coney Barrett, took part in the

court's consideration of the case. During her confirmation hearing in

October, Democrats had called on Barrett to say whether she would disqualify

herself from any Trump-related election litigation.






A lawmaker from Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) on Tuesday sent his

resignation to party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari after the opposition

alliance - Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) asked opposition lawmakers to

hand in resignations to party heads to use them at an appropriate time.

Daily Pakistan reported that Ali Haider Gilani, who was elected MPA from

Punjab's PP-211 constituency, wrote in his resignation letter: "Today, to

further the democratic struggle in Pakistan, I hereby tender my resignation

to you, to be used at your will".

The son of former Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said that he

was submitting his resignation as a token of his unconditional loyalty to

the party.

The resignation was made after PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked all

opposition parliamentarians to send their resignations to their party heads

by December 31

Earlier today, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif

reportedly convinced PPP co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari to resign from the

parliament at an 'appropriate time', reported Daily Pakistan.

Meanwhile, PML-N lawmaker Hamid Hameed resigned from the lower house of the

country's Parliament in a bid to overthrow Prime Minister Imran Khan-led


Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan blamed the opposition for the spread of

coronavirus saying they are holding rallies.

Blaming opposition parties, Khan said: "They are spreading the coronavirus

by holding rallies".





France will build a new, nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to replace its

Charles de Gaulle carrier by 2038, French President Emmanuel Macron

announced Tuesday.

Macron framed the decision to use nuclear reactors to propel the future

warship as part of France's climate strategy, stressing its lower emissions

compared to diesel fuel.

Speaking at a nuclear facility in the Burgundy town of Le Creusot, he called

France's nuclear weapons and atomic energy industry "the cornerstone of our

strategic autonomy," and said the nuclear sector plays a role in France's

"status as a great power."

One of his advisers noted that having an aircraft carrier also helps France

project its global influence. Only a few countries in the world maintain the

huge, costly vessels.

The new French aircraft carrier will be about 70,000 tons and 300 meters

long, roughly 1.5 times the size of the Charles de Gaulle, which has been

deployed for international military operations in Iraq and Syria in recent

years, according to French presidential advisers.

Its catapults will be electro-magnetic, and American-made, and the ship will

be designed to accommodate next-generation warplanes and serve until around

2080, the advisers said.

They didn't provide a price tag but French media estimate it will cost

around 7 billion euros ($8.5 billion).

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