14 Dec 2020
IRAN EXECUTES FRENCH-BASED DISSIDENT JOURNALIST CAPTURED LAST YEAR
Iran has executed a journalist who was accused of using a messaging app to
stir up dissent.
Ruhollah Zam was hanged on Saturday after the supreme court upheld a death
sentence against him, state television reported.
Zam, who had been living in exile in France, was reportedly detained after
travelling to Iraq last year.
He ran Amad News, a popular anti-government website Iran accused of inciting
the 2017-18 protests.
The network, which had more than a million followers on the encrypted
messaging app Telegram, shared videos of protests and damaging information
about Iranian officials.
It was removed by Telegram for breaching the company's rules on posting
dangerous content, but later reopened under a different name.
Zam, the son of reformist cleric Mohammad Ali Zam, was convicted of
"corruption on earth" - one of the country's most serious offences - earlier
However, human rights organisation Amnesty International said he had been
the victim of "an unfair trial that relied on forced confessions".
EU, UK TO PUSH BREXIT TALKS BEYOND DEADLINE
The UK and EU have agreed to carry on post-Brexit trade talks after a call
between leaders earlier on Sunday.
In a joint statement, Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula
von der Leyen said it was "responsible at this point to go the extra mile".
The pair discussed "major unresolved topics" during their call.
The two sides had said Sunday was the deadline for a decision on whether to
continue with talks, with the UK set to leave EU rules at the end of the
The leaders agreed to tell negotiators to carry on talks in Brussels "to see
whether an agreement can even at this late stage be reached".
They did not say how long these latest talks would continue, but the
ultimate deadline is 31 December, and time must be allowed for the UK and
European Parliaments to vote on any deal that emerges before then.
Mrs von der Leyen said Sunday's call with Mr Johnson had been "constructive
But Mr Johnson repeated his warning from earlier in the week that a no deal
scenario was "most likely".
Reading out the joint statement, Mrs von der Leyen said: "Despite the
exhaustion after almost a year of negotiations, despite the fact that
deadlines have been missed over and over, we think it is responsible at this
point to go the extra mile."
Mr Johnson later said "where there is life, there is hope", and that the UK
"certainly won't be walking away from the talks".
But he added: "I've got to repeat the most likely thing now is of course
that we have to get ready for WTO terms.
GLOBAL INVESTORS WORRIED AS CHINA'S MAJOR COMPANIES DEFAULT
Regardless of claims of an financial restoration, Chinese language
state-owned corporations are defaulting on their money owed. A string of
missed debt repayments by main corporations has shaken native in addition to
world markets. State corporations defaulted on a file $6.1 billion value of
bonds between January and October, in line with Fitch Rankings. Thats about
as a lot because the final two years mixed. The event has rattled Chinas
practically $4 trillion company debt market, of which state-owned
enterprises are estimated to account for greater than half. At the least 20
corporations suspended plans for brand spanking new debt points totalling
$2.4 billion, all citing latest market turmoil.
The mounting non-payment of debt funds is getting worse in latest weeks. A
slew of main corporations, together with German automaker BMWs Chinese
language accomplice Brilliance Auto Group, prime smartphone chipmaker
Tsinghua Unigroup, and Yongcheng Coal and Electrical energy declared chapter
or defaulted on their loans in November. This was sufficient to ship shock
waves by way of debt market. Bond costs nosedived sharply, rates of interest
soared and the turmoil even spilt over into the inventory market, with
shares of state-owned corporations plummeting.
The defaults have angered world traders, who say their religion within the
corporations top-notch rankings, seemingly sound funds and implicit state
backing has been violated. Theres a panic amongst traders who believed that
the shut relationships between these corporations and Chinese language
governments make them secure bets in occasions of bother. However traders
are a apprehensive lot because the state is now not prepared to help these
corporations; investments have immediately turn out to be a lot riskier
The credibility of presidency ensures has been a very powerful bulwark in
opposition to monetary disaster to this point. Now were seeing indicators
that this credibility is eroding, in line with Logan Wright, director of
China markets analysis at Rhodium Group, CNN reported.
US ELECTORAL COLLEGE SET TO CONFIRM JOE BIDEN WIN
Long a mere formality, a vote on Monday by members of the Electoral College
to formally recognize Joe Biden as the next US president has taken on
unusual import this year with Donald Trump stubbornly refusing to admit
The results of the November 3 vote have been certified by each of the 50
states and the District of Columbia; the Democrat won with a record 81.3
million votes, or 51.3 percent of those cast, to 74.2 million, and 46.8
percent, for the Republican president.
But in the United States, the occupant of the White House is chosen by
indirect universal suffrage, with each state allocating its electors --
whose numbers are essentially based on population -- to the candidate who
carried the state.
The results confirm an easy victory for Biden, with 306 of the 538 electoral
votes, to 232 for Trump, with 270 required for election.
Electoral College members meet Monday to formalize the process, though the
electors actually meet separately in each state.
Biden will then deliver a speech in the evening to celebrate the latest
confirmation of his win and "the strength and resilience" of US democracy --
a clear jab at Trump's unprecedented stance.
400 STUDENTS MISSING AFTER ATTACK ON NIGERIAN SCHOOL
Hundreds of Nigerian students are missing after gunmen attacked a secondary
school in the countrys northwestern Katsina State, police have confirmed.
The Government Science Secondary School in Kankara was attacked on Friday
night by a large group of bandits who shot with AK 47 rifles, Katsina
State police spokesman Gambo Isah said in a statement.
Police engaged the attackers in a gun duel which gave (some of) the
students the opportunity to scale the fence of the school and run for
safety, Mr. Isah said.
About 400 students are missing, while 200 are accounted for, Mr. Isah said.
The school is believed to have more than 600 students.
The police, Nigerian Army, and Nigerian Air Force are working closely with
the school authorities to ascertain the actual number of the missing and/or
kidnapped students, said Isah.
Search parties are working with a view to find or rescue the missing
students, he said.
Our prayers are with the families of the students, the school authorities
and the injured, said the presidents statement. The statement did not say
if any student has been rescued.
US TO START VACCINATION DRIVE TODAY; BAHRAIN APPROVES CHINA VACCINE
The United States will begin its vaccination program from today. Senior
government officials, including those who work in close proximity to
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other top leaders
would be administered doses of Pfizers vaccine as soon as possible. This
comes after a top official told news agency AFP that the pharmaceutical
firms vaccine would reach hospitals and other sites across the United
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that first of the many
freezer-packed vaccine vials have arrived in the country. But he urged all
Canadians to continue wearing masks, avoid gatherings and download a
government based application that allows users to know if they have come in
contact with an infected person. Recently, the government had amended its
contract with American based pharmaceutical firm Pfizer so that it could
deliver up to 249,000 vaccine doses this month.
Bahrain on Sunday had approved Chinas Sinopharm vaccine as it had
participated in phase III clinical trials, in which more than 7,700
volunteers signed up. Earlier, Bahrain had authorized the emergency use of
the vaccine, which was provided to frontline workers who were in contact
with the infected patients.
India, on the other hand has issued operational guidelines to all states and
Union Territories (UTs) with regard to vaccine distribution. While Pakistan,
which is witnessing a surge in coronavirus re-infections at various health
centres has increased its funds allocated for purchasing vaccines from $150
million to $ 250 million.
SNOW LEOPARDS ARE THE LATEST CATS TO BE INFECTED WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
Snow leopards at the Louisville Zoo are the latest animals to be infected
with the coronavirus.
One female cat, NeeCee, has tested positive, and two males, Kimti and Meru,
are presumed positive, based on tests at a regional veterinary diagnostic
center that must be confirmed at a national lab.
The cats are all showing minor symptoms of coughing and wheezing, much like
the tigers and lions at the Bronx Zoo that tested positive back in April.
The New York cats recovered without difficulty, and the Kentucky zoo expects
the snow leopards will do the same.
Domestic cats, dogs and mink have also been infected with the virus, which
causes COVID-19 in people. Domestic cats and mink can transmit it to other
animals. Mink are the only animals so far known to get severely ill and are
the only animals known to transmit the virus back to humans.
Denmark ordered up to 17 million mink killed because of worries about
mutations in the virus affecting potential vaccine efficacy. Those fears
have not been substantiated, but numerous scientists have supported the move
because a parallel pandemic in mink risks more mutation and more
transmission back to humans and perhaps other animals.
So far there are no documented cases of dogs or cats passing the virus to
AUSTRALIA STORMS: WILD WEATHER LASHES VAST STRETCH OF EAST COAST
Wild weather is battering a 1,000km (621 miles) stretch of Australia's east
coast, bringing torrential rain and "abnormally high" tides to cities
including Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
More than 2,000 homes in the cities were out of power on Monday after strong
winds tampered with power lines.
Tides up to 8m (26 feet) high were recorded, eroding the shoreline in some
Emergency services said they had had over 700 calls for help since Sunday.
About half a dozen people stranded in floodwaters had been rescued, they
Meteorologists have warned that this Australian summer will see the impacts
of a La Niña weather pattern, which typically brings more rainfall and
The current wild weather has hit popular holiday spots such as the Sunshine
Coast and the Gold Coast in Queensland, and Byron Bay in New South Wales
Many beaches were closed on Monday amid the dangerous conditions.