World Newsletter

14 Dec 2020



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

this year.

However, human rights organisation Amnesty International said he had been

the victim of "an unfair trial that relied on forced confessions".





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

and useful".

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.





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. That’s about

as a lot because the final two years mixed. The event has rattled China’s

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 BMW’s 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. There’s 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 we’re seeing indicators

that this credibility is eroding,” in line with Logan Wright, director of

China markets analysis at Rhodium Group, CNN reported.





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.





Hundreds of Nigerian students are missing after gunmen attacked a secondary

school in the country’s 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 president’s statement. The statement did not say

if any student has been rescued.





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 Pfizer’s vaccine as soon as possible. This

comes after a top official told news agency AFP that the pharmaceutical

firm’s 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 China’s 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 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






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

tropical cyclones.

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.

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