‘Omicron spreading at an unprecedented rate’ – WHO
The World Helth Organisation has said the new Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading at an unprecedented rate and “is likely to become dominant in Europe”. The head of the WHO European office, Hans Kluge, wrote on Twitter, that since it was first detected last month, the virus has spread to 77 countries for a total of 2,127 cases, of which 441 were registered in Europe in the last 24 hours.
Over 800,000 pandemic deaths in US
The number of people who have died from coronavirus in the United States has surpassed the 800,000 mark – the highest in the world. The vast majority of the dead has been among the unvaccinated. More than half the deaths occurred this year. The US has seen more than 15 million cases since the pandemic began. In Washington, members of Congress held a minute’s silence to mourn the dead.
Johnson survives rebellion, thanks to Labour
Brirtish Prime Minister Boris Johnson has survived a parliamentary rebellion by Conservative MPs over new COVID restictions. A total of 99 Conservatives voted against the government, but the measure was passed by a majority of 243 thanks to Labour support. NHS COVID passes, showing a recent negative test or full vaccination, must be shown to get into many large venues, including nightclubs, as of today. MPs also voted to back compulsory face masks in most indoor settings.
New York has its first female police commissioner
Keechant Sewell, the Nassau County chief of detectives, has become New York City’s first female police commissioner, taking over the nation’s largest police force. In 23 years with the Nassau Police Department, Chief Sewell, 49, who grew up in Queens, worked in the narcotics and major cases units, and as a hostage negotiator. She was promoted to chief of detectives in September 2020. Eric Adams, the incoming mayor, said he had been impressed by Sewell’s confidence and competence, and her experience working undercover. She will also be the third Afro-American commissioner to lead the NYPD.
Meadows accused of outrage to Congress
With 222 votes in favour and 208 againt, the US Congress is recommending the Ministry of Justice to prosecute former President Trump’s chief of staff Mark Meadows for refusing to collaborate with the parliamentary commission investigating the attack on the Capitol last January 6. Two Republicans voted with the Democrats. This is the second move of its kind, after the one against former White House strategist Steve Bannon. If the recommendation is upheld, Meadows will become the first cabinet chief to be prosecuted after leaving office since H.R. Haldeman in the Watergate scandal nearly 50 years ago.
US: extremist groups sued for “conspiring to terrorise” Washington
District of Columbia Attorney General Karl Racine on Tuesday announced a civil lawsuit against two extremist groups over their role in the January 6 attack on the US Capitol Hill. ‘The Proud Boys’ and ‘The Oath Keepers’, along with more than 30 individuals who are associated with the groups, have been accused of “conspiring to terrorise the District of Columbia”, according to Racine. This is the first civil lawsuit by a government entity against the January 6 rioters.
COVID, conflict and climate worsening hunger in Africa
Hunger in Africa has worsened significantly with an almost 50% rise in those considered undernourished compared to 2014 due to COVID, conflict and climate change. A report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and other agencies said the number of those going hungry across Africa reached nearly 282 million in 2020 – more than one-fifth of the population – an increase of 89 million compared to just six years earlier.
Belarus opposition leader’s husband gets 18 years
The husband of Belarus’ main opposition leader has been handed an 18-year jail term. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said her partner Sergei – a blogger and critic of President Alexander Lukashenko – was one of six men on trial behind closed doors since June, accused of “preparation of mass disorder” and “incitement of hatred”. The 43-year-old, who called Lukashenko “a cockroach”, was arrested in late May 2020 as he was campaigning for the election.
US space probe ‘touches’ the sun for the first time
An American space probe has become the first spacecraft in history to ‘touch’ the sun. NASA’s Solar Parker Probe flew through the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, taking samples of particles and magnetic fields.
“The fact that the probe has touched the Sun is the pinnacle of solar science and an extraordinary feat,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, of NASA’s directorate for science missions. He said this will allow researchers to better understand the evolution of the Sun and its impacts on the solar system.
NBA: Stephen Curry beats record 3-point baskets
Stephen Curry has made history as the best three-point scorer in the regular seasons of the NBA. The Golden State Warriors star broke Ray Allen’s all-time record, surpassing his 2,973 points in the first quarter of the match against the New York Knicks at Madison Square, which exploded with excitement. Curry let out a shout of joy as his teammates celebrated with him, then hugged coach Steve Kerr – who took over the record ball – and his father, a former NBA point guard.