Johnson ‘prepares mass clearout’ to ‘dodge’ blame
Fallout from the Downing Street parties which took place during coronavirus restrictions continues to dominate the front pages of the British nationals. The Sunday Times says British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is planning a raft of “populist” announcements and a clearout of No 10 in a bid to hold onto his premiership. The paper says the PM is refusing to take responsibility for the crisis engulfing Downing Street. A senior government source is quoted as telling the paper: “Boris’s view is that he is not to blame. That everyone else is to blame.” But the Observer quotes Conservative MPs who are poised to force Johnson out of No 10 if he tries to dodge responsibility.
Djokovic faces deportation; court upholds visa cancellation
An Australian court has unanimously dismissed Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic’s challenge after immigration minister argued his presence would stoke anti-vaccination sentiment. He will be deported from Australia ahead of the Australian Open after the federal court rejected a challenge to the decision of Australian immigration minister, Alex Hawke, to cancel the visa on the basis that Djokovic’s presence in Australia might risk “civil unrest” as he is a “talisman of anti-vaccination sentiment”. Chief Justice James Allsop announced the court unanimously dismissed Djokovic’s application, with costs to be paid by the tennis star. Allsop explained that the court did not reflect on “the merits or wisdom of the decision” but rather whether it was so irrational as to be unlawful. The decision is a major setback for Djokovic’s quest to win a 10th Australian Open crown and a record 21st grand slam title.
Texas kidnapper taker killed, hostages safe
The FBI and members of the SWAT team have killed a man with a British accent who is holding a rabbi and four members of his congregation hostage in a synagogue in Texas, Dallas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted “all the hostages are alive and safe”. His tweet came not long after a loud bang and what sounded like gunfire was heard coming from the synagogue. Authorities were still trying to understand the precise motive for the attack. But some US officials say the hostage taker was demanding the release of his sister, a Pakistani neuro-scientist, Aafia Siddiqui, who was convicted of trying to kill US Army officers in Afghanistan. Known as ‘Lady al-Qaeda’, she was the first female terrorism defendant arrested after 9/11 and is now serving an 86-year sentence at the Federal Medical Centre, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
First Omicron case in Beijing
The Omicron variant has arrived in Beijing, three weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics, while China is grappling with various outbreaks of COVID-19. The first case was discovered in the Haidian district, known for its many technology company headquarters. A municipality official, explained that a first round of tests has started in the residential complex of the infected person. In recent weeks, the capital has urged residents, in order to reduce the risk of contagion, to avoid unnecessary travel and not to leave the city even for the upcoming Lunar New Year.
Tonga volcano eruption, tsunami threat ‘overcome’
The tsunami threat following the powerful eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai underwater volcano in a large area of the Pacific has been “overcome”, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (Ptwc) said today. “Based on all available data, the threat linked to the volcanic eruption is now over,” they said, calling on coastal authorities to “determine when it will be safe to resume normal activities”. The massive underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga was so powerful it was recorded around the world and triggered a tsunami that flooded Pacific coastlines from Japan to the United States. Dramatic satellite images showed the long, rumbling eruption of the volcano spewing smoke and ash in the air, with a thunderous roar heard 10,000 kilometres away in Alaska. The US Geological Survey recorded yesterday’s eruption as equivalent to a 5.8 magnitude earthquake at zero depth. 1.2 metre-waves also hit Japan, New Zealand, Australia and the California coast.
Trump says Biden humiliated the US
Former US president Donald Trump has returned to attack President Joe Biden. Speaking in Florence, Arizona, in his first rally of the year, Trump said, “Few imagined he would be such a disaster. He humiliated the country on the international stage.” Refering to the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, the tycoon said that “the real insurrection took place in November 2020, on Election Day”.
Woman killed in subway shove at Times Square
A woman was pushed to her death in front of a subway train at the Times Square station Saturday, police said, a little more than a week after the mayor and governor announced plans to boost subway policing and outreach to homeless people in New York City’s streets and trains. The man believed responsible fled the scene but turned himself in to transit police a short time later, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said at a news conference. The 40-year-old victim, a city resident, was waiting for a southbound train when she was apparently shoved. According to police, the incident was unprovoked, and the victim did not appear to have had any interaction with the subject. A second woman told police the man had approached her minutes earlier and she feared he would push her onto the tracks.