Global Review – 18th January

Three contest European Parliament presidency post

The procedure has kicked off in the European Parliament with members voting to find a successor to the late president David Sassoli who died last week. The original candidates were four: Malta’s 43-year-old Roberta Metsola (PPE), Swedish MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke (50), representing the Greens, Polish MEP Kosma Złotowski (58) from the European Conservatives and Reformists, and Spanish MEP Sira Rego (48), a member of The Left. Late yesterday, the Polish candidate withdrew from the contest, leaving an all-female race. Candidates have already made a short presentation just before the first round of remote voting, which will take place until 10.15am, with the result being announced at 11am. The President is elected by an absolute majority of valid votes cast by secret ballot – 50% plus one. If no one is elected within the third round, the two candidates with the most votes in the third round proceed to a fourth and final vote. At the end of the fourth voting, the candidate who obtains the highest number of votes will be elected. In the event of any second, third and fourth rounds, the results will be announced in plenary at 1pm, 4.30pm and 6.30pm respectively. Roberta Metsola is expected to win the Presidency, following an agreement reached between the political groupings.

 ‘Global solidarity is missing in action’

UN Secretary General António Guterres has told world and business leaders at the virtual World Economic Forum in Davos, that “global solidarity is missing in action”. He said the world must confront the pandemic with equity and fairness and urged pharamceutical companies to share more resources with developing countries. Guterres argued the international community needs the support, ideas, financing and voice of the global business community as the world “cannot afford to replicate the inequalities and injustices that continue condemning tens of millions of people to lives of want, poverty and poor health”.

Oil: Brent at $86.84 a barrel – highest since 2014

The price of Brent oil today reached the highest level of the last seven years, driven by geopolitical tensions and by the increase in demand despite the problems related to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. The price of a barrel of Brent from the North Sea reached $86.84 at 2:40 am Malta time, exceeding the $86.74 reached on October 30, 2014.

Cummings claims Johnson lied to the Commons

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s former most senior adviser, and now one of his most veciforous critics, Dominic Cummings, has accused him of lying to Parliament over the Downing Street parties. Cummings’ latest comments feature in several of today’s British national papers, including The Times, which quotes him saying Johnson had been warned about a drinks party going ahead during lockdown. No 10 has issued a blanket denial and said Mr Cummings’ allegation was “untrue”. The Daily Mirror describes Cummings’ accusation as a “new bombshell claim”, saying the allegation was “crucial” because, if true, it would mean the PM lied to the Commons when he claimed he thought the May 2020 drinks party was a work event. Metro reports Cummings would be willing to swear under oath that it was the truth.

US airlines warn against 5G technology near airports

American’s largest airlines, including American, United and Delta, have warned of a catastrophic disruption to travel if telecommunication firms roll out their 5G technology within two miles of US airports. They claim it could interfere with sensitive aircraft instruments and affect low visisibility operations. The launch of the news service has twice been postponed but Verizon and AT&T plan to start operating it on Wednesday. The chief executives of the airlines reportedly met with US Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on Sunday but it is not yet clear how the government would respond.

France’s Zemmour fined €10,000 for racial hatred

Eric Zemmour, the far-right polemicist candidate for the French presidential elections, has beensentenced to pay a fine of €10,000 for inciting racial hatred and racist offenses after defining isolated minors by the migrant parents of “thieves, murderers and rapists”. In a statement, Zemmour, who announced he was appealing, defined the condemnation as “ideological and stupid”.

Births in China plummet to historic lows

The birth rate in China fell to an all-time low in 2021, reaching a ratio of 7.52 births per 1,000 people, down from 8.52 in 2020. Based on data by the National Statistics Office, this is the lowest figure ever recorded in the country’s Statistical Yearbook since 1978 and is also the lowest since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Last year the country recorded a total of 10.62 million births.

El Salvadoran released after 9 years in jail for abortion

A rights organisation in El Salvador says a woman convicted for allegedly having an aborition, has been granted parole after serving nine years of a 30-year jail sentence. In El Salvador, abortion is banned under all circumstances, and in December, the inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that El Salvador should reform its aboriton policies.

India: calf born with 3 eyes, revered as god Shiva

The inhabitants of the district of Rajnandgaon, in India, are in turmoil over the birth of a calf that many consider the reincarnation of the god Shiva. The calf, born four days ago, has three eyes, like the god considered to be very powerful, and four lobes. Despite the efforts of the local veterinarian, who struggles to explain that it is a rare genetic malformation, since the news spread in the region, a flood of people is pouring into the stable of the “miraculous” reincarnation. The queue of those waiting to prostrate themselves in front of the calf, already submerged by coins, incense sticks, garlands of flowers and coconuts, gets longer by the hour.

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