Russia could attack Ukraine ‘at any point’
The White House has warned Russia was ready to attack Ukraine at “any point” – upping its threat assessment ahead of a meeting between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday in Geneva. Ukraine, the US, and European countries have raised deep concerns over Russia’s 100,000 troop build-up on the border, despite repeated denials from Moscow that an invasion was planned. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg have said after meeting in Berlin that Russia faced severe consequences if it invaded Ukraine and urged Moscow to de-escalate.
The pandemic is not over, new variants are likely – WHO
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesu has warned that the pandemic is “by no means over” and, with the incredible growth of Omicron globally,” new variants are likely to emerge”. In hisCOVID briefing from Geneva, he said, “Omicron may be less severe on average, but the narrative that it is a mild disease is misleading, harms the overall ‘pandemic’ response and costs more lives.” The intervention comes as some European nations like France, Germany, Italy and Denmark, saw record new case numbers.
COVID-19 might arrive in overseas mail – China
China is urging people to wear masks and gloves when opening mail, especially from abroad, after authorities suggested the first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant found in Beijing could have arrived via a package from Canada. Authorities vowed to step up disinfection of overseas mail and are insisting postal staff that handle it are fully vaccinated.
Hong Kong: petition to stop cull of hamsters
More than 11,000 people have signed a petition calling on Hong Kong authorities to stop a cull of some 2,000 hamsters launched after evidence emerged of the first possible animal-to-human transmission of COVID-19. All pet stores in the territory have also been instructed to stop selling hamsters and people have been urged not to ‘kiss pets’.
World tourism: no full recovery before 2024
The world tourism industry barely improved last year compared to 2020, with industry professionals not expecting a full recovery before 2024, the World Tourism Organisation said on Tuesday. The tourism industry suffered a huge blow in 2020 as a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions. Rising vaccination rates and the easing of travel restrictions did allow a small rebound in the second half of 2021 though the spread of the Omicron variant in December triggered another dip in both travel bookings and industry optimism.
MPs ‘plotting Johnson’s demise’
The uproar over the No 10 lockdown parties leads most London papers front pages. The Daily Mirror is one of several papers to report on a group of Tory MPs who are plotting Boris Johnson’s downfall. The rebellion means Johnson’s premiership is “in the balance”, the paper says. It quotes one Tory MP saying: “His time has gone.” The Times also reports on the “growing revolt” of 20 Tory MPs. The group, who won their seats at the last election, is preparing to submit letters of no confidence this afternoon after Prime Minister’s Questions.
The Times adds Johnson held meetings with some of the 2019 intake last night.
Verizon and AT&T to delay 5G service
Verizon and AT&T have announced they would postpone plans for the new 5G wireless service near some airports after US airlines warned it would interfere with aircraft technology. American’s largest airlines, including American, United and Delta, had warned that thousands of flights could be grounded or delayed if the rollout takes place near major airports.
Death of Mussolini’s last natural daughter
The death has been announced of Elena Curti, the last natural daughter of Benito Mussolini, at the age of almost 100 in her home in Viterbo. The woman witnessed the chaotic and mysterious moments of the arrest of the Duce on April 27, 1945 during his escape: she was in the armored car sitting next to her father, before he moved into the German truck where he was intercepted and blocked. She was born from the relationship of the Duce with a Milanese seamstress. Elena Curti discovered that she was the daughter of the dictator only when she turned 18. Before then, her mother, Angela Cucciati, a Milanese seamstress with whom Mussolini had an affair at the end of 1921 when the Duce was 38 years old, had kept it from her. From his marriage with Rachele, Mussolini had five children. But there were others – a theme that has been the subject of numerous books over the years. Elena Curti hadnever been acknowledged. However, Mussolini wanted to meet her and he had received her every Thursday in Salò.
Africa Cup of Nations: Shock elimination for Ghana
Ghana suffered a humiliating group-stage exit at the Africa Cup of Nations after the four-time champions were beaten by debutants Comoros. The result in Group C will go down as one of the biggest shocks in Nations Cup history as Comoros went on to record their maiden victory. The side,ranked 132nd in the world, now have a chance to reach the knockout stages. A squad bolstered by members of the diaspora, with many plying their trade in the lower leagues in France, lost just once to achieve a maiden qualification and Comoros have now beaten one of the continent’s giants.