Expo 2020 kicks off with incredible show
After a one-year delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai kicked off its US$7 billion Expo 2020 on a desert site, which a media report described as equivalent to the size of 600 football fields. According to the Khaleej Times, the Expo’s star-studded opening ceremony was streamed live to more than 430 locations. The event will go on until March 2022 and is likely to see participants from over 190 countries. Including Malta. The organisers target 25 million visits – both virtually and in person.
Sarkozy gets jail sentence over campaign funding
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sentenced to a year in prison for illegally funding his unsuccessful 2012 re-election campaign. The 66-year-old was found guilty in a Paris court of spending tens of millions of euros more on his campaign than was permitted under the law. He will not be jailed, however, and can serve his sentence at home with an electronic bracelet. His lawyer said that he would appeal the verdict.
Congress narrowly averts US shutdown
President Joe Biden has signed into law a temporary measure to keep the government funded until early December and avoid yet another federal shutdown. Congress narrowly passed the bill hours before funding lapsed. The newly-approved funding ensures that federal agencies do not need to close down and hundreds of thousands of government employees will not have to take unpaid leave.
US kills al-Qaeda leader in Syria drone strike
A US drone strike in Syria has killed a senior al-Qaeda leader earlier this month. Army Maj. John Rigsbee said Salim Abu-Ahmad was taken out while in a vehicle outside the city of Idlib on September 20. No civilians were injured. Salim Abu-Ahmad was responsible for planning, funding, and approving trans-regional al-Qaeda attacks.
Protests greet Spanish king in Barcellona
King Felipe of Spain went to Barcelona to inaugurate the city’s motor show only to face a protest by some 300 demonstrators in favour of the independence of Catalonia. The protesters included some political representatives who were also welcoming him. One of their complaints was that they considered it “a provocation” that the Spanish monarch arrived in Barcelona just on the eve of the referendum on unauthorised secession of 2017, a date considered important for separatists.
Ex-London PC gets life for rape and murder
A former London police officer, nicknamed by colleagues as “the rapist”, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a woman he tricked into his car using his police identification and COVID-19 laws. Wayne Couzens, 48, was accused of falsely arresting 33-year-old Sarah Everard for violating lockdown restrictions as she walked home from visiting a friend in south London on March 3. Prosecutors said Couzens, who was on the Metropolitan Police force at the time, handcuffed Everard, drove her far outside the city, and then raped and killed her. He had pleaded guilty to the charges.
Michael Collins’ walking stick sells for €60,000 at auction
A walking stick once owned by Irish republican leader Michael Collins has sold for more than five times its estimated value at an auction in Northern Ireland. The phone buyer, from the Republic of Ireland, purchased the stick for €60,000 plus fees at a sale at Bloomfield auction house in Belfast. The stick had been held by a private collector for the past 42 years and Karl Bennett, the managing director of Bloomfield Auctions, said his client felt it was time to see the stick go into the right hands, especially coming up to 100 years since Collins’ death.
Winter Olympics open to fans – but only if they live in China
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics will be open to spectators – but only if they live in mainland China, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Wednesday, as organizers gave a first glimpse into the country’s plans to hold the event while enforcing a strict zero-COVID strategy. Under COVID-19 protocols unveiled by the IOC, the Games will be held in a bubble in the Chinese capital from February 4 to 20. Athletes and other participants who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to enter the bubble without quarantine. Those who are not fully vaccinated, meanwhile, will have to spend 21 days in quarantine upon arrival.