Global Review – 30th December

Ghislaine Maxwell convicted of grooming girls for Epstein

The British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of five of the six charges she faced of grooming and trafficking underage girls for financier Jeffrey Epstein. The 60-year-old had pleaded not guilty to all six charges, arguing she was a scapegoat for Epstein, a convicted sex offender, who was found dead in August 2019 in a Manhattan jail while awaiting trial. Prosecutors said the former lovers were “partners in crime” running a “pyramid scheme of abuse”. She has been in jail since her arrest in July last year and faces a sentence of 65 years’ imprisonment. Maxwell’s lawyer said they had already started working on the appeal. During Maxwell’s trial, a number of famous people were mentioned as having had some association with Jeffrey Epstein. These included former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump and Queen Elizabeth’s son Prince Andrew. None have been charged with crimes related to Epstein.

Omicron and Delta ‘driving tsunami of cases’

European countries have again registered huge numbers of coronavirus infections and WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that the Omicron and Delta variants were causing “a tsunami of cases”. Yet more records were set on Wednesday: France reported 208,000 cases, with another 53 people in intensive care and 184 deaths; The UK reported 183,037 new cases and 57 deaths; Italy’s new daily case count rose from 78,313 on Tuesday, to 98,020 on Wednesday; Denmark reported a record 23,228 new cases, of whch, some 1,205 had previously had COVID; Portugal reported 26,867 cases – up from 17,172 the day before; Greece also reported a new 24-hour record of 28,828 cases; and Australia had 18,241 – far higher than Tuesday’s record-breaking figure of 11,300.

‘Courageous vaccination plan needed’ – Guterres

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has advocated “a courageous vaccination plan that allows us to reach every person anywhere in the world”. In his end of the year message, he said, “The world welcomes 2022 at a time when our hopes are being severely tested by worsening poverty, growing inequality in the distribution of COVID vaccines, for commitments insufficient in favour of the climate, for persistent conflicts, divisions and the disinformation that resists”. He underlined that “a revival of the economy was needed with rich countries that support developing countries with financing, investments and debt relief”.

Ukraine: Biden to offer Putin “diplomatic path”

US President Joe Biden will this morning offer Russian President Vladimir Putin a “diplomatic path” for easing tensions in Ukraine. This was stated by an official of the American administration in view of the phone call between the two leaders scheduled for 9.30 am (Malta time). However, he added, the United States continues to be very concerned about the strengthening of Russia’s military presence on the Ukrainian border and stands ready for stronger than ever sanctions against Moscow in the event of an escalation.

Elon Musk rejects Chinese claims

Elon Musk has defended his company and hit back at criticism that Starlink’s satellites were hogging too much room in space. In an interview with the Financial Times, he argued there could be room for “tens of billions” of spacecraft in orbits close to Earth. China had complained that two Starlink satellites had forced the Chinese space station to take “preventive collision avoidance control” measures last October and July to “ensure the safety and lives of in-orbit astronauts”.

HK website closes after search and arrests

The independent news website Stand News in Hong Kong has closed its doors in light of the search and arrests carried out by the police on charges of “seditious publication”. It was announced on Facebook that interim director Patrick Lam had resigned and all employees had been fired. The message said the magazine’s website and its social media pages would no longer be updated and would be removed soon.

Three Boeings to save Japan from the potato chip crisis

Three 747 aircrafts, loaded with potatoes, are ready to leave to save McDonald’s in Japan from the shortage of French fries caused by the crisis in the supply chain in the world. COVID, rain and flooding, which hit the port of Vancouver, had stalled all shipments. The lack of raw material had led all the fast food restaurants in the country to ration French fries and serve only small portions. The shortage of French fries has also affected New York’s iconic JG burger restaurant, Melon, which last week said they would be blocking the sales of fries due to problems with the supply chain.

China: national team players have to remove their tattoos

The Chinese Ministry of Sport has banned tattoos on national team footballers and asked those who have them to “remove” them, at a time when the communist power intends to put an end to trends that are considered vulgar. From music to online games, China has tried, in recent months, to regain control of its youth and to impose manly values, in opposition to a moral decay that would come from abroad. The “vulgar” contents broadcast on the small screen and on social media are also targeted, called to focus instead on “patriotic” values. The Chinese audiovisual regulator has therefore called in recent months to establish “correct” beauty criteria and to ban “effeminate” men.

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