COVID-19 is not over, says WHO
The COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, and the new Omicron variant is proof of that, WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a special session of the World Health Assembly on Monday. He said the “highly-mutated” Omicron variant underlined how “perilous and precarious” the global situation was. “Omicron’s very emergence is another reminder that although many of us might think we are done with COVID-19, it is not done with us.”
The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa, has since spread to eight European countries: Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. Cases have also been reported in seven countries and territories outside the EU: Australia, Botswana, Canada, Hong Kong, Israel, South Africa, United Kingdom.
Judge blocks COVID vaccine for health workers
As President Biden told Americans the emergence of the Omicron is no reason to panic, a federal judge has blocked the Biden government’s vaccine requirement for healthcare workers in 10 US states, believing the agency that imposed it abused its authority. The court said it wanted to hear legal challenges from Missouri, Nebraska, Arkansas, Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming , Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota and New Hampshire.
EU to AGI: “We do not ban the word Christmas”
The European Commission has told the Italian news agency AGI that celebrating Christmas and using Christian names and symbols was part of the rich European heritage. “We are not banning or discouraging the use of the word ‘Christmas’. Obviously not!”. The EC was commenting in response to the controversy over the new guidelines for communication issued by the Commission in which the formula ‘holiday period’ is preferred to that of ‘Christmas period’. “The document referred to is an internal document prepared at a technical level and which aims to raise awareness on being inclusive in communication”, explained a spokesperson.
Libyan father jailed for taking daughters from mother
A father who took his two children from their mother and left them with family in Libya has been jailed for 12 months. Mohammed El Zubaidy, from London, breached orders to sign legal papers allowing his daughters to return to his estranged wife Tanya Borg in the UK. Mr Justice Poole found him to be in contempt of court in a ruling made in the Family Division of the High Court. It is the third time he has been found in contempt of court. Ms Borg has been fighting to get Angel, 21, and Maya 10, back to Britain since El Zubaidy left them with his own mother in Tripoli in 2015.
Libya protesters back judiciary after court takeover
Residents of Libya’s south-western city of Sebha took to the streets on Monday to protest against militiamen who besieged a local court house preventing employees and judges accessing the building.A court session had been scheduled to listen to an appeal by Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of the country’s former leader, who was barred from running in the December 24 presidential election. The militiamen are believed to be loyal to warlord Khalifa Haftar, whose candidacy was controversially approved. Protesters held banners in support of the judiciary and chanted: “No to the intimidation of judges.” They also called on the international community and the UN to help ensure free and transparent elections.
Sweden elects first female prime minister, again!
Magdalena Andersson, who last week was Sweden’s first female prime minister for a few hours before resigning because a budget defeat made a coalition partner quit, has been elected again as the Nordic nation’s head of government. Andersson, leader of the Social Democrats, will form a one-party, minority government.
Record Ballon d’Or win for Lionel Messi
Paris St-Germain and Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or – awarded to the best footballer of the year – for a record seventh time. Messi, 34, helped his country win the Copa America, his first international honour, and has scored 40 goals in 2021 – 28 for Barcelona, four for Paris St-Germain and eight for Argentina. Bayern Munich and Poland striker Robert Lewandowski came second, Chelsea and Italy midfielder Jorginho was third and Real Madrid’s French striker Karim Benzema finished fourth. Barcelona captain Alexia Putellas won the Women’s Ballon d’Or. Putellas, 27, scored as Barca beat Chelsea 4-0 to secure their first Champions League crown. She ended the 2020-21 season as the highest-scoring midfielder in Europe with 26 goals in all competitions and was also named UEFA’s Women’s Player of the Year and Midfielder of the Year. Team-mate Jennifer Hermoso came second, with Chelsea striker Sam Kerr third.