Global Review – 4th January

Coronavirus: ‘There is no escape’ – WHO

The World Health Organisation has warned that the world’s most developed countries cannot boost their way out of the coronavirus pandemic. Senior WHO epidemiorologist Maria Van Kerkhove has told the BBC that manufacturers needed to make enough vaccines available to poorer nations to meet the WHO goal of vaccinating 70% of the world population by this July.

Prince Andrew accuser’s deal with Jeffrey Epstein published

Prince Andrew’s sexual assault accuser agreed not to sue “other potential defendants” related to Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex crimes, according to a secret deal released Monday that the royal hopes will convince a US judge to dismiss a lawsuit against him. The once-confidential document unveiled by a New York court shows that Virginia Giuffre agreed to drop her civil case against late disgraced money manager Epstein for US$500,000 in 2009. The 12-page settlement, made in Florida, contains a provision that claims to protect “other potential defendants” from being sued related to alleged sexual abuse committed by Epstein, who killed himself in jail in 2019. According to Andrew’s lawyers, the agreement forbids Virginia Giuffre from the lawsuit

Theranos founder guilty of fraud

A jury in the US has found Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes guilty of consipiring to defraud investors. At a trial in California, prosecutors argued that Holmes knowingly lied about her blood-testing firm and technology able to detect diseases with just a few drops of blood. The 37-year-old could face up to 20 years in prison. Holmes founded Theranos at age 19, shortly after dropping out of chemical engineering at Stanford University. She was able to raise more than $900 million from billionaires such as media magnate Rupert Murdoch.

Court awards $84m to Iran plane crash victims’ families

A Canadian court has awarded $84 million to the families of six victims who were killed when Iranian forces shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight near Tehran in early 2020. Mark Arnold, a lawyer for the victims, announced the ruling on Monday, vowing to go after Iranian assets in Canada and abroad to obtain the judgement. The Iranian government blamed the incident on “human error”, saying that the plane was mistaken for a “hostile target” in a “disastrous mistake”. Hours before the flight was shot down, Iran’s military fired missiles on US forces in Iraq in retaliation for the killing of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a US strike ordered by then-President Donald Trump.

Trump children refuse to give evidence

Two of Trump’s children have refused to comply with subpoenas issued by New York prosecutors as part of their fraud enquiry into the former US President’s business practices. The requests for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr to testify were issued by the state attorney general, Letitia James, as part of the ongoing investigation to verify whether the former president’s company has inflated the value of its assets for tax reasons.

UN members agree to avoid nuclear war

Five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, the United States, France, Britain and Russia – have reaffirmed their commitment to “prevent the further spread” of nuclear weapons. The five nuclear powers said in  a joint statement, they had agreed that a nuclear war should be avoided. They said they considered it their primary responsibility to avoid war between the nuclear states and to reduce strategic risks, while aiming to work with all countries to create an atmosphere of security. They also confirmed nuclear arms should serve defensive aims, deterrence against aggression and prevention of war. The signatories reiterated their “determination to respect the obligations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty”.

Mexico renews asylum offer for Assange

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has again said his country was willing to grant political asylum to Australian activist Julian Assange as a “gesture of brotherhood and solidarity”. López Obrador revealed that he had sent a letter to Donald Trump towards the end of his term at the White House, to which he had no answer, and with which he asked him to exonerate Assange.

The Mexican head of state said “the offer is always valid”.

Macron clearly in the lead in first round

French President Emmanuel Macron, still not officially a candidate for re-election, is clearly in the lead in the first round of the presidential elections in April. According to a new poll for the newspaper ‘Les Echos’, 26% of voting intentions converge on Macron. Followed, very detached, are the candidates of the right, Valérie Pécresse, and Marine Le Pen, both with 16%.

Haiti PM survives assassination attempt

Gunmen have tried to kill Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry during an event to mark the anniversary of the country’s independence. Officials said the incident happened as he took part in the ceremony at a church in the northern city of Gonaïves. Video posted online showed the prime minister and his entourage scrambling toward their cars amid intense gunfire. The prime minister’s office said “bandits and terrorists” were behind the assassination attempt, and that arrest warrants had been issued. The security situation in Haiti has deteriorated significantly since the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July.

David Bowie heirs sell music catalogue to Warner Chappell

After months of negotiations, David Bowie’s heirs have sold the entire music catalogue of the artist to Warner Chappell Music for over $250 million. Variety says included are six decades of songs including “Heroes”, “Changes”, “Space Oddity”, “Let’s Dance”, “Golden Years”, “Ziggy Stardust” and hundreds more from 27 albums including “Toy”, which appeared after the death.

A maxi snow storm covers Saudi Arabia

A maxi snow storm whitened Saudi Arabia on New Year’s Eve, inticing thousands of people to travel to the Tabuk region to admire the show. Photos and videos immediately went viral on social media. The snow on the Jabal Al-Lawz mountain is expected with trepidation every year but what was striking in this case was the intensity of the phenomenon which, according to forecasts, will continue until Sunday as reported by the Al-Ekhbariya. Jabal Al-Lawz is part of a mountain range in northwestern Saudi Arabia near the Jordanian border.

Hundreds of Muslim women auctioned in India

The Indian Minister of Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw has blocked the GitHub platform that ran “Bulli Bai”, a hate app in which, hundreds of Muslim women found themselves “auctioned”. The cyber attack, one of the most misogenic and hateful of recent times, has frightened and outraged the victims, women of various ages, ridiculed on the web with photos and details about their lives. While indignation was unleashed on social media, the minister announced that he had launched an investigation into criminal measures against the platform. Another provocation against Muslim girls took place in Karnataka, where a college teacher in the Udupi district did not admit six girls wearing hijabs. The girls started a protest and a hunger strike, denouncing the discrimination. Following a similar case in 2017, the Indian Supreme Court reaffirmed the right to wear the religious veil.

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