WHO: Europe at the epicentre of COVID again
WHO director for Europe Hans Kluge has expressed the concern of the UN agency for the renewed pace of infections from COVID in the 53 countries of the European region. He told a news conference that a reliable projection suggests “another half a million deaths from COVID-19” by February if the current trend continues. He blamed insufficient vaccine take-up and a relaxation of public health measures for the rise. The European Medicines Agency said it was of the utmost importance that everyone gets vaccinated, because “no one is protected as long as everyone is protected”. Johns Hopkins University reports an increase of 288,409 cases in 24 hours in Europe, to 65,489,276. Deaths increased by 3,810 to a total of 1,316,891. The world passed a milestone of five million COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic on Monday, a mark the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called “a painful new threshold”.
Kerry optimistic on help to developing nations
The US special envoy on climate change, John Kerry, has said richer nations would be able to deliver $100 billion a year to help developing countries tackle the climate crisis by 2022, earlier than anticipated. However, he warned that trillions of dollars in private finance would still be needed.
Johnson U-turn on corruption rule change as lawmaker quits
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government made an embarrassing U-turn on Thursday on plans to overhaul the system for combating parliamentary corruption, with the lawmaker Owen Patterson, whose case had provoked the row, quitting his job. Faced with accusations of “sleaze”, the government said it would think again about proposals it had pushed through parliament only the day before.
Italians lament of burden of migrants
Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese has said that it was not fair that Italy carried the burden of migrants saved by NGO ships in the Mediterranean. Speaking at the signing of an MOU for humanitarian corridors of Afghans, she said, “It cannot be a load that only the country of first landing must have” and stressed the need of greater participation of European countries for a just redistribution of migrants according to the principle of solidarity.
Snap election in Portugal
Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has announced the dissolution of parliament and called early elections for January 30 following the rejection of the socialist government’s 2022 budget. Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who broke with the far-left parties that had supported him since 2015, has already promised to campaign for a “strengthened, stable and lasting majority”, while the right-wing opposition is plagued by internal divisions.
Sweden to have first female premier
Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson moved a step closer to becoming Sweden’s first woman prime minister on Thursday when the ruling Social Democrat Party elected her as its leader in place of Stefan Lofven, who wants to step down before national elections due in September 2022. Norway got its first female leader 40 years ago. Sweden’s failure to follow suit has grated in a country that prides itself on leading the world in gender equality and has a self-described “feminist” foreign policy.
Cleo’s abducter ‘obessed with dolls’
The man accused of kidnapping Cleo Smith in Australia, the four-year-old girl found after 18 days, is obsessed with dolls – the Bratz in particular – and has invented an imaginary family on several occasions. These are the first details that emerge about 36-year-old Terence Darrell Kely, who appeared before the Australian court 30 hours after his arrest in Carnarvon. Bratz is an American product line of four fashion dolls – Yasmin, Cloe, Jade, and Sasha. According to The Daily Mail, Kelly seems to have used a social profile with the pseudonym ‘Bratz DeLuca’, thus declaring the passion for the dolls, pictures of which were found posted in a room of his home, and others of him driving around the city with the dolls.
Explosive book by Natalie Wood’s sister
Natalie Wood’s 1981 drowning death has remained one of Hollywood’s great mysteries for four decades. But her sister Lana Wood believes there is one person to blame for the “West Side Story” actress’ death: Natalie’s husband, Robert Wagner. “I don’t believe it was premeditated,” Lana, 75, told The New York Post. “But that doesn’t mean I don’t think he did it: Of course he did!” Now, she has written “Little Sister: My Investigation into the Mysterious Death of Natalie Wood” for release on November 9. The book – part memoir, part true-crime investigation using new evidence dug up by homicide detectives – aims to dispel the myths and illuminate the facts surrounding Natalie’s tragic death. She also alleges Natalie Wood was sexually assaulted as a teenager by actor Kirk Douglas in the summer of 1955 while Wood was filming The Searchers. His actor son, Michael Douglas, in a statement issued through his publicist, told The Associated Press: “May they both rest in peace.”