Help is on the way. Dateline Coventry, England. A 90-year old pensioner applauded after becoming the first member of the general public to get her Covid vaccine jab and what a feat, a first-ever vaccine against a coronavirus rolled out in record time. Here in France, seems like it would be politically impossible to announce Christmas is cancelled but with the infection rate more than double the 5-thousand a day the government was aiming for, restrictions do apply.
On Wednesday, the Covid surge had the German chancellor issuing an uncharacteristically emotional plea from the floor of the Bundestag. There is another silver lining to this pandemic: the planet’s greenhouse gas emissions down 7-percent this year, the biggest drop since the end of the Second World War. It may not last long but the sounds of birds chirping and the smell of clean air.
With a rule of law standoff settled with Poland and Hungary and whether or not to sanction Turkey over oil and gas drilling in disputed East Mediterranean waters kicked down the road to the next big summit in March. European leaders concluding two days of talks in Brussels with one piece of unsettled business. Brexit was not on the official agenda but when Boris Johnson came over for dinner Wednesday night, it was clear that the prospect of no trade deal on January First and barriers going up was going to cast a shadow.
After the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan, Morocco becoming the fourth Arab nation to normalize ties with Israel, this time with a major sweetener to the deal. The United States turning its back on decades of support for UN mediation and formally recognising Morocco’s 1975 annexation of Western Sahara. The US points to Rabat’s promise of autonomy for Western Sahara.
When Diego Maradona died, we compared political activism of athletes then and now. On that score, it’s been quite a week. France and Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann announcing on Instagram that he was severing sponsorship ties to Huawei, this over China’s internment of Uighur Muslims. This follows the extraordinary scenes Tuesday evening here in Paris. Fourteenth minute of play. The Romanian fourth official of the Champions League encounter between PSG and Istanbul side Basaksehir Sebastian Coltescu calls for a red card for assistant coach Pierre Webo. When asked which coach was he pointing to, he uses the Romanian word for black… “negru”.
Less commuting, more remote working and a temporary drop in air pollution: these are perhaps the silver linings in the dark clouds that have hung over Europeans in this difficult year of 2020. But have we really moved to a different, more sustainable way of living? That’s the key question we’re asking two MEPs in this debate.
In this edition, the United Nations has sounded the alarm over reports that Eritrean refugees are being returned to the Tigray region by the government. This is after weeks of fighting in the region that is thought to have killed thousands of people including four aid workers. Also, the Trump administration has endorsed Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara as part of an agreement to normalise ties between Morocco and Israel. And, thousands of retired civil servants are struggling to make ends meet in Congo. Our reporters meet the pensioners affected.
A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.
Shots could begin within days, depending on how quickly the Food and Drug Administration signs off, as expected, on the expert committee’s recommendation.
In a 17–4 vote with one abstention, the government advisers concluded that the vaccine from Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech appears safe and effective for emergency use in adults and teenagers 16 and older.
That endorsement came despite questions about allergic reactions in two people who received the vaccine earlier this week when Britain became the first country to begin dispensing the Pfizer-BioNTech shot.
Despite all the remaining unknowns, in an emergency, “the question is whether you know enough,” said panel member Dr. Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who concluded that the shot’s potential benefits outweigh its risks.
The independent review by non-government experts in vaccine development, infectious diseases and medical statistics was considered critical to boosting Americans’ confidence in the safety of the shot, which was developed at breakneck speed less than a year after the virus was identified.
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