The Netherlands will ban flights from non-Schengen countries, including Britain and South Africa, from Saturday to curb infections of the new, more infectious coronavirus variants, Dutch news agency ANP reported on Wednesday (see earlier posts).
The UK?€?s medicine regulator will be ready and able to approve new versions of Covid vaccines designed to counter any future variants that may emerge, Boris Johnson said on Wednesday.
Asked if the government would develop a new rapid pathway to allow approvals of new versions of vaccines to protect against such variants, the prime minister confirmed:
Yes indeed... we?€?ve been talking about that with the scientists over the last days and weeks intensively, just in the last few hours... We?€?re confident that the (medicine regulator) MHRA will be in a position to turn around new applications for new variants of vaccines, as may be required to deal with new variants of the virus.
Syria?€?s White Helmets, who rescue victims from the rubble of airstrikes, have added making personal protective equipment to their efforts saving lives in areas of the country outside Bashar al-Assad?€?s control.
The civil defence service?€?s uniform-making unit has recently pivoted to manufacturing PPE with the help of a £1.17m award from a nonprofit organisation funded by the UK, US, Canadian and Dutch governments.
Outgoing acting envoy Stephanie Williams also urges foreign powers to withdraw troops and mercenaries from country
A political class stretching across Libya?€?s east-west conflict lines is determined to maintain the status quo and privileged access to the coffers of the state, Stephanie Williams, the outgoing acting UN special envoy for Libya has warned.
The American diplomat likened many of them to dinosaurs, saying they were linked to pre-revolutionary forces.
Kristen Antoinette Gray accused of breaching Indonesia visa by promoting the island, selling her e-book and offering consulting
An American woman is being deported from Bali over suspected immigration violations after her tweets that celebrated the Indonesian resort island as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live went viral.
Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January last year and ended up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles, offers to advise on travel, and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday.
Prime minister faces leading an even more unstable coalition after exit of Matteo Renzi?€?s party
Italy?€?s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, has managed to cling to power, but he will plough ahead with an even more fragile government as the country battles to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic and recession.
Conte, who has led two different administrations since 2018, was supported by 156 lawmakers in the senate on Tuesday, with 140 voting against and 16 abstaining. Conte also won a vote of confidence in the lower house on Monday.
Minister says UK is not pursuing a touring waiver, as stars including Elton John and Sting say musicians ?€?shamefully failed?€? by Brexit
The UK government will not pursue a waiver scheme that would allow British musicians to tour the EU without the need for visas, carnets and work permits for each individual member state.
The announcement comes as over 100 artists including Sting, Bob Geldof and Elton John have signed an open letter published in the Times on Wednesday, calling on the government to negotiate paperwork-free travel for British musicians touring in Europe. The signatories say musicians have been ?€?shamefully failed?€? by the government?€?s Brexit deal with the EU.
Campaigners say direct links between capitals could significantly reduce carbon emissions
The resurrection of a 1960s network of direct rail routes between major European capitals known as the Trans Europe Express is key to achieving carbon neutrality in the EU by 2050, according to a report funded by the German government.
Due in large part to the growth of short-haul flights, 149 of the 365 cross-border rail links that once existed in Europe were non-operational in 2018, with rail now accounting for only 8% of all passenger travel in EU member states.
British barrister was called ?€?mercenary?€? by UK foreign secretary for taking on case against pro-democracy figures
The British QC hired to run the prosecution of senior Hong Kong activists, including the media mogul Jimmy Lai, has pulled out of the case after widespread pressure, the territory?€?s government has said.
David Perry QC had been instructed by the Hong Kong justice department to prosecute 76-year-old Lai and eight others including the democracy figure Martin Lee and the veteran activist Lee Cheuk-yan. The group are charged with public order offences for organising and taking part in an unauthorised assembly. Lai, who is in jail on remand, is facing multiple separate charges including under the national security law.
A Facebook page with 40,000 members created for people buying plots of land has been taken over by rightwing conspiracy theorists
On 14 January, the 40,000 Britons who had joined the Facebook group Land for Sale UK awoke to find their newsfeed transformed.
Until then, the group had been a moderately sized message board for people looking to buy or sell small parcels of land. ?€?We?€?d love a patch of land in the Falmouth and Penryn area to let the kids roam, grow fruit trees,?€? read one typical post.
Thousands more deaths expected this season as more transmissible strain spreads and vaccinations move slowly
More than 400,000 Americans have now been killed by the coronavirus, a horrific marker of the misery the virus has spread across the country, as the rate of deaths from Covid-19 increases.
The latest death toll comes as thousands more deaths are expected in a bleak American winter with widespread Covid transmission, as a more transmissible strain spreads across the country and a mass vaccination campaign gets off to a slow start.
On a normal working day, Venkateshwara Rao would be ready by 4pm, stationed on the pavement waiting for office workers to emerge and order their favourite varieties of idli and dosa from his bandi, a food cart grandly named Kavyajyotika Tiffin Centre.
?€?When the lockdown was lifted, but with many restrictions still in place, the inflow of customers plummeted. However, the last few weeks have been good with a handful of workers back in offices and people lining up for takeaways at my bandi,?€? says Rao.
Many more of us are conducting our business in bed. Keeley Hawes and Jeremy Paxman explain the benefits, while Lady Warsi and David Lammy are unimpressed
?€?Just say your webcam is broken and try not to sound like you?€?re lying down?€? I was working in bed way before the pandemic. I?€?ve trained for it my entire life. It?€?s easy to do meetings from bed if you just pretend your webcam is broken. The trick is to not sound like you?€?re lying down. I start out sitting cross-legged with my computer on my pillow and then I slowly lie down, one step at a time, so I?€?m on my side, typing weirdly. I have a pillow for the head and one under the knees, and two stuffed toys: I use the elephant wrapped around my neck like a travel pillow, and the hippo, which is firmer, to prop myself up on when I?€?m on a deadline and need to be more active.
Celebrate the life and work of Robert Burns on 25 January with a traditional scotch. But there?€?s more you can do with whisky than drinking
Traditionally, Burns Night ,which takes place on 25 January, celebrates the life and work of the poet Robert Burns. With Covid restrictions in place, the usual gatherings full of poetry, revelry and haggis will have to be curtailed, but it is still a convenient excuse to drink whisky on a weeknight.
Action brought by sailor Sofia Bekatorou likely to end patriarchal country?€?s taboo on discussing treatment of women
When the Olympic gold medallist Sofia Bekatorou appears before a public prosecutor on Wednesday to reveal the sexual abuse she allegedly endured at the hands of a senior sport official, all of Greece will be watching.
For the sailing champion who shot to fame in the 2004 Athens Olympics, the court proceedings will mark the official end of the fear she says has kept her silent for more than two decades. But as she paves the way for more women to speak out, she will lift the veil on a subject considered so taboo in Greece it was never previously aired in public.
Will Paul King?€?s planned prequel follow in the pawprints of Paddington? Or might it stick closer to Warner Bros?€?s most recent origins hit: Joker?
It was announced this week that Warner Bros has greenlit what might arguably qualify as the most pointless film in cinema history: a Willy Wonka origin story.
The film called Wonka will be released in 2023, it has been in development for the last four years and there are plans to shoot in the UK in September. No casting decisions have been announced, although both Tom Holland and Timothée Chalamet have been linked to the lead role. That is currently all we know, apart from the fact that it will be terrible.
Efforts are under way to designate site of submerged forest off the Alabama coast a marine sanctuary
When divers jump into a particular stretch of water off the coast of Alabama, they travel back to a time before humans arrived in the new world.
Submerged below the waters are the remains of a cypress tree forest that grew 60,000 years ago, but was inundated by the Gulf of Mexico and preserved from decomposition beneath sediment. Nothing like Alabama?€?s underwater forest, in terms of age or scale, has ever been found.
Turning a sequel to The Karate Kid into a TV series might not have sounded wise but this blockbuster show has found life in a tired franchise
A modern TV reboot of classic 80s teen film The Karate Kid sounds like an almost comically bad idea. It?€?s the sort of suggestion you can imagine a creatively desperate TV executive leaving for himself in a panicky Partridgean voice note while drunk on a Tuesday night. So many ways it could go spectacularly wrong, and virtually none where it could go right. And yet, with that very same back-of-a-fag-packet premise, Cobra Kai - the smash new Netflix series - has gone miraculously right, racking up 73 million viewers, according to the streamer?€?s latest figures.
Rep. Ilhan Omar?€?s initial reaction to today?€?s events is short and sweet - ?€?praise be to god?€?.
Reuters have rounded up some key reactions from world leaders to Joe Biden?€?s impending arrival in the White House. Here?€?s a selection:
British prime minister Boris Johnson: I look forward to working with him Biden, and with his new administration, strengthening the partnership between our countries and working on our shared priorities: from tackling climate change, building back better from the pandemic and strengthening our transatlantic security.
A convoy of Spaniards and allies was ritually sacrificed in 1520 at Tecoaque - ?€?the place where they ate them?€? - before Hernán Cortés wreaked revenge
New research suggests Spanish conquistadores butchered at least a dozen women and their children in an Aztec-allied town where the inhabitants sacrificed and ate a detachment of Spaniards they had captured months earlier.
The National Institute of Anthropology and History published findings on Monday from years of excavation work at the town of Tecoaque, which means ?€?the place where they ate them?€? in the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs.
That?€?s where I will leave you for today. Here?€?s what we learned:
In US news, outgoing president Donald Trump has used his final hours before Joe Biden?€?s inauguration to pardon or commute the sentence of 143 people including allies including former White House aide Steve Bannon.
Trump leaves office on Wednesday US time, when Biden is sworn in as the nation?€?s next president. Among the wave of pardons issued was Bannon, a key adviser in Trump?€?s 2016 presidential run.
The president-elect has promised to do away with ?€?Remain in Mexico?€? policy, raising hopes that asylum seekers claims will be treated seriously
Selma López, 31, has spent nearly a year holed up in a two-room house not far from Mexico?€?s border with the US, along with her 11-year-old son Darikson and another woman who also made the long journey from Honduras in search of a new life.
Ettadhamen, a marginalised district on the outskirts of Tunis, wears unrest well. Over the weekend and into this week, violent protests have dominated life in this overlooked and restive place.
The district is not unique. Over the past few days, protests have erupted in working-class neighbourhoods in at least 15 locations across Tunisia, in response to declining living conditions, poverty and endemic unemployment, especially among the country?€?s young people.
Family lawyers hope test appeals involving allegations of partner rape and coercive control will help update approach of family courts
A landmark hearing in the court of appeal is under way to examine how cases of domestic abuse are handled by judges in the family courts.
It concerns four conjoined appeals which feature allegations including marital or partner rape and coercive control, which emerged during private proceedings to address disputes centred on access to children.
Frontex director Fabrice Leggeri accused over failure to appoint officers to protect people?€?s rights, with home affairs commissioner calling for ?€?clarity?€?
The head of the EU?€?s border force is under growing pressure to stand down after being accused by the European commission of acting unlawfully and giving misleading evidence to MEPs.
The allegations against Fabrice Leggeri, the executive director of Frontex, relate to the agency?€?s failure to recruit any of the 40 officers it is obliged to employ to protect the rights of people crossing into Europe.
Almost a quarter of Lesotho?€?s population will require food aid between January and March as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned.
More than 580,000 people out of a population of 2.2 million are estimated to be food insecure, despite predictions of normal to above average rains this year and the potential for above average cereal production.
Analysis: The new administration faces no shortage of obstacles to progress - but Biden is setting his sights high nonetheless
The last time a Democratic president took control of the White House, the wreckage he inherited was so great, there was little else his incoming team could prioritize.
Twelve years ago, Barack Obama?€?s blunt-spoken chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, liked to describe the Republican legacy - a financial crisis, deep recession and two wars - as a giant shit sandwich wrapped in a red ribbon.
Analysis: release of investigation into Putin?€?s wealth shows opposition leader is still determined to expose Russian president
For more than a decade, Vladimir Putin has refused to say Alexei Navalny?€?s name in public, referring to him as ?€?that gentleman?€?, or more recently, the ?€?patient?€?, a reference to his suspected poisoning by FSB agents.
In the logic of politics, Putin is simply trying not to give the Russian opposition leader free advertising. But his linguistic game also points to a rivalry that has become deeply personal, stoked by a decade of attacks against friends and family, and made urgent by the understanding that Navalny will not back down despite the threat of death by poisoning or prison.
Paternalism and racism must be tackled if the EU is to rebuild trust with a young, economically dynamic continent
Black Lives Matter protests last summer sparked an uncomfortable reckoning for many European nations with a legacy of slavery and colonialism.
Excavating this dark history via revised school curriculums and initiatives such as Black History Month is difficult. But it is badly needed, and not just to dispel the self-congratulatory and entirely false narratives about Europe?€?s ?€?civilisational?€? past still being driven by nationalist and populist politicians.
Analysis: The convergent crises call for a united response, the president-elect argues, but Republicans say that means forgetting Trump?€?s alleged role in insurrection
When Joe Biden takes the oath of office on Wednesday, the new president will appeal for national unity from the steps of the US Capitol, where two weeks ago a mob, incited by Donald Trump, stormed the building in a violent attempt to prevent this very moment.
Though their efforts failed, the bloody insurrection exposed the fragility of America?€?s commitment to a peaceful transfer of power, underscored by Trump?€?s absence at his successor?€?s inauguration ceremony.
Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House communications director, has called the outgoing US president, Donald Trump, a 'seditious traitor'. He said many Americans would 'breathe a sigh of relief' after Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday.
Central Washington is an armed fortress, fenced off with razor wire and surrounded by 25,000 national guard troops before the inauguration of the president-elect, Joe Biden - a stark contrast to previous inaugurations, when the US capital has erupted in days of celebration
The White House has released Donald Trump?€?s farewell address, a 20-minute pre-recorded video of the president touting his accomplishments in office. ?€?I did not seek the path that would get the least criticism,' Trump said celebrating his controversy-laden presidency. ?€?I took on the tough battles, the hardest fights, the most difficult choices?€?. The outgoing president also offered a message of encouragement to his successor, but avoided saying Joe Biden's name. He ended by hinting at a possible political future, even as he awaits the start of his second Senate impeachment trial. 'Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning?€?
Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, acknowledged the violent mob that attacked the Capitol earlier this month was 'provoked' by Donald Trump, going on to say that the inauguration of Joe Biden would be 'safe and successful'.
Speaking on the Senate floor, McConnell said: 'The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people'
Joe Biden shed a tear as he took to the stage to deliver a farewell address to a Delaware crowd ahead of his inauguration on Wednesday, saying: 'I know these are dark times, but there is always light.'
Speaking at the Major Joseph R 'Beau' Biden III National Guard/Reserve Center, named for Biden?€?s late son, who died of brain cancer in 2015, the president elect said things 'can change, they can and they do'.
Guatemalan security forces blocked hundreds of migrants advancing towards the US on Monday.
The government said the road in eastern Guatemala reopened to traffic on Monday after troops and police officers launched teargas and pushed them back down the highway.
Security forces closed in on the migrants just beyond the village of Vado Hondo, some 55km from the borders of Honduras and El Salvador.
The removal of the group was the latest effort by Guatemalan authorities to break up the caravan, which authorities said numbered close to 8,000 people ,within hours of its departure for the US last week.
Large number of US citizens demonstrated against the war in Iraq (and the possible war in Iran) during this October weekend. Massive turnout in Boston and San Fransisco, and also in Chicago, LA and DC people took to the streets. The message was: NO more war in Iraq! NO to a war with Iran!