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The Daily Brief: Cancelled Flights and Increased Restrictions Dampen Holiday Plans As Omicron Surges

As the COVID variant Omicron continues to surge, flights for thousands got cancelled on Christmas Eve, and countries around the world began to implement stricter social distancing rules with the hope of decreasing the spread.

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Talmoryair, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Summary: 

  • With Omicron continuing to surge, holiday travelers were met with thousands of canceled flights across the US and Australia on Christmas Eve. 
  • German-based Lufthansa, United Airways, and Delta airlines announced the cancellations after a large number of their pilots and flight crew were out sick, some due to COVID-related symptoms. 
  • Australia also saw hundreds of flights canceled on Christmas Eve but a spokesperson for Australian-based, JetStar, stated most of the flights canceled were rebooked within hours to help ensure travelers arrived at their destination before Christmas. 
  • Although experts state Omicron is milder than previous variants it is far more contagious with the UK, France, and Italy computing a record number of new infectious cases as of Thursday. 
  • With the increase in cases, Italy, Spain, and Greece have all made wearing masks outdoors mandatory ahead of the holiday with the hopes to decrease the spread. 
  • Northern Spain has implemented overnight curfews while the Netherlands is currently under strict lockdowns. 
  • Many holiday messages from world leaders encouraged citizens to get vaccinated and/or the booster if they haven’t already done so. 
  • Many European countries expect to impose stricter restrictions after the Christmas holiday. 

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Hindu Religious Leaders Calling For Muslim Genocide Sparks Outrage

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Antoine Taveneaux, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • An investigation has been opened against Hindu religious leaders in Haridwar, India after videos were released showing speakers at a 3-day conference calling for the genocide of Muslim Indians. 
  • Various speakers were recorded inciting violence against Muslims in India, with one speaker stating Hindus should not fear being jailed for killing Muslims and that they should pray for victory.
  • Police quickly launched a hate-speech investigation Friday although no charges have been filed as of yet. 
  • The Indian Government has yet to comment on the inflammatory statements. 

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Biden Signs Law Banning Goods from China’s Xinjiang Region

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  • As tense relations between China and Washington continue, US President Joe Biden has now signed a law banning goods made in China’s Xinjiang Region due to its oppression of the Uyghur Muslims. 
  • Experts from the UN state that approximately over one million Uyghurs have been imprisoned in the Xinjiang region, furthermore the US and other Human rights groups claim this to be an act of genocide. 
  • The Xinjiang region is a large supplier of cotton and solar panels and the region’s supplier will now be forced to prove that there is no forced labor involved in production. 
  • Sources have previously stated that the US customs and Border Production estimates that in the last year alone about $9 billion of cotton was imported from China and $10 billion tomato products were imported. In its final days, the Trump administration had banned the import of cotton and tomatoes from China. 

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Many Killed In Bangladesh Ferry Fire

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  • A ferry accident in the rural town of Jhalokati in southern Bangladesh has killed at least 39 people and has injured another 70 individuals. According to authorities, of the 39 people killed and found in the river, 2 had died from burn injuries. 
  • The boat was carrying about 500 passengers when the fire broke out with many jumping into the cold water to escape.
  • Ferries are a common form of travel in the country and many accidents have occurred due to the lack of safety rules and overcrowding. 
  • Officials state it took over two hours for 15 fire engines to completely control the blaze and after being brought to shore it took another 8 hours to completely cool the vessel. 

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Japan Approves of $940 Billion Budget Aimed At Pandemic Relief

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  • On Friday, the Japanese cabinet approved a record $940 Billion budget for their fiscal year starting in April 2022 aimed to achieve wealth and economic distribution after Japan’s economy was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • The budget includes $43.7 billion towards emergency costs of COVID-19, a defense plan of $47 billion, the largest-ever welfare cost of $317 billion, and $212.7 billion for debt servicing.
  • The record budget comes as many worry about Japan’s public debt that is now double the country’s $5 Trillion dollar economy. 
  • The new budget must still be approved by the Japanese Parliament by March 2022 before it can go into effect. 

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South Korea Pardon’s Corrupt Ex-President Park Geun-Hye

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  • In an effort to bring national unity amid COVID difficulties, South Korean President Moon Jae announced he has granted a special pardon to South Korea’s 1st ever female President, Park Geun-Hye, who is currently serving time for corruption charges. 
  • The justice ministry states the pardon was discussed and approved during their annual amnesty review meeting held over a two-day period. 
  • Park was arrested in 2017 and sentenced to 20 years in prison after a corruption scandal broke out that caused months of protests amongst South Korean citizens. 
  • The pardon was unexpected by many but experts believe that the pardon will help current South Korean president, Moon Jae, secure a new presidential term in next year’s presidential elections. 

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All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Born and raised in the Bay Area, California, Faiza is a mother of two with a degree in Psychology and Paralegal Studies. She is passionate about lending her voice to those who are disadvantaged.

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China Threatens Consequences if Pelosi Visits Taiwan

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  • US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi has landed inTaiwan. Prior to the visit, China’s Foreign Ministry has voiced their disapproval, stating that “China will take resolute responses and strong countermeasures to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized in response  that “The speaker will make her own decisions about whether or not to visit Taiwan,” and that the US is looking to Beijing to “act responsibly and not to engage in any escalation going forward.”
  • The US has made it clear that members of Congress routinely visit Taiwan and that this trip is non-threatening and has precedent. Even so, some officials have expressed concern that China may invade Taiwan’s air defense zone or send missiles near Taiwan in retaliation.
  • Pelosi has criticized China’s leadership and vocalized support for Taiwan in the past. She is currently on her tour of Asia, with scheduled visits to Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Japan.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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North Korea Could Possibly Be Preparing another Nuclear Test

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  • North Korea could be preparing a seventh nuclear test, especially after Mr. Kim announced that the country is fully ready for any military confrontation with the US at a Korean War Anniversary event. 
  • A US special representative in North Korea states that Jong-Un has tested an unprecedented number of missiles this year—31 to 25. Jong-Un also stated that threats from the US required North Korea to achieve the urgent historical task of strengthening its self-defense. 
  • Jong-un also stated that South Korea is reviving a plan to counter North Korea’s threat by mounting precautionary strikes; in June alone, South Korea launched 8 missiles of its own.
  • The North Korean regime is especially angry with South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol and his so-called Kill Chain strategy. This strategy allows South Korea to launch ballistic missiles and air strikes on North Korean targets if it ever feels threatened. 
  • North Korea has also not been getting as much engagement with Washington ever since Biden replaced Trump, and could be hinting at some sort of deliberate escalation by the North, and preparations have been underway at the Punggye Ri test site since March.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Pope Francis Apologizes for Indigenous Abuse in Canadian Residential Schools

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  • Pope Francis traveled to the grounds of a former residential school near Alberta, Canada and formally apologized for the Church’s role in the abuse of indigenous people and erasure of indigenous culture.
  • The majority of the schools were run by members of the Roman Catholic Church in the late 1800s and 1900s. Around 150,000 indigenous children were sent to the schools and more than 3,000 are estimated to have died.
  • In his speech, the Pope asked for forgiveness and highlighted the Church’s role in the schools system, stating, “I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and of religious communities cooperated… in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.”
  • Indigenous chiefs, survivors of the residential schools, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were some of the few in attendance for the Pope’s remarks.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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