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The Daily Brief: Omicron Variant Forces Lockdown Restrictions in Europe

The Omicron variant has prompted London to declare a “major incident” and the Netherlands to impose strict lockdown restrictions.

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Summary:

  • The Netherlands has announced strict lockdown measures for at least a month due to the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant.
  • Non essential businesses and public venues will be closed, and only four guests will be allowed per household during the holidays. All schools will be closed until January 9th.
  • In London, a “major incident” has been declared by Mayor Sadiq Khan, who stated, “Hospital admissions are going up, but also staff absences are going up by a massive level.”
  • London will have more locations offering vaccines and booster shots, with the mayor strongly encouraging residents to get vaccinated.
  • Paris has cancelled its fireworks on New Year’s Eve and France has placed travel restrictions on those coming from the UK. 
  • Ireland has imposed a curfew on pubs and bars, while also limiting attendance at events. Germany, Austria, and other European countries have placed similar restrictions in an attempt to slow the spread of the variant.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the Omicron variant has been detected in 89 countries, giving it a “substantial growth advantage” over the Delta variant and making it likely to become the dominant variant very soon.
  • The WHO stated that the variant is also spreading in areas with high vaccination rates, but it is still unclear how effective current vaccines are against it.

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Russia Demands Ukraine be Denied NATO Membership

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  • In draft security proposals, Russia has demanded that Ukraine be denied membership in NATO and that bombers, warships, and aircrafts be banned in areas where an attack could be launched.
  • The US has already rejected the idea of denying membership to Ukraine. Moscow has called for urgent talks with the United States, which the US is open to, but has emphasized that European allies and partners will also be present.
  • The recent buildup of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border has raised fear of an invasion, even as Moscow denies such plans.

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Iraq’s Erbil Region Hit Hard by Flash Floods

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  • Iraq’s Erbil Region has been hit heavily by overnight precipitation, causing flash flooding.
  • 12 people are reported to have been killed due to flooding.
  • Iraq’s barren landscape makes flooding even more treacherous, because the ground cannot absorb the water quickly enough.
  • Floods have upended neighbourhoods throughout this semi autonomous region of Iraq.

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Skirmishes Continue Between Israel and Palestine

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  • Fighting continues between Israel and Palestine, as Jewish settlers attacked a Palestinian village and destroyed cars and homes.
  • The attack comes on the heels of a Palestinian gunman ambushing and killing an Israeli man. 
  • The Israeli man was killed near Homesh, an illegal outpost, meaning that the government has not sanctioned the settlement.
  • Both sides have pledged to continue to avenge the violence in the West Bank.

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Algeria Wins FIFA World Cup 2021 Against Tunisia 2-0

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  • Algeria beat Tunisia by scoring two goals in extra time and won the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor city.In the ninth minute of extra-time, Amir Sayoud scored one goal followed by Yacine Brahimi scoring the final winning goal of the game.
  • 31-year old Sayoud made his debut only in Algeria’s opening game of the tournament and then resurfaced past the final hour mark, when he made the goal at the 99th minute. Then, just as Tunisia was pushing its players up for a last hurrah, Brahimi raced away undetected after the ball was cleared by Algeria defence.
  • Algeria’s Arab crown now joins their previous victory back in 2019 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations Title. Algeria will now defend in Cameroon next month.

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Gas Explosion Kills 14 People at a Habib Bank in Karachi, Pakistan

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  • At least 14 people were killed in an explosion at a branch of Habib Bank in Karachi, Pakistan. The explosion is believed to have been caused by accumulated gas in a sewer beneath the bank building, but it isn’t clear what ignited the gas.
  • Many sewage channels have been illegally covered by constructing concrete structures over them, and the illegal buildings have been under notice to vacate so they could be demolished. 
  • The impact of the blast shattered windows and doors, damaged cars, and hurled debris onto a gas station.  The bank’s floors were ripped apart, exposing twisted iron bars. Many people were buried in the explosion’s debris and the number of casualties still rises.

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.

Daily Brief

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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Daily Brief

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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Daily Brief

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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Daily Brief

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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Daily Brief

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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Daily Brief

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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