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Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Boris Johnson Refuses to Comment on Royal Family Matters Regarding Harry & Meghan
Boris Johnson Refuses to Comment on Royal Family Matters Regarding Harry & Meghan
Credit: U.K. Prime Minister, via Wikimedia Commons (Open Government Licence v3.0)

When asked during Downing Street news conference about the allegations made against the Royal Family by Meghan marble and husband Prince Harry, the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to comment.

"I have always had the highest admiration for the Queen and the unifying role that she plays in our country and across the Commonwealth," Johnson said. "As for all other matters to do with the Royal Family, I have spent a long time now not commenting on Royal Family matters and I don't intend to depart from that today.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German politician resigns over face mask scandal
Nikolas Löbel
Nikolas Löbel Credit: Tobias Koch (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Nikolas Löbel, a lawmaker from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), stepped down on Monday over a government deal to procure face masks.

"In order to avoid further damage to my party, I am resigning my Bundestag mandate with immediate effect," Löbel said.

Regional News • Africa
Ship runs aground off Mauritius with fuel aboard
Ship runs aground off Mauritius with fuel aboard
Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

A Chinese-flagged trawler containing 130 tonnes of oil ran aground off the Indian Ocean archipelago nation Mauritius. It is the second shipwreck in less than a year off Mauritius, after a tanker struck a reef in July and leaked 1,000 tonnes of fuel in the country's worst environmental disaster in history.

Fisheries Minister Sudheer Maudhoo said the captain of the Lurong Yuan Yu, a trawler flying the Chinese flag, issued distress calls late Sunday afternoon. By the time the government issued an urgent appeal for international help the slick had reached the shore, coating mangrove forests, fragile ecosystems and coral reefs. The disaster was unprecedented for Mauritius, an archipelago of 1.3 million people where many derive their livelihood from tourism and fishing, and tens of thousands marched in protest over the government's handling of the crisis.

Regional News • Asia
Myanmar protests: Military occupies hospitals and universities ahead of mass protests
Myanmar protests: Military occupies hospitals and universities ahead of mass protests
Credit: OneNews (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Myanmar Military has occupied hospitals and universities as unions call for a nationwide strike on Monday to protest against the military coup. After the military junta seized power on February 1, the country has seen mass protests that left many injured and 54 people dead.

Regional News • Oceania
New Zealand bought enough Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for entire population
New Zealand bought enough Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for entire population
Credit: U.S. Secretary of Defense, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reported that New Zealand has purchased enough of Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine to inoculate its entire population. The government has signed an advanced purchases agreement with the vaccine manufacturer for an additional 8.5 million doses. Pfizer/BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine will be the country's primary vaccine.

Whilst the Pfizer vaccine does need to be kept at ultra-cold temperatures, this challenge is offset by only having to deal with one vaccine, rather than multiple vaccines with multiple protocols. It will simplify our vaccine roll out," Arden said.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazilian Supreme Courts cancelled all convictions of former President Lula
Lula
Lula Credit: PT - Partido dos Trabalhadores (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Justice Edson Fachin of the Federal Supreme Court overturned on Monday 8 all the condemnations imposed on former President Lula during the Operation Car Wash (Operação Lava Jato). According to Fachin, the Federal Justice of Paraná, responsible for the convictions at first instance, is incompetent to judge the Guarujá triplex, the Atibaia site and the Lula Institute cases.

In 2017, the then judge Sergio Moro sentenced Lula to 9 years and 6 months in prison for passive corruption and money laundering in the case of a triplex flat. Lula, however, denies that he benefited from the flat and is trying to prove in court the suspicion of Moro - who a few years later became Minister of Justice and Public Safety in the government of Jair Bolsonaro.

With the decision, the cases will be analyzed by the Federal Court of the Federal District, which will have the autonomy to decide whether to maintain the convictions already imposed or send the cases to the criminal investigation stage.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Schools in England Reopen on Monday
Schools in England Reopen on Monday
Credit: mattbuck (category), via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

After two months of home-schooling, millions of pupils in England are returning back to school on Monday as the government eases restrictions. Pupils aged 5-11 will return to schools on Monday, secondary school students aged 11-18 will return to their classrooms the coming week and are asked to take Covid-19 tests in the first two weeks. The Department of Education has recommended face coverings in classrooms.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
EMA urges EU not to grant emergency authorization for Russian Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Mos.ru, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

An official of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is cautioning the European Union to hold back on granting emergency authorization for Sputnik V, Russia's Covid-19 vaccine until its effectiveness has been reviewed.

“We need documents that we can review. We also don’t at the moment have data...about vaccinated people. It is unknown. That’s why I would urgently advise against giving a national emergency authorization,” EMA managing board head Christa Wirthumer-Hoche said. “We can have Sputnik V on the market here in future when the appropriate data have been reviewed. The rolling review has begun now at EMA.”

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Meghan says British royalty worried about skin tone of her son with Harry
Meghan says British royalty worried about skin tone of her son with Harry
Credit: Northern Ireland Office, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, have opened up about life in the British royal family in a tell-all interview with US television personality Oprah Winfrey. Meghan, who is biracial, said there were concerns about how "dark" her child would be.

The American also addressed the numerous rumours of intrigue between her and Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, married to Prince William, second in line of succession to the throne and Harry's older brother.

The turbulent life amidst the royal family -although the former actress spoke of maintaining good relations with Queen Elizabeth 2nd- even led Meghan to have suicidal thoughts.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Survey shows half of UK women see set back in gender equality due to pandemic
Survey shows half of UK women see set back in gender equality due to pandemic
Credit: unsplash.com/Jessica Lewis

A Mumsnet poll for International Women’s Day has shown that over half of the women in the United Kingdom think that the pandemic has set back gender equality decades. Since the start of the pandemic, women have been more likely to lose their job and be furloughed while taking care of household chores and their children's needs and education. Women have reported that, while their male partners were able to work uninterrupted, they had to reduce their work hours to take care of childcare.

“This survey paints a fairly depressing picture of how gender inequality has been exacerbated during the pandemic, with women really struggling to cope,” said Mumsnet founder Justine Roberts. “What’s needed is a proper women’s strategy, with specific policies to redress the inequality that’s been triggered by Covid, or we’re at real risk of heading right back to the 1970s with regard to women’s economic power.”

Regional News • Europe • France
French billionaire Olivier Dassault killed in a helicopter crash
Olivier Dassault
Olivier Dassault Credit: Sebastian Mittermeier (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

French billionaire Olivier Dassault was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash, a police source said, with President Emmanuel Macron paying tribute to the 69-year old conservative politician.

Olivier, seen as the favourite of founder Marcel, was once considered favoured to succeed Serge at the head of the family holding, but that role went to former Dassault Aviation CEO Charles Edelstenne.

"Great sadness at the news of the sudden passing of Olivier Dassault," Valerie Pecresse, a conservative politician who is president of the Paris region, said on Twitter.

Regional News • Europe
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
European Commission President Von der Leyen expects 100 million Covid-19 doses for the EU per month as of April
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

In January and February, 20 and 30 million vaccine doses respectively had been delivered by the manufacturers, said von der Leyen, in March 50 million doses were expected: "From April onwards, the quantities could double again according to the manufacturers' plans. That would be an average of around 100 million doses per month in the second quarter, a total of 300 million by the end of June."

Regional News • Europe • Spain
Spain's birth rate falls by 22.6% in past year
Spain's birth rate falls by 22.6% in past year
Credit: Ariana Urbina (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Spain's birth rate has fallen by 22.6% in the year following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March of 2020, with the country reporting 13,141 births between December 2020 and January 2021 compared to the same period previous year.

Spain has been seeing a decline in births in the past couple of years, with only 360,617 newborns in 2019 – the lowest figure since 1941.

Regional News • Asia • India
"Freedom House rates India as only "partly free"
"Freedom House rates India as only "partly free"
Credit: unsplash.com / Naveed Ahmed

In the world's most populous democracy, political rights and civil liberties have been limited since Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014, writes the US government-funded organization in this year's democracy report. There has been a spate of fanatical attacks on Muslims - including lynchings. They account for 14 percent of the Hindu country's total population of 1.3 billion. In addition, there is increasing pressure on human rights organizations and intimidation of academics and journalists. According to the report, the developments in India reflect a worldwide trend towards authoritarianism.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, House Democrats plan final approval Tuesday
The US Capitol building
The US Capitol building Credit: Mark Fischer (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The US Senate has voted, 50 to 49, to approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill on Saturday, and will now head to the House of Representatives. The Democratic-held House aims to pass the bill on Tuesday and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature before a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment aid programs.

Republicans senators opposed another major spending plan, contending the state of the economy does not warrant it.

Regional News • Europe
Switzerland votes to ban nikabs and burqas
A woman wearing the niqab
A woman wearing the niqab Credit: unsplash.com/Elin Tabitha

In a referendum on Sunday, more than 52 percent of voters were in favor to ban facial coverings – commonly known as 'burqa ban' – especially aimed against niqabs and burqas traditionally worn by Muslim women. The results speak against the recommendation of the government, which was against the ban that was proposed pre-Coronavirus. The proposal would also ban protestors from wearing masks. Final results are due later on Sunday.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Disneyland and baseball stadiums to reopen in California
Tomorrowland at Disneyland
Tomorrowland at Disneyland Credit: Justin Brown (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The California Department of Health gave Walt Disney’s Disneyland and other theme parks the go-ahead to reopen, limited to 15% and 35%, from April 1, after a closure of almost a year coronavirus pandemic. Masks and other safety measures will be required, and the parks initially will be open only to state residents.

Authorities also announced that outdoor stadiums and ballparks would also be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity on the same date.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
German politician got €288,000 commission through his private firm for brokered mask deals with China
German politician got €288,000 commission through his private firm for brokered mask deals with China
Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Winkler

Last year, CDU MP Nikolas Löbel brokered deals with Corona protection masks to German companies and earned more than a quarter of a million euros in commissions, according to information from Business Insider. According to the report, Löbel offered potential customers in Germany "mask deliveries reliably and quickly from China via Bricon Technology GmbH, based in Wurmlingen". Löbel had contact with this member of the People's Chamber after he had written to the Chinese raw materials company Sinopec, which sells Corona protective masks on a large scale all over the world.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
YouTubers prove that "royal experts lie about Harry and Meghan" by letting them comment on unreleased interview
YouTubers prove that "royal experts lie about Harry and Meghan" by letting them comment on unreleased interview
Credit: Courtesy of Youtube / Josh Pieters & Archie Manners

The British YouTubers Josh Pieters and Archie Manners have released a video in which they interviewed four Royal Experts and let them comment on the yet-to-be-released interview, in which Oprah Winfrey talked to Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

The people that commented on the unreleased interview include Dickie Arbiter, former press secretary of the Queen, Ingrid Seward, Editor-in-Chief of the Majesty Magazine, Richard Fitzwilliams, Royal Commentator and Victoria Arbiter, CNN Royal Commentator.

Regional News • Americas • United States
YouTube to lift Trump's suspension when risk of violence has receded
YouTube to lift Trump's suspension when risk of violence has receded
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler – Logo via YouTube (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Susan Wojcicki, YouTube's CEO, has said Thursday that Donald Trump's account could see its supsension lifted once the risk of violence has receded.

“The channel remains suspended due to the risk of incitement to violence,” Wojcicki said. “We will turn the account back on. But it will be when we see the reduced law enforcement in capitals in the U.S, if we don’t see different warnings coming out of government agencies, those would all be signals to us that it would be safe to turn the channel back on.”

Regional News • Europe
Lithuania denies Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya extradition to Belarus
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya
Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Credit: Serge Serebro, Vitebsk Popular News (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

Lithuania on Friday publicly rebuffed a request from the Belarus General Prosecutor's Office to extradite the opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to the country after a harsh government crackdown followed disputed elections last summer.

Belarus requested Tsikhanouskaya extradition "to face prosecution for crimes against the governing order, public safety and the state." but Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis response to the request was blunt: "We can tell the Belarusian regime that we would rather watch hell freeze over than think about their demands."

Regional News • Europe • France
France plans to vaccinate 30 million people by summer – PM Castex
France plans to vaccinate 30 million people by summer – PM Castex
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday that France will have enough Coronavirus vaccines doses to vaccinate over 30 million people (two-thirds of the population) by this summer. The aim is to vaccinate 10 million people by mid-April and 20 million by mid-May as "deliveries of doses to France will increase in the coming weeks."

“Between January and February, we received seven million doses of all vaccines. In March, we should receive 22 million doses, three times as many. We can't vaccinate everyone right away. You will still have to be patient but don't have any doubt - you will be vaccinated,” he said.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Bolsonaro tells Brazilians to 'stop whining' as Covid-19 deaths spike
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro criticized social isolation measures after the country recorded more than 1,900 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours. Bolsonaro has told Brazilians to "stop whining" and asked, "You will be crying until when?" The president further called those pushing for more vaccines "idiots".

Brazil is facing its worst phase of the pandemic yet, leaving its health system in crisis, and, in response, some cities and states have imposed their own restrictions.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany starts testing drive in bid to end lockdown
Germany starts testing drive in bid to end lockdown
Credit: Twitter (Reproduction)

The German Federal Government is expected to start paying for rapid tests starting next week, as part of the latest pandemic plan agreed to late Wednesday between Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 state leaders to moving Germany out of lockdown.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced on Twitter the government had secured at least 200 million self-tests and 800 million rapid tests, of which 150 million are already in stock with suppliers.

"Opening schools without rapid tests will drive up the incidence rate," Karl Lauterbach, a Bundestag deputy for the Social Democrats (SPD) and an epidemiologist, wrote on Twitter.

Regional News • Europe • Italy
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Italy 'blocks' AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shipment to Australia
Credit: Gencat (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

The Italian government has decided to block the export of a 250,000 doses shipment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine produced in Italy to Australia.

Italy is the first European Union country to use the bloc's new regulations allowing exports to be stopped if the company providing the vaccines has failed to meet its obligations to the EU.

Italy's new Prime Minister Mario Draghi, an influential figure in Europe as the former president of the European Central Bank, argued in a videoconference with EU leaders that the rules should be applied rigorously, furious at reductions by AstraZeneca of up to 70% in the doses it was contracted to provide.

Regional News • Europe • Germany
Germany now recommends AstraZeneca for people over 65
Germany now recommends AstraZeneca for people over 65
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

The German Standing Commission on Vaccination (Stiko) at the Robert Koch Institute now recommends AstraZeneca's vaccine for people older than 65. The Ministry of Health confirmed the change in a statement. The interval between the two vaccination doses is also to be extended.

Regional News • Europe • United Kingdom
Heart surgery successful for Britain's Prince Philip
Prince Philip's and Queen Elizabeth II in 2015
Prince Philip's and Queen Elizabeth II in 2015 Credit: Kiefer (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Due to a long-standing heart condition, Prince Philip has undergone medical intervention. He must remain in hospital, according to Buckingham Palace.

"The Duke of Edinburgh yesterday underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew's Hospital," the statement read. "His Royal Highness will remain in hospital for treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days."

Regional News • Americas • United States
US Police prepare for possible renewed attacks by militias on the Capitol in Washington
US Police prepare for possible renewed attacks by militias on the Capitol in Washington
Credit: unsplash.com / Quick PS

US authorities have revealed possible plans by extremists for another attack on the Capitol this Thursday. "We have received intelligence showing possible plans by an identified militia to infiltrate the Capitol on Thursday, 4 March," Capitol Police in Washington wrote in a statement. Police were prepared for possible threats against members of Congress or the Capitol complex, it said. The Capitol Police did not say who exactly had planned the attack.

On Wednesday evening, the US House of Representatives brought forward a vote scheduled for this Thursday. A House spokeswoman confirmed that there would be no more votes this session week after Wednesday night. The Washington Post reported that the Senate - the other chamber in Congress - still planned to meet at the Capitol on Thursday.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden slammed governors for lifting mask mandates, calling it 'Neanderthal thinking'
President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott
President Joe Biden talks on the phone with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Credit: The White House (Public Domain)

After the Republican Governors of Texas, Greg Abbott, and Mississippi, Tate Reeves, announced Tuesday they would allow businesses to reopen at 100% capacity and lift mask mandates, President Joe Biden slammed states that repealed Covid-19 restrictions on businesses and rescinded mask mandates for residents, calling the moves a "big mistake."

On Monday, before the two governors announced it, Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warned state officials against lifting public health restrictions too quickly.

"The last thing, the last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking, that, ‘In the meantime, everything’s fine. Take off your mask. Forget it.’ It still matters," Biden said.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazilian Government decides to buy Pfizer and Janssen Covid-19 vaccines
Meeting between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Janssen
Meeting between the Brazilian Ministry of Health and Janssen Credit: Ministério da Saúde

The Brazilian Ministry of Health decided on Wednesday to sign contracts for the purchase of vaccines against Covid-19 from Pfizer and Janssen laboratories. The contracts are being drafted and must be signed by the beginning of next week, with a determination of the quantity of doses to be delivered.

The country is experiencing the most serious moment of the pandemic, with reports of collapse in the health system in different states and successive records of deaths by Covid-19, which has increased criticism of the folder for the delay in negotiations to obtain vaccines against the disease.