Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Anna Salvatore, Tia Sewell
Monday, November 30, 2020, 12:22 PM

New data shows that Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine is more than 94 percent effective, reports CNBC. The American drugmaker is now seeking emergency clearance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to distribute its vaccine—a process that will likely take a few weeks. According to Moderna, the vaccine is consistently effective across demographics including age, race and gender. 

Several of the U.S.’s top medical experts are warning of a massive spike in coronavirus cases over the next few weeks, writes the Washington Post. “It looked like things were starting to improve in our northern plain states, and now with Thanksgiving, we’re worried that all of that will be reversed,” said Deborah Birx, coordinator of the White House’s coronavirus task force, while appearing on CBS News’ Face the Nation this past Sunday. Anthony Fauci, the government’s leading infectious disease expert, urged Americans to flatten the infection curve by wearing masks and social distancing.  

The Post also reports that Iranian leadership is livid after one of the state’s high-ranking nuclear scientists, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was assassinated on Friday in Tehran. Iranian parliament held a closed session this past weekend to discuss the assassination.Afterwards a spokesman called for restricting international inspectors’ access to nuclear weapons due to concerns about espionage. Karim Sadjadpour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment, observes that Iranian leaders are torn between avenging Fakhrizadeh’s death—for which they blame Israeli agents— and restoring the Iranian economy by rejoining the nuclear deal with the U.S. 

According to Reuters, the Supreme Court will hear arguments today on President Trump’s plan to exclude illegal immigrants from the census data used to apportion House seats. The Constitution requires House seats to be apportioned based on the “whole number of persons in each state,” and until now the federal government has counted all people regardless of their citizenship status.

The Chinese Communist Party is increasingly targeting the independent judiciary in Hong Kong, writes the New York Times. Over the past few months, state newspapers have condemned judges for acquitting pro-democracy protesters. One Chinese newspaper in Hong Kong demands that, in the words of the Times, “judges be patriotic” and that a council should review complaints about the judiciary. 

The Australian government is calling for China to apologize, after a Chinese government official posted a fake picture of an Australian  soldier murdering an Afghani child, according to BBC News. The doctored image refers to a recent report that Australian soldiers killed 39 Afghani civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013. “This is a new low in an already very tense relationship between the two key trading partners,” writes BBC News. The new low follows Australia’s call to investigate the origins of the coronavirus in China as well as heavy Chinese taxes on Australian imports. 

Ethiopia declared victory over the separatist Tigray region on Saturday, reports Deutsche Welle. Thousands of soldiers and civilians have died in the fighting, according to the International Crisis Group, and more than 40,000 people have fled into neighboring Sudan from Tigray. But the announcement “does not mean the conflict is finished,” said the United Nations refugee chief, because 100,000 Eritrean refugees remain in the restive region and there are reports that some have been abducted.  

The U.K. will ban installment of 5G equipment from China’s Huawei, according to Bloomberg. The restriction, which will go into effect by the end of next September, comes as part of a $330 million package aimed at diversifying Britain’s wireless supply chain. The block follows a U.S. push for allies to exclude Huawei based on security concerns.

Uganda is using Huawei’s facial recognition technology to track dissidents following anti-government protests, writes Quartz Africa. The Nov. 18-19 protests left more than 50 people dead.Ugandan police have confirmed that they used Huawei cameras to help crack down on the demonstrators—including efforts to track down some of the nearly 836 suspects they have arrested in relation to the protests. Uganda President Yoweri Museveni praised the effectiveness of the surveillance technology in a series of tweets on Saturday.

European Union lawmakers are considering whether to roll back geoblocking—a practice that  prevents residents of one member state from accessing content offered in another member state. If lawmakers amend current geoblocking rules, writes TechCrunch, then E.U. residents may be able to access Netflix content from all other E.U. countries. 

Al-Qaeda terrorist Adel Abdel Bary will soon be released from prison, reports the New York Times. Bary was convicted in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania which killed 224 people. Twenty-one years after the bloodshed, some of the victims’ families are expressing concern about Bary’s release. Edith Bartley, whose father and younger brother died in the attacks, said that “Just serving a sentence doesn’t mean that a person has been rehabilitated, doesn’t mean that their core thinking has changed,” adding, “This is a person who can still do harm in the world.”

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