Across Europe, many countries are relaxing their coronavirus restrictions, despite high levels of the Omicron variant. The Netherlands has removed its most severe restrictions - with restaurants, bars and museums now open. Dutch Health Minister Ernst Kuipers said that although coronavirus cases had been rising in the Netherlands, deaths from coronavirus, had been reducing. Denmark is expected to remove all restrictions in the next few days. Belgium is reducing restrictions today and France will reduce restrictions next week. Rochelle Walensky of the Centre for Disease Control in the United States, has said that although the Omicron variant appears to be milder than previous variants, it doesn’t mean that it is mild...
“Importantly, milder does not mean mild, and we cannot look past the strain on our health systems, and substantial number of deaths as a result of the extremely <transmissible> Omicron variant...”
Most Russians don’t want to go to war, according to recent polls. A survey by the Levada Center, also said that 50% of Russians think that the United States and NATO are responsible for aggravating the situation in Eastern Ukraine. Only 4% blame Russia. The United States has blamed Russian propaganda for justifying the military build-up on Ukraine’s border. Some experts say that Russia may justify invading Ukraine by saying that it is defending the Russian speaking population of Ukraine.
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the claim that he allowed the evacuation of animals during the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. Johnson said yesterday that the idea was “total rhubarb”, meaning a lie...
“This whole thing is, is, is, total rhubarb. I was very proud of what our armed services did with op (operation) Pitting. And it was an amazing thing to move 15,000 people out of Kabul in the way that we did.”
In Madacascar, Mozambique and Malawi, at least 70 people have been killed by heavy rain and flooding. In Madagascar over 100,000 people have left their homes. Storm Ana entered Zimbabwe yesterday, although it has now weakened.
In Burkina Faso the military has told members of the former government not to leave the country while it is in talks about a democratic transition. Burkina Faso’s military removed President Roch Kabore from power on Monday, saying that he had failed to help in the fight against islamist jihadists. Today, ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, is meeting to discuss the coup in Burkina Faso. ECOWAS may impose sanctions on Burkina Faso, as it has on Mali and Guinea after coups there.
In Uganda a tourist has been killed by an elephant in a national park. Park officials said that the man from Saudi Arabia was attacked by an elephant after he left the vehicle he was traveling in.
Honduras swore in a new president yesterday. Xiomara Castro is Honduras’s first female president. She is the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya who was removed from office in a coup d’etat in 2009.
In the United States musician Neil Young has had all of his music removed from Spotify, after he told Spotify that they would have to remove his music if they didn’t remove misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic from podcaster Joe Rogan. The World Health Organization head Dr Tedros Adhanom tweeted yesterday in support of Young’s decision, saying “We all have a role to play to end this pandemic and infodemic”.
In Syria, soldiers from the Syrian Democratic Forces, say that they have taken complete control of a prison that had been held by Daesh, the Islamic State group for 6 days. Last week members of Daesh attacked the prison and freed around 2,000 prisoners. Yesterday the SDF said that all Daesh members had surrendered. The SDF is mostly a Kurdish-speaking group who control the North East of Syria.
Jordan’s military said yesterday that it had killed 27 smugglers on its border with Syria. The army said that it had also stopped large shipments of drugs passing into Jordan.
In China millions of people are expected to travel this weekend for the Chinese New Year. The year of the tiger starts on Tuesday.
And in Japan the Umaibo snack is rising in price for the first time ever. Umaibo, literally a ‘delicious stick’ is a circular snack made out of corn, which is popular with children and students. It has been sold since 1979 for ten yen - less than ten dollar cents, however, the Umaibo company has said that it will now be sold for 12 yen, because of a rise in the price of corn that it imports from the United States.
That's your world news for this week. IF you enjoy the podcast please leave a star rating on Apple podcasts or on Spotify. If you find SEND7 valuable, then please give what you would pay for a cup of coffee at send7.org/support. I’m Stephen Devincenzi. See you on Monday.