Updated: January 19, 2022 8:01:26 am
Here is a round-up of the top developments around the world today.
1. Russia moves more troops westward amid Ukraine tensions
Russia is sending an unspecified number of troops from the country’s far east to Belarus for major war games, officials said Tuesday, a deployment that will further beef up Russian military presence near Ukraine amid Western fears of a planned invasion. Amid the soaring tensions, the White House warned that Russia could attack its neighbour at “any point,” while the UK delivered a batch of anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
A series of talks last week between Russia, the US and NATO failed to quell the tensions over Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday in another attempt to defuse the crisis.
2. UK PM Johnson under pressure amid reports of looming leadership challenge
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on the brink of facing a leadership challenge, according to reports, after an angry backlash over claims parties were held at his residence during coronavirus lockdowns.
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After Johnson denied an accusation by his former adviser that he had lied to parliament about one party, the Daily Telegraph and ITV News, citing sources, said the required number of letters from his own lawmakers calling for a no-confidence vote in his leadership could be reached on Wednesday. As many as 20 Conservative lawmakers who won their seats at the last general election in 2019 plan to submit letters of no confidence in Johnson, the Telegraph reported.
3. Millionaires group calls for wealth tax at virtual Davos
A group of more than 100 billionaires and millionaires has issued a plea to political and business leaders convening virtually for the World Economic Forum: make us pay more tax. The group calling itself the “Patriotic Millionaires” said that the ultra-wealthy were not currently being forced to pay their share of the global economic recovery from the pandemic.
“As millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair. Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic — yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes,” the signatories said in an open letter, published on the occasion of the World Economic Forum’s “virtual Davos”, which began on Jan. 17.
4. Texas hostage-taker was known to UK intelligence agencies, says media report
The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the US but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday. Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the US at Kennedy Airport in New York on a tourist visa about two weeks ago, officials said.
British media, including the Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.
5. Covid-19 health emergency could be over this year, says WHO
The head of emergencies at the World Health Organisation said Tuesday that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic — deaths, hospitalisations and lockdowns — could be over this year if huge inequities in vaccinations and medicines are addressed quickly.
Dr. Michael Ryan, speaking during a panel discussion on vaccine inequity hosted by the World Economic Forum, also waded into the growing debate about whether Covid-19 should be considered endemic, a label some countries like Spain have called for to better help live with the virus, or still a pandemic — involving intensified measures that many countries have taken to fight the spread. “Endemic malaria kills hundreds of thousands of people; endemic HIV; endemic violence in our inner cities. Endemic in itself does not mean good. Endemic just means it’s here forever,” he said.
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