Updated: December 16, 2021 8:04:09 am
Here is a round-up of the top developments around the world today.
UK records highest daily Covid cases since start of pandemic
The United Kingdom recorded its highest daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday as a senior British health chief said there could be a “staggering” rise in cases over the next few days.
A further 78,610 Covid-19 infections were reported, about 10,000 more than the previous high reported in January. More than 11 million people have now tested positive for the disease in the United Kingdom, which has a total population of around 67 million.
Former Afghan president Hamid Karzai ‘invited’ Taliban to stop chaos
The Taliban didn’t take the Afghan capital — they were invited, says the man who issued the invitation.
In an Associated Press interview, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai offered some of the first insights into the secret and sudden departure of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani — and how he came to invite the Taliban into the city “to protect the population so that the country, the city doesn’t fall into chaos and the unwanted elements who would probably loot the country, loot shops.”
Biden picks Caroline Kennedy, Michelle Kwan for ambassadors
US President Joe Biden announced Wednesday he’s nominating Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy who served as ambassador to Japan during the Obama administration, to serve as ambassador to Australia and Michelle Kwan, the renowned US Olympic figure skater, to serve as his chief envoy to Belize.
Biden appointed another member of the Kennedy clan, Victoria Kennedy, an attorney and the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, to serve as his ambassador to Austria.
EU, ex-Soviet state leaders meet as Russia tensions simmer
As tensions with Russia simmer, European Union leaders met Wednesday with their counterparts from Ukraine and four other former Soviet republics and pledged to deepen political, trade, energy and cultural ties.
The EU’s Eastern Partnership includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is boycotting the forum due to EU sanctions over reported fraud in his reelection last year a security crackdown on antigovernment protesters that followed.
US builds new software tool to predict actions that could draw China’s ire
US military commanders in the Pacific have built a software tool to predict how the Chinese government will react to US actions in the region like military sales, US-backed military activity and even congressional visits to hotspots like Taiwan.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks was briefed on the new tool during a visit to United States Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on Tuesday. The tool calculates “strategic friction,” a defense official said. It looks at data since early 2020 and evaluates significant activities that had impacted US-Sino relations. The computer-based system will help the Pentagon predict whether certain actions will provoke an outsized Chinese reaction.
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