Update on International News

Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the USA

America has chosen Democrat Joe Biden as its 46th President on Saturday. Voters also made history in electing Kamala Harris, who will become the country’s first Black, Asian American female Vice President. Biden’s victory came after more than three days of uncertainty due to the delayed processing of mail-in ballots, which largely skewed towards Biden. Biden overtook President Donald Trump in Pennsylvania, getting him over the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the election after tense days of razor-thin margins in various battleground states. President Trump, however, will not concede or, at least, that is what his campaign is saying. Biden won the office with more than 74 million popular votes, outpacing the record held by former president Barack Obama. In the end, it was the key state of Pennsylvania who led Biden to victory. What is more, Biden is only the fourth candidate to defeat an incumbent president, since he was able to rebuild parts of the so called “Midwestern Blue Wall” by flipping Michigan and Wisconsin (which Trump had won back in 2016). Now, as the President of the USA, Biden will face the biggest task of his career: will he succeed in uniting a divided country?

Pfizer and BioNtech announce vaccine candidate against covid-19 achieved 90 % success in its first analysis

On the 9th of November 2020, Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced the candidate vaccine against Covid – 19 to the world. After several discussions between companies and the FDA, they decided to drop the 32-case interim analysis in order to start the one with 62 cases. Later, the evaluated cases arrived at 94. The examination of the performance split between vaccinated volunteers and the ones who received the placebo, shedding light on the vaccine efficacy rate which is above 90%, 7 days after the second dose. Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla claims that they are reaching an important milestone in the vaccine development program. Consequently, they pointed out that protection comes after 28 days after the second dose, but the final percentage may be subject to change. Pfizer and BioNTech are still accumulating safety data which will be available by next week. In addition, the participants in the trial will be strictly monitored for long-term protection, getting checked for at least two years after the second dose. According to the project that, scientistsexpect to produce up to 50 million doses of the vaccineworldwide in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion in 2021.

Peruvian President Vizcarra faces impeachment and Peruvian people go on the streets to protest

Thousands of people have been protesting on Lima’s streets and in many other cities across the country to express their dissent against president Vizcarra’s impeachment. The protests, which are some of the most crowded of the last 20 years in Perù, started after the Peruvian Congress impeached Mr. Vizcarra over alleged bribery. Monday’s move in Congress came after a previous attempt to remove him in September, Mr. Vizcarra had previously said he would accept the impeachment vote and leave the presidential palace. However, on Tuesday, he questioned the legality and legitimacy of his removal. Protests started when Manuel Merino, who was Congress’ president, assumed the presidency interim: many young people took to the streets against this new government, which they considerillegitimate. The protests had started as peaceful protests, but became more and more rough as police responded violently, repressing the protests and opening fire on protesters and reporters. Manuel Merino resigned, giving his place to a third President in a week, Francisco Sagasti.

Nigeria cracks down on end-SARS protesters

Thousands have taken to the streets in Nigeria against the federal Sars unit (Special Anti-Robbery Squad), which has long been accused of extra-judicial killings, torture and extortion. The demonstrations have railed against systemic abuse by Nigerian police forces, but they have in turn been met by violence. End-Sars began as a largely online movement, gaining support all over the world, while mainly young people started to march in Lagos and cities across Nigeria. Amnesty International said people have reportedly been shot dead or brutally wounded at a protest against police brutality in Nigeria’s biggest city, Lagos. Several videos posted on social media showed officers firing live rounds and using teargas or water cannons at demonstrators, many of whom reported injuries. Many protested who rallied in recent days described the calls to disband Sars as just the beginning of the plan of ending police brutality, since, in Nigeria, experiences of police abuses are near ubiquitous. While protests have waned since last month, the failure to prosecute Sars officers, along with the creation of a new federal unit called the Special Weapons and Tactics Force, has fuelled anger.

Terrorist attacks in France continue

France is once again the scene of multiple terrorist attacks, with 8 attempts in 2020 only. The latest oneshave occurred between September and the end of October. On the 16th of October, a French teacher was beheaded in the middle of the street by an 18-year-old student, reportedly over a class on freedom of speech in which the teacher had shown caricatures of the Muslim prophet Mohammed. On the 25th of September four people were wounded, after a man attacked them with a butcher’s knife outside of the old Charlie Hebdo magazine headquarters, while at the end of October two brutal beheadings and a shooting occurred in Paris and in the South of France. On the 29th of the same month, 3 people were killed in the Notre-Dame cathedral in Nice, one of the victims beheaded, in a terrorist attack attributed to Islamic extremism once again. The latest attack dates to the 31st of October, when, in Lyon, a Greek orthodox priest was wounded after being shot twice by an assailant. Again, a terrorist motive is not excluded.

Terrorist attack in Vienna leaves 4 dead and 23 injured

On the 2nd of November 2020, a man shot dead 4 people, while injuring 23 more, in Wien, Austria. At 20.00 pm of that day, the heavily armed man, named Kujtim Fejzulai, opened fire in the city Centre, in an area also known as “Bermuda Triangle”. Panic and terror were spread all over peoples’ faces and the Austrian police urged them to stay at home or indoors as there was suspicion that this would not be just an isolated case. There was fear that other points in the city would be hiton the same night, which turned out to be true. Otherperpetrators, wearing a fake bomb vest, killed 2 women (ages 24 and 44) and 2 men (ages 21 and 39) before being eventually shot dead near the church of St Ruprecht by the police.

Hundreds of protesters in Belarus continue to push for president’s resignation

The force against current president Alexander Lukashenko is ongoing in the capital city of Belarus. For more than two months, hundreds of people have marched to oppose the sixth term reelection of Lukashenko. In the August election, protestors were enraged about the fact that Lukashenko rigged the election result, winning eighty percent of votes. At least 10 march participants were arrested. Although the United States and Europe concluded that the August election was unfair and unpeaceful, Lukashenko insisted that it is the US and European countries that are causing the discord in ex-Soviet countries. US authorities recognized the need of the Belarusian government to sanction civilians and expressed “support for the sovereignty of Belarus.” In the meantime, the EU supported the opposition force and Tsikhanouskaya, who is running against Lukashenko.

Hong Kong opposition lawmakers all quit after four members ousted

Beijing imposed a new law that allows the disqualification of “unpatriotic” members and induced the pro-Democratic caucus to resign. As an immediate effect, four legislators were disqualified. Among those disqualifiers, some had already been banned from running legislative elections. On the day of the new legislation, 15 remaining legislators chanted and held hands together in front of the press, then turned the resignation letters on the next day. This resolution by Beijing provides Hong Kong authorities with the power to justify unseat lawmakers. According to the decision-making body of China’s legislators, the four legislators’ campaign which hinders government legislation should have won the majority. Moreover, the implementation sought to end the forums for open democratic debate.