UAE reports success with Sinopharm vaccine; Ethiopia rejects Tigray probes; EU plans to tighten Turkey sanctions

The World
Samples of a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Sinopharm subsidiary CNBG are displayed near a 3D model of a coronavirus during a trade fair in Beijing on Sept. 6, 2020.

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State media in the United Arab Emirates reported that the Chinese government-backed vaccine protected 86% of trial participants against COVID-19. The finding gave a boost to Beijing’s efforts to widely distribute a viable vaccine to developing countries. Some 100 countries around the world have signed on to make use of several Chinese vaccines.

The new figure emerged from trials with 31,000 volunteers. It establishes that the jab prevents both moderate and severe cases of the coronavirus. There were no serious safety concerns reported by the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention, which said the country will begin a full vaccination drive and re-open the economy within two weeks.

UAE health authorities are already giving residents the option of booking appointments to receive the shot — which was developed by Sinopharm’s China National Biotec Group — at medical clinics. The announcement comes as a relief for China. The same vaccine has already been given to hundreds of thousands of people there under an emergency authorization. It can be stored at normal refrigerated temperatures, unlike the two biggest Western vaccine frontrunners. China’s other most promising vaccine — the CoronaVac made by private company Sinovac Biotech — also relies on an inactivated coronavirus.

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Ethiopia’s government has rejected independent probes into the Tigray conflict, saying that Addis Ababa doesn’t need a “babysitter.” The statement by senior official Redwan Hussein came as the international community is increasingly calling for Ethiopia to provide more transparency. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed in the armed conflict, and at least one large-scale massacre has been reported. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced on Nov. 4 that fighting had commenced with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front.

The European Union will tighten sanctions on Turkey for drilling in the eastern Mediterranean, according to a draft statement prepared for EU leaders to give at a summit on Thursday. While EU countries have yet to agree on the proposal, Greece and Cyprus believe the sanctions don’t go far enough in punishing Ankara for its hydrocarbon exploration. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said his country is not concerned about additional punitive measures and that the EU has never been an honest broker with Turkey.

From The World

Critics say Biden’s pick to lead Pentagon upsets civilian-military power balance

Some national security experts have expressed concerns about the balance of civilian-military power if the Pentagon is led by a retired general. Rosa Brooks, the co-founder of the Leadership Council for Women, said Gen. Lloyd Austin is impressive and has an amazing record. But she said it's a mistake for Biden to choose a career military man who so recently left active duty.

"There's a law that requires retired military officers to have been out of the military for seven years before they're eligible to serve as secretary of defense," Brooks said.

"And that law does have a provision for a waiver. And the last person who received a waiver was Gen. James Mattis under Trump in 2017," she added. "But this would be the second waiver in four years and only the third waiver in history. Despite his personal qualities, this sends the wrong message in terms of civil-military balance."

Iconic ‘Ghana Must Go’ bag gets refashioned as a meditation on migration

At first glance, the photos look like something out of a fashion magazine — glamorous models wearing beautiful, structured clothes with towering, elaborate head wraps and hats on their heads. But look closer, and you might notice something else: These clothes are made of plastic bags.

Specifically, they’re made from a plaid, woven plastic bag iconic in West Africa and worldwide. Regionally, they're known as “Ghana Must Go" bags. In his photography project, New York-based Nigerian photographer Obinna Obioma transforms these bags into a powerful narrative about migration.

Bright spot

They were feared wiped out by the devastating bushfires in Australia last year, but the world’s smallest possum species has been found alive and well on Kangaroo Island.

In case you missed it

Listen: Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin tapped to head the Pentagon

Then US Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin is shown seated at a large wooden table and behind a microphone.

Then US Central Command Commander Gen. Lloyd Austin, seated, looks back to his military aide while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 2015.


Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/File photo

If confirmed as President-elect Joe Biden’s secretary of defense, retired Gen. Lloyd Austin will be the first Black man to lead the Pentagon. And, it’s “V-Day” in Britain — “V” for vaccine — as the UK on Tuesday became the first Western nation to start vaccinating people against the coronavirus. China and Nepal have long debated the actual height of the world’s tallest mountain, which borders the two countries. But on Tuesday, they put an end to the dispute. 

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