Mint Lite | India polio program, Japan emergency, deforestation & more4 min read . Updated: 13 Jan 2021, 09:57 PM IST
Stories, opinions, news and views that matter, from around the world
Italy’s largest mafia trial in three decades began on Wednesday, with 900 witnesses testifying against more than 350 people, including politicians and officials charged with being members of the powerful ’Ndrangheta, reports The Guardian. A high-security 1,000-capacity courtroom with cages to hold the defendants has been built by Italian authorities in the Calabrian city of Lamezia Terme. Because of coronavirus-related restrictions, however, many of the defendants will attend via videolink from prison. Almost all of the defendants were arrested in December 2019 after a lengthy investigation that began in 2016 and covered at least 11 Italian regions.
Govt defers polio program
The National Polio immunisation programme, as part of which children in the age group of 0-5 years are administered polio drops, has been deferred "till further notice" by the Centre citing "unforeseen activities". The National Immunisation Day (NID), commonly known as Pulse Polio Immunisation programme, was scheduled for January 17 across India. The Union Health Ministry has communicated the decision to defer the polio immunisation programme to all states through a letter on January 9. The country will launch its covid-19 vaccination drive from January 16 in what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the world's largest inoculation programme with priority to be given to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers. The vaccine will be offered first to healthcare workers, and frontline workers and then to persons above 50 years of age, followed by persons younger than 50 years of age with associated comorbidities
Japan may expand emergency
Japan's government is continuing with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer as planned chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato told Reuters on Wednesday. Japan has repeatedly insisted it will hold the Games despite opinion polls showing a majority of respondents want them postponed again or cancelled. The country is grappling with a third wave of the coronavirus, with infections hovering at a record-high. The government said it wants to expand a state of emergency it declared for the Tokyo area last week to seven more prefectures, as the public's hopes for a Summer Olympics fade. The move comes after the governors of several hard-hit prefectures requested the government issue the emergency state, which gives local authorities the legal basis to place restrictions on residents' movements and businesses. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been wary about taking measures that would hamper economic activity.
Deforestation hotspots cause worry
More than 43 million hectares of forest—an area bigger than Germany—have been lost in a little over a decade in just a handful of deforestation hotspots, conservation organisation WWF said. Swathes of forest continue to be flattened each year—mainly due to industrial-scale agriculture—as biodiversity-rich areas are cleared to create space for livestock and crops. Analysis by WWF found that just 29 sites across South America, Africa and South East Asia were responsible for more than half of the global forest loss. The Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado, the Bolivian Amazon, Paraguay, Argentina, Madagascar, along with Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia and Malaysia were among the worst affected. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a groundbreaking report on land use in 2019, in which it outlined a string of looming trade-offs in using land.
EU’s space broadband plans
The European Commission says it wants its newly proposed satellite mega-constellation to be offering some sort of initial service in 2024, reports the BBC. The first priority is to fill in gaps in broadband coverage where ground infrastructure cannot reach, but later it will power services such as self-driving cars. The project will in some ways mirror America's Starlink and the UK-Indian OneWeb networks. Its scope has yet to be fully defined. A consortium of aerospace and telecoms companies is doing that right now. But EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said he wanted to get going on the idea as soon as possible. He told the 13th European Space Conference on Tuesday that his objective is to go fast. And therefore it would be appropriate that the Commission puts forward this year a proposal to the European Parliament and the Council so they can move concretely.
Fate of Kim Jong Un's sister unclear
Doubts about the fate of the North Korean leader’s influential sister has been worrying many. Some say Kim Jong Un may have demoted his sister, Kim Yo Jong, over general policy failures. Others, however, believe he could be worried about her rapid rise and increasingly high profile as he tries to bolster his domestic authority in the face of growing economic challenges, says an AP report. Rumors that Kim Yo Jong is her brother’s heir apparent could be dangerous because they "raise the issue of Kim’s hold on power and health inside North Korea," said Oh Gyeong-seob, an analyst at Seoul’s Korea Institute for National Unification. This, he said, is why Kim Jong Un is slowing down her rise in power. Kim Yo Jong hasn't been forced to quit politics, a fate that some officials have met under Kim Jong Un, and she retains her membership in the party’s Central Committee.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen