Mint Lite | Lewis Hamilton's knighthood, UN-AU mission in Darfur, Brexit & more4 min read . Updated: 31 Dec 2020, 10:34 PM IST
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Lewis Hamilton is now a "Sir" as well as a seven-time Formula One champion, reports Press Trust of India. Hamilton received a knighthood Wednesday as part of Queen Elizabeth II's New Year's honours list, which also recognized British performers, politicians, public servants and people outside the limelight who worked to defeat the coronavirus and its devastating impacts. Hamilton, who secured his seventh F1 title last month to equal Michael Schumacher's record, has said his recent success was partly inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
UN-AU mission ends in Darfur
In a statement released on Wednesday, the joint United Nations-African Union mission in the Darfur region of Sudan (UNAMID) confirmed the decision to close the mission, which followed the unanimous adoption of a Security Council resolution on 22 December, and progress made by the transitional Government of Sudan in addressing the conflict in Darfur. In October, a milestone peace agreement was reached between the Sudanese authorities and two armed groups in Darfur, some two years after the Sudanese Revolution, which led to the overthrow of longstanding leader, Omar Al-Bashir, in April 2019. The last UNAMID patrols and other mandated tasks will take place on Thursday and, from 1 January 2021, UNAMID’s troops and police personnel will focus on providing security during a phased, six-month drawdown period. This will involve the repatriation of troops, their vehicles and other equipment; the separation of international and national staff; and the closure of UNAMID’s team sites and offices.
Opposition calls for repeat elections
A group of influential opposition politicians in Central African Republic has called for an annullment of last Sunday's election, saying that a third of voters were unable to cast their ballot because of insecurity, reports Reuters. Voting took place amid an offensive by armed groups in rural areas long beyond the reach of government control in the sparsely-populated country of 4.7 million people. In the build-up, the government relied on United Nations' peacekeepers to deliver election materials to the provinces by plane because roads were made unpassable by heavy rains or rebel checkpoints. Results are expected to trickle in from Wednesday, but an opposition coalition that includes five presidential candidates and former President Francois Bozize, says the vote should be repeated. It did not provide details on which polling stations were closed or proof to back up the assertions.
The calm before the Brexit storm
On the day the U.K. makes its final break with the European Union, the ports are clear of truck backups, goods are moving smoothly and grocery-store shelves are well stocked. Even so, U.K. businesses that rely on some 1.2 billion pounds ($1.6 billion) worth of products crossing the border each day are taking no chances. At 11 p.m. Thursday, Brexit gets real. Companies were already stockpiling and exploring alternatives to the crowded truck-ferry route across the English Channel when France unexpectedly closed its border for two days last week, citing a fast-moving covid-19 outbreak in the U.K, reports Bloomberg. The disruption produced miles-long backups at the Port of Dover—a warning shot for potential chaos as the Brexit transition period ends. Dover remains the U.K.’s most important link with the EU, the country’s biggest trade partner.
The link between Vitamin D and Covid
There is no clinical evidence to prove low levels of Vitamin D lead to severe covid-19 symptoms but there is a definite connect between the “sunshine vitamin" and immune responses to the disease, say experts, reports PTI. Stressing that Vitamin D is inexpensive and has negligible risk when compared to the considerable risk of covid-19, global researchers on the disease have asked governments to make it part of their strategy against the novel coronavirus. Many factors such as age, being male and comorbidities are known to predispose individuals to higher risk from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, but inadequate Vitamin D is by far the most easily and quickly modifiable risk factor with abundant evidence to support a large beneficial effect, said Prof Afrozul Haq, former dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Sciences and Technology (SIST) at Jamia Hamdard University.
Remains of Ice-Age era woolly rhino found
Researchers have found the well-preserved remains of an Ice-Age era woolly rhino in Eastern Siberia, reports BBC. The rhino was revealed by the melting permafrost in the Abyisky region of Yakutia in north-eastern Russia. With most of its internal organs intact, the rhino is among the best-preserved animals ever found in the region. Experts will deliver the rhino to a lab for further studies next month. They are waiting for ice roads to form so they can take the remains to the city of Yakutsk, where scientists will take samples and carry out radiocarbon analyses. Rising global temperatures are melting large portions of Siberian ice-caps, revealing the remains of many such animals. A 39,000 year old cave bear’s remains were unearthed in September this year while just a month before that remains of a 10,000 year old woolly mammoth was pulled out of a Siberian lake.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen