Mint Lite | Moderna covid vaccine, EU budget, climate, Assam oil fire & others4 min read . Updated: 16 Nov 2020, 09:13 PM IST
Stories, opinions, news and views that matter, from around the world
A COVID-19 vaccine, being developed by America’s Moderna, has shown that it is 94.5% effective in preventing the viral infection. This comes barely a week after Pfizer announced its candidate was 90% effective. These are early results, though, and it’s still not clear how long immunity will last. But even if these vaccines eventually turn out to be safe and effective, large parts of the world are unlikely to have quick access because of what is called vaccine nationalism. Next year, the US could have access to more than 1 billion doses just from the two vaccine makers.
EU’s €1.1 trillion budget at risk
The European Union’s budget for the next seven years and a funding plan for the recovery of a virus-ravaged economy face the risk of being vetoed by Hungary and Poland. The EU has made funding to member states contingent on their adherence to rule of law, a proposal that has Budapest and Warsaw chary. Leaders of the two countries want this link between access to the money and the rule of law removed and a stalemate would leave the 27-member bloc without a 1.1-trillion-euro budget for 2021-27 and a 750-billion-euro economic revival package. Nationalist governments in Hungary and Poland have been sparring with European partners for years over a perceived erosion of democratic rights and standards there. The EU earlier this year resolved to link any future fund disbursement to respecting the democratic standards incorporated in the Union’s founding treaty.
Investors ask for missing climate cost
European companies are being persuaded by investors to include the missing costs of climate change in their financial statements. If it is agreed on, the move can wipe billions of dollars off the value of sectors from energy to aviation, reports Reuters. In a statement published Monday, investors called on the companies to “address missing climate change costs in financial accounts". The investors have sent 36 carbon-heavy companies a document spelling out what the likely impact of the 2015 Paris climate agreement could be on their future profits. The companies who were sent the statement include Germany’s Uniper, Spain’s Iberdrola, France’s Air Liquide and London’s Anglo American. Regulators have been encouraging companies to make voluntary disclosures of how they expect climate change to affect their businesses. Some countries including Britain and New Zealand have made these mandatory.
Assam oil fire finally doused
The fire that was blazing in an oil well in Assam’s Baghjan village has finally been extinguished after more than five months of being ablaze. Engineers from Oil India, which operates the well, have been working to control the fire since the explosion in June and were joined by experts from Singapore, the US and Canada, reports AFP. The well is under a 24-hour surveillance to make sure there is no gas leakage or pressure build up. The Wildlife Institute of India had reported in July that the oil spill had brought a “large-scale impact" on local plant and animal life. The oil field is next to the Dibru-Saikhowa national park and the wetland habitat of several endangered species, including tigers and elephants. The region is also home to several bird sanctuaries.
Peru left rudderless, again
Peru’s interim President, Manuel Merino, stepped down just five days after taking office. His resignation followed a police crackdown on protesters that left two people dead. However, even after his resignation, congress could not agree on a new president, leaving Peru without a leader a week after the impeachment of popular President Martín Vizcarra, an anti-corruption crusader. Legislators had accused him of moral incapacity saying he took over $630,000 in bribes in exchange for two construction contracts while governor of a small province years ago. Vizcarra’s removal led to violent protests in which more than 40 people went missing, according to Peru’s human rights coordinator. The health ministry reported that more than 90 people were being treated for injuries. Political analysts however believe that congress has very few options for a new President that will appease protesters.
Marie Antoinette’s silk shoe
Marie Antoinette is popularly believed to have advised the starving French peasants, who could not even afford bread, to eat cake instead. In the run up to the 1789 French Revolution, she was often accused of leading a lavish life and being nonchalant about the plight of her subjects, so much so that she acquired the epithet Madame Deficit. Now, a silk shoe worn by the last queen of France, who was executed during the Revolution, went up for auction with a starting price of 10,000 euros ($11,800). The auction was conducted in the Palace of Versailles, where the queen—who has gone down in history as a symbol of the excesses of the French monarchy—and King Louis XVI held court before they were guillotined in 1793. Interestingly, the shoe bears her name on its heel and the auction house that conducted the bids said she is thought to have worn it regularly during daily life at the palace.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen