We’re two weeks into 2021, and it seems the intensity of last year isn’t simmering down anytime soon. Out-going American President Trump made history with a second impeachment, Europeans discuss vaccine passports and North Korea’s unveiling of the “most powerful weapon in the world” are just a few of this week’s biggest stories to digest.
Here are five noteworthy stories from around the world.
1. Trump becomes the first American President to get impeached twice.
Donald Trump has become the first American President to be impeached twice. He was accused of inciting violent riots on Capitol Hill after false claims of election fraud following his defeat.
The Guardian reported that it was an emotional vote by the House of Representatives this Wednesday, as lawmakers returned to the floor that rioters rampantly ransacked just a week prior. Ten Republicans supported the move to impeach Trump, meaning it was also the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history.
The impeachment case must now face the Senate. Republican majority leader Mitch McConnell said the earliest date which the Senate could consider the case is 19th January – just a day before President-elect’s inauguration.
Democrats will need a two-thirds majority in the Senate to pass the vote, meaning they’ll need 17 Republicans to vote in favour. Unlikely? Yes, but this is 2021, and many things that seemed impossible have been proven otherwise.
2. Europeans consider vaccine passports.
European leaders are debating the possibility of vaccine passports to allow people who are inoculated against COVID-19 to travel freely around the bloc.
Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis wrote to the EU Commission to consider the proposal, saying it would encourage people to get vaccinated and boost tourism.
Maltese political figures like PN MEP Roberta Metsola and Health Minister Chris Fearne also endorsed the idea of EU-vaccine certificates in the battle against the pandemic. However, major capitals like Berlin seem weary, arguing it may discriminate against those who are fortunate enough to get the vaccine and those who don’t.
It could also create a division between people based on their health status, which could be used to determine the degree of freedoms they can enjoy and present major privacy concerns.
3. North Korea creates the most powerful weapon in the world (according to them).
North Korea started the new year by unveiling a massive submarine-launched ballistic missile, which it described as “the world’s most powerful weapon”. The military flex comes just days before the inauguration of Biden as U.S President.
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un, donning a leather coat, fur hat and big smile, said the US was Pyongyang’s biggest obstacle and biggest enemy, “no matter who is in power”.
Does this foreshadow a year of mounting tensions with between the two states? Probably, but hopefully Biden will avoid threats of war as speed by his predecessor Trump.
4. China tech company patents a device to track Uighurs.
Chinese technology companies have patented devices that can detect, track and monitor Muslim minority group Uighurs, a move which was decried by human rights groups.
Reuters reported that China has patented a cluster of surveillance cameras that can analyse images for the presences of Uighurs in its Western region of Xinjiang. It was slammed as a tool for the continuous “brutal oppression” of the group.
This comes as a bipartisan commission of the United States Congress warned that new evidence in the past year suggests that China has committed genoicide and crimes against humanity in the region.
The United Nations says at least a million Uighurs and the Muslims have been detained in Xinjiang. Under international law, crimes against a human are defined as systematic atrocities against citizens. China has denied all accusations.
5. Indonesia struck by an earthquake that has killed dozens and injured hundreds.
A 6.2 earthquake has struck the northwestern coast of Sulawesi island in Indonesia this morning. It has destroyed housing, hospitals and infrastructure and killed dozens and injured hundreds in its wake.
It also triggered a landslide.
Al Jazeera explained that rescuers have been deployed to evacuate citizens near the epicentre. At least 33 people have died but the fatality number is expected to rise.
The earthquake closes a dire week of disasters for Indonesia. On Saturday, a Sriwijaya Air jet crashed into the sea with 62 passengers on board, while 24 people lost their lives to landslides on Java Island.
Which international news stories do you think we missed? Comment below