In a surprising move, the United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria and Somalia, according to a document issued by a state-owned business park, reports Reuters. However, the reason for this move is still not known but is speculated to be linked to security concerns. This comes in the same month the UAE expanded eligibility for golden visas to all holders of doctorate degrees, medical doctors, as well as other categories such as those with specialised degrees in artificial intelligence and epidemiology.
Europe discusses lockdown rules
Stressing the risk of a post-Christmas third wave, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen warned countries to not ease coronavirus restrictions too quickly. The warning comes while several European nations started to relax restrictions before the holiday season. French President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday that nationwide stay at home orders would be lifted from Dec 15, but shops could start opening from Saturday. Meanwhile, 16 German state leaders agreed with Chancellor Angela Merkel on an extension of the “lockdown light” until Dec 20. The country has plans to allow two households with a maximum of five people aged over 14 to celebrate Christmas together. In other news, Spain has seen its first decline in the number of pensioners in 15 years, reports the BBC. The slight fall is due to covid mortality and an administrative logjam, according to Spanish reports.
No US let up on Huawei, ZTE
The tough trade posture against China that US President Donald Trump has maintained is expected to continue under the incoming Joe Biden administration. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has dismissed a petition from ZTE Corp asking the regulator to reverse its decision designating the Chinese company as a national security threat to American communications networks, Reuters reported. The FCC had in June formally designated telecom equipment makers ZTE and Huawei Technologies as security threats, a move that bars American companies from tapping an $8.3-billion government fund to purchase equipment from them. The FCC recently said it was extending the deadline to respond to Huawei’s plea until 11 December. Last year, Trump signed an executive order banning US firms from using telecom gears manufactured by companies posing national security risks.
UN can finally assess abandoned oil tanker
Rebels in Yemen have finally agreed to a United Nations mission to inspect and repair the abandoned fuel tanker Safer after years of persuasion. Safer, currently anchored off Hodeida is at risk of causing an oil spill. The UN has tried to assess and secure the ship for years, but had not been given access by the Iran-backed Huthis—a rebel group that controls much of North Yemen. There is still no clarity about the exact deployment timeline since it depends on the market availability of the required equipment. The FSO Safer is a 45 year old ship that was abandoned near the western port of Hodeida since 2015. It has 1.1 million barrels of crude on board, and a rupture or explosion would have disastrous environmental and humanitarian consequences.
Ethiopia ignores global concern
The war in Ethiopia continued to rage even as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed rejected growing international consensus for a dialogue and a halt to deadly fighting in the Tigray region. According to Ahmed, this is interference by the international community. He believes that Ethiopia will handle the conflict on its own even as a 72-hour surrender ultimatum runs out. Diplomats on Tuesday said U.N. Security Council members in a closed-door meeting expressed support for an African Union-led effort to deploy three high-level envoys to Ethiopia. Meanwhile, an Ethiopian news agency has said that more than 10,000 Tigrayan troops had been “destroyed” during the conflict which has now raged for over three-weeks. However the news has not been confirmed by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since phone and internet connections to Tigray are down and access to the area is strictly controlled.
Darwin, we refuse to evolve!
Charles Darwin’s alma mater Cambridge University has issued an appeal to find two valuable notebooks written by the British naturalist after they were reported as stolen from the university’s library, according to Associated Press. These notebooks, estimated to be worth millions of pounds, include the 19th-century scientist’s famous “Tree of Life” sketch. They haven’t been seen since 2000, and for years staff at the library believed that the manuscripts had probably been misplaced in the vast archives. But after a thorough search, library staff have concluded that the notebooks have likely been stolen. Police are now investigating and Interpol has also been notified. Darwin is best known for his work on the theory of evolution by natural selection. His pioneering work, On the Origin of Species, was published in 1859 and changed the way we think about the natural world.
Curated by Sohini Sen. Have something to share with us? Write to us at feedback@livemint or tweet to @shohinisen