Europe ‘Centre of the Pandemic’
The World Health Organization director-general has declared that Europe is once again at the epicentre of the pandemic and warned that ‘no country or region is out of the woods’. His warning comes as more and more countries see rapidly increasing levels of Covid with France believed to be due to announce new restrictions tomorrow.
A campaign by PC Andrew Harper’s widow to give mandatory life sentences to the killers of emergency service workers has been backed by the government. Newly-married PC Harper was 28 when he was dragged to his death by a getaway car in August 2019. Three teenagers were jailed for manslaughter. The Ministry of Justice said it would aim to pass Harper’s Law in England and Wales ‘as soon as possible’. Lissie Harper said she was delighted and her late husband would be proud. If passed, the new law would introduce mandatory life sentences for those who kill on-duty emergency workers while committing a crime. It includes police, prison officers, firefighters, and paramedics and will be applicable unless there are ‘truly exceptional circumstances’.
The End of an Era
Yes I know it’s a too often used phrase, but for once this actually merits it. Angela Merkel is no longer the leader of Germany after a deal was done that will see Olaf Scholz head a three-party coalition with broad plans for Germany’s transition to a green economy. Mrs Merkel had lead Germany for 16 years during which time she became a major figure on the European and global stage. Under the announced coalition deal, Germany will look phase out coal use by 2030, seek to use 2% of German territory for wind power and focus on hydrogen-based energy and by 2030, the parties want 80% of electricity to be sourced from renewable energy and 15 million electric cars to be on German roads. There are also plans to legalise the sale of cannabis in licensed premises, with controls on the quality and distribution of the drug. Scholz will be official voted in as Chancellor on December 6.
NASA Fires at Asteroid
Like a film straight out of the 1990s, NASA has launched a rocket which it hopes will be able to alter the direction of an asteroid. Nasa’s Dart mission has set out to see how difficult it would be to stop a huge space rock from colliding with Earth. The spacecraft will crash into an object called Dimorphos to see how much its speed and path can be altered. While this isn’t a life or death situation now, if a chunk of cosmic debris measuring a few hundred metres across were to collide with our planet, it could unleash continent-wide devastation. After escaping Earth’s gravity, Dart will follow its own orbit around the Sun. It will then intercept the binary as it approaches within 6.7 million miles of Earth in September 2022.
Magdalena Andersson has been approved by Sweden’s parliament as the country’s first ever female prime minister, after replacing Stefan Lofven as leader of the centre-left Social Democrats. Sweden is the only Nordic country never to have elected a woman as national leader before. Ms Andersson, who’s currently finance minister, did not win Wednesday’s vote. However, she was elected because under Swedish law she only needed a majority of MPs not to vote against her.