Following is a summary of current world news briefs.
Britain first to approve AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine
LONDON — Britain on Wednesday became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca as it battles a major winter surge driven by a new, highly contagious variant of the virus. AstraZeneca said the authorisation was for a two dose regime, and that the vaccine had been approved for use for emergency supply. Britain has ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine.
Once Netanyahu’s greatest rival, Israel’s Gantz is down, if not out
JERUSALEM — Benny Gantz, the former general who came close to ending Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s long dominance of Israeli politics, is finding his star is fading fast as a new rival from the right emerges as a challenge in an election set for March. With his centrist Blue and White party on the verge of demise, Gantz has said he will press on and bring Netanyahu’s more than decade-old reign to an end.
‘Boris the betrayer’ has swindled us over Brexit, England’s fishermen say
NEWLYN, England — For England’s fishermen, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit trade deal is a betrayal because it allows some European Union boats continued access to Britain’s rich inshore coastal waters. Johnson, who led the 2016 Brexit campaign, cast the Christmas Eve trade deal as a way to take back control of the United Kingdom’s destiny including as an “independent coastal state with full control of our waters.”
China sentences HK activists to up to three years in jail for border crossing
SHENZHEN, China — A Chinese court sentenced 10 Hong Kong activists to between seven months and three years in jail on Wednesday for illegally crossing the border, in a case that has drawn international attention and concern over the defendants’ treatment. The group had all faced charges in Hong Kong over anti-government protests in the Chinese-ruled city and they have been held virtually incommunicado in a mainland prison since their boat was intercepted on Aug. 23 after leaving Hong Kong, allegedly en route to the democratic island of Taiwan.
“Where shall we go?,” families ask after Croatia quake
MAJSKI POLJANE, Croatia — Rescue workers sifted through the rubble on Wednesday to make sure there were no more people trapped after an earthquake in central Croatia that killed seven people and destroyed scores of homes and other buildings. Many residents spent the night in their cars, terrified that a series of aftershocks of up to 4.8 magnitude would send more debris tumbling from houses already weakened by Tuesday’s 6.4 magnitude quake.
‘We did it, sisters’: Argentina Senate votes to legalize abortion
BUENES AIRES — Argentina’s Senate voted on Wednesday to legalize abortion, a first for a big country in Latin America and a triumph for women’s rights campaigners achieved over the visceral objection of the Catholic Church. Abortion is extremely rare in a region where the Church has held cultural and political sway for centuries. Previously, it was allowed on demand only in Communist Cuba, tiny Uruguay and parts of Mexico.
Indian state’s “Love Jihad” law denounced by ex-bureaucrats, diplomats in open letter
LUCKNOW — Over 100 retired senior civil servants and diplomats urged the Hindu nationalist leader of Uttar Pradesh state to repeal a new law criminalizing forced religious conversion of brides, warning in an open letter that it risked fueling communal tensions. Although no religion is specified in the legislation, critics say it is aimed against the country’s Muslim minority. Hardline Hindu groups have accused Muslim men of waging a campaign, dubbed “Love Jihad,” to lure Hindu women to Islam with promises of marriage.
Uganda opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine says he, campaign team arrested
KAMPALA — Uganda opposition presidential candidate Robert Kyagulanyi, popularly known as Bobi Wine, and his campaign team were arrested in the country’s central region on Wednesday, he said on Twitter. No further details of their arrest were immediately available. They were arrested in Kalangala in central Uganda, Wine said in the post.
Landslide hits residential area in Norway, 10 hurt, 21 unaccounted for
OSLO — Ten people were hurt, one of them critically, and 21 people remained unaccounted for after a landslide in southern Norway swept away more than a dozen buildings in the early hours of Wednesday, police said. The landslide struck a residential area in the municipality of Gjerdrum, some 30 km (19 miles) north of the capital Oslo.