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EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 03/12/2021

EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 03/12/2021

CNN – Alex Marquardt et al. / Blinken and Lavrov meet amid tensions over Russia’s intentions in Ukraine

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Thursday in Stockholm, Sweden, amid growing concern among Western powers that Russia is seeking to invade Ukraine.
  • Blinken said he and Lavrov would report the details of their meeting back to President Joe Biden and President Vladimir Putin and that the two presidents “may have the opportunity to speak directly in the near future.”
  • Until then, he said it’s Russia’s responsibility to defuse the growing tension about its military movements and disinformation targeting Ukraine.
  • “It’s now on Russia to deescalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning forces to normal peacetime positions, and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilize Ukraine,” Blinken said at a press conference at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe summit
  • Foreign Policy – Natalia Antonova / Russians believe Ukrainians want to be ‘liberated’

Financial Times – Donato Paolo Mancini and Oliver Barnes / Omicron variant highlights uneven genomic sequencing worldwide

  • It was a sudden rise in coronavirus infections in Gauteng province, South Africa, from mid-November that first alerted the country’s scientists to the emergence of a worrying new variant — now identified as Omicron.
  • Health experts credit the quick work of South Africa’s scientific community, internationally recognised for its strong record in managing the HIV and tuberculosis epidemics, for identifying the new variant and taking measures to alert the world.
  • But gaps in the global effort to track mutations, a process known as genomic sequencing, make it difficult to not only monitor early cases of Omicron — but also to identify future variants.
  • The tools needed to sequence genomes are concentrated in richer countries, which means that large parts of the globe are not being properly tracked. More than 80 per cent of the more than 5m Sars-Cov-2 genomes uploaded to the Gisaid genomics database, which promotes the rapid sharing of data about coronaviruses, have come from two continents: North America and Europe.
  • Project Syndicate – Various authors / The virus strikes back

Financial Times – Leslie Hook and Benjamin Parkin / Emissions target pledges face scrutiny as dust settles on COP26

  • Big polluting nations have cast doubt on whether they would upgrade their emissions targets next year, after agreeing at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow to “revisit and strengthen” them in line with the Paris accord.
  • The text agreed after marathon two-week talks committed signatories to new greenhouse gas emissions targets by the end of 2022, three years earlier than originally agreed, to meet the goals of the climate deal signed in the French capital in 2015.
  • Retaining the commitment in the face of opposition from countries such as China was billed as a key success of COP26.
  • But the US and Australia have already called into question whether they needed to upgrade targets known as “nationally determined contributions” or NDCs.
  • Climate Home News – Chloé Farand / UK needs to deliver on climate, not set higher 2030 target, say advisers

Al-Jazeera / Libyan court reinstates Saif Gaddafi as presidential candidate

  • The son of Libya’s longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi has been given the go-ahead to run in the country’s upcoming presidential election, his lawyer said, a week after being disqualified for what Libyan authorities said were war crimes committed during the uprising against his father more than 10 years ago.
  • Saif al-Islam Gaddafi’s lawyer, Khaled al-Zaydi, confirmed to Al Jazeera on Thursday that the court in Sebha accepted his client’s appeal, lodged earlier in the day, and that he would therefore be reinstated in the presidential election scheduled to take part later this month.
  • In disqualifying Gaddafi, Libya’s electoral commission had pointed to articles of the electoral law stipulating that candidates “must not have been sentenced for a dishonourable crime” and must present a clean criminal record.
  • Western officials have talked up a United Nations-led peace process and insist on “inclusive” and “credible” elections starting on December 24 in the North African country, despite serious disputes over how they should be held, and their credibility.
  • Washington Post – Siobhán O’Grady / Libyans hope election will end a decade of strife but fear it will tear the country apart again

This weekend’s longer reads:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.


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