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US Capitol invasion, Omicron variant — headlines around the world in 2021

US Capitol invasion, Omicron variant — headlines around the world in 2021
December 19
08:35 2021

The year 2021 came with interesting events around the world, some of which will not be forgotten in a hurry.

Some of the events witnessed in 2021 stem from developments that began two or three years ago.

For years, the world has been seeking improved security, better healthcare, yearning for inclusion and searching for cleaner energy sources — among so many lofty goals.

These objectives are outlined in the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

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However, 2021 came with its own twists and turns. Actions or inactions by countries or individuals in the course of the year set in motion a series of events.

TheCable brings to you some stories that made headlines around the world.

CAPITOL HILL INVASION

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On January 6, supporters of former US President Donald Trump breached police lines and invaded the Capitol Hill, while congress was sitting to verify Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election.

The event came after Trump refused to accept defeat in the presidential election of November 2020. The former president had told his supporters “to take back their country”.

Afterwards, a riot broke out at the Capitol Hill leading to the death of five people, and with many others injured.

However, the US senate voted 57 to 43 to acquit Trump of the single charge of inciting the invasion.

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The senate needed at least 67 votes — two-third majority — to convict the former president of the charge.

EMERGENCE OF OMICRON COVID VARIANT

It is no news that COVID-19 paralysed the world late 2019 and 2020, and the virus led to lockdowns across the world which were in an effort to curb the spread of the infection.

Facemasks and hand sanitisers were measures put in place to protect people against the infection, while scientists were in laboratories across the world struggling to produce a vaccine.

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The world has begun administering vaccines, but a variant of the infection known as Omicron was detected in November.

Although the variant is said to have originated in southern Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Omicron has now been detected in 87 countries.

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Following the discovery of the new variant, there have been concerns about its transmissibility owing to the increase in COVID cases in South Africa.

This development has led to a fresh wave of travel restrictions across the world.

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COP26 AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Climate change has become very topical. The move by the world to do away with fossil fuels with a view to reducing greenhouse gasses that are destroying the planet and inch towards cleaner energy has gained momentum over the years.

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In 2021, countries held a meeting — (COP-Conference of the Parties) — to discuss how to cut down on emissions.

The conclusion of the conference, which is the 26th in its series, raised issues as to if the countries party to saving the climate actually achieved their goals.

More than 130 countries pledged to reach net-zero emissions before 2050, but countries like Nigeria, China and Russia pledged to reach net-zero by 2060 while India pledged 2070.

Leading car manufacturers like Ford, Mercedes and Volvo committed to ending the era of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by or earlier than 2040.

However, on energy transition, countries failed to accelerate the phase-out of coal — which is the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions and also the dirtiest fossil fuel.

There are concerns that non-uniformity of the targets by the parties will adversely affect the resolve to cut down greenhouse gasses in the nearest future.

RUSSIA/UKRAINE FACEOFF

The recent rift between Russia and Ukraine dates back to 2014, when the Crimean Peninsula was seized from Ukraine.

At the time, Russia aided a rebellion in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region — an area now controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Ever since, tension between both countries have been high.

On December 11, US President Joe Biden met Vladimir Putin, his Russian counterpart, to seek solutions to the tension between both countries.

According to France24, Biden reportedly told Putin that Russia would pay “a price” and face devastating economic consequences if it invaded Ukraine.

“I made it absolutely clear to President Putin … that if he moves on Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating, devastating,” Biden was quoted as saying.

Russia has reportedly positioned about 70,000 troops on its border with Ukraine.

LAGOS BUILDING COLLAPSE

Nigeria made world headline news after a 21-storey building collapsed in the Lekki area of Lagos state in November. The incident led to the death of 44 people.

Femi Osibona, owner of Fourscore Homes, was one of the 43 persons who were confirmed to have died in the collapse.

The structure was being developed by Fourscore Homes.

The Nigerian Institution of Structural Engineers (NIStructE) said the 21-storey building was originally designed to be six floors.

“The building that collapsed was initially designed for just six floors, and later to 12 floors, before this was further changed to 15 floors,” Kehinde Osifala, NIStructE president, had said.

“It could not yet be established the adequacy of any properly designed and documented further revision to the eventual (and tragically, final) 21 floors that was being implemented and which collapsed.”

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