African Union Secures An Additional 270 Million Covid-19 Vaccines 

The African Union has now secured an additional 270 million Covid-19 vaccines to be distributed among the many countries within the continent. The African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), however, is still not convinced that this will be enough to meet the entire nation’s demand. 

From April to June at least 50 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines will be available according to the AVATT press release published this week. Chair President of the African Union Cyril Ramaphosa recently spoke with the media about the increase in doses that Africa is now set to receive. 

“From the onset of this pandemic our focus as a continent has been on collaboration and collective effort. We have held steadfastly to the principle that no country should be left behind.”

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Ramaphosa also emphasized that “all 270 million vaccine doses will be made available this year with at least 50 million being available for the crucial period of April to June 2021.” The African Union secured these doses along with a vaccine program from COVAX; a World Health Organization and Gavi Vaccine Alliance initiative that specifically works to bring more vaccines to Africa.

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, recently spoke with the media to praise Africa for the acquisition of the additional doses and adoption of the program from COVAX, as it shows true initiative and will make a real difference in getting the continent vaccinated as promptly as possible. 

“Covax can only cover 20% of the African population, so it’s wonderful to see the African Union’s efforts to secure a provisional 270 million doses by the end of 2021.”

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President Ramaphosa did caution, however, that while this new initiative is vital for Africa’s recovery, it “may not extend beyond the needs of frontline health care workers, and may this not be enough to contain the ever-increasing toll of the pandemic in Africa.” 

Africa is currently experiencing a second wave of Covid-19 that is currently higher than the peak they hit back in July 2020. The continent currently has an average daily new case count of more than 25,000 for the past 14 days. 

The African Export-Import Bank will be implementing a strategy this month that will provide up to $2 billion in advancements to vaccine manufacturers in the continent. The African Union and World Bank will also be working together to grant member states access to a $5 billion fund specifically for purchasing more vaccines when needed. 

The announcement of these plans couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for Africa, as Ramaphosa reported this week that South Africa is extending their Covid-19 restrictions due to a “massive increase” in Covid-19 cases driven by a new strain of the virus that is thought to be much more transmissible.

Moderna Vaccine

EU Approves Moderna Vaccine as Europe Continues to Struggle

The Moderna Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the European Union (EU) by its drug regulator. The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) decision came on the same day as the Netherlands began administering Pfizer vaccines that it has held since the end of December.

“This vaccine provides us with another tool to overcome the current emergency,” said Emer Cooke, Executive Director of EMA. “It is a testament to the efforts and commitment of all involved that we have this second positive vaccine recommendation just short of a year since the pandemic was declared by WHO.

“As for all medicines, we will closely monitor data on the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine to ensure ongoing protection of the EU public. Our work will always be guided by the scientific evidence and our commitment to safeguard the health of EU citizens.”

The decision to approve the Moderna vaccine came just hours after nurse Sanna Elkadiri, 39, became the first person in the Netherlands to receive vaccination for the coronavirus. The decision will still need to be ratified by the EU’s executive commission but the bloc has come under fire recently for the perceived slowness of its vaccine rollout.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the ‘touching moment of unity’ as the EU administered its first vaccinations on December 27, but the landscape across the EU still remains unclear and uneven.

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Despite the Netherlands receiving thousands of doses of the Pfizer vaccine in December, vaccines have only begun to be given out this week, while authorities in France have been criticized after only 500 received inoculation during the first week of their vaccinations programme.

“EMA’s human medicines committee (CHMP) has thoroughly assessed the data on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine and recommended by consensus a formal conditional marketing authorization be granted by the European Commission. This will assure EU citizens that the vaccine meets EU standards and puts in place the safeguards, controls and obligations to underpin EU-wide vaccination campaigns,” the European Medicines Agency said of their decision to approve the Moderna vaccine.

13 foreign ministers of countries in the EU have written a letter to the bloc’s executive asking that help be given to combat the virus in the areas surrounding the union, especially the Balkans. The joint letter expressed concern for the EU’s neighbours and asked that vaccines be sent to the Balkans and more done to combat the virus in Turkey.

Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden said the EU would not be safe from Covid-19 until countries on its borders could also recover from the pandemic.

“We strongly support the efforts and initiatives by member states and the European commission to share the vaccines from the allocated contracts with the closest EU neighbors, such as the Western Balkan countries,” the ministers said in the 6 January letter, which was made public.

Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said separately it was “our duty to extend a helping hand to EU partners in the east, Western Balkans and other regions.”

In Portugal, a country with a population of just 10 million, the daily number of cases reached a record high of 10,027 this week as officials prepare to approve an extension of the state of emergency that the country is currently in to fight the increase in infections.

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Portugal has so far registered around 450,000 total cases and over 7,000 deaths from the virus as it reintroduces measures that it eased around Christmas, such as a travel ban between municipalities and cracking down on public gatherings.

Despite the reintroduction of these measures, the number of cases in the country is again rising quickly, leading to President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa saying he was worried over the rise after the holiday season. Lawmakers will meet this week to discuss the possibility of extending the state of emergency.

“There’s again immense pressure on the national health service and we are trying to respond,” health minister Marta Temido said, with over 500 Covid-19 patients in intensive care units. “We need everyone’s help.”

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the coronavirus marathon has turned into a sprint to get as many vaccinated as quickly as possible and justified the decision to place the country under another national lockdown by claiming it will relieve crisis-hit hospitals.

Johnson highlighted the variant strain of the virus that emerged in south-east England last month and how it was spreading with “frightening ease and speed”, worsening one of the world’s worst death tolls.

Official data show that one in 50 people in England were infected last week, rising to one in 30 in London, and many hospitals say they are swamped with Covid-19 patients.

“It is inescapable that the facts are changing, and we must change our response,” Johnson told the House of Commons, noting the lockdown would stay in legal force until 31 March but would be reviewed in mid-February.

Seismograph & Earthquake

At Least Seven Dead as Earthquakes Hit Central Croatia

At least seven are dead and many more injured after a magnitude 6.4 earthquake struck central Croatia. The earthquake has caused mass destruction in a number of towns and villages southeast of the capital Zagreb, sending panicked residents fleeing down rubble-filled roads in search of safety.

The country’s prime minister said a 12-year-old girl had been killed in Petrinja by the earthquake as he visited the town. Five others died in the nearby town of Glina and state media are reporting a seventh victim, discovered in the rubble of a church in Žažina.

According to the European Mediterranean Seismological Center, an earthquake of 6.3 magnitude hit 28 miles from Zagreb at just past 11AM local time. Initial reports suggested that the earthquake had caused extensive damage, causing roofs, building facades and entire buildings to collapse across central Croatia. The same area was hit with a magnitude 5.2 earthquake on Monday.

Officials say that in addition to the already known seven deaths, at least 20 others have been hospitalized, two with serious injuries. Search and rescue missions continue as many people remain unaccounted for.

Petrinja’s mayor, Darinko Dumbovic, announced on a local TV broadcast that his town has been “completely destroyed”.

“One girl died and there are injuries and people inside collapsed buildings. My town has been completely destroyed, we have dead children,” he said. This is like Hiroshima; half of the city no longer exists. The city has been demolished; the city is no longer livable. We need help.

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“We are pulling people from the cars, we don’t know if we have dead or injured,” Dumbovic told regional broadcaster N1. “There is general panic, people are looking for their loved ones.”
Marica Pavlovic, a resident, said the quake felt “worse than a war.’

“It was horrible, a shock, you don’t know what to do, whether to run out or hide somewhere,” she told the Associated Press.

Croatia’s prime minister, Andrej Plenković, and other government ministers arrived in Petrinja after the earthquake. “The biggest part of central Petrinja is in a red zone, which means that most of the buildings are not usable,” Plenković said.

Sasa Umicevic, Orthodox archpriest of the Petrinja Parish, was fearful that there could be more tremors following the earthquake and chose to escape to a field outside Petrinja, taking his wife and three children with him.

The family revealed to Sky News that they fled their parish home on Monday morning when the first earthquake struck the region.

“It felt like an explosion – we ran out of the house in our pajamas, and immediately there was a power cut,” Umicevic said.

Umicevic also revealed that he travelled back to his home on Tuesday in order to inspect the damage on the 250-year-old house and escaped just 10 minutes before the bigger, more devastating earthquake.

“The whole town center was in the middle of a clearing operation,” he said. “We surveyed the damage on the parish home… This time the walls and chimneys collapsed.”

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“We thank God that we were not injured but our thoughts are with so many who have been hurt and the little girl who lost her life,” he said. “There’s no water or power in the town of Petrinja – this has been a very traumatic experience.”

The earthquake was felt in the Croatian capital Zagreb, in neighboring countries Bosnia and Serbia, and even as far away as Italy and Germany. People sustained injuries in the nearby town of Sisak and national broadcaster HRT said the local hospital was struggling to cope with the number of additional casualties arriving for treatment.

Head of emergency medical services in Sisak, Tomislav Fabijanic, said that they were witnessing a large number of patients with fractures and concussions, and that there was some needing urgent surgery. The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service said that rescuers from all across Croatia had travelled to Petrinja and nearby towns in order to help with the search and recovery efforts.

A kindergarten was also destroyed in Petrinja, but fortunately at the time of the earthquake it was completely empty. In a small nearby village, a worker told N1 that nine of its 10 houses had been destroyed.

“Croatia’s president and prime minister saw for themselves the scale of damage in Petrinja within two hours of the earthquake and were united in their response,” BBC’s Balkan correspondent Guy De Launey said.

President Zoran Milanovic compared the scene to Grozny, the capital of the Russian republic of Chechnya, which was largely destroyed during a siege 20 years ago. The prime minister said it was “clear as day” that Petrinja was no longer safe for human habitation.

“It is a bitter blow for the town’s people, who faced a significant rebuilding operation after Croatia’s war of independence in the 1990s. More recently, they have been tackling economic devastation, with the decline of traditional industries.

“Croatia’s leaders have promised funds for reconstruction. But Petrinja’s residents will be seeing in the new year in temporary accommodation – with little prospect of an early return home.”

Japn Covid-19 Lockdown

Japan Enters New State Of Emergency To Contain Spread Of Covid-19 

Japan has entered into a “light” state of emergency that is projected to last a month, however, public health experts in the country already believe that it will take longer to sufficiently slow down the rate in which the Covid-19 virus is spreading. 

Japan has reported record breaking new daily infections for at least two days in the last week, and the capital of Tokyo is facing some of the worst rates it’s seen in months. Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University and a member of the expert panel advising the government, recently spoke with the press regarding the current timeline the nation has set up in regards to curbing the spread. 

“I’m not sure if the situation can become better within a month. It’s certainly much more difficult to control the current situation compared to the outbreak in summer.”

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Japan has entered into a more limited state of emergency, meaning remote work is being encouraged, and restaurant hours have been reduced. Movie theaters, gyms, karaoke bars, and theme parks are all set to remain open as well with reduced hours, and large events are still permitted with a reduced capacity; for reference in their initial state of emergency all of those businesses were completely shut down. 

For the time being, these measures only apply to the capital of Tokyo and three surrounding prefectures. In order for the emergency status to be lifted these regions must emerge from their current “Stage 4” rankings; stage 4 is the highest stage an area can be in Japan, and is determined by hospital capacity, positive test rates, and weekly increases in new infections. 

Shigeru Omi is the head of the panel of experts that is advising the government on these states of emergency, and recently spoke with the media about how initially he believed it would to be “next to impossible” for the nation to emerge from their state of emergency in just a month, however, after analyzing the recent data he seems more hopeful for the future. 

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“It’s not very easy but I believe it’s possible to reduce the infections to a Stage 3 level within a month if everyone does their best.” 

Omi went on to explain that residents need to fully follow the suggested measures by staying home and avoiding all nighttime dining, drinking, and partying; which as we’ve seen here in America, is quite difficult to do when the government keeps these establishments open. He also explained that the government will need to push for legal changes so that establishments that refuse to follow these rules will be punished through fines. 

Japan last entered a state of emergency in the spring which began in just seven prefectures, but eventually expanded to be nationwide. The state of emergency slowly began being phased out in May of last year. 

While Japan was highly praised in the beginning of this pandemic for its success in containing the virus without imposing strict lockdowns, after a while a slew of challenges began appearing. Cases initially began increasing across the country in November, and have remained on the rise ever since. Tokyo being the city hit the hardest, Omi and other experts are hopeful that the nation can return to a greater sense of normalcy by February.

UK EU Flags Waving

UK and EU Agree Trade Deal

After months of negotiation, a trade deal and security relationship has been finalized between the UK and EU. The announcement was made on Christmas Eve, a week before the end of the designated Brexit transition period and triggered a cry of victory from the Conservative UK government.

Without a deal, the UK was facing leaving the single market and customs union on 31 December with heavy tariffs on trade and uncertainty over issues such as border control and fishing.
However, the new arrangement means that goods trading between the two sides will be without tariffs and close police and judicial cooperation will come into force.

“The deal is done. Everything that the British public was promised during the 2016 referendum and in the general election last year is delivered by this deal,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.

“We have taken back control of our money, borders, laws, trade and our fishing waters. The deal is fantastic news for families and businesses in every part of the UK. We have signed the first free trade agreement based on zero tariffs and zero quotas that has ever been achieved.”

The announcement came after a final conversation between UK PM Boris Johnson and European commission president Ursula von der Leyen in their respective offices, at least the fifth such call between the two in the 24 hours leading up to the announcement of the deal.

The trade agreement is unprecedented in size, running over 2,000 pages and containing provisions and agreements on subjects ranging from energy interconnections and civil nuclear cooperation to fishing and border control.

“It was a long and winding road, but we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair. It is a balanced deal. And it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides,” Ursula von der Leyen said. “At the end of a successful negotiation I normally feel joy. But today I only feel quiet satisfaction and, frankly speaking, relief.

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“I know this is a difficult day for some and to our friends in the United Kingdom, I want to say parting is such sweet sorrow but, to use the line from TS Eliot, what we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is often a beginning. So, to all Europeans, I think it is time to leave Brexit behind.”

The deal ensures there is a guarantee of zero tariff and zero quota trade on goods between the two sides, equivalent to £668 billion in 2019. However, UK businesses will still face significant costs in the new year as a large amount of border checks on exporters come into play and freedom of movement in the EU will end for the majority of UK nationals.

“It means that we will have full political and economic independence on 1 January 2021. A points-based immigration system will put us in full control of who enters the UK and free movement will end,” the Downing Street spokesperson continued.

“We have delivered this great deal for the entire United Kingdom in record time, and under extremely challenging conditions, which protects the integrity of our internal market and Northern Ireland’s place within it.

“We have got Brexit done and we can now take full advantage of the fantastic opportunities available to us as an independent trading nation, striking trade deals with other partners around the world.”

Following the announcement of the deal, the ‘Brexiter European Research Group’ of Conservative members of parliament said it would put together a self-styled ‘star chamber’ of lawyers in order to scrutinize the terms before they give it their support.

The agreement means a potentially disastrous no-deal exit has been avoided, an eventuality that the UK Office for Budget Responsibility warned would reduce the country’s economic output by £40 billion in 2021 and cost at least 300,000 people their jobs.

“I’m very pleased to tell you this afternoon that we have completed the biggest trade deal yet, worth 660 billion pounds a year, a comprehensive Canada-style free trade deal between the UK and the EU,” Boris Johnson said in a press conference following the deal announcement.

“A deal that will protect jobs across this country, a deal that will allow UK goods and components to be sold without tariffs and without quotas in the EU market. A deal which will, if anything, allow our companies and our exporters to do even more business with our European friends, and yet which achieves something that the people of this country instinctively knew was doable, but which they were told was impossible.

“We’ve taken back control of our laws and our destiny. We’ve taken back control of every jot and tittle of our regulation in a way that is complete and unfettered. From January the 1st, we are outside the customs union and outside the single market. British laws will be made solely by the British parliament, interpreted by UK judges sitting in UK courts, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice will come to an end.”

France & UK Flags

Agreement Reached For French/British Border

France and the UK have reached an agreement to reopen their border to allow freight services to resume operation between the two countries. The border had been closed over the past week due to a new Covid strain spreading through the UK.

Around 3,800 lorries have been stuck at Manston airfield since France announced the border closure on Sunday.

Rail, air and sea services have all resumed but all those travelling into France from the UK will be required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test that has been taken within the last three days. All lorry drivers, regardless of their nationality, will have to take a lateral flow test before they are allowed to cross the border. These tests are able to detect the new strain of Covid-19 and provide results within half an hour, compared to the 24 hours required after the PCR test.

The French government has also chosen to carry out sample testing on freight entering the country from the UK.

“I am pleased that we have made this important progress with our French counterparts this evening. This protocol will see the French border reopen to those travelling for urgent reasons, provided they have a certified negative COVID test,” the British transport secretary Grant Shapps said.

“We continue to urge hauliers not to travel to Kent until further notice as we work to alleviate congestion at ports.

“It’s very important hauliers don’t rock up in Kent tonight, there’s nowhere for you to go, it won’t speed up your crossing of the Channel, stand by and await more instructions,” he added.

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“We are very tired. We’re staying in cars, we don’t have a lot of food, no money,” one lorry driver who had been stuck at the border told the BBC.

“Police three days ago told us that testing will start soon, but they don’t know when and that’s why people are protesting,” another said.

“We just want to do the test and just go straight home.”

Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association described the situation as “chaos” as lorry drivers headed to ports thinking the borders would be open.

“They’re tired, frustrated, desperately wanting to get home for Christmas,” he said.

He said the information given to them has been “extremely poor”, while food provision, toilets and washing facilities were “inadequate”.

Richard Lloyd, director of a British firm that imports farm machinery from Poland, said he had been called by the family of a driver who was stuck without food, asking whether he could get a loaf of bread to the lorry.

“He didn’t want to go anywhere because of the security of the truck, and obviously a place in the queue, so it was a desperate situation,” Mr Lloyd said.

More than 40 countries around the world have implemented travel restrictions on the UK since the discovery of a new mutant variant of coronavirus, which spreads more easily than strains that had previously been discovered.

There are some fears that continued international travel disruption will result in the UK facing shortages of fresh fruit and vegetables and supermarkets have warned the public to be prepared for such an eventuality.

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Ian Wright, chief executive of the UK Food and Drink Federation, said that while shoppers “need have no concerns about food supplies over Christmas”, the consequences could be felt soon after.

The deal was reached after UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron spoke on the phone on Monday to signal intentions of a deal being reached. French transport minister Jean-Baptise Djebbari thanked Mr Shapps on Twitter for the “amazing work we have done” over the past 48 hours.

The disruption on the south coast of England meant that a major motorway was shut on Monday night in order for ‘Operation Brock’ to be carried out. ‘Operation Brock’ is an action that involves a moveable barrier in order to keep traffic on the motorway moving whenever there is a disruption at the Channel.

This had been prepared for Brexit delays in the New Year but was utilized earlier than planned in order to help cope with the current situation.

“Frustrated lorry drivers have confronted the police as tensions over their continuing confinement threatened to boil over,” BBC reporter at the scene Simon Jones said.

“Some hauliers marched out of the Manston lorry park, where they’ve been forced to sleep in their cabs, demanding to know when they’ll be allowed to go home.

“There’s a huge backlog of traffic to clear. Some hauliers said they’d been told the testing on the site was initially delayed because the tests got held up in traffic,” Jones continued.

“Manston is now full – so there’ll be some pressure on the authorities to get as many tests done as quickly as possible to clear space for any new arrivals.”

AstraZeneca Vaccine

UK Approves AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 Vaccine 

Health officials in the United Kingdom have officially authorized the AstraZeneca-Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine for distribution. The vaccine was approved this Wednesday, and marks the second vaccine in the UK approved for public distribution. 

The government is expected to begin rolling out the vaccine on Monday. The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is much more inexpensive and easier to store when compared to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have been approved in the US. The UK ordered 100 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine which will be enough to vaccinate 50 million citizens; which equates to about three-quarters of the country’s population. 

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The government has already given out its initial doses for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to over 600,000 UK residents. UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, spoke with the media on Wednesday as well, claiming that between the two vaccines, the government should be able to fully protect the entire population. 

The approval of this second vaccine couldn’t have come at a better time for the country, as the UK is currently battling one of the worst waves of the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic. With a new Covid-19 strain spreading rapidly around the UK as well, it’s expected that millions of residents will be placed under strict new lockdown measures soon; the vaccines protect against the new strain, however, the new strain is proving to give patients a much more severe case of Covid-19, so minimizing the spread is top priority.

England just recently reported a new single-day record of new Covid-19 cases with 53,000 new cases appearing on Wednesday alone; likely due to the new strain that scientists are claiming is harder to control and more transmissible than the standard coronavirus we’ve been battling all year. However, Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to the press this week to hopefully ease some nerves and reinforce that the second vaccine’s approval is an amazing step for the nation.

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“The second vaccine’s approval is truly fantastic news. We now just have to move to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible.”

The AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine in the sense that it will require two doses to be truly effective. For this specific vaccine the second dose is required to be given 12 weeks after the first; for comparison both Pfizer and Moderna’s two doses are administered within 30 days of one another. 

AstraZeneca’s CEO, Pascal Soriot, released a statement this week in which he claimed that the vaccine “has been shown to be effective, well-tolerated, simple to administer, and is supplied by AstraZeneca at no profit.” 

Trials have shown that the AstraZeneca vaccine has a 62% effectiveness, which may be staggering for those who have seen Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have a 95% effectiveness, however, in all of the cases that appeared during the trial, none were serious, and even after individuals received just half of the two doses of the vaccine it still proved to be 90% effective against the coronavirus. The vaccine is expected to reach millions of residents next week once it begins distribution. 

Fashion Runway

British Model Dies Aged 50

Iconic British model Stella Tennant has died, five days after her 50th birthday on December 17. Police sources have confirmed that the death is not being treated as suspicious.

Her family said in a statement: “It is with great sadness we announce the sudden death of Stella Tennant on 22 December 2020.

“Stella was a wonderful woman and an inspiration to us all. She will be greatly missed.”

“Her family ask for their privacy to be respected. Arrangements for a memorial service will be announced at a later date.”

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers were called to an address in Duns around 11.30am on Tuesday, 22 December, following the sudden death of a 50-year-old woman. Her next of kin have been made aware. There are no suspicious circumstances and a report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”

Tennant, the granddaughter of Deborah Mitford and Andrew Cavendish, the 11th Duke of Devonshire, began her career as a model after being scouted by photographer Steven Meisel for her first British Vogue shoot in 1993.

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Because she was wearing a nose ring, that initial grunge-influenced photoshoot was considered controversial at the time and kickstarted Tennant’s long fashion career. However, Tennant was unsure about the industry at first and expressed further doubts along the way.

“After the Vogue shoot, he [Meisel] asked me to go to Paris and shoot a Versace campaign,” she told the Evening Standard in 2016.

“Suddenly, it was a proper modelling job. And I didn’t really know if I wanted to open the door and see what was inside. You have an idea of what fashion is about, but I’d been at art school.
I didn’t know if I wanted to be objectified. I thought it was a big, shallow world and I wasn’t really sure if I liked the look of it.”

Tributes to Tennant have been flooding in from the fashion industry and beyond since the news of her death broke. Stella McCartney wrote on Instagram: “My darling Stella, I f*****g love you and will miss you so, so terribly. What sad, horrific news to end this already shocking year! My heart goes out to your stunning family who must be in such undeserving pain. I am speechless…
Rest in peace, you inspiring woman. Your soul and inner beauty exceeded the external perfection, Stella. May you ride high above us all on the most perfect horse, eternally in peace. x Stella.”

“So saddened to hear the devastating news about Stella Tennant. She was an incredible talent and someone I had so much admiration and respect for,” Victoria Beckham said in an Instagram post.
“This photo is of her opening my first show back at London Fashion Week in 2018, to celebrate my 10th anniversary. It was a huge privilege to have her there and meant so much to me, I just loved everything about her. My thoughts are with her family.”

In the 90s, Lagerfeld made Tennant the face of Chanel and put her on an exclusive modelling contract. Sources close to Lagerfeld claimed that Tennant reminded the designer of Coco Chanel.

Towards the end of the decade, Tennant married David Lasnet. The pair met on a shoot in New York, during which Lasnet was assisting the photographer. They would have four children (Marcel, Cecily, Jasmine and Iris) together before splitting earlier in 2020.

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Tennant’s last British Vogue cover was in 2018, which was shot by Meisel. She had originally retired from the catwalk in 1998 after falling pregnant with her first child but she would later return. During her career, Tennant also worked passionately on campaigns to promote using less energy and reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion.

“It’s going to take us a long time to change our habits, but I think that this is so obviously a step in the right direction,” she told The Guardian last year.

“Truly heartbroken at the news of the loss of Stella Tennant. She was a kind and gentle woman,” Moschino creative director Jeremy Scott wrote in tribute.

“I will never forget seeing her backstage her first season modelling, I was still in school in New York and snuck in backstage to a show and saw her all by herself reading a book, her little black haircut with her choppy bangs hovering just above her eyes which were rimmed dark with kohl. And her septum piercing, a hoop ring with one ball. I was enamoured!

“Tall, elegant and refined like a gazelle then self-style into a punk! I was too shy to speak to her that day and could only admire her from afar but I recounted the story to her many years later when I had the great, good fortune to have her in my first Moschino campaign shot by Steven Meisel,” he said.

“She was so amused and recalled that first season modelling and how shy she was so she would always sit alone and read a book. Now, many years later, it is us who will read about you in the books of fashion history. Rest in peace sweet Stella.”

Russia Flag

Russia to Miss Olympics and World Cup After Ban Upheld

Russia’s ban from major international sporting events following a doping scandal has been cut in half by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The country will still not be represented at the Olympics next year or at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, however.

The original ban for doping non-compliance was announced by the World Anti-Doping Agency last year. Russia’s appeal to CAS has resulted in the ban being reduced from four to two years, it was announced on Thursday.

“This Panel has imposed consequences to reflect the nature and seriousness of the non-compliance [to the WADA] and to ensure that the integrity of sport against the scourge of doping is maintained. The consequences which the Panel has decided to impose are not as extensive as those sought by WADA,” a CAS statement said following the ruling.

“This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of RUSADA or the Russian authorities. In making its orders, the Panel is limited by the powers granted under the applicable law, in particular the WADC and the ISCCS. It has considered matters of proportionality and, in particular, the need to effect cultural change and encourage the next generation of Russian athletes to participate in clean international sport.”

The new ruling means that Russian athletes will be unable to compete under their country’s name, flag and national anthem at any major international sporting event until December 16 2022, meaning the country will also miss out on any representation for the Beijing Winter Olympics.

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“WADA is pleased to have won this landmark case. We left no stone unturned in investigating this very complex matter and in presenting our case before CAS. The Panel has clearly upheld our findings that the Russian authorities brazenly and illegally manipulated the Moscow Laboratory data in an effort to cover up an institutionalized doping scheme,” World Anti-Doping Agency President Witold Banka said.

“In the face of continual resistance and denial from Russia, we clearly proved our case, in accordance with due process. In that regard, this ruling is an important moment for clean sport and athletes all over the world.

“We are, however, disappointed that the CAS Panel did not endorse each and every one of our recommended consequences for the four-year period we requested. We believe they were proportionate and reasonable, but ultimately WADA is not the judge but the prosecutor and we must respect the decision of the Panel. These are still the strongest set of consequences ever imposed on any country for doping-related offences and the award clearly endorses the resolute, process-driven approach taken by WADA in dealing effectively with this case. Russia will not be permitted to participate in, bid for or host any covered event, including two editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and many other major events, for the next two years. The Russian flag will not fly nor its anthem played. This sends a clear message that institutionalized cheating and concerted efforts to subvert the global anti-doping system will not be tolerated.

“The egregious manipulation by the Russian authorities of data retrieved by WADA Intelligence and Investigations from the Moscow Laboratory was the latest in a long list of offences and it has led today to significant consequences for the authorities. Russian authorities were afforded every opportunity to get their house in order and re-join the global anti-doping community for the good of their athletes and the integrity of sport, but they chose instead to continue on their path of deception and denial.”

The initial punishment against Russia was brought to them after WADA found inconsistencies in data from a Moscow lab that led to them uncovering a widespread and sophisticated state-sponsored doping network.

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After WADA published their report, which found that the Russian state had conspired with athletes and officials to carry out an unprecedented doping program, the Russian Anti-doping Agency was deemed non-compliant.

Unless the sanctions are changed further, Russian athletes will still be permitted to compete under a neutral flag at major international events, as long as they can prove they have had no link to the doping scheme.

Because of this, as well as the fact that the ban has been halved, the CAS ruling has come under fire for being too lenient and not setting enough of a deterrent. Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency slammed what he called a “devastating” decision by CAS.

“At this stage in this sordid Russian state-sponsored doping affair, now spanning close to a decade, there is no consolation in this weak, watered-down outcome,” he said in a statement.

“To once again escape a meaningful consequence proportional to the crimes, much less a real ban, is a catastrophic blow to clean athletes, the integrity of sport, and the rule of law.”

CAS said its sentence was a reflection of constraints in international law: “The consequences which the panel has decided to impose are not as extensive as those sought by WADA. This should not, however, be read as any validation of the conduct of RUSADA or the Russian authorities. In making its orders, the panel is limited by the powers granted under the applicable law, in particular the WADC and the ISCCS.”

Trial Concept

14 Convicted in Charlie Hebdo Trial

A French court has convicted 14 people in connection with the January 2015 Paris terror attacks on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. The three assailants were all killed in shootouts with the police on the day, meaning only accomplices were left to face trial.

The 14 defendants were found guilty on different charges, from membership of a criminal network to direct complicity in the attacks. Several of the defendants were found guilty of lesser crimes and had terrorism-related charges dropped.

Regis de Jorna, president of the specially selected court panel of five judges, announced the verdicts after a hearing that lasted 54 days and saw 11 people in the dock and three tried in their absence.

“I waited my turn. Often one asks oneself how one will die. Me, I was going to die here, on the ground at Charlie Hebdo, at my newspaper. The shooting continued. I asked myself if I was going to get a bullet in the head, in the lungs, I was counting the seconds because I said every second that passes could be my last,” Laurent Sourisseau, who now runs Charlie Hebdo, told the court.

“Then it finished, not a sound, a total terrible silence.” Around him were bodies. “I didn’t want to see that. A few minutes before they were all there, all living. I made an effort not to look at the scene … I started to feel pain.”

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On January 7 2015, Cherif and Said Kouachi entered the offices of Charlie Hebdo, located in Paris’ central 11th arrondissement. The brothers shot and killed nine newspaper staff, a building maintenance worker and a police officer. After leaving the offices in search of a getaway vehicle, the pair stopped to kill a second police officer who was sitting injured on the pavement. In an incident that was caught on camera, the two then walked up to Ahmed Merabet and shot him at close range before disappearing.

A day later, with a country-wide search for the Kouachi brothers underway, Amedy Coulibaly, 32, shot Clarissa Jean-Philippe, a trainee municipal police officer. Coulibaly later expressed an allegiance to Islamic State. The following day would see Coulibaly storm the Hyper Cacher supermarket, killing four Jewish shoppers and taking a number of others hostage.

The Kouachi brothers were discovered hiding in a printing works north of Paris and all three terrorists were killed in shootouts with police that day.

Patrick Pelloux is a doctor who works in hospital accident and emergency departments.

He was an occasional contributor to Charlie Hebdo and, on the morning of the attack, had a meeting just round the corner from the offices.

“The brutality, the violence…it has no words,” he told Sky News.

“If you want to shoot in a room that is very small, about 15 square metres, with a Kalashnikov, that is terrible. They were the wounds from weapons of war.

“There is a war being played out in France. There is a real problem with Islamo-fascism and there are going to be more attacks. They are very organised. There will be an attack in Paris, you will see.”