Tuesday's world stories

Nov 24, 2020 - Health

France to end second lockdown after three weeks

Photo: Marc Piasecki via Getty

France will begin a three-stage plan to phase out its second COVID-19 lockdown of the year, President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

Why it matters: Last week’s virus cases across the country amounted to one-third the number of cases seen in early November, the New York Times reports. Health experts have warned France not to repeat its mistakes from the spring as the nation moves to ease restrictions.

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Nov 24, 2020 - World

Remote work shakes up geopolitics

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The global adoption of remote work may leave the rising powers in the East behind.

The big picture: Despite India's and China's economic might, these countries have far fewer remote jobs than the U.S. or Europe. That's affecting the emerging economies' resilience amid the pandemic.

Survey: Underrepresented employees face greater work challenges during pandemic

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

People of color, women and LGBTQ+ employees report greater difficulties working during the pandemic, according to a McKinsey report released last week.

Why it matters: Existing inequities have only been exacerbated by the pandemic. The disproportionate effects on these communities won't disappear as COVID-19 continues to ravage the world.

Nov 24, 2020 - Health

Scotland becomes first nation to make period products free

Scotland on Tuesday approved legislation that will make menstrual products free across the country for all who require them.

Why it matters: Scotland will be the first nation in the world to make period products fully free and available. The effort is meant to eradicate "period poverty," in which people go without menstrual products due to financial limitations.

U.S.-based Chinese activists targeted by Guo Wengui supporters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In the weeks before the U.S. presidential election, three prominent Chinese activists in the U.S. found their homes surrounded by anonymous protesters who accused them of spying for the Chinese Communist Party.

Why it matters: The three activists, who had fled China due to repression from Chinese authorities, now face physical threats on U.S. soil.

America's Chinese communities struggle with online disinformation

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Disinformation has proliferated on Chinese-language websites and platforms like WeChat that are popular with Chinese speakers in the U.S., just as it has on English-language websites.

Why it matters: There are fewer fact-checking sites and other sources of reliable information in Chinese, making it even harder to push back against disinformation.

Business activity is plunging in Europe

Data: IHS Markit; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A gauge of business activity in the U.S. continued to soar past pre-pandemic levels, while Europe's lockdown hurt its activity further in November, according to preliminary data from IHS Markit.

Why it matters: The index is a closely watched measure of the manufacturing and services sectors across the globe.

Nov 24, 2020 - World

Pope Francis meets with NBA players to discuss social justice drive

Pope Francis meets with NBA players and officials from the National Basketball Players Association at the Vatican on Monday. Photo: Vatican Media

Pope Francis met with five NBA players and National Basketball Players' Association officials at the Vatican on Monday to discuss their efforts to address "social and economic injustice and inequality," per an NBPA statement.

Driving the news: The pope, who invited the delegation to the Vatican, spoke in support of nonviolent anti-racism protests following the killing of George Floyd in May, and also in an upcoming book.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Updated Nov 24, 2020 - World

Tracking Biden's first calls to world leaders

Combination images of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: NZ Prime Minister's Office/Instagram/Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One ritual of becoming president-elect is the carousel of congratulatory phone calls with other world leaders.

What to watch: The order in which the calls are returned is watched closely around the world.

Dave Lawler, author of World
Nov 23, 2020 - World

Oxford and AstraZeneca's vaccine won't just go to rich countries

Waiting, in New Delhi. Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP via Getty Images

While the 95% efficacy rates for the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are great news for the U.S. and Europe, Monday's announcement from Oxford and AstraZeneca may be far more significant for the rest of the world.

Why it matters: Oxford and AstraZeneca plan to distribute their vaccine at cost (around $3-4 per dose), and have already committed to providing over 1 billion doses to the developing world. The price tags are higher for the Pfizer ($20) and Moderna ($32-37) vaccines.

Updated Nov 23, 2020 - World

Saudi Arabia denies Netanyahu met secretly with crown prince

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Bahrain's Foreign Minister Abdullatif at a press conference on Nov. 18. Photo: Menahem Kahana/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled in secret Sunday to the city of Neom on Saudi Arabia's Red Sea coast for a meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli sources told me.

The latest: Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan on Monday denied the meeting took place — a signal that the Saudis may be unhappy with the leak or are at least trying to publicly distance themselves from the meeting. Netanyahu, on the other hand, has not denied the story.

Updated Nov 23, 2020 - World

Oxford University says its coronavirus vaccine is up to 90% effective

A scientist working during at the Oxford Vaccine Group's laboratory facility at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, England, in June. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The University of Oxford announced Monday that a COVID-19 vaccine it's developed with AstraZeneca is 70.4% effective in preventing people from developing symptoms, per interim data from Phase 3 trials.

Why it matters: The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is shown to work in different age groups and can be stored at fridge temperature. It is much cheaper than other vaccines in development and is part of the global COVAX initiative, designed to ensure doses go where they're most needed.

Updated Nov 23, 2020 - World

Joshua Wong detained with 2 other Hong Kong activists over 2019 protests

Pro-democracy activists (L-R) Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam and Joshua Wong arrive for their trial Monday at West Kowloon Magistrates Court in Hong Kong on unauthorised assembly charges in relation to protests in 2019. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP via Getty Images

Hong Kong pro-democracy campaigner Joshua Wong and fellow activists Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were remanded in custody Monday after pleading guilty to charges of organizing and inciting an unauthorised assembly during last year's massive protests.

The big picture: They could have faced life sentences under the new national security law, but the charges relate to offenses before Chinese lawmakers passed the bill for the city in June, per the BBC. Wong, who became the face of 2014 pro-democracy demonstrations, expects to be imprisoned for up to five years. He tweeted a message to supporters from detention, ahead of a Dec. 2 sentencing.

Nov 23, 2020 - World

NZ's Jacinda Ardern becomes the latest world leader to congratulate Biden

Combination images of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and President-elect Joe Biden. Photo: NZ Prime Minister's Office/Instagram/Joe Raedle/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has become the latest world leader to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden in a phone call, but Russian President Vladimir Putin is still refusing to acknowledge the U.S. election win.

Driving the news: Biden's transition team said in a statement late Sunday he "expressed his intent to strengthen the U.S.-New Zealand partnership" and looked forward to working closely on challenges including containing COVID-19, tackling climate change and "reinforcing multilateralism."