AGR BRIEFS

1. WHO Hails ‘Monumental Moment’ as US Backs Patent Waiver

It seems patently obvious. But for the first time U.S. President Joe Biden has said he supports lifting intellectual property rights on coronavirus vaccines in order to increase production and make them more accessible to developing nations. Biden yesterday threw his backing behind the waiver proposal, drafted by India and South Africa, winning praise from the World Health Organization which called it “a monumental moment.” However, the drug industry is not happy, with shares in BioNTech, Moderna and Novavax down after the news broke. The E.U. is now set to hold talks on whether to follow America’s lead.

Sources: NYT, Al Jazeera, DW

2. Trump Furious After Facebook Committee (In)Decision

“Radical left lunatics.” That’s what an angry Donald Trump labeled members of the Facebook Oversight Board who yesterday extended the platform’s ban on him. The one-time Tweeter-in-Chief, who has been permanently banned by Twitter, called the latest decision on his Facebook account “a total disgrace,” adding, “free speech has been taken away from the president of the United States.” But despite extending the ban put in place after the January 6 Capitol riot, the independent committee has sent the issue back to the tech giant. It said the company does not have any rules on indefinite suspension, giving it six months to clarify the matter.

Sources: Washington Post, CNN

3. Rage and Chaos in Colombia as Police Shoot Protesters

At least 24 people have been killed during days of protests in Colombia where police have fired on demonstrators and tanks have been deployed in the streets. The demonstrations began against a proposed tax bill, which right-wing President Iván Duque withdrew on Sunday. They have continued however, fueled by anger at the government’s crackdown, corruption, inequality and poverty in general. Latin America has been one of the areas hardest-hit by the pandemic, which has shrunk economies and brought high death rates. The UN has criticised the heavy-handed response to the protests, but Duque said yesterday there would be “no truce” as hundreds of people continued to be arrested.

Sources: Al Jazeera, NYT

4. Pandora Targets Millennials With Lab-Made Gems

Lab-made diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Or at least, they’re the environment’s best friend and good for human rights too, says jeweler Pandora, which announced it will stop using mined diamonds. Last year the Denmark-based operation, which makes more individual pieces of jewelry each year than any other company, also vowed to end the use of newly mined gold and silver. The company says it’s targeting ethically conscious millennials and plans to go carbon neutral within the next four years. Pandora’s first lab-made diamond collection will be rolled out in UK stores today.

Sources: Bloomberg, The Copenhagen Post, Glamour

5. Also Important …

Could it be Bye-Bye Bibi? After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, the country’s president has asked opposition leader Yair Lapid to do so. Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, 24, has had 10 months added to his 17-month sentence to “deter people from offending.” And two American students have been jailed for life in Italy after being found guilty of murdering a police officer in Rome.

Coronavirus Update: India hit another bleak daily record today, reporting more than 400,000 infections and 3,980 deaths. Indonesia has banned travel for 12 days over the Eid al-Fitr holiday period, as Egypt also brought in a curfew ahead of the end of Ramadan.


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1. ISS-Matured Wine: A Full-Bodied Red With Notes of Stardust

Forget moonshine, try some moon wine! You can now get spaced on wine that’s been in orbit. A bottle of French red matured for over a year on the International Space Station is going on auction at Christie’s, along with a meteorite decanter. The 2000 vintage Petrus is one of 12 bottles launched in 2019 to study how food matures in space. Luckily Neil Armstrong didn’t have any with him though, or it might have been “one small stumble for man.” If it goes for its expected price of $1 million, it could become the most expensive wine ever sold.

Sources: Reuters, AFP

2. Liechtenstein Prince Shoots Arthur, Romania’s Biggest Bear

It’s an unbearable tale. Environmental groups say Prince Emanuel von und zu Liechtenstein shot Romania’s — and possibly the E.U.’s — largest bear, 17-year-old Arthur, in March. While authorities had given the prince permission to hunt a female bear that had been causing damage in the area, the royal shot the wrong one. Environmentalists have suggested it wasn’t an accident. It’s “clear that the prince did not come to solve the problem of the locals but to kill the bear and take home the biggest trophy,” said Gabriel Paun from NGO Agent Green. Romania’s environment ministry has launched an investigation.

Sources: Romania Insider, The Guardian

3. Into the Wild: Missing Utah Woman Found After Five Months

She survived on a diet of moss and grass. Authorities have rescued a Utah woman who went missing five months ago, after finding her living in a tent in the Spanish Fork Canyon. The woman, who is believed to have mental health issues, had disappeared in November, but chose to stay in the tent through the harsh winter, police said, adding that she wanted “solitude and isolation.” After months of searching, the sheriff’s department thought there was little chance of finding her alive. They only discovered her camp by accident when a drone searching for her crashed near her tent.

Sources: Washington Post, ABC

4. Royal Vloggers: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on YouTube

Prince William and his wife Kate were always influential, now they’re influencers. Like many of their fellow millennials, the royal couple are becoming vloggers. The first video posted to their YouTube site shows Kate shooting a bow and arrow and William flying a helicopter. One offtake shows Kate telling her husband not to be so posh, saying: “You don’t need to roll your Rs.” The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge already have many other social media platforms, but this is their first foray into vlogging. Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the couple’s estranged sister-in-law Meghan is publishing a children’s book in June.

Sources: The Cut, W Magazine, The Guardian

5. McIlroy: Proposed Super Golf League Is a ‘Money Grab’

The controversial soccer Super League didn’t last long, and it seems Rory McIlroy hopes a proposed golf version won’t either. “You saw what happened last week with the European Super League. The top 12 clubs got together and said ‘Let's keep more of the money for ourselves,’ and people didn't like that. It affects competition, it affects the integrity of competition. I just can't see how it works,” the 32-year-old said. The former World Number One from Northern Ireland yesterday slammed Saudi-backed plans for a Super Golf League and swore he would reject any offer to take part.

Sources: Sky Sports, AFP

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