Welcome to Thursday, where a new UK study will deliberately infect young people with COVID, Texas continues to battle a snowstorm and New Zealand vows to provide all schools with free menstruation products. America Economia also asks why Mexico has done so poorly in fighting the pandemic.
• COVID-19 latest: Thailand has announced that its locally developed vaccine has proved successful in preliminary trials and will be moving to human tests. The UK is launching the world's first study of deliberately infecting young people with COVID in controlled environments to study its effects and best treatments. Colombia begins vaccinations thanks to support from the World Health Organization's COVAX program.
• Myanmar coup protests: A group called Myanmar Hackers have targeted military propaganda websites as part of an online protest. Burmese actress and three-time academy award winner Paing Phyo Thu has gone into hiding after being added to the junta's arrest list for attending protests.
• Nigeria's school kidnapping: Armed men disguised as military personnel have taken at least 42 people hostage, most of them children, from a secondary school in Kagara.
• Two Belarus journalists sentenced: A Belarusian court has sentenced two TV journalists who filmed protests against President Alexander Lukashenko to two years in prison, after they were accused of leading "group actions that grossly violate public order."
• Woman to head Tokyo Olympics: Seiko Hashimoto, a seven-time Olympian, multi-sport athlete, and five-time parliamentarian has been appointed as the new chief of the Olympics organizing committee, after her predecessor was forced to resign due to sexist comments.
• U.S. winter storm: Texas is experiencing its coldest temperatures in over 30 years, leaving at least 23 people dead and millions without power. Meanwhile, the same storm spurred a tornado that has left three and ten injured in North Carolina dead.
• New Zealand to offer period products: The prime minister of New Zealand has vowed to ensure that all schools will be stocked with free menstruation products after a survey reported that one in 12 students were skipping school because they couldn't afford sanitary products.
Rome-based La Repubblica features incoming Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who obtained a wide margin of victory in Wednesday's parliamentary confidence vote for the new caretaker government he will head.
AMLO-19: Why the pandemic has hit Mexico harder
Faced with an unprecedented health crisis, the López-Obrador administration has proven itself to be incompetent, overpoliticized and self-involved, writes Luis Rubio in Latin American magazine America Economia.
In Mexico, politics has been confused with the function of government. While politics determine every nation's priorities, executing those priorities is another matter. In reputable countries, the government is an agent of continuity and stability. Civil servants are permanent, mostly career professionals and bound by codes of conducts and transparency. Politicians, for their part, govern with the support of their people and determine which projects will proceed and which will be shelved.
This is the subject of an exceptional new book, The Wake Up Call, which seeks to explain the difference between countries that have successfully confronted the coronavirus pandemic and those still reeling from its arrival. The virus is a perfect tool for comparison as it does not discriminate and affects countries across the world and their people in the same way.
For Mexico, the timing of this pandemic could not have been more revealing. It has exposed the shortfalls and accumulated deficiencies of the governing system, already magnified in this administration. The government that sought a regime change ended up mired in a pandemic it did not understand ...and still does not understand now.
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According to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, life expectancy in the country has dropped a full year in the first half of 2020, falling to 77.8 years, because of the coronavirus pandemic. While deaths to the virus have been mostly among older adults, the number of deaths among young people is still substantial.
Facebook's actions to unfriend Australia today (...) were as arrogant as they were disappointing.
— Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement, adding that the government "will not be intimidated" by tech giants, as Facebook has blocked news feeds to Australian users in response to a law that would force them to pay for news content on their platforms.