US President-elect Joe Biden has chosen retired General Lloyd Austin as his defense secretary, US media report. If approved, the 67-year-old who retired in 2016 would become the first African-American to lead the Pentagon. He would need a congressional waiver as seven years are required between active duty and becoming military chief. Mr Biden has been facing calls including from Democratic Asian, Black and Latino caucuses to nominate minorities to senior cabinet posts.
At 6.31 a.m. on Tuesday, 334 days after the first reported Covid-19 death in China, Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first person in the world to receive a clinically approved vaccine. It was a landmark moment in the global fight against the most destructive pandemic in 100 years. In approving and delivering the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, Britain is forging a path that will likely be followed by the United States and Europe in the coming weeks.
New Zealand’s security agencies were “almost exclusively” focused on the threat from Islamist terrorism at the time of the 2019 Christchurch shooting, in which a gunman shot dead 51 Muslim worshippers, an inquiry into the country’s worst peacetime massacre has found. The landmark Christchurch royal commission report, which was released on Tuesday after 20 months of consultation, also revealed police failed to enforce proper checks on firearm licenses.
China summoned the acting top U.S. diplomat in Beijing on Tuesday to protest U.S. sanctions on Chinese officials over Hong Kong, and vowed to take “reciprocal” retaliation. The United States on Monday imposed financial sanctions and a travel ban on 14 Chinese officials over their role in adopting a national security law for Hong Kong and Beijing’s disqualification last month of elected opposition legislators in Hong Kong.
Opposition demonstrators have blocked the streets of Armenia’s capital to mark the start of a protest campaign after Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ignored their call to step down over a ceasefire deal struck with Azerbaijan. Pashinyan, who swept to power in a peaceful revolution in May 2018, accepted a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal last month to end a bloody conflict between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region and surrounding areas.