Another Covid Christmas for Europe and the U.S.
New coronavirus cases are surging in the U.S., prompting governors and mayors to once again reintroduce restrictions. Federal officials say that the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus now accounts for three-quarters of new cases in the country.
In Europe, countries are split between imposing new measures to curb the spread, as the Netherlands and Denmark have done, or adopting a wait-and-see approach. France has ruled out lockdowns, curfews or closures, betting on its high vaccine and booster coverage. Britain has yet to announce whether it will impose a lockdown before Christmas.
In all of these countries, economic and political concerns — just days before the holidays — are also guiding governments, amid uncertainty about just how big a risk the variant poses. Epidemiologists have warned that even if Omicron is eventually shown to cause less severe illness, its rapid spread could still send huge numbers of people to hospitals.
Quotable: “It’s annoying, but this year there’s at least more of a Christmas spirit than last year, when we had a curfew,” said one Parisian. “We couldn’t go out and enjoy Christmas decorations.’’
Foreign drones tip the balance in Ethiopia’s civil war
A stunning military victory this month for Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia’s embattled prime minister, was made possible by a fleet of combat drones, recently acquired from foreign allies who hope to keep him in power. The drones pummeled Tigrayan rebels, erasing months of battlefield gains and resulting in their withdrawal.
Over the past four months, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Iran have quietly supplied the Ethiopian leader with some of the latest armed drones, even as the U.S. and African governments urged a cease-fire and peace talks, according to Western diplomats who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The motives of Abiy’s allies vary: Some hope to make money, while others aim to gain an edge in a strategic region or to back a winner in the spiraling conflict that has engulfed Africa’s second most populous nation.
Response: Debretsion Gebremichael, the Tigrayan leader, has called for a cease-fire followed by peace talks. “We trust that our bold act of withdrawal will be a decisive opening for peace,” he wrote in a letter to the U……..