POLITICS: A few months ago, Germany headed to the polls to elect its next gov. With Chancellor Angela Merkel stepping down, the field was pretty much wide open. And the winner was….the center-left Social Democratic Party (aka SDP), which beat out Merkel’s party - the center-right Christian Democratic Union (aka CDU) - by thiiiis much. Now, months later, SDP leader Olaf Scholz has officially taken over as chancellor. It’s the end of an era for Germany, which has been led by Merkel for 16 years. Meanwhile, 12 people just died in a helicopter crash in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The victims include India’s top military general. And in other news, the US House of Reps just passed a new debt ceiling plan that would let Congress avoid a federal default without the threat of a Republican filibuster.
HEALTH: The US surgeon general has a warning: young people are facing “devastating” mental health effects as a result of the challenges experienced by their generation. And while the issue has certainly been intensified as a result of the pandemic, it was already widespread by spring 2020. That’s partly due to problems like climate change, gun control, social media pressures, income inequality, and racial injustice…to name a few. Meanwhile, a new study shows that Omicron partly evades the immune response generated by Pfizer’s covid vaccine (though the vaccine likely still protects against severe illness). However, boosters could offer significant protection against the variant.
CHINA: Recently, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) revealed that China is the world’s biggest captor of journalists. The country has at least 127 reporters currently detained. At least 10 journalists and online commentators were arrested for reporting on the covid crisis in Wuhan, while Uyghur journalists reporting on internment camps in Xinjiang have also been jailed. RSF called it an “unprecedented campaign of repression.” In other news, the UK just announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics, which are being hosted by Beijing. Because, China’s long list of human rights abuses. This comes after the US and Australia declared diplomatic boycotts of the Games.