NASA plans to shut down the Spitzer Space Telescope, which sees the Universe in infrared light. Because of its infrared sensitivity, Spitzer can get exceptional views of nebulas, the clouds of dust and gas peppered throughout the Universe.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa chairs the 33rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa. He is expected to urge more investment in the bloc’s new free trade area and call for investors to choose infrastructure over arms. The bloc’s failure to Silence the Guns in Africa by 2020, a commitment made in 2013, overshadows the proceedings.
The Conservative Party won the general election on Dec 12 with a clear majority, handing Prime Minister Boris Johnson the mandate he needs for ratification of the Brexit deal he struck with the European Union and for leaving the bloc by Jan 31. His “Get Brexit Done” election slogan appears to have resonated in a country left hanging since the 2016 referendum on the divorce.
Palestinians could go to the polls for the first time in 14 years to vote for a parliament as early as February if rival factions Hamas and Fatah can agree on procedural details. A presidential election would follow three months later. Big questions hang over the plan. They include whether the rivals would cede power to each other – or to a third party – if defeated.
Japan Airlines (JAL) is offering free round-trip domestic flight tickets to up to 50,000 foreign nationals who visit Japan, which is hosting the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics during July. The program is aimed at encouraging visitors to venture beyond the tourist hotspots such as Tokyo and Kyoto.
New restrictions on religions, described widely as the Communist Party’s broader war on faith, come into effect. The new Administrative Measures for Religious Groups law will control every aspect of religious activity within China. It incenses the Vatican, in particular, because the Catholic Church had been negotiating for an accommodation with Beijing on behalf of China’s Catholics.
The Danny Boyle movie The Beach, released 20 years ago, created more fans for Maya Bay on the island of Phi Phi Leh than the idyllic spot can support. The government closed it to tourists in 2018 because of the environmental damage, and isn’t in a hurry to reopen it. The latest word is that it won’t reopen before 2021.
The EE British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA) in London might seem like an anticlimax after the furor that followed publication of the shortlist of nominees. The hashtag #BAFTAsSoWhite began trending on social media almost immediately, and the Academy’s 11 nominations for Joker are also causing a stir.
Iowa hosts the first-in-the-nation caucuses ahead of the Nov 3 election. The eight Democrats trailing the presidential field behind the four in the lead, as well as two Republicans challenging Donald Trump, will hope the Midwestern state lives up to its reputation for turning underdogs into frontrunners. Trump’s impeachment trial looms as a complication.
Two days after announcing the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the Democrat-led House of Representatives in Washington DC, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi invited him to deliver his State of the Union message to a joint session of Congress from that same chamber of Congress on Feb 4. Trump accepted the invitation.