1 Month-Long Conflict in Ethiopia Declared Over

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Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed declared that “we have completed and ceased the military operations in the Tigray region” on 28 November. The announcement followed the capture of the Tigray capital Mekele by federal Ethiopian forces. Fighting began on 4 November between federal units and those belonging to the ruling Tigray political party, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. The conflict has already displaced up to a million people, with at least 45000 refugees escaping into neighbouring Sudan.[VOX] [By KEVIN WANG] 

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Canada Announces $100 Billion Pandemic Recovery Plan

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On 30 November, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland introduced the Canadian government’s Fall Economic Statement 2020. The report vows to “do whatever it takes to help Canadians through this crisis.” The $100 billion recovery package, which will be deployed “when the virus is under control”, will include increased funding for long-term care facilities, support for Indigenous communities, and a national child care system. [CBC] [By KEVIN WANG]

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DNA Identified 12 Years Later

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The remains of a man who went missing almost 12 years ago has recently been identified in Washington State with the help of DNA profiling.  James Neufeld was a 55-year-old man from Penticton, B.C., who had disappeared in January 2009. He was last seen leaving his Okanagan home in his green van. 13 days later, the van was found under the Alexandria Bridge near the Fraser River, but Neufeld was not in it. In May 2009, a body was found in the waters of the Salish Sea in Washington. Unfortunately, forensics could not identify the corpse. However, a decade later, the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office decided to take another look at the case. This time, they successfully established a DNA profile and brought closure to Neufeld’s family.[GlobalNews] [By Iris Ma]

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19 Asymptomatic Covid Cases 

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On 1 December, 19 cases of COVID-19 were discovered through asymptomatic testing at Thorncliffe Park Public School. After Ontario began asymptomatic testing for schools located in condensed COVID areas, Thorncliffe was chosen as the first school in the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) to begin testing. The 19 cases sent 14 classes into isolation and despite it bringing concerning results, parents are very supportive of asymptomatic testing. [CBC] [By Iris Ma] 

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Britain is 1st Country to Approve Pfizer Coronavirus Vaccine 

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Britain became the first country in the world to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. The government said priority groups – including care home residents, health and care staff, the elderly, and the clinically vulnerable – will receive the vaccine first. Britain has ordered forty million doses of the vaccine, and expects to begin receiving the first shipment of 800 000 doses “within days”. Canadian health officials have said Health Canada is also reviewing the vaccine. Currently, Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least twenty million doses and the option to buy another fifty-six million. [GlobalNews] [By Emily Ma]

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First moon sampling mission in 44 years 

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China’s Change-5 mission, which had launched from Wenchang spaceport a week earlier, landed on the moon on 1 December. Half of the spacecraft remained in orbit while the other half (a lander with numerous instruments including a camera, spectrometer, radar, and drill) touched down precisely on the Mons Rümker region of the moon. The lander is planned to collect rocks and dirt before returning to its counterpart in orbit. These samples will help scientists determine the geological history of the region, which remained molten for longer than the rest of the moon and is also 2 billion years younger than previous samples collected. [BBC] [By Miranda Zhao]

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EU-UK trade deal hangs in the balance with 4 weeks to go

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Since Britain left the EU, both sides have urged each other to make compromises to unlock a trade deal before London’s transition period out of the bloc ends on 31 December. They are trying to agree on rules to govern nearly one trillion dollars in annual trade after that date, but after so many missed deadlines, there is no guarantee that negotiators will be able to seal a deal. Failure to do so rattle markets, clog borders and disrupt supply chains. British Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has said that London would accept only “a deal that is right for Britain if such a deal is available.”[Reuters] [By Emily Ma]

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Canadian Loonie at highest point in 2 years

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Since April 2020, the Candian loonie has appreciated about 10 cents against the U.S. dollar. The loonie recently hit 77.61 cents US, its highest amount since October 2018. This was a result of two major events, firstly, the U.K. announced it had approved a coronavirus vaccine. And secondly, reports of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia supposedly reaching a deal to extend production cuts on oil barrels. Not only is the Canadian dollar riding the wave of rising oil prices but it is also profiting from the weakness of the US dollar. The euro, the Australian dollar, and the Korean won also hit two-year highs against the US dollar. With optimism around a coronavirus vaccine, there is a positive outlook for the Canadian dollar to possibly increase even higher. [CBC][By Anirudh Goel]