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Biden picks top diplomatic advisers; AstraZeneca vaccine is 90% effective; Saudi and Israeli leaders meet in Neom

US President-elect Joe Biden is expected to nominate a slate of career diplomats and foreign policy experts to key posts in his administration. British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has said its vaccine, developed with Oxford University, is up to 90% effective. And, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew Sunday to the Red Sea future city of Neom for talks with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

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Dozens killed in Uganda political violence; WHO chief accused of supporting Tigray rebels; Mexico passes 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

At least 37 people have been killed in Uganda’s worst election-related violence in decades. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus denied accusations made by his own Ethiopian government that he is working with neighboring countries to provide weapons and other assistance for Tigray rebels. And, Mexico has surpassed 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, the fourth nation to do so after the US, Brazil and India.

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Coronavirus pandemic worsens with onset of cold weather; Report suggests unlawful killings of Afghans by Australian troops; Activists stage mock COP26 after coronavirus postponement

The United States has surpassed 250,000 deaths from the coronavirus — the highest death toll by far in the world — and is turning the corner into what public health experts say will be the worst phase yet of the pandemic. And, a new report shows that elite Australian soldiers unlawfully killed 39 people during the war in Afghanistan. Also, young climate activists around the world have staged a mock COP26 virtual gathering in place of the actual UN conference that was delayed from this month until November 2021 because of the coronavirus.

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Pfizer vaccine trial shows 95% success rate; US to cut troop levels in Afghanistan, Iraq; FAA clears 737 Max to fly

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has ended its COVID-19 vaccine trial with a 95% success rate. Acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller announced that President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to reduce the troop presence in Afghanistan and Iraq by Jan. 15. And, the Federal Aviation Administration cleared Boeing’s 737 Max jet to fly again.

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Hurricane Iota lashes Central America; Trump considered Iran strike options; SpaceX Dragon docks at ISS

Hurricane Iota made landfall Monday in Nicaragua as a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 155 mph. President Donald Trump reportedly asked his advisers last week for options to attack Iran’s main nuclear site but then decided not to take any action. And, the SpaceX Dragon capsule docked with the International Space Station (ISS) after a 27-hour completely automated journey.

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Early Moderna data shows coronavirus vaccine 94.5% effective; Violence in Ethiopia threatening international conflict; 15 Asia-Pacific economies sign RCEP

Moderna's early data shows its coronavirus vaccine is 94.5% effective; And, the violence in Ethiopia’s north is threatening to become an international conflict; Also 15 Asia-Pacific economies, making up 30% of the world’s population and gross domestic product, signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal on Sunday.

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China congratulates Biden; UN issues warning on Tigray; Ghana's Jerry Rawlings passes away

China has congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden, becoming one of the last major countries to do so. The UN warned Friday that fighting between the Ethiopian government and rebel leaders in the northern province of Tigray could spiral out of control. And, Jerry John Rawlings, who ruled Ghana for 20 years after taking control in two coups, died Thursday at an Accra hospital.

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Coronavirus case totals surge with colder temperatures; More foreign leaders call President-elect Biden; Typhoon Vamco strikes the Philippines

The number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continues to soar in the US, Europe and elsewhere, with death tolls expected to rise quickly as well. And, the leaders of Japan, South Korea and Australia had their first calls with US President-elect Joe Biden, reaffirming close relations. Also, the second typhoon in a week in a half has struck the Philippines.

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Russian peacekeepers to uphold Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire; Ethiopia military seizes Tigray airport; Saeb Erekat dies of COVID-19

A new Russian-brokered ceasefire to end six weeks of intense fighting between Armenian forces and Azerbaijan has begun, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said he was not ignoring international warnings about the worsening Tigray conflict, and Saeb Erekat, the chief peace negotiator between the Palestinians and Israel, has died at a Jerusalem hospital.

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