A police officer is shown looking over her right shoulder and wearing a hat with a portrait of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on the wall behind her.

A Turkish police officer walks past a picture of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Oct. 2, 2019.

Credit:

Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/File photo

Top of The World — our morning news roundup written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

On Thursday, the US is expected to release a declassified version of an intelligence brief into the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which finds that Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman approved and likely ordered the 2018 assasination, according to Reuters.

The report’s release is seen as President Joe Biden’s first bid to recalibrate US-Saudi relations after years of lack of condemnation of the kingdom’s human rights record and what was viewed as a friendlier relationship under former President Donald Trump. Biden, who is expected to speak with ailing Saudi King Salman, said Wednesday that he has read the intelligence report.

As a presidential candidate, Biden labeled Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” state which must be held accountable for the murder of Khashoggi and the killing of civilians in airstrikes in Yemen.

In 2018, a UN human rights investigation by Agnes Callamard found that Saudi Arabia was responsible for a “deliberate, premeditated execution” of Khashoggi. The 59-year old Washington Post columnist was lured to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, on Oct. 2, 2018, and killed by operatives linked to the crown prince. His remains have never been found. Salman has denied any involvement in Khashoggi's death.

What The World is following

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused top military officers of an “attempted coup” after they demanded he and his cabinet must resign. The South Caucasus country has been engulfed in a political crisis after Pashinyan signed a controversial peace deal with Azerbaijan in November last year, marking an end to six weeks of deadly conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan reclaimed control over parts of Nagorno-Karabakh — which is physically with the country’s borders — but held by ethnic Armenians for more than a quarter century.

And US regulators announced Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine offers strong protection — 85% effective — against severe cases of the disease, setting the stage for a third vaccine option to be used in the United States. This is one of the steps for FDA evaluation previous to approval and the agency’s independent advisers will debate whether the evidence is strong enough to recommend the shot.

From The World

Wary of coronavirus vaccines, some Chinese citizens are ‘opting out’

Countries across the globe are scrambling to vaccinate everyone. With 1.4 billion people, that’s a huge challenge for China. Their goal is to inoculate about 70% of its population — which still hits the billion-dose range.

China is rolling out two of its own vaccines — Sinopharm and Sinovac — but it hasn’t been able to conduct trials on its own population because the coronavirus infection rates are so low. Many citizens are taking the “wait-and-see” approach to getting vaccinated.

Protesters in Spain say rapper’s arrest is an attack on freedom of expression

Protesters across Spain have taken to the streets to demand rapper Pablo Hasél’s release from prison. He was arrested for language glorifying terrorism and insulting the Spanish monarchy. But, Hasél’s supporters say that his nearly three-year prison sentence is an attack on freedom of expression in Spain.

Bright spot

Archaeologists have unearthed a large-scale brewery dating back 5,000 years at the time of King Narmer, in North Abydos, Egypt. Scientists suggest the brewery had eight large areas for beer production for heating grains and water in the earthenware pots, which could deem the finding the "oldest, industrial scale brewery from anywhere in the world, not just Egypt," Matthew Adams, a senior research scholar at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, and co-director of the joint mission that found the brewery, told The World (🎧).

In case you missed it

Listen: What’s next in the pandemic after hopeful signs with Johnson & Johnson vaccine?

A man is shown wearing a white t-shirt with "tea shirt" printed on it as he walks past large mural of a woman's face.

A man wearing a mask to protect against COVID-19 passes a wall mural on a sidewalk in Johannesburg, Feb. 24, 2021.

Credit:

Denis Farrell/AP

A review by the US Food and Drug Administration found Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine shot for the coronavirus is safe and effective — sending a strong positive signal throughout the world. So, what does that mean for the pandemic? And, in a landmark ruling, a German court convicted a Syrian intelligence officer for aiding and abetting torture and abuse in Syria. Also, a herd of 20 plains bison have been released on Poundmaker Cree Nation territory in Saskatchewan, Canada. It's been 150 years since plains bison last roamed there.

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