Russian officials said Monday that the country recorded more than 240,000 more deaths in April through November, 2020 than during the same period last year. The number is significantly higher than the country's pandemic death toll of 55,265. The excess deaths could include deaths from COVID-19 that were not officially confirmed by medical examiners. It could also include deaths from other causes that could be linked to overcrowded hospitals caused by COVID-19 or other coronavirus effects on society.
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has reimposed a ban on alcohol sales and ordered the closure of all bars in the country's fight against the coronavirus. While the nation deals with the surging cases, it is also battling the new variant of the virus. (in a new) In a nationwide address Monday night, Ramaphosa also announced the closure of all beaches and public swimming pools in the country's infection hotspots. Those include Cape Town, Johannesburg and several other coastal areas. The president said South Africa is also increasing its nighttime curfew by several hours, so all residents must be at home from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m.
A Saudi court has sentenced prominent women's rights activist Loujain al-Hathloul to nearly six years in prison. A state-linked news outlet said Saudi Arabia's anti-terrorism court found al-Hathloul guilty of agitating for change, pursuing a foreign agenda and using the Internet to harm public order. Al-Hathloul called for reforms such as ending male guardianship laws and allowing women the right to vote, which they now can do. Last year, the government did ease guardianship laws and allowed women to get passports and travel. Al-Hathloul has been in prison since 2018 after she was arrested, along with at least a dozen other Saudi women's rights activists. Al-Hathloul continued to advocate for human rights from jail. She also alleged she was tortured and sexually assaulted during the interrogations.
Three French soldiers were killed after a roadside bomb blast Monday in Mali. The French government said the soldiers' armored vehicle struck an explosive device in the Hombori region. The soldiers were part of France's Operation Barkhane mission, which is fighting an Islamist extremist (ex...) insurgency in Africa's Sahel region.
U.S. stocks rallied Monday. Each of Wall Street's main indexes closed at record levels after President Trump's signing of the long-awaited budget bill that increased optimism for an economic recovery.
Via remote, I'm Liz Parker, VOA news.