Panama Covid-19 – signed off too early for yesterday’s data and, as feared, not too cheerful (though compared to many other places, not that bad). Numbers of new cases per day continue to rise, 865 reported yesterday, ditto active cases (up 626 at 5,858), 3 new fatalities reported but hospital numbers remaining on the low side (17 in ICU, 141 in other wards), but the percentage of positive results in testing to a high not seen since the end of August (11,945 tests with 7.2% positive).
Meanwhile, today’s news reports police breaking up 2 illegal street parties in the Pueblo Neuvo district of Panama City; this as 9 new cases of Omicron confirmed (with 17 more suspected). While there are suggestions that the data might indicate a “fourth wave”, the rebound in cases, hospitalisations and deaths due to the virus do not show alarming growth, it is claimed, although as one epidemiologist is quoted as saying that prudence must be maintained due to the presence of more contagious variants, such as Ómicron.
Today’s data no more cheery than yesterday – 827 new cases, 6,365 active cases (up 507), 2 new fatalities, 20 in ICU and 145 in other wards.
25 DECEMBER 2021
FORMER DIRECTOR OF MACAO PUBLIC WORKS IN CUSTODY FOR ALLEGEDLY TAKING BRIBES AND MONEY LAUNDERING
On 25 December, Macao News reported that Li Canfeng, the former director of Macao’s Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) has been remanded in custody.
DEFENDANT RETURNED TO US TO FACE CHARGES FOR ALLEGED SCHEME TO DEFRAUD THE KUWAITI EMBASSY
A news release from US DoJ on 23 December advised that Ahmed El Khebki, 62, a naturalised US citizen originally from Egypt and Sudan, was returned to the US by Egyptian authorities; and alleged that he and his co-conspirators carried out a scheme to defraud the Kuwaiti Embassy Health Office in Washington DC, which arranged and paid for services provided by US medical providers to Kuwaiti citizens who travelled to the US for medical care.
On 23 December, Gulf News reported that Dubai police had arrested 4 men who were residents in the UAE who tried to smuggle the illegal pills in a refrigerated container containing boxes of lemon. The drugs were hidden in plastic containers in the lemon shipment.
TURKEY FREEZES ASSETS OF OVER 700 INDIVIDUALS
On 25 December, Hurriyet Daily News reported that Turkish authorities have frozen the assets of 771 individuals and institutions over their alleged links to terror groups under a law that establishes measures on prevention and combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Among those affected is the US-based Niagara Foundation and people associated with the 2016 coup attempt.
THE SECRET ‘FORCED LABOUR’ MIGRATION ROUTE FROM VIETNAM TO THE UK
A report from the Guardian on 25 December starts with 500 Vietnamese construction workers who were allegedly found last month in Serbia working in conditions of forced labour with their passports confiscated and living in cramped and degrading conditions. However, it is said that the factory was only the first stop in a much longer journey towards the UK and Europe for many of the workers found at the factory. At all stages along the way, Vietnamese workers are highly likely to fall into forced labour or debt bondage, often charged up to £30,000 for passage to the UK.
THE STRANGEST SCAMS OF 2021
On 25 December, Which? In the UK published an article saying that for every sophisticated scheme spun by scammers, there are the more preposterous attempts which are capable of raising a smile – even in these worrying times – from caves stuffed with ‘gold and crystals’ to random windfalls from Hollywood actors.
UK: LAW COMMISSION WORK ON SMART CONTRACTS
On 22 December, the Oxford University Faculty of Law blog carried a post from a research assistant at the Law Commission which sets out to provide a brief overview of the project and our conclusions. It also discusses, as an illustration, an area where the law can be incrementally adapted to support the use of smart legal contracts – interpreting smart legal contracts—‘the reasonable coder’ test.
TARGETING GUN VIOLENCE AND TRAFFIKCING IN EUROPE
On 13 December, the Flemish Peace Institute published this report, the fruit of Project Target – a comprehensive research project that explores the links between the different types of firearms trafficking and gun violence in all EU Member States and the Western Balkans. It posed the question: How does illicit firearms trafficking impact gun violence in Europe? The Project aims to improve the understanding of gun violence in Europe and the relationship between gun violence and firearms trafficking.
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