Australian War Crimes
In the first story in the Daily Briefing today, we go to a country we really don’t discuss that much: Australia. We do this for a very good reason today, because a report has been published which suggests that the Australian special forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
Specifically, it suggests that the forces were involved in the murder of 39 Afghanistani citizens. In some of these, it is suggested, junior members were encouraged to execute prisoners in order to “blood” them. The accusations also include the suggestion that the special forces slit people’s throats, kept kill counts, planted evidence (such as weapons) on bodies to justify killings and killing combatants outside of “the heat of battle” which would be tantamount to the war crime of murder in the eyes of international law.
This is obviously a deeply troubling and disturbing finding, and something that will be further investigation. The Australian government has committed itself to opening criminal investigations into the report. Let’s all hope that the inhumane, cruel, cowardly and criminal perpetrators of these abhorrent war crimes are prosecuted as soon as possible.
¼ of a Million US Deaths
In the second story today, we look at the deeply saddening news that the US has now had over 250,000 coronavirus deaths. While this is a huge number, it is important to bear in mind the human aspect of this number. This represents 250,000 mourning families, 250,000 groups of friends, 250,000 communities losing a member. It truly is an extraordinary figure, and an extraordinary loss of life. Whenever we see milestones such as this, we should try and reflect on the fact that it isn’t just a statistic used to determine when this pandemic is over, it’s not just an indicator of where we are in the pandemic – it is an indicator of loss, of grief and of pain.
What makes this story even more saddening is the fact that NBC has predicted that Americans are dying at the fastest rate currently than at any time previously in the pandemic. Through the tail-end of summer, daily deaths managed to remain below 1,000. It has now creeped above 1,000 and is still rising. Some experts predict that a worst case scenario could see 2,000 Americans lose their lives daily before the virus is brought under control.
We hope that with more social distancing, more health advice and possibly even a vaccine could bring these numbers down.
The Oxford Vaccine
In the final story today, we move to the UK to look at the progress of the Oxford vaccine. While both Pfizer and Moderna have reported that their vaccine has an effectiveness of around 95%, we are still awaiting results from the Oxford vaccine. Well, today, it has been suggested that we will know about it’s effectiveness by Christmas.
In addition to this, it has also been reported that the vaccine produces a strong immune response in those in their 60s and 70s. This is important to consider, because the coronavirus is particularly deadly to those in these age groups.
This is encouraging news for the UK – as the government has purchased more Oxford vaccinations than any other, totally 100 million doses. Considering that the population of the UK is around 65 million, this is a huge number. Undoubtedly, the UK government is hoping that the Oxford vaccine shows similar results to that of Pfizer and Moderna, as not only do they have more doses of it, but it will make their vaccination programme a lot cheaper.
We will update you when we have more information on the results of the vaccine trials.
For those of you who think the news is too long, be sure to check out tomorrow’s Daily Briefing.