While You Were Sleeping: 5 stories you might have missed, Nov 9

Open for business: US welcomes first travellers as Covid-19 travel curbs are lifted

Packed intercontinental flights touched down and people embraced relatives at land borders on Monday after the United States lifted restrictions imposed on travellers from much of the world when the Covid-19 pandemic began.

The travel ban, first imposed in early 2020, had barred access to non-US citizens travelling from 33 countries – including China, India and much of Europe – and had also restricted overland entry from Mexico and Canada.

“Today America is open for business. That is our message to the world,” US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Reuters in an interview at Chicago’s O’Hare airport.

Earlier, on the other side of the Atlantic, travellers boarding planes at airports in Frankfurt, Paris and London said they were eager to reunite with family and friends.


Nations take stock of climate progress at COP26, as major sticking points remain

After a week of negotiations, nations took stock of progress at the COP26 climate talks on Monday, with analysts quick to point out big gaps remaining on key issues, particularly around finance to help poorer nations.

The British COP26 presidency released a three-page summary in bullet-point form at the weekend that outlines areas that nations say could be included in a final decision by the end of this week.

This document was discussed with the heads of national delegations on Monday afternoon to try to reach consensus on some of the issues and figure out a way forward.


US charges Ukrainian and Russian in major ransomware spree, seizes $8 million

The US Justice Department charged a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets, court filings showed on Monday.

The latest US actions follow a slew of measures taken to combat a surge in ransomware attacks that has struck several big companies, including an attack on the largest fuel pipeline in the United States that crippled fuel delivery for several days.

An indictment accused Ukrainian Yaroslav Vasinskyi, who was arrested in Poland last month, of breaking into Florida software provider Kaseya over the July 4 weekend.


Nasa-SpaceX crew begins return voyage from International Space Station

Four astronauts who arrived at the International Space Station in April for a long-duration science mission began their return voyage to Earth on Monday as their SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule separated from the orbiting laboratory for a flight home.

The Dragon vehicle, dubbed Endeavour, undocked from the space station as planned shortly after 2pm Eastern time (3am Singapore time) in a process carried live by a Nasa webcast, with video showing the astronauts strapped into the cabin wearing their helmeted white flight suits.

If all goes smoothly, Endeavour was scheduled to parachute into the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast at about 10.30pm EST on Monday (11.30am Tuesday, Singapore time), following a total return flight time of eight hours, including a fiery re-entry through Earth’s atmosphere.


Germany eyes tougher curbs as Covid-19 infection rate soars

Germany’s incoming coalition parties unveiled fresh proposals on Monday to fight the country’s Covid resurgence, as the weekly rate of new coronavirus infections hit an all-time high.

Germany registered an incidence rate of 201.1 new cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the Robert Koch Institute said, surpassing the previous record of 197.6 reached on December 22, 2020.

The surge in cases, blamed on the nation’s relatively low vaccination rate, has prompted widespread alarm in recent weeks as hospital beds fill up rapidly.


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