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What We're Watching: California's governor faces the heat, worrying signs for Argentina's president, a Malaysian deal

The world's fifth largest economy votes: Voters in the US state of California will vote Tuesday on whether to fire the state's Democratic Governor, Gavin Newsom, and replace him with someone else. Some 46 candidates have put their names on the ballot to take the governor's mansion from Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor who has been broadly criticized for his pandemic policies — in particular his decision to keep many public schools closed last year, as well as dining out at an exclusive restaurant while telling Californians to stay home. But while the recall effort initially had steam, low projected turnout and an uninspiring group of replacement options — including right wing shock-jock Larry Elder and Caitlyn Jenner of Kardashian fame — mean that Newsom will likely survive. The vote has national implications: there is increasing pressure on the state's 88-year old Senator Diane Feinstein to retire before her term is up in 2024, and it would be up to the governor to appoint her replacement. With the Senate currently divided 50-50, a Republican governor could flip control back to the GOP. But that's a long-shot: Republicans only make up 24 percent of the electorate, compared to 35 percent in 2003, the last time the state recalled its Democratic governor. Who took over after that? The Terminator.

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What We’re Watching: Haiti trembles, Canada's snap election, Malaysia’s political mess

Haiti quake aftermath: If you thought things couldn't possibly get worse for Haiti, they just did. The chronically unstable country, still reeling from the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, was literally shaken on Saturday by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that has killed upwards of 1,400 people and destroyed at least 14,000 homes. What's more, Haitians are now also bracing for a tropical depression that will likely cause floods and landslides in quake-hit areas. Many foreign governments and aid groups have already sent some aid, though many are fearful of a repeat of the situation 11 years ago, when another powerful earthquake devastated the capital, but the assistance was poorly coordinated and failed to reach Haitians that needed it most, and a subsequent cholera outbreak was blamed on UN peacekeepers. When the humanitarian aid does trickle in, the gangs that control large swaths of Haiti say they'll let it through. It's a devastating blow to a country where around two-thirds of people live in poverty.

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What We're Watching: South Africa's COVID surge, the elusiveness of herd immunity, Malaysia's political emergency

South Africa shuts its borders: As a new COVID variant rips through South Africa, the country's prime minister Cyril Ramaphosa moved to close the country's land borders until at least February 15. This drastic decision comes after the government already shuttered public beaches and parks in recent weeks to avoid gatherings during the busy summer break. The newly discovered COVID variant is spreading at a much faster rate than the initial wave of infection, which peaked in the country in July. Medical professionals say that South Africa is experiencing a massive post-holiday spike in COVID-19 cases as people travelled (against government advice) to coastal areas, leading to massive spikes in hubs like Johannesburg and Pretoria. Hospitalizations and deaths are now surging in South Africa, and the 7-day rolling average of daily deaths has risen 75 percent over the past 14 days. While the country of 60 million people now accounts for a disproportionate 30 percent of all infections in Africa, it will not get access to any vaccines through the COVAX scheme until the second quarter of this year — if not later. Meanwhile, the virus waits for no one.

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Concerns as Malaysia schools set to reopen

January 08, 2021 5:00 AM

Eleven-year-old Hakim has not gone to school since it was closed in October last year after a third wave of Covid-19 hit Malaysia.

Najib gets court warning over Facebook post

January 08, 2021 5:00 AM

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's High Court yesterday issued a stern warning to Najib Razak over his Facebook post on former Bank Negara governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, an upcoming witness in his graft trial.

More than 40,000 people in Malaysian relief centres as floods ravage east coast states

January 07, 2021 11:49 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - More than 40,000 people took shelter at dozens of relief centres in Malaysia's east coast states on Thursday (Jan 6) as heavy flooding continued to inundate villages and block roads.

Malaysia's 'lost generation' of students torn between staying safe and getting an education

January 07, 2021 10:35 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - Eleven-year-old Hakim has not been to school since it was closed from October last year after a third wave of Covid-19 hit Malaysia.

Official says Malaysia's Covid-19 cases could hit 8,000 daily in March if infection rate rises

January 07, 2021 10:14 PM

KUALA LUMPUR - A top official at Malaysia's Health Ministry warned on Thursday (Jan 7) that Covid-19 cases could hit 8,000 a day by the middle of March if the country's infectivity rate rises from the current level.

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