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World in brief: April 20, 2021


North Rhine-Westphalia state governor Armin Laschet emerged victorious today from a bruising power struggle to succeed Angela Merkel and lead the Christian Democratic Union into September’s election.  

Laschet, 60, now faces a bigger battle: to connect with voters and win over frustrated fellow conservatives who backed his more popular rival, Markus Soeder.

Mr Soeder conceded after the CDU leadership backed Laschet in a late-night vote, pledging: “We will support him without a grudge, with all our strength.”


Osaka asked the government today to declare a state of emergency in the region after ongoing alert measures failed to control the spread of a more contagious coronavirus variant.

Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura’s decision to request a third state of emergency comes just 50 days after an earlier toothless state of emergency ended.

The city is expected to close theme parks, shopping centres and other commercial facilities to drastically reduce public activity for a few weeks.


A woman from Damascus has applied to run in the presidential elections, the parliament’s speaker said today, becoming the first woman to make a bid for the country’s top job in a largely symbolic vote certain to be won by President Bashar al-Assad.

The presidential election, the second since the country’s civil war broke out 10 years ago, is to be held on May 26.

Faten Ali Nahar, 50, nominated herself for the post. Little is known about her.


A scientist has named a newly discovered insect species after the coronavirus.

Having spent years researching a caddisfly endemic to Kosovo’s western Bjeshket e Nemuna national park, biologist Halil Ibrahimi decided to name it Potamophylax coronavirus.

“Coronavirus was the most vivid thing during the time when the species was discovered,” he said.

Mr Ibrahimi warned that pollution and deforestation have had “the same effect on the species living in the rivers as the coronavirus is causing to humankind these days.”


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