US Capitol stormed, Covid-19 in Europe, Where is Jack Ma?


It was not one but two grave assaults on America's 240-year-old democracy. Remember, the week began with the world discovering that leaked phone call where Donald Trump tried to pressure Republican officials in Georgia to reverse his loss there. The Associated Press reports that Capitol Police were mostly focused on protecting lawmakers for their joint session and that offers of help had been rebuffed. We all know what happened next.


You have to wonder how many of the rioters with Trump hats and flags paid for them and by consequence might be paying royalties to the president himself. Canada-based e-commerce site Shopify is pulling Trump merchandising, while eBay has now stopped people from reselling T-shirts emblazoned with the term "MAGA Civil War January 6, 2021". But there's plenty of MAGA merchandising still available on Amazon.

New year, same winter of discontent. Yes, there are signs of hope: a senior citizen in Oxford becoming the first to get the AstraZeneca vaccine which, unlike those rolled out already by Pfizer and Moderna, is easier to distribute. But in the meantime, schools in England remained open for less than 24 hours before a new lockdown, with the new strain of the coronavirus there overwhelming the National Health Service.

It's not just in Europe that they're returning to lockdown: it's the same story in places like Japan and Zimbabwe. At its border, South Africa is also having to contend with a new strain. The EU has agreed to double its bulk order of doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to 600 million, while the EU drug regulator is now approving the extraction of six doses from a vial instead of five.

Where is Jack Ma? The billionaire founder of tech giant Alibaba gave a speech in late October criticising China's state-owned banks and financial regulators and that is the last we've heard or seen of him since. The authorities are now hinting at trust-busting measures against Alibaba, while the listing of its payment affiliate Ant Group has been suddenly scrapped and local media have been censored for speculating on Ma's whereabouts. Why is China taking on all comers? Is Xi weak or strong?

Produced by Alessandro Xenos, Juliette Laurain and Pékola Sonny

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning