1. Cards on the table

China’s top judge has formally acknowledged that the country’s court system is not independent of the Communist Party. But Zhou Qiang, president of the supreme people’s court, has gone on to reject attempts to make it independent.

"Bare your swords towards false Western ideals like judicial independence," Zhou is quoted as saying in the Financial Times. His words suggest his reformist agenda has quickly fallen victim to President Xi Jinping’s campaign against "Western values".

2. Persona non grata

The net may close in on Yahya Jammeh, long-time president of the Gambia, who will be asked to hand over power this week after losing an election to Adama Barrow. If things don’t go according to plan at Barrow’s inauguration, the Economic Community of West African States will send in troops and the AU has hinted at similar "serious consequences".

3. Buzzing off

"Mankind will not survive the honeybees’ disappearance for more than five years," Albert Einstein once predicted. That reality may be closer. On February 10 the US government will recognise the rusty patched bumblebee — pollinator of one-third of US crops — as an endangered species. Futurism.com says at the height of their existence in the 1990s, these bumblebees were found in great numbers in 31 states; now they can only be found in 13. Seven other Hawaiian bee species were placed on the endangered list in October.

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