CDC foresees spread in U.S. of highly
contagious coronavirus variant (Source washingtonpost.com)
mutant variant of the novel coronavirus first seen in Britain is likely to be present in much of the United
States. Although the variant has so far been detected in a very small fraction
of infections, it shows signs of spreading and may become significantly more
common in coming weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and infectious-disease experts.
cases have been mostly isolated: One in New York, one in Florida, one in
Georgia and two in Colorado. The exception has been California, and
specifically San Diego County, where a robust surveillance operation has
found 32 cases of the variant. National Institutes of
Health Director Francis Collins told The Washington Post on Wednesday: “I would
be surprised if that doesn’t grow pretty rapidly.” There is no evidence that
the variant, which has recently been detected in more than 30 countries, carries a greater risk of
severe disease or death. But the appearance of coronavirus variants, including
another mutation-laden variant that has shown up in South Africa, presents a
challenge for every country hoping to crush the pandemic.
Iraq issues arrest warrant for Trump over
(Source Associated Press)
arrest warrant was issued Thursday for outgoing President Donald Trump in
connection with the killing of an Iranian general and a powerful Iraqi militia
leader last year, Iraq’s judiciary said.
warrant was issued by a judge in Baghdad’s investigative court tasked with
probing the Washington-directed drone strike that killed Gen. Qassim Soleimani and
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the court’s media office said. They were killed outside
the capital’s airport last January.
FACEBOOK BANS TRUMP FROM POSTING FOR
REMAINDER OF HIS TERM IN OFFICE
CNN) Facebook and Instagram will ban President Donald Trump’s account from
posting for at least the remainder of his term in office and perhaps
“indefinitely,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post on Thursday. “We
believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service
during this period are simply too great,” the Facebook CEO wrote in the
post. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his
Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two
weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
decision marks a major escalation by Facebook as it and other platforms have
come under intense pressure from advocacy groups and prominent figures to ban
Trump following his inflammatory rhetoric encouraging insurrection.
and Twitter took the extraordinary step on Wednesday of temporarily locking
President Donald Trump’s account on their platforms after his supporters
stormed the Capitol building to protest the election.
Raffensperger escorted out of Ga. Capitol
after it was surrounded by pro-Trump mob
Yahoo News) On Wednesday, while much of the country’s attention was focused on
the riots unfolding in Washington, D.C., another standoff was taking place in
and other far-right Trump supporters in Atlanta surrounded the state’s Capitol
building in search of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. As the
group tried to enter the building to hand deliver a list of grievances about
the November election, and Raffensperger’s refusal to overturn the results,
Georgia Capitol police, fearing for the safety of the secretary of state and
his staff, escorted them out of the building, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We heard reports of
threats and left immediately,” spokeswoman Deputy Secretary of State said.
Pro-Trump mob storms the US Capitol, touting
‘Stop the Steal’ conspiracy (Source Tech Crunch)
chaotic scene unfolded in Washington D.C.
as a large crowd of pro-Trump protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol
Building. The Trump supporters flooded into the nation’s capital to attend a
rally held earlier by President Trump outside the White House. The rally was
timed to protest lawmakers gathering Wednesday January 6 to certify President-elect Joe
Biden’s electoral win. At his own event, Trump encouraged his supporters to
continue demonstrating against Congress, claiming incorrectly that Vice
President Mike Pence holds the power to overturn the election results. While
the situation is still unfolding, protesters penetrated the Capitol building
and injuries have been confirmed, including at least one gunshot victim.
U.S. warships transit Taiwan Strait, China
denounces ‘provocation’ (Source Reuters)
U.S. warships sailed through the sensitive Taiwan Strait on Thursday drawing
protest from Beijing, the second such mission this month and coming almost two
weeks after a Chinese aircraft carrier group used the same waterway. China,
which claims democratically run Taiwan as its own territory, has been angered
by stepped-up U.S. support for the island, including arms sales and sailing
warships through the Taiwan Strait, further souring Beijing-Washington
relations. The U.S. Navy said the guided missile destroyers USS John S. McCain
and USS Curtis Wilbur had “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Dec.
31 in accordance with international law”. “The ships’ transit through
the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open
Indo-Pacific. The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate
wherever international law allows.”
This is the 13th sailing through the strait by the U.S. Navy this year.
China’s Defence Ministry denounced the trip as “provocation” and
“a show of force”, adding Chinese ships and aircraft trailed the U.S.
ships. The passage of the ships sent the wrong message to supporters of Taiwan
independence and are a serious threat to peace and stability, it added.
“The Chinese People’s Liberation Army maintains a high level of alert at
all times, responds to all threats and provocations at all times, and
resolutely defends national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the
Putin targets U.S. social media, secret agent
leaks and protests with new laws (Source Reuters)
Vladimir Putin signed an array of laws handing Russia new powers to restrict
U.S. social media giants, label individuals “foreign agents”, and to
crack down on the disclosure of its security officers’ personal data. The laws,
which also introduce new restrictions for protests, cap a year of
constitutional reforms allowing Putin, 68, to stand for two more six-year terms
in the Kremlin instead of stepping down in 2024 as he had been legally required
to do. Other reforms such as one granting former Presidents lifelong immunity
from prosecution have kept analysts guessing about his plans as Moscow’s ties
with the West have come under new strain over the poisoning of Kremlin critic
Alexei Navalny. One of laws enables Russia to block or restrict access to sites
that “discriminate” against its media, part of a campaign under Putin
to increase Russia’s internet “sovereignty” that has fueled fears of
creeping China-style controls. Twitter currently labels some Russian media
“state-affiliated media”, a move decried by Moscow. The law’s backers
cited complaints made about prejudice shown by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
second law introduces hefty fines of up to 20% of their previous year’s
Russia-based turnover for sites that repeatedly fail to remove banned content,
something that YouTube and Facebook have often failed to do according to
third law prohibits the disclosure of the personal data of Russian security
officials, records that are sometimes leaked online and have been used by
investigative journalists to track clandestine operations.
You May Need A COVID Vaccine Passport To
Travel In 2021
order for people to travel in 2021, they may eventually need a COVID vaccine
companies and technology groups have begun developing smartphone apps or
systems for individuals to upload details of their COVID-19 tests and
vaccinations, creating digital credentials that could be shown in order to
enter concert venues, stadiums, movie theaters, offices, or even countries.
Common Trust Network, an initiative by Geneva-based nonprofit The Commons
Project and the World Economic Forum, has partnered with several airlines
including Cathay Pacific, JetBlue, Lufthansa, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines
and Virgin Atlantic, as well as hundreds of health systems across the United
States and the government of Aruba. The CommonPass app created by the group
allows users to upload medical data such as a COVID-19 test result or, eventually,
a proof of vaccination by a hospital or medical professional, generating a
health certificate or pass in the form of a QR code that can be shown to
authorities without revealing sensitive information. For travel, the app lists
health pass requirements at the points of departure and arrival based on your
itinerary. “You can be tested every time you cross a border. You cannot be
vaccinated every time you cross a border,” Thomas Crampton, chief marketing and
communications officer for The Commons Project, told CNN Business. He stressed
the need for a simple and easily transferable set of credentials, or a “digital
yellow card,” referring to the paper document generally issued as proof of
toward their use for widesp
Giant Icebergs Are Headed for South Georgia
in the Southern Hemisphere are tracking A68a, a giant slab of ice that cracked
off Antarctica’s Ross Ice Shelf more than three years ago. The iceberg is
drifting close to South Georgia Island, a critical biodiversity hotspot in the
vast Southeastern Atlantic Ocean, more than 1,000 miles from the spiny twin
tips of South America and the Antarctic Peninsula.
week the berg split into three main sections, still drifting close together,
and scientists said the biggest pieces might get stuck near the shore and
disrupt wildlife. The British Antarctic Survey has launched a mission
to study the berg with drone submarines and other instruments, said Andrew
Fleming, who has been tracking its exact position via satellite. “If it gets
grounded there, it might stay for a long time,” Fleming said. And as it breaks
up, thousands of smaller bergs could float north into shipping lanes, he added.
A68a is no ordinary iceberg. It was one of the 10 biggest bergs ever to break
off the Antarctic shelf, about as big as Rhode Island and about 650 feet thick,
with most of that heft below the waterline. So far, it’s floated nearly 1,000
miles toward South Georgia, an island about the same size as the berg.
U.S. to allow small drones to fly over people
and at night
drones will be allowed to fly over people and at night in the United States,
the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday, a significant step
toward their use for widespread commercial deliveries.
FAA said its long-awaited rules for the drones, also known as unmanned aerial
vehicles, will address security concerns by requiring remote identification
technology in most cases to enable their identification from the ground.
Previously, small drone operations over people were limited to operations over
people who were directly participating in the operation, located under a
covered structure, or inside a stationary vehicle – unless operators had
obtained a waiver from the FAA. The rules will take effect 60 days after
publication in the federal register in January. Drone manufacturers will have
18 months to begin producing drones with Remote ID, and operators will have an
additional year to provide Remote ID.