We are just a week away from Major League Baseball’s Opening Day and the Chicago Cubs are giving insight into the types of COVID safety protocols fans will see this baseball season.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated federal ethics rules governing the use of taxpayer-funded resources when he, and his wife, asked State Department employees to carry out personal tasks more than 100 times, a government watchdog said in a report on Friday. Pompeo, who was former President Donald Trump's last secretary of state, served until Jan. 20, when Republican Trump left the office after being defeated by Democrat Joe Biden in the November election.
Daniel Negroni, 31, is accused of targeting the unnamed victim in Sutton Place around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, according to WLNY. The woman reported that Negroni approached her and made anti-Asian comments as she was out on First Avenue and 57th Street on the East Side. ABC 7 News reporter CeFaan Kim shared on Twitter that the man allegedly told the woman: “Corona Virus Asian, so I should punch you.”
- The Independent
Trump’s post-presidency makeover: Former president losing weight, cutting back on M&Ms and ditching spray tan, report says
‘When I saw him, he looked healthier and in better physical condition than I had seen him in a long time,’ a Trump advisor says
(Reuters) -Four members of the Sikh religious community, three women and one man, were killed in a Thursday night shooting at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis that claimed the lives of eight workers, a community group and local leader said on Friday. "Out of eight, four are Sikh community members," said businessman Gurinder Singh Khalsa, who identified himself as a leader of the local Sikh community and said he had spoken with the families of those killed. He said the FedEx operations center near the city's international airport was known for providing employment to older members of the Sikh community who did not necessarily speak fluent English.
- The Independent
Médecins Sans Frontières says country has been plunged into ‘permanent state of mourning’
In a new preview for "Keeping Up With the Kardashians," Disick asked the Poosh founder about marriage, which her sisters thought would be "epic."
- Business Insider
Jerry Falwell Jr.'s infamous photo with his pants unzipped was taken during a yacht party honoring a raunchy TV show, lawsuit says
When the photo was taken, Jerry Falwell Jr. was the president of an evangelical Christian university that bans sexual content and alcoholic drinks.
- Business Insider
4 virus variants are spreading in the US, and studies suggest they can make people sicker, evade the immune response, or spread faster. Here's why experts are concerned.
COVID-19 "variants of concern" include the coronavirus variant first found in South Africa. These new strains differ from the original in key ways.
An unofficial European Union diplomatic note seen by Reuters on redrawing borders along ethnic lines in the Western Balkans has caused angst and distress in Bosnia, which fears an unexpected shift in EU strategy. The document was first leaked to the Slovenian media and ascribed to Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who reportedly had sent it to European Council President Charles Michel as a proposal on how to deal with the region after Slovenia takes over presidency of the EU in July. But Jansa denied that he had sent the document and accused "fake media" of trying to harm Slovenia's efforts to help integrate the Western Balkan states into the wealthy bloc.
- Business Insider
The window of opportunity to revive the deal is closing, and Biden will need to act quickly and boldly to clear away the political traps set by Trump.
- Associated Press
It was one of the more tantalizing, yet unresolved, questions of the investigation into possible connections between Russia and Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign: Why was a business associate of campaign chairman Paul Manafort given internal polling data — and what did he do with it? A Treasury Department statement Thursday offered a potentially significant clue, asserting that Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian and Ukrainian political consultant, had shared sensitive campaign and polling information with Russian intelligence services. Kilimnik has long been alleged by U.S. officials to have ties to Russian intelligence.
Episode five of the Marvel show indicated that one character fueled by rage is gearing up for battle on next week's season one finale.
- Associated Press
A top Chinese diplomat said Friday that U.S. policy toward China is “too negative" and that cooperation could be critically important as the Biden administration focuses on combatting COVID-19 and promoting economic recovery. The U.S. appears to be highlighting confrontation and playing down cooperation, Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. China could be a partner as Biden tackles the coronavirus and the economy, he said.
- The Telegraph
The UK wanted US troops to stay in Afghanistan, the head of the Armed Forces has revealed. General Sir Nick Carter said President Biden's decision to pull out all 2,500 US troops by September 11 was "not the decision” the UK wanted. The Chief of Defence Staff said: "It's not a decision that we'd hoped for. But we obviously respect it, and it's clearly an acknowledgement of an evolving US Strategic posture." Earlier this week President Biden vowed to end America's "forever war" in Afghanistan, which began 20 years ago following 9/11, when they first arrived to bring down the Taliban regime harbouring Osama bin Laden. Nato said the withdrawal process would begin by May 1 and could be completed in just a few months. However, many have cautioned that the UK, which has agreed to an "orderly departure of our forces" by withdrawing the remaining 750 British troops by the deadline, said they had no choice but to cooperate because staying without the US was impossible. Former defence minister Tobias Ellwood, Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, said the US decision risked "losing the peace" and allowing extremism to "regroup". It was "concerning" and "not the right move". He said British forces had "no choice" but to leave due to the US's "significant force protection capabilities from which we benefited". Mr Ellwood added: "Remaining allied forces are unable to fill that vacuum without upgrading our posture for which there is no political appetite."
- Business Insider
Sen. Ted Cruz no longer wears a mask at the Capitol, falsely claiming 'everybody' in the Senate has been vaccinated against COVID-19
This isn't Cruz's first time flouting public health guidance. Asked to wear a mask in March, Cruz told a reporter he was "welcome to step away."
- The Daily Beast
Danish Siddiqui/ReutersIn an apparent effort to secure votes for his party in India’s upcoming state elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has allowed at least 50 million Hindus to take to the Ganga river for a holy dip in a religious festival that has turned into an unprecedented COVID-19 superspreader event.The Kumbh Mela, or the pitcher festival, is a mega Hindu gathering that takes place every 12 years along one of four riverbank pilgrimage sites, where millions of people bathe in the Ganga, also known as the Ganges, hoping to wash away their past sins and achieve salvation from the cycle of life and death. The month-long festival has been linked to at least 2,000 coronavirus infections so far.The celebration involves ascetics draped in marigold flowers and carrying tridents—a principal symbol in Hinduism—leading hordes of ash-covered followers to the riverbanks. Crammed together, the festivalgoers sing, dance, and hug each other after taking dips in the water.Despite the obvious public health hazards, Modi has allowed the festivities to continue uninterrupted. Appearing more concerned with bettering his party’s election odds, the prime minister has even promoted potential superspreader events of his own. With five Indian states heading to the polls through April, his de facto deputy—the home minister of India—has been jumping from one venue to another, addressing thousands of people in election rallies and leading grand road shows.Meanwhile, all across the country, patients are laying outside hospitals and gasping for breath before dying unattended. This month, India’s largest crematoriums ran out of firewood as land space fell short in cemeteries. On Wednesday alone, 200,000 Indians tested positive for the coronavirus. Adding to this, India, long celebrated as the “world’s pharmacy,” is running out of vaccines for its own people. Several states have complained of stock shortage while the country's top vaccine manufacturers, Covishield and Covaxin, have decried a lack of resources.Experts fear the current infection rate triggered by the festival is only the tip of the iceberg. After the festival ends, millions will be returning to different parts of the country, where they risk infecting others. 1232270216 XAVIER GALIANA Dr. SK Jha, the chief medical officer of Haridwar province—home to one of the festival’s riverbank sites—told The Daily Beast that “the cases are rising here every day and we are expecting more infections in coming days at Kumbh Mela. The devotees have come from many parts of India where already cases are surging.”The government had earlier promised several layers of screening to curb the spread as ash-smeared ascetics took over the town, but health authorities eventually pulled back the COVID-19 testing crew, fearing a stampede-like situation.Two months ago, Modi had declared an early pandemic victory: “At the beginning of this pandemic, the whole world was worried about India's situation,” announced Modi in a chest-thumping virtual address. “But today, India's fight against [coronavirus] is inspiring the entire world.”That is clearly no longer the case. Last month, a newly detected variant was searingly downplayed by the government. As cases began to rise again, the government refused to budge on the Kumbh festival, apparently fearing backlash from religious leaders in the Hindu-majority country and securing his Hindu vote bank.Modi’s handling of the superspreader festival has also raised concerns about his government fueling religious fanaticism and Islamophobia. Last year, India’s Muslim community was vilified after 4,300 positive cases were linked to a religious gathering. Members of the community were jailed, tried in the courts, and subjected to a smear campaign run by the pro-government national media.Critics have compared the media coverage of the Muslim event with the Kumbh festival, condemning the government’s apparent double standards and wilful ignorance when it comes to the Hindu festival.Responding to the criticism, the chief minister of Uttarakhand—the state hosting the festival—said: “They [Markaz attendees] were all inside a building and here it is out in the open, near the Ganges. The flow and blessings of Ma Ganga (Mother Ganga) will ensure that coronavirus does not spread. The question does not arise of a comparison… The devotees attending Kumbh are not from outside but our own people.” 1231641382 PRAKASH SINGH Though the current pandemic crisis is focused on the handling of the Kumbh festival celebrations, Modi’s planning and policy implementation has fallen on its face before. Last year, when India had around 525 cases, Modi announced an abrupt total lockdown overnight. The unplanned lockdown sparked an exodus of millions of laborers working in metropolitan cities, returning to their homes in the countryside on foot and spreading the virus that was then only limited to the cities.Still, Modi has managed to champion the game of optics and sell his failures as essential steps and successes to the electorate. Modi’s party has relied on his public messaging to appeal to voters—a tactic focused on political leg-pulling and the flaunting of his largely unmasked “massive” rallies. He is unwavering in his celebration of the crowds that flock to him, and dares not dampen the mood by asking voters to adhere to safety precautions.As other politicians follow suit, the Hindu nationalist leadership appears collectively hell-bent on showcasing an illusion of normalcy and preserving its religious sentiments. Meanwhile, the death count continues to soar as India’s historic health crisis spirals out of control.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
As the pandemic rages in Brazil, hundreds of babies and young children are dying of Covid.
Lebanon's Hezbollah has made preparations for an all-out collapse of the fracturing state, issuing ration cards for food, importing medicine and readying storage for fuel from its patron Iran, three sources familiar with the plans told Reuters. The steps highlight rising fears of an implosion of the Lebanese state, in which authorities can no longer import food or fuel to keep the lights on. The plan chimes with worries in Lebanon that people will have to rely on political factions for food and security, in the way many did in the militia days of the 1975-1990 civil war.
- Yahoo News
The Biden administration is in a political and scientific conundrum. Even as its experts project confidence in the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, they are taking pains to show that safety and transparency are paramount. That could be a risky calculation.
- Business Insider
Some Democrats argue capping the deduction for state and local taxes hurts blue states; Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says it mostly hurts the rich.