Another local teen has died from COVID-19 as health officials warn of a potential post-holiday surge in cases.
- Yahoo News
President Trump campaigned Monday night on behalf of two incumbent Republican senators whose defeat in runoff elections on Tuesday could cost the party its majority in the U.S. Senate and deliver a symbolic capstone to his own time in office.
BEIJING (Reuters) -The former chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co has been sentenced to death, a court in the northern city of Tianjin said on Tuesday, in one of the country's highest profile corruption cases. Lai Xiaomin was convicted of receiving or seeking bribes totalling 1.788 billion yuan ($276.72 million) from 2008 to 2018, when he was also a senior banking regulator, according to the Secondary Intermediate People's Court of Tianjin. Lai, who was expelled from the ruling Communist Party in 2018, was also convicted on a charge of bigamy.
- National Review
Wisconsin governor Tony Evers mobilized the National Guard on Monday to provide support to law enforcement in Kenosha, ahead of an expected decision on whether to press charges a police shooting.A Kenosha officer shot Jacob Blake, an African American man, in August while responding to a domestic violence call. Authorities had issued an arrest warrant for Blake for suspected third-degree sexual assault. A white officer shot Blake several times during the attempted arrest, and Blake was left paralyzed from the waist down.Video of Blake's shooting quickly went viral and was followed by a week of riots in Kenosha, during which rioters destroyed dozens of businesses in the city. The riots came in the wake of widespread civil unrest after the police killing of George Floyd, an African American resident of Minneapolis.The Kenosha County District Attorney's Office is expected to announce a decision on whether to charge the officer who shot Blake sometime within last two weeks of January. Governor Evers ordered the National Guard to provide 500 service members to assist Kenosha law enforcement ahead of the district attorney's decision."We are continuing to work with our local partners in the Kenosha area to ensure they have the state support they need, just as we have in the past,” Evers told reporters on Monday. “Our members of the National Guard will be on hand to support local first responders, ensure Kenoshans are able to assemble safely, and to protect critical infrastructure as necessary.”Kenosha mayor John Antaramian and police chief Daniel Miskinis said in a joint statement that the city was preparing for possible unrest."Mayor Antaramian has been informed that the decision is likely to be announced within the first two weeks of January and is working with Chief Miskinis and other partners to protect peaceful demonstration and to guard against unlawful activity," the two said. "Our responsibility to public safety is paramount, and we are preparing for a number of possible public demonstration and safety efforts."
- Architectural Digest
Read on for space-saving, clutter-clearing magicOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Yahoo News 360
President Trump stood little chance of compelling Congress to change the stimulus package or defense funding bill. So why did he take a stand on both pieces of legislation?
- The Telegraph
Irish government set to tighten lockdown restrictions as Covid threatens to overwhelm health service
The Irish government is set to tighten lockdown restrictions including the closure of schools as rampant rates of Covid infections threaten to overwhelm the health service. The Cabinet will meet on Wednesday morning to decide on whether to keep the schools closed until February as part of wider measures to control the third wave of the Covid pandemic which health chiefs have described as “extremely worrying and dangerous.” Schools were originally scheduled to reopen next Monday but government sources say it is highly likely they will remain closed for the rest of this month. The government introduced a second nationwide lockdown in October which succeeded in reducing Covid rates to the lowest among EU states when the restrictions were lifted in the first week of December. For most of last month, the daily rate of infection averaged 300. On Monday there were 6,110 cases reported, which is almost twice the peak reached in the first wave last March. The 14 day incidence rate is now 583 per 100,000 compared to 110 per 100,000 in mid-December.
- Yahoo News Video
Georgia election official on Trump call: ‘Nobody I know who would be president would do something like that’
Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling condemned President Trump’s call with Georgia’s secretary of state, saying, “I personally found it to be something that was not normal, out of place and nobody I know who would be president would do something like that to a secretary of state."
Critics say the haste in approving government-backed Covaxin smacks of 'vaccine nationalism'.
Russian military investigators are now treating the Nov. 9 downing of a helicopter over Armenia as "wilful murder", a more serious charge than the previous "death through negligence", Interfax news agency reported on Monday, citing a source. A Russian Mi-24 helicopter was shot down over Armenia near the border with a region belonging to Azerbaijan, killing two crew members and injuring another, just few hours before a Moscow-brokered peace deal over Nagorno-Karabakh was reached. Heavy fighting between Azerbaijan, which has the political backing of Turkey, and ethnic Armenian forces over the mountainous region had been raging for six weeks at the time of the incident.
- Associated Press
Pakistan's Supreme Court ordered authorities Tuesday to rebuild a century-old Hindu temple that was vandalized and set on fire by a mob last week, drawing condemnation from the government and leaders of minority Hindus. The court ruled after authorities said they arrested more than 100 people for attacking the temple and several police officers were fired for neglecting to protect the structure. Supporters of Pakistan’s radical Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party and residents attacked the building after being incited by a local cleric who was opposed to the temple's planned renovation.
- The Week
Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) "has run the most negative campaign in Georgia history," her Democratic challenger, Rev. Raphael Warnock, said at a recent campaign rally, reports HuffPost. Loeffler and Republican groups backing her campaign, HuffPost notes, have run various attacks on Warnock in the lead up to Tuesday's Senate runoff, which include labeling him a Marxist and suggesting he's covered up child abuse. But the ads may not be riling up Loeffler's supporters as much as they are boosting Democratic turnout, especially among Black voters."The attack ads, the portrayal of Rev. Warnock using historically racist tropes in the ads is insulting," Gwen Mills, the secretary-treasurer of the labor union Unite Here, told HuffPost. "But it's also invigorating in the sense that people aren't going to stand for this. We've heard it a lot."That backlash in addition to a few other key factors seem to be paying off for Democrats. Tom Bonier, the CEO of the Democratic data firm TargetSmart, said Black voters have "been leading the way in increasing Black turnout," and 40 percent of the 102,000 people who cast ballots during early voting in the runoff after sitting out the general election are Black. Read more at HuffPost.More stories from theweek.com McConnell stares down the barrel of Trump's gun Are we witnessing the fall of the United States? After getting vaccinated, New Orleans woman delivers a blunt message to non-believers
- The Independent
Airspace around one of busiest US airports closed after air traffic controller tests positive for Covid
Flights were also delayed in Florida following positive coronavirus test
Germany was weighing on Monday whether to allow a delay in administering a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from BioNTech and Pfizer to make scarce supplies go further, after a similar move by Britain last week. Separately, Denmark approved on Monday a delay of up to six weeks between the first and second shots of the vaccine. In Berlin, the health ministry was seeking the view of an independent vaccination commission on whether to delay a second shot beyond a current 42-day maximum limit, according to a one-page document seen by Reuters on Monday.
- Associated Press
Hong Kong’s outgoing top judge said Tuesday that calls for reform of the city’s judiciary cannot be based on dissatisfaction with court rulings, as pro-Beijing figures and state-owned media step up criticism of the city’s legal system. “(The) judiciary’s position has all along been the same. In recent weeks, Chinese officials and state-owned media have accused the semi-autonomous city’s courts of misinterpreting Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, the Basic Law, in rulings relating to last year's pro-democracy protests.
- The Telegraph
The Iranian government has accused South Korea of holding more than £5 billion of its money “hostage” in its banks, a day after its revolutionary guards stormed and captured a Korean tanker in the Persian Gulf. The tanker, the MT Hankuk Chemi, was seized yesterday and escorted to an Iranian port under the pretext that it was causing pollution in the Strait of Hormuz, according to Iranian officials. But the ship’s owners have denied this and revealed the tanker was boarded by armed marines from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), suggesting that Tehran intends to use it as leverage in a dispute with Seoul over frozen Iranian assets. Ali Rabiei, a spokesman for the Islamic regime, denied accusations of “hostage diplomacy” over the capture of the ship, which was carrying a cargo 7,200 tonnes of ethanol from Saudi Arabia to the United Arab Emirates when it was intercepted by IRGC speedboats and a helicopter off the coast of Oman. “We've become used to such allegations ... but if there is any hostage-taking, it is Korea's government that is holding $7 billion (£5.15 billion) which belongs to us hostage on baseless grounds,” Mr Rabiei told reporters at a news conference streamed online. Tehran has previously accused South Korea of being a “lackey” of the United States and demanded it release the money which it says it is owed from oil sales made before the Trump administration tightened sanctions on the Islamic republic. The head of Iran's central bank has argued that it needs the money to purchase coronavirus vaccines, and should be exempt from sanctions.
- The Week
America's COVID-19 vaccine effort is 'total chaos,' should add first come, first served option, vaccine expert says
The U.S. kicked off a second phase of its COVID-19 vaccine campaign on Monday, when health care workers and others at the top of the tiered system began getting their second and final doses of the vaccine. But the rollout of the inoculation effort has been "slow and uneven," The Associated Press reports, "marked by confusion, logistical hurdles, and a patchwork of approaches by state and local authorities."The Trump administration set a goal of vaccinating 20 million Americans by Jan. 1, but as of Jan. 4, only 4.5 million had gotten their first shot, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, out of 15 million doses distributed. There is some resistance to getting vaccinated, but much of the problem seems to be logistics, Politico reports. States are simply struggling to match vaccine shots with the people who want and are qualified to get them. The effort has also been hampered by ineffective communication plans, the lack of any meaningful national outreach and education campaign, and a fractured, sagging health care system."It's total chaos," Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told Politico. "It's increasingly looking like we had a plan that was well-suited to vaccinate Singapore." The U.S. needs to inoculate about a million people a day to get the pandemic contained by September, and Hotez said America won't get those numbers under the current plan. He told Politico the U.S. should scrap its tiered system and supplement the doses shipped to nursing homes and hospitals with mass vaccination venues, like sports stadiums or outdoor tents, where anyone who wanted the vaccine could show up for a shot. "That is in the works in some states," Politico notes.The U.S. needs to "get the vaccine in people's arms," Hoetz said. "The only other choice is to continue with 3,000 deaths a day."More stories from theweek.com McConnell stares down the barrel of Trump's gun Are we witnessing the fall of the United States? After getting vaccinated, New Orleans woman delivers a blunt message to non-believers
- Miami Herald
A Miami cocaine dealer was jailed Monday morning after bringing more than six ounces of the drug into the Florida Keys, police said.
- National Review
President Trump on Tuesday falsely declared that Vice President Mike Pence “has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors,” part of his final push to overturn the presidential election ahead of Wednesday’s electoral vote count.> The Vice President has the power to reject fraudulently chosen electors.> > -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 5, 2021Pence will oversee a joint session of Congress on Wednesday to tally the Electoral College votes, which President-elect Joe Biden won with 306 votes to Trump’s 232. However, the vice president does not have the power to reject slates of electors, only Congress has that power and it has only ever been exercised in a case where a state sent two slates of electors — due to a recount that overturned the state's initial results — and it fell to Congress to choose between the two slates.Trump’s message came in a tweet one day after he expressed hope that “Mike Pence comes through for us” at a political rally in Georgia."Of course, if he doesn't come through, I won't like him as much,” he added."He's a wonderful man and a smart man and a man that I like a lot but he's going to have a lot to say about it," Trump said on Monday. "You know one thing with him. You're going to get straight shots. He's going to call it straight."While a growing number of Trump allies in both the Senate and the House have pledged to object during the electoral vote count on Wednesday, the debate and vote sparked by such an objection is highly unlikely to end with Trump as the victor, as such a vote would not get past the Democrat-controlled House. Additionally, a number of Republicans, including Senator Mitt Romney of Utah have criticized Trump and his allies for their efforts to delegitimize the election. Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the election was "rigged" against him and that the vote was plagued by widespread voter fraud.Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) last week became the first senator to say he would object to the electoral vote count saying he "cannot vote to certify the electoral college results on January 6 without raising the fact that some states, particularly Pennsylvania, failed to follow their own state election laws."“And I cannot vote to certify without pointing out the unprecedented effort of mega corporations, including Facebook and Twitter, to interfere in this election, in support of Joe Biden," he added. "At the very least, Congress should investigate allegations of voter fraud and adopt measures to secure the integrity of our elections. But Congress has so far failed to act.”Hawley was joined by Ted Cruz and ten other Senate Republicans who have committed to objecting to the electors submitted by at least one battleground state.
- The Conversation
It has been clear for a while that, at least in the U.S., the only way out of the coronavirus pandemic will be through vaccination. The rapid deployment of coronavirus vaccines is underway, but how many people need to be vaccinated in order to control this pandemic?I am a computational biologist who uses data and computer models to answer biological question at the University of Connecticut. I have been tracking my state’s COVID-19 epidemic with a computer model to help forecast the number of hospitalizations at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital.This type of computer model and the underlying theory can also be used to calculate the vaccination rates needed to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus. My estimate is that for the entire U.S., roughly 70% of the population needs to be vaccinated to stop the pandemic. But variation in how people behave in different parts of the country, as well as open questions on whether the vaccine prevents infection entirely or just prevents people from getting sick, add a degree of uncertainty. Cutting off transmissionClinical trials have shown that once a person gets vaccinated for the coronavirus, they won’t get sick with COVID-19. A person who doesn’t get sick can still be infected with the coronavirus. But let’s also assume that a vaccinated person can’t spread the virus to others, though researchers still don’t know if this is true.When enough of the population is vaccinated, the virus has a hard time finding new people to infect, and the epidemic starts dying out. And not everyone needs to be vaccinated, just enough people to stop the virus from spreading out of control. The number of people who need to be vaccinated is known as the critical vaccination level. Once a population reaches that number, you get herd immunity. Herd immunity is when there are so many vaccinated people that an infected person can hardly find anyone who could get infected, and so the virus cannot propagate to other people. This is very important to protect people who cannot get vaccinated.The critical vaccination level depends on how infectious the disease is and how effective the vaccine is. Infectiousness is measured using the basic reproduction number – R0 – which is how many people an infected person would spread the virus to on average if no protective measures were in place. The more infectious a disease is, the larger the number of people who need to be vaccinated to reach heard immunity. The higher the effectiveness of the vaccine, the fewer people need to be vaccinated. Not the same everywhereR0 values differ from place to place because their populations behave differently – social interactions are not the same in rural and urban locations, nor in warm climates compared to cold ones, for example.Using the data on positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths, my model estimates that Connecticut currently has an R0 of 2.88, meaning that, on average, every infected person would pass the virus on to 2.88 other people if no mitigation measures were in place. Estimates at the county level range from 1.44 in rural Alpine, California to 4.31 in urban Hudson, New Jersey.But finding an R0 value for the entire U.S. is especially tricky because of the diversity of climates and because the virus has affected different areas at different times – behavior has been far from uniform. Estimates vary from 2.47 to 8.2, though most researchers place R0 for the entire U.S. around 3.While R0 varies by location and between estimates, the effectiveness of the vaccines is constant and well known. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 95% and 94.5% effective at preventing COVID-19, respectively. Using values for vaccine effectiveness and the R0, we can calculate the critical vaccination level. For Connecticut, with an R0 of 2.88, 69% of the population needs to be vaccinated. For the entire U.S., with R0 of 3, this would be 70%. In New York City, with an estimated R0 of 4.26 this would be 80%. A lot of uncertaintyWhile the math is relatively simple, things get complicated when you consider important questions for which epidemiologists still have no answers. First, the formula for critical vaccination level assumes that people interact randomly. But in the real world, people interact in highly structured networks depending on work, travel and social connections. When those contact patterns are considered, some researchers found critical vaccination levels to be considerably smaller compared to assuming random interactions.Unfortunately, other unknowns could have an opposite effect. Vaccine trials clearly show that vaccinated people don’t get sick with COVID-19. But it is still unknown whether the vaccines prevent people from getting mild infections that they could pass on to others. If vaccinated people can still be infected and pass on the virus, then vaccination will not provide herd immunity – though it would still prevent serious disease and reduce mortality drastically. A final question that remains to be answered is how long immunity to the coronavirus lasts after a person is vaccinated. If immunity wanes after a few months, then each individual will need repeated vaccinations.It is hard to say with certainty how many people need to be vaccinated in order to end this pandemic. But even so, the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines has been the best news in 2020. In 2021, as a large proportion of individuals in the U.S. get the vaccine, the country will be heading toward the critical vaccination level – whatever it may be – so that life can start to return to normal.[You need to understand the coronavirus pandemic, and we can help. Read The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Pedro Mendes, University of Connecticut.Read more: * Test positivity rate: How this one figure explains that the US isn’t doing enough testing yet * What’s not being said about why African Americans need to take the COVID-19 vaccinePedro Mendes currently receives funding from the National Institutes of Health. In the past he has received research funding from the National Science Foundation, the British Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the British Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the European Union.
- Associated Press
Armed Iranian Revolutionary Guard troops stormed a South Korean tanker and forced the ship to change course and travel to Iran, the vessel's owner said Tuesday, the latest maritime seizure by Tehran amid heightened tensions with the West over its nuclear program. The military raid on Monday on the MT Hankuk Chemi was at odds with Iranian explanations that they stopped the vessel for polluting the waters of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Instead, it appeared the Islamic Republic sought to increase its leverage over Seoul ahead of negotiations over billions of dollars in Iranian assets frozen in South Korean banks amid a U.S. pressure campaign targeting Iran.