By Misha Hussain DAKAR, March 24 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Scientists tackling an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea believe they have identified the virus as the Zaire strain, the most lethal of all that "raises the already high level of concern", according to France's Institut Pasteur. At least 59 people have died after contracting a mystery illness in southeastern Guinea since early February. Six cases have been confirmed as Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of as high as 90 percent. None of the suspected cases in the capital Conakry have tested positive. However, the deaths are the first confirmed from Ebola in West Africa and a suspected case reported in neighbouring Sierra Leone has raised fears the disease may spread into other nations with weak health systems. "Preliminary sequencing of a portion of the virus is compatible with the Zaire species," experts at the Lyon-based Institut Pasteur said in a statement. The institute believes the strain in Sierra Leone would be the same, but said further lab results were needed. "Detection of Zaire Ebola virus raises the already high level of concern for this event," it said. Institut Pasteur has been testing samples sent to France and has also dispatched a team to Conakry to help the government handle the crisis. The symptoms of Ebola range from flu-like pains to internal and external bleeding caused by kidney and liver failures. Humans can catch the disease from bats, gorillas and forest antelope and then it is spread between humans through contact with infected blood, bodily fluids and tissue. The last major outbreak of the Zaire strain was in 2007, when 187 people died in the Democratic Republic of Congo - a case fatality rate of 74 percent. Sakoba Keita, head of the preventative diseases department in Guinea's ministry of health, said the number of suspected cases had risen to 86 by Monday. The government sent SMS messages to Guineans calling for calm and detailing precautions people could take against Ebola. Over the weekend, officials dispatched specialised medical equipment, imposed restrictions on funerals and sought to contain panic to prevent Ebola from spreading. Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said researchers are trying to find the source of the virus and understand how the Zaire strain reached Guinea from Sudan, Congo and Uganda where there are frequent outbreaks. "Nobody has a clue how the virus arrived in Guinea," said Esther Sterk, MSF's tropical medicine adviser. "We know the virus hides in some species of bats in between outbreaks in human hosts, so many people are looking at bats flying around Guinea." (Additional reporting by Saliou Samb; Editing by David Lewis and Robin Pomeroy)
- Yahoo News
U.S. senators, who will serve as jurors at Donald Trump's trial, will be sworn in on Tuesday, and hearings are expected to begin Feb. 9.
- NBC News
A concerned citizen had reported the Kissimmee officer to the department in an email.
- National Review
Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D., Ariz.) is “against eliminating the filibuster, and she is not open to changing her mind,” according to a spokeswoman for the senator. The spokeswoman’s comments to the Washington Post come as the possibility of voting to end the Senate’s practice of imposing a 60-vote threshold for most legislation has moved to the forefront of conversation, as Democrats have taken control of the House, Senate and White House. Ending the filibuster would allow any legislation to pass with a simple majority. Sinema joins moderate Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia as well as President Biden in opposing abolishing the filibuster. While Biden said in July that he would “take a look” at eliminating the rule dependent upon “how ostreperous they become,” speaking about Senate Republicans, he also added then that he had “not supported the elimination of the filibuster because it’s been used as often … the other way around [for Republicans’ benefit], but I think you have to just take a look at it.” Biden “has not changed his mind” and continues to oppose eliminating the filibuster, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday. However, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said for years that “nothing’s off the table” once Democrats have the majority in the Senate and has previously said that Democrats would “do what it takes” to pass policy. “Job number one is for us to get the majority. We don’t take anything for granted but it’s looking better and better,” he said over the summer. “Once we get the majority, we’ll discuss it in our caucus. Nothing’s off the table.” Ahead of the election, a growing group of Democrats signaled they were open to the idea of ending the filibuster, including 18 of the original 26 democratic presidential candidates: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang who expressed full support, and Senators Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Kamala Harris (D., Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Bernie Sanders (D., Vt.) and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D., Texas) who said they would be open to the idea. However, with Manchin and Sinema’s opposition, it is unlikely Democrats will receive enough support to abolish the filibuster. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have warned that eliminating the filibuster would cause long-lasting damage to the Senate. “This threat to permanently disfigure, to disfigure the Senate, has been the latest growing drumbeat in the modern Democratic Party’s war against our governing institutions,” McConnell said in September, according to The Hill.
- The Independent
Giuliani slams ‘hate-filled left-wing’ as he responds to $1.3bn defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems
Donald Trump’s personal lawyer claims legal action is intended to ‘frighten people of faint heart’
- The Week
What the Biden administration's first call with South Korea's defense secretary says about the countries' relationship
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had his first call with his South Korean counterpart, Minister of National Defense Suh Wook, this weekend. It sounded like things went pretty well, with the United States government's readout explaining the conversation "underscored the U.S. commitment to defend" South Korea. But Duyeon Kim, a senior fellow at the Center for New American Security noticed South Korea's description of the exchange differed slightly.In a Twitter thread on Monday, Kim explained that she wasn't surprised by what South Korea left out in its own readout. For example, there was no mention of two of the Pentagon's key takeaways, including the promise of "U.S. extended deterrent" and the necessity of maintaining a "rules-based international order." Kim's hunch is that South Korean President Moon Jae-in likely expects extended deterrence would upset North Korea and jeopardize his vision of a peace process with his neighbor. The international order detail, meanwhile, could interfere with Seoul's "strategic ambiguity" approach toward China.> DOD's press release: https://t.co/vZrmCQdX2F > MND's press release (in Korean): https://t.co/8yUcdg4bgT> > The alliance isn't doomed, but coordination will require a delicate dance. This time (vs w/Trump), Moon carries the burden of proof to meet alliance expectations../end> > -- Duyeon Kim (@duyeonkim) January 25, 2021Kim thinks there's time and room for the U.S. and South Korea to find their footing as the Biden administration settles in, but it may not be as easy as either side anticipated, as she explained in a separate thread last week. > SKorean prez Moon, in new year's presser just now, seems to have very high expectations about Biden's Korea policy & may be in for some surprises. My upcoming Foreign Affairs article (stuck in their editing queue since before Christmas) goes into detail, but here's a teaser..1/> > -- Duyeon Kim (@duyeonkim) January 18, 2021More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
- Associated Press
Indianapolis police arrested a 17-year-old boy Monday in the killings of five people, including a pregnant woman, who were shot to death inside a home in what the city's mayor called a “devastating act of violence.” The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department said in a statement that the name of the suspect in Sunday's killings was “not being released at this time since the suspect is a juvenile." As officers were investigating, police received information about 4:40 a.m. that led them to a nearby home, where they found multiple adults dead inside from apparent gunshot wounds, Sgt. Shane Foley said Sunday.
A U.S. aircraft carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt has entered the South China Sea to promote "freedom of the seas", the U.S. military said on Sunday, at a time when tensions between China and Taiwan have raised concern in Washington. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement the strike group entered the South China Sea on Saturday, the same day Taiwan reported a large incursion of Chinese bombers and fighter jets into its air defence identification zone in the vicinity of the Pratas Islands.
- NBC News
The governor ordered a halt to nonessential medical procedures last year, which the attorney general then said applied to "any type of abortions."
- The Week
Senate Democrats are drawing a line at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) demand that a power-sharing agreement in the 50-50 Senate include a pledge to retain the legislative filibuster. "If we gave him that, then the filibuster would be on everything, every day," Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) told NBC's Chuck Todd on Sunday's Meet the Press. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) offered McConnell "word for word" the same power-sharing agreement used in the first half of 2001, and McConnell's insistence on adding the filibuster pledge is "a non-starter."But until Schumer and McConnell reach agreement on the Senate's operating rules, Republicans still retain much of the majority they lost last Wednesday."Without an organizing accord, Republicans remain in the majority of most Senate committees," and "veteran Democrats eager to seize the gavels and advance their long dormant agendas can only wait and wonder," The Washington Post explains. "Newly sworn-in Democratic senators cannot get committee assignments until an organizational deal is struck," leaving the old GOP-majority structures in place, and "Democrats can't unilaterally impose an organizing agreement because they would need Republican support to block a filibuster."The filibuster has evolved into a sclerotic de facto requirement for a 60-senator supermajority on all legislation. Frustration with obstruction by the minority led Senate Democrats to end the filibuster for some presidential appointees and lower-court judges in 2013, and McConnell continued eroding the filibuster as majority leader, killing it for Supreme Court nominees and further easing the confirmation of presidential appointees.A handful of Democratic centrists would prefer to keep the filibuster — for now. But there is mounting pressure from inside and outside the chamber. "There is absolutely no reason to give Sen. McConnell months and months to prove what we absolutely know — that he is going to continue his gridlock and dysfunction from the minority," said Eli Zupnick, a spokesman for the anti-filibuster liberal coalition Fix Our Senate.More stories from theweek.com Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing Trump must be prosecuted 5 scathingly funny cartoons about Biden's COVID-19 push
- Associated Press
A former pathologist at an Arkansas veterans hospital has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to involuntary manslaughter in the death of a patient he misdiagnosed. Robert Morris Levy, 54, of Fayetteville was sentenced Friday in federal court. Prosecutors said Levy diagnosed a patient with lymphoma when the patient actually had a small-cell carcinoma.
Tacoma Police spokeswoman Wendy Haddow said police were alerted to the street racers and a 100-person crowd blocking area streets, according to the News Tribune. When the patrol car responded, the crowd began pounding on the vehicle's windows, she told local media. “He was afraid they would break his glass,” Haddow told the News Tribune, saying the officer sped away from the scene for his own safety.
- The Telegraph
The acrimonious split within Republican ranks widened over the weekend as Donald Trump made his foray back into politics, backing the re-election of a hard-line supporter as chair of the party in Arizona. His wholehearted support for Kelli Ward was seen by allies as the former president firing a warning shot across the bows of any Republican senators considering backing his impeachment. Underlining Mr Trump’s grip on the Republican grassroots, the Arizona party also voted to censure John McCain’s widow, Cindy, former senator Jeff Flake and governor Doug Ducey, who refused to back the former president’s claims of election fraud. Mr Trump’s intervention came amid reports that he is considering setting up a “Patriot Party” which would spearhead primary challenges to his opponents in the 2022 mid-term elections. The former president has already amassed a massive war chest with his Save America political action committee declaring last month that it had raked in $207.5 million in donations.
- Miami Herald
A U.S. Coast Guard crew over the weekend rescued a man who was floating on a makeshift raft off Key West.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) announced Monday he will not run for a third term in the U.S. Senate in 2022, citing "partisan gridlock."Why it matters: It's a surprise retirement from a prominent Senate Republican who easily won re-election in 2016 and was expected to do so again in 2022, creating an open Senate seat in a red-leaning swing state.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.Between the lines: Portman was one of the Republican senators who said that former President Trump "bears some responsibility" for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. His decision not to seek re-election will free him from the political constraints of voting to convict Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, though it's not yet clear whether he will choose to do so.What they're saying: "I don’t think any Senate office has been more successful in getting things done, but honestly, it has gotten harder and harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress on substantive policy, and that has contributed to my decision," Portman said in a statement. * “We live in an increasingly polarized country where members of both parties are being pushed further to the right and further to the left, and that means too few people who are actively looking to find common ground." * "This is not a new phenomenon, of course, but a problem that has gotten worse over the past few decades."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said Israel will be closing its international airport to nearly all flights, while Israeli police clashed with ultra-Orthodox protesters in several major cities and the government raced to bring a raging coronavirus outbreak under control. The entry of highly contagious variants of the virus, coupled with poor enforcement of safety rules in ultra-Orthodox communities, has contributed to one of the world's highest rates of infections. It also has threatened to undercut Israel's highly successful campaign to vaccinate its population against the virus.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Sunday he had tested positive for COVID-19 during the country's deadliest week yet in the pandemic. "As always, I am optimistic," said Lopez Obrador, who has resisted wearing a face mask in public since the virus reached Mexico over 10 months ago. Critics have railed incessantly against his management of the health crisis, but despite a mounting toll of nearly 150,000 dead, his popularity has risen, according a daily tracking poll by polling firm Consulta Mitofsky.
- Yahoo News Video
Israeli authorities on Monday extradited a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her former students in Australia, capping a six-year legal battle that had strained relations between the two governments and antagonized Australia's Jewish community.
- The Telegraph
A Texan teenager who tipped off the FBI about his father's alleged involvement in the Capitol riots said he would "do it again", despite claiming his father threatened to shoot him for being a "traitor". Jackson Reffitt, 18, said he felt a moral obligation to report his father to the authorities after watching him participate in the violent riots on live TV. His father, Guy, 48, was arrested at his home in Wylie, Texas on January 16 and faces charges of obstruction of justice and knowingly entering a restricted building. According to court documents, Mr Reffitt had allegedly threatened his wife and children, saying: “If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors … traitors get shot”. The younger Mr Reffitt said he was "afraid" of what his father might think of him, but told local station Fox 4 that he had acted according to his "moral compass".
- The Independent
Biden news: Experts find major ‘gaps’ in Trump pardons as White House scrambles to rollout vaccine plan
Latest developments from Washington DC and beyond
The United States on Monday approved all transactions involving Yemen's Houthi movement for the next month as Washington reviews a Trump administration designation of the Iran-aligned group as a foreign terrorist organization. The move appeared designed to allay fears of companies and banks involved in commercial trade to Yemen, which relies almost solely on imports. The Treasury Department in a Frequently Asked Question specifically stated that foreign banks will not be exposed to sanctions "if they knowingly conduct or facilitate a transaction" for the Houthis.