The bizarre and freakishly large tortoises of the Galapagos Islands wander freely throughout the brush and forest on Santa Cruz Island and some of the other nearby islands. They are a strange sight, resembling massive army helmets that move slowly and deliberately in their constant quest for grass and other vegetation. They are a common enough sight that when a few of them arrived to graze in a field where a horse and her foal were also grazing, the horses were unconcerned. Happily, the horses munched away within a few feet of the ancient beasts. And the tortoises, that may be as old as 200 years, were also unconcerned with the presence of the other animals. It is an amusing sight to see such vastly different creatures feeding so casually beside each other. The Galapagos Islands are beautiful and fascinating beyond description. Formed due to volcanic eruptions beneath the ocean floor, they are relatively new in the Earth's history. Isolated and remote, they were initially lifeless and barren. But this all changed as plants and animals found their way to the islands and made them their home. Because the islands are so remote, the evolution of the species here has been unaffected by species from other corners of the Earth. The adaptations that were required for survival in this harsh climate have been amplified over time. One of the best examples of this type of adaptation is the giant Galapagos tortoise. Descended from the giant tortoises of Africa, it is believed that they first found their way to the Galapagos Islands on rafts of floating vegetation. These trips would require many months and few species would survive such a journey, but the giant tortoises are able to live up to one year without food or fresh water. Once here, the tortoises found that there was plenty of food during the wet season and a shortage during the dry season. This required them to reach higher with their long necks to find higher foliage that had not been eaten by smaller animals. Survival now depended upon vertical reach and those with larger indentations in their shells could extend their necks farther toward the food. Breeding success came for those tortoises that were better fed, stronger, larger, and the ones that lived longer. And so the cycle continued, forming the chain of events that we now know as "evolution" thanks to Charles Darwin, who was influenced greatly by the animals of the Galapagos Islands. Charles Darwin made his historic visit to these islands aboard the HMS Beagle in the 1830s. It is very possible that these same tortoises were alive when he set foot on their home.
- The Independent
Nancy Pelosi called pro-Trump rioters ‘Putin puppets’ and the Capitol siege a ‘gift’ to the Russian president
A boy who was killed in an alleged murder-suicide by his father has been identified as 9-year-old Pierce O’Loughlin. Family tragedy: The boy and his father, Stephen O'Loughlin, 49, were both found dead at their home on Scott Street, Marina District in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon, SF Chronicle reports. The boy’s mother, Lesley Hu, asked authorities to check on her son after learning that he did not show up for school that day.
- Associated Press
A court in Thailand on Tuesday sentenced a former civil servant to a record prison term of 43 years and six months for breaching the country's strict law on insulting or defaming the monarchy, lawyers said. The Bangkok Criminal Court found the woman guilty on 29 counts of violating the country’s lese majeste law for posting audio clips to Facebook and YouTube with comments deemed critical of the monarchy, the group Thai Lawyers for Human Rights said. “Today’s court verdict is shocking and sends a spine-chilling signal that not only criticisms of the monarchy won’t be tolerated, but they will also be severely punished,” said Sunai Phasuk, a senior researcher for the group Human Rights Watch.
- The Week
Feds arrest Capitol rioter who allegedly broke into Pelosi's office, stole laptop, wanted to sell it to Russia
A woman who participated in the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol surrendered to authorities in Pennsylvania on Monday night, the Justice Department said. Riley Williams, 22, was charged with illegally entering the Capitol, violent entry, and disorderly conduct, but the FBI said it is also investigating a tip from the suspect's former "romantic partner" that Williams broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during the siege, stole a laptop, and "intended to send the computer device to a friend in Russia, who then planned to sell the device to SVR, Russia's foreign intelligence service."The transfer of the laptop to Russian intelligence "fell through for unknown reasons," the former partner, identified only as Witness 1, told the FBI, "and Williams still has the computer device or destroyed it." Williams was captured on video urging fellow rioters to go upstairs in the Capitol, toward Pelosi's office, the FBI said. Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, confirmed after the siege that "a laptop from a conference room was stolen," but said "it was a laptop that was only used for presentations."Williams lived with her mother, who identified her as the woman in an ITV video of the Capitol raid, the FBI said. The mother also told authorities that her daughter had taken a sudden interest in President Trump's politics and "far-right message boards." Williams had traveled to the pre-riot protest with her father, but he said they were separated before the Capitol siege, the FBI said, and after they returned to Pennsylvania, Williams deleted her social media accounts, changed her phone number, and fled.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Anthony Scaramucci says even he got an invite to Trump's D.C. sendoff Melania Trump released a farewell video. So did Colbert's Late Show Melania Trump.
U.S. officials who have engaged in "nasty behaviour" over Chinese-claimed Taiwan will face sanctions, China's Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after Washington lifted curbs on exchanges between U.S. and Taiwanese officials. Sino-U.S. ties have worsened as China has already condemned this month's easing, announced by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the waning days of President Donald Trump's presidency. Further adding to China's anger, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft, spoke last week to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, after a planned trip to Taipei was called off.
- The Independent
‘If you turn me in, you’re a traitor and you know what happens to traitors...traitors get shot,' he told his children
- Yahoo News Video
The spokesman for Republican U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert has quit less than two weeks after she was sworn into office, saying he felt like he need to due to the insurrection at the nation's Capitol.
- Associated Press
Guatemalan police and soldiers launched tear gas and wielded batons and shields against a group of Honduran migrants that tried to push through their roadblock early Sunday. A group of about 2,000 migrants had stopped short of the roadblock the night before.
World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday the world is "on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure" because of unequal COVID-19 vaccine distribution.Why it matters: Tedros noted during an executive session that 39 million vaccine doses had been administered in 49 higher-income countries, while one lowest-income nation had "just 25 doses." Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * This "me-first" approach will ultimately "prolong the pandemic, the restrictions needed to contain it, and human and economic suffering," he added.Of note: The WHO itself faced criticism in an interim report on Monday for being slow to respond to the outbreak after it was first detected in late 2019 in China, which was also singled out for failings early on. * "The global pandemic alert system is not fit for purpose," said the preliminary report by the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, an independent panel commissioned by the WHO. * "The WHO has been underpowered to do the job."What they're saying: China's public health measures "could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities" in January, said the report's panel of experts, led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. * The experts noted it was unclear why the WHO did not meet until the third week of January 2020, nor why it was unable to agree to declaring a Public Health Emergency of International Concern until a week later.What to watch: A World Health Organization team of researchers is in Wuhan, China, investigating the origins of the pandemic. * Tedros said his focus is on the roll-out of the global vaccine-sharing scheme COVAX, which is due to begin next month. Over 180 countries have signed up to the WHO-led scheme. * He hopes that by World Health Day on April 7, COVID-19 vaccines "are being administered in every country, as a symbol of hope for overcoming both the pandemic and the inequalities that lie at the root of so many global health challenges."Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden’s second son was a primary target for attacks by Donald Trump during the bitter 2020 presidential campaign. Indeed, it was Trump’s accusations of impropriety on behalf of Hunter Biden that led him to threaten to withhold $391 million (£289 million) in military aid to Ukraine unless they investigated the Biden family’s business dealings. That threat led to the first impeachment of Trump. Born in 1970 to Joe and his first wife Neilia, Hunter’s early life was marred by tragedy. When he was just two years old, he was seriously injured in a car crash that killed his mother and younger sister, Naomi. Family tragedy would strike again in 2015, when his older brother Beau, who served as the Attorney General for the state of Delaware, died of brain cancer aged just 46. Unlike his father and brother, Hunter Biden has attempted to stay away from front-line politics. After graduating from Yale Law School, he joined MBNA Bank, which provided significant contributions to his father’s political campaigns. After a brief stint as a lobbyist, he was appointed by George W Bush to the board of directors of Amtrak, the state-owned railway network company. Live US news updates as Trump leaves office and Biden prepares to be sworn in
Colombia's capital Bogota will impose nightly curfews for almost two weeks, Mayor Claudia Lopez said on Monday, while the whole city will enter yet another full quarantine this weekend. Additionally, from 8 p.m. this Friday Bogota will enter a general quarantine with total restriction on movement in the city until Monday, Jan. 25 at 4 a.m, she added. "The risk is that they end up infecting their parents, or grandparents, or the parents and grandparents of others," she said.
- NBC News
Court documents recounted the man's telling his children that he would consider them "traitors" if they contacted authorities.
- Associated Press
Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has authorized the dispatch of oxygen to Brazil to help its South American neighbor treat people sickened amid another wave of the coronavirus, despite frosty relations between the two governments and Venezuela's own lack of hospital supplies. Maduro approved departure for a convoy of six tanker trucks loaded with oxygen in a national broadcast Sunday on state TV. It's destined for the city of Manaus in the northern state of Amazonas.
- The Telegraph
Joe Biden aims to hit the ground running with a blizzard of executive orders on his first day in office. Mr Biden plans to rejoin the Paris climate accord, end Donald Trump’s travel ban on several predominantly Muslim countries and order masks to be worn in federal buildings. The orders will represent the opening salvo of a flurry of activity over the first 10 days of the Biden administration, aimed at rolling back many of the policies introduced by Donald Trump. Mr Biden intends to introduce legislation for a $1.9 trillion relief package and immigration reform. His ambitious programme was outlined in a memorandum circulated on Saturday by Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff. "During the campaign, President-elect Biden pledged to take immediate action to start addressing these crises and build back better," Mr Klain wrote. "As president, he will keep those promises and sign dozens of executive orders, presidential memoranda, and directives to Cabinet agencies in fulfilment of the promises he made." The 78-year-old incoming president will assume office with the country reeling from the coronavirus pandemic which has already claimed more than 395,000 lives and devastated the economy with 7.3 million people looking for work. A wave of lockdowns as the pandemic surged in recent months has seen millions more struggling as their working hours have been cut.
Analysts said the short-lived impact of Lee's detention on share prices is similar to what happened the first time Lee was imprisoned in 2017, despite what may be more reactivity to news and rumours because of increased retail investor participation in the stock market. But corporate governance experts fear Lee's pledge to make compliance a top priority may lose steam, especially because it is no longer a part of his case for leniency. Lee entered a detention centre on Monday after the Seoul High Court sentenced him to prison for bribing an associate of former President Park Geun-hye and other charges.
The death toll has now risen to 78 following the powerful tremor on Sulawesi island on Friday.
- Associated Press
Snow lies knee-deep in the pastoral town of Gulmarg, or “meadow of flowers,” on Indian-controlled Kashmir's high plateau. With its blanket of white, the idyllic hill station is seeing tourists again fill its hotels and ski, sledge and trek its Himalayan landscape. The heavy influx of tourists is a dramatic change for the tourism industry in disputed Kashmir, which faced the double whammy of the coronavirus pandemic and harsh curbs on civil rights India imposed in the region in August 2019.
During an interview, he recalls his colleague ‘taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th.’ Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) revealed he witnessed Congresswoman Lauren Boebert leading a group through the Capitol building in the days before the riot. “We saw Congressman Boebert taking a group of people for a tour sometime after the 3rd and before the 6th,” Cohen remarked on CNN.
U.S. President-elect Joe Biden will wait for a recommendation from his intelligence advisers on whether to share classified information with President Donald Trump after the Republican leaves office, Biden's top aide said on Sunday. Ron Klain, the incoming White House chief of staff, made the comment after former principal deputy director of national intelligence, Sue Gordon, wrote an op-ed arguing against sharing such information with Trump once he has left the presidency.
- The Telegraph
Pfizer vaccine recipients are unlikely to transmit the virus to others, according to the author of an Israeli study. Participants in the survey developed up to 20 times more antibodies within a week of receiving the second dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The survey, which reviewed data from 102 of about 1,000 of the Sheba Medical Centre’s medical staff who have received both shots, showed that only two subjects have developed low amounts of antibodies - one of the subjects suffered from a compromised immune system. There was no explanation for why the second person did not develop antibodies, and the hospital said it was investigating the matter. The rest - 98 per cent - have developed levels of antibodies that were even higher than patients who have recovered from a serious coronavirus-induced condition, the hospital said in a statement released on Monday.