There were nine people inside when the fire started
- The Independent
‘Sad and an utter scam’: Republican congressman accuses Trump of temper tantrums and conspiracy theories
‘They will raise money and gain followers by blaming everyone else,’ says Adam Kinzinger
- The Telegraph
A reward of more than a quarter of a million dollars has been offered to anyone who helps find the person behind the mysterious Christmas Day bombing in Nashville, Tennessee. Local businessmen and celebrities made the offer after three people were injured and at least 41 buildings damaged when an RV exploded in the city’s downtown around 6.40am on Friday. Marcus Lemonis, a businessman and TV host, offered $250,000 “to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and conviction”, adding: “We can't have our streets terrorised like this.” Others who then added to the cash pot include a local tourism body, Fox Sports host Clay Travis and a shop located near the explosion. The motive for the attack remains unclear. Federal agents investigating the explosion were searching a suburban house in Nashville on Saturday. Officials were also trying to identify apparent human remains found near the exploded vehicle. According to CNN, investigators believe that the blast may have been the result of a suicide bombing. The RV sent out a recorded message urging the area to be evacuated and saying it would explode in 15 minutes.
George Blake, who died in Russia on Saturday at the age of 98, was the last in a line of British spies whose secret work for the Soviet Union humiliated the intelligence establishment when it was discovered at the height of the Cold War. Britain says he exposed the identities of hundreds of Western agents across Eastern Europe in the 1950s, some of whom were executed as a result of his treason. His case was among the most notorious of the Cold War, alongside those of a separate ring of British double agents known as the Cambridge Five.
- The Week
China is on course to overtake the United States as the world's biggest economy by 2028, the Center for Economics and Business Research predicted in a report released Saturday. The two countries have long been expected to swap places, but CEBR anticipates the pace has accelerated thanks to China recovering more quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.A year ago, the CEBR pegged 2033 as the transition year, but China's economy is expected to grow by 2 percent in 2020, the lone major global economy to expand, while the U.S. economy is expected to contract by 5 percent. The report also anticipates China will become a "high-income economy" by 2023, though living standards are expected to remain much lower than in the U.S.China is not an outlier in its region when it comes to future economic growth. "Other Asian economies are also shooting up the table," said Douglas McWilliams, the CEBR's deputy chair. "One lesson for western policymakers, who have performed relatively badly during the pandemic, is that they need to pay much more attention to what is happening in Asia rather than simply looking at each other." Read more at The Guardian and Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com Joe Biden's anti-revolution takes shape 7 scathing cartoons about Russia's massive cyberattack Wonder Woman 1984 is shockingly regressive
- The Independent
Trump ‘returns to golf course’ as Republican anger grows over his refusal to sign Covid bill - follow live
Follow the latest updates on President Donald Trump and US politics
- Associated Press
At least seven Pakistani security men were killed when a group of militants attacked a paramilitary checkpoint early Sunday in a province rocked for years by an insurgency, a statement from Pakistan's army said. Officials say gunmen attacked the Frontier Corps post in the district of Harnai in Baluchistan province. Senior police officer Shawli Tareen gave a slightly higher death toll than the army, saying that during the exchange of gunfire early Sunday morning, six paramilitary troops and two private guards were killed.
Hundreds attended the funeral on Sunday of a woman and her son shot dead by an off-duty policeman in the Philippines, a week after a video of the incident went viral on social media, sparking public outrage over police brutality. Members of the public joined as relatives and friends in Tarlac province, north of Manila, paid their final respects to Sonya Gregorio, 52, and her 25-year old son Frank Gregorio, who were shot in the head after a row over noise. The shooting, which was recorded on a mobile phone by a member of the Gregorio family, triggered accusations from critics and human rights activists that President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs had created a culture of police impunity.
- The Conversation
Authorities in Hong Kong may have hoped to start 2020 by putting a turbulent period of sustained, often violent protests behind them. Instead hundreds of thousands of protesters ushered in the new year by taking to the streets. Around 400 were arrested as protesters continued their push for political reform on the densely populated island.The clash between the government and demonstrators is now seven months long and has served to further erode Hong Kongers’ trust in China’s commitment to the “one country, two systems” formula. Under that principle, the region was granted a degree of autonomy over its own matters in 1997. But a perception that Beijing is increasingly imposing its authority has led not only to a more militant protest movement, but one that is eyeing separation from the mainland.As a political scientist who has closely followed political developments in Hong Kong over the last decade, I have watched trust in Beijing ebb away during the sustained unrest.If China wants to correct this course and convince Hong Kongers that their best hope lies in autonomy rather than independence, then I believe it must permit genuine democracy in the region. Cycle of unrestThe people of Hong Kong have not had much of a say in their own destiny. Not only did they lack political power as a colony of the British, but they also weren’t consulted in the drafting of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration that set the terms for the 1997 handover of the territory from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. Nevertheless, that agreement offered an implicit bargain to Hong Kongers: They would submit to Beijing’s sovereignty in return for the promise of a “high degree of autonomy” on the basis of “one country, two systems.”Over the past two decades, major outbreaks of unrest in Hong Kong have followed attempts by Beijing to impose unwanted measures that violate this bargain. Large-scale protests beat back Beijing-directed legislative proposals dealing with sedition in 2003, national education in 2012 and extradition last year. The Umbrella Movement protests of 2014 succeeded in stymieing Beijing’s proposed revisions to Hong Kong’s system for selecting its chief executive, but protesters’ demands for universal suffrage and an open nomination process were rejected.Many Hong Kongers consider this interference a violation of the promised autonomy built into the terms of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution. This interference reinforces fears that the city will lose its autonomy entirely after 2047, the end point of commitments made under the Joint Declaration.With only limited and inadequate democratic mechanisms at their disposal, Hong Kongers have developed a vibrant and increasingly militant protest culture as a primary means for exercising political influence. Autonomy or independence?Efforts to steer Hong Kong toward greater integration with the mainland have backfired, undermining trust in Beijing’s promise of a “high degree of autonomy.” The result is an ongoing cycle of radicalization. The focal point for many protesters has moved away from any one particular issue to focus on the fundamental status of Hong Kong’s relationship to China. Growing numbers of people are questioning why they should keep their side of the bargain – accepting Beijing’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. According to a recent Reuters poll, 17% of Hong Kongers express outright support for independence from China, while another 20% express dissatisfaction with the “one country, two systems” model. Moreover, 59% of respondents said they supported the recent protests and over one-third had themselves attended a protest.According to a separate survey, support for eventual independence among young people approaches 40%. Many young people have also come to reject any “Chinese” identity in favor of a “Hong Kong” identity.The depth of discontent among Hong Kongers was reflected in the District Council elections held on Nov. 24. These low-level posts have traditionally been dominated by pro-Beijing political parties. The recent elections, however, brought a record turnout with pro-democratic parties winning close to 90% of contested positions. Beijing’s miscalculationTo blunt the growth of separatist sentiment in Hong Kong, Beijing must tackle what social scientists call a “commitment problem.” In any negotiation, each side will cooperate only if they believe that the other side is both willing and able to carry out any commitments made as part of the bargain. If either side believes the other side’s commitments lack credibility, then cooperation fails. What China needs to do now is show that it is committed to respecting the autonomy promises embodied in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law.I believe the best way to do that is for Beijing to stop manipulating governance of the city. As long as selection of the chief executive and a majority of the Legislative Council lies in Beijing’s hands, it will be difficult for the mainland to resist meddling in Hong Kong’s affairs and for Hong Kongers to feel that autonomy offers them any real say over their fate.In other words, Beijing could undercut calls for independence and interrupt the cycle of mass protests by offering Hong Kongers the ability to select their leaders through free and fair elections.Beijing badly miscalculated in 2014 when it proposed electoral reforms that fell far short of the demands of Hong Kong’s pan-democratic camp, a coalition of parties that advocate universal suffrage. As a consequence, older, mainstream leaders lost control of the protest movement to younger, more militant activists. By 2019, young radicals resorted to violent street actions coupled with harsh anti-Beijing rhetoric. Yet a move toward democracy could still calm the waters provided the process allowed for genuine and effective local participation.This proposal may be far-fetched. Indeed, some accounts suggest that leaders in Beijing are laying plans to move in the opposite direction by taking more direct control over Hong Kong’s political and legal institutions. Moreover, Beijing worries that full democracy in Hong Kong might lead to demands for the same elsewhere in China.If a democratic solution to China’s Hong Kong problem appears unattractive to Beijing, the alternatives may be worse. The current cycle of provocation, protest, radicalization and rising separatism can lead to only one eventual result: a violent crackdown that would damage China’s reputation and leave it in costly occupation of a sullen and defiant population for a generation or more.[Deep knowledge, daily. Sign up for The Conversation’s newsletter.]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Read more: * As Digital Earth gains momentum, China is setting the pace * Unrest in Latin America makes authoritarianism look more appealing to some * Decade of dissent: how protest is shaking the UK and why it’s likely to continueDavid Skidmore does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
- The Guardian
After four years of slavishly promoting the president and White House, rightwing media will turn an abrupt about-faceWhen Joe Biden is sworn in as president on 20 January, cable news viewers may witness one of the most dramatic 180-degree turns in history.After four years of slavishly promoting the president, Fox News is expected to pump on the brakes within seconds of the inauguration ceremony.All of a sudden, the person in the White House is not a Republican. More than that, the network can no longer rely on the willingness of the president or his aides to call into Fox News any time of the day or night.The rightwing TV channel, and its big name hosts Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity, will spend the next four years as the party of the opposition. The network has done this before, of course – the eight years of Barack Obama’s presidency weren’t that long ago – but Biden presents a different challenge.“Of course we can expect it to be relentlessly negative, but it’s a challenge on some levels, because he’s a 78-year-old white man, fairly moderate history,” said Heather Hendershot, a professor of film and media at MIT who studies conservative and rightwing media.“In the past they attacked Hillary Clinton very hard not only because she was liberal, but obviously there was some underlying sexism and misogyny there – and obviously the fact that Barack Obama was African American was central to rightwing attacks on him, either implicitly or explicitly, including on Fox News.”That’s not to say Biden’s government will escape attack, even if he dodges the worst.Kamala Harris will be the first Black vice-president, and could become a target for Fox News’ hosts. If Democrats win the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, the Senate will be split 50-50, and Harris will cast the deciding vote.“[If that happens] she’s going to be out there front and center as a tie-breaker in Congress over and over again,” Hendershot said.“And every time that happens that is a way to tangentially attack Biden – it gives [Fox News and other rightwing outlets] a kind of ‘red meat’ to attack Kamala Harris, because she is both a woman and a person of color.”Biden claims he has nominated “the most diverse cabinet anyone in American history has ever announced”, with Janet Yellen set to be the first woman to be secretary of the Treasury, while Lloyd Austin, if confirmed, poised to become the first Black defence secretary.Pete Buttigieg, an occasional Fox News guest, is set to be the first openly gay cabinet secretary as head of transport.Fox News has already been attacking another diverse set of Democrats: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and other female, non-white members of Congress.Matthew Gertz, senior fellow at Media Matters for America, a media watchdog, said that’s a theme that has continued to dominate, even since Biden became the president-elect.“A lot of what we’re seeing right now is less of a focus on Joe Biden himself and more of this idea that he will somehow be a puppet for other figures that they find easier to attack – whether that is Kamala Harris, or Bernie Sanders, or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” Gertz said.“That is an angle they pursued quite a bit during the campaign, and it’s something they’ve focused on during the transition as well.”Fox News has been credited with helping to fuel the growth of the Tea Party movement in 2010, which was the initial vehicle for fringe rightwingers to gain greater influence in the Republican party.The attack of the US consulate in Benghazi in 2012 became a long-running story on Fox News, even as the administration was cleared – by a Republican-controlled House committee – of any wrongdoing.“We’ve seen to some extent how this will play out. Looking back at 2009, 2010, the early years of the Obama administration featured a lot of incredibly overheated and conspiracy-minded Fox News commentary. I think that is likely to be an area that they are happy to return to,” Gertz said.“It will likely be a source for the scandalmongering that we saw during the Obama administration – basically a return to Benghazi coverage, where the network takes a news event and spends months and months and years and years poring over it, and telling their audience that the Democratic administration is the source of horrific actions.”Obviously, a switch from supporting one president to opposing the next is not unprecedented.The more liberal cable news networks will have experienced something similar when Trump was elected in 2016 – although CNN and MSNBC were never the same quasi-propaganda outfits for Obama as Fox News has been for Trump.Still, the more liberal news organizations experienced a spike in popularity, and a boost to viewing figures, after Trump won.MSNBC and CNN saw double-digit growth in viewing figures after Trump won, while the Atlantic, the New Yorker and ProPublica all saw a boost in readers. Fox News declined to comment, but a spokeswoman pointed to Nielsen ratings showing the network is consistently the most-watched cable news channel.Hendershot said Fox News could see a similar benefit to its more left-leaning rivals once it is in opposition to the White House.“Politicized media, whether magazines or opinion, smaller ones like the [left-leaning] Nation or the [conservative] National Review, or larger ones like Fox News, they tend to financially prosper the more oppositional they are,” Hendershot said.“They will have to increase their oppositionality, by virtue of the fact that Biden is president – and at the same time they can have their cake and eat it too, in that they don’t lose Trump as a story because he will continue to promote himself, inaccurately, as the real president in exile.”“So they may do very well financially and politically, because they can not only attack Biden, they can swing very hard at Kamala Harris, and they can also keep working the Trump story, trying to satisfy that base, because Trump isn’t going to go away.”
- Associated Press
More than 300 Syrian refugees were forced to flee an informal camp in northern Lebanon as a blaze raged through and burnt tents to the ground, U.N. and Lebanese officials said Sunday. The fire late Saturday raged for four hours as firefighters tried to put it out, the Lebanese civil defense said. The fire ensued following a fight between a Lebanese family and Syrians living in the camp in the al-Miniyeh district in the country’s north, according to Lebanese media reports.
A doctor in Boston with a shellfish allergy developed a severe allergic reaction after receiving Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing the doctor. Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, a geriatric oncology fellow at Boston Medical Center, said he had a severe reaction almost immediately after being vaccinated, feeling dizzy and with a racing heart, the NYT reported. It is the first severe reaction publicly linked to Moderna's vaccine, which is in its first week of a nationwide rollout.
The Islamist group also burnt down the church in the Christian village in northeast Nigeria.
- Reuters Videos
A U.S. federal judge has further delayed the execution of the only woman on federal death row. The judge said the Justice Department broke the law when it rescheduled convicted murderer Lisa Montgomery’s execution date to January 12th. Montgomery was convicted in 2007 of kidnapping and strangling a pregnant woman to death in Missouri. Montgomery’s lawyers say their client has long suffered from severe mental illness and was the victim of sexual assault. In November, the federal judge gave her lawyers until Dec. 24 to file the clemency request and granted Montgomery a stay of execution until Dec. 31. Then, the Bureau of Prisons announced it was rescheduling her execution to Jan. 12, 2021. But the judge on Thursday sided with Montgomery's lawyers, who argued that federal regulations bar the Bureau from rescheduling an execution during a stay period. Montgomery’s execution could now be pushed back until after President-elect Joe Biden - who opposes the death penalty - takes office.
- The Telegraph
One of Donald Trump’s most prominent allies in the US Senate has thrown his support behind the US president’s demand for $2,000 stimulus cheques as a new government shutdown looms amid the funding stand-off. Lindsey Graham, who played golf with Mr Trump on Christmas Day, took to Twitter to endorse the president’s call for an increase from the $600 cheques agreed in a major new funding bill passed by Congress. Mr Trump has refused to sign into the law the piece of legislation, which seeks to help those worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, insisting the direct payments to Americans should be raised. The president’s initial decision not to sign the bill, which was flown down to the Florida golf resort Mar-a-Lago where he is spending Christmas, creates a number of knock-on problems that are yet to be resolved. For one, millions of Americans who have been receiving higher than normal unemployment benefits from the initial rounds of Covid stimulus laws will see their payments disrupted and potentially ended as they time out.
- Associated Press
Park rangers have cited dozens of people who have gathered at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness an ongoing eruption of the Kilauea volcano. The rangers said those cited had ventured into dangerous areas to take photos and videos of the volcano eruption that had created a lake of lava in its crater that was 554 feet (169 meters) deep on Thursday. “All it takes is a slight change in wind direction and these offenders could inhale a fatal dose of volcanic gas," said Chief Ranger Jack Corrao.
- The Conversation
The Abstract features interesting research and the people behind it.* * *David Allen is an assistant professor in biology at Middlebury College who studies the ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens.What question are you trying to answer with your work?David Allen: I want to understand what drives blacklegged, or deer, ticks’ abundance and infection rate with the Lyme disease bacteria. We broadly understand what is necessary for the tick to live in an area, but have a harder time explaining why there are such tremendous differences in tick abundance in certain locations and during certain years.Exactly how do you measure tick abundance?Allen: We measure it by what is called “drag cloth sampling.” We drag a 1 meter by 1 meter white cloth along the forest floor. Ticks that are searching for a host, which we call questing, will attach to the cloth as it passes over them. At each of our plots we drag the cloth along the forest floor for 200 meters and check it every 10 meters. This is the standard way to measure tick abundance.What spurred you to study ticks?Allen: I grew up in Vermont in the 1980s and 1990s. During that time I do not remember ever seeing a blacklegged tick or knowing anyone with Lyme disease. When I returned to the state in 2012 to teach at Middlebury College, I would get lots of ticks when hiking. My research was spurred by this rapid and dramatic change in the tick population here.Why is your work important to the public?Allen: The incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. If scientists in general could better predict where ticks are the most abundant, we could target tick control strategies or at least create prevention messaging to people in those areas, and then hopefully start to decrease the rate of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. What’s important about ticks that most people don’t know?Allen: Ticks have three life stages: larva, nymph and adult. The second two life stages can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. When most people think about ticks they picture the adult life stage. For the blacklegged tick this is about the size of a sesame seed. I think that most people don’t have a good picture of what a nymphal tick looks like and how small it is. Nymphs are responsible for most transmission of Lyme disease to people, because they are so hard to see when they are feeding on you. What has been the most surprising finding of your work?Allen: I am surprised by how much tick abundance can vary across locations or years. We have found that in two sites, just three miles away from each other, one can have 20 times more ticks than the other. And then going from one year to the next, the same location can increase or decrease in abundance by four times. What do you hope to study further?Allen: We just started to study the small mammal community. Blacklegged ticks take a single blood meal at each life stage. During the larval and nymphal life stages, these blood meals are typically from small mammals, like mice or chipmunks. It is from these animals that the ticks acquire the Lyme disease bacteria. My students and I have just started tracking the populations of these small mammals to better understand how they contribute to tick abundance and infection. Any stories from the field?Allen: We bait the small mammal traps with a mixture of oats and peanut butter. It turns out that bears find this just as tasty as the mice do. One time after setting out 100 traps, we returned the next morning to find them all thrown about. Some were dented or even pierced through with bear claw markings.[ Thanks for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories every day in an informative email. Sign up today. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Read more: * How to grow human mini-livers in the lab to help solve liver disease * No, Lyme disease is not an escaped military bioweapon, despite what conspiracy theorists say * The US has a history of testing biological weapons on the public – were infected ticks used too?David Allen is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103449. The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIGMS or NIH.
ParCare Community Health Network "may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public - contrary to the state's plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers," state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a statement. "We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in criminal investigation into this matter," he added.
- The Independent
Human remains found at blast site of bomb-rigged vehicle playing message that it was about to explode
Police believe the act was intentional
- NBC News
The decades-old measure, named after an Illinois GOP lawmaker, limits the use of federal funds.
- Associated Press
BIHAC, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) — Hundreds of migrants were stranded Saturday in a squalid, burnt-out tent camp in Bosnia as heavy snow fell in the country and winter temperatures suddenly dropped. Migrants at the Lipa camp in northwest Bosnia wrapped themselves in blankets and sleeping bags to protect against the biting winds in the region, which borders European Union member Croatia. A fire earlier this week destroyed much of the camp near the town of Bihac that already was harshly criticized by international officials and aid groups as being inadequate for housing refugees and migrants.