Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday that all schools in the state should make in-person instruction available at least as an option next month, noting the coronavirus pandemic's steep toll on children and families.
- The Independent
Lawmakers debate gradually raising federal minimum wage to $15 by 2025 as second-largest retailer says raising its wages ‘constitutes a significant competitive advantage’
U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday told Saudi King Salman he would work for bilateral ties "as strong and transparent as possible," the White House said, ahead of the expected release of a sensitive U.S. intelligence report on the 2018 murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The report is a declassified version of a top-secret assessment that sources say singles out the 85-year-old king's son Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for approving the murder of Khashoggi in the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. Saudi Arabia denies that the 35-year-old crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, approved the killing.
- Associated Press
Brazil’s COVID-19 death toll, which surpassed 250,000 on Thursday, is the world’s second-highest for the same reason its second wave has yet to fade: Prevention was never made a priority, experts say. Since the pandemic's start, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro scoffed at the “little flu” and lambasted local leaders for imposing restrictions on activity; he said the economy must keep humming along to prevent worse hardship.
European Union leaders moved closer on Thursday to an agreement on certificates showing that citizens have been vaccinated against COVID-19, a move that could revive international travel and save this summer's holiday season. Halfway through a summit of leaders on the pandemic, officials said "convergence on a harmonised approach" to certificates was emerging. It has reached an agreement with Israel, which has launched a digital "Green Pass", to ease travel for those with proof of vaccination.
- Reuters Videos
A German court sentenced a former member of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad's security services to prison on Wednesday (February 24) for abetting the torture of civilians, in the first verdict for crimes against humanity in the 10-year-old civil war.The higher regional court sentenced Eyad A to 4 and a half years in prison.Saying he had arrested at least 30 anti-government protesters at the start of the conflict in 2011 and sent them to an intelligence facility where he knew detainees were tortured.Wassim Mukdad was a plaintiff and witness in the trial:"This is the first step. The road to justice is long. And one of the goals is to bring Bashar al-Assad and his inner circle before a court. This is a relief, but it's also not the end. It's only the beginning."The Assad government denies it tortures prisoners.But the verdict gives hope to the 800,000 Syrians in Germany who say they were tortured in government facilities.Prosecutors secured the trial under Germany's universal jurisdiction laws, which allow courts to prosecute crimes against humanity committed anywhere in the world.The same court will continue hearings in another case of a former intelligence officer charged with 58 murders in a Damascus prison, where prosecutors say at least 4,000 opposition activists were tortured in 2011 and 2012.
- Reuters Videos
Every morning before their shift at a Kajima construction site, workers check their vital signs.Location: SingaporeAll it takes is a 45-second scan of his face using an app developed by Singapore start-up Nervotec. The app takes note of heart rate,oxygen levels, respiration rate, and even stress levels using Artificial Intelligence-based technology.So how does it work?The Nervotec app uses remote photoplethysmography (rPPG) and AI to capture and analyze the user's vitals.The smartphone camera measures the differences in the reflectivity of light that hit the user's skin, which corresponds to the different pulse rates of the body. Computer vision and predictive analysis AI then monitor the user's face and conclude the readings for their vital signs.Here’s Nervotec Founder Jonathan Lau.(SOUNDBITE) (English) NERVOTEC FOUNDER JONATHAN LAU, SAYING:" What we do, is we use the white light that's now reflecting off my face, we apply smart computer visions techniques to first identify the face, then filter this white light into the channels we're interested in, and then deriving the vital signs from those channels."Kajima has been using Nervotec's app at its work sites in Singapore since December 2020 - to complement daily temperature screenings.It’s part of a government-initiated program which provides companies with technology still in their trial stages to help them adjust to the new norms.Kajima’s senior manager Tan Kee Chuan says the Nervotec app is his company’s "first line of defense" against another health crisis.(SOUNDBITE) (English) SENIOR ENGINEER AT KAJIMA, TAN KEE CHUAN, SAYING: "The application acts as a first line of defense by scanning the workers just by using the handphone. It is very convenient provided that the worker adheres to this scanning on a daily basis. So we do have our own temperature monitoring system installed as a second line of defense, to reject all of the personnel who are deemed unfit for work." Similar apps that utilize smartphone cameras to scan users' vital signs do exist…but Nervotec claims that its technology goes one step further by using the data to offer a "diagnosis" of the user's health condition.Professor Chwee Teck Lim is the director of the National University of Singapore’s Institute of Health Innovation and Technology. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE'S INSTITUTE OF HEALTH INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY, PROFESSOR CHWEE TECK LIM, SAYING: "So what Nervotec is proposing could potentially be a game-changer, they are trying to use the smartphone camera coupled with an AI-driven app, to capture an image of the face then thereafter be able to measure the vital signs. So currently, I think they claim that they can obtain accuracy of down to two beats per minute for heart rate, and also two percentage in terms of oxygen saturation. But it remains to be seen, I think we still have to go through this FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulatory test before we can determine how accurate this technology is."The app is still under review….but Lau said there is significant interest in the technology. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NERVOTEC FOUNDER JONATHAN LAU, SAYING: "We see the most traction coming from healthcare providers, both private and public, more than the authorities, because the ability to use rPPG and to have constant remote patient monitoring without the need for additional manpower or equipment is really a big problem solver for a lot of healthcare providers, globally."
- Associated Press
The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell sharply last week in a sign that layoffs may have eased, though applications for aid remain at a historically high level. Jobless claims declined by 111,000 from the previous week to a seasonally adjusted 730,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The latest figures coincide with a weakened job market that has made scant progress in the past three months.
Mara Wilson details the perils of child stardom and draws a line between her experiences with those of Britney Spears.
- The Daily Beast
Darrin Zammit Lupi via ReutersROME—The confession of a partially blind hitman in the heinous murder of Maltese muckraker journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has kicked off a slew of new arrests in the complicated case.On Tuesday, a Maltese judge accepted the startling guilty plea of Vincent Muscat, 57, who had originally pleaded not guilty along with brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, for setting off the car bomb that killed Galizia on a country road near her home in Malta in October 2017. The brothers, who were also in the courtroom, maintain their not guilty pleas in the case. Muscat’s lawyers say the change in tactics is part of a guilty plea that should see their client out of jail by 2027.Malta Arrests in Daphne Caruana Galizia Murder Still Don’t Solve the CrimeMuscat, who is blind in one eye after being shot at close range in April 2014 in an attempted vendetta murder, was sentenced on Tuesday to 15 years in prison of which he has already served three years. He admitted to all six charges against him: the wilful homicide of Daphne Caruana Galizia, causing an explosion that led to the death of a person, illegal possession of explosives, conspiracy to carry out a crime, promotion of a group intending to carry out criminal acts, and participation in such a group. He was separately awarded a presidential pardon in the 2015 murder of lawyer Carmel Circop, in which he supplied crucial information after confessing to his peripheral involvement in that crime. That pardon does not affect the Galizia sentencing.Just moments after Muscat’s change of heart was read in court by his lawyer, police swooped in on a secret hideout of brothers Adrian and Robert Agius and accomplice Jamie Vella, arresting the trio for allegedly supplying the bomb that killed Galizia. Police say more arrests are expected. On Wednesday, local media in Malta reported that three more arrests were imminent, including those with ties to organized crime in Italy and Malta. Galizia’s many investigative targets revealed on her blog Running Commentary, which still receives thousands of hits a day according to her sons, included the country’s then prime minister Joseph Muscat (no relation to Vincent). His wife was tied to the corrupt Pilatius bank exposed in the Panama Papers. Since her murder, journalists collaborating on Galizia’s original investigations under The Daphne Project have uncovered further connections between the Maltese prime minister’s wife and the bank. Muscat resigned under pressure in 2019 over his associates’ alleged ties to the murder.The former prime minister’s associate, energy tycoon Yorgen Fenech, who secretly owned 17 Black, a company that was a frequent target of Galizia’s journalistic investigations, was arrested on his yacht en route to Italy in December 2019. He is charged with masterminding the murder and denies involvement. Preliminary hearings in his trial are expected to resume on March 18.Fenech’s arrest came after taxi driver Melvin Theuma confessed to being a middleman between Fenech and those accused of carrying out the killing. Vincent Muscat’s plea bargain reportedly includes testimony that corroborates the taxi driver‘s claims. Fenech has secured a presidential pardon and full protection in exchange for his testimony. The Daphne Project reporting consortium has learned that Galizia received a cache of thousands of emails and documents tied to a company owned by Fenech. Investigators believe that she may have been killed before she could expose the contents of the documents.The family of Galizia, who believe she was murdered for getting too close to the crimes of Malta’s political elite, issued a cautious statement after Muscat’s plea. “This development will begin the road for total justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia,” they said, adding that her assassination “destroyed her right to life and removed her right to enjoy her family and grandchildren who were born after her murder.”The lawyer for the Galizia family read the statement in court. “The macabre murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia was intentional and could have been avoided. The victim paid with her life and her family are paying for the loss of their loved one,” he said. “I said all this today because if Daphne's family had to respond to the plea bargain based on their emotions, their response would be obvious.”Maltese blogger Manuel Delia, who has written a book on the case, warns that Vincent Muscat’s confession does not solve the case. “Muscat is at the very bottom in the brutal pecking order of this mafia. He is not even a button man. He is a gofer that has seen things and remembered some of them and at a time when he came to face a possible life sentence he has used what he has seen and remembered to negotiate a reduced sentence for himself,” he said Tuesday. “Hearing his confession, his admission of guilt is a small step in the sad, long and so far otherwise fruitless search for justice.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. 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The White House said it was not prepared to withdraw President Joe Biden's pick for budget director, Neera Tanden, whose nomination stalled on Capitol Hill on Wednesday after controversy over tweets that upset lawmakers. Two Senate committees postponed scheduled meetings to consider Tanden's nomination, a clear sign she was struggling to get the votes to be approved and could thus become the first high-profile Biden nominee to be rejected. But Biden, a Democrat, still supports Tanden, an Indian American who would be the first woman of color to lead the agency.
- Reuters Videos
This week has seen huge rallies and a general strike to denounce the Feb 1. coup and demand the release of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, despite a warning from authorities that confrontation could get people killed.Protesters also held a banner which calls for Indonesia to not support dictatorship.Indonesia has taken the lead in efforts steer a path out of the crisis with the help of fellow ASEAN members but its plans appeared to falter earlier on Wednesday with the scrapping of a proposed trip to Myanmar by its foreign minister.The army seized power after alleging fraud in the November elections, detaining Suu Kyi and much of the party leadership. The electoral commission dismissed the fraud complaints.
- USA TODAY
"In many ways," the coming vote showed how Congress was "catching up to the rest of the country" on LGBTQ rights, Rep. David Cicilline said.
- Business Insider
While President Biden visits storm-torn Texas, Sen. Ted Cruz will be giving a speech on 'cancel culture' in Florida
The president will tour the state with Gov. Greg Abbott.
Billie Eilish's documentary gives an intimate look at her secret relationship with rapper 7: AMP - and why she decided to end it
They began dating in late 2018, when Eilish was 16. The film chronicles her frustration with his "lack of effort" and "self-destructive" behavior.
- USA TODAY
A pilot at American Airlines radioed Sunday that an unidentified object flew over their jet during a flight while they were over New Mexico.
How a woman lives in a 500-square-foot apartment with 2 roommates, a dog, 100 houseplants - and zero clutter
Maximalist Bruna Mello lives in a sunny, vibrant tiny apartment in South London, and she doesn't let the small space keep her from collecting things.
- Business Insider
Coinbase says the entire crypto market could be destabilized if Bitcoin's anonymous creator is ever revealed or sells their $30 billion stake
Satoshi Nakamoto owns about 5% of the bitcoin market. If their 1.1 million cache was transferred, bitcoin prices could plummet, Coinbase said.
- Business Insider
The Department of Defense said the strikes were carried out at the president's direction following attacks on the US military in Iraq.
The diplomats had no choice as Pyongyang has banned trains from leaving as part of Covid measures.
- The Week
In the race to get former President Donald Trump's tax records, New York prosecutors have won. While it was more of a marathon than a sprint, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office confirmed Thursday that it had received Trump's tax records a year and a half after first requesting them. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance and his team will now be able to dig through what sources tell CNN are "millions of pages" of documents spanning January 2011 to August 2019. Vance got the documents, which include financial statements and engagement agreements, from Trump's accounting firm Mazars USA. The transfer happened within an hour of the Supreme Court ordering that Mazars hand over the documents on Monday, Vance's spokesperson told reporters. Forensic accountants and analysts are now prepared to root through the records to find potential fraud or wrongdoing by the former president. But because the records were handed over as part of a grand jury investigation, they're unlikely to ever be made public. Democrats in the House had meanwhile been trying to access Trump's tax returns from the time they gained a majority two years ago. Courts had ruled both for and against the Democrats' subpoenas, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ultimately decided in December not to rule in the case, essentially letting Trump run out the clock. It's unclear if Congress will try to pursue Trump's records again now that he's out of the White House. More stories from theweek.comDemocrats should take the Romney-Cotton proposal seriouslyThe MyPillow guy might be Trump's ultimate chumpThe GOP's apathy for governing is being exposed