Rome's Fiumicino airport will run COVID-tested flights to and from the United States operated by Delta Air Lines and Alitalia, it said on Thursday, adding it will be the first airport in Europe to offer the service on transatlantic flights. This report produced by Jillian Kitchener.
- Associated Press
President Joe Biden has brought back Dr. Kevin O'Connor as his physician, replacing President Donald Trump's doctor with the one who oversaw his care when he was vice president. The White House confirmed that Dr. Sean Conley, the Navy commander who served as the head of the White House Medical Unit under Trump and oversaw his treatment when he was hospitalized with COVID-19, will assume a teaching role at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. O'Connor, a retired Army colonel, was Biden's doctor during his entire tenure as vice president, having remained in the role at Biden's request.
- 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."
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.
President Joe Biden will continue his flurry of executive orders on Monday, signing a new directive to require the federal government to “buy American” for products and services. Why it matters: The executive action is yet another attempt by Biden to accomplish goals administratively without waiting for the backing of Congress. The new order echoes Biden's $400 billion campaign pledge to increase government purchases of American goods.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.What they're saying: "President Biden is ensuring that when the federal government spends taxpayer dollars they are spent on American made goods by American workers and with American-made component parts," the White House said in a fact sheet.The big picture: Biden’s action kick offs another week in which the president will seek to undo many Trump policies with executive actions, while signaling the direction that he wants to take the country. * Biden will also reaffirm his support for the Jones Act, which requires maritime shipments between American ports to be carried on U.S. vessels. * Last week, Biden signed an order to attempt to raise the minimum wage for federal contractors and workers to $15 an hour.The bottom line: Former President Trump also attempted to force the federal government to rely on U.S. manufacturers for procurement with "buy American" provisions. * But supply chains — with some parts and components made outside of the U.S. — require long and complicated efforts to boost domestic manufacturing. Support safe, smart, sane journalism. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
A federal judge on Sunday blocked the release of a Tennessee man who authorities say carried flexible plastic handcuffs during the riot at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month. U.S. District Judge Beryl A. Howell for the District of Columbia set aside an order by a judge in Tennessee concerning the release of Eric Munchel of Nashville. After testimony at a detention hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Frensley for the Middle District of Tennessee determined Friday that Munchel wasn’t a flight risk and didn’t pose harm to the public.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal by Sheldon Silver, the once-powerful New York State Assembly Speaker, of his conviction on corruption charges that resulted in a 6-1/2-year prison sentence. Silver, 76, began serving his sentence last August despite being in poor health. Two conservative justices, Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas, said they would have taken up Silver's appeal.
- 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.
- 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.
- Business Insider
Barely any time has passed since President Biden's inauguration, and Republicans have already returned to their bag of shenanigans.
California Governor Gavin Newsom's office has decided to lift the orders as ICU availability in the regions that remained under the stay-at-home order, including the Bay area and Southern California are projected to rise above the 15% threshold that triggered the lockdown measures, according https://bit.ly/3sSPOfp to San Francisco Chronicle. California has reported over 3.1 million cases and 36,745 deaths so far, a Reuters tally showed. Strict stay-at-home orders were renewed for much of California in December to avert a crisis in hospitals.
- The Week
Rep. Matt Gaetz's (R-Fla.) attacks on Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) have drawn some sharp pushback from her spokesperson.Gaetz has been slamming Cheney over her vote to impeach former President Donald Trump in the House of Representatives, and he's planning a trip to her home state of Wyoming for an event as he demands she step down as House Republican Conference chair. Now, a spokesperson for Cheney is hitting back. "Rep. Gaetz can leave his beauty bag at home," a spokesperson for Cheney told the Washington Examiner on Sunday. "In Wyoming, the men don't wear make-up." Cheney, the third highest-ranking Republican in the House, voted to impeach Trump earlier this month for incitement of insurrection following a deadly attack on the Capitol by his supporters, saying, "The president of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack." Since then, Politico writes she has been "fighting to keep her political career alive."Before his planned Thursday trip to Wyoming, Gaetz said on Twitter over the weekend that he does "not want her job" and is "unequivocally" not "seeking a position in House Leadership" — but he added, "I also know Wyoming can do better." Cheney has defended her vote and her statement condemning Trump, saying, per the Washington Examiner, "All of us have an obligation to the Constitution and an obligation to do what we believe is right, what our oath compels us to do, that is above politics, above partisanship." In response to the statement from Cheney's spokesperson, Punchbowl News' Jake Sherman wrote that while it might be "easy to rag on people like" Gaetz on background, the "risk is someone on the fence is taken aback by this." More stories from theweek.com Trump must be prosecuted Moderna working on booster shot to increase protection against South African coronavirus variant Josh Hawley knows exactly what he's doing
- The Telegraph
New Zealand's first case of coronavirus in the community for more than two months has been identified as the South African variant and was likely contracted in hotel quarantine, health minister Chris Hipkins said on Monday. The 56-year-old woman, who recently returned from Europe, tested positive on Saturday, 10 days after she completed her compulsory two weeks in isolation. Boris Johnson is under increasing pressure from ministers to toughen border controls to prevent new variants of coronavirus from reaching the UK. And Health Minister Matt Hancock and Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, are currently pushing for all arrivals to the UK to be quarantined in hotels. New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, with just 25 deaths from 1,927 confirmed virus cases in a population of five million. The latest case is New Zealand's first in the community since mid-November and has been classified as a strain said to be more transmissible. "The strain of infection is the South African variant and the source of infection is highly likely to be a fellow returnee," said Mr Hipkins. The woman is thought to have been infected during quarantine by a person on the same floor of the hotel who tested positive two days before the woman left. The 56-year-old travelled around the Northland region near Auckland after her release from quarantine and showed symptoms for several days before being tested. Two people close to her, including her husband, have since returned negative tests and New Zealand's director-general of health Ashley Bloomfield said they likely avoided contracting the illness due to the type of infection. "She didn't talk about respiratory symptoms, it was more muscle aches, so she may not have been sharing or spreading the virus much," he said. "I don't think that's peculiar to this variant, it's just how it was expressed in this woman." The World Health Organisation has said there is no clear evidence the South African variant leads to more severe disease or a higher death rate.
- Associated Press
Four Zimbabwean Cabinet ministers have died of COVID-19, three within the past two weeks, highlighting a resurgence of the disease that is sweeping through this southern African country. President Emmerson Mnangagwa said the coronavirus is reaping a “grim harvest” in the country. Then came the death of the transport minister.
- The Independent
‘Those payments need to be more targeted,’ Sen Susan Collins says
Drugmaker Merck & Co said on Monday it would stop development of its two COVID-19 vaccines and focus pandemic research on treatments, with initial data on an experimental oral antiviral expected by the end of March. Merck was late to join the race to develop a vaccine to protect against the coronavirus, which has so far killed more than 2 million people and continues to surge in many parts of the world including the United States. The company will record a pre-tax discontinuation charge in the fourth quarter for vaccine candidate V591, which it acquired with the purchase of Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience, and V590, developed with nonprofit research organization IAVI, Merck said in a statement.
- 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.
- NBC News
First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
- The Telegraph
Israel will ban passenger flights in and out of the country from Monday for a week as it seeks to stop the spread of new coronavirus variants. "Other than rare exceptions, we are closing the sky hermetically to prevent the entry of the virus variants and also to ensure that we progress quickly with our vaccination campaign," said Benjamin Netanuahu, the Israeli prime minister. It came as a study in Israel reported a 60 per cent drop in over-60s being hospitalised with coronavirus three weeks after being vaccinated, in the latest sign that the jabs are effective. According to Maccabi, an Israeli healthcare provider, there was a significant decrease in hospitalisations from day 23 onwards, which was two days after patients received their second jab. Also on Sunday, Israel expanded its rapid vaccination drive to include 16-18 year-olds in an effort to get them back in schools to take their winter examinations. The winter matriculation certificate is a significant part of university and military admissions. At least one dose has been administered to around a quarter of Israel’s 9 million-strong population. The vaccine is generally available to over 40s or, with parental permission, those aged between 16 and 18. Israel struck a deal with Pfizer at the beginning of January that allowed them to expedite delivery of the vaccine, in return for sharing extensive data on their vaccination campaign with the rest of the world. Yuli Edelstein, the Israeli health minister, told The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday that the data from their vaccination programme suggests a first dose offered around 30 per cent protection from coronavirus.
- Associated Press
Poland’s president on Monday expressed understanding for the “despair” of people who are opening their businesses in defiance of the anti-COVID-19 lockdown, but said they still must be punished for breaking government-ordered restrictions. In comments published Monday, Andrzej Duda was reacting to the swelling nationwide #OtwieraMY (We Are Opening) movement of thousands of business owners opening their restaurants, hotels, ski lifts, fitness centers and similar businesses to avoid going under as a result of the prolonged social distancing and lockdown, recently extended through January. “I can understand the impatience and often even the despair of people, who see the work of their entire lives falling apart," Duda said in an interview for the conservative weekly “Sieci.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday he looked forward to working with U.S. President Joe Biden on their shared goals, including tackling climate change. Johnson used his first phone call with the U.S. president to welcome Biden's announcements that the United States would rejoin the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate and the World Health Organization, and they discussed the prospects of a free trade deal. "Great to speak to President Joe Biden this evening," Johnson said on Twitter.