BEIRUT (Reuters) - Rebels shot down a Syrian government warplane over western Syria on Saturday, rebels and a military source said, although there were conflicting accounts on whether it had been brought down by a missile or anti-aircraft guns. The Syrian military source said militants had targeted a warplane while it was landing in Hama province, bringing it down, and calling the attack a breach of a "cessation of hostilities" agreement. A rebel group operating in the area, Jaish al-Nasr, said it had brought down the jet with anti-aircraft guns. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, however, said a rebel group had brought down the jet with two heat-seeking missiles. Syrian rebels have previously shot down Syrian warplanes with anti-aircraft guns. They have called on their foreign backers including Saudi Arabia to supply them with anti-aircraft missiles to confront Syrian and Russian warplanes. But they say these weapons have so far not been provided, reflecting concerns that they could end up in the hands of groups such as Islamic State. (Reporting by Tom Perry; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
- Associated Press
Police in Thailand said Friday they have charged a U.S. citizen from the state of Colorado with murdering his pregnant Thai wife. Jason Matthew Balzer, 32, was interrogated Friday in the northern city of Nan where he had lived with Pitchaporn Kidchob, said police Lt. Col. Somkiat Ruam-ngern. Balzer was arrested Thursday in the northern city of Chiang Mai and confessed to killing his 32-year-old wife, said Maj. Gen. Weerachon Boontawee, chief of Provincial Police Region 5′s Detective Department.
- The Independent
‘It is ironic that we came to India for two weeks and he contracted it here,’ says Dr Rajendra Kapila’s widow
The government will bring some "vulnerable" Australians home after its travel ban ends next week.
- Business Insider
Melinda Gates was upset and uncomfortable after she and Bill Gates met with Jeffrey Epstein, The Daily Beast reports
Sources told The Daily Beast that Bill Gates' relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein "still haunts" Melinda.
SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australian citizens stranded in COVID-ravaged India will be able to return home from May 15, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as Sydney remains on high alert for a potential outbreak. Morrison stood by his decision to impose a biosecurity order barring flights to and from India, a ban that was backed by potential prosecution and financial penalties. The policy drew heavy criticism from lawmakers, expatriates and the Indian diaspora, but Morrison said it had worked to slow the rate of COVID-19 infections in people quarantined in Australia.
- The Daily Beast
Fox NewsIn what has become a commonplace occurrence these days, Fox News host Tucker Carlson addressed a controversy purely of his own making on Thursday night, this time regarding his dangerous and sloppy suggestion that dozens of Americans a day are dying from the coronavirus vaccines.How did he explain away the highly misleading and disingenuous speculation? Well, by blaming it all on President Joe Biden, of course.Carlson, who has increasingly sought to cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of the highly effective vaccines, took his vaccine skepticism to new heights on Wednesday night when he cited a faulty open-sourced database dubbed a “a breeding ground for misinformation” to suggest that thousands of Americans have died from the shots.“Between late December of 2020 and last month, a total of 3,362 people apparently died after getting the COVID vaccine in the United States,” Carlson exclaimed, citing the Center for Disease Control’s Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System. “That is an average of roughly 30 people every day. So, what does that add up to? By the way, that reporting period ended on April 23, and we don’t have numbers past that.”While acknowledging that there’s been criticism of the VAERS database’s numbers and insisting he believes “vaccines aren’t dangerous,” Carlson still spent 15 minutes speculating that the federally authorized COVID-19 vaccines are leading to an untold number of deaths.“The actual number is almost certainly higher than [30 people every day], perhaps vastly higher than that,” he said at one point.Of course, Carlson never once noted that the CDC itself had analyzed the reports of deaths submitted to VAERS—which is nothing more than open-access data—and offered the following conclusion: “A review of available clinical information, including death certificates, autopsy, and medical records has not established a causal link to COVID-19 vaccines.”Following a 24-hour period in which he was roundly criticized and fact-checked—including from his own Fox colleagues—Carlson issued his rebuttal. And he wanted his critics to know he was “just asking questions.” Oh, and it’s also Biden’s fault.“We looked up the numbers the Biden administration has gathered on vaccine safety. Then last night, we boldly read those numbers on television—the Biden numbers,” Carlson began with a mocking tone.“As we did that, we noted the administration’s reporting system for injuries—it’s called VAERS—has been credibly accused of being inaccurate,” he added. “We also noted that very same system has been used for a long time.”Once again insisting that “more deaths have been connected to the new COVID vaccines over the past four months than all previous vaccines combined” in recent years—again, something the CDC has thoroughly knocked down—Carlson claimed he was just seeking answers.“Very same system, very different results,” he said, adding: “How does this happen? So what is that explanation? We still don’t know. Instead of answering that simple and important question, the usual chorus of partisans started screaming and calling for censorship!”After mocking his critics for telling him the VAERS numbers are untrustworthy, he wanted to know why “hasn’t the Biden administration fixed its reporting system” and “what are the real numbers.”Carlson, meanwhile, ended the segment by flipping the indignation over his reckless speculation back onto his critics, insisting they are actually the ones who are doing harm to the public.“It’s fair to ask how much harm this medicine causes. No one has told us,” he declared. “Their position is, you don’t need to know the rate of injury! That doesn’t matter. Anyone who asks about harm is immoral. That’s what they’re arguing. If you ever find yourself arguing that, you will know for certain you have lost the thread. You are no longer arguing for public health. You’re doing something else entirely.”Carlson, of course, could just read the disclaimers when searching the database to realize that it’s not a typical government data source and the numbers don’t reflect direct causation.“Reports may include incomplete, inaccurate, coincidental and unverified information,” one disclaimer reads, while another warns: “The number of reports alone cannot be interpreted or used to reach conclusions about the existence, severity, frequency, or rates of problems associated with vaccines.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Associated Press
With tourism shattered by the pandemic, critics say yet another cruise ship dock is the last thing that Mexico’s Caribbean island of Cozumel needs. Cozumel already has three such docks, and before the pandemic it ranked as the world’s busiest port of call for cruise ships. Residents said Thursday that makes it all the more inexplicable that yet another dock is planned for an area of sea floor that is home to a coral reef restoration project.
A wave of women streaming in bikinis - the 'hot tub meta' trend - has caused an uproar on Twitch, where critics claim it cheapens the platform.
- Associated Press
The family of one of two Americans, both convicted of a fatal stabbing during a scuffle with an Italian police officer, on Thursday blasted the jury for ordering Italy's harshest punishment of life imprisonment, a sentence frequently meted out to mobsters who assassinate state officials. When trial ended Wednesday night, more than 14 months later, the jury convicted both on all charges and handed down life sentences — a ruling that U.S. lawyer Craig Peters called “a mockery of justice.” Finnegan Lee Elder, now 21, said that he stabbed the 35-year-old Cerciello Rega because he feared he was being strangled as the two scuffled on a Rome street.
- The Independent
‘I’m a vet ... f*** you all!’: Capitol riot suspect screams at judge and disconnects call during wild hearing, report says
Attempts to mute defendant were unsuccessful and he may face competency hearing and detention
- Business Insider
Mitch McConnell's alma mater rejects his views on the 1619 Project and says they are 'quite troubling'
"To imply that slavery is not an important part" of US history "fails to provide a true representation of the facts," a university official said.
- Associated Press
The United States has deployed a dozen additional warplanes to bolster protection of American and coalition troops making a final withdrawal from Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents step up pressure on Afghan government forces, top Pentagon officials said Thursday. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said F-18 attack planes have been added to a previously announced package of air and sea power — including the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower aircraft carrier in the North Arabian Sea and six Air Force B-52 bombers based in Qatar — that can be called upon as protection for withdrawing troops. U.S. officials said before the withdrawal began that they expected the Taliban to attempt to interfere, even as the insurgents continue pressuring government forces, especially in Helmand and Kandahar provinces in southern Afghanistan.
- The State
156 golfers teed off Thursday at Charlotte’s PGA event, competing for a first prize of nearly $1.5 million.
- The Telegraph
Brussels rallied behind France in its dispute with Jersey on Thursday as the fishermen behind a seven-hour blockade of the Channel island threatened to return and begin a fresh "scallop war" with Britain. Wading into the mounting political row, the European Commission accused Jersey of breaching the terms of Brexit trade deal and demanded the UK intervene to stop it "discriminating" against French vessels. It added that under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, signed last year, EU fishermen could not be subject to additional conditions and Jersey should have notified the bloc of any changes in advance. However, the intervention was dismissed by Downing Street, which insisted on Thursday night that the Crown Dependency had the "right to regulate fisheries in their waters", and commanded the full backing of the Government. In a statement, a spokesman said the UK would continue to work with Jersey to facilitate discussions with the commission, although sources pointed out that French ministers had repeatedly refused to engage with George Eustice, the Environment Secretary.
In an email, chief executive Sundar Pichai suggests working three days in the office is the way forward.
- The Week
The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine is extremely effective against two dangerous variants of the coronavirus, the B.1.1.7 strain first found in the United Kingdom and the B.1.351 variant discovered in South Africa, researchers reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet. Moderna also reported Wednesday that, according to early results from its booster shot trial, a third dose of its vaccine given six to eight months after the first two doses boosted antibodies to protect against the South African B.1.351 variant and other worrisome strain found in Brazil. Moderna is testing its original vaccine and a version modified to target the B.1.351 variant. The new variants are more transmissible than the original strain and, some studies suggest, deadlier. The New England Journal of Medicine study examined records of more than 200,000 people from Qatar's COVID-19 database. The Pfizer vaccine was 87 to 89.5 percent effective at preventing infection from the B.1.1.7 variant among people two weeks past their second shot, 72.1 to 75 percent effective against the B.1.351 variant, and 100 percent effective at preventing severe, critical, or fatal cases of either variant, the researchers found. The study in The Lancet was based on more than 230,000 cases from Israel. It found that the Pfizer vaccine was more than 95 percent effective against infection, hospitalization, or death in fully vaccinated people 16 and older, and 94 percent effective in people 85 and older. The vaccine efficacy numbers aren't self-evident, but Brains On!, a science podcast for kids, has a short, entertaining, and pretty effective explanation using defecating seagulls. You can watch that below. More stories from theweek.comThe insurrectionists are winningHouse GOP leader Kevin McCarthy apparently pays $1,500 to live in a 12-bedroom, 16-bath penthouseIn 1 year, Minnesota man turns knack for making ice cream into a new career
- USA TODAY
Rep. Liz Cheney writes in op-ed that GOP is at a 'turning point,' calls out McCarthy comments on Trump
The Wyoming Republican calls out members of her own party for following former President Trump's "cult of personality."
- The Independent
Donald Trump’s election fraud ‘big lie’ winning over GOP but could cost midterms, pollster Frank Luntz warns
Republican insider predicts ex-president will win party nomination ahead of candidates like Tucker Carlson but lose in 2024
The Amazon.com founder will launch people into space on his New Shepard vehicle on 20 July.
DeGeneres shut down speculation that she was living with the "Friends" star because of "marital troubles."