Writer’s most acclaimed project, the 1976 film The Front, was based on his own experience of Hollywood’s anti-communist blacklist
Screenwriter Walter Bernstein, among the last survivors of Hollywood’s anti-communist blacklist, whose Oscar-nominated script for The Front drew upon his years of being unable to work under his own name, has died, aged 101.
HIs wife, the literary agent Gloria Loomis, said he died of pneumonia.
At a doorstop on Sunday, the treasurer said the Morrison’s government intended to become a “world leader” in regulating social media and search companies, who he accused of shifting the goalposts in their opposition to the proposed bargaining code of conduct.
Interior ministry had called for evacuation of coastal areas after a 7.1 quake in Antarctica on Saturday night
Authorities in Chile said they regretted spreading panic with a mistaken tsunami warning calling for people to get out of coastal areas following an earthquake in Antarctica.
The interior ministry said on Twitter that a tremor of magnitude 7.1 struck at 8.36 pm local time, 216 km northeast of the O’Higgins Chilean scientific base, and called for the coastal regions of Antarctica to be evacuated because of a tsunami risk.
Minister under fire for ‘shameful’ virus spread as staff told to work on with more than 500 cases at agency in Swansea
Ministers are at the centre of an explosive row over their failure to protect workers from Covid-19 as the Observer reveals the largest workplace outbreak of the virus has taken place at a top government organisation.
More than 500 cases have been recorded at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency’s offices in Swansea, where employees claim people with symptoms were encouraged to return to work while vulnerable workers have had requests to work from home turned down.
Eight bombers and four fighter jets warned off as missiles deployed to monitor incursion
Eight Chinese bomber planes and four fighter jets entered the south-western corner of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone on Saturday, and Taiwan’s air force deployed missiles to “monitor” the incursion, the island’s Defence Ministry said.
China, which claims Taiwan as its own territory, has conducted almost daily flights over the waters between the southern part of Taiwan and the Taiwan-controlled Pratas Islands in the South China Sea in recent months.
In an extraordinary twist to the Brexit saga, UK small businesses are being told by advisers working for the Department for International Trade (DIT) that the best way to circumvent border issues and VAT problems that have been piling up since 1 January is to register new firms within the EU single market, from where they can distribute their goods far more freely.
More than 2,500 are arrested at rallies across the country as cities see huge turnouts in support of opposition leader
As riot police surged to retake Moscow’s Pushkin square on Saturday, all you could see of them from the crowd were their truncheons raised high, ready to strike. Then their black helmets came into view, and finally they pushed forward, driving waves of panicked Russians out on to the boulevards and side streets of the capital. “Respected citizens, the current event is illegal. We are doing everything to ensure your safety,” an officer repeated over a loudspeaker, despite all the evidence to the contrary.
For more than a decade, the Kremlin has used every tool at its disposal to keep Russians off the streets, wielding fear and boredom to make protesting against Vladimir Putin seem pointless. And yet in defiant scenes on Saturday in cities across Russia, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok and even in Yakutsk, where protesters braved temperatures below -50C, tens of thousands of Russians sent a message to a Kremlin that has squeezed out all opposition in Russia: enough is enough.
President promises legislative changes after book accuses top commentator of abusing stepson
France will tighten its laws on incest, the president, Emmanuel Macron, said in a series of tweets on Saturday, after the publication of a book accusing a top French political commentator of abusing his stepson sparked outrage across the country.
Macron said on his Twitter account that France needed to adapt its laws to better protect children from sexual violence and that he had asked the justice minister to chair a consultation aimed at quickly making legislative proposals. “We will go after the aggressors,” Macron said.
Tse Chi Lop detained at request of Australian police investigating $70bn-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade
Dutch police said on Saturday they had arrested the alleged leader of an Asian drug syndicate who is listed as one of the world’s most wanted fugitives and has been compared to Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
Tse Chi Lop, a Chinese-born Canadian national, was detained on Friday at the request of Australian police, who led an investigation that found his organisation dominates the $70bn-a-year Asia-Pacific drug trade, Dutch police spokesman Thomas Aling said.
The leader has declared victory over the virus, but a fresh outbreak is complicating the narrative
When Britain was in its second lockdown last November and the economy was contracting, China’s quarterly growth rate was hitting 6.5%. Figures last week showed that for the full year, the world’s second-largest economy could boast a growth rate of 2.3% while all its rivals in Europe and the Americas were going backwards.
The trend could be traced back to Beijing’s efforts to tackle the virus – albeit after a period of denial – and keep infection rates among the lowest in the world.
Donald Trump was at his Florida resort on Saturday, beginning post-presidency life while Joe Biden settled into the White House. But in Washington and beyond, the chaos of the 45th president’s final days in office continued to throw out damaging aftershocks.
Broadcaster and celebrity interviewer had been hospitalized in Los Angeles with symptoms of the coronavirus
Larry King, the American broadcaster and cable news interviewer of celebrities and public figures, has died at the age of 87. He had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles with symptoms of the coronavirus.
Exclusive: Indigenous leaders and human rights groups urge ICC to investigate Brazil’s president
Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s president, could face charges in the International Criminal Court after being accused of crimes against humanity.
Indigenous leaders in Brazil and human rights groups are urging the court to investigate Bolsonaro over his dismantling of environmental policies and violations of indigenous rights, which they say amount to ecocide.
Emails from the ‘best-known entertainment media outlet’ invite potential members to pay for the opportunity to publish original content
Rolling Stone magazine is offering “thought leaders” the chance to write for its website if they are willing to pay $2,000 to “shape the future of culture”.
The storied magazine, which has published journalism by writers including Hunter S Thompson, Patti Smith and Tom Wolfe, approached would-be members of its new “Culture Council” by email, telling them that they had the chance to join “an invitation-only community for innovators, influencers and tastemakers”.
Texas case offers baseless mix of allegations of electoral fraud but cites the imaginary kingdom of Gondor as evidence
Donald Trump’s diehard supporters are often accused of living in fantasyland, but one court case recently launched to try to reinstall him as president has surprised even the most hardened observers of Trumpian strangeness by citing as evidence a mythological realm from The Lord of the Rings.
Simon Spurrell says his firm lost 20% of sales and will switch £1m investment to France
A commercial cheesemaker in Cheshire has been left with a £250,000 Brexit hole in his business as a direct result of the UK’s departure from the EU on 1 January.
Simon Spurrell said he has lost 20% of his sales overnight after discovering he needed to provide a £180 health certificate on retail orders to consumers in the EU, including those buying personal gift packs of his award-winning wax-wrapped cheese worth £25 or £30.
Thousands of people in Hong Kong have been ordered to stay in their homes in the city’s first coronavirus lockdown, as authorities battle an outbreak in one of its poorest and most densely packed districts.
The order bans about 10,000 people living inside multiple housing blocks within the neighbourhood of Jordan, on the Kowloon Peninsula, from leaving their apartments unless they can show a negative test.
In phone call, US and Canadian leaders discuss collaboration on vaccines and plan to meet next month
Canada’s Justin Trudeau and President Joe Biden plan to meet next month, the prime minister’s office said, following a call between the two leaders in which they agreed to join forces to combat coronavirus in North America.
The White House said in a statement that the two leaders highlighted the “strategic importance of the US-Canada relationship” and discussed cooperation on a wide-ranging agenda including combating the Covid-19 pandemic and addressing the climate crisis.
Washington’s top intelligence officer warns that Pyongyang is not intending to ‘find a way out’ of weapons development
The top US intelligence officer for North Korea has warned the country sees diplomacy only as a means to advance its nuclear weapons development, even as the new Biden administration says it will look for ways to bring Pyongyang back to talks.
Joe Biden’s nominee for secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said on Tuesday the new administration planned a full review of the US approach to North Korea to look at ways to increase pressure on it to return to the negotiating table.
Losing Google search might be a shock. But there are plenty of alternatives to choose from
Google has threatened to “stop providing search” in Australia if the federal government continues with a new code to force big digital platforms to pay for displaying local news content. Google has confirmed that this wouldn’t affect any of the company’s other services, such as YouTube, Gmail or Google drive.
The threat came as Google’s Australian managing director, Mel Silva, told a Senate committee the new code would “would set an untenable precedent” and create an “unmanageable financial and operational risk” if it were to become law.
Aviation giant already staged the world’s first commercial flight using 100% biofuel in 2018
Boeing says it will begin delivering commercial airplanes capable of flying on 100% biofuel by the end of the decade, calling reducing environmental damage from fossil fuels the “challenge of our lifetime.”
Boeing’s goal – which requires advances to jet systems, raising fuel-blending requirements, and safety certification by global regulators – is central to a broader industry target of slashing carbon emissions in half by 2050, the US planemaker said.
Holyrood makes unprecedented move to see private messages from SNP party officials
The Scottish parliament has ordered the country’s prosecution service to release key evidence in the Alex Salmond affair, in a dramatic escalation of a battle over the non-disclosure of legal papers.
In an unprecedented move, Holyrood issued an enforcement notice on the Crown Office instructing it to release private messages from senior Scottish National party officials and documents about the leak of allegations that Salmond had sexually harassed two civil servants – allegations he denies.
The referral will see the board, which is made up of more than 30 luminaries from around the world including former Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, decide whether Facebook’s policies were correctly applied, and whether those policies respect international human rights standards more broadly.
Global study finds that species numbers reported in the wild fell sharply between 1990 and 2015
The number of wild bee species recorded by an international database of life on Earth has declined by a quarter since 1990, according to a global analysis of bee declines.
Researchers analysed bee records from museums, universities and citizen scientists collated by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility, (GBIF) a global, government-funded network providing open-access data on biodiversity.
Global study calls on governments to step up maintenance efforts to prevent failures, overtopping or leaks
By 2050 most people will live downstream of a large dam built in the 20th century, many of which are approaching the limits of the useful lifetime they were designed for, according to global research.
To avoid the potential for dam failures, overtopping or leaks, the dams will require increasing maintenance, and some may have to be taken out of service. Many governments have not prepared for these needs, warn the authors of a new study by the United Nations University.
More infectious B117 variant adds to monumental scale of task
Vaccine deployment called ‘a dismal failure so far’
Joe Biden’s new administration is faced with a monumental task in curbing the deadliest wave of the Covid-19 pandemic so far in a race against time before a new, more contagious coronavirus variant threatens already strained US health resources.
The Biden administration has mere weeks to speed vaccine deployment, and convince more Americans to wear masks, wash hands and social distance. And it must be done amid a rocky transition, critical supply shortfalls, widespread new infections, shaky public trust and a vaccine rollout that “has been a dismal failure so far”.
Other members of people-smuggling gang also jailed over manslaughter of 39 Vietnamese people
The two ringleaders of the people-smuggling gang responsible for the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people who suffocated in a sealed refrigeration container as they were transported across the Channel from France have received prison sentences totalling 47 years.
Ronan Hughes, 41, who ran a haulage company and organised the lorries and drivers to transport the migrants, was sentenced to 20 years at the Old Bailey on Friday. He pleaded guilty last year to 39 counts of manslaughter and conspiring to bring people into the country unlawfully.
Germany’s health minister, Jens Spahn, has called for understanding of a continuation of harsh lockdown conditions in Germany, saying they were necessary to prevent a “considerable worsening” of the current situation despite a slowdown in the rate of infections.
Germany’s death toll rose to over 51,000 on Thursday, having been increasing at an average of 1000 deaths a day for several weeks.
Sales increase 43% globally in 2020 as plunging battery costs mean the cars will soon be the cheapest vehicles to buy
Electric vehicles are close to the “tipping point” of rapid mass adoption thanks to the plummeting cost of batteries, experts say.
Global sales rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies. The latest analyses forecast that to happen some time between 2023 and 2025.
What is so striking is that Biden’s approach, while welcome, is in many cases implementing measures that a comprehensive pandemic response from the previous administration would have taken at the start.
It is rooted in a bet that throwing federal government expertise, money and scale at a crisis can turn the situation around and finally provide the leadership and coordination that has been lacking in the year since coronavirus struck.
It is one thing to come up with a strategy. It’s another thing for Biden and his incoming team to quickly turn around often sluggish federal government machinery. The White House will need states, some of which have failed badly in all aspects of the pandemic, to respond to the new federal effort. And while Biden can change policy with his pen, he needs massive, swift investment from a tightly balanced Congress to make his plan work.
Then there are the medical factors beyond his control. While hospitalizations are declining, many experts fear that it could be a temporary relief and new, more transmissible versions of the virus will quash hopes of a significant easing of the situation.
National archives showcases unique letters sent by the leader of first organised slave revolt
The Dutch national archives are showcasing a unique set of letters sent by the leader of the first organised slave revolt on the American continent to a colonial governor, in which the newly free man proposed to share the land.
The offer from the man known as Cuffy, from Kofi – meaning “born on Friday” – is said to provide a new insight into attempts to resist the brutal regimes of the colonial period, often overlooked in histories of enslaved people.
Five held and media warned not to promote pro-Navalny rallies after poisoned Kremlin critic was jailed on return to Russia
Russian authorities have detained five aides of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny and warned social media platforms against spreading online calls to stage weekend protests.
Navalny’s allies are planning to hold demonstrations on Saturday in around 65 cities across the country in support of the Kremlin critic who was arrested and jailed on his return to Russia over the weekend.
America’s top infectious diseases expert had a tortuous relationship with Trump and was increasingly sidelined
Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the US, spoke on Thursday of a “liberating feeling” of being able to speak scientific truth about the coronavirus without fear of “repercussions” from Donald Trump.
Scott Morrison says any leader must put population’s health first amid continued speculation about Tokyo 2020
The pandemic is placing “real pressure” on preparations for the Tokyo Olympics, the Australian prime minister has said, after a report claimed the Japanese government had privately concluded this summer’s Games will have to be cancelled.
“The situation in Japan, right now, in terms of the spread that’s occurred there more recently, is quite different to even when I was there in November,” Scott Morrison said on Friday.
Coach Cho Jae-beom was sentenced for abusing gold medallist speed skater Shim Suk-hee for years, from when she was a teenager
A former national speed skating coach in South Korea has been sentenced to more than decade in prison for sexually assaulting double Olympic gold medallist Shim Suk-hee.
“The accused committed sexual assault by force, repeatedly using the victim’s inability to protest against her speed skating coach,” Suwon district court ruled on Thursday, according to Yonhap news agency.
Joe Biden began his first full day as president confronting a host of major crises facing his fledgling administration, starting with a flurry of actions to address his most pressing challenge: the raging Covid-19 pandemic.
At a White House event on Thursday afternoon, Biden unveiled a new “wartime” strategy to combat the coronavirus, vowing “help is on the way.”
Scientists say pups may be result of asexual reproduction or that rays may have stored sperm from last encounter with males
Two eagle rays have surprised New Zealand aquarists and bemused scientists by giving birth without any males in their tank.
Nibble and Spot, both female and housed in the walk-through tunnel display at the SEA Life Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium in Auckland, had pups on New Year’s Eve despite not having been near a male in two years.
As Google and Facebook face Senate committee, poll finds three in five Australians agree social media companies should prioritise news in feeds
Google has threatened to remove its search engine from Australia if a code forcing the company to negotiate payments to news media companies goes ahead, saying the proposal sets a “dangerous precedent”.
Last week it was revealed Google was testing removing news sites, including Guardian Australia, from search results for about 1% of its Australian users as the company continued to push against a code that would force it to negotiate with news outlets to pay for linking to news articles in search results.
Boncuk returned each day to hospital in Turkish city of Trabzon where her owner, Cemal Senturk, was being treated
A devoted dog has spent days waiting outside a hospital in Turkey where her sick owner was being treated.
The pet, Boncuk, which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on 14 January. She then made daily visits to the facility, the private news agency DHA reported.
Covid hotspots the European Union will be labelled “dark red” zones, and travellers from those areas will be required to take a test before departure and undergo quarantine, the chief of the bloc’s executive said on Thursday.
“A dark red zone would show that in this zone, the virus is circulating at a very high level,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a news conference after a meeting of EU leaders.
“Persons travelling from dark red areas could be required to do a test before departure, as well as to undergo quarantine after arrival.”
This system would apply to travel within the EU, she said.
Von der Leyen said that with infections rising and contagious variants of the virus spreading fast, non-essential travel should be “strongly discouraged” within the EU but essential workers and goods must be able to cross borders smoothly.
French President Emmanuel Macron told his European Union counterparts France would make PCR tests compulsory for all travellers into France from Sunday, including from fellow EU countries, his office said on Thursday.
Cross-border workers and land transportation will be exempt from that obligation, the French presidency added. The test will have to be carried out no later than 72 hours before departure, it said after a video summit of EU leaders.
Anonymous staff members say they were berated by Julie Payette to the point of tears, prompting an independent investigation
Canada’s governor general has resigned after an external report found that the Queen’s representative had overseen a toxic work environment in which staff were bullied to tears.
The report, which was to be released early next week, painted a damning picture of Julie Payette’s leadership and had raised concerns among senior government figures over her ability to continue in the vice-regal role.
Treaty signatories include Africa’s most populous country and Europe’s least populated, but Russia and Nato on the sidelines
An international treaty banning all nuclear weapons that has been signed by 51 countries and that campaigners hope will help raise the profile of global deterrence efforts comes into force on Friday.
Although in some respects the step is largely symbolic because the world’s nuclear powers have not signed up, the treaty will be legally binding on the smaller nations that have endorsed it, and it is backed by the UN leadership.
Witness testified soldiers detained group of students, interrogated them and then handed them to a drug gang
A witness to the disappearance of 43 Mexican student teachers has alleged that soldiers were involved in the 2014 attack , the country’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has confirmed.
The disappearance of the trainees from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College on 26 September 2014 rocked Mexico, sparking widespread protests and calls for justice, but the investigation into the case has been widely criticized.
Senators approve law to protect the noises and smells of the countryside following high-profile cases
From crowing roosters to the whiff of barnyard animals, the “sensory heritage” of France’s countryside will now be protected by law from attempts to stifle the everyday aspects of rural life from newcomers looking for peace and quiet.
French senators on Thursday gave final approval to a law proposed in the wake of several high-profile conflicts by village residents and vacationers, or recent arrivals derided as “neo-rurals”.
US magistrate judge Martin Carlson directed that Riley June Williams be released into the custody of her mother, with travel restrictions, and instructed her to appear on Monday in federal court in Washington to continue her case.
Plan has been approved despite environmental objections and criticism over climate leadership
A legal bid challenging the UK government’s approval of a new gas-fired power plant has failed in the court of appeal.
The challenge was brought after ministers overruled climate change objections from the planning authority. The plant is being developed by Drax in North Yorkshire and would be the biggest gas power station in Europe. It could account for 75% of the UK’s power sector emissions when fully operational, according to lawyers for ClientEarth, which brought the judicial review.
Mineworkers have already been trapped for 11 days since explosion in Shandong province gold mine
It will take at least 15 more days to get through a massive amount of debris to reach miners already trapped for 11 days since an explosion in a gold mine in eastern China, authorities said on Thursday.
The mine-shaft is blocked 350 metres (1,000 ft) below the surface by 70 tonnes of debris that extends down another 100 metres, the Yantai city government said in a statement on its social media account.
Profits from former footballer’s David Beckham Ventures Ltd rise to £16.2m
David and Victoria Beckham have paid themselves £14.5m – or nearly £40,000 for every day of the year – following the strong performance of the former footballer’s image rights sales.
The couple’s total dividends in 2019 were up £3.4m on the previous year, according to accounts filed at Companies House on Thursday. The 2019 accounts are the latest available, but they note that the couple also collected an additional £7m in interim dividend payments in 2020.
In a landmark judgment, the court said the Kremlin was guilty of unlawfully rounding up ethnic Georgians and their subsequent “inhuman and degrading treatment”. This included the torture of Georgian prisoners of war and the expulsion of Georgian villagers from their homes in South Ossetia.
Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit faces prosecution for criticising the role of a company controlled by the king in the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout
A prominent Thai opposition figure who was accused of breaching the country’s strict lese-majesty law after criticising the national vaccine strategy has said he is being targeted on political grounds.
Thailand’s government announced on Wednesday that it would file a lese-majesty complaint against Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit, days after he questioned the country’s approach to producing Covid-19 vaccines, which involves a company owned by the king.
Bach says ‘no reason’ Games will not open on time in July
Pound suggests the Olympics could go ahead with no fans
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared on Thursday that the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead as scheduled this year, reiterating that there is “no plan B” in place.
“We have, at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo News in an interview just days ahead of the six-month countdown toward the games.
Bomber in clothes market pretends to be ill before detonating device as people come to help
Two suicide bombers killed at least 28 people at a Baghdad market on Thursday by luring shoppers towards them before setting off the devices they were carrying.
The strike was the first in the Iraqi capital in three years, provoking fears of a resurgence of the kind of violence that the country endured in the years after the 2003 US invasion and the Islamic State (Isis) era.
Director says museum is reordering its permanent collection to make it ‘far more inclusive’
The Prado in Madrid has announced plans to make the museum a “far more inclusive” place by reordering its permanent collection to ensure greater representation of works by female and foreign artists.
Miguel Falomir, the Prado’s director, said “one of the few positives consequences” of the Covid pandemic had been the time the museum’s enforced closure had given staff to re-evaluate its treasures and how they were displayed.
Foreign Office argues EU should not be treated the same as a nation state, despite 142 countries granting status
A near-year-long row about the UK’s refusal to grant full diplomatic status of the EU mission to the UK has worsened, with the leak of letters showing the EU foreign affairs chief warning he had serious concerns about the status being given to EU officials in the UK.
The issue is likely to be discussed at EU foreign affairs council on Monday, the first such meeting of member states’ foreign ministers since the post-Brexit transition ended.
UN calls for help as cholera breaks out with the arrival of rainy season, compounding ‘dire’ situation in Cabo Delgado
Northern Mozambique has lurched into a humanitarian crisis as growing numbers of people have lost their homes amid escalating conflict.
Fighting in the northern province of Cabo Delgado displaced more than 500,000 people last year and on Wednesday UN agencies said they were deeply worried about the current situation and called for the international community to do more to help.
Climate experts cheered the inauguration of the new US president, who has vowed to rejoin the Paris agreement, rethink US reliance on fossil fuels, and devote hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus spending to low-carbon economic growth.
Director of Tandav agrees to remove scenes deemed to insult Hindu gods and office of Indian prime minister
An Indian political drama on Amazon Prime has been forced to edit out scenes that were accused of being an “insult to Hindu gods”, the first time that streaming platforms have been subjected to Indian government censorship.
Tandav, a gritty political drama made by Amazon Prime, one of the world’s largest streaming platforms, had faced growing controversy since it launched last week over allegations it had “hurt Hindu religious sentiments” and insulted the office of the prime minister.
Calls for tougher child protection laws intensify as toddler’s adoptive mother faces court in Seoul
The video clip shows a healthy, happy child smiling from ear to ear, her milk teeth gnawing at a pink fluffy toy. Within months all of South Korea would know her name: Jeong-in.
It has taken the death of a 16-month-old, allegedly at the hands of her adoptive parents, to jolt South Korea’s government into what campaigners say is long-overdue action to protect the most vulnerable children, amid a dramatic rise in reported abuse cases over the past decade.
Chinese foreign ministry announced sanctions against Mike Pompeo and 27 others as Biden was taking presidential oath
China has said it wants to cooperate with Joe Biden’s new US administration, while announcing sanctions against the “lying and cheating” outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under Donald Trump.
Decades-old tradition is grounded as priority shifts to tackling other drugs, such as meth
Helicopters that have for decades taken to the skies of New Zealand every year to search for cannabis-growing operations will stay on the ground this year amid a shift in policing priorities.
Light aircraft and helicopters have mounted aerial surveillance operations searching for the banned class C drug since the 1970s, but police now say their resources could be better deployed, particularly in the fight against methamphetamine, known locally as P.
Michael Pack stands down minutes after Joe Biden becomes president, but not before making a slew of fresh appointments
Former President Donald Trump’s hand-picked chief of US international broadcasting has quit amid a burgeoning staff revolt and growing calls for his resignation.
Michael Pack resigned as the chief executive office of the US Agency for Global Media just minutes after President Joe Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday. The agency runs the Voice of America and sister networks.
In the US, a new CDC director is arriving to a mammoth task: reasserting the agency while the pandemic is in its deadliest phase yet and the nation’s largest-ever vaccination campaign is wracked by confusion and delays, AP reports.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, 51, an infectious-diseases specialist at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, was sworn in Wednesday as the head of the CDC.
While the agency has retained some of its top scientific talent, public health experts say, it has a long list of needs, including new protection from political influence, a comprehensive review of its missteps during the pandemic and more money to beef up basic functions like disease tracking and genetic analysis.
Walensky has said one of her top priorities will be to improve the CDC’s communications with the public to rebuild trust. Inside the agency, she wants to raise morale, in large part by restoring the primacy of science and setting politics to the side.
The speed at which she is assuming the job is unusual. In the past, the position has generally been unfilled until a new secretary of health and human services is confirmed, and that official names a CDC director. But this time, the Biden transition team named Walensky in advance, so she could take the agency’s reins even before her boss is in place.
Walensky, an HIV researcher, has not worked at the CDC or at a state or local health department. But she has emerged as a prominent voice on the pandemic, sometimes criticising certain aspects of the state and national response. Her targets have included the uneven transmission-prevention measures that were in place last summer and a prominent Trump adviser’s endorsement of a “herd immunity” approach that would let the virus run free.
Nobody should panic about getting access to a Covid-19 vaccine because everyone who wants one will get one, the World Health Organization said Wednesday.
AFP: The WHO’s assistant director-general Mariangela Simao said the UN health agency was working towards ensuring access to coronavirus jabs all around the world.
Internet giants that spread hate speech and conspiracy theories should face ‘democratic limits’, says European commission president
The end of Donald Trump’s tenure in the White House was celebrated by the EU’s Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday, as she warned that the former US president’s rise highlighted the need to confront the internet giants who helped him spread “conspiracy theories and fake news”.
The European commission president spoke of her relief at Trump’s departure, but warned that the outgoing leader’s movement still existed, and that the digital platforms used to spread hate needed to be tackled.
Fairytale anthology Wonderland Is for Everyone must now carry warning that its stories contain ‘behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles’
Hungary’s government, which has made hostility to LGBT people a central part of its rightwing agenda, on Tuesday ordered a publisher to print disclaimers identifying books containing “behaviour inconsistent with traditional gender roles”.
The government said the action was needed to protect consumers, after Labrisz, an association for lesbian, bisexual and trans women, published a fairytale anthology titled Wonderland Is for Everyone, which included some stories with LGBT themes.
Half of referrals for child sexual abuse material could be falling under the radar after changes to EU ePrivacy Directive
The children’s charity NSPCC has called on Facebook to resume a programme that scan private messages for indications of child abuse, with new data suggesting that almost half of referrals for child sexual abuse material are now falling below the radar.
Recent changes to the European commission’s ePrivacy Directive, which are being finalised, require messaging services to follow strict new restrictions on the privacy of message data. Facebook blamed that directive for shutting down the child protection operation, but the children’s charity says Facebook has gone too far in reading the law as banning it entirely.
Cabinet passes measure that is expected to outlaw practice from 2022
Germany is expected to become the first country to ban mass culling of male chicks in the poultry industry, the government said after approving a draft law ending the controversial practice.
The measure passed by the cabinet envisages a ban on mass chick killing from 2022 in “a significant step forward for animal welfare”, the agriculture minister, Julia Klöckner, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Former employees of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could shed light on circumstances of her letter to her estranged father, high court hears
Four former employees of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex could have evidence shedding light on the circumstances of Meghan’s letter to her estranged father, the high court has heard.
Any role of the so-called “Palace Four” required further investigation, and was one of the reasons the duchess’s privacy action against the Mail on Sunday should proceed to a full trial, the newspaper’s publishers argued.
Freight company director blames new requirement for EU transport firms to provide financial guarantees
A British freight company director with more than over 20 years experience has told how EU hauliers and transport companies are turning their backs on UK business because they are being asked to provide tens of thousands of pounds in guarantees to cover VAT or potential tariffs on arrival in Britain.
The financial guarantee requirement did not exist before Brexit and EU transport companies who previously provided a shipping service for small and medium sized companies have decided they do not want the extra financial burden, said Colin Jeffries, who runs Key Cargo International in Manchester.
Ma, a celebrity businessman and one of the richest people in China, had not spoken publicly since regulators blocked the flotation of Ant Group, the financial payment company he controls. His absence had fuelled speculation that he may have fled China.
Bridges will help reindeer roam further afield for food because of global warming
Sweden is to build up to a dozen bridges so reindeer can safely cross railway lines and major roads in the north of the country as global heating forces them to roam further afield in search of food.
State broadcaster SVT said the transport authority aimed to start work on the first of the new bridges, named “renoducts”, a portmanteau from ren (reindeer) and viaduct, later this year near the eastern city of Umea.
Outgoing acting envoy Stephanie Williams also urges foreign powers to withdraw troops and mercenaries from country
A political class stretching across Libya’s east-west conflict lines is determined to maintain the status quo and privileged access to the coffers of the state, Stephanie Williams, the outgoing acting UN special envoy for Libya has warned.
The American diplomat likened many of them to dinosaurs, saying they were linked to pre-revolutionary forces.
Campaigners say direct links between capitals could significantly reduce carbon emissions
The resurrection of a 1960s network of direct rail routes between major European capitals known as the Trans Europe Express is key to achieving carbon neutrality in the EU by 2050, according to a report funded by the German government.
Due in large part to the growth of short-haul flights, 149 of the 365 cross-border rail links that once existed in Europe were non-operational in 2018, with rail accounting for only 8% of passenger transport.
Minister says UK is not pursuing a touring waiver, as stars including Elton John and Sting say musicians ‘shamefully failed’ by Brexit
The UK government will not pursue a waiver scheme that would allow British musicians to tour the EU without the need for visas, carnets and work permits for each individual member state.
The announcement comes as over 100 artists including Sting, Bob Geldof and Elton John have signed an open letter published in the Times on Wednesday, calling on the government to negotiate paperwork-free travel for British musicians touring in Europe. The signatories say musicians have been “shamefully failed” by the government’s Brexit deal with the EU.
A Facebook page with 40,000 members created for people buying plots of land has been taken over by rightwing conspiracy theorists
On 14 January, the 40,000 Britons who had joined the Facebook group Land for Sale UK awoke to find their newsfeed transformed.
Until then, the group had been a moderately sized message board for people looking to buy or sell small parcels of land. “We’d love a patch of land in the Falmouth and Penryn area to let the kids roam, grow fruit trees,” read one typical post.
Magazine plans limited edition with new photo after original was widely seen as disrespectful
Vogue will publish a limited print edition of its February issue, featuring Kamala Harris, with a new photo following widespread backlash against an original cover image widely held to lack respect for the vice-president-elect.
The limited edition, with a cover image previously used online, will be published after inauguration ceremonies on Wednesday, when Harris will become the first person of Black and south Asian descent sworn in as vice-president.
Locals condemn lack of consultation over customs clearance site for 1,200 lorries
Residents of a village near Dover have mounted what they describe as a “David and Goliath” battle to try to reverse government plans to turn fields at the ends of their gardens into a giant Brexit customs clearance site for 1,200 lorries.
The local Anglican priest and former chairman of the chamber of commerce accused the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, and the transport minister, Rachel Maclean, of a “clear abuse of power” over the lack of notice and consultation over the consequences of their plans.
Syria’s White Helmets, who rescue victims from the rubble of airstrikes, have added making personal protective equipment to their efforts saving lives in areas of the country outside Bashar al-Assad’s control.
The civil defence service’s uniform-making unit has recently pivoted to manufacturing PPE with the help of a £1.17m award from a nonprofit organisation funded by the UK, US, Canadian and Dutch governments.
Kristen Antoinette Gray accused of breaching Indonesia visa by promoting the island, selling her e-book and offering consulting
An American woman is being deported from Bali over suspected immigration violations after her tweets that celebrated the Indonesian resort island as a low-cost, queer-friendly place for foreigners to live went viral.
Kristen Antoinette Gray arrived in Bali in January last year and ended up staying through the coronavirus pandemic. Her posts on Twitter, including comparisons between Bali and Los Angeles, offers to advise on travel, and links to buy her e-book, began going viral in Indonesia on Sunday.
British barrister was called ‘mercenary’ by UK foreign secretary for taking on case against pro-democracy figures
The British QC hired to run the prosecution of senior Hong Kong activists, including the media mogul Jimmy Lai, has pulled out of the case after widespread pressure, the territory’s government has said.
David Perry QC had been instructed by the Hong Kong justice department to prosecute 76-year-old Lai and eight others including the democracy figure Martin Lee and the veteran activist Lee Cheuk-yan. The group are charged with public order offences for organising and taking part in an unauthorised assembly. Lai, who is in jail on remand, is facing multiple separate charges including under the national security law.