Posts tagged with "Reuters"

Biden to reinstate the COVID travel restrictions Trump rescinded; impose new ban on South Africa

January 26, 2021

President Joe Biden plans to sign restrictions Monday on travel to the United States to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, a senior public health official confirmed on Sunday, January 24, to Reuters.

The ban would prevent most non-U.S. citizens from entry if they have recently been in South Africa, where a new strain of coronavirus has been identified. The virus has killed more than 418,000 people and infected upward of 25 million nationwide in the United States., according to an NBC News tracker.

Biden is also expected to reinstate broader restrictions that were in effect much of the past year but were rescinded by President Donald Trump days before his term ended, NBC said. The limits would affect non-U.S. citizens traveling from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and much of Europe in what is known as the Schengen countries, which share a common visa process. Travelers from Brazil would also be affected.

Before Biden took office, incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki in a tweet criticized Trump’s decision to rescind the bans he had implemented.

“With the pandemic worsening, and more contagious variants emerging around the world, this is not the time to be lifting restrictions on international travel,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Sunday that, beginning Tuesday, it will no longer consider exceptions to its requirement that international travelers present negative coronavirus tests. Airlines had asked the agency to relax the rule for some countries with limited testing capacity.

“As variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus continue to emerge in countries around the world, there is growing evidence of increased transmissibility of some of these variants, as well as unknown health and vaccine implications,” a CDC spokesman said in a statement. “Testing before and after travel is a critical layer to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 and emerging variants.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Capitol rioters intended to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials, court filing says

January 18, 2021

Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters on January 14, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officialsn” The Huffington Post and Reuters reported.

Prosecutors offered that view in a filing asking a judge to detain Jacob Chansley—the Arizona man and QAnon conspiracy theorist who was famously photographed wearing horns as he stood at the desk of Vice President Mike Pence in the chamber of the U.S. Senate.

The detention memo, written by Justice Department lawyers in Arizona, goes into greater detail about the FBI’s investigation into Chansley—revealing that he left a note for Pence warning that “it’s only a matter of time, justice is coming.”

“Strong evidence, including Chansley’s own words and actions at the Capitol, supports that the intent of the Capitol rioters was to capture and assassinate elected officials in the United States government,” prosecutors wrote.

A public defender representing Chansley could not be immediately reached for comment. Chansley is due to appear in federal court on Friday.

According to the HuffPost, the prosecutors’ assessment comes as prosecutors and federal agents have begun bringing more serious charges tied to violence at the Capitol, including revealing cases Thursday against one man, retired firefighter Robert Sanford, on charges that he hurled a fire extinguisher at the head of one police officer and another, Peter Stager, of beating a different officer with a pole bearing an American flag.

In Chansley’s case, prosecutors said the charges “involve active participation in an insurrection attempting to violently overthrow the United States government,” and warned that “the insurrection is still in progress” as law enforcement prepares for more demonstrations in Washington and state capitals.

They also suggested he suffers from drug abuse and mental illness, and told the judge he poses a serious flight risk.

“Chansley has spoken openly about his belief that he is an alien, a higher being, and he is here on Earth to ascend to another reality,” they wrote.

The Justice Department has brought more than 80 criminal cases in connection with the violent riots at the U.S. Capitol last week, in which Trump’s supporters stormed the building, ransacked offices and in some cases, attacked police.

Many of the people charged so far were easily tracked down by the FBI, which has more than 200 suspects, thanks in large part to videos and photos posted on social media.

Michael Sherwin, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, has said that while many of the initial charges may seem minor, he expects much more serious charges to be filed as the Justice Department continues its investigation.

Research contact: @HuffPost

New Yorkers converge on Times Square to say ‘Good Riddance’ to 2020

December 31, 2020

Dozens of people lined up (at a socially approved distance) in New York City’s Times Square on Monday, December 28, to write down, and then shred, the things that they have hated most about 2020—including but not limited to the deadly global pandemic.

They were participating in an annual “Good Riddance Day” event hosted by The Times Square Alliance since 2007—but needed more than ever

Above, in Times Square, a New Yorker shreds his 2020 disappointments. (Photo source: Reuters)

this December, Reuters reports.

Participants are encouraged to write down the year’s unpleasant memories, to be thrown into an oversized paper shredder. Among the submissions were COVID-19 and some of the work-from-home customs compelled by the spread of the coronavirus— not least, Zoom video conferencing calls.

Others posed for pictures next to a “Move On 2020!” sign, Reuters said.

“I think of all the New Year’s Eves I’ve ever experienced, this New Year’s Eve is special,” said Jonathan Bennett, who hosted this year’s scaled-down event. “The whole world really needs this new year to come in.”

Joey Faix, a 16-year-old high-school student who stopped to watch the event, said it was a tough year. “I think it was mentally straining for everybody,” he said. “But I think everybody is optimistic for the new year.”

Research contact: @Reuters

‘Diviner’ inspiration: Australian artist covers silos with large-scale mural

November 12, 2020

When artist Fintan Magee was asked to paint a mural on a trio of 40-meter (131 foot)-high grain silos in the small Australian town of Barraba, he decided against an archetypal image of sheep and cattle, Reuters reports.

Instead he painted a water diviner, paying tribute to a practice still used in parts of Australia where proponents believe they can find ground water with two metal rods or, as pictured in the mural, sticks.

Painted last year, it is one of dozens of large-scale murals to appear across rural Australia, turning sides of buildings, water tanks and old grain silos into striking canvasses.

“Painting walls is a bit like surfing, every wave is different, every wall is different. That’s the biggest challenge for me,” Magee told Reuters from his art studio in Sydney’s inner-western suburbs.

“Scaling and the technical things are just part of the job now.”

Many of the works were painted during a long drought that devastated communities and led to widespread water restrictions in such agricultural towns as Barraba in central New South Wales.

Magee said that during a research trip he saw a diviner working with water bore drillers during the drought, which only started to ease early this year.

While broadly considered street art, the sheer size of the murals makes them a phenomenon of their own.

“It wasn’t really until the last three or four years that projects have been growing bigger and bigger—more stuff happening in Sydney and Melbourne and also the silo thing has exploded,” said Magee.

The size has one great advantage over other forms of art: It’s almost impossible for passersby not to take it in.

“It’s absolutely gorgeous – it wasn’t here last time we came through,” said Cathy Skinner, one of several people who stopped at the Barraba mural when Reuters visited last week.

“I think he looks like Prince Harry, I think he’s wonderful,” Skinner said of the water diviner.

Research contact: @Reuters

Vladimir veers left: Putin rejects Trump’s criticism of Biden family business

October 27, 2020

Russia, are you listening? Russian President Vladimir Putin said on October 25 that he saw nothing criminal in Hunter Biden’s past business ties with Ukraine or Russia—openly breaking with Donald Trump on one of the POTUS’s key attack lines in the U.S. presidential election.

Putin was responding to comments made by Trump during televised debates with Democratic challenger Joe Biden ahead of the November 3 election.

According to Reuters, the Russian leader made his position clear, saying: “[Hunter Biden] had at least one company, which he practically headed up, and judging from everything he made good money. I don’t see anything criminal about this, at least we don’t know anything about this.”

The unexpected statement of support for the Bidens “could be interpreted as the Russian president trying to offer an olive branch to Joe Biden days out from the election,” said The Daily Beast.

Trump, who is trailing in opinion polls, has used the debates to make accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in Ukraine. No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Joe Biden has called them false and discredited.

Putin, who has praised Trump in the past for saying he wanted better ties with Moscow, has said Russia will work with any U.S. leader, while noting what he called Joe Biden’s “sharp anti-Russian rhetoric”.

However, in a clear effort to distance himself from Trump’s claims, the Russian leader added, “Yes, in Ukraine he (Hunter Biden) had or maybe still has a business, I don’t know. It doesn’t concern us. It concerns the Americans and the Ukrainians,” said Putin.

Putin also reacted with visible irritation when asked about comments Trump has made concerning Putin’s ties to the former mayor of Moscow, and to an alleged payment made to Hunter Biden by the ex-mayor’s widow. Putin said he knew nothing about the existence of any commercial relationship between Hunter and the woman. Joe Biden says the accusation about his son is not true.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election to tilt the contest in Trump’s favour, an allegation Moscow has denied. Russia has also dismissed accusations by U.S. intelligence agencies of trying to interfere with this year’s election too.

Research contact: @Reuters

Verizon launches $44 million ‘upskilling program’ for Americans who wants to land an in-demand job

October 23, 2020

Telecommunications giant Verizon is investing $44 million in an upskilling program to help Americans unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Americans looking for better jobs, Business Insider reports.

Currently, applications are being accepted for residents of Dallas, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Spartanburg, SC, and Washington, DC. The program will start in November and expand to more cities in 2021.

People who are Black or Latinx (a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina), unemployed, or without a four-year-degree will be given priority admissions.

To deliver the program, the company is partnering with two nonprofits focused on workforce development, Generation and JFF, to launch the initiative.

It will train those in need to get jobs like junior cloud practitioner, junior web developer, IT help desk technician and digital marketing analyst.

The upskilling program is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s recently unveiled responsible business plan that includes a goal of preparing 500,000 people for jobs of the future by 2030.

Digital upskilling has increased during the pandemic as millions of Americans look for in-demand jobs, Reuters reported.

In addition to Verizon, Business Insider notes, Amazon,  PwC,  IBM,  and  AT&T have launched major upskilling programs to retrain their workforces or attract new talent in recent years.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Former Takata plant shipped 9 million faulty seat belts to car companies in Japan

October 19, 2020

A former unit of bankrupt airbag maker Takata shipped 9 million seat belts to car companies in Japan with inaccurate test data that could result in around 2 million safety recalls, the Nikkei newspaper reported on October 16.

This is the second time in recent years that Takata has been involved in a major recall. In 2014, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered Takata to initiate a nationwide airbag recall. The action came as ten automakers in the United States. recalled hundreds of thousands of cars equipped with potentially faulty air bags manufactured by Takata.

As of 2015, Takata had become responsible for the largest auto recall in history. Takata in 2017 pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing, saying it submitted false inflator test results to automaker clients

Last week, U.S. automotive component maker Joyson Safety Systems (JSS) said it was investigating inaccuracies in the reporting of belt webbing test data over a 20-year period at the Japanese factory in Hikone it acquired from Takata in 2018. It said the inaccuracies arose before its acquisition.

“We are still investigating the matter and can’t say yet how many seat belts were involved,” an official in charge of recalls at Japan’s transport ministry told Reuters. The result of the investigation will be shared with transport authorities in other countries, the official added on condition of anonymity as the probe is still ongoing.

A Joyson representative in Japan did not immediately respond to a Reuters request from comment. The Michigan-based firm took over what was left of Takata after it went out of business.

JSS Japan is the top seat belt maker in the country with a market share of about 40%, as well as just under 30% globally, according to Nikkei.

Research contact: @nikkei

Pandemic prompts drive-through pet blessing in the Philippines

October 8, 2020

Coronavirus-wary (and weary) animal owners in the Philippines had their pets blessed during a drive-through ceremony on Sunday, October 4, to mark World Animal Day and the Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals.

From a safe distance inside their owners’ cars, cats, dogs, and birds were sprinkled with holy water by a Catholic priest in Manila, as the nation’s coronavirus cases continued to surge, Reuters reports, noting that the Philippines had confirmed a total of 322,497 coronavirus infections as of that date—the highest in Southeast Asia.

But the numbers continue to spiral upward: as of October 7, the Philippines’ Health Ministry had recorded 2,825 new coronavirus infections and 50 additional deaths.

Organizers and participants said this year’s unusual way of blessing pets for World Animal Day ensured social distancing.

“We have to adapt to the new normal and the pandemic should never stop us from paying tribute to the furry animals that we have,” said Ritchie Pascual, one of the event organizers.

For dog-owner Arlene Pedron, having her pet blessed is “very important…because we really feel like our pet is part of our family.

“We also want the best for his health,” Pedron said, while waiting in line with her two-year-old golden retriever.

Research contact: @Reuters

Strut your stuff: A digital dance-off spreads from Argentina to the world

September 7, 2020

Care to dance? With theaters closed around the world, three South American hoofers have created a digital dance-off for aspiring twirlers, with Instagram the new stage where competitors from Argentina and Brazil to Israel and Italy post clips of their moves, Reuters reports.

The competition, open to all, has attracted hundreds of applicants— some professionals, others amateurs—dancing from lockdown in their own homes. A panel described as “renowned expert judges” assesses each dance, and viewers also can vote with “likes.”

“We were struck by the desire of participants to be seen, to express themselves and their dance, what is happening to them at the moment,” Argentine Facundo Luqui, who organized the ‘@stayhomedancecompetition’ event with two other dancers, told Reuters.

“What we thought when we started this project was that anyone can participate,” added Luqui, 23, who is a member of the ballet company at Buenos Aires’ iconic Teatro Colón.

The competition, which wraps up on Sunday, September 6, challenged dancers to raise awareness about the pandemic, reference the coronavirus, and honor an artist. In one video, a mother wearing a doctor’s coat and a mask guards her daughter while she dances.

Giovana Soria, 18, a Paraguayan who has studied Latin rhythms for two years, told the news outlet that her dance was to encourage people to take steps to prevent infections spreading.

“I started to watch the news and saw that many people respected the quarantine, but when going out they did not take measures like putting on a mask, they touched everything and didn’t wash their hands,” said Soria.

Paz Schattenhofer, an 11-year-old who studies classical dance and who took part from Buenos Aires, said her performance was a homage to Russian photographer Yulia Artemyeva, who made a series of works comparing ballerinas to flowers.

“I would love to win it, but in reality it’s to have fun. It is great when people ‘like’ you and that people see me, it is like a stage,” she said.

Performance art globally has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, closing theaters and leaving dance troupes unable to perform or rehearse at close quarters.

 “I think dance at the moment is undergoing a great crisis,” said Manuela Lavalle, 24, another of the organizers, who dances in a company in the United States but is passing the quarantine in her native Buenos Aires.

“It’s complicated because many companies do not have the money they need to get by. I believe the world of dance is going to change a lot and we still do not know how, but it is a matter of waiting and continuing to create in the meantime.”

Research contact: @Reuters

Reuters/Ipsos poll: No bounce in support for Trump as Americans see pandemic, not crime, as top issue

September 3, 2020

It’s the pandemic, stupid! President Donald Trump’s attempt to mobilize his base by making civil unrest a central theme of his re-election campaign has yet to boost his political standing, as a majority of U.S. voters remain sympathetic to protests against racism, according to findings of a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday, September 2.

Conducted between August 31 and September 1, the national opinion poll found that 40% of registered voters support Trump, a Republican; compared with 47% who said they will vote for his Democratic opponent Joe Biden. Biden’s lead over Trump has remained largely unchanged over the past three weeks—a time during which both parties held their nominating conventions.

Trailing Biden in most national opinion polls since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus this year, Trump has sought to change the subject from a pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 Americans, blaming Black Lives Matters protesters for violence in the cities and accusing Biden of being weak on crime, Reuters notes.

However,  in the poll, the majority of respondents— 78% — remained “very” or “somewhat” concerned about the coronavirus. Nearly 60% said Trump is at least partly responsible for the protracted school and business closures due to the virus, as well as for the high number of coronavirus cases in the United States. More than 6 million Americans have been infected with the virus, more people than in any other country.

By contrast, most Americans do not see crime as a major priority and do not think it is increasing in their communities, the poll showed. Only about 8% of American adults listed crime as a top priority for the country, compared with 30% who said it was the economy or jobs, and 16% who said it was the healthcare system.

What’s more, 62% of registered voters—including 62% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans—said crime was not increasing in their communities

According to the poll, 53% of American adults said they remain sympathetic to people out protesting against racial inequality, nearly unchanged from 52% in a similar poll that ran in late July.

While support for the protesters has declined overall since the immediate aftermath of the police killing in May of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked a national conversation on race, the poll showed more than half of suburban Americans and more than half of undecided registered voters are still sympathetic to them.

“The simple truth is Donald Trump failed to protect America. So now he’s trying to scare America,” Biden said in Pittsburgh this week.

Research contact: @Reuters