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National morning quality (tabloid) includes free online access to news and supplements. Insight by Robert Fisk and various other columnists.
Biden unveils economic plan after Trump leaves office with 30 million in hunger: ‘This is not who we are’ - The Independent
Pandemic has left millions of Americans reeling
Joe Biden has signed two executive orders to try and immediately help Americans suffering from hunger and poverty, saying this is not who we are. In another sombre address, a day after he revealed the death toll from coronavirus may have reached 500,000 by the end of February, the president signed two orders designed to help confront the pandemic, and put more money into peoples pockets. One of the orders signed on Friday in the State Dining Room of the White House will expand food assistance and the delivery of stimulus cheques to the poorest Americans. A second will boost the minimum wage for federally-contracted workers to $15 an hour. It currently stands at just $10.95 per hour. We cannot, will not let people go hungry. We cannot let people be evicted because of nothing they did themselves, he said. We cannot watch people lose their jobs. We have to act. We have to act now. He added: It's not just to meet the moral obligation to treat our fellow Americans with the dignity and respect they deserve. We must act decisively and boldly to grow the economy for all Americans, not just for tomorrow, but in the future. Biden signs executive orders to boost food benefits, workers rights as part of Covid relief push Days before he was inaugurated, the president unveiled details of a 1.9 trillion America Rescue Package that he wants Congress to pass to provide more help to those who have lost their jobs, who are going hungry and who face eviction. On Friday, he signed measures that do not require congressional approval and can provide speedier help. A lot of America is hurting. The virus is surging. Families are going hungry. People are at risk of being evicted. Job losses are mounting again. We need to act. No matter how you look at it, we need to act, he said. He added: If we act now our economy will be stronger in both the short and long run. Earlier on Friday, White House Economic Council Director Brian Deese said the measures were not a substitute for comprehensive legislative relief. Yet he said they would provide a critical lifeline to millions of families. He added: The American people are hurting and they can't afford to wait. Right now, around 16 million are now receiving some type of unemployment benefit, and an estimated 29 million do not have enough to eat. Women, minorities and low-income service workers have been disproportionately impacted, with Black and Hispanic workers facing higher jobless rates than white workers. Read more There is a growing crisis in America of hunger, said Mr Deese. In a comment that may indicate he would rather Congress focused on passing a comprehensive spending measure, rather than the Senate trial of Donald Trump, he suggested putting back the trial to February would likely suit him. Asked about a February timeline for Mr Trump's impeachment trial, Mr Biden said: The more time we have to get up and running to meet these crises, the better. Also on Friday, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer said Mr Trumps article of impeachment would be sent to the upper chamber on Monday. Mitch McConnell is among those seeking to push the trial back to February, but Mr Schumer said: Make no mistake: a trial will be held in the United States Senate, and there will be a vote on whether to convict. Additional reporting by Reuters
Covid R rate falls across UK in sign infections are slowing - The Independent
‘Cases remain dangerously high,’ warns government
The rate of coronavirus infections across the UK is slowing in all regions with the all important R-rate for transmission being below 1 for the first time since December, according to the latest updates. The government said on Friday the R-rate was thought to be betwen 0.8 and 1. R represents the average number of people each Covid-positive person goes on to infect. When the figure is above 1, it means the outbreak is growing exponentially. An R number between 0.8 and 1 means that, on average, every 10 people infected will infect between 8 and 10 other people. The growth rate, which estimates how quickly the number of infections is changing day by day, is between -4 per cent and -1 per cent for the UK as a whole. It means the number of new infections is shrinking by between 1 per cent and 4 per cent every day. It is the first real sign that the lockdown, announced on 4 January, is working and preventing the spread of the virus, which has seen a new more transmissable variant lead to a surge in hospitalisations and deaths in recent weeks. While the R-rate is below 1 in London and the east of England and at or below 1 in the southeast, it could still be above 1 in some parts of England. The range for the midlands, northwest and southwest regions is between 0.9 and 1.2, while in the northeast and Yorkshire its between 0.8 and 1.1. Read more The Department of Health and Social Care said: All regions of England have seen decreases in the R number and growth rate estimates compared to last week, and R is below or around 1 in every region. There is variation across the country with R estimated to be below 1 in areas that have been under tighter restrictions for longest, including tier 4 over the festive period (ie east of England, London and the southeast). We are confident the epidemic is shrinking in these areas. We are not yet confident that infections are decreasing in regions where the R estimate spans 1. Cases remain dangerously high and we must remain vigilant to keep this virus under control, to protect the NHS and save lives. It is essential that everyone continues to stay at home, whether they have had the vaccine or not. We all need to play our part, and if everyone continues to follow the rules, we can expect to drive down the R number across the country. Around one in 35 people in private households in London had Covid-19 between 10 and 16 January, according to the Office for National Statistics. This is the highest figure for any region in England. The ONS estimates that around one in 40 people in northeast England had Covid-19 during this period, with one in 50 in northwest England and the West Midlands. The other estimates are one in 55 people in southeast England, one in 60 in the east midlands, one in 75 in eastern England, one in 80 in southwest England and one in 85 in Yorkshire and the Humber. In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said the seven-day incidence rate for the country has fallen from above 650 cases per 100,000 people before Christmas to around 270 cases per 100,000 people. These are still very high rates and around 16 per cent of tests are coming back positive, suggesting there is still a lot of infection in the community, Mr Drakeford told a press conference in Cardiff. Every day, we are now seeing cases of the virus fall in the community but we need to see that fall also happen in our NHS. Mr Drakeford said there were encouraging signs that the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus was starting to stabilise but there were still very high numbers and critical care units remained under enormous strain. He said the Covid-19 variant sometimes called the Kent variant was now widespread across Wales. We are closely monitoring three other new variants, one from South Africa and two from Brazil, Mr Drakeford said. All of these are cause for concern. We already have six cases of the South African variant identified here in Wales.
Biden press secretary hits back at complaints of Covid vaccine plan - The Independent
‘When we reach that goal, and we’re confident we will, we’re going to build from there,’ says Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary
The White House press secretary has responded to criticism from the public that Joe Bidens plan to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days was not enough, at a time when Covid-19 surges through the US. Our objective in setting that bold goal is to set our own markers but also set markers for the American people, Jen Psaki said on Good Morning America on Friday. But when we reach that goal, and were confident we will, were going to build from there. Were not packing our bags at 100 million shots, she added. Read more Mr Biden unveiled his national Covid-19 plan on Thursday, which included how his administration intended to get 100 million vaccines into the arms of Americans within 100 days. But then he received questions on if that goal would be enough. When I announced it you all said it's not possible. Come on, give me a break, man, Mr Biden said to a White House reporter. In order to achieve the vaccine plan, the country would need to vaccinate one million Americans either with the first or second dose of the vaccine each day. But some experts have called for closer to two million vaccines to be administered each day in order for the country to receive herd immunity. Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, was one of those experts saying the country should aim for two million doses per day. We're going to need to vaccinate 240 million Americans by August with two doses, he told The Independent. That's going to translate the two million Americans every day. This timeline was in an effort to get the country back on track for the fall so students could return to school. Our nation has to be a nation that's willing to do hard things again, Dr Hotez said. So I think that's about as good a time as any to start getting back to some level of normalcy in the country. The federal government has distributed more than 37 million vaccines doses to states, but just 17.5 million doses have been administered as of Thursday morning, according to the CDC. Part of Mr Bidens mass vaccination campaign would provide more support to states in their efforts to administer the vaccine. This would include the federal government creating large vaccination centres across the US, sending more medical professional to states who could administer the vaccine, and prioritising minority communities. Mr Biden wanted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create at least 100 vaccination centres within the next month. Also, the president signed an executive order "directing relevant agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the [Defense Production Act], to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies needed for the Covid-19 response". Relevant agencies would be responsible for producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gowns and masks, as well as necessary equipment to ramp up Covid-19 testing and vaccine manufacturing. The Biden administration has hit the ground running in the first days in office to address the pandemic, but the president warned the situation would likely get worse in the coming months before it gets better. The death toll will likely top 500,000 next months. Its going to take months for us to turn this around," Mr Biden said. But he added that America would get through this and defeat this pandemic. More than 410,000 Americans have died from the novel virus since the start of the pandemic at a time when the country was averaging over 4,000 new Covid-19 deaths per day.
British shoppers hit with unexpectedly high fees on products from EU after Brexit - The Independent
One consumer asked to pay £140 in fees says she ‘won’t order anything from Europe again any time soon’
Britains online shoppers have expressed their dismay after been hit with unexpectedly high post-Brexit charges on items ordered from countries in the EU. Consumers have been asked to pay up to one-third extra in customs duties, VAT and additional delivery charges once they arrive in the UK. It comes as one UK retail boss said British firms were considering abandoning or even burning goods returned by their EU customers who are also unhappy about unexpected charges, due to the costs involved in bringing the items back to Britain. One shopper, Ellie Huddleston from London, told the BBC she had been asked to pay out £140 in unexpected costs from couriers DPD and UPS after buying a coat and blouses from EU retailers at £380. I sent both back without paying the extra fees and wont be ordering anything from Europe again any time soon, said the 26-year-old. Watch more Customers have complained that they are not being told by online retailers that they will be liable for the extra costs forcing many to refuse to pay when delivery companies turn up at their door. One British shopper was asked to pay £77 in extra charges on clothes costing £245 purchased from a French retailer. Louisa Walters told The Times: DPD offered me two options pay the fees or return the package. There was no way I was paying £77 so I clicked to not accept the package. I was very disappointed. Inside Politics newsletter The latest news on Brexit, politics and beyond direct to your inbox every weekday Inside Politics newsletter The latest news on Brexit, politics and beyond direct to your inbox every weekday Some UK retailers said they were considering giving up on many of the goods which EU customers have asked be returned over the costs and paperwork involved in bringing them back into Britain. Parcels prepared for dispatch at Amazon warehouse in Peterborough Like British shoppers, many European customers have also been rejecting goods bought and imported from the UK after being presented with unexpected charges when signing for them. Adam Mansell, chief executive of the UK Fashion and Textile Association, told the BBC it was cheaper for retailers to write off the cost of the goods than dealing with it all, either abandoning or potentially burning them. He added: Its part of the ongoing small print of the deal. If youre in Germany and buying goods from the UK you then have a courier company knocking on the door giving you a customs clearance invoice that you need to pay to receive your goods. Read more Mr Mansell said further customs paperwork facing UK retailers when goods are returned includes an export clearance charge, import charge arrival, import VAT charge and, depending on the goods, a rules of origin document as well. "Lots of large businesses dont have a handle on it, never mind smaller ones. When the UK was in the single market and customs union, British consumers were covered by the EUs distance selling regulations for the charging of VAT, the levy that all EU countries impose on sales. However, since 1 January, goods purchased online from the EU are now treated identically as items purchased from everywhere else in the world. Since the trade deal came into force, UK shoppers ordering items from Europe costing more than £39 are likely to be given a VAT bill. And for items over £135, some customs duties may also apply. Asked about the problems getting goods in and out of Britain on Friday, environment minister George Eustice said it would be fine once businesses have adapted to the new requirements. There is a familiarisation cost there, but once people get used to it, I think it will work fine, he told Times Radio.
Birmingham attack: Boy, 14, arrested after 15-year-old killed in street - The Independent
Detectives are calling for witnesses to come forward
Police have arrested a 14-year-old boy on suspicion of murdering teenager Keon Lincoln, who was killed in a street attack in Birmingham on Thursday. The suspect was detained on Friday morning, West Midlands Police (WMP) said. He can not be named for legal reasons. Detective Chief Inspector Alastair Orencas said investigators are still trying to establish exactly what happened during the attack. He said: "Our investigation has progressed at pace and this arrest is a positive step forward as we try to establish exactly what happened yesterday afternoon. "Yesterday's events were shocking and tragic. My thoughts are with the boy's family who are being supported by specialist family liaison officers at this incredibly sad and difficult time. We're doing all we can to fully understand what took place. Violence like this on our streets is heart-breaking and deeply concerning. Read more DCI Orencas added: "I'd urge anyone who saw anything or has any information to contact us as soon as possible." WMP on Friday afternoon named the victim as Keon Lincoln. On Thursday, WMP said the boy was "set upon" by a group of youths in the Linwood Road area, about three miles from Birmingham city centre, just after 3.30pm. The victim was taken to hospital but died as a result of his injuries. It is not exactly clear how he died. Witnesses at the scene reported hearing gunshots and said the assailants had been armed with knives. The suspects fled in a white car, which crashed in nearby Wheeler Street, police added. Officers are speaking to witnesses and checking CCTV in the area. The car has also been seized for forensic examination. Anyone who witnessed the killing should contact police on 101, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Coronavirus: Vaccine rationed to north amid national supply issues, reports say - The Independent
Delivery of doses to GPs in North East and Yorkshire will be halved next week
Vaccine supplies sent to the North East and Yorkshire are to be rationed because the region is ahead of others in getting the coronavirus jab out, it has been reported. Deliveries to GP practices in the area one of seven English NHS regions will be halved from 200,000 doses to 100,000 next week, according to the Health Service Journal. It comes amid growing controversy that many over 80s in the south have still not been called for their innoculation, while GPs in the North East and Yorkshire are already starting to move onto lower age brackets. It is not clear if supplies will also be slashed to the patchs hospitals and mass vaccination hubs such as the Centre for Life in Newcastle but, given it is GP practices that administer the majority of jabs, the known reduction will come as a major blow. Some have suggested that, in effect, the region is being punished for getting the vaccine into arms so quickly. Read more Crucially, the redirection suggests the governments target of dolling out 2 million jabs a week remains a long way off Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, health secretary Matt Hancock seemed to acknowledge the issue. The challenge to supply is, essentially, that we have a lumpy supply, he said. He added: It is challenging and therefore it isnt possible to give certainty as far out as many GPs and those delivering on the ground would like because the worst thing would be to give false certainty. Commenting on the rationing to Yorkshire and the North East, one NHS source told the HSJ: Its a sensible policy if you have limited vaccine supply, which is clearly the case [but], given the demography, deprivation, and ethnicity in parts of the region, its not great. An NHS England spokesman said: Vaccine allocations have prioritised areas for supply depending on the number of unvaccinated people in priority cohorts. "This ensures we reach those most at risk across the country as far as possible, following advice from the [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation].
Joe Biden has been president for 24 hours. Here is everything he’s done so far - The Independent
New president and his White House begin a new day in America with at least 50 new policy actions, including executive orders and key changes to undo his predecessor’s legacy
President Joe Bidens first 24 hours in the White House featured a dizzying wave of executive orders and immediate actions on everything from Covid-19 to climate change as the new administration immediately got to work following the Inauguration Day ceremonies. The festivities had not yet ended by Wednesday night as the new president was swearing in his White house staff during a televised event, demanding his appointees help restore the soul of this country by leading with respect for others and warning of the consequences if they dont: I will fire you on the spot. Whereas some had assumed a Biden administration would bring a swift and boring return to normalcy, the White House hit the ground running with at least 17 executive orders and a range of new domestic and international policies all of which were announced before a massive fireworks display lit up Washington in celebration of the new president, who watched from the White House balcony alongside First Lady Dr Jill Biden. Read more: Follow live updates and news on Bidens first days in office Work within the West Wing continued late into the night and early in the morning as Mr Bidens staff sought to have the new policy priorities immediately implemented, from a mask mandate requiring those on federal grounds observe the coronavirus safety measure to the overturning of former President Donald Trumps legacy. Its been a whirlwind 24 hours since the president was sworn in on the footsteps of the US Capitol. Here are some of the most notable actions Mr Biden and his administration have taken since:
- Rejoined the World Health Organization and announced Dr. Anthony Fauci would serve as the head of the US delegation
- Ended the previous administrations travel restrictions on several Muslim majority countries
- Swore in nearly 1,000 new administration appointees via Zoom
- Cancelled permits for the Keystone XL oil pipeline
- Created a new presidential appointee role, the COVID-19 Response Coordinator to assist with national vaccine distribution efforts
- Launched the 100 Days Mask Challenge, including an executive order mandating mask wearing on federal grounds and encouraging Americans to wear masks for 100 days
- Extended the nationwide eviction and foreclosure moratorium until at least the end of March
- Strengthened the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program via executive order
- Avril Haines confirmed as the first woman to lead USIC as the new director of national intelligence
- Rescinded the 1776 Commission, created under the Trump administration to help reshape how public schools teach the history of slavery
- Rejoined the Paris Climate Accord via executive order
- Reversed components of immigration enforcement expansion under previous administration via executive order
- Paused student loans payments and the accruing of interest on all federal student loans until at least the end of September
- Ordered a regulatory review at the Office of Management and Budget to undo the previous administrations regulatory approval process
- Halted the construction of new border security installations along the US-Mexico border
- Announced new executive orders for school and business reopening plans
- Ordered the inclusion of non-US citizens in the Census
- Implemented new ethics pledges for executive branch employees
- Signed executive order preventing workplace discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation
- Extended work authorizations and deportation deferrals for select immigrants until at least June 2022
- Attended the Virtual Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service alongside the first lady, vice president and second gentleman
- Held the first White House press briefing led by Press Secretary Jen Psaki
- Announced new executive orders to expand Covid-19 testing
- Renovated the Oval Office, replacing interior decorations and adding a bust of Latino civil rights leader Cesar Chavez, as well as a portrait of Benjamin Franklin
- Implemented White House Covid-19 precautions including mask wearing, frequent testing and new social distancing measures.
- Transportation Secretary nominee Pete Buttigieg began nomination hearings with the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee
- Delivered additional calls for national unity with speeches by president and vice president at inauguration night concert
- Created plans to host congressional leaders this week from both parties at the White House
- Scheduled themed days for the next week to focus on specific policy priorities, including economic relief, Buy America, Equity, Climate, Health Care, Immigration and Restoring Americas Place in the World.
- Prepared plans to overturn key Trump administration abortion policy restricting funding for overseas abortion providers
- Redesigned the White House website to be more inclusive, with language translations and additional accessibility options
- Ended the Trump administrations Migrant Protection Protocols Policy, otherwise known as the Remain in Mexico policy
- Sent a comprehensive immigration bill to Congress to further undo the previous administrations legacy
- Placed a moratorium on oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Added gender-neutral pronoun options to the online White House contact form
- Fired Trump-appointed labor board general Peter Robb
- Established interagency group on societal impact of carbon pollution
- Asked Environmental Protection Agency to immediately reconsider methane regulations
- Announced intention to revoke transgender military ban
- Designated Domestic Policy Council Susan Rice to spearhead robust, interagency effort towards rooting out systemic racism in federal agencies.
- Proposed new Covid-19 national strategy
- Encouraged Congress to grant special waiver for Defense Secretary nominee Lloyd J. Austin III
- Named acting Cabinet members until nominees slate can ben confirmed
- Withdrew previous administrations order limiting diversity trainings
- Ordered federal agencies to develop plans to address barriers to equal opportunity in the next 200 days
- Suspended all gas development projects at national wildlife monuments
- Restructured immigration arrest priorities for ICE
- Re-examine federal funding to ensure equitable distribution in communities of color and low income areas.
- Directed agencies to consider revising vehicle fuel economic and emissions standards
- Froze all last-minute regulatory actions taken by the previous administration
Coronavirus news - live: Infection levels may have risen at start of lockdown as ‘200 vaccinated each minute’ - The Independent
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Infection levels in England may have risen at the start of January, scientists tracking the spread of the coronavirus have said, with swab tests indicating the highest figures were in London. Researchers from Imperial College London who studied 143,000 randomly selected people found that 1.58 per cent were positive for the virus between 6 and 15 January. In London the figure was 2.8 per cent. They say infection levels may have risen in early January, despite the lockdown beginning on 6 January, because people's activity increased after the Christmas holiday ended. The reports data is more up to date than the governments daily case figures, the scientists claim, because it does not rely on those being tested developing symptoms. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, has announced that the NHS is vaccinating people against Covid-19 at a rate of 200 jabs each minute, adding that 4.6 million people had now received a total of five million doses. Key Points Show latest update 1611233528 UK vaccines may not be enough to achieve herd immunity, scientists warn The government's vaccination programme may not be sufficient to achieve herd immunity in the UK, especially when taking into account the highly transmissible new variant, scientists have warned. Their findings, which have not been peer-reviewed, are based on a modelling study assessing the effectiveness of the UK-wide rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines. Herd immunity can occur when most of the population becomes immune to an infectious disease such as Covid-19, thus providing indirect protection to those who are not immune. Researchers from the University of East Anglia said their results indicate that everyone, including children, would need to be inoculated with the "more effective" Pfizer jab for the UK to achieve herd immunity. The scientists recommend that all health and social care professionals be vaccinated with either the Pfizer or Moderna jabs, both of which have reported around 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials, to prevent patients and vulnerable people from becoming infected. Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:52 1611233127 Scotland reports 89 more deaths Scotland has recorded 89 deaths from coronavirus and 1,636 positive tests in the past 24 hours, deputy first minister John Swinney has said. It brings the death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days to 5,468. He also said three new walk-in testing centres were opening in Scotland this week. One opened in Paisley on Tuesday, with further sites opening in Dunfermline and Glenrothes later on Thursday. Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:45 1611232325 Too soon to say when lockdown will end, says Johnson It is too early to say when the national lockdown in England will end, Boris Johnson has said, calling yesterdays fresh record in daily deaths "appalling". "I think it's too early to say when we'll be able to lift some of some of the restrictions," Mr Johnson said. A survey known as React-1 suggested infections had not fallen in the first days of lockdown, though the government says the impact of the new lockdown is not yet reflected in the numbers. "What we're seeing in the ONS data, in the React survey, we're seeing the contagiousness of the new variant that we saw arrive just before Christmas. There's no doubt it does spread very fast indeed," the PM said. Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:32 1611231642 People jumping queue for jabs thanks to IT loophole People who are not yet eligible for the coronavirus vaccine have been able to skip the queue and arrange appointments ahead of those on the priority list using an IT loophole in the online system. Website links designed to allow the over-70s and healthcare workers in England to book their jabs have been shared on social media, Adam Forrest reveals: Labour MP Toby Perkins disturbed online booking system appeared open to abuse Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:20 1611231411 Wales records 1,153 new cases A further 1,153 cases of coronavirus have been recorded in Wales, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 185,035. Public Health Wales reported another 46 deaths, taking the total there since the start of the pandemic to 4,392. Jane Dalton21 January 2021 12:16 1611230350 Starmer says Williams has failed as education secretary Labour leader Keir Starmer has said Gavin Williams promise to give schools two weeks' notice before reopening was "good news, coming from an education secretary that normally gives them about 24 hours' notice". Mr Starmer told reporters at Labour headquarters that Mr Williamson "has failed as education secretary", adding: "I think the country has given him an F, I think you would struggle if you went around anywhere in the UK talking about schools to find many people that would give him more than an F." Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:59 1611229648 Health secretary urges caution after vaccination as it doesnt work immediately Matt Hancock urged people to be cautious after receiving their Covid-19 vaccine as he underlined that it does not immediately provide protection. The health secretary underlined it was important that people were aware that they can still catch coronavirus for several weeks after being vaccinated. He said: "When people are vaccinated, they are told essentially the time that it takes and the limit of the effectiveness, especially in that early period, and told very clearly that you have to still follow the rules. "That's an important part of this, especially until we can measure the effectiveness of the vaccination programme on transmission. In fact, only yesterday I reviewed the communications that go to people when they've been vaccinated and they are very clear and robust. It's important that everybody post-vaccination continues to follow those rules, both to bring the number of cases down because of the impact on transmission and also to protect themselves. Mr Hancock added: "The vaccine is the way out but it doesn't work immediately and people still need to be cautious." Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:47 1611229430 Fire breaks out at site of worlds largest vaccine maker in India, say reports A big fire broke out on Thursday at the site of Serum Institute of India (SII), known as the worlds largest vaccine maker, but it will not affect the ongoing production of the Covid-19 vaccines, according to local media reports. SII, located in the western Indian city of Pune, is involved in producing coronavirus vaccine developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca, which is locally branded as Covishield. Rituparna Chatterjee and Stuti Mishra have more details on the fire that has broken out at at the site of the Serum Institute of India: A fire broke out at the site of the Serum Institute of India in Pune city Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:43 1611228495 Thailand approves AstraZeneca vaccine Thailands drugs regulator has approved AstraZenecas Covid-19 vaccine, a health ministry source told Reuters. It is the first coronavirus vaccine to be approved in the country. Thailand's Matichon newspaper also reported the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, giving the green light for the first inoculations to begin in February. Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:28 1611228345 Almost half of in-person test results not received within 24 hours Around half (53.7 per cent) of people who were tested in-person in England in the week ending 13 January received their result within 24 hours more than six months after Boris Johnson promised all tests would be turned around within a day. The figure, which includes tests at regional sites, local sites or mobile testing units, is up from 31.6 per cent in the previous week and is the highest figure since the week to 9 December. The prime minister had pledged that, by the end of June 2020, the results of all in-person tests would be back within 24 hours. He told the House of Commons on 3 June that he would get "all tests turned around within 24 hours by the end of June, except for difficulties with postal tests or insuperable problems like that". Clea Skopeliti21 January 2021 11:25
Brexit news - live: Food shortages are due to leaving EU, UK admits amid diplomatic row over bloc’s status - The Independent
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'Nothing wrong with being woke' says Boris Johnson The international trade secretary, Liz Truss, has admitted Brexit led to food shortages in Northern Ireland after weeks of disruption. Her Cabinet colleague Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, had argued that the coronavirus crisis, not the end of the transition period, was solely to blame for the shortages before Ms Truss contradicted him, blaming both of those issues. Meanwhile, a row broke out between the UK and EU after the Foreign Office refused to grant the blocs ambassador in London the same diplomatic status afforded to representatives of individual nation states. Inside Politics newsletter The latest news on Brexit, politics and beyond direct to your inbox every weekday Inside Politics newsletter The latest news on Brexit, politics and beyond direct to your inbox every weekday Show latest update 1611226677 Matt Hancock says vaccine rollout making good progress Responding to an urgent question on the vaccine rollout, the health secretary who is self-isolating said: As we endure these dark days and the restrictions we must all follow to save lives, we know that we have a way out, which is our vaccination programme and thanks to the hard work of so many people we now have an immense infrastructure in place that day by day is protecting the most vulnerable and giving hope to us all. I'm glad to report to the House we now have given over five million doses of vaccine across the UK to 4.6 million people, making good progress towards our goal of offering everyone priority groups one to four their first dose by 15 February. Liam James21 January 2021 10:57 1611226094 Europe may not book UK musicians, union boss tells Lords Getting into Europe to play gigs could be as difficult and as expensive" for musicians as getting into America, the general secretary of the Musicians Union has warned. The House of Lords is holding a session on the impact of Brexit on the creative industries after several high-profile figures spoke out against the decision to end visa-free music tours to the EU. Horace Trubridge said he was concerned promoters in Europe are simply not going to try to book UK artists due to post-Brexit arrangements. Read more on the ongoing fight over the future of UK musicians rights here: Top artists have spoken out on behalf of smaller acts who say they will struggle with new Brexit bureaucracy Liam James21 January 2021 10:48 1611225255 Government to open flood defence consultation, says environment secretary George Eustice, the environment secretary, said the government will launch a consulation on funding for flood and coastal defences as parts of the UK struggle in the wake of Storm Christoph. Responding to a question from Andrew Percy, Conservative MP for Brigg and Goole, Mr Eustice said the government will launch a consulation soon with an eye to placing more weight on communities which suffer frequent flooding. Eustice is fielding questions from MPs in the Commons currently Liam James21 January 2021 10:34 1611224022 Williamson to lay out Skills for Jobs policy plan Gavin Williamson will take to the floor of the Commons later to lay out the governments Skills for Jobs policy proposals. The government says the reforms to post-16 education will put an end to the illusion" that a university degree is the only way to getting a good job. The education secretary said ahead of the launch the reforms will ensure all technical education and training is based on what employers want and need. Focus is on skills he says are needed for economic growth. Liam James21 January 2021 10:13 1611223055 Labour calls on Patel to explain Covid border stance to MPs Labour called on Priti Patel last night to update MPs on the UKs border policy after the home secretary admitted a split in government occured during the early days of the pandemic. Ms Patel said she had wanted to close the borders last March but was overruled. Her opposite number, Labours Nick Thomas-Symonds, said the split led to vital opportunities to stop the spread of the virus being missed and has now written to her asking her to tell parliament what has been learned and to outline the governments border plan going forward as new variants of the coronavirus emerge. Shadow home secretary Thomas-Symonds says government has failed to enact a clear strategy on borders Liam James21 January 2021 09:57 1611222234 Rayner revels in Williamson-bashing interview Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner has stood behind Piers Morgans brutal grilling of education secretary Gavin Williamson this morning. Liam James21 January 2021 09:43 1611221850 Nothing wrong with being woke says Boris Johnson The prime minister would not say whether he agreed with politicians including Lisa Nandy that incumbent president Joe Biden is woke, but he did suggest he would not mind if he was. He then went on to boast his own belief that its important to stick up for your history, your traditions" etc. Will this appeal to both the new president who he will have to deal with and his supporter base of new Tory voters at once? Or neither? Liam James21 January 2021 09:37 1611220405 Gavin Williamson says he certainly hopes schools in England will reopen before Easter Gavin Williamson said he would certainly hope to reopen schools in England before Easter and stressed that teachers, parents and children will be given a two-week notice period before any return. In an interview on BBC Radio 4s Today programme, Mr Williamson also sidestepped questions whether there was a crisis in confidence in his leadership at the Department for Education the day after his opposite number on the Labour frontbench called for his resignation. Political Correspondent Ashley Cowburn has more on this: Schools were the last to close, schools will be the first to open, says education secretary Liam James21 January 2021 09:13 1611219445 Labour to attack Rishi Sunaks self-defeating Covid policies Labour is set to take aim at chancellor Rishi Sunaks handling of the coronavirus crisis, saying his policies have cost jobs and caused untold harm to business. Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds will use a speech to the London School of Economics today to accuse her Tory opposite of setting up a false choice between protecting public health and the economy. This will be the second attempt to make a splash with a big speech from Ms Dodds in as many weeks. The last, where she set out Labours plan for a responsible fiscal framework, received some coverage for her split with the economic approach of the Corbyn era but did not make the front pages. Anneliese Dodds will say the chancellors approach has been self-defeating' Liam James21 January 2021 08:57 1611218278 Diplomatic row sparked between UK and EU over ambassador A diplomatic row has flared up between the EU and its only former-member state after the UK refused to grant the blocs ambassador in London the same status afforded to representatives of individual nations. The Foreign Office insists Joao Vale de Almeida should not have the privileges and immunities granted to diplomats under the Vienna Convention. The UK is understood not to want to set a precedent of treating an international organisation the same as a nation state. The EU argues it is not the same as an organisation such as Nato as it has its own currency and judicial system. The EUs foreign affairs representative has written to Dominic Raab expressing serious concerns and the blocs foreign ministers are expected to discuss the issue in their first post-Brexit transition meeting next Monday. Liam James21 January 2021 08:37
Biden inauguration concert - live: John Legend, Yo-Yo Ma and more perform at celebration hosted by Tom Hanks - The Independent
Demi Lovato, Katy Perry and John Legend are among the artists performing at the Celebrating America concert hosted by Tom Hanks
Live coverage of Joe Biden's inauguration Joe Biden is officially Americas 46th president, with a host of famous faces helping to welcome him to the White House. Inauguration Day began 11.30am ET (4.30pm GMT) with Lady Gagas performance of the US national anthem. This was followed by a traditional invocation, delivered by Reverend Father Leo Jeremiah O'Donovan. Jennifer Lopez then sang This Land is Your Land, and 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman gave a moving recitation of her poem The Hill We Climb, written especially for the occasion. Vice president-elect Kamala Harris was sworn in by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor shortly before noon (ET). Biden was sworn in as US president by Chief Justice John Roberts, and followed with his inaugural address. Most presidents have an inaugural ball thrown in their honour after they are sworn in. This year, however, actor Tom Hanks will host a 90-minute TV special featuring celebrities including Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato and Jon Bon Jovi, to begin at 8:30pm (ET). Follow all the necessary updates during and leading up to the event in our live blog below: Independent Culture Newsletter The best in film, music TV & radio straight to your inbox every week Independent Culture Newsletter The best in film, music TV & radio straight to your inbox every week Show latest update 1611197707 Lovato is singing a song called Lovely Day. And look whos tuning in from the White House! Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:55 1611197639 And its time for Demi Lovatos performance! Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:53 1611197396 We now hear from three former presidents: Barack Obama, George W Bush, and Bill Clinton. The trio (made up of two Democrats and one Republican) highlight the need for a peaceful transition of power and unity. Bill Clinton, George W Bush, and Barack Obama Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:49 1611197264 Lovato performed the political anthem next to billboards reading VOTE at the 2020 Billboard Music Awards. Learn more about her performance here: Lovatos new song Commander in Chief includes lines such as: 'If I did the things you do/I couldn't sleep Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:47 1611197207 Demi Lovato, who is on the schedule tonight, is also among the artists who have spoken out against Donald Trump. She appeared to channel her opposition to the now-former president in a song titled Commander in Chief, unveiled in October 2020. The song includes pointed lyrics such as :Commander in chief, honestly / if I did the things you do, I couldnt sleep. If I did the things you do, I couldnt sleep, sings Lovato, in lyrics seemingly aimed at the US president Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:46 1611197142 The song, called Undivided, is a call for unity. Hubbard wrote it after testing positive for Covid-19 last year. You can read more about the song and its story here: Country stars Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw are asking people to walk a mile in someone else's shoes in a call for unity on their new duet Undivided." Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:45 1611197043 Joining from where else? Nashville, Tennessee, are country musicians Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw. Tyler Hubbard and Tim McGraw Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:44 1611196829 Sounds like Twitter was justifiably enthralled by John Legends performance: Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:40 1611196762 Yessss Luis Fonsi joins to sing the absolute classic Despacito! Released in January 2017 and hasnt aged a bit. Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:39 1611196626 DJ Cassidy has entered the chat! Clemence Michallon21 January 2021 02:37
Biden inauguration concert: Who is performing and what time is the show? - The Independent
Biden inauguration performances schedule including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato and Bon Jovi. Who is singing at the inauguration?
After Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks performances at President Joe Biden's swearing-in, Hollywood star Tom Hanks is set to host a primetime TV special featuring performances from Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi, and Ant Clemons. The special, titled Celebrating America, will run for 90 minutes and will be broadcast live on ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC from 8:3010:00 PM ET/PT. Follow Biden inauguration concert live: Lady Gaga sings national anthem This inauguration presents a unique opportunity to spotlight the resilience and spirit of an America United, said the Presidential Inaugural Committees CEO Tony Allen in a statement. We have witnessed countless heroes this past year step-up to the frontlines and serve their fellow Americans, so we are telling their stories, spreading their collective light, and celebrating the best of our country and its people with this primetime program. Our first priority is safety so while many of us will be watching safely from our homes, we are creating real moments of connection that highlight a new inclusive American era of leadership that works for and represents all Americans, continued Allen. A pre-inauguration fundraising event, organised by the Biden-Harris team, hosted a We the People live-streamed concert on 17 January that was hosted by Keegan-Michael Key and Debra Messing. Independent Culture Newsletter The best in film, music TV & radio straight to your inbox every week Independent Culture Newsletter The best in film, music TV & radio straight to your inbox every week Watch more The concert included appearances by AJR, Michael Bivins, Connie Britton, Sophia Bush, Jaime Camil, Fall Out Boy, Ben Harper, Carole King, Kal Penn, James Taylor, and Will.i.Am. There were also appearances from President Joe Biden, Dr Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris. Attendees viewing the livestream were asked to make a donation to help support the Biden-Harris inaugural programming in exchange for a link.
US is back in Paris Accords as Biden signs wave of climate executive orders during first hours of office - The Independent
President Biden’s move is a U-turn on Donald Trump’s decision to exit the international pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
President Biden rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement on his first day in office, one of a sweep of executive orders to tackle the climate crisis. Following his swearing-in ceremony as the 46th president, Mr Biden committed to rejoining the international pact to cut the greenhouse gas emissions heating the planet. Its a U-turn on Donald Trumps decision to exit the deal in the first months of his presidential term, after he dubbed the agreement a disaster for America. Rejoining Paris was one of about a dozen executive orders that the newly-minted president signed, the beginning of his administrations plan to unwind the destructive environmental and climate policies of the Trump era. There was also an order to restore 100 public health and environmental rules that former president Trump had rolled back or weakened. Mr Biden canceled the permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline and banned new leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a pristine landscape which Mr Trump opened to oil and gas drilling Watch more Mr Biden also tackled Mr Trumps rollbacks on methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas, and on fuel-economy standards for vehicles with executive orders. When it comes to the Paris Agreement it is believed that, once the United Nations is notified by letter the US intends to rejoin, it should officially take effect in 30 days. President Biden also declared that the US is rejoining the World Health Organisation and signed an order prohibiting interference in the operations of the Justice Department from other parts of government. On the campaign trail Mr Biden had promised to recommit to the Paris Accords, adding that his administration would also push other countries to ramp up their domestic emissions targets. Its expected in the coming months, that the US - which accounts for 15 per cent of global emissions - will submit updated reduction targets from the Obama-era goals, in an effort to lead by example The US had pledged to reduce emission levels between 26-28 per cent by 2025 from 2005 levels. It is not on track to reach those goals. The core of the Paris agreement is reliant on countries continually ramping up their emissions targets, called Nationally Determined Contributions. Mr Trumps decision to exit the accords meant that other major emitters have lagged on their goals. Nations current pledges are not enough to achieve staying well below 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, and pursue efforts of an increasingly ambitious 1.5C, the levels which scientists say will prevent catastrophic heating. By 1 February, the Biden administration has promised additional executive actions to address the climate crisis. Further down the line will be the goal of passing a $2 trillion climate package to jumpstart Americas race to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. President Biden is expected to convene a summit with leaders from other major polluters in the hopes of ramping up ambitions ahead the UN climate talks, COP26, this November in the UK. The Paris deal provides pathways for richer countries to help poorer ones, some of which are already bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. As part of the Paris deal, former president Obama pledged $3 billion toward the Green Climate Fund to help poorer countries adapt. Mr Trump moved to withhold $2bn when he became president. In 2019, 27 countries announced contributions totalling $9.8bn. The US refused to contribute.