When one door closes. Democrats ended their impeachment case against former President Donald Trump with a warning: Convict, or risk history repeating itself. But Republican senators seemed unmoved, even after learning that Trump knew Mike Pence was in danger while he egged on Capitol rioters against his own vice president. That apathy led House managers to expedite the trial, letting Trump’s defense team speak Friday before an expected acquittal vote Saturday, which opens the door for a Trump run in 2024. Meanwhile, dozens of anti-Trump conservative leaders are considering splitting from the GOP to form a center-right third party.
Who cares if you can’t pronounce it? What’s important is that it works, at least according to Recovery, the world’s biggest pandemic treatment trial. Among 4,000 participants, arthritis drug Tocilizumab cut intensive care patients’ deaths by 14 percent, while also preventing others from needing such care. Oxford University researchers believe half of virus sufferers could benefit “almost immediately” from the anti-inflammatory medication, normally given with the steroid dexamethasone. Meanwhile, U.S. President Joe Biden yesterday announced deals to acquire an additional 200 million vaccine doses, enabling 300 million Americans to be inoculated by July.
Freezing rain turned an interstate highway in Fort Worth, Texas, into a disaster zone as 133 cars smashed into each other between two concrete barriers, causing six deaths. The destruction stretched for a half-mile and prompted questions from state lawmakers after reports that the road had not been salted before the crash. The danger from freezing rain stretches all the way to West Virginia as harsh winter conditions are expected to linger across the nation. Even Seattle is expected to exceed its average annual allotment of snow from a storm that will continue through Saturday.
4. Weed Stocks Suffer Hangover, Testing Limits of Reddit Blaze
Cannabis stocks crashed by 20 percent or more in the worst single-day drop in pot history, skunked after a recent rally driven by hopes of decriminalization under President Biden. Some turbulence came from WallStreetBets, the Reddit group that boosted GameStop, pushing Canadian cannabis company Tilray. But that led to a dose of reality after the initial high wore off and investors realized Tilray would only tangentially benefit from American legalization. The U.S. Senate and a few states are reportedly open to passing marijuana laws in 2021, though, so believers may still have reason to toke up.
Coronavirus Update: Melbourne’s 6.5 million inhabitants are locking down again and the Australian Open tennis tournament will proceed without fans after travelers brought suspected cases of the highly contagious British coronavirus strain. And former President Trump’s October bout with COVID-19 was much worse than previously revealed and officials reportedly expected him to go on a ventilator when he was first hospitalized.
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They’re preaching discord. Some remote Amazon villages are meeting COVID-19 inoculation efforts with bows and arrows as Christian missionaries stoke anti-vaccination fears. Such violence isn’t happening everywhere — just places with evangelical pastors who, as one Indigenous leader put it, convince people they’ll “turn into an alligator and other crazy ideas.” Critics blame Brazil’s conservative President Jair Bolsonaro and religious fundamentalists for opposition to vaccines even as Brazil suffers a national death toll second only to the United States. While urban religious leaders praise immunization, they warn that their rural colleagues aren’t spreading the good news.
He says he’s not hanging by the telephone. But the fact that America’s new president hasn’t had a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the previous POTUS’s BFF, is causing Israelis to ask if Bibi’s being ghosted. President Biden has touted his decades of interactions with Israel’s longest-serving leader, and his aides have said he won’t reverse President Trump’s controversial embassy move to Jerusalem, but the silence is deafening. Israel’s ambassador in Washington tweeted a list of 10 nations whose leaders have gotten calls, suggesting it might be time for Biden to phone America’s “closest ally.”
Spätis — a shortening of Spätkauf, German for “late buy” — are Berlin’s answer to the convenience store, OZY reports. The problem is, these purveyors of alcohol, snacks and other impulse-driven goods do their best business on Sundays, when German labor laws prohibit grocery stores from opening. So while city leaders agitate for the stores to close, some in the name of protecting workers, others point out that laws based on the Christian Sabbath discriminate against proprietors who are often Muslim. So Spätis remain in business, in part because Berliners wouldn’t have it any other way.
On the first day of the Year of the Ox, regulators have banned the British network from airing in China, citing a “slew of falsified reporting” including recent BBC World News investigations into the treatment of Muslim Uighurs and others detained in the western region of Xinjiang. Another possible motive? A week ago, British regulators banned China’s CGTN network, noting its connection to the country’s Communist Party. For Chinese viewers, the effect won’t be too noticeable, since the BBC was only available in hotels and residential compounds for foreigners and wasn’t included in most cable packages.
The “Fightin’ Saracen” wouldn’t work, either. Valparaiso University yesterday decided to retire its “Crusader” mascot over complaints that it “can be associated with aggressive religious oppression and violence,” as the Indiana school’s interim president noted. Valparaiso resisted the change for years, but the fact that the anti-Muslim warrior symbol has been “embraced and displayed by hate groups” seems to have been the final straw. Meanwhile, 21st-century sensibilities have also caught up with Japan’s Olympics chief, Yoshiro Mori, who’s set to resign after opposing adding women to the country’s Olympic Committee board, saying they’d talk too much.
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