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L.A. County won’t be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 till 2022 unless pace improves, Garcetti warns

L.A. County won’t be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 till 2022 unless pace improves, Garcetti warns

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in California has been scattered and slower than expected as supplies remain scarce and counties expand access and offer the doses at different paces, but more people are getting vaccinated every day.

Those seeking to sign up for the vaccine have been plagued by confusion over who’s eligible, technical issues on appointment websites, quickly filled slots, and, for some, long wait times at vaccination sites.

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Biden news – live: President won’t stop Trump impeachment as he launches economic ‘rescue’ plan

Biden news - live: President won’t stop Trump impeachment as he launches economic ‘rescue’ plan

The Conversation

Capitol mob wasn’t just angry white men – there were angry white women as well

There were women among the crowd that marched to the Capitol and stormed the building. Shay Horse/NurPhoto via Getty ImagesThe terror inflicted on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 laid bare America’s problem with violent extremism. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have begun to piece together the events of that day, while attempting to thwart any impending attacks. Scores of people have been arrested and charged over the attack – the vast majority being men. In the wake of these events, there were stories attributing the violence and destruction to “white male rage” “violent male rage” and “angry white men.” But what about the women? To distill the violent insurrection into a tale of angry male rage is to overlook the threat that women in the mob posed to congressional officials, law enforcement and U.S. democracy that day. Long history of women’s involvement Several women have been identified as alleged participants in the events of Jan. 6. Among those women are a former school occupational therapist, an employee of a county sheriff’s office, a real estate broker and a former mayoral candidate. At least one woman is being investigated for her role in organizing the attack with fellow members of the Oath Keepers, a far-right militia movement. And Ashli Babbit, a female veteran, was shot dead by police while attempting to breach the Senate floor. The women who took part in the siege of the Capitol are part of a long history of women’s participation in extremist violence, both in the United States and abroad. Jessica Watkins, seen here in a photo from the Montgomery County jail, is facing federal charges that she participated in the assault on the U.S. Capitol. Montgomery County Jail via AP Women have buoyed American far-right organizations and causes for centuries. In her recent book on women at the forefront of contemporary white nationalism, author Seyward Darby writes that women are not “incidental to white nationalism, they are a sustaining feature.” Since the late 1800s, women have supported and enabled the terrorist white supremacist organization the Ku Klux Klan, while hundreds of thousands joined its female affiliate, Women of the Ku Klux Klan, and its predecessors. Women helped establish the Klan’s culture, bolstered its recruitment efforts and manufactured its propaganda. Despite its hyper-masculine ideology, which identifies white men as the primary arbiters of political power, women have also held leadership positions within the modern-day Klan. More recently, women have joined the far-right Proud Boys movement, which has openly recruited female foot soldiers. In December, a growing rift between male and female Proud Boys was reported. After experiencing intense sexist backlash from men in the organization, women led by MMA fighter Tara LaRosa began their own group, the Proud Girls USA. To leave one extremist organization in order to form another suggests a deep commitment to the far-right cause. Discounting is dangerous A 2005 study noted a disconnect between the rise in women within American right-wing terrorist organizations and the attention it received from law enforcement. Despite a marked increase in women’s engagement in acts of terror against the state and racial minorities, security officials have largely failed to publicize, search and interrogate women operatives in these organizations, even after they become known to law enforcement. There is also evidence that American far-right women have drawn inspiration and tactical knowledge from women engaged in extremist violence abroad. Evidence from the global war on terror points to the potential dangers of ignoring the growth of violent extremism among women. In Iraq, for example, female terrorists carried out large numbers of deadly suicide attacks against American assets during the U.S. occupation. The rest of the world has since been forced to grapple with the reality of violent women after female terrorists staged lethal attacks in Nigeria, Somalia, Tunisia, the Philippines, Indonesia and France. Recent terror attacks in American cities such as San Bernardino, California, and Las Vegas that featured women among the perpetrators confirm violent women have already inflicted damage on U.S. soil. Ku Klux Klan security guards escort two female members after a Klan meeting in Castro Valley, California, in 1979. AP Photo/PS Gender bias can be deadly In fact, my research suggests that attacks by female terrorists are often more destructive than those executed by their male counterparts. In an analysis of over 2,500 global suicide attacks, I show disparities in the severity of male and female attacks are greatest where gender stereotypes suggest that women are neither violent nor political. Such tropes can blind security officials and civilians to the threat posed by women terrorists, causing them to overlook the potential for female complicity. Female terrorists, including in Iraq, Israel and Nigeria, have been able to deflect suspicion because they were women. My research shows that gender bias can become deadly when it stops effective counterterrorism policies, such as surveillance, searches and interrogations, from being implemented. Additionally, since ordinary citizens played an unusual role in exposing the identities of the Capitol attackers, gender biases among civilians are also relevant. Failure to accept women’s complicity in the Capitol siege and the broader movement may prevent the identification of female offenders and impedes efforts to punish and deter future attacks. American women have been key pillars of support for violent right-wing extremists for centuries. They have been right-wing extremists themselves – racist skinheads, neo-Nazis and Klanswomen. Women are also Oath Keepers, Three Percenters and Proud Boys. They were capitol rioters. To construct an accurate account of the Capitol attack, it’s necessary to ask “Where are the women?” And the answer is, “Right there.”This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. It was written by: Jakana Thomas, Michigan State University. Read more:Misogyny in the Capitol: Among the insurrectionists, a lot of angry men who don’t like women‘The US is falling apart’: How Russian media is portraying the US Capitol siege Jakana Thomas does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

#Biden #news #live #President #wont #stop #Trump #impeachment #launches #economic #rescue #plan

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Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin confirmed to lead Pentagon, becoming nation’s 1st Black secretary of defense

Retired Gen. Lloyd Austin confirmed to lead Pentagon, becoming nation’s 1st Black secretary of defense

 Lloyd J. Austin, a West Point graduate who rose to the Army’s elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation Friday to become the nation’s first Black secretary of defense.

The 93-2 vote gave President Joe Biden his second Cabinet member; Avril Haines was confirmed on Wednesday as the first woman to serve as director of national intelligence. Biden is expected to win approval for others on his national security team in coming days, including Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Biden is looking for Austin to restore stability atop the Pentagon, which went through two Senate-confirmed secretaries of defense and four who held the post on an interim basis during the Trump administration.

Austin’s confirmation was complicated by his status as a recently retired general. He required a waiver of a legal prohibition on a military officer serving as secretary of defense within seven years of retirement. Austin retired in 2016 after serving as the first Black general to head U.S. Central Command. He was the first Black vice chief of staff of the Army in 2012 and also served as director of the Joint Staff, a behind-the-scenes job that gave him an intimate view of the Pentagon’s inner workings.

The House and the Senate approved the waiver Thursday, clearing the way for the Senate confirmation vote.

Austin, a large man with a booming voice and a tendency to shy from publicity, describes himself as the son of a postal worker and a homemaker from Thomasville, Georgia. He has promised to speak his mind to Congress and to Biden.

At his confirmation hearing Tuesday, Austin said he had not sought the nomination but was ready to lead the Pentagon without clinging to his military status and with full awareness that being a political appointee and Cabinet member requires “a different perspective and unique duties from a career in uniform.”

As vice president, Biden worked closely with Austin in 2010-11 to wind down U.S. military involvement in Iraq while Austin was the top U.S. commander in Baghdad. American forces withdrew entirely, only to return in 2014 after the Islamic State extremist group captured large swaths of Iraqi territory. At Central Command, Austin was a key architect of the strategy to defeat IS in Iraq and Syria.

Biden said in December when he announced Austin as his nominee that he considered him “the person we need at this moment,” and that he trusts Austin to ensure civilian control of the military. Critics of the nomination have questioned the wisdom of making an exception to the law against a recently retired military officer serving as defense secretary, noting that the prohibition was put in place to guard against undue military influence in national security matters.

Only twice before has Congress waived the prohibition — in 1950 for George C. Marshall during the Korean War and in 2017 for Jim Mattis, the retired Marine general who served as President Donald Trump’s first Pentagon chief.

Austin has promised to surround himself with qualified civilians. And he made clear at his confirmation hearing that he embraces Biden’s early focus on combatting the coronavirus pandemic.

“I will quickly review the department’s contributions to coronavirus relief efforts, ensuring we are doing everything we can — and then some — to help distribute vaccines across the country and to vaccinate our troops and preserve readiness,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Under questioning by senators, Austin pledged to address white supremacy and violent extremism in the ranks of the military — problems that received relatively little public attention from his immediate predecessor, Mark Esper. Austin promised to “rid our ranks of racists,” and said he takes the problem personally.

“The Defense Department’s job is to keep America safe from our enemies,” he said. “But we can’t do that if some of those enemies lie within our own ranks.”

Austin said he will insist that the leaders of every military service know that extremist behavior in their ranks is unacceptable.

“This is not something we can be passive on,” he said. “This is something I think we have to be active on, and we have to lean into it and make sure that we’re doing the right things to create the right climate.”

He offered glimpses of other policy priorities, indicating that he embraces the view among many in Congress that China is the “pacing challenge,” or the leading national security problem for the U.S.

The Middle East was the main focus for Austin during much of his Army career, particularly when he reached senior officer ranks.

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Trump ‘prank-called by Piers Morgan impersonator’

Donald Trump

Mr Trump was duped by the prankster, Morgan said

Donald Trump was called on Air Force One last year by a prankster posing as Piers Morgan, the TV presenter says.

The president, as he was at the time, only realised he had been tricked when he phoned the real Morgan while on his way to vote in Florida last year.

The alleged security breach is said to have happened in October, but only emerged in an interview Morgan gave to the BBC’s Americast podcast.

The two recently had a falling out over Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

Asked by the BBC’s Jon Sopel why Mr Trump had called Morgan out of the blue this past October, the presenter described “an absolutely hilarious story, where somebody had called [Trump] pretending to be me the day before and got through to him on Air Force One”.

The 45th US president didn’t realise he had been duped, Morgan said. “They had a conversation with Trump thinking he was talking to me.”

It is not clear who the alleged hoaxers were, but if the story is true President Trump would not be the first political leader to have been pranked.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, while he was foreign secretary, have both been tricked on the phone in recent years.

But it would revive long-running questions about the security of President Trump’s phone conversations.

The BBC has asked the Secret Service for comment.

Morgan was a high-profile tabloid editor in the UK who took over from Larry King with a primetime CNN chat show in 2011. He now presents a breakfast show in the UK.

He was initially supportive of President Trump after his surprise election win but became increasingly critical in the last 12 months.

“We had a very nice conversation… I always got on well with Trump,” Morgan said of their October call, but added that Mr Trump’s “character flaws – the chronic narcissism, the desire to make everything about himself” made him a “useless leader”.

On their friendship, Morgan described Mr Trump’s behaviour since the November presidential election as “egregious” and “so obviously on a pathway” to the Capitol Hill riots on 6 January.

“I just felt – no, I’m done with you now,” Morgan said.

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#Trump #prankcalled #Piers #Morgan #impersonator

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Man plans to plead guilty to deaths of 36 partygoers in fire

Man plans to plead guilty to deaths of 36 partygoers in fire

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The master tenant of a cluttered, dilapidated San Francisco Bay Area warehouse where 36 people perished in a late-night fire in 2016 is scheduled to plead guilty Friday to the deaths, avoiding a second trial after the first ended in a hung jury.

Families of several victims told the East Bay Times last week that prosecutors told them Derick Almena, 50, will plead guilty to 36 counts of involuntary manslaughter in exchange for a nine-year sentence. Almena may serve little or none of that term because of time already spent behind bars and credit for good behavior.

Alameda County prosecutors say Almena was criminally negligent when he illegally converted the industrial Oakland warehouse into a residence and event space for artists dubbed the “Ghost Ship,” stuffing the two-story building with flammable materials, extension cords. It had no smoke detectors or sprinklers.

The Dec. 2, 2016, fire broke out at the warehouse during an electronic music and dance party, moving so quickly that victims were trapped on the illegally constructed second floor. Prosecutors said the victims received no warning and had little chance to escape down a narrow, ramshackle staircase.

The case has been emotionally wrenching for family and friends of the victims, many who packed a courtroom for months in 2019, only to see a jury split on whether to convict Almena, who leased the building. The jury also found co-defendant Max Harris, who was the Ghost Ship’s “creative director” and would collect rent, not guilty at the same trial.

Colleen Dolan, mother of victim Chelsea Faith Dolan, told the East Bay Times that families were not informed of the plea deal possibility before last Wednesday.

“My heart dropped, especially when I heard it was going to be a slap on the wrist. I want my daughter back; we want to be with our family members who died. He gets to be with his family,” she said.

Almena had been jailed since 2017 until he was released in May because of coronavirus concerns and after posting a $150,000 bail bond. He is on house arrest with an ankle monitor in the city of Upper Lake, where he lives with his wife and children.

Tony Serra, Almena’s attorney, said Thursday that he could not comment because lawyers are under a gag order imposed by Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson.

The Alameda County district attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

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Covid: What we know about India’s coronavirus vaccines

An Indian Health official displays a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhopal , India,16 January 2021

An Indian Health official displays a COVID-19 vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, at the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhopal , India,16 January 2021

Less than a week after launching the world’s largest inoculation drive, India has shipped tens of thousands of free doses of Covid-19 vaccines to neighbouring countries in what is being widely described as “vaccine diplomacy”.

India’s drug regulator has given the green light to Covishield (the local name for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK) and Covaxin, locally-made by pharma company Bharat Biotech.

India is a vaccine powerhouse: it makes 60% of the world’s vaccines and is home to half a dozen major manufacturers.

So what do we know about India’s vaccines?

How does Covishield work?

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer. It says it is producing more than 50 million doses a month.

The vaccine, which is known as Covishield, is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus – although it can’t cause illness.

Covishield vaccine
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India

When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection.

The jab is administered in two doses given between four and 12 weeks apart. It can be safely stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C, about the same as a domestic refrigerator, and can be delivered in existing health care settings such as doctors’ surgeries.

This makes it easier to distribute than some of the other vaccines.

The jab developed by Pfizer-BioNTech, which is currently being administered in several countries, must be stored at -70C and can only be moved a limited number of times – a particular challenge in India, where summer temperatures can reach 50C.

How effective is Covishield?

International clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed that when people were given a half dose and then a full dose, effectiveness hit 90%.

But there was not enough clear data to approve the half-dose, full-dose idea.

However, unpublished data suggests that leaving a longer gap between the first and second doses increases the overall effectiveness of the jab – in a sub-group given the vaccine this way it was found to be 70% effective after the first dose.


Serum Institute, the Indian makers of the vaccine, say Covishield is “highly effective” and backed by phase III trial data from Brazil and United Kingdom. Clinical trials are a three-phased process to determine whether the vaccine induces good immune responses and whether it causes any unacceptable side-effects.

But patients’ rights group, All India Drug Action Network, says its approval has been rushed because the manufacturer has not completed a “bridging study” of the vaccine on Indians.

The company has said it will try to conduct the bridging trial of the vaccine in India in February. Some experts say there is no reason to suspect that it won’t work as well, given that the clinical trials already completed did include a range of ages and ethnicities.

What about Covaxin?

The homegrown government-backed vaccine has been developed by Bharat Biotech, a 24-year-old vaccine maker, which has a portfolio of 16 vaccines and exports to 123 countries.

It is an inactivated vaccine which means that it is made up of killed coronaviruses, making it safe to be injected into the body. Bharat Biotech used a sample of the coronavirus, isolated by India’s National Institute of Virology.

When administered, immune cells can still recognise the dead virus, prompting the immune system to make antibodies against the pandemic virus.

A Covaxin vaccine vial
Bharat Biotech is a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company

The two doses are given four weeks apart. The vaccine can be stored at 2C to 8C.

Bharat Biotech says it has a stockpile of 20 million doses of Covaxin, and is aiming to make 700 million doses out of its four facilities in two cities by the end of the year.

What is the controversy around Covaxin?

It all began when the regulator said the vaccine had been approved for “restricted use in emergency situations in public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, especially in the context of infection by mutant strains”.

Experts wondered how a vaccine was cleared for emergency use by millions of vulnerable people when its trials were still underway.

Both the manufacturer and drug regulator say Covaxin is “safe and provides a robust immune response”.

But the All India Drug Action Network said it was “baffled to understand the scientific logic” to approve “an incompletely studied vaccine”. It said that there were “intense concerns arising from the absence of the efficacy data”.

Bharat Biotech has defended the approval, saying Indian clinical trial laws allowed “accelerated” authorisation for use of drugs after the second phase of trials for “unmet medical needs of serious and life-threatening diseases in the country”. It has promised to provide efficacy data for the vaccine by February.

Any other vaccine candidates?

The other candidates which are in different stages of trials in India to test safety and efficacy include:

  • A vaccine being developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine-making company, in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine

  • HGCO19, India’s first mRNA vaccine made by Pune-based Genova in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation, using bits of genetic code to cause an immune response

Which countries are signing up for India’s vaccines?

Some of the first doses have been already shipped to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.

India is also planning to send doses to Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius after regulatory clearances from these countries. It has also cleared commercial exports of the Covishield vaccine to Brazil.

The foreign ministry says India will continue to supply vaccines all over the world after taking into account domestic requirements and international demands and obligations.

#Covid #Indias #coronavirus #vaccines

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