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HeadlinesJanuary 19, 2022

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U.S. Gov’t Launches Site to Mail Free COVID Tests, Issues N95 Masks Amid Winter Surge

Jan 19, 2022

The Biden administration has launched its program to distribute free COVID-19 tests to U.S. residents by mail. Visitors to the website covidtests.gov can order four tests per household, which will be delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. The government will also start issuing 400 million N95 masks from the national stockpile. They will be available for free at community health centers and pharmacies across the U.S. Some health experts say N95 masks should also be sent directly to every U.S. household. The latest efforts from the Biden administration come amid the ongoing winter surge, with daily cases averaging over 750,000 and an average daily death toll close to 2,000.

Sonia Sotomayor Tends to SCOTUS Business Remotely After Neil Gorsuch Refuses to Wear Mask

Jan 19, 2022

The Supreme Court rejected a bid to block a federal mask mandate on airplanes. The application was filed by a passenger who says he and his son are unable to wear masks for long periods of time due to medical conditions. In related news, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been listening to arguments and participating in debates remotely since some of her colleagues, including fellow Justice Neil Gorsuch, reportedly refuse to wear a mask. Sotomayor has diabetes, putting her at increased risk if she contracts COVID-19.

Japan Sets New Curbs, Hong Kong Culls 2,000 Exposed Hamsters, as Asian Nations See COVID Surges

Jan 19, 2022

The Omicron-fueled COVID surge is leading to record cases and tightened measures across some Asian nations. Japan is reimposing curbs on restaurants and bars starting Friday, as Tokyo reported its highest daily caseload today.

In the Philippines, new data released by the government statistics office says the number of overall COVID deaths could be around 105,000, double the health department’s official death toll. The Philippines has reported record-breaking daily case numbers this week.

In Hong Kong, authorities started confiscating small animals from pet shops after announcing it would cull some 2,000 hamsters and other small mammals after a dozen of imported hamsters tested positive for COVID-19.

Indian authorities say COVID cases reached an eight-month high today, with over 280,000 new infections, though authorities say they are still a few weeks away from seeing the full impact of the current surge on hospitalizations and deaths.

WHO Warns Only 7% of African Population Fully Inoculated Amid Ongoing Vaccine Apartheid

Jan 19, 2022

As the world’s wealthiest people gather virtually for the World Economic Forum, the World Health Organization warned against persistent vaccine inequality.

Dr. Michael Ryan: “If we look at the population of the world in total, over half of the world’s population has received two doses of vaccine. But if we look at in Africa, in our African regional office states, only 7%. So the reality is that the world is moving towards a 70% goal; the problem is we are leaving huge swathes of the world behind.”

The summit, usually hosted in Davos, Switzerland, is being held virtually for the second consecutive year due to the pandemic.

Blinken Meets with Ukrainian President Zelensky Ahead of Talks with Russian Counterpart

Jan 19, 2022

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv today as tensions with Russia remain high and officials warn of possible imminent military conflict. This is secretary Blinken.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “We’ve made very clear to Moscow that if it chooses to renew aggression against Ukraine, it will be met, and it will face very severe consequences. And again, that’s coming not just from the United States but from countries across Europe and beyond.”

Blinken will meet with European officials in Berlin Thursday before holding talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. The U.S. and other NATO members have been sounding the alarm over the Russian military buildup at its border with Ukraine, as well as the recent arrival of Russian troops in Belarus, which they say could be a launching point for a possible attack. Russia, meanwhile, has warned against Western interference and NATO’s eastward expansion. Russia also wants a guarantee that Ukraine will not become a part of NATO.

Israel Demolishes Sheikh Jarrah Home, Arrests Palestinians Resisting Displacement

Jan 19, 2022

In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces have destroyed the home of a Palestinian family in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — just days after the Salhiyeh family threatened to burn down their home to resist the eviction. Israeli forces raided their home early Wednesday morning while the family slept. Several members were assaulted, and at least six were arrested. At least another 18 Palestinians who were at the home in solidarity with the family were also detained. The Salhiyeh family had lived on that land since before Israel occupied the area in 1967.

In related news, in the occupied West Bank, a longtime Palestinian activist has died two weeks after Israeli police ran him over with a tow truck during an anti-occupation protest. Suleiman al-Hathaleen was 65 years old.

Saudi-UAE Airstrikes Kill 20 People, Following Houthi Attack on UAE Target

Jan 19, 2022

The U.N. on Tuesday condemned airstrikes by the Saudi-Emirati coalition against a Houthi target in Sana’a, Yemen, that killed some 20 people overnight Monday, including civilians. The airstrikes came hours after Houthi fighters claimed responsibility for an attack on the United Arab Emirates which killed three people. The Saudi-led coalition said it launched additional air raids on Sana’a Tuesday. Analysts warn the recent attacks could represent a dangerous escalation in the ongoing war in Yemen, which has triggered what the U.N. has called the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Suicide Bombing in Somalia Kills 4 People, Days After Another Blast Targets Gov’t Spokesperson

Jan 19, 2022

In Somalia, at least four people have been killed and 10 others injured in a suicide bombing in the capital Mogadishu. The armed group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack Tuesday. The assailant walked into a tea shop — located near a Turkish military installation where Somali soldiers are trained — and detonated an explosive vest. This comes just two days after a Somali government spokesperson was injured in another suspected suicide bombing.

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Mexican Journalist Margarito Martínez Shot Dead in Tijuana

Jan 19, 2022

In Mexico, photojournalist Margarito Martínez was killed Monday in the northern Mexican border city of Tijuana. He was 49 years old. Martínez’s teen daughter discovered her father near their home with a fatal gunshot wound to his head. He had previously received threats from organized crime groups. Martínez covered police and crime for local outlets and worked as a fixer for international media, including the BBC. This is a Mexican media rights advocate.

Sonia de Anda: “Because of his status as a journalist, we do request that the Attorney General’s Office pay special attention, especially because we live in Mexico, where journalists are clearly at risk, and Margarito had requested the protection mechanism for journalists less than a month ago.”

Martínez’s murder came just a week after another journalist, José Luis Gamboa, was fatally stabbed in the Mexican state of Veracruz.

Senators Debate Voting Rights Legislation Which Appears Doomed to Fail

Jan 19, 2022

The Senate continues debate today on voting rights legislation, despite the effort being likely doomed to failure after conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema said they would not back a filibuster exception to circumvent Republican opposition to voting rights. This is Majority Leader Chuck Schumer speaking Tuesday on the Senate floor as lawmakers opened debate.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “Members of this chamber were elected to debate and to vote, especially on an issue as vital to the beating heart of our democracy as voting rights. And the public — the public is entitled to know where each senator stands on an issue as sacrosanct as defending our democracy.”

New Yorkers Gather to Mourn Michelle Go, Condemn Attacks on Asian American Community

Jan 19, 2022

Here in New York City, a vigil was held Tuesday evening for Michelle Alyssa Go, a 40-year-old Asian American woman who was fatally struck by an oncoming train after a man pushed her onto the subway tracks on Saturday. This is Ben Wei, founder of Asians Fighting Injustice and an organizer of last night’s vigil.

Ben Wei: “This tragedy of another member of our community, the AAPI community here in New York, being taken from us is one that we’ve heard way too often over the past two years. Sadly, in New York City in 2020, while everybody was quarantining and hate crimes across the city dropped, hate crimes against the AAPI community rose by 800%. In 2021, it rose by 350%, at least.”

A man, Simon Martial, was charged with her murder. Officials say Martial, who is unhoused, struggled with mental health issues and had harassed another woman in the subway shortly before he attacked Go. Michelle Go, who worked at Deloitte Consulting, was a longtime volunteer with underserved communities, including unhoused people.

NJ Public Schools to Start Teaching AAPI History; Florida Expands Efforts to Ban Teaching of Racism

Jan 19, 2022

New Jersey public K-12 schools will now be required to teach Asian American and Pacific Islander history. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy signed the law Tuesday, making New Jersey the second U.S. state to have this requirement, after Illinois.

In more education news, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing legislation that would prohibit public schools and private businesses from making white people feel “discomfort” or “guilt” by teaching students or training employees on racial discrimination in the U.S. This is DeSantis’s latest attack against the teaching of critical race theory.

Portland Police Under Fire for Training Materials Which Mock Protesters, Advocate Violence

Jan 19, 2022

The U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has requested Portland’s police chief and city attorney hand over all Portland Police Rapid Response Team training materials, following news last week the training slideshow contained a meme-like image mocking demonstrators and advocating violence against them. The image, which is believed to date from 2018 and shows a police officer in riot gear hitting a protester, came to light as part of a lawsuit around 2020’s racial justice protests in Oregon. The slide also refers to the civilian being attacked as a “dirty hippy.”

Airlines Cancel Flights over Concerns About Expansion of 5G Service in U.S.

Jan 19, 2022

Verizon and AT&T have delayed their planned expansion of 5G cellular service near airports after a number of airlines canceled flights and warned of likely travel chaos and flight safety concerns. Airlines say the 5G technology can interfere with radar systems on planes.

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