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Senin, 31 Mei 2021

WHO renames COVID-19 variant names with Greek letters to prevent 'stigma and discrimination' - SBS News

COVID-19 variants are to be known by letters of the Greek alphabet to avoid stigmatising nations where they were first detected, the World Health Organization announced on Monday.

The new system applies to variants of concern, the most troubling of which four are in circulation, and the second-level variants of interest being tracked.

"They will not replace existing scientific names, but are aimed to help in public discussion," said Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead.

Under the new system, the variants of concern take on the following names: the hitherto so-called British variant B.1.1.7 becomes Alpha; the B.1.351 first discovered in South Africa becomes Beta, while the Brazilian P.1 becomes Gamma.

The variant first detected in India, B.1.617, is split into sub-lineages, of which the B.1.617.2 variant of concern becomes Delta.

The B.1.617.1 variant of interest is called Kappa.

Besides these names, there are two other scientific names in use for each mutation, while different geographic names have been used to describe the same variant.

For example, within Britain, what other countries have been referring to as the British variant is often called the Kent variant, the county in southeast England where it was first discovered.

The lineage names such as B.1.1.7.2 will still continue to be used in scientific circles, for the mutation information that their name conveys.

'Stigmatising and discriminatory'

"While they have their advantages, these scientific names can be difficult to say and recall and are prone to misreporting," the WHO said in a statement.

"As a result, people often resort to calling variants by the places where they are detected, which is stigmatising and discriminatory.

"To avoid this and to simplify public communications, WHO encourages national authorities, media outlets and others to adopt these new labels."

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden signed a hate crimes law aimed at protecting Asian Americans who have suffered a surge in attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

US anti-extremism groups say the number of attacks and hate crimes against Asian Americans has exploded since the beginning of the crisis.

They lay some of the blame with former President Donald Trump, who repeatedly referred to COVID-19 as the "China virus".

The WHO has been trying to come up with simplified new nomenclature for the variants for several months.

The Greek alphabet contains 24 letters but there is no plan yet as to where to go next if they are exhausted.

Epsilon, Zeta, Eta, Theta and Iota have already been ascribed to variants of interest.

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2021-05-31 22:06:22Z
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Remains of 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada to be identified and repatriated - ABC News

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the discovery of more than 200 children buried at a former Indigenous residential school is not an isolated incident, but part of a widespread historic tragedy.

Mr Trudeau's comments come as Indigenous leaders are calling for an examination of every former residential school site — institutions that held children taken from families across the nation.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia said the remains of 215 children, some as young as three years old, were confirmed this month with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

She described the discovery as "an unthinkable loss that was spoken about but never documented" at the Kamloops Indian Residential School, the largest such school in the country.

"As Prime Minister, I am appalled by the shameful policy that stole Indigenous children from their communities," Mr Trudeau said.

"Sadly, this is not an exception or an isolated incident. We're not going to hide from that. We have to acknowledge the truth. Residential schools were a reality — a tragedy that existed here, in our country, and we have to own up to it.

"Kids were taken from their families, returned damaged or not returned at all."

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society.

They were forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native languages. Many were beaten and verbally abused, and up to 6,000 are said to have died.

The Canadian government apologised in Parliament in 2008 and admitted that physical and sexual abuse in the schools was rampant.

Kamloops Indian Residential School
Plans are underway to bring in forensics experts to identify and repatriate the remains of the children found buried on the Kamloops site.(

AP: Andrew Snucins/The Canadian Press

)

Many students recalled being beaten for speaking their native languages. They also lost touch with their parents and customs.

Indigenous leaders have cited that legacy of abuse and isolation as the root cause of epidemic rates of alcoholism and drug addiction on reservations.

'This is not a surprise'

Plans are underway to bring in forensics experts to identify and repatriate the remains of the children found buried on the Kamloops site.

Mr Trudeau said he'll be talking to his ministers on Monday about further things his government needs to do to support survivors and the community. Flags at all federal buildings are at half-staff.

Opposition New Democrat leader Jagmeet Singh has called for an emergency debate in Parliament.

"This is not a surprise. This is a reality of residential schools," Mr Singh said.

"Two hundred and fifteen Indigenous kids were found in an unmarked mass grave. Anytime we think about unmarked mass graves, we think about a distant country where a genocide has happened. This is not a distant country."

The Kamloops school operated between 1890 and 1969, when the Canadian government took over operations from the Catholic Church and operated it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed "our deepest sorrow for the heartrending loss of the children at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School".

The National Truth and Reconciliation Commission has records of at least 51 children dying at the school between 1915 and 1963.

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The Commission identified about 3,200 confirmed deaths at schools but noted the schools did not record the cause of death in almost half of them. Some died of tuberculosis.

The Commission said the practice was not to send the bodies of the students who died at the schools to their communities. The Commission also said the government wanted to keep costs down so adequate regulations were never established.

AP

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2021-05-31 21:16:04Z
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Vietnam to test all 9 million residents in largest city for COVID-19 - The Sydney Morning Herald

Hanoi: Vietnam plans to test all 9 million people in its largest city for the coronavirus and has imposed more restrictions to deal with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

People in Ho Chi Minh city are only allowed to leave home for necessary activities and public gatherings of more than 10 people are banned for the next two weeks, the government announced on Monday, local time. Prior to the order, the city, also Vietnam’s economic hub, shut down non-essential business last Thursday when cases started to increase.

Since the end of April, a surge in COVID-19 has spread to 31 municipalities and provinces in Vietnam.

Since the end of April, a surge in COVID-19 has spread to 31 municipalities and provinces in Vietnam.Credit:Getty Images

State newspaper Vietnam News said the city authority is planning to test its entire population with a testing capacity of 100,000 samples a day.

The newspaper also said police had filed a case on Sunday against the couple who head a Protestant church mission for “spreading dangerous infectious diseases,” citing poor health protocols applied at the premises.

At least 145 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported with links to the Revival Ekklesia Mission, a Protestant sect, and the city district of Go Vap, where the church is based, has been locked down. Vietnam has since banned all religious events nationwide.

The newspaper said church followers gathered in a small space for singing and chanting without proper distancing and mask wearing. Ho Chi Minh city police said the mission has 48 registered members.

The report said the husband and wife accused in the case were responsible for leading and organising activities at the church. They were not identified and are not under arrest.

Since the end of April, a surge in COVID-19 has spread to 31 municipalities and provinces in Vietnam with over 4000 cases, almost double the total number that the country reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some recent patients in Vietnam were infected with a hybrid of the virus variants first found in India and the UK, the health minister said on Saturday. Nguyen Thanh Long said the hybrid might spread more easily and could be responsible for Vietnam’s recent surge.

Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first detected in China in late 2019. The World Health Organisation categorised the UK and the Indian variants, along with two others first found in South Africa and Brazil, as “variants of concern” because they appear to be more contagious.

Vietnam has vaccinated 1 million people with AstraZeneca shots. It has a deal with Pfizer for 30 million doses to be delivered later this year. It is also in talks with Moderna that would give it enough shots to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of its 96 million people.

AP

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2021-05-31 17:19:49Z
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Denmark accused of helping United States spy on European allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel - ABC News

Several European nations want Denmark to explain why its foreign secret service allegedly helped the United States spy on European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, more than seven years ago.

"We want the cards on the table," said Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hulqvist, adding it was "unacceptable to eavesdrop on allies".

Danish parliamentarian Karsten Hoenge of the left-leaning Socialist People's Party, which is supporting Denmark's Social Democratic government, said he would quiz the Scandinavian country's defence and justice ministers in Parliament about the case.

"The government must explain how come Denmark has been acting as a willing tool for a US intelligence service, and what it will mean for cooperation with Denmark's neighbouring countries," Mr Hoenge said.

The Danish broadcaster DR said Sunday that the Danish Defence Intelligence Service, known in Denmark by its acronym FE, in 2014 conducted an internal investigation into whether the US National Security Agency had used its cooperation with the Danes to spy against Denmark and neighbouring countries.

The probe concluded that NSA had eavesdropped on political leaders and officials in Germany, France, Sweden and Norway.

Screenshot of Edward Snowden in video chat
Edward Snowden made similar spy claims in 2013 about European leaders having their phones tapped.(

Reuters/Brendan McDermid

)

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said it was "unacceptable if countries that have close allied cooperation should feel the need to spy on each other or obtain information about them".

Spying on others "creates more mistrust than it creates collaboration. So, it's not a smart investment for the United States," she told the Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

According to DR, the alleged set-up between the United States and Denmark was codenamed "Operation Dunhammer." It reportedly allowed the NSA to obtain data by using the telephone numbers of politicians as search parameters.

DR said its report was based on interviews with nine unnamed sources, all of whom were said to have had access to classified information held by the FE. The military agency allegedly helped the NSA from 2012 to 2014.

Mrs Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said that "the German government has taken note of the reporting. It is in contact with all relevant national and international authorities for clarification".

Mr Seibert said Mrs Merkel found out about the latest spying report as a result of questions from journalists.

Reports in 2013 that the NSA listened in on German government phones, including Mrs Merkel's, prompted a diplomatic spat between Berlin and Washington that soured otherwise good relations with Barack Obama's administration.

Mrs Merkel at the time declared that "spying among friends" was unacceptable. Still, there were also reports Germany's own BND intelligence agency may have helped the US spy on European companies and officials.

Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who revealed details of the secret US eavesdropping programs in 2013, reacted to the DR report with a sarcastic tweet in Danish: "Oh, why didn't anyone warn us?"

In a written comment to DR, Danish Defence Minister Trine Bramsen said the government could not discuss intelligence matters.

She added the present government has "the same point of view " as the former Social Democratic government led by Helle Thorning-Schmidt who was in power during that period: "The systematic wiretapping of close allies is unacceptable."

In August, Ms Bramsen relieved the head of the country's foreign intelligence service, among others, after an independent watchdog heavily criticised the spy agency for deliberately withholding information and violating Danish laws.

Denmark has two intelligence agencies, the Danish Defence Intelligence Service, which is also responsible for military intelligence, and the domestic Danish Security and Intelligence Service, known by its Danish acronym PET.

AP

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2021-05-31 16:31:17Z
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China announces new three-child policy in major shift - NEWS.com.au

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has announced it will allow all couples to have up to three children, marking the end of the nation’s strict two-child policy.

The change was approved by President Xi Jinping in a Politburo meeting, according to state media outlet Xinhua, after a once-in-a-decade census showed that China’s population grew at its slowest pace in decades under the rule, putting pressure on Beijing to boost measures for couples to have more babies and avert a population decline.

According to the census, around 12 million babies were born last year in China – the lowest number of births recorded since the 1960s, and a significant decrease from the 18 million reported in 2016.

The New York Times’China correspondent, Sui-Lee Wee, wrote that the move is also reflective of “concerns that the rapidly rising number of older people in China could exacerbate a shortage of workers and strain the economy in the near future”.

Following its meeting, the Politburo – China’s top decision-making body – said the move will come with “supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country’s population structure, fulfilling the country’s strategy of actively coping with an ageing population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources”.

RELATED: ‘Seeking to divide’: PM swipes China

The “one-child” policy was first imposed in the 1980s as a way of slowing population growth and bolstering an economic boom that was then just beginning.

But by 2013, Chinese officials had begun to understand the implications of the nation’s ageing population and updated the policy to allow parents from one-child families to have as many as two children themselves.

From January 1, 2016, the limit was raised to two children for everyone.

“While the second-child policy had a positive impact on the birthrate, it proved short-term in nature,” principal economist from The Economist Intelligence Unit, Ms Yue Su, told the BBC.

RELATED: Scary way China could cripple Australia

Speaking to The Times, several experts said that while births in China have fallen for four consecutive years, this latest announcement still took them by surprise.

“This was a bit sudden and earlier than I expected,” independent demographer, He Yafu, told the publication.

“The decision makers have probably realised that the population situation is relatively severe.”

The announcement drew a chilly response on Chinese social media, though, with many people posting in response to the news that they couldn’t afford to even have one child.

“I am willing to have three children if you give me 5 million yuan ($1.02 million),” one person wrote on popular platform Weibo.

“Don’t they know that most young people are already tired enough just trying to feed themselves?” wrote another, pointing to a common sentiment about the rising costs of living.

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2021-05-31 08:34:23Z
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Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City to test entire population as COVID-19 cases surge - ABC News

Vietnam says it plans to test all 9 million people in its largest city for the coronavirus and has imposed more restrictions to deal with a growing COVID-19 outbreak.

People in Ho Chi Minh City are only allowed to leave home for necessary activities and public gatherings of more than 10 people are banned for the next two weeks, the government announced.

Prior to the order, the city, also Vietnam's economic hub, shut down non-essential business last Thursday when cases started to increase.

State newspaper Vietnam News said the city authority is planning to test its entire population with a testing capacity of 100,000 samples a day.

The newspaper also said police had filed a case on Sunday against the couple who head a Protestant church mission for "spreading dangerous infectious diseases," citing poor health protocols applied at the premises.

At least 145 cases of coronavirus infection have been reported with links to the Revival Ekklesia Mission, a Protestant sect, and the city district of Go Vap, where the church is based, has been locked down.

Vietnam has since banned all religious events nationwide.

A woman glances down at her phone with Vietnamese flags in the background.
The government has announced new coronavirus restrictions to come into force for at least 15 days. (

AP: Hau Dinh

)

The newspaper said church followers gathered in a small space for singing and chanting without proper distancing and mask-wearing. Ho Chi Minh City police said the mission has 48 registered members.

The report said the husband and wife accused in the case were responsible for leading and organising activities at the church. They were not identified and are not under arrest.

Since the end of April, a surge in COVID-19 has spread to 31 municipalities and provinces in Vietnam with over 4,000 cases, almost double the total number that the country reported since the beginning of the pandemic.

Some recent patients in Vietnam were infected with a hybrid of the virus variants first found in India and the UK, the health minister said on Saturday. Nguyen Thanh Long said the hybrid might spread more easily and could be responsible for Vietnam's recent surge.

Viruses often develop small genetic changes as they reproduce, and new variants of the coronavirus have been seen almost since it was first detected in China in late 2019.

The World Health Organization categorised the UK and the Indian variants, along with two others first found in South Africa and Brazil, as "variants of concern" because they appear to be more contagious.

Vietnam has vaccinated 1 million people with AstraZeneca shots. It has a deal with Pfizer for 30 million doses to be delivered later this year. It is also in talks with Moderna that would give it enough shots to fully vaccinate 80 per cent of its 96 million people.

AP

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2021-05-31 09:36:57Z
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China introduces three-child policy to alleviate problem of ageing population - ABC News

China's government has announced it is scrapping a policy limiting couples to two children and will now allow them to have three.

The change was approved during a Politburo meeting chaired by President Xi Jinping, according to official news agency Xinhua.

The government said the problem of an ageing populace was deepening and the change would help to improve the structure of China's population and maintain its advantage in human resources.

The policy change will come with "supportive measures, which will be conducive to improving our country's population structure, fulfilling the country's strategy of actively coping with an ageing population and maintaining the advantage, endowment of human resources", Xinhua said.

It did not specify the support measures.

The announcement drew a chilly response on Chinese social media, where many people said they could not afford to have even one or two children.

"I am willing to have three children if you give me 5 million yuan ($1.02 million)," one user posted on Weibo.

With 1.4 billion people, China is the world's most populous country, but by 2050 one in three of them are projected to be of retirement age.

In 2015, China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy — initially imposed to halt a population explosion — with a two-child limit, which failed to result in a sustained surge in births as the high cost of raising children in Chinese cities deterred many couples from starting families.

Earlier this month, China's once-in-a-decade census showed that the population grew at its slowest rate during the last decade since the 1950s, with data showing a fertility rate of 1.3 children per woman for 2020 alone, on par with ageing societies like Japan and Italy.

China's Politburo also announced it would phase in delays in the country's retirement ages but did not provide any details.

ABC/Wires

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2021-05-31 07:36:05Z
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‘Just wow’: Fans go wild for Kate - Herald Sun

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  1. ‘Just wow’: Fans go wild for Kate  Herald Sun
  2. Kate Middleton’s vaccination photo shows how much she has changed  NEWS.com.au
  3. Sweet Twitter thread reveals the other royal couple to meet at St. Andrews  9Honey
  4. Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton has her first COVID-19 jab  The West Australian
  5. Kate Middleton receives first Covid vaccine 9 days after Prince William as she praises hero NHS frontline workers  NEWS.com.au
  6. View Full coverage on Google News

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2021-05-31 06:44:13Z
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Minggu, 30 Mei 2021

US police chief decries gun violence after two shootings in Miami in two days - ABC News

The Memorial Day weekend in the US has been marred by gunmen indiscriminately spraying bullets into crowds at two venues in Miami, Florida.

Two people were killed and at least 20 others were injured during a shooting outside a banquet hall early on Sunday morning.

It came about a day after a drive-by shooting nearby killed one person and injured six.

Authorities have called on the public to help identify the shooters.

"This type of gun violence has to stop. Every weekend it's the same thing," said Miami-Dade County police director Alfredo Ramirez III, whose officers were hunting down three suspects believed to have been involved in Sunday's violence.

"These are cold-blooded murderers that shot indiscriminately into a crowd and we will seek justice," he wrote on Twitter.

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Two people died at the El Mula Banquet Hall in north-west Miami-Dade County, police said. As many as 25 people went to various hospitals for treatment.

Clayton Dillard and his family waited outside the venue hoping for news about a loved one they feared was among the dead. 

As of Sunday afternoon, police had not released the names of the victims, whose bodies were yet to be removed from the scene more than 16 hours after the shots rang out outside the banquet hall, which had been rented out for a concert.

"I know he's there," Mr Dillard said, "but they won't let me come claim him."

Police said the gunfire began when three people got out of an SUV shortly after midnight and shot into the crowd with assault rifles and handguns.

Mr Ramirez said the shooting was targeted he but did not elaborate.

Five people in police and crime scene uniforms gather around numbered pieces of evidence on the ground.
One senator said guns were being used to 'hunt people' on the streets of Miami.(

AP: Lynne Sladky

)

More than two dozen people crowded behind yellow police tape and a line of squad cars as police continued their investigation into Sunday evening.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said on Twitter he was "praying for the recovery" of the victims. He also pledged help from state authorities.

"We are working with local authorities to bring justice to the perpetrators. Justice needs to be swift & severe!" Mr DeSantis wrote.

Scene of drive-by shooting like a 'war zone'

Sunday's shooting came a little over a day after a drive-by shooting claimed the life of one person outside another venue about 21 kilometres away in the Wynwood area.

Six others were injured in the attack.

Some witnesses likened the scene to a "war zone" after dozens of bullets sent people running for cover.

Democratic state senator Shevrin Jones said he wanted Mr DeSantis to do more than just pray.

He called on the Governor to sit down with Democrats to discuss meaningful ways to address gun violence.

"Thoughts and prayers have been going on for years, and thoughts and prayers haven't done a damn thing inside the black community, or any community, when it comes to gun violence," Senator Jones said.

He said Republicans were reluctant to discuss the issue.

"Republicans don't want to talk about guns," he said.

"They think we're trying to take their guns away from them.

"If their talking point is that guns are for protection, or that guns are for hunting, just know that that terminology is different in certain communities.

"Some of these individuals are using guns to murder. Some of these individuals are using guns to hunt people."

AP

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2021-05-30 23:53:03Z
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Rivals form new coalition in bid to end Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year run as Israeli prime minister - ABC News

A former ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to join a rival coalition of parties, a major step toward ending the veteran leader's rule.

The announcement by Naftali Bennett, leader of the small, hardline Yamina party, on Sunday (local time) set the stage for Mr Netanyahu and his dominant Likud party to be pushed into the opposition in the coming week.

While Mr Bennett and his new partners, headed by opposition leader Yair Lapid, still face some obstacles, they appeared to be serious about reaching a deal and ending the deadlock that has plunged the country into four elections in the past two years.

"It's my intention to do my utmost in order to form a national unity government along with my friend Yair Lapid, so that, God willing, together we can save the country from a tailspin and return Israel to its course," Mr Bennett said.

The pair have until Wednesday to complete a deal in which each is expected to serve two years as prime minister in a rotation agreement, with Mr Bennett holding the job first.

Mr Lapid's Yesh Atid party said negotiating teams were to meet later on Sunday.

Egypt hosts talks on Gaza truce

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City, Thursday, May 20, 2021.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire after 11 days exchanging air strikes and rockets.(

AP: Hatem Moussa

)

It comes as Egypt and Israel held high-level talks on Sunday to shore up a fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group and rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war that left parts of the seaside enclave in ruins.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry received his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, in Cairo.

The meeting was part of an effort to build on an Israel-Hamas cease-fire reached on May 21, and to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been dormant for more than a decade, Shukry's office said.

Egypt has not said how it would be able to restart talks.

The hours-long visit was the first public one by an Israeli foreign minister to Egypt since 2008, according to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.

Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Shukry called for establishing an atmosphere to relaunch "serious and constructive" negotiations between the two sides. He also urged both sides to refrain from "any measures" that could hamper efforts to revive peace talks.

They also discussed the release of Israeli soldiers and citizens being held by Hamas, Israel's top diplomat said.

'Focus on what can be done'

Mr Bennett, a former top aide to Mr Netanyahu who has held senior Cabinet posts, shares the Prime Minister's hard-line ideology.

He is a former leader of the West Bank settlement movement and heads a small party whose base includes religious and nationalist Jews.

Yet, he has had a strained and complicated relationship with his one-time mentor due to personal differences.

Mr Bennett said there was no feasible way after the deadlocked March 23 election to form a right-wing government favoured by Mr Netanyahu. He said another election would yield the same results and said it was time to end the cycle.

"A government like this will succeed only if we work together as a group," he said.

He said everyone "will need to postpone fulfilling part of their dreams. We will focus on what can be done, instead of fighting all day on what's impossible".

Naftali Bennett speaks behind a lectern with Israeli flags in the background.
Naftali Bennett was an aide to Mr Netanyahu but they had personal differences.(

Reuters: Yonatan Sindel

)

If Mr Bennett and Mr Lapid and their other partners can wrap up a deal, it would end, at least for the time being, the record-setting tenure of Mr Netanyahu, the most dominant figure in Israeli politics over the past three decades.

In his own televised statement, Mr Netanyahu accused Mr Bennett of betraying the Israeli right wing and urged nationalist politicians not to join what he called a "leftist government."

"A government like this is a danger to the security of Israel, and is also a danger to the future of the state," he said.

As leader of the largest party, Mr Netanyahu was given the first opportunity by the country's figurehead president to form a coalition. But he was unable to secure a majority with his traditional religious and nationalist allies.

After Mr Netanyahu's failure to form a government, Mr Lapid was then given four weeks to cobble together a coalition. He has until Wednesday to complete the task.

'Anything might happen'

Yohanan Plessner, president of the Israel Democracy Institute, said Mr Netanyahu would try to undermine efforts to unseat him until the end.

Mr Netanyahu's main strategy, he said, would be to try to appeal to hard-liners in both Mr Bennett's party and New Hope, another hard-line party led by a former Netanyahu confidant, to withdraw their support for the new coalition.

A defection of just one or two lawmakers could prevent Mr Lapid from mustering a majority and force another election.

"Anything might happen," Mr Plessner said. "I would wait for the final vote to go through."

Even if Mr Lapid and Mr Bennett manage to put together a government, Mr Netanyahu is unlikely to disappear, Mr Plessner said.

Mr Netanyahu could remain as opposition leader, working to exploit the deep ideological differences among his opponents to cause the coalition to fracture.

"History teaches us it would be unwise to write him off," he said.

AP/Reuters

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2021-05-30 23:17:36Z
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Hat shop offers Star of David-anti-vax patches, creating firestorm - The Sydney Morning Herald

Nashville: The owner of a Tennessee hat shop is dealing with pushback after posting a photo of herself to social media wearing a yellow patch resembling the Star of David with the words “not vaccinated.”

The “not vaccinated” badge made in the likeness of the Star of David patches Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.

The “not vaccinated” badge made in the likeness of the Star of David patches Nazis forced Jews to wear during the Holocaust.

The photo posted by Gigi Gaskins, owner of HatWrksNashville, shows her smiling and wearing the badge that looks similar in shape and color to those that the Nazis forced Jews to wear in Europe during the Holocaust. A caption with the photo advertised the patches for $US5 apiece.

“People are so outraged by my post? But are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing?” Gaskins said on Instagram.

“If you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you not me. I pay much more respect to history by standing up with the fallen than offering silence and compliance.”

Gaskins later deleted the photo and issued an apology on Saturday.

“In NO WAY did I intend to trivialise the Star of David or disrespect what happened to millions of people. That is not who I am & what I stand for,” Gaskins wrote. “My intent was not to exploit or make a profit. My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again. I sincerely apologise for any insensitivity.”

The photo was shared widely on social media with the hashtag “hateworks” and prompted hat maker Stetson to announce that it was pulling its products from the store. Hat maker Goorin Bros. of San Francisco said on Instagram that it was “horrified” by the patch.

“To make a mockery of the Holocaust in any form is unacceptable and completely insensitive,” owner and company President Ben Goorin said. “We are looking at all options to fix and address this unfortunate circumstance.”

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The photo also prompted small protests outside the shop on Saturday. One sign at a protest read, “The Holocaust is not a marketing op.”

Ivo H. Daalder, the US ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013, denounced the photo on Twitter.

“As a young school girl in Holland, my mother was forced to wear a yellow star by the Nazis to identify her as a Jew,” Daalder wrote. “It’s beyond grotesque to sell this evil symbol to proclaim one’s not vaccinated. Where does this end?”

QAnon-espousing Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has repeatedly drawn parallels between the treatment of unvaccinated people and Jews during the Holocaust.

“Vaccinated employees get a vaccination logo just like the Nazis forced Jewish people to wear a gold star,” Greene tweeted.

“Vaccine passports & mask mandates create discrimination against unvaxxed people who trust their immune systems to a virus that is 99% survivable.”

AP with reporters

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2021-05-30 20:18:33Z
52781629715356

At least two dead, multiple injuries, after Florida mass shooting - 9News

Police have put a call out to the public to try and track down the gunmen who opened fire at a Florida club, killing at least two people and wounding at least 20 more, Miami-Dade police director Alfredo Ramirez III said.

Shortly after midnight on Sunday (US time), a white Nissan Pathfinder pulled up to the El Mula Banquet Hall near Hialeah.

That's when three people "stepped out of the vehicle with assault rifles and handguns and started firing indiscriminately into the crowd," Mr Ramirez said.
A police officer covers a body after the Florida shooting. (CNN)

"The result is 20 to 25 victims with gunshot injury wounds, and two deceased on the scene."

The wounded were taken to various hospitals in the area. At least one of those hospitalised is in critical condition, police said.

The banquet hall and billiards club had been rented out for a concert, Mr Ramirez said.

Angelica Green said both her son and her nephew were among those shot.

Her son was shot once in the abdomen area and is in stable condition after surgery, Ms Green said.

"However, my nephew was shot four times," she said, including once in the abdomen area and three times in the leg.

Ms Green said her son is her only child.

"He's not a statistic. He's a graduate from college last year. So he's educated. He was going out with his educated cousin to just celebrate the weekend, and they had not made it into the club as of yet," she said.

Angelica Green said her son and nephew hadn't made it into the Miami club when they were shot. (CNN)

"They said that some guys, three guys that they noticed ... they just started shooting ... for whatever reason, we don't know."

The Miami-Dade Police Department is asking anyone with information about the shooters or their whereabouts to contact authorities.

"These are cold blooded murderers that shot indiscriminately into a crowd and we will seek justice," Mr Ramirez tweeted.

"My deepest condolences to the family of the victims."

TV personality and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis is offering a US$100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the mass shooting, the businessman tweeted.

On Friday, another shooting in the Miami area left at least one person dead and six others wounded.

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2021-05-30 19:50:04Z
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Over half of people in their 30s have had Covid jab in just two weeks - Daily Mail

More than half of people in their 30s have had Covid jab in just two weeks but health expert says June 21 unlocking is 'too early'

  • Over half of people in their 30s in England have had a coronavirus vaccination
  • NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens called the speed of the achievement 'remarkable' 
  • But  health expert Linda Bauld said June 21 unlocking was still 'too early to be charging ahead' 

Health experts have warned that the June 21 unlocking is still 'too early' - despite the 'remarkable' progress in the country's vaccine rollout.

New figures show that more than half of people in their 30s in England have received a coronavirus vaccination in a period of little over two weeks.

NHS England said that, since it began opening up the vaccine rollout to this age group on May 13, some 53 per cent of those aged 30 to 39 have been given at least one dose.

People aged 30 to 31 were the most recent group to be invited for their jab - from Wednesday - with more than five million appointments made through the national booking service within 72 hours.

NHS England confirmed that in the two weeks since opening up vaccines to people aged 30 to 39, ¿some 53 per cent have been given at least one dose. Pictured: Alex Morton receives her Covid-19 jab at the Life Science Centre International Centre for Life in Newcastle

NHS England confirmed that in the two weeks since opening up vaccines to people aged 30 to 39, ​some 53 per cent have been given at least one dose. Pictured: Alex Morton receives her Covid-19 jab at the Life Science Centre International Centre for Life in Newcastle

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, has said June 21 is 'too early' to lift coronavirus restrictions in England

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, has said June 21 is 'too early' to lift coronavirus restrictions in England

It means the government continues to be on track to hit the deadline of offering a vaccine to every adult by the end of July.

The continued success of the rollout is also one of the government's four tests to allow a further easing of restrictions, with the final one in just over three weeks time.

But Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, has said June 21 is 'too early' to lift coronavirus restrictions in England.

She told Sky News: 'I really think that it is too early to be charging ahead. I would like to see several more weeks' data.'

She said the planned date is 'very ambitious', adding: 'The 21st of June is very soon and I think to avoid more preventable deaths... we really need to be cautious at the current time.'

Figures from May 28 show that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot in Britain. 3,398 Covid infections were recorded yesterday, a jump of 25 per cent, while deaths increased slightly to seven

Figures from May 28 show that 39,068,346 people have had their first shot in Britain. 3,398 Covid infections were recorded yesterday, a jump of 25 per cent, while deaths increased slightly to seven

It comes as a scientific adviser warned confusion over the Government's handling of Covid restrictions was undermining efforts to control the virus.

Professor Stephen Reicher, a psychologist on the Sage sub-committee advising ministers on behavioural science, said the Government was in a 'pickle' because it appeared to have abandoned the 'data not dates' principle.

The NHS, meanwhile, is asking people aged 50 and older, as well as those who are clinically vulnerable, to bring forward their second Covid-19 vaccination to help combat the spread of the B1.617.2 variant first identified in India.

It follows the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommending earlier this month that the second dose interval be shortened from 12 weeks to eight for people in priority cohorts.

NHS England said that, so far, 600,000 people have been invited to rearrange their second jab through the national booking service, with around a quarter moving their appointment earlier.

Overall, more than 32 million people have been vaccinated with a first dose in England, almost three-quarters of the total adult population, while more than 21 million people have had both doses.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: 'It is remarkable that, in little over two weeks since people in their 30s began getting their invites, more than half have now had their first dose.

'This success is no happy accident but the result of months of careful planning and the sheer hard work and dedication of NHS staff.

'The Covid-19 vaccine is our most effective weapon against coronavirus and the best way of protecting yourself and loved ones, so, if you do one thing this bank holiday weekend, book your lifesaving jab and, crucially, if you're contacted by the NHS to do so, bring forward your second dose of vital protection.'

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he is 'absolutely thrilled' at the progress in the 30s age group and thanked those coming forward 'to do their bit to defeat the virus'.

He added: 'As we enjoy the reopening of pubs and restaurants again, vaccines will play a crucial role in protecting us and those around us.

'Vaccines are the best way out of this pandemic and I urge everybody to take up the offer when eligible.'

Meanwhile, British intelligence operatives reportedly now believe it is 'feasible' the pandemic began with a leak from a research laboratory in Wuhan, China.

The Times says the development, which Beijing has angrily denied, has prompted US diplomatic sources to share their concerns 'we are one wet market or bio lab away from the next spillover'. 

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2021-05-30 09:54:16Z
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Boris Johnson is first serving British PM to wed in 199 years - The Australian

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  1. Boris Johnson is first serving British PM to wed in 199 years  The Australian
  2. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson marries Carrie Symonds in secret Westminster Cathedral ceremony  ABC News
  3. British PM marries in secret, reports  The Canberra Times
  4. Of course Carrie Symonds loves Dilyn, so why mock her for that?  The Guardian
  5. The Observer view on deadly government incompetence  The Guardian
  6. View Full coverage on Google News

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2021-05-30 07:21:00Z
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Sabtu, 29 Mei 2021

Sri Lanka faces 'worst beach pollution' in history from burning ship - ABC News

Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented pollution crisis as waves of plastic waste from a burning container ship hit the coast and threaten to devastate the local environment, a top environment official warns.

Thousands of navy sailors have been using mechanical diggers at beaches to scoop up tonnes of tiny plastic granules that have come from the Singapore-registered MV X-Press Pearl, which has been smouldering on the horizon for 10 days.

Sri Lanka's Marine Protection Authority (MEPA) said the microplastic pollution could cause years of ecological damage to the Indian Ocean island.

Smoke rises from the container vessel MV X-Press Pearl engulfed in flames
The X-Press Pearl, which caught fire as it waited to enter Colombo Harbour, remains anchored just outside the port.(

AP: Sri Lanka Air Force

)

The tiny polyethylene pellets threaten beaches popular with tourists as well as shallow waters used by fish to breed.

Fishing has been banned along an 80-kilometre stretch of coast near the ship that has been burning for 10 days despite an international firefighting operation.

"There is smoke and intermittent flames seen from the ship," navy spokesman Captain Indika de Silva said.

Orange-coloured plastic booms were set up in case oil leaks from the crippled ship reached Negombo Lagoon, which is famed for its crabs and jumbo prawns.

Thousands of small boats were beached at Negombo on Saturday because of the fishing ban.

Sri Lankan navy soldiers clad in protective suits clean up a beach
Much of the ship's cargo is thought to have been destroyed in the fire.(

AP: Eranga Jayawardena

)

'No end in sight' for disaster

Navy sailor Manjula Dulanjala said his team had almost cleared the beach on Friday evening, but was shocked to find it covered again the following morning.

"This is like the coronavirus. No end in sight. We removed all the plastic yesterday, only to see more of it dumped by the waves overnight," he said.

The pellets and waste were packed into green and white polythene sacks and taken away by trucks.

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An officer leading another team that on certain parts of the beach the microplastics and charred debris were 60 centimetres deep.

Local fisherman Peter Fernando, 68, said he had never seen such destruction.

The December 2004 Asian tsunami devastated much of the island's coastline and killed an estimated 31,000 people, but only damaged coastal infrastructure.

A navy soldier dressed in personal protection equipment pushes a large piece of debris up the beach
A Sri Lankan Navy sailor inspects a large piece of debris from the X-Press Pearl.(

Reuters: Dinuka Liyanawatte

)

Roman Catholic priest Sujeewa Athukorale said most of his parishioners were fishermen who risked becoming destitute.

"Their immediate need is to be allowed to go back to the sea," he said.

Sri Lanka's mangroves threatened

Fisherman Lakshan Fernando, 30, said people feared the plastic waste could destroy mangroves as well as the corals where fish breed in the shallow water.

 smoke rises from the container vessel MV X-Press Pearl engulfed in flames off Colombo port.
An oil leak from the vessel would increase the risk of devastation.(

AP: Sri Lanka Air Force

)

"No-one is able to say how long we will have the adverse effects of this pollution," he told AFP. 

An oil leak from the vessel, said to be carrying 278 tonnes of bunker oil and 50 tonnes of diesel, would increase the risk of devastation.

Much of the ship's cargo, including 25 tonnes of nitric acid, sodium hydroxide, lubricants and other chemicals, appeared to have been destroyed in the fire, officials said.

The X-Press Pearl caught fire as it waited to enter Colombo Harbour. It remains anchored just outside the port.

Sri Lankans push a barrel shore, washed up from burning a burning ship
Sri Lanka faces an unprecedented pollution crisis as a result of the ship fire.(

AP: Eranga Jayawardena

)

An international salvage operation is being led by Dutch company SMIT, which has sent specialist firefighting tugs. India has sent coastguard vessels to help Sri Lanka's navy.

SMIT was also involved in dousing a burning oil tanker off Sri Lanka's east coast last September after an engine room explosion killed a crew member.

The fire on the New Diamond took more than a week to put out and left a 40-kilometre-long oil spill.

Sri Lanka has demanded the owners pay US$17 million ($22 million) for the clean-up.

AFP

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2021-05-30 02:11:09Z
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