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  • Biden to sign new executive orders on his racial equity agenda– live updates
    by Martin Belam on January 26, 2021 at 11:46 am

    President will give address on racial equality this afternoon after Senators are sworn in for Trump impeachmentHouse delivered article of impeachment against Donald Trump to SenatePresident Joe Biden says impeachment trial ‘has to happen’Trump campaign distances itself from new ‘Patriot party’Sign up to receive First Thing – our daily briefing by email 11.46am GMT“Their socialism and cancel culture will not heal America” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday when launching her bid to be the next Governor of Arkansas. She wasn’t that keen to divorce herself from her legacy of working with the Trump administration – her launch video had plenty of references to the former president.However, it is likely that her campaign will be dogged by reminders of her time in the White House. Mehdi Hasan overnight did a TV sport ranking her “worst lies” while fronting the Trump press operation.“It was the lying - the brazen, relentless... lying - that defined her tenure in the office."My mini-rant on new gubernatorial candidate and ex-White House press secretary, @SarahHuckabee, plus a countdown of her top 5 lies, via the @MehdiHasanShow:pic.twitter.com/OleTKo3bQ2 11.32am GMTIgor Vamos writes for us today on how Facebook is bombarding rightwing users with ads for combat gear:On 16 January, Facebook announced that it will be “banning ads that promote weapon accessories and protective equipment in the US at least through January 22”. To those of us who have been observing the world of Trump-supporting social media, this announcement is a manipulative piece of whitewashing that obscures how Facebook’s algorithms continue to divide people the world over. Related: Facebook is bombarding rightwing users with ads for combat gear. See for yourself | Igor Vamos Continue reading...

  • Coronavirus live news: Germany backs limits on EU vaccine exports; South African president decries 'vaccine nationalism'
    by Mattha Busby (now); Damien Gayle and Helen Sullivan (earlier) on January 26, 2021 at 11:41 am

    German health minister says EU must ensure its fair share amid production delays; Ramaphosa calls on rich countries to stop hoarding jabsEU threatens to block vaccine exports amid AstraZeneca shortfallGerman government challenges reports on AstraZeneca vaccineNetherlands shaken by third night of Covid riots UK coronavirus updates - live See all our coronavirus coverage 11.41am GMTA group of UN experts has criticised Sri Lanka’s requirement that those who die of Covid be cremated, even it goes against a family’s religious beliefs, and warned that decisions based on “discrimination and aggressive nationalism” could incite hatred and violence, AP reports.The experts, who are part of the Special Procedures of the U.N Human Rights Council, said in a statement that rule amounts to a human rights violation.“We deplore the implementation of such public health decisions based on discrimination, aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism amounting to persecution of Muslims and other minorities in the country,” the experts said. “Such hostility against the minorities exacerbates existing prejudices, intercommunal tensions, and religious intolerance, sowing fear and distrust while inciting further hatred and violence.” 11.28am GMTMauritius, the island nation east of Madagascar, has begun its vaccination campaign, with medical staff the first to receive the jabs. Those vaccinated will get a second dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in about 20 days, the BBC reports, after Mauritius received 100,000 doses from India last week.A batch of 240,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine is expected to arrive by 15 February, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) representative, Laurent Musango. The Pfizer/BioNtech vaccines were obtained through Covax - a global initiative led by the WHO. Continue reading...

  • UK diplomats told to cut up to 70% from overseas aid budget
    by Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor on January 26, 2021 at 11:39 am

    Officials have just weeks to slash costs, prompting fears that speed of cuts could ‘cost lives’British diplomats have been instructed to find at least 50% cuts in UK overseas aid in the next six weeks in advance of the next financial year, the Labour party has said.Sarah Champion, the chair of parliament’s international development select committee, said: “Our ambassadors have today been instructed by the Foreign Office to cut 50-70% from the aid budget.” Continue reading...

  • Ugandan security forces withdraw from Bobi Wine's house
    by Jason Burke in Johannesburg, Samuel Okiror in Kampala and agencies on January 26, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Judge ruled on Monday that house arrest of presidential challenger was illegal Security forces in Uganda have withdrawn from around the home of presidential challenger Bobi Wine, complying with a ruling by a judge on Monday that rebuked authorities for holding the candidate under house arrest for 11 days.Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has been unable to leave his home since 14 January, when Ugandans voted in an election in which the 38-year-old reggae star turned politician was the main challenger to 76-year-old Yoweri Museveni. Continue reading...

  • I enjoyed researching the bloody history of childbirth - then I had a baby | Anna North
    by Anna North on January 26, 2021 at 11:32 am

    My new novel is about a midwife’s daughter in the old American west. The peril pregnant women underwent, then and now, became all too vivid once I became a parentChildbirth in the 19th century was a dangerous affair. Women routinely came down with puerperal fever, an infection of the uterus that could lead to sepsis and death. Others suffered a postpartum haemorrhage: heavy bleeding that, if not stopped, could also claim their lives. Some experienced eclampsia, a condition in which skyrocketing blood pressure could cause fatal seizures. In 1900, six to nine women died for every 1,000 births, more than 30 times the rate today.I learned these facts when I started researching my latest novel, Outlawed, an alternate history following a midwife’s daughter on the run across the American west in 1894. I needed a working understanding of obstetrics and gynaecology of the era to give it verisimilitude. So I read about the history of the C-section, which, at least in Europe, was generally a fatal procedure until about the 1880s, though there are reports of women surviving it as early as the second century CE. I learned about the discovery of egg cells, which was the subject of heated debate in the 1670s between the Dutch doctor Reinier de Graaf (who demonstrated their existence by dissecting rabbits shortly after mating) and his rival Jan Swammerdam (who liked to travel with a human uterus and other “items of genital anatomy”). I studied the composition of early baby formula, which, in 16th and 17th-century Europe, often consisted of bread soaked in milk, fed to infants from a “pap boat” that was unfortunately hard to clean and prone to accumulating bacteria. Continue reading...

  • Pharmaceutical giants not ready for next pandemic, report warns
    by Julia Kollewe on January 26, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Ten of the world’s most infectious diseases identified by the WHO not being catered for by drug firmsThe world’s biggest pharmaceutical firms are little prepared for the next pandemic despite a mounting response to the Covid-19 outbreak, an independent report has warned.Jayasree K Iyer, executive director of the Netherlands-based Access to Medicine Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation funded by the UK and Dutch governments and others, highlighted an outbreak of the Nipah virus in China, with a fatality rate of up to 75%, as potentially the next big pandemic risk. Continue reading...

  • UK must cancel poor countries' debt or face Covid-19 'financial tsunami'
    by Kate Hodal on January 26, 2021 at 11:23 am

    International development committee tells government that pandemic and foreign aid cuts fuelling poverty and food insecurityBillions of dollars of debt owed by poor countries must be permanently cancelled in order to stave off a “looming financial tsunami” caused by Covid-19 and the ensuing global recession, a cross-party committee of MPs has warned.Debt relief will not be enough to help the world’s most vulnerable economies as they face skyrocketing levels of hunger and unemployment, according to an inquiry into Covid-19’s secondary impacts in developing countries, published on Tuesday by the House of Commons international development committee (IDC). Continue reading...

  • UK sells arms to nearly 80% of countries under restrictions, says report
    by Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor on January 26, 2021 at 11:08 am

    Exporting to countries under sanctions and embargos is ‘systematic failure to consider human rights records’British ministers and officials have approved the sale of arms to nearly four-fifths of countries subject to arms embargos, trade sanctions or other restrictions over the past five years, according to analysis.The UK has exported military hardware to 58 countries of the 73 listed as subject to restrictions by the Department for International Trade (DIT), including sniper rifles to Pakistan, assault rifles to Kenya and naval equipment to China. Continue reading...

  • German government challenges AstraZeneca Covid vaccine efficacy reports
    by Philip Oltermann in Berlin on January 26, 2021 at 11:07 am

    Newspaper reported government was expecting European regulator’s assessment to show vaccine was only 8% effective among over-65sCoronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverageThe German government has challenged reports of a lower-than-expected efficacy rate of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for older people, while reiterating concerns about the British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant’s data reporting.An article in German business daily Handelsblatt had reported that the German government was expecting the European Medical Agency’s (EMA) assessment to show the AstraZeneca vaccine to be only 8% effective among the over-65s, describing it a “setback for Berlin’s vaccination strategy”. Continue reading...

  • How my Real Housewives addiction has seen me through the pandemic
    by Joe Stone on January 26, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Despite appearing on reality TV as a teenager, I’ve never been a fan of the genre. But Housewives is different – and I’ve become an evangelist for its illicit thrill and numbing qualityAlready, 2021 has had no shortage of sobering moments. Armie Hammer (allegedly) being a cannibal. Azealia Banks boiling her dead cat. The pandemic refusing to evaporate like Cinderella’s stagecoach the second we bellowed “happy new year” into the eerie silence of our living rooms. But none has been more sobering than the moment when I realised that I have watched more than 190 hours of Real Housewives during lockdown.It was especially startling because I had never considered myself much of a reality TV fan. Certainly not the type of lunatic who dedicates hours to watching extremely privileged women scream about whether or not they have Munchausen’s. Having appeared on reality TV as a teenager, I felt as though I understood the format and took for granted that much of the action is stage-managed. I reasoned that, if I was going to watch people ham it up unconvincingly, I could watch Pose, or a Boris Johnson press conference. But Housewives is different. Continue reading...