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US Anti-Vaccine Activists to Rally at Lincoln Memorial

 Anti-vaccine activists are set to rally Sunday in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial.The anti-vaccine argument has taken hold among various American groups, including politicians, school officials, professional athletes and health care workers. Public health officials say about 20% of U.S. adults are unvaccinated. COVID vaccine passport protests were held in several European capitals Saturday. Thousands of people turned out in Stockholm to demonstrate against the vaccine passes needed to go to indoor sites where there are 50 or more people. Protesters took to the streets of Paris to demonstrate against …


Comoros Loses Both Goalkeepers as COVID Sweeps Through Squad

Comoros, the surprise package of the Africa Cup of Nations, is struggling to put a team together for their last-16 game against host nation Cameroon after 12 players and management tested positive for COVID-19, their federation announced Saturday. The 12 positive tests include both of the Coelacanths’ fit goalkeepers, with the third goalkeeper, Salim Ben Boina already injured. Comoros is due to face Cameroon on Monday. “The Coelacanths affected by COVID … include coach Amir Abdou, our only two goalkeepers, Moyadh Ousseini and Ali Ahamada,” the federation tweeted two days …


UAE Bans Flying of Recreational Drones After Fatal Attack

The United Arab Emirates has banned the flying of drones in the country for recreation after Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed a fatal drone attack on an oil facility and major airport in the country. As of Saturday, drone hobbyists and other operators of light electric sports aircraft face “legal liabilities” if caught flying the objects, the Interior Ministry said, adding it may grant exemptions to businesses seeking to film. A rare drone and missile strike on the capital of Abu Dhabi blew up several fuel tankers and killed three people …


New Zealand PM Ardern Cancels Her Wedding Amid New Omicron Limits

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has canceled her wedding as the nation imposes new restrictions to slow the community spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant, she told reporters. New Zealand will impose mask rules and limit gathering from midnight on Sunday after a cluster of nine cases of the omicron variant showed community transmission from the North to South islands after a wedding. A family traveled by plane from the North Island capital of Auckland to a wedding in the South Island attended by 100 people. The family and …


Uzbeks Perplexed as US Veterans Link Illnesses to Air Base

Residents living near Karshi-Khanabad harbor have fond memories of the American soldiers who served at the Uzbek air base widely known as K2 between 2001 and 2005, describing the period as one of their happiest times. But for many of the Americans, lingering affection for the residents is outweighed by persistent debilitating ailments that they attribute to toxic and radioactive waste at the base.  “The American period was a wonderful time,” said Oysaot Toparova, a resident now in her late 70s who served for many years as a politician in …


Facebook Removes Kurdish Pages Linked to Misinformation on Belarus Migrant Crisis

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has removed two popular Kurdish Facebook pages accused of spreading misinformation that helped convince thousands of Kurds to mass along the border of Belarus and Poland late last year. The two accounts, one from a Kurdish lawmaker with 143,000 followers and another belonging to a Kurdish journalist with nearly 270,000 followers, were spreading misinformation that falsely claimed Kurds who went to the Belarus-Poland border would be allowed into the European Union. There was no such immigration plan. Instead, frustrated crowds clashed with border guards …


India Reports More Than 300,000 Daily COVID Cases

India’s health ministry reported 337,704 new COVID-19 cases Saturday. Public health officials have warned that India’s tallies are likely undercounted. Ireland lifts most of its COVID restrictions Saturday, as the country prepares to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in March, for the first time in two years. Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin said, “Spring is coming, and I don’t know if I have ever looked forward to” a St. Patrick’s Day celebration “as much as this one.” A face mask mandate, however, currently remains in effect. Anti-vaccine activists are set to …


Latin America, Asia Latest to Be Hit With Omicron Surge

In Costa Rica, officials are encouraging those infected with the coronavirus to skip voting in upcoming national elections. On the other side of the world, Beijing is locking down residential communities as the country anxiously awaits the start of the Winter Olympics on Feb. 4. In Latin America and Asia, where the omicron variant is making its latest appearance, some countries are imposing such restrictions while others are loath to place new limits on populations already exhausted by previous constraints. Omicron quickly swept through the places it first hit, such …


US Suspends 44 Flights by Chinese Carriers After Beijing Action

The U.S. government said Friday it would suspend 44 China-bound flights from the United States by four Chinese carriers in response to the Chinese government’s decision to suspend some U.S. carrier flights over COVID-19 concerns. The suspensions will begin Jan. 30 with Xiamen Airlines’ scheduled Los Angeles-to-Xiamen flight and run through March 29, the Transportation Department said. The decision will cut some flights by Xiamen, Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines. Since Dec. 31, Chinese authorities have suspended 20 United Airlines, 10 American Airlines and 14 Delta …


CDC Says Studies Show Boosters Offer Increased Protection Against Omicron 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it has evidence COVID-19 vaccines work against the omicron variant.  Citing three studies, the CDC said the vaccines appear to work particularly well for those who received booster shots. The U.S. studies are the first to examine the effectiveness of the vaccines on the omicron variant.  One study said it found that vaccines were effective in lowering hospitalizations and urgent care center visits after three doses of Pfizer or Moderna.   The study said three shots were 90% effective in preventing …


Biden Pushes Expansion of Domestic Semiconductor Manufacturing

U.S. President Joe Biden touted a $20 billion investment by American technology company Intel to build a semiconductor factory in Ohio to address a global shortage that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S.-China trade war. In a speech from the White House on Friday, Biden said the Intel factory, part of the administration’s effort to work with the private sector, would create thousands of jobs. He urged Congress to pass legislation to further expand domestic chip manufacturing, framing it in the context of strategic competition with …