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Facebook ends political advertising ban

SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook said on Wednesday that it plans to lift its ban on political advertising on its network, picking up a form of digital promotion that has been criticized for spreading disinformation and lies and inflaming voters.

The social network said it would allow advertisers to purchase new ads on “social issues, elections or politics” starting Thursday, according to a copy of an email sent to political advertisers viewed by the New York Times. These advertisers must complete a series of identity checks before they are allowed to place the ads, the company said.

“We put this temporary ban in place after the November 2020 election to avoid confusion or abuse after election day,” Facebook said in a blog post. “We have heard a lot of comments about it and learned more about political and election advertising during this election cycle. Therefore, we plan to use the coming months to take a closer look at how these announcements work on our service to see where further changes might be warranted. “

Political advertising on Facebook has long faced questions. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to maintain a largely hands-off stance on speech on the site – including political ads – unless it causes immediate harm to the public or to individuals, claiming that he “ does not want to be the arbiter of truth.

But after the 2016 presidential election, society and intelligence officials discovered that the Russians had used Facebook ads to sow dissatisfaction among Americans. Former President Donald J. Trump also used Facebook’s political ads to amplify allegations of a 2019 Mexican border “invasion”, among other incidents.

Facebook banned political ads late last year in an effort to quell disinformation and threats of violence around the November presidential election. In September, the company announced that it planned to ban new political ads the week before election day and that it would act swiftly against posts that tried to dissuade people from voting. Then, in October, Facebook expanded that action by declaring that it would ban all political and issue-based advertising after the polls closed on November 3 for an indefinite period.

The company ultimately cracked down on groups and pages that disseminated certain types of disinformation, such as discouraging people from voting or registering to vote. He has spent billions of dollars to stamp out foreign influence campaigns and other types of interference by malicious state agencies and other bad actors.

In December, Facebook lifted the ban to allow some advertisers to run ads on political issues and candidacies in Georgia for the runoff in the state’s January senatorial elections. But the ban also remained in effect for the remaining 49 states.

Attitudes about how political advertising should be treated on Facebook are decidedly mixed. Politicians who are not well known can often increase their visibility and notoriety on their campaigns by using Facebook.

“Political ads are not bad things in and of themselves,” said Siva Vaidhyanathan, professor of media studies and author of a book studying the effects of Facebook on democracy. “They perform an essential service, in the act of directly representing the concerns or positions of the candidate.”

He added, “When you ban all campaign ads on the most accessible and affordable platform, you tip the scales towards candidates who can afford radio and television.”

New York Democrat Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also said that political advertising on Facebook can be a crucial part of Democratic digital campaign strategies.

Some political ad buyers applauded the lifting of the ad ban.

“The ad ban was something Facebook did to appease the public for the misinformation that has spread across the platform,” said Eileen Pollet, digital campaign strategist and founder of Ravenna Strategies. “But it really hurt the good actors when the bad actors were totally free. And now, especially since the election ended, the ban had really hurt nonprofits and local organizations.

Facebook has long sought to thread the needle between a drastic moderation of its politics and a lighter touch. For years Mr Zuckerberg has championed the right of politicians to say whatever they want on Facebook, but that changed last year as alarms rose over potential violence around the November election.

In January, Facebook banned Mr. Trump from using his account and posting to the platform after taking to social media to delegitimize election results and inciting a violent uprising among his supporters, who took to storming the US Capitol.

Facebook said Mr. Trump’s suspension was “indefinite.” The decision is currently under review by the Facebook Oversight Board, a third-party entity created by the company and comprised of journalists, academics and others that adjudicates some of the thorny decisions to enforce the content policy. of the society. A decision should be made in the coming months.

On Thursday, political advertisers on Facebook will be able to submit new ads or activate existing political ads that have already been approved, the company said. Each ad will appear with a small disclaimer, stating that it has been “paid for by” a political organization. For those who buy new ads, Facebook said it could take up to a week to clear the identity authorization and ad review process.

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Biden to impose travel ban on South Africa to combat COVID-19 variant

A senior US public health official revealed to Reuters today that President Joe Biden will ban nearly all non-US citizens who have visited South Africa from entering the United States as of January 30.

The source also said that on January 25, Biden will re-impose entry bans on most non-US citizens from the UK, Ireland, a bloc of 26 European countries and Brazil. Most of these restrictions were initially imposed in mid-March 2020 by then-President Donald Trump, although arrivals from Brazil were not banned until May 2020. Just before leaving office, Trump ordered those bans lifted, but President Biden’s proclamation will be reversed. that decision.

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

The restrictions prohibit most non-US citizens who have been in any of the specified countries in the last 14 days from entering the US There are provisions that allow permanent US residents and their family members, and some other non-US citizens, return to the United States under the order.

In an interview today, CDC Senior Deputy Director Dr. Anne Schuchat explained, “We are adding South Africa to the shortlist due to the current worrying variant that has already spread beyond South Africa.” He said the agency was “putting this set of measures in place to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk that these variants will spread and worsen the current pandemic.”

Some health officials are reportedly concerned that current COVID-19 vaccines may not be effective against the South African strain, known as the 501Y.V2 variant, which is 50 percent more infectious than previous ones and has already been detected. in at least 20 countries. While the South African variant has not been found so far in the United States, another highly infectious variant originating from the United Kingdom, known as B.1.1.7., Has been detected in at least 20 US states.

On the other hand, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rochelle Walensky, will sign an order on January 25 that will require all people over the age of two to wear masks on all planes, ferries, trains, buses, subways, taxis. and carpooling vehicles. Officials could only say that the rules would take effect in the next few days, with the possibility of removing the masks briefly while eating or drinking.

New CDC regulations that require all international travelers age two and older to provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of travel, or proof that they have already had the illness and are covered, will also enter. effective January 26. CDC officials noted that 120 other nations already have mandatory COVID-19 testing requirements for entry and said it would not grant the waivers requested by airlines to exempt travelers coming from countries with limited testing capacity.

“With the pandemic worsening and the emergence of these more contagious variants, this is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel,” said Schuchat.

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Biden Ends Army Transgender Ban, Amid Broad Fight Against Discrimination

At the Pentagon, officials said they welcomed the action and said the ministry would start implementing it quickly. “The ministry will immediately take the appropriate policy measures to ensure that people who identify as transgender are eligible to enter and serve in their self-identified gender,” Austin said in a statement. “No one will be separated or fired, nor refused to be re-enlisted, solely on the basis of their gender identity.

Mr Austin said Mr Biden’s executive order “would ensure that all medically necessary transition-related and legally authorized care is available to all members of the service,” which would remove a big stumbling block for them. transgender men and women seeking to join or remain in the military. He also pledged to review the cases of all transgender servicemen who are currently forced out of the military.

Senior military officials, for their part, reacted on Monday with some relief that the Pentagon would not have to continue to defend the disputed ban – which has resulted in a number of lawsuits across the country – before the courts. law courts. While military officials have refused to speak publicly about the issue for fear of getting into politics, General Milley said during his confirmation hearing in 2019 when asked about the transgender issue that “I don’t think that ‘there is anything inherent in anyone’s identity to prevent serving in the military.

Advocacy groups who have been fighting the ban since its announcement three years ago – in a tweet from Mr Trump – argued that the Pentagon does not need to spend months studying how to allow transgender people to serve because he had already done so. One such group, the Palm Center, said in a policy brief last summer that the military could quickly reopen its doors to transgender people if ordered to do so.

“A large ship can take a long time to turn around, so often the Pentagon has to study policy changes and move with caution,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said in an interview in July. “But this is the rare case that, given that the military has left an inclusive policy in place for transgender personnel already on duty even as it has implemented its ban, the switch is just waiting to be reversed. .

Others have argued that it was Mr. Trump’s ban, not his cancellation by Mr. Biden, that had been reckless.

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Biden implements plan to ban new oil and gas drilling on federal lands

WASHINGTON – President Biden will ask federal agencies on Wednesday to determine to what extent the ban on new oil and gas drilling on federal lands should be extended, as part of a series of executive orders that will effectively launch his program to combat climate change, two people with knowledge of the president’s plans said Monday.

A possible ban on new drilling permits would fulfill a campaign promise that has infuriated the oil industry and has become a central theme in the struggle for the critical condition of the Pennsylvania battlefield, where the method of extracting natural gas known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydraulic fracturing, has become important. business.

The move is the most important of several that Mr Biden announced on Wednesday, the two said. The president will also order the government to conserve 30% of all federal land and water by 2030, create a task force to assemble a government-wide action plan to reduce emissions. greenhouse gas emissions, to issue a memorandum making climate change a national security priority. Mr Biden will also create several new commissions and positions in government focused on environmental justice and environmentally responsible job creation, including one to help displaced coal communities.

Programs and proclamations are meant to signal that climate change is back on the government’s agenda, more important than ever. What they will not provide, at least again, is a significant and rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

“Can this administration do much on its own? Yes, ”said Jonathan H. Adler, professor of law at Case Western Reserve University. “But,” he added, “if the norm, however, is atmospheric stabilization, I’m skeptical that the administration can do anything close enough administratively.

This will require legislation, Mr. Adler said, “especially if a premium is put on achieving emission reductions as soon as possible.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the orders, and two people close to the administration noted that final decisions regarding them were still being refined.

The likelihood that Congress could pass large chunks of Mr. Biden’s $ 2 trillion climate change agenda is only slightly greater now that Democrats hold the slimmest possible majority in a 50-50 Senate. There is little hope of adopting a carbon tax or other mechanism to put a price on greenhouse gas pollution, which would cause cost-conscious companies to emit less.

Without legislation, the administration will have to rely on the regulatory process to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and fireplaces and improve the fuel efficiency of vehicles, but it also takes time. It cannot be done by decree.

“The tons of carbon pollution in the air is what matters in the end,” said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University and co-chair of a group that provided plans climate policy to the Biden administration.

Profeta said Wednesday’s orders were an important first step.

“The Biden administration can do a lot to start putting the country on the right track with its own authorities,” Profeta said. Wednesday, he said, “start the process.”

The expected crackdown on new oil and gas leases goes beyond Mr. Biden’s actions on inauguration day, which ended the Home Office and other agencies’ power to issue leases or permits drilling for 60 days, while the administration examined the legal and policy implications of the current federal mineral lease program.

The new policy will ask agencies to consider how much federal land and water should be kept from mining and drilling or set aside for renewable energy production, according to two people familiar with the order, who spoke out. on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the policy publicly.

Fossil fuel extraction from public lands and waters accounts for nearly a quarter of all carbon dioxide emissions in the United States, and Mr Biden has campaigned to end new drilling as a key to the fight against climate change.

Much of the environmental community applauded the plan, although some said Mr. Biden did not go far enough.

“It is vital that President Biden permanently ban all further extraction of fossil fuels, including fracking, on federal lands and waters,” said Mitch Jones, political director of Food & Water Watch, an environmental group.

Throughout the campaign, the left wing of the Democratic Party has pressed Mr. Biden to call for a nationwide ban on fracking, including on private land, where most fractures are practiced. He refused, but the oil and gas industry remained skeptical. His move on inauguration day led to the condemnation of the sector and some landowners.

“Your order is a direct attack on our economy, our sovereignty and our right to self-determination,” the Ute Indian tribe of Utah wrote to the Home Office in a letter issued by the American Petroleum Institute.

The climate task force that Mr Biden is expected to create will develop a plan for what administration officials like to call a ‘whole-of-government’ approach to climate change, and will focus on two main areas: environmental justice and creation. jobs.

It will ask every agency to factor climate change into government decisions, from federal government procurement and financial settlements to lawsuits, experts said.

It will also create a number of councils and committees to try to ensure that poor and minority communities as well as Americans who live in coal countries see the economic benefits of clean energy policies.

Mr Biden is also expected to revive and strengthen an Obama-era presidential memorandum in 2016 making climate change a national security priority and forcing intelligence agencies to incorporate climate change into their analyzes of threats to national security. He was quickly dismissed by the Trump administration.

Alice Hill, who oversaw climate planning for the National Security Council under the Obama administration, said the president’s leadership was needed because senior politicians calling for this analysis and intelligence officials preparing it don’t often do not have the experience of thinking. climatic risks.

“When I was in the White House, the risks of climate change were rarely discussed,” Ms. Hill said.

She and others have said Mr Biden needs to go further, potentially converting the memorandum into an executive order that has more power to order agencies to take actions such as establishing strategies and policies to cope. climate-related threats.

“The climate reality today is higher temperatures, stronger storms, more destructive forest fires, rising sea levels, acidifying oceans and prolonged drought,” said Sherri Goodman, under -Assist Secretary of Defense for Environmental Security under Obama and now a Senior Fellow in the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.

“We need a climate security plan for America that protects America’s climate infrastructure and puts climate and clean energy innovation at the forefront,” she said.

Christophe Flavelle contribution to reports.

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Biden rescinds Trump’s transgender military ban.

President Biden has rescinded his predecessor’s ban on transgender troops from serving in the military, administration officials said Monday, forcefully addressing a social issue that has confused the Pentagon for the past five years.

The White House announced the move as Biden met in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and General Mark A. Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The move was expected, as Biden said in November he would work to restore Obama-era protections for transgender people, which were overturned by former President Donald J. Trump.

But the haste signaled the new Biden administration’s willingness to put its own stamp on Defense Department social issues. This follows an announcement by Mr. Austin on Saturday that he was commissioning a review of how the Pentagon is handling issues of sexual assault.

Mr Biden and the Defense Department leadership will also have to grapple with a race-based calculation that faces the Pentagon, where officials have had to deal with a startling fact: Nearly one in five of protesters arrested for raping the Capitol on Jan. 6 – many of them with ties to white supremacist organizations – have ties to the U.S. military.

On the transgender issue, advocacy groups who have been fighting the ban since its announcement three years ago – in a tweet from Mr Trump – have argued that the Pentagon doesn’t need to spend months studying how to allow transgender people to serve because he had already done so. One such group, the Palm Center, said in a policy brief last summer that the military could quickly reopen its doors to transgender people if ordered to do so.

“A large ship can take a long time to turn around, so often the Pentagon has to study policy changes and move with caution,” Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, said in an interview last July. “But this is the rare case that, given that the military has left an inclusive policy in place for transgender personnel already on duty even as it has implemented its ban, the switch is just waiting to be reversed. .

Trump’s ban essentially ended an Obama administration initiative to allow transgender troops to openly serve in the military.

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As Biden lifts ban, transgender people have long sought-after chance to enlist

Among the roughly 200,000 transgender Americans of recruiting age is James Wong, an engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University who, while in Girl Scouts as a child, became an ace at survival skills, including including lighting a fire using only a flint and an ax.

“I like leading people, I like solving problems, I want to serve my country,” Mr. Wong said in an interview from his home in Los Angeles, where he takes distance education. “The army is a natural fit for me.”

Mr. Wong, 20, initially considered applying to one of the United States’ service academies, but the ban prevented him from entering. Instead, he joined the ROTC, hoping that politics would change by the time he graduated and could be made an officer. Before the virus finished school, he would wake up at 4:30 a.m. several times a week to go to physical training, but he knew that, under the ban, he would have to leave the ROTC when the time came to do a workout. military physical examination. Now he hopes to continue with ROTC this summer.

“I have met all the standards,” he says. “None of the cadets or commanders have a problem with me.”

When President Trump announced the ban, many legal scholars thought the courts would eventually find that the courts violated the constitutional right to equal protection of laws. But the legal process evolved so slowly that it effectively denied many young people the opportunity to join the military, according to Shannon Minter, a civil rights lawyer and legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, who continued. the Department of Defense on behalf of Mr. Talbott and other transgender recruits.

“It was a ban based purely on discrimination, and we all knew it would be overturned, but maybe not in time to help,” he said.

Mr. Minter has spent years fighting Pentagon lawyers. Now that the Biden administration has overturned the settlement, his lawsuits are moot. But he added that the ban had an unlikely silver lining.

“Before Trump’s ban, most people had no idea transgender people were even in the military – they were stereotyped,” he said. “I think it raised acceptance. It has forced people to realize that there are some really talented and committed transgender people who want to serve.

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Biden to end Trump’s travel ban

Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of the United States on Wednesday, January 20 at 12 noon EST, and has a series of Executive Orders planned to sign on the same day, including the rescission of President Trump’s travel ban.

According to various reports, Biden will sign around a dozen EOs later in the afternoon after the inauguration, with one of them lifting the ban on immigration to the United States from 13 mostly Muslim nations enacted by Trump when he took office in 2017.

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Twice the ban was overturned by federal judges who said it was religious discrimination, but in June 2018, the Supreme Court upheld the third version of the policy saying that federal law gives the president broad authority to suspend entry to the US. USA

Initially, significant restrictions on travel to the United States were imposed in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Iraq and Sudan were removed, and Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela were added.

On January 31, 2020, the administration banned certain visas from Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar, Nigeria, and Tanzania, and again added Sudan, which would not allow citizens of those countries to permanently settle in the United States.

The ban was just one of several shocking travel decisions Trump made during his four years.

Multiple media outlets reported that incoming White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain confirmed the rescission of the travel ban in a memo to senior staff.

“President-elect Biden will take action, not only to reverse the Trump administration’s gravest damage, but also to begin moving our country forward,” Klain wrote.

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Trump orders virus travel ban lifted, but Biden Aides vows to block move

WASHINGTON – President Trump on Monday ordered an end to the ban on travelers from Europe and Brazil aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, a move quickly rejected by aides-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., who said Mr Biden will maintain the ban when he takes office on Wednesday.

In a proclamation issued late Monday, Mr. Trump said the travel restrictions, which apply to non-citizens trying to come to the United States after spending time in these areas, would no longer be necessary on January 26, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will begin requiring all overseas passengers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before boarding a flight.

Mr Trump wrote that Alex M. Azar II, Secretary of Health and Human Services, had recommended ending restrictions on travel from most parts of Europe and Brazil, while maintaining restrictions on Iran and China, which Mr Trump said was not cooperative.

“I agree with the secretary that this action is the best way to continue to protect Americans from Covid-19 while allowing travel to resume safely,” the president said in the proclamation.

But Jennifer Psaki, the new White House press secretary for Mr. Biden, said the new administration would not allow Mr. Trump’s directives to come into effect.

“With the worsening pandemic and the emergence of more contagious variants around the world, now is not the time to lift restrictions on international travel,” Ms Psaki tweeted shortly after the White House issued Mr. Trump’s proclamation.

“On the advice of our medical team, the administration does not intend to lift these restrictions on 1/26,” she said. “In fact, we plan to strengthen public health measures regarding international travel to further mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”

The proclamation lifting the travel ban was part of a wave of executive orders Mr. Trump issued on Monday that will most likely be rescinded or rescinded by Mr. Biden.

The president-elect has made pandemic control the centerpiece of his new administration and has been very critical of how his predecessor handled the worst public health crisis in more than 100 years.

Mr Biden said the American people must be prepared to endure a “dark winter” in which the virus spreads quickly and creates more illness and death. His advisers recommended that he institute a mask warrant in federal workplaces and for interstate travel in hopes of slowing the rise in the number of infections.

Aids to Mr Biden made it clear on Monday that easing restrictions no longer made sense.

Mr Trump has long sought to use his push to ban travel to slow the spread of the virus as proof that he acted quickly in the early days of the pandemic. In fact, medical experts have said the restrictions on travel from China, which Mr Trump imposed in late January, were riddled with exemptions that allowed tens of thousands of people who were in China to enter the country. United States in the weeks following the ban. .

Mr Trump’s restrictions on travel from Europe did not come into effect until mid-March, when the virus was well established in the United States. In May, the administration imposed a travel ban on people in Brazil.

The travel restrictions proclamation appears to be an effort to help the airline and hospitality industries, which have been hit hard by the ban.

In it, Mr. Trump said the ban was no longer necessary because unlimited travel to the United States “is no longer detrimental to the interests of the United States” and added that he judged “in the United States interest in ending the suspension of entry into the United States of persons who were physically present in those jurisdictions. “

The president’s attempt to change pandemic-related policy just two days before stepping down is in line with the unorthodox way he led the transition to a new administration. Normally, outgoing presidents refrain from issuing new decrees without consulting the incoming president.

But Mr. Trump refused to meet those standards. For weeks after Mr Biden was cast as the winner of the presidential race, the president refused to acknowledge his defeat and delayed the formal process of transitioning power to Mr Biden’s team.

And more recently, Trump administration officials have been rushing to implement policy changes that could disrupt the new president.

Mr. Trump’s other executive orders on Monday included one that would allow federal agencies to issue new regulations only at the behest of people appointed by politicians.

The order appeared to be intended to allow those appointed by Mr. Trump’s administration to maintain control of the new regulations until Mr. Biden replaced them with his own people, a process that can sometimes take weeks or weeks. months.

Mr. Trump also issued an executive order directing the federal government not to purchase drones “which present unacceptable risks and which are manufactured by or contain software or critical electronic components from foreign adversaries.” This order seemed to target China.

Mr. Trump ordered the creation of a National Garden of American Heroes that would include statues of famous people. The order followed complaints from Mr. Trump over the summer that protesters were degrading statues, which he used as a cultural wedge issue in his losing presidential campaign.

He also issued an executive order to increase protection for prosecutors and another to protect Americans from “overcriminalization” through regulations.

None of Mr. Trump’s executive orders are likely to be in effect Wednesday afternoon. Mr Biden has pledged to work to reverse Mr Trump’s legacy and plans a flash of his own executive orders – many of which reverse the Trump agenda – in the early hours and days of his presence at the House White.

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Health Officials Say No Need To Ban UK Flights Over COVID Variant

US health officials have determined that it is not yet necessary to ban flights from the United Kingdom (UK), where a rapidly spreading variant of COVID-19 has been identified and is blamed for a number of new cases. in the surrounding regions of London.

Over the weekend, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on the Trump administration to halt flights from the UK in hopes of preventing the mutant virus from being imported into the US. Except, he requested that it the federal government at least requires passengers to be tested before flying to America from the UK

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In a CNN interview on December 21, Governor Cuomo said: “We now have an agreement with the three airlines that fly from the UK to New York airports: Virgin airlines, Delta and British Airways … have agreed they will test people before they fly into the UK on their way to New York. ” But he also raised concerns that UK flights could land in other US states, where passengers could potentially sow a new infection.

Since British Prime Minister Boris Johnson officially announced the discovery of the new COVID-19 variant on December 19, immediately imposing a level 4 lockdown on south-east England and tightening nationwide restrictions during the festive period, more of 40 countries around the world have stopped flights from the UK and imposed new restrictions on British travelers.

According to USA Today, Eurotunnel, the rail service connecting the British Isles to mainland Europe, has also stopped service. Traffic routes through the English Channel and from the Port of Dover, used by thousands of cargo trucks on a daily basis, were thrown into chaos when France abruptly banned all travel from the UK without making provisions for the essential trade.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock called the variant “out of control” in London and south-east England, accounting for about 60 percent of new infections in the area. The problem, according to a preliminary analysis by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), is not that this mutated version is more serious or deadly than others, but that it is estimated to be 70 percent more transmissible than the ones. existing strains.

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Boris Johnson, meets with the President of the United States, Donald Trump.
PHOTO: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with US President Donald Trump in 2019 (Photo via Flickr / The White House).

The ECDC said that some cases of the new variant have already been reported in Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Italy and the Netherlands. This version of the virus was first detected in September, but only now have scientists felt confident declaring that it is significantly more transmissible than other strains. Experts therefore speculate that it may have already reached the US and say that banning flights from the UK would accomplish nothing.

The Trump Administration’s undersecretary of health, Admiral Brett Giroir, said yesterday in an interview with CNN that he had discussed the matter with the director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Robert Redfield, but that the agency had done nothing. recommendation to stop traveling from the UK

Giroir said US officials were closely monitoring the situation and would alter course if necessary. “Every hour we get more information,” he said. “So I think anything is possible. We just have to put everything on the table, have an open scientific discussion and make the best recommendation.”

London and Paris
PHOTO: London and the southeast of England are in Level 4 lockdown, due to the new COVID-19 variant. (Photo courtesy of Collette)

Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s leading infectious disease expert, said that based on current information, he would be opposed to implementing new travel restrictions for the British. He told CNN on Monday that the United States should “certainly keep an eye on him,” but should not panic. “Follow him carefully, but don’t overreact,” he advised.

Giroir emphasized that viruses mutate all the time, with “more than 4,000 mutations that we’ve seen so far in this virus, and it continues to essentially act like COVID-19. And vaccines should continue to work very robustly against all of these strains, “he said Sunday.” So I don’t think there should be any reason to be alarmed at this point. “

The White House Coronavirus Task Force will meet this afternoon and will presumably discuss this new development in the pandemic and determine an appropriate course of action to move forward.

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Facebook lifts the ban on political ads for the second round of elections in Georgia.

Facebook said on Tuesday it would allow certain advertisers to run ads on political issues and candidacies in Georgia, a change from its recent ban on political ads in the United States and just weeks before a run-off election in the state could decide the future Senate.

As of Wednesday morning, Facebook said it would allow authorized advertisers to buy and serve political ads targeting people in Georgia. Only those persons previously authorized to serve such advertisements on the platform will be authorized, a process which involves identity verification and other security measures. Facebook’s ban on political ads will otherwise remain in effect for the remaining 49 states.

Georgia is the home of two consecutive Senate second-round elections. Two Democratic candidates, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, are fighting against two Republican incumbents, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. The results will determine which party controls the Senate when President-elect Joseph R. Biden takes office next year.

“In recent weeks, we have heard comments from experts and announcers from all political backgrounds on the importance of speaking out and using our tools to reach voters ahead of the second round of elections in Georgia,” Sarah Schiff, Facebook product manager in charge of political advertising, said in a corporate blog post on the change. “We agree that our advertising tools are an important way for people to get information about these elections.”

The move follows months of controversy over political advertising on Facebook, which critics say helps spread disinformation. Over the past few years, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said he wants to maintain a largely hands-off stance on speech on the site unless it causes immediate harm to the public or to others. individuals, claiming that he “doesn’t want to be the arbiter of truth.

But ahead of the November 3 presidential election, Facebook took steps to contain disinformation. This included stopping new ad purchases the week before election day and pausing all political advertising in the United States after the polls closed. The company said the ban on political ads was temporary, but did not say when those ads might resume.

Facebook said it plans to slowly scale up the advertising program in Georgia, starting with those leading political campaigns in the state, as well as state and local election officials and national and national political parties. The company added that it would reject political advertising that is targeted outside Georgia or that does not concern the upcoming run-off election.

Google, which put more than five million ads referring to the presidential election to sleep after the polls closed, said last week it was changing that policy and allowing advertisers to resume running election-related ads “as long as they follow our global advertising rules.”