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State of virus: East Coast lags as US sees sustained progress

State of virus: East coast lags as US sees sustained progress

The New York Times

Deaths remain extraordinarily high, with more than 2,600 announced as of Thursday alone. In the next few days the country will probably reach 500,000 total number of deaths. But reports of new deaths are finally starting to slow.

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The state of the virus: a notable decline in new cases

The state of the virus: a notable decline in new cases

Mitch smith

Mitch smithCoronavirus Reports

The New York Times

Deaths remain consistently high, with more than 100,000 announced already in 2021. Disturbing overseas variants continue to emerge in more states. And case levels, while dropping, remain higher than at any time before election day.

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Biden signals break with Trump foreign policy in large-scale State Department speech

But Mr. Biden also made clear that while he sought to force the Saudis to face the enormous human toll of their intervention in Yemen, he was not leaving them alone in the face of a hostile Iran. He said he would continue to sell Saudi Arabia defensive weapons designed to protect against missiles, drones and cyber attacks from Tehran.

“We will continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity and its people,” the president said. He did not say anything about the possibilities of imposing sanctions on the crown prince for his involvement in the murder of Khashoggi, although Mr Biden’s director of national intelligence, Avril D. Haines, said she planned to declassify information about the murder.

In another reversal of Trump-era policy, Biden also announced he was “halting any planned troop withdrawals from Germany,” ending Mr. Trump’s order to redeploy 12,000 stationed troops. in Germany.

National security experts on both sides had called the order myopia, saying it was rooted in Mr. Trump’s aversion to Chancellor Angela Merkel and his determination to force NATO countries to pay more for their own defenses, whatever the strategic costs to the United States. .

But strategically, it is Mr Biden’s warning to Moscow that could, in the long run, say more about the reorientation of US foreign policy than the decision to limit Saudi Arabia’s ability to continue a war. regional. He is the first president since the fall of the Soviet Union to decide not to attempt a “reset” with Russia, instead announcing what amounts to a new strategy of deterrence, if not containment.

Mr Biden has hardened his vow to respond to Russian efforts to disrupt American democracy and the hack of SolarWinds, a vast intrusion into the U.S. government and private networks whose dimensions are still a mystery. He said during a call with Mr. Putin last week, he told the Russian leader “in a very different way than my predecessor did, that on days when the United States turned on aggressive actions from Russia – interfering with our elections, cyber attacks, poisoning its citizens, are over.

Mr Biden called on Moscow to release jailed dissident Aleksei A. Navalny, adding: “We will not hesitate to increase the cost to Russia.” But he hasn’t specified how he would accomplish this, and his options may be limited. While the president has hinted at an “in-kind” response to the cyberattack, it could trigger a wave of escalation that worries many US officials.

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Woman accused in fatal collision in UK was employed by State Department, lawyer says

An American who fled Britain under diplomatic immunity weeks after fatally striking a 19-year-old motorcyclist with her car was employed by the US State Department at the time of the collision, the lawyer said. woman in court on Wednesday.

The woman, Anne Sacoolas, wife of US diplomat Jonathan Sacoolas, fled Britain in 2019, three weeks after her car hit teenager Harry Dunn. The accident occurred near RAF Croughton, a Royal Air Force base in central England where the US Air Force maintains operations.

The couple worked for the State Department and left the country due to “security concerns,” the attorney in federal court for the Eastern District of Virginia said on Wednesday, according to The Times of London.

Lawyer John D. McGavin said Ms Sacoolas’ work was “particularly a factor” in his departure from Britain, but that he could not “quite frankly” explain why, the newspaper reported. . Mr. McGavin did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

Radd Seiger, a spokesperson for Mr Dunn’s parents Charlotte Charles and Tim Dunn, called the disclosure of Ms Sacoolas’ employment “a startling revelation”.

In an email Thursday, he claimed that Ms Sacoolas’ diplomatic immunity as a State Department employee had been “waived in advance” prior to her arrival in Britain, given that the US governments and British had both claimed that she was simply an addict of her State Department. – employed spouse.

The hearing, held before Judge TS Ellis III, was to consider a request by the Sacoolases to dismiss a civil action filed in the United States by Harry Dunn’s family in September.

The teenager’s death has led to a diplomatic dispute as British authorities urged Ms Sacoolas to return.

In October 2019, two months after the collision, Mr. Dunn’s parents met with President Donald J. Trump for 15 minutes at the White House. Mr Trump told stunned Ms Charles and Mr Dunn that Ms Sacoolas was in an adjoining room and wanted to meet with them, but the parents declined the offer.

A month later, the State Department rejected Britain’s extradition request, which it said “would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and set an extremely troubling precedent.”

Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service had also started proceedings, but said at the time that the decision to formally request Ms Sacoolas’ extradition through diplomatic channels would be left to the Home Office.

On Thursday, Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, said in a statement that “since the tragic accident the United States has been closely linked with the British government and we have been transparent about our positions on legal and diplomatic questions thereon. accident.”

At the time of the accident “and for the duration of his stay in the UK”, said Mr Price, “the US citizen driver in this case was enjoying immunity from criminal jurisdiction.”

“As we said earlier, the driver enjoyed diplomatic immunity because she was the wife of an accredited staff member from the US Embassy office,” he added. .

Mr Price said he would not comment further on the court process. Another hearing is scheduled for February 17, according to court records.

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New Mexico state policeman shot and killed, officials say

A New Mexico state policeman was shot and killed and several other officers were injured in a shooting Thursday on Interstate 10 between Deming and Las Cruces, New Mexico, authorities said.

A suspect was dead, state police said in a statement, adding that “the scene is still active with limited information.” The highway was closed, police said.

Las Cruces Police said officers from several agencies were investigating reports of an “incident involving gunfire” along Interstate 10 near Las Cruces.

The police department said drivers should avoid the area and seek alternative routes until the investigation is complete, a process that could take hours.

The Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office has asked people to avoid the Interstate 10 area near the Interstate 25 interchange and Motel Boulevard. The sheriff’s office said the lanes of traffic were closed in both directions and closed for several hours.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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Video: Watch Live: Biden Delivers State Department Speech

TimesVideoWatch Live: Biden delivers remarks at State Department President Biden will visit the State Department on Thursday, focusing on foreign policy.

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State of emergency in the face of gender-based violence in Puerto Rico

A state of emergency in the face of gender-based violence

Frances robles

Frances roblesPuerto Rico Reports

The violent death of Valerie Almodóvar, a 23-year-old college student, shocked Puerto Ricans in 2018.

“They found his body in a black bag near the lake,” said Deddie Almodóvar, his sister. “The crime scene has been cleaned up. Two years later, the case has not gone to trial.

“We are more awake than ever. A new revolution has just started, ”she said.

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Impacting Travel

State Department advises Americans to reconsider travel

The State Department, concerned about new variants of the coronavirus, as well as new restrictions on entering the US from a foreign country, is warning Americans who are considering travel to reconsider their plans.

“If you’re overseas right now, it might be more difficult to go home for a while,” said Ian Brownlee, acting deputy secretary for consular affairs at the State Department, according to the Miami Herald. “Everyone should be prepared to be potentially disturbed on their journey.”

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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.

Brownlee noted that new strains of the virus were detected in Latin America and the Caribbean, while at the same time, the US established new requirements for anyone traveling to the US from abroad to produce a negative COVID test by get there, including US citizens. The airlines will deny boarding to anyone who does not and will be responsible for additional accommodation costs.

At least 16 countries and territories, including the United States, have confirmed the presence of at least one of the three emerging variants.

“The bottom line is: This is not really the time for people to engage in discretionary travel and that all travel should be postponed until we can better manage this virus under control and accelerate our vaccination strategies,” Brownlee said.

Dr. Marty Cetron, director of the global migration and quarantine division at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the new variants could be more contagious than the main virus that has plagued the world. for more than a year.

“They all suggest that they are potentially more contagious than the prevailing virus currently circulating,” Cetron said. “They can quickly become the predominant virus that is circulating and several of them have presented challenges to … evade some of the natural immunity and challenges to seek our vaccine solutions.”

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The state of the virus: cases decline, but death rates remain high

State of the virus: cases decline, but death rates remain high

Mitch smith

Mitch smithCoronavirus Reports

The New York Times

Caroline from the south, where authorities have found two cases of the variant first detected in South Africa, adds cases to the country’s second-highest rate. But even there, reports of new infections began to decline.

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Debbie Hennessy, a Cal State official known as ‘the Duchess’, dies at 80

This obituary is part of a series on people who died in the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about the others Here.

In 1943, a child was left on the steps of a church in West Falls Church, Virginia. Taken in by nuns, she was brought up with little knowledge of the outside world.

She had to perform tasks like cleaning the statues in the convent. When she was 12, she tried to escape with two girls but got caught. At age 14, she became a ward of New York State and lived with seven foster families for two years. In one house, she befriended a collie named Sheila. The dog remained one of his rare childhood memories.

When she was 16, Debbie Hennessy was finally released into society as an independent young woman, and she wasted no time in taking hold of her life. Perhaps because of the adversity she faced growing up, she was drawn to social work and community service.

Ms. Hennessy worked with a poverty and housing advocacy organization in New Haven, Connecticut, in the 1960s. Moving to Pittsburgh, she became involved in community outreach for the mayor’s office. She later moved to Long Beach, Calif., Where she became Administrator of the Academic Senate at California State University, working there for 25 years and becoming Executive Director before retiring in 2007.

“She’s built an incredible life for herself,” said her grandson Sam Levin. “She knew what it was like to grow up with nothing, so she wanted everyone to have everything.”

Ms Hennessy was 80 when she died of complications from Covid-19 on January 10 at a Long Beach hospital, Mr Levin said.

Deborah Theresa Wong was born on September 7, 1940 in Brooklyn. Her parents, Alice Moy and Dick Fay Wong, immigrated from China in the 1930s. It was her father who, for reasons not entirely clear, had left her at the church in Virginia when she was 3 years old. , to be educated in a school for girls operated on site. Few other details of his early years are known.

“It was a very sheltered childhood,” his grandson said. “Most of the other kids were white, so she didn’t even know she was Chinese for much of her youth.

At 14, Debbie was placed in the care of a priest in New York City and was quickly placed in her first foster home. She graduated from Eastchester High School in Westchester County at the age of 16 and briefly attended City College of New York. Later, she met Jack Tien, an engineer, and they married, had two children, and eventually moved to Pittsburgh. The marriage ended in divorce in 1966.

In Pittsburgh, she met Tom Hennessy, who worked in the communications department of the mayor’s office; like her, he had been abandoned by his biological parents. They married in 1971 and founded an alternative weekly, The Pittsburgh Forum. He edited the diary while she helped run her business operations. (It closed several years later.)

When Mr. Hennessy was hired as a columnist for The Press-Telegram in Long Beach, the couple moved there in the early 1980s.

She has become a staple in her columns, known to readers as “the Duchess”. He portrayed her as a great lady while recounting the daily events of her life. A typical column was titled “Kind Memorial staff make Duchess knee surgery more than bearable.”

Together, they ran local charities like “Send-a-Kid-to-Camp” and “Operation Kids”, which provided toys and school supplies to children in Iraq.

Mr. Hennessy passed away in 2016. Besides Mr. Levin, Mrs. Hennessy is survived by a son, John Tien; one daughter, Jackie Tien; two daughters-in-law, Patty Tomashefsky and Diana Rousseau; and nine other grandchildren and step-grandchildren.

Ms Hennessy played an important role in Long Beach thanks to her husband’s chronicles and good deeds, making headlines of his death on The Press-Telegram.