Change country:
Mask or No Mask? Why the Guidance Has Been Shifting
As the Covid-19 pandemic has unfolded, authorities in different places have said different things about whether healthy people should go around wearing face masks to reduce the spread of the disease. 
Biden's brother promoted relationship with president in ad for Florida law firm: report
Frank Biden, the president’s younger brother, reportedly promoted his relationship with President Biden in a newspaper ad for a Florida law firm printed on Inauguration Day.
Idaho woman goes on bizarre rant, wears burka to ‘protest’ face mask mandate
An Idaho woman went on a bizarre rant at a local city council meeting saying she had to wear a “freaking burka” so she could avoid wearing face masks while attending college classes on campus. A woman who identified herself as Katie Dugger voiced her frustration about the mask mandate and shared why masks had...
Why ‘New START’ Nuclear Treaty Split Biden From Trump
The last remaining nuclear-arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia is on track for a five-year extension. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to extend so-called New START in their first exchange since Biden took office on Jan. 20. Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, had sought to renegotiate the deal, which is due to expire on Feb. 5. He wasn’t alone, as policy makers across the political spectrum have called for improvements.
Why Vaccines Might Not Be Able to Eliminate Covid-19
The road to eliminating Covid-19 is long and paved with uncertainty. Many countries are counting on vaccines to build sufficient immunity in their populations so that SARS-CoV-2 isn’t able to find susceptible people to infect, causing transmission of the coronavirus to slow and eventually stop. But even with the rollout of highly effective vaccines, immunization coverage may not reach that level -- the so-called herd immunity threshold -- anytime soon. For one thing, it’s not known what level of
The Permanent Colony
Tam Tak-chi has spent much of the past two decades talking. First as a popular radio host, then as a prodemocracy activist, Tam had opinions, many of them, and cared little about holding them back. So it was not entirely surprising—perhaps even expected in Hong Kong’s rapidly atrophying space for dissent—that his words eventually drew the ire of authorities. Early one September morning last year, Tam was arrested at his home.His case has not drawn as much media attention, either domestically or abroad, as some other recent incidents in the city—the day he was arrested, police nabbed some 300 others, fired pepper balls at demonstrators, and tackled a 12-year-old girl to the ground. In the months that followed, a steady, unrelenting clampdown included the jailing of the newspaper executive Jimmy Lai, and the mass arrest of prodemocracy figures has continued.Yet in many ways, Tam’s legal ordeal helps explain contemporary Hong Kong better than those other episodes, pointing both to the city’s fast-changing political and legal landscape and to its more deeply rooted history.Initial reports speculated that Tam, 47, was being charged under the sweeping national-security law imposed on Hong Kong by Beijing last year to snuff out dissent, but after mulling over his offense, the authorities said he would not be pursued under the new rules. Instead, prosecutors reached deep into the pages of Hong Kong’s law books for something far older: a colonial-era sedition law. By chanting protest slogans at street booths often set up under the guise of solely providing information to the public about the pandemic, Tam tried, police said, “to incite hatred and contempt against the government” and to “raise discontent and disaffection between people from Hong Kong and other places.” The law had not been used for decades, since before Hong Kong’s 1997 handover from London to Beijing.Then, well after Tam’s arrest, a judge who oversees national-security law cases was installed to oversee the proceedings. The appointment melded Hong Kong’s colonial legacy with new, harsh, and ill-defined directives from the mainland, showing that despite China’s lambasting of British rule, it has no problem using—indeed strengthening—the framework of political repression left behind nearly a quarter century ago. (Tam was arrested again this month along with more than 50 prodemocracy figures. All were accused of violating the national-security law for taking part in an unofficial primary election, but they have not been formally charged.)More symbolically, Tam’s case provides a reminder of Hong Kong’s existence as a place trapped in constant suspense. Despite having a distinct language, identity, and culture, the city has never been in full control of its development and future, always being pushed and pulled at the behest of a foreign capital. Once that was London; now it is Beijing.[Read: Eradicating a democracy movement]“It’s definitely unique,” Simon N. M. Young, a professor and associate dean at the University of Hong Kong’s law school, said of Tam’s case. Since 1997, colonial laws have not been used to curb protest or activism, he told me, but the national-security law appears to have “emboldened the police” to deploy them. “There is a clear intent for the [national-security law] to be integrated with the existing local laws rather than to be a standalone law.”Tam’s own life and career mirrors the transition from British to Chinese rule. When he was a fresh university graduate in 1994, he landed a spot as a broadcast trainee at a Hong Kong radio station, where he met Ray Chan, who himself had just graduated from a university on the other side of the city. The two balanced each other, making for enjoyable radio banter: Tam a born entertainer, brash and outspoken; Chan a former Catholic-school prefect, more reserved and conservative. They soon landed a daily show, where they talked about entertainment gossip, the weather, and music, taking on new monikers in the process: Tam was “Fast Beat,” Chan was “Slow Beat.”Almost by accident, Chan told me, the pair were slowly drawn into Hong Kong’s political scene, disappointed by the parties that monopolized the prodemocracy space and, they believed, failed to deliver on the movement’s promises. Chan founded a more radical grouping and was later joined by Tam. “I learned to be anti-establishment from Fast Beat,” Chan, who was elected as a lawmaker in 2012, said. (Like Tam, Chan was arrested on suspicion of subversion, shortly after we spoke. He has not been formally charged and was released on bail.)The bespectacled Tam was a persistent, exuberant, and sometimes abrasive presence in the prodemocracy movement. He ran unsuccessfully in a number of contests but was expected to fare well in legislative elections scheduled for last September, capitalizing on the enthusiasm and anger of the protest movement. Those polls were postponed, but, undeterred by the setback and the national-security law, Tam continued to set up streetside stalls that he said were to educate the public about the pandemic. While he did hand out masks and information about staying healthy, he also kept up protest chants and drew crowds as he derided Beijing’s crackdown.These events frequently drew the attention of police, whom Tam relished needling, calling for the deeply distrusted force to be disbanded. The animosity was not one-sided, a frontline police officer told me, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not cleared to talk to the media. His peers were elated when Tam was arrested: As the news spread in police chat groups, the officer told me, it was met with a stream of celebratory profanity directed at Tam.Typically defiant, before his first court appearance Tam posed with a large yellow sign emblazoned with black Chinese characters, “You want me to shut up? I’ll speak even louder.” He was soon slapped with another charge for conspiracy to commit sedition: Tam, prosecutors argued, had passed his microphone to an attendee at one of his booths, and that person had used the device to shout slogans of their own. In all, Tam was charged with seven counts related to sedition, along with a host of other offensesDenied bail, Tam will have spent nine months in jail when his trial begins in May. Chan, who before being arrested visited Tam each week, said his friend had been kept primarily in solitary confinement. The proceedings had led Chan to see just how encompassing the national-security law is and how it has already been interlaced with the existing criminal-justice structure. The legislation is “not just a law, it is a system,” he said. “It is the power for the government to do anything.”[Read: An ominous milestone in Hong Kong’s democratic descent]In that, the national-security law is layering on top of a regime that is nearly 200 years old. The British colonial government in Hong Kong began developing sedition regulations in the 1840s, according to Fu Hualing, the dean of the University of Hong Kong’s law school and the author of a paper on the history of the law. The legislation was originally intended to regulate the press in the new colony but was most notably wielded in 1967 when anti-colonial, leftist riots broke out in Hong Kong, fueled by the Cultural Revolution sweeping the mainland.At the time, the law was used to prosecute pro-Beijing newspaper figures, whom Britain accused of playing a role in stoking tensions, as well as to suspend printing of their papers. The arrests created a diplomatic crisis: Red Guards surrounded the office of the British charge d’affaires and set it on fire. The same pro-Beijing outlets that today cheer the erasure of freedoms in Hong Kong called the arrests an infringement on the free press and “fascist atrocities.”Two additional types of seditious intent were added and police powers expanded in 1970, before the law was folded into another measure the following year. It then sat unused and unchanged for the next 20 years, Fu wrote. During the twilight years of the colonial government, Martin Lee, a longtime prodemocracy activist, urged Britain’s last governor to repeal a host of outdated laws, describing them as “land mines'' that could be abused when Hong Kong returned to Chinese control. Lawmakers in Hong Kong agreed, writing in 1997 that “the offence of sedition is archaic, has notorious colonial connotations and is contrary to the development of democracy.” Yet they settled for narrowing the law and bolstering defenses against it, rather than removing it entirely. These changes passed four days before the handover but were never enacted. For the more than two decades that followed, the law was again left undisturbed. Lee’s warnings of “a bleak, Orwellian future” if colonial ordinances remained on the books seemed hysterical and hyperbolic, until protests erupted in 2019.What the Hong Kong government has lacked in creativity with regard to addressing the protest movement, it has made up for in finding ways to punish those involved. Carrie Lam, the city’s chief executive, who began her bureaucratic career as an enthusiastic member of the colonial administration, rarely misses an opportunity to lavish Beijing with praise and trumpet Hong Kong’s achievements since the “return to the Motherland.” She is also apparently unbothered by the contradictions of retaining a fondness for colonial-era laws.Lam used a pre-handover ordinance to ban the use of face masks at protests in 2019, a move that sparked further demonstrations but was upheld by the city’s top court. She deployed the same ordinance last year to postpone the scheduled legislative elections. Police, too, have made liberal use of colonial-era rules to arrest people for taking part in protests deemed illegal. In addition to Tam, city authorities are pursuing at least 11 other cases of sedition, according to a spokeswoman for the Security Bureau.Colonial ordinances are “one component of a big, messy smorgasbord of laws for the purpose of essentially political repression,” Kevin Carrico, a senior lecturer in Chinese studies at Monash University in Australia, told me. The government’s renewed embrace of these laws comes as it tries to force Hong Kongers, particularly the youth, to become more patriotic Chinese citizens. The efforts, which will almost certainly broaden, already include the beginning of an overhaul of the education system, passing a new law to protect the Chinese national anthem, and a push to bring mainland culture to the city through state-controlled films and publications.[Read: How history gets rewritten]The notion that Hong Kong is being treated like a colony is fiercely rebutted by Chinese officials, however. Tian Fielong, an associate professor at Beihang University’s law school in Beijing and one of a number of scholars who have offered academic justification for the ongoing reengineering of Hong Kong’s legal system, accused those making the comparison as lacking understanding of Chinese history. Tian told me the idea that Hong Kong is a colony of China is a “radical political thought” held by those pushing for the city’s independence (though this is still largely a fringe idea in the city and was not the objective of the protests). These people were, he said, seeking “to meet their imagination of Hong Kong’s future.”The handover from Britain was billed as a move away from colonialism, with Beijing believing that Hong Kongers would embrace the mainland and that identification with the Chinese nation would steadily strengthen. The prediction proved to be badly off the mark. Instead, many Hong Kongers forged a more independent identity and continue to harbor a deep resentment of Beijing. This week, some prodemocracy activists and organizations even celebrated the 180th year since British forces took control of the territory.“Essentially Hong Kong was being handed over from one colonial regime that was quite geographically distant to another regime that is geographically a lot closer,” Carrico said. “But that geographic closeness doesn’t really indicate cultural similarity.”
Could post-vaccine life mean we return to normal? Not yet
• Pulling off Tokyo 2020 will be a logistical nightmare ... and the clock is ticking • Live: WHO team to leave Wuhan quarantine
Parents of Texas hospital murder-suicide suspect speak out: ‘We don’t understand’
The parents of an Austin doctor spoke out on Wednesday night after their son killed another physician and then turned the weapon on himself after a hostage situation at a Texas hospital on Tuesday night. “We don’t understand our son’s motives or actions but feel this time is best spent remembering Dr. Dodson and her...
San Francisco to strip Washington, Lincoln from school names
The San Francisco school board has voted to remove the names of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and others from public schools after officials deemed them unworthy of the honor
Reporter Tossed Out of Marjorie Taylor Greene's Town Hall by Cops for Trying to Ask Question
"I'm talking to my constituents," Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said while refusing to answer the question of a reporter who was soon escorted out of her town hall event on Wednesday night. "This isn't a press conference."
California man with 'fully operational' pipe bombs targeted Democrats, Twitter and Facebook in text messages, feds say
Ian Rogers is facing charges after federal investigators found homemade pipe bombs, 49 firearms and 24 boxes of ammo at his home and business.
Florida Wants Tokyo's 2021 Olympics Despite Rising COVID Infections, Deaths
Disney World isn't fully open and a high school wrestling tournament turned into a super spreader. What could go wrong with an Olympic Games?
Analysis: After building a radicalization engine, Mark Zuckerberg aims to 'turn down the temperature'
A version of this article first appeared in the "Reliable Sources" newsletter.
Trevor Noah Horrified by QAnon Nut Marjorie Taylor Greene’s Murder Fantasies
Comedy CentralPresident Joe Biden wants to bring “unity” to the United States of America. But as The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah laid out Wednesday night, that is not going to be easy given that this country has pretty much been divided from the very beginning.“I can see why unity would be very appealing for people right now,” the host said. “But for unity to work, you have to agree on what unity is. And in Washington right now, they’re not even united on that.”With that, Noah played a montage of Republican lawmakers like Senators Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham, along with Fox News host Sean Hannity, railing against Biden for taking progressive action while preaching “unity.” As Hannity asked his viewers, “Does anyone at this point still believe him? Anybody? Raise your hand at home.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
Place where you can toss your ex to wolves for Valentine's Day
EMT accused of illegally recording patients
Cancer-stricken teacher ask for sick day donations
Thousands of families could face eviction soon
Lower-paid employees have to pay back bonus
Four swastikas found etched into dorm elevator
Rising chicken wings prices challenging restaurants
Couple, their six children escape burning home
Robotic restaurant opens second location
Public schools reopening postponed to spring
Four children, one adult die in morning house fire
Man admits to killing supervisor after he was fired
Nature center to host owl-themed hiking event
Mass murder survivor: 17-yo brother shot the family
Two teens charged in accidental deadly shooting
Corbin's Light Show house catches fire
Student dies in fraternity house bathroom
Biden's team grilled about masks
• EU and AstraZeneca escalate war over vaccines • UK imposes Australia-style hotel quarantine
Could post-vaccine life mean we return to normal? Not just yet
Mass Covid-19 vaccination programs are underway in many countries around the world, offering the first glimmer of hope that life as we knew it could be back within our reach.
1 h
California man allegedly built pipe bombs, threatened ‘war’ against Dems
A California man allegedly built pipe bombs and threatened to “go to war” against Democrats over former President Donald Trump’s election loss, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. Ian Benjamin Rogers, 43, was arrested on Jan. 15 as officers seized at least 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five “fully operational” pipe bombs from his...
1 h
Kansas to shut down unemployment system to deal with fraud
Thousands of fraudulent unemployment claims are prompting Kansas to shut down its processing system this weekend, meaning some jobless workers will have payments delayed as the state installs new anti-fraud protections
1 h
Poll: Liz Cheney’s Political Support Collapses in Wyoming as Primary Challenger Takes Double-Digit Lead
House GOP Conference Chairwoman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) has seen her political support completely collapse in Wyoming as solid majorities of both Republicans and all voters in the state want her out of office, a new poll shows.
1 h
Suburban Milwaukee cop who resigned after fatally shooting 3 since 2015 hired as deputy
Joseph Mensah, the suburban Milwaukee police officer who resigned in November after one of his three fatal shootings since 2015, was hired as a deputy in a neighboring county on Tuesday.
1 h
Cloris Leachman's secret gift
When I tell you that Cloris Leachman, who died Wednesday at age 94, was one of the greatest American actors, don't arch your eyebrow, writes Gene Seymour. She could be hilarious, but also complex, raw and restrained to make an abandoned forest cry -- and make the bluntest, most forsaken object seem human.
1 h
WATCH: Bear chases skier down slope
A bear chased a skier downhill at a mountain resort in Romania, with the skier escaping to safety by throwing a backpack on the ground to distract the animal.
1 h
WATCH: Icicles form amid icy waves on Lake Michigan
Icicles formed along a pier at Chicago's North Avenue Beach amid winter weather and icy waves on Lake Michigan.
1 h
WATCH: Confused cat meets her Lego doppelgänger
A cat named Socks came face to face with her Lego doppelgänger after her owner won a "Build Your Cat" competition in Australia.
1 h
Biden Climate Actions Get Pushback From Some Energy States, Others Silent
"Overreaching and defying Congress will not be rewarded or succeed," Wednesday's letter from six state Attorneys General read in part.
1 h
Tobias Harris’ jumper in final ticks leads 76ers past Lakers
PHILADELPHIA — Tobias Harris swished a jumper with 3 seconds left, ending the Lakers’ 13-0 run and sending the Philadelphia 76ers to a 107-106 victory over Los Angeles on Wednesday night. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit a 3-pointer with 1:05 left that pulled the Lakers to 105-104. LeBron James hit Anthony Davis for the go-ahead basket with...
1 h
The NRA says its finances are solid. So why is it filing for bankruptcy?
The National Rifle Association bragged it is on solid financial footing. So why did it file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy?       
1 h
Poland puts new restrictions on abortion into effect, resulting in a near-total ban on terminations
Poland's government put into effect Wednesday a ruling that outlaws the termination of pregnancies with fetal defects, resulting in a near-total ban on abortion in one of Europe's most devout Catholic countries.
1 h
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano: The Constitution is not for sale
To ensure that the new American government could not do what the British government had been doing to the colonists, the Fourth Amendment was enacted.
1 h
Van Jones talks to Jalen Rose about Prince, politics
Van Jones is controversial because he has the audacity to work with both Democrats, Republicans, or any party in power to make progress on prison reform. But if that doesn’t bother you, perhaps his opinion on Michael Jackson and Prince will. Like the Michael Jordan/LeBron James GOAT argument, these two prolific artists have fueled the...
1 h
Hamptons real estate booming amid COVID-19
The pandemic may be raging, but Hamptons real estate couldn't be healthier.
1 h