Australia to lift 18-month COVID-19 travel ban next month

Australia to lift 18-month COVID-19 travel ban next month

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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison discusses travel restrictions during a press conference in Canberra, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. Australia has outlined plans to lift its pandemic ban on its vaccinated citizens traveling overseas from November, but no date has yet … more >

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By Rod McGuirk

Associated Press

Friday, October 1, 2021

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – Australia has outlined plans to lift a pandemic ban on its vaccinated citizens traveling overseas from November. But no date has yet been set for welcoming international tourists back.

Travel restrictions that have trapped most Australians and permanent residents at home over the past 18 months would be removed when 80% of the population aged 16 and older were fully vaccinated, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday.

Australia introduced some of the toughest travel restrictions of any democracy in the world on people entering and leaving the island nation on March 20 last year.

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Most Australians have had to argue for rare exemptions from the travel ban to leave the country. There are a few exceptions from the ban including government employees and essential workers. Tourism is never accepted as a reason to cross the border.

Hundreds of thousands have failed to reach relatives’ death beads, missed funerals or weddings and have yet to be introduced to grandchildren because of restrictions aimed at keeping COVID-19 out of Australia.

New South Wales would likely become the first state to reach the 80% vaccination benchmark and Sydney’s airport the first to open to international travel, Morrison said.

“We’ve saved lives. We’ve saved livelihoods, but we must work together to ensure that Australians can reclaim the lives that they once had in this country,” Morrison said.

Sydney-based Qantas Airways announced international flights would resume from Nov. 14 to London and Los Angeles.

Morrison offered no clue to when other nationalities would be welcome to visit Australia.

“We’ll be working towards complete quarantine-free travel for certain countries, such as New Zealand, when it is safe to do so,” he said.

Australia has its closest relationship with New Zealand, whose citizens are considered Australian permanent residents. The neighbors allowed quarantine-free travel across the Tasman Sea before the delta variant outbreak began in Sydney in June.

The Australian Tourism Export Council, which represents a sector that made 45 billion Australian dollars ($33 billion) a year from international tourists before the pandemic, said the end of the travel ban paved the way for visitors from around the world returning by March.

“It marks a shift in thinking within both the government and community sentiment to reengaging with the world,” the council’s managing director Peter Shelley said in a statement.

A cap on the number of Australian citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week has left 45,000 people stranded overseas. It’s aimed at reducing pressure on hotel quarantine, which the more contagious delta variant had made more difficult to manage.

The cap would only apply to the unvaccinated under the new regime. Fully vaccinated Australians would be able to quarantine at home and for only a week instead of the current two weeks in a hotel.

Australia on Friday added China’s Sinovac and Indian-made AstraZeneca shots known as Covishield to a list of vaccines that Australians can take and be recognized as fully vaccinated.

Travel restrictions would not be lifted for Australians who chose not to be vaccinated. People who could not be vaccinated for medical reasons or children too young to get the jab would have the same privileges as those inoculated.

Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, blasts Five Eyes intel-sharing pact

China’s foreign minister blasts Five Eyes intel-sharing pact

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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attends a meeting with his South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong at Foreign Ministry in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021. The foreign ministers met Wednesday for talks expected to focus on North Korea and … more >

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By Guy Taylor and Joseph Clark

The Washington Times

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A little-reported proposal by U.S. lawmakers to consider expanding the number of foreign nations allowed to participate in a sensitive intelligence-sharing program known as “Five Eyes” is causing a stir among American allies in Asia and pre-emptive pushback from China.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made headlines Tuesday by publicly condemning the Five Eyes program during a diplomatic visit to South Korea — one of a handful of nations that could be added to the intelligence-sharing program under the proposal floated recently in Congress.

When asked during a news conference for a reaction to the potential inclusion of South Korea, Mr. Wang took a dismissive posture, characterizing Five Eyes as an obsolete American program.

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It “is completely a product of the Cold War, it is left behind already,” the Chinese foreign minister told reporters, according to NikkeiAsia, a publication based in Japan – another of the countries that could be added to Five Eyes under the proposal at issue.

The Five Eyes partnership currently includes the U.S., Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

Earlier this month, the House Armed Services Committee included language in its annual defense policy bill directing the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence to look into “opportunities to expand intelligence sharing with” four additional countries — Germany, India, Japan and South Korea.

The last three of those countries are all potential Asian counterweights to China.

The “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing agreement, which was formed during World War II, signified the close relationship between the five countries, all stable Anglophone democracies that once were part of the British Empire.

Those ties became further galvanized throughout the Cold War.

“The committee recognizes the special intelligence-sharing relationship that the United States has maintained with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom (the Five Eyes) since World War II,” the bill reads. “The committee also recognizes that this community of trust did not develop overnight but that over decades these countries have developed unique ways to gather and share intelligence, and thereby strengthen the relationship.”

But the lawmakers said the changing threat landscape could propel the group’s expansion.

“The committee acknowledges that the threat landscape has vastly changed since the inception of the Five Eyes arrangement, with primary threats now emanating from China and Russia,” the bill reads. “The committee believes that, in confronting great power competition, the Five Eye countries must work closer together, as well as expand the circle of trust to other like-minded democracies.”

It is not clear whether similar language was included in the Senate version of the bill, which passed in a closed session in July.

Erickson suspended from Twitter after calling Olympian Laurel Hubbard a man

‘Laurel Hubbard is a man’ tweet lands Erick Erickson in Twitter jail

'It is a statement of basic biological fact that Twitter and the Wokes oppose'

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In this file photo, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand competes in the women’s +87kg weightlifting event at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig) more >

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By Valerie Richardson

The Washington Times

Saturday, August 7, 2021

Conservative Christian radio host Erick Erickson said Saturday his Twitter account was suspended over a tweet in which he described New Zealand transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard as a man.

The Georgia-based Erickson, formerly the editor-in-chief of RedState, posted on Instagram a screenshot from his Twitter account that said it had been suspended for violating “our rules against hateful conduct,” and linked to the Hubbard tweet.

His Thursday tweet said, “This is absurd. Laurel Hubbard is a man even if Twitter doesn’t like it.”

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“Well, it seems post-modernity has caught up to me. Twitter has suspended me for a statement of fact that Twitter’s woke employees do not like,” said Mr. Erickson in a mass email. “In defending Allie Beth Stuckey, who was previously suspended from Twitter for a statement of truth, I reiterated that, in fact, the New Zealand transgender weight lifter is a man.”

He added that “Twitter has suspended me for stating the truth.”

Hubbard, 43, who transitioned from male to female in 2012, failed to complete any of her three lifts Monday in the women’s super-heavyweight division, but made history as the first openly transgender Olympian to compete based on gender identity and not sex.

Ms. Stuckey, a conservative commentator, landed in “Twitter jail” Thursday for her tweet saying “Laurel Hubbard failing at the event doesn’t make his inclusion fair. He’s still a man, and men shouldn’t compete with women in weightlifting.”

She said on Instagram that the suspension was lifted 12 hours later, as reported by the [U.K.] Daily Mail.

“Good morning. I’m out of Twitter jail. Men are still men. Thank you,” she tweeted Friday.

 

Remember, you can threaten, dox, harass, post porn, spread Chinese propaganda and tweet as a member of a terrorist regime here on Twitter, but you cannot call a man, “he,” because that is “promoting violence.”

— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) August 6, 2021

 

Twitter’s hateful-conduct policy prohibits tweets that “promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.”

The Washington Times has reached out to Twitter for comment.

Mr. Erickson took issue with his suspension, saying it was “worth noting that I did not promote violence, threaten, or harass anyone.

“I didn’t even tag Laurel Hubbard in my tweet,” he said. “I just stated the simple fact that Laurel Hubbard is a man. It is a statement of basic biological fact that Twitter and the Wokes oppose.”

He also said he would probably wind up deleting the tweet to have the suspension lifted.

“To get back into Twitter, they’ll require me to delete that tweet. Career wise, it is probably necessary,” Mr. Erickson said. “But I’m not sure I want to.”

Katie Hopkins, far-right commentator, deported by Australia after flouting quarantine rules

Australia to deport far-right commentator

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A ferry sails past the Opera House in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, April 6, 2021. New Zealand announced the start date for a long-anticipated travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand that will allow people to travel between the two countries … more >

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By Rod McGuirk

Associated Press

Sunday, July 18, 2021

CANBERRA, Australia — Far-right British commentator Katie Hopkins will be deported from Australia after she boasted on social media that she planned to breach the country’s quarantine rules, an official said on Monday.

Hopkins traveled to Australia to appear in a reality television program and was in a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine in Sydney before filming was to start.

Her flight to Australia created outrage after the government last week halved the number of Australian citizens and permanent residents allowed to return home each week to 3,000 to try to reduce the risk of COVID-19 leaking from hotel quarantine. More than 34,000 Australians who want to come home remain stranded overseas.

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Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, are under lockdown to contain a coronavirus outbreak caused by the more contagious delta variant.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Hopkins would be deported after boasting on Instagram her intention to flout quarantine rules.

“It’s appalling that this individual behaved the way that she did and she will be leaving,” Andrews told Australian Broadcasting Corp.

“We will be getting her out of the country as soon as we can arrange that,” Andrews added.

Hopkins, who has also gained notoriety for her anti-Muslim comments, described pandemic lockdowns as the “greatest hoax in human history.”

In a since-deleted Instagram video from her hotel room, she said that she planned to frighten staff who brought meals to her door by confronting them naked and without a mask.

People in quarantine are not allowed to open their hotel room doors until 30 seconds after their meals have been delivered and must wear masks while their doors are open.

Andrews described Hopkins‘ comments as shameful.

“The fact that she was out there boasting about breaching quarantine was just appalling,” Andrews said. “It was a slap in the face for all those Australians who are currently in lockdown and it’s just unacceptable behavior.”

Seven Network and Endemol Shine Australia, the production company behind the program “Big Brother VIP” in which Hopkins was to appear, said on Sunday her contract was canceled.

“Seven and Endemol Shine strongly condemn her irresponsible and reckless comments in hotel quarantine,” the companies said in a joint statement.

Countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions on Myanmar

Countries curb diplomatic ties, weigh sanctions on Myanmar

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President Joe Biden speaks about his administration’s response to the coup in Myanmar in the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) more >

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Associated Press

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – A growing number of governments are curbing diplomatic ties with Myanmar and increasing economic pressure on its military over the coup last week that erased the fragile democratic progress in the long-oppressed Southeast Asian nation.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday he was issuing an executive order that will prevent Myanmar’s generals from accessing $1 billion in assets in the United States, and he promised more measures were to come.

The U.S. was among many Western governments that lifted most sanctions in the past decade to encourage democratic change as Myanmar‘s military rulers were taking gradual steps toward civilian rule – changes that proved temporary with the ousting of the elected government and detentions of Nobel Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and others.

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One of the strongest reactions came from New Zealand, which has suspended all military and high-level political contact with the country and pledged to block any aid that could go to its military government or benefit its leaders. It also placed a travel ban on its military leaders.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the military-led government and we call on the military to immediately release all detained political leaders and restore civilian rule,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said Tuesday.

In Washington, Biden said Wednesday his actions were aimed at freezing U.S. assets that benefit Myanmar’s military leaders while maintaining support for health care programs, civil society groups and other areas that benefit the country’s people. The U.S. already has sanctions in place against some Myanmar military leaders over the killings of ethnic Rohingya Muslims during a crackdown in 2017 that sent hundreds of thousands of them fleeing into Bangladesh.

There has so far been no change to the level of U.S. diplomatic representation in Myanmar, where Thomas Vajda continues to serve as ambassador.

In Brussels, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said European foreign ministers will meet Feb. 22 to review the 27-nation bloc’s relations with Myanmar and explore ways to increase economic pressure. Its options could include sanctions targeting individuals and businesses owned by Myanmar’s military as well as cuts in development assistance.

Since 2014, the EU has granted Myanmar almost 700 million euros ($850 million) in support. Borrell said the EU’s special system for granting least-developed countries duty-free and quota-free access to all products except arms and ammunition could also be reassessed.

“We now need to develop a robust response to this unacceptable seizure of power, which reverses 10 years of democratic transition,” he said, adding that the review would examine “how closely we work with the government and its institutions from a legal, financial and technical perspective, as well as the impact on beneficiaries.”

The U.N. Human Rights Council, the 47-member-state body based in Geneva, has scheduled a special session on Friday to consider “the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar.”

__

AP writers Nick Perry from Wellington, New Zealand, Lorne Cook from Brussels, and Matthew Lee from Washington contributed to the report.

Myanmar protesters back on streets despite police violence

Myanmar protesters back on streets despite police violence

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Demonstrators display three-fingered salute, a symbol of resistance at an intersection in Yangon, Myanmar Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Protesters continued to gather Wednesday morning in Yangon breaching Myanmar’s new military rulers’ decrees that effectively banned peaceful public protests in the … more >

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Associated Press

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Large crowds demonstrating against the military takeover in Myanmar again defied a ban on protests Wednesday, even after security forces ratcheted up the use of force against them and raided the headquarters of the political party of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Witnesses estimated that tens of thousands of protesters, if not more, turned out in Yangon and Mandalay, the country’s biggest cities. Rallies also took place in the capital Naypyitaw and elsewhere.

The protesters are demanding that power be restored to Suu Kyi’s deposed civilian government. They’re also seeking freedom for her and other governing party members since the military detained them after blocking the new session of Parliament on Feb. 1.

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“As part of Generation Z we are first-time voters. This is our first time to protest as well,” said one student who declined to give her name for fear of harassment. “They negated our votes and this is totally unfair. We do not want that. We hope they release our leaders and implement a real democracy.”

The military says it acted because November’s election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won in a landslide, were marred by irregularities. The election commission had refuted the allegation.

Some demonstrators in Yangon gathered at foreign embassies to seek international pressure against the coup.

A small group outside the Japanese Embassy held signs and chanted “We want democracy, we get dictators!” They sat in several children’s wading pools, three or fewer per pool, in what appeared to be a tongue-in-cheek way of showing compliance with an emergency law that bans gatherings of more than five people.

Others marched through the city, chanting and waving flags of Suu Kyi’s party.

Another group hauled a fake coffin as part of a mock funeral for Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, the military chief who is the country’s new leader.

The burgeoning protests and the junta’s latest raid suggest there is little room for reconciliation. The military, which ruled directly for five decades after a 1962 coup, used deadly force to quash a massive 1988 uprising and a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks.

In Naypyitaw and Mandalay on Tuesday, police sprayed water cannons and fired warning shots to try to clear away protesters. In Naypyitaw, they shot rubber bullets and apparently live rounds, wounding a woman protester, according to witnesses and footage on social media. The reports could not be independently confirmed.

Human Rights Watch cited a doctor at a Naypyitaw hospital as saying the woman was in critical condition. The doctor said the woman had a projectile lodged in her head, believed to be a bullet that had penetrated the back of the right ear, and had lost significant brain function. The doctor said a man had been also been treated with an upper body wound consistent with that of live ammunition.

State television network MRTV, in one of its few reports on the protests, on Tuesday night broadcast scenes it claimed showed the protesters were responsible for the violence.

“Myanmar police should immediately end the use of excessive and lethal force” the New York-based watchdog urged.

No major incidents were reported in connection with the big turnout at Wednesday’s protest in Mandalay. Social media users said 82 people who had been arrested were freed due to the work of local lawyers.

Medical students and personnel and Buddhist monks were among a huge cross-section of residents who marched in Mandalay, but the most social media buzz was generated by a contingent of shirtless muscled men with well-defined six-packs who were said to be members of a fitness gym.

The military on Tuesday night raided the national headquarters of Suu Kyi’s party, which before the military seized power had been slated to take power for a second five-year term.

Kyi Toe, a spokesman for the party, wrote on Facebook that the army broke into the headquarters in Yangon and another office and took away documents and computer hardware. The headquarters was shuttered Wednesday.

The United States “strongly” condemned the violence against demonstrators. State Department spokesman Ned Price said Tuesday that Washington would review assistance to Myanmar so that those responsible for the coup face “significant consequences.”

“We repeat our calls for the military to relinquish power, restore democratically elected government, release those detained, and lift all telecommunication restrictions, and to refrain from violence,” Price said.

New Zealand suspended all military and high-level political contact with Myanmar, Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced in Wellington, adding that any New Zealand aid should not go to or benefit Myanmar’s military government.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, the 47-member-state body based in Geneva, is to hold a special session on Friday to consider “the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar.”

Britain and the European Union spearheaded the request for the session, which will amount to a high-profile public debate among diplomats over the situation in Myanmar and could lead to a resolution airing concerns about the situation or recommending international action.

Police in Myanmar crack down on crowds defying protest ban

Police in Myanmar crack down on crowds defying protest ban

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Campaigners display placards at an intersection in Yangon, Myanmar, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021. Protesters continued to gather Tuesday morning in Yangon breaching Myanmar’s new military rulers ban of public gathering of five or more issued on Monday intended to crack … more >

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Associated Press

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Police cracked down on demonstrators opposing Myanmar’s military coup, firing warning shots and shooting water cannons to disperse crowds that took to the streets again Tuesday in defiance of rules making protests illegal.

Water cannons were used in Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-biggest city, where witnesses said at least two warning shots were fired to try to break up the crowd. Reports on social media said police arrested more than two dozen people there. Police also used water cannons in the capital, Natpyitaw, for a second day and fired shots into the air.

Police were reported to have also shot rubber bullets at the crowd in Naypyitaw, wounding several people. Photos on social media showed an alleged shooter — an officer with a short-barreled gun – and several injured people.

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Unconfirmed social media reports circulated of shootings with live rounds and deaths among the protesters, with the potential of sparking violent retaliation against the authorities, an outcome proponents of the country’s civil disobedience movement have warned against. The AP was unable to immediately confirm the reports.

The protesters are demanding that power be restored to the deposed civilian government and are seeking freedom for the nation’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other ruling party members detained since the military took over and blocked the new session of Parliament from convening on Feb. 1.

The growing defiance is striking in a country where past demonstrations have been met with deadly force and are a reminder of previous movements in the Southeast Asian country’s long and bloody struggle for democracy. The military used deadly force to quash a massive 1988 uprising against military dictatorship and a 2007 revolt led by Buddhist monks.

The decrees issued Monday night for some areas of Yangon and Mandalay banned rallies and gatherings of more than five people, along with motorized processions, while also imposing a 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. curfew. It was not immediately clear if regulations have been imposed for other areas.

Violation of the orders, issued under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, is punishable by up to six months in prison or a fine.

Demonstrations were also held in other cities Tuesday, including Bago – where city elders negotiated with police to avoid a violent confrontation – and Dawei, and in northern Shan state.

In Magwe in central Myanmar, where water cannons were also used, unconfirmed reports on social media claimed several police officers had crossed over to join the protesters’ ranks. A police officer in Naypyitaw was also said to have switched sides. The AP was unable to immediately confirm the reports.

Crowds also gathered in Yangon, the country’s biggest city where thousands of people have been demonstrating since Saturday, despite a heightened security presence. No violence was reported.

Soldiers do not appear to have been deployed to stop the demonstrations, a small indicator of restraint by the military government. The army has a record of brutality in crushing past revolts as well as in fighting ethnic minorities in border areas seeking self-determination. It also has been accused of carrying out genocide in its 2017 counterinsurgency campaign that drove more than 700,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority across the border to seek safety in Bangladesh.

State media for the first time on Monday referred to the protests, claiming they were endangering the country’s stability.

“Democracy can be destroyed if there is no discipline,” declared a statement from the Ministry of Information, read on state television station MRTV. “We will have to take legal actions to prevent acts that are violating state stability, public safety and the rule of law.”

However, the military commander who led the coup and is now Myanmar’s leader made no mention of the unrest in a 20-minute televised speech Monday night, his first to the public since the takeover.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing instead repeated claims about voting fraud that have been the justification for the military’s takeover, allegations that were refuted by the state election commission. He added that his junta would hold new elections as promised in a year and hand over power to the winners, and explained the junta’s intended policies for COVID-19 control and the economy.

The general’s remarks, which included encouragement for foreign investors, did nothing to assuage concern about the coup in the international community.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council, the 47-member-state body based in Geneva, is to hold a special session on Friday to consider “the human rights implications of the crisis in Myanmar.”

Britain and the European Union spearheaded the request for the session, which will amount to a high-profile public debate among diplomats over the situation in Myanmar and could lead to a resolution airing concerns about the situation or recommending international action.

The call for the special session – the 29th in the nearly 15-year history of the council – required support from at least one-third of the council’s 47 member states.

New Zealand has suspended all military and high-level political contact with Myanmar, its Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced Tuesday in Wellington, adding that any New Zealand aid should not go to Myanmar’s military government or benefit them.

“We do not recognize the legitimacy of the military-led government and we call on the military to immediately release all detained political leaders and restore civilian rule,” Mahuta said. She said New Zealand was also placing a travel ban on the military leaders and had joined other countries in calling for the special session at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

___

Associated Press writer Jamey Keaten in Geneva and Nick Perry in Wellington, New Zealand, contributed to this report.

Tool singer Maynard James Keenan says he performed while sick with COVID-19 due to misdiagnosis

Tool’s Maynard Keenan says he performed in February while sick with COVID-19 due to misdiagnosis

Singer says he's still experiencing coughing fits 'every other day'

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This electron microscope image made available and color-enhanced by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Md., in 2020, shows Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, orange, isolated from a patient. (NIAID/National Institutes of … more >

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By Andrew Blake

The Washington Times

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Rock singer Maynard James Keenan performed on stage while sick with COVID-19 after a doctor told him he did not have the disease, the Tool frontman said in an interview out Friday.

Mr. Keenan, 56, said on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast that he started experiencing symptoms associated with the disease in late February while Tool was on tour in Australia.

He said he then flew internationally to New Zealand, where he remained sick for the next several days before Tool performed concerts in Auckland on Feb. 28 and Feb. 29.

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Mr. Keenan said he wondered at the time whether he contracted COVID-19, the contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus, and brought it up with a doctor before performing.

“I asked the doctor when I got to New Zealand, ‘Do you think this is COVID?’” Mr. Keenan recalled.

Mr. Keenan said the doctor asked him if he had recently experienced a fever. He replied that he could not remember, and the doctor told him that he did not COVID-19 then, he said.

Tool performed both Auckland shows, followed by two dates in the U.S. early March, before the coronavirus pandemic sidelined plans for virtually all touring bands.

Mr. Keenan said he learned months later that he had been sick with COVID-19 when he saw an arthritis doctor about inflammation the singer had been experiencing in his wrists.

“I started walking him through everything [and] he goes, ‘you had COVID’,” added Mr. Keenan, who said the doctor explained the inflammation was a side effect.

The World Health Organization reported it learned about COVID-19 on New Year’s Eve, and comparatively little was known about the disease when Mr. Keenan became ill shortly after.

Indeed, the New Zealand Ministry of Health previously said a man in the crowd at one of the two Auckland concerts was the fourth person in the country to test positive for COVID-19.

Eight months since first becoming sick, Mr. Keenan said he still has coughing fits “like every other day.”

 

The Latest: Hurricanes began voluntary training sessions

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Salvador Hernandez, a groom at Emerald Downs Racetrack in Auburn, Wash., wears a mask as he watches a race Wednesday, June 24, 2020, on the first day of thoroughbred horse racing at the track since all professional sports in Washington … more >

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By The Associated Press

Associated Press

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

___

The Buffalo Bills have advised season ticket holders there is a chance games may be played without fans this season because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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With that in mind, the team began emailing season ticket holders on Tuesday to give them the chance to opt out of their commitment for this season, with an option to return for the 2021 season. They would maintain their account seniority and seat location.

The Bills said they are working with the NFL and state and local governments to establish policies and procedures to create and maintain the safest possible environment for spectators at New Era Field.

The team said there also is a chance that seating capacity might be altered this season. The team will not be charging season tickets holders or taking any additional payments until plans are set.

NFL teams are scheduled to report for training camp on July 28.

___

Pelicans general manager David Griffin says three New Orleans players have tested positive for COVID-19 and will be in self-isolation until testing shows they can return to team activities without infecting others.

Griffin declined to identify the players, citing medical privacy laws.

The positive tests occurred on June 23, the first day all members of the team were tested as part of the NBA’s plan to restart the season, which was suspended in mid-March. Griffin says the Pelicans have had no players test positive since.

“The league has a system in place that was designed to catch these cases. That system worked and we’re just going to deal with it the best we can moving forward,” Griffin said. “The league is relying both on the CDC and their own medical experts and the players’ union medical experts on this, and we’re going to continue to follow those guidelines.”

When the Pelicans return to action on July 30 against Utah at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex outside of Orlando, Florida, they will be 3½ games out of the Western Conference’s final playoff spot with eight games left.

Because of the NBA’s decision to base seeding on winning percentage, New Orleans and Sacramento also are effectively one game behind Portland for the ninth spot. This season, finishing ninth – as well as within four games of eighth – offers a “play-in” opportunity to qualify for the postseason by beating the eighth seed two straight times.

___

Grinnell College in Iowa says it will cancel football and other fall sports because of concerns about the coronavirus.

The Division III school announced it would cancel sports including football, soccer, golf, cross-country and volleyball. The college, located in the small city of Grinnell about 45 miles east of Des Moines, competes in the Midwest Conference.

The college says in a statement: “We have approached every decision about the coming school year, including this one, using a public health framework that prioritizes the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community.”

The decision comes less than a year after the college canceled much of its football season because its roster had dwindled to 28 players due to injuries. Grinnell had planned to resume football this year.

___

Members of the Carolina Hurricanes have returned to their home ice at PNC Arena as the team began voluntary training sessions amid the second phase of the NHL’s return plan.

In a video conference with reporters, captain Jordan Staal said the players went through safety protocols that included wearing a mask and getting a temperature check when arriving at the arena, as well as “keeping your distance as best you can.”

The team announced last week that roughly 16 players were expected to participate, divided into two groups, with workouts closed to the public and media.

Staal said the goal was “feeling the ice again” while running some drills. He said his group included All-Star defenseman Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton broke his left leg in January, but the team has said he should be ready to go if the season resumes.

“Hopefully we can get through this Phase 2 and 3 unscathed, and get in the bubble and go from there,” Staal said.

Training camps may open as early as July 10 if an agreement between the league and players on virus testing, health and safety protocols, and “hub” cities to host the games can be reached.

___

The LPGA Tour lost another tournament when the Canadian Women’s Open was canceled because of travel restrictions and quarantine requirements from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CP Women’s Open was scheduled for Sept. 3-6 at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver. The LPGA Tour and Golf Canada say it will return to Shaughnessy the last week in August next year.

“I understand this was a tough decision for everyone involved, but given the restrictions faced, there was simply nothing else that could be done that would have enabled us to run the event in 2020,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan says.

___

The rest of the rugby sevens world series has been canceled and New Zealand declared winners of the men’s and women’s titles.

The Hong Kong, Singapore, Langford, London and Paris legs were postponed but World Rugby canceled them after discussion with all of the host unions.

New Zealand was awarded the titles for leading the standings when the coronavirus pandemic stopped the series after six of the 10 men’s rounds and four of the five women’s rounds.

South Africa was second and Fiji third in the men’s series. Australia was second and Canada third in the women’s.

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

With recovery of last case, New Zealand has eradicated virus

With recovery of last case, New Zealand has eradicated virus

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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern smiles as she addresses a press conference where she announced New Zealand will drop to Covid-19 alert level 1 at midnight in Wellington, New Zealand, Monday, June 8, 2020. The announcement was greeted with … more >

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By Nick Perry

Associated Press

Monday, June 8, 2020

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand appears to have completely eradicated the coronavirus — at least for now — after health officials said Monday the last known infected person had recovered.

The announcement was greeted with joy around the country and means the nation of 5 million people will be among the first to welcome throngs of fans back into sports stadiums, embrace crowded concerts and remove seating restrictions from flights.

It has been 17 days since the last new case was reported, during which time an additional 40,000 people have been tested, bringing the total number tested to about 300,000. Monday marked the first time since late February there have been no active cases.

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was confident New Zealand had halted the spread of the virus but it still must be prepared for more.

“We are confident we have eliminated transmission of the virus in New Zealand for now, but elimination is not a point in time, it is a sustained effort,” she said at a news conference. “We almost certainly will see cases here again, and I do want to say that again, we will almost certainly see cases here again, and that is not a sign that we have failed, it is a reality of this virus. But if and when that occurs we have to make sure — and we are — that we are prepared.”

More cases are likely to be imported as people enter the country. For now, the border remains shut to all but citizens and residents, with some limited exceptions. Everybody who does enter has to go into quarantine.

Ardern announced that the Cabinet had agreed to remove almost all remaining virus restrictions from midnight, with the exception of the border strictures.

“We can hold public events without limitations. Private events such as weddings, functions and funerals without limitations,” Ardern said. “Retail is back without limitations. Hospitality is back without limitations. Public transport and travel across the country is fully opened.”

Experts say a number of factors have helped New Zealand wipe out the disease. Its isolated location in the South Pacific gave it vital time to see the devastating spread of the virus in other countries. Ardern also acted decisively by imposing a strict lockdown early in the outbreak.

She said her government’s focus will be on the country’s borders, where isolation and quarantine will continue.

Just over 1,500 people contracted the virus in New Zealand, including 22 who died.

Eliminating the virus won’t end the economic pain for the country. Thousands of people have lost their jobs. The tourism industry, which accounts for about 10% of the economy, has been particularly hard hit.

But Monday was a time of celebration for many. Ardern said that when she heard there were no more active cases, she did a little dance in her living room in front of her daughter Neve, who turns 2 this month. Ardern said the toddler had no idea what was going on but was happy to join her.

Fears of ‘second wave’ hang over coronavirus successes

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People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the new coronavirus sit on a bench in front of a propaganda banner encouraging people to wear masks at a public park in Beijing, Thursday, May 7, 2020. China’s government … more >

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By Jill Lawless, Elaine Kurtenbach and Carla K. Johnson

Associated Press

Thursday, May 7, 2020

LONDON (AP) — Britain was expected to extend its nationwide lockdown on Thursday, but the European country hit hardest by the coronavirus plans cautiously to ease some restrictions on economic and social activity next week as it tries to reopen without sparking a devastating second wave of infections.

Authorities in many countries are drawing up plans for how to cope with a resurgence in outbreaks even as they slowly work to reopen businesses and resume other activity halted to combat the pandemic.

In Germany, which has begun to emerge from lockdown, authorities have begun drawing up plans to cope with any resurgence of the virus and experts in Italy doubled down on finding new victims and tracing their contacts. France, which hasn’t yet eased its lockdown, has already worked up a “reconfinement plan” in the event of a new wave.

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The U.K.’s official COVID-19 death toll stands at 30,076, second only to the United States, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it would be a “disaster” if the U.K. reopened too soon and triggered a second spike in infections.

Britain’s lockdown, which allows people to leave home only for essential errands, shopping and exercise, was imposed March 23, initially for three weeks, and later extended to Thursday. It is expected to remain in place at least until Sunday, when Johnson plans to set out a roadmap for “phase two” of the outbreak.

The U.K. government has said gradual loosening measures will include more road space to walk and cycle while maintaining social distancing, and encouragement for sectors including construction to get back to work.

China, where the virus emerged late last year, declared its coronavirus risk level is now low. China’s National Health Administration reported just two new cases on Thursday, both from overseas, and said the whole country now is at low risk of further infections after confirming no new deaths from COVID-19 in more than three weeks.

The last place downgraded from high to low risk in China was a county adjacent to the Russian border where the most recent spike in cases had been reported.

Amid a bitter spat with the U.S. administration over blame for the pandemic, Beijing touted its assistance to countries struck by the coronavirus, saying it has provided direct government aid to 150 nations, including millions of testing kits and pieces of personal protective equipment.

China has in part promoted its assistance and role as a source of personal protective equipment as a way to deflect criticism that it delayed reporting information about the outbreak first detected in the central industrial city of Wuhan late last year.

Beijing has angrily denied such accusations, saying it has been open and transparent throughout the crisis and that countries such as the U.S. squandered the opportunity China provided them to better prepare.

Strict social distancing also appears to have vanquished the outbreak in the remote island nation of New Zealand, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern outlined plans for further relaxing lockdown rules, with a decision coming perhaps next week.

New Zealand would keep its borders shut, restrict gatherings to 100 people or less and hold professional sports events without spectators. Masks and other precautions would be required as restaurants and schools reopen, she said. But Ardern called for vigilance.

“We think of ourselves as halfway down Everest,” Ardern said. “I think it’s clear that no one wants to hike back up that peak.”

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 3.6 million people and killed over a quarter-million, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally, which experts agree understates the dimensions of the pandemic because of limited testing, differences in counting the dead and concealment by some governments.

Public health officials in the U.S. say they are worried as about half of states ease their shutdowns, with cellphone data showing that people are becoming restless and increasingly leaving home.

Many states have not put in place the robust testing that experts believe is necessary to detect and contain new outbreaks. And many governors have pressed ahead with reopening before their states have met one of the key benchmarks in the administration’s guidelines for reopening – a 14-day downward trajectory in new infections.

“If we relax these measures without having the proper public health safeguards in place, we can expect many more cases and, unfortunately, more deaths,” said Josh Michaud, associate director of global health policy with the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington.

Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. exceed 20,000, and deaths per day are running well over 1,000.

Researchers recently doubled their projection of deaths in the U.S. to about 134,000 through early August. So far the U.S. has recorded over 70,000 deaths and 1.2 million confirmed infections, while Europe has reported over 140,000 dead.

Facing re-election with the economy engulfed in its worst slowdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s, President Donald Trump has encouraged states to reopen.

Adding to pressure to revive activity: The U.S. unemployment rate for April, which comes out Friday, is expected to hit a staggering 16%.

But experts say the U.S. lacks the armies of public health workers required for aggressive contact tracing to stem outbreaks.

A century ago, the Spanish flu epidemic’s second wave was far deadlier than its first, in part because authorities allowed mass gatherings from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

Awareness of such risks has led some places, like hard-hit New York City, to adopt a cautious approach to reopening.

“My message to the rest of the country is learn from how much effort, how much discipline it took to finally bring these numbers down and follow the same path until you’re sure that it’s being beaten back,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN.

“If this thing boomerangs, you’re putting off any kind of restart or recovery a hell of a lot longer,” he said.

___

Kurtenbach reported from Bangkok and Johnson reported from Seattle. Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Jessi‚ Microdot‚ Dumbfoundead & Lyricks – K.B.B (가위바위보)

[Intro: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보

[Verse 1: Dumbfoundead]

Microdot, half the YOX
And one bad man, I’m a 나쁜 남자
I should go first, 내가 먼저 해야지
덤파형은 바쁘니깐
I wear my beanies like Gil from Leessang
피쳐 할 때는 진짜 비싸
But these my bros from west to east side
If you ain’t my bro then fuck the peace sign
Like 가위바위보
Your bitch got my wifi code
Im rich bitch my life dope, yeah
Lit like a night light, 잘자
Nothin’ like a nightlife, quite like Seoul
All of my bitches they stay out in Sinsa
I switch up the girls 들을 이차
Drop ’em all off in a 빈 차애
90 degrees when they 인사
Kick it with nothing but real heads
Cause I ain’t got time for no bullshit
Bottom of shoes lookin’ real red
Like 아저씨 drinkin’ at 술집
I got a visa from here to Ibiza
We puttin’ in work, work, work
Rock paper scissors, I guess I’m the winner
So let me go first, 가위바위보

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Verse 2: Lyricks]
I took a red eye
And landed, showered
Then met up with Micro, Dummy, got 배달
And jumped in the rover, then sped up to Cheonho
Jessi came through the studio
And turned it into mother fuckin’ 1OAK
Yall know, my Wells Fargo lookin’
Like a 한국 전화번호 (digits)
Bad rap, we the illest independent homie, that’s that
Master of ceremony, bring the cash back
Pound a 40 like a hashtag
Step to us get ur ascap’d
Big numbers when I do that show
I-95 how I move that dope
I got drive, NY to Seoul
It’s the YOX for the few that know
Yeah, Rollin’ with the YOX
We the best it gets lonely on the top
No stress cuz’ I’m homies with the dot
No rest, 넌 벌써 졸리냐
Weak boy
Lemme set it straight, lemme educate
Lemme give a taste, let me embed it inside of your mind
So every time you hear me sayin’ that I’m one of the greats
I’m not sayin’ it to finish a rhyme motherfucker

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Verse 3: Microdot]
누가 먼저 가위바위보
From buses to drivin’ that Rove
Mom now drippin’ and cookin’ in gold
Makin’ that music and bakin’ that soul
Cake, cake, cake, so much cake
We could run a baking sale
AK, AK
That’s that Auckland city lifestyle
That’s game boy, that major league
Self-made, no lottery
40,000 feet up in the air (up in the air)
No economy
Going coast to coast, to shows to shows
Don’t mean to brag and boast my nose
My success came with no strings
Attached, I’m my own boss
Talkin’ bout bars, no snickers
And no not the one under my zippers
I cut and paste, and rearrange man
I go dumb dumb with my lyrics
Bitches be bitchin and jealousy be hittin’
Them kittens like the Kardashians
내가 뭘 하고 어딜 가던
얼마 벌고 어디애다 쓰건
Don’t worry bout me, I’m makin’ a livin’
Nothin’ came free, nada was given
Young fat boy straight outta New Zealand
Feelin’ good vibes, Dumb, Rick and Million
About to play a game, rock paper scissors
Three dope boys, yes we the trillest
No new friends, this is family business
Oh, and my sister, Jessi

[Hook: Jessi]
누가 먼저 가위바위보, 누가 먼저 가위바위보 [x4]

[Outro: Jessi]
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위, I said
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위
가위바위보, 가위바위보, 가위바위, I said

Tech N9ne – Wifi (WeeFee) (The Storm Deluxe Edition Album)

[Intro:]
Yeah *laughter*
Go right up

[Verse 1]
Connect, ain’t nobody but Tech
I been dope since I put raps on BASF cassette
Since then my pen been at war like Montagues and Capulets
A menacing strap you get, been winning in rap who’s next
To get permanent power polluted, paper protruded
Punani praise on its pubics and they’re prepared to pursue it
Get us then we drills em
Having plenty thrills um wellington New Zealand banging her with a chest like Wendy Williams
Everybody know with the kinda money I bring to the table I can put em off
Take em all around the world, get the dough and get the girl touching other people and I brought the hood along
Teams where I wings fly people I never seen cry
If you wanna see the mean side just go stream what I seen on steam, put your hand in my bean pie
Salam [?]
I’m something fierce, I bring player haters to tears with my schemes
Come reach me, I got the species locked and no one can beat me
The feces, what I released on this beat he’s gonna wanna seek me because I’m the WeeFee

[Hook]
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the
WeeFee

[Verse 2]
People need me, I’m the WeeFee
I get them on movies and TV
Connecting Scooby and Stevie
Straight from Missouri to Fiji
Trying to intrigue me ain’t easy
Unless you bringing them bad beasies in three-bies
We be having them louder than 194 dB
Organ, grinding, so they pour us in their mouth, and they’re loving it like Thorazine
When they freaking out I’m Jim Morrison
But I go without hair Billy Corgan
Releasing a lot more of them endorphins
WeeFee wins the war again the gores been like a horror film
Cause we kill, everything so be still
When we move in, not a cheap thrill
When the beat feels like E pills
Steadily repping B till, my B-L-double O-D spills
Then again Tech Nina keep mills
So I know I’mma get me a refill
Tech is highly respected
Been with a few major labels and left it
I rated my records intrepid
Since they didn’t rep it then F it
Now I’m elected to get the check and invest it
I’m such a vet you can bet I can get you connected
Cause I’m the WeeFee

[Hook]
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the
WeeFee

[Verse 3]
If you with me but hating me
Disconnect from me, get away from me
Get a bit of fake thinkin’ they’re big as your paper be
When they try to shake a G they normally have to take a fee that’s lower than what they pay for he that works in Eminem’s bakery
You doubt a N9ne, you out of sight you out of mind
Nigga shout a crime from me they sniffing them powder lines
I’m the righteous
But I’m killing ’em like I’m Cypress
Play me like I’m not the nicest
No WeeFee leave you lifeless
Taking a knife to fight with ISIS, I like it
When they spite they get vices
When they hit that pipe think they’re psychic
Wanna figure my mic and try to slice it
But they do fizzle when they hear SuWu whistles
Disrespect me true this will happen and they lose signal
This was long awaited
Strange is how all the fakes were created
They think they made it, forgot about me and skated
They music, everybody played it cause I was right there to save it
They downgraded they hate it cause their signal is faded
Cause I’m the WeeFee, nigga

[Hook]
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
I can put you on
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
With my push alone
WeeFee, WeeFee, WeeFee
Now you’re set in stone, I’m the
WeeFee