Russian dissident Alexei Navalny's detention upon arrival at a Moscow airport is "further evidence that Russian authorities are seeking to silence him," Amnesty International's Moscow office director said late Sunday. "His detention only highlights the need to investigate his allegations that he was poisoned by state agents acting on orders from the highest levels,” said Natalia Zviagina. The Kremlin critic was travelling home after spending five months in Germany, where he received emergency medical treatment following his poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok. The 44-year-old was detained ...
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In a commentary that was both scorching and sarcastic, the editorial board of the Tampa Bay Times took Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to task on Sunday morning for hiding information on when Floridians can expect to have access to the COVID-19 vaccines.
DeSantis, who has been resistant to taking the advice from the CDC to help stop the spread of the COVID-19, has recently hinted the age for those getting the vaccine might drop in March, but that wasn't enough the local newspaper's editorial board.
Under a pointed, 'Hey Gov. DeSantis, why so cagey with Covid vaccine details?" headline, the editors pointed out that the governor is already taking heat from his opponents for "not having a detailed plan for rolling out more COVID-19 vaccinations. Your 'no-plan is a good plan' mantra isn't playing well in some circles."
That said, the editors pressed the governor to be more transparent with his longterm plans -- if he has any.
"This isn't spycraft," they wrote. "Giving Floridians a basic understanding of who comes next in the vaccination queue won't somehow give the virus a leg up, like spilling the details of the D-Day invasion. This isn't poker where deception is paramount. Show Floridians a few of your cards. They can handle it."
The editorial pointedly jabbed the Republican governor for "selecting two wealthy and predominantly white Manatee County ZIP codes to distribute an 'extra' 3,000 vaccinations," before applauding him for moving frontline health care workers and seniors to the front of the vaccination line -- but said beyond that, the public is being left in the dark.
"The main bottleneck has been the supply of vaccines, something largely outside of a governor's control," the editors admitted before adding, "All the more reason for you to dole out a few more details. Lately, you have indicated that teachers and law enforcement over the age of 50 could be next, but even then you couched it with 'probably' and 'I think.' On Thursday, you said the state will lower the age of eligibility for shots 'sometime in March.' You didn't say what the new age might be — 60? 55? Again, we don't need a 100-page treatise on where and how the state plans to distribute the vaccine over the next few months. But give us more than just dribs and drabs."
"A little more communication will allay fears and quell anxiety by helping Floridians determine where they fall on the schedule. Most residents are willing to wait their turn. They understand there isn't enough vaccine to go around yet, and they don't blame you for that. But you can help them by being more forthcoming, by treating your plan as less of a secret," they wrote before concluding, "We'd like to know a few more details about the rest of us."
You can read the whole piece here.
Appearing on MSNBC early Sunday morning, a former member of Donald Trump's administration teased the announcement of a newly formed group of Republicans and ex-Republicans whose goal is to make sure that the ex-president will never be a viable candidate for office again.
Speaking with hosts Kendis Gibson and Lindsey Reiser, former Homeland Security official Miles Taylor noted the current CPAC conference in Florida where the president is expected to get hero's welcome from the far-right attendees and said it is important that traditional Republicans push back on Trump's re-entry into the public square after losing re-election in November.
"I want to give you a number: 50 percent," Taylor began. "Donald Trump can't get to 50 percent. We just saw this in the most recent election, he cannot win elections. We've got to be able to, in the Republican Party, have someone who is a standard-bearer that can get us over 50 percent to win elections. He can't, he lost in spectacular fashion in this election and that's why I think it's entirely inappropriate for us to continue to put him forward as the leader of this party. it's a mistake that's going the cause the GOP to lose elections in the future and it's time to move on from Donald Trump."
Pressed on his future plans to oppose Trump, Taylor first said, "There are a lot of people in the party ready to move beyond Donald Trump. In fact, most of us realize he is much better at golfing than governing which is really saying a lot if you know anything about Donald Trump's golf game," before adding, "Donald Trump lost, not because more Democrats came out. Donald Trump lost because his own voters defected from him."
"I'm happy to share with you today a little bit of a tease," he added. " I can't give you all the information, but we're about to make an announcement in the very near future that's going to make Donald Trump have the worst heartburn he's had in the post-presidency. We're going to be channeling this movement to challenge him to create an insurgency within and without the GOP to drive forward towards a better center-right political movement than Donald Trump can put together. It's something he's going to have to contend with."
Pressed for more details he added, "You're aware of the fact that we've been having conversations with very prominent people in the GOP and ex-Republicans about where we go beyond Trump, how do we move beyond Trump. You're going to hear from us in the month of March about what's coming next."
"What's coming next is going to make Donald Trump fear for his ability to continue to be a standard-bearer of this party," he continued. "We are going to channel this movement, rally people together in the center, bring the Republican Party back from crazy to rational as best we can, and Trump should be shaking in his boots."
'Their blood has the death shot in it!': Anti-vaxxers freaking out over blood donations from the vaccinated
According to a report from the Daily Beast, the anti-vaxxer movement is now having a meltdown over the fact that blood banks are accepting blood from people who have had their COVID-19 vaccination shots and they are spreading unfounded rumors that receiving the blood could be dangerous.
As with many conspiracy rumors, the latest wave of attacks on vaccines is coming from a far-right Facebook page where the anti-vax crowd is whipping up the hysteria that the vaccines may be more dangerous than the coronavirus that is still sweeping the country.
Among the comments reported by the Beast's Daniel Modlin, was one person wrote, "There are people donating blood after being shot up with the covid crap. This terrifies me."
Another added, "Are people that stupid to donate blood after getting a shot?"
In an interview with the Beast, one member of the group who wrote, "In the future ONLY the vaccinated will be able to give blood. Think I am joking? Just watch," and then said is meant to be tongue in cheek, said their worries are that COVID-19 isn't that dangerous while the newly-developed vaccines represent a great unknown.
"We know the health risk of COVID pretty well now," Nick Savoy of Houston said. "We don't know those from the vaccine. It might be minimal. However, unknowns rank higher in my risk ranking."
As the Beast's Modlin wrote, "While there are typically deferral periods for donating blood after receiving a vaccination for diseases like rubella, measles, and chicken pox, in most cases there is no such period for people who received the COVID-19 vaccine as long as they are feeling well. As a precaution when donating, potential donors must provide their vaccine manufacturer's name. If they cannot, they are instructed to wait two weeks before donating," before adding, "Regardless, anti-vaxxers believe without evidence that the lack of a deferral period—and in some more extreme cases, allowing the vaccinated to donate blood at all—is a backdoor to genetic modification."
According to Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the University of Pennsylvania, the anti-vaxxers are letting fears of getting shots override the science.
"Vaccinations and transfusions are frightening to people who don't understand them or don't trust the science behind them," she explained.
Dr. Brittany Kmush, an assistant professor of public health at Syracuse University agreed.
"The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are not live vaccines," she noted. "The reason we have deferral periods for donating blood after receiving a live, attenuated vaccine is because… in immunocompromised people, even a weakened virus could potentially be dangerous. And since people who are receiving transfusions are typically immunocompromised, there's a two-week window for added safety."
Dr. Alyssa Ziman, the chief of transfusion medicine for UCLA Health added that, as Modlin reported, "There is no evidence that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted via blood transfusion."
You can read more here (subscription required.)
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