SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Despite a high-profile visit to China by a team of international experts in January, the world is no closer to knowing the origins of COVID-19, according to one of the authors of an open letter calling for a new investigation into the pandemic. "At this point we are no further advanced than we were a year ago," said Nikolai Petrovsky, an expert in vaccines at Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia, and one of 26 global experts who signed the open letter, published on Thursday. In January, a team of scientists picked by the World Health Organization (WHO) visited hospit...
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Georgia GOP paying legal defense for phony electors -- and prosecutor says that's compromising her case
A Georgia prosecutors blasted the state's Republican Party for paying the legal defense fees for fake electors she's investigating.
Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis argued the arrangement was “rife with serious ethical problems” and “actual conflicts of interest" in a new court filing seeking to disqualify two lawyers who are being paid by the state GOP, which she said undercuts their ability to do what's in the best interest of each of their clients, reported Yahoo News.
"In the criminal law, sometimes that’s a plea, right?” Willis told the news outlet.Sometimes I’m going to take this immunity agreement — and I’m going to get you the best deal. You cannot effectively represent — forget 11 — you cannot effectively represent two people doing that. That, to me, puts everything in jeopardy, and it’s a bad idea.”
A spokesman for the state GOP did not respond to a request for comment, and former federal prosecutor Holly Pierson, one of the lawyers Willis is seeking to disqualify, along with co-counsel Kimberly Debrow, called the district attorney's “false and defamatory."
“Both the U.S. Supreme Court and the Georgia Supreme Court recognize that there is no actual or potential conflict in representing multiple individuals united in their innocence whose defenses against false allegations of wrongdoing are aligned,” Pierson told Yahoo in an email statement.
The filing shows Willis is concerned that the arrangement could compromise her investigation into a scheme to send 11 fake electors to the Jan. 6 congressional certification of President Joe Biden's election win, because it could prevent prosecutors from reaching cooperation agreements with participants who could potentially implicate her top targets -- such as state GOP chairman David Shafer.
Shafer organized a Dec. 14, 2020, meeting at the state Capitol and arranged for it to be held behind closed doors, according to multiple reports that contradict claims in a court filing by Pierson and Debrow that the event was “public and transparent.”
Actor Alec Baldwin has reached a civil settlement with the family of the woman he shot dead on a film set last year, he said Wednesday, as it was announced production on the movie would restart in January.
The US actor was holding a Colt gun during a rehearsal for "Rust," a low-budget Western being filmed in New Mexico last October when it discharged a live round, killing 42-year-old Halyna Hutchins.
"We are pleased to announce today the settlement of the civil case filed on behalf of the family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins," Baldwin said in an Instagram post.
"Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna's son," he said.
Details of the settlement, which also includes Rust Movie Productions, the limited liability company formed to make the movie, were not disclosed.
Baldwin, who was a producer as well as the star of "Rust," had been told the gun was safe and has previously said he did not pull the trigger, though an FBI report determined the gun could not have gone off otherwise.
Production on the movie will resume in January, filmmakers said in a statement Wednesday, with Hutchins' husband Matthew Hutchins taking on the role of executive producer.
"I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin)," Matthew Hutchins said in the statement. "All of us believe Halyna's death was a terrible accident."
According to Matthew Hutchins, "all the original principal players" will return to the set.
"Rust" director Joel Souza, who was also injured in the shooting, said he would devote his work on the film "to honoring Halyna's legacy and making her proud."
"Though certainly bittersweet, I am pleased that together, we will now complete what Halyna and I started," he said.
The family's lawsuit was one of a series of civil proceedings over the fatal shooting, which sent shockwaves through Hollywood, and led to calls for guns to be permanently banned from sets.
Almost a year on from the tragedy, investigators in New Mexico have filed no criminal charges, but have not ruled them out against anybody, including Baldwin.
In August, Baldwin said he did not believe he would be charged, telling CNN he had hired a private investigator to assess possible culpability.
While there has never been any doubt that the gun was in Baldwin's hands when it went off, the central question that remains unresolved is how it came to be loaded with a live round.
Film sets are supposed to have stringent rules around prop weapons.
That has brought a focus on Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, the movie's young armorer and props assistant, and on assistant director Dave Halls, who handed Baldwin the gun, apparently declaring it "cold" -- industry speak for inert.
Gutierrez-Reed has sued the film's ammunition supplier, accusing him of leaving real bullets among the dummy cartridges.
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Embattled U.S. Senate Herschel Walker received fiery support Tuesday from an estimated 75 “prayer warriors for Herschel” at a Baptist megachurch in Atlanta – with no mention of allegations that he paid for a woman’s abortion, multiple outlets reported.
Journalists were barred from the event at First Baptist Church in Atlanta, but it was captured by an attendee on this Facebook video, as reported by Word and Way, a Baptist publication. Senior Pastor Anthony George and Walker are seen in the video on a stage in the church “with Walker campaign signs on either side,” the report said.
George did not reference the explosive allegations Monday from the Daily Beast that Walker had paid for a woman’s abortion – featuring a $575 abortion clinic receipt, an image of a signed $700 personal check from Walker and a “get well” card featuring what appears to be his signature.
But the pastor did reference “a storm is raging outside these walls,” the report said.
“You give us the grace to face any storm that you allow to happen,” George added in his prayer. “And we thank you that before Herschel was born, you knew him by name, you had ordained his life, you had already anointed him to have gifts and talents that would cause him to excel above all others. Your hand of favor has rested upon his life all the days of his life. The good days and the dark and bad days, you have been there.”
The video showed George reading from Psalm 35 which he attributed to King David. There was also this, according to the report:
“George declared in his prayer that Walker “has come back stronger for every setback” and “he’s come back more faithful for every fight that he’s had to face.” He added that Walker “wants to glorify” God, be true to the Bible, and “wants to do what’s right for our country.”
“Lord, we know that this is a battle he’s facing. It’s more vicious than any sports field he’s ever played on. This is the fight of his life, holy God. And we call forth your ministering angels to be his defenders,” George prayed. “And we ask you to rebuke the devil so Satan will not get the victory. And we know whatever the results of this election, Herschel wins because we are more than conquerors through him that loves us. So, we thank you that we can support our fellow conqueror, our brother, our friend, the one that we are praying for today.”
George also prayed for a “protective hedge” around Walker’s wife “as she stands by her man.” And he added that the Walkers had “heard the call and they said, ‘Here I am, Lord. Send me.’”
It wasn’t clear if the event took place in direct response to the abortion allegations, according to this reporting from the Religious News Service.
“Kelly Stewart, First Baptist’s director of business operations, told Religion News Service the event was not preplanned, but an Eventbrite invitation for the luncheon was later found online, and it was unclear how long ago it was created. The luncheon came together, she said, because Walker’s campaign “was looking for a place to bring the prayer warriors to gather for Mr. Walker.”