New results extend hopes for drugs that supply antibodies to fight COVID-19, suggesting they can help keep patients out of the hospital and possibly prevent illness in some uninfected people. Eli Lilly said Tuesday that a two-antibody combo reduced the risk of hospitalizations or death by 70% in newly diagnosed, non-hospitalized COVID-19 patients at high risk of serious illness because of age or other health conditions. All 10 deaths that occurred in the study were among those receiving placebo rather than the antibodies. Separately, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. said partial results from an ongoing study suggest its drug combo completely prevented symptomatic infections in housemates of someone with COVID-19. Importantly, the drug was given as multiple shots rather than through an IV. The need for an infusion has greatly limited the use of antibody drugs in the pandemic because of health care shortages.
Twitter silences My Pillow CEO
Twitter has permanently banned My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell’s account after he continued to perpetuate the claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Twitter decided to ban Lindell, who founded bedding company My Pillow, due to “repeated violations” of its civic integrity policy, a spokesperson said in a statement.
Antibody therapy helps gorilla
SAN DIEGO — A troop of gorillas at San Diego Zoo Safari Park appears to be recovering from the coronavirus — including a 49-year-old silverback who received antibody therapy — in what is believed to be the first known cases among such primates. The western lowland gorillas were infected with a variant that has been circulating in California and is believed to be more contagious than other strains, the safari park said Monday in a statement. Some gorillas showed symptoms including mild coughing, congestion and intermittent lethargy. The silverback named Winston, had pneumonia, likely caused by the virus, as well as heart disease. He has been more active since being put on antibiotics and heart medication, and receiving an antibody treatment — a therapy to block the virus from infecting cells, San Diego Zoo Safari Park said in a statement. “We’re not seeing any of that lethargy. No coughing, no runny noses anymore,” the park’s executive director Lisa Peterson said, adding that the animals’ fecal matter is no longer testing positive for the virus. “It feels to us like we’ve turned the corner.”
Pharmacist will plead guilty
MILWAUKEE — A Wisconsin pharmacist accused of trying to spoil dozens of vials of COVID-19 vaccine is facing 20 years in prison after he agreed Tuesday to plead guilty in federal court. Steven Brandenburg, 46, of Grafton, is charged with two counts of attempting to tamper with consumer products, which is described in the plea deal as showing “reckless disregard for the risk that another person will be placed in danger of death or bodily injury.” Brandenburg faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each count. Detectives wrote in court documents that Brandenburg is an admitted conspiracy theorist who believed the vaccine would mutate recipients’ DNA.
Man died of animal attack
LIPAN, Texas — A final autopsy for a Texas man, Christopher Allen Whiteley, 28, whose body was found last month in the woods determined that he died from neck injuries due to an animal attack, but wildlife experts and sheriff’s officials disagree on whether that animal was a mountain lion. The sheriff’s office said there’s still a disagreement with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on whether Whiteley was killed by a mountain lion. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Tuesday said that none of the evidence they’ve reviewed indicates an attack by a mountain lion or other wild animal. The department said wildlife officials couldn’t rule out that an animal killed Whiteley, but said the evidence indicates it wasn’t a wild animal, like a mountain lion or coyote.
Farmers storm India’s Red Fort
NEW DELHI — Tens of thousands of farmers marched, rode horses and drove tractors into India’s capital on Tuesday, breaking through police barricades to storm the historic Red Fort — a deeply symbolic act that revealed the scale of their challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. As the country celebrated Republic Day, the long-running protest turned violent, with farmers waving farm union and religious flags from the ramparts of the fort, where prime ministers annually hoist the national flag on the country’s August independence holiday. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannons and set up barricades in an attempt to prevent the protesters from reaching the center of New Delhi, but the demonstrators broke through in many places. People watched in shock as the takeover of the fort, which was built in the 17th century and served as the palace of Mughal emperors, was shown live on hundreds of news channels. Protesters, some carrying ceremonial swords, ropes and sticks, overwhelmed police. The farmers have been staging largely peaceful protests for nearly two months, demanding the withdrawal of new laws that they say will favor large corporate farms and devastate the earnings of smaller scale farmers.
Trump conviction unlikely
WASHINGTON — All but five Senate Republicans voted in favor of an effort to dismiss Donald Trump’s historic second impeachment trial on Tuesday, making clear a conviction of the former president for “incitement of insurrection” after the deadly Capitol siege on Jan. 6 is unlikely. While the Republicans did not succeed in ending the trial before it began, the test vote made clear that Trump still has enormous sway over his party. “I think this was indicative of where a lot of people’s heads are,” said South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, after the vote. Late Tuesday, the presiding officer at the trial, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was taken to the hospital for observation after not feeling well at his office. The 80-year-old senator was examined by the Capitol’s attending physician, who recommended he be taken to the hospital out of an abundance of caution. Leahy presided over the trial’s first procedural vote, a 55-45 tally that saw the Senate set aside an objection from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul that would have declared the impeachment proceedings unconstitutional and dismissed the trial. The vote means the trial on Trump’s impeachment will begin as scheduled the week of Feb. 8.
Elliot Page, wife are divorcing
NEW YORK — Actor Elliot Page and Emma Portner said Tuesday that they are divorcing after three years of marriage. “After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce following our separation last summer,” the Canadian couple said in a joint statement. “We have the utmost respect for each other and remain close friends.” Page, the 33-year-old Oscar-nominated star of “Juno,” “Inception” and “The Umbrella Academy,” and Portner, a 26-year-old choreographer and dance teacher, announced their marriage early in 2018 after only having hinted at their relationship on social media.
900 Holocaust survivors died
Some 900 people who survived the Holocaust died from COVID-19 in Israel last year. The country’s Central Bureau of Statistics said about 5,300 survivors of the World War II-era mass murder of European Jews and other groups by the Nazis were infected in 2020 with the coronavirus. About 17% of those Holocaust survivors died of the virus, similar to the percentage of others of the same age. All Holocaust survivors are at least 75 years old.
Weinstein bankruptcy plan OK’d
DOVER, Del. — A Delaware judge has approved a revised Weinstein Co. bankruptcy plan that provides about $35 million for creditors, with roughly half that amount going to women who have accused disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The judge approved the plan after a hearing Monday, overruling objections by attorneys representing producer Alexandra Canosa and actresses Wedil David and Dominique Huett, who have accused Weinstein of sexual assault, and a former Weinstein Co. employee who claims she was subjected to a hostile work environment. The settlement amount is $11.5 million less than under a previous plan, which was scrapped after a federal judge in New York refused to approve a proposed $19 million settlement between Weinstein and some of his accusers.
Palestinian relations resume
UNITED NATIONS — U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration announced Tuesday it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees, a reversal of the Trump administration’s cutoff and a key element of its new support for a two-state solution to the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Acting U.S. Ambassador Richard Mills made the announcement of Biden’s approach to a high-level virtual Security Council meeting, saying the new U.S. administration believes this “remains the best way to ensure Israel’s future as a democratic and Jewish state while upholding the Palestinians’ legitimate aspirations for a state of their own and to live with dignity and security.”
Southwest last to ban animals
DALLAS — Emotional-support animals are no longer free to roam about the cabin on Southwest Airlines either. The airline said Monday that it will let passengers bring trained service dogs in the cabin, but it will no longer accept support animals, starting March 1. Customers who want to bring a dog or cat on board as a pet will have to pay a fee, and the animal must be kept in a carrier that fits under an airplane seat.
Disney updates Jungle Cruise
ORLANDO, Fla. — Jungle Cruise, one of the original Disney parks’ rides, is getting a 21st century remodel in yet the latest update to a legacy theme park ride that has been criticized in years past for being racially insensitive. The ride will updated by Disney “imagineers” at the Disneyland park in California and the Magic Kingdom park in Florida with a new storyline and characters that “reflect and value the diversity of the world around us,” Disney said in a blog post Monday. “As Imagineers, it is our responsibility to ensure experiences we create and stories we share reflect the voices and perspectives of the world around us,” said Carmen Smith, a Disney executive, in the blog post. The ride, which first opened at Disneyland in 1955, had been criticized for its depiction of animatronic indigenous people as savages or headhunters. Last summer, amid calls to change the Splash Mountain theme park ride over its ties to “Song of the South,” the 1946 movie many view as racist, Disney officials said it was recasting the ride so that it is based on “The Princess and the Frog,” a 2009 Disney film with an African American female lead.
Italian premier resigns
ROME — Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte (right) resigned Tuesday after a key coalition ally pulled his party’s support over Conte’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, setting the stage for consultations this week to determine if he can form a third government. Conte tendered his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella left), who held off on any immediate decision other than to ask Conte to keep the government running in the near-term, Mattarella’s office said.
Pelosi laptop not recovered
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A laptop stolen from the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the U.S. Capitol attack has not been recovered from the home or car of a Pennsylvania woman accused of helping steal it. Public defender A.J. Kramer told a federal judge that investigators searched the car and Harrisburg residence of Riley June Williams but did not locate the computer. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mona Sedky said during a hearing in Washington that she was reluctant to say more about what she described as an ongoing and fluid investigation. “I’m very uncomfortable discussing the facts of the case at this stage,” Sedky said. “I’m concerned that talking about what we do and don’t know and what we’re running down could jeopardize the investigation.” Williams, 22, is accused of helping steal the laptop, which a Pelosi aide has said was only used for presentations. She is on electronic monitoring and largely confined to her home to await trial on that charge, along with obstruction, trespassing and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.
Mayor pepper-sprayee is lawyer
PORTLAND, Ore. — Police on Tuesday identified a man who was pepper-sprayed by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler as a partner at a law firm who also tried to obtain surveillance footage of the mayor in a restaurant and get a copy of his meal receipt. An additional police report identified Cary Cadonau as the man who was pepper-sprayed by Wheeler after he confronted the mayor leaving a restaurant Sunday evening and accused him of not wearing a mask. According to a statement the mayor gave to police, Wheeler told the man of current COVID-19 regulations, which allows people to take their mask off to eat or drink. “He then accused me of other things to which I indicated he did not understand the rules and should probably have a better understanding if he was going to confront people about them,” Wheeler said in his statement. Wheeler said that the man stood within one or two feet of him and Wheeler became concerned for his safety and contracting COVID-19. Wheeler told the man to “back off” and that he was carrying pepper spray, which he would use if necessary. When the man did not listen, the mayor said he sprayed him in the eyes. “He seemed surprised and backed off,” Wheeler told police. “He made a comment like, ‘I can’t believe you just pepper sprayed me.’ “
Internet outages are widespread
Internet users across the northeast U.S. experienced widespread outages for several hours Tuesday, interrupting work and school because of an unspecified Verizon network issue. “An internet issue impacting the quality of our Fios service throughout the Northeast has been resolved,” said spokesman Rich Young in an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon. He said service levels “are returning to normal” and the company is investigating what happened. The service interruptions were unrelated to a cut fiber in Brooklyn, New York, which caused problems for people in the area. There are about 6.5 million Fios internet customers. People posting on Twitter reported having issues connecting with various online services in the region stretching from Washington, D.C., to Boston. That densely populated area includes key U.S. government services as well as major financial companies such as Fidelity Investments.
Biden and Putin touch bases
WASHINGTON — U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin held their first phone conversation as counterparts Tuesday in a phone call that underscored troubled relations and the delicate balance between the former Cold War foes. According to the White House, Biden raised concerns about the arrest of opposition figure Alexei Navalny, Russia’s alleged involvement in a massive cyber espionage campaign and reports of Russian bounties on American troops in Afghanistan. The Kremlin, meanwhile, focused on Putin’s response to Biden’s proposal to extend the last remaining U.S.-Russia arms control treaty. While the readouts from the two capitals emphasized different elements, they both suggested that U.S-Russia relations will be guided, at least at the beginning of the Biden administration, by a desire to do no harm but also no urgency to repair existing damage.
Fonda to receive DeMille Award
LOS ANGELES — Jane Fonda cemented herself into Hollywood allure as a chameleonlike actor and social activist, and now the Golden Globes will honor her illustrious career with its highest honor. Fonda will receive the Cecil B. DeMille Award during the 78th annual awards ceremony on Feb. 28, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association announced Tuesday. Fonda, the daughter of Oscar winner Henry Fonda and sister of Peter Fonda, made an impact off-screen by creating organizations to support women’s equality and prevent teen pregnancy and improve adolescent health. She released a workout video in 1982 and was active on behalf of liberal political causes. In a statement, HFPA President Ali Sar applauded the Golden Globe winner’s decorated career and her “unrelenting activism.” “Her undeniable talent has gained her the highest level of recognition,” Sar said of Fonda. “While her professional life has taken many turns, her unwavering commitment to evoking change has remained.” The DeMille Award is given annually to an “individual who has made an incredible impact on the world of entertainment.”
Kudlow to Fox; McEnany next?
NEW YORK — Trump administration alumni Larry Kudlow is joining Fox News amid reports that a colleague, former White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, will soon be joining him. Fox announced Tuesday that Kudlow, a former CNBC personality who was national economic council director in the just-concluded Trump administration, will host a weekday program on the Fox Business Network and be a commentator across all of Fox’s platforms. McEnany, Trump’s final press secretary, had worked at CNN before joining Trump. In a public financial disclosure report filed with the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, McEnany said she had an employment agreement with Fox News, to start in January.
Can’t finish prison term at home
BOSTON — Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli’s request to serve the remaining three months of his prison term in the college admissions bribery scheme at home was denied Tuesday by a federal judge. Giannulli argued he should be released to home confinement for the rest of his five-month sentence because he spent eight weeks under “extreme” conditions in solitary confinement because of the coronavirus pandemic after reporting to prison in November. But U.S. District Judge Nathaniel Gorton said Giannulli failed to demonstrate an “‘extraordinary and compelling’ reason warranting his release,” though he noted that the quarantine was “longer than anticipated.”
Capitol Police chief apologizes
WASHINGTON — The interim chief of the Capitol Police apologized Tuesday for failing to prepare for what became a violent insurrection despite having warnings that white supremacists and far-right groups would target Congress. Yogananda Pittman, in prepared testimony before Congress, said that the Capitol Police “failed to meet its own high standards as well as yours.” She listed several missteps: not having enough manpower or supplies on hand, not following through with a lockdown order she issued during the siege and not having a sufficient communications plan for a crisis. “We knew that militia groups and white supremacists organizations would be attending,” Pittman wrote. “We also knew that some of these participants were intending to bring firearms and other weapons to the event. We knew that there was a strong potential for violence and that Congress was the target.”
Dems prep virus aid package
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are preparing to push ahead quickly on President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package even if it means using procedural tools to pass the legislation on their own, leaving Republicans behind. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told senators to be ready to vote as soon as next week on a budget reconciliation package that would lay the groundwork for swift passage. Coming so soon in Biden’s administration, the action provides a first test of Republican opposition to the White House priorities as well as to the new president’s promise of a “unity” agenda.
More vaccine to hard-hit states
Answering growing frustration over vaccine shortages, President Joe Biden announced Tuesday that the U.S. is surging deliveries to hard-pressed states over the next three weeks and expects to provide enough doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans by the end of the summer or early fall. Biden, calling the push a “wartime effort,” said the administration was working to buy an additional 100 million doses of each of the two approved coronavirus vaccines. He acknowledged that states in recent weeks have been left guessing how much vaccine they will have from one week to the next. Shortages have been so severe that some vaccination sites around the U.S. had to cancel tens of thousands of appointments with people seeking their first shot. Biden promised a roughly 16% boost in deliveries to states over the next three weeks.
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