Biden to lift Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving in military

Trump put the ban in place that did not allow transgender people to serve.

New Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be on hand at the White House ceremony on Monday, where the executive order will be signed, said the individuals familiar with the matter.

“The ban will be officially lifted tomorrow,” said one of the individuals familiar with the signing of the executive order.

Biden had said during the presidential campaign that he favored repealing the ban.

In May 2020, Biden had said he would direct the Pentagon to let “transgender service members serve openly and free from discrimination in the military.”

“They can shoot as straight as anybody else can shoot,” he added.

At his confirmation hearing last week Austin had said he would support an effort to repeal the ban.

“I support the president’s plan to overturn the ban,” Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “If you’re fit and you’re qualified to serve and you can maintain the standards, you should be allowed to serve, and you can expect that I will support that throughout.”

The White House and the Pentagon declined to comment on the executive order.

It is unclear how many transgender people serve in the military, though some advocacy groups have said it could be as high as 15,000 individuals.

In 2016, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced a policy that would allow transgender individuals to serve in the U.S. military openly.

But in July 2017, Trump issued a series of tweets that immediately banned such service.

The tweets blindsided Pentagon officials, including James Mattis, Trump’s first defense secretary.

He soon implemented reviews that led the Pentagon to re-institute a ban on open transgender service two years later.

The new policy required service members and those wishing to join the military to adhere to the standards associated with their biological sex.

Service members diagnosed with gender dysphoria, defined as “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender … associated with clinically significant distress and impairment of functioning,” were no longer allowed to receive medical surgeries for gender transition unless they were currently in the process of receiving medical treatment.

Transgender individuals who had received hormones or medical surgery related to their transition were barred from joining the military, even if they could prove stability in their preferred gender.

ABC News’ Molly Nagle and Elizabeth McLaughlin contributed to this report.

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Serum Institute of India: Blaze at facility of world’s biggest vaccine maker kills 5 people

The blaze at the Serum Institute of India (SII) in the western city of Pune was brought under control on Thursday though the cause is still under investigation, according to Murlidhar Mohol, the city’s mayor.

Four people were rescued from the six-floor building but five others died, Mohol said. They are believed to have been construction workers as the building was still under construction at the time of the fire.

Videos and images showed black smoke billowing out of the building at the company’s complex. Fifteen units of the municipal corporation and fire department worked to douse the fire, Mohol said.

Preliminary investigations suggest that “during the building’s construction, some welding work could have led to the fire,” he added.

Pune’s fire brigade chief Prashant Ranpise said Friday that the fire started on the second floor. As firefighters worked to put out the flames, the blaze reigned in another spot. The second fire was extinguished at 4:15 p.m. local time by 50 firefighters and personnel. Ranpise said they are still investigating the cause of the fire.

“We have learnt that there has unfortunately been some loss of life at the incident. We are deeply saddened and offer our deepest condolences to the family members of the departed,” SII CEO Adar Poonawalla tweeted Thursday.

SII, the world’s biggest vaccine maker, is in partnership with Oxford University and AstraZeneca to produce the Covishield vaccine. In December, the company said it was producing 50 to 60 million doses of Covishield per month, with production to be scaled up to 100 million doses in January or February.

A family business started by Poonawalla’s father 50 years ago to bring cheaper vaccines to the masses, the Serum Institute of India is aiming to produce hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccines for not only India, but also other developing countries.

In a tweet, Poonawalla said that despite a “few floors being destroyed,” production of the Covishield vaccine would not be affected.

“I would like to reassure all governments and the public that there would be no loss of COVISHIELD production due to multiple production buildings that I had kept in reserve to deal with such contingencies,” he said.

Cyrus S. Poonawalla, SII’s chairman and managing director, said in a statement that the fire broke out at a facility that was under constriction in the Special Economic Zone at Manjri. He said it was an “extremely sorrowful day” and the company would offer INR 2.5 million ($34,000) to each of the victims’ families.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted his condolences Thursday: “Anguished by the loss of lives due to an unfortunate fire … In this sad hour, my thoughts are with the families of those who lost their lives. I pray that those injured recover at the earliest.”

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Covid: Vaccinated people may spread virus, says Van-Tam

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam stressed that scientists “do not yet know the impact of the vaccine on transmission”.

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Covid: Nearly 2m people got first Covid vaccine in last week

Around 200 vaccines are being given every minute, the health secretary tells the Commons.

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White People and Their Achievements Are Marked for Destruction

The Western world is collapsing so rapidly that I am afraid that I am going to outlive it.

The Western presstitutes and politicians have demonized Putin, Maduro, Iran, and Trump to the same extent as the patriotic propagandistic Western court historians have demonized Adolf Hitler. But no one is as demonized as white people, and the curious thing is that it is self-demonization—whites demonizing whites.

One can understand why former British and French colonies from Africa through the Middle East to India, and Washington’s former colony in the Philippines and its Latin American puppet states would look with disfavor on white faces and use harsh language. But why do the New York Times, CNN, NPR, and white professors throughout the university system, school boards, white politicians, such as France’s Macron and the European Community’s Jean-Claude Juncker and Germany’s Merkel and a wide assortment of British and Scandinavian politicians demonize white people? In Scandinavia a blond woman who reports her rape by the latest wave of third world “migrants” invited into the country by the crazed Scandinavian politicians is dismissed as a racist. Scandinavian people have told me that it is becoming difficult to report any crime by migrants as the report borders on being a hate crime.

Why is fake history created in order to support this hatred of white people? Not long ago I wrote about a white man who wrote in CounterPunch that Robert E. Lee owned 200 slaves and enjoyed abusing them. I pointed out that Lee spent his life, until Virginia’s secession, as a US Army officer fighting for the US empire against Mexico and against the native “Indians.” He never had 200 slaves or a plantation. He was a US Army officer who was so highly regarded by Washington that he was offered a Union command when the North decided to invade the South in order to preserve the Empire. 

The fake history about Lee is just one example. I used it because it demonstrates how outrageous are the lies that now comprise American “history.” Despite being unattached to any known facts, they nevertheless get into history books.

Black studies avoids the fact that the British sea captains who brought African slaves to the British colonies that later became the United States purchased the black slaves from the black king of Dahomey, who captured his fellow blacks in slave wars against other black tribes. The United States has raised entire generations on the fake history that white people hated blacks and decided to capture them in Africa and make slaves of them in order to beat and abuse them.

So how does diversity and multiculturalism work to produce a livable society when education and entertainment teach that white people are racists?

Any answering back by whites to accusations is considered to be proof that they are racists who will not acknowledge their sins and repent from them with lavish reparations and self-mutilation.

Diversity has become such a value that the great universities have decided to destroy themselves in order to promote diversity. Oxford University, the most famous university in the world, has decided to lower its standards in order to promote diversity. Over the course of the next four years Oxford is going to reject 25% of the qualified applicants in order to make room for unqualified applicants who are “deprived” because of standards that cause “inequality.”

Goodbye to the value of an Oxford education. The once prestigious degree is becoming equalized with that of a community college, Heaven forbid that there is anything but equality. The parents who sacrificed to send their kids to private schools to prepare them for success at Oxford, have wasted their sacrifice and their money, because the qualifications for 25% of their kids for admission are irrelevant for diversity admission. The lower you score, the more diverse and more favored you are.

All over England, or as it is now called the UK, the universities are being destroyed, as in the US. Not only is there the example of Oxford, but the same is happening all over England and the US. The University of Nottingham has destroyed itself. For example, the university’s philosophy department was ranked, which meant that an advanced degree meant something about its graduates expertise in the subject.

But “diversity” intervened, and scholarship took the blow. The professors with a solid research record were discarded and unqualified diversity was employed in their place. Consequently, the university lost its standing for its Ph.D. in philosophy.

This adversely affected the graduates who paid their parents’ money and years of their life for degrees, the value of which the corrupt university administration threw away in order to please “diversity.”

Far from enjoying supremacy, white males are denied equality. They are discriminated against in university admissions and employment. Free speech is denied to them. According to military wives, white males are being denied promotions while the military achieves diversity balancing. Google fires white males for stating basic facts. White school boys are being browbeat and feminized. The charge of white supremacy is being used to herd white people to the back of the bus. While they sit there and suck their thumbs, white people are being propagandized out of existence.

Now that even MLK is a ‘sex criminal’, maybe US can stop toppling statues and ‘canceling’ people

The Mass Media Is Poisoning Us With Hate

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‘Normal People’ star Paul Mescal on set in the Southern Tablelands for new film | Goulburn Post

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The region was starstruck when Hollywood descended upon a small town in the Southern Tablelands yesterday. International stars, including Paul Mescal, were in Breadalbane on January 18 for their first day on set for Carmen. READ ALSO: Carmen, directed by Benjamin Millepied, is set to be a modern take on the classic opera. Paul Mescal, from the television series Normal People, will star as Don José with Melissa Barrera as the titular character. Publicist Tracey Mair for Goalpost Pictures said filming had now ceased at Breadalbane. She said the cast and crew were only in the town for one day. Ms Mair said she was unable to share further information at this stage. Filming is set to continue for eight weeks. More to come.


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2 Million People Have Died From COVID-19 Worldwide

In coming years, families around the world will be reminded of what happened in January 2021 by gaps in photo albums, saved video chats or text message threads, and in some cases, tragically, empty seats at future weddings. But in the history books, the pandemic’s impact will be traced in terms of milestones, including one passed on Friday: 2 million people have died from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The novel coronavirus has caused the deadliest global epidemic since the emergence of HIV/AIDS 40 years ago, and the deadliest respiratory pandemic in a century.

Worldwide, some 12,000 to 13,000 people have died from COVID-19 every day over the past week. Deaths have been increasing steadily since October, when about 5,500 people were dying per day globally.

The staggering number of deaths from COVID-19 intensifies the urgency of global efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines.

In the U.S. and other countries, efforts to distribute the vaccine have been hampered by supply chain limitations and other logistical problems. The World Health Organization has repeatedly warned that distributing vaccines equitably across counties will be necessary to stop the spread of the pandemic, although 95% of the vaccines distributed so far have been handed out in just 10 countries, Dr. Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, said Thursday. Newly discovered mutations of the virus, including the variant initially found in the U.K., and since spread to multiple countries including the U.S. threaten to drive the death toll up even higher; the U.K. variant is thought to spread 70% more quickly, which could lead more vulnerable people to becoming infected.

More U.S. resident have died after contracting COVID-19 than in any other country. Over 389,000 Americans have died from the virus, followed by Brazil, with more than 207,000 deaths, and India, with nearly 152,000. The U.S. also leads the world by number of reported infections; more than 23.3 million people have been infected with the virus. COVID-19 was likely the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2020; when preliminary numbers from last year are compared to 2018, they suggest more U.S. residents died from COVID-19 in 2020 than from strokes, accidents or Alzheimer’s disease.

Achieving herd immunity to protect people from COVID-19 through vaccination is still a long way off. In the U.S., less than 3% of the population has been vaccinated so far, while experts estimate that at least 75% of people would need to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity. Therefore, stopping more deaths from COVID-19 in the coming weeks will require individuals to keep taking the steps experts say are needed to stop the virus’ spread: staying home, wearing masks, and maintaining physical distance from one another.

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Hiding COVID-19: Why People Keep Illness a Secret

It’s impossible to speculate about just how many COVID camouflagers are out there, given that, well, their whole aim is to keep their illness under wraps. I was able to connect with three of them, all on the condition of anonymity, to suss out why they made the call to hide a life-threatening illness from the people who most value their life.

One Philadelphia father who got the virus in the spring confessed to me that his son still doesn’t know what he’s been through. He doesn’t want his 12-year-old chirping at his friends, “Dude, my dad got the ’rona,” he said. An anguished health-care worker in New York told me about the baggage from shrouding her illness from her mother and grandmother. Her mom went into full-on panic mode in March, blaming the pandemic on 5G towers and chemists, so why add to her hysteria?

The grandest coronavirus cover-up I encountered, by far, came from Michelle, a flight attendant for a major airline who asked to be identified by her first name so that word wouldn’t reach her family. In late March, when most Americans were still settling into their year of quarantine and social distancing, Michelle was holed up in her Connecticut home for six weeks, battling a virus that robbed her of her sense of smell and taste, then her breath, and then strengthened its grip as it nearly put her in the hospital. Besides her boyfriend, a cousin, and one friend, no one knows what she’s been through.

Since early June, she and I have had a series of long, meandering conversations about her illness. Before coming down with COVID-19, Michelle said, she never kept secrets from her family. She splits her time between Connecticut and Florida, where she lives right down the street from her parents in the same gated community. As a teenager, Michelle would always fess up after borrowing her dad’s car. She’s 60 years old now, and her parents have met every single man she’s ever dated. There was one fender bender a few years back that she didn’t tell them about, but she swears that’s it.

That was before the pandemic. In late March, Michelle worked on a packed flight from Tel Aviv to the United States, and so many of the passengers seemed sick. Three days later, she knew something was wrong. “I had hallucinations,” she said. “I was really, really sick. I don’t think I had enough breath to even talk. I’ve had the flu before; that’s aches and pains. This is unbearable pain.” Her doctor sent her to a drive-through clinic for a COVID-19 test. She knew even before she heard the result: positive.

Michelle put herself in full quarantine. Right away, she told her boyfriend, who lives nearby, that she had COVID-19 and wouldn’t be seeing him for a while. She stayed at home all alone as the virus clamped down on her body. When she lost her sense of smell, she would mistakenly let her dinner go in circles in the microwave until it burned up. When swallowing got tough, she forced herself to drink water. When the virus smothered her ability to speak, she settled on sharing the illness with a few more people, texting a friend and a cousin.

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Law reform needed to allow deaf and blind people on juries

“I knew at the time deaf people weren’t eligible, but I thought I’d test the system,” Mr Phillips said.

“It wasn’t my ability to comprehend or follow the process, it was not being able to have a 13th person in the jury room.”

It’s something the Victorian Law Reform Commission wants to change.

“We are not inquiring into whether people who are deaf, hard or hearing, blind or have low vision should have easier access, we are inquiring into how to give them easier access,” chair of the commission, Anthony North, QC, said.

Ron McCallum, the former Dean of Sydney Law School, pictured in 2011.Credit:Louie Douvis

“What we have recognised is firstly the need for equal treatment, but we’re trying to overcome a misconception these people are not competent.”

The commission is investigating how people who are vision or hearing impaired could have access to jury duty, either by way of changing the law to allow a 13th person in the jury room, or by allowing access to documents converted into braille and other communication technology.

The commission’s work is not unique.

In Australia, the Australian Capital Territory became the first jurisdiction to change its law to allow for a 13th person in the jury room. And in the United States, the UK, Ireland and New Zealand, deaf and blind people have served on juries.

Dr David McKee, a deaf studies teacher in Wellington, told the ABC that his jury duty in 2005 was facilitated by two interpreters who alternated and it “proceeded quite smoothly.” He was elected as the jury foreperson.

In Australia, there’s been several legal challenges that have so far failed to create a seismic shift.

Two NSW residents, Gemma Beasley and Michael Lockrey, took their case to the United Nations after they were blocked from serving. As a result, the UN called for Australia to change its discriminatory laws.

In Queensland, Gaye Lyons went to the High Court after her request for an interpreter was denied. The majority confirmed that a 13th person wasn’t allowed in the jury room to protect external influence, but the Law Reform Commission said the ruling left it open for state legislatures to determine whether interpreters should be allowed.

Former Sydney Law School dean Ron McCallum AO, the first blind person to become a professor in any field, said blind and deaf people could sit on most juries and the circumstances where they couldn’t, such as where the major evidence was eyesight identification, would be few and far between.


Auslan, Professor McCallum said, is a language already used in court proceedings and qualified signers are bound by confidentiality.

“I really don’t see any problem,” Professor McCallum said.

“A lot of people think, how can this be? How can we let people with disabilities sit on juries? Even some judges would probably be nervous. A lot of it has to do with not knowing persons with a disability.”

Mr Phillips, a senior executive manager with the National Disability Insurance Agency, said his exclusion from jury duty was disappointing and he welcomed the commission’s intent to reform.

He pointed to one of the fundamental principles of the justice system – that people should be judged by a jury of their peers.

“As deaf people, we’re very much a part of society,” he said.

“It’s time the justice system acknowledges that and makes various adjustments to include deaf people as jury members.”

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India begins first phase of vaccination to cover 30 million people – NewsIn.Asia

Colombo, January 16: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched the all-India rollout of COVID-19 vaccination drive via video conferencing

Considered to be the world’s largest vaccination program, it covers 30 million health care and frontline health workers across India in the first phase, the Indian High Commission said in a release.

The endeavor is to cover 300 million in the second phase. The elderly population and those with serious illness would be the focus groups in this phase.

A total of 3006 session sites were virtually connected during the launch with around 100 beneficiaries being vaccinated at each session site on the inaugural day.

The massive vaccination program is powered by Co-WIN, an indigenously developed online digital platform, which will facilitate real time information of vaccine stocks, storage temperature and individualized tracking of beneficiaries. A dedicated 24×7 call center  has also been established to deal with all issues pertaining to administration of the vaccines.

Speaking at the launch, Prime Minister Modi highlighted various steps undertaken by the government of India to combat COVD-19. India released its first COVID-19 advisory on 17 January 2020 and was among the first countries to start screening passengers at its airports. Specifically on vaccines, he said, Indian vaccines were built on tried and tested technology in India and added that these vaccines will give a decisive victory to India in fighting the pandemic.


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