MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's boast in August that it was the first country to authorize a coronavirus vaccine led to skepticism at the time because of its insufficient testing. Six months later, as demand for the Sputnik V vaccine grows, experts are raising questions again — this time, over whether Moscow can keep up with all the orders from the countries that want it.
Slovakia got 200,000 doses on March 1, even though the European Medicines Agency, the European Union's pharmaceutical regulator, only began reviewing its use on Thursday in an expedited process. The president of the hard-hit Czech Republic said he wrote directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin to get a supply. Millions of doses are expected by countries in Latin America, Africa, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East in a wave of Russian vaccine diplomacy.
“Sputnik V continues to confidently conquer Europe,” anchor Olga Skabeyeva declared on the Russia-1 state TV channel.
Dmitry Kiselev, the network's top pro-Kremlin anchor, heaped on the hyperbole last month, blustering: “The Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V, is the best in the world.”
State TV channels have covered vaccine exports extensively, citing praise from abroad for Russia and running segments about the difficulties countries are having with Western vaccines.
The early criticism of Sputnik V has been blunted by a report in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet that said large-scale testing showed it to be safe, with an efficacy rate of 91% against the virus.
That could help revamp Russia's image to one of a scientific, technological and benevolent power, especially as other countries encounter shortages of COVID-19 vaccines because richer nations are scooping up the Western-made versions or manufacturers...
BERLIN (AP) — Swiss voters decide Sunday on a proposal to ban face coverings, both the niqabs and burqas worn by a few Muslim women in the country and the ski masks and bandannas used by protesters. Polls are pointing to a close outcome.
The measure would outlaw covering one's face in public places like restaurants, sports stadiums, public transport or simply walking in the street. There would be exceptions at religious sites and for security or health reasons, such as the face masks people are wearing now to protect against COVID-19, as well as for traditional Carnival celebrations. Authorities would have two years to draw up detailed legislation.
The Swiss government opposes the measure and says that people covering their faces is a “marginal” issue. It argues the measure could harm tourism — most Muslim women who wear such veils in Switzerland are visitors from well-heeled Persian Gulf states, who are often drawn to bucolic Swiss lakeside cities. And it says that it wouldn't help the women affected.
It backs instead requiring people to show their faces if requested to do so by authorities.
Supporters of the proposal, which is coming to a vote five years after it was launched and has come to be known colloquially as the “burqa ban,” argue that the full-face coverings symbolize the repression of women and say the measure is needed to uphold a basic principle that faces should be shown in a free society like Switzerland's.
Two of Switzerland's 26 cantons, or states, Ticino and St. Gallen, already have similar legislation that foresees fines for transgressions. National legislation would put Switzerland in line with countries like Belgium and France that have already enacted similar measures.
Backers include the nationalist Swiss People's Party, which is the strongest in parliament and backed previous...
BANGKOK (AP) — The escalation of violence in Myanmar as authorities crack down on protests against the Feb. 1 coup is raising pressure for more sanctions against the junta, even as countries struggle over how to best sway military leaders inured to global condemnation.
The challenge is made doubly difficult by fears of harming ordinary citizens who were already suffering from an economic slump worsened by the pandemic but are braving risks of arrest and injury to voice outrage over the military takeover. Still, activists and experts say there are ways to ramp up pressure on the regime, especially by cutting off sources of funding and access to the tools of repression.
The U.N. special envoy on Friday urged the Security Council to act to quell junta violence that this week killed about 50 demonstrators and injured scores more.
“There is an urgency for collective action," Christine Schraner Burgener told the meeting. “How much more can we allow the Myanmar military to get away with?"
Coordinated U.N. action is difficult, however, since permanent Security Council members China and Russia would almost certainly veto it. Myanmar's neighbors, its biggest trading partners and sources of investment, are likewise reluctant to resort to sanctions.
Some piecemeal actions have already been taken. The U.S., Britain and Canada have tightened various restrictions on Myanmar's army, their family members and other top leaders of the junta. The U.S. blocked an attempt by the military to access more than $1 billion in Myanmar central bank funds being held in the U.S., the State Department confirmed Friday.
But most economic interests of the military remain “largely unchallenged," Thomas Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on the rights situation in Myanmar, said in a report issued last week. Some governments have halted aid...
BEIJING (AP) — China’s exports surged 60.6% over a year earlier in the first two months of 2021, after factories reopened and global demand started to recover from the coronavirus pandemic.
Exports rose to $468.9 billion, customs data showed Sunday, accelerating from December’s 18.1% gain and nearly double the growth expected by forecasters. Imports jumped 22.2% to $365.6 billion, up from December’s 6.5% increase.
Chinese authorities combine trade data for the first two months to compensate for fluctuations due to the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls at different times each year in January or February. Factories shut down for up to two weeks, then restock after they reopen.
Exporters benefited from the relatively early reopening of China’s economy after the ruling Communist Party declared victory over the disease last March while foreign competitors still face anti-virus controls.
Forecasters say the Chinese export surge should decelerate as demand for masks and other medical supplies eases and overseas competitors return to global markets. Trade officials have warned that the global situation still is “grave and complex.”
Exports to the United States soared 87.3% over last year to $80.5 billion in January and February despite former President Donald Trump’s tariff hikes imposed in a fight over trade, technology and security. They have been left in place by his successor, Joe Biden, who took office in January.
Economists and political analysts expect few changes under Biden due to widespread frustration in Washington with China’s trade and human rights records and complaints about technology theft and spying.
On Friday, China's top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, announced plans to accelerate technology development and reduce reliance on...
LAS VEGAS — Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak has signed an emergency order adjusting the minimum distance between performers and audience members that previously challenged the return of productions in Las Vegas.
The tourist destination built for excess and known for bright lights, big crowds, indulgent meals and headline shows has slowly begun to reopen after the pandemic halted business in March. Businesses, especially on the Strip were struggling because of limited air travel, lack of mid-week convention business and an absence of arena events and entertainment options.
Previously, performers were required to maintain 25 feet (7.6 meters) of space between the audience as a precaution against the coronavirus. But some smaller venues could not accommodate that restriction.
Sisolak signed the new emergency directive on Friday, updating the minimum distance to 6 feet (1.8 meters) if performers are wearing masks and 12 feet (3.6 meters) when performers are unmasked.
The order is effective immediately and applies to all live entertainment and performances at all sizes of public gatherings and events.
“This is amazing news,” said Angela Stabile, co-founder of Stabile Productions, Inc., which has been operating three different shows at Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel and Casino and Flamingo Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. “It was an extreme guideline to begin with. This is another step in the right direction.”
Other shows including “The Australian Bee Gees Show” at Excalibur Hotel & Casino, David Copperfield at MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino and Terry Fator at New York-New York Hotel & Casino were planning to resume performances this month, the Las Vegas Sun reported. Now, smaller venue productions are also planning to reopen because of the new...
MILAN (AP) — The Milan fashion house Dolce&Gabbana has filed a defamation suit in an Italian court seeking over $600 million in damages from two U.S. fashion bloggers who reposted anti-Asian comments attributed to one of the designers that led to a boycott by Asian consumers.
The suit was filed in Milan civil court in 2019 but only became public this week when the bloggers posted about it on their Instagram account, Diet Prada. Their feed is widely followed in the fashion world for its cutting commentary on unoriginality in designs and on social issues.
“This whole case is a way of trying to silence Diet Prada, and to silence Tony (Liu) and Lindsay (Schuyler) personally,’’ said Susan Scafidi, director of the Fashion Law Institute at Fordham Law School, which is coordinating the bloggers' defense.
Lawyers for Dolce&Gabbana reached by the AP declined to comment on the case.
The case dates back to November 2018, when Dolce&Gabbana faced a boycott in Asia after outrage over what were seen as culturally insensitive videos promoting a major runway show in Shanghai and subsequent posts of insulting comments in a private Instagram chat.
The show was canceled in the backlash, which included retailers pulling Dolce&Gabbana merchandise and Asian VIPs disavowing the brand.
Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana initially said that Gabbana’s account had been hacked. The two later appeared in a video apologizing to the Chinese people.
“A public apology and a quiet lawsuit really cancel each other out in my mind,’’ Scafidi told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Italian defense attorneys filed a brief this week in Milan civil court, arguing that Italy is not the correct venue for the case, given that the blog is produced in the United States and...
WASHINGTON (AP) — An exhausted Senate narrowly approved a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Saturday as President Joe Biden and his Democratic allies notched a victory they called crucial for hoisting the country out of the pandemic and economic doldrums.
After laboring all night on a mountain of amendments — nearly all from Republicans and rejected — bleary-eyed senators approved the sprawling package on a 50-49 party-line vote. That sets up final congressional approval by the House next week so lawmakers can whisk it to Biden for his signature.
The huge measure — its cost is nearly one-tenth the size of the entire U.S. economy — is Biden’s biggest early priority. It stands as his formula for addressing the deadly virus and a limping economy, twin crises that have afflicted the country for a year.
“This nation has suffered too much for much too long,” Biden told reporters at the White House after the vote. “And everything in this package is designed to relieve the suffering and to meet the most urgent needs of the nation, and put us in a better position to prevail.”
Saturday's vote was also a crucial political moment for Biden and Democrats, who need nothing short of party unanimity in a 50-50 Senate they run with Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote. They hold a slim 10-vote House edge.
Not one Republican backed the bill in the Senate or when it initially passed the House, underscoring the barbed partisan environment that's characterized the early days of Biden's presidency.
A small but pivotal band of moderate Democrats leveraged changes in the legislation that incensed progressives, hardly helping Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., guide the measure through the House. But rejection of their first, signature bill was not an option for Democrats, who face two years of running Congress...
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate approved a sweeping pandemic relief package over Republican opposition on Saturday, moving President Joe Biden closer to a milestone political victory that would provide $1,400 checks for most American and direct billions of dollars to schools, state and local governments, and businesses.
The bill cleared by a party-line vote of 50-49 after a marathon overnight voting session and now heads back to the House for final passage, which could come early next week.
Democrats said their “American Rescue Plan” would help the country defeat the virus and nurse the economy back to health. Republicans criticized the $1.9 trillion package as more expensive than necessary. The measure follows five earlier virus bills totaling about $4 trillion that Congress has enacted since last spring.
A look at some highlights of the legislation:
AID TO THE UNEMPLOYED
Expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government would be extended through Sept. 6 at $300 a week. That’s on top of what beneficiaries are getting through their state unemployment insurance program. The first $10,200 of jobless benefits would be non-taxable for households with incomes under $150,000.
Additionally, the measures provides a 100% subsidy of COBRA health insurance premiums to ensure that the laid-off workers can remain on their employer health plans at no cost through the end of September.
The legislation provides a direct payment of $1,400 for a single taxpayer, or $2,800 for a married couple that files jointly, plus $1,400 per dependent. Individuals earning up to $75,000 would get the full amount, as would married couples with incomes up to $150,000.
The size of the check would shrink for those making slightly more, with a hard cut-off at $80,000 for...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has cleared a path for fans to hit the stands at opening-day baseball games and return to Disneyland nearly a year after coronavirus restrictions shuttered major entertainment spots.
The state on Friday relaxed guidelines for reopening outdoor venues as a fall and winter surge seemed to be ending, with COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths plummeting and vaccination rates rising.
New public health rules would allow live concerts at stadiums and sports arenas to reopen with limited attendance April 1. Amusement parks also will be permitted to reopen in counties that have fallen from the state's purple tier — the most restrictive — to the red tier.
In all cases, park capacities will be limited, and COVID-19 safety rules such as mask-wearing requirements will apply.
The move followed a week of milestones, with California ramping up vaccinations for the poorest neighborhoods, counties reopening more businesses and Gov. Gavin Newsom passing a measure aimed at encouraging schools that have restricted students to online learning to reopen classrooms this month.
“Steady opening is consistent with the data. As cases decline, we want to return to work and school,” said Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, clinical professor of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California. “Outdoor activities in particular have always been low risk. Opening these sites makes sense.”
The reopening can't come too soon for Kenny King Jr., a resident of Pleasant Hill in the San Francisco Bay Area who became an annual Disneyland passholder a decade ago. He typically takes his family to the Southern California park five times a year, but the last visit was just over a year ago for his birthday.
King, 38, said he's excited to return...
MILAN (AP) — The virus swept through a nursery school and an adjacent elementary school in the Milan suburb of Bollate with amazing speed. In a matter of just days, 45 children and 14 staff members had tested positive.
Genetic analysis confirmed what officials already suspected: The highly contagious coronavirus variant first identified in England was racing through the community, a densely packed city of nearly 40,000 with a chemical plant and a Pirelli bicycle tire factory a 15-minute drive from the heart of Milan.
“This demonstrates that the virus has a sort of intelligence. ... We can put up all the barriers in the world and imagine that they work, but in the end, it adapts and penetrates them,’’ lamented Bollate Mayor Francesco Vassallo.
Bollate was the first city in Lombardy, the northern region that has been the epicenter in each of Italy’s three surges, to be sealed off from neighbors because of virus variants that the World Health Organization says are powering another uptick in infections across Europe. The variants also include versions first identified in South Africa and Brazil.
Europe recorded 1 million new COVID-19 cases last week, an increase of 9% from the previous week and a reversal that ended a six-week decline in new infections, WHO said Thursday.
“The spread of the variants is driving the increase, but not only,’’ said Dr. Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, citing “also the opening of society, when it is not done in a safe and a controlled manner.”
The variant first found in the U.K. is spreading significantly in 27 European countries monitored by WHO and is dominant in at least 10 countries: Britain, Denmark, Italy, Ireland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Israel, Spain and Portugal.
It is up to 50% more...
NEW DELHI (AP) — Thousands of Indian farmers blocked a massive expressway on the edges of New Delhi on Saturday to mark the 100th day of protests against agricultural laws that they say will devastate their income.
Farmers stood on tractors and waved colorful flags while their leaders chanted slogans via a loudspeaker atop a makeshift stage.
Thousands of them have hunkered down outside New Delhi’s borders since late November to voice their anger against three laws passed by Parliament last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government says the laws are necessary to modernize agriculture, but farmers say they will leave them poorer and at the mercy of big corporations.
Samyukta Kisan Morcha, or Joint Farmers’ Front, said the blockade would last five hours. “It is not our hobby to block roads, but the government is not listening to us. What can we do?” said Satnam Singh, a member of the group.
The farmers have remained undeterred even after violence erupted on Jan. 26 during clashes with police that left one protester dead and hundreds injured. But they could soon run into problems.
For 100 days, Karnal Singh has lived inside the back of a trailer along a vast stretch of arterial highway that connects India’s north with New Delhi. He camped outside the capital when it was under the grip of winter and smog. Now the city is bracing for scorching summer temperatures that can hit 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
But Singh, like many other farmers, is unfazed and plans to stay until the laws are completely withdrawn.
“We are not going anywhere and will fight till the end,” Singh, 60, said Friday, as he sat cross-legged inside a makeshift shelter in the back of his truck.
The mood at the Singhu border, one of the protest sites, was boisterous on...
BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — More than a year after two U.S. Department of Agriculture research agencies were moved from the nation's capital to Kansas City, Missouri, forcing a mass exodus of employees who couldn't or didn't want to move halfway across the country, they remain critically understaffed and some farmers are less confident in the work they produce.
The decision to move the Economic Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture in September 2019 was pitched as putting them closer to farmers in the nation's breadbasket, though much of their work involves advising members of Congress back in Washington. After the relocation was announced, President Donald Trump's chief of staff at the time, Mick Mulvaney, joked that moving the jobs to Kansas City was also “a wonderful way to streamline government.”
Tom Vilsack inherited a demoralized workforce at the two agencies when he took over as secretary of agriculture under President Joe Biden. With 235 vacancies between them, the agencies continued to hire during the pandemic and administration change, but they are putting out work that is smaller in scope and less frequent, causing some farmers to look elsewhere for data they rely on to run their operations.
Among them is Vance Ehmke, who said that since the USDA relocations occurred, he has been paying a lot more attention to private market analysis and what private grain companies are doing. The information feeds his decisions on everything from whether to buy more land or a new tractor to whether to build more grain bins.
“Here, when we need really good, hard information, you are really starting to question groups like USDA, which before that had a sterling reputation,” Ehmke said recently. “But out in the country, people are worried about how good the information is now because...
SURRY, Va. (AP) — When Charlome Pierce searched where her 96-year-old father could get a COVID-19 vaccine in January, she found zero options anywhere near their home in Virginia. The lone medical clinic in Surry County had none, and the last pharmacy in an area with roughly 6,500 residents and more land mass than Chicago closed years ago.
To get their shots, some residents took a ferry across the sprawling James River to cities such as Williamsburg. Others drove more than an hour past farms and woodlands - the county got its first stoplight in 2007 - to reach a medical facility offering the vaccine.
At one point, Pierce heard about a state-run vaccination event 45 minutes away, No more appointments were available, which perhaps was for the best: the wait there reportedly could last up to seven hours.
“That would have been a daunting task,” she said, citing her father’s health conditions and frequent need to use the bathroom. “I could not have had him sit in a car and wait for something that might happen. We’re not in a Third World country.”
As the nation's campaign against the coronavirus moves from mass inoculation sites to drugstores and doctors' offices, getting vaccinated remains a challenge for residents of “pharmacy deserts,” communities without pharmacies or well-equipped health clinics. To improve access,” the federal government has partnered with 21 companies that run free-standing pharmacies or pharmacy services inside grocery stores and other locations.
More than 40,000 stores are expected to take part, and the Biden administration has said that nearly 90% of Americans live within five miles of one, from Hy-Vee and Walmart to Costco and Rite-Aid.
But there are gaps in the map: More than 400 rural counties with a combined population of nearly 2.5 million people lack a retail pharmacy...
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia has long proclaimed itself “Almost Heaven,” a nod to a song and soaring mountaintop vistas. Now some joke the state name-checked in “Take Me Home, Country Roads” could take things up a notch as Democratic U.S. Sen Joe Manchin bargains his way through Congress.
“Maybe we’ll get to heaven status,” said longtime Democratic Party official Nick Casey.
Reviving West Virginia’s economically battered coal towns and reversing a persistent population decline is a tall order. But Manchin, who grew up in the mountain town of Farmington, has emerged as a key swing vote in a divided Senate. Now he has his best shot in years to steer federal dollars back home.
Manchin put himself in the middle of things again this week over the COVID relief bill making its way through Congress, singlehandedly halting work on the measure Friday as Democrats sought to placate his concerns about the size and duration of an expanded unemployment benefit.
As for his own agenda, Manchin has dropped hints publicly about “common sense” infrastructure investments sorely needed back home: expanding rural broadband and fixing roads among them. He declared that West Virginia could supply the manufacturing firepower to “innovate our way to a cleaner climate.” And more than once, he's said coal miners can build the best solar panels if given a chance.
Some wonder if his newfound clout might help him do something former President Donald Trump promised but couldn’t deliver — reignite a state economy long overly dependent on a coal industry in freefall.
Manchin's Senate colleagues have good reason to study the needs of small towns beyond the Blue Ridge Mountains. Manchin, 73, was already a recognized dealmaker on Capitol Hill, but deference to the most conservative Democrat in a 50-50 Senate has...
WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate leaders and moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin struck a deal late Friday over emergency jobless benefits, breaking a logjam that had stalled the party's showpiece $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill.
The compromise, announced by the West Virginia lawmaker and a Democratic aide, seemed to clear the way for the Senate to begin a climactic, marathon series of votes and, eventually, approval of the sweeping legislation.
The overall bill, President Joe Biden’s foremost legislative priority, is aimed at battling the killer pandemic and nursing the staggered economy back to health. It would provide direct payments of up to $1,400 to most Americans and money for COVID-19 vaccines and testing, aid to state and local governments, help for schools and the airline industry and subsidies for health insurance.
The Senate next faced votes on a pile of amendments that were likely to last overnight, mostly on Republican proposals virtually certain to fail but designed to force Democrats to cast politically awkward votes.
More significantly, the jobless benefits agreement suggested it was just a matter of time until the Senate passes the bill. That would ship it back to the House, which was expected to give it final congressional approval and whisk it to Biden for his signature.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden supports the compromise on jobless payments.
The day's lengthy standoff underscored the headaches confronting party leaders over the next two years — and the tensions between progressives and centrists — as they try moving their agenda through the Congress with their slender majorities.
Manchin is probably the chamber’s most conservative Democrat, and a kingmaker in the 50-50 Senate. But the party can’t tilt too far center to win Manchin’s vote without endangering...
NEW YORK (AP) — After growing cobwebs for nearly a year, movie theaters in New York City reopen Friday, returning film titles to Manhattan marquees that had for the last 12 months instead read messages like “Wear a mask” and “We’ll be back soon.”
Shortly after noon at the Angelika Film Center on Houston Street, Holly Stillman was already feeling emotional coming out of the first New York showing of Lee Isaac Chung’s tender family drama “Minari.” “My mask is drenched,” she said.
But she was equally overwhelmed by being back in a cinema. Though Stillman feared the experience would be too restrictive because of COVID-19 protocols, she instead found it euphoric.
“It was just you and the movie screen,” said Stillman. “It was wonderful to smell the popcorn as soon as I got into the theater — even though I don’t eat popcorn.”
Less than half of movie theaters are open nationwide, but reopenings are quickening. Theaters in many other areas reopened last summer around the release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet,” but that attempted comeback fizzled. Throughout, theaters remained shut in the five boroughs. For a year almost to the date, one of the world’s foremost movie capitals stayed dark.
For a theatrical business that has been punished by the pandemic, the resumption of moviegoing in New York — is a crucial first step in revival.
“It’s a symbolic moment,” said Michael Barker, co-president of the New York-based Sony Pictures Classics, which on Friday released the Oscar contenders “The Father” and “The Truffle Hunters” in Manhattan theaters. “It says that there is hope for the theatrical world to reactivate itself.”
For some moviegoers who consider the big screen the only way to see a movie, the long-in-coming day...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California on Friday lifted some coronavirus restrictions on outdoor sports and entertainment venues, clearing the way for fans to attend games on Major League Baseball's opening day and for theme parks like Disneyland to reopen for the first time in more than a year.
The rules take effect April 1, but they only apply to people living in California. Baseball teams, event organizers and theme parks are not allowed to sell tickets to anyone living out of state as public health officials try to limit mixing while continuing to roll out coronavirus vaccinations.
The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Oakland A's all announced they will have fans in the stands for opening day on April 1. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants both start their seasons on the road and said they would announce their plans later.
Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock did not say when the iconic theme park would reopen, but added “we can’t wait to welcome guests back and look forward to sharing an opening date soon.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom's administration announced the rules on the same day the governor signed a law aimed at returning public school students to classrooms by April 1. Newsom and state lawmakers have moved quickly in recent days to change the state's coronavirus rules, including allowing indoor youth sports to resume and making it easier for businesses to reopen in most counties.
Newsom also faces a recall threat that has gained steam during the pandemic amid growing opposition to shutdowns.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's top public health official, said the state is acting now because the rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are declining while the number of people receiving vaccines is increasing. California reported 4,659 new coronavirus cases on Thursday while...
TORONTO — The head of the vaccine program for Canada’s most populous province expects to get every adult in Ontario a first vaccine shot by June 20.
Ontario and provincial governments in the country are extending the interval between the two doses of Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines to four months rather than three to four weeks so they can quickly inoculate more people.
Retired Gen. Randy Hillier says by the first day of summer he wants everyone in Ontario who is eligible to get a dose. Hillier says the first dose offers an incredible level of protection.
Canada is also getting a fourth vaccine to prevent COVID-19 as the country’s health regulator has cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot that works with just one dose instead of two.
THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:
— A new national study adds strong evidence that mask mandates can slow the spread of the coronavirus, and that allowing dining at restaurants can increase cases and deaths.
— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s health department confirmed reports of altered nursing home deaths
— AP-NORC poll: Americans largely back Biden’s virus response
— Canada OKs Johnson & Johnson shot, getting 4th vaccine for nation
— Pope urges Iraq to embrace its Christians on historic visit
HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:
HELENA, Mont. -- Educators in Montana will begin receiving COVID-19...
WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Friday that despite the strong job gains last month, Congress still needs to “go big” by passing President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion relief package to get millions of people back to work sooner.
In an interview with the PBS NewsHour on Friday, Yellen said Biden's package should not be trimmed just because the February jobs report showed 379,000 new jobs had been created, the best showing since October.
At that pace it would still take the country more than two years to get back to full employment, she said. But with the administration's package, she said the country could see a return to full employment by next year.
“It is a big package but I think we need to go big now, and we can afford to go big,” Yellen said. “The most important thing is to get our economy back on track and to help people get their lives back in order to make sure this pandemic does not permanently scar our workforce.”
Yellen said the unemployment rate, which fell to 6.2% in February, was overstating the improvement in the labor force because it does not count the 4 million people who have stopped looking for work and have dropped out of the job market. She said the real unemployment rate is 10%.
After House approval last week, the Senate is now debating the $1.9 trillion relief package with supporters trying to keep Democrats on board in the 50-50 chamber since no Republican is expected to vote for the measure.
Asked about turmoil in U.S. financial markets over the past two weeks, as interest rates have started rising, Yellen said she does not view that development as a sign investors are starting to worry inflation is getting out of hand. She said the rise in rates is a sign that prospects for the economy are starting to improve as more people are vaccinated and Biden's...
Boeing CEO David Calhoun declined a salary and performance bonus for most of last year but still received stock benefits that pushed the estimated value of his compensation to more than $21 million, according to a regulatory filing Friday.
The aerospace giant struggled last year with the continuing fallout from two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jetliner and a downturn in demand for planes because of the pandemic. Boeing lost nearly $12 billion and announced plans to cut about 30,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition.
Calhoun, who became CEO in January 2020, received $269,231 in salary for the period before he disavowed his salary in March. He also got $289,715 in other compensation, mostly perks such as the use of company planes, retirement benefits and home-security expenses.
The company said Calhoun gave up about $3.6 million by declining most of his salary and a $2.5 million bonus.
But most of Calhoun's compensation — valued by Boeing at more than $20 million — came in the form of stock benefits that will vest in the next few years, assuming he remains CEO.
Those grants include $7 million worth of stock for returning the Max to service after it was grounded in 2019, $10 million worth of shares to compensate for pay he left behind at his previous job at The Blackstone Group, and $3.5 million in long-term incentive awards. All would vest over the next three years.
Calhoun, 63, was a longtime Boeing board member before being named CEO after the firing of Dennis Muilenburg in December 2019.
The Chicago-based company filed its proxy statement ahead of its April 20 annual shareholder meeting, which will be conducted online.
Shareholders will elect 10 directors. Pension funds in New York and Colorado are suing current and former board members and executives,...
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One of the notable financial investments an individual can have is owning a house. The idea of owning a home sounds exciting, but wait until you get to see the responsibilities of owning one.
Being a homeowner offers tremendous fulfillment but involves a great deal of work. Investing in a house requires you to make sure that you’re doing the proper maintenance and that you’re keeping it as up-to-date as possible.
Whether you are a new or long-time homeowner, you must know how to invest your time and money before settling because owning a house might either be an investment or a financial burden.…
The post Cash-Out Refinance: What Is More Than Owning A House appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
The current health crisis took the world by surprise. Less than two years ago, it was hard to imagine that some virus can spread all over the globe, changing the lives of millions of people. The level of disaster preparedness had been shallow, and, naturally, a public health system collapsed. But, today, the lesson is learned, so it’s time to improve our ability to deal with similar situations.
photo credit: Unsplash
Since technologies have played a fundamental role in the battle against COVID-19, healthcare software development companies should become crucial participants in most preparation initiatives.
Exoft has successfully completed a number of health-tech projects.…
The post How Can Technologies Prepare the World for the Next Health Crisis? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
2021 is when the world slowly recovers from the damage done by COVID-19. Businesses that have been affected by the lockdowns and changed scenarios need to refocus on marketing. With more people working from home, digital forms of marketing are more likely to succeed. One of the trusted ways of online marketing, namely email marketing is likely to be used more often.
There would be more than 4 billion email users by the end of this year. Reaching out to them through email is a great way for marketers to try to boost business.
QuickBooks is one of the most popular software products and has been used by thousands of businesses to automate their accounting operations. There used to be a time when companies refused to look beyond QuickBooks. This has changed now. Companies are now looking at cloud financial services as an option and are ready to ditch QuickBooks.
Why is it that companies are willing to ditch an accounting tool that was used to be their prime choice? What do cloud financial services offer as an alternative to QuickBooks? The article looks at the answers to these questions.
QuickBooks is a product meant for small and medium businesses.…
The post Why Companies Ditch QuickBooks for Cloud Financial Services? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
While you might think a personal injury lawyer would take on any case involving personal injury, that’s not the reality.
There are a few reasons they might turn down a case as there are certain criteria that must be met. This type of attorney, as defined on The Balance Careers, is a professional who assists people who have been hurt mentally or physically by a third party due to negligence or an intentional act. If they don’t feel like they can make a good case with their time and resources, they won’t take on the work.
However, here are a few reasons that they would likely take a case on without much or any hesitation.…
The post How Do Personal Injury Lawyers Select Their Cases? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
If you want to accelerate your business in the digital world, having a quality product isn’t just enough to get buyers that will last you long. The opener in every successful entrepreneur that’s been flourishing in e-commerce is marketing.
One of the core foundations of making yours successful is getting involved with your potential customers until you get them. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and you’re just starting, you must know the basics of marketing to let your business grow from scratch to a booming pursuit in e-commerce.
Let’s take a step back.
Electric Commerce or e-commerce is a field where entrepreneurs can sell, buy, or trade products over the Internet.…
Cybersecurity threats have been around since the internet was first launched but they’re far more sophisticated than they once were. Small businesses represent a lucrative opportunity for hackers, as their systems are usually relatively easy to gain access to.
If you want to protect your company and your customers, take a look at the three cybersecurity threats you need to look out for in 2021:
A distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack disrupts the flow of traffic to your website. In fact, it drastically increases the volume of traffic being directed towards your site, so much so that the server gets overloaded.…
CRM (or customer relationship management) tools are a mainstay of modern business practice – an essential component for keeping customers happy. Yet, there are still many companies out there that are not using them. And this is a problem. Those that aren’t engaging with CRM software are missing a simple and affordable trick to improve their customers’ experience and grow their brand.
The benefits of CRMs are quite extraordinary. Data suggest that using CRM boosts sales by more than 29 per cent and can increase productivity by more than 34 per cent. Furthermore, companies that invest in them get back more than $8.71 for every dollar they spend.…
The post What are The Benefits of Using a CRM for Your Business? appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
The vendor risk landscape has evolved rapidly over the last few decades, with third-party relationship risk management becoming more and more difficult to manage as technology advances and the supply chain evolves into more of a supply web encircling the globe. A failure in one area of the web could mean failures all over the web, as happened when, in 2011, a tsunami devastated Japan and seriously rattled the global supply chain.
Now more than ever, it’s vital that you keep tabs on the risk levels of each of your third-party vendors. Without prudent vendor risk management, your company could find itself the victim of a vendor-related security breach, or liable for the criminal conduct of a vendor overseas.…
The post How to Protect Your Business with Vendor Risk Management appeared first on SMALL BUSINESS CEO.
Trios Health is moving its birthing center to Southridge, a move that speeds up plans to transform the former Kennewick General Hospital into a detoxification and recovery center for Tri-Citians facing drug addiction and mental health disorders. If everything comes together, the birthing center and Two Rivers Rehabilitation Center both will open by mid-2022. …
The post New $22M Trios birthing center speeds up plans for recovery center appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
A cookie shop featuring a weekly rotating menu of more than 120 specialty flavors is opening next month in Richland. Crumbl Cookie plans its grand opening the week of March 24, with an official grand opening day on March 26, which is a free cookie day. The dates are tentative and could change depending on construction, inspections and permitting. The new store will serve its cookies at 2665 Queensgate Blvd. in…
Jersey Mike’s Subs will open its first Tri-City shop at Vintner Square in Richland this fall. A company spokesman confirmed the New Jersey-based sub chain will open at 2729 Queensgate Drive in the third quarter. It is expected to open in a strip mall anchored by Starbucks and Bath and Body Works. Fans currently…
The post Jersey Mike’s opening first Tri-City sub shop in Richland appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
Tri-City construction topped the $1 billion mark in 2020, no thanks to the Covid-19 work stoppages, slowdowns and even a lingering shroud of smoke that bedeviled the construction industry. Overall construction dipped 13%, but homebuilding was a bright spot, according to figures compiled by the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities. Collectively, local building agencies issued…
The post Homebuilding pushes construction as commercial work lags appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
There is no way to dress it up: The Covid-19 pandemic battered – and continues to batter – the Tri-Cities Airport’s business. Its years-long record of passenger growth collapsed in 2020, which recorded 188,959 boardings, 57% fewer than 2019. The news was bad, but Airport Director Buck Taft said he felt duty bound to report…
The post Tri-Cities Airport holds line as traffic falls by more than half appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
The former Sports Authority store at Kennewick’s Columbia Center will reopen this spring as Veterans Warehouse Thrift Store, the second outpost for a Wenatchee nonprofit focused on supporting homeless and struggling veterans. Operation Veterans Assistance & Humanitarian Aid is converting the 40,000-square-foot retail space into a full-service thrift store that will sell furniture, clothing,…
One of the region’s largest farm operations has hired a Nevada firm to restructure its multimillion-dollar business as it navigates a stunning claim it falsified records for 200,000 cattle and a subsequent bankruptcy. Easterday Ranches Inc. of Pasco hired Paladin Management Group LLC in a sign the Easterday board is looking to preserve the business.…
The post Easterday hires restructuring team to negotiate phony cattle claims, bankruptcy appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
Wallula paper mill fined $28,500 for air pollution The Packaging Corporation of America’s Wallula paper mill has been fined $28,500 by the Washington Department of Ecology for air pollution released from the facility’s wastewater treatment plant. The Wallula mill is required to reduce emissions from its wastewater treatment plant to comply with federal air quality…
As the Covid-19 pandemic passes the one-year mark, it is natural to look for light at the end of the tunnel. That could be premature if the data we see on our screens is to be believed. The news about the Covid-19 variants is grim. The rollout of the new vaccines has been rocky. State-mandated…
The post The economy looked pretty grim until we hit the streets appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.
British historian Thomas Macaulay famously said, “The best government is one that desires to make the people happy and knows how to make them happy.” That standard is clearly not what people are experiencing in Washington state. For years, leaders in state government have been increasing the tax burden and imposing ever-tighter regulations that limit…
The post U-Haul’s yearly move-out report shows surge leaving Washington state appeared first on Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business.