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Regional News • Americas • United States
Disneyland theme parks in California plan to reopen on April 30
Tomorrowland at Disneyland
Tomorrowland at Disneyland Credit: Justin Brown (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Walt Disney's two theme parks in California will reopen on April 30 to a limited number of guests. The company announced on Wednesday, over a year after they closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The resort includes the original Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure theme parks.

Visitors aged 2 and up will need to wear masks, except when eating, drinking or swimming, and following other safety measures, including temperature checks before entering and social distancing on rides and throughout the parks.

Technology • Internet & Web
Report: Only 111 accounts are responsible for vast amount of anti-vaccination disinformation among US Facebook users
Report: Only 111 accounts are responsible for vast amount of anti-vaccination disinformation among US Facebook users
Credit: Illustration: Pendect, Ashley Winkler. (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

According to documents obtained by The Washington Post from an internal investigation at Facebook, 111 users were responsible for half of all anti-vaccination content on the U.S. part of Facebook. Besides, there might be a significant overlap between communities that are sceptical of vaccines and those affiliated with QAnon.

Facebook spokeswoman Dani Lever has stated that "Public health experts have made it clear that tackling vaccine hesitancy is a top priority in the COVID response, which is why we’ve launched a global campaign that has already connected 2 billion people to reliable information from health experts and remove false claims about COVID and vaccines,"

Technology • Internet & Web
Match Group to introduce background checks to its dating platforms
Match Group to introduce background checks to its dating platforms
Credit: Tinder

The internet and technology company Match Group is rolling out a background check feature to its dating platforms in the United States in cooperation with Garbo – a female-founded and non-profit background check platform "designed to help proactively prevent gender-based violence in the digital age". Match will offer the service to its users later this year on its dating platforms, including Tinder, PlentOfFish, OkCupid and Hinge.

“For far too long women and marginalized groups in all corners of the world have faced many barriers to resources and safety,” said Tracey Breeden, Head of Safety and Social Advocacy for Match Group. “We recognize corporations can play a key role in helping remove those barriers with technology and true collaboration rooted in action. In partnership with Match Group, Garbo’s thoughtful and groundbreaking consumer background check will enable and empower users with information, helping create equitable pathways to safer connections and online communities across tech.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
Deb Haaland confirmed as first Indigenous US cabinet secretary
Deb Haaland confirmed as first Indigenous US cabinet secretary
Credit: United States Congress Natural Resources Committee, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In a 51 to 40 vote, the US Senate confirmed Deb Haaland as secretary of the interior on Monday, making her the first Native American cabinet member.

"The historic nature of my confirmation is not lost on me, but I will say, it is not about me. Rather, I hope this nomination would be an inspiration for Americans -- moving forward together as one nation and creating opportunities for all of us," Haaland said during her confirmation hearing.

Health
First baby born with Covid-19 antibodies after mother receives vaccine
Representative image
Representative image Credit: unsplash.com / Aditya Romansa

After her mother was vaccinated against Covid-19, a baby girl was born with antibodies that fight the coronavirus in Florida in the eastern United States.

The girl's mother was 36 weeks pregnant when she received the first dose of the antidote developed by the Moderna laboratory, to which she agreed because she was on the front line of the fight against the pandemic. The baby girl was born three weeks later, in late January.

"As far as we know, this is the world's first reported case of a baby born with covid-19 antibodies after her mother's vaccination," said Paul Gilbert, a pediatrician. Gilbert and Chad Rudnick, also a pediatrician, will publish a scientific paper on the matter, they said in an interview with Palm Beach television station WBPF.

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • TV & Movies
Oscars: Two women nominated for Best Director for the first time
Oscars: Two women nominated for Best Director for the first time
Credit: @nomadlandfilm, via Instagram

For the first time in its 93-year-history, two women have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director: Chloé Zhao's Nomadland and Emerald Fennell's Promising Young Woman. Only five women have ever been nominated for this award.

Zhao is also the first Asian woman nominated for Best Director. She recently made history by being the first Asian woman to win the Golden Globe for Best Director. Nomadland is also nominated for five other Oscars, including Actress in a Leading Role (Frances McDormand), Best Screenplay (Chloé Zhao), Cinematography (Joshua James Richards) and Film Editing (Chloé Zhao).

Regional News • Americas • United States
Minneapolis will pay George Floyd's estate $27 million after city council votes to settle lawsuit with family
George Floyd mural
George Floyd mural Credit: Lorie Shaull (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The city of Minneapolis will pay the estate of George Floyd $27 million. The city council on Friday unanimously voted to settle a lawsuit with his family. Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, said that he would return the settlement millions if it meant he could see his brother again.

"I thank the state of Minnesota for getting this settlement taken care of," he said. "But even though my brother is not here, he's here with me in my heart. Because if I could get him back, I would give all of this back.

Science • Medicine
Novavax vaccine up to 96% effective in UK trial
Novavax vaccine up to 96% effective in UK trial
Credit: Novavax

American vaccine development company Novavax said its Covid-19 vaccine has shown a 96% efficacy against the original Coronavirus strain and a 86% efficacy against the more potent UK strain B117 in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United Kingdom. The vaccine has also shown to be 100% effective against severe Covid-19 infections.

Trials are still running in the United States, and the company will apply for US emergency use authorization as soon as those trials are complete.

Stanley Erck, Novavax's president and CEO, said that the company was "very encouraged by the data".

“We are very encouraged by the data showing that NVX-CoV2373 not only provided complete protection against the most severe forms of disease, but also dramatically reduced mild and moderate disease across both trials. Importantly, both studies confirmed efficacy against the variant strains,” so Erck. “Today marks one year since the WHO officially declared the COVID-19 pandemic, and with this data in hand, we are even more motivated to advance our vaccine as a potential weapon in the fight to end the suffering caused by COVID-19.”

Regional News • Americas • United States
Biden says all US adults eligible to be vaccinated by May 1
Biden says all US adults eligible to be vaccinated by May 1
Credit: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In his first primetime address to the nation, President Joe Biden announced that he has directed all states, tribes and territories to make all adults eligible for Covid-19 vaccines by May 1.

"I will not relent until we beat this virus. But I need you, the American people. I need you, I need every American, to do their part," Biden said. "I need you to get vaccinated when it's your turn and when you can find an opportunity. And to help your family, your friends, your neighbors get vaccinated as well. Because here's the point, if we do all this, if we do our part, if we do this together -- by July the Fourth, there's a good chance you, your family and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day. ... After this long hard year, that will make this Independence Day something truly special."

Regional News • Americas • United States
Female aid accuses Cuomo of groping
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

An unidentified woman has accused New York governor Andrew Cuomo of groping her, the newspaper Times Union of Albany reports. Cuomo allegedly "reached under her blouse and began to fondle her". She is the sixth woman who came forward.

"As I said yesterday, I have never done anything like this. The details of this report are gut-wrenching. I am not going to speak to the specifics of this or any other allegation given the ongoing review, but I am confident in the result of the attorney general’s report," Cuomo responded. He has denied all allegations so far.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Merrick Garland confirmed as US Attorney General by Senate
Garland with Biden and Obama in 2016
Garland with Biden and Obama in 2016 Credit: Chuck Kennedy for The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee US Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland as Attorney General with a 70-30 vote. Garland, who was previously nominated for the Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama, will oversee the US Department of Justice.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US to order 100m additional Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doses
US to order 100m additional Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine doses
Credit: The White House, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The United States Department of Health and Human Services is going to purchase 100 million additional doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, so President Joe Biden on Wednesday. It's yet unclear when those doses will be available.

"There is light at the end of this dark tunnel of this past year, but we cannot let our guard down now or assume victory is inevitable. Together we're going to get through this pandemic and usher in a healthier and more hopeful future," Biden said.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US House passes $1.9tn Covid relief bill, Biden to sign it on Thursday
US House passes $1.9tn Covid relief bill, Biden to sign it on Thursday
Credit: unsplash.com/Bermix Studio

The US House of Representatives voted 220 to 211 to pass the $1.9tn Covid relief bill on Wednesday and, according to press secretary Jen Psaki, President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill on Thursday.

Kyle Griffin from MSNBC tweeted that "President Biden will sign the American Rescue Plan in the Oval Office TODAY. The Vice President will attend."

Regional News • Americas • United States
Charges against Breonna Taylor's boyfriend permanently dropped

The charges of assault and attempted murder of a police officer against Kenneth Walker, Breonna Taylor's boyfriend, were permanently dropped on Monday. On March 13, three policemen entered Taylor's apartment on a search warrant and Walker fired a shot, injuring one police officer's leg thinking they were intruders.

"After the worst year of [Walker's] life, prosecutors have finally acknowledged that he did nothing wrong and acted in self-defence," so Walker's lawyer Steve Romines. "He looks forward to continuing the fight to hold the real wrongdoers accountable for the harm that they've caused. Both he, individually, and our community, as a whole, cannot begin the process of healing until that happens."

Technology • Internet & Web
Hackers tap into 150,000 security cameras in the US
Hackers tap into 150,000 security cameras in the US
Credit: unsplash.com / Siarhei Horbach

Hackers have tapped into 150,000 US company surveillance cameras in hospitals, prisons, schools and police stations, among other places, according to a media report. Companies such as the electric car manufacturer Tesla and the IT security firm Cloudflare were also affected, as the financial service Bloomberg reported on Wednesday night. For example, the hackers would have shown footage from Tesla's Shanghai site. The Californian start-up Verkada, from which the cameras originated, told Bloomberg in an initial reaction that it was investigating "the extent of the potential problem".

Regional News • Americas • United States
Arkansas passes new law, banning nearly all abortions
Arkansas passes new law, banning nearly all abortions
Credit: HAL333 / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The state of Arkansas has passed a legislation, banning almost all abortions in the state. Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson said he signed the law due to "overwhelming legislative support and my sincere and long-held pro-life convictions" after voicing concerns over the bill not including certain exceptions for certain cases. The new law only allows abortion if a mother's life is at risk.

“(The ban) is in contradiction of binding precedents of the US supreme court, but it is the intent of the legislation to set the stage for the supreme court overturning current case law,“ Hutchinson said. “I would have preferred the legislation to include the exceptions for rape and incest, which has been my consistent view, and such exceptions would increase the chances for a review by the US supreme court.”

Arts, Entertainment, Culture • Celebrities & Public Figures
Billionaire MacKenzie Scott has remarried
Billionaire MacKenzie Scott has remarried
Credit: Courtesy of The Giving Pledge

The writer MacKenzie Scott has married again. Her husband is Dan Jewett, a teacher from Seattle. The couple made the marriage public in a letter to the Giving Pledge organization. MacKenzie Scott was married to Jeff Bezos for 25 years, one of the first employees of his Amazon company, during which time she helped build the mail-order company. In 2019, the couple separated.

With the divorce, Scott received four percent of Amazon shares, then worth about $38 billion. She announced she would donate most of the fortune to charity.

Business • Jobs & Careers
Google recommended mental health care when company workers complained about racism and sexism
Google logo
Google logo Credit: Google

NBC News reports that Google advised employees in the US who complained about racism and sexism to take medical leave and undergo mental health counselling.

One former staff member, Benjamin Cruz, has said that they had complained to the company HR in 2019 after being told by a colleague that their skin was much darker than the co-worker expected. Google HR urged Cruz to take medical leave and tend to their mental health before moving to a new company role. Cruz went on medical leave and hoped to take the company up on its offer for a new position but was turned down from every role they applied for, so they were forced to quit.

Google denies wrongdoing and said it "rigorously" investigates complaints.

Regional News • Americas • United States
US Senate passes $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill, House Democrats plan final approval Tuesday
The US Capitol building
The US Capitol building Credit: Mark Fischer (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The US Senate has voted, 50 to 49, to approve the $1.9 trillion relief bill on Saturday, and will now head to the House of Representatives. The Democratic-held House aims to pass the bill on Tuesday and send it to President Joe Biden for his signature before a March 14 deadline to renew unemployment aid programs.

Republicans senators opposed another major spending plan, contending the state of the economy does not warrant it.

Regional News • Americas • United States
Disneyland and baseball stadiums to reopen in California
Tomorrowland at Disneyland
Tomorrowland at Disneyland Credit: Justin Brown (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The California Department of Health gave Walt Disney’s Disneyland and other theme parks the go-ahead to reopen, limited to 15% and 35%, from April 1, after a closure of almost a year coronavirus pandemic. Masks and other safety measures will be required, and the parks initially will be open only to state residents.

Authorities also announced that outdoor stadiums and ballparks would also be allowed to reopen at reduced capacity on the same date.