SYDNEY (AP) — Sydney’s northern beaches will enter a lockdown similar to the one imposed during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March as a cluster of cases in the area increased to 41.
From late Saturday afternoon until midnight Wednesday, residents will only be permitted to leave their homes for five basic reasons: medical care, exercise, grocery shop, work or for compassionate care reasons.
Elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region:
— Long lines snaked around coronavirus testing sites in the South Korean capital of Seoul, as the country reported another 1,053 cases, the fourth straight day of over 1,000. The viral resurgence has raised questions about the government’s handling of the outbreak.
Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You” returns to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart.
Plus, Jose Feliciano’s “Feliz Navidad” hits the top 10 for the first time, 50 years after its original release.
Mariah Carey‘s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” returns to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart, rising from No. 2. The song, first released on Carey’s album Merry Christmas in 1994 and which first reigned for three weeks last holiday season, adds its fourth total week atop the Hot 100, tying for the most time at No. 1 among holiday hits in the chart’s 62-year history.
The carol is one of a record-tying five Yuletide songs in the Hot 100’s top 10, joined by Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree,” Bobby Helms’ “Jingle Bell Rock,” Andy Williams’ “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” and, in the top 10 for the first time, 50 years after its original release, Jose Feliciano‘s “Feliz Navidad.”
As we’re waiting for word on the authorization of a second vaccine for use in the US, glitches have been striking the distribution of the first through the federal government’s “Operation Warp Speed.” This week, the US saw the first use of the vaccine developed by a Pfizer/BioNTech collaboration. But immediately afterward, many states started saying that orders for shipments in the ensuing weeks were being cut. After some in the federal government had indicated that the problem might be in production, Pfizer issued a statement indicating that it had doses in its warehouse ready to ship out but no indication of where to ship them to.
All in all, it’s about what you’d expect in the first weeks of a massive undertaking like this.
One of the first states to report problems was Illinois, where its governor, J.B. Pritzker, said that it had indications it would only be receiving half the expected doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine next week. Since then, over a dozen states have indicated that they’ll be receiving fewer doses than planned in the second week
Drug dealers used to have the mantra “Don’t get high on your own supply.” Maybe movie stars should live by the credo “Dolittle — just don’t do it.” The 1998 reboot was merely another middling Eddie Murphy comedy, but this Robert Downey Jr. remake achieves the staggering feat of being much, much worse than the fabled, creaky-boned 1967 Hollywood musical debacle. Is the problem the charmless critters? The ungodly mess of a story? Or the mechanical whimsy of Downey, who barely talks to the animals because he’s so busy talking to himself? All of the above. “Dolittle” is a movie that’s more excruciating than the sum of its frenetic yet lifeless kiddie-blockbuster parts.
2. The Last Thing He Wanted
The first mistake made by the gifted filmmaker Dee Rees (“Mudbound,” “Pariah”) was deciding to adapt one of Joan Didion’s worst forays into fiction: her 1996 tale of a Washington Post reporter who becomes an arms dealer for the U.S. government. The second mistake was to bold-face every only-in-a-Didion-novel twist and contrivance, and to have Anne Hathaway, Ben Affleck, and Willem Dafoe chew on the turgidly incoherent espionage dialogue as if they were acting in some breathless political noir. The result is a movie that gets so lost in the thickets of its pretension that you need a machete to cut through it.
3. I’m Thinking of Ending Things
used to create lyrically spiky head trips that teased your brain and heart at the same time. Now he makes sodden puzzles that don’t quite add up because they’re too busy telegraphing their cantankerous oddity. His latest trip down the rabbit hole of scrubby dream logic centers on a morose geek (Jesse Plemons) who’s too gnarled to connect to anyone, from his girlfriend (Jessie Buckley) to his Samuel Beckett sitcom parents (David Thewlis and Toni Collette) to the audience. But the spirit of disconnection is mother’s milk to Kaufman, and “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is a depressive half-baked Twilight Zone — it’s all about the janitor! yeah, keep telling yourself that — that unravels before your eyes.
4. Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
There are bad movies everyone hates and bad movies some people like (like “Ishtar” or “Xanadu”), and there’s no question that Will Ferrell’s I’m-an-idiot Nordic songfest burlesque has its cult of fans, who view it as an ironic expression of pop sincerity. Yet what about the jokes — as in, all of them — that just lie flat and sit there, like something on a plate of warm herring? Or the way that the movie can’t decide if Ferrell and Rachel McAdams, as an Icelandic duo who stumble into the Eurovision Song Contest, are bad singers, so-bad-they’re-good-singers, or good singers? The movie doesn’t satirize the annual Europop competition so much as it presents it, as if its very existence were funny. It’s not.
5. Guest of Honour
Atom Egoyan keeps masticating his old tropes — noodgy inspectors and disreputable bus drivers, secrets within mysteries within flashbacks, sexual indiscretion with a minor — in this jaw-droppingly convoluted and unconvincing family melodrama, which is centered around a restaurant that serves fried bunny-rabbit ears. Both the dish and the movie are supremely unappetizing, yet Egoyan, whose best films (“The Sweet Hereafter,” “Felicia’s Journey,” “Chloe”) now seem a world away, is increasingly content to play in Egoyan World, a jungle gym of ludicrous contrivance.
It started with a large vehicle that got stuck in the deepening snow. That minor incident grew into a monster snow-covered traffic jam as more than 1,000 cars became stranded on a highway that runs between Tokyo and the city of Niigata along the Sea of Japan coast.
The snarl began Wednesday night, local news sources reported.
“The snow was extremely heavy,” one driver told the public broadcaster NHK. “As time went by, the cars got buried. I was really scared. I’ve eaten all of my food and drinks. Now, to drink water, I have to melt snow I collect in a plastic bottle.”
Heavy snowfall in recent days, especially in the Niigata and Gunma prefectures, blanketed some areas with more than 6 feet of snow. NHK reported that these prefectures have seen seven times more snow than they typically do at this point at this time of year.
“I hardly slept, and I was worried because I had absolutely no information (about the situation),” a 48-year-old man, who had been driving to his home near Tokyo, told Kyodo News.
For a time, traffic was stopped in both directions. Lanes bound for Niigata were cleared by Friday morning, while about 260 vehicles on the Tokyo-bound lanes were still stuck as of 7 p.m. local time Friday, Kyodo reported.
The East Nippon Expressway Co. said it could be Saturday before all the cars are cleared.
HARRSBURG, PA — A potential millionaire is running out of time to become one. Pennsylvania Lottery officials are warning that a winning Powerball ticket worth $1 million that was sold in Washington County will expire in January.
The unclaimed winning ticket was sold by the Sheetz on Racetrack Road in Washington, Washington County. The ticket matched all five white balls drawn, 20-24-38-56-68, but not the red Powerball 18, to win $1 million.
A prize claim must be filed with the lottery by Jan. 18, lottery officials said.
Congress voted to prevent a government shutdown for two days while lawmakers try to finalize a coronavirus relief agreement.
Congress voted Friday to prevent a government shutdown for two days, sending a temporary funding measure to President Donald Trump.
Federal funding will lapse at 12:01 a.m. ET on Saturday if Washington fails to approve a spending bill. The stopgap measure would keep the government running through Sunday until 12:01 a.m. ET Monday morning while congressional leaders try to finalize a full-year funding and coronavirus relief package.
Trump will have hours to sign the bill before government funding expires.
Once Trump approves the measure, Congress will once again find itself on a tight deadline. The House will meet again on Sunday at noon ET and will not vote earlier than 1 p.m. The Senate will return at 11 a.m. ET Saturday and will likely address nominations.
Senators including independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Republican Josh Hawley of Missouri had warned they could delay approval of a spending bill as they lobby for leadership to include a $1,200 direct payment in a pandemic aid package. Neither lawmaker followed through on the warning.
Before the Senate unanimously passed the spending bill, Sanders said he would “object to any attempt” by the chamber to pass a full-year spending plan without also approving a pandemic relief package that includes “substantial direct payments.”
Hawley earlier tweeted that he would not block the legislation after top Republicans assured him a final relief deal would include “direct assistance to working people.” Lawmakers are expected to include $600 payments, down from the $1,200 checks approved as part of the CARES Act in March.
With Justice Amy Coney Barrett anchoring a new, arch-conservative majority of justices, Chief Justice John Roberts is no longer the one in power.
In the first major public act of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court, the majority ruled against New York attendance restrictions to religious services to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Barrett’s arrival in the seat held by Ruth Bader Ginsburg means the chief’s vote is no longer necessary if conservatives are seeking expansive rulings in the cultural and social issues that matter to them.
If Georgia’s legislature comes into special session and votes to ditch the tabulation system of Dominion Voting Systems in the January 5th Senate runoff, it could be the rock that starts an avalanche to de-certify the results of the November election in Georgia and the other swing states that used Dominion to count their votes:
Los Angeles is now the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is the most infected county of the most infected state in the most infected country in the world.
In the pandemic’s spring wave, New York held that distinction — and it still is the state to have seen the largest single daily number of deaths. But given that the tally of daily cases and hospitalizations continue to skyrocket in L.A. and the fact that ICU availability was 0% in Southern California on Thursday, Los Angeles is unfortunately catching up.
On Thursday, another 14,418 Covid-19 infections were confirmed in L.A. County. The new cases lifted the countywide cumulative total to 581,519. In a county of 10 million people, that means 1 in 20 residents has had the virus.
Even more shocking, Los Angeles County is now seeing more daily cases than entire countries, including onetime hotspots such as Spain, Mexico, Poland and Portugal.
L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti revealed Thursday evening that city testing results were “seeing a seven-day positivity rate of an alarming 19.6%. Some of our sites have a positivity rate as high as 30%,” he said. For L.A. County, the seven-day rate was 13.7%.”For comparison, at the very beginning of the pandemic, California-at-large had a 40% test positivity rate. But that was when the state was conducting about 2,000 tests a day. And since lower testing numbers tend to produce higher test positivity rates, for L.A. to have 19.6% test positivity even as it is now delivering nearly 41,500 tests a day is frightening.
In the past week, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties have, respectively, registered 1,415 and 1,102 average daily cases per million residents. Those are the highest rates in the country among counties with at least 1 million residents. Riverside County has the fourth-highest daily cases per million. That data is per an aggregator of government statistics used by the CDC called USAFacts.
A potential House vote on who will be seated in an ongoing Iowa House congressional race could have far-reaching political ramifications for another Iowan.
Democrat Rita Hart said she’ll petition the U.S. House of Representatives to ultimately decide who won her congressional contest against Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District. It was the closest House race in the nation, with Iowa certifying Miller-Meeks as the winner with a margin of just six votes.
If the Democratic-led House decides to hear Hart’s case, then that could kick off a scenario where all members of Congress would have to cast a vote on whether Hart should be seated as the official representative in the 2nd District.
It’s happened before. House Democrats voted in 1985 to seat a fellow Democrat who initially lost an Indiana House race by 418 votes under the state-certified results. But Indiana Democratic incumbent Frank McCloskey petitioned the House and a months-long congressional investigation and recount determined that McCloskey won the election by four votes.
Now Democrats — holding a razor-thin majority in the House — could be faced with a tough political predicament of deciding whether to let the Iowa results stand or vote to overturn them if a congressional recount comes out in favor of Hart.
A new poll of likely voters found that a potential vote could have electoral ramifications for Iowa Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne of the neighboring 3rd Congressional District.
The fight over a seat on the Energy and Commerce panel carries implications for policy and power in the next Congress.
Rep. Kathleen Rice has captured a prized seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee after a contentious showdown with fellow New Yorker, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Rice and Ocasio-Cortez have been battling behind the scenes for weeks to secure one of the few open seats on the exclusive committee, which oversees everything from health care policy to climate issues. Tensions spilled into the open Thursday in a private meeting of the Steering and Policy Committee, where Democrats were forced to choose between the two members in a tense — and awkward — secret ballot vote.
The tech company said that 80% of those victims are in the US while the rest are in seven other countries: Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Spain, the United Kingdom, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
“It’s a certainty that the number and location of victims will keep growing,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith, who added that the company has worked to notify the affected organizations.
Microsoft’s analysis represents the clearest and most specific assessment yet of the scope of the damage caused by the hacking campaign, which was secretly conducted through a third-party software program sold by SolarWinds, an IT management firm.
A Pittsburgh man wanted on homicide charges for allegedly killing a woman in November was apprehended Thursday in Seattle.
Terrence Washington, 36, was arrested without incident by a U.S. Marshals Task Force, Seattle police and the King County Sheriff’s Department, reported Phil Cornelious, chief deputy U.S. marshal of the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Washington was wanted on charges of criminal homicide and firearms violations in connection with the Nov. 10 killing of Makeida Thompson in East Liberty.
More than 100 local veterans were the Pittsburgh area’s first nursing home residents to get the COVID-19 vaccine, the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System said Thursday.
VA Pittsburgh said the vaccine was provided to every eligible veteran who wanted it in the community living center at the H. John Heinz III campus.
The healthcare system said vaccinations for front-line health care workers have also begun.
“VAPHS is one of the first 37 VA sites across the country selected to provide the vaccines for its ability to vaccinate large numbers of people and store the vaccines at extremely cold temperatures,” the VA Pittsburgh said in a news release.
Following a comprehensive review of the JCPenney retail footprint, we announced several phases of store closures in 2020, part of our store optimization strategy that began in June and included plans to close up to 200 stores throughout our financial restructuring.
While store closure decisions are never easy, our store optimization strategy is intended to better position JCPenney to drive sustainable, profitable growth. We will continue to operate the majority of our stores and our flagship store, jcp.com, to ensure our valued customers continue to have access to the products and brands they need and want. Please check for helpful FAQ and an updated list of closing locations.
The attack was so widespread and potentially catastrophic, the DHS’s cyber wing issued an emergency directive that stated the only way to mitigate damage was to airgap devices and uninstall affected Orion software. Meanwhile, SolarWinds filed an update with the SEC detailing the extent of the damage. It was limited, but only if you consider 18-33,000 potential infections “limited.” It’s only a small percentage because Solarwinds’s customer base is so large. The company boasts 300,000 customers, among them several government agencies and all five branches of the military. (It’s not boasting much these days. It has memory-holed its “Customer” page during this trying time.)
Unfortunately, the directive from CISA was delivered a bit too late. CISA itself was compromised by the hack, something acknowledged by the DHS less than 24 hours after its dire directive was issued.
The fallout from this hacking — which may have begun as early as March of this year — will continue for a long, long time. But this latest news — delivered by Zack Whittaker — adds another layer of irony to the ongoing debacle. Orion is Solarwinds’ one-stop shop for IT software. It promises to secure customers’ IT infrastructure by bundling in the company’s network security products.
No doubt the company claims to take security seriously. But while users are being subjected to password requirements that demand them to utilize most of the alphabet and multiple shift key presses, internal security isn’t nearly as restrictive. Here’s the “OMFG are you goddamn kidding me” news via Reuters, which first broke the news of the malicious hacking.
Security researcher Vinoth Kumar told Reuters that, last year, he alerted the company that anyone could access SolarWinds’ update server by using the password “solarwinds123”.
All five branches of the military. The NSA. The IRS. The USPS. DHS. The Treasury Department. Nearly every Fortune 500 company. All ten of the top ten telcos. The list goes on and on. And with this access, attackers could move laterally, using compromised credentials to eavesdrop on mutuals of targeted entities. And all of this “secured” by a password so simple an idiot could have created it.
Rostraver, Pa. — A woman from Westmoreland County was facing charges after police said she coughed on bottles and employees at a Rostraver liquor store.
Leona Warman, 69, of West Newton, walked into the store on Dec. 9, pulled down her mask, and yelled, “I have COVID-19,” according to court documents obtained by our news partners at TribLIVE.com. She’s accused of then coughing on or near four store employees and touching around 300 bottles.
Employees called police, who arrested Warman in the store, according to TribLIVE.com.The bottles had to be removed from the store, causing a more than $5,000 loss, according to court documents.Warman is facing several charges, including reckless endangerment and violating a state health order aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus.She has a preliminary hearing scheduled, March 8.
(CNN)An alarming new alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber arm Thursday revealed that Russian hackers suspected of a massive, ongoing intrusion campaign into government agencies, private companies and critical infrastructure entities used a variety of unidentified tactics and not just a single compromised software program.
Specifically, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said it has determined that the SolarWinds Orion software vulnerability disclosed earlier this week is not the only way hackers compromised a variety of online networks — warning that in some cases, victims appeared to have been breached despite never using the problematic software.
The news will likely only compound already escalating concerns about the scale and scope of the data breach, which CISA said Thursday “poses a grave risk” to networks across both the public and private sector.
New York (CNN)Fox News personalities came after Bill Gates on Tuesday for comments he made during a pandemic-focused interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper over the weekend.
“Bars and restaurants in most of the country will be closed as we go into this wave,” Gates said to Tapper during a “State of the Union” segment on December 13. “And I think, sadly, that is appropriate.”
In response to Gates’ comments, Fox News host Charles Payne said: “Here’s the question for Bill Gates. What sacrifice is he making?”
Payne pointed to Gates’ wealth, adding that the billionaire is “still one of the richest people in the world because he actively engages in ways of staying in the top tier of rich people in the world.” The Microsoft co-founder is currently the world’s third-richest person, with a net worth of $130 billion, according to Bloomberg.
Russia has test-fired an anti-satellite missile in its pursuit to turn space into a “warfighting domain,” the U.S. Space Command announced Wednesday.
“Russia has made space a warfighting domain by testing space-based and ground-based weapons intended to target and destroy satellites,” U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson — the leader of the Space Command — said in a statement. “This fact is inconsistent with Moscow’s public claims that Russia seeks to prevent conflict in space.”
A flood of mail and online holiday purchases is overwhelming the U.S. shipping system. An estimated 6 million packages a day are being left stranded, sitting idle in retailers’ warehouses or shipping centers and awaiting pick up by FedEx, UPS, Amazon, U.S. Postal Service and other shippers.
That’s according to estimates from ShipMatrix, a software company that helps retailers and others track shipments and that collects data on millions of packages sent from over 100,000 locations in the U.S. Another 2.5 million packages are being picked up daily but are not reaching their destinations on time, the data show. “Our entire industry is underwater because of the demand,” said Satish Jindel, president of ShipMatrix. Friday will likely be the last day consumers can ship things by regular mail so they arrive by Christmas, he said.
PITTSBURGH —PennDOT has lifted the speed limit restrictions that were put in place Wednesday when snow was hitting the Pittsburgh region.Speed limits were reduced to 45 miles per hour on all interstates and several other routes.
Steve Cowan, spokesperson for PennDOT District 11, told Pittsburgh’s Action News 4 crews still have work to do on secondary roadways, shoulders, ramps, gore areas and turning lanes.
He said PennDOT will keep its full complement of trucks out until the work is finished.
Tucker Carlson has once again made fun of Jill Biden’s title, mocking the incoming first lady’s educational achievements and disparaging her husband, President-elect Joe Biden.Two days after The Tucker Carlson Tonight anchor said she referred to herself as Dr. Jill Biden because of “status anxiety” and likened her honorific to “Dr Pepper”, he delivered a seven-minute monologue on the theme on Wednesday.
With what seemed to be with his tongue in his cheek, Carlson described an elaborate scenario in which a patient on the brink of death does not receive treatment from a medical professional, but instead is given a “slide show on ethnic diversity in Delaware’s community college system,” referring to the topic of Jill Biden’s doctoral dissertation.
Claiming that he had read the “embarrassing” dissertation, Carlson said it contained “typos everywhere” and accused her of being “borderline illiterate.”
“Jill Biden’s doctoral dissertation is our national shame,” he said, before claiming that there were passages with numerical errors. Perhaps acknowledging that he had gone too far, he added: “OK, we’re being cruel there.”