Josh Jackson (Detroit Pistons) with an and one vs the San Antonio Spurs, 04/22/2021
Josh Jackson (Detroit Pistons) with an and one vs the San Antonio Spurs, 04/22/2021
THE HAGUE, Netherlands — As coronavirus infections decline in parts of the world and the summer holiday season tentatively begins, the Dutch government has eased travel restrictions for a group of popular vacation destinations. Among the countries with a lower risk of infections that can be visited starting Saturday are Portugal, Malta, Ireland, Thailand, Rwanda, the former Dutch colonies of Aruba, Curacao and Sint Maarten and a large group of Greek islands. They previously were designated code orange, meaning the government advised only traveling there if it was urgently necessary. The Greek mainland and Crete remain under code orange. The destinations are now yellow code, meaning Dutch travelers can visit without having to undergo a COVID-19 test and go into self-isolation on their return. However, the foreign ministry is stressing that travelers still have to adhere to local rules and restrictions in the countries they visit, which can include showing a negative coronavirus test and self-isolating on arrival. ___ THE VIRUS OUTBREAK: — States, business sort out what new CDC mask guidance means — Cuba rolls out mass vaccines while awaiting study results — The unwitting are the target of COVID-19 falsehoods online — A video promoting tourism in Turkey amid the pandemic has caused an uproar on social media for showing tourism employees wearing masks that read “Enjoy, I’m vaccinated.” — Japan is further expanding a coronavirus state of emergency from six areas, including Tokyo, to nine as the government repeated its determination to hold the Olympics in just over two months. — Southern European countries are racing to reopen their tourism services despite delays in rolling out a planned EU-wide travel pass. ___ Follow more of AP’s pandemic coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic and https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-vaccine ___ HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING: TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwan has raised the COVID-19 alert level for the capital Taipei and the surrounding area of New Taipei city following its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. The level 3 alert announced Saturday requires people to wear a mask outdoors and limits indoor gatherings to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10 people. The alert remains in effect for two weeks. Health authorities said that 180 new locally spread cases had been confirmed through Friday, the majority in Taipei and New Taipei. The daily number of new cases had risen steadily from single digits early this week to 29 before the triple-digit jump announced Saturday. “The epidemic is gaining intensity,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said, while noting that more cases are being identified as authorities hone in on hot zones. Movie theaters, museums, indoor swimming pools and amusement parks were among the places ordered closed under the level 3 alert, as were community colleges and senior citizen activity centers. ___ NEW DELHI — India’s two biggest cities have reported a drop in daily infections but the government is warning that the devastating surge is spreading in rural areas, where nearly two-thirds of India’s 1.4 billion people live. India reported 326,098 new confirmed cases and 3,890 deaths in the past 24 hours, though experts say both figures are an undercount. The Health Ministry had reported 343,144 cases on Friday and 362,727 on Thursday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday warned people to take extra precautions as the virus was spreading fast in rural areas. He said the government was mobilizing all resources, including the military. News reports say hapless villagers have been rushing the sick to nearby towns and cities for treatment because health care facilities are limited in the countryside. India’s capital has reported less than 10,000 new cases in a day for the first time in over a month. It recorded 8,506 cases in the past 24 hours. After a peak of 11,000 daily infections, Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, has been reporting less than 2,000. ___ SANTA FE, N.M. -- New Mexico has adopted guidance on facemasks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says fully vaccinated Americans no longer need to wear masks indoors or outside in most cases. Under revisions Friday to the state’s emergency public health order, masks are no longer required of fully vaccinated people in many public settings, though businesses and workplaces may still make face coverings a requirement for all. Public schools are still bound by universal mask requirements with allowances for meals, as the state gradually relaxes aggressive restrictions on public gatherings and some business operations. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said that getting vaccinated is crucial to a safe future, with the statewide vaccination rate recently surpassing 50% for eligible residents 16 and over. “We are close and getting closer. But that all depends on New Mexicans continuing to protect themselves and their community by getting vaccinated,” she said in a statement. ___ JUNEAU, Alaska — Alaska legislative leaders have voted to make mask-wearing optional at the state Capitol and then shed their own face coverings after the vote. The decision by the Legislative Council followed new guidelines the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The council is composed of House and Senate leaders. Under the new policy, masks are optional in legislative facilities, with some exceptions. For example, lawmakers can require masks in their respective offices. The policy also further eases testing rules. ___ BATON ROUGE, La. --Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards has further eased the state’s mask requirements. Edwards largely dropped the state mask mandate on April 27, but there were exceptions. Friday’s order drops the requirement for entry into state office buildings for people who are fully vaccinated. Masking is still required by the state in educational facilities from early childhood classes to universities, and at state correctional facilities and health care facilities. New Orleans, which had a tougher mask mandate than the state’s, also did away with the mask mandate for fully vaccinated people Friday, with similar exceptions. ___ Word from federal health officials that vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks in most situations may be leading to confusion among travelers. Masks are still required under a Transportation Security Administration rule that will run into mid-September unless it is revoked before then. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates airlines, felt the need to remind passengers of the TSA rule. It issued a statement late Friday to “remind the traveling public that at this time if you travel, you are still required to wear a mask on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.” ___ NEW YORK — Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said Friday that it won’t require vaccinated shoppers or workers to wear a mask in its U.S. stores, unless state or local laws say otherwise. Vaccinated shoppers can go maskless immediately, the company said. Vaccinated workers can stop wearing them on May 18. As an incentive, Walmart said it is offering workers $75 if they prove they’ve been vaccinated. Walmart said it won’t ask shoppers if they’ve been vaccinated. Workers, however, will need to tell the company if they’ve been vaccinated in order to go maskless. ___ JUNEAU, Alaska — The acting mayor of Anchorage says Alaska’s largest city is revoking its mask mandate, starting May 21. Acting Mayor Austin Quinn-Davidson’s office says masks no longer will be required in indoor or outdoor settings but that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 are encouraged to wear masks. The decision follows guidance released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday for people who are vaccinated. Quinn-Davidson’s office says applying a mask mandate only to those who are not vaccinated in Anchorage would have created enforcement challenges and issues for businesses. Meanwhile, in Juneau, city officials ease mask wearing rules for people who are fully vaccinated. ___ LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas’ capital city is dropping its requirement to wear a mask to combat the coronavirus following loosened federal guidance and a new state law that will ban local mandates, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott said Friday. Scott said the city’s mask mandate will end Saturday, though private entities, hospitals and churches can still enforce their own requirements on employees and patrons. People entering City of Little Rock indoor facilities will still be required to wear a mask, the mayor said. “We strongly encourage residents to continue wearing face coverings in public until we reach the desired vaccination rate in our city, as outlined by healthcare professionals,” Scott said in a statement. The decision comes a day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased mask-wearing guidance for fully vaccinated people, allowing them to stop wearing masks outdoors in crowds and in most indoor settings. Arkansas dropped its mask mandate in March, but the governor allowed local governments to enforce their own. A new state law, however, takes effect in July that will ban any state or local mandates. ___ ATLANTA — Georgia’s 26 public universities and colleges do not currently plan to require students, faculty or staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the fall, according to guidance issued by the University System of Georgia. The 340,000-student university system in March asked all campuses “to plan for resuming normal operations for the Fall 2021 semester.” Thursday’s guidance says fully vaccinated people won’t have to socially distance or wear masks, while unvaccinated people “are strongly encouraged to continue” socially distancing and wearing a mask inside. The universities are supposed to make sure vaccinations are available, but schools won’t be “responsible for assessing current COVID-19 vaccination rates for their institution.” The university system said it had made the decisions in concert with the state Department of Public Health and that they were subject to change. The Board of Regents insisted on at least some in-person instruction in the fall and spring semesters. Those moves came despite resistance from some employees. The Associated Press
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JERUSALEM (AP) — Early Friday, just after midnight, the Israeli military put out an ominous statement to the media: “IDF air and ground troops are currently attacking in the Gaza Strip.” The vaguely worded statement set off frenzied speculation that Israel had launched a ground invasion of Gaza — a much-feared scenario that would mark a bloody escalation of this week’s operation against Hamas militants. Some reporters were even told outright the incursion had begun. Hours later, the military issued a “clarification.” There were no troops inside Gaza. But by then, several major news outlets had erroneously reported the ground offensive was under way. While the army attempted to play down the incident as a misunderstanding, well-placed Israeli military commentators said the media had been used as part of an elaborate ruse to lure Hamas militants into a deadly trap that may have killed dozens of fighters. “They didn’t lie,” said Or Heller, a veteran military correspondent on Israel’s Channel 13 TV. “It was a manipulation. It was smart and it was successful.” This is how it unfolded: Late on Thursday, after days of airstrikes, Israel announced it was calling up thousands of reservists and amassing troops along the border ahead of a possible ground invasion. In another sign of escalation, Israel began firing artillery shells across the border at targets inside Gaza, according to residents. In previous rounds of fighting, ground incursions have resulted in widespread destruction in Gaza and heavy casualties on both sides. That set the stage for the late-night deception. According to Heller, Israel began scrambling forces along the border in what appeared to be final preparations for an invasion. Then came the announcement to the media, issued simultaneously in Hebrew and Arabic on Twitter. There followed alerts in major outlets, including the New York Times, that the invasion was under way. The Israeli moves sent Hamas fighters rushing into defensive positions in an underground network of tunnels known as “the Metro,” according to Heller and other Israeli reports. Israel called in 160 warplanes and bombarded the tunnels for 40 minutes, the military said. Heller said it was his understanding that scores of militants had been killed, though he said it was impossible to say. “What we saw tonight was a very sophisticated operation that had a media aspect to it,” Heller said. Hamas has not commented on the incident, and it was impossible to confirm the Israeli reports. Heller said veteran Israeli correspondents, who have close ties to the military and in many cases have served themselves, knew that there was no way Israel was sending troops across enemy lines at this stage. Heller and other military correspondents even put out statements on Twitter assuring the jittery public that there was no ground operation. The Associated Press, based on its analysis of the army’s statement, phone calls to military officials and on the ground reporting in Gaza, concluded there was no ground incursion and did not report there was one. But others said the military had misled them or even lied when asked to clarify the initial statement and its ambiguous use of the word “in.” Some felt the foreign media had been turned into an accessory of sorts. Felicia Schwartz, correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, said she alerted news of a ground offensive after receiving explicit confirmation from Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesman. In a statement posted on Twitter, she said Conricus “told me directly, `There are ground troops in Gaza.’ That was the basis for a first story saying so. He retracted that statement two hours later and I changed the story to reflect that, and that is noted in the text and will be corrected.” Speaking to reporters on Friday morning, Conricus blamed an “internal miscommunication.” “These things can sometimes happen in the midst of a complex operation with many moving parts and with an unclear picture of what was happening,” he said. “As soon as I understood that I had the wrong information, I updated the relevant people with a clarification.” But some correspondents still had questions. “If they used us, it's unacceptable. And if not, then what's the story — and why is the Israeli media widely reporting that we were duped?” said Daniel Estrin, NPR's correspondent in Jerusalem, who was also told by the military that an invasion had begun. Militaries around the world have long used deception and trickery against their enemies. Two years ago, the Israeli military reportedly faked the injuries of soldiers at the scene of a Hezbollah missile strike, going so far as to evacuate them in bandages to a hospital in a helicopter. According to reports at the time, the army staged the injuries to trick Hezbollah into thinking it had inflicted casualties and therefore agree to a cease-fire. Friday’s misleading statement further strained what has often been a rocky relationship between the IDF and the foreign media. Peter Lerner, a former military spokesman to the foreign media, said the Israeli public in general has long felt the international media focus too heavily on the Palestinian side of the story while minimizing Israeli concerns and suffering -- and the army is similarly inclined. Lerner said he felt it was unlikely the military intentionally lied, but damage was done regardless. “Your currency is credibility,” he said. “I think this is a crisis of that credibility in the way it’s being portrayed.” Josef Federman, The Associated Press
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The six-wheeled robot has made the hazardous descent to the surface of the Red Planet, China announces.
Doctors are predicting that Netherlands defender Daley Blind will recover from injury and be ready for the European Championship, coach Frank de Boer said. The 31-year-old was included on Friday in a provisional squad that De Boer named for the tournament despite not playing since March, when he hurt both his ankle and knee in a World Cup qualifying win over Gibraltar. Blind had surgery to repair torn ankle ligaments, ruling him out of the rest of the Dutch league season, but is in line for a return next month.
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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — The island of Taiwan, which has had enviable success in containing COVID-19, imposed new restrictions in its capital city on Saturday as it battled its worst outbreak since the pandemic began. Authorities raised the alert level for Taipei, the capital, and the surrounding area of New Taipei city. The level 3 alert, which remains in effect for two weeks, requires people to wear a mask outdoors and limits indoor gatherings to five people and outdoor gatherings to 10 people. Health authorities said that 180 new locally spread cases had been confirmed, the majority in Taipei and New Taipei. That's more than the total of 164 cases previously confirmed for the entire pandemic period. The daily number of new cases rose steadily from single digits early this week to 29 before the triple-digit jump announced Saturday. “The epidemic is gaining intensity,” Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said, while noting that more cases are being identified as authorities hone in on hot zones. Movie theaters, museums, indoor swimming pools and amusement parks were among the places ordered closed under the level 3 alert, as were community colleges and senior citizen activity centers. Taiwan, a self-governing island of about 24 million people off China's east coast, has kept the coronavirus largely at bay. It has tallied 1,475 cases, mostly infected people who arrived from abroad, and 12 deaths. The total number of locally spread cases more than tripled in the past week to 344 from under 100 as of last weekend. The Associated Press
An envoy from the US has arrived in the city of Tel Aviv for de-escalation talks as the bloody violence between Israel and Palestine continues. Hady Amr, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, will take part in talks with the two countries and UN officials in the hope of agreeing on a ceasefire, the BBC reported. On Saturday Israeli fighter jets hit several targets in Gaza killing at least 12 Palestinians.
Boris Johnson has laid out a roadmap for England’s way out of lockdown
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — The hard-line cleric in charge of Iran's judiciary who also took part in a panel involved in the mass execution of thousands of prisoners in 1988 registered Saturday to run against for the country's presidency. Ebrahim Raisi has been named as a possible successor to Iran’s 82-year-old Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, leading some to suggest he wouldn’t run in the race. However, his registration shows he still has interest in the office he failed to obtain in 2017. His close ties to Khamenei and popularity in part from his televised anti-corruption campaign could make him a favorite in an election in which analysts already believe that hard-liners enjoy an edge. A crush of journalists followed Raisi through the Interior Ministry as he registered, the 60-year-old cleric waving to staffers as he passed. In a statement just before his registration, Raisi promised to fight “poverty and corruption, humiliation and discrimination” if he becomes president. He added his tenure in office would seek to have a “popular administration for a powerful Iran,” a dig at Iran's current president, the relatively moderate Hassan Rouhani. Activists, however, hold a far different view of Raisi over his involvement in the 1988 mass execution of prisoners at the end of Iran’s long war with Iraq. After Iran’s then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a U.N.-brokered cease-fire, members of the Iranian opposition group Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, heavily armed by Saddam Hussein, stormed across the Iranian border in a surprise attack. Iran ultimately blunted their assault, but the attack set the stage for the sham retrials of political prisoners, militants and others that would become known as “death commissions.” Some who appeared were asked to identify themselves. Those who responded “mujahedeen” were sent to their deaths, while others were questioned about their willingness to “clear minefields for the army of the Islamic Republic,” according to a 1990 Amnesty International report. International rights groups estimate that as many as 5,000 people were executed, while the MEK puts the number at 30,000. Iran has never fully acknowledged the executions, apparently carried out on Khomeini’s orders, though some argue that other top officials were effectively in charge in the months before his 1989 death. Raisi reportedly served on a panel involved in sentencing the prisoners to death. In 2016, members of the late Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri’s family put out an audio recording of him criticizing the executions as “the biggest crime in the history of the Islamic Republic.” Raisi has never publicly acknowledged his role in the executions, even while campaigning for president in 2017. He ultimately lost to Rouhani, though he still garnered nearly 16 million votes in his campaign. Khamenei appointed him as head of the judiciary in 2019. In 2016, Khamenei appointed Raisi to run the Imam Reza charity foundation, which manages a vast conglomerate of businesses and endowments in Iran. It is one of many bonyads, or charitable foundations, fueled by donations or assets seized after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution. These foundations offer no public accounting of their spending and answer only to Iran’s supreme leader. The Imam Reza charity, known as “Astan-e Quds-e Razavi” in Farsi, is believed to be one of the biggest in the country. Analysts estimate its worth at tens of billions of dollars as it owns almost half the land in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city. At Raisi’s appointment to the foundation in 2016, Khamenei called him a “trustworthy person with high-profile experience.” That led to analyst speculation that Khamenei could be grooming Raisi as a possible candidate to be Iran’s third-ever supreme leader, a Shiite cleric who has final say on all state matters and serves as the country’s commander-in-chief. Within Iran, candidates exist on a political spectrum that broadly includes hard-liners who want to expand Iran’s nuclear program, moderates who hold onto the status quo, and reformists who want to change the theocracy from within. Those calling for radical change find themselves blocked from even running for office by the Guardian Council, a 12-member panel that vets and approves candidates under Khamenei’s watch. Other candidates who registered Saturday include Ali Larijani, a prominent conservative voice and former parliament speaker who later allied himself with Rouhani. A clear candidate has yet to emerge within the reformists. Some have mentioned Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, though he later said he wouldn't run after a scandal over a leaked recording in which he offered frank criticism of the Guard and the limits of the civilian government’s power. At the same time Larijani registered, so too did Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, the eldest son of the late former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Rafsanjani, a member of Tehran's city council, has been described as a reformist by political commentators. Several other candidates have prominent backgrounds in the Guard, a paramilitary force answerable only to Khamenei. Hard-liners have increasingly suggested a former military commander should be president given the country’s problems, something that hasn’t happened since Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution and the purge of the armed forces that followed. Iran’s former hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also registered Wednesday. Though his attempt to run in 2017 ultimately was blocked after Khamenei criticized Ahmadinejad, this year the supreme leader has not warned him off. ___ Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report. Jon Gambrell, The Associated Press
The announcement was made via the Twitter handle of the School Education Department, Madhya Pradesh
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