US deaths from COVID-19 pass 300,000

The death toll from the COVID-19 in the United States has crossed 300,000 on the same day the first vaccines against COVID-19 were administered in the country. The country is hardest hit by virus across the globe in terms of number of deaths and cases.

According to a report by Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 16 million cases confirmed in the US, where the total population is approximately 300 million.

Experts say the death toll is a serious reminder to follow restrictions despite optimistic inoculation outlook.

There is a surge in infections as the US enters its coldest months.

The healthcare workers on Monday received the freshly-authorized Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 shot. About three million doses are being shipped across the US, and are expected to arrive at more than 600 sites by Wednesday.

The first shots on Monday was the beginning of the largest vaccination campaign in American history. If a second vaccine, produced by Moderna Inc, is authorized in the coming days, officials say 20 million people could be vaccinated by month’s end.

The head of the White House’s vaccine program said that everyone in the country who wants the vaccine should be able to get it by halfway through 2021 if development, approval, and distribution goes according to the plan.

Health experts have warned that the initial doses of the vaccine will not be enough to cut the current surge, which has threatened to overrun healthcare systems in several areas.


Investigation identifies Russian officers who tailed Navalny before poisoning

An undercover team working for Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) followed opposition leader Alexei Navalny on more than 30 trips to and from Moscow starting in 2017 before he was poisoned in August, according to an investigation led by Bellingcat.

The Kremlin has denied having any role in the poisoning of Navalny, who is one of the most prominent domestic critics of President Vladimir Putin. But an analysis of “voluminous telecom and travel data” by Bellingcat suggests the poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok “was mandated at the highest echelons of the Kremlin.”

“This investigation is particularly important due to the legal vacuum in which no country other than Russia — the country implicated in the assassination attempt — has offered its jurisdiction for an official investigation into Navalny’s near-fatal poisoning,” writes Bellingcat, an open-source journalism website that also identified the Russian officers behind the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal in the U.K.

In addition to detailing specific movements and calls made by the officers believed to be involved in the poisoning, Bellingcat’s investigation also notes that Russia is operating a clandestine chemical weapons program operating under the cover of an FSB investigative unit.

Bellingcat found the attack was the result of years of stalking that began at least a month after Navalny’s 2017 announcement that he would contest against Putin in presidential elections the next year.

The investigation names two Russian doctors working with at least five FSB operatives who flew with Navalny at least 30 times over three years, and perhaps tried to poison him at least once before the August attack.

Some FSB agents traveled to the hospital in the city of Omsk where Navalny was admitted after the poisoning.

“Believe me when I say discovering Russia has a long running nerve agent based assassination programme targeting its most well known opposition figure was as much a shock to me as it is to you. How can governments across the world ignore this?” Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins tweeted.


Cuomo, de Blasio warn NYC to prepare for ‘full shutdown’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday said that the city could soon be facing a “full shutdown” and that the city needed to “get ready” for such an event as COVID-19 spread is high.

In a press conference with reporters, he referenced remarks by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who warned that a new shutdown could be coming.

“The governor said in a New York Times interview over the weekend that we should prepare for the possibility of a full shutdown,” de Blasio said. “I agree with that, we need to recognize that that may be coming and we’ve got to get ready for that now because we cannot let this virus keep growing especially at a moment we are finally getting the vaccine and can turn the corner.

On Sunday, the mayor’s office announced that there had been 206 hospitalizations, above the city’s 200 threshold, while there were 2,209 new cases and a seven-day average positivity rate of 5.53%.

On Friday, Cuomo had pointed recent growth in metrics and said, “If you extrapolate out at this rate of growth, you could be looking at the shutdown of New York City within a month.”

De Blasio spoke as a new shutdown of indoor dining in the city, announced by Cuomo last week and backed by the mayor, went into effect. Restaurants had been permitted to resume indoor dining at 25% capacity on Sept. 30 after months of being shut down, but that was ended on Monday with no indication they would reopen in near future.

De Blasio described the vaccine being administered in NYC, as a “shot of hope.” Sandra Lindsay, RN, a critical care nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center was the first to receive the shot.

The vaccines will go to health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities before the country enters the next phases of distribution.

“We are not done yet with the coronavirus. So let’s celebrate today. Let’s be hopeful. It is a shot of hope. Let’s be clear. It’s not just a shot in the medical sense. It’s a shot of hope,” he said. “But we have to keep fighting this virus in the meantime. So we remain vigilant. We’re going to have a tough December, a tough January.”


Google’s services went down for about an hour

Google’s services went down for about an hour Monday in a huge outage that restricted many people from watching YouTube videos, accessing their Google Docs or sending email on Gmail.

The outage also made Google Classroom temporarily unavailable, denying many students learning remotely from accessing their classes.

A little after 8 am ET, most of Google’s services came back online. The company’s workspace status dashboard had been red across the board, with every single Google service indicating an outage. Later Monday morning, they turned green, indicating that they’re operating normally.

“We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support,” Google said in a statement.

Google said it will work toward restoring its apps for the remaining people who are still unable to access them, but the problems should largely be resolved.

Downdector reported that millions of users were denied the usage of google and its apps.

Internet services fail due to number of reasons like incorrect installation, server errors etc. The most recent outage took place in September for Google.


75 infected with COVID-19 after Santa visits nursing home in Belgium

Santa Claus spreads more than good cheer at a nursing home in Belgium, with his visit leaving at least 75 people infected with COVID-19, according to a report.

The alleged super-spreading St. Nick was one of the first to fall sick after his visit to the Hemelrijck care home in Antwerp just a week ago, followed by 61 elderly residents and 14 staff, officials said.

“It was made with the best intent, but it went wrong,” the Mayor of Mol, Wim Caeyers, said of the visit, calling it “a very black day for the care home.”

“It is a very great mental strain to bear for the man that played Saint Nicholas, as well as for the organizers and the staff,” Caeyers said.

“It will be all hands on deck during the coming week,” he said of trying to limit the outbreak.

Staff initially insisted that Santa, who was reportedly the son of one of the residents, wore a mask and adhered to safety protocols, as did those who met him. However, photos of the meet-and-greet quickly proved that to be untrue, the mayor told.

Jannes Verheyen, a representative for Armonea, the company that runs the care home, told that everyone was “shocked” at what happened.

“It makes no sense to condemn people,” he said, with staff instead “motivated” to control the virus’ spread.


Stacey Abrams rejects comparison between her refusal to concede and Trump

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams rejected charges from Georgia’s secretary of State comparing her refusal to concede after her 2018 defeat to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to President Trump‘s refusal to do the same.

In an interview, Abrams responded to an op-ed penned by Brad Raffensperger (R), in The Wall Street Journal calling Trump’s refusal to concede to President-elect Joe Biden straight out of “the Stacey Abrams playbook.”

In his op-ed, Raffensperger said that Abrams had “refused to concede, announced that she would launch major litigation against Georgia’s election system, and began collecting hundreds of millions of dollars from donors convinced the election had been stolen from her” following her defeat to Kemp.

Abrams pushed back against that assertion, noting that hundreds of thousands of voters were purged from state voter rolls before her race went to the ballot box.

“First and foremost, he’s never listened to what I said,” Abrams said of Raffensperger’s argument.  “I said that the election was stolen from Georgia voters because, under the previous secretary of state, Brian Kemp, millions of voters were…1.4 million voters were purged from the rolls, thousands of voters were denied the right to vote because of [voter registration processes].”

Abrams went on to dismiss any comparison between herself and the president, who she argued was working to disqualify voters from having their voices heard. Her own efforts, she argued, were centered around voter registration efforts in Georgia and fighting against Republican efforts to purge voter rolls.

“There is absolutely nothing commensurate between what I have done and what Donald Trump is trying to do,” said Abrams. “My mission has been very clear since I was 17. And that is expanding access to the right to vote for those who are entitled to vote in our country, and especially in the state of Georgia. What Donald Trump is arguing is that he only wants to count the votes that he likes. He wants to restrict access to the right to vote and restrict who gets to be heard in our country. That is not at all what I’m pushing for.”


Sony has started refunding unhappy Cyberpunk 2077 fans playing on PS4

Sony is reportedly refunding Cyberpunk 2077 players annoyed with the game’s performance on PS4 even past the typical two-hour playtime limit.

A quick glance at the hashtag “Cyberbug2077” exemplifies the type of performance concerns and crashes players are facing, but base PS4 users, in particular, seem most affected, as detailed in Digital Foundry’s analysis that discusses the “exceptionally poor performance” on PS4 and Xbox One.

“I had to file a support claim online and sit on hold for over an hour to speak with someone, however they were quick to issue the refund and then delete the game off my library,” a player said.

The post also alleged that Sony was “issuing a business complaint to CDPR about the issues”, but there’s no confirmation of this claim.

“Spent an hour on the phone after being denied by Chatbot and I got my refund!” added another player. “Shout out to u/SirPanic12 for the advice on mentioning the game crashing and not being able to progress further. That’s pretty much all I had to say.”

Not all have been so lucky, though. While it appears some refunds have been secured, others are being denied. The OP later returned to the thread to confirm they had already removed the game from their PS4, deleted their save data, and “dealt with customer service in a calm professional manner”.


Perdue blasts ‘out of state’ money as Georgia Senate spending expected to hit $500M

Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., criticized his Democratic opponent on Sunday for taking money from out of state as analysts predict the twin Georgia Senate runoffs could become the most expensive races in history.

“Well, who would believe that you could spend a half a billion dollars in two Senate seats in one state, but it might happen,” Perdue said. “In my general election, my opponent, just like Kelly Loeffler’s opponent, most of their money is coming from out of state, mostly California and New York.”

“We just resent that to some degree down here because we don’t want people from outside the state coming down here  and trying to dictate what we’re going to do,” he continued.

Perdue is facing Democrat Jon Ossoff, while Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., is facing Rev. Raphael Warnock.

According to a report 96% of money raised by Ossoff and Warnock through Democratic fundraising platform ActBlue came from out-of-state donors, including $25.8 million from California and $10.6 million from New York.

Perdue and Loeffler aren’t too far behind that percentage with 92%. But controlling for population shows that Georgians are the Republicans’ top donors, while Democrats’ biggest donors were from Washington, D.C.

The Democrats are comfortably beating the Republicans in the fundraising game, and many celebrities have gathered to help the Democrats.

Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist Stacey Abrams is reportedly holding weekly briefings for Hollywood managers, agents and entertainment executives on how they can best help Democrats win in Georgia.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kerry Washington and John Legend are among the heavyweights organizing to help Ossoff and Warnock win their races.

“This race has become a national race so this is everybody in the country, Democrats and Republicans, trying to weigh in here to get the majority in the Senate,” Perdue said on Sunday. “If we keep the majority we not only hold a line against the Democratic agenda but we also protect the gains that we made under President Trump over the last four years.”

More than $280 million was spent on the 2020 Senate race in North Carolina, making it one of the most expensive Senate races in U.S. history.


New lockdown measures will come into force from Wednesday to stem the spread of coronavirus in Germany

Germany will impose lockdown, starting next week and continuing through the Christmas period, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday, after agreeing to stricter measures with state governments to restrict a wave of coronavirus cases.

As of next Wednesday, all non-essential shops, services and schools will close until January 10, and Christmas Day gatherings will be cut from 10 people to only five from two different households.

This week, Merkel made an impassioned plea for Germans to limit their social contacts ahead of the holidays: despite the country’s respected health system and early success in containing the virus, a recent partial lockdown has failed to stop the second-wave spike. Germany reported record daily deaths on Friday, with 598 fatalities recorded in a 24 hours.

The new measures are aimed at traditional festivities: Christmas church services will be subject to prior registration with no singing allowed, alcohol is to be banned from all public spaces and an annual New Year’s Eve fireworks display will be canceled. Some states are also taking further steps, such as Bavaria, which will have a 9 p.m. curfew.

German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has promised economic help for all businesses shattered by the lockdown.


Users complain of missing message alerts in iOS 14

Many iPhone users are having problems receiving notifications from Messages in a timely manner in iOS 14, with users not being informed via an alert or a red badge that there are unread messages waiting for them.

The problem, which seems to have been restricted to the iPhone 12 range of devices running on iOS 14 at first, has risen to affect a considerable number of people using other models of iPhone. An Apple support forum post titled “iOS 14 text notification issues” from September 19 currently has 43 pages of replies, and has been tagged with “I have this question too” by 5,265 users.

The errors mostly have the same symptoms, where users don’t see the banner on the lock screen, no notifications when messages come through, and no red dot indicator on the Messages app to show there are unread communications. Despite various attempts to fix the issue in different ways, ranging from restarting the iPhone to resetting it completely, and even to changing settings on other Apple hardware capable of receiving iCloud-synchronized messages, there doesn’t seem to be a solution to the problem.

An update for iOS 14.2.1 did address some MMS issues, but didn’t rectify the entire problem. Users have also complained about group messages, where some messages failed to come through while others arrived in a timely fashion.

An expected rollout of iOS 14.3 in the coming days may offer a bug fix, but it seems unlikely one will arrive with that release.