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Covid US: Joe Biden promises ‘wartime effort’ to get vaccine to 100m

President Joe Biden on Thursday called for the nation to summon a ‘full scale war-time effort’ to beat back the coronavirus – but snapped when questioned about the ambition of his new 100 million-shot goal. 

Biden made the revealing comment as he signed new executive orders to speed vaccine delivery and called wearing a mask a patriotic duty, while touting his authority to use federal resources to scale up vaccine delivery. 

When asked by a reporter whether the 100 million-shot goal was sufficient, Biden shot back: ‘When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible. Come on, gimme a break man!’ 

Later, when pressed on the figure at a White House briefing, Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the figure.

She said the Trump administration was provided 36 million doses and pushed out 17 million shots, or about 500,000 per day.  

‘What we are proposing is to double that to about 1 million shots per day. We have outlined this goal and objective in coordination and consultation with our health and medical experts,’ she said.

While her numbers add up, what they don’t show is that the prior administration was already on a trajectory to boost the number of shots closer to the 1 million number, with shots per day jumping over 800,000 in the last five days before the inauguration, as more vaccine came online and as states and hospitals stepped up their efforts.

If the past week’s average trajectory were maintained, total vaccination would reach just short of 97 million in the 100 days since vaccines began on December 21, which is 31 days before Biden’s 100 million target. 

Meanwhile, some health experts have said even the 100 million goal may not be sufficient to the challenge. As Dr. Anthony Fauci told reporters Thursday, dangerous and fast-spreading mutations of the coronavirus are on the rise in South Africa and Great Britain – with the British strain already here.

Preliminary information is that it could be harder to stop with vaccine and with monoclonal antibody treatments – although Dr. Fauci said the rise of such strains made it even more important for Americans to get vaccinated and stop the spread of the virus. 

Speaking at the White House on his first full day as president, Biden pointed to the 400,000 deaths from COVID-19 so far – more than all of the military forces who died in all of World War II.

‘This is a wartime undertaking,’ he underscored, as he laid out efforts to deliver 100 million shots into Americans’ arms.

‘This is a wartime undertaking,’ said President Joe Biden as he signed actions to try to beat back COVID-19 Thursday

Daily vaccinations had already spiked in the days leading up to Inauguration Day

More than 16 million people got vaccinated by Inauguration Day. Biden wants 100 million shots distributed by the end of his first 100 days. But some experts say even that goal isn't enough to meet the challenge

More than 16 million people got vaccinated by Inauguration Day. Biden wants 100 million shots distributed by the end of his first 100 days. But some experts say even that goal isn’t enough to meet the challenge

‘Our national plan launches a full-scale wartime effort to address the supply shortages by ramping up production and protective equipment, syringes, needles, you name it,’ he said. ‘And when I say wartime, people kind of look at me like: wartime? Well as I said last night, 400,000 Americans have died. That’s more than have died in all of World War II – 400,000. This is a wartime undertaking,’ he added.

Biden borrowed a bit of pageantry from his predecessor, seating himself behind one of the same mini desks of the kind used by President Trump when he would sign executive actions, some more consequential than others – while frequently fielding questions and posting with his signature.

In Biden’s case, he used a different black pen for each order, then passing each one to an aide. Flanking him were Vice President Kamala Harris and coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci – a demonstration of his reliance on experts, after clashes between members of President Trump’s coronavirus team and controversial advisors.  

Biden brandished a mask and repeated his call for Americans to wear them. 

‘I’m asking every American to mask up for the next 100 days,’ he said.

‘It’s a patriotic act,’ he said, lamenting that mask use had become politicized.  

‘They’re more important than the vaccine,’ which takes time to work, he said.  

He also promised a devotion to science and experts.  

‘You’re going to hear a lot more from Dr. Fauci again – not from the president, but from the real genuine experts and scientists,’ he said.

The White House also released a 200-page plan outlining its effort. 

The series of executive orders and actions are intended to dramatically expand vaccine production and distribution – to push forward his goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in his first 100 days in office.

They came after he signed a federal mask mandate meaning that masks are now compulsory on all federal property. A second is set to follow today for all interstate travel including planes, trains and buses. 

The actions and orders are the beginning of an effort to revamp the administration’s policy to push out the vaccine, with 400,000 Americans already having succumbed to COVID-19, and new mutations already spreading in the country.

The plan will see 100 federal vaccination centers in large venues such as convention centers and stadiums and states reimbursed for setting up their own as well.

Some large cities are already setting up the centers, including in Miami, New York and Los Angeles, but 100 federal sites will spread the idea across the country. 

WHAT’S IN THE PLAN

  • Federal mask mandate on all federal land and property, interstate planes, trains, ferries and buses 
  • Target of 100 million shots in 100 days 
  • 100 new federal vaccination centers in stadium and convention centers
  • States paid to open their own mass vaccination centers, which some already have
  • Use Defense Production Act to order factories to make N95 masks, testing kids, vaccine ingredients and needles
  • Cover cost of deploying National Guard and for states to but emergency supplies
  • Set up Pandemic Testing Board to oversee testing
  • Federal guidance on when and how it is safe to reopen schools
  • Federal standards on how to make workplaces safer from COVID 
  • All international travelers have to provide negative test and self-isolate on arrival 
  • Rejoin the WHO
  • Regular briefings by experts such as Dr. Fauci
  • County-level CDC dashboard showing infections

And manufacturers will be ordered under the Defense Production Act to produce vaccine materials, from ingredients to needles, where there are shortages, as well as produce protective equipment such as N95 masks. 

One order would extend masking requirements for interstate travel on trains, buses and planes. 

Biden is also depending on Congress to provide $1.9 trillion for economic relief and COVID-19 response. There are a litany of complaints from states that say they are not getting enough vaccine even as they are being asked to vaccinate a broader swath of Americans. 

And he is ditching the Operation Warp Speed name, replacing it with a 200-page strategy and a new White House COVID coordinator, Jeff Zients. The Trump White House had no directly equivalent figure, with Mike Pence chairing the coronavirus task force.

The new head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, warned Thursday morning that claims from the Trump administration that vaccines would be in regular pharmacies across the country by mid to late-February were not going to happen.

‘Will it be in every pharmacy in this country by that timeline? I don’t think so,’ she told NBC’s Today show.

‘And as I said early on, I’m going to tell you the truth here. I don’t think late February we’re going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country.’

With a paradox of vaccine supply falling well short of demand but doses on the shelves unused in parts of the country – and many Americans ignoring guidance to avoid travel and social contacts – the Biden team wants to establish new vaccination centers across the country.

But the rollout of the existing doses as also been hit by problems. More than 35.9 million doses have been manufactured but just about half – 16.5 million – have been distributed, according to a CDC tracker.   

And in New York City officials were forced to reschedule 23,000 vaccine appointments this week alone. 

Wednesday marked the second deadliest day, according to COVID Tracking Project data. The deadliest 24 hours came on January 12, with 4,462 people dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university. 

America’s death toll is the highest in the world despite the country accounting for less than five percent of the global population. More than 24.1 million people have been infected since the pandemic began.    

‘First we’re going to create as many places as possible for people to be vaccinated,’ said Bechara Choucair, the new vaccine coordinator, on a call with reporters Wednesday.

The actions and orders are the beginning of an effort to revamp the administration’s policy to push out the vaccine, with 400,000 Americans already having succumbed to COVID-19, and new mutations already spreading in the country.

The actions and orders are the beginning of an effort to revamp the administration’s policy to push out the vaccine, with 400,000 Americans already having succumbed to COVID-19, and new mutations already spreading in the country. 

The United States recorded its second deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday with the deaths of 4,409 Americans.

  The United States recorded its second deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic Wednesday with the deaths of 4,409 Americans.

Wednesday marked the second deadliest day, according to COVID tracking project data. The deadliest 24 hours came on January 12, with 4,462 people dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university

Wednesday marked the second deadliest day, according to COVID tracking project data. The deadliest 24 hours came on January 12, with 4,462 people dead, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins university

‘It’s a liberating feeling to let the science speak!’ Dr. Fauci unloads on Trump saying ‘things were said that weren’t based on science

A liberated Dr. Anthony Fauci made it clear Thursday he’s happy to be working for President Joe Biden, taking a few pot shots at what it was like operating under Donald Trump. 

Fauci appeared in the White House press briefing room for the first time since this spring and revealed his true feelings on Trump.

He didn’t mention the former president by name but he was clear about the differences of work life in the Biden administration versus that under Trump’s.  

‘One of the new things in this administration is: if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Just say you don’t know the answer,’ he said, comparing his 24 hours working for Biden to his months of counseling Trump on the coronavirus pandemic.

‘One of the things that was very clear as recently as about 15 minutes ago, when I was with the president, is that one of the things that we’re going to do is to be completely transparent open and honest if things go wrong. 

‘Not point fingers but to correct them and to make everything we do be based on science and evidence. I mean that was literally a conversation I had 15 minutes ago with the president, and he has said that multiple times,’ he noted.

Given his new, free-speaking style, he was asked if there was anything he wanted to clarify or amend that he said during the Trump administration.

‘No, I mean I always said everything,’ Fauci said. ‘That’s why I got trouble sometimes.’ 

Dr. Anthony Fauci made it clear he's happy to be working for President Joe Biden

Dr. Anthony Fauci made it clear he’s happy to be working for President Joe Biden

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, let loose in his first appearance in the White House briefing room in months

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, let loose in his first appearance in the White House briefing room in months

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases made it clear he was not joking.

‘I was very serious about it, I wasn’t joking,’ said Fauci, who also serves as Chief Medical Adviser to Biden, when asked about his comments.

Fauci had a contentious relationship with Trump in the president’s final months in office. Trump wanted to focus on reopening the economy as Fauci and other medical experts wanted to keep stronger restrictions in place to keep the COVID virus from spreading.

And there was the famous face-palm moment. In March, as Fauci stood behind Trump at the podium in the briefing room, the doctor appeared to chuckle to himself before covering his face with his palm as Trump railed against ‘the Deep State Department.’

Fauci was sidelined by the Trump White House, rarely appearing in press briefings and kept from doing interviews with major news outlets.  He spread his message about COVID through local news interviews and podcasts. After Trump lost thje election 

Trump made his displeasure with Fauci known. He called him a Democrat and publicly mulled firing him although that would have been difficult as Fauci is a career federal employee. Fauci had to have a security detail due to death threats made to him and his family.

In reflecting on his relationship with President Trump, Fauci noted on Thursday he took no joy in contradicting the former commander in chief. 

‘It was very clear that they were things that were said, regarding things like hydroxychloroquine and other things like that. That really was an uncomfortable because they were not based on scientific fact, I can tell you I take no pleasure at all in being in a situation of contradicting the president,’ he said.

Trump took a dose of hydroxy in an effort to ward off the coronavirus – a practice many experts expressed doubt about. Trump ultimately got the virus and recovered. 

Fauci talked about the strain he felt giving briefings under President Trump such as this briefing in April, 2020

Fauci talked about the strain he felt giving briefings under President Trump such as this briefing in April, 2020

Fauci noted the strain he felt talking about the pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 Americans, while working under Trump. 

‘You didn’t feel like you could say something and there wouldn’t be repercussions,’ he said.

Of the new administration’s stance toward him, Fauci said: ‘It is somewhat of a liberating feeling.’

‘The idea that you can get up here and talk about what you know, what the evidence — what the science is, and know that’s it, let the science speak, it is somewhat of a liberating feeling,’ Fauci noted.

Fauci made his first appearance at Biden’s side on Thursday, when the president called for the nation to summon a ‘full scale war-time effort’ to beat back the coronavirus.

Biden also signed new executive orders to speed vaccine delivery and called wearing a mask a patriotic duty.

Fauci also revealed he’d gotten his second dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

‘I did. I had it on the 19th,’ he told reporters ahead of the president’s event in the State Dining Room.

‘I was hoping that I wouldn’t get too knocked out. I did for about 24 hours. Now I’m fine,’ he said. ‘Fatigued. A little achy. You know. Chilly. Not sick.’

The immediate goal is to stand up 100 new vaccination centers in a month, following reports of difficulties of getting vaccines out the door in many states, and the U.S. vaccination rate lagging other countries despite the two major vaccines already in distribution here.

Additional efforts will push vaccines into pharmacies, and expand deployments from the Public Health Service.

The push for 100 million would still fall short of what many experts say is needed to achieve ‘herd immunity,’ but the administration believes it will greatly slow the spread and start to bring infections down.

‘It’s an ambitious but achievable goal … but just the start,’ said Zients, Biden’s new COVID czar on a press call Wednesday.

One order would direct agencies to ‘exercise all appropriate authorities’ – including the Defense Production Act – ‘to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies needed for the COVID-19 response.’ 

Another would boost FEMA reimbursement rates for assisting states with their response. Another order aims to expanding testing supply and boost access to testing – with an aim toward getting people back to work and reopening schools.

Still another would seek to ensure drug studies ‘address the needs of diverse populations.’ Larger studies already seek to examine the effects on different minority groups. Some localities have already experienced disparities in communities that are getting the vaccine.

An executive order to the Education and Health and Services Departments will direct them to provide guidance on reopening schools ‘so state and local officials have metrics to inform decision-making.’ The administration wants a majority of schools open in 100 days.  

A new testing board will be tasked with developing a ‘clear, unified approach’ to testing.

The administration is also planning to provide more information to the public, with regular briefings from public health officials, after the Trump Administration first rolled out and then pulled back coronavirus task force briefings. 

Zients said the team he is overseeing will seek to restore trust with the American people. 

Wednesday marked a year to the day since the first case of the virus was recorded in the United States

 Wednesday marked a year to the day since the first case of the virus was recorded in the United States

New CDC Director says vaccines WON’T be available in pharmacies by mid-February 

Joe Biden’s new CDC Director on Thursday said COVID-19 vaccines will not be as widely available as the flu shot by mid-February, a promise that was made by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar last month, and that the roll out will take much longer.

Speaking on Today, Dr. Rochelle Walensky was unable to give a date for when the vaccines would be available in pharmacies and said the new administration has to put ‘the peddle to the metal’ to get them out to Americans faster. 

The Biden administration says fighting COVID-19 is its top priority and the President has vowed to vaccinate 100million Americans in his first 100 days in office. 

They have made sweeping promises to ramp up vaccine distribution. 

So far, they have made mentions of using medical students, medical military, retired doctors and nurses and sites like gymnasiums and community centers to bolster the vaccination program.  

Speaking on Today, Dr. Rochelle Walensky was unable to give a date for when the vaccines would be available in pharmacies and said the new administration has to put 'the peddle to the metal' to get them out to Americans faster

Speaking on Today, Dr. Rochelle Walensky was unable to give a date for when the vaccines would be available in pharmacies and said the new administration has to put ‘the peddle to the metal’ to get them out to Americans faster

Biden will open 100 large-scale vaccination sites to begin with and he will also order manufacturers to produce syringes, needles, masks or any of the missing elements that may be slowing down the effort under the Defense Production Act. 

Officials say the Trump administration had no clear plan and they have had to begin from ‘square one’.  

Walensky said on Thursday: ‘Will it be in every pharmacy in this country by that timeline? I don’t think so. 

‘And as I said early on, I’m going to tell you the truth here. I don’t think late February we’re going to have vaccine in every pharmacy in this country. 

‘We said 100 million doses in — the first in 100 days and we’re going to stick to that plan. But I also want to be very cognizant of the fact that after 100 days there’s still a lot of Americans who need vaccine.’  

She said a key part of the plan will be utilizing the new vaccines that are due to be approved. 

As of right now,  only Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines have been approved in the US. 

AstraZeneca’s has been approved in the UK but not yet in America.

Johnson & Johnson is due to have its vaccine data reviewed in the next ‘week or so’, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.  

 In October, Biden vowed to require masks on airplanes and on interstate transportation, but he did not take that action on Wednesday. The transportation order is expected Thursday, officials said. U.S. airlines, which have been requiring masks without a legal requirement for months, support Biden’s planned mandate.

Biden’s order Wednesday directs the CDC to ‘promptly develop … a testing plan for the federal workforce,’ adding it will be ‘based on community transmission metrics and address the populations to be tested, testing types (and) frequency of testing, positive case protocols.

The president said agencies may make exceptions to mask requirements, but must ‘require appropriate alternative safeguards.’

The Biden administration must implement new testing requirements for nearly all international air passengers that begin Tuesday, following a CDC order last week. Under the new rules, all U.S.-bound passengers age 2 and over must get negative COVID-19 test results within three calendar days of travel.

Biden’s team also announced it would reimpose entry bans on most non-U.S. citizens who have recently been in Brazil, the United Kingdom, Ireland and most of continental Europe after President Donald Trump, in one of his last acts in office, issued an order Monday lifting them effective the same day the new testing rules take effect. 

The strategy got an early boost from Amazon, which said it is offering its colossal operations network and advanced technologies to assist Biden in his vow to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations to Americans in his first 100 days in office.

‘We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration´s vaccination efforts,’ wrote the CEO of Amazon´s Worldwide Consumer division, Dave Clark, in a letter to Biden. ‘Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.’

Amazon said that it has already arranged a licensed third-party occupational health care provider to give vaccines on-site at its facilities for its employees when they become available.

Amazon has more than 800,000 employees in the United States, Clark wrote, most of whom are essential workers who cannot work from home and should be vaccinated as soon as possible. 

But the scale of the COVID epidemic is now so large that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that the total of dead Americans could reach 508,000 in less than one month – having only hit 400,000 this week.

Published Wednesday, the ‘ensemble’ forecast combines 37 independent forecasts of coronavirus deaths over the next four weeks into one projection.

The forecast predicts that between 22,500 and 23,300 deaths from the virus will be reported each week for the next four weeks. For the week ending February 13, the ensemble forecast projects that reported COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. will be between 17,000 and 29,300.

More than 38,000 Americans died from coronavirus in the first two weeks of 2021, and the numbers only appear to be increasing.  

Health experts said widespread vaccination could help curb the surge of cases, but rollout has been slow. 

In the nation’s largest city, New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio warned Wednesday that the city would run out of doses altogether by Friday. 

De Blasio heightened alarm about the city’s dire shortage of vaccines and called for something to be done to free up more doses at a press conference on Wednesday.  

At his own press conference, Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged shortages around the state and but shifted blame toward the federal government. 

Cuomo said that the state currently has just 145,780 doses remaining and warned that the supply would run out in a maximum of three days.   

Ford Lauderdale: The Inter Miami stadium in the Florida city is being used as a vaccine site. The Biden administration plans to expand such sites across the country

Ford Lauderdale: The Inter Miami stadium in the Florida city is being used as a vaccine site. The Biden administration plans to expand such sites across the country

In line: Drivers wait to get the COVID vaccine in the parking lot of the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

In line: Drivers wait to get the COVID vaccine in the parking lot of the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona

Line up at Yankees: New York City's biggest stadium is being used to immunize people - but the city faces running out of shots at the same time as other parts of the country have oversupply

Line up at Yankees: New York City’s biggest stadium is being used to immunize people – but the city faces running out of shots at the same time as other parts of the country have oversupply

Dodgers: In Los Angeles the parking lot of the baseball team's stadium is being used as a mass vaccination site

Dodgers: In Los Angeles the parking lot of the baseball team’s stadium is being used as a mass vaccination site

Staff and volunteers distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood. The Forum is one of five mass-vaccination sites that opened Tuesday in Los Angeles county

Staff and volunteers distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to people as they remain in their vehicles at The Forum in Inglewood. The Forum is one of five mass-vaccination sites that opened Tuesday in Los Angeles county

The Forum in Inglewood began vaccination distribution serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site, while also serving as a COVID-19 testing site. Amazon on Wednesday offered to put its vast operation to work helping President Biden get 100 million Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 in the next 100 days

The Forum in Inglewood began vaccination distribution serving as a COVID-19 vaccination site, while also serving as a COVID-19 testing site. Amazon on Wednesday offered to put its vast operation to work helping President Biden get 100 million Americans vaccinated against Covid-19 in the next 100 days

‘What is clear now is we’re going to be going from week to week – and you will see a constant pattern of, basically, running out, waiting for the next week’s allocation and then starting up again,’ he said. ‘We’re trying to smooth it out, but we’re also trying to get it out as fast as possible.’

The seven million New Yorkers currently eligible to receive vaccines are currently facing wait times of three months or more to get appointments. 

Cuomo has projected that it could be six months before all of those currently eligible get their jabs if the federal government doesn’t step in and increase supply.  

Just under 908,000 people in the state have received their first doses of the vaccine to date, representing 84 percent of the supply already provided by the federal government, Cuomo said. 

New York City was expected to surpass 500,000 vaccinations on Wednesday, de Blasio said, out of more than 940,800 delivered.  

A new distribution hurdle emerged on Wednesday, he said, when deliveries of 103,400 doses of the Moderna vaccine were delayed. 

‘We already were feeling the stress of a shortage of vaccine. Now the situation has been made even worse,’ he said. 

The city is aiming to reschedule appointments for the 23,000 people who had theirs canceled this week within the next week, Health Commissioner Dave Chokshi said. He noted that no second dose appointments were rescheduled, only first doses.   

Categories
Technology US

Pebble founder promises iMessage on Android and Windows with universal chat app

Beeper is a new universal chat app that’s an attempt to unify 15 different chat platforms into a single interface. The app is the work of a team that includes Eric Migicovsky, the CEO and founder of former smartwatch manufacturer Pebble, who announced its launch on Twitter. Beeper’s site notes that the project was previously known as NovaChat, and requires a $10 per month subscription.

Although Beeper integrates with world’s most popular messaging services like WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Slack, Twitter, Discord, Instagram, and Facebook Messenger, it’s the support for Apple’s iMessage that’s perhaps most interesting. iMessage is only officially available on Apple devices, and it’s often cited by users as something that prevents them switching to Android. Migicovsky says Beeper should allow iMessage to work on Android, Windows, and Linux, but admits that it’s “using some trickery” in doing so.

An FAQ on Beeper’s website gives a more in-depth explanation of exactly what this trickery involves. If you’ve got an always-online Mac, then you can install the Beeper Mac app to act as a bridge, similar to the approach AirMessage uses. But things get really wild if you don’t have access to a Mac, at which point Beeper says it’ll literally send each of its users a “Jailbroken iPhone with the Beeper app installed” in order to act as a bridge. At this point we should probably mention that using Beeper involves paying a $10 a month subscription, which may or may not include the cost of the iPhone.

Just in case you thought Beeper was joking, in a followup tweet, Migicovsky said that he currently has 50 old iPhone 4S’s at his desk, ready to be upcycled for use with Beeper.

If the workaround works as Beeper claims, then the result should be a universal chat app that works across MacOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, and Android, offering a unified inbox, and the ability to search across messages from each of the 15 services. It’s built on the open source Matrix messaging protocol (Migicovsky previously described NovaChat’s relationship to Matrix as akin to Gmail’s relationship with email), and although the client app itself isn’t open source, the bridges connecting it to other chat services are.

Oh, and there’s a dark mode coming in Beeper’s next update, naturally.

Beeper’s interface can include chats from multiple different services.
Image: Beeper

While the short-term aim is to make it easier to chat to people across different chat apps, eventually Migicovsky has talked about the prospect of everyone using Matrix itself to chat with friends and colleagues, rather than simply using it as a bridge between services.

Although Migicovsky says he’s been using Beeper as his default chat client for the past two years, it doesn’t appear to be widely available just yet. Instead, Beeper asks prospective users to fill out a form on its website for an invitation.

Here’s the full list of chat services that Beeper currently supports:

  • Whatsapp
  • Facebook Messenger
  • iMessage
  • Android Messages (SMS)
  • Telegram
  • Twitter
  • Slack
  • Hangouts
  • Instagram
  • Skype
  • IRC
  • Matrix
  • Discord
  • Signal
  • Beeper network

Categories
Canada

Parties in hotels: Minister Proulx promises to crack down

Calling the situation “unacceptable,” Tourism Minister Caroline Proulx on Monday promised to crack down on hoteliers who allow, or even encourage, illegal gatherings after curfews inside their establishment.

• Read also: Lévis: the police dismantle a party in a hotel

• Read also: Easy to book at the hotel to party

• Read also: An industry in agony with the pandemic

“What happens in some hotels […] This is not only unacceptable, but it must stop immediately, “said the minister in an interview with LCN.

While it specifies that delinquent hoteliers are “a minority”, health instructions were reminded of all establishments in the province earlier this week. And those who continue to tolerate the gatherings could be punished, Minister Proulx warned.

“We will make sure to crack down on those who allow gatherings which, I remind you, are illegal,” she promised, without however advancing on the measures that will be taken by Quebec to monitor or even reprimand the offenders.

A survey released over the weekend found that hoteliers caught by the throat of declining attendance are turning a blind eye to parties in their rooms despite tightening sanitation measures and imposing a curfew.

“I learned that the hotel industry uses all kinds of petty schemes to allow people to bypass [le couvre-feu]. It saddened me because I think that all industries must be part of the solution, because we have all made concessions, “said Dr. François Marquis on our airwaves a few days ago.

The leader of the Parti Québécois, Paul St-Pierre Plamondon, believes that while the vast majority of Quebecers show immense sacrifices, this laxity could have a “discouraging” effect on the population.

“It is surprising that we have reached this late in January and that this situation is not the subject of a more organized intervention by the police and clearer directives from the government”, regrets- he does.

Categories
Technology US

Samsung Display promises thinner laptop bezels with unproven under-screen webcams

Samsung Display has released a teaser for its under-screen camera technology meant for laptops, dubbed “Samsung Blade Bezel,” on its Weibo page. It promises that its “UPC” (Under Panel Camera) tech can make a laptop’s bezels smaller without having to relocate its webcam, while also making the OLED display itself be both thinner and lighter. There’s no mention of the impact of the technology on the webcam’s image quality, however, which has become increasingly important in the age of social distancing.

We saw the first smartphone with an under-display selfie camera release commercially last year. However, the ZTE Axon 20 5G’s implementation of the feature simply wasn’t very good. The quality of its selfie camera photos was poor, and the portion of the display that covered the camera suffered from much lower resolution than the rest of the screen.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Samsung Display’s under-panel camera plans. Previously, however, attention has focused on its use in smartphones, where manufacturers have obsessed over reducing bezel size in recent years. Back in 2018, Samsung Display mentioned under-display camera technology during a presentation about the future of phone design, and the following year an executive said the technology could be ready for use in smartphones “in the next 1-2 years.”

Now, it seems, the technology is also headed to laptops, where it could allow for smaller bezels without having to relocate the webcam to below the screen. That’s the approach taken by Huawei’s MateBook X Pro which has small screen bezels thanks to a webcam that’s built into its keyboard. Unfortunately, this placement means the webcam is directed at you from a very low angle, when ideally you want it to be positioned at eye-level. The Dell XPS 13 has a small bezel that’s still big enough for a webcam, but the camera’s quality isn’t great.

While the technology could make for better-looking laptops, it’s unlikely to do much for the image quality of built-in webcams themselves which continue to suffer from stubbornly low-quality despite their sudden importance in the age of COVID-19. Ultimately, laptops with better webcams, like the Pixelbook Go or Surface Laptop 3, tend to have larger bezels needed to house beefier imaging components.

Samsung Display provides panels to a variety of different manufacturers. That means we could see Samsung Blade Bezel technology appear in laptops across the industry, rather than being confined to Samsung’s own devices. Today’s teaser doesn’t mention when the first laptop with the technology could release, however.

As for when an under-display camera could appear in Samsung’s smartphones, a recent report from The Elec suggested that it might make its debut in the company’s third-generation Fold.

Categories
Technology US

Sony promises streaming quality nearly as good as 4K Blu-ray on Bravia Core movie service

Sony’s new line of Bravia XR television sets will allow customers to watch and stream movies at some of the highest quality available in the consumer market through its new Bravia Core platform, according to the company.

Bravia XR owners will be able to choose from a number of Sony Pictures titles and watch them using Sony’s “Pure Stream” technology, which achieves “near lossless” ultra high-definition, Blu-ray disc quality, according to Sony. Pure Stream also allows for streaming of up to 80 megabytes per second. To compare, most streaming services recommend maintaining an internet speed between 15 and 25 megabytes per second to achieve proper 4K Ultra HD streaming quality. If Sony’s numbers are accurate, that’s better than a lot of the competition.

The platform comes preloaded on all new Bravia XR models (MASTER Series Z9J 8K LED, MASTER Series A90J and A80J OLED, and X95J and X90J 4K LED) and effectively uses a voucher system. Depending on the model that someone purchases, they’re given a number of credits. Those credits can be cashed in for a number of new titles. It’s unclear if people can keep those titles after they’re purchased with the credits, but The Verge has reached out to Sony for more information.

On the streaming front, Sony’s website states that customers can stream a number of titles “anytime and as many times as you like, in up to 4K HDR quality,” but there are limits to this, too. Time periods for streaming availability are depending on the Bravia XR model purchased, according to the site.

Bravia Core isn’t going to replace Netflix, but it seems like it was specifically designed to show customers the ultimate capabilities of their new TV set. Kind of like when you buy a TV with true 4K HDR capabilities, and you play the best 4K YouTube channels to try to see the difference between your new set and that old clunker you just tossed. Bravia XR TVs also have “the largest IMAX Enhanced movie collection,” according to Sony. It’s unclear exactly how many movies that works out to, though.

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Headlines UK

The government promises to vaccinate the entire adult population of Britain by autumn

Now more than 200 thousand people are vaccinated in the country every day

UK Health Minister Matt Hancock has pledged that every British adult will receive a coronavirus vaccine by fall 2021. In his interview to the Sky News TV channel, he said that now more than 200 thousand people are vaccinated in the country every day. The government’s goal is to reach the target of two million vaccinations weekly.

“We have ordered 350 million doses of vaccines; some of them have not yet been brought to the UK. We will start distributing drugs as soon as they are delivered. “– Hancock told BBC TV presenter Andrew Marr.

The minister supported the tightening of coronavirus restrictions and defended the police officers who fined two women in early January – they drove 8 km from their home to take a walk in the fresh air outside the city. “Any violation can be fatal”Hancock said. Earlier, the police officers were supported by British Home Secretary Prity Patel.

According to England’s chief physician Chris Whitty, the NHS is going through the most difficult time in its history and is loaded to the limit. However, University of Bristol professor Adam Finn, who is on the Committee on Vaccines and Immunization (JCVI), assured that the vaccine has already helped thousands of people, reducing the risk of infection and subsequent hospitalization.

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Canada

Compliance with instructions: Jean Boulet promises to take out the whip

If construction sites and factories can remain open despite the series of new measures announced by Quebec, the Minister of Labor Jean Boulet ensures that fines for non-compliance with instructions will be more frequent.

• Read also: New health measures: factories and construction sites all deemed essential

“The inspectors are going to issue more fines. From the second visit, it will be a direct notice of an offense, unless there are exceptional circumstances, “Jean Boulet told the Newspaper, yesterday.

  • Listen to Minister of Labor Jean Boulet with Benoit Dutrizac on QUB Radio:

Since the start of the pandemic last March, only 41 notices of violation have been served by the 300 or so inspectors of the Commission des normes, de l’énergie, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST). The range of fines varies between $ 1,752 and $ 3502, and they can reach $ 14,006 for a repeat offense.

The number of interventions, or visits by inspectors, was over 16,000 and the number of correction notices, or requests to comply with standards, was over 22,000.

“An intervention can give rise to more than one correction notice and also none,” it explains.

Minister Boulet is still of the opinion that we must trust the judgment and good faith of employers, whom Quebec is now asking to reduce operations to a minimum in order to avoid disaster.

“I am confident that both sectors [manufacturier et construction] will answer the call, ”he said.

No closures

The continued operations in factories and construction sites in Quebec surprised many, as many scenarios pointed to the possibility of a second “pause” for the Quebec economy.

“We wanted to protect the supply chain,” said the minister, who added that the damage was significant during the first wave.

The impacts of the spring closures were factored into the decisions leading up to Wednesday’s announcement, he said.

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Technology US

Trump returns to Twitter and promises a smooth transition of power

Twitter has lifted its ban on President Donald Trump, and his latest tweet is very different than the ones we’ve seen for many months. Though he does not say he lost, his latest video feels like a concession speech. “Now that Congress has certified the results, a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th,” he says. “My focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power.” Trump had issued a similar statement about “an orderly transition” this morning through a surrogate account — that of White House social media director Dan Scavino.

The president’s own account was locked on Wednesday after a mob of his supporters broke into the US Capitol, and Twitter said it would stay that way until he deleted several tweets and then waited 12 hours. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed Thursday morning that the tweets in question had been removed.

Trump returns to Twitter in a more tenuous position than ever before. The company said he’s now at risk of a permanent ban if he continues to violate Twitter rules around misinformation and incitement of violence. Once Trump leaves the White House on January 20th, he’ll also lose special “public interest” protections that applied to his account while he was in office, which could make it easier for the company to enforce its rules over Trump tweets that cross the line.

Twitter banned Trump on Wednesday over a series of tweets spreading lies about the election outcome and a video the company said posed a “risk of violence.” In that video, Trump reiterated his false claims that the election was stolen, praised the mob that broke into the US Capitol, and told them it was time to “go home.”

Facebook and YouTube removed the same video from Trump. Facebook later “indefinitely” banned Trump due to his use of the platform to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government,” saying the risks are “are simply too great” of allowing him to remain. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the ban would remain in place at least through Inauguration Day.

Trump’s new video still includes misinformation, specifically a lie that he “immediately” deployed the National Guard to the Capitol. However, Twitter says that it won’t be placing a label on the tweet due to that, according to BuzzFeed News’ Ryan Mac.

Five people died during the Capitol riot, according to reports.

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Headlines UK

Macron says Brexit is the product of ‘lies and false promises’

Macron says Brexit is the product of ‘lies and false promises’ in annual address delivered hours after his father denounced him as a ‘self-serving’ politician

  • Emmanuel Macron has told how Brexit is the product of ‘lies and false promises’  
  • Macron questioned the strength of Britain’s sovereignty following its departure
  • His father Jean-Michel Macron, 70, spoke publicly about his son for the first time 

French president Emmanuel Macron has claimed Brexit is the product of ‘lies and false promises’ in a bitter broadside at Britain delivered during his New Year address to the nation. 

Macron, who has grand ambitions for greater EU integration, launched the attack days after being blamed for holding up a Brexit deal with fishing demands. 

The French president was also accused of using a ban on British freight, designed to stop the mutated Kent strain of coronavirus reaching France, to ratchet up the tensions in the Brexit negotiations.   

In the address delivered from the Elysee Palace, Paris, Mr Macron questioned the strength of Britain’s sovereignty following its departure from the European Union.

Yet he insisted that the UK ‘remains our neighbour but also our friend and close ally’ after the departure was formally completed at 11pm on New Year’s Eve.  

French president Emmanuel Macron has told how Brexit is the product of ‘lies and false promises’ in an annual address delivered hours after his father denounced him

Mr Macron said: ‘A few days ago, we reached an agreement to organise our future relations, defending our interests, our industries, our fishermen and our unity, he said in a video address. 

‘The United Kingdom remains our neighbour but also our friend and ally. This choice of leaving Europe, this Brexit, was the child of European malaise and lots of lies and false promises.’  

Mr Macron assured that France is ‘first of all in Europe’ and added: ‘I will do everything to ensure we remain the masters of our destiny and our lives. 

In his New Year video address from the Elysee Palace, Paris, Mr Macron questioned the strength of Britain's sovereignty following its departure from the European Union

In his New Year video address from the Elysee Palace, Paris, Mr Macron questioned the strength of Britain’s sovereignty following its departure from the European Union

‘But this sovereignty also acts through the stronger, more autonomous and more united EU that we have built in 2020.’

Under the post-Brexit agreement struck on Christmas Eve, the EU will give up only 25 per cent of the value of fish caught in UK waters – with a five-and-a-half-year transition period rather than 80 per cent over three years initially demanded by the UK.

French fishing bosses welcomed the deal after they had feared No Deal because they would have been locked out of British waters.    

Jean-Michel Macron (pictured in 2017 with Francoise Nogues-Macron), 70, spoke publicly about his son for the first time since he entered office in 2017 and denounced him as a 'self-serving' politician

Jean-Michel Macron (pictured in 2017 with Francoise Nogues-Macron), 70, spoke publicly about his son for the first time since he entered office in 2017 and denounced him as a ‘self-serving’ politician

The video address comes after his father, Jean-Michel Macron, 70, spoke publicly about his son for the first time since he entered office in 2017 and denounced him as a ‘self-serving’ politician.

However commentators have suggested that his father has become irritated by how the French head of state has portrayed his maternal grandmother, teacher Germaine Noguès, as the key figure throughout his childhood, according to The Times. 

His father expressed dismay at his son’s choice to allow magazines to photograph him along with sharing details of his private life. 

However Mr Macron, who is a surgeon living in Amiens, northern France, where his son grew up, added: ‘Emmanuel is a great actor, a seducer. That is useful in politics.’ 

Boris Johnson signed his Brexit trade deal with the EU as he brought the curtain down on four years of wrangling over the UK's split from Brussels

Boris Johnson signed his Brexit trade deal with the EU as he brought the curtain down on four years of wrangling over the UK’s split from Brussels

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Sports UK

Lampard criticises Werner and promises Chelsea teammate role vs Aston Villa

Frank Lampard criticised Timo Werner’s performance after Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal while confirming Callum Hudson-Odoi will start the next game against Aston Villa.

Werner started on the left of the Blues’ front three at the Emirates, despite having not scored in any of his last nine games for Chelsea.

The German forward did little for his side during the Boxing Day London derby, with Lampard deciding to haul him off at half-time.

Hudson-Odoi came on in his place and impressed enough to earn himself a role in Chelsea’s next match, as Lampard admitted his disappointment with Werner’s contribution.

Asked whether Werner was in need of a rest, Lampard replied: “We’ll see.”

Timo Werner’s poor run of form continued against Arsenal

Before adding: “Certainly the goals not going in is always something an attacking player will get judged on. The subs, I could have made more. But I felt I had to make the subs in those two areas (Jorginho also came on for Mateo Kovacic) to inject energy.

“For today Timo wasn’t giving us enough with or without the ball.

“Some of it we have to give him time. I keep saying the same thing because it’s a different league but we also have to get there quickly.

“We’ll see about the tiredness – I’ll have a conversation with him. But I felt I had to make changes to change the course of the match.”

Chelsea were already two behind when Lampard threw on Hudson-Odoi and Jorginho, following Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty and Granit Xhaka’s stunning free-kick.

That deficit soon stretched to three after Bukayo Saka’s goal before the hour mark left Chelsea sinking without trace.

The visitors mounted a late fightback, though, as Hudson-Odoi crossed for Tammy Abraham to score, before Jorginho had an injury-time penalty saved by Bernd Leno.

How would you rate Werner’s time at Chelsea so far? Have your say below.

Callum Hudson-Odoi did well off the bench to ensure himself a starting berth vs Villa
Callum Hudson-Odoi did well off the bench to ensure himself a starting berth vs Villa

Despite the defeat, Lampard was still enthused by Hudson-Odoi’s display and is keen to get the winger more involved.

“Callum did really well,” Lampard told Chelsea TV. “And I hope people’s eyes aren’t drawn to Jorgi’s penalty because Jorginho also offered a lot when he came on in terms of driving the game and getting on the ball more.

“Callum was fantastic with his energy. That’s what we absolutely needed.

“That’s why he’ll play in the next game and if Callum plays like that he can be a serious player.”