POLSKA УКРАЇНА - My - Polacy, ale żyjemy w Ukrainie

Michigan Man Pleads Guilty in Plot to Kidnap Governor

A man charged in a plot to kidnap the governor of the U.S. state of Michigan pleaded guilty to conspiracy Wednesday.Ty Garbin is one of 14 charged in the scheme.Garbin, 25, faced 25 years to life, but prosecutors said they agreed to lighten the sentence in exchange for his cooperation. That will likely strengthen the government’s case against the remaining defendants.The group was reportedly upset by Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus shutdowns.In a federal court in Grand Rapids on Wednesday, Garbin admitted to training with weapons, discussing a plan to storm the state capitol, and casing the governor’s second home where the group decided to act. They also planned to blow up a bridge near the second home to slow down attempts to capture them.Garbin said he “advocated waiting until after the national election, when the conspirators expected widespread civil unrest to make it easier for them to operate.”The plot was broken up by the FBI, and Garbin reportedly texted details of the plot to a government informant.Last fall, Garbin’s attorney, Mark Satawa, said his client was never was really going to participate in the kidnapping and that it was all “big talk.”“Saying things like, ‘I hate the governor, the governor is tyrannical’ … is not illegal, even if you’re holding a gun and running around the woods when you do it,” Satawa said in October.The other federal defendants are Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.   

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Biden Health Official: US to Surpass 500,000 COVID Deaths in February

The new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted Wednesday that the COVID-19 death toll in the United States would surpass 500,000 by February 20.CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said during the new administration’s first formal briefing on the crisis that within the next three weeks, the U.S. death toll could reach a point between 479,000 and 514,000.President Joe Biden has promised to regularly deliver science-based facts to a public that is increasingly frustrated over the slow pace of the distribution of vaccines.Walensky’s prediction of coronavirs deaths came as White House COVID-19 czar Jeff Zients said the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was working to make more health professionals available to administer vaccinations.Zients said the government would authorize retired doctors and nurses to administer vaccines and that professionals licensed in one state would be able to administer doses in other states.Relief billZients also said Congress must approve Biden’s COVID-19 relief bill to maintain momentum on vaccinations and more testing capacity. He said the administration was working to meet Biden’s goal of delivering at least 100 million vaccine doses in 100 days.Most of Biden’s $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which some Republican lawmakers complain is too costly, aims to help revive an economy severely weakened by the fallout from the pandemic.Some $400 billion is for measures to contain the virus, including dramatically increasing the pace of vaccinations and building an infrastructure for more widespread testing.The update was the first of three weekly briefings the new administration will have on the state of the pandemic, efforts to contain it, and efforts to deliver vaccines and other treatments to end it.Wednesday’s briefing also featured Zients’ deputy, Andy Slavitt, infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and COVID-19 equality task force chair Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.“The White House respects and will follow the science, and the scientists will speak independently,” Slavitt said.As it has for months, the U.S. leads the world with nearly 25.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 426,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center. 

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Abortion Restrictions Set to Take Effect in Poland

A Polish law limiting abortion to cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s health or life is at risk was expected to go into effect Wednesday following an October court decision deeming abortions due to fetal defects illegal. The court’s decision set off protests across the mostly Roman Catholic country. More protests were expected as the law goes into effect. “See you in front of the Constitutional Tribunal today at 6:30 p.m.,” the Women’s Strike protest group, which organized many of the October protests, said on Facebook, according to Bloomberg News. FILE – Police secure the road as demonstrators try to block traffic during a pro-choice protest in the center of Warsaw, Nov. 28, 2020.Opponents of the ruling allege the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) Party, which took power in 2015, influenced the court. The party denies the charge.  “No law-abiding government should respect this ruling,” Borys Budka, leader of Poland’s largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform, told reporters, according to Reuters.  Polish President Andrzej Duda said he supports the decision. “I have said it many times, and I have never concealed it, that abortion for so-called eugenic reasons should not be allowed in Poland. I believed and believe that every child has a right to life,” he said in an interview last October with Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.  Legal abortions have reportedly been declining in Poland, as some doctors are refusing to perform the procedure based on religious grounds, Reuters reported. 
 

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German Parliament Marks Holocaust Remembrance Day

A German survivor of the Holocaust Wednesday urged lawmakers during a special session of the German Parliament to “take care of our country.”Charlotte Knobloch, 88, told lawmakers that the lives of Jews in Germany are still far from normal, nearly eight decades after Nazis murdered 6 million European Jews in the Shoah — another name for the Holocaust.Knobloch also warned of democracy’s fragility and asked lawmakers to protect the achievements of the last decades for Jews and non-Jews and defend Germany against extremists. She said right-wing extremism is the greatest threat of all.Resurgence of Antisemitism Haunts UN Holocaust Memorial CeremonySomber United Nations ceremony in tribute to those who perished in Nazi death camps is dominated by fear that lessons of Holocaust were being lost and forgottenThe session was held to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, 76 years after the Soviet army liberated the Auschwitz death camp in occupied Poland.At one point in her speech, Knobloch addressed members of the hard-right Alternative for Germany political party, Parliament’s largest opposition group with nearly 100 seats. She accused many of the group’s members of “picking up the tradition” of the Nazis.”I tell you — you lost your fight 76 years ago,” Knobloch said. “You will continue to fight for your Germany, and we will keep fighting for our Germany.”Knobloch is the former leader of Germany’s 200,000-strong Jewish community that survived the Holocaust.Also attending the session was Marina Weisband, a Jewish immigrant from Ukraine who also warned about resurging anti-Semitism in Germany.In the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and other officials, Rabbi Shaul Nekrich wrote the last 12 letters of the Sulzbacher Torah Scroll, one of Germany’s oldest torah scrolls.Since 1996, Germany has officially marked Holocaust Remembrance Day every January 27 with a solemn ceremony at the Bundestag, featuring a speech by a survivor and commemorations across the country. 

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Florida Says Only State Residents Can Get COVID Vaccine

Florida is cracking down to prevent non-state residents from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine after a large number of people got the shot ahead of Florida residents.  The vaccine rollout in Florida, as in other states, has faced problems – in large part because of vaccine supply shortages.  Liliya Anisimova in Miami has the story, narrated by Anna Rice.

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Tensions Escalate Between EU, AstraZeneca Over Vaccine Delivery

Tensions escalated Wednesday between the European Union and the British-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca regarding the company’s failure to meet a target to deliver 400 million doses of its COVD-19 vaccine to the regional bloc.The two sides had been scheduled to meet again Wednesday, to further discuss the issue but there are conflicting reports. EU officials had said the company backed out of the meeting and that it had been rescheduled for Thursday, but a company official later issued a statement saying the meeting was going to be held as scheduled Wednesday.
 
The firm had signed a deal with the European Commission to supply 400 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine, which is expected to get EU approval Friday.
 WHO Chief Presses Case Against COVID-19 ‘Vaccine Nationalism’ Tedros says inoculation gap between rich, poor nations grows larger each dayBut last week, AstraZeneca told the EU that due to a production shortfall in the firm’s European plants, the firm will miss its target, while still meeting a separate contract it signed with Britain. EU officials this week said that explanation was inadequate and demanded details on the company’s vaccine production.
 
In an interview late Tuesday with the Italian Newspaper La Repubblica, AstraZeneca CEO Pascale Soriot said Britain had signed its contract three months before the EU and that had given the firm time to iron out “glitches” in British plants. He said they were three months behind in making those fixes at their European plants.
 
Soriot also said that in its agreement with the EU, AstraZeneca would only make its “best effort” to deliver the vaccines. An EU official told the Reuters news agency Wednesday that “best effort” was a standard clause in a contract for a product that does not yet exist.  
 
The official said that the clause means the signee must still show “over all” effort to deliver its product and they would hold the company to its contract.
 
The EU’s medical regulatory body, the Europe Medincines Agency was expected to give its approval to the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use by the end of this week.  

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Auschwitz Survivors Mark Anniversary Online Amid Pandemic

Tova Friedman hid among corpses at Auschwitz amid the chaos of the extermination camp’s final days.
Just 6 years old at the time, the Poland-born Friedman was instructed by her mother to lie absolutely still in a bed at a camp hospital, next to the body of a young woman who had just died.
As German forces preparing to flee the scene of their genocide went from bed to bed shooting anyone still alive, Friedman barely breathed under a blanket and went unnoticed.
Days later, on Jan. 27, 1945, she was among the thousands of prisoners who survived to greet the Soviet troops who liberated the camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Now 82, Friedman had hoped to mark Wednesday’s anniversary by taking her eight grandchildren to the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial site, which is under the custodianship of the Polish state. The coronavirus pandemic prevented the trip.
So instead, Friedman will be alone at home in Highland Park, New Jersey, on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Yet a message of warning from her about the rise of hatred will be part of a virtual observance organized by the World Jewish Congress.
Across Europe, the victims were remembered and honored in various ways.
In Austria and Slovakia, hundreds of survivors  were offered their first doses of a vaccine against the coronavirus in a gesture both symbolic and truly lifesaving given the threat of the virus to older adults. In Israel, some 900 Holocaust survivors died from COVID-19 out of the 5,300 who were infected last year, the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics reported said Tuesday.
Pope Francis warned from the Vatican that distorted ideologies can “end up destroying a people and humanity.” Meanwhile, Luxembourg signed a deal agreeing to pay reparations and to restitute dormant bank accounts, insurance policies and looted art to Holocaust survivors.
Institutions around the world, including the Auschwitz-Birkenau memorial museum in Poland, Yad Vashem in Israel and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. have online events planned. The presidents of Israel, Germany and Poland were among those planning to deliver remarks of remembrance and warning.
The online nature of this year’s commemorations is a sharp contrast to how Friedman spent the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation  last year, when she gathered under a huge tent with other survivors and dozens of European leaders at the site of the former camp. It was one of the last large international gatherings before the pandemic forced the cancellation of most large gatherings.
Many Holocaust survivors in the United States, Israel and elsewhere find themselves in a state of previously unimaginable isolation due to the pandemic. Friedman lost her husband last March and said she feels acutely alone now.
But survivors like her also have found new connections over Zoom: World Jewish Congress leader Ronald Lauder has organized video meetings for survivors and their children and grandchildren during the pandemic.
More than 1.1 million people were murdered by the German Nazis and their henchmen at Auschwitz, the most notorious site in a network of camps and ghettos aimed at the destruction of Europe’s Jews. The vast majority of those killed at Auschwitz were Jews, but others, including Poles, Roma and Soviet prisoners of war, were also killed in large numbers.
In all, about 6 million European Jews and millions of other people were killed by the Germans and their collaborators. In 2005, the United Nations designated Jan. 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, an acknowledgement of Auschwitz’s iconic status.
Israel, which today counts 197,000 Holocaust survivors, officially marks its Holocaust remembrance day in the spring. But events will also be held Wednesday by survivors’ organizations and remembrance groups across the country, many of them held virtually or without members of the public in attendance.
While commemorations have moved online for the first time, one constant is the drive of survivors to tell their stories as words of caution.
Rose Schindler, a 91-year-old survivor of Auschwitz who was originally from Czechoslovakia but now lives in San Diego, California, has been speaking to school groups about her experience for 50 years. Her story, and that of her late husband, Max, also a survivor, is also told in a book, “Two Who Survived: Keeping Hope Alive While Surviving the Holocaust.”
After Schindler was transported to Auschwitz in 1944, she was selected more than once for immediate death in the gas chambers. She survived by escaping each time and joining work details.
The horrors she experienced of Auschwitz — the mass murder of her parents and four of her seven siblings, the hunger, being shaven, lice infestations — are difficult to convey, but she keeps speaking to groups, over past months only by Zoom.
“We have to tell our stories so it doesn’t happen again,” Schindler told The Associated Press on Monday in a Zoom call from her home. “It is unbelievable what we went through, and the whole world was silent as this was going on.”
Friedman says she believes it is her role to “sound the alarm” about rising anti-Semitism and other hatred in the world, otherwise “another tragedy may happen.”
That hatred, she said, was on clear view when a mob inspired by former President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Some insurrectionists wore clothes with anti-Semitic messages like “Camp Auschwitz” and “”6MWE,” which stands for “6 million wasn’t enough.”
“It was utterly shocking and I couldn’t believe it. And I don’t know what part of America feels like that. I hope it’s a very small and isolated group and not a pervasive feeling,” Friedman said Monday.
Still, the mob violence could not shake her belief in the essential goodness of America and most Americans.
“It’s a country of freedom. It’s a country that took me in,” Friedman said.
In her recorded message that will be broadcast Wednesday, Friedman said she compares the virus of hatred in the world to COVID-19. She said the world today is witnessing “a virus of anti-Semitism, of racism, and if you don’t stop the virus, it’s going to kill humanity.”

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Newly-Confirmed US Secretary of State Pledges Cooperation on Global Challenges

The new top U.S. diplomat, Antony Blinken, is pledging to work with core allies and partners to confront complex global challenges, while investing in a diverse and inclusive American Foreign Service.Blinken was officially welcomed to the State Department on Wednesday as secretary of state by approximately 30 of the women and men representing a small cross-section of the larger workforce.  “America’s leadership is needed around the world,” said Blinken, adding he will “put a premium on diplomacy” with allies and partners to meet the great challenges, including “the pandemic, climate change, the economic crisis, threats to democracies, fights for racial justice, and the danger to our security and global stability” posed by U.S. adversaries.  Secretary of State Antony Blinken is sworn in as the 71st U.S. Secretary of State by Acting Under Secretary of State for Management Carol Z. Perez, at the Department of State in Washington, Jan. 26, 2021. (State Department photo)The new top U.S. diplomat also encouraged non-partisanship and transparency.   “I will be forthright with you, because transparency makes us stronger. I will seek out dissenting views and listen to the experts, because that’s how the best decisions are made,” said Blinken at the State Department.  The U.S. Senate confirmed him on Tuesday with a 78-22 vote to serve as the country’s 71st secretary of state, filling the most senior Cabinet position and one that is fourth in the line of presidential succession.   US Senate Confirms Blinken to Lead State Department Former deputy secretary of state has pledged to rebuild US diplomatic corps At a confirmation hearing last week, Blinken said he was ready to confront the challenges posed by China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.   He said China “poses the most significant challenge” to U.S. national interests, while noting there is room for cooperation.   “There are rising adversarial aspects of the relationship; certainly, competitive ones, and still some cooperative ones, when it is in our mutual interests,” he said.   Conservative lawmakers’ opposition to Blinken centered on concerns that he may help the new administration reenter the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and that he would halt former president Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign against the Middle Eastern power.    “The policies that Mr. Blinken has committed to implementing as secretary of state, especially regarding Iran, will dangerously erode America’s national security and will put the Biden administration on a collision course with Congress, and I could not support his confirmation,” said Republican Senator Ted Cruz, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  During his confirmation hearing, Blinken vowed to rebuild State Department morale and the diplomatic corps. He said he saw the U.S. standing abroad as leadership based on “humility and confidence.”   The “swift and bipartisan confirmation sends a powerful signal to our nation and the world that American diplomacy and development matter — both on the global stage and here at home,” said the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a broad-based network of 500 businesses and NGOs, in a statement.  The 58-year-old Blinken was deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration and has close ties with President Joe Biden. He was staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when Biden was chair of the panel, and later was then-Vice President Biden’s national security adviser.    
 

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