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Three killed as Sudanese security forces crack down on protest
25 January 2022, 5:00 AM

Three demonstrators were killed on Monday when Sudanese security forces fired live rounds and teargas during protests against military rule that attracted tens of thousands of people across the country, medics said.

Such protests, along with barricades throughout the capital and a general strike last week, have continued since the military took power on Oct. 25, ending a partnership with civilian political parties since the removal of Omar al-Bashir as Sudan’s ruler in 2019.

Some 76 civilians have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in crackdowns on the protests, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, which is aligned with the protest movement, mainly by gunshots and teargas canisters.

“Our people are protesting peacefully and using all forms of nonviolent resistance towards a free, democratic and just country, only to be confronted by the military with the worst crimes,” the doctors’ group said.

Two protesters were killed in a protest in Khartoum, one shot in the chest and the other in the head, the group said. Other protesters were injured in the capital Khartoum and the city of Omdurman, they said.

Police could not immediately be reached for comment.

Sudan’s military leaders have said the right to peaceful protest is protected. The Sovereign Council, Sudan’s highest authority, run by the military, received a briefing on the work of a committee investigating protester deaths, it said in a statement.

The violence has deepened the deadlock between pro-democracy groups and the military leadership.

A Reuters witness saw security forces using teargas and stun grenades as protesters stood 1.2 km (0.75 miles) from the presidential palace.

In the cities of Bahri and Omdurman, Reuters witnesses saw a heavy security presence and teargas fired on a main road.

The protests were called by neighbourhood resistance committees, which advocate a stance of “no legitimacy, no negotiation, no partnership” towards the military.

One committee reported the arrest of at least four members. Another said its headquarters were raided.

Large protests were held in the city of Madani, where witnesses said protesters marched towards the house of a protester killed on Friday before heading to the state government building.

The third protester was killed there, with gunshots to the head and shoulder, the doctors’ committee said.

Social media users shared images of other protests in the cities of El Fasher, Shendi, and Elobeid.

Last week, the United States condemned the use of force against protesters, saying it would consider additional measures to hold perpetrators of violence accountable.

Military leader Abdelfattah al-Burhan has appointed deputy ministers to a caretaker government which passed this year’s budget.

On Monday, Abdelghani Alnaeem, former deputy foreign minister under Bashir, confirmed he and more than 100 other diplomats and administrators fired as part of an anti-corruption task force had been reinstated by a judge. “This is a positive step,” he said.

The Sovereign Council on Monday formed a committee to look into appeals of decisions by the taskforce, which was a key point of tension between the military and civilian politicians.

Germany extends COVID curbs as infections threaten infrastructure
25 January 2022, 3:21 AM

Germany on Monday extended its current pandemic measures as the experts panel appointed by the government has warned the fast spreading Omicron coronavirus variant could bring critical infrastructure in Europe’s biggest economy to a breaking point.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he had agreed with the heads of the federal states to extend restrictions such as limiting private gatherings to 10 ten people and requiring proof of booster vaccination or a negative test at restaurants.

“Now it’s time to stay on course,” said Scholz after a meeting on Monday.

The government will reconsider relaxing or tightening the measures in case of a very steep rise or decline in infection numbers, Scholz added.

Germany on Monday reported 63,393 new COVID-19 cases, an 86% jump from a week ago, according to data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said earlier this month he expected the infection wave to peak in mid-February.

Scholz and the heads of states also agreed to prioritise the use of COVID-19 PCR testing and to increase testing capacity to cope with rising infections. However, subsidized PCR tests will be only applied for vulnerable groups and staff in clinics and nursing homes.

In Berlin, where the rate of cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last 7 days hit 1,465 – second-highest in Germany – compulsory school attendance will be suspended until the end of February, to accommodate parents worried about sending their children to classrooms amid rising infections, Mayor Franziska Giffey said.

The next meeting with states’ leaders to discuss possible coronavirus measures is scheduled to take place on February 16, the chancellor said.

Dior showcases glittering craftsmanship on Paris runway
25 January 2022, 2:31 AM

Christian Dior took to the runway with sparkles and tailoring on Monday for the first day of Paris’ Haute Couture week, sending models down the catwalk in strapless dresses and neat winter jackets.

While the fashion world is still wavering on how to cope with the coronavirus outbreak, Dior decided to stage an in-person catwalk show for one of the most anticipated events of the season.

Masked guests included actresses Rosamund Pike, Madelaine Petsch and Claire Foy along with influencer Chiara Ferragni and Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.

Rhinestone and pearl embroideries dominated the collection on ankle-length dresses, shimmering tights paired with glitter bodysuits, sleeveless jackets and low-heel shoes.

The profusion of glitter was broken with neutral tones that ranged from black to off-white. Designs included ecru cashmere capes, grey pleated ensembles and long silk evening dresses cut low in the back.

The venue, a temporary structure in the gardens of the Rodin Museum, featured larger-than-life embroidered artworks from Indian artist couple Madhvi Parekh and Manu Parekh.

The exhibition of surreal pieces will remain in place for public viewing throughout the week.

LVMH-owned Dior collaborated with the Chanakya School of Craft based in Mumbai for some of the silhouettes, including a top embroidered with silver ribbons and crystal tassels matched with an a-line skirt.

With this Spring-Summer 2022 collection, described by designer Maria Grazia Chiuri as a highlight of art and craft, the creative chief wanted to promote a new generation of craftspeople.

“I think that to be a couture brand today, for Dior, means to support all this ability around the world and to promote and to maintain life,” Chiuri said in an interview with Reuters ahead of the show. “Because with the COVID, the risk is it disappears.”

Fashion Week runs until Thursday, with runway shows from Chanel as well as Italian labels Fendi and Valentino due to show their collections in the coming days.

Veteran forward Coyne Schofield named captain of U.S. women’s ice hockey team
25 January 2022, 1:47 AM

Olympic gold medallist Kendall Coyne Schofield will serve as captain of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team at the Beijing Games next month, USA Hockey announced on Monday.

The 29-year-old forward led the U.S. in shots on goal during their triumph in the women’s ice hockey tournament at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, with two goals and five assists.

Hilary Knight, competing in her fourth Winter Olympics, will serve as an alternate captain along with veterans Brianna Decker and Lee Stecklein.

“I’m thankful to have had so many accomplished leaders to look up to. This team is a resilient group, filled with amazing leaders and game changers,” said Coyne Schofield.

“We are so ready for our journey in Beijing to begin.”

U.S. FDA to restrict use of Regeneron, Lilly COVID antibody drugs – WaPo
25 January 2022, 1:19 AM

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is likely to restrict the use of COVID-19 antibody treatments from Regeneron (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N) as they are ineffective against the Omicron variant, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

The FDA action will involve revising the emergency use authorizations for the monoclonal antibodies, the report said, citing two senior administration health officials.

However, the agency will not revoke the emergency use authorizations in case the drugs work against a future COVID-19 variant, according to the report.

The FDA did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment, while a Regeneron spokesperson said the regulator would provide any potential communication on the topic.

Lilly had no immediate comment but pointed to its statement from December saying its antibody candidate, bebtelovimab, maintains neutralization activity against all known variants of concern, including Omicron.

The U.S. government in December paused distribution of the treatments and said the halt would continue until new data emerges on their efficacy against Omicron, which has quickly become the dominant strain in the United States and several other countries.

U.S. health agencies, however, had said that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Vir Biotechnology’s (VIR.O) rival drug sotrovimab appeared to work against the variant and resumed shipments of the drug.

GSK and Vir Biotech are boosting production of their drug to help meet soaring demand in the United States.

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