Archive for Sophia Ankel

Kim Jong-Un is reportedly displaying ‘excessive anger’ over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, ordering the execution of two people

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un speaks during the Russia - North Korea Summit on April 25, 2019, in Vladivostok, Russia.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is said to be angry about the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact, South Korea's spy agency said on Friday.
  • According to the Associated Press, Kim has ordered the execution of at least two people, locked down the capital of Pyongyang, and implemented other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • One of the two people who were executed was a well-known money changer in Pyongyang, who was reportedly blamed for North Korea's falling exchange rate. 
  • North Korea's economy has suffered in recent months as the country was forced to seal its border with its biggest trading partner, China, back in January.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, reportedly displayed "excessive anger" over the coronavirus pandemic and its economic damage, a South Korea's spy agency said on Friday.

According to The Associated Press (AP), Kim is also said to be ordering "irrational measures" to slow the spread of COVID-19, including ordering the execution of at least two people, banning fishing at sea, and locking down the capital, Pyongyang.

The latest information from the Hermit Kingdom comes from South Korean lawmakers, who spoke to reporters on Friday after having a private meeting with the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country's chief intelligence agency.

The NIS reportedly informed officials that one of the two executed people was a well-known money changer in Pyongyang, who was reportedly blamed for North Korea's falling exchange rate. 

The other person was allegedly a top government official who was caught violating restrictions placed on goods from outside the country amid the pandemic, AP reported.

North Korea's economy has borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic as the country was forced to seal its border with its biggest trading partner, China, back in January.

Korea's International Trade Association said earlier this week that North Korea's trade with China shrank 73% through September and is on course to plunge 80 percent for the whole year, according to the South China Morning Post.

Kim also implemented a ban on fishing to stop seawater from being infected with the virus, the NIS said.

A full lockdown has also been placed on several regions in the country, including the capital and the northern Jagang province. It has also halted tourism.

These photos show what life looks like during a North Korean lockdown. 

North Korea has so far reported zero cases and zero fatalities, though it's unlikely that's actually true.

As major coronavirus vaccines are being approved worldwide, Kim's government reportedly tried to hack at least one South Korean pharmaceutical company developing a vaccine. Their attempts were unsuccessful. 

Kim has also ordered overseas diplomats not to engage in any actions that could provoke the US  because it is worried about President-elect Joe Biden's new approach toward North Korea, AP reported.

"We've been told that there have been orders to exercise utmost prudence in language," lawmaker Kim Byung-kee told reporters, according to NPR

The new Biden's administration could signal a change for North Korea after it's leader had developed a relationship with President Donald Trump. 

On several occasions, Trump has met with Kim during his presidency and once reportedly told veteran reporter Bob Woodward that the two leaders "get along."

"He likes me. I like him. We get along. That doesn't mean I'm naive. That doesn't mean that I think, oh, it's going to be wonderful. He's a very tough cookie. And he is smart, very smart," Trump said to Woodward at the time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Kim Jong-Un is reportedly displaying ‘excessive anger’ over the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, ordering the execution of two people

North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un speaks during the Russia - North Korea Summit on April 25, 2019, in Vladivostok, Russia.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is said to be angry about the coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact, South Korea's spy agency said on Friday.
  • According to the Associated Press, Kim has ordered the execution of at least two people, locked down the capital of Pyongyang, and implemented other measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • One of the two people who were executed was a well-known money changer in Pyongyang, who was reportedly blamed for North Korea's falling exchange rate. 
  • North Korea's economy has suffered in recent months as the country was forced to seal its border with its biggest trading partner, China, back in January.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, reportedly displayed "excessive anger" over the coronavirus pandemic and its economic damage, a South Korea's spy agency said on Friday.

According to The Associated Press (AP), Kim is also said to be ordering "irrational measures" to slow the spread of COVID-19, including ordering the execution of at least two people, banning fishing at sea, and locking down the capital, Pyongyang.

The latest information from the Hermit Kingdom comes from South Korean lawmakers, who spoke to reporters on Friday after having a private meeting with the National Intelligence Service (NIS), the country's chief intelligence agency.

The NIS reportedly informed officials that one of the two executed people was a well-known money changer in Pyongyang, who was reportedly blamed for North Korea's falling exchange rate. 

The other person was allegedly a top government official who was caught violating restrictions placed on goods from outside the country amid the pandemic, AP reported.

North Korea's economy has borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic as the country was forced to seal its border with its biggest trading partner, China, back in January.

Korea's International Trade Association said earlier this week that North Korea's trade with China shrank 73% through September and is on course to plunge 80 percent for the whole year, according to the South China Morning Post.

Kim also implemented a ban on fishing to stop seawater from being infected with the virus, the NIS said.

A full lockdown has also been placed on several regions in the country, including the capital and the northern Jagang province. It has also halted tourism.

These photos show what life looks like during a North Korean lockdown. 

North Korea has so far reported zero cases and zero fatalities, though it's unlikely that's actually true.

As major coronavirus vaccines are being approved worldwide, Kim's government reportedly tried to hack at least one South Korean pharmaceutical company developing a vaccine. Their attempts were unsuccessful. 

Kim has also ordered overseas diplomats not to engage in any actions that could provoke the US  because it is worried about President-elect Joe Biden's new approach toward North Korea, AP reported.

"We've been told that there have been orders to exercise utmost prudence in language," lawmaker Kim Byung-kee told reporters, according to NPR

The new Biden's administration could signal a change for North Korea after it's leader had developed a relationship with President Donald Trump. 

On several occasions, Trump has met with Kim during his presidency and once reportedly told veteran reporter Bob Woodward that the two leaders "get along."

"He likes me. I like him. We get along. That doesn't mean I'm naive. That doesn't mean that I think, oh, it's going to be wonderful. He's a very tough cookie. And he is smart, very smart," Trump said to Woodward at the time.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Former CIA Director John Brennan says the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist was ‘criminal’ and risked inflaming conflict in the Middle East

Former CIA director John Brennan speaks during a forum on election security titled, “2020 Vision: Intelligence and the U.S. Presidential Election” at the National Press Club in Washington, U.S., October 30, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Former CIA director John Brennan speaks during a forum on election security in Washington DC, on October 30, 2019.
  • Former CIA Director John Brennan has condemned the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist on Friday, calling it "criminal" and "highly reckless."
  • Brennan, who served between 2013 and 2017, also said he did not know who was to blame for the killing but that it "would be a flagrant violation of international law."
  • Details on the attack remain slim but Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, pointed the finger at Israel on Friday, saying there are "serious indications" of Israeli involvement.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Former CIA Director John Brennan has condemned a top Iranian nuclear scientist's reported assassination on Friday, calling it "criminal" and "highly reckless."

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a former officer in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was killed in an ambush on his car on Friday while driving through Absard, a town located 50 miles outside the capital Tehran.

"This was a criminal act & highly reckless," Brennan tweeted on Friday afternoon. "It risks lethal retaliation & a new round of regional conflict."

Brennan, who served under the Obama administration, also said he did not know who was to blame for the killing but that it "would be a flagrant violation of international law."

"I do not know whether a foreign government authorized or carried out the murder of Fakhrizadeh. Such an act of state-sponsored terrorism would be a flagrant violation of international law & encourage more governments to carry out lethal attacks against foreign officials," Brennan tweeted.

 

Details on the reported attack remain slim. In a statement on Friday, Iran's defense ministry said that "armed terrorists" had targeted a vehicle carrying Fakhrizadeh, adding that the scientist "was severely injured."

He later died in the hospital.

No group or government has claimed responsibility for Friday's attack so far.

However, Iran's foreign minister, Javad Zarif, pointed the finger at Israel on Friday, saying there are "serious indications" of Israeli involvement.

He tweeted: "Terrorists murdered an eminent Iranian scientist today. This cowardice — with serious indications of Israeli role — shows desperate warmongering of perpetrators."

The reported assassination also came less than two weeks after the New York Times reported that President Trump had consulted senior advisors about the possibility of conducting a strike on Iran's main nuclear facility.

Trump was reportedly advised against this, with several top aides warning it could trigger a broader conflict with the Islamic republic.

An Iranian security guard standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant on August 20, 2010 in southern Iran
An Iranian security guard standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant on August 20, 2010 in southern Iran

Fakhrizadeh's reported assassination comes less than a year after Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Qassem Solemani — the country's top general — pushing US-Iran relations to the brink of war.

In August, Al-Qaeda's second-in-command, Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, was gunned down on the streets of Tehran by Israeli operatives acting at the behest of the US, the New York Times reported this month.

Both Israel and Washington have yet to comment on the attack.

On Friday, Trump retweeted an Israeli journalist, Yossi Melman, who called the killing "a major psychological and professional blow for Iran."

Brennan is a staunch Trump critic, who told Business Insider before the 2020 election that the "dishonesty" and disinformation coming out of the Trump administration is just as dangerous as foreign interference in the election.

After Trump's election loss, Brennan tweeted that he now plans "to ignore Trump," and will "leave his fate to our judicial system, his infamy to history, & his legacy to a trash heap," The Hill reported.

Brennan's comments about the reported Fakhrizadeh assassination were described as "bizarre" by Senator Ted Cruz, who tweeted on Friday that the ex-CIA chief "consistently sides with Iranian zealots who chant 'Death to America.'"

The former CIA director fired back, tweeting that it was "typical" of Cruz to "mischaracterize" his comment.

"Your lawless attitude & simple-minded approach to serious national security matters demonstrate that you are unworthy to represent the good people of Texas," Brennan wrote.

Read more:

Iranian diplomat on trial over plan to bomb a rally where Rudy Giuliani was the keynote speaker but Mossad tipped off the police

A former CIA agent has been accused of selling US secrets to China then accidentally confessing to the FBI

Biden's pick for US spy chief played a central role in Obama's secretive drone war that resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths

Joe Biden is expected to make history by appointing a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time

Read the original article on Business Insider

Trump spent $3 million for a vote recount in Wisconsin’s largest county to support his baseless claim of ballot fraud but lost by even more than initially thought

trump wisconsin
US President Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally at Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin on October 30, 2020.
  • President-elect Joe Biden gained votes in Wisconsin after Trump's election campaign demanded a recount earlier this month.
  • Milwaukee County, one of the state's most populous counties, found on Friday that Biden made a total net gain of 132 votes out of nearly 460,000 votes cast.
  • The Trump administration spent $3 million to request two recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties, both of which have large numbers of Democrat voters.
  • Dane County is expected to announce its recount results on Sunday.
  • Trump has carried on pushing unproven claims of widespread voter fraud.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden gained votes in Wisconsin's largest county on Friday after Trump's election campaign demanded a recount earlier this month.

The Trump administration spent $3 million to request two recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties after the president lost Wisconsin to Biden by over 20,000 votes.

But county election officials in Milwaukee County completed their recount on Friday and found that Biden actually made a total net gain of 132 votes out of nearly 460,000 votes cast.

This further boosted Biden's margin of victory, who overall gained 257 votes to Trump's 125.

Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson said on Friday: "The recount demonstrates what we already know: that elections in Milwaukee County are fair, transparent, accurate and secure," according to Reuters.

Dane County is expected to announce its recount results on Sunday. Both Milwaukee and Dane are two of Wisconsin's most populous counties and have a large number of Democrat voters.

Trump is still expected to mount a legal challenge to the overall result in Wisconsin, but the window of opportunity is slowly closing as the state is due to certify its final result on Tuesday.

Certification is done by the Democratic chair of the Wisconsin Election Commission, which is bipartisan.

Trump has carried on pushing unproven claims of widespread voter fraud as his election campaign continues to file legal challenges in several states.

A US chief election administration official, who was appointed by the president, previously told Insider in an interview that there is "no evidence of widespread voter fraud" and that the president's claim "hurts the fabric of our nation."

Trump's legal team suffered another defeat in Pennsylvania on Friday after a federal appeals court rejected the campaign's latest attempt to challenge the state's election results, the Associated Press reported.

Meanwhile, in the key swing state of Georgia — which Biden won — the president's baseless claims have concerned fellow Republicans who feel his comments could hinder the party's efforts to retain control of the Senate.

Biden won the popular vote by a margin of 4 percentage points, 51% to 47%, according to Decision Desk HQ data published by Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider

The German government tells people to be as ‘lazy as raccoons’ as it deploys humor to control the spread of COVID-19

german coronavirus advert
The German coronavirus ad campaign was released to the public on November 14, 2020
  • Official adverts created by the German government last week encouraged the country to be "lazy as raccoons" to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.
  • One of the ads, which was widely shared on social media, shows an old man speaking about how in the "winter of 2020" people became "heroes" after doing "absolutely nothing."
  • Last month, Berlin's tourism authority launched an ad campaign featuring an elderly woman in a floral mask giving the middle finger to people who refuse to wear face coverings.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The German government released a string of humorous adverts last week that urged the country to be "lazy as raccoons" to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

In one of the adverts, which was widely shared on social media and has since received more than 2.5 million views, an old man is seen reflecting on "the winter of 2020."

"The fate of this country lay in our hands," he says, alongside dramatic music. "So, we mustered all our courage and did what was expected of us, the only right thing — We did nothing. Absolutely nothing."

"We were as lazy as raccoons," he adds. "Day and night, we kept our asses at home and fought the spread of the virus. Our couch was the front and our patience was our weapon." 

The video cuts between the "present-day" and "the past," which shows a younger version of the man lounging on the sofa and watching television.

Watch the advert below:

 

Another advert follows a similar storyline with an old man showing his "medal of honor" he received for "being brave" during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Before the pandemic, I was, without doubt, the laziest person to tiptoe through this country," he says in the video. "I almost never left my flat, played computer games without any kind of ambition, and ate cold ravioli straight from the tin because I was too lazy to heat it up."

The advert cuts to shots of him as a young man playing video games. The old man continues: "And when the virus spread, I remained the same lazy sack of potatoes that I was before."

"But unlike me, the world had changed: to contain the virus, people were urged to stay at home, doing nothing suddenly became a public service, laziness could save lives, and I was a champion in that," he adds.

 

 

Sawsan Chebli, a politician from the Social Democratic Party, praised the campaign, tweeting on Tuesday: "So strong. So heart-warming. And so damn important."

Even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau commented on the video, tweeting: "Have you seen Germany's new ads about COVID-19? It doesn't matter what language you speak, the message is clear. You can be the hero in the fight against this virus - and you don't even have to do that much."

This is not the first time the German government has opted for humor in their coronavirus advertisements. 

Last month, Berlin's tourism authority launched a campaign featuring an older woman in a floral mask giving the middle finger to people who refuse to wear face coverings.

 

But not everybody was a fan of the ad campaign, with the editor-in-chief of Berlin's Der Tagesspiegel newspaper, Lorenz Maroldt, saying: "The Senate seem to think that insulting people is more successful than strict, clear rules with efficient controls. They failed with that completely," according to the BBC.

Germany has reported almost 900,000 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and more than 30,000 deaths, according to a tracker by Johns Hopkins University.

The country is currently on a partial lockdown, which was implemented on November 2. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Rudy Giuliani’s son tested positive for the coronavirus one day after attending his father’s sweaty press conference

Andrew Giuliani
Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and son of President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, attends a news conference with his father at the Republican National Committee headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington, on November 19, 2020.
  • Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide and son of Rudy Giuliani, said on Friday he tested positive for COVID-19 and his experiencing "mild symptoms."
  • His diagnosis comes one day after the younger Giuliani attended his father's press briefing on Thursday, where Trump's personal attorney was seen sweating profusely.
  • The Trump campaign lawyer said on Friday that his legal team, which was also present at the briefing, had likely to be exposed to the virus as most of them were not wearing face masks.
  • It is not clear whether or not the older Giuliani is self-isolating after his son's coronavirus diagnosis, although he is considered to be in the risk category due to his age.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rudy Giuliani's son, Andrew, announced he tested positive for the coronavirus a day after attending his father's press conference, in which Trump's personal attorney was seen sweating profusely.

Taking to Twitter on Friday, Andrew Giuliani wrote that he was "experiencing mild symptoms" and "following all appropriate protocols, including being in quarantine and conducting contact tracing."

He attended the two-hour press briefing with his father at the Republican National Committee (RNC) headquarters in Washington, DC, on Thursday.

The younger Giuliani, a White House staffer, was pictured at the event wearing a face covering. His father and many other Trump campaign lawyers spoke without masks from an indoor podium. Dozens were present in the audience.

During the briefing, Rudy Giuliani sweated profusely, causing his hair dye to run down his face.

rudy giuliani sweat
There are almost no words.

The former New York mayor, who is reportedly asking for $20,000 per day in legal fees, spent the conference floating unfounded conspiracy theories and claiming incorrectly that President Trump won the election.

The Trump campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis said during a conference call on Friday that Trump's legal team, which was also present at the briefing, had likely been exposed to the virus as most of them were not wearing face masks, Newsweek reported.

Ellis later tweeted that both she and Rudy Giuliani had so far tested negative for the virus and that the rest of the legal team will continue to "follow the advice and protocols of our doctors."

 

Andrew Giuliani, who is 34 years old, is the latest of many Trump administration and campaign officials to have become infected with COVID-19.

In the last few days, three lower-level White House aides have tested positive for coronavirus, NBC reported on Friday.

The president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, also tested positive for the virus earlier this week and is currently quarantining. A spokesman for Trump Jr. previously told Business Insider that the president's son is asymptomatic.

Rudy Giuliani is currently leading a team of five lawyers fighting to overturn the election result, which the Trump administration has called "rigged."

The former New York mayor is 76 years old, which puts him in the risk category for more severe coronavirus symptoms.

It unclear whether Rudy Giuliani is self-isolating or whether he had close contact with his son in the last few days.

Business Insider reached out to Rudy Giuliani but did not hear back in time for publication.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Twitter says it will hand over the official presidential account to Joe Biden on Inauguration Day

trump twitter
  • Twitter will hand over the official @POTUS account to President-elect Joe Biden when he's sworn in on Inauguration Day, the company said on Friday.
  • The social media company plans to do the same for other Twitter handles linked to the presidency, including @FLOTUS, @VP, and @whitehouse accounts.
  • This move won't affect President Trump too much as he's been largely tweeting from his personal account @realDonaldTrump.
  • However, his private account could be much more highly regulated after he leaves the White House.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden will be handed over the official @POTUS account when he's sworn in on Inauguration Day, Twitter said in a statement on Friday.

"Twitter is actively preparing to support the transition of White House institutional Twitter accounts on January 20th, 2021," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement, according to The Verge. "As we did for the presidential transition in 2017, this process is being done in close consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration."

The social media company plans to do the same for other Twitter handles linked to the presidency, including @FLOTUS, @VP, and @whitehouse accounts.

No information will be shared between the Trump team and the incoming Biden administration during the handover, the company said.

Trump's existing tweets on @POTUS will be archived and Twitter will reset the account to zero tweets. 

This procedure was the same in 2016 when President Barack Obama handed over the account to Trump. Obama's @POTUS archive can be found here.

Even if Trump doesn't concede, the transition will happen, which he still hasn't officially done after losing the presidential election to Biden on November 7.

In the last four years, Trump has largely been using his personal account — @realDonaldTrump — for most of his tweeting. As a private citizen, he will be able to keep control of that account after the inauguration day.

However, his personal Twitter account could be much more highly regulated, and he could even face suspension or removal, according to Twitter's policies.

This is because his tweets would no longer fall under Twitter's "world leader" exemptions, meaning they may be deemed to be outside the company's terms of public interest

In the last few weeks, Twitter has been issuing "misleading" and "disputed" labels on several of Trump's tweets about the election being stolen.

There is absolutely no evidence to support Trump's unfounded claims that Democrats "rigged" the election against him.

On Tuesday, Twitter added a new label that reads "Official sources called this election differently," after Trump falsely claimed he won the presidential election.

Between Monday and Friday, the label has been applied to five of the President's tweets.

Read the original article on Business Insider

QAnon has become a powerful force in Germany, helping to drive Europe’s biggest anti-lockdown movement

germany anti lockdown protest
A demonstrator wrapped in a flag of the German empire joins an anti-lockdown demonstration, in Berlin, Germany, on August 29, 2020.
  • Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Germany has seen a growing anti-lockdown movement which has become one of the largest in Europe.
  • The protesters are an eclectic mix of people, including conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists, coronavirus skeptics, and anti-vaxxers. 
  • Many of the protests have been organized by the controversial "Querdenken 711" group, which has been backed by President John F. Kennedy's nephew and anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
  • Experts worry that the protests are becoming increasingly radical as more demonstrators openly identify with the conspiracy movement, QAnon.
  • Photos show how Germany became the epicenter of Europe's anti-lockdown movement.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In recent months, Germany has become the epicenter of Europe's anti-lockdown movement, as thousands of people have been taking to the streets to defy social distancing measures and mask mandates.

The anti-lockdown protesters, who include conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists, anti-vaxxers, and coronavirus skeptics, have united to accuse German lawmakers of triggering unnecessary panic and infringing on civil liberties.

Many of the recent protests have been organized by the "Querdenken 711" movement, which has also been backed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent anti-vaxxer and the nephew of former president John F. Kennedy.

Experts also worry that the movement is becoming increasingly radical. Most of QAnon's European followers are largely based in Germany, and more demonstrators at anti-lockdown protests are seen waving Q flags.

QAnon advocates claim that the US is secretly controlled by a cabal of politicians, celebrities, and media figures who engage in child abuse and pedophilia and that President Donald Trump will eventually move against these people. Its believers seek clues from an unknown government insider known as Q. There is no evidence to support the theory, and none of its foretold reckonings have taken place.

Scroll down to find out more about how Germany became the epicenter of Europe's anti-lockdown movement and how QAnon played a role.

Over the last few months, Germany has seen a growing anti-lockdown movement which has become one of the largest in Europe.
germany anti lockdown protest
Riot police and water cannons stand guard during protests next to the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany on November 18, 2020.
This week, Berlin saw more than 10,000 protesters rally in front of the Reichstag — Germany's parliament — in defiance of social distancing measures and mask orders.
GettyImages 1229664528
Participants stand in front of the Brandenburg Gate during a demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions of the German government in Berlin on November 18, 2020.

Source: BBC

Police used water cannons to disperse the protester and several arrests were made.
GettyImages 1229669890 (2)
Police officers forced back demonstrators in front of the Brandenburg Gate with water cannons in Berlin, Germany on November 18, 2020.

Source: BBC

German anti-lockdown protesters include conspiracy theorists, far-right extremists, anti-vaxxers, esotericists, coronavirus skeptics, and ordinary citizens who say the threat of the pandemic is exagerated.
germany anti lockdown protest
A demonstrator holds a sign reading "5G, this is a war" during protests in Berlin, Germany on November 18, 2020.

Source: Business Insider

Although these diverse groups have drastically different world views, they have united to accuse German lawmakers of triggering unnecessary panic, calling the COVID-19 measures "dictatorial."
germany anti lockdown protest
A demonstrator holds a Christian cross during the protest in Berlin, Germany, on November 18, 2020.

Source: Business Insider, The Left Berlin

While the movement claims it's "neither right nor left", it does not condemn fascism and racism and has welcomed neo-Nazis and members of the far-right political party, AfD.
querdenken germany coronavirus
Counter-demonstrators block a street to protest against the Querdenken movement on November 14, 2020, in Frankfurt, Germany.

Source: The Left Berlin

Recent demonstrations have been organized by the "Querdenken 711" group, which translates into "Lateral Thinking 711" and was first launched in Stuttgart (the city's phone code is 711) in mid-April.
querdenken germany coronavirus
A demonstrator wears a toilet paper roll instead of a protective face mask and another a shirt with an inscription reading "Querdenken - Leipzig" during a protest on November 18, 2020, near the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

Source: The Daily Beast

It was founded by a 46-year-old computer entrepreneur called Michael Ballweg who claims on his website that the group is "non-partisan" and does "not exclude any opinion."
Michael Ballweg
Michael Ballweg, initiator of "Querdenken 711", speaks at a rally in Berlin on August 1, 2020.

Source: Michael Ballweg

However, Ballweg's slogan about the unity of the group is: "Where we go one, we go all," lifted directly from the conspiracy theory QAnon.
germany anti-lockdown protest qanon
Mostly right-wing protesters, including a young woman wearing a QAnon shirt, observe riot police clearing Unter den Linden avenue during protests against coronavirus-related restrictions and government policy on August 29, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.

Source: The Left Berlin

The protests have become increasingly radical, with the number of followers of QAnon-related accounts on all platforms in Germany rising to more than 200,000.
germany anti-lockdown protest qanon
A policeman instructs men wearing QAnon conspiracy shirts to move along during scattered protests at Alexanderplatz in Berlin, Germany, on May 16, 2020.

People regularly wave Q flags during protests against coronavirus measures.

Source: New York Times

"I was astonished that QAnon is gaining such momentum here," Patrick Sensburg, a lawmaker in Angela Merkel's conservative party, recently said."It seemed like such an American thing. But it's falling on fertile ground."
germany anti-lockdown protest qanon
A demonstrator holds a QAnon flag during protests on November 18, 2020, in Berlin, Germany.

Source: New York Times

But it's not just Germany that is worrying political leaders. Other European domestic intelligence and law-enforcement services, including those in France and Belgium, now also consider the QAnon conspiracy theory a significant security concern.
GettyImages 1229669423
Police intervene in demonstrators defying social distancing and mask orders as thousands gather near the German parliament to protest coronavirus restrictions in Berlin on November 18, 2020.

Source: Business Insider

One prominent American figure who has also openly endorsed "Querdenken 711" is Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who is the nephew of former President John F. Kennedy.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. arrives at the 10th Annual GO Campaign Gala at Manuela on November 5, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.

Kennedy is an anti-vaxxer who owns an organization called Children's Health Defense, which promotes the idea that Bill Gates has a "globalist" agenda for mandatory vaccinations.

The 66-year-old also once insisted that top US infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci seeks to poison "an entire generation of Americans" with a COVID-19 vaccine, The Daily Beast reported.

Source: The Daily Beast

Kennedy even spoke during one of the movement's rallies in Berlin alongside Ballweg. According to some reports, his appearance prompted German QAnon Telegram channels to go into a frenzy.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (C), greets people during an anti-lockdown protest in Berlin, Germany as Michael Ballweg (L), founder of the Querdenker movement, looks on, on August 29, 2020.

Source: The Daily Beast

Another outspoken figure in the movement is Heiko Schöning, who is a founder of the anti-vaccination group Ärzte für Aufklärung ("Doctors for Enlightenment") and is also a regular speaker at Querdenken events.
Heiko Schöning
Heiko Schöning, doctor and member of the initiative "Doctors for Enlightenment", speaks at a demonstration on May 3, 2020, in Hamburg, Germany.

Schöning was arrested in London in September after he appeared at an anti-lockdown protest in Trafalgar Square.

Source: Mayor of London, NDR

 

A partial lockdown has been in place across Germany since November 2 and lawmakers are discussing extending the lockdown until Christmas.
germany coronavirus
A man stands in front of a closed Christmas tree decorations stall at the canceled annual Christmas in Essen, Germany on November 12, 2020.

Government spokesman Stefan Seibert said lockdown measures "were not expected to be relaxed" and that winter festivities were unlikely to go ahead, the Guardian reported.

Source: The Guardian

Germany has previously been praised for its handling of the pandemic and some experts believe that its success is partly to blame for the rise in protests.
coronavirus germany protest
A man protests against the government's restrictions following the coronavirus outbreak in front of the Reichstag, in Berlin, Germany, on May 23, 2020.

"Virologists say there is no glory in prevention; if prevention is successful, people don't see the danger," Thorsten Quandt, a professor at the University of Münster, told CNN in September. "The irony is the less you can feel it, and more successful you are with pandemic measures, the more people say we should stop [those measures]."

Source: Business Insider

Even though there is a growing movement against the COVID-19 lockdown, the majority of Germans are still in support of it.
germany anti lockdown protest
Demonstrators confront riot police during protests next to the Reichstag in Berlin, Germany, on November 18, 2020.

In a recent national survey, more than 58% said that the lockdown measures were just right.

Polls also show that trust in Merkel's conservative government is high, while the far-right party known as AfD, has been struggling, the New York Times reported.

Source: Forschungsgruppe Wahlen

Read the original article on Business Insider

Joe Biden is expected to make history by appointing a woman to head the Pentagon for the first time

Michele Flournoy
Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy speaks onstage during Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on October 13, 2015 in Washington, DC.


  • Michele Flournoy is a politically moderate Pentagon veteran who has years of experience in the Department of Defense and is regarded by US officials as a top choice for the position.
  • Her possible appointment would end a tumultuous period under President Trump that has seen five men hold the job in the last four years.
  • If she is confirmed, Flournoy could be put in charge of deploying the military to distribute a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President-elect Joe Biden is expected to appoint Michele Flournoyas the head of the Pentagon, which would be the first time a woman has held the position.

Flournoy is a politically moderate Pentagon veteran who previously acted as a senior defense adviser in both the Bill Clinton and Barack Obama administrations. She had also been the expected choice of Hillary Clinton if she had won the 2016 election.

With years of experience in the Department of Defense, Flournoy is regarded by US officials as a top choice for the position.

If the US Senate confirms her appointment, it will end a tumultuous period under President Trump that has seen five men hold the job in the last four years.

The most recent defense secretary to leave the Pentagon was Mark Esper. He was abruptly fired on Monday after disagreeing with the president over several issues, including using force against civilian protesters and support for the Confederacy.

His termination was part of a major reshuffle instigated by Trump, who filled senior defense positions with loyalists, including a retired US Army brigadier general who previously called Former President Barack Obama a "terrorist leader."

The move has alarmed Pentagon officials, who have called it "scary" and "very unsettling."

"These are dictator moves," one defense official told CNN.

Rep. Adam Smith, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, also said in a statement on Tuesday that the "gutting" of the department ought to "alarm" Americans and that the next few months could be "downright dangerous."

If she is confirmed, Flournoy could be put in charge of deploying the military to distribute a coronavirus vaccine. 

She is also keen to rebuild the country's international reputation, telling a conference in March that "it's going to take a lot of work over a number of years to recover that trust and that standing," the Guardian reported.

Her appointment would come five years after the department opened all combat jobs to female service members. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

17 photos show thousand of ill people flooding Europe’s hospitals as the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic grips the continent

greece
Medical workers take care of a patient at the ICU of the George Papanikolaou General Hospital in Thessaloniki, Greece, on November 11, 2020.
  • In Europe, emergency wards are filling up amid a second coronavirus wave that has seen a record number of cases, hospitalization, and deaths.
  • A worrying increase in hospitalizations and deaths reported across the continent come despite some countries going into partial or full lockdowns over the colder winter months.
  • European leaders are hoping that the restrictions will flatten the curve as intensive care units fill up.
  • Scroll down to see how hospitals across Europe are coping at the moment, from Sweden to Greece.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Europe's second coronavirus wave is intensifying as the number of hospitalizations and deaths are dramatically rising across the continent.
Netherlands coronavirus
Medical personnel wearing full protective suits are seen as they treat a patient infected with the coronavirus in the ICU at Maastricht UMC+ in Maastricht, Netherlands, on November 10, 2020.
On Thursday, the UK because the first country in Europe to pass 50,000 COVID-19 deaths, according to latest government figures.
liverpool testing
Soldiers wearing full PPE wait at a coronavirus rapid testing center in Liverpool, England on November 11, 2020.

Source: BBC

NHS bosses said this week they were seriously concerned by the number of hospitalizations, adding that medical professionals are facing a "very difficult winter."
manchester
A cyclist wearing a face mask pushes a bike past a barrier outside the NHS Nightingale Hospital North West field hospital, set up to provide more hospital capacity during the pandemic, on October 13, 2020.

Hospitals are currently treating just over 10,000 patients, but are expected to get close to 20,000 in the next few weeks.

Source: BBC

In France, hospitalizations are also rising rapidly, with the prime minister saying on Thursday that someone is being admitted to hospital every 30 seconds.
2020 11 12T180058Z_557744969_RC2U1K985QJA_RTRMADP_3_HEALTH CORONAVIRUS FRANCE HOSPITAL.JPG
A patient suffering from the coronavirus lies on his front in the ICU at Ambroise Pare clinic in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, France, November 12, 2020.

The hospitalizations come despite the country seeing a decrease in its infection rate.

"The pressure on our hospitals has intensified enormously," Prime Minister Jean Castex said on Thursday, according to Sky News.

Source: Sky News 

The number of people infected with COVID-19 in French hospitals reached a new all-time high on Friday, with 32,638 reported admissions.
france covid-19 europe second wave
A medical worker swabs the nose of a man as she administers a novel coronavirus Covid-19 test at a mobile testing unit at the main train station in Marseille, southern France, on November 12, 2020.

Source: The Guardian

The spike in cases and hospitalizations comes even though the country has been on one of the strictest second lockdowns in Europe.
Paris lockdown coronavirus
A restaurant on the Champs-Elysees avenue is shut down during a second national lockdown in Paris, France, on November 12, 2020.

People living in France are only allowed to leave home for essential work or medical reasons. If they leave for any other reason, they must have a permission form with them. 

Source: The Local France

Even in Germany — a country that was praised for handling the first COVID-19 wave efficiently — doctors are struggling to keep up with a rising number of cases.
germany coronavirus
An intensive care nurse works in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the University Hospital Dresden in Saxony on November 13, 2020.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, COVID-19 cases in the country hit a record of 23,542 on Friday.

Source: Robert Koch Institute

The figures are particularly dire in Berlin, which has one of Germany's highest infection rates.
germany hospital coronavirus
Nurses have their daily shift handover briefing on the medical treatment for patients suffering from the coronavirus at the COVID-19 isolation ward of DRK Kliniken Berlin Mitte hospital in Berlin, Germany, on November 11, 2020.

Source: Deutsche Welle

But the country is still doing relatively well compared to others. At the beginning of the month, Germany's health minister said it would open its hospitals to neighboring countries.
coronavirus france
Medical staff members move a patient suffering from the coronavirus to a plane during a transfer operation from Lille-Lesquin airport in France to Munster airport in Germany, France, on November 10, 2020.

Germany's health minister Jens Spahn said on October 30: "It makes us humble and grateful to be lucky enough to be able to support our neighbours. So far we have taken from the Netherlands. Of course, we will help Belgium, the Czech Republic and all our neighbours as soon as they ask and as long as we can," according to the Guardian.

Source: The Guardian

However, Germany's partial lockdown — which was put in place on November 2 — could be extended beyond the end of the month, government officials warned.
germany coronavirus
A man stands in front of a closed christmas tree decorations stall at the cancelled annual Christmas market during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on November 12, 2020 in Essen, Germany.

Government spokesman Stefan Seibert said lockdown measures "were not expected to be relaxed" by next week and that winter festivities were unlikely to go ahead, the Guardian reported.

Source: The Guardian

Meanwhile, Italy's hospitals are reaching a breaking point as cases continue to spike dramatically.
Sant'Orsola Covid-19 Hospital ICU italy
Medical professionals wearing personal protective equipment treat a patient inside a COVID-19 ward at Sant'Orsola Hospital on November 12, 2020, in Bologna, Italy.
In Naples, the situation is so bad that medical staff were forced to bring oxygen tanks outside hospitals to treat patients waiting in their cars.
Naples cotugno hospital oxygen in cars coronavirus
A patient is administered oxygen whilst waiting in a car outside the Cotugno hospital as the battle with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) intensifies, in Naples, Italy, on November 9, 2020

Source: Business Insider

"The situation in Campania is out of control," the Italian foreign minister, Luigi Di Maio, said this week. "We need urgent restrictions…people are dying."
italy coronavirus
Doctors wait for patients to arrive at the Policlinico Tor Vergata hospital where patients suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are being treated in Rome, Italy November 13, 2020.

Source: The Guardian

His comments came after a heart-wrenching video emerged of a man who died in the bathroom of a Naples emergency room while waiting to be tested. He is suspected to have had COVID-19.
italy coronavirus talk
A medical worker wearing a face mask talks on her mobile phone inside the new coronavirus intensive care unit of the Brescia Poliambulanza hospital, Lombardy, on March 17, 2020.

Source: Business Insider

The country passed the million-mark in total infections this week, with cases rising at more than 30,000 a day.
italy hospital coronavirus second wave
Members of the medical personnel prepare in the emergency room of the Maggiore di Lodi hospital in Lodi, Italy, on November 13, 2020.

Source: Johns Hopkins University Tracker

Some good news has come out of Belgium and the Netherlands where new infections are slowing down. However, hospital services remain under severe pressure, with Belgium having to send some of their patients to Germany to be treated.
netherlands coronavirus
A member of the medical personnel wearing a full protective suit is seen as she treats a patient infected with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit at Maastricht UMC+ Hospital in Maastricht, Netherlands, on November 10, 2020.

Source: The Guardian

Sweden — which thought its herd immunity strategy would prevent a second wave — is also struggling, reporting a record 5,990 new cases on Friday, its highest since the start of the pandemic.
stockholm sweden coronavirus
A man wearing a face mask walks in the street during the COVID-19 pandemic in Stockholm, capital of Sweden, on November 3, 2020

Sweden's chief epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, admitted this week that the country is now experiencing a second wave of coronavirus despite predicting that its no-lockdown policy would prevent another wave.

Source: Business Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider