Melinda Gates' petition for divorce says marriage to Bill is 'irretrievably broken'

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NBC News 04 May, 2021 - 09:04am 11 views

When did Bill and Melinda Gates get married?

Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, announced he and his wife, Melinda, will divorce. Gates married Melinda French in 1994 after the two met at work. The two run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment of $49.8 billion as of 2019. Business InsiderBill and Melinda Gates marriage, kids and net worth in photos

In her petition for divorce, filed Monday in King County, Washington, she said "spousal support is not needed" and a separation contract will determine property divisions.

"We ask the court to dissolve our marriage and find that our marital community ended on the date stated in our separation contract," according to the document.

It is not clear from the petition when the couple separated or if they had a prenuptial agreement.

Bill, 65, and Melinda Gates, 56, first announced their divorce on Monday in a joint statement. The pair, who married on New Year's Day in Hawaii in 1994, said that they no longer “believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."

“After a great deal of thought and a lot of work on our relationship, we have made the decision to end our marriage,” they said in the statement. "Over the last 27 years, we have raised three incredible children and built a foundation that works all over the world to enable all people to lead healthy, productive lives."

Jennifer Katharine Gates, 25, the oldest of her siblings, wrote in a statement that it has "been a challenging stretch of time for our whole family."

"I'm still learning how to best support my own process and emotions as well as family members at this time," she wrote.

The couple in 2000 founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a private philanthropic organization which funds research and advocacy work across the globe, including in some of the world's most impoverished nations.

The foundation has given billions to support issues like global health, development and education, as well as combating climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975 and served as its chief executive until 2000, stepped down from the company's board last year and has since focused the majority of his efforts on philanthropy.

He still owns roughly 1.3 percent of Microsoft's shares. His net worth is roughly $130 billion, according to Forbes, making him the fourth-richest person in the world.

The Gates Foundation's assets are nearly $50 billion, according to its financial statements, and it's been considered the world’s largest private philanthropic organization for the past 20 years. It issued about $5 billion in grants annually during 2018 and 2019.

In their statement announcing their split, the couple — who are co-chairs of the foundation — said they would continue to work together in the philanthropic mission.

Read full article at NBC News

Bill, Melinda Gates announce split after nearly 30 years together

Yahoo! Voices 04 May, 2021 - 11:00am

Via Twitter, Gates — one of the world's wealthiest men — said that he and his wife remain committed to their "mission" as philanthropists, but "we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."

The tech titan, who emerged as a leading voice in the fight against COVID-19 and frequently weighs in on matters impacting the environment and public health, currently sits at number four on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people, with an estimated net worth of over $130 billion as of Monday. 

Melinda Gates, a graduate of Duke University, worked as a general manager at Microsoft — having been recruited just after the company went public.

The couple jointly chairs one of the world's largest philanthropies, and both are signatories of Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge, a commitment of the world's wealthiest people to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropic endeavors. Buffett and Gates have been close friends for nearly 30 years, with the latter crediting the former for having taught him important lessons on life and investing.

According to multiple sources, Gates foundation staff was alerted ahead of time before the couple broke the news on social media — with one staffer describing the internal mood as one of "total shock."

The Gates' divorce raises questions about how one of the world's largest fortunes will be divided, but Amazon (AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos provides a useful test case of how the fruits of the Gates' union will be divided.

Bezos' split from ex-wife Mackenzie Scott resulted in the latter instantly becoming the one of the wealthiest women in the world. Since then, Amazon's surging stock has landed Bezos right back on top the billionaire's league tables

Javier David is an editor for Yahoo Finance. Follow Javier on Twitter: @TeflonGeek

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A man who shot and killed two people and wounded a third at a northeastern Wisconsin tribal casino restaurant had been fired from the eatery and ordered by a court to leave his former supervisor alone, according to court records. Bruce Pofahl, 62, walked into the Duck Creek Kitchen and Bar in Green Bay on Saturday and shot Ian Simpson, 32, and Jacob Bartel, 35, at a wait station at close range with a 9 mm handgun as dozens of patrons looked on, Brown County Sheriff Todd Delain said Monday during a news conference in Green Bay. As people were yelling and screaming, Pofahl went outside and shot another restaurant employee, 28-year-old Daniel Mulligan, the sheriff said.

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As plumes of smoke rose from cremation grounds, where bodies were arriving faster than they could be burned, teams of professional cricket players squared off under the lights of a cavernous stadium named for India’s prime minister, Narendra Modi. The jarring scenes unfolded on Thursday in Ahmadabad, a city located in Modi’s home state of Gujarat and a hot spot in India’s spiraling coronavirus outbreak, which is claiming an average of nearly 3,000 lives a day nationwide. For decades, cricket and its charismatic stars have commanded exalted status in India, where the once-genteel colonial game attracts its biggest and most passionate fan base. Now, public anger is growing at the sport’s marquee international product, the Indian Premier League, which is playing matches in a “bio-bubble” without spectators that has drawn criticism for diverting resources from the country’s wider coronavirus fight. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “There is a lack of empathy for dead bodies lying in crematoriums surrounding your stadium,” said Rahul Verma, a lawyer and die-hard cricket fan who said he had been a devoted follower of the cricket league since it started in 2008. “This game, a gentleman’s game, never was so grotesque.” India set another global record on Friday with nearly 383,000 new infections, the health ministry reported, pushing the global coronavirus case count to more than 150 million. In India, with one in five tests coming back positive, experts fear the true toll is much higher. As the U.S. Air Force delivered the first shipments of oxygen cylinders, test kits, masks and other emergency supplies promised to India by the Biden administration, several Indian states said they could not fulfill the government’s directive to expand vaccinations to all adults beginning Saturday because they lacked vaccine doses. As hospitals face shortages of intensive-care beds, relatives of the sick broadcast desperate pleas on social media for oxygen, medicine and other scarce supplies. Many Indians say they do not know if they are infected with the coronavirus because overwhelmed labs have stopped processing tests. But one group that seems unaffected is the wealthy and powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India, the regulatory body that oversees the Indian Premier League, which was modeled on soccer’s Premier League in England and features players from around the world. The board has kept ambulances fitted with mobile intensive-care beds on standby outside stadiums where matches are being played in case a player falls sick. It is testing players every two days and has created a travel bubble between stadiums in the six states hosting matches, including dedicated airport check-in counters for cricketers. Meanwhile, some Indians say they cannot cross state lines to find hospital beds for COVID-19 patients. Hemang Amin, the board’s chief operating officer, said in a letter released this week that the health and safety of players and staff members were “of paramount importance,” and added that the matches, which conclude on May 30, were a needed distraction in a difficult time. “When you all walk out onto the field, you are bringing hope to millions of people who have tuned in,” he wrote. But the league’s safety protocols have only highlighted the gap between its star players — who have said little publicly in the face of criticism — and the rest of the country. “That ambulance outside that stadium could have saved at least ten lives a day,” said Ishan Singh, a cricket fan in Delhi. “These players are thieves. Given a chance, they will rob wood from the cremations and sell it in the market.” The New Indian Express, a daily newspaper, said in an editorial this week that it would suspend coverage of the cricket league until “a semblance of normalcy is restored” in the country. “This is commercialism gone crass,” the newspaper wrote. “The problem is not with the game but its timing.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

The former MI6 spy Christopher Steele produced a second dossier for the FBI on Donald Trump while he was in the White House, sources told The Telegraph. Mr Steele filed a series of intelligence reports to US authorities during the Trump presidency, including information concerning alleged sexual exploits. Mr Steele’s continued involvement supplying intelligence to the FBI appears to give credibility to his original dossier, which sparked a Special Counsel investigation by prosecutor Robert Mueller into Russian interference into the 2016 US presidential elections. Mr Steele’s original leaked dossier detailed allegations of misconduct, conspiracy and cooperation between Mr Trump’s presidential campaign team and Vladimir Putin’s government. It also contained the sensational claim that the Kremlin was in possession of compromising material, including a sex tape of Mr Trump with a prostitute at a hotel in Moscow in 2013. The former president has strongly denied the claims made in the Steele dossier, denouncing it as fake news. The emergence of the 35-page dossier, written between June and December 2016, did not it appears signal an end to the former MI6 officer’s working relationship with the FBI and continued after Mr Trump's inauguration in January 2017. The Telegraph understands that Mr Steele, through his company Orbis Business Intelligence, continued supplying raw intelligence to the federal authorities in the US. The second dossier contains raw intelligence that makes further claims of Russian meddling in the US election and also references claims regarding the existence of further sex tapes. The second dossier is reliant on separate sources to those who supplied information for the first reports. The fact the FBI continued to receive intelligence from Mr Steele, who ran MI6’s Russia desk from 2006 to 2009 before setting up Orbis, is potentially significant because it shows his work was apparently still being taken seriously after Mr Trump took hold of the reins of power. The Mueller inquiry led to a series of convictions including the jailing of Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign chairman. Others convicted included George Papadopoulos, an adviser to the Trump campaign; and Roger Stone, a long time ally and former adviser. Intelligence gathered by Mr Steele for his second dossier is understood to include further details of Mr Manafort’s alleged Russian contacts. Earlier this month, news sources in the US reported that Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Mr Manafort, had passed Trump campaign polling and strategy information to Russian intelligence sources. The FBI is offering a $250,000 reward for "information leading to the arrest of" Konstantin Kilimnik, an associate of Mr Manafort. The US Treasury has placed Mr Kilimnik under sanctions, describing him as a "known Russian Intelligence Services agent". The Treasury report states: "During the 2016 US presidential election campaign, Kilimnik provided the Russian Intelligence Services with sensitive information on polling and campaign strategy." It is understood that Mr Steele believes the targeting of Mr Kilimnik shows collusion between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence services. The FBI interviewed Mr Steele at the Grosvenor Hotel in central London, close to his offices, in September 2017 as part of then ongoing inquiries into Russian meddling. In the interview, Mr Steele told the FBI that Orbis had "four discrete, ‘hermetically-sealed’ main agent networks". His primary "sub-source" for the dossier was no longer "active" at the time of the interview with FBI agents, but that another "main agent network is up and running and is now starting to get good information". The Telegraph understands this agent, referred to by Mr Steele in his interview with the FBI, supplied information for the second dossier. The new dossier contains, like the first, a series of raw intelligence reports on alleged Russian interference linked to Mr Trump and his associates. The suggestion it includes further details of Mr Trump’s sexual exploits will infuriate the former president. On Twitter he has called the allegations a "pile of garbage". The original dossier had been dismissed, according to the New York Times, by sources inside the CIA as "internet rumour", but it was used by the US Justice Department to support a secret court order authorising surveillance of Carter Page, a former Trump campaign aide. Page is now suing the FBI and Justice Department for $75million.

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MIAMI — A fifth-grade math and science teacher peddled a bogus conspiracy theory Wednesday to students at Centner Academy, a private school in Miami, warning them that they should not hug parents who had been vaccinated against the coronavirus for more than five seconds because they might be exposed to harmful vaccine shedding. “Hola Mami,” one student wrote in an email to her parents from school, saying that the teacher was “telling us to stay away from you guys.” Nearly a week before, the school had threatened teachers’ employment if they got a coronavirus vaccine before the end of the school year. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Alarmed parents frantically texted one another on WhatsApp, trying to find a way to pull their children out at the end of the term. Inside Centner Academy, however, “hundreds of queries from all over the world” came in for teaching positions, according to the administration. More came from people who wanted to enroll their children at the school, where tuition runs up to $30,000 a year. The small school in Miami’s trendy Design District became a national beacon for anti-vaccination activists practically overnight last week, just as U.S. public health officials wrestled with how to overcome vaccine skepticism. The policy barring teachers from contact with students after getting the vaccine brought a flurry of television news crews who parked outside the school for days, prompting teachers to keep children indoors for physical education and recess. Leila Centner, the school’s co-founder, who said she is not against fully tested vaccines, wrote on Instagram that the media are “trying to destroy my reputation because I went against their narrative.” Devoted supporters cheered her on. “We won’t let them take you down!” one of them wrote on Instagram. “We stand strong with you! You’re an angel trying to save our kids and teachers.” Centner, an avid social media user who has long used her accounts to document her luxurious lifestyle, took effective control of the school last year in the midst of the pandemic. She told the community that the school, with prekindergarten through eighth grades, would focus on “happiness” and espouse “medical freedom.” But interviews with 21 current and former parents and teachers as well as a review of social media posts and of school documents, emails, text messages and videos show how the wealthy and well-connected Centner brought her anti-vaccination and anti-masking views into the school’s day-to-day life, turning what had been a tight-knit community into one bitterly split between those who support her views on vaccinations and those who do not. “Every afternoon I have to explain things to my child when she comes home and says, ‘How come the school says what you’re saying is not right?’” said Iris Acosta-Zobel, referring to the importance she gives at home to masking and vaccinations. She pulled her daughter out of the school Friday. David Centner, a former electronic highway tolling entrepreneur who co-founded the school in its current iteration with his wife, said in written responses to questions that the school was listening to families. “We have met with more than 70 parents, and we are pleased that so many families continue to support our mission and trust us with their children,” he said. Sara Dagan, who has four children at the school, said she was not troubled by the controversy. “Everything was blown out of proportion,” she said. “I’m comfortable with holding off on the vaccine. My main concern is the happiness of the kids.” Most people interviewed for this article requested anonymity to protect their children or their employment. Some former parents and teachers said they feared retaliation if they spoke publicly. Others declined to comment because the school had made them sign nondisclosure agreements. The anti-vaccination policy requires recently vaccinated teachers to maintain a distance from students — Leila Centner told teachers not to hug the children, for example. It caused such a frenzy that a reporter asked about it during a White House briefing. (The school received $804,375 from the federal Paycheck Protection Program during the pandemic.) Jen Psaki, the press secretary, noted that public health guidelines strongly encourage vaccines against the coronavirus and are meant to keep people safe. Centner Academy opened in its current form last year after the Centners, who previously owned just the preschool, took over the Metropolitan International School, an established private school that focused on foreign languages and served an international clientele. Its owner retired and said the school would merge with the preschool owned by the Centners, who have donated heavily in recent years to the Republican Party and former President Donald Trump. By the time the pandemic hit, the school’s old identity and leaders were gone, and the Centners were at the helm. Things began to change, parents said. Surveillance cameras were installed to record both video and audio, for what David Centner said were security and insurance purposes. Leila Centner once remarked that children should be kept away from windows, for fear of radiation from 5G cell towers, another baseless conspiracy theory. (The windows at the preschool now have electromagnetic frequency “shielding blockers,” David Centner said in response to a question about the school’s 5G concerns.) The school opposed feeding children sugar and gluten and required that students have different shoes for indoors and outdoors. Some parents said they thought such ideas odd but inoffensive — unlike what began to happen with the school’s response to the coronavirus. The school opened for in-person instruction in September and initially pledged to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines as well as a local mask mandate. But teachers said they found no attempt at social distancing during orientation in August, and Leila Centner discouraged mask use. Teachers had to sign waivers acknowledging that there was a health risk associated with returning to work in person. When the Florida Department of Health visited for routine food inspections in August and December, teachers were told to mask up, according to a former teacher and a current teacher, who produced two WhatsApp messages as proof. Parents were offered forms to exempt their children from any need to wear masks, similar to a school policy that also exempts children from vaccines of all kinds if their parents wish. Leila Centner operated a WhatsApp group called “Knowledge Is Key” (joining was optional, David Centner said) on which she shared anti-vaccination material with teachers. When a parent asked if the school would mandate the flu vaccine, Leila Centner laid out her skepticism about vaccines in a letter to parents. She cited a nonprofit organization started by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an anti-vaccination crusader. “As many of you may have learned by now, we are not blind followers, and we try not to make fear-based decisions,” she wrote. In November, two grade levels in the preschool added two days of online-only instruction to their long Thanksgiving break after several COVID-19 cases were confirmed. Once Florida began administering coronavirus vaccines, Leila Centner invited members of the school community to a virtual talk with an anti-vaccination pediatrician to discuss potential dangers of the vaccines. Kennedy visited the school and met with teachers. So did another anti-vaccination activist, who also met with students. Then came the announcement that vaccinated teachers would have to stay away from students or would not be allowed to return for now if they get the vaccine over the summer. “If you want to get it, this is not going to be the right school for you,” Leila Centner told teachers about the vaccine on a virtual call. Nobody spoke up with concerns, said Jimena Hills, a faculty member who supports Leila Centner and said she had no problem with the school’s policies on vaccinations and thought they should not have been leaked to the press. “All of this controversy could have really been avoided,” she said. School officials insisted that they were not discouraging students from coming close to their vaccinated parents. Centner told parents during a meeting Thursday that the teacher mentioned by the fifth-grade student in her email had been speaking out of turn; the teacher has since apologized and retracted her statement, she said. Still, the meeting was sometimes tense, several parents said. One father, they said, got in the face of a faculty member who had spoken out on behalf of the school and the teacher vaccination policy. The school continued to defend the policy Friday. “At our school, we have asked our teachers to take a prudent, precautionary pause and get through these remaining weeks until the claims being made are further researched,” David Centner said. “We encourage teachers to consult their health care providers as they make these medical decisions.” The local state senator, Jason W.B. Pizzo, a Democrat, said he was told that neither the Department of Education nor the Department of Health had jurisdiction over the school’s vaccination policies. (Centner Academy had one student receiving a public voucher this school year.) On Thursday, Pizzo introduced a legislative amendment that he hoped would prevent schools and businesses from prohibiting people from getting vaccinated, calling such a policy “quackery.” He had some bipartisan support. “Let’s show that the Senate is not insane,” said state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, a Republican. It failed on a tied vote. Back in Miami, Leila Centner appeared unbothered. On Friday, she posted on Instagram that she would speak next month at a “freedom-fighting festival” with several conservative political luminaries, including Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Its theme: “Reopen America.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

The pair announced their engagement days before a potential meeting on a basketball court.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — If there was one moment that summed up the current state of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, it was when the floor at the agency’s gun-tracing center caved in a couple of years ago under the weight of paper. The accident was not entirely accidental. The gun lobby, led by the National Rifle Association, has for years systematically blocked plans to modernize the agency’s paper-based weapons-tracing system with a searchable database. As a result, records of gun sales going back decades are stored in boxes stacked seven high, waiting to be processed, against every wall. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “We had a lady pushing a cart, and the floor just gave way,” recalled Tyson J. Arnold, who runs the tracing center, tapping the new, steel-braced deck with his shoe. Now the long-suffering ATF (somehow the “explosives” never made it into the abbreviation) is at the center of President Joe Biden’s plans to push back at what he has called “the international embarrassment” of gun violence in America. As he laid out his expansive vision for the nation on Wednesday night, Biden once again called on Congress to expand background checks and ban assault weapons. But given the abiding power of the gun lobby, his immediate hopes lie in a more limited list of executive actions that will ultimately rely on the effectiveness of the ATF, the federal agency tasked with enforcing the country’s gun laws and executive actions. Biden has ordered a ban on the homemade-firearm kits known as “ghost guns,” a prohibition the ATF will have to enforce. To help set gun policy, he has charged the ATF with undertaking the first comprehensive federal survey of weapons-trafficking patterns since 2000. And to lead the bureau into the future, Biden has nominated a fiery former ATF agent and gun-control activist, David Chipman. First, though, the bureau will have to overcome its past. In the 48 years since its mission shifted primarily to firearms enforcement, it has been weakened by relentless assaults from the NRA that have, in the view of many, made the ATF appear to be an agency engineered to fail. At the NRA’s instigation, Congress has limited the bureau’s budget. It has imposed crippling restrictions on the collection and use of gun-ownership data, including a ban on requiring basic inventories of weapons from gun dealers. It has limited unannounced inspections of gun dealers. Fifteen years ago, the NRA successfully lobbied to make the director’s appointment subject to Senate confirmation — and has subsequently helped block all but one nominee from taking office. “ATF has all this potential, and they do a lot of good things, but it’s time somebody asked, ‘What is it going to take for us to succeed rather than just treading water?’” said Thomas Brandon, who served as the bureau’s interim director from 2015 until retiring in 2019. In the weeks after a series of mass shootings prompted calls for action, The New York Times interviewed two dozen people who had either run the ATF or tracked its decline. Their consensus was that the agency needed to be restructured, modernized, given adequate resources and managed in a more proactive and aggressive way. “What’s been done to the ATF is systemic, it’s intentional and it’s a huge problem,” said T. Christian Heyne, vice president of policy at Brady, a gun control advocacy group that has proposed a plan for executive action centered on enforcement by the agency. The ATF has also been hindered from within. The bureau’s culture, several people said, prioritizes high-visibility operations, like responding to episodes of violence at the racial-justice protests across the country last summer, over its more mundane core mission of inspecting and licensing gun dealers. That mission took a major step back in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic, when annual inspections nose-dived by more than 50% even as gun sales surged to record levels. To say the ATF is outgunned is an understatement. Staffing levels have remained essentially flat for two decades, with the number of inspectors who are responsible for overseeing gun dealers actually decreasing by about 20% since 2001. The number of firearms sold over the same period has skyrocketed: more than 23 million guns in 2020, shattering the previous record of 15.7 million in 2016. “The ATF is the only federal organization that is basically the same size it was in 1972,” said Dale Armstrong, a retired 28-year veteran of the agency who ran its national gun-trafficking unit. The Biden administration, for all its talk about supporting the bureau, has yet to commit to a significant increase in resources, proposing a 5% bump in ATF funding in this year’s discretionary budget. That is a far more modest increase than those given to many other agencies, like the Education Department, that Biden sees as instrumental to his agenda. “Let me put it this way,” said Thomas L. Chittum, a three-decade veteran of the bureau who now oversees all of its field operations. “It’s not easy being ATF.” Wayne LaPierre, who has led the NRA for three decades, has pursued a legislative strategy that eroded the ATF’s authority. In 2003, the NRA helped draft the so-called Tiahrt amendment — named for its sponsor, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan. — which put severe restrictions on the ATF’s ability to share gun-tracing data. It also requires the FBI to destroy most gun purchase records within 24 hours after a background check, and it blocks the ATF from requiring dealers to provide records of their inventories. The external pressures have been compounded by tensions stemming from the ATF’s dual personality as a law enforcement and regulatory agency responsible for monitoring the nation’s 75,000 shops, pawn brokers, manufacturers and importers that buy and sell guns. A majority of ATF field employees are 2,600 gun-and-badge special agents who work on gun possession and trafficking cases, and join the FBI and local law enforcement in larger drug and criminal investigations. But there is another, less glamorous side to the agency, one that gun safety groups see as equally if not more important to ATF’s mission — an unarmed civilian workforce of 728 field inspectors who have often felt neglected, maligned and marginalized. Although only a small percentage of weapons dealers are corrupt, the bad actors do a lot of damage — with 1.2% of gun dealers responsible for more than 57% of the guns later traced to crimes, according to bureau estimates. Some gun shops, the ones deemed at lowest risk for illegal activity, are often not inspected for seven or eight years. Some can go without an inspection for a decade. Locations in “source” areas, places known to be the origin of trafficked guns, are often inspected more frequently, at least once every two or three years. Even in a good year, the inspections cover fewer than 15% of licensed dealers, and the lack of consistent oversight has real-world consequences. A 2009 report by the Congressional Research Service found that “a substantial percentage of recovered firearms cannot be successfully traced for several reasons including poor record-keeping.” The mere presence of a permanent leader, like Chipman, has the potential to be transformative, former agency officials said. “I was never the president’s guy, and being the president’s person means people are less likely to push back against you,” said Brandon, the former interim director. “It gives you a lot more street cred.” Chipman served as a special agent during a 22-year ATF career that ended in 2010, first in the bureau’s hectic Detroit office, then in stints working the Interstate 95 corridor, the country’s biggest conduit for illegal firearms, and at bureau headquarters. There, he told the website The Trace, he observed “the catastrophic downsides of the gun lobby efforts to block the ATF from modernizing.” Gabrielle Giffords, the former Arizona congresswoman who became a gun-control activist after being severely wounded in an assassination attempt, began pushing, along with other gun safety groups, for Chipman’s hiring in mid-November, shortly after Biden was elected, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. But for weeks after the inauguration, the White House and its allies in the Senate stalled, in part to spare gun-friendly Democrats, like Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, from a tough vote when they were focused on the pandemic and spending bills. The shootings that left 18 people dead in Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, in mid-March changed that. Soon afterward, Giffords wrote to Biden, asking him to meet with her to discuss Chipman. By that time, Biden’s chief of staff, Ron Klain, had thrown his support behind Chipman, and Biden later told Giffords that he was prepared “to fight” for the nomination, according to an administration official with knowledge of the exchange. Almost immediately, the NRA announced plans to spend $2 million to defeat Chipman, cutting an ad targeting Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine. The Chipman pick “is poking people in the eye,” said Joshua Powell, a former top official at the NRA turned critic of its leadership. “I think the president would be better served by appointing a more apolitical person and building more bridges to bipartisanship.” Chipman’s confirmation — the Senate hearing is expected to take place in late May — is anything but certain, with one West Wing official saying his “absolute ceiling” in the Senate was 51 or 52 yes votes. Manchin, a critical vote, has said he is favorable to Chipman, and administration officials insist that there is no reason to create a Plan B if his nomination founders. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company

"We continue to share a belief in that mission and will continue our work together at the foundation, but we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives."

Melinda Gates sees U.S. government donating COVID vaccine doses soon

Reuters 04 May, 2021 - 11:00am

Melinda Gates, co-founder of one of the world's largest private charitable foundations, expects the U.S. government will soon weigh up how much of its vaccine supply to donate bilaterally and through the global COVAX programme.

In her first remarks to be broadcast since she and her husband, Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) co-founder Bill Gates, announced they would divorce after 27 years, Gates said governments were waking up to arguments that the global economy needs to be vaccinated to bring the pandemic under control.

"I think the U.S. government is looking at their supply of vaccine and deciding, okay how much should we do through COVAX, how much should we do bilaterally, so I think you're going to start to see some movement there," Gates said in an interview with the Financial Times recorded before the divorce announcement. read more

Wealthy nations did not need to vaccinate down to their teen populations before they started sharing doses with low-income countries, Gates said, and suggested governments should pick an age range, somewhere between 20 and 30, when they would start donating vaccines.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has become one of the most powerful and influential forces in global public health, and last year committed about $1.75 billion to COVID-19 relief.

The 56-year-old Texas-raised computer scientist, who met Bill Gates, 65, at a company dinner in New York, will continue to run the foundation with him.

Gates was cool on the idea of waiving intellectual property rights to help increase vaccine supply, saying it made more sense to incentivise pharmaceutical companies to carry out technology transfers.

"The piece that is not working today is the manufacturing," she said. "We don't have enough raw materials, we don't have enough manufacturing in the right places, so it is allowing the nations that have manufacturing in place to hoard their vaccines, so we got to fix that piece."

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

BioNTech is working on getting approval for a version of its COVID-19 vaccine which can be stored in fridges of 2 to 8 degree celsius for up to 6 months, Chief Executive Ugur Sahin said on Tuesday.

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Bill and Melinda Gates split after decades-long marriage

Good Morning America 04 May, 2021 - 11:00am

Melinda Gates

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