US Considering Requiring Covid Vaccines for All Foreign Visitors

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Bloomberg 04 August, 2021 - 05:29pm 50 views

By Sam Drury

Joe Root became England's all-time record run-scorer across all formats during day one of the first Test against India at Trent Bridge.

The Test captain went past his predecessor Sir Alastair Cook's record of 15,737 early in the afternoon session and brought up the milestone in style with a sumptuous square drive for four off Mohammed Siraj.

Root, who went on to register his 50th Test half-century before tea, made his international debut against India in December 2012.

He has since gone on to play 106 Test matches, 152 one-day internationals and 32 T20 internationals.

In that time, he has scored more than 8,750 Test runs at an average just shy of 50 with 20 centuries, plus a further 6,109, including 16 hundreds, at 51.33 in ODIs as well as 893 T20I runs at 35.72.

While Root has gone past Cook in the all-format standings, he still has some way to go to overhaul his former teammates' 12,472 runs in Test cricket.

However, given he has already managed over 900 runs in 2021, it is certainly within his reach over the next few years.

Read full article at Bloomberg

U.S. Reaches 70 Percent Covid Vaccine Goal As Cases Continue To Rise

NBC News 05 August, 2021 - 01:30am

The $900 million price tag for Witherspoon’s company sounds insane by Hollywood standards, and it is: That valuation comes from the tech industry, not from studio comps. More importantly, as box-office and Nielsen impact declines as a metric of clout, the Blackstone-backed deal shows there’s room for major TV and movie producers to cash in on the chaos of the moment. In the future Hollywood, streamers won’t hold every iota of power.

“There’s a window in time in which the public markets are affording tremendous windfalls that likely won’t be around in five years because of consolidation,” said Eric Schiffer, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Patriarch Organization. “The message is there’s a giant pot of gold that will get divvied up, and that valuation is going to be in excess of what the norm would be historically because of the technology valuation multiples and this inflection point in how consumers globally get their entertainment.”

At Mayer and Staggs’ still-unnamed holding company, the pot of gold currently represents about $2 billion. Also rumored to be in the Blackstone acquisition crosshairs are LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s SpringHill as well as Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

“Godzilla vs. Kong” producer Legendary Entertainment and A24 are other independents rumored to be exploring a sale, while ViacomCBS and Roku are reportedly possible targets for an acquisition by Comcast. MGM peer Lionsgate is widely viewed as another obvious target for a merger or acquisition.

As acquisitions create new companies, old-school Hollywood is increasingly mired in growing pains. Scarlett Johansson responded with a lawsuit after Disney opted to go day-and-date with “Black Widow,” alleging the move allowed Disney to exploit the film’s value while bilking her for millions in the form of expected back-end compensation.

That kerfuffle is a direct result of Disney’s own effort to reshape its own infrastructure for the streaming-first world. Since October, Disney has directed a team of numbers-first executives to determine which distribution methods are best for the company’s bottom line for each of its productions. Increasingly, that means streaming, which often means less money for talent whose reps are still unsure of how much a given project is worth on streaming. Under Mayer and Staggs’ arms-dealer model, Hello Sunshine and its future corporate siblings could retain negotiating power by selling their projects to the highest streaming bidder, rather than on a work-for-hire basis.

“All of this is really about how are creators and IP originators going to be paid in the future,” said a senior streaming executive who requested anonymity. “I think what is compelling is the ones that are going to make the most money are the Reese Witherspoons who are smart, and they control the creation of those assets, rather than work for others to create those assets.”

Among Hollywood’s legacy studios, the only streaming holdout is Sony, which has opted to supply the likes of Netflix and Disney with its films after they leave theaters, as well as produce films for Netflix.

Windfalls for second-tier production companies are unlikely. Hello Sunshine’s valuation is tied directly to its track record of producing Emmy-winning adaptations like “Big Little Lies,” the HBO limited series so successful it spawned a second season, and “The Morning Show,” which served as a centerpiece of the launch of Apple TV+. The price tag, according to Staggs, also comes from Witherspoon and Hello Sunshine CEO Sarah Harden’s business savvy, as well as the company’s potential to produce ancillary revenue.

“We can build social- and commerce-driven businesses around Reese’s Book Club,” a digital content hub, he told Variety. “This is the crux of the forward-looking company that we’re trying to build.”

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Hello Sunshine, Reese Witherspoon's media company that has produced content for streaming services like Hulu, Apple and HBO, among others, has been sold to a yet-unnamed new media firm run by former Disney execs, Kevin Mayer and Tom Staggs, the company announced this morning. Hello Sunshine was co-founded by Witherspoon and Strand Equity founder and managing partner Seth Rodsky in 2016, and is best known for producing series like HBO's "Big Little Lies," Hulu's "Little Fires Everywhere" and Apple's "The Morning Show," which feature Witherspoon in starring roles.

It's a perfect day for Reese Witherspoon as the actress and producer is selling the media company she founded to a newly formed company backed by private equity firm Blackstone Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed but The Wall Street Journal reported that the deal was worth about $900 million. Witherspoon, known for her roles in films such as “Legally Blonde" and “Walk the Line," created Hello Sunshine in 2016.

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Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge in Tokyo, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.The latest: Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help the 24-year-old sprinter, who refused national team orders to board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters

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Biden administration developing plan to require almost all foreign visitors to be vaccinated

CNN 04 August, 2021 - 05:44pm

Officials are still in the early phases of developing the plan and an announcement is not imminent. There is no imminent change to the current travel restrictions in place because of the highly contagious Delta variant currently circulating around the world, an official cautioned.

But officials from multiple agencies across the federal government have been constantly evaluating the current travel restrictions and are developing a plan for lifting them when the time eventually comes. According to the White House official, this includes requiring all foreign nationals traveling to the US from all countries to be fully vaccinated, with limited exceptions, though a final plan has not been determined.

News of the plan under consideration was first reported by Reuters.

The White House was facing growing pressure last month from the travel industry and US allies to lift restrictions on who can travel into the US. But ultimately, the Biden administration decided to keep existing travel restrictions in place.

Multiple officials said the administration came close to lifting some travel restrictions to the US earlier this year, but reversed course after the Delta variant gained a strong foothold in the US.

The Delta variant now accounts for more than 90% of coronavirus circulating in the US, according to data published the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tourism from abroad has essentially halted under the US Covid-19 travel rules. The restrictions also bar migrants from seeking asylum and prevent foreigners from visiting family in the US.

The Biden administration recently extended non-essential travel restrictions for the US northern and southern borders until August 21, despite Canada saying that fully vaccinated US citizens and permanent residents currently residing in the US will be allowed into Canada beginning on August 9. The US has been limiting non-essential travel along both borders since the start of the pandemic and extending those restrictions on a monthly basis.

More of Europe has been opening up to American travelers. And some three weeks ago, Biden said answers about easing restrictions on Europe would coming in "the next several days." But the ban remains in place, with officials putting any change on hold due to the Delta variant's spread.

The travel restrictions were put in place in March 2020, when many countries were shutting down their borders to slow the spread of coronavirus. The restrictions included the United Kingdom and the "Schengen" group of 26 mostly European Union countries that lie within an area stretching from Iceland to Greece.

The administration launched interagency working groups with the EU, Britain, Canada and Mexico to examine how and when travel restrictions will be lifted.

The groups are overseen by the White House Covid-19 response team and the National Security Council, and include representatives from the CDC along with officials from the Departments of State, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Transportation.

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Biden administration planning to require foreign visitors be fully vaccinated

NBC News 04 August, 2021 - 05:24pm

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration is developing a plan that will require foreign visitors to the U.S. to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19, a White House official said Wednesday.

The plan is in the works now so it will be ready when the U.S. reopens, the official told NBC News. Current travel restrictions remain in place because of concerns about the delta variant.

Reuters was first to report the Biden administration's plans.

The U.S. bars entry for most noncitizens who have been in the U.K., European Union nations, Ireland, China, India, South Africa, Iran or Brazil within the last 14 days. It's unclear when the U.S. might lift those restrictions.

The more transmissible delta variant is spreading, both in the U.S. and around the world, and U.S. officials are working to develop a plan for a consistent and safe international travel policy, the official said.

The vaccination requirement for foreign visitors would take a phased approach, the official said, and it would include limited exceptions.

The interagency working groups are developing a policy and planning process to be prepared for when the time is right to move to the new system, the official added.

Kelly O’Donnell is a White House correspondent for NBC News.

Dartunorro Clark covers politics, including the Covid-19 recovery, for NBC News.

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Opinion: It's time to turn up pressure on unvaccinated

CNN 04 August, 2021 - 04:13pm

In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio correctly said masking is a secondary concern when "the whole ball game is vaccination." And he is acting on it, announcing Tuesday that the city will require proof of vaccination in the form of a health pass for entrance into gyms, restaurants, and indoor entertainment venues. The city will begin enforcing the program -- the first of its kind in a US city -- on September 13, he said.

It's a necessary and overdue step. But why aren't more cities and states taking it? And more importantly: Why isn't President Joe Biden?

Nearly a year and a half into the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a new and highly contagious variant rages, you'd think that our politicians would be getting better at navigating it.

And a few are -- certainly the competence of the Biden administration's vaccine rollout stands in sharp contrast to the chaos of Donald Trump and his Covid toadies with their science denying, disinfectant-injecting suggestions, and staff outbreaks. But even somewhat sensible leaders are still refusing to fully follow the science and implement commonsense rules to protect public health.

Even now, too many of them are putting politics -- and what they seem to assess to be their own political futures -- ahead of making the difficult but necessary calls to keep us all safe.

The latest example is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who on Monday said that he is asking private restaurants and bars to require proof of vaccination for entry. He's right -- they should. But why place the burden of creating sensible public health mandates on private businesses? Cuomo is, after all, the governor. If he believes, as he says, that it is in the "best interests" of these businesses -- and ostensibly the public -- to have inessential indoor events reserved for the vaccinated, why not make that the policy of New York state?

The answer may be that Cuomo, who is also facing ongoing allegations of sexual harassment and a scathing new report finding those allegations credible, fears a political backlash.

Conservatives set up early opposition to requiring "vaccine passports"-- proof of vaccination before one could attend a concert, dine indoors, go to a bar, fly on an airplane, take a cruise or enter a stadium. And many liberal public officials simply bowed to that opposition.

As the Delta variant ripped through the country, they spent the past few weeks dithering even about mask mandates, debating whether and how widely to impose them instead of homing in on vaccine mandates, which correctly expand the liberties of those who take positive steps to protect themselves and others, and impose limitations only on those who refuse to.

The fact is, despite weeks of media fearmongering about the vaccinated continuing to be at risk, fewer than 1% of fully vaccinated people have experienced a breakthrough Covid case. The overwhelming majority of deaths and hospitalizations have been of the unvaccinated.

There is an obvious and simple solution here, and it's partly what Cuomo wants restaurants to do on their own: Require proof of vaccination for anything that is inside and nonessential, as well as for all public sector jobs and those that pose a high risk to a vulnerable population -- health and care workers, for example. For essential activities -- grocery shopping, taking public transportation, going to the doctor -- universal masking should be required, as the current honor system of "mask if you're not vaxxed" is obviously ineffective.

This model (you could steer away from the politicized "vaccine passport" and call it a health card instead) allows for a fair balance of protecting public health and protecting individual freedom.

It's more or less what the French have just done: Last week, France's parliament passed a law that requires a "health pass" showing proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test to enter restaurants and bars and for travel on long-distance trains and planes.

It has been controversial (though it spurred a wave of new vaccinations), but it's also the only sensible path forward in a country like the US, where the vaccine is now widely available, but significant chunks of the population say they will simply not get vaccinated -- and where those unvaccinated people are driving illness and death across the nation.

It is absolutely a person's right to refuse vaccination, and our regulations have to preserve bodily autonomy. But it is not a person's fundamental right to go to the club or eat inside at the restaurant of their choice, if their doing so poses a health risk to those around them.

Which is why it's so maddening to see politicians shirking their duties here. Cuomo is hardly alone in that -- not a single state, including any of those with strong Democratic majorities, has instituted a vaccine requirement for all inessential activities.

Biden holds some responsibility here, too. Last week, he announced that federal employees must attest to being vaccinated against Covid-19 or face strict protocols -- though officials were quick to point out that it was not a "mandate."

The administration apparently sees vaccine mandates as such a hot-button issue that they are reportedly refusing to lift the ban on travelers from the EU because doing so sensibly would require asking European travelers for proof of vaccination -- a line Biden apparently doesn't want to cross, likely for fear of a right-wing backlash.

In the meantime, the Republican Party is swinging hard the other way, making it increasingly impossible to institute rational public health measures in red states. Nine states now outlaw vaccine mandates from businesses and employers (so much for the Republican creed of keeping big government out of private business and letting private business owners run their businesses as they see fit).

The two states leading in Covid infection numbers are Texas and Florida; combined, those two states account for one-third of last week's Covid cases, according to White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients. Both are led by Republican governors who have signed laws banning both vaccine and mask mandates.

And while politicians in red states are tying their own citizen's hands on the most effective method to prevent Covid, politicians in blue ones are obsessing over mask rules, instead of embracing the most effective method to prevent Covid.

Why are most blue-city and blue-state leaders taking such modest half measures? The mayors of Washington, DC and San Francisco have reinstated mask mandates, for example, but have not required vaccination for indoor dining.

Unfortunately, mask mandates are not particularly useful for indoor dining, given that the whole of the restaurant removes their masks to eat. The nation has a more effective solution available to it, and it's absurd we aren't taking full advantage of it.

The truth is that vaccine requirements are divisive in the most literal sense: There's a roughly half-half split between Americans who support them and those who don't. There's an opportunity here for Democrats and those who care about public health to make the case that these mandates would allow many more of us to return to normal life and would save a great many lives in the process.

And there's an opportunity for Democratic leaders in blue states to lead the way.

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