Tag Archives: States

Basketball: NBA Kiwi star Steven Adams compares the quarantine between New Zealand and America | Instant News


Sports

Steve Adams before an NBA game with the New Orleans Pelicans. Photo / Getty

Steven Adams has detailed the major differences between New Zealand and United States border controls during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Kiwi-born NBA center has moved between the two countries in the past 12 months, having returned to New Zealand when the NBA was suspended for four months.

Adams spent two weeks in quarantine upon arriving home, and kept on talking Parents and Three People podcasts with JJ Redick – one of Adams’ teammates at the New Orleans Pelicans – and Tommy Alter, he says it is a stark contrast to what he experienced on his return to the US.

“[I] no problem [getting into New Zealand]… Once I got in, I had to isolate myself for two weeks, it was quite intense, “he said.

“It’s not like you just show up and they say ‘Cool, get out of here.’ You have to write down your number, your Skype address, where you live and then they check you out, and they’ll send the local police to go and have a look – see if you really isolate … so it’s not just some kind of peeing around.

“There’s a lot more going on there than when I had to go back to America.

“When I had to come back, they were like ‘Oh yeah … just go … get out of here.’

Adams said unlike other countries, there was a seamless transition to the lockdown of New Zealand’s population, which he did to the people.

“There is no distrust of the Government, or the authorities. Everyone is just following the rules. There are a few mishaps once in a while, but mostly it is not like the weird social infection that grows and everyone like slowly won’t believe anything. Everyone is level-headed.

“The biggest advantage [was] how quickly the Government reacts to the situation, so the starting point is perhaps the most important. “

Adams stayed on his farm in the Bay of Plenty for most of his return trips. He said it was a happy place for him during the pandemic.

“Farming is more of a lifesaver – because routines don’t change.

“As a farmer – cows don’t care, they just need to be cared for. Everything is normal.”

“Especially at that time … so much uncertainty with the future. Nobody knew what was going on, they were like ‘We’ll bring it back, the NBA will start and then the next day like’ Well, no no ‘.

He described the farm as “a wonderful place”.

“If you see it [the farm], it has to be like a work of art, “he added.

“There’s a nice hill over there, right on the beach … a volcano in the distance, there’s a forest behind, there’s deer playing there. It’s just a dairy farm, nice and green.”

The league was suspended on March 11 and returned on July 30 in 2020, leaving for four months without basketball when usually the end of the regular season, playoffs and finals takes place.

Since returning to the US, Adams has worn the two-team strip. Playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder to complete the Covid-affected season, he was swapped for the New Orleans Pelicans before the 2020-21 campaign.

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Joe Biden’s Inauguration: DIA New Zealand deploys counter-terror team online | Instant News


Political

A National Guard soldier stands at a roadblock outside the Capitol in Washington DC as security is stepped up ahead of the inauguration ceremony of US President-elect Joe Biden. Photo / AP

The warning of acts of political violence in the United States has prompted New Zealand authorities to deploy an online counter-terrorism team.

The Department of Home Affairs assigned staff to monitor online platforms before, during and immediately after Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration.

Warnings from US law enforcement about the increased risk of domestic terrorism or acts of violence in America prompted the move.

Concerns arose after a crowd supporting defeated President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol two weeks ago.

Jared Mullen, DIA’s director of digital security, said a staff of specialists was ready to detect and respond to content that could harm New Zealanders.

“This includes potentially illegal content, such as videos or images that clearly promote terrorism or extreme violence.”

A protester releases smoke grenades in front of the US Capitol building during the January 6 attack.  Photo / Bloomberg via Getty Images
A protester releases smoke grenades in front of the US Capitol building during the January 6 attack. Photo / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The counter terrorism monitoring team involved staff working in shifts to monitor the situation until at least Friday afternoon.

“Our first priority is to limit the availability of hazardous or potentially illegal materials, especially in cases where the spread of the virus poses a high public risk,” said Mullen.

“After this period, DIA will reassess the need for further monitoring.”

President Donald Trump addresses members of the media while departing from the White House on January 12.  Photo / Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Donald Trump addresses members of the media while departing from the White House on January 12. Photo / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Supporting security precautions in New Zealand in response to an incident in Washington DC is an extraordinary step, said University of Otago political scientist Dr Robert Patman.

It is also a sign of how seriously the current government is taking the threat of right-wing extremism, he added.

Patman said the pictures, the content of the killings were shared on Facebook after Christchurch mosque shooting has surprised many people.

President-elect Joe Biden spoke at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, earlier this month.  Photo / AP
President-elect Joe Biden spoke at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, earlier this month. Photo / AP

Social media platforms are rushing to shut down gruesome content such as the now banned terrorist live streaming, which proliferated after the mosque attacks on March 15, 2019.

Patman said before the Christchurch mosque shootings, local intelligence agencies were more concerned with the threat of Islamic terrorism.

“White supremacist terrorism or extreme white nationalism is not seen as a big problem. That perception has now changed significantly.”

The surge in violent or potentially illegal content has prompted DIA to deploy a team that tracks online traffic before, during and after Joe Biden's inauguration.  Photo / 123RF
The surge in violent or potentially illegal content has prompted DIA to deploy a team that tracks online traffic before, during and after Joe Biden’s inauguration. Photo / 123RF

Patman said the relationship between conspiracy theorists and Trump supporters who refuse to accept the US election results is not isolated internationally.

And he says many members of the group carrying out the deadly Capitol siege appear to have gotten most of their information from conspiracy theory sites.

Martin Cocker, executive director of Netsafe, said the DIA initiative was a possible way to get ahead of malicious content instead of catching up.

In the days following the Capitol riots, security was reviewed at Parliament in Wellington after a glass door was smashed in an ax strike.  Photo / Provided
In the days following the Capitol riots, security was reviewed at Parliament in Wellington after a glass door was smashed in an ax strike. Photo / Provided

“There is intelligence [indicating] likely people want to interfere with the inauguration, “he said.

Cocker understands that groups identified in US intelligence include entities that previously produced harmful and objectionable content.

“Most groups, even with very extreme ideologies, have followers around the world.”

Cocker said news media attention to the inauguration meant some attention-seekers might engage in provocative or extremist action to gain mainstream media coverage.

The Capitol attack also raises questions about security in the Wellington Parliament area.

The Parliamentary Service finally announced a security review – but only after the man with the ax broken glass door in Parliament on December 13.

The attack on Congress earlier this month was the first time the US Capitol was violated since 1812, when British troops invaded.

Joe Biden’s inauguration as United’s 46th President begins at 6am on Thursday New Zealand time.

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US Unrest: National Guard troops step into Washington as the state responds to requests for help | Instant News


Against the backdrop of the US Capitol, members of the National Guard change shifts as they exit through an anti-scaling security fence in Washington. Photo / AP

Busloads of buses and cargo of planes, National Guard troops poured into the nation’s capital on Saturday, as governors responded to US defense officials’ urgent requests for more troops to help guard Washington even as they watched anxiously at possible violent protests in their own states.

Military leaders spent most of the night Thursday and Friday calling on the state in an unprecedented call for more National Guard troops to help lock down large swathes of the city in the days before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the dribs and drabs, the governor replied, some agreeing to send an extra dozen, 100 or even 1,000, while others said no.

The calls reflect concerns that violent extremist groups are targeting the city after a deadly uprising on the US Capitol on January 6.

Threats range from armed insurgents to possible attempts to plant explosive devices on so-called soft targets. But as Washington begins to resemble an armed camp, with more than 25,000 guards set to be in the city as early as next week, concerns about violence in the state capital have mounted.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown said she rejected a federal request to send at least 100 more National Guard troops to DC “I don’t think we can safely fulfill that commitment,” Brown said. Oregon has agreed to send 30 to Washington, but state leaders are concerned about violence at the state capitol in Salem.

Others agreed, sparking dizzying bursts of military and convoy flights into the region.

“The peaceful transfer of power is a central principle of American democracy, and Connecticut stands ready to help protect our country.” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, who initially agreed to send 100 guards and on Friday agreed to send 200 more.

In all, more than 130 US Air Guard flights in the past 72 hours have brought at least 7,000 Guard troops to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, according to US officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal numbers. Thousands more were in buses and military trucks, rumbling down the highway to Washington.

Army General Dan Hokanson, head of the National Guard Bureau, called in general aides across the country, and others, such as Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, called in governors for help. McCarthy praised the state, saying defense and military officials were well aware of the threats they also faced.

“The governors and TAG were great. They helped us a lot,” McCarthy told The Associated Press.

“That’s the problem – that in the midst of a very dire situation you see how great this country is, everyone is getting together and helping each other get through this.”

Troops walk behind a security fence in Washington as security is stepping up ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.  Photo / AP
Troops walk behind a security fence in Washington as security is stepping up ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo / AP

What began in early January as a routine deployment of some 350 DC National Guard members to aid protests that are expected to explode over the past two weeks became a much larger operation to protect the inauguration and the US Congress Building, and to block access to the city and its many historical monuments.

When the protesters entered the Capitol on January 6, only a little over 100 National Guards were scattered around the city, guarding the Metro’s checkpoints and entrances. Hours later, five people are dead, the Capitol is in disarray and 1100 DC Guards have been activated.

The next day, as information arrived about more planned violence, requests went out for 6,200 members of the Guard from surrounding states.

On Thursday evening, as law enforcement and defense officials flooded maps and conducted security drills, they concluded they needed at least 25,000 to lock down Capitol grounds and vast areas of DC, including the National Mall. And they agreed that most of the Guards would be armed.

At that time, a new chapter of summons to state governors and military leaders began.

Many governors were willing to help, but they made it clear that the state capital was their priority. Some agreed to send more, while others couldn’t. And the numbers vary widely.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf doubled his initial commitment from 1,000 to 2,000. Other states managed to collect an additional dozen.

After reviewing threats against its own country, Minnesota decided it could significantly increase its contribution and would send 850 guards rather than the 130 originally deployed to leave, according to the state’s aide general, Major General Shawn Manke.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has agreed to send 700. On Friday, he announced he would send 300 more – even as he ordered nearly 600 to secure the Ohio state home in Columbus. So it is with the Governor of North Carolina.

Roy Cooper initially agreed to send 200 guards, and on Friday a Ford Porter spokesman said the country would send 100 more. Iowa first said it sent 250 and now the number is 265.

The big military response comes as Congress and law enforcement authorities try to figure out how the US Capitol captured the dramatic power of January 6.

The leaders of four committees in the Democratic-controlled House sent a letter on Saturday seeking briefings and documents from the FBI and other federal agencies as part of their review of the insurgency.

The call for more American soldiers also underscores the Pentagon’s limits on the use of active duty troops. Under the law, they cannot be used for law enforcement, and officials intend to avoid the emergence of armed active forces being used against US citizens on American soil.

Active duty forces routinely prepare to respond to emergencies in Washington, such as flight violations in restricted airspace over DC, and rapid reaction forces are on standby. Other active duty units will take part in various inauguration ceremonies.

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The new coronavirus strain was found in 8 US states | Instant News


The new, more contagious strain of the coronavirus has now spread to at least eight US states, official data showed on Friday, when the country set a new daily record load of the virus.

The coronavirus strain B117, which emerged in the UK late last year, has been shown to be between 40% and 70% more infectious than the previously spread variant.

Data from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed Friday that the strain – first reported in the US last week – has been detected in eight states, with California and Florida the worst affected.

Strains have also been found in Colorado, Texas, New York, Georgia, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, for a total of 63 cases.

Leading US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci told Newsweek on Wednesday that the variant may be “more widespread in the United States than we are currently detecting.”

“I’m sure it’s here, we haven’t detected it. And I think it’s pretty clear that if in places like California, and New York and Colorado … it’s going to be in a few more states soon,” he said.

The spread of B117 and another, more contagious variant from South Africa, known as B1351, has sparked fears of a similar new strain in the US.

US officials on Friday, however, denied reports that one had been detected so far.

“Researchers have been monitoring US strains since the pandemic began, including 5,700 samples collected in November and December,” CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told CNBC.

“To date, neither researchers nor analysts at the CDC have seen the emergence of a particular variant in the United States as seen with the emergence of B.1.1.7 in the UK or B.1.351 in South Africa.”

Nearly 290,000 new coronavirus infections were reported in the US within 24 hours of Friday according to Johns Hopkins University, a day after the worst-hit country recorded a daily high of nearly 4,000 deaths.

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Pakistan is pleased with the reconciliation process of the Gulf states: Ashrafi | Instant News


ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Religious Harmony and Middle East Affairs Hafiz Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi said Pakistan supports the reconciliation process among the Gulf countries and the roles of Kuwaiti Ameer and Khadim-e-Harmain Al-Sharifain Shah Salman bin Abdul Aziz in this regard are sufficient mean.

“Amir-e-Kuwait and Saudi Crown Prince Amir Muhammad bin Salman have strengthened Muslims and the Arab world to move towards a reconciliation process to solve various problems,” he said while speaking to media here on Tuesday.

Ashrafi said Pakistan wants the unity and stability of the Islamic world and aims to deal with all the problems facing the Muslim world peacefully through dialogue. He said the Islamic world needed unity and reconciliation to solve the Kashmir and Palestinian problems and to end foreign interference in the internal affairs of the Islamic world. He said the strengthening and effective role of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is necessary at this time. “The reconciliation process has started in the Gulf countries with Ameer-e-Kuwait’s efforts to address the problems at hand and in this regard, the positive response from the leadership of Qatar and Saudi Arabia is very welcoming and encouraging,” he said. Ashrafi said that coordination and consultation should also take place between Prime Minister Imran Khan, Shah Salman bin Abdul Aziz and Ameer-e-Kuwait to resolve crucial issues in the Islamic world. He said an informal forum was being formed between prominent figures of Pakistan and Arab countries to enhance and strengthen ties between Pakistan and Arab Islamic countries.

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