By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - In the common room of Boston's Pine Street Inn homeless shelter, dozens of blue vinyl pads and folded-up cots stood ready on Friday for another night's rush of people fleeing the deadly cold that has gripped the region for almost two weeks. The four-story building, whose 160-foot (49-meter) Tuscan-style tower is an icon of the Boston skyline, is filled with enough beds to sleep close to 500 people. But they are not enough: Pine Street has packed in up to 100 extra people each night since Christmas, as harsh subfreezing temperatures gripped New England and much of the rest of the eastern United States. The cold snap has been blamed for the death of at least three homeless men, in Texas and North Carolina, according to officials and local news media. It has provided a vivid illustration of a nationwide problem, as homelessness in United States rose in 2017 for the first time in seven years. Pine Street staff members normally ask healthy guests to clear out during the daytime. But temperatures in Boston have remained below freezing for 11 days straight, and are forecast to dip below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 17.8 degrees Celsius) over the weekend, prompting the shelter to allow people to stay inside throughout the bitter cold and a powerful blizzard that struck on Thursday. "We don't want anyone to die in the street," said shelter spokeswoman Barbara Trevisan. "It's really a matter of life and death." U.S. HOMELESSNESS ON RISE Homelessness is on the rise in the United States, according to federal survey data released last month, which said 553,742 people lacked homes on a given night in 2017. That figure was up 1 percent from 2016, an increase that reflects rising housing prices in cities from New York to San Francisco. Amid the brutal cold, officials in Boston, New York and other major cities are stepping up their efforts to find homeless people on the streets and encourage them into shelters. Homelessness has surged to a record high in New York, with more than 130,000 people finding themselves homeless at some point in 2017, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, an advocacy and service group. In the face of that rise, the city is stepping up its response, planning to add another 450 beds for homeless people from its current 1,100, in a mix of private and public shelters, said Isaac McGinn, a spokesman for the city's Department of Homeless Services. During the current cold snap it has doubled the number of people trying to persuade homeless people on the street to come in to shelters. "We're currently at record homelessness levels, so capacity is tight and that is definitely a concern," said Giselle Routhier, policy director at the Coalition. In Boston, dozens lined up in the Pine Street Inn on Friday for a lunch of soup and sandwiches, some of the 2,500 meals the facility is serving each day during this period of high demand, 500 more than usual. The cost of food for extra meals, doubling staff levels during the day and sending out more crews to find people sleeping on the streets, has caused the facility to overrun its budget by about 25 percent during the past two weeks, said shelter manager Josh O'Brien. "It's a big strain," said O'Brien, who said he has not experienced a period of intense cold this long in the 25 years he has run homeless shelters. Tom Smith, 55, who is has been staying at Pine Street since being released from prison in August, credits the shelter with keeping him alive during the cold snap. During a prior period of homelessness, he had lived in a tent that likely would not have survived this week's blizzard. "With the weight of the snow, the tent would have collapsed, I couldn't have started a fire," Smith said. "Having a facility like this is the best thing you can have. It's a lifesaver." (Reporting by Scott Malone; Additional reporting by Jonathan Allen and Amr Alfiky in New York)
- Business Insider
Bernie Sanders condemns what he calls 'racist nationalism' from Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu while calling for an immediate ceasefire
"No one is arguing that Israel, or any government, does not have the right to self-defense," Sanders wrote, adding Palestinians need attention too.
- The Independent
South Carolina driver ‘completely flips’ car carrying extra fuel, causing vehicle to burst into flames and forcing officer to push burning woman to ground to extinguish flames
A bride wore a sheer, sparkly dress with a dramatic slit to her intimate destination wedding in Tulum
Thainá Bak wore a sparkly, see-through Muse by Berta wedding dress with a thigh-high slit to her intimate nuptials in Tulum, Mexico.
- Business Insider
Delaying a 2nd dose of Pfizer's vaccine by 9 weeks could boost antibodies to the virus, data suggests
Pfizer recommends three weeks between shots. The study compared a three-week gap to a 12-week gap, and found the second group made more antibodies.
- The Independent
‘Do Palestinians have a right to survive?’ AOC makes impassioned speech against Biden policy on Israel crisis
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that the United States ‘must acknowledge its role in the injustice and human rights violations of Palestinians’
- The Daily Beast
Samuel Rajkumar/ReutersNEW DELHI—With India ravaged by an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 virus—and its health-care system on its knees—some public health and former military officials are voicing outrage over the government’s apparent refusal to use the full force of the army to assist with the crisis.“The army is not being utilized to the fullest extent,” even though it has “tremendous capacities” to ease the current disaster, Deependra Singh Hooda, former chief of the Indian army’s strategic northern command, told The Daily Beast.For weeks experts have been pleading with the government, urging it to rope in the military to help with a health crisis never before seen in India’s modern history.Earlier this month, the deputy chief minister of the country’s capital, Delhi—which is facing the worst COVID situation in India—asked the defense minister to lend the services of the armed forces to help it set up and run COVID-19 health facilities. But the request was turned down, even after the local government reached out to Delhi’s high court, which claimed that Indian forces were stretched.Why Biden’s Push for Vaccine Patent Waivers Won’t Save IndiaWhile the army has set up a few hospitals and provided limited supplies of oxygen, most forces remain uninvolved even as the country’s health-care system is on the brink of collapse. India’s armed forces have around 13,000 officers who are medical professionals and an additional 100,000 medical support staff, whose expertise could save countless lives.“We are going through an emergency situation. The network and infrastructure of the armed forces need to be leveraged,” public health expert Anant Bhan told The Daily Beast. “It will minimize the loss of life.”The demand is being echoed after the top U.S. public health official, Dr. Anthony Fauci, suggested last week that India should marshal all of its resources, including the armed forces, to handle the situation.For India, the army may be the last resort. On Wednesday, 4,205 Indians died of the virus, and 348,421 tested positive for COVID, pushing the total number of confirmed cases so far in the country to 2.5 million. The total death count climbed to 25,8351—which experts say is a massive undercount. Hospitals in the country have been running at capacity for weeks, and hundreds of people have died because they did not get oxygen in time.The downward spiral is showing no signs of plateauing anytime soon, with new variants toting up the intensity of India’s second wave, and the prospect of a third wave that is likely to follow. The virus is also rapidly engulfing India’s rural areas—home to 65 percent of the country's population—where health-care systems are even worse than in the already overwhelmed cities.Mass Grave Dug on Banks of Ganges for 100 Possible COVID Victims Found Floating Down River“This is the first time we have gotten into a situation like this,” General Ved Prakash Malik, former Indian army chief, told The Daily Beast. “There is scope for the civil administration to use the services of armed forces. Other than the medical services, engineering services can be utilized to set up quick infrastructure.”Even though most of India’s population is still struggling to get a first dose, India’s 1.5 million armed personnel were first to be vaccinated. This is one of the reasons why experts are pressing the demand that their services should be utilized quickly.“The army is trained to deal with such situations,” said General Hooda, “We have seen in the past, whenever there has been a crisis, you call the army to [help]. Not only are they trained, but they are very well equipped to handle the crisis.”Hooda says that the focus of the government has been mostly on utilizing the health services of the armed forces, but there’s much more it could do. “The army has tremendous engineering skills to build infrastructure,” he said. “If you need to build infrastructure, like hospitals, and other medical facilities in rural areas, the army can do it as quickly as possible.”Experts also blame the lack of coordination amongst civil authorities for worsening the crisis in the country, and say that it has created tremendous panic and stress among the public. One of the key areas, which most of the health officials and former military commanders agree on, is the need for a centralized communication system so that essential medical supplies are transported and utilized efficiently.“For communications, the army can set up war rooms and certain expertise of the commanders who manage these war rooms can help immensely,” said General Malik, who was head of the Indian army during the war with Pakistan in 1999.General Hooda agrees.“Some emergency links can be set up with a dedicated emergency centre… we have the Indian-wide Movement Control Organisation (MCO), which is used in wars to mobilize and track the military,” said Hooda, adding that that MCO could be utilized to keep track of essential resources like oxygen tankers. Besides engineering and communications, a large fleet of armed forces could also be employed for the transportation of medical supplies.“The armed forces have the capacity to create 100 field hospitals with 100 beds each,” Harcharanjit Singh Panag, a former lieutenant in Indian army, wrote for The Print. “With the help of private doctors, medical students and additional medical equipment, many more temporary facilities can be made operational in a short span of time. It is these resources which can be superimposed on the civilian hospitals to take on the overload.”Some believe that India is not using the services of the military because it would be an embarrassment for the civil government—an acknowledgment that they haven’t been able to handle the situation. Another reason cited is tensions at India’s borders with China and Pakistan, making authorities reluctant to transfer troops stationed there.A Right-Wing Demagogue Is Letting COVID Ravage His People“If the army is brought in it would be somewhat of an admission that [the civilian government] is not able to do this,” General Hooda said. “Second is, there is also talk that we need force preservation [at our] borders.”Last year, the Indian army cancelled its border exercise in Ladakh due to the first wave of the novel coronavirus. But around the same time, violent skirmishes took place when Chinese troops reportedly intruded into Indian land. Both countries reinforced their positions with tens of thousands of troops, and an altercation ensued, killing 20 Indians and an unknown number of Chinese nationals.Given the intensity of the crisis, it’s clear to much of India that there is no other option but to bring in the armed forces if the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to quickly take control of the situation.“The fact is, when you are facing a sort of national emergency, this idea of force preservation needs to be put on the backburner, ” Hooda said. “Once the army comes in, if nothing else, it could bring some degree of hope for people.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Cornyn won’t vote for the Biden’s nominee unless the waiver is granted
- The Independent
Rep Doug Lamborn ‘gave his son the necessary access to live in a storage area in the basement of the US Capitol,’ the lawsuit alleges
Mario Draghi, who draws at least two generous state pensions and owns or part-owns around 10 houses, has said he will not receive any salary for his job as Italy's prime minister. Italian politicians are obliged to publish their tax returns and Draghi took advantage of the occasion to announce that he was giving up the gross salary of around 110,000 euros that he had a right to as premier. Draghi's 2020 tax return, published late on Wednesday, showed he received gross income of 583,470 euros in 2019.
- Reuters Videos
Speaking at a conference on Italy's derth of babies, Pope Francis said polls showed most young people wanted to have children, but were worried about the rising cost."Their dreams of a new life, the seeds of the country's rebirth, come up against a demographic winter that is cold and dark," the pope said."For the future to be good, we need to look after families, especially young families, who are beset by worries that risk paralysing their life plans. I am thinking of the fears caused by the increasingly unaffordable costs of raising children.The sharp fall in 2020 in the number of babies born in many countries has been blamed on the stress and uncertainty generated by COVID. But the longer-term fertility trends across much of the developed world has been in decline for some years.The pope also took aim at young people, saying some role models set the wrong example by being obsessed over their appearance and not being willing to make the sacrifices needed to raise a family."Staying young does not come from taking selfies and touch-ups, but from being able to look into the eyes of your children one day," he said.
- Miami Herald
While the Biden administration and several Latin American countries have rightly supported Israel’s right to defend itself from the more than 2,000 Hamas rockets launched against Israel’s civilian population, the reaction by other countries in the region has been pathetic.
- Business Insider
Former White House counsel Don McGahn has agreed to a closed-door interview with lawmakers on Trump's alleged attempts to block the Russia investigation
The House Judiciary Committee said it had reached an agreement with McGahn for him to do a private but transcribed interview.
- The Independent
Defiant Marjorie Taylor Greene hurls new insults at AOC after congresswoman reported her for hallway ambush
GOP congresswoman says Democrat ‘is a fraud and a hypocrite’ following calls for increased security
- The Independent
The Biden administration has been courting Senator Joe Manchin’s vote to realise its legislative agenda
- The Independent
‘When I find you I will show you what I do to serial killers,’ vigilante says
From the most painful spots to what happens when artists make a mistake, tattoo pros answer the burning questions about their job and getting inked.
- The Independent
Former Survivor contestant named as operative refutes accusations
The US president and his aides wish to avoid being drawn into this graveyard of US-led peace initiatives.
- Yahoo News
Now that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine has been approved for use in kids as young as 12, Yahoo News Medical Contributor Dr. Kavita Patel says parents should consider vaccinating their children “as soon as possible.”
With new federal guidance allowing people to ditch their masks in most places, it will be up to individuals to decide how to protect themselves now that vaccines are readily available, top U.S. health officials said on Friday. "What we're really doing is empowering individuals to make decisions about their own health," U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said. "People who are unvaccinated should not be taking off their masks," Walensky told CBS News' "CBS This Morning" program.