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Omicron ‘overtaking’ Delta in South Africa

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The new COVID-19 variant Omicron is causing a rise in reinfections in South Africa, a scientist studying the strain has said, though also appears to have less severe symptoms. David Doyle has more.

Omicron is causing an increase in COVID-19 reinfections in South Africa, a scientist studying the new strain has said, and is fast overtaking Delta to become the country’s dominant variant.

Professor Anne von Gottberg, a microbiologist at South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases, was speaking at a World Health Organization press conference on Thursday (December 2).

“Previous infection used to protect against Delta but now with Omicron that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

However, she said she and her colleagues believe new infections and reinfections with Omicron would feature less severe symptoms.

COVID-19 cases are rising dramatically in South Africa – one of the southern African countries that first detected the variant.

Speaking at the same event, the WHO’s regional emergency director for Africa, Dr Salam Gueye, said the organization was working closely with countries to step up the response to the new variant.

“In South Africa, where WHO has already a team working in genomic sequencing, we are deploying a surge team in Gauteng province to support surveillance and contact tracing.”

But Gueye also warned that only 7.5% of Africans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – and that 80% haven’t had a single shot.

“This is a dangerously wide gap.”

Many countries have imposed travel bans on passengers from southern Africa.

African leaders have protested – saying they are being punished for their transparency in reporting data on Omicron.

On Thursday Ghana said it had detected the new strain in 34 samples from travelers who returned to the country between November 21 and 25 – but gave no further details about those who were tested.

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Guilty verdict for far-right militia founder in Capitol attack

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A guilty verdict has been reached for the founder of a far-right militia group for his involvement in the Capitol attack

A Federal Jury has found the founder of far-right American group Oath Keepers guilty of seditious conspiracy during the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

In a major victory for the U.S. Justice Department, Stewart Rhodes, alongside two members of his militia group are the first to face rare charges in connection with the January 6 violence.

The Government insists the group took part in stopping the transfer of power following Trump’s defeat.

Seditious conspiracy refers to two or more people conspiring to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force” the U.S. government.

Rhodes lawyers are planning to appeal the conviction but the charges carry a potential jail time of up to 20 years.

The Oath Keepers claim to defend the Constitution of the United States.

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Landmark same-sex marriage protection bill

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In a landmark bipartisan vote, the U-S Senate has passed Federal legislation to protect same sex marriage & Interracial marriage

Dubbed the Respect for Marriage Act, the same-sex bill will now be approved by the House as soon as this week.

After approval from the House the legislation will head to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

The bill is in response to concerns the Supreme Court could overturn the 2015 decision to legalise same-sex marriage nationwide.

“Today the long but inexorable march towards greater equality advances forward…

By passing this bill, the Senate is sending a message that every American needs to hear: no matter who you are or who you love, you too deserve dignity and equal treatment under the law.”

Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader
 

The bill needed 60 votes to pass and ended with a vote of 61 to 36.

Hundreds of thousands of same-sex and interracial couples are breathing a sigh of relief today in the United States.

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Scott Morrison censured by the House of Representatives

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Scott Morrison becomes the first current or former prime minister to be censured

The Australian Government has censured former prime minister Scott Morrison over a string of secret ministries he swore himself into.

The motion notes Morrison undermined responsible government after he failed to inform parliament of these secret portfolios he took on.

Of course, this follows the release of a report by former High Court Judge Virginia Bell.

She found it was “unnecessary” for Morrison to appoint himself as the minister for finance and health.

The coalition did not support the motion.

Of course, Morrison remains in the parliament as the member for Cook.

We’ve also heard from current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who says the opposition just doesn’t get it.

“He owes an apology to the Australian people for the undermining of democracy, and that’s why this motion should be supported by every member of this House.”

Liberal MP Bridget Archer says she was obligated to support Labor’s censure.

“I am a Liberal. I believe in Liberal values. And our statement of values says this,” Archer said.

“‘We believe in the rule of law. Under it, there is freedom for the nation and for all men and women. Democracy depends upon self-discipline, obedience to the law and the honest administration of the law.

It’s not the first time Bridget Archer has done this.

Last year, she crossed the floor over the proposed anti-corruption commission.

The last time an MP was formally censured in federal parliament was in 2018.

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