Biden’s Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isn’t So Simple posted at 22:25:31 UTC - SharedNewsLinks℠ Review

Biden’s Plan to Link Arms With Europe Against Russia and China Isn’t So Simple

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WASHINGTON — Two weeks after President Biden’s inauguration, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, spoke publicly about the importance of dialogue with Moscow, saying that Russia is a part of Europe that cannot simply be shunned and that Europe must be strong enough to defend its own interests.

On Dec. 30, just weeks before the inauguration, the European Union clinched an important investment agreement with China, days after a tweet by Mr. Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, asking for “early consultations” with Europe on China and seeming to caution against a quick deal.

So even as the United States resets under new White House leadership, Europe is charting its own course on Russia and China in ways that do not necessarily align with Mr. Biden’s goals, posing a challenge as the new American president sets out to rebuild a post-Trump alliance with the Continent.

On Friday, Mr. Biden will address the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of leaders and diplomats from Europe and the United States that he has attended for decades and that helped cement his reputation as a champion of trans-Atlantic solidarity.

Speaking at the conference two years ago, Mr. Biden lamented the damage the Trump administration had inflicted on the once-sturdy postwar relationship between Washington and Europe’s major capitals. “This too shall pass,” Mr. Biden said. “We will be back.” He promised that the United States would again “shoulder our responsibility of leadership.”

The president’s remarks on Friday are sure to repeat that promise and spotlight his now-familiar call for a more unified Western front against the anti-democratic threats posed by Russia and China. In many ways, such talk is sure to be received like a warm massage by European leaders tensed and shellshocked by four years of President Donald J. Trump’s mercurial and often contemptuous diplomacy.

But if by “leadership” Mr. Biden means a return to the traditional American assumption — we decide and you follow — many Europeans feel that that world is gone, and that Europe must not behave like America’s junior wingman in fights defined by Washington.

Demonstrated by the European Union’s trade deal with China, and conciliatory talk about Moscow from leaders like Mr. Macron and Germany’s likely next chancellor, Armin Laschet, Europe has its own set of interests and ideas about how to manage the United States’ two main rivals, ones that will complicate Mr. Biden’s diplomacy.

“Biden is signaling an incredibly hawkish approach to Russia, lumping it in with China, and defining a new global Cold War against authoritarianism,” said Jeremy Shapiro, the research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

That makes many European leaders nervous, he said. And other regional experts said they had seen fewer signs of overt enthusiasm from the Continent than Biden administration officials might have hoped for.

“There was always a cleareyed recognition that we weren’t just going to be able to show up and say, ‘Hey guys, we’re back!’” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, who was in line to become the National Security Council director for Russia but who did not take the job for personal reasons.

“But even with all of that, I think there was optimism that it would be easier than it looks like it’s going to be,” said Ms. Kendall-Taylor, the director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security.

Ulrich Speck, a senior visiting fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Berlin, added: “After the freeze in relations under Trump, I expected more warming. I don’t see it yet.”

Mr. Biden quickly took many of the easiest steps toward reconciliation and unity with Europe, including rejoining the Paris climate agreement, renewing an emphasis on multilateralism and human rights, and vowing to rejoin the disintegrating 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

But aligning against Russia and China will be much more difficult.

China may be a peer rival for the United States, but it has long been a vital trade partner for Europe. And while European leaders see Beijing as a systemic rival and competitor, they also see it as a partner, and hardly view it as an enemy.

And Russia remains a nuclear-armed neighbor, however truculent, and has financial and emotional leverage of its own.

Since Mr. Biden was last in the White House, as vice president during the Obama administration, Britain, historically the United States’ most reliable diplomatic partner, has left the European Union and now coordinates foreign policy less effectively with its continental allies.

“That sophisticated British view of the world is absent,” said Nicholas Burns, a former under secretary of state and ambassador to NATO in the George W. Bush administration. “I don’t think the U.S. is intertwined yet with Europe, diplomatically and strategically,” he added.

This week’s security conference is not run by the German government, but Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will address it, along with Mr. Biden, Mr. Macron and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain. And Germany itself illustrates some of the problems the Biden administration will face in its effort to lock arms against Moscow.

Ms. Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Party has chosen Mr. Laschet as its leader, and he is its likely candidate to succeed her in autumn elections. But Mr. Laschet is more sympathetic than Mr. Biden to both Russia and China. He has cast doubt on the extent of Russian political disinformation and hacking operations and publicly criticized “marketable anti-Putin populism.” He has also been a strong supporter of Germany’s export-led economy, which is deeply reliant on China.

Germany still intends to put into operation the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a 746-mile natural gas artery that runs under the Baltic Sea from northern Russia to Germany. The paired pipelines are owned by Gazprom, itself owned by Russia. Work stopped on the project last year — with 94 percent of the pipes laid — after the U.S. Congress imposed further sanctions on the project on the grounds that it helped fund the Kremlin, damaged Ukraine and gave Russia the potential to manipulate Europe’s energy supply.

Last year, German politicians responded to threats of economic punishment made by Republican American senators by claiming “blackmail,” “economic war” and “neo-imperialism.” Many want to complete the pipeline project, but on Tuesday, the White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that Mr. Biden opposed it as a “bad deal” that divided Europe and made it more vulnerable to Russian treachery.

Despite the sanctions, Russian ships have renewed laying pipes, and Ms. Merkel defends the project as a business venture, not a geopolitical statement. The Germans argue that European Union energy regulations and new pipeline configurations reduce Russian ability to manipulate supplies and that Russia is more dependent on the income than Europe is on the gas.

There are signs that, as with the China deal, the Biden administration wants to move on and negotiate a solution with Germany, to remove a major irritant with a crucial ally. That could include, some suggest, snapback sanctions if Moscow diverts supplies or halts transit fees to Ukraine.

In France, Mr. Macron has long sought to develop a more positive dialogue with Mr. Putin, but his efforts for a “reset” have gone nowhere. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell Fontelles, tried something similar this month with embarrassing results when Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia humiliated him at a news conference and called the European Union “an unreliable partner.”

Together with the attempted assassination and then the jailing of the Russian opposition leader Aleksei A. Navalny, the treatment of Mr. Borrell means that Brussels is likely to place new sanctions on Russia, but not before the end of March, and will be more open to Mr. Biden’s suggestions for a tougher line.

Biden administration officials say that coordinating with a fractious Europe has never been easy and that its leaders welcome restored American leadership — especially on a Chinese threat more apparent to Europe than it was five years ago.

As for China and the investment agreement, after seven years of difficult talks, European officials have defended it as largely an effort to obtain the same access to the Chinese market for their companies that American firms had received through Mr. Trump’s China deal last year.

“There is no reason for us to suffer from an unlevel playing field, including vis-à-vis the U.S.,” Sabine Weyand, the E.U. director general for trade, said in a virtual forum in early February. “Why should we sit still?”

Ms. Weyand said the deal set high standards for Chinese trade practices, which would ultimately put the United States and Europe “in a stronger position to have a more assertive policy together on China.”

The deal must be ratified by the European Parliament, however, which has been critical of its failure to guarantee more labor rights, and it is unlikely to come to a vote until much later this year. And, again, Biden administration officials seem to be willing to move on, given the importance of cooperation with Europe on China.

“The deal potentially could complicate trans-Atlantic cooperation on China,” said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade negotiator and a vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, “but I don’t think it’s going to preclude it.”

Michael Crowley reported from Washington, and Steven Erlanger from Brussels. Ana Swanson contributed reporting from Washington.

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 New York's Washington Square Park Turns Into Winter Wonderland

posted at 19:46:33 UTC by VOA News via VOA News

Washington Square Park in New York looks like a winter wonderland as the city expects up to 25 centimeters of snow.

Snow fell steadily across New York City throughout the morning, forcing the cancelation of hundreds of flights and delaying the opening of two COVID-19 vaccination sites after the storm disrupted dosage delivery.

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Экс-губернатор Хабаровского края Виктор Ишаев получил пять лет колонии условно по делу о растрате 7,5 млн рублей, передает ТАСС.

Замоскворецкий суд Москвы также назначил ему штраф в размере 800 тысяч рублей и дал бывшему губернатору испытательный срок на пять лет.

Еще один фигурант дела, Геннадий Кондратов, получил три года колонии условно со штрафом 400 тысяч рублей.

Отмечается, что суд в качестве смягчающих обстоятельств учел государственные награды и хронические заболевания у Ишаева. Кроме того, в срок наказания было зачтено время нахождения подсудимых под домашним арестом.

Ранее суд признал экс-губернатора виновным в растрате 7,5 млн рублей.

По версии следствия, с 2014 по 2017 год Ишаев заключил с подконтрольной фирмой договор об аренде помещения по завышенной стоимости. Соучастник перевел деньги на счета, к которым Ишаев имел доступ. Свою вину в совершении преступления экс-глава Хабаровского края не признает. 

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8:07 AM 2/17/2021

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Ex-Khabarovsk head’s sentencing in Rosneft embezzlement case rescheduled for February 17

© RAPSI, Eugeny Varlamov
18:31 15/02/2021

MOSCOW, February 15 (RAPSI) – Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky District Court on Monday will announce sentence against ex-governor of Russia’s Khabarovsk Region Victor Ishayev accused of embezzling over 7.5 million rubles (over $100,000) from Rosneft oil company on February 17, but not February 16 as was scheduled earlier, the court’s press service told RAPSI.

Prosecutors earlier demanded 7 years in prison for the defendant.

Ishayev was arrested in Moscow on March 28, 2019. On March 29, Moscow’s Basmanny District Court denied a 15-million-ruble ($200,000) bail to Ishayev and placed him under house arrest.

From 2013 to 2018, Ishayev was a vice-president of Rosneft. According to investigators, between 2014 and 2017, he fraudulently ensured signing of premises lease agreements for the company office’s use in the Khabarovsk Region at an overvalued price. The contracts were concluded with Ishayev’s firm.

pictureMichael_Novakhov shared this story from 3157197.png РИА Новости.

МОСКВА, 17 фев — РИА Новости. Замоскворецкий суд Москвы признал экс-губернатора Хабаровского края и бывшего вице-президента "Роснефти" Виктора Ишаева виновным в растрате семи с половиной миллионов рублей, передает корреспондент РИА Новости из зала суда.
По данным следствия, с 2014 по 2017 год Ишаев помог принадлежащей ему фирме заключить по завышенной стоимости договоры аренды помещения для представительства "Роснефти" в Хабаровском крае. Второй фигурант дела, бывший гендиректор краевого представительства "Роснефти" Геннадий Кондратов, с июля 2014-го по март 2019-го перечислял завышенную арендную плату на счет ООО "Бейс" и так растратил более семи с половиной миллионов рублей, вверенные ему компанией.
Наказание огласят в конце приговора. Прокурор просил приговорить Исаева к семи годам колонии, а Кондратова — к четырем годам.
При этом Кондратов, словам адвоката Ларисы Мове, дал показания на экс-губернатора. Ишаев же вины не признал.
В декабре экс-губернатора госпитализировали с сердечным приступом, из-за чего судебное заседание несколько раз переносили. Как рассказал РИА Новости источник, близкий к следствию, в 2017 году у Ишаева был инфаркт.
Ишаев возглавлял Хабаровский край с 1991 по 2009 год, а затем был полпредом президента в Дальневосточном федеральном округе.
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11:53 AM 2/16/2021 - Tweets by ‎@mikenov

  1. 10:03 AM 2/16/2021 - North Carolina GOP censures Sen. Burr for impeachment vote https://thenewsandtimes.blogspot.com/2021/02/1003-am-2162021-north-carolina-gop.html 

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    The Evolution of Alexey #Navalny’s Nationalism
    Let me join in the chorus of praise for @mashagessen's exploration of Navalny's views but above all trajectory in @NewYorker. Certainly not a Nazi, but nor Mandela, he comes across as someone in evolution https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-evolution-of-alexey-navalnys-nationalism 

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  4. Athens Acropolis covered in a blanket of snow https://youtu.be/_BS-sf9yntg  via @YouTube

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    Мирный протест в России - самый мирный в мире. И не надо верить госпропаганде и путать его с реальными массовыми беспорядками, которые время от времени случаются за рубежом. И вот почему: https://youtu.be/_ItlwYHUJcU 

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    Совет Европы: дискриминация ЛГБТ в Польше усилилась https://parniplus.com/news/sodiskriminatsiya-lgbt-v-polshe/ 

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"We must get to the truth of how this happened," Pelosi said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced Monday that Congress will move to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, similar to the one set up in the wake of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"Now, as always, security is the order of the day: the security of our country, the security of our Capitol which is the temple of our democracy, and the security of our Members," Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The events of Jan. 6 occurred after then-President Donald Trump and his allies held a rally earlier that day in Washington, D.C., urging Congress not to certify the results of the November presidential election, in which Trump lost to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Trump vowed to "never concede" and urged his supporters "to fight," as he continued to push baseless claims of election fraud.

Crowds of people then made their way to the Capitol steps, pushing through barricades, officers in riot gear and other security measures that were put in place in anticipation of the protest. An angry mob breached the Capitol building, forcing a lockdown with members of Congress and their staff holed up inside. It took hours for law enforcement to clear the building and establish a perimeter around the area. Five people, including a police officer, died during the rampage.

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honore was appointed to examine security on Capitol Hill following the insurrection. Meanwhile, the Senate acquitted Trump on Saturday in his second impeachment trial on a charge of inciting the Capitol rioters.

"For the past few weeks, General Honore has been assessing our security needs by reviewing what happened on January 6 and how we must ensure that it does not happen again," Pelosi said in her letter. "He has been working with Committees of Jurisdiction and will continue to make proposals."

"It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened," she continued. "To protect our security, our security, our security, our next step will be to establish an outside, independent 9/11-type Commission to 'investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021 domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex… and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power, including facts and causes relating to the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other Federal, State, and local law enforcement in the National Capitol Region.'"

The so-called 9/11 Commission was convened by congressional legislation that was signed into law by then-President George W. Bush in November 2002. After a 20-month-long investigation into the circumstances surrounding the terrorist attacks and how to prevent a similar attack, the bipartisan panel concluded in its final report that U.S. government intelligence agencies had failed to adequately assess the threat posed by al-Qaeda, among other things.

A growing number of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have called for a bipartisan, independent commission to investigate the Capitol siege. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., who crossed party lines and voted alongside six other Republicans to convict Trump, told ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview Sunday on "This Week" that he supports a full investigation into the events of Jan. 6. In interviews following Cassidy, House impeachment manager Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said they would support the creation of a 9/11 Commission-style independent inquiry into the Capitol siege.

In her letter, Pelosi said Congress must also allocate additional funding "to provide for the safety of Members and the security of the Capitol."

"We will be forever grateful to the Capitol Police for their life-saving courage and heroism in securing the Capitol and protecting Members," she said.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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The latest chapter of the COVID-19 pandemic has been defined by vaccines and variants, the lineages of SARS-CoV-2 that have undergone notable mutations and taken root in different parts of the world. The most infamous examples of this line-up are the UK variant (aka the Kent variant), the South African variant, and the Brazilian variant – but the US has got more than its fair share of worrying variants too.

New preliminary research has reported that seven lineages of SARS-CoV-2 are on the rise across the US. Curiously, the seven variants have all independently gained similar mutations to the spike protein of the surface of the virus. 

The new study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was posted on the preprint server medRxiv

The report explains that seven independent lineages of SARS-CoV-2 with S:Q677H or S:Q677P mutations arose between August and November 2020. While it’s not certain whether the new variants in the US are innately more contagious, they are certainly on the rise in the southcentral and southwest US. Infections with SARS-Cov-2 viruses carrying a mutation called Q677P were first detected on October 23, 2020. Between December 1, 2020, and January 19, 2021, it represented almost 28 percent of cases detected in Louisiana and over 11 percent of cases in New Mexico.

All of these variants obtaining similar mutations might sound like an unlikely coincidence, but researchers do have some clear ideas about why this might be the case. 

“The simplest explanation is that the mutations we are seeing at this site – Spike position 677 – might be one of the many subtle ways that this virus is fine-tuning itself to infect human cells,” Jeremy Kamil, co-author of the paper and a virologist at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center Shreveport, told IFLScience.

“However, we have no evidence yet as to whether these changes make the virus any more transmissible or dangerous. Indeed, it has been plenty dangerous all along.  One might conjecture that they could —potentially— give the virus some sort of slight advantage over one of its siblings that doesn’t have the change. I will stress that [if] there are any effects of these mutations, we expect they would prove to be quite small, and quite subtle,” Dr Kamil added.   

Mutations are a natural part of the virus life cycle and, over the course of the pandemic, there have been thousands of SARS-CoV-2 variants that have undergone subtle mutations – most of which are inconsequential or harmless. However, if those mutations somehow provide the virus with an advantage over others, then they provide the opportunity to thrive. If they are all obtaining the same or similar mutations, then that could be a sign the mutation is beneficial for whatever selective pressures they are facing.

As Dr Kamil indicates, this instance is an example of convergent evolution, the process whereby different organisms independently evolve similar traits as a result of having to adapt to similar conditions. This is the reason why bats, bugs, and birds all have wings; they evolved them separately, as they provided the animals with an evolutionary advantage over others. It's also the reason why so many crustaceans have independently evolved into a crab-like form.

It’s something that’s also been seen in other parts of the world with other variants of SARS-CoV-2. For example, there were some reports of the UK variant mutating further and obtaining changes to the spike protein mutation found in the Brazilian and South African variants, known as E484K. Once again, scientists speculated that the mutation was giving the virus some kind of evolutionary advantage. 

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In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of Feb. 16...

What we are watching in Canada ...

There is new guidance from Canada's national advisory committee on immunization that says adults from racialized communities disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic should be prioritized for shots in the second stage of the vaccination campaign.

Essential workers who can't do their jobs from home moved into the second stage, instead of focusing on health workers with lower-risk jobs, under the advice given Monday.

The second stage is expected to start this spring after the provinces vaccinate all staff and residents at long-term care homes, adults aged 70 or older, front-line health workers and adults in Indigenous communities.

The list of groups that should receive COVID-19 vaccines in the second stage includes people between 60 and 69 years old, racialized adults from groups disproportionately affected by COVID-19, essential workers, first responders, caregivers and residents and staff of congregate living sittings including homeless shelters, prisons and migrant workers' quarters.

The committee added a third stage to its immunization recommendations that includes people between 16 and 59 years old with underlying conditions, those who are between 50 and 59 years old with no underlying conditions, and health workers and essential workers who are didn't got shots in previous rounds.

The new recommendations prioritize racialized adults from groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic ahead of some older non-racialized people.

Health authorities in the provinces and the territories decide who gets vaccinated first.

---

Also this ...

Now that a lawsuit against him has been dropped, Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri says he will continue to fight for equality outside the courts.

Ujiri thanked Raptors players, staff, ownership and fans in a statement Monday for standing with him throughout the lawsuit, which stemmed from an altercation with a California law enforcement officer at the 2019 NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif.

The lawsuit, filed by Alameda County sheriff's deputy Alan Strickland and his wife, Kelly, was dropped on Wednesday, as was a countersuit filed by Ujiri.

"I have decided my fight isn't a legal one," Ujiri said in the statement.

"Now the challenge is this: What can we do to stop another man or woman from finding themselves in front of a judge or behind bars because they committed no crime other than being Black? That is the work that each one of us must commit to, every day."

A video of Ujiri speaking on the incident recorded in August, around the time videos of the incident were circulating, was posted Monday on the Raptors' Twitter feed.

"When I look at this I ask: Who are we as people?" Ujiri says in the video. "Who are we as human beings?

"It comes down to human decency."

---

What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Congress will establish an independent, Sept. 11-style commission to look into the deadly insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Monday in a letter that the commission will "investigate and report on the facts and causes relating to the January 6, 2021, domestic terrorist attack upon the United States Capitol Complex — and relating to the interference with the peaceful transfer of power.''

After former President Donald Trump's acquittal at his second Senate impeachment trial, bipartisan support appeared to be growing for an independent commission to examine the deadly insurrection.

Investigations into the riot were already planned, with Senate hearings scheduled later this month in the Senate Rules Committee. Pelosi, D-Calif., asked retired Army Lt. Gen. Russel Honore to lead an immediate review of the Capitol's security process.

In her letter Monday, Pelosi said, "It is clear from his findings and from the impeachment trial that we must get to the truth of how this happened."

Lawmakers from both parties, speaking on Sunday's news shows, signalled that even more inquiries were likely. The Senate verdict Saturday, with its 57-43 majority falling 10 votes short of the two-thirds needed to convict Trump, hardly put to rest the debate about the Republican former president's culpability for the Jan. 6 assault.

"There should be a complete investigation about what happened," said Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy, one of seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump. "What was known, who knew it and when they knew, all that, because that builds the basis so this never happens again."

---

What we are watching in the rest of the world ...

Passengers arriving at London's Heathrow Airport were escorted by security guards to buses that took them to nearby hotels on Monday as Britain's newly established quarantine hotels received their first guests.

Some of the travellers said they had tried and failed to make it to Britain before Monday to avoid the quarantine, which has been established as the government tries to prevent new coronavirus variants from derailing its vaccination drive.

Zari Tadayon, who flew to Heathrow from Dubai and was taken to the Radisson Blu Edwardian hotel near the airport, said she had hoped she would be allowed to quarantine at her home in London. She said she felt "horrible" about the enforced 10-day hotel stay.

"How I'm going to cope I don't know. It's going to be tough," she said.

Britain has given a first dose of coronavirus vaccine to almost a quarter of its population, but health officials are concerned that vaccines may not work as well on some new strains of the virus, including one first identified in South Africa.

Under the new rules, residents of the U.K. and Ireland arriving in England from 33 high-risk countries must stay in designated hotels for 10 days at their own expense, with meals delivered to their door. In Scotland the rule applies to arrivals from any country.

International travel has already been sharply curbed by the pandemic and Britons are currently barred from going on overseas vacations.

Critics, however, say Britain's quarantine hotels are being set up too late, with the South African variant already circulating in the U.K.

---

On this day in 1984 ...

Quebec speedskater Gaetan Boucher completed the greatest individual Canadian showing in an Olympic Games. Boucher added the 1,500-metre gold medal in Sarajevo to his gold in the 1,000-metre and his bronze in the 500. Boucher also won the silver in the 1,000 at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.

---

In entertainment ...

Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex will be speaking with Oprah Winfrey in a primetime television interview next month on CBS.

It's the couple's first major television interview since Harry and Meghan Markle quit royal duties and bought a home last year in the U.S.

The 90-minute "Oprah With Meghan and Harry: A CBS Primetime Special" will air March 7, CBS announced Monday. Winfrey knows the couple well. She attended their wedding in 2018 and lives near them in Montecito, Calif.

"Winfrey will speak with Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, in a wide-ranging interview, covering everything from stepping into life as a royal, marriage, motherhood, philanthropic work to how she is handling life under intense public pressure," according to CBS. "Later, the two are joined by Prince Harry as they speak about their move to the United States and their future hopes and dreams for their expanding family."

On Sunday, a spokesperson for Meghan and Harry confirmed that they were expecting a second child. Their first son, Archie, was born in 2019.

---

ICYMI ...

A vegan version of the iconic KitKat candy bar is being developed by Nestle.

The Swiss-based company didn't spell out in its announcement on Monday the exact formula for the new treat to be known as the KitKat V. But it said it would "soon have a delicious plant-based option that delivers the perfect balance between crispy wafer and smooth chocolate that people know and love."

The company said it already has launched plant-based alternatives to dairy made from rice, oat, soy, coconut, pea and almonds that are found in its non-dairy ice cream, coffee creamers and other products.

The KitKat V, which it said will be launched later this year in "several countries across the globe," is certified vegan and uses 100 per cent sustainable cocoa, the company said.

As the product is tested it will only be available in the company's boutique KitKat Chocolatory shops or online, and through select retailers.

It will be available in Britain, where the KitKat was originally developed in York — and where the research on the vegan version was done — but not in the U.S. where the KitKat is produced under a licensing agreement with Hershey's, the company said.

Nestle said it is not releasing information on other countries participating in the initial roll-out at the moment.

---

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 16, 2021

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