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Austrian Holocaust Survivor ‘Mrs. Gertrude’ Dies at 94

The Holocaust survivor Gertrude Pressburger, who became famous during Austria’s 2016 presidential campaign with a video message in which “Mrs. Gertrude” warned of hatred and exclusion triggered by the far right, has died at 94.

Pressburger died Friday after a long illness, her family told the Austrian press agency APA on Saturday. 

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen tweeted that “the death of Gertrude Pressburger fills me with deep sadness … Mrs. Pressburger had the courage to tell her story as a Holocaust survivor. She had the courage to stand by her opinion. To address facts. To speak the truth.”

Pressburger was born and raised in Vienna, the daughter of a carpenter. Her Jewish family converted to Catholicism in the early 1930s, but that did not keep them from being persecuted by the Nazis after Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938.

After her father was arrested and tortured by the Nazis’ Gestapo secret police for alleged political activity, the family was able to escape to Yugoslavia and later to Italy, APA reported.

In 1944, the family was captured and deported to the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in Germany-occupied Poland, where her mother and two younger brothers were murdered. Her father was also killed by the Nazis.

Pressburger returned to Vienna after the war, but initially did not talk about her horrific sufferings during the Holocaust. Eventually, she decided to open up about the Holocaust and about the antisemitic experiences she suffered in post-war Austria.

“I did not come back to Vienna to be oppressed again. I swear to myself that I will not put up with anything anymore. I’m going to fight with my mouth,” APA quoted her as saying.

Pressburger also published a memoir that she co-wrote with author Marlene Groihofer. In the book “Gelebt, Erlebt, Ueberlebt” or “Lived, Experienced, Survived” she described her family’s arrival in Auschwitz in 1944.

Her mother and the two brothers were sent away on a truck. Gertrude herself was sent in another direction and she quickly lost sight of her father too. Pressburger constantly looked for her family members in the death camp until a stranger approached her, pointed to the smoke coming out of the chimneys behind the barracks and told her that all the people driven away on the truck were gassed and burned already. That, Pressburger, wrote, was the moment when she understood that they had been murdered.

In 2016, Pressburger addressed Austria’s younger generation in an online video, warning against the humiliations and exclusion of minorities amid the far-right rhetoric in the country’s presidential election. She called on young Austrians to go out and vote. The video was watched and shared several million times.

“I just said what I thought. That’s it. And that hit home. I never understood why,” she told APA afterwards.

Van der Bellen, who is from the Green Party, later said he was sure her video appeal had some influence on the election result, which saw him narrowly win only after a re-run against the far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer.

“We will never know for sure, but that it had an impact, that is to say an effect, and especially on young and very young people, I am convinced of that,” Van der Bellen said.

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Officials Seek 2 Missing in Devastating Colorado Wildfire

Colorado authorities were searching Saturday for two people reported missing from a wind-whipped winter-season wildfire in Denver’s suburbs that destroyed hundreds of homes and left thousands of people trying to salvage what belongings they could from the fast-moving blaze.

Authorities had said earlier no one was missing in the area hit by Thursday’s blaze, but Boulder County spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said Saturday they were now trying to find two people who were later reported as unaccounted for after sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and other officials located hundreds of people who initially were reported missing. She declined to provide details on the two, where they were last seen, or efforts to find them, and attributed the error to confusion inherent when agencies are scrambling to manage an emergency.

The news came as an overnight dumping of snow and frigid temperatures Saturday compounded the misery of hundreds of Colorado residents who started off the new year trying to salvage what remains of their homes.

At least 6 inches (0.15 meters) of snow and temperatures in the single digits cast an eerie scene amid the still-smoldering remains of homes destroyed in Thursday’s wildfire that raced through the suburban area that lies between Denver and Boulder. Despite the shocking change in weather, the smell of smoke still permeated empty streets blocked off by National Guard troops in Humvees.

For the thousands of residents whose homes survived the conflagration, Red Cross shelter volunteers distributed electric space heaters as utility crews struggled to restore natural gas and electricity.

At least seven people were injured in the wildfire that erupted in and around Louisville and Superior, neighboring towns about 20 miles (32 kilometers) northwest of Denver with a combined population of 34,000. More than 500 homes were feared destroyed.

The blaze, which burned at least 9.4 square miles (24 square kilometers), was no longer considered an immediate threat.

Families forced to flee the flames with little warning began returning to their neighborhoods Friday to find a patchwork of devastation. On some blocks, homes reduced to smoking ruins stood next to ones practically unscathed by the fires.

“For 35 years I walked out my front door, I saw beautiful homes,” Eric House said. “Now when I walk out, my home’s standing. I walk out my front door and this is what I see.”

Cathy Glaab found that her home in Superior had been turned into a pile of charred and twisted debris. It was one of seven houses in a row that were destroyed.

“The mailbox is standing,” Glaab said, trying to crack a smile through tears. She added sadly, “So many memories.”

Despite the devastation, she said they intend to rebuild the house she and her husband have had since 1998. They love that the land backs up to a natural space, and they have a view of the mountains from the back.

Rick Dixon feared there would be nothing to return to after he saw firefighters try to save his burning home on the news. On Friday, Dixon, his wife and son found it mostly gutted with a gaping hole in the roof but still standing.

“We thought we lost everything,” he said, as he held his mother-in-law’s china in padded containers. They also retrieved sculptures that belonged to Dixon’s father and piles of clothes still on hangers.

As the flames swept over drought-stricken neighborhoods with alarming speed, propelled by guests up to 105 mph (169 kph), tens of thousands were ordered to flee.

The cause of the blaze was under investigation. Emergency authorities said utility officials found no downed power lines around where the fire broke out.

With some roads still closed, people walked back to their homes to get clothes or medicine, turn the water off to prevent the pipes from freezing, or see if they still had a house. They left carrying backpacks and pulling suitcases or wagons down the sidewalk.

David Marks stood on a hillside overlooking Superior with others, using a pair of binoculars and a long-range camera lens to see if his house, and those of his neighbors, were still there, but he couldn’t tell for sure whether his place was OK. He said at least three friends lost their homes.

He had watched from the hillside as the neighborhood burned.

“I’ve never seen anything like that. … Just house after house, fences, just stuff flying through the air, just caught on fire.”

President Joe Biden on Friday declared a major disaster in the area, ordering federal aid be made available to those affected.

The wildfire broke out unusually late in the year, following an extremely dry fall and amid a winter nearly devoid of snow until the overnight snowfall.

Pelle said more than 500 homes were probably destroyed. He and Gov. Jared Polis said as many as 1,000 homes might have been lost, though that won’t be known until crews can assess the damage.

Superior and Louisville are filled with middle- and upper-middle-class subdivisions with shopping centers, parks and schools. The area is between Denver and Boulder, home to the University of Colorado. 

Scientists say climate change is making weather more extreme and wildfires more frequent and destructive.

Ninety percent of Boulder County is in severe or extreme drought, and it hadn’t seen substantial rainfall since mid-summer. Denver set a record for consecutive days without snow before it got a small storm on Dec. 10, its last snowfall before the wildfires broke out.

Bruce Janda faced the loss of his Louisville home of 25 years in person Friday.

“We knew that the house was totaled, but I felt the need to see it, see what the rest of the neighborhood looked like,” he said. “We all know each other and we all love each other. It’s hard to see this happen to all of us.” 

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Pope, in New Year’s Homily, Praises Women as Peacemakers

Pope Francis ushered in the new year Saturday by praising the skills women bring to promoting peace in the world, and he equated violence against women to an offense against God.

The Roman Catholic Church marks Jan. 1 as a day dedicated to world peace, and a late-morning Mass in Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica paid tribute to the Virgin Mary’s special place in the faith as the mother of Jesus.

Mothers “know how to overcome obstacles and disagreements, and to instill peace,” Francis said during his homily.

“In this way, they transform problems into opportunities for rebirth and growth. They can do this because they know how to ‘keep,’ to hold together the various threads of life,” the pontiff said. “We need such people, capable of weaving the threads of communion in place of the barbed wire of conflict and division.”

Francis urged everyone to step up efforts to promote mothers and to protect women.

“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity,” the pope said, referring to the Christian belief that Jesus was the son of God.

He lavished praise on women, including mothers, saying they “look at the world not to exploit it but so that it can have life. Women who, seeing with the heart, can combine dreams and aspirations with concrete reality, without drifting into abstraction and sterile pragmatism.”

While pledging in his papacy to give women greater roles in the church, Francis has also made clear that the priesthood is reserved for men.

In a tweet before the New Year’s Day Mass, Francis elaborated on his hope and strategy for peace.

“All can work together to build a more peaceful world, starting from the hearts of individuals and relationships in the family, then within society and with the environment, and all the way up to relationships between peoples and nations,” Francis tweeted.

Except for the pope and members of a chorus made up of boys and adults, participants in the Mass wore face as part of COVID-19 precautions.

Francis, who is 85 and vaccinated against the coronavirus, wore a surgical mask during a New Year’s Eve prayer service which a Vatican cardinal presided over at the basilica. It was a rare departure from his shunning of masks during public ceremonies throughout the two-year pandemic. 


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New Year, New Laws for US States

A new year brings a new mayor for New York City and new laws in many of the 50 U.S. states. 

Democrat Eric Adams was elected in November to be the next leader of the largest city in the United States. He succeeds Bill de Blasio, who served two terms as mayor, beginning in 2014. 

An inauguration ceremony planned for Saturday was postponed because of the rise in cases of the omicron variant of COVID-19. 

On the other side of the country, the city of Seattle is getting a new mayor as well, with Bruce Harrell assuming the post Saturday. 

Among the many new laws going into effect at the state level are increases in the minimum wage in a number of states, including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New Mexico. 

Such laws are the result of legislation approved by state legislatures and governors, and in some cases, the minimum wage increases will go into effect in stages over the course of several years. 

Animal rights, voting rights 

Virginia has a new law preventing cosmetics companies from testing their products on animals. 

In Washington state, people who have served prison time for felony crimes now regain their right to vote as soon as they leave prison. 

Nevada is making it easier for people to cast their votes by mail with a new law requiring that all registered voters receive a ballot by mail for each election.

Helping others 

A new Texas law provides property tax exemptions for certain charity groups that provide housing or other aid to people experiencing homelessness. 

In Illinois, people who work at restaurants and truck stops will receive required training to help them identify potential instances of human trafficking and report suspected cases to authorities. 

A New Hampshire law strengthens penalties against people convicted of multiple offenses of drunken driving in cases where they harm or kill someone. 

A new law in Colorado will make it easier for people who were victims of sexual assault as children to report their assaults, removing the existing statute of limitations for prosecuting such lawsuits. 

Health, wellness 

The state of Connecticut is enacting caps on how much people pay for insulin and other diabetes management supplies. 

Montana is joining the states that allow recreational sales of marijuana. It will be legal in parts of the state where a majority of voters approved it. 

In Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia is banning employers from conducting pre-employment testing for marijuana. 

And in Missouri, health insurance providers must make coverage available for certain mental health conditions as part of their plans. 


Posted by Ukrap on

Китай до Нового року опублікував нові фото Марса

Китай із нагоди Нового року опублікував нові фото Марса, зроблені зондом «Тяньвень-1», що працює на планеті з лютого минулого року разом із марсоходом «Чжужун».

Передача фотографій зайняла приблизно 20 хвилин. Серед зображень – загальний вигляд Марса, сам марсохід та північна полярна шапка планети. Крім того, на кадри потрапили кратер імені радянського конструктора Сергія Корольова та дюнне поле Олімпія.

У травні 2021 року національне космічне управління Китаю повідомило про першу в історії країни успішну посадку космічного апарату на іншу планету.

Зонд «Тяньвень-1» та марсохід «Чжужун» за час своєї роботи зібрали 560 гігабайтів інформації про Марса.

Китай став третьою країною у світі, яка зуміла досягти поверхні іншої планети. В 1970 році м’яка посадка вперше вдалася Радянському Союзу з апаратом «Венера-7». Перша успішна посадка США на Марс була 1976 року з апаратом «Вікінг-1». Крім того, на Марсі працює американський апарат «Персеверанс», який висадився на планету у лютому 2021 року.

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Папа Римський у новорічному вітанні назвав насильство щодо жінок «образою» Бога

З початку пандемії папа Франциск кілька разів висловлювався проти домашнього насильства, яке різко зросло у всьому світі під час карантину

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Рятувальники розповіли, як минула новорічна ніч в Україні

Рятувальники звертаються до українців не втрачати пильності під час святкових вихідних та не нехтувати правилами пожежної безпеки

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МОЗ: ще понад 52 тисячі щеплень від COVID-19 зробили в Україні

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Коронавірус: в Україні минулої доби виявили понад 5 тисяч нових випадків

Минулої доби шпиталізували 1 554 людини, 6 073 – одужали, 190 людей померли

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More Local Governments in US Taxing Plastic Shopping Bags

Five Virginia jurisdictions have joined a growing trend across America of taxing plastic shopping bags in hopes of reducing and eventually eliminating their use. 


The bags, designed as single-use items, are among the most common forms of litter, polluting land and waterways alike and constituting a substantial portion of the nation’s plastic waste. 


Slow to decompose and made from petroleum products, the bags pose myriad dangers even when disposed of properly. 


Over time, the plastic may discharge harmful chemicals into drinking water supplies or threaten marine animals and other wildlife that think it is food. 


The mid-Atlantic state of Virginia allows any county or city to force grocery stores, pharmacies and other retailers to collect a 5-cent tax on every plastic bag provided to shoppers. Arlington and Fairfax counties, along with the cities of Alexandria, Fredericksburg and Roanoke, have done just that beginning January 1. 

First ban in Bangladesh


Taking a stand against plastic bags didn’t originate in the United States. 


In 2002, Bangladesh became the first country to ban thin plastic bags, which were blamed for clogging drainage systems and contributing to catastrophic flooding. 


Other countries followed suit, either banning them outright or taxing them to discourage their use, which ballooned to a million bags per minute worldwide in 2011, according to the United Nations.

According to World Atlas, about 60 countries have instituted plastic bag controls, including China, India and Cambodia. Several African countries have banned them, including Kenya, Cameroon, Rwanda and Tanzania.

Despite such efforts, plastic bags continue to litter the globe, from oceans to the polar ice caps to even the summit of Mount Everest.

In the United States, California was the first to pass a statewide ban in 2014. Since then, several other states, including Hawaii, New York and Oregon, have banned single-use plastic bags.


Support is growing in the U.S. as more local governments join the cause. 

But not everyone is on board, notably the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, a lobbying group representing the U.S. plastic bag manufacturing and recycling industry.


“Taxes on plastic bags will drive up costs for consumers already struggling with rapidly increasing grocery bills due to widespread inflation,” Zachary Taylor, the group’s director, said in a statement to VOA. When disposed of properly, the plastic grocery bag is the carryout bag with the fewest environmental impacts, he asserted.

Local issue

However, Ruthie Cody, who lives in Alexandria, Virginia, supports allowing local jurisdictions to implement bag taxes. 


“I don’t think it should be mandatory nationwide but something local governments should decide,” she said, “and the tax is minimal for the everyday consumer, but still effects change.” 


By contrast, Linda Joy Wilson, a Fairfax County resident, thinks the tax should be standard across the country. “I’ve lived in other states with the plastic bag tax and have noticed that it cuts down on plastic bags usage and people bring their own single-use disposable plastic bags in grocery, drug and convenience stories,” she said. 


The counties of Arlington and Fairfax and the city of Alexandria plan to use the income generated from the bag tax to fund environmental cleanup projects, pollution and litter mitigation, and education programs.


“We expect there might be some resistance to the tax,” Kate Daley, an environmental analyst for the Fairfax County government, told VOA. “But we’ve also seen a lot of enthusiasm from people who believe it will make a big difference in protecting the environment and help curb pollution in streams, trees and roadways.”

“I wish it had happened sooner,” said Patty Hagan, a Fairfax County resident. “Everyone should use reusable bags.”


Another county resident, David Toms, agreed. “But I think they need to ban the plastic bags altogether since they harm wildlife. I live on a lake and it’s disgusting how frequently I see them in the water.” 


But Paul Thurmond in Arlington, Virginia, doesn’t think the tax will make a big difference. “People who want the bags will buy them anyway and then just throw them out, which seems to defeat the purpose,” he said. 


The goal is to “get people not to use the plastic bags” or refrain from throwing them on the ground, said Erik Grabowsky, solid waste bureau chief for Arlington, Virginia. “It’s up to individuals to do the right thing.”

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UK Honors COVID Scientists and Medics, Bond Actor Daniel Craig 

Britain recognized the scientists and medical chiefs at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 in Queen Elizabeth’s annual New Year’s honors list, while James Bond actor Daniel Craig was given the same award as his famous onscreen character. 

Craig, who bowed out from playing the fictional British spy after five outings following the release of “No Time to Die” this year, was made a Companion in The Order of St. Michael and St. George (CMG) in recognition of his outstanding contribution to film. 

Bond was also a CMG, so the honor means Craig has now matched all his titles, having been made an honorary Commander in the Royal Navy in September. 

There were also major honors for the high-profile officials and others involved in tackling the coronavirus pandemic. 

The chief medical officers for England, Scotland and Wales – Chris Whitty, Gregor Smith and Frank Atherton – were given knighthoods. There were also honors for the deputy medical officers for England, with Jonathan Van-Tam knighted and Jenny Harries made a dame. 

The government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance, who had previously been knighted, was made a Knight Commander of The Order of The Bath. 

There were also awards for those involved in producing vaccines including Pfizer Chief Development Officer Rod MacKenzie, Sean Marett, the chief business and commercial officer at BioNTech, and Melanie Ivarsson, the chief development officer at Moderna. 

Cyclist Jason Kenny, who achieved his seventh gold medal at the Tokyo Olympic Games, more than any other Briton has won, was also knighted. His wife, Laura, who is the nation’s most successful female Olympic athlete and became the first to win gold at three successive Games, received a damehood. 

Among the 78 Olympian and Paralympians to be included in the list were gold medal winners swimmer Adam Peaty and diver Tom Daley, who received OBEs. 

Emma Raducanu, who stunned the tennis world by becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title with victory in the U.S. Open, was another sporting figure to be honored with an MBE. 

Songwriter Bernie Taupin, best known for his collaborations with Elton John including his 1997 reworking of “Candle in the Wind” that John sang at the funeral of Princess Diana, was awarded a CBE. 

There were also damehoods for veteran actresses Joanna Lumley and Vanessa Redgrave for their services to drama, entertainment and charity. 

The New Year’s honors have been awarded since Queen Victoria’s reign in the 19th century and aim to recognize not just well-known figures but people who have contributed to national life through often unsung work over many years. 

“These recipients have inspired and entertained us and given so much to their communities in the UK or in many cases around the world,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said.


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Новорічне привітання Зеленського: «будь-яка армія по той бік кордону нас не лякає»

«Неабияка армія по наш бік кордону нас захищає», – додав президент

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US Officials Ask AT&T, Verizon to Delay 5G Wireless Near Certain Airports

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday asked AT&T and Verizon Communications to delay the planned Jan. 5 introduction of new 5G wireless service over aviation safety concerns.

In a letter Friday seen by Reuters, Buttigieg and FAA Administrator Steve Dickson asked AT&T Chief Executive John Stankey and Verizon Chief Executive Hans Vestberg for a delay of no more than two weeks as part of a “proposal as a near-term solution for advancing the co-existence of 5G deployment in the C-Band and safe flight operations.”

The aviation industry and FAA have raised concerns about potential interference of 5G with sensitive aircraft electronics like radio altimeters that could disrupt flights.

“We ask that your companies continue to pause introducing commercial C-Band service for an additional short period of no more than two weeks beyond the currently scheduled deployment date of January 5,” the letter says.

Verizon and AT&T both said they received the letter and were reviewing it. Earlier Friday the two companies accused the aerospace industry of seeking to hold C-Band spectrum deployment “hostage until the wireless industry agrees to cover the costs of upgrading any obsolete altimeters.”

Buttigieg and Dickson said under the framework “commercial C-band service would begin as planned in January with certain exceptions around priority airports.”

The FAA and the aviation industry would identify priority airports “where a buffer zone would permit aviation operations to continue safely while the FAA completes its assessments of the interference potential.”

The government would work to identify “mitigations for all priority airports” to enable most “large commercial aircraft to operate safely in all conditions.” That would allow deployment around “priority airports on a rolling basis,” aiming to ensure activation by March 31 barring unforeseen issues.

The carriers, which won the spectrum in an $80 billion government auction, previously agreed to precautionary measures for six months to limit interference.

On Thursday, trade group Airlines for America asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to halt deployment of new 5G wireless service around many airports, warning thousands of flights could be disrupted.

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, representing 50,000 flight attendants at 17 airlines, called the Transportation Department proposal “the right move to successfully implement 5G without using the traveling public (and the crews on their flights) as guinea pigs for two systems that need to coexist without questions for safety.”

Wireless industry group CTIA said 5G is safe and spectrum is being used in about 40 other countries.

House Transportation Committee chair Peter DeFazio on Friday backed the airline group petition warning “we can’t afford to experiment with aviation safety.” 

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Wave of Canceled Flights from Omicron Closes out 2021 

More canceled flights frustrated air travelers on the final day of 2021 and appeared all but certain to inconvenience hundreds of thousands more over the New Year’s holiday weekend. 

Airlines blamed many of the cancellations on crew shortages related to the spike in COVID-19 infections, along with wintry weather in parts of the United States. 

United Airlines, which suffered the most cancellations among the biggest U.S. carriers, agreed to pay pilot bonuses to fix a staffing shortage.

By early evening Friday on the East Coast, airlines had scrubbed more than 1,550 U.S. flights — about 6% of all scheduled flights — and roughly 3,500 worldwide, according to tracking service FlightAware.

That pushed the total U.S. cancellations since Christmas Eve to more than 10,000 and topped the previous single-day peak this holiday season, which was 1,520 on December 26. 

The disruptions come just as travel numbers climb higher going into the New Year’s holiday weekend. Since December 16, more than 2 million travelers a day on average have passed through U.S. airport security checkpoints, an increase of nearly 100,000 a day since November and nearly double last December. 

Led by Southwest and United, airlines have already canceled 1,500 U.S. flights on Saturday — about 700 at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, where the forecast called for a winter storm — and 700 more on Sunday. 

Canceled flights began rising from a couple hundred a day shortly before Christmas, most notably for United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways. 

On Friday, United canceled more than 200 flights, or 11% of its schedule — and that did not include cancellations on the United Express regional affiliate. CommutAir, which operates many United Express flights, scrubbed one-third of its schedule, according to FlightAware. 

United decided to spend more money to fill empty cockpits. The airline reached a deal with the pilots’ union to pay 3.5 times normal wages to pilots who pick up extra trips through Monday and triple pay for flights between Tuesday and January 29, according to a memo from Bryan Quigley, United’s senior vice president for flight operations. 

JetBlue canceled more than 140 flights, or 14% of its schedule, and Delta grounded more than 100, or 5% of its flights by midday Friday. Allegiant, Alaska, Spirit and regional carriers SkyWest and Mesa all scrubbed at least 9% of their flights. 

FlightAware reported fewer cancellations at Southwest, 3%, and American, 2%. 

The virus is also hitting more federal air traffic controllers. The Federal Aviation Administration said that more of its employees have tested positive – it didn’t provide numbers Friday – which could lead controllers to reduce flight volumes and “might result in delays during busy periods.” 

While leisure travel within the U.S. has returned to roughly pre-pandemic levels, international travel remains depressed, and the government is giving travelers new cause to reconsider trips abroad. On Thursday, the State Department warned Americans that if they test positive for coronavirus while in a foreign country it could mean a costly quarantine until they test negative.

Since March 2020, U.S. airlines have received $54 billion in federal relief to keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic. Congress barred the airlines from furloughing workers but allowed them to offer incentives to quit or take long leaves of absence – and many did. The airlines have about 9% fewer workers than they had two years ago. 

Kurt Ebenhoch, a former airline spokesman and later a travel-consumer advocate, said airlines added flights aggressively, cut staff too thinly, and overestimated the number of employees who would return to work after leaves of absence. It was all done, he said, “in the pursuit of profit … and their customers paid for it, big time.” 

Many airlines are now rushing to hire pilots, flight attendants and other workers. In the meantime, some are trimming schedules that they can no longer operate. Southwest did that before the holidays, JetBlue is cutting flights until mid-January, and Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific is suspending cargo flights and reducing passenger flights because it doesn’t have enough pilots. 

Other forms of transportation are also being hammered by the surge in virus cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that it is monitoring more than 90 cruise ships because of COVID-19 outbreaks. The health agency warned people not to go on cruises, even if they are fully vaccinated against the virus. 

The remnants of the delta variant and the rise of the new omicron variant pushed the seven-day rolling average of new daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. above 350,000, nearly triple the rate of just two weeks ago, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. 


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Hall of Famer Sam Jones, Winner of 10 NBA Titles, Dies at 88

Basketball Hall of Famer Sam Jones, the Boston Celtics’ “Mr. Clutch” whose sharp shooting fueled the league’s longest dynasty and earned him 10 NBA titles — second only to teammate Bill Russell — has died, the team said. He was 88. 

Jones died Thursday night in Florida, where he had been hospitalized in failing health, Celtics spokesman Jeff Twiss said.

“Sam Jones was one of the most talented, versatile and clutch shooters for the most successful and dominant teams in NBA history,” the team said in a statement.

“His scoring ability was so prolific, and his form so pure, that he earned the simple nickname, ‘The Shooter,’ ” the Celtics said. “The Jones family is in our thoughts as we mourn his loss and fondly remember the life and career of one of the greatest champions in American sports.” 

The Celtics paused for a moment of silence before Friday afternoon’s game against the Phoenix Suns, showing a video tribute on the screen hanging among the championship banners above the parquet floor at the TD Garden. His No. 24, which was retired by the Celtics in 1969 while he was a still an active player, also was displayed on the monitor in the hushed arena before a still photo of him in a suit and the words “Sam Jones 1933-2021.” 

“Another one of my dear friends lost,” Celtics broadcaster Cedric Maxwell wrote on Twitter. “Well, the banks are open in heaven this #NYE.”

Reliable scorer 

Often providing the offense while Russell locked things down at the other end, Jones averaged 17.7 points per game over 12 seasons. The number went up in the postseason, when he averaged 18.9 points and was usually the No. 1 option for the game’s final shot for the teams that won 10 titles from 1959 to 1969. 

“We never flew first class in my 12 years of playing basketball,” Jones told The Associated Press this fall in an interview for the league’s 75th anniversary. “But we always won NBA championships.” 

In 1964, Jones was a member of the NBA’s first starting lineup to include five Black players, joining Russell, Tom “Satch” Sanders, K.C. Jones and Willie Naulls. Although coach Red Auerbach maintained he was thinking only of his best chance to win, the lineup broke with an unwritten rule that pressured teams to have at least one white player on the floor.

Jones, a North Carolina native who served two years in the Army before returning to college, told the AP that the NBA of the 1960s was little different than the segregated South where he grew up and went to school. 

“I’m fighting for the freedom of everybody here in the United States. And when I come back, I still got to fight for my freedom,” Jones said. “Something is wrong with that and has always been and is happening even today.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Jones will be remembered as “one of the most prolific champions in all of professional sports.” 

“His selfless style, clutch performances and signature bank shot were hallmarks of an incredible career,” Silver said. “Sam was a beloved teammate and respected competitor who played the game with dignity and class. We mourn the passing of a basketball giant and send our deepest condolences to Sam’s family and the Celtics organization.” 

Born in Wilmington, Jones attended North Carolina Central, a Division II, historically Black university in Durham. Auerbach first heard of Jones when he went to North Carolina to scout the national champion Tar Heels and was told that the best player in the state was at Central playing for Hall of Fame coach John McLendon.

Selected sight unseen

Auerbach selected Jones in the first round of the 1957 draft, eighth overall, despite never seeing him play. 

“Russell and I are the most successful players in winning championships in the NBA. Yet he never saw us play a game because they had no scouts,” Jones told the AP. “The coaches called other coaches to see how other players were playing. They took their word for it.”

Jones led the Celtics in scoring five times — including the 1963 champions, when he was one of eight future Hall of Famers on the roster. When he retired in 1969 at age 36, Jones held 11 Celtics records and was the only player in franchise history to score more than 50 points in a game. 

“You look at the championships and what he did, it’s obviously a big loss for the community here,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said before Friday’s game. 

Using a bank shot that was unconventional even then, Jones came to be known as “Mr. Clutch” after a series of game-winners, including a buzzer-beater to clinch the 1962 Eastern Conference finals. He hit an off-balance, wrong-footed jumper to win Game 4 of the ’69 finals; instead of heading to Los Angeles trailing 3-1, the Celtics tied the series against the Lakers at two games apiece and went on to win in seven. 

Jones retired after that title, having won his 10 championships in 12 seasons. A five-time All-Star, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984. 

Jones was named to the NBA’s 25th, 50th and 75th anniversary teams. His death comes a year after teammate Tommy Heinsohn died and 13 months after the death of K.C. Jones.