'Remarkably lucky' Australian man escapes crocodile by prizing jaws off his head


The 44-year-old Queensland man fought off the creature while swimming at Lake Placid, near Cairns, on Thursday.

He had puncture wounds on each side of his face but was “very, very calm” when healthcare workers arrived to treat him.

“A crocodile had bitten his head, and in his effort to remove the jaws of the crocodile he put his hands in to try and prize the jaws apart,” paramedic Paul Sweeney told reporters in Cairns. “In the process of trying to remove his hands, the jaws snapped shut on his forefinger. He’s a remarkably lucky gentleman.”

“Just a few centimeters lower and we have major blood vessels … had one of those been punctured then it would have been a very different story,” Sweeney said.

Massive 14-foot crocodile captured at tourist spot in Australia

He added that the unnamed man estimated the saltwater crocodile was between a meter and a half and two meters (4.92 feet to 6.56 feet) in length.

Sweeney said the man had been swimming in that area three times a week for about eight years. “Certainly not a place I’d choose to swim,” Sweeney said, describing him as a “very fit individual” and saying “his vital signs were remarkably calm when you consider the ordeal he’d been through.”

“I would not be surprised if he ventured into those waters again for further exercise,” Sweeney added.

The Queensland Environment Department sent a team to the site and said a “search for the crocodile responsible for the attack is now underway.”

“Once rangers are at the site, any crocodile found to be present will be targeted for removal,” they said.

Crocodile attacks in Australia are rare, but Queensland officials run a public safety campaign to alert residents to the risks of swimming or relaxing near croc-infested waters.

In 2019, a Queensland fisherman narrowly escaped an attack by poking a crocodile in the eye. And last year, a massive 14-foot crocodile was captured at a tourist spot in neighboring Northern Territory.



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Man arrested with gun and 20 rounds of ammunition near US Capitol



A Capitol Police officer made contact with the unidentified man when he was seen parked in the middle of the intersection near the US Capitol, according to a police report from the Metropolitan Police Department.

He was taken into custody for having a black .9mm Sig Sauer handgun and the ammunition, the report said.

The arrest comes weeks after hundreds of rioters stormed the US Capitol in an attempt to stop the Senate’s confirmation of President Joe Biden. Five people, including a police officer were killed. Security was tightened throughout DC after the January 6 insurrection and continued through last week’s presidential inauguration.

Attorney information and other additional details were not immediately available.

This story is breaking and will be updated.



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Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny to remain in detention ahead of hearing next month


Navalny appeared by video link at the court in the city of Khimki, on the outskirts of Moscow. He continues to be held at the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, in the northeast of the capital.

The opposition activist was ordered to spend 30 days in custody during a surprise hearing on January 18.
He’d been detained a day earlier following his arrival from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from Novichok poisoning he blamed on the Russian government. The Kremlin repeatedly denied any involvement.
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Navalny was placed on the country’s federal wanted list last month for breaching the terms of probation related to the 2014 fraud case, which he dismisses as politically motivated.

His next court date is currently scheduled for February 2, when a court will decide whether his three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence on fraud charges should be converted into a jail term due to what Russian authorities say is the violation of the terms of his suspended sentence.

The judge in Thursday’s appeal hearing ruled that Navalny’s detention was lawful and that the opposition leader would remain in detention.

Navalny’s reaction on hearing the decision suggested he was expecting it. “Everything was clear to me even before the hearing,” he told the court.

The politician had earlier complained about violations of legal procedures and a lack of opportunity to communicate with his lawyers since his detention on January 17.

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“Everything is so amazing here that I don’t even know where to start. As usual it works: you take a court decision, look for violations of the law and speak about them when appealing. And here everything is one big violation of the law,” Navalny said.

In his final statement, Navalny urged protesters to keep coming out.

“They are the last barrier that prevents those in power from stealing everything. They are the real patriots,” he said. “You will not be able to intimidate us — we are the majority.”

Navalny’s lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told reporters outside the court that this had been his legal team’s first opportunity to have “a more or less confidential talk with Navalny” since his detention at the airport.

“We will absolutely appeal against this decision at the Court of Cassation and at the European Court. We believe that everything that is happening to Alexey is happening for political reasons — in order to rule out his political activities,” she said.

Russian law enforcement conducted searches Wednesday at Navalny’s Moscow apartment and his team’s headquarters, according to his aides.

The raids came as Navalny’s allies called for a second round of unsanctioned nationwide demonstrations, planned for Sunday, to demand the activist’s release from detention.

Last weekend, tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets, resulting in nearly 4,000 detentions, according to monitoring group OVD-Info.

People clash with police during a protest against the jailing of Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia, on January 23, 2021.

Tycoon urges US pressure on Putin

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon who was once Russia’s richest man, spent more than 10 years in a Russian jail after falling out with Putin.

Yulia Navalnaya's husband was poisoned and detained. Now she is piling pressure on Vladimir Putin

Speaking to CNN from exile in London, he urged US President Joe Biden to put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle to help save Navalny from a similar fate.

“Personal sanctions must be imposed by President Biden and others in the West on those closest to Putin,” he told CNN. “This would be extremely painful for Putin’s entourage and will affect the stability of his power.”

Khodorkovsky ran Russian oil giant Yukos until 2003. He was later convicted of tax evasion and fraud — charges he argued were politically motivated — and jailed.

“Looking back, I was one of the lucky ones. I lost a decade of my life in prison but others who challenge Putin have paid a far higher price,” he told CNN.

That list includes Anna Politkovskaya, one of Russia’s most prominent journalists and Kremlin critics. She was shot dead in 2006. There have been numerous arrests, two trials and five convictions, including of three Chechen brothers, but it is still unknown who ordered her murder. The Kremlin denies any connection with the killing.

In 2015, Russia’s former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, then the most visible leader of the Russian opposition, was gunned down on a Moscow bridge within sight of the Kremlin. Five Chechen men were jailed for his killing in 2017.

Former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko died in 2006 after being poisoned with a rare radioactive isotope, polonium-210. A UK inquiry concluded in 2016 that Putin probably approved the operation by two Russian agents to kill the ex-spy. Russia dismissed the UK inquiry as politically motivated.

US has ‘deep concern’ for Navalny’

The US State Department has called on Russia to free all those arrested at protests in the country over the weekend and for the immediate and unconditional release of Navalny.

Biden inherits a raft of global crises (including some unknowns)

US Secretary of State Tony Blinken said Wednesday that the Biden administration was conducting a review of Russian “actions that are of deep concern to us, whether it is the treatment of Mr. Navalny and particularly the apparent use of a chemical weapon in an attempt to assassinate him.”

Biden spoke to Putin on Tuesday for the first time since becoming US President, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, and raised the poisoning of Navalny, among other issues.

“I don’t want to get ahead of where we are on those reviews,” said Blinken. “But as I say, we have a deep concern for Mr. Navalny’s safety and security, and the larger point is that his voice is the voice of many, many, many Russians, and it should be heard, not muzzled.”

Blinken told reporters he was “not ruling out anything but we want to get this full review done, and then we’ll take it from there.”

He also reiterated his comments from his Senate confirmation hearing that “it remains striking to me how concerned, and maybe even scared the Russian government seems to be of one man, Mr. Navalny.”



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Biden focuses on health care



In a call Thursday, a Biden White House official touted today’s executive actions on health care, telling reporters, “In basic teams, what that means is that starting in just two weeks, healthcare.gov will be open for consumers to come in submit an application and select a health insurance plan.”

Biden is slated to reopen enrollment on the federal Affordable Care Act exchanges today as part of a series of executive actions related to health care that he will sign at a 1:30 p.m. ET.

“We’re in the middle of a global pandemic,” the official told reporters, “and we want to make sure that people who want health insurance can get it.” 

On outreach, the administration told reporters that while “we do not have a specific enrollment projection at this time…there are millions of uninsured people who can benefit from coverage through the ACA.” 

Criticizing the former administration, which tried and failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act before slashing funding for outreach efforts, the official told reporters, “it’s certainly the case that enrollment over the last four years has not been backed by the same sort of outreach efforts that would help people become informed about their options, so we are really looking to reach people who, who have been eligible all along, but may not have been aware of the opportunity to sign up for coverage.”

On efforts to reduce premiums, the official pointed to “actions by the Trump administration, in the in the last four years that had the effect of increasing premiums for folks who are who are buying coverage,” noting that while some actions would require legislation, reversing Trump’s actions could be “part of the agency’s review of policies and practices that undermine the Affordable Care Act… which could result in premium savings for families.”

The official also dismissed concerns that any action on health care would be delayed until the confirmation of Xavier Becerra as Health and Human Services Secretary, telling reporters, “the President expects the Senate to act quickly on his nominees but there is, there’s a lot of work that the agency is going to get started on right away.”



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Parkland survivor responds to video of Marjorie Taylor Greene confronting him



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Republican representative Kinzinger: This is not the party I joined



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Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) tells CNN’s John Berman that the Republican party needs to return to the way it was prior to Donald Trump’s time in the White House.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210128090132-adam-kinzinger-newday-01282021-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”GOP Rep. Kinzinger: This is not the party I joined”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/28/adam-kinzinger-republican-party-future-sot-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/28/adam-kinzinger-republican-party-future-sot-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/28/adam-kinzinger-republican-party-future-sot-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/28/adam-kinzinger-republican-party-future-sot-newday-vpx.cnn”,”surrogateKey”:”video_3567CA48-4290-BA65-1D5A-4944AE768CBB”},{“descriptionPlainText”:”President Joe Biden signed a raft of executive actions on climate change while comparing the crisis to the coronavirus pandemic. 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Mitch McConnell (R-KY) voted for a motion saying former President Trump’s impeachment trial is unconstitutional because he is no longer in office. CNN’s Ryan Nobles reports.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210126154809-mitch-mcconnell-january-26-2021-republican-luncheon-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”CNN breaks down McConnell’s telling vote on impeachment trial”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2021/01/26/mitch-mcconnell-impeachment-trial-vote-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/mitch-mcconnell-impeachment-trial-vote-vpx.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/26/mitch-mcconnell-impeachment-trial-vote-vpx.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/mitch-mcconnell-impeachment-trial-vote-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/”,”surrogateKey”:”video_11154B5D-E4D3-3995-CEAA-407132CC4DF9″},{“descriptionPlainText”:”Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) reacts to comments made by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to force a vote on the constitutionality of former President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210126170942-duckworth-paul-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”Tammy Duckworth to Rand Paul: Stop covering for Trump”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2021/01/26/tammy-duckworth-rand-paul-comments-trump-impeachment-sot-vpx-lead.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/tammy-duckworth-rand-paul-comments-trump-impeachment-sot-vpx-lead.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/26/tammy-duckworth-rand-paul-comments-trump-impeachment-sot-vpx-lead.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/tammy-duckworth-rand-paul-comments-trump-impeachment-sot-vpx-lead.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/”,”surrogateKey”:”video_3E3D4C98-EA3A-4041-9B56-409DFD629D71″},{“descriptionPlainText”:”Senators are sworn in for the second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump. CNN’s Abby Phillip, Dana Bash and Jake Tapper discuss the historic nature of the moment.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210126144012-01-senate-impeachment-swearing-in-0126-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”Watch senators sworn in for Trump’s second impeachment trial”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2021/01/26/senators-sworn-in-trump-impeachment-trial-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/senators-sworn-in-trump-impeachment-trial-vpx.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/26/senators-sworn-in-trump-impeachment-trial-vpx.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/senators-sworn-in-trump-impeachment-trial-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/”,”surrogateKey”:”video_BBEDB327-DC5F-F798-B83B-402DCBCCEAD1″},{“descriptionPlainText”:”Dominion Voting Systems lawyer Tom Clare discusses the company’s lawsuits against Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell for defamation after pushing the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210126091043-tom-clare-dominion-intv-vpx-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”‘Haven’t ruled anybody out’: Dominion lawyer on possible lawsuits”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2021/01/26/dominion-voting-systems-lawyer-tom-clare-giuliani-powell-lawsuits-intv-newday-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/dominion-voting-systems-lawyer-tom-clare-giuliani-powell-lawsuits-intv-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/26/dominion-voting-systems-lawyer-tom-clare-giuliani-powell-lawsuits-intv-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/dominion-voting-systems-lawyer-tom-clare-giuliani-powell-lawsuits-intv-newday-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/”,”surrogateKey”:”video_08ABAA09-A061-A931-78D4-3EE76CDF83F5″},{“descriptionPlainText”:”President Trump is looking to retaliate against several Republicans including Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp and Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, according to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.”,”imageUrl”:”//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/210125183017-trump-for-ben-ghiat-oped-large-169.jpg”,”title”:”Haberman reveals list of Republicans Trump wants to ‘punish'”,”videoCMSUrl”:”/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2021/01/26/trump-punish-list-brian-kemp-liz-cheney-newday-vpx.cnn/index.xml”,”videoLeafUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/trump-punish-list-brian-kemp-liz-cheney-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoId”:”politics/2021/01/26/trump-punish-list-brian-kemp-liz-cheney-newday-vpx.cnn”,”videoUrl”:”/videos/politics/2021/01/26/trump-punish-list-brian-kemp-liz-cheney-newday-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/”,”surrogateKey”:”video_273F974B-B901-75DA-4EDD-4007A457E51C”},{“descriptionPlainText”:”Former Gov. 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Now Playing

‘);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone) {$owlFirstItem.find(‘.media__icon’).hide();}}CNN.Videx.Metadata.init({dateCreated: videocardContents.dateCreated,descriptionText: videocardContents.descriptionText,duration: videocardContents.duration,sourceLink: videocardContents.sourceLink,sourceName: videocardContents.sourceName,title: videocardContents.headlineText},{videoCollectionDivId: ‘cn-12fm1q3’,videoDescriptionDivId: ‘js-video_description-12fm1q3’,videoDurationDivId: ‘js-video_duration-12fm1q3’,videoTitleDivId: ‘js-leaf-video_headline-12fm1q3’,videoSourceDivId: ‘js-video_sourceName-12fm1q3’});if (CNN.Utils.exists(videocardContents.showName)) {if (CNN.Utils.exists(videocardContents.showUrl)) {showDetailsSpanContent = ‘‘ + videocardContents.showName + ‘ | ‘;} else {showDetailsSpanContent = videocardContents.showName + ‘ | ‘;}}fastdom.measure(function getShowInfo() {var $show = jQuery(‘.metadata__show’),$isShowDetailsSpanExists = $show.find(‘span’).hasClass(‘metadata–show__name’),$showName = jQuery(‘.metadata–show__name’);fastdom.mutate(function updateShowInfo() {if (!$isShowDetailsSpanExists) {$show.prepend(‘



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EU orders inspection of AstraZeneca's Belgium site following vaccine delivery delays



More preliminary results in the lab suggest the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine will be effective against new, more contagious coronavirus strains first identified in South Africa and the UK. 

As in previous studies, antibodies were slightly less effective against the virus with three key mutations in the variant identified in South Africa. However, Pfizer and BioNTech said, “the small differences in viral neutralization observed in these studies are unlikely to lead to a significant reduction in the effectiveness of the vaccine.”

The researchers engineered versions of the virus in the lab that carry some of the mutations found in the variants. They tested them against blood taken from 20 people who had received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as part of a clinical trial.  

The lab study – conducted by researchers at Pfizer and the University of Texas Medical Branch – did not test all the mutations found in the variants, and researchers note that “clinical data are needed for firm conclusions about vaccine effectiveness against variant viruses.” 

The results were posted Wednesday on the preprint server bioRxiv and have not yet been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal. 

Pfizer and BioNTech said Wednesday a new vaccine against the variants does not appear to be necessary. In a news release, they said they will continue to monitor strains and will conduct studies to monitor how effective the vaccine is in the real world. Pfizer said earlier this week it was “laying the groundwork” to create a vaccine booster that could respond to coronavirus variants, if necessary.

Moderna, the maker of the other coronavirus vaccine authorized in the United States, said this week its Covid-19 vaccine created antibodies that neutralized the coronavirus variants first found in the United Kingdom and South Africa, and it planned to test a booster against the variants “out of an abundance of caution.”

##Vaccines



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Covid telework cuts dozens of Biden national security staff off from classified materials



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Biden still seeking bipartisan Covid-19 relief package despite stalemate



It’s not clear how much the White House will be willing to lower the price tag and whether that will be enough to secure Republican support. And even as they acknowledge that reality, Biden administration officials and congressional Democrats are increasingly skeptical a bipartisan deal can be reached. Several key Republican senators are also raising questions about whether the White House is serious about a bipartisan deal.

Biden has repeatedly said a bipartisan deal is his preference, but his aides have also stressed the urgent need for economic relief and the new Democratic majority in the Senate is considering a rare procedural tactic known as reconciliation to jam major parts of the legislation through along party lines. Sources said the reality of the White House’s economic team and congressional Democrats pressing for speed and scale has started to settle in on both sides of Pennsylvania Avenue.

“We are at a moment where we need decisive action,” National Economic Council director Brian Deese said on CNBC this week. “We need to move quickly, and we need to move comprehensively.”

While Biden is willing to consider less than $1.9 trillion in relief, White House officials made clear they are not interested in splitting up the legislation — getting a bipartisan vote on some aspect and then passing a separate package along party lines using reconciliation.

“The needs of the American people are urgent from putting food on the table, to getting vaccines out the door to reopening schools. Those aren’t partisan issues. We are engaging with a range of voices — that’s democracy in action — we aren’t looking to split a package in two,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

A senior administration official told CNN the White House still considers every component of the bill “essential.”

“What we’re still reiterating with members and with groups is that these different components — the economic assistance, money for vaccinations … are all essential,” a senior administration official said.

Republicans have been largely critical of Biden’s legislative push, and many have signaled they can’t support a Covid-19 relief package that costs nearly $2 trillion just a month after they passed a $900 billion bill.

In a private Senate GOP conference call Wednesday several key Republican senators — including Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio — expressed concern with the direction of the White House on the relief plan and raised questions about whether Biden’s team was really serious about a bipartisan deal, according to two people familiar with the call.

A senior administration official said the White House is most willing to reconfigure the stimulus checks to make them more targeted and lowering the income cap, something Collins and other Republicans involved in the discussions have raised. In private discussions, Biden has “expressed an openness to narrowing the targeting” of the stimulus check program.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are “engaged directly with members and have had a number of productive conversations through the course of the week,” which will “pick up in the days ahead,” Psaki said at Wednesday’s press briefing.

Biden, Psaki noted, will be meeting with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and other members of his economic team on Friday to discuss the relief package, among other topics.

Deese and Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, are joining the Senate Democratic caucus call on Thursday to brief senators on the Covid-19 relief package, according to a source familiar. Deese is leading White House outreach on the $1.9 trillion package as the administration continues to weigh whether bipartisan talks will yield anything substantive.

In addition to that call, Deese and Zients have “several other” scheduled briefings with members of Congress, Psaki said on Wednesday. White House chief of staff Ron Klain and senior adviser Anita Dunn are also speaking with members of Congress, Psaki said, and will continue to do so.



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