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Syria regime ‘in deadly chlorine gas attack on civilians’

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The Syrian government has been accused by opposition activists of launching a deadly chlorine gas attack in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

The pro-opposition Orient News claimed a child had been killed in the reported attack by a regime aircraft on the town of al Shifuniyah.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor also reported the youngster’s death and said 13 people had suffered breathing difficulties.

Yaqub, a doctor who treated those affected in hospital, said he suspected “chemical weapons, probably a chlorine gas attack”.

He said a three-year-old had died of asphyxiation.

A US medical organisation said 16 patients in the hospital had symptoms indicating they were exposed to chemical compounds.

The Syrian American Medical Society said among those being treated with oxygen masks were six children and four women.


A bandaged Syrian child cries as he sits in a clinic in the rebel-held town of Douma,



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Airstrikes on Ghouta after ceasefire in Syria

The Syrian regime, which has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons, has been accused of several chlorine gas attacks in recent weeks, including two in January in eastern Ghouta, on the edge of the capital Damascus.

Moscow, a staunch ally of President Bashar al Assad’s regime, accused his opponents of using “toxic substances” to make it appear that they had been deployed by regime forces.

It comes as fresh regime airstrikes and heavy clashes shook the rebel-held enclave despite a UN demand for a ceasefire.

On Saturday, the Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a 30-day truce in Syria “without delay” to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

At least 14 civilians, including three children, were killed in strikes on Sunday, said the Observatory, bringing the total number of dead in the week to at least 530, among them over 130 children.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said there appeared be fewer airstrikes but that fighting had intensified on the ground.


Baby girl pulled from under rubble after strikes on eastern Douma



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Baby girl pulled from Syria rubble

Heavy clashes erupted in southern areas of eastern Ghouta, killing at least 13 members of pro-regime forces and six fighters from the Jaish al Islam rebel group, he said.

Syrian state news agency SANA said insurgents breached the truce by firing 15 shells on Sunday on government-held areas on the edge of Ghouta.

The two main rebel groups controlling the enclave – Jaish al Islam and Faylaq al Rahman – welcomed the Security Council demand, but vowed to fight back if there were renewed attacks.

UN diplomats say the resolution was watered down to ensure it was not vetoed by Russia, which has provided diplomatic and military support to the Assad regime.

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Two men killed as Tesla without anyone in the driver’s seat crashes into tree and catches fire | US News

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Two men have been killed after a Tesla crashed into a tree and burst into flames, and officials have said no one was in the driver’s seat.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed at the time of the incident on Saturday night in Texas.

Reports suggest the car failed to negotiate a curve and veered off the road.

One of the victims was found in the front passenger seat, while the other was in the back
Image:
One of the victims was found in the front passenger seat, while the other was in the back

After the fire was extinguished, one of the victims was found in the front passenger seat, while the other was in the back.

One of those who died was born in 1962, while the other was born in 1951.

Tesla is facing growing scrutiny over its semi-automated driving system following a spate of recent accidents.

The company is planning to launch an updated version of its “full self-driving” software to a greater number of customers.

Tesla
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Officials have opened 27 investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles

In January, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he expects the upgrade to deliver huge profits for the company – and added that he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that it has opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles, and at least three of these incidents happened recently.

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Claude Monet painting from famed Water Lilies series to go under hammer for around £29m | Ents & Arts News

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A “monumental” painting by Claude Monet from his celebrated and famed Water Lilies series is to go on sale at auction in New York for around $40m (£29m).

Le Bassin aux Nympheas is “among the most iconic and celebrated Impressionist images”, according to Sotheby’s.

The 40in x 79in work was painted from 1917-19 and will be part of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 12 May.

Before that it will go on view in Taipei, Taiwan, on 26 April and will return to Sotheby’s in the US city for exhibition by appointment from 1 May.

The piece is part of the Grandes Decorations series of paintings depicting Monet’s water lily pond at Giverny, France, which he began in 1914.

The series was ground-breaking in its nearly abstract treatment of the pond water’s surface and its reflections.

It took Monet’s paintings of the tranquil lily pond in a radical new direction, and the works were twice the size of his earlier Water Lilies.

The late works are considered an important bridge between Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism, as practised several generations later by artists such as Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko.

Julian Dawes, from Sotheby’s New York, said: “Claude Monet is among the most well-known and beloved artists of all time, and Le Bassin aux Nympheas represents a quintessential example from his celebrated and famed Water Lilies series.

“Sotheby’s has an exceptional history as the house for Monet, including holding the artist’s record at auction from our sale of Meules in 2019 for $110m.

“And we are extremely excited to bring such an illustrious picture to market for the first time in nearly two decades.

He added: “As a remarkable example of Monet’s late period works from his cherished home at Giverny, this monumental painting beautifully encapsulates how Monet’s oeuvre evolved over time from his Impressionist breakthroughs to a more abstract focus with his preoccupation of his pond and water lilies.

“From this perspective, this work opens a whole new window on to how Monet would influence later generations of artists who expanded on his radical concepts into full abstraction, and set the stage for a new artistic movement that would take the world by storm.

“After remaining largely absent from the very top end of the market in 2020, we are thrilled to see Monet take centre stage once again through this exceptional painting in our May Evening Sale.”

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COVID-19: Half of all adults in the US have received at least one coronavirus jab | US News

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Half of all adults in the US have received at least one COVID-19 jab, according to new figures.

Almost 130 million people aged 18 or older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, or 50.4% of the total adult population.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said almost 84 million adults, or about 32.5% of the population, have had two vaccine doses.

The US cleared the 50% mark just a day after the reported global death toll from the coronavirus topped three million, according to the Johns Hopkins University, though the actual number is believed to be significantly higher.

The country’s vaccination rate, at 61.6 doses administered per 100 people, currently falls behind Israel, which leads among countries with at least five million people with a rate of 119.2.

It also trails the United Arab Emirates, Chile and the UK, which is vaccinating at a rate of 62 doses per 100 people, according to Our World in Data.

The US states with the highest vaccination rates have a history of voting Democratic and supporting President Joe Biden in the 2020 election: New Hampshire at the top, with 71.1%, followed by New Mexico, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine, CDC data shows.

The demand has not been the same in many areas of Tennessee – particularly rural ones.

A poll conducted in March found that 36% of Republicans said they will probably or definitely not get vaccinated, compared with 12% of Democrats.

Similarly, a third of rural Americans said they were leaning against getting jabs, while fewer than a fourth of people living in cities and suburbs shared that hesitancy.

Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has indicated the government will likely resume use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine this week.

Dr Fauci said he expects a decision when advisers to the CDC meet on Friday to discuss the pause in J&J’s single-dose vaccine.

The vaccine was thrown into limbo after the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration said last week that they needed more evidence to decide if a handful of unusual blood clots were linked to the shot.

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