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World’s most expensive handbag – priced at £5.3m – is created to help ‘save the oceans’ | World News

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The world’s most expensive handbag has been created to help raise awareness of ocean pollution.

The item costs €6m (£5.3m), with €800,000 (£714,000) of the proceeds going towards operations to clean the seas.

Made of semi-shiny alligator, the bag is embellished with a diamond pavé accessory and 10 white gold butterflies with sapphires, diamonds and Paraiba tourmalines, for a total of over 130 carats.

It takes 1,000 hours to craft each bag
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The stones were selected for their symbolic link to seawater

It takes 1,000 hours to make each bag, and there are only three of them available.

The luxury Italian brand, Boarini Milanesi, that came up with the bag is concerned about the impact of non-biodegradable plastics on marine conservation.

“Recently, I have seen even more plastic in the sea than when I was a child, due to the pandemic and all the gloves and face masks that are being carelessly thrown away,” said the company’s co-founder Matteo Rodolfo Milanesi.

The bag was inspired by memories of his father, who was committed to clean water and who died when Mr Milanesi was a teenager.

“We used to spend every summer at sea, between Greece and Turkey, and I was happiest when we would go on boat trips between the islands,” he said.

“Even though mass tourism was still a long way off, we would often see plastic bags floating on the water or patches of tar leaked by oil tankers.”

His father used to dive into the water to retrieve the bags and bottles on the surface.

He said his dad also used to help him wipe patches of tar off his hands while he was making sandcastles on the beach.

Matteo Rodolfo Milanesi
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Matteo Rodolfo Milanesi says his father used to dive into the water to retrieve plastic bags

The stones incorporated into the bag were selected for their symbolic link to seawater.

The brand’s co-founder Carolina Boarini said: “Blue sapphires represent the depths of the oceans, Paraiba tourmaline reminds us of the uncontaminated Caribbean seas and diamonds refer to the transparency of water when it falls in the form of rain.”

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PPE: The new contributor to plastic pollution

The Guinness World Record for the most valuable handbag is currently held by the Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse, which contains 4,517 diamonds and had a price of $3.8m (£2.85m) in 2010.

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COVID-19: US intelligence claims Wuhan lab researchers had coronavirus symptoms before first reported cases | World News

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The US says it has intelligence that researchers in a Wuhan lab became sick with COVID-19-like symptoms in autumn 2019 – before the first identified case of the outbreak. 

A new statement from the US Department of State accuses the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of “deadly obsession with secrecy and control” and claims the Wuhan Institute of Virology had been conducting experiments with a virus genetically similar to the new coronavirus.

The first cases of the outbreak were identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan and were initially thought to have originated from a wet market.

Wuhan Institute of Virology
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The new claims centre around the Wuhan Institute of Virology

While most scientists believe the virus first transmitted naturally from animals to humans, others have raised the possibility it could have leaked accidentally from the secretive Wuhan lab.

The Trump administration has been particularly critical of China, especially since the new coronavirus outbreak.

According to the US government, researchers at the lab had been experimenting on RaTG13 – the bat coronavirus identified as the closest sample to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 – “under conditions that increased the risk for accidental and potentially unwitting exposure”.

Several researchers then fell ill with symptoms “consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses”, it claims.

However, officials admitted they did not know for sure where, when or how the virus initially transmitted to humans.

This photo taken on February 22, 2020 shows medical staff checking notes in an intensive care unit treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients at a hospital in Wuhan, in China's central Hubei province. - China on February 26 reported 52 new coronavirus deaths, the lowest figure in more than three weeks, bringing the death toll to 2,715. (Photo by STR / AFP) / China OUT (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
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Medical staff check notes at an ICU in Wuhan

“We have not determined whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan, China,” the statement said.

“The virus could have emerged naturally from human contact with infected animals, spreading in a pattern consistent with a natural epidemic.

“Alternatively, a laboratory accident could resemble a natural outbreak if the initial exposure included only a few individuals and was compounded by asymptomatic infection.”

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Sky team stopped from investigating COVID origins

The lab has denied all claims of a leak, while China has also claimed in recent months the pandemic could have originated in another country.

The state has been accused of covering up the initial outbreak and delaying the release of crucial information which allowed the virus to spread.

It has also moved to silence some in China providing first-hand accounts of the outbreak, including doctors who shared information between each other about a new respiratory illness at the start of the epidemic.

Zhang Zhan, a citizen journalist who reported on the outbreak in Wuhan, was jailed in December for four years for “picking quarrels and provoking trouble”.

A team from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been sent to Wuhan to investigate the source of the pandemic, although there have been some concerns the trip will be heavily controlled by Chinese authorities.

 global team of scientists led by the World Health Organization arrived on Thursday (January 14) to China's central city of Wuhan, to investigate the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
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Members of the WHO team arriving in Wuhan

WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told Sky News the team will “look into different aspects of the early days of the pandemic”.

Asked whether the team would investigate whether the virus was produced in a laboratory, he said: “We will follow wherever science leads us.

“The majority of scientists believe there is a natural origin of the virus, we know that bats are a natural reservoir of other coronaviruses, we really want to go and see and get the data.”

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NASA’s ‘megarocket’ roars into life – but only briefly, putting launch in jeopardy | Science & Tech News

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NASA’s deep space exploration rocket has briefly ignited its four engines for the first time.

The test was a crucial step towards a debut unmanned launch later this year under NASA’s Artemis programme, the Trump administration’s mission to return US astronauts to the moon again by 2024.

The rocket, built by Boeing, roared into life for just one minute and 15 seconds at the test facility in Mississippi.

The engines generated 1.6 million pounds of thrust, consuming 700,000 gallons of propellants while on NASA’s largest test stand, which is 35 storeys tall.

It was well short of the roughly four minutes that were needed to keep its development on track for it first launch in November.

NASA said: “All four RS-25 engines ignited successfully, but the test was stopped early after about a minute.

“At this point, the test was fully automated.

“During the firing, the onboard software acted appropriately and initiated a safe shutdown of the engines.

“During the test, the propellant tanks were pressurised, and this data will be valuable as the team plans the path forward.

“In coming days, engineers will continue to analyse data and will inspect the core stage and its four RS-25 engines to determine the next steps.”

Despite the test being cut short, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine was still positive, saying: “Saturday’s test was an important step forward to ensure that the core stage of the SLS rocket is ready for the Artemis I mission, and to carry crew on future missions.

“Although the engines did not fire for the full duration, the team successfully worked through the countdown, ignited the engines, and gained valuable data to inform our path forward.”

“We got lots of data that we’re going to be able to sort through,” he added, talking about whether the November launch is still possible.

If it is not possible, it could push the debut into 2022.

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Biden inauguration: Former FBI boss James Comey warns of serious threat from ‘armed, disturbed people’ | US News

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Former FBI boss James Comey has told Sky News he is worried about the threat of violence from “armed, disturbed people” at Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Mr Comey, who was controversially fired by Donald Trump in 2017, says the threat has “to be taken very, very seriously” following the deadly Capitol riots.

The new US president will be sworn in on Wednesday amid high security after the FBI identified more than 200 people threatening violence in “concerning online chatter”.

Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration
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Security has been ramped up at the Capitol building ahead of the inauguration

Fuelled by unsubstantiated claims by Mr Trump, many of his supporters believe there was fraud in November’s election.

“I’m worried because there are armed, disturbed people who are in this state of mind where they believe their country is being taken from them,” said Mr Comey.

“So it’s a threat law enforcement in the States has to take very seriously.

“At the same time, I know that we have the capability, investigative and the tactical capability on scene, to protect these locations and so I am optimistic that the threat will be neutralised, but it has to be taken very, very seriously.”

On Friday a man was arrested in Washington DC when a gun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition was found in his vehicle after he allegedly showed police an unauthorised inauguration credential.

Wesley Allen Beeler, from Virginia, has been charged with carrying a concealed weapon, possessing an unregistered firearm, unlawful possession of ammunition and possession of a large capacity ammunition feeding device, police told NBC News in Washington.

The National Guard has been descending on Washington to guard government buildings ahead of inauguration day, when officials say 21,000 will be on hand.

The storming of the Capitol building – the heart of US democracy – on 6 January caused widespread shock in America and across the world, with Trump supporters running amok and leaving five people dead.

Police were hugely outnumbered and have been criticised over how easy it was for the rioters to seize control.

Mr Comey told Sky News he was “sickened” by the violence and angry at the failure to defend the building, despite the obvious threat.

Several National Guard members are pictured lying on the floor of the U.S. Capitol
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Some 21,000 members of the National Guard will be in Washington for the big day

“I was angered by the apparent failure to defend a hill, it [the Capitol] sits on a hill with 2,000 officers assigned to it on a daily basis, the failure to defend the hill. It just mystifies and angers me,” he said.

“It is going to be important for our country to understand that failure.”

He added: “9/11 we were told was a failure of imagination, we didn’t anticipate the way the terrorists might come at us; this didn’t require imagination.

Donald Trump supporters storm the US Capitol
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Mr Comey says law enforcement should have seen the riot coming

“This was all over the internet and the group literally walked slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol so it was just a failure and we need to know why at all levels so that we don’t let it happen again.”

Mr Comey is a fierce critic of Mr Trump – who he has previously compared to a mafia boss.

He was fired by the president in May 2017 while the FBI was investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

James Comey and Donald Trump shake hands
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Donald Trump controversially fired Mr Comey as FBI director in May 2017

White House officials accused him of mishandling the investigation into the email practices of Hillary Clinton, but Mr Trump later confirmed the “Russia thing” was on his mind when he made the decision.

Mr Comey, 60, has just released a new book called Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency, and Trust, described as a “clarion call for a return to fairness and equity in the law”.

The disgust among many Americans over the Capitol riots this week led Mr Trump to become the first president to be impeached twice after the House of Representatives charged him with inciting the riot.

No date has been set for the political trial that follows, where senators can also vote by a simple majority to block Mr Trump from ever standing for election again.

You can watch the full interview on Sophy Ridge on Sunday from 8.30am.

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