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Tokyo Olympics Officials Fire Opening Ceremony Director on Eve of Event Over Past Holocaust Joke

Tokyo Olympics Officials Fire Opening Ceremony Director on Eve of Event Over Past Holocaust Joke
Tokyo Olympics Officials Fire Opening Ceremony Director on Eve of Event Over Past Holocaust Joke


(TOKYO) — The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee fired the director of the opening ceremony on Thursday because of a Holocaust joke he made during a comedy show in 1998.

Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said a day ahead of the opening ceremony that director Kentaro Kobayashi has been dismissed. He was accused of using a joke about the Holocaust in his comedy act, including the phrase “Let’s play Holocaust.”

“We found out that Mr. Kobayashi, in his own performance, has used a phrase ridiculing a historical tragedy,” Hashimoto said. “We deeply apologize for causing such a development the day before the opening ceremony and for causing troubles and concerns to many involved parties as well as the people in Tokyo and the rest of the country.”
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Tokyo has been plagued with scandals since being awarded the Games in 2013. French investigators are looking into alleged bribes paid to International Olympic Committee members to influence the vote for Tokyo. The fallout forced the resignation two years ago of Tsunekazu Takeda, who headed the Japanese Olympic Committee and was an IOC member.

The opening ceremony of the pandemic-delayed Games is scheduled for Friday. The ceremony will be held without spectators as a measure to prevent the spread of coronavirus infections, although some officials, guests and media will attend.

“We are going to have the opening ceremony tomorrow and, yes, I am sure there are a lot of people who are not feeling easy about the opening of the Games,” Hashimoto said. “But we are going to open the Games tomorrow under this difficult situation.”

Earlier this week, composer Keigo Oyamada, whose music was to be used at the ceremony, was forced to resign because of past bullying of his classmates, which he boasted about in magazine interviews. The segment of his music will not be used.

Soon after a video clip and script of Kobayashi’s performance were revealed, criticism flooded social media.

“Any person, no matter how creative, does not have the right to mock the victims of the Nazi genocide,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and global social action director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based human rights group.

He also noted that the Nazis gassed Germans with disabilities.

“Any association of this person to the Tokyo Olympics would insult the memory of 6 million Jews and make a cruel mockery of the Paralympics,” he said.

Kobayashi is a former member of a popular comedy duo Rahmens and known overseas for comedy series including “The Japanese Tradition.”

Japan is pushing ahead with the Olympics against the advice of most of its medical experts. This is partially due to pressure from the IOC, which is estimated to face losses of $3 billion to $4 billion in television rights income if the Games were not held.

The official cost of the Olympics is $15.4 billion, but government audits suggest it’s much more. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

“We have been preparing for the last year to send a positive message,” Hashimoto said. “Toward the very end now there are so many incidents that give a negative image toward Tokyo 2020.”

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, also acknowledged the reputational damage.

“Maybe these negative incidents will impact the positive message we wanted to deliver to the world,” he said.

The last-minute scandals come as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s government faces criticism for prioritizing the Olympics despite public health concerns amid a resurgence of coronavirus infections.

Koichi Nakano, who teach politics at Sophia University, wrote on Twitter that the opening ceremony chaos underscores a lack of awareness in Japan about diversity.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she learned of Koyayashi’s comments from Hashimoto.

“I was astonished,” she said.

Kobayashi’s Holocaust joke and Oyamada’s resignation were the latest to plague the Games. Yoshiro Mori resigned as organizing committee president over sexist remarks. Hiroshi Sasaki also stepped down as creative director for the opening and closing ceremonies after suggesting a Japanese actress should dress as a pig.

Also this week, the chiropractor for the American women’s wrestling team apologized after comparing Olympic COVID-19 protocols to Nazi Germany in a social media post. Rosie Gallegos-Main, the team’s chiropractor since 2009, will be allowed to finish her planned stay at USA Wrestling’s pre-Olympic camp in Nakatsugawa, Japan.


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KPMG criticised for ‘unacceptable’ bank audits by UK regulator

KPMG criticised for ‘unacceptable’ bank audits by UK regulator
KPMG criticised for ‘unacceptable’ bank audits by UK regulator


Accountancy updates

KPMG has been criticised by the UK accounting regulator for its “unacceptable” failure to meet required standards in its audits of banks for a third year running.

The Big Four accountant was singled out, alongside smaller firms BDO and Mazars, in the Financial Reporting Council’s annual review of audit quality by the UK’s top seven audit firms.

Overall, 29 per cent of the sample of 103 audits reviewed by the watchdog were found to require improvement or significant improvement, only slightly better than last year’s 33 per cent figure.

“While these results show some improvement on last year’s results, this improvement is marginal and significant change still needs to happen to meaningfully improve audit quality,” said Sir Jon Thompson, chief executive of the FRC.

KPMG, whose large banking clients include Barclays, received the worst scores of the Big Four accountants with only 59 per cent of its audits deemed up to standard or requiring only limited improvements.

“Given the systemic importance of banks to the UK economy, the FRC will be closely monitoring KPMG’s actions to ensure findings are addressed in a timely manner,” the regulator said.

PwC received a score of 80 per cent while 79 per cent of audits by each of Deloitte and EY were considered up to scratch.

Cath Burnet, head of audit at KPMG UK, said: “Audit quality is our number one priority and we will not be content until our AQR scores reflect our commitment to audit quality and the efforts we’ve made to enhance it.”

Acknowledging the need for improvement, she defended the firm’s banking audits as “robust” and said the FRC did not call into question its audit opinions. 

Grant Thornton, the UK’s sixth-largest auditor, received the highest marks of the top seven firms with 86 per cent of its work meeting the required standard.

The review reserved particular criticism for Grant Thornton’s fellow challenger firms BDO, where more than half of audits inspected fell below the required standard, and Mazars, where three of seven audits reviewed required improvement or significant improvement.

Both firms will be expected to put in place additional measures to improve the quality of their audits, the FRC said.

The findings underline the difficulties faced by smaller challengers to the Big Four — Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC — in expanding their market share while maintaining high standards in their audits.

BDO has added 250 auditors in the past year, an increase of 14 per cent, and won several FTSE 250 mandates as it cemented its position as the largest challenger to the dominant Big Four.

Scott Knight, head of audit at BDO, said audit quality was an “absolute priority” and that after receiving some of the strongest scores in recent reviews BDO was “very disappointed” with the findings and “working hard to address the specific findings”.

David Herbinet, head of audit at Mazars, said his firm was disappointed by the findings and was addressing the issues identified by the FRC.

Both BDO and Mazars said they had invested in improving audit quality.

The figures were released two weeks after a government consultation on sweeping reforms of the audit sector and corporate governance rules as the UK attempts to restore trust in the accounts and disclosures of its biggest listed companies.

Friday’s findings follow the launch by the FRC last month of a probe into the 2019 audit of Greensill Capital by mid-tier firm Saffery Champness after the lender’s collapse sparked political uproar. PwC is also under investigation over its audit of Wyelands Bank, owned by UK industrialist Sanjeev Gupta, whose companies were one of Greensill’s largest clients.

Auditors have faced intense public scrutiny over their failure to raise red flags ahead of high-profile corporate failures such as Carillion, Thomas Cook and Patisserie Valerie.


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Delta variant of Covid one of the most infectious of all respiratory diseases, CDC director says

Delta variant of Covid one of the most infectious of all respiratory diseases, CDC director says
Delta variant of Covid one of the most infectious of all respiratory diseases, CDC director says


The Delta variant of Covid-19 is one of the most infectious of all respiratory diseases, the director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Thursday.

“The delta variant is more aggressive and much more transmissible than previously circulating strains. It is one of the most infectious respiratory viruses we know of, and that I have seen in my 20-year career,” CDC Director Dr Rochelle Walensky said.

Dr Walensky told reporters that “this virus has no incentive to let up, and it remains in search of the next vulnerable person to infect,” reported NBC News.

“We are at yet another pivotal moment in this pandemic, with cases rising again and some hospitals reaching their capacity in some areas, we need to come together as one nation,” she said.

The CDC, however, hasn’t changed its guidance that vaccinated people do not need to wear masks.

Dr William Schaffner, a professor of infectious diseases in the health policy department at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, said this delta (strain) at the moment is honing in on largely unvaccinated persons.

Delta variant has become the most dominant variant across the US and is accounting for over 80 percent of sequenced cases. The US has also witnessed a surge in the Covid-19 cases with close to 600,000 cases over the last four weeks.

Till 15 July, over 341.7 million doses of Covid-19 have been administered but scepticism against vaccines led to a slowdown. According to reports, over 95 per cent of people admitted to the hospital in the US with symptoms of Covid-19 are unvaccinated.

The scepticism, however, may soon change due to rising Covid-19 cases.

Jeff Zients, who is head of president Joe Biden’s Covid-19 team, on Thursday told media that several states with the highest proportions of new infections have seen residents get vaccinated at higher rates than the nation as a whole.

The officials cited Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Missouri and Nevada as examples.

Additional reporting by agencies


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To reach a peace deal, Taliban say Afghan president must go Kandahar Islamic State Nato Washington Pentagon

To reach a peace deal, Taliban say Afghan president must go Kandahar Islamic State Nato Washington Pentagon
To reach a peace deal, Taliban say Afghan president must go Kandahar Islamic State Nato Washington Pentagon


The Taliban say they don’t want to monopolize power, but they insist there won’t be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, who is also a member of the group’s negotiating team, laid out the insurgents’ stance on what should come next in a country on the precipice.

The Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks, seized strategic border crossings and are threatening a number of provincial capitals, as the last U.S. and NATO soldiers leave Afghanistan. This week, the top U.S. military officer, Gen. Mark Milley told a Pentagon press conference that the Taliban have “strategic momentum,” and he did not rule out a complete Taliban takeover. But he said it is not inevitable. “I don’t think the end game is yet written,” he said.

Memories of the Taliban’s last time in power some 20 years ago, when they enforced a harsh brand of Islam that denied girls an education and barred women from work, have stoked fears of their return among many. Afghans who can afford it are applying by the thousands for visas to leave Afghanistan, fearing a violent descent into chaos. The U.S.-NATO withdrawal is more than 95% complete and due to be finished by Aug. 31.

Shaheen said the Taliban will lay down their weapons when a negotiated government acceptable to all sides in the conflict is installed in Kabul and Ghani’s government is gone.

“I want to make it clear that we do not believe in the monopoly of power because any governments who (sought) to monopolize power in Afghanistan in the past, were not successful governments,” said Shaheen, apparently including the Taliban’s own five-year rule in that assessment. “So we do not want to repeat that same formula.”

But he was also uncompromising on the continued rule of Ghani, calling him a war monger and accusing him of using his Tuesday speech on the Islamic holy day of Eid-al-Adha to promise an offensive against the Taliban. Shaheen dismissed Ghani’s right to govern, resurrecting allegations of widespread fraud that surrounded Ghani’s 2019 election win. After that vote, both Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah declared themselves president. After a compromise deal, Abdullah is now No. 2 in the government and heads the reconciliation council.

Ghani has often said he will remain in office until new elections can determine the next government. His critics — including ones outside the Taliban — accuse him of seeking only to keep power, causing splits among government supporters.

Last weekend, Abdullah headed a high-level delegation to the Qatari capital Doha for talks with Taliban leaders. It ended with promises of more talks, as well as greater attention to the protection of civilians and infrastructure.

Shaheen called the talks a good beginning. But he said the government’s repeated demands for a ceasefire while Ghani stayed in power were tantamount to demanding a Taliban surrender.

“They don’t want reconciliation, but they want surrendering,” he said.

Before any ceasefire, there must be an agreement on a new government “acceptable to us and to other Afghans,” he said. Then “there will be no war.”

Shaheen said under this new government, women will be allowed to work, go to school, and participate in politics, but will have to wear the hijab, or headscarf. He said women won’t be required to have a male relative with them to leave their home, and that Taliban commanders in newly occupied districts have orders that universities, schools and markets operate as before, including with the participation of women and girls.

However, there have been repeated reports from captured districts of Taliban imposing harsh restrictions on women, even setting fire to schools. One gruesome video that emerged appeared to show Taliban killing captured commandos in northern Afghanistan.

Shaheen said some Taliban commanders had ignored the leadership’s orders against repressive and drastic behavior and that several have been put before a Taliban military tribunal and punished, though he did provide specifics. He contended the video was fake, a splicing of separate footage.

Shaheen said there are no plans to make a military push on Kabul and that the Taliban have so far “restrained” themselves from taking provincial capitals. But he warned they could, given the weapons and equipment they have acquired in newly captured districts. He contended that the majority of the Taliban’s battlefield successes came through negotiations, not fighting.

“Those districts which have fallen to us and the military forces who have joined us … were through mediation of the people, through talks,” he said. “They (did not fall) through fighting … it would have been very hard for us to take 194 districts in just eight weeks.”

The Taliban control about half of Afghanistan’s 419 district centers, and while they have yet to capture any of the 34 provincial capitals, they are pressuring about half of them, Milley said. In recent days, the U.S. has carried out airstrikes in support of beleaguered Afghan government troops in the southern city of Kandahar, around which the Taliban have been amassing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Thursday.

The rapid fall of districts and the seemingly disheartened response by Afghan government forces have prompted U.S.-allied warlords to resurrect militias with a violent history. For many Afghans weary of more than four decades of war, that raises fears of a repeat of the brutal civil war in the early 1990s in which those same warlords battled for power.

“You know, no one no one wants a civil war, including me,” said Shaheen.

Shaheen also repeated Taliban promises aimed at reassuring Afghans who fear the group.

Washington has promised to relocate thousands of U.S. military interpreters. Shaheen said they had nothing to fear from the Taliban and denied threatening them. But, he added, if some want to take asylum in the West because Afghanistan’s economy is so poor, “that is up to them.”

He also denied that the Taliban have threatened journalists and Afghanistan’s nascent civil society, which has been targeted by dozens of killings over the past year. The Islamic State group has taken responsibility for some, but the Afghan government has blamed the Taliban for most of the killings while the Taliban in turn accuse the Afghan government of carrying out the killings to defame them. Rarely has the government made arrests into the killings or revealed the findings of its investigations.

Shaheen said journalists, including those working for Western media outlets, have nothing to fear from a government that includes the Taliban.

“We have not issued letters to journalists (threatening them), especially to those who are working for foreign media outlets. They can continue their work even in the future,” he said.


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Postcard from London: afloat in an ‘ancient’ spa

Postcard from London: afloat in an ‘ancient’ spa
Postcard from London: afloat in an ‘ancient’ spa


After a wet, grey June and early July — good for rose growers, depressing for everyone else — hot summer weather has finally settled upon London. This is the only time of year people don’t ask whether I miss the sunny climes of my native California. It is too damn hot.

And so it was a pleasure on a sweltering day last week to step into the dark, subterranean pools at Aire Ancient Baths, a spa just off the Strand that opened its doors in June.

It is housed in the lower floors of an 18th-century neoclassical building — a blue plaque informs passers-by that it was once home to the literary grandees Sir James Barrie (of Peter Pan fame) and John Galsworthy (The Forsyte Saga).

Aire is one of an expanding Spanish-owned chain of spas “inspired by the ancient ritual of thermal bathing in Ancient Greek, Roman and Ottoman civilisations”. That’s reflected in the experience and the (occasionally gimmicky) decor: a series of candle-lit pools under brick arches in the manner of a Roman cistern, patches of peeling plaster and clusters of salt-glazed pots, the odd pair of columns and terracotta urns. The sound of what I suspect is a pan flute gently pipes through the speakers (even underwater).

This is Aire’s first spa in the UK and its eighth globally. The first opened in Seville two decades ago, and its portfolio has since expanded to New York, Chicago and Copenhagen, the company choosing (where possible) storied sites where ancient-styled bathing pools might seem at least vaguely plausible.

Persuading a landlord to let Aire fill the lower floors of a listed building with multiple pools was not without its challenges, says Amadeo Serra, Aire’s chief executive, who meets me in the waiting room. The company began looking for a location four and a half years ago, and the build took 18 months. Despite Brexit and the pandemic, Serra is confident of London’s ability to continue to attract high-net-worth individuals who might be in need of a massage, or several. The idea behind the theme, Serra explains, is to create an atmosphere where “time doesn’t exist”.

There may be no worse time to open a spa than during a pandemic, but there are few better times to visit one. Since opening, Aire has limited the number of visitors to a maximum of six at one time; guests are given a two-hour slot in which to arrive. The staff outnumber customers by at least 2:1, though the number of guests might eventually increase to 12 or 14, depending on demand.

After a quick trip to the women’s locker room, where I am supplied with a white robe, foamy slippers and the offer of a bathing suit (I brought my own), I descend down candle-lit stairs to the baths. There are seven in total, some hot but not to the point of fainting (40C), one set at body temperature (and vast enough to swim laps in), and others single-sized and as frigid as the sea off Cornwall (10C). They are given Latin (or in some cases Latin-sounding) names: the Tepidarium, the Caldarium, the Vaporium — the latter in a room so thick with steam that I am startled after a minute to discover that a couple is inside with me. My favourite is the salt-filled Flotarium, where piles of white salt are poured at one end for a self-administered scrub.

This being a spa, there are also treatments, which range from your standard 30- to 75-minute massage to (and I can’t say I was tempted by this personally) a wine bath large enough for two, which is filled with litres of “antioxidant rich” tempranillo and accompanied by a platter of wine and cheese, followed by a grapeseed oil massage.

I have instead signed up for a 45-minute massage, which turns out to be the best of my life. When Julia, the masseuse, touches my neck, my whole body feels as if it is being pulled into alignment. I live in dread of it ending. When it finally does, she hands me my slippers, which have been toasting on a heater. It’s delightful.

Aire may be designed to take guests out of place and time, but I also have a story deadline, and so I exit a little before my two-hour slot is up. The stairs take me from the Roman basement into the Georgian reception area, and back to the blazing hot contemporary reality of the Strand on a summer Friday. But the sun and the heat and the London crowds no longer feel so overwhelming.

Lauren Indvik is the FT’s fashion editor


Lauren Indvik was a guest of Aire Ancient Baths. A 90-minute session in the spa’s pools costs £90 per person; a two-hour session including a 45-minute massage costs £165

Follow @FTLifeArts on Twitter to find out about our latest stories first


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GOP’s vaccine push comes with strong words, few actions Donald Trump Charlie Kirk Ron Desantis Joe Biden Vaccine

GOP’s vaccine push comes with strong words, few actions Donald Trump Charlie Kirk Ron Desantis Joe Biden Vaccine
GOP’s vaccine push comes with strong words, few actions Donald Trump Charlie Kirk Ron Desantis Joe Biden Vaccine


Republican politicians are under increasing pressure to speak out to persuade COVID-19 vaccine skeptics to roll up their sleeves and take the shots as a new, more contagious variant sends caseloads soaring. But after months of ignoring — and, in some cases, stoking — misinformation about the virus, experts warn it may be too late to change the minds of many who are refusing.

In recent news conferences and statements, some prominent Republicans have been imploring their constituents to lay lingering doubts aside. In Washington, the so-called Doctors Caucus gathered at the Capitol for an event to combat vaccine hesitancy. And in Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis this week pointed to data showing the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients hadn’t received shots.

“These vaccines are saving lives,” said DeSantis, who recently began selling campaign merchandise mocking masks and medical experts.

The outreach comes as COVID-19 cases have nearly tripled in the U.S. over the last two weeks, driven by the explosion of the new delta variant, especially in pockets of the country where vaccination rates are low. Public health officials believe the variant is at least twice as contagious as the original version, but the shots appear to offer robust protection against serious illness for most people.

Indeed, nearly all COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are now people who haven’t been vaccinated. Nonetheless, just 56.2% of Americans have received at least one vaccine dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Overall, only 51% of Republicans said in mid-June that they had received at least one vaccine dose, versus 83% of Democrats, according to an AP-NORC poll. And many appeared to have made up their minds. Forty-six percent of those who had not been vaccinated said they definitely would not. Among Republicans, even more — 53% — said they definitely wouldn’t; just 12% said they were planning to.

“I think they’ve finally realized that if their people aren’t vaccinated, they’re going to get sick, and if their people aren’t vaccinated, they’re going to get blamed for COVID outbreaks in the future,” said GOP pollster Frank Luntz who has been working with the Biden administration and public health experts to craft effective messaging to bring the vaccine hesitant off the fence.

But Luntz, who conducted another focus group Wednesday evening with vaccine holdouts, said there has been a discernible shift in recent weeks as skepticism has calcified into hardened refusal.

“The hesitation has transformed into opposition. And once you are opposed, it is very hard to change that position. And that’s what’s happening right now,” he said.

For months now, many conservative lawmakers and pundits have been actively stoking vaccine hesitancy, refusing to take the shots themselves or downplaying the severity of the virus. Republican governors have signed bills protecting the unvaccinated from having to disclose their status and tried to roll back mask mandates. And on social media, disinformation has run rampant, leading President Joe Biden to claim platforms like Facebook were “killing people” — a claim he later walked back.

At a recent conservative gathering, attendees cheered the news that the Biden administration was falling short of its vaccination goals. Invoking the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., warned, the government: “Don’t come knocking on my door with your Fauci Ouchie! You leave us the hell alone.”

Others, including former President Donald Trump, have repeatedly defended those who have chosen not to get vaccinated, stressing that the decision is a personal choice. Instead, they have pointed fingers at Democrats, suggesting they are to blame for the distrust.

People are refusing to take the Vaccine because they don’t trust (Biden’s) Administration, they don’t trust the Election results, and they certainly don’t trust the Fake News,” Trump said in a recent statement.

But there were signs that messaging was changing this week, as conservative leaders advocated for the shots. On Fox News, host Sean Hannity implored his viewers to “please take COVID seriously,” saying, “Enough people have died.” Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley on Twitter encouraged “ALL eligible Iowans/Americans to get vaccinated.”

“The Delta variant scares me so I hope those that haven’t been vaccinated will reconsider,” he wrote.

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise the House Republican whip, distributed pictures of himself receiving his first dose of the vaccine last weekend after months of holding out.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a polio survivor who has consistently advocated on behalf of the COVID-19 shots, this week urged the unvaccinated to ignore “all these other voices that are giving demonstrably bad advice.”

But the news conference convened by House GOP leaders on Thursday highlighted Republicans’ competing messages on the virus.

Initially billed as an event where Republican doctors in Congress would address the rapidly spreading delta variant, the group instead spent most of its time railing against China and making unverified claims that the coronavirus came from a lab leak in Wuhan, a theory initially popular in far-right circles but now being seriously considered by scientists. They also attacked Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Biden administration, for not doing more to get to the bottom of the lab leak theory.

“The question is, Why are Democrats stonewalling our efforts to uncover the origins of the COVID virus?” said New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, the No. 3 Republican in the House.

Eric Ward, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center who studies extremism, blamed vaccine reluctance on “nearly a year-and-a-half of right-wing rage machine rhetoric.”

“Even conservative leaders now are having a hard time figuring out how to rein in what had primarily been a propaganda campaign, and they are now realizing their constituencies are particularly vulnerable,” he said.

While some Republicans may be using strong words to promote the vaccine, few are proposing new measures to urge vaccination, such as incentives, public information campaigns or more aggressive outreach.

In New Hampshire, where shots have slowed to about 1,000 per week, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said Thursday that there are no immediate plans to launch new initiatives.

“Right now, it’s folks’ individual responsibility. If someone hasn’t been vaccinated at this point, they’ve made that conscious decision not to,” he said. “The government’s job is to provide that open door. If you want the vaccine, here it is, nice and easy. If you need more information, here it is. So you have every tool in the toolbox available to you and your family to make that decision.”

Other Republican continue to peddle falsehoods.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., was suspended from posting on Twitter for 12 hours earlier this week after spreading disinformation about vaccine-related deaths. And Charlie Kirk, the founder of Turning Point USA, a popular youth conservative advocacy group that last weekend hosted a conference that drew former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and numerous members of Congress, suggested without evidence on his podcast that up to 1.2 million could have died after getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

In his focus groups, Luntz said that many skeptics have struggled to assess the veracity of the things they read and hear.

“There is so much misinformation out there, and they can’t tell the difference between what is accurate and what is fake,” he said. “So it makes it virtually impossible to communicate when they don’t know what to believe.”


Associated Press writers Emily Swanson, Holly Ramer and Kevin Freking contributed to this report.


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Driver is killed and passengers are seriously injured after coach crashes through barrier in Capri

Driver is killed and passengers are seriously injured after coach crashes through barrier in Capri
Driver is killed and passengers are seriously injured after coach crashes through barrier in Capri


Driver is killed and passengers are seriously injured after minibus crashes through barrier and rolls onto beach resort in Capri

  • Vehicle crashed through iron railings and fell 20 feet on Thursday in Capri, Italy after its driver lost control
  • The driver died the crash with some suggesting he had a heart attack, although there is no official cause
  • Newspaper La Repubblica reported that a total of 28 people had been injured in the shocking incident
  • Some were flown to hospital in Naples by helicopters which also flew doctors in to the island in southern Italy


A minibus on the Italian island of Capri crashed through a guardrail and landed on a beach resort area today, fatally injuring the driver and injuring passengers.

The fire department tweeted that the bus had 11 people on board when it ran off the road near the popular Marina Grande area of the island, with 28 people in total reportedly injured in the incident.

Capri Mayor Marino Lembo told Italian state TV that the bus driver died shortly after the crash, with local media saying the cause was a heart attack. It is unclear if he suffered from the heart attack before or after the crash.  

Driver is killed and passengers are seriously injured after coach crashes through barrier in Capri

Pictured: A view of the scene of an accident, where a minibus carrying a dozen people veered off a road and crashed and fell around 20 feet, on Capri island, southern Italy, 22 July 2021

Pictured: The bus after it crashed in Capri, Italy on July 22, 2021

Pictured: Rescue workers work next to the minibus wreckage

Pictured: The minibus after it crashed in Capri, Italy on July 22, 2021. The driver of the bus suffered fatal injuries from the crash, while a number of other people were injured

Four passengers were seriously injured, including a child who was flown by helicopter from the island to a hospital in Naples, Italian media reported.

Several other passengers sustained lesser injuries, Italian media said, with daily newspaper La Repubblica reporting that 28 people were injured in the crash, suggesting people other than the passengers were hurt.

The state TV report said the bus plunged some 17 – 20 feet off the road after the driver lost control of the vehicle.

The bus appeared to have smashed through iron railings and against some structures when it landed away from where people were sunbathing, but it was unclear if they were changing cabins.

Pictures from the scene showed the wreckage of the vehicle on its side at the bottom of a cliff, behind some blue and white corrugated iron coverings that are part of the beach resort the bus landed on.

Italian media said some beachgoers instinctively dove into the sea for cover when they heard the loud crash.

Capri’s mayor said the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately known, La Repubblica daily reported.

Pictured: An aerial view of the bus lying on its side at the bottom of a cliff after crashing through a guardrail, on the island of Capri, Italy, Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pictured: An aerial view of the bus lying on its side at the bottom of a cliff after crashing through a guardrail, on the island of Capri, Italy, Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pictured: People peer down the cliff that the mini bus fell down after crashing off the road in Capri

Pictured: A view of the beach resort below the road the mini bus crashed off

Pictured left and right: People peer down the cliff that the mini bus fell down after crashing off the road in Capri. The beach resort the bus landed on can be seen below

Pictured: The bus seen lying on its side after crashing down a cliff and onto a beach resort at the bottom on Thursday, with one person confirmed dead

Pictured: Emergency service vehicle gather at the site of the minibus crash on Thursday in Capri, Italy

Pictured left:: The bus seen lying on its side after crashing down a cliff and onto a beach resort at the bottom on Thursday, with one person confirmed dead. Right: Emergency service vehicle gather at the site of the minibus crash

Passengers that were on board the minibus were rescued by the fire brigade, as well as Carabinieri – national police – and other police officers at the scene.

Helicopters transported doctors to the Island from Naples and to bring the most seriously injured back to the city’s hospital. 

According to La Repubblica who spoke to officials, the bus was travelling at a steady speed up-hill when it swerved left and right before flying off the road. 

Pictured: Rescue workers gather at the scene of an accident, where a minibus carryng a dozen people veered off a road and crashed, on Capri island, Naples, southern Italy, 22 July 2021

Pictured: Rescue workers gather at the scene of an accident, where a minibus carryng a dozen people veered off a road and crashed, on Capri island, Naples, southern Italy, 22 July 2021

‘The driver may have had an illness: at the moment it is only a hypothesis, but I exclude it was a risky manoeuvre because the vehicle was uphill,’ deputy mayor of Anacapri Francesco Cerrotta told the newspaper.

‘Someone would have seen the doctors help the driver with a defibrillator’. 

Helicopters reportedly took 19 people to Naples hospital, and all doctors on the island were sent to the hospital to treat the patients.

The exact cause of the accident are yet to be determined, with an investigation expected to be opened.


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