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US Officials Investigating Potential ‘Bribery For Pardon’ Scheme

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The US Justice Department has been investigating whether intermediaries for a federal convict offered white house officials a bribe in exchange for a potential presidential pardon or commutation.

Some court documents unsealed by a federal judge on Tuesday shows investigators were suspicious suspected the convict seeking the pardon was imprisoned as recently as this summer, and that two persons working on behalf of the convict may have undertaken a secret lobbying campaign by approaching white house officials.

But the documents offered very few clues about what the white house may have known about the scheme.

One passage appears to show that a lawyer for the convict had discussions with the white house counsel’s office about a pardon or commutation, but it was unclear whether the discussions were part of the scheme or a normal back-and-forth with the white house about a convict’s case.

The two persons may have offered to funnel money as political donations in exchange for the pardon or commutation, although it was unclear where the money was supposed to be sent.

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World News

US: Biden To Reinstate COVID-19 Travel Ban

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A public health official in United States has said that president Joe Biden will on Monday formally reinstate COVID-19 travel restrictions on non-U.S. travelers from Brazil, Ireland, the United Kingdom and 26 other European countries that allow travel across open borders.

The principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Dr Anne Schuchat told Reuters news agency in an interview stating that “we are adding South Africa to the restricted list because of the concerning variant present that has already spread beyond South Africa.”

Schuchat added that the CDC was “putting in place this suite of measures to protect Americans and also to reduce the risk of these variants spreading and worsening the current pandemic.”

Biden is reversing an order from President Donald Trump in his final days in office that called for the relaxation of the travel restrictions as of Tuesday.

More than 25 million persons in the United States have now been confirmed with COVID-19, about a quarter of the world’s total infections.

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Dog Spent Days Outside Turkish Hospital Waiting For Sick Owner

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A devoted dog has spent days waiting outside a hospital in northern Turkey where her sick owner was receiving treatment.

The pet, Boncuk (Bon-DJUK), which means bead, followed the ambulance that transported her owner, Cemal Senturk, to hospital in the Black Sea city of Trabzon on Jan. 14. She then made daily visits to the facility, private news agency DHA reported on Wednesday.

Senturk’s daughter, Aynur Egeli, said she would take Boncuk home but the dog would repeatedly run off and return to the hospital.

Hospital security guard Muhammet Akdeniz told DHA: “She comes every day around 9 a.m. and waits until nightfall. She doesn’t go in.”

“When the door opens she pokes her head inside,” he said.

On Wednesday, Boncuk was finally reunited with Senturk when he was pushed outside in a wheelchair for a brief meeting with his dog.

“She’s very used to me. And I miss her, too, constantly,” he told DHA.

Senturk was discharged from the hospital later on Wednesday and returned home with Boncuk. (AP)

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Hungary approves Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine

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Hungary has become the first country in the European Union to give preliminary approval to the Russian coronavirus vaccine, Sputnik V.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff confirmed both the Russian jab and the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine have been approved.

Foreign minister Peter Szijjarto has been scheduled to travel to Moscow for further talks, where he is expected to discuss a shipment and distribution plans.

Hungarian health officials are also in Beijing for discussions on the approval and immediate delivery of one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine, already being used in Serbia.

Sinopharm is a Chinese company that announced last month phase three trials of its jab showed 79% effectiveness.

At least 140,000 Hungarians have already been vaccinated with it.

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