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Tom Hanks to host star-studded TV special celebrating Joe Biden’s inauguration | US News

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President-elect Joe Biden

Tom Hanks and an array of American stars will appear on a TV special to celebrate Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Events to mark the inauguration have been significantly scaled back this year due to the pandemic and security concerns.

Instead of in-person performances, the 90-minute show, entitled Celebrating America, will air live in the States right after the ceremony on 20 January.

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President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on the steps of the Capitol

Hosted by veteran actor Hanks, it will feature performances from Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Jon Bon Jovi and Ant Clemons.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will also give interviews.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which oversees the planning of the ceremony, said the show will “celebrate the beginning of a new national journey toward an America united”.

The committee added: “The inauguration… will showcase the American people’s resilience, heroism, and unified commitment to coming together as a nation to heal and rebuild.”

It will air on all the major networks – ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, and MSNBC – and will be streamed live on social media channels YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch as well as streaming service Amazon Prime.

On the day itself Mr Biden will still be sworn in as president on the steps of the Capitol, despite security concerns following riots by Trump supporters.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 26: Demi Lovato performs at the 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards on January 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by John Shearer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
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Demi Lovato is one of the artists who will perform live
Singer Jon Bon Jovi speaks to Kay Burley
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Biden supporter Jon Bon Jovi will also appear

Five people died, including a police officer, when a mob stormed the government buildings on 6 January. Two explosive devices were found, but they did not go off.

“I’m not afraid of taking the oath outside,” Mr Biden said on Monday.

The guest list for the inauguration has been cut down and parade viewing stands have been dismantled near the White House to discourage crowds.

President Donald Trump will skip the ceremony, making him the first president in more than 150 years to do so – and just the fourth in US history.

It’s a decision Mr Biden said was a “good thing”, though Vice President Mike Pence and his wife plan to attend.

Meanwhile, acting US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen has warned potential domestic terrorists against any further attacks.

Authorities are already dealing with further threats of violence from insurrectionists unhappy with the election result and spurned on by the events at the US Capitol.

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Trump snubbing inauguration ‘a good thing’

In a video released overnight on Tuesday, Mr Rosen urged the public to come forward with any tips about potential attacks before the ceremony.

He said: “I want to send a clear message to anyone contemplating violence, threats of violence or other criminal conduct: We will have no tolerance whatsoever for any attempts to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power.”

As many as 15,000 National Guard troops, including some armed members, have been ordered to Washington DC to secure the city before Mr Biden’s inauguration.

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Criminal investigations have been opened into more than 170 people who stormed the Capitol building and some officials have called for them to be placed on no-fly lists.

Following the inauguration, Mr Biden and Ms Harris, and their spouses, will lay a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

They will be joined there by former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton and their wives.

They will also conduct a pass in review inspection of the troops at the Capitol.

The traditional parade along Pennsylvania Avenue – the road outside the White House – which usually follows has been cancelled.

Instead it has been replaced with a televised Parade Across America, the Presidential Inaugural Committee said.

The National Park Service announced Monday that the Washington Monument would be closed until 24 January.

But plans were still on for a major public art display spanning multiple blocks of the National Mall that will feature 191,500 US flags and 56 pillars of light.

The display is meant to symbolize every US state and territory, and “the American people who are unable to travel” to the capital to celebrate.

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<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

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<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

<a href='https://news.sky.com/story/divided-states-podcast-insurrection-impeachment-inauguration-12189011' target='_blank'>Insurrection, impeachment, inauguration</a>

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COVID-19: Second variant from Brazil ‘likely’ already in the UK, SAGE scientist says | World News

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COVID-19: Second variant from Brazil 'likely' already in the UK, SAGE scientist says | World News

The second of two new coronavirus variants from Brazil is likely to already be in the UK despite the government imposing a travel ban, a leading epidemiologist has warned.

Eight cases of the first variant, which has a small number of mutations, have been identified in the UK.

The second, which has been detected in the Brazilian city of Manaus and in travellers arriving in Japan, has not been detected in the UK so far.

However, Professor John Edmunds has said he would it “unusual” if the second variant was not present here.

Profressor Edmunds, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “In terms of the South African one, we had imported cases already by the time we put in additional restrictions for South African travellers.

“For the Brazilian one… I don’t think there is evidence that we’ve imported cases of the Manaus strain, as far as I’m aware at least, but it is likely that we probably have quite honestly.

“We are one of the most connected countries in the world so I would find it unusual if we hadn’t imported some cases into the UK.”

The government banned flights from South America, Portugal and Cape Verde on Thursday after the emergence of the new variants, having previously banned travel from South Africa because of a new coronavirus mutation.

In addition, all quarantine-free travel into the UK will be suspended on Monday in a bid to keep out other variants.

The new policy means arrivals from every destination will need to self-isolate for 10 days, or receive a negative result from a coronavirus test taken at least five days after they enter the UK.

Labour accused the government of “closing the door after the horse has bolted”, saying the announcement was too late to have stopped the arrival of “worrying” strains.

Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds told ministers to get a “comprehensive plan and to act in a proper, strategic way, not in the short-term chaotic way we’ve seen over the past twelve months”.

But aviation minister Robert Courts insisted that the new action amounted to “toughening up already tough requirements”.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said there would be lots of new coronavirus variants this year but the current vaccines should protect against the strains circulating in the UK.

He said that new variants were being detected early, and stressed: “If indeed we do need to make new vaccines we will be able to stand those up really quickly.”

More than 3.2 million people have now received a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine in the UK – around double the number compared to last week.

The government has set a target of vaccinating 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the UK by mid-February.

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But Prof Edmunds cautioned against removing coronavirus restrictions at that point, saying to do so would be a “disaster” that would place “enormous pressure” on the NHS.

He said: “I think it would be a disaster if we removed restrictions in, say, the end of February when we have gone through this first wave of the vaccination.

“First of all vaccines aren’t ever 100% protective, and so even those that have been vaccinated would be still at some risk.

“Secondly, it is only a small fraction of the population who would have been vaccinated and if you look at the hospitalisations at the moment, about half of them are in the under 70s, and they are not in the first wave to be vaccinated.

“If we relaxed our restrictions we would immediately put the NHS under enormous pressure again.”

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Keeping track of kids lost to lockdown

In other developments:

  • The global death toll from COVID-19 has passed two million, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University in the US
  • Boris Johnson said 45% of the over-80s and almost 40% of care home residents have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Government scientists put the latest reproductive number – the R rate – for the UK at 1.2 to 1.3, for data examined up to 11 January

Elsewhere in the UK, toughened lockdown restrictions have come into force in Scotland – with new rules on takeaway food and drink, and the end of non-essential click-and-collect services.

In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford announced new measures for supermarkets due to “significant evidence” that coronavirus is spreading among customers and staff.

And in Northern Ireland, Stormont health minister Robin Swann said it was “highly unlikely” restrictions will be eased when their six-week lockdown ends.

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Uganda presidential election: Incumbent Yoweri Museveni declared winner | World News

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Bobi Wine's trademark red beret has become a symbol of opposition to longtime President Yoweri Museveni.

Yoweri Museveni has been declared the winner of the Uganda presidential election with 58.64% of the total votes, according to the country’s electoral commission.

The incumbent will now serve a sixth term as president of the east African nation following some of the worst pre-election violence since the 76-year-old took office in 1986.

His man opposition, singer Bobi Wine, has alleged vote rigging throughout the process and had strong support in urban centres where frustration with unemployment and corruption remains high. He won 3.48 million votes, or 34.8% of the total, according to the commission.

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Opposition candidate Bobi Wine was assaulted and arrested several times during the election campaign

Mr Wine and other opposition candidates were often harassed, and more than 50 people were killed when security forces halted riots in November after he was arrested.

Although Mr Museveni holds on to power, at least 15 of his cabinet ministers including the vice president were voted out, with many losing to candidate’s from Mr Wine’s party, according to local media.

Mr Wine, real name Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, claimed victory on Friday and said he had video evidence of vote-rigging and insisting “every legal option is on the table” to challenge the election results.

He was beaten up and arrested several times during the election campaign but was never convicted of any charge. He later wore a flak jacket and said he feared for his life.

On Saturday, Mr Wine said his home in the capital Kampala had been surrounded by soldiers and the military was now allowing him to leave.

The army’s deputy spokesman, Deo Akiiki, told Reuters security officers were assessing threats to Mr Wine if left his home.

Monitoring of the elections has been hit by the arrest of independent observers and the denial of accreditation for members of the UN observer mission.

Tibor Nagy, the top US diplomat for Africa, tweeted on Saturday that “Uganda’s electoral process has been fundamentally flawed”, adding that the “US response hinges on what the Ugandan government does now”.

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