In our news wrap Wednesday, a Georgia prosecutor opened a criminal investigation into former President Trump's efforts to influence the state’s presidential vote count, the CDC reported that wearing two face masks is more effective against COVID-19, President Biden ordered sanctions on Myanmar's military leaders, and Saudi Arabia released a leading women’s activist from prison.
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In the day's other news: The Democratic district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, in the Atlanta area, opened a criminal investigation into efforts to influence the state's presidential vote count. The announcement did not mention any names. but former President Trump phoned Georgia's secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, as we reported, in early January, appealing for enough votes to overturn the Biden win in the state.
On the pandemic, the CDC now says that wearing two face masks or one tightly fitted mask is more effective in blocking COVID-19. New research released today showed that exposure can be reduced by 95 percent, more than twice what a single mask achieves.
The CDC head, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, spoke at a virtual briefing.
Dr. Rochelle Walensky:
The science is clear. Everyone needs to be wearing a mask when they are in public, or when they are in their own home, but with people who do not live in their household. This is especially true with our ongoing concern about new variants spreading in the United States.
The new advice came — on masks came as the nationwide death toll from COVID-19 passed 470,000.
President Biden ordered sanctions today against military leaders in Myanmar for staging a coup and using violence against protesters. He said the move would freeze $1 billion in the generals' U.S. assets. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters turned out again in cities across Myanmar, despite the police crackdown and a ban on gatherings.
Saudi Arabia has released a leading women's activist from prison. Loujain Alhathloul pushed to end the kingdom's ban on women driving. She was sentenced under a counterterrorism law and served nearly three years. Her release comes as President Biden has pledged to emphasize human rights in U.S.-Saudi relations.
The White House is warning that, for now, the U.S. will continue turning back most migrants who enter illegally from Mexico. Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today that officials need time to implement changes from Trump era policies that kept most migrants out.
Due to the pandemic and the fact that we have not had the time as an administration to put in place a humane, comprehensive process for processing individuals who are coming to the border, now is not the time to come. And the vast majority of people will be turned away.
Crossings at the southern border have been growing for months, and Border Patrol facilities are filling up.
Across Europe, a cold wave kept much of the continent in the deep freeze today. In Paris, layers of snow covered much of the city, disrupting travel in subzero weather. And off the Normandy coast, the famed tidal island Mont Saint-Michel was surrounded by snow and ice, a rarity.
Another new spacecraft has arrived at Mars, this one from China. Chinese animation showed the unmanned vessel going into orbit today. Its goal is to land a rover looking for underground water and signs of life from long ago. An orbiter from the United Arab Emirates reached the Red Planet on Tuesday. And an American rover arrives next week.
On Wall Street, stocks had a sluggish day. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 62 points, enough for a new record close at 31437. But the Nasdaq fell 35 points, and the S&P 500 slipped just one.
And Larry Flynt, who founded "Hustler" magazine, has died. Flint built a pornography empire partly on images of violence against women and fought several First Amendment battles. During one case in 1978, he was shot by a gunman and left partially paralyzed. In 1988, he won a U.S. Supreme Court fight with the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who had sued him over a parody.
Larry Flynt was 78 years old.