Washington on lockdown as security threats mount

The centre of Washington was on lockdown on Thursday as more than 20,000 armed National Guard troops were being mobilised due to security concerns ahead of the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden.

Washington police chief Robert Contee said the US capital was facing “a major security threat”, one week after supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol to try to block Biden’s confirmation as election winner.

A day after Trump was impeached in Congress for allegedly supporting that attack, more barriers were being erected and razor wire laid on Thursday as part of precautions ahead of the Jan 20 event.

Most of downtown Washington was off limits to traffic, with one journalist comparing it to Baghdad’s high-security “Green Zone.”

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World facing ‘catastrophic’ temperature rises: UN

The world is on course for a “catastrophic” temperature rise this century, the United Nations said on Thursday as it confirmed that 2020 rivalled 2016 as the hottest year on record.

The relentless pace of climate change is destroying lives, said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, as the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation said 2011-2020 had been the warmest decade recorded.

2020 “rivalled 2016 for the top spot”, according to the WMO’s consolidation of five leading international datasets.

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After years in a drawer, Tintin painting sells for over $5m

A painting of comic book hero Tintin that was kept folded in a drawer for years sold at a Paris auction on Thursday for €3.175 million (S$5.1 million), the auction house said.

The painting is the work of Belgian illustrator Georges Remi, better known by his nom de plume Herge, who was the author of the Tintin comic books. He died in 1983.

Herge submitted the painting for his editor as a proposed cover for the pre-World War II Tintin album The Blue Lotus, according to the Artcurial auction house, which conducted the sale.

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Johnson’s leadership at risk without lockdown exit plan

Prime Minister Boris Johnson faces a threat to his leadership from Conservative lawmakers demanding a clear path out of Britain’s economically damaging third pandemic lockdown.

Steve Baker, a senior rank-and-file member of Parliament, said in a letter to his Tory colleagues that a lockdown lasting until spring could be “a disaster.”

He urged them to write to Johnson’s team to warn that the premier’s position will be at risk unless he announces a route out of the current restrictions.

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Hard to enforce ban on players hugging, says Chelsea’s Lampard

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard defended his players on Thursday amid a growing debate about teams celebrating goals with hugs and high-fives while the country is battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

England’s deputy chief medical officer has urged players to stop such physical contact and a senior politician suggested on Thursday yellow cards should be brandished for hugging.

The Premier League was holding virtual meetings to reinforce the message that protocols must be respected, but Lampard echoed other top flight managers in suggesting that was easier said than done.

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