Welcome to Wednesday, where Myanmar police side with protesters, the Senate votes to continue Trump's trial and Europe's oldest person survives COVID. We also look at the reasons why the "capital of Canadian humor" isn't laughing so much lately.
• COVID-19 latest: Ghana parliament shuts down over outbreak that leaves 17 MPs and 151 support staff ill. The U.K. releases new quarantine guidelines that includes possible £10,000 fine or 10 years in prison for unauthorized travelers. South Africa cuts distribution of AstraZeneca after research shows its lack of efficacy on the South African variant. Healthcare workers in Bolivia go on strike to demand stricter lockdown measures, facing an average of 1,000 daily COVID-19 deaths.
• Myanmar update: Police officers join protesters in the state of Loikaw calling for the reversal of the coup, while some 100,000 gathered in the commercial capital of Yangon. One woman is in critical condition after being shot in the head while attending protests.
• Trump trial: Democrats presented sharp words, video footage of the Capitol mob and Trump's own tweets, while Trump's legal team argued that it was unconstitutional for a former president to be impeached. Six Republicans joined all 50 Democrats in voting in favor of the constitutionality of the trial, but 11 more will be needed to convict Trump.
• "They were clearly warned, and yet they went ahead": Experts from the People's Science Institute told the Indian government back in 2014 that the construction work in the Himalayas could lead to avalanches and landslides. The death toll in the glacier collapse disaster currently stands at 31, with another 165 still missing and at least 30 still stuck in a tunnel.
• Eight extremists sentenced to death: Eight members of a local branch of jihad in Bangladesh have been sentenced to death over the murder of a publisher in 2015.
• Kobe Bryant crash probe: The National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the fatal helicopter crash carrying the basketball superstar was the result of the pilot's decision to fly in cloudy conditions considered "legally prohibited."
• Catty trial on Zoom: A Texas attorney was forced to say (for the record) "I am not a cat," after he was unable to remove a cat face filter on the Zoom court proceedings.
"Media with no choice," titles Warsaw-based daily Gazeta Wyborcza as the country's media suspend reporting and news coverage to protest a new advertising tax which Polish broadcasters and publishers say will undermine the freedom of the press.
Montreal's #MeToo comedy crisis is no laughing matter
Long considered the "capital of Canadian humor," the Quebec city is currently facing simultaneous storms: the pandemic, #MeToo accusations and a deeper debate on the limits of comedy, reports Hélène Jouan in Paris-basedLe Monde.
COVID-19 is not the only hurdle the Montreal scene has had to face recently. The fall of Gilbert Rozon, 66 years old, a key figure in this comedy world and founder of the Just for Laughs festival, has contributed to its fragility. This "Rockefeller of Humor" was at the height of its power when, in October 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, he was accused of being "Quebec's Weinstein." One, two and then dozens of women publicly accused him of harassment and sexual assault in cases that occurred over nearly four decades.
There are also other, deeper threats looming for Quebec humor. On Feb. 15, the Supreme Court of Canada will rule on whether or not comedian Mike Ward's mocking of a young disabled singer is permissible in the name of humor. Corrosive, subversive, even outrageous humor is not very popular in Quebec these days. "Today, most acts revolve around the private life, with comedians telling stories about their everyday life, their car, their wife or their boyfriend husband or partner, but few dare to take on social or political satire, much less transgression," says Marc Laurendeau, an ex-comedian turned journalist.
Louise Richer, the founder of the Ecole nationale de l'Humour in Montreal, recognizes movements such as #MeToo, Black Live Matters and the emergence of diversity and gender issues for making people think about a crucial question: "How can we talk about all this while remaining funny?" But she also describes a world of humor in full transition: "Like tectonic plates, two movements clash: On the one hand, political correctness tends to make a joke fall flat, but on the other, I see our students' desire to renew their spirit of provocation."
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