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A rally expressed support for Mr Navalny who is unconscious

An air ambulance has begun its journey from Germany to bring Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny from Siberia to Berlin for treatment following his suspected poisoning.

But the chief doctor at the hospital where he is being treated says the critic is not well enough to be moved.

Mr Navalny’s spokeswoman called the medic’s decision “an attempt on his life”

He is in a coma after falling ill during a flight on Thursday.

His team suspects something was put in his tea at an airport cafe.

Medical equipment and specialists are also on the plane, the head of German peace foundation Cinema for Peace said.

Berlin’s Charite hospital is ready to treat the staunch critic of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Jaka Bizilj, director of the Cinema For Peace foundation, said.

The organisation is hopeful Nr Navalny will be allowed to leave Russia on Friday morning. Local authorities say that medical specialists from Moscow have gathered in Omsk to determine whether he can be flown to Germany.

Both Germany and France have said they are happy to help with treatment. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said “he can receive from us all the help and medical support needed”.

A spokesperson for Mr Putin said the Kremlin would help move Mr Navalny abroad if necessary and wished him a “speedy recovery”.

This is not the first time the Cinema for Peace Foundation has stepped in to help a Russian activist: in 2018, it arranged for treatment of Russian activist Pyotr Verzilov in Berlin after his poisoning.

What happened to Alexei Navalny?

Mr Navalny, who in June described a vote on reforms allowing Mr Putin to serve another two terms in office, after the four terms he has already had as a “coup” and a “violation of the constitution”, fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow and his plane made an emergency landing in Omsk, Siberia.

“Alexei has toxic poisoning,” tweeted Kira Yarmysh, the press secretary for the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which Mr Navalny founded in 2011.

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A man in Moscow watches social media footage of Mr Navalny being stretchered to an ambulance

Video footage on social media shows Mr Navalny being taken on a stretcher to an ambulance on the airport runway.

Other disturbing video appears to show a stricken Mr Navalny in pain on the flight. Passenger Pavel Lebedev said he heard the activist “screaming in pain”.

Another photograph on social media purports to show Mr Navalny drinking from a cup at a Tomsk airport cafe.

He was taken to hospital where Ms Yarmysh said he was on a ventilator and in a coma. Police officers filled the hospital and his belongings were being confiscated, she added.

Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya was initially denied access to her husband because authorities said the patient had not agreed to the visit, Ms Yarmysh said, although she was later allowed on to the ward.

His doctor Anastasia Vasilyeva said earlier that hospital doctors were refusing to provide records of his condition.

What’s the latest on his condition?

Mr Nalvany’s family want to transport him to another clinic for safety reasons, Ms Yarmysh said, adding that doctors were refusing to discharge him for emergency treatment in Europe.

Interfax news agency reported that doctors have made a preliminary diagnosis of poisoning with an unidentified psychodyslepti, although the BBC has not been able to independently verify this.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the results of tests on Mr Navalny were needed before it considered a request for him to be moved aboard.

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Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, is at the hospital but was initially denied access to her husband

Ms Yarmysh told the Echo of Moscow radio station that she was “sure it was intentional poisoning”.

State news agency TASS cited a police officer saying, “we can’t rule out that he drank or took something himself yesterday.”

Ms Yasmysh dismissed this as “complete rubbish” and said he had been swimming in a river the night before and was sober.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

He made a name for himself by exposing official corruption, labelling Mr Putin’s United Russia as “the party of crooks and thieves”, and has served several jail terms.

In 2011 he was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following protests over vote-rigging by Mr Putin’s United Russia party in parliamentary elections.

Mr Navalny was briefly jailed in July 2013 on embezzlement charges but denounced the sentence as political.

1597987536 768 Alexei Navalny Plane leaves Germany to collect poisoned critic

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Media captionPower tools are used to raid Navalny’s foundation in December 2019

He attempted to stand in the 2018 presidential race but was barred because of previous fraud convictions in a case he again said was politically motivated.

Mr Navalny was also given a 30-day jail term in July 2019 after calling for unauthorised protests.

He was taken ill during that jail sentence. Doctors diagnosed him with “contact dermatitis” but he said he had never had any acute allergic reactions and his own doctor suggested he might have been exposed to “some toxic agent”. Mr Navalny also said he thought he may have been poisoned.

Mr Navalny also suffered a serious chemical burn to his right eye in 2017 when he was assaulted with green, antiseptic dye.

Last year his Anti-Corruption Foundation was officially declared a “foreign agent”, enabling the authorities to subject it to more checks.

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Joe Biden: Covid vaccination in US will not be mandatory

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Mr Biden, and state governors who would be on the front lines of any such mandate, might prefer to target only certain segments of the population more at risk of contracting or spreading Covid-19. For instance, employers could be encouraged to require healthcare and nursing home workers to be immunised, and most children already must have up-to-date shot records before attending public or private schools.

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India’s Ranjitsinh Disale wins 2020 Global Teacher Prize and splits it with runners-up

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The award, which is run by the Varkey Foundation in partnership with UNESCO, celebrates “exceptional” teachers who have made an outstanding contribution to their profession.

Ranjitsinh Disale, a teacher at Zilla Parishad Primary School, in the village of Paritewadi in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, was chosen as winner from more than 12,000 nominations and applications, from over 140 countries around the world.

The award recognized his efforts to promote girls’ education at the school, whose pupils are mostly from tribal communities.

The Global Teacher Prize said he learned the local language of the village in order to translate class textbooks into his pupils’ mother tongue.

He also created unique QR codes on the textbooks to give students access to audio poems, video lectures, stories and assignments, greatly improving school attendance. His QR technology is now being rolled out more widely across India.

The British actor and TV host Stephen Fry announced Disale as the winner at a virtual ceremony broadcast from the Natural History Museum in London on Thursday.

Rather than keeping all his winnings, Disale told Fry in an interview that he would share the prize with the other nine finalists, giving them $55,000 each — the first time anyone has done so in the award’s six-year history.

He told Fry: “I believe that if I share this prize money with nine teachers it means I can scale up their work. Their incredible work is still worthy… If I share the prize money with the rest of the teachers they will get a chance to continue their work… and we can reach out and lighten the lives of as many students as we can.”

His actions drew praise from around the world, including from the Dalai Lama, who said on Twitter and in a statement published online that he admired Disale for sharing the money.

“Educating young children, especially from poor and needy backgrounds is perhaps the best way to help them as individuals, and actively contributes to creating a better world,” he said.

The award’s nine runners-up are teachers working in the United States, Britain, Vietnam, Nigeria, South Africa, Italy, South Korea, Malaysia and Brazil.



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Pelosi eyes combining Covid aid with mammoth spending deal

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Pelosi said the $908 billion proposal released this week by a centrist group of Senate and House members helped restart the stimulus talks, which fell apart just before the election after months of dragging on with little real movement.

“There is momentum — there is momentum with the action that the senators and House members in a bipartisan way have taken,” Pelosi said Friday, in the latest sign that negotiators are closing in on a deal. “The tone of our conversations is one that is indicative of the decision to get the job done.”

President-elect Joe Biden on Friday said he’s “encouraged” by the $908 billion proposal, framing it as the type of bipartisan work that he hopes to foster as president. He cautioned that “any package passed in the lame duck session is not going to be enough overall.”

But hurdles remain. Government funding runs out in just one week, and there are still a sizable number of issues impeding an agreement on a massive spending package that would increase agency budgets for the rest of the fiscal year.

The sheer number of outstanding items at such a late stage makes it increasingly likely that congressional negotiators will require a brief stopgap spending bill to complete their work before leaving for the holidays. Such a decision could be made early next week if lawmakers fail to make significant progress over the weekend.

Pelosi demurred when asked about the possibility of a short-term stopgap to buy more time for talks, and dismissed the need for a longer term continuing resolution that would extend current government funding into early next year.

“We will take the time that we need,” Pelosi said, while acknowledging that a number of issues remain, including some outside of appropriators’ jurisdiction.

“Don’t worry about a date,” she added.

While appropriators in both chambers remain optimistic that they’ll finish their work before the holidays, Republicans and Democrats are still swapping offers and arguing over details, kicking some of the most difficult items up to congressional leaders.

For example, a House Democratic aide close to the talks said Republicans want to scrub any mentions of Covid-19 from the omnibus package entirely. Earlier this year, House Democrats added coronavirus relief to their slate of fiscal 2021 appropriations bills, while Senate Republicans have insisted that pandemic aid remain totally separate from annual appropriations measures.

Republicans are also objecting to funding for research on reducing racial and ethnic inequalities in the justice system, in addition to language that would require the Capitol Police to report on policies and procedures on eliminating unconscious bias and racial profiling during training, the Democratic aide said.

Republicans, meanwhile, are accusing Democrats of holding up omnibus talks by insisting on the removal of two Interior-Environment policy riders that have been included in annual spending bills for years. The provisions involve protections for the greater sage-grouse, in addition to a provision related to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass.

“Dredging these up right now is beyond counterproductive,” a GOP aide familiar with the talks said Thursday night.

Funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall also remains a perennial sticking point — Senate Republicans have proposed $2 billion for fiscal 2021, which began on Oct. 1. House Democrats have proposed no extra cash.

Lawmakers have also disagreed on detention beds for detained migrants in recent days, although Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) — the top Senate Democrat who oversees funding for the Department of Homeland Security — said Thursday that issue may get solved without the help of leadership.

Also in question is whether the White House will ultimately support a package that classifies billions of dollars in veterans’ health care spending as “emergency” spending outside of strict budget limits. Both House Appropriations Chair Nita Lowey and Senate Appropriations Chair Richard Shelby are moving forward with their negotiations assuming that’s the case, since the White House has previously signed off on such an arrangement.

Pelosi on Friday also said that whatever coronavirus relief they include in the government funding bill will not be the last time Congress addresses the ongoing pandemic, which continues to devastate the U.S., killing more than 275,000 Americans and causing a sharp downturn in the economy. The U.S. saw the deadliest day ever on Thursday, with Covid-19 fatalities exceeding 2,700.

“President-elect Biden has said that this package would be, just at best, just a start. And that’s how we see it as well,” Pelosi said.

The speaker also defended her decision to hold out for months, demanding a larger deal in the ballpark of $2 trillion or more, only to agree to negotiate this smaller package now. McConnell, similarly, refused to come off his much smaller baseline over the summer — pushing a $500 billion package — resulting in a standoff between congressional leaders.

“That was not a mistake, it was a decision,” Pelosi told reporters, saying the dynamics have significantly shifted since the election of Biden and the quicker than expected vaccine development. “That is a total game changer — a new president and a vaccine.”

With cautious optimism about the prospect of passing some fiscal stimulus to buoy the American economy during a bleak pandemic winter, lawmakers remain hopeful that Congress will pull it together before leaving Washington, despite lingering omnibus headaches.

“You know this place — turns on a dime,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who was elected by the Democratic caucus on Thursday as the next Appropriations chair.

Sarah Ferris contributed to this story.

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