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In a wide-ranging interview with the journalist Kara Swisher, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said he would not take a Covid-19 vaccine when one becomes available, and declined to say whether he feels a duty to pay employees who want to stay home to avoid contracting the virus.
“I’m not at risk for Covid, nor are my kids,” said Musk during Monday’s episode of the New York Times podcast “Sway.”
Musk has long cultivated a public persona of an eccentric entrepreneur who knows better than the experts and isn’t afraid to offer controversial opinions.

On the podcast, Musk argued that instead of sweeping stay-at-home orders to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, “anyone who is at risk should be quarantined until the storm passes.”

When Swisher confronted Musk with the possibility that people would still die in the process, he replied bluntly: “Everybody dies.”

“The question is what, on balance, serves the greater good,” Musk continued, adding that the lockdowns did not accomplish that and the pandemic is a “no-win situation.”

Musk, the third-richest person in the world according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, tweeted in April that nationwide stay-at-home orders amounted to “de facto house arrest.”

If one of his workers told him that coming to work would put their family at risk, Musk said he would simply tell them to “stay home.”

He declined to elaborate on whether he would feel obliged to pay them. When Swisher pressed, Musk grew defensive, threatening to end the interview. “Let’s just move on…Kara, I do not want to get into a debate about Covid, this situation … If you want to end the podcast now, we can do it.”

Musk also took aim at fellow billionaire Bill Gates, who in late July told journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin that Musk ought to stick to what he knows best.

“Elon’s positioning is to maintain a high level of outrageous comments,” Gates said. “He’s not much involved in vaccines. He makes a great electric car. And his rockets work well. So he’s allowed to say these things. I hope that he doesn’t confuse areas he’s not involved in too much.”

Musk responded on the podcast in his typically blunt manner: “It’s like, hey, knucklehead, we actually make the vaccine machines for CureVac, that company you’re invested in.”

It’s not the first time Musk has criticized the Microsoft co-founder.

When Gates blogged his doubts earlier this month on the potential for long-haul electric vehicles, Musk tweeted that Gates “has no clue.”



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Poland’s biggest protests in decades stand against abortion ban

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Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski said more than 100,000 people were in attendance, while protest organizers put the figure at 150,000.

Police detained 37 people Friday evening, the vast majority of whom were football hooligans, Sylwester Marczak, spokesman for the Warsaw Police headquarters, said Saturday morning. Taking into account the huge number of participants, it was a “very peaceful” protest, he added.

Demonstrations of this scale were last seen in the Solidarity movement of the 1980s in Poland which led to the collapse of the government, analysts say.

The protest in Warsaw was the culmination of nine days of nationwide protests since a court ruling on October 22 deemed abortion due to fetal defects to be unconstitutional. This meant abortion in Poland would only be legal in two scenarios — if the pregnancy threatened the mother’s life and health, or if a woman became pregnant following rape or incest.

Demonstrators also turned out in Gdańsk, Białystok, Poznan, Kraków, Wroclaw, Torun, Sczescin, Myślenice, Gorlice and Jasło on Friday.

According to local media, 430,000 people attended more than 400 demonstrations across the country against the ban on Wednesday. Online supporters are using the tag #ThisIsWar to show solidarity with those marching.

Polish women disrupt church services in protest at abortion ban

The protests have been taking place in defiance of a ban on gatherings of more than five people due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Aerial footage of the demonstration in Warsaw posted to social media showed the vast scale of the turnout there on Friday evening.

Protest organizers urged protesters to make their way towards the residence of Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling right-wing Law and Justice Party Leader (PiS) who is widely seen as the de facto decision maker in Poland. The demonstration ended there at around 11 p.m. local time and organizers urged protesters to make their way home safely.

Kaczyński on Wednesday called the protesters “criminals” and said people taking part in mass gatherings were endangering people’s lives given the surge in coronavirus cases in Poland.

Thousands of protesters march towards the residence of ruling party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski during the demonstration Friday in Warsaw.

Draft amendment

In an apparent softening of his stance, Polish President Andrzej Duda on Friday submitted a draft amendment to the controversial law which would legalize abortion in situations where the baby has “lethal defects” and would die soon after birth.

The amendment would mean abortion would remain legal in an event where “prenatal tests or other medical indications indicate a high probability that the child will be born still or burdened with an incurable disease or defect that will lead to the death of the child inevitably and directly,” according to a statement from Duda on Friday.

“It is an extremely delicate and painful situation for every mother, for every parent. In the case of lethal defects, the death of the child is inevitable. The protection of his life is therefore beyond human power,” the statement also said.

Duda had earlier clarified his stance on abortion in such cases in an interview with Polish radio station RMF FM. “You must clearly ask yourself whether anyone has the right to demand, or the law may require such a woman to… bear such a child in her womb and then bear the entire physical cost of birth,” Duda said.

Duda added that he did not think abortion should be legal in situations where a child has Down syndrome, for example, and the life of the unborn child is not at risk.

Poland moves to near-total ban on abortion, sparking protests

The ruling by Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal removed one of the few remaining grounds for legal termination in the country, which already had some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.

Abortions due to fetal defects comprised approximately 98% of all legal abortions carried out in Poland in 2019, according to data from the Polish Ministry of Health.

Asked about the ongoing protests across Poland over the controversial court ruling, Duda condemned the demonstrators who disrupted church services earlier this week.

“If we are talking about acts of physical or verbal aggression, if we are talking about invading churches, if we are talking about insulting religious feelings, profaning places of worship, I am sorry, but the boundaries are definitely exceeded here,” he said.

Abortion rights protest leaders have accused the populist PiS party of pushing the court to tighten abortion restrictions in order to please the party’s base, and the Church. Church leaders have denied influencing the change in law.

Covid warning

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Friday urged protesters not to go out on the streets as he announced further steps to try to limit the spread of Covid-19.

“I understand your anger, but I urge you to stay at home, especially for the sake of seniors,” he said.

The measures include closing cemeteries for three days, urging business owners to allow employees to work from home and urging older citizens to remain at home.

Health Minister Adam Niedzielski told Polish news channel TVN24 on Friday that he looked with “great concern” at the protests and urged people to isolate themselves from those taking part, saying they could be more exposed to Covid-19.

On Friday, Poland recorded 21,629 new coronavirus cases, marking another record high in the country, where case counts have tripled in less than a month. A further 202 deaths were also reported by the Polish Health Ministry, with the total number of confirmed infections in the country surpassing 340,000.

CNN’s Zahid Mahmood contributed to this report.

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Coronavirus: Hungary and Poland see record cases

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Greece is the latest country to announce a partial lockdown, with restaurants and other leisure activities closed in major Greek cities from Tuesday. “We must act now, before intensive care units buckle under the strain of lives in danger,” Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday. Greece has not seen as many cases as other parts of Europe, but there has been a steady increase since early October

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Philippines typhoon: Evacuation ordered as Goni, the world’s strongest storm of 2020, approaches

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Typhoon Goni — known locally as Rolly — is a category 5 storm with 215 kilometers per hour (133 miles per hour) sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph). It will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people in November 2013.

Pre-emptive evacuations have started in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, while the Albay provincial government will order residents in risky areas to leave their homes, Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station.

Earlier this week, Typhoon Molave killed 22 people in the Philippines — mostly through drowning in provinces south of the capital Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni.

Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, behind only Indonesia.

At least 25 dead and scores missing after Typhoon Molave lashes Vietnam

Relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment are already positioned in key areas, Filipino Grace America, mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, told DZBB radio. “But because of the Covid-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient,” she said.

Local officials canceled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail.

Typhoon Goni, moving westward at 20 kph (12 mph) from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 14 provinces nearby on Saturday evening, and threats of floods and landslides.

Another typhoon, Atsani, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year.

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