The Latest: China makes parts of province high danger zones

Some people commute on the first business day of the year at a train station Monday, Jan. 4, 2021, in Tokyo. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday vaccine approval was being speeded up and border controls beefed up to curb the spread of the coronavirus, and he promised to consider declaring a state of emergency.

NATION

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Cyprus’ Health Ministry says that a new variant of COVID-19 has been detected among confirmed coronavirus infections on the island nation.

The ministry said on Monday the country’s Institute of Neurology and Genetics identified the variant VOC 202012/01 in one of 24 samples collected from individuals who had contracted COVID-19 in the last week of December.

The ministry said due to the small number of samples, it’s unclear how widespread the variant is within the community and that more checking will be required to determine that.

On Sunday, the ministry said that the new variant had been identified in 12 of 19 samples from COVID-19 infected persons who had arrived to Cyprus from the United Kingdom between Dec. 6-20.

STATE

MCKINNEY, Texas (AP) — A 15-year-old Texas boy was charged with murder Sunday for beating his mother to death.

The teenager’s father called McKinney police around 1 a.m. to the home outside of Dallas, where authorities found Stacy Ellen Barney, 50, police said. Home security video allegedly captured the teen attacking Barney inside the family home, police said.

The boy was arrested in the area during a search, according to investigators. His name was not released because he’s a juvenile.

Authorities did not comment further on the circumstances surrounding the beating or the injuries Barney suffered.

HOUSTON (AP) — One woman was fatally shot and three deputies were wounded in a shooting early Sunday outside a nightclub in Houston, officials said.

The three deputies were working an extra job when they responded to the shooting during a fight in the parking lot of the club after it had closed, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a news conference. The deputies went to hospitals for treatment and were expected to survive — including one deputy who was taken in for surgery.

Harris County includes Houston. The city’s Executive Assistant Police Chief Troy Finner told reporters that the woman who died was a civilian who was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The suspected shooter sought treatment for a gunshot wound at a hospital in Sugarland, Finner said. He was taken into custody. Sugarland is about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Houston.

“I don’t know what led him to shoot into a crowd with police officers and other citizens,” Finner said. “The investigation is still at the preliminary point.”

WASHINGTON (AP) — A growing number of Republican lawmakers are joining President Donald Trump’s extraordinary effort to overturn the election, pledging to reject the results when Congress meets next week to count the Electoral College votes and certify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Saturday announced a coalition of 11 senators and senators-elect who have been enlisted for Trump’s effort to subvert the will of American voters.

This follows the declaration from Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri, who was the first to buck Senate leadership by saying he would join with House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies during Wednesday’s joint session of Congress.

Trump’s refusal to accept his defeat is tearing the party apart as Republicans are forced to make consequential choices that will set the contours of the post-Trump era. Hawley and Cruz are both among potential 2024 presidential contenders.

WORLD

ISTANBUL (AP) — Turkish police on Monday clashed with hundreds of students protesting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s appointment of a figure with ties to his ruling party as rector to one of Turkey’s most prestigious universities.

The students marched to Bogazici University’s campus to denounce the appointment of Melih Bulu, a member of the ruling Justice and Development Party who once stood as a candidate in parliamentary elections.

The students regard the appointment as a move by Erdogan to curtail academic freedoms, and are demanding the right for the university to elect its own rector. They chanted: “AKP, take your hands off our university,” in reference to the ruling party. Several academicians joined the protest.

Clashes broke out as some of the students tried to break through a police barricade at the entrance to the campus, Birgun newspaper reported. Police used tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets to break up the protest. Several students were detained.

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church is rebelling against a government order to briefly close places of worship under a weeklong drive to tighten virus restrictions before the planned reopening of schools.

The conservative Church’s ruling body issued a statement Monday directing priests to admit worshippers during indoor services for Wednesday’s feast of the Epiphany. The Holy Synod said it “does not accept” the new restrictions, in force from Jan. 3-10, and would send a letter of protest to the center-right government.

The government responded with a mildly worded statement voicing hope that the Church “will realize, as it has so far responsibly done, how crucial this time is for (Greek) society.”

It added that Greeks are still free to offer individual prayers in church, but not to attend services. This had not been specified when the restrictions were announced on Jan. 2.

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