SYDNEY (AP) — Government leaders marked a socially distanced Australia Day with calming words as protesters denounced celebrations of a day some dub “Invasion Day” because of historical wrongs committed against Indigenous people. The 4,000 protesters who gathered in small groups in Sydney’s Domain were warned they could be fined or jailed for breaching limits on large crowds. But many protesters wore masks and adhered to social distancing guidelines, and only a few arrests occurred for not following police orders. Australia Day recognizes the day the British navy arrived with convict ships and raised a flag signaling the intent to found a British colony. The protest organizers called for it to be abolished.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Israelis have participated in a pair of funerals for two prominent rabbis in Jerusalem, flouting the country’s ban on large public gatherings amid the pandemic. Sunday’s midday funeral procession for Rabbi Meshulam Soloveitchik wended its way through the streets of Jerusalem in the latest display of ultra-Orthodox Israelis’ rejection of the country’s coronavirus restrictions. Later Sunday, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of 98-year-old Rabbi Yitzhok Scheiner. Israeli media said both men had died of COVID-19. Israeli police did little to stop the processions, despite lockdown restrictions barring mass gatherings. Police say attempting to disperse the crowds would have been unwise and dangerous.
NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ decision to step down as the company’s CEO, in part to devote more energy toward his philanthropic work, shows the multi-billionaire’s growing interest in charitable work. Bezos, 57, gave $10 billion – the largest charitable donation of 2020, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy – to establish the Bezos Earth Fund to fight climate change. He also supports the Bezos Day One Fund, which donated $105.9 million in 2020 to organizations providing food and shelter to young families in need. In October, the Day One Fund opened the first Bezos Academy, a Montessori-inspired preschool geared toward low-income families in Des Moines, Washington.