From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Eight
by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved
"KING OF THE WEST 2021 DECEMBER"

    This file is attached to http://www.mazzaroth.com/ChapterEight/BeastThatCameOutOfTheSea.htm from “Beast That Came Out Of The Sea” - Chapter Eight by Jim A. Cornwell, Copyright © 1995, all rights reserved.
    This link will return you to Astronomical Events To Appear Between 2014 Through 2017 A.D.
    This link will return you to King Of The West 2021 November
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KING OF THE WEST 2021 DECEMBER

12/1/2021 Oil down $3.32 to $66.72, DOW down 653 to 34,483.

12/1/2021 Taliban, Myanmar Junta Unlikely To Be Let Into U.N. For Now – Diplomats by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: The logo of the United Nations is seen in the General Assembly hall before heads of state begin to address
the 76th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 21, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Pool
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A United Nations committee meeting on Wednesday is unlikely to allow Afghanistan’s Taliban or Myanmar’s junta to represent their countries at the 193-member world body, say diplomats.
    Rival claims have been made for the seats of both countries with the Taliban and Myanmar’s junta pitted against ambassadors appointed by the governments they ousted this year. U.N. acceptance of the Taliban or Myanmar’s junta would be a step toward the international recognition sought by both.
    A nine-member U.N. credentials committee, which includes Russia, China and the United States, will meet at U.N. headquarters to consider the credentials of all 193 members for the current session of the U.N. General Assembly.
    The committee will likely defer its decisions on the representation of Afghanistan and Myanmar on the understanding that the current ambassadors for both countries remain in the seats, four diplomats told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
    The committee – which also includes the Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Sweden – will then send its report on the credentials of all members to the U.N. General Assembly for approval before the end of the year.
    Both the committee and the General Assembly traditionally take decisions on credentials by consensus, diplomats say.
LEVERAGE
    The Taliban, which seized power in mid-August from the internationally-recognized government, has nominated its Doha-based spokesman Suhail Shaheen https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/exclusive-taliban-names-afghan-un-envoy-asks-speak-world-leaders-2021-09-21 as Afghanistan’s U.N. ambassador.    The current U.N. ambassador appointed by the ousted government, Ghulam Isaczai, has also asked to keep the seat https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-envoy-ousted-afghan-government-asks-keep-new-york-seat-2021-09-17.
    When the Taliban last ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001 the ambassador of the government they toppled remained the U.N. representative after the credentials committee deferred its decision on rival claims to the seat.
    U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that the Taliban’s desire for international recognition is the only leverage https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/un-aid-groups-appeal-afghanistan-funding-vow-stay-2021-08-19 other countries have to press for inclusive government and respect for rights, particularly for women, in Afghanistan.
    The Taliban’s nominated U.N. envoy Shaheen posted on Twitter earlier this month: “We have all the conditions needed for occupying the seat of Afghanistan at U.N. We hope legal requirements will supersede political preferences.”
    Myanmar’s junta, which seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February, has put forward military veteran Aung Thurein to be its U.N. envoy.
    Current Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun – appointed by Suu Kyi’s government – has also asked to renew his U.N. accreditation, despite being the target of a plot to kill or injure him https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/two-myanmar-citizens-arrested-plot-kill-unambassador-2021-08-06 over his opposition to the coup.
    The former U.N. special envoy on Myanmar, who stepped down last month, warned that no country should recognize or legitimize https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/recognizing-myanmar-junta-wont-stop-violence-outgoing-un-envoy-2021-10-25 the junta, while Guterres pledged in February to mobilize pressure “to make sure that this coup fails.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Mary Milliken and Grant McCool)

12/1/2021 U.N. Pushes Cash Handouts To Avert Mass Poverty In Afghanistan by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: An Afghan woman buys food left behind by the US military from
a peddler in Kabul, Afghanistan November 17, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Khara/File Photo
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United Nations said on Wednesday that a program to pay $300 million a year in cash to Afghan families with children, elderly or people with disabilities is the best way to target increasing poverty.
    In what the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) described as an “alarming” socio-economic outlook for Afghanistan for the next 13 months, it also pushed a $100 million “cash for work” project to boost employment and $90 million in small business payments.
    “This will be probably the best shot at halting this massive collapse into near universal poverty,” UNDP Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific, Kanni Wignaraja, told Reuters.
    As Afghanistan struggles with a sharp drop in international development aid after the Taliban seized power in mid-August, an economy and banking system on the brink of collapse, the COVID-19 pandemic and severe drought, UNDP has projected that poverty may become nearly universal by mid 2022 – affecting more than 90 percent of the country’s 39 million people.
    The U.N. World Food Programme has said 22.8 million people are facing acute food insecurity.
    UNDP set up a special trust fund in October, with a 50 million euros ($58 million) pledge from Germany, to provide urgently needed cash directly to Afghans. So far, the fund has received pledges for $170 million.
    The UNDP report makes the case for boosting a cash payment program, known as ABADEI, which was launched in October.    Since then UNDP said it has made $100,000 in “cash for work” payments, creating jobs for 2,300 people in Mazar, Kunduz and Herat, and is being expanded to other provinces.
    The report also warned that Afghanistan’s economic growth will not turn positive in the near term unless restrictions on women working are lifted, $250 million a year in aid to combat COVID-19 continues and sanctions are eased to allow for humanitarian assistance.
    It estimates that restricting female employment could cause an immediate economic loss of between $600 million and $1 billion – 3 to 5 percent of gross domestic product.
    Wignaraja, who has met Taliban officials in Kabul, said a message needed to be sent that “all capable men and women should be fully back to work and contribute to your full potential to not only mitigate the immediate economic disaster, but think about this as the future of the country.”
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Grant McCool)

12/1/2021 Honduras Set For First Woman President As Ruling Party Concedes Election Defeat by David Alire Garcia and Gustavo Palencia
A man eats by a newspaper stand that displays a cover story on the preliminary results of the
general election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Jose CabezasBy
    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras’ conservative ruling party candidate late on Tuesday conceded defeat in the presidential election, paving the way for his leftist rival Xiomara Castro to become the first female leader of the struggling Central American country.
    Calling Castro “president elect,” National Party contender Nasry Asfura said he had visited his opponent at her family home to offer his congratulations for winning Sunday’s vote, in a move that will end his group’s 12-year hold on power.
    “Now I want to say publicly, I congratulate her on her victory,” Asfura said in a video broadcast on local television alongside photos of the two rivals hugging and smiling.
    Castro has piled up a preliminary lead of almost 20 percentage points over Asfura, but the result had been held in suspense by a sluggish vote count at the electoral council.
    With over 52% of votes tallied by Tuesday evening, Castro had 53.4% support, and Asfura 34.1%.
    Minutes after Asfura’s concession, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also congratulated Castro and said Washington looked forward to working with her.
    “We congratulate Hondurans for the high voter turnout, peaceful participation, and active civil society engagement that marked this election, signaling an enduring commitment to the democratic process,” Blinken said.
    Although the electoral council has not published preliminary vote totals for congressional races, early results point to a possible majority for Castro’s Libre party and its main allies.
    National Party chief David Chavez said earlier that his party would assume the role of “constructive opposition” and was ready to work with the incoming government.
    The concession brings to an end a turbulent period under the National Party, which has been dogged by scandals and corruption accusations, especially during the two terms of outgoing President Juan Orlando Hernandez.
    Hernandez is deeply unpopular and has been implicated in a drug trafficking case in a U.S. federal court.    He denies wrongdoing, but could face an indictment when he leaves office.
    Castro’s victory will see the left return to power after a 12-year hiatus that followed the ousting of her husband, former President Manuel Zelaya, in a coup in 2009.
    Castro faces big challenges in Honduras, where joblessness, crime, corruption and the threat of transnational drug gangs have helped spur record migration to the United States.
    She managed a strong showing in Sunday’s election despite findings by the European Union vote observer mission that the National Party had used state backing to boost its campaign.
    The smooth transmission of early election results had aided transparency and confidence, the EU mission said.    But it criticized pre-election political violence and “abuse of state resources,” such as a rise in handing out of welfare vouchers.
    “The state media visibly favored the ruling party and its presidential candidate,” said the mission’s head, Željana Zovko.
    Castro’s team is already preparing for government.    Hugo Noe, head of the campaign’s policy platform, told Reuters Castro will seek to negotiate a new debt deal with the International Monetary Fund when she takes office in January.
(Reporting by David Alire Garcia and Gustavo Palencia; Additional reporting by Eric Beech in WashingtonEditing by Drazen Jorgic, Alistair Bell and Sandra Maler)

12/1/2021 The Race Is On To Trace The New COVID-19 Variant by Alistair Smout, Francesco Guarascio and Chen Lin
Passengers briefly disembark the MSC Europa cruise ship after docking to South African waters, as the new coronavirus
variant Omicron spreads, in Cape Town, South Africa, November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Shelley Christians
    LONDON/BRUSSELS/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Governments around the world are urgently scouring databases for recent cases of COVID-19 infections, screening travellers and decoding the viral genomes of the new variant as they try to measure how far it has spread.
    The pace of the work highlights the pressure on governments and public health authorities to decide quickly whether they need to take unpopular, economically damaging steps to curb Omicron’s spread.
    Data shows it was circulating before it was officially identified in southern Africa last week and it has since been detected in more than a dozen countries. Work to establish if it is more infectious, deadly or evades vaccines will take weeks.
    Britain and other major economies banned flights to and from southern Africa just days after the variant was first detected, roiling global financial markets and stirring worries about the economic damage.
    The speed of the action is in stark contrast to the emergence of other variants – when the first samples of the Alpha variant were documented in Britain in September 2020, the government spent months gathering data and assessing its potential danger before imposing a nationwide lockdown in December.
    It took the World Health Organization (WHO) months to designate it a variant of concern – its highest level.
    Soon after detecting its first Omicron case on Friday, Israel announced it would buy 10 million more PCR kits that can detect the variant in an effort to contain its spread.    It shut its borders to foreigners from all countries on Saturday.
    Scotland and Singapore are scrambling to check tens of thousands of recent positive cases for signs of the variant they may have missed and the United States is enhancing https://reut.rs/3FZcUGP its COVID-19 surveillance to distinguish domestic cases of the Omicron variant from the still-dominant Delta.
    The European Union’s health commissioner has urged member states to boost efforts to detect mutations, as some still lag behind almost two years into the pandemic.
    The bloc has now confirmed 42 cases in 10 countries.
    “Certain Member States lag behind considerably in terms of this crucial dimension,” Stella Kyriakides said in a letter seen by Reuters to health ministers of the 27 EU countries.
    “Already faced with a challenging winter due to the high transmissibility of the Delta variant (…) we may now experience further or additional pressures because of the appearance of the Omicron variant,” she wrote.
ALL ABOUT THE S-GENE
    Most PCR tests cannot distinguish Omicron from the Delta variant, the dominant and most infectious version of the virus so far.
    To distinguish Omicron from Delta, the PCR test must be able to identify a mutation in Omicron known as the S-gene drop-out or S-gene target failure (SGTF).
    It is not a fail-safe because the Alpha variant, first identified in Britain, also has that mutation.
    Given that Alpha is no longer widely circulating, the presence of the S-gene dropout suggests the sample is positive for Omicron and alerts the lab to send the sample for genome sequencing for confirmation.
    If local PCR tests cannot identify this mutation, then randomly selected PCR swab samples must undergo genome sequencing, which can take up to a week.
    The WHO has said that widely available tests are able to detect individuals infected with any variant, including Omicron.
    However, it has so far only recommended the TaqPath test produced by U.S. firm Thermo Fisher as a proxy.
    It’s not clear if countries will buy kits due to the unique characteristic of the test. Singapore is considering buying more, although no decision has yet been made, Kenneth Mak, the health ministry’s director of medical services, told Reuters.
    Thermo Fisher has said it is prepared to increase production to meet demand from countries in Africa and elsewhere as they work to track the spread of the new variant.
    Within a day of the variant being identified, Israel started checking for the S-Gene in all positive tests taken from travellers arriving at the main Ben Gurion airport, Israel’s head of public health at the Health Ministry, Sharon Alroy-Preis, told Parliament on Sunday.
    Now, its labs monitor for that mutation in all tests nationwide and when a positive PCR test indicates SGTF, the sample is taken for further sequencing, the health ministry said.
    Most U.S. labs will be using the TaqPath test, Scott Becker, chief executive of the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL), a network of state and municipal public health laboratories, told Reuters.
QUIRKS OF THE VARIANT
    Out of the 150,000 positive tests going back a month assessed in Belgium, 47 had S-gene drop-out and a high viral load.    Only one of them was Omicron, according to Marc Van Rast, one of the virologists who parsed the samples.
    The Scottish authorities have gone through swabs back to Nov. 1 to help in discover nine cases of Omicron, all linked to the same event.
    They have found that around Nov. 16, S-gene target failure had started appearing in the tests again, a week before South Africa and Botswana identified the new variant.    That feature has helped to direct genomic sequencing, as it did when Alpha emerged.
    “That is one of the quirks of this particular variant that we can use to our advantage,” Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said on Monday.
    It means the government can start estimating how prevalent the new variant may be, identify people who may need to get tested again and which samples need to be prioritised for further decoding in labs, Smith said.
    “It’s the best method that we have to be able to identify cases at this point in time.”
(Reporting by Alistair Smout in London, Francesco Guarascio in Brussels, Chen Lin in Singapore, Julie Steenhuysen in Chicago and Maayan Lubell and Ari Rabinovitch in JeruselamWriting by Josephine Mason; Editing by Nick Macfie)

12/1/2021 British Armed Forces To Allow People With HIV To Enlist
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at an event to thank the UK armed forces for their role in the Afghanistan
evacuation operation earlier this year, in London, Britain, November 24, 2021. UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/Handout via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain plans to allow people who have tested positive for HIV to join the armed forces if they no longer carry a detectable amount of the virus, its defence ministry said on Wednesday.
    Military personnel who become infected with HIV after enlistment can already remain in the armed forces – though they are classed as not fully fit, a categorisation which the defence ministry said it planned to change too.
    “Drug treatment has revolutionised the lives and outcomes of people diagnosed with HIV.    As a modern and inclusive employer, it is only right that we recognise and act on the latest scientific evidence,” junior defence minister Leo Docherty said.
    The United States also currently bans people with HIV from joining its armed forces, and has faced legal challenge over its policy not to allow enlisted personnel who are HIV positive to commission as officers.
    With the right treatment, the amount of virus in the blood of people infected with HIV can be reduced to undetectable levels, which in turn effectively eliminates the chances of them passing the virus which causes AIDS on to others.
    From early next year, serving British military personnel who have tested positive for HIV, but no longer carry a detectable viral load, will be classed as fully fit, meaning they can be deployed on military operations.
    People taking drugs that reduce the risk of contracting HIV will also be able to join the armed forces.
    Historically anyone taking regular medication has been unable to join Britain’s armed forces, with limited exceptions such as contraceptives.
    The planned changes were welcomed by Britain’s National AIDS Trust.    “A career in the armed forces was the only career not open to people living with HIV in the UK, and with this much-needed change the military will be more able to meet its obligation to promote inclusivity within its ranks,” said Deborah Gold, the trust’s chief executive.
(Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/1/2021 U.S. In Hypersonic Weapon ‘Arms Race’ With China - Air Force Secretary by Mike Stone
FILE PHOTO: The US Navy, in collaboration with the US Army, conducts a static fire test of the first stage
of the newly developed 34.5" common hypersonic missile that will be fielded by both services, in Promontory,
Utah, U.S., in this handout image taken on October 28, 2021. Northrop Grumman/Handout via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and China are engaged in an arms race to develop the most lethal hypersonic weapons, the U.S. Air Force secretary said on Tuesday, as Beijing and Washington build and test more and more of the high-speed next-generation arms.
    “There is an arms race, not necessarily for increased numbers, but for increased quality,” Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told Reuters during an interview in his Pentagon offices. “It’s an arms race that has been going on for quite some time.    The Chinese have been at it very aggressively.”
    In October, the top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, confirmed a Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing’s pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defenses.
    This year the Pentagon has held several hypersonic weapons tests with mixed success.    In October, the Navy successfully tested a booster rocket motor that would be used to power a launch vehicle carrying a hypersonic weapon aloft.
    Hypersonic weapons travel in the upper atmosphere at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kilometers (3,853 miles) per hour.
    Kendall noted that while the U.S. military has focused funds on Iraq and Afghanistan, it has taken its eye off the ball in terms of hypersonic weapons.    “This isn’t saying we’ve done nothing, but we haven’t done enough,” he said.
    As the Pentagon enters the 2023 annual budget cycle, Kendall hopes to raise funds with the retirement of older and expensive-to-maintain systems in favor of new systems, including hypersonic development programs.
    “I love the A-10. The C-130 is a great aircraft that’s been very capable and very effective for a lot of missions.     The MQ-9s have been very effective for counterterrorism and so on.    They’re still useful, but none of these things scare China,” Kendall said, referring to a more than 40-year-old combat aircraft, a plane for carrying cargo, and widely used drones, respectively.
    Defense contractors hope to capitalize on the shift to hypersonic weapons not only by building them, but also by developing new detection and defeat mechanisms.
    Arms makers Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and Raytheon Technologies Corp have all touted their hypersonic weapons programs to investors as world focus shifted to the new arms race for an emerging class of weapon.
    Still, the Pentagon wants defense contractors to cut the ultimate cost of hypersonic weapons, the head of research and development has said, as the next generation of super-fast missiles being developed currently costs tens of millions per unit.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Editing by Chris Sanders and Leslie Adler)

12/1/2021 Officials Offer Vaccine Reassurance; WHO Advises Against Travel Bans by Ludwig Burger and Emma Thomasson
People wearing face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19),
ride in a bus in Hong Kong, China November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Lam Yik
    FRANKFURT/BERLIN (Reuters) – The World Health Organization warned countries on Tuesday not to impose blanket travel bans over the new Omicron coronavirus variant as governments and scientists try to determine how much protection current vaccines would offer against the strain.
    Financial markets fell sharply after the head of drugmaker Moderna said existing COVID-19 vaccines would be less effective against the Omicron variant.    MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 1.39% a day after broad declines in Europe and Asia.[MKTS/GLOB]
    BioNTech’s chief executive struck a cautiously positive note, saying the vaccine it makes in a partnership with Pfizer would likely offer strong protection against severe disease from Omicron, which was first reported in southern Africa a week ago.
    The questions over vaccine effectiveness came as cases of the new variant spread, with the first reported case in Latin America emerging in Brazil.    The country’s health regulator, Anvisa, said a traveller arriving in Sao Paulo from South Africa and his wife were both apparently infected.
    Canada will extend its ban on travellers from southern Africa to also cover those from Nigeria, Malawi and Egypt, health officials said on Tuesday, for a total of 10 countries.    Canada will require people arriving by air from all nations except the United States to take a COVID-19 test, Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said.
    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday advised Americans against travel to Niger, Papua New Guinea, Poland, and Trinidad and Tobago.    The CDC now lists about 80 destinations at its “Level 4: Very High” classification after the White House announced new travel restrictions in response to Omicron.
    The World Health Organization (WHO) asked countries to apply “an evidence-informed and risk-based approach” with any travel measures, including possible screening or quarantine of international passengers.    Blanket travel bans would not stop the spread of Omicron, it said.
    The WHO issued a statement advising a postponement of travel for those who are unwell or at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19, including those 60 years or older who are not vaccinated.
    WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he understood the concerns about Omicron.
    But he added: “I am equally concerned that several member states are introducing blunt, blanket measures that are not evidence-based or effective on their own, and which will only worsen inequities.”
VACCINE QUESTIONS
    The European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) executive director, Emer Cooke, told the European Parliament that existing vaccines will continue to provide protection.
    Andrea Ammon, chair of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), said the cases of Omicron so far confirmed in 10 European Union countries were mild or without symptoms, although in younger age groups.
    News of Omicron’s emergence wiped roughly $2 trillion off global stocks on Friday, after it was first identified in southern Africa and announced on Nov. 25.
    U.S. markets on Tuesday reacted mainly to Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s comments signalling a possible speed-up in the taper of the Fed’s asset purchase program, but concerns over Omicron’s impact added to jitters, market analysts said.    The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 652.22 points, or 1.86%, to 34,483.72, and the S&P 500 lost 88.27 points, or 1.90%, to 4,567.
    “There is no world, I think, where (the effectiveness) is the same level…we had with Delta,” Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, told the Financial.
    “I think it’s going to be a material drop.    I just don’t know how much because we need to wait for the data.    But all the scientists I’ve talked to … are like, ‘this is not going to be good’.”
    Reuters could not reach Moderna for comment.
    The University of Oxford said there was no evidence that current vaccines would not prevent severe disease from Omicron, but that it was ready to rapidly update its shot, developed with AstraZeneca, if necessary.
Graphic: OMICRON VARIANT MAP: https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-VARIANT/zdvxonlxxpx/Omicron.jpg
    The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden suffered two more legal setbacks on vaccine policy on Tuesday.    A federal judge blocked a vaccination rule for healthcare workers and applied the ruling nationwide where the mandate was still in effect.
    Another federal judge blocked the U.S government from enforcing a vaccination mandate on government contractors in three states.
LAB TESTS
    Regeneron Pharmaceuticals said its COVID-19 antibody cocktail and other similar antiviral treatments could be less effective against the latest variant.
    EMA’s Cooke said “cross neutralisation,” a lab test for whether the approved vaccines are effective against Omicron, would take about two weeks.    If there was a need to change COVID-19 vaccines, new ones could be approved within three or four months, she said.
    “Vaccination will likely still keep you out of the hospital,” said John Wherry, director of the Penn Institute for Immunology in Philadelphia.
    Moderna and fellow drugmakers BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson are already working on vaccines that specifically target Omicron.    Moderna has also been testing a higher dose of its existing booster.
    BioNTech Chief Executive Ugur Sahin told Reuters that BioNTech and Pfizer’s vaccine was likely to offer strong protection against severe disease from the new variant.
    Sahin said he expects lab tests to show some loss of protection against mild and moderate disease due to Omicron but the extent of that loss was hard to predict.
BORDER CONTROLS
    Border closures have already cast a shadow over economic recovery, with parts of Europe now seeing a fourth wave of infections as winter sets in.
    Japan confirmed its first case of the new variant on Tuesday, in a traveller from Namibia.    Australia found that a person with Omicron had visited a busy shopping centre in Sydney while probably infectious.
    Graphic: The spread of COVID-19 variants of concern: https://graphics.reuters.com/HEALTH-CORONAVIRUS/VARIANTS/jznpnyoorvl/spread_of_voc.jpg
    Australia on Monday delayed the reopening of its international borders by two weeks, less than 36 hours before foreign students and skilled migrants were to be allowed back.
    Britain and the United States have both pushed their booster programmes in response to the new variant.    London said international arrivals would have to self-isolate until they get a negative result in a PCR test.
    Greece said vaccination would be compulsory for those over 60, the group seen as most vulnerable to COVID-19.     The picture of COVID cases was mixed.
    In Germany, a current hotspot of the previous significant variant, Delta, the seven-day average infection rate fell slightly for the first time in three weeks after new restrictions to slow transmission.
    France registered its highest daily infection tally since April. And the Dutch health authority said Omicron was already spreading in the Netherlands, where intensive care beds are running out and measures including restrictions on hospitality have yet to take effect.
    The curbs on travellers from southern Africa have highlighted the inequality of vaccine distribution, which may have given the virus more opportunities to mutate.Mve
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; Writing by Himani Sarkar, Kevin Liffey and Grant McCool; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Mark Heinrich and Leslie Adler)

12/1/2021 Texas Landowners Demand Federal Funding For Migrant Property Damage by OAN Newsroom
DEL RIO, TEXAS – MAY 17: Immigrants walk along the riverbank after crossing the
Rio Grande on May 17, 2021 in Del Rio, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
    Landowners in Texas are demanding federal funds for property damage caused by illegal migrants.
    In an interview on Wednesday, the director of the South Texans’ Property Rights Association called on the government to secure the border.    She said landowners have been facing a daily incursion of illegal immigrants, including driving through fences and gates, breaking into hunting camps, and destroying private property.
    Local law enforcement and city officials have reportedly received $30 million in federal funding to reimburse local communities and non-governmental organizations that spent significant resources on migrant care. However, landowners have said they’ve been overlooked.
    “We don’t want to compete with law enforcement monies because of, you know, stolen vehicles and that sort of thing.    So, where does that come from? That leaves the landowner high and dry,” said Executive Director Susan Kibbe.
    Kibbe said she has been working with county officials in order to make a change and bring attention to the issue, but has stressed the need for the federal government’s help.    She added “it’s the federal government’s job to secure the border.”
    “It’s getting very expensive,” she expressed.    “We have heard nothing from the federal government on help for private property owners.”

12/1/2021 Sen. Schumer Pushes $2T Spending Plan As Govt. Nears Default by OAN Newsroom
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters after a Democratic policy
meeting at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Democrat lawmakers are scrambling to find a way to fund the government as Friday’s deadline to continue federal funding looms.    They are pushing Joe Biden’s nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better bill as the government is set to hit default.
    While speaking to the press Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (d-N.Y.) was unable to confirm if he can keep the government open past Friday.    This comes as Democrat lawmakers still haven’t passed or even finished a plan to fund basic government functions ahead of Friday’s deadline.    Although, Schumer went on to say that passing Biden’s sweeping climate change plan by Christmas is a top focus.
    “This week, Senate Democrats will focus on continuing to meet with the parliamentary so we can finish the technical and procedural fixes necessary for reconciliation,” he stated.    “…We’ve been at the task for several months, but we need to take a step back and recognize that we’re hopefully less than a month away from enacting on the largest investment in American people we’ve seen in generations.”
    This comes as conservative lawmakers like congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) say Democrats are on a “big drunken spending spree” all while neglecting basic forms of government.    In a recent interview, Scalise also stressed Democrats have maxed out the nation’s credit card, but will likely blame Republicans somehow when they control the House, Senate and White House.    The very next day when discussing the possibility of a shutdown, Schumer placed the majority of the blame on Republicans.
    Meanwhile, Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is making it clear that Republicans will do everything in their power to not only make sure federal workers are paid past Friday, but also to prevent Americans from footing the bill of another multi-trillion dollar bill.

12/1/2021 3 Students Killed, 8 Injured In Mich. High School Shooting by OAN Newsroom
An Oakland County Sheriff’s deputy hugs family members of a student in the parking lot of Oxford
High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at the school,
killing several students and wounding multiple other people, including a teacher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    New details are emerging regarding the victims in the recent Michigan high school shooting. During a press conference Tuesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard confirmed the three students killed ranged from ages 14 to 17 while eight others, including a teacher, were injured.
    The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon at Oxford High School in Oakland County, which is about 30-miles north of Detroit.    Of the eight injured, four remain in critical condition, three are in stable condition with various gunshot wounds and the teacher who was shot has been discharged.
    Bouchard confirmed the suspected shooter, a 15-year-old male, is being held at juvenile detention facility pending charges.
    “We have the suspect in custody, he’s a 15-year-old male sophomore, a resident of Oxford village,” said the sheriff.    “He was not injured…homicide and attempted homicide with the approval of the on duty probate court referee.    We cannot identify him at this point because he’s a juvenile.”
    According to preliminary information, the weapon used in the shooting was purchased just last week by the boy’s father.    However, his parents have hired an attorney and have not allowed their son to speak to police.
    Additionally, Bouchard went on to commend his team and the county’s active shooter training while crediting it for saving other lives.
    “I’m extremely proud of the deputies, our partners, the fire department and EMTs for their intervening actions,” he stated.    “As I mentioned, I believe they literally saved lives having taken down the suspect with a loaded firearm still in the building.”

12/1/2021 Suspect In Deadly Mich. High School Shooting Charged As Adult by OAN Newsroom
A well wisher kneels to pray at a memorial on the sign of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich., Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. A 15-year-old sophomore
opened fire at the school, killing several students and wounding multiple other people, including a teacher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    The alleged gunman in the Michigan high school shooting is set to be tried as an adult on one count of terrorism causing death and four first-degree murder charges.    Authorities announced the charges and others against 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley on Wednesday.
    This comes as 17-year-old Justin Shilling passed away at the hospital Wednesday morning, after being shot at Oxford High School near Detroit on Tuesday. Authorities have identified 17-year-old Madisyn Baldwin, 16-year-old Tate Myre and 14-year-old Hana Juliana as the other victims who died in the shooting.
    Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed her condolences to the victims and their families.
    “My heart, like any mom or dad in Michigan, is with the parents of Oxford.    We all hugged our kids a little tighter yesterday.    I know that a lot of us love this time of year when it’s time to gather with family and friends to celebrate for the holidays.    For the Oxford community especially, this holiday season will be different.    We all have to be there for them in every way that we can, to help them be strong and lift their spirits through our actions,” said Whitmer.
    During a press conference Tuesday, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard confirmed eight others, including a teacher and Shilling, were injured.
    The shooting happened Tuesday afternoon at Oxford High School in Oakland County, which is about 30-miles north of Detroit.    Of the eight injured, three now remain in critical condition, three are in stable condition with various gunshot wounds and the teacher who was shot has been discharged.
    According to preliminary information, the weapon used in the shooting was purchased just last week by the boy’s father.    However, his parents have hired an attorney and have not allowed their son to speak to police.    Meanwhile, prosecutors are considering charges against the parents of the suspect as well.
    Additionally, Bouchard went on to commend his team and the county’s active shooter training while crediting it for saving other lives.
    “I’m extremely proud of the deputies, our partners, the fire department and EMTs for their intervening actions,” he stated. “As I mentioned, I believe they literally saved lives having taken down the suspect with a loaded firearm still in the building.”
Students attend a vigil at LakePoint Community Church in Oxford, Mich., Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021.
Authorities say a 15-year-old sophomore opened fire at Oxford High School, killing several students
and wounding multiple other people, including a teacher. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
    A motive for the shooting remains unclear.    Meanwhile, a number of vigils were held across the Oxford community Tuesday night following the shooting.

12/1/2021 Nigel Farage Snags Interview With Donald Trump by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Friday, Nov. 22, 2019 file photo, Nigel Farage, Leader of Britain’s Brexit Party,
takes his seat after speaking on stage at the launch of the party’s policies for the General Election
campaign, in London. GB News, a British news channel. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
    The 45th U.S. paid a visit to his biggest British supporter, Nigel Farage, for an interview. In the wide ranging sit-down, Donald Trump discussed his potential run in 2024.
    Trump also discussed Black Lives Matter, the events of January 6 and the state of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He told the former Brexit Party leader that Johnson has gone to the left since storming to victory two-years ago.     According to Trump, within the royal family, the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle was extremely disrespectful of Queen Elizabeth II.
    “I’m not a fan of hers at all and I think she’s very disrespectful to the Queen that we just spoke about who’s such a great woman, who’s such a great person, historic person,” he stated.    “I think she’s very disrespectful to the royal family, but maybe most importantly to the Queen.”
    Trump’s full interview with the foremost Brexit advocate will air Wednesday on the GB News Network.

12/1/2021 Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez Decries State Dept. FARC Delisting by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, listens to a question while speaking
in Garwood, New Jersey, March 23, 2015. (AP/Mel Evans, File)
    A top Senate Democrat is taking aim at the U.S. State Department for its move to take far-left Colombian militant group FARC off the list of terrorist organizations.    During a hearing Tuesday, Sen. Bob Menendez (R-N.J.) grilled U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols on the matter.
    Menendez, who chairs the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, took issue with the fact that the Biden administration did not contact Congress to discuss delisting the organization.    Instead, the New Jersey Democrat lamented he and his colleagues were told of the move from outside reports.
    “That is not what I consider consultation and the lack of getting that type of consultation creates problems, so I hope we don’t relive it again,” stated the senator.
    FARC has been linked to mass killings, kidnappings and displacement of millions of Colombians who they deemed political dissidents since the 1960s.    Several Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) have pushed back on the groups delisting.
    “Biden has delisted FARC as a terrorist organization,” noted the Texas senator.    “This is exactly the appeasement he showed when he delisted the Iran-controlled Houthis, which led to violence and catastrophe.    The same thing will happen with the FARC."
    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) also chimed in while taking to Twitter promptly after the Biden administration’s decision.
    In 2016, FARC leaders and the Colombian government agreed to a ceasefire and have both been reportedly keeping their ends of the peace deal.    The State Department’s move Tuesday commemorates the fifth anniversary of the agreement.

12/1/2021 U.N. Chief Slams COVID-19 ‘Travel Apartheid’ As Unacceptable by Michelle Nichols
FILE PHOTO: U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the media at the end of his visit to mark five years since the signing
of a peace deal between the FARC rebels and the Colombian government in Bogota, Colombia November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that travel restrictions imposed over COVID-19 that isolate any one country or region as “not only deeply unfair and punitive – they are ineffective.”
    Speaking to reporters in New York, Guterres said the only way to reduce the risk of transmission while allowing for travel and economic engagement was to repeatedly test travelers, “together with other appropriate and truly effective measures.”
    “We have the instruments to have safe travel.    Let’s use those instruments to avoid this kind, of allow me to say, travel apartheid, which I think is unacceptable,” Guterres said.
    Omicron was first identified in southern Africa and many countries, including the United States and Britain, have announced travel curbs and other restrictions on the region.    Africa has some of the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates worldwide due to a lack of access to doses.
    Guterres has long warned about the dangers of vaccine inequality around the world and that low immunization rates are “a breeding ground for variants.”
    “These travel bans are not justified,” said African Union Commission Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat at the joint news conference with Guterres after the annual meeting between the United Nations and the African Union.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols, Editing by Franklin Paul and Diane Craft)

12/1/2021 Anguish For Migrants’ Families After Channel Tragedy by Juliette Jabkhiro
FILE PHOTO: Kurdish migrants sit at a makeshift camp in Loon-Plage
near Dunkirk, France, November 29, 2021. REUTERS/Juan Medina
    LILLE, France (Reuters) – Ghafour Mangl last heard from his cousin shortly before he was due to take his place in a people smuggler’s dinghy and cross the Channel to Britain.    Mangl is now consumed by fear that his cousin drowned during his attempt.
    On Wednesday, Mangl was among four Afghans who arrived at a morgue in Lille to see if a missing relative was among the bodies of 27 migrants who died in the seas separating France and Britain in a single incident a week earlier.
    His cousin, Muhamad Mayar, had called a friend in London in the early hours of Nov. 24 to say his dinghy was floundering.    “We will go in the water,” he said.
    It has left Mangl, who previously worked as a chef in Birmingham, England’s second city, before moving to France, all but certain that his cousin perished.    “He (was) in this boat,” the 27-year-old told Reuters in broken English.
    The 27 migrants drowned when their dinghy deflated as they made the dangerous crossing across some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.    The bodies were first spotted by a fishing boat.
    So far, only one victim, a Kurdish woman from northern Iraq, had been named in British media.    Maryam Nuri Mohamed Amin, 24, was making the journey to join her fiance in Britain, the BBC reported.
    Charities have cautioned that it could take weeks to identify all those who died, leaving families facing an agonising wait over the fate of missing relatives.
    Authorities told Mangl and members of the three other families DNA tests would have to be run before they could be allowed to see the bodies, prolonging their anguish.
    Amanullah Omarkhil, 18, lost contact with his cousin several weeks ago.    Omarkhil has no idea if he set out from France’s northern shores on the doomed dinghy or not, but felt like he needed to know one way or the other.
    The wait, however, was tough.
    “I can’t do anything,” he said.
(Reporting by Juliette Jabkhiro; Editing by Richard Lough and Mark Heinrich)

12/1/2021 In A French Migrant Camp, A Man Sells Sandwiches To Raise Smugglers’ Fee by Layli Foroudi and Juan Medina
Kurdish Iraqi migrant Dawan Anwar Mahmud sells tea at a makeshift camp in
Loon-Plage near Dunkirk, France, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Juan Medina
    DUNKIRK, France (Reuters) – A couple of days after migrants started to set up tents in a new location along an old rail line in Dunkirk in northern France last week, Dawan Anwar Mahmud quickly took the opportunity to build the make-shift camp’s first restaurant.
    Made of a wooden frame using nearby trees and covered in tarpaulin, the restaurant was built in a day and is slightly sturdier than a tent.
    It is a precarious existence: on Tuesday police arrived at the camp, evicted the residents and tore down their tents and shelters.
    Speaking before the police arrived, the owner, Mahmud, a 30-year-old from Qalat Dizah in Iraqi Kurdistan, described how he was keen to start earning cash, having lost 1,600 pounds ($2,100) to a smuggler when he first arrived in France towards the end of the summer.
    “I opened a little restaurant to go to England,” he said on Monday.    Attempts by Reuters reporters to reach him by telephone after the eviction on Tuesday were unsuccessful.
    Last week, a boat of at least 29 people capsized in the Channel, the 30 km (19 mile) stretch of water between Britain and France. Only two people survived, highlighting the great risks migrants take to reach Britain across one of the world’s busiest waterways.
    But even before this, Mahmud was terrified of the Channel crossing.    A month ago, he was taken to the coast by another smuggler and backed out after he saw he would be sharing the boat with 47 people.    “I said ‘no, I’m scared!’    He hit me and broke my phone to make sure I didn’t call the police.”
    With his restaurant he planned to raise enough money to get on a boat with fewer people, or better still, to avoid the sea and take a truck.    It is rare nowadays for people to cross the Channel hidden in a truck due to increased controls.
MUDDY GROUND, WET SHOES
    As the route becomes trickier, the price goes up: a truck ride to England currently costs around 4,000 pounds, compared to 2,500-3,000 for a boat ride.
    Mahmud makes between 40 euros and 70 euros a day and employs two workers, who receive 25 euros per day and are also working to pay their way to Britain.
    At Monday lunchtime, the restaurant served Kurdish style chicken livers in a baguette with sliced tomatoes and onions.    One customer, Usman, 21, said he knows the food from back home in Pirashahr, Iran, but hadn’t eaten it since he left his country last year.
    Normally, it is not his favourite dish, although he likes it.    For now, he says, “it’s the best sandwich in the camp because it is very national food.”
    Another customer, Mohamed Husseini from Iraq, wasn’t so impressed.    “It’s an average sandwich,” he said.    The last time he ate chicken livers made like this was a few months ago in Turkey, where he lived for three years and worked as a blacksmith before journeying to France.
    At night, when he is not cooking with his gas stove, Mahmud lights it inside his one-man tent and watches films.    It is dangerous but he is freezing; the ground around his tent is muddy and his shoes are constantly wet.
    The camp smells toxic as people start burning bottles and packaging to keep bonfires going.    “Everyone is at home in front of their fireplaces, and we are here under a sheet of plastic,” he said.
    Mahmud has a long term leg injury that flares up in the cold.    The problem started back in Iraq 10 years ago, he said, when he was arrested, imprisoned for six months, and beaten up by the police, after taking part in protests against the regional government.    Doctors said at the time that he may need to get his leg amputated.
    Following violent repression in 2015, he said, he decided to leave his country.    He moved to Sweden to join his sister but his asylum claim was rejected after six years waiting.
    It was there that he learnt to cook in a Kurdish restaurant, where he became a specialist in kebab and flatbread.    “I could make 800 pieces of bread on my own in one day,” he said.
    Mahmud said he could not make this bread now as he doesn’t have a tandoor oven, and it doesn’t make sense to get one as migrants risk eviction by the police at any time.
    Eventually, Mahmud’s goal is to open a more permanent restaurant.    For now, he feels Britain is his best bet, but he keeps an open mind.
    “For me, if it is France or the UK or Germany or Belgium, it’s the same,” he said.    “I just came here to start a new life.”
($1 = 0.7495 pounds)
(Writing by Layli Foroudi, Editing by William Maclean)

12/1/2021 Honduran President-Elect’s Party Hopes For Narrow Majority In Congress by Gustavo Palencia
FILE PHOTO: Xiomara Castro, presidential candidate of the Liberty and Refoundation Party (LIBRE), gestures as she gives a
statement after the closing of the general election in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo
    TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduran President-elect Xiomara Castro and her party were awaiting results on Wednesday from tight legislative races to see if they would gain control of Congress, a day after her main rival conceded defeat in the presidential race.
    Castro, a former first lady who will be the Central American nation’s first female president, had built a commanding lead after Sunday’s vote.    The National Party’s Nasry Asfura warmly congratulated her on the victory on Tuesday, even though results were incomplete.    As of Wednesday morning, only 53% of the preliminary votes had been counted.
    The Honduran election has played out against a backdrop of democratic backsliding in Central America, where governments from Managua to San Salvador have increasingly consolidated power while weakening the independence of state institutions.
    With the right-wing National Party’s 12-year hold on power set to end when Castro is inaugurated in January, attention on Wednesday shifted to the fate of the 128-member Congress.
    The congressional balance of power is in the air, but preliminary results also appeared to point to the possibility of a simple majority for Castro’s leftist Libre Party and its allies if the trend of the current vote tally holds.
    That would ease passage of some of Castro’s legislative priorities, but her pledge to convoke an assembly to rewrite the country’s constitution could still be blocked since that would require a two-thirds majority.
    Denis Gomez, a former electoral council member, estimated Libre would win 51 seats and saw its main ally, the party of Vice President-elect Salvador Nasralla, getting 14, giving the governing coalition a one-member majority.
    But Gomez stressed this projected makeup of the unicameral legislature could still change if the trend in the count shifts.
    “If that majority doesn’t hold, they would have to negotiate,” he said, most likely with the center-right Liberal Party, which after the National Party, is projected to form the third-largest bloc in the next Congress.
    Political analyst Raul Pineda was less cautious about Castro’s influence over incoming lawmakers.
    “It’s almost a certainty that Libre and Salvador’s party will have a simple majority to reform or repeal laws,” he said.
    But Castro and her allies would need to peel off nearly 20 more votes, most likely from the Liberal Party, to reach a two-thirds majority for constitutional reforms, Pineda added.
    The same super-majority would also be needed to elect new members of the Supreme Court and a new attorney general.
(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Paul Simao)

12/1/2021 Man ‘Desperately Ill’ With COVID Saved By Ivermectin Treatment by OAN Newsroom
A health worker shows a box containing a bottle of Ivermectin, a medicine authorized by the National Institute for Food and Drug
Surveillance (INVIMA) to treat patients with mild, asymptomatic or suspicious COVID-19, as part of a study of the Center for
Paediatric Infectious Diseases Studies, in Cali, Colombia, on July 21, 2020. (Photo by LUIS ROBAYO/AFP via Getty Images)
    A man visiting Illinois from Hong Kong has returned home and is doing well after catching COVID-19 and spending a month sedated, on a ventilator in the ICU.
    Local media said the 71-year-old man was visiting his daughter in Naperville and within days was hospitalized before being put on a ventilator with COVID. Hospital administrators initially tried to block his doctor’s request to use Ivermectin for treatment.
    However, a county court intervened and forced the hospital to allow the doctor to treat him.    Although, not before blocking the treatment again because of the doctor’s vaccination status.
    The court had to once again intervene in order to get the desperately ill man his treatment.
    “If a doctor has a negative COVID test, they can go in.    And it also states in the order, it would be for brief periods of time.    After he was in for brief periods of time, he would need to have a vaccine.    So, he’s going in for a couple of minutes, administering Ivermectin, then going out of the hospital.    I don’t really think that’s a concern,” said the patient’s family attorney, Kirstin Erickson.
    Erickson added Sun Ng “passed a breathing test that he hadn’t been able to pass in the last three weeks.    And he looked more alert and aware.    So, I would say that the first dose of Ivermectin is actually working and is effective.”    Ng was reportedly given Ivermectin from Nov. 8 through Nov. 12 and later released from the hospital on Nov. 27.
    Family members said the man showed signs of improvement almost immediately after taking Ivermectin and is now fully recovered.

12/1/2021 Biden: No Need To Worry About Supply Chain, Inflation by OAN Newsroom
Joe Biden speaks on supply chain issues in the South Court Auditorium of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building
next to the White House in Washington, D.C. on December 1, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
    Joe Biden attempted to downplay the numerous economic crises facing the nation.
    Speaking from Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, Biden claimed the economy is currently doing well and is on its way to recovery.    This comes despite a looming debt ceiling crisis, an ongoing supply chain crisis and skyrocketing inflation, which Fed Chair Jerome Powell recently said has no end in site.
    Biden also touted the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the national oil reserves, which he claimed will ease gas prices.    However, many economists pointed out this accounts for only three days worth of oil and will likely have little affect on consumers.
    Biden then took time to tout his trillion-dollar social spending agenda, repeating the false claim it would “pay for itself.”
    “The fact is the Build Back Better plan is fiscally responsible. It’s the first major piece of legislation in more than a decade.    And it’s not only fully paid for, but will generate more than $100 billion in deficit reduction,” claimed Biden.
    Last month, the Congressional Budget Office released a report showing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda would increase the federal deficit by $367 billion over the next decade.    The report also found it would cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion over that same time period.

12/1/2021 Capitol Police Arrest Demonstrators Overcrowding Area As Supreme Court Hears Miss. Abortion Case by OAN Newsroom
Abortion rights advocates are arrested by U.S. Capitol police for blocking the street near of the U.S. Supreme Court
Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021, in Washington, as the court hears arguments in a case from Mississippi, where a
2018 law would ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, well before viability. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
    Tensions escalate as oral arguments conclude in high-stakes Mississippi abortion Supreme Court case.
    On Wednesday, Capitol Police arrested demonstrators for blocking traffic and protesting in prohibited areas.
    Meanwhile, advocates for the pro-life movement said this day could be a game changer.
    “So, today is very special to us because for the first time in so many years, we think that there’s a possibility of abortion returning to the legislative branches in the states.    So, for us to march past this place every January is very significant and today feels a little bit different, so we’ll see how that goes,” said March for Life President Jeanne Mancini.
    Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is the first case in nearly 50 years to challenge Roe v. Wade, and would ban abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
    According to the Associated Press, the conservative majority have suggested they may uphold the ban, which could pave the way to sweeping changes to limit abortion rights in the country.

12/1/2021 First Confirmed U.S. Case Of Omicron Coronavirus Variant Detected In Calif. by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 01: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
and the Chief Medical Advisor to the President, delivers an update on the Omicron COVID-19 variant during the daily
press briefing at the White House on December 01, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    The first known case of the COVID Omicron variant in the U.S. has been detected in California. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) made the announcement on Wednesday and said the infected individual is fully vaccinated, has mild symptoms and is self-quarantining. Dr. Anthony Fauci said the individual had returned from South Africa to the San Francisco Bay area on Nov. 22.
    This comes as no surprise as health officials anticipated the variant would spread to the U.S. after initially being detected in South Africa last week. Scientists have said Omicron could be more contagious, but it’s unclear whether the variant is more dangerous. It is also unclear how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against this strain of the virus.

12/1/2021 Calif. Police Union: ACLU To Blame For Rise In Crime by OAN Newsroom
A mannequin is seen on the street after a store was broken into
in Hollywood, California. (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)
    California police unions have claimed California voters were lied to by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) following a recent surge of crime in Los Angeles.    They added the ACLU is to blame for the recent uptick in smash-and-grab robberies.
    According to the president of the San Francisco Police Officers Association, voters were lied to with the implementation of Proposition 47. The union said the prop, known as the “Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act,” lowered the level of offense for six types of crimes.
    This means crimes, including theft under $950, are only to be classified as misdemeanors.    David Swing of the State Police Chief Association said this has only made criminals more calculated.
    “Some criminals are actually shopping with calculators and they’re adding up the dollar amount as they are stealing stuff to keep it under that $950 threshold,” said Swing.
    Others went on to point out these smash-and-grab thieves aren’t stealing groceries to feed their families, but are instead, ransacking high-end stores to make high profits.
    In a recent interview, the president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League spoke on the matter saying, “when society removes accountability for bad behavior, criminals get emboldened to commit more crimes.”    This comes after two major instances of theft broke out in Los Angeles County on Black Friday.
    One group of eight males in their teens robbed a local Home Depot.    Another group of armed men then robbed a luxury store on Melrose Avenue.
    A citywide tactical alert was placed for Los Angeles residents, but was shortly removed Saturday.    In the meantime, Los Angeles Police said they’re working to tackle this spike in crime.
    “We’re monitoring the situation with the smash-and-grab robberies across the country very closely.    We have a close relationship with LAPD and local authorities, and are working very closely with them to make sure that we’re prepared,” said Louis Schillace, the senior general manager at Westfield Century City.
    Police unions believe the ACLU is essentially “rolling out the red carpet” for criminals in California.    However, in an effort to combat this, five California police unions are sponsoring a movement called the “ACLU Watch” dedicated to safeguarding victims and holding criminals accountable.

12/2/2021 Oil down $1.66 to $65.34, DOW down 462 to 34,021.

12/2/2021 U.S. And Iran Pessimistic About Reviving Nuclear Deal by Parisa Hafezi and Humeyra Pamuk
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
headquarters in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger//File Photo
    VIENNA/STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -The United States and Iran both sounded pessimistic on Thursday about the chances of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, with Washington saying it had little cause for optimism and Tehran questioning the determination of U.S. and European negotiators.
    “I have to tell you, recent moves, recent rhetoric, don’t give us a lot of cause for … optimism,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Stockholm, saying he could judge in a day or so if Iran would engage in good faith.
    Blinken made the comments after Iran provided the European powers who are shuttling between U.S. and Iranian officials in Vienna with drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, as world powers and Tehran seek to reinstate the tattered pact.
    “We went to Vienna with serious determination, but we are not optimistic about the will and the intention of the United States and the three European parties to the deal,” Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian was quoted by Iranian media as saying in a conversation with his Japanese counterpart.
    While Blinken said “it is not too late for Iran to reverse course and engage meaningfully,” it appeared as if both sides might be seeking to avoid the blame if the talks break down.br>     The comments came on the fourth day of indirect U.S.-Iran talks on bringing both nations back into the deal, under which Iran limited its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. economic sanctions.
    Talks resumed on Monday after a five-month hiatus prompted by Iran’s election of an anti-Western hardliner as president.
    Sources familiar with the matter said Iran and the remaining parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – might hold a formal meeting on Friday, a step that could mark the end of this week’s negotiations.
‘BLAME GAME’
    “The blame game has been ongoing … and is going to continue,” said Eurasia Group analyst Henry Rome, adding that even if the talks pause this week all sides have an interest in keeping the conversation going for now and there may be another round later this year or early next.
    “Part of it is blame game, part of it is really wanting, at least from the Western side, to be sure to exhaust all options,” Rome said.
    Keeping the talks going may also help Iran in “prolonging the period before I think there will very likely be a shift toward a more coercive Western position” and also provide some cover to advance their nuclear program, he added.
    The U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Wednesday that Iran has started producing enriched uranium with advanced centrifuges at its Fordow plant dug into a mountain, further eroding the nuclear deal.
    It was unclear whether Blinken had been briefed on Iran’s latest proposals when he made his pessimistic comments.
    Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani said Iran had delivered two drafts to the Europeans, one on sanctions removal and the other on nuclear limitations.
    “We want all sanctions to be lifted at once,” Bagheri told reporters in Vienna, outlining a position unlikely to be warmly welcomed by the West, which has sought some kind of sequence under which Iran would return to the pact’s nuclear limits.
    Under the pact, Tehran limited its uranium enrichment programme, a potential pathway to nuclear weapons though Iran says it seeks only civilian atomic energy, in exchange for relief from the economic sanctions.
    But in 2018, then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal, calling it too soft on Iran, and reimposed harsh U.S. sanctions, spurring Tehran to breach nuclear limits in the pact.
(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Vienna and Humeyra Pamuk in Stockholm; Additional reporting by Francois Murphy in Vienna and by Doina Chiacu and Simon Lewis in Washington; Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Peter Graff, Mark Heinrich, Marguerita Choy and Daniel Wallis)

12/2/2021 Your Voice Matters, Says Gun Control Activist X González by Maria Caspani
FILE PHOTO: A "wall of Demand" mural and video message created by Manuel Oliver, father of
Joaquin Oliver, one of 17 people killed in the 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas
High School in Parkland, Florida, is seen shortly after it's unveiling on the one year anniversary of the
mass shooting in New York City, New York, U.S., February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar
    (Reuters) – Gun control activist X González has a message for people: Do not underestimate the power of your voice, it can effect change.
    González, who uses they/them pronouns, was a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, when a former student with an assault gun killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
    “I really think that a lot of people underestimate the power that they have and the influence that they can have,” González, 22, said in an interview at  the  Reuters Next conference on Wednesday.
    “People take for granted that their voice isn’t going to do anything when it really will because that’s what happened to me,” they added.
    In the aftermath of the Parkland tragedy, González became a vocal advocate for gun control, helping to organize a national student movement to fight gun violence.
    A speech González gave at a gun control rally in Florida days after the shooting, calling “B.S.” on supporters of the U.S. gun lobby, went viral.
    They were among the student activists and survivors that led to the passage of a bill in the Florida legislature in March of 2018 that tightened gun control regulations.     “The kids of this generation are just made of a different material and I am really glad that we were able to start young in terms of our activism,” said González.
    There are more books than speeches in the life of the young activist nowadays, who is attending college in Florida.    But González, sporting a pink mohawk, said they will likely return to activism in the future.
    “I fully expect that later in my life I’ll be out and about again,” González said.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani, Editing by Jane Wardell)

12/2/2021 France, In Letter To Boris Johnson, Rejects Joint Border Patrol In Channel
FILE PHOTO: French police patrol the Slack dunes, the day after 27 migrants died when their dinghy deflated as they
attempted to cross the English Channel, in Wimereux, near Calais, France, November 25, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol
    PARIS (Reuters) -French Prime Minister Jean Castex told his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, that he rejected the idea of a joint British-French patrol in the English Channel to fight clandestine migration to Britain, a letter obtained by Reuters showed on Thursday.
    “France is ready to pursue our operational cooperation with the United Kingdom,” the letter said, but added: “We cannot accept … British police or military patrol on our coast.    It’s a matter of our sovereignty.”
    Johnson last week suggested a joint coast patrol in a letter he sent to French President Emmanuel Macron — and later published on Twitter — after 27 migrants lost their lives in the Channel as they tried to reach British shores.
    Johnson’s tweet caused outrage in France, leading to Macron telling London to “get serious.”
    “I’m surprised when things are not done seriously.    We don’t communicate between leaders via tweets or published letters, we are not whistle-blowers.    Come on. Come on,” Macron later told a news conference in Rome.
    Relations between the traditional allies are already strained, including by a recent submarines deal with Australia which replaced one it had with France, and a conflict about post-Brexit fishing licences.
    In Thursday’s letter, Castex reiterated that it was up to Britain to resolve the ongoing crisis.
    “A large part of the solution does not lie in France, but in the United Kingdom.    In fact, you can deter the migrants who are not destined to settle [in Britain] from coming to your territory by conducting a more effective return policy.”
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel; Editing by Sandra Maler)

12/2/2021 Guadeloupe Extends Nightly Curfew Amid Violent Protests Against COVID-19 Rules
FILE PHOTO: People participate in a peaceful protest against the government's coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
protocols through downtown Fort de France after the unrest triggered by these curbs, which have already rocked
the nearby island of Guadeloupe, in Fort-De-France, Martinique November 28, 2021. REUTERS/Ricardo Arduengo
    PARIS (Reuters) – The prefect of Guadeloupe, the representative of the French central state in the overseas territory, on Thursday said he would extend a nightly curfew until Dec. 7, citing a continued threat to public order amid protest over COVID-19 rules.
    The decision concerned Pointe-a-Pitre, the archipelagos main city, as well as twenty other municipalities, the prefect said in a statement.
    He added that public order on the Caribbean island was still troubled, with police arresting armed protesters and continued blockades on public roads.
    France last week said it is open to discuss autonomy for Guadeloupe if it is in the interests of the people who live there after violent protest had shaken the territory.
(Reporting by Tassilo Hummel)

12/2/2021 Colombia Seizes Hundreds Of Arachnids Being Illegally Smuggled To Europe
Plastic jars containing cockroaches, tarantulas, and scorpions are photographed after a seizure
of animals for trafficking bound for Germany at El Dorado airport, in Bogota, Colombia December 1, 2021.
Courtesy of District Secretary of the Environment of Bogota/Handout via REUTERS
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombian authorities seized hundreds of creepy crawlies as they were being taken illegally to Europe via the airport in capital city Bogota, officials said on Thursday.
    Two Germans were found with 210 plastic containers they were using to carry the arachnids, which included 232 tarantula spiders, nine spider eggs and a scorpion with seven of its young, as well as 67 roaches.
    Colombia, which is one of the world’s 17 mega-diverse countries and boasts tens of thousands of different species, is a target for wildlife traffickers drawn by its biodiversity.
    More than 11,000 specimens have been seized during 2021 so far, officials said.
    “We haven’t had a shipment of tarantulas this size since 2018 (and) the largest we have had this year was shark fins,” Bogota’s environment secretary, Carolina Urrutia, said in a statement.
    In September Colombian authorities confiscated a shipment of 3,493 shark fins https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/colombia-confiscates-nearly-3500-shark-fins-their-way-hong-kong-2021-09-24 – equivalent to between 900 and 1,000 sharks – which were to be illegally trafficked to Hong Kong.
    The would-be German traffickers argued that they were shipping the spiders, scorpions and cockroaches for academic reasons but authorities said they did not have the permits to do so.
    The animals are being examined by professionals, officials said, who will later decide whether to free or relocate them.
(Reporting by Herbert Villarraga and Oliver Griffin; Editing by Mark Porter)

12/2/2021 Omicron May Become Dominant In Europe In Months - EU
FILE PHOTO: A sign that reads "Observe the obligation to cover your mouth and nose" is placed
on Hohe Strasse shopping street as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
continues in Cologne, Germany, December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months, but no cases of severe disease had yet been identified in the region.
    The estimate could lend weight to preliminary information about the very high transmissibility of the Omicron variant, above that of the Delta variant, which before Omicron was considered the most contagious of the main coronavirus strains.
    “Based on mathematical modelling conducted by ECDC, there are indications that Omicron could cause over half of all SARS-CoV-2 infections in the EU/EEA within the next few months,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said in a statement.
    The EU and European Economic Area (EEA) include the 27 EU member states plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.
    There is no conclusive evidence about Omicron’s transmissibility so far but the World Health Organization’s lead person on COVID-19, Maria van Kerkhove, said on Wednesday the agency expected to have data on this within days.
    Earlier on Thursday, the French government’s top scientific adviser Jean-Francois Delfraissy said Omicron could take Delta’s place by the end of January.
    Europe has so far recorded 79 cases of the Omicron variant first detected in southern Africa last month, the ECDC said.
    Half of those cases were asymptomatic and the other half showed only mild symptoms.    There were no cases featuring severe disease, hospitalisation, or death.
    Of cases that have data on age and vaccination status, the majority were young and fully inoculated, it said.
    The ECDC provided no further details, but noted that as the people concerned were travellers, they could also be assumed to be healthier than the general population.
    “Vaccinations for those either not yet vaccinated or who have not completed their vaccine course and boosters for those over 40 years of age are imperative,” said ECDC Director Andrea Ammon in the statement.
    Physical distancing measures, adequate ventilation in enclosed spaces and people working from home if at all ill have also proven effective in reducing transmission, she said.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Josephine Mason; editing by Mark Heinrich and Gareth Jones)

12/2/2021 Canada Joins U.S, EU And Britain In Imposing New Belarus Sanctions
FILE PHOTO: Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko attends the Roundtable Summit Phase One
Sessions of Belt and Road Forum at the International Conference Center in Yanqi Lake on May 15, 2017
in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Lintao Zhang/Pool/File Photo *** Local Caption *** Aung San Suu Kyi
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada imposed new sanctions on Belarusian officials and entities in coordination with international partners on Thursday to protest against what it called attacks on human rights and acts of repression, Ottawa said.
    A foreign ministry statement said Canada was acting together with the United States, the European Union and Britain.    Separately, the U.S. Treasury imposed restrictions on dealings in new issuances of Belarusian sovereign debt and expanded sanctions, targeting 20 individuals and 12 entities.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren)

12/2/2021 Group Of 67 Nations In WTO Agree To Cut Red Tape In Services Trade
FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside the World Trade Organisation (WTO)
in Geneva, Switzerland, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo
    GENEVA (Reuters) – Sixty-seven World Trade Organization members agreed on Thursday to pare back regulations such as licensing requirements placed on service providers operating in foreign countries, a move that could save $150 billion in annual trade costs.
    The group of developed and some developing countries from Peru to the Philippines committed to greater transparency, legal certainty and an easier regulatory process with electronic applications and clear and reasonable fees.
    The signatories, also including the United States, China and EU members, are a minority of the WTO’s 164 members, but represent 90% of all services trade.
    The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that implementing looser regulations in the larger G20 countries could reduce trade costs by up to 6%, with annual savings rising to $150 billion.
    Banking, information technology, telecoms, architecture and engineering would be among the service sectors benefiting most.
    The deal aims to provide clarity to services companies that are often obliged to submit multiple paper documents to regulators and are left in the dark how their applications are processed.
    The European Services Forum, whose members range from Apple to Zurich Financial Services, warmly welcomed the conclusion of negotiations on a deal, saying the industry had been calling for something like this for more than 20 years.
    The agreement included a provision against discriminating between men and women, a first of its kind in a WTO deal.    It also provides for a seven-year transition period for developing countries to comply.
    While a majority of WTO members have not signed up to the accord, they are free to do so and their businesses would still benefit from more transparent and efficient regulatory regimes of the 67 participating members.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/2/2021 Blinken Confronts Russia’s Lavrov On Ukraine, Warns Of ‘Severe Costs’ by Humeyra Pamuk and Johan Ahlander
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov smile
as they greet each during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in
Europe, Stockholm, Sweden December 2, 2021. Jonathan Nackstrand/Pool via REUTERS
    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Moscow of the “severe costs” Russia would pay if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart on Thursday to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis.
    Blinken delivered the warning to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at what he called a “candid” meeting in Stockholm and said it was likely that Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin would speak soon.
    “I made very clear our deep concerns and our resolve to hold Russia responsible for its actions, including our commitment to work with European allies to impose severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine,” Blinken told a news conference after the meeting.
    “It’s now on Russia to de-escalate the current tensions by reversing the recent troop buildup, returning forces to normal peacetime positions and refraining from further intimidation and attempts to destabilise Ukraine.”
    Lavrov, speaking to reporters before his talks with Blinken, said Moscow was ready for dialogue with Kyiv.    “We, as President Putin has stated, do not want any conflicts,” he said.
    Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near their long shared border, while Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up.    It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbour and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
    Russia and Ukraine have centuries of shared history and formed the two biggest republics of the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse, so Moscow views its neighbour’s ambition to join NATO as an affront and a threat.
    Since the latest crisis started, Moscow has set out demands for legally binding security guarantees from the West that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member or deploy missile systems there to target Russia.
    “We’re going to make sure we are heard but the main thing is our security,” Lavrov told a news conference later.
    “So if NATO still refuses to discuss this theme or the guarantees or ideas put forward by the president of Russia Vladimir Putin, of course we will take measures to ensure that our security, our sovereignty and our territorial integrity does not depend on anyone else.”
    He struck a more conciliatory note, however, by proposing that Russia and the United States bring an end to a long dispute over the size of their embassies and start afresh on the issue.
SUMMIT TALK
    The Kremlin has been talking up the possibility of a second summit between Putin and Biden for weeks.    Their last one took place in Geneva in June, less than two months after Russia scaled back a previous build-up of more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.
    Blinken said: “I think it’s likely the presidents will speak directly in the near future.”
    The American declined to spell out what economic sanctions Russia might face if it invaded its neighbour, saying only that “Moscow knows very well the universe of what’s possible.”
    Russia has withstood multiple rounds of international sanctions since it seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.    But Western governments have a potential new lever now, as Moscow is awaiting German regulatory approval to start pumping gas through a newly built $11 billion pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
    Blinken said Moscow and Kyiv should each fulfil their obligations under the Minsk peace process, which was designed to end a war between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces in the east of the former Soviet republic.
    Washington was willing to facilitate this, Blinken said, but “if Russia decides to pursue confrontation, there will be serious consequences.”
EASTERN FLASHPOINT
    The Kremlin said on Thursday – before the Lavrov-Blinken meeting – that the probability of a new conflict in eastern Ukraine remained high and that Moscow was concerned by “aggressive” rhetoric from Kyiv and an increase in what it called provocative actions along the line of contact between government forces and the pro-Russian separatists.
    Kyiv has denied any intention of trying to take back the rebel regions by force, accusing Russia of spouting “propaganda nonsense” in order to provide cover for its own aggressive intentions.
    Russia said separately it had arrested three suspected Ukrainian intelligence agents, including one accused of planning to carry out an attack using two homemade bombs, allegations that Kyiv dismissed as trumped up.
    Last week Ukraine’s president said Kyiv had thwarted a Russian-backed coup plot, which the Kremlin denied.
    East-West relations have sunk to their lowest level since the end of the Cold War and the demise of the USSR.    The point was accidentally underlined by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin when he said during a visit to South Korea: “The best case… is that we won’t see an incursion by the Soviet Union into the Ukraine.”
(Additional reporting by Niklas Polland, Anna Ringstrom, Simon Lewis and Andrew Osborn; Writing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Gareth Jones, Nick Macfie and Frances Kerry)

12/2/2021 Senate Passes Bill Funding Govt. Through February by OAN Newsroom
The sun sets at the the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, with
the deadline to fund the government approaching. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    The House passed a bill to extend government funding through Feb. 18 early on Thursday.
    The measure then went to the Senate where it faced a partisan battle.    Some Senate Republicans indicated they would push for a shutdown in an effort to fight Joe Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate.
    This came as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters he hoped the bill would pass through the upper chamber by Thursday night.
    Later in the night, the Senate passed the resolution to continue government funding through February of next year. The measure passed in a 69-28 vote.
    “I am glad that in the end, cooler heads prevailed.    The government will stay open,” said Schumer after the vote.
    The government was within 24-hours of shutting down before coming to their decision.
    The bill expenses various additional Biden administration endeavors, setting aside billions of dollars in the legislation to go towards Biden’s vaccine mandate and supporting Afghan refugees.    Meanwhile, the stopgap measure assures government funding until Feb. 18, however, the debt ceiling remains unaddressed to avoid sending the U.S. into default.

12/2/2021 GOP Reps. Question Intentions Of Democrat ‘Administrative Procedure Act’ by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 21: Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) gives an opening statement before
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol
on October 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)
    A House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law debate a major bill that could threaten the checks and balances within the federal government.
    On Wednesday, the subcommittee held a hearing to discuss the “Administrative Procedure Act.”    They heard from three professors on the power of government branches, Congress and federal agencies.
    This bill aims to promote transparency, provide standards and restate the law of judicial review when it comes to setting regulations and policy making. Louisiana Rep. Mike Johnson (R) commented on what he said is a trend within the Biden administration and underscored the importance of getting this bill right.
    “There is a theme. The theme is the continued abuse by the executive branch of our constitutional norms…that the executive branch is doing far beyond what is the scope of what is designed to do. And the agency problem is a big part of that,” said Johnson.
    He said overregulation harms individuals, families, small businesses and the economy.
    “Federal agencies are now wielding just such a tremendous amount of power that unelected bureaucrats abuse it all the time.    They are unelected, they’re unaccountable, and that kind of power was never anticipated by the founders of this country,” said the Republican.
    Johnson also pointed out the fact that the Biden administration has revoked a number of Trump-era steps to check the administrative state and instead aims to expand it, allowing the administrative state to act with impunity.    Additionally, Rep. Jim Jordan (R) also slammed Democrat attempts to hand more power over to the bureaucratic state.
    Jordan, who is a ranking member on the subcommittee, engaged in an impassioned debate with one of the professors brought to the hearing as a witness.    He asserted the Democrats’ bill intends to hand more power off to non-elected bureaucrats and out of the hands of Congress.
    “The people who make decisions and impact small business owners, American…I mean just every single day the regulatory state, the bureaucratic state runs this country and it is a huge problem.    It’s the biggest threat to liberty I think we see, and I haven’t seen the bill that the chairman is introducing, but my gut tells me it probably moves in the direction that their witnesses wants it to go, which is more power to the bureaucratic state,” stated Jordan.
    Jordan went on to say that the Judiciary Committee is meant to uphold the Constitution.    He noted reducing the number of checks and balances within the federal government, as he says this bill would do, does the opposite.

12/2/2021 Pence: ‘I Know I Did The Right Thing’ On Day Of Jan. 6 by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 30: Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the National
Press Club on November 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    Former Vice President Mike Pence has continued to claim he did the right thing on Election Certification Day.
    Pence made those remarks in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, which is set to air on Thursday.    He said he acted in ordnance with his “oath to the Constitution,” adding that Congress’ only job is to count the votes that have been submitted by each state.
    “I know in my heart of hearts that on that day, we did our duty under the Constitution.    I don’t know if President Trump and I will ever see eye to eye on that day or that many of our most ardent supporters will agree with my decision that day, but I know I did the right thing,” said Pence.
    Although he believed there were irregularities in the 2020 election, Pence was not proactive in rejecting Joe Biden’s win.    This lack of support for the 45th president caused a rift between himself and Donald Trump.
    Despite their now differences, Pence said he’s still proud of their time together in the White House.
    “I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years,” Pence previously said in a speech.
[Pence if you had done what Trump asked for it would have forced the States to do recount to find the corruption and there were severe violations of states where the Legislature did not vote in the voting proceess which violation of the CONSTITUTION I THINK WAS THE 14TH AMENDMENT issue so you will have to live with your decision and what people are seeing going on in the Biden administration it will be a big issue.].

12/2/2021 Poll: 80% Of Democrat Voters Afraid Of Omicron, Only 35% Of Republicans Are Concerned by OAN Newsroom
A passer-by enters a pharmacy with a vaccination advisory attached to a door, right, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in
Worcester, Mass. as the U.S. recorded its first confirmed case of the omicron variant. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
    The majority of Democrat voters are found to be afraid of the Omicron variant despite all of its cases being very mild.    A poll released by YouGov Wednesday found 80 percent of registered Democrats said they are either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the latest variant.
    Only 35 percent of Republicans are feeling the same way.    Furthermore, 87 percent of Americans have heard about the variant due to its extensive coverage in the media.    This comes despite officials in South Africa and Botswana saying they did not have a rise in hospitalizations or deaths due to Omicron variant.
    “The response by some countries to our detection of the Omicron variant is unfortunate as it appears to have caused unnecessary panic amongst the public across the world,” stated Mokgweetsi Masisi, the President of Botswana.    “To date all our key indicators remain stable, this is comforting.”
    The poll also found the majority of Republican voters, 59 percent, said they are “not very concerned” or “not concerned” at all about Omicron despite the latest media frenzy.
    “Democrat poll numbers are cratering, so the White House is stoking up unscientific fears about emerging variants to justify their unpopular policies,” noted Texas congressman Ronny Jackson.    “This is a calculated political decision.    Where is the science that’s dictating their heavy-handed response to the Omicron variant?.”
    The Republican lawmaker asserted that the left is simply using this new variant scare to further push lockdowns, vaccine mandates and other coronavirus restrictions.    He insisted that the whole thing is political, not scientific.

12/2/2021 Biden Attempts To Downplay Inflation, Supply Chain Crises by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden speaks in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021,
in Washington.    Biden is set to kick of more urgent campaign for Americans to get COVID-19 booster
shots on Dec. 2, as he unveils a his winter plans to combat the coronavirus. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Joe Biden recently attempted to downplay the numerous economic crises facing the nation.    While speaking from D.C. on Wednesday, he claimed the economy is currently doing well and is on its way to recovery.
    Biden made those remarks despite a looming debt ceiling crisis, an ongoing supply chain crisis and skyrocketing inflation that Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said this week has no end in site.    He attempted to downplay the ongoing supply chain woes while claiming his policies are responsible for helping ease bottlenecks     “If you’ve watched the news recently you might think the shelves in all out stores are empty across the country, that parents won’t be able to get presents for their children this holiday season, but here’s the deal — for the vast majority of the country that’s not what’s happening,” Biden stated.    “Because of the actions the administration has taken…those shelves are going to be stocked.”
    However, experts say there are still huge challenges when it comes to the nation’s supply chain.    On Wednesday, a major federal reserve survey pointed out the ongoing supply chain bottlenecks continue to push inflation upwards.    Businesses nationwide are still expressing concerns over when the supply chain is expected to fully recover.
    Meanwhile, Biden also touted the release of 50 million barrels of oil from the national oil reserves, which he claims will ease gas prices.    However, many economists point out this accounts for only three days worth of oil and will likely have little affect on consumers.
    “Last week, I announced the largest ever release of the United States Strategic Petroleum Reserve to increase the supply of oil and help bring down prices,” he explained.
    Biden falsely blamed America’s energy producers for the high prices of fuel, accusing oil companies of “uncompetitive behavior.”    However, U.S. gas prices went up after he canceled the Keystone XL pipeline and banned drilling on federal lands earlier this year.
    He then claimed other countries have high inflation as well, but failed to mention it’s not as high as in the U.S.    In reality, U.S. inflation was 6.2 percent last month, which is above 4.2 percent inflation in Britain, 5.2 percent in Germany and 4.7 percent in Canada.
    Biden then took time to tout his trillions dollar social spending agenda, repeating the false claim it would “pay for itself.”    Last month, the CBO released a report showing Biden’s Build Back Better agenda would increase the federal deficit by $367 billion over the next decade.    The report also found it would cost taxpayers $1.7 trillion over that same time period.

12/2/2021 Sen. Paul: Fauci’s Misinformation Causes Vaccine Hesitancy by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is pictured. (AP Photo)
    Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blamed American’s vaccine hesitancy on misinformation spread by bureaucrats like Dr. Anthony Fauci.    In an interview on Wednesday, the Republican said “big government types” cause people to be reluctant to get vaccinated, whereas conservative voices might encourage those same people.
    Paul added, Fauci issues edicts that reflect the authoritarian impulses of public health officials whose first instinct is to try to stop a disease by controlling people.
    “He thinks his opinion should somehow be made law and forced on all of us, whether we should be allowed to travel, whether we need a vaccine passport,” explained the Kentucky lawmaker.    “Vaccine hesitancy is a response to misinformation from Fauci and others.”
    Paul said he believes it’s wrong not to consider natural immunity with regard to vaccine mandates and it’s medical malpractice to vaccinate kids who’ve already had COVID-19.
    Breitbart · Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) – December 1, 2021
    “The absolute hubris of someone claiming they represent science,” he noted while taking to Twitter.    “It’s astounding and alarming that a public health bureaucrat would even think to claim such a thing, especially one who has worked so hard to ignore the science of natural immunity.”

12/2/2021 Pfizer CEO Says Booster Shots Could Be Required Annually by OAN Newsroom
(AP Photo)
    Pfizer gave an update on COVID-19 booster shots as the company pushes for teenagers to take a third dose.    During a recent interview with the BBC, company CEO Albert Bourla said individuals might need a booster shot every year moving forward.
    On Tuesday, Pfizer submitted a request to the FDA to approve booster shots for 16 and 17-year-olds.    Bourla then said it isn’t clear how long these shots are effective.
    “I am very confident that would last at least 12-months, but I don’t know that,” he stated.    “If we have to make a guess based on everything I have seen so far, I would say that likely will be needed annual revaccination to maintain a very robust and very, very high level of protection.”
    In the meantime, the company is studying the Omicron variant and said they are prepared to develop another vaccine.
Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin speaks at an election night party in Chantilly, Va., early
Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, after he defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin laid out his vision moving forward. During an interview on Wednesday, the Republican said he wants to make the Old Dominion State the most military-friendly state in America.
    The state of Virginia has one of the highest active duty populations in the U.S. with at least 127,000 individuals.    Youngkin went on to say the unique challenges that military spouses and families face will no longer be ignored.
    “I think families and military spouses are going to see a much different approach from this administration,” he stated.    “One of the things we know is they have a substantially different stress on them than a normal family and so we have to support it.”
    Youngkin has been meeting with outgoing Governor Ralph Northam to ensure a smooth transfer of power.

12/3/2021 Oil up $1.37 to $67.05, DOW up 608 to 34,630.

12/3/2021 ‘Lot Of Concern’ Over Russian Military Activity Near Ukraine, Top U.S. General Says by Phil Stewart
FILE PHOTO: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, responds to questions
during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan" in the
Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States is tracking enough indicators and warnings surrounding Russian military activity near Ukraine to trigger “a lot of concern” and Russian rhetoric appears increasingly strident, the top U.S. military officer said late on Thursday.
    United States might consider in the event of a Russian invasion.    But Milley, in some of his most extensive remarks on the crisis, stressed the importance of Ukraine’s sovereignty to Washington and to the NATO alliance.
    “There’s significant national security interests of the United States and of NATO member states at stake here if there was an overt act of aggressive action militarily by the Russians into a nation state that has been independent since 1991,” Milley said during a flight from Seoul to Washington.
    Ukraine says Russia has amassed more than 90,000 troops near their long shared border.    But Moscow has dismissed suggestions it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
    The Kremlin already annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and then backed rebels fighting Kyiv government forces in the east of the country.    That conflict has killed 14,000 people, Kyiv says, and is still simmering.
    Experts caution that an unchallenged Russian invasion could be destabilizing, creating ripple effects well beyond Ukraine at a time of increasing anxiety over Chinese intentions toward Taiwan.
    Milley declined to state publicly his estimate of the number of Russian forces near Ukraine but suggested his concerns went beyond the raw numbers of Russian troops.
    “I’m not going to tell you what we track and the indicators or warnings from an intelligence standpoint, but we track them all,” Milley said.    “And there’s enough out there now to cause a lot of concern, and we’ll continue to monitor.”    Russia and Ukraine have centuries of shared history and formed the two biggest republics of the Soviet Union until its 1991 collapse, so Moscow views its neighbor’s ambition to join NATO as an affront and a threat.
    Since the latest crisis started, Moscow has set out demands for legally binding security guarantees from the West, and for assurances that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member or deploy missile systems there to target Russia.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Moscow on Thursday of “severe costs” if it invaded Ukraine, urging his Russian counterpart to seek a diplomatic exit from the crisis.
    Milley declined to speculate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin might be emboldened by U.S. President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying “You’d have to ask Putin.”    The August pullout ended America’s two-decade-old war in an unambiguous defeat, with the Taliban returning to power.
    “I think it would be a mistake for any country to draw a broad strategic conclusion based on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and then take that event and automatically apply it to other situations,” Milley said.
    He cited historic examples of past U.S. presidents who withdrew troops in some places but ordered military action elsewhere.    “So the United States is a difficult country for other countries to understand sometimes,” he said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Jacqueline Wong & Simon Cameron-Moore)

12/3/2021 U.S., EU Concerned By China’s ‘Problematic And Unilateral Actions’ At Sea by David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina
FILE PHOTO: Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman speaks at the State Department
in Washington, DC, U.S. August 18, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and European Union on Thursday voiced strong concern at China’s “problematic and unilateral actions” in the South China Sea and stressed the need for close contact to manage “competition and systemic rivalry” with Beijing.
    The joint statement followed talks in Washington between U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and the Secretary General of the European External Action Service, Stefano Sannino.
    It “emphasized the importance of the United States and EU maintaining continuous and close contacts on our respective approaches as we invest and grow our economies, cooperate with China where possible, and manage our competition and systemic rivalry with China responsibly.”
    The statement also said the two sides discussed rights abuses in China, including repression of religious minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet and the erosion of autonomy in Hong Kong.    It said they expressed readiness to deepen U.S.-EU information sharing on disinformation sponsored or supported by China.
    “They expressed strong concern over China’s problematic and unilateral actions in the South and East China Seas and the Taiwan Strait that undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and European Union,” the statement added.
    The statement followed the second meeting of the U.S.-EU Dialogue on China established this year.    Sherman and Sannino are due to continue China-related discussions with high-level consultations on the Indo-Pacific on Friday.
    U.S. President Joe Biden has stressed the importance of working closely with allies in pushing back against China’s growing power and increasingly assertive behavior worldwide.
    A U.S. official briefing ahead of the talks said Washington and Brussels have an “increasingly convergent” view of China’s “concerning behavior.”
    Speaking separately at a Washington think tank, Vice Admiral Herve Blejean, director general of the EU Military Staff, said there was room for greater coordination to “express our strong desire to defend international law at sea against de facto policies that we’ve seen in South China Sea.”
    Blejean told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that France was a Pacific power and there was also interest in the region on the part of other EU members Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, as well as former EU state Britain.
    “We have to look at how we message that together, because when we’re all united the power of the message is stronger, and how we interact with like-minded nations doing the same – Australia, the United States, Japan, ASEAN countries and so on.”
    Blejean said the EU could look at establishing a “Maritime Area of Interest” in the South China Sea after a pilot project aimed at better coordinating the maritime presence of EU member states underway in Africa’s Gulf of Guinea and another being looked at in the northern Indian Ocean.
(Reporting by Tim Ahmann, David Brunnstrom and Michael Martina, Editing by Richard Pullin)

12/3/2021 U.S. House To Consider Bill To Clamp Down On Products From China’s Xinjiang by Michael Martina and Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: A worker is seen in Youngor's cotton spinning factory, in Aksu, Xinjiang
Uighur Autonomous Region, December 1, 2015. REUTERS/Dominique Patton
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. House of Representatives is set to consider a bill as soon as next week that would ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, Representative Jim McGovern, the bill’s sponsor, told reporters on Thursday.
    “Next week is an important week for human rights,” McGovern said.    “… We think it’s important to move some China legislation, hopefully much of it focused on human rights.    The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act we want to see that get over the finish line in some form.”
    President Joe Biden is hosting a summit of democracies next week, seen as an effort to push back against China’s growing influence.
    Republicans and Democrats have been arguing over the Uyghur legislation for months.    Most recently, Republican Senator Marco Rubio has been demanding that the measure be included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, delaying the Senate’s consideration of the massive annual bill setting policy for the Pentagon.
    Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether House passage of McGovern’s bill would change his stance on the defense bill.
    If the Uyghur measure becomes law, it would create a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods from Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has set up a vast network of detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, were made with forced labor.
    China denies abuses in Xinjiang, which supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.
    Republicans have accused Biden’s Democrats of slow-walking the legislation because it would complicate the president’s renewable energy agenda.    Democrats deny that.
    “I just want to see a strong, a much stronger, approach when it comes to forced labor in Xinjiang,” Democratic Representative Dan Kildee told Reuters in a telephone interview, arguing that domestic production of solar panels could be ramped up.
(Reporting by Michael Martina and Patricia Zengerle; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Sam Holmes)

12/3/2021 Beijing Easing Travel Rules For U.S. Business Execs – China’s Envoy To U.S by Andrea Shalal and David Brunnstrom
FILE PHOTO: The flags of the United States and China fly from a lamppost in the Chinatown
neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., November 1, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – China will reduce the time needed for approval of travel by U.S. business executives to no more than 10 days, China’s ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, said on Thursday, promising to turn “an attentive ear” to concerns raised by U.S. businesses.
    Qin, who arrived in the United States in July, told a dinner hosted by the US-China Business Council that Beijing would also work to make COVID-19 testing more convenient and allow executives to work during quarantine.
    Qin said Beijing was implementing Chinese President Xi Jinping’s direction on upgrading “fast track” arrangements for travel, a response to U.S. concerns about resumption of business travel to China.
    “With the upgraded arrangement, the time needed for travel approval will be shorter, no more than 10 working days,” he said.
    Qin said Beijing would share its specific workplan “very soon” with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
    He said Beijing was committed to implementing the spirit of the recent virtual summit between Xi and U.S. President Joe Biden, and injecting “more positive energy into our relations.”
    Qin called for strengthened cooperation in manufacturing, financial services and the energy sector.
    He also repeated Beijing’s call for Washington to abolish additional tariffs imposed on Chinese goods by the administration of former President Donald Trump.
    Marc Allen, chief strategy officer for Boeing Co, welcomed the announcement of fast track travel, and a separate decision by China’s aviation authority to issue an airworthiness directive on the Boeing 737 MAX, which will pave the way for the model’s return to service in China after more than 2-1/2 years.
    At the same gathering, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy and the Environment Jose Fernandez repeated a litany of U.S. complaints about China’s business practices and stressed the need for a level playing field for U.S. companies.
    He reiterated U.S. concerns about human rights, including alleged forced labor, in China’s Xinjiang region and highlighted U.S. government warnings to business about the risks of operating in Hong Kong.
    He told the business leaders operating in China they should keep in mind that they are “not bystanders in the broader economic and strategic relationship.”
    “Above all, please be mindful how your activities can affect U.S. national security and the fundamental values that we all hold dear,” he said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Lincoln Feast.)

12/3/2021 Social Distancing Circles: The 99-Cent Solution To A Pandemic Problem
FILE PHOTO: People in Domino Park are seen in circles painted as guidelines for social distancing during the outbreak
of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Brooklyn, New York City, U.S., May 24, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
(This Dec. 02 story adds dropped word in first paragraph, corrects month in second paragraph to May not March)
    LONDON (Reuters) – With the help of a 99-cent can of paint, New York’s Domino Park created one of the most unlikely successes of the COVID-19 pandemic – social distancing circles painted in public places, which have shown that when conditions are right, people embrace radical rules.
    The sight of New Yorkers sitting inside neatly spaced circles drawn on the grass would have been unthinkable before the pandemic arrived, but in May 2020 the idea captured the moment and quickly spread across the globe.
    “Everybody was really yearning for guidance that fit within their daily life and was also something that made sense for them to follow – and the circles happened to be that,” Michael Lampariello, director of Domino Park, said in an interview at  the  Reuters Next conference.
    Domino Park is a 5-acre public park in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn.
    Lampariello said his team’s overnight experiment with a discounted can of paint tapped in to people’s desire for a way to enjoy public spaces responsibly, without being criticised for potentially spreading the virus.
    “We immediately started getting requests and emails for additional information from parks all over the world,” he said.
    Replicated in cities from Sydney to Santiago, the idea’s success showed that rules that normally govern city planning can evolve quickly.
    Would New Yorkers have followed the rules before the pandemic?
    “It would not have worked out well, that is certainly for sure,” Lampariello said.
    To watch the Reuters Next conference please register here https://reutersevents.com/events/next/
(Reporting by William James in London; Editing by Matthew Lewis)
[OH NO NOT THE CIRCLES AGAIN AND WHAT IS EVEN WORSE THEY ARE OUTSIDE WHERE GETTING THE VIRUS IS NOT AN ISSUE].

12/3/2021 New U.S. COVID-19 International Travel Testing Rules Take Effect Monday by David Shepardson
FILE PHOTO: Passengers wait in line inside the terminal at Newark Liberty International
Airport in Newark, New Jersey, U.S., November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – New rules requiring international air travelers arriving in the United States to obtain a negative COVID-19 test within one day of travel will take effect Monday at 12:01 a.m. ET (0501 GMT), according to an order issued late Thursday.
    Under current rules, vaccinated international air travelers can present a negative test result obtained within three days of their day of departure.    Unvaccinated travelers currently must get a negative COVID-19 test within one day of departure.
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky’s order says the agency “must take quick and targeted action to help curtail the introduction and spread of the Omicron variant into the United States.”
    The CDC said beginning Monday “all air travelers, regardless of citizenship or vaccination status, will be required to show a negative pre-departure COVID-19 viral test taken the day before they board their flight to the United States.”
    The tighter testing timeline “provides an added degree of public health protection as scientists continue to assess the Omicron variant,” the White House said in a factsheet released Thursday.
    The CDC order noted the Omicron variant has been found in 23 countries.    The order didn’t require COVID-19 testing requirements for international travelers crossing U.S. land borders with Canada or Mexico.
    CDC’s order said it “may exercise its enforcement discretion to adjust the scope of accepted pre-departure testing requirements to allow passengers and airline and aircraft operators greater flexibility regarding the requirements.”
    The CDC is expected to give airlines a three-day grace period to allow for some travelers to return to the United States with tests taken outside of the one-day window, sources told Reuters.
    The administration is considering whether to grant temporary exemptions for about two dozen countries where access to same-day testing is limited, but the details are still being finalized, the sources added.    Those exemptions could last for only about a week and are expected to be detailed on Friday.
    On Monday, the White House said it would bar nearly all foreign nationals from entering the United States from eight southern African countries over fears of the spread of the Omicron variant, but has not extended those travel restrictions to other countries where the new variant has been discovered.
    The U.S. top infectious disease official Anthony Fauci said Wednesday he viewed the restrictions on the eight countries as a “temporary measure.”
    White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday she would not “expect the lifting of restrictions before we know more about the variant.    We will continue to evaluate if additional restrictions need to be put in place.”
(Reporting by David Shepardson, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien & Shri Navaratnam)

12/3/2021 Already Stretched, Mexican Shelters Fret Over Migrant Influx Under MPP Reboot by Lizbeth Diaz
A general view shows a migrant makeshift camp as the Biden administration will restart a controversial Trump-era
border program that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration hearings, at El Chaparral crossing
port with the U.S., in Tijuana, Mexico December 2, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Stringer
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Migrant shelters in northern Mexico said on Thursday they fear they will be overwhelmed by an influx of asylum seekers next week when the United States resumes a Trump-era program to return them to Mexico.
    U.S. President Joe Biden had tried to end the policy as part of a more humanitarian approach to migration, but federal courts ordered a reboot of the so-called Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which require asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration hearings.    Mexico said Thursday it had agreed to a restart https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-restart-trump-era-border-program-forcing-asylum-seekers-wait-mexico-2021-12-02.
    The returns will likely begin Monday at a single border crossing and eventually expand to a total of seven.
    Shelter directors said that could spark an influx of people to their facilities at a time of record migration from Latin America and the Caribbean.
    “We are saturated with the arrival of Haitians … Central Americans and hundreds of Mexicans displaced by violence,” said Jose Garcia, director of the Juventud 2000 shelter in Tijuana, one of the cities where asylum seekers are expected to be sent.
    The coronavirus pandemic had already forced him to reduce capacity, he added.
    Local officials also expressed concern about where funding will come from to absorb migrants waiting for U.S. hearings.
    “The federal government hasn’t notified us that it will help out with a bigger budget,” said Carmen Canturosa, mayor of Nuevo Laredo, a border city notorious for crime and violence.
    Both U.S. and Mexican officials said the United States will address Mexico’s humanitarian concerns about the revamped program.    Still, rights’ advocates say the policy exposes migrants to serious risks.
    “They are returning them to cities that represent a danger to these families due to criminal and cartel violence,” said Fernando Garcia, director of the Border Network for Human Rights in El Paso, Texas.
    Since the program began in 2019, tens of thousands of people have been sent back to Mexican border cities, where many waited months and sometimes years in makeshift camps or bare-bones shelters without access to jobs or schools.
    Guatemalan migrant Andrea Lopez said it made her sad to think of more asylum seekers being put in her situation.    She has spent the last several months in an encampment in Tijuana with her two children after requesting asylum across the border.
    “We can’t even work,” she said.    “Everything here is very dangerous.”
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

12/3/2021 U.S. To Restart Trump-Era Border Program Forcing Asylum Seekers To Wait In Mexico by Ted Hesson and Dave Graham
FILE PHOTO: A member of the Border Patrol's Search, Trauma, and Rescue Unit (BORSTAR) observes the
border wall in Sunland Park, New Mexico, U.S., July 15, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
    (Reuters) - The Biden administration will restart a contentious Trump-era border program that forces asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for U.S. immigration hearings, in keeping with a federal court order, U.S. and Mexican officials said on Thursday.
    President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has struggled in his first year in office to reverse many hardline immigration policies put in place by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, and is facing a record number of migrant arrests at the U.S.-Mexico border.
    Biden ended https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-immigration-protocols/u-s-ends-program-sending-asylum-seekers-to-mexico-to-wait-for-court-hearings-idUSKBN29Q03X the Trump policy known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) soon after his inauguration in January as part of a promise to implement what he called a more humane approach to immigration.    But a federal judge ruled Biden’s rescission did not follow proper procedure and in August ordered the policy’s reinstatement.    The U.S. government said it had to wait for Mexico’s agreement before restarting MPP.
    “The United States accepted all the conditions that we set out,” said one Mexican official.
    The United States will take steps to address Mexico’s humanitarian concerns about the program, the U.S. and Mexican officials said, including offering COVID-19 vaccines to returning migrants and exempting more categories of people deemed vulnerable.
    Migrants also will be asked if they have a fear of persecution or torture in Mexico before being enrolled in the program, and have access to legal representation, U.S. officials said during a call with reporters on Thursday.
    Immigration advocates say MPP exposed migrants to violence and kidnappings in dangerous border cities, where people camped out as they waited for their hearings.
    Any migrant from the Western Hemisphere could be placed in the reworked MPP program, one of the U.S. officials said.    The number of Haitians and Venezuelans caught at the U.S.-Mexico border has jumped in the past year, adding to large numbers of Mexican and Central American crossers.
    At the same time, the Biden administration is still trying to end the MPP program, issuing a new rescission memo in the hopes it will resolve the court’s legal concerns.
    Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in October that the Trump program had “endemic flaws” and “unjustifiable human costs.”
    The U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, has called for ending the program, saying it puts asylum seekers at risk and harms their due process rights.
    “The announced adjustments to the policy are not sufficient to address these fundamental concerns,” UNHCR representative Matthew Reynolds said in a statement.
    The policy was a cornerstone of Trump’s immigration crackdown.    During his administration, tens of thousands of people who entered at the U.S.-Mexico land border were sent back to Mexico to wait months – sometimes years – to present their cases at U.S. immigration hearings held in makeshift courtrooms near the border.    Many migrants failed to appear in court amid the long delays and dangers in Mexico.
    The MPP program will restart on Monday, likely with a small number of migrants at a single U.S. border crossing, one of the U.S. officials said.    Returns to Mexico will eventually take place at seven border crossings in California, Arizona and Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
CONFUSING MIX
    The reinstatement of MPP adds to a confusing mix of immigration policies in place at the U.S.-Mexico border, where arrests reached a record 1.7 million in the 2021 fiscal year, which ended in September.
    Even as Biden tried to end MPP, his administration continued to implement a Trump-era public health order known as Title 42, which allows border authorities to rapidly expel migrants without giving them a chance to claim asylum.
    Nearly two-thirds of migrants caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border this fiscal year have been expelled under the Title 42 order.
    Now migrants caught at the U.S.-Mexico border will be evaluated to determine whether they can be quickly expelled under Title 42, one U.S. official said.    Those who cannot be expelled will either be returned to Mexico with an MPP court date or released or detained in the United States.
    Exceptions will be made for migrants with health issues, the elderly and those at risk of discrimination in Mexico, particularly based on gender identity and sexual orientation, a different U.S. official said.
    The United States and Mexico will arrange transportation for migrants waiting in Mexican shelters so that they can attend their court hearings in the United States, another U.S. official said.
    But local officials in Mexico said many border shelters are already full and overwhelmed.    Mexico is also struggling https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-IMMIGRATION/MEXICO/mopankddwva with makeshift migrant encampments that have popped up along the border in the past year.
    Migrants with cases in the Texas cities of Laredo and Brownsville will be placed in shelters farther away from the U.S.-Mexico border to avoid security risks in the Mexican border cities of Nuevo Laredo and Matamoros, the U.S. official said.
    The Biden administration will dedicate 22 immigration judges to hear MPP cases in an effort to ensure they are completed within 180 days, a separate U.S. official said.
    One Mexican official said the government expected under the revised MPP program that 10%-15% of people who cross the border will end up returning to the United States for a court hearing.
(Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington and Dave Graham in Mexico City; Additional reporting by Kristina Cooke in San Francisco and Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico city; Editing by Mica Rosenberg, Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

12/3/2021 Calif. AG To Crack Down On Surge In Retail Robberies by OAN Newsroom
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 15: California Attorney General Rob Bonta speaks during a news conference outside of an
Amazon distribution facility on November 15, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    California Attorney General Rob Bonta wants to crack down on the state’s surge in smash-and-grab robberies.
    On Friday, Bonta touted the Golden State’s recent efforts in combating similar crimes.    Bonta noted five people pleaded guilty to organizing a multi-million-dollar operation targeting Bay Area retailers.
    State law enforcement agencies coordinated an investigation in April of 2020 that found $8 million worth of stolen merchandise from the defendants’ warehouses, homes and storage facilities.    Bonta used the bust as an opportunity to warn future criminals.
    “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning shot to anyone thinking about participating in organized retail theft and committing brazen crimes with no regard for the safety of workers, our businesses and our community.    You will be held accountable. You will face consequences,” said Bonta.
    In the meantime, California businesses fear for the sudden rise in smash-and-grab robberies as an uptick has also been seen in several states across the nation.

12/3/2021 Rep. McCarthy: We Should Lower The Temperature Of This Congress by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 03: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks during his weekly press
conference at the U.S. Capitol on December 3, 2021 in Washington, DC. Leader McCarthy criticized the Biden
Administration and House Democratic leaders for their lack of ability to get anything done during the first
year despite controlling both the White House and Congress. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has come to the defense of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) as more Democrats have called for the Colorado Republican to be stripped from her committee assignments.
    McCarthy said Boebert doesn’t need to make further apologies for her comments against Democrat lawmakers.
    Speaking to reporters on Friday, McCarthy said Boebert already attempted to make a public and personal apology for her anti-Muslim comments against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). McCarthy highlighted the hypocrisy in how Democrats fail to take action against members in their own party.
    “Did anyone on your side of the aisle talk about when Omar said the only reason I support Israel is about the Benjamins?    I never got a public apology or a phone call,” said the Republican.
    During the press conference, McCarthy also predicted more Democrats will announce their retirement before the years end, saying it’s been a disastrous year in Congress.    The Republican criticized Democrats’ incapability of getting bills to pass under a one party rule in the Senate before having to get the GOP involved, such as Thursday night’s vote on government funding.
    “The management of this House is unbelievable.    Why do they put the financial jeopardy of America on the line,” he asked.
    McCarthy brought the Biden administration into light, taking aim at Joe Biden’s failure to keep promises amid rising inflation as the situation continues to affect hard-working Americans every day.
    “He [Joe Biden] promised he would shut down the virus and he hasn’t.    President Biden’s only strategy so far has been to threaten Americans with more arbitrary COVID restrictions and mandates,” said McCarthy.    “He depleted 50 million barrels of oil from our emergency ply and has done nothing to reverse anti-American energy agenda.”
    Meanwhile, McCarthy suggested Republicans will take majority in the House next year, saying the GOP will listen, hear all Americans and improve their quality of life.

12/3/2021 Gov. DeSantis Proposes Fla. State Guard by OAN Newsroom
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis arrives to announce a proposal for an increase in pay for state law enforcement agencies
to encourage more officers to relocate to Florida, during a news conference at the Florida Highway Patrol Troop D
headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
    Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) seeks to reduce Florida’s reliance on the federal government by resurrecting a World War II civilian force.
    In a press conference on Thursday, DeSantis proposed allocating $3.5 million of his budget to reestablishing the Florida State Guard. Unlike the Florida National Guard, the FSG would answer solely to the governor.    In addition, there would be no federal deployments, federal missions or federal funding.
    “The Florida State Guard will act as a civilian volunteer force that will have the ability to assist the National Guard in state-specific emergencies.    This funding will support necessary training, equipment, and other support functions for up to 200 members, who can aid in the response to hurricanes, natural disasters and other state emergencies.    We want to be able to have a quick response capability,” said DeSantis.
    DeSantis’ proposal comes after Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered all National Guard and Reserve service members to be vaccinated earlier this week.    If they refuse, they could face loss of pay.
    In the meantime, if the FSG is established, Florida would become the 23rd active State Guard in the country.

12/3/2021 Wis. Condo Building Evacuated In Danger Of Collapse by OAN Newsroom
General: Caution tape (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
    A condo building in Waukesha, Wisconsin is now secure after being evacuated due to the threat of a structural collapse.
    On Friday morning, the city announced 65 residents had been successfully evacuated from the building and that officials reviewed a plan to stabilize the structure in order to mitigate any imminent collapse.
    Waukesha Fire Chief Steve Howard and city leaders announced the evacuations after an independent inspection flagged the building for deteriorating structural conditions Thursday night.
    The city said it received a complaint about the conditions of the condo’s balconies.    Upon their removal, it was revealed there were deficiencies of the structural frame.
    “Right now, it’s a lot of shock.    Like what the hell, we just paid $12,000 to have the balcony repaired, and now they’re saying that’s probably what’s making it uninhabitable,” said Raschel Biagioli, an evacuee.
    As of Friday afternoon, officials said contractors had installed structural shoring onto the building to provide some immediate structural integrity.
    “We’re trying to avoid a ‘Florida,'” said Lt. Kevin Rice, referring to the Surfside condo collapse that happened earlier in the year.

12/3/2021 14 Smash-And-Grab Suspects Released On Zero Bail by OAN Newsroom
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, center, speaks during a news conference as he is joined by Mayor Eric Garcetti, second
from right, outside the Los Angeles Police Headquarters Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    More than a dozen smash-and-grab suspects were arrested in Los Angeles, but later released with no bail.    Los Angeles city officials are pushing to rollback zero-bail policies as they believe they’re leading to more brazen crimes, including the recent string of smash-and-grab robberies.
    In a press conference on Thursday, Police Chief Michel Moore said 11 flash mob type break-ins on high-end retailers occurred within 10 days in Los Angeles, resulting in the arrest of 14 suspects, all of whom have been released from custody on no bail.    Chief Moore said L.A. stores were hit 11 times between Nov. 18 and Nov. 28, costing businesses about $338,000 in stolen merchandise and more than $40,000 in property damage.
    The police chief believes the zero-bail policy put in place because of COVID and overcrowding issues, now hinders the justice system to deter crime.    He sited one robbery at L.A.’s Grove, a retail and entertainment complex, as an example of how the lack of consequences has led thieves who organize online to become even more bold.
    California ended its statewide policy of imposing zero-bail for misdemeanors and lower level felonies last year, but was kept in place within the L.A. County Superior Court system.    However, with the recent run of large-scale thefts, even Democrat Mayor Eric Garcetti agreed something needs to change and has asked for help from the city’s criminal justice system, judges and jailers.
    Meanwhile, Police Chief Moore is set to meet with L.A. County District Attorney George Gascon on Friday to review zero-bail policies for repeat offenders.

12/3/2021 House GOP Demands Action On Parental Bill Of Rights by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – SEPTEMBER 22: Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) speaks at a news conference about the National Defense
Authorization Bill at the U.S. Capitol on September 22, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
    Republican members of the House Education and Labor Committee brought forward a bill to strengthen parental rights.
    Speaking on the House floor on Thursday, several GOP representatives moved to consider HR 6056, the Parents’ Bill of Rights Act.    The bill clarifies parent’s rights, which include the right to know what their children are being taught, the right to be heard, and their right to protect their children’s privacy.
    Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) opened by drawing attention to the Democrat Party’s viewpoint on education by pointing to Virginia’s failed gubernatorial candidate, Terry McCauliffe, who said parents shouldn’t be telling schools what they should teach.    Cole emphasized the need for congressional intervention when it comes to education.
    “Education is one of the most important issues that we face today.    Determining how our children will be educated, determines the future fate of our nation.    Unfortunately, many school districts have been ignoring the wishes of parents, or worse, telling parents they can not play a role in their child’s education,” Cole stated.
    Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) said she doesn’t understand why anyone would oppose the Parents’ Bill of Rights because it simply boosts the rights parents already have.
    “Making school spending in curriculum transparent should already be the norm.    After all, what do schools have to hide,” asked Foxx.
    When Democrat representatives took the floor, they suggested directing funds to free childcare and paid parental leave as an alternative, which Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said wasn’t the answer.
    “It’s that we’re funding a government to do things to us, to interfere with us.    We’re funding an FBI to target parents,” said Roy.
    Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.), the first Republican woman to represent Louisiana in Congress and an academic administrator herself, also called for action to be taken. She said the government can’t take total control of the education system, urging her fellow lawmakers to see the importance of educators and administrators working with parents to ensure student success.
    “The idea that government can exclude parents and have total control of the classroom will never work,” she claimed.    “Because it ignores the simple truth, that these are our children, not the governments.    The Parents’ Bill of Rights puts safeguards in place that ensure that the foundation is built on a meaningful dialogue between family and their child’s school.”
    She went on to add that the ideas in the bill aren’t partisan or polarizing, but are simple and common sense.

12/3/2021 Biden Unveils COVID-19 Winter Plan, Blunders Steal Spotlight by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden speaks about the COVID-19 variant named omicron during a visit to the National
Institutes of Health, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, in Bethesda, Md. Biden looked out over an audience
of government scientists and framed his latest plan for fighting COVID-19. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Conservative critics have continued to question who is calling the shots at the White House. While speaking in Maryland on Thursday, Joe Biden made a series of bizarre comments as he announced his five-step winter COVID-19 plan.    His remarks came after he met with world class scientists and health bureaucrats behind closed doors.
    Biden’s latest COVID-19 plan includes building family vaccination centers, pushing booster shots and apparently lots of phone calls to Americans. After having trouble naming CVS Pharmacy, Biden then falsely claimed rapid COVID-19 home tests weren’t on the market before he took office.
    Biden has developed a reputation for rocky press conferences with false statements and abrupt endings, which has prompted conservative critics like Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho) to question who is really calling the shots.    Meanwhile, Biden made a joke about Dr. Anthony Fauci being commander-in-chief.
    Shortly after this, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pointed out Dr. Fauci does seem to have complete authority over Biden.    The Republican lawmaker warned that because not a single American voted to elect Fauci as a leader, for many this is not a joke but a nightmare.

12/3/2021 Germany Places Restrictions On The Unvaccinated by OAN Newsroom
In this Tuesday, March 30, 2021 file photo, German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefs the media after a
virtual meeting with federal state governors at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, Pool, File)
    Germany is taking away freedoms from certain citizens in a move eerily similar to the country’s past.    Acting German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced new restrictions for unvaccinated citizens on Thursday.    Moving forward, Germans without the jab will be barred from enjoying various activities throughout the federal republic.
    “Access to leisure, sports and cultural activities will be limited Germany-wide to those who are vaccinated or have recovered (from COVID-19), irrelevant of the incidence rate,” Merkel stated.    “Additional testing, the so-called 2G Plus rule, could be applied in some instances.    2G rules will be extended to the retail sector, with the exception of shops selling everyday needs.”
    Merkel justified the measure due to a fourth wave of positive cases throughout her country despite having an almost 70 percent national vaccination rate. However. the fatality rate of COVID-19 has failed to be persuasive enough to reach Merkel’s threshold of a 75 percent vaccination rate.
    By creating two classes of people, the German government believes it can increase the attractiveness of receiving a vaccine. Merkel’s likely successor, Olaf Scholz, fully supports the measure while alleging the government has given its citizens more than enough time to comply.
    “These access restrictions are now acceptable because everyone has the ability to change his situation by getting vaccinated,” Scholz stated.    “There are enough vaccines available and everyone could have done it a long time ago.”
    Germans have not been forced to get vaccinated yet, however, Merkel may be prodding her people to get the jab for Christmas before it becomes mandatory.
    “Mandatory vaccinations will be discussed and voted on in the German Parliament, and the government and the states will ask the Ethics Council to work out a recommendation by year’s end,” explained the German Chancellor.    “Mandatory vaccinations could then, if approved in parliament, become effective around February 2022.”
    Merkel mentioned that staying up to date on one’s booster shots will be crucial to the state’s definition of “fully vaccinated.”    Germany’s measures are similar to those of Austria and New Zealand in trying to get people vaccinated through discriminatory policies rather than the science.
[HITLER DID THE SAME THING BY CREATING TWO CLASSES OF CITIZENS AND HERE IT IS HAPPENING IN GERMANY AGAIN.].

12/3/2021 Sen. Rubio Blocks NDAA Vote Over Uyghur Genocide Provision by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., arrives to vote on an appropriations bill that funds the government through Feb. 18 and avoids a short-term
shutdown after midnight Friday, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) blocked a quick passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) after his proposed provision on the genocide of Uighur Muslims was not included in the bill.    The Florida Republican introduced the provision Wednesday, saying the NDAA must ban the imports of Chinese goods from Xinjiang province.
    The U.S. Senate has found at least 1 million Uighurs are used as slave labor in Xinjiang labor camps, making products for international companies.    Nonetheless, Senate Democrats have said such a proposal must originate from the House as it affects U.S. budget revenue.
    “And so this is not really about revenue generating, the CBO said it’s insignificant really,” explained Rubio. “This is about the fact that they don’t want this bill to pass-over in the House and I understand why.    Listen, there are some big companies out there, some very big companies…who’s going to go out lobbying in favor of slave labor?
    Rubio asserted Democrats are defending special interests that extract huge financial benefits from the use of slave labor in China.

12/3/2021 Trump Slams Biden Admin. Over Increasing Crime Rates by OAN Newsroom
FILE – 45th U.S. President Donald Trump looks on during a press conference announcing a
class action lawsuit against big tech companies at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster
on July 07, 2021 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)
    According to the 45th president, the current administration is to blame for the surge in crimes throughout the country.    During an interview Thursday, Donald Trump said America is being destroyed by Joe Biden’s White House while citing the recent uptick in smash-and-grab robberies.
    Trump noted, police are unable to do their jobs because people don’t respect law enforcement and are not afraid to commit crimes.    Additionally, he called out the mainstream media for not reporting on crime in cities like San Francisco and Chicago.
    Trump then emphasized the Biden administration has rendered law enforcement powerless.    He reiterated the necessity for police to be able to do their job.
    “When you have hoards of people running in, kids mostly, running in and stealing, robbing stores where drug chains are closing all their stores in different cities because they can’t keep them open,” Trump told reporters.    “We just don’t have law enforcement, we’re not allowed to have law enforcement.    Our country is being destroyed.    It should never be allowed to happen.    Police have to be given their power back.”
    The 45th president went on to say the surge in crimes should have never been allowed to happen.

12/3/2021 Rep. Letlow Demands Action On Parental Bill Of Rights by OAN Newsroom
Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) speaks to the press at the Louisiana State. (Brett Duke/AP Photo)
    Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.) is standing up for parents’ rights when it comes to their children’s education.    While speaking on the House floor Thursday, she called for action to be taken in regard to the Parents’ Bill of Rights brought forward by her and her colleagues.
    This legislation contains five points that aim to create mutually beneficial partnerships between schools and parents.    Letlow said the government can not take total control of the education system.    She urged her fellow lawmakers to see the importance of educators and administrators working with parents to ensure student success.
    “The idea that government can exclude parents and have total control of the classroom will never work because it ignores the simple truth that these are our children not the governments,” stated the Louisiana lawmaker.    “The Parents’ Bill of Rights puts safeguards in place that ensure that the foundation of education is built on a meaningful dialogue between families and their child’s school.”
    Rep. Letlow went on to add, the ideas in the bill are not partisan or polarizing, but are simple and common sense.

12/3/2021 France Evacuates More Than 300 People From Afghanistan
FILE PHOTO: Taliban soldiers stand in front of a sign at the international airportbr> in Kabul, Afghanistan, September 9, 2021. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) - France has carried out an evacuation mission in Afghanistan, taking 258 Afghans as well as 11 French, some 60 Dutch nationals and an unspecified number of people linked to them out of the country, a French foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Friday.
    The operation was organised with help from Qatar, a ministry statement said.
    Evacuees included Afghans who were at risk such as journalists as well as people with links to France including civilian workers who were employed by the French army.    Since Sept. 10, 110 French people and 396 Afghans have been evacuated from Afghanistan on 10 flights organised with the help of Qatar, the statement added.
    France and Qatar jointly operated a humanitarian mission on Thursday, delivering medical equipment, food and winter supplies to international organisations operating in the country with a Qatari military plane, the French foreign ministry spokeswoman said.
    The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) this week described an “alarming” socioeconomic outlook for Afghanistan for the next 13 months.    Afghanistan is struggling with a sharp drop in international development aid after the Taliban seized power in August, and the UNDP has projected that poverty may become nearly universal by mid-2022.
(Reporting by Mimosa Spencer; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Will Dunham)

12/3/2021 Blinken Warns Chinese Leaders Over Taiwan As Global Crises Mount by Alessandra Galloni and Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a press conference during
a ministerial council meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2, 2021. Jonathan Nackstrand/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that Chinese leaders should think carefully about their actions toward Taiwan, warning of “terrible consequences” if China precipitates a crisis across the Taiwan Strait.
    In an interview, Blinken addressed multiple foreign policy challenges facing the administration of President Joe Biden, including faltering efforts to repair the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine, and the spiraling conflict in Ethiopia.
    Most acute may be China’s increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory.    Taiwan’s defense minister has said tensions with China are at their worst in more than 40 years https://www.reuters.com/world/china/taiwan-defence-minister-says-china-will-have-ability-mount-full-scale-invasion-2021-10-06 adding that China will be capable of mounting a “full-scale” invasion by 2025.
    Asked if China was going to invade Taiwan, Blinken said “that would be a potentially disastrous decision,” repeating Washington’s position that it is “resolutely committed” to making sure Taiwan has the means to defend itself.
    China had been trying to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait in recent years by engaging in provocative military maneuvers and trying to isolate Taiwan from the rest of world, Blinken said.
    “I hope that China’s leaders think very carefully about this and about not precipitating a crisis that would have I think terrible consequences for lots of people and one that’s in no one’s interest, starting with China,” Blinken said.
    China remains Biden’s number one foreign policy priority, but his administration has also been buffeted by crises elsewhere.
    Blinken said the United States had sanctions it could use for parties perpetuating Ethiopia’s conflict.
    On Iran, Blinken said Washington ended indirect talks in Vienna this week because Tehran did not seem serious about a return to compliance with the nuclear deal.
    “If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead-end, we will pursue other options,” he said.
    Blinken returned on Thursday from Europe, where he met Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and delivered a warning over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine.
    Biden is expected to speak to President Vladimir Putin in the near future, and will tell the Russian leader that Washington is determined to stand up against any “reckless or aggressive” actions, Blinken said.    The United States wants a more predictable relationship with Russia, he said.
    “There are areas where we have overlapping interests and we should be able to work together if we can have some stability and predictability in the relationship.    Russia’s actions and the threat of further aggression against Ukraine moves in exactly the opposite direction,” Blinken said.
(Reporting by Alessandra Galloni in London and Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, Doina Chiacu, Michael Martina and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)

12/3/2021 Blinken Says Any Move By China To Invade Taiwan Would Have ‘Terrible Consequences’
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a press conference during a ministerial
council meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)
in Stockholm, Sweden, December 2, 2021. Jonathan Nackstrand/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Any move by China to invade Taiwan would have “terrible consequences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday, adding that he hoped Chinese leaders would think very carefully about “not precipitating a crisis” across the Taiwan Strait.
    Blinken, speaking at the Reuters Next conference, said China had been trying to change the status quo over self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its territory, and that the United States is “resolutely committed” to making sure the island has the means to defend itself.
    “But here again, I hope that China’s leaders think very carefully about this and about not precipitating a crisis that would have, I think, terrible consequences for lots of people, and one that’s in no one’s interest, starting with China,” Blinken said.
    Asked specifically if the United States could commit to send military forces in the event of an invasion, Blinken said: “We’ve been very clear and consistently clear, over many years that we are committed to making sure that Taiwan has the means to defend itself and … we will continue to make good on that commitment.”
    U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has been trying to carve out more space for Taiwan in the international system amid what it says are Beijing’s coercive military and diplomatic efforts to isolate the democratically governed island.
    Biden caused a stir in October when he said the United States, which is obliged by a 1979 law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, would come to Taiwan’s defense if China attacked.
    His remarks appeared to depart from a long-held U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taiwan as to how Washington would respond to such a scenario.    The White House said Biden was not signaling a change in U.S. policy toward Taiwan, and some analysts dismissed his comments as a gaffe.
    Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has vowed to defend the island, and says only its people can decide its future.
(Reporting by Alessandra Galloni, David Brunnstrom, Michael Martina, Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/4/2021 Oil down $1.38 to $66.03, DOW down60 to 34,580.

12/4/2021 OUR DAILY FAIRY TALE OF THE BIDEN-HARRIS STORY.
LITTLE RED LYING HOOD
And I think you know who is her BIG BAD BOSS who huffs and puffs and forgets what he is talking about and begins to fall asleep
and never suceeds in his efforts while his staff who are the former Obama people who are running the country
and are blowing the United States down with Socialism

12/4/2021 White House Says It Isn’t Trying To Weaken Bill On China’s Uyghurs
FILE PHOTO: White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks about the Biden administration's plan to fight COVID-19 this
winter during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 2, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden’s administration is not lobbying against a U.S. bill that would ban some Chinese imports over concern about forced labor among Uyghurs, which Republicans have accused Democrats of stalling, the White House said on Friday.
    The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which would ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region, is set to be considered by the House of Representatives as soon as next week, the bill’s sponsor, congressman Jim McGovern, told reporters on Thursday.
    White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded to a Washington Post report https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/12/02/congress-needs-act-xi-jinpings-genocide-now that suggested the Biden administration was telling lawmakers to slow the bill down while the White House pursues a more targeted approach, rather than a blanket ban on goods from the region, and support from other countries.
    The Post article said Biden administration sources had confirmed that in an October call between Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, a co-sponsor of the bill, Sherman made it clear the administration preferred such an approach.
    It said she told Merkley that getting buy-in of allies was critical and more effective than unilateral action.
    Sherman was asked at a Brookings Institution event with the chief of the European Union’s diplomatic service on Friday whether the administration supported a bill banning goods from Xinjiang on the assumption they were tainted by forced labor.
    “Secretary Blinken, very early on, and I have as well, have called what has occurred in Xinjiang genocide,” she replied, referring to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
    “We are quite concerned, and remain concerned, about the horrific human rights abuses that have taken place.    And the particular amendment that you’re discussing, the administration does not oppose this amendment,” she said.
    “We need to stand in solidarity with the Uyghurs, with religious minorities all over the world, to make sure that they can live in security and dignity.”
    Merkley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Washington Post report and Sherman’s remarks.
    Republicans have accused Biden’s Democrats of stalling the legislation because it would complicate the president’s renewable energy agenda, which requires Chinese cooperation.    The Democrats deny this.
    If the Uyghur measure becomes law, the sponsors have said it would create a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods from Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has set up a vast network of detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslims, were made with forced labor.
    China denies abuses in Xinjiang, which supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.
    Republican Senator Marco Rubio has been demanding that the measure be included as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, delaying the Senate’s consideration of the massive annual bill setting policy for the Pentagon.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Jarrett Renshaw and David Brunnstrom; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Sonya Hepinstall and Cynthia Osterman)

12/4/2021 Biden Says He Is Crafting A Plan For Russia-Ukraine Crisis by Trevor Hunnicutt
FILE PHOTO: The national flag of Ukraine flies over the town of Kramatorsk, Ukraine
November 25, 2021. Picture taken with a drone on November 25, 2021. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden said on Friday he is developing comprehensive initiatives to make it difficult for Russian President Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine and that he would not accept Moscow’s “red lines,” as fears mounted that the simmering conflict could erupt into war.
    A video teleconference between the two leaders is anticipated within days.
    More than 94,000 Russian troops are massed https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/large-scale-russian-offensive-possible-january-ukraine-says-2021-12-03 near Ukraine’s borders, said Ukraine’s defense minister, Oleksii Reznikov, who cited intelligence reports suggesting Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive for the end of January.
    Moscow, in turn, has accused Ukraine and the United States of destabilizing behavior and suggested Kyiv might be preparing to launch its own offensive in eastern Ukraine, which the Ukrainian authorities deny.
    “What I am doing is putting together what I believe to be the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for Mr. Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he’s going to do,” Biden said, without going into detail.
    As he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David later on Friday, Biden told reporters: “We’re aware of Russia’s actions for a long time and my expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin.”
    “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said of Russia’s demands.
    U.S. and Ukrainian officials warned again this week that severe economic sanctions are on the table against Russia.
    “Since the beginning of this administration we have demonstrated that the United States and our allies are willing to use a number of tools to address harmful Russian actions,” a senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said when asked about the plan Biden is developing.    “We will not hesitate from making use of those and other tools in the future.”
    White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a briefing that security assistance for Ukraine is under consideration.
BIDEN-PUTIN CALL
    Ukrainian tensions set the backdrop for the first call in months between the U.S. president and his Russian counterpart as soon as next week. Officials have been negotiating terms of the call after Putin and Biden last spoke in July.
    The Kremlin said on Friday that Russia and the United States had a tentative date and time for the video summit in the coming days, but that Moscow was waiting for Washington to finalize it.    The White House said only that it is “engaged” in talks for a possible call.
    Biden imposed sanctions on Russia in April https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/us-imposes-wide-array-sanctions-russia-malign-actions-2021-04-15 and has left open the possibility of more.    But Washington hopes that continued direct engagement will lower the temperature at a time when relations are at their lowest level since the end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union.
    “We want open lines of communication with the Russians,” said one senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity.    “Especially in times of tension, it’s important that we have these channels of dialogue.”
    A glimpse into what a Biden-Putin call might look like was offered by a meeting among lower level officials on Thursday.
    In Stockholm on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/blinken-urges-russias-lavrov-take-diplomatic-exit-ukraine-crisis-2021-12-02 Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that there would be “severe costs” if Moscow escalates conflict, a message Biden appears prepared to reiterate.
    Blinken told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that Biden would tell Putin about the country’s “determination, not as a threat, but simply as a fact, to stand up resolutely against any reckless or aggressive actions that Russia may pursue and also to defend the territorial integrity, the sovereignty, the independence of Ukraine.”
    Russian officials, meanwhile, said Putin would press his case for legally binding security guarantees from the West that NATO will not admit Ukraine as a member of the military alliance or deploy missile systems there to target Russia.
    As in their past talks, including a June face-to-face meeting in Geneva, other issues likely to come up include cybersecurity, arms issues, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and Syria.
(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Steve Holland, Humeyra Pamuk, Alessandra Galloni and Simon Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Dan Grebler and Sonya Hepinstall)

12/4/2021 Donors Eye Dec. 10 Decision On Shifting Frozen Funds For Afghanistan
FILE PHOTO: A group of women wearing burqas crosses the street as members of the Taliban
drive past in Kabul, Afghanistan October 9, 2021. REUTERS/Jorge Silva/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Donors to the World Bank-administered Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF) have agreed to decide about a transfer of funds to humanitarian aid agencies by Dec. 10, a World Bank spokesperson said on Friday.
    The World Bank’s board this week backed transferring $280 million from the $1.5 billion trust fund, which was frozen after the Taliban took over the Afghan government in August, to the World Food Programme and UNICEF, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the plan.
    The World Bank spokesperson gave no details on the proposal, but said ARTF donors met on Friday and agreed to make a decision on transfers out of the fund in one week.
    No further details about the ARTF meeting were immediately available.
    The U.S. Treasury Department had no comment.
    Afghanistan’s 39 million people face a collapsing economy, a winter of food shortages and growing poverty since the Taliban seized power at the end of August as the last U.S. troops withdrew from 20 years of war.
    Afghan experts have said the aid would help, but big questions remain, including how to get funds into Afghanistan without exposing any financial institutions involved to U.S. sanctions.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Sandra Maler)

12/4/2021 Omicron Variant May Have Picked Up A Piece Of Common-Cold Virus by Nancy Lapid
People queue at a popup COVID-19 testing site in New York, U.S., December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 likely acquired at least one of its mutations by picking up a snippet of genetic material from another virus – possibly one that causes the common cold – present in the same infected cells, according to researchers.
    This genetic sequence does not appear in any earlier versions of the coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, but is ubiquitous in many other viruses including those that cause the common cold, and also in the human genome, researchers said.
    By inserting this particular snippet into itself, Omicron might be making itself look “more human,” which would help it evade attack by the human immune system, said Venky Soundararajan of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based data analytics firm nference, who led the study https://osf.io/f7txy posted on Thursday on the website OSF Preprints.
    This could mean the virus transmits more easily, while only causing mild or asymptomatic disease.    Scientists do not yet know whether Omicron is more infectious than other variants, whether it causes more severe disease or whether it will overtake Delta as the most prevalent variant.    It may take several weeks to get answers to these questions.
    Cells in the lungs and in the gastrointestinal system can harbor SARS-CoV-2 and common-cold coronaviruses simultaneously, according to earlier studies. Such co-infection sets the scene for viral recombination, a process in which two different viruses in the same host cell interact while making copies of themselves, generating new copies that have some genetic material from both “parents.”
    This new mutation could have first occurred in a person infected with both pathogens when a version of SARS-CoV-2 picked up the genetic sequence from the other virus, Soundararajan and colleagues said in the study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed.
    The same genetic sequence appears many times in one of the coronaviruses that causes colds in people – known as HCoV-229E – and in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS, Soundararajan said.
    South Africa, where Omicron was first identified, has the world’s highest rate of HIV, which weakens the immune system and increases a person’s vulnerability to infections with common-cold viruses and other pathogens.    In that part of the world, there are many people in whom the recombination that added this ubiquitous set of genes to Omicron might have occurred, Soundararajan said.
    “We probably missed many generations of recombinations” that occurred over time and that led to the emergence of Omicron, Soundararajan added.
    More research is needed to confirm the origins of Omicron’s mutations and their effects on function and transmissibility.    There are competing hypotheses that the latest variant might have spent some time evolving in an animal host.
    In the meantime, Soundararajan said, the new findings underscore the importance of people getting the currently available COVID-19 vaccines.
    “You have to vaccinate to reduce the odds that other people, who are immunocompromised, will encounter the SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Soundararajan said.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Will Dunham)

12/4/2021 Secy. Of State Blinken Says Iran ‘Doesn’t Seem To Be Serious’ About Compliance With Nuclear Deal by OAN Newsroom
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken addresses a press conference during a ministerial council
meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Stockholm on December 2, 2021.
(Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the latest round of talks with Iran and Vienna regarding renegotiating the nuclear deal from 2015, which ended due to Iranian officials not taking it seriously.
    During a conference on Friday, Blinken said he believes a mutual compliance is necessary moving forward.    Blaming the Trump administration for withdrawing from the deal known as the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” back in 2018.
    “I think the decision to pull out of the agreement was a disastrous mistake,” Blinken stated.
    Despite Israel’s prime minister warning world powers to not give into the deal Monday, Blinken still insisted diplomacy is the best path.
    “Iran deserves no rewards, no bargain deals and no sanctions relief in return for their brutality,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.    “I call upon our allies around the world: Do not give in to Iran’s nuclear blackmail.”
    The 2015 agreement was supposed to put restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for easing some international sanctions. However, President Trump pulled from the deal.
    Three years ago, the 45th president predicted this plan wouldn’t be beneficial for the U.S. and withdrew from the deal in efforts to protect the American people.
    “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.    Last week, Israel published intelligence documents long concealed by Iran, conclusively showing the Iranian regime and its history of pursuing nuclear weapons.    The fact is this was a horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made,” said Trump.
    Trump also previously said the U.S. would’ve been able to agree with the deal if revisions were made, but after months of attempts, no compromises were made and Trump kept his promise.
    “America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail.    We will not allow American cities to be threatened with destruction.    And we will not allow a regime that chants 'death to America' to gain access to the most deadly weapons on earth,” said the 45th president.
    After months of discussions, the U.S. will likely have to explore other options, especially after European officials voiced concerns over the demands of Iran’s new administration during the meeting on Friday.    However, for now, the secretary said if an agreement can’t be reached soon, the U.S. would pursue other options.    He did not specify what they would be, but more talks on the matter are set to resume this upcoming week.

12/4/2021 Trump Calls 2020 Election Fraud ‘Crime Of The Century’ by OAN Newsroom
GRAND RAPIDS, MI – DECEMBER 9: Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena,
December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    President Donald Trump called the election fraud scandal in 2020 the “crime of the century.”
    In a statement on Saturday, Trump praised Mark Meadows’ new book titled “The Chief’s Chief,” for its coverage on the 2020 presidential election.    Meadows was the 45th president’s White House chief of staff and said the new book “rightfully spends much time talking about the large-scale election fraud.”
    Trump added those who are constantly trying to look into the details of the Jan. 6 protest, should spend more time studying and researching the election fraud.    Meanwhile, Meadows’ book is set to be released Dec. 7.

12/4/2021 Rep. Nunes: Democrats Create Wildfires And Blame Climate Change by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – JUNE 29: U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) testifies during a Republican-led forum on the origins
of the COVID-19 virus at the U.S. Capitol on June 29, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
    As Joe Biden has continued his push for the biggest climate change bill in American history, some Republicans argue that saving the environment isn’t nearly this complicated.
    In an interview on Friday, Congressman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said Democrats have damaged natural cycles of nature with sweeping environmental regulations.    Nunes stressed this is on full display with the narrative California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) pushes about wildfires after at least three million acres were scorched this year alone.
    Over the past decades, Democrats have pushed tight regulations on the timber industry, making it harder for loggers to clear forests.    Nunes linked California’s wildfires to the state’s poor forest management policies, which Democrats imposed out of environmental concern.
    He stressed when forests aren’t cut and trimmed, it makes wildfires even more devastating.    Nunes also pointed out strict environmental regulations have caused electricity prices to rise in the once-thriving economy of the Golden State.
    The California Republican warned if Democrats continue to push strict environmental regulations across the country, like many within Biden’s Build Back Better bill, it could also have devastating effects on both nature and the economy.

12/4/2021 Rep. Nunes ‘Still Concerned’ With Big Tech Censorship by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARCH 07: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Permanent
Select Committee on Intelligence, answers questions at the U.S. Capitol during
a press conference March 7, 2017 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
    GOP Rep. Devin Nunes (Calif.) warns of Big Tech companies gaining even more control and power to censor in the future. During a recent Breitbart interview, the California representative assessed he’s still concerned with “woke corporations.”
    “What happens if these companies just decide next year, ‘well, Republicans, they’re all insurrectionists.    Let’s shut off all their credit cards and banking so they just can’t raise any money,'” asked Nunes.
    Nunes suggested the most important threat is what Big Tech’s control of the internet is doing to the country and it’s possibility of becoming even more tyrannical in the future.    He highlighted how users’ freedom of speech is being censored on the internet without them even realizing.
    “Between Facebook and Twitter, and what Google’s doing and Wikipedia and everything else, we’re just getting overwhelmed by the censorship.    And so, the most important issue at the highest level for the future of a Democratic Republic is going to be the reopening, so to speak, of the internet, with the free flow of information…whether that’s social media or video platforms or news,” he said.
    The Republican’s remarks come after lawmakers in Congress feuded over Big Tech this week as Republicans continue to push platforms should be held liable for censoring or amplifying posts of their choosing.
    Nunes said the free flow of information and being able to speak freely in the internet sphere is the only way to reach those accustomed to watching fake news.
[I do not use Facebook, Twitter or Big Tech still since e-mail is safe but still use Google the one I promoted to all in 1990 because it is easier to copy and paste than using a World Encyclapedia book to type from and they are only doing the bad thing of people paying to get their pages on top rather than let people searching determining who is hit the most, which was true when I started as my site was at the top now maybe ten pages away.]

12/4/2021 U.S. Central Command: Civilians May Have Been Killed In Drone Strike Targeting Al-Qaeda Leader by OAN Newsroom
This picture taken 26 December 2011 shows the Pentagon building
in Washington, D.C. (Photo by STAFF/AFP via Getty Images)
    U.S. Central Command confirmed civilians may have been killed in a drone strike targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner in Syria.
    On Saturday, a spokesperson from Central Command told the Military Times the target was killed, however, their name has not been released following Friday’s strike. Officials said a full investigation has been launched into the allegations of innocent lives killed.
    “U.S. forces conducted a kinetic strike near Idlib, Syria, Dec. 3, targeting a senior al-Qaeda leader and planner,” Central Command spokesperson Captain Bill Urban said in a statement.    “The strike was conducted using a precision strike method from MQ-9 aircraft.”
    The mission comes shortly after the Pentagon admitted a drone strike in March of 2019 killed civilians in Syria, which is now under investigation.    Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin recently ordered a renewed investigation into the matter.
    In the meantime, officials said results of the investigation into the strike would be released “when appropriate.”
[WHY THIS DID NOT HAPPEN DURING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BECAUSE THEY KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING WHEN YOU PUT A BUNCH OF WOKE GENERALS IN CHARGE YOU GET THE SAME RESULTS AS YOU DID IN THE AFGHANISTAN WITH 13 INNOCENT PEOPLE WERE KILLED ITS ABOUT TIME TO REPLACE THEM WITH COMPETENT PERSONNEL.].

12/4/2021 Fmr. NSA Contractor Doesn’t Regret Leaking Govt. Information by OAN Newsroom
AUGUSTA, GA. – JUNE 8: Reality Winner exits the Augusta Courthouse June 8, 2017
in Augusta, Georgia. Winner is an intelligence industry contractor accused of leaking
National Security Agency (NSA) documents. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
    A former National Security advisor said she leaked government information as a way to serve the American people.
    In an interview that aired Friday, former NSA contractor Reality Winner said her decision of releasing information on the alleged Russian government hacking of the 2016 election was out of love for this country.    She defended her actions, saying she felt people were being misled despite being charged with espionage by the Justice Department.
    “I knew it was secret, but I also knew that I had pledged service to the American people.    And at that point in time, it felt like they were being led astray,” said Winner.
    After the information was leaked, another agency within the federal government was reportedly notifying states about potential hacking threats.    Winner was released from prison earlier this year after serving 63 months following a plea of guilty for leaking classified documents in 2016.
    Winner’s mother, Billie Winner-Davis, spoke highly of her daughter saying, “she actually stood up and worked for the American people to give us the truth about an attack on our vote, an attack on our democracy, an attack on our country.”
[AFTER SEEING WHAT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION HAS DONE TO THIS COUNTRY AND THE ISSUE WITH THE CONGRESS INSURRECTION ILLEGAL LOCKUPS ANYONE WHO CAN EXPOSE THEIR CORRUPTION IS WORTH IT AND UNDERSTAND YOUR ACTIONS HAVE BEEN DONE BY MANY THAT HAVE JUST BEEN PART OF DONALD TRUMPS DEPARTMENTS TRYING TO DO THEIR JOB HAVE BEEN TREATED THE SAME - HANG IN THERE AND HOPEFULLY THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WILL WAKE UP AND OVERTHROW THEIR GLOBALIST SOCIALIST ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES BECAUSE IF NOT WE WILL ALL BE A PRISONER LIKE YOU IN THE NEAR FUTURE.]

12/5/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/5/2021 George Soros should be criminal no. 1 in the United States of America for providing money to the Globalist Socialist One World Government the Democrats have taken his money to do the destruction going on in the United States of America before the Donald Trump administration took office and is continuing to date.

TO SEE MORE ON HIM GO TO Who Are The Globalist Destroying The World

12/5/2021 Biden And Putin Set To Talk About Ukraine In Video Call On Tuesday by Steve Holland and Tom Balmforth
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit
at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Pool
    WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday, with the two leaders set to discuss the tense situation in Ukraine.
    “Biden will underscore U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
    She said other topics would include “strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.”
    The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
    “The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters.    “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realization of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.
    The exact timing of the call was not disclosed.
    More than 94,000 Russian troops are believed to be massed near Ukraine’s borders.    Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive at the end of January, citing intelligence reports. U.S. officials have come to similar conclusions, they said.
    Biden, meanwhile, has rejected Russian demands for security guarantees in the region.
    “My expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David.    “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.
    The U.S. president said he and his advisers were preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion.    He did not give further details, but the administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin separately said that Washington was committed to ensuring that Ukraine had what it needed to protect its territory.
    Austin added that there was a lot of space for diplomacy and leadership to work on Ukraine.
    At the same conference, James C. McConville, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, on Saturday referred to estimates of 95,000 to 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
    “I don’t know what they are going to do, but I am very, very concerned,” McConville said.
    Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
    U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, including whether Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine.
    U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.
    But they have become more volatile in recent months.
    The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.
    Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.
    The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva in June.    They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”
(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)

12/5/2021 Germany’s Free Democrats Back Coalition Agreement
Germany's Free Democratic Party (FDP) leader Christian Lindner attends an extraordinary party convention
to vote on the coalition agreement, in Berlin, Germany December 5, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Members of Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) voted on Sunday by a large majority to back a coalition agreement with the Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, paving the way for the three-way alliance to form a new government next week.
    The coalition, the first at federal level between the environmentalist Greens, the FDP and Olaf Scholz’s centre-left SPD, will end 16 years of conservative governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel.
    The SPD approved the agreement on Saturday and the Greens are due to announce the outcome of a member survey on the deal on Monday.    The three parties hope the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, will vote Scholz in as chancellor on Wednesday.
    The “traffic light” alliance, named after the parties’respective colours, will usher in a new era of relations with Europe, and plans to speed up digitalisation of the continent’sbiggest economy and put a focus on fighting climate change.
(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Alex Richardson)

12/5/2021 UK Reports 86 New Cases Of Omicron COVID-19 Variant, Total 246
FILE PHOTO: People walk through Westminster Underground station during morning rush hour, amid the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s health security agency on Sunday reported 86 new cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, taking the total number identified so far to 246.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by David Clarke)

12/5/2021 Western Countries Express Concern Over Afghan Reprisals, Taliban Reject Accusations
FILE PHOTO: Afghan policemen keep watch at a checkpoint in Kabul, Afghanistan April 19, 2021 REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
    BERLIN (Reuters) - The United States and a group of Western countries including Germany, France and Britain have expressed concern over reported killings and disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces after the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August.
    In a joint statement issued over the weekend, the 21 countries plus the European Union referred to reports of such abuses documented by Human Rights Watch and others.
    “We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” said the statement, issued by the German Foreign Ministry.
    “Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances,” it said.
    Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sayed Khosti rejected the accusation of reprisal killings, saying no evidence had been presented.
    “If there is any evidence, it should be shared with us,” he said in a video statement, pointing to the general amnesty announced by the Taliban government.
    “We have had some individual cases of killings of ex-government members but these were due to private enmity and we’ve arrested those involved.”
    “This is slander against the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, not justice.”
    Human Rights Watch https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/11/30/afghanistan-taliban-kill-disappear-ex-officials said in a report on Nov. 30 that Taliban forces in Afghanistan have executed or forcibly disappeared more than 100 former police and intelligence officers since taking over the country on Aug. 15, despite the proclaimed amnesty.
    The Taliban interior ministry has rejected the Human Rights Watch report but said it would arrest anyone who could be shown to have carried out violent reprisals against members of the former military.
    Facing a deep economic crisis following the abrupt withdrawal of foreign aid when Western countries pulled out of Afghanistan, the Taliban have been appealing for international support to stave off a humanitarian disaster, with more than half the population facing hunger over the winter.
    The joint statement said, “We will continue to measure the Taliban by their actions.”
    The statement was issued by Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Ukraine and the United States.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson and James MackenzieEditing by Frances Kerry)

12/5/2021 Portuguese Parliament Dissolved Ahead Of Jan 30 Election
FILE PHOTO: Parliament members vote on the 2022 state budget draft in first reading at the
Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon, Portugal, October 27, 2021. REUTERS/Pedro Nunes/File Photo
    LISBON (Reuters) – Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa decreed the dissolution of parliament on Sunday in the remaining formal step ahead of a previously announced snap general election set for Jan. 30, his office said.
    The decree came on the last possible day for parliament’s dissolution, which has has to occur at least 55 days before an election.
    The election was triggered by parliament’s rejection of the minority Socialist government’s budget bill in October, a move that effectively ended the country’s relative political stability over the past six years.
    The Socialists lead in opinion polls with support of between 38.5% and 39%, far ahead of the main opposition Social Democrats on 24.6%-28.1%, but short of a parliamentary majority.
    Analysts say the political impasse is likely to continue after the election, which could complicate the implementation of projects financed by EU pandemic recovery funds and weigh on Portugal’s growth prospects.
(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; Editing by Frances Kerry)

12/5/2021 Biden And Putin Set To Talk About Ukraine In Video Call On Tuesday by Steve Holland and Tom Balmforth
U.S. President Joe Biden and Russia's President Vladimir Putin meet for the U.S.-Russia summit
at Villa La Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Pool
    WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a video call on Tuesday, with the two leaders set to discuss the tense situation in Ukraine.
    “Biden will underscore U.S. concerns with Russian military activities on the border with Ukraine and reaffirm the United States’ support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” White House spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement.
    She said other topics would include “strategic stability, cyber and regional issues.”
    The two will also talk about bilateral ties and the implementation of agreements reached at their Geneva summit in June, the Kremlin said on Saturday.
    “The conversation will indeed take place on Tuesday,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Reuters.     “Bilateral relations, of course Ukraine and the realization of the agreements reached in Geneva are the main (items) on the agenda,” he said.
    The exact timing of the call was not disclosed.
    More than 94,000 Russian troops are believed to be massed near Ukraine’s borders.    Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Friday that Moscow may be planning a large-scale military offensive at the end of January, citing intelligence reports. U.S. officials have come to similar conclusions, they said.
    Biden, meanwhile, has rejected Russian demands for security guarantees in the region.
    “My expectation is we’re going to have a long discussion with Putin,” Biden told reporters on Friday as he departed for a weekend trip to Camp David. “I don’t accept anybody’s red lines,” he said.
    The U.S. president said he and his advisers were preparing a comprehensive set of initiatives aimed at deterring Putin from an invasion.    He did not give further details, but the administration has discussed partnering with European allies to impose more sanctions on Russia.
    U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin separately said that Washington was committed to ensuring that Ukraine had what it needed to protect its territory.
    Austin added that there was a lot of space for diplomacy and leadership to work on Ukraine.
    At the same conference, James C. McConville, chief of staff of the U.S. Army, on Saturday referred to estimates of 95,000 to 100,000 Russian troops on the border with Ukraine.
    “I don’t know what they are going to do, but I am very, very concerned,” McConville said.
    Moscow accuses Kyiv of pursuing its own military build-up. It has dismissed as inflammatory suggestions that it is preparing for an attack on its southern neighbor and has defended its right to deploy troops on its own territory as it sees fit.
    U.S. officials say they do not know yet what Putin’s intentions are, including whether Putin has made a decision to invade Ukraine.
    U.S.-Russia relations have been deteriorating for years, notably with Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, its 2015 intervention in Syria and U.S. intelligence charges of meddling in the 2016 election won by now-former President Donald Trump.
    But they have become more volatile in recent months.
    The Biden administration has asked Moscow to crack down on ransomware and cyber crime attacks emanating from Russian soil, and in November charged a Ukraine national and a Russian in one of the worst ransomware attacks against American targets.
    Russia has repeatedly denied carrying out or tolerating cyber attacks.
    The two leaders have had one face-to-face meeting since Biden took office in January, sitting down for talks in Geneva in June.    They last talked by phone on July 9. Biden relishes direct talks with world leaders, seeing them as a way to lower tensions.
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Stockholm earlier this week that the United States and its European allies would impose “severe costs and consequences on Russia if it takes further aggressive action against Ukraine.”
(Additional reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Heather Timmons, Alistair Bell and Cynthia Osterman)

12/5/2021 Tens Of Thousands Protest Vaccine Mandates, Lockdowns Across Europe by OAN Newsroom
VIENNA, AUSTRIA – DECEMBER 4: People protesting against lockdown measures and COVID vaccinations
march through the city center during the fourth wave of the novel coronavirus pandemic
on December 4, 2021 in Vienna, Austria. (Photo by Michael Gruber/Getty Images)
    Protests continue to rock Europe as restrictions and forced medical treatments become normalized by governments and media.
    Saturday night, thousands in Barcelona attended a protest against regional Catalonia’s vaccine pass system.    In November, the Catalan high court ruled the region’s parliament was allowed to institute a new COVID pass law, which requires proof of vaccination or previous infection to enter restaurants, bars, gyms and other venues.
    Now, despite being 80 percent vaccinated, adults in the region are being told if they want to eat out or improve their health at a gym, they must first show government papers proving medical cleanliness to authorities.    One man, a professor of Chinese medicine, said there’s so many people who have adverse side effects to the vaccines that it’s morally wrong to force people to get the COVID jab.
    “The deceased [by COVID-19] are mostly vaccinated people instead of non-vaccinated.    That’s in all hospitals,” said Vincente Fuster.    “And you must also take into account that a big percentage of patients arriving at emergency units are because of side effects from the vaccines.    Doctors who are sincere and open to speak say that 10 percent of those patients are because of the side effects of the vaccines.”
    Nearby in the Netherlands, protests have once again started up as the government imposes new lockdown measures on the 73 percent vaccinated population. The protests across the region were mostly peaceful, which couldn’t be said for the protests just two weeks before.
    When the government first announced a ban on unvaccinated Dutchmen and Dutchwomen entering many public places, riots took over the major cities. The proposed law faced such bitter backlash that parliament decided not to pursue it for the time being, and has instead opted for general curfews on bars and restaurants.
    However, this has still incensed many of the Dutch populace who feel they have been going through the motions for too long.
    “If you check us, we walk here.    We are walking for one and a half year already and we’re still not sick,” claimed Hans Buijs.    “We are not super-people.    We know what we do.    We know that we don’t have to be vaccinated to be okay.”
    In neighboring Germany, the government has followed through on what the Dutch tried to do, but backed down from.    Unvaccinated Germans are being forcibly locked in their homes, only allowed to leave for work or groceries.
    Those who show the state-enforced medical pass are allowed to freely go about their lives for the most part, though local restrictions may still apply. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, raised under communism in East Germany, said the shutdown on people who made alternative medical choices is “an act of national solidarity.”
    German protestors said they fear the government talking about implementing forced vaccinations onto the whole population, showcasing an ultimate suppression of individual choice.
    “I am here today because I am afraid of the mandatory vaccination that we see will be implemented in Austria.    I believe there are a lot of side effects and if I decided for a coronavirus vaccination that could endanger my body, it must be my choice,” said Alina Nesterowska.
    Austria itself is the first nation where talks of restrictions on the unvaccinated, along with general mandates, began.    In the past month, Austria’s government announced Europe’s first lockdown for the unvaccinated.
    While they backtracked a day later, favoring a general lockdown over the holiday season instead, they announced that the government would begin mandating the vaccine for all Austrians starting in February.    This has prompted weeks of protests with dissipation not occurring between weekends.
    In Vienna this past weekend, over 40,000 were estimated to have shown up to express their disdain for restrictions and forced medical treatments.    People carried signs calling for control over their own bodies, new elections to be called to get rid of the current government imposing restrictions, and calls to “make Austria great again.”
    Some said they don’t want the vaccine forced on their children because it’s untested.    Others said they just want to see freedom return to their once democratic rights-based nation.
    “I’m here because I’m against forced vaccinations.    I’m for human rights and the violation of human rights should be stopped,” said one protester.
    With many restrictions and forced medical treatments being proposed before discovery of the Omicron variant, other governments could be seen doubling down instead of backing off restricting citizens.    In the meantime, all countries in Europe who are proposing mandatory vaccinations and fresh lockdowns at this time, say at least two-thirds of their populations have received a minimum of two jabs.
[WAKE UP SOCIALIST THE HUMANITY WORLD IS BEGINNING TO FIGHT BACK AGAINST YOUR OVERREACHING RESTRICTIONS.].

12/5/2021 Rep. Omar Continues Back-And-Forth With Rep. Boebert Over Previous Remarks by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 30: (L-R) Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MN), Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN), Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY)
and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) listen to question from reporters during a news conference about Islamophobia on Capitol Hill
on November 30, 2021 in Washington, DC. A video of Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) circulated on social media last week
of the conservative lawmaker making anti-Muslim remarks about Rep. Ilhan Omar. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-N.Y.) doubled down on her ongoing battle with Republican Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).    In an interview on Sunday, Omar called House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) a “liar and a coward” for defending his caucus member.
    “He doesn’t have the ability to condemn the kind of bigoted Islamophobia and anti-Muslim rhetoric that are being trafficked by a member of this conference,” said Omar.
    When then asked why McCarthy doesn’t have the ability to do such, Omar responded saying “because this is who they are,” referring to Republicans.
    “We have to be able to stand up to them, and we have to push them to reckon with the fact that their party, right now, is normalizing anti-Muslim bigotry,” she added.
    These remarks came after McCarthy held a press conference on the legislative agenda for the House.    The congressman defended Boebert and stated there was no need for further apologies for her anti-Muslim comments against Rep. Omar.
    The Republican congresswoman made her intentions known to the public and to Omar that she feels it’s time to move forward. McCarthy highlighted how hypocritical Democrats are, pointing out how they don’t call out their own party.
    The incident that’s dragging the controversy into its second week involved Boebert sharing a story at a campaign event. Boebert made a so-called “joke” about Omar that many said was anti-Muslim.
    Soon after, Boebert issued a public apology on Twitter to the Muslim community and attempted to give a private apology to Omar.    The private apology wasn’t received well, however, the Republican demanded the Democrat also apologize for her alleged “anti-American, anti-police and anti-Semitic rhetoric.”
    McCarthy said despite Democrat handwringing, other Republican Reps. Paul Gosar (Ariz.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) will get their committee assignments back if the GOP takes back the House in 2022, as will Boebert if Democrats force her off committees too.

12/5/2021 Biden’s Lies About Vaccine Mandates Come To Light by OAN Newsroom
US President Joe Biden speaks to the press before boarding Marine One as he departs the White House in Washington, DC, on December 3, 2021.
(Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP) (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Americans are criticizing Joe Biden and his administration for making promises they have avoided keeping for more than a year now.
    “No, I don’t think it should be mandatory.    I wouldn’t demand it to be mandatory.    But I would do everything in my power, just like I don’t think masks have to be made mandatory nationwide,” said Biden during his presidential campaign.
    It’s been a year since Biden broke that exact promise saying he wouldn’t mandate COVID-19 vaccines.    Biden told the American people back in December of 2020, he wouldn’t make vaccines a national requirement.    However, today people are losing their jobs due to his federal mandate.
    Not only did the Democrat leader break his promise, but he also had his administration and medical advisors participating in those lies.
    “We don’t want to be mandating from the federal government to the general population.    It would be unenforceable and not appropriate.    Definitely not,” Anthony Fauci once said.    “You don’t want to mandate and try and force anyone to take a vaccine.    We’ve never done that.”
    Earlier on, White House Chief Medical Advisor Fauci insisted the federal government wouldn’t mandate the vaccine.    But the only thing America’s doctor has done is let people down with lies.
    Biden previously vowed he would “do everything in his power” to protect Americans, however, his administration’s handling of COVID speaks for itself.    Even with a so-called lifesaving vaccine being available, there have been more COVID deaths under the current administration than under the previous one.
    Meanwhile, Biden has been pointing the blame towards Republicans and people who are skeptical about getting the jab for politicizing vaccines and the virus in general.    In October, he said Americans should be getting vaccinated because it’s “about being patriotic and doing the right thing.”    In addition, his own vice president didn’t hold back from giving her thoughts on the matter.
    “If the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it.    Absolutely.    But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it,” said Kamala Harris during the vice presidential debate.
    These lies may stem from a year ago, but we continue to see these patterns from the left who promised inflation would go back to a normal level months ago.    However, today, it’s the highest it’s been since 1990 and Democrats want to solve it with a trillion-dollar social spending bill as if it won’t add to the nation’s budget deficit.
    Amid all the lies, Biden’s approval rating remains under 50 percent and a recent poll suggests 60 percent of all U.S. adults say the country is headed in the wrong direction.

12/6/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/6/2021 Next Pandemic Could Be More Lethal Than COVID, Vaccine Creator Says
FILE PHOTO: A woman receives an Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccination centre
at Cwmbran Stadium in Cwmbran, South Wales, Britain February 17, 2021. Geoff Caddick/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) -Future pandemics could be even more lethal than COVID-19 so the lessons learned from the outbreak must not be squandered and the world should ensure it is prepared for the next viral onslaught, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine said.
    The novel coronavirus has killed 5.26 million people across the world, according to Johns Hopkins University, wiped out trillions of dollars in economic output and turned life upside down for billions of people.
    “The truth is, the next one could be worse.    It could be more contagious, or more lethal, or both,” Sarah Gilbert said in the Richard Dimbleby Lecture, the BBC reported.    “This will not be the last time a virus threatens our lives and our livelihoods.”
    Gilbert, a professor of vaccinology at the University of Oxford, said the world should make sure it is better prepared for the next virus.
    “The advances we have made, and the knowledge we have gained, must not be lost,” she said.
    Efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic have been uneven and fragmented, marked by limited access to vaccines in low-income countries while the “healthy and wealthy” in rich countries get boosters, health experts say.
    A panel of health experts set up by the World Health Organisation to review the handling of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has called for permanent funding and for greater ability to investigate pandemics through a new treaty.
    One proposal was for new financing of at least $10 billion a year for pandemic preparedness.     The COVID-19 outbreak was first detected in China in late 2019.    Vaccines were developed against the virus in record time.
    Gilbert said the Omicron variant’s spike protein contained mutations known to increase the transmissibility of the virus.
    “There are additional changes that may mean antibodies induced by the vaccines, or by infection with other variants, may be less effective at preventing infection with Omicron,” Gilbert said.
    “Until we know more, we should be cautious, and take steps to slow down the spread of this new variant.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Kate Holton)

12/6/2021 Colombia Launches Strategy To Tackle Environmental Crimes
Colombian Environment Minister Carlos Correa speaks with the press accompanied by the
director of Criminal Investigation and Interpol (DIJIN) General Fernando Murillo
at the DIJIN Cyber Center, in Bogota, Colombia December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
    BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia’s national police has deployed 100 criminal intelligence and investigation officers in a strategy to tackle environmental crimes in the Andean country, the government said on Monday, citing illegal mining and animal trafficking among the gravest threats.
    Fifty officers will investigate environmental crimes while 40 will work on intelligence gathering.    The remaining 10 will monitor websites, including social media, for trafficking and selling of wildlife.
    “Environmental crimes don’t just affect Colombia’s heritage … the environment is the heritage of all humanity,” Brigadier General Jesus Alejandro Barrera, director of Colombia’s rural police, told journalists.
    Colombia, one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries with tens of thousands of animal and plant species, is beset by crimes damaging the environment, including deforestation, illegal mining, oil theft from pipelines, and trafficking of flora and fauna.
    In 2020 some 171,685 hectares (424,000 acres) in Colombia were deforested, most of that in the Amazon region, up 8% from levels of destruction recorded in 2019.
    The main drivers of deforestation are extensive cattle ranching, crops of coca, the main ingredient in cocaine, and illegal mining, the government said.
    Wildlife trafficking is also a major issue.    Last week two German citizens were caught https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/colombia-seizes-hundreds-arachnids-being-illegally-smuggled-europe-2021-12-02 trying to carry hundreds of arachnids out of the country.
    So far in 2021 authorities have seized 5,801 birds, 2,472 mammals, 11,290 reptiles and 285,237 plant specimens, according to police statistics.
    Colombia’s environment ministry will launch a new page on its website to maintain contact with environmental defenders whose work puts them at risk of being killed, Environment Minister Carlos Correa added.
    The government recognizes the killings of eight environmentalists between 2018 and 2020, based on U.N. figures.    But advocacy group Global Witness recorded 65 such homicides last year alone, making it the second year in a row that Colombia was the most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders.
    The government accuses illegal armed groups of committing environmental crimes and killing environmental leaders.
(Reporting by Oliver Griffin and Luis Jaime Acosta; Editing by David Gregorio)

12/6/2021 Latest On The Worldwide Spread Of The Coronavirus
Christmas decoration is pictured on a window as members of the medical staff in protective suits
treat a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
at Havelhoehe Community Hospital in Berlin, Germany, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    (Reuters) – Future pandemics could be more lethal than COVID-19 so the lessons learned from the outbreak must not be squandered and the world should ensure it is prepared for the next viral wave, one of the creators of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine said.
DEATHS AND INFECTIONS
EUROPE
* European Union health ministers will discuss the pandemic and the spread of the Omicron variant on Tuesday.
* Slovenia’s highest court ruled that a regulation mandating vaccination for public sector employees unless they can show proof of recovery is unconstitutional.
* Slovakia’s health minister said he would ask the cabinet to extend a lockdown by one week until Dec. 16.
* The Norwegian government will introduce additional measures, the health minister said, while Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his government would present a new package of restrictions this week.
* Russia reported its first confirmed cases of the new Omicron variant, Russian news agencies reported, as well as Croatia, according to the state health institute.
* Italy tightened restrictions on people still not vaccinated, limiting their access to an array of places and services.
AMERICAS
* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he planned to issue a vaccine mandate for private-sector employers that will go into effect on Dec. 27. * Argentina, which detected on Sunday its first case of the Omicron variant, has approved Russia’s one-dose Sputnik Light as a standalone vaccine and a booster shot, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said, citing the health ministry.
* The Omicron variant has spread to about one-third of U.S. states, but the Delta version remains the majority of cases, U.S. health officials said on Sunday.
ASIA-PACIFIC
* Some children in the Philippines’ capital Manila returned to school after a near two-year suspension as the country tries to get life back to normal.
* India’s cases of the Omicron variant rose to 21 over the weekend, officials said, while Nepal and Thailand detected their first cases.
* South Korea imposed stricter measures to contain growing infections and the Omicron variant.
MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA
* Namibia has detected the Omicron variant in 18 of 19 samples sequenced between Nov. 11 and 26, its health ministry said.
* Nigeria criticised Britain’s decision to add the country to a travel “red list” due to coronavirus concerns as unjust and not driven by science.
* South Africa is preparing hospitals for more admissions, as the Omicron variant pushes the country into a fourth wave of infections, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
MEDICAL DEVELOPMENT
* The European Union’s drug regulator recommended extending the use of Roche’s RoActemra arthritis drug for adult COVID-19 patients on systemic treatment with steroids and those who need oxygen support or mechanical ventilation.
* South Africa’s Biovac Institute will start making Pfizer-BioNTech’s, vaccine early next year after receiving the drug substance from Europe, a Pfizer executive said.
* Novartis hopes to still play a role in the development of treatments with research ongoing for a pill that could work broadly against coronaviruses, not just the one that causes COVID-19, its chief executive officer said.
ECONOMIC IMPACT
* European stocks opened higher while U.S. futures also traded in the black in a tentative rebound from last week when the spread of the Omicron variant and expectations of tighter U.S. monetary policy rocked global markets.
* The South African rand firmed on signs the Omicron coronavirus variant driving a fourth wave of cases in the country may be causing mainly mild infections.
* The emergence of the Omicron variant is starting to impact shopper behaviour in Britain, researcher Springboard said.
(Compiled by Juliette Portala and Sarah Morland; Editing by Alex Richardson/Mark Heinrich)

12/6/2021 Germany Urges Iran To Return To Nuclear Talks With Realistic Proposals
Iranian flag flies in front of the U.N. office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/Files
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany wants Iran to present realistic proposals in talks over its nuclear programme, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Monday, adding that offers Tehran made last week almost all violate previously agreed compromises.
    Its proposals are “not a basis for a successful end to talks,” she said.    “We reviewed the proposals … carefully and thoroughly and concluded that Iran violated almost all compromises found previously in months of hard negotiations.”
    Iran and major powers started talks in April aimed at bringing Tehran and Washington back into full compliance with the 2015 pact, which was abandoned by former U.S. President Donald Trump three years ago.
    But negotiations stopped after the election of Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi in June.
    Indirect talks between Washington and Tehran on reinstating their nuclear pact resumed a week ago but broke off on Friday, with a resumption scheduled for later this week, as Western officials voiced dismay at sweeping Iranian demands.
    The German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said it was unacceptable that Iran was advancing its nuclear capacity in parallel with the talks.    She said Berlin wants to build on progress already made and remains “committed to the diplomatic path, but the window of opportunity is closing more and more.”
    A senior Iranian official said on Sunday a U.S. reluctance to lift all sanctions that were reimposed on Iran by Trump is the main challenge to reviving the deal.
    Western powers have questioned Tehran’s determination to salvage the agreement.    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday Washington would not let Iran drag out the process while continuing to advance its uranium enrichment programme and it will pursue other options if diplomacy fails.
(Reporting by Alexander Ratz; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Miranda Murray and Mark Heinrich)

12/6/2021 Urban Garden In Rio Feeds Hundreds Of Families In Former ‘Crackland’ by Sebastian Rocandio
A drone picture of a person working at the Horta de Manguinhos (Manguinhos vegetable garden), the biggest urban
garden in Latin America, part of the project "Hortas Cariocas" developed by Rio de Janeiro's Environment
Secretary in the Manguinhos favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
    RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – The Manguinhos neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, a slum where addicts once smoked crack and residents dumped trash, has been transformed into a community vegetable garden that now feeds some 800 families struggling with rampant food inflation.
    The urban garden covers the area of four soccer fields, according to Rio de Janeiro’s “Hortas Cariocas” program coordinators, making it one of the largest of its kind in Latin America.
    “This particular area was used as a ‘cracolândia’,” said Julio Cesar Barros, an agronomist employed by the city.    “If you arrived here on a Wednesday at 10 in the morning, you could find two or three thousand people smoking crack in this area.”
    Barros said he helped create the “Hortas Cariocas” project in 2006 to plant vegetables in various parts of the city and supply organic products to lower-income residents.    He said urban gardens also helped prevent irregular occupation of dangerous areas prone to flooding or landslides.
    “While I am planting [seeds] I am thinking that in a few days I will be harvesting this and taking it home to eat it,” said Diane Silva, an urban farm worker.    “I know I am planting to harvest tomorrow … it gives a lot of pleasure to work in a garden, it is a job that we enjoy, I love this.”
    The project has now expanded to 49 vegetable gardens across Rio, according to Barros.
    Ezequiel Dias, a Manguinhos resident who helps to coordinate the project, said the initiative has transformed his community.
    “It changed the face of Manguinhos… our communities need exactly this: peace, happiness and a better life.”
(This story was refiled to remove extraneous word from byline, corrects spelling of byline)
(Reporting by Sebastian Rocandio; Writing by Ana Mano; editing by Diane Craft)

12/6/2021 Factbox: Ten Points Of Tension Between Putin And Biden
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he leaves for the airport after his news conference after the U.S.-Russia summit
with Russia's President Vladimir Putin, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021. Peter Klaunzer/ Pool via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin will speak by video link on Tuesday.    Since their Geneva summit in June, the list of contentious issues between their two countries has lengthened.    Here’s a quick summary.
UKRAINE AND POSSIBLE WESTERN SANCTIONS
    The United States has warned Russia it will face “severe costs” including high-impact economic sanctions if it invades Ukraine, which says more than 94,000 Russian troops have gathered within reach of its border.    Washington has urged a return to accords signed in Minsk in 2014 and 2015 that were designed to end a war between Ukrainian government forces and Russian-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine that has now dragged on for seven years.
RUSSIA’S DEMAND FOR SECURITY GUARANTEES FROM NATO
    Russia says its troop deployments are a response to aggressive behaviour by NATO and Ukraine, including U.S. strategic bomber flights and warship manoeuvres in the Black Sea.    It is demanding legally binding security guarantees from the West that NATO will not expand further eastwards – which would prevent Ukraine becoming a member – or deploy missiles in Ukraine that would target Russia.    The United States says no country can veto Ukraine’s NATO aspirations.
BELARUS
    The United States has accused Russia’s ally Belarus of “weaponising” migrants from the Middle East by encouraging thousands of them to try to enter the European Union from its territory, creating a crisis for the EU.    Russia has backed Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko, including by sending nuclear-capable warplanes to patrol Belarusian airspace.
ENERGY
    The United States has said Russia could and should do more to ease an energy crunch in Europe by increasing gas supplies, and warned it not to use energy as a political weapon, particularly against Ukraine.    It has imposed sanctions against Russian entities involved in Nord Stream 2, a newly built gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea.    Nord Stream 2 is awaiting approval from a German regulator before Russia can start pumping gas through it, so would be potentially vulnerable to further Western sanctions if the Ukraine crisis escalated.
EMBASSIES DISPUTE
    Russia and the United States have shrunk the size of each other’s embassies in a series of tit-for-tat moves.    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested on Dec. 2 that this was one area where the two countries could seek to draw a line and start afresh by removing limits on representation.
CYBERATTACKS
    The United States has accused hackers working for the Russian government or from Russian territory of mounting cyber attacks against U.S. political parties, companies and critical infrastructure.    Russia denies carrying out or tolerating cyberattacks.    Biden raised the issue with Putin in June and listed 16 critical areas he said should be “off-limits” to cyberattacks, but the two sides have not publicly signalled any progress on the issue since then.
ARMS CONTROL
    Soon after Biden took office, the two countries extended a key agreement limiting the size of their strategic nuclear arsenals.    In Geneva they promised “to lay the groundwork for future arms control and risk reduction measures” and Biden said it would take six months to a year to find out whether a meaningful strategic dialogue was possible.    So far there have been no obvious signs of progress.
NAVALNY
    Washington has criticised the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most prominent political opponent, and may restate its concerns over human rights in Russia.
JAILED AMERICANS
    The U.S. side has repeatedly raised the cases of two former Marines, Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, who have been jailed in Russia on what it regards as false charges.
INTERNATIONAL ISSUES
    The two countries are at odds over various issues including Syria, where Russia intervened militarily in 2015 to prop up President Bashar al Assad in a civil war.    But U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week there were also areas where they could work together, despite their tensions.    He mentioned international efforts to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons, and the peace process between former Soviet republics Armenia and Azerbaijan, in which Moscow has taken the leading role. (Writing by Mark Trevelyan; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

12/6/2021 Record EU Defence Spending Masks Failure To Collaborate, Report Says by Robin Emmott
FILE PHOTO: Flags wave outside the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers
meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union states spent nearly 200 billion euros ($225 billion) on defence in 2020, the most since records began in 2006, but joint investment by governments fell, the European Defence Agency (EDA) said in a report on Monday.
    The EDA, an EU agency that helps the bloc’s governments to develop their military capabilities, said the total spending of EU countries except for Denmark – which opts out of EU military projects – reached $198 billion, a 5% increase on 2019.
    The defence expenditure amounted to 1.5% of the 26 EU states’ economic output, a welcome figure for the U.S.-led NATO alliance, which has sought a 2% spending goal for its allies.    Most EU members are also part of NATO but want to able to act independently of the United States when necessary.
    Proponents of stronger EU defence say the warnings have been many, from Britain’s departure from the bloc to former U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” priorities and failing states on Europe’s frontiers.
    However, the EDA report noted a slump in collaborative spending despite an EU defence pact signed in late 2017 to try to pool resources and end the competition between national industries that has weakened past defence efforts.
    “The downward trend on European collaborative spending is particularly concerning,” EDA Chief Executive Jiri Sedivy said in the report, which found a 13% decrease in joint equipment procurement compared to 2019, to 4.1 billion euros, the third-lowest value recorded by the agency.
    When buying equipment last year, EU governments mainly did deals on their own, falling well short of a commitment made in their 2017 pact to ensure that slightly more than a third of such procurement is done jointly with other Union members.
    While the EU has also launched a joint weapons fund, is working on 60 joint military projects and aims to agree a new rapid-reaction force, investment in defence research and technology also remains disjointed and lacking collaboration, the EDA said.
($1 = 0.8871 euros)
(Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Barbara Lewis)

12/6/2021 Gottlieb: Vaccines Against Specific COVID Variants May Not Work With Others by OAN Newsroom
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, then-commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), testifies
during a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing concerning federal efforts to combat
the opioid crisis, October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    According to former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, variant-specific vaccines may not work against new variations of COVID. During an interview Sunday, he said there’s reason to believe developed vaccines won’t work well against the full component of different variants.
    “While Omicron may become a threat in U.S., the absolute risk from it right now is very low,” Gottlieb noted.    “Many people will still become infected by Delta and may find that delta natural immunity doesn’t protect well against Omicron.”
    This comes as Omicron cases have reached at least 15 states in the U.S. and the CDC announced FDA officials are in talks of rushing to authorize a Omicron-specific vaccine.
    “So, the question right now is whether or not this is re-infecting people who have Delta immunity and haven’t been vaccinated, or whether it’s going to also infect people who have who have been vaccinated,” Gottlieb stated.    “There’s some reason to believe that vaccines could be more protective than just immunity acquired through natural infection from Delta. That’s going to be a critical question we need to figure out in the coming weeks because we have some important policy decisions that we need to make, depending on the answer.”
    Meanwhile, CDC Director Rachelle Walensky said conversations remain ongoing and the number of probable Omicron cases will likely rise.

12/6/2021 EIA: Coal-Fired Power Generation Surges 22% In Past Year by OAN Newsroom
File – A truck carrying 250 tons of coal hauls the fuel to the surface of the
Spring Creek mine near Decker, Mont. (Matthew Brown / AP File Photo)
    The share of coal in U.S. power-generation is rising for the first time since 2014 amid Joe Biden’s crackdown on oil drilling and pipelines.
    The Energy Information Administration found coal-fired power generation has increased by 22 percent over the past year amid surging prices of natural gas and oil.    The cost of coal power stands at nearly $2 per million of British Thermal Units.    Meanwhile, natural gas costs almost $5 for the same amount of energy.
    The coal comeback comes despite Biden’s calls to eradicate the use of fossil fuels and a Democrat push for electric cars, which end up being powered by coal-fired power plants.
    “Whether you’re looking at natural gas on a global basis or you’re looking at coal a global basis, there’s no give in the system,” explained Dan Yergin, Vice Chairman of IHS Markit.    “In a sense we are seeing a consequence on a global basis of a constrained investment going into the energy sector…and the replacements isn’t really there, so there is an imbalance between what the policies and directions are.”
    Last year, coal accounted for some 20 percent of U.S. power generation, but its share is expected to go up in coming years due to a shortage of reliable sources of energy.

12/6/2021 Critics Blame Los Angeles Public Safety Issues On Liberal Groups by OAN Newsroom
This undated image released by the California Attorney General’s Office shows stolen items from Bay Area retailers,
recovered in a warehouse in Concord, Calif., where a search warrant was executed by California law
enforcement authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Spurred by a recent run of large-scale smash-and-grab
robberies, prosecutors and retailers are pushing back on assertions by California’s governor and attorney general
that they have enough tools to combat retail theft in the wake of a voter-approved
easing of related laws. (California Attorney General’s Office via AP)
    Liberal lawmakers and activists are facing criticism over the rise of crime in Los Angeles.    Current and retired police officers are writing op-eds and speaking to media about their frustration over Proposition 47 and justice reforms in the city.
    The officers suggested the spike in smash-and-grab robberies and the murder of Jacqueline Avant could have been potentially prevented if lax sentencing was addressed.    Many have pointed to the wrap sheet of the suspect in Avant’s murder as evidence that violent crimes should carry longer sentences.
    Democrat Governor Gavin Newsom has defended Proposition 47.    He even blamed police and prosecutors by saying the threat of arrest is deterrent enough.
    “It seems to me that there is deterrence when people are arrested for breaking the law and are prosecuted, so we needs arrests and we need prosecutions,” he stated.    “We need people held to account. No one condones that behavior, quite the contrary.”
    Dozens of law enforcement officers have asked for help, saying criminals are being released on little to no bail and are often times re-offending.

12/6/2021 Gov. Lamont Predicts Conn. Will Avoid Omicron Surge by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Gov. Ned Lamont, left, talks with Jeanne Peters, 95, during a visit to The Reservoir nursing home,
after she was given the first COVID-19 vaccination, Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in West Hartford, Conn.
A dozen nursing home residents died from COVID-19 in Connecticut over a recent two week period in
November 2021, which is the largest number since mid-August. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn, Pool, File)
    Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont (D) predicted the state will be able to avoid a surge in hospitalizations amid the Omicron variant.    On Sunday, he said although he is concerned about the new variant, he’s confident the state will be able to prevent hospitalizations as more than 95 percent of people over the age of 12 have been vaccinated.
    The Democrat stressed nursing homes in Connecticut are facing staff shortages and noted that he won’t be mandating booster shots.    Additionally, he suggested the CDC needs to be more clear about booster dose guidelines.
    “You had to be a little clearer and simpler if you want people to get their booster,” Lamont stated.    “So early on, we said 18 and over.    It was more than six-months ago you got your last shot.    Get the booster.    People are coming in. It’s simple and easy for them to understand.”
    His comments came after the first case of the Omicron variant was detected in Connecticut on Saturday.

12/6/2021 Trump: Milley A Complete Idiot Leaving U.S. Weapons To Taliban by OAN Newsroom
Afghans stand inside Baba Mir’s scrapyard outside Bagram Air Base,
northwest of the capital Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 3, 2021. (Rahmat Gul/AP)
    The 45th president is ramping up criticism of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley over his advice to leave billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment to the Taliban.
    While speaking at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend, Donald Trump said he wanted to move that equipment out of Afghanistan during the withdrawal of U.S. forces.    However, Milley was suggesting it’s cheaper to abandon it in Afghanistan.    Trump asserted that Milley “is not the smartest man.”
    “You mean you think it’s cheaper to leave it there so they can have it than it is to fill it up with a half of tank of gas and fly it into Pakistan or fly it back to our country,” Trump asked.
    According to various estimates, the Taliban got up to $80 billion worth of U.S. weapons as a result of Joe Biden’s disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.

12/7/2021 Oil up $3.41 to $69.67, DOW up 647 to 35,227.

12/7/2021 Biden To Tell Putin He’ll Face Toughest Sanctions Yet If He Invades Ukraine by Steve Holland and Andrew Osborn
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Build Back Better Act and its impact on the cost of prescription drugs
during a speech in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis
    WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will use a high-stakes video conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Tuesday to tell him that Russia will be hit with the toughest economic sanctions yet if it invades Ukraine, U.S. officials said.
    They said the sanctions, which a source said could target Russia’s biggest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies, were designed to dissuade Putin from using thousands of troops massed near the Ukrainian border to attack.
    The Kremlin has repeatedly denied harbouring such intentions and has said the posture of its troops is purely defensive. It in turn has raised concerns about Ukrainian intentions and has said it wants guarantees that Kyiv will not use force to try to retake territory lost to Russia-backed separatists.
    The Russian rouble firmed on Tuesday despite the threat of new sanctions.
    Ahead of his first direct talks with Putin since July, Biden consulted with European allies on Monday to discuss plans for the sanctions against Russia and seek a strong allied stance in support of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
    Biden spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
    They called on Russia to de-escalate tensions and return to diplomacy and said their teams will stay in close touch, including in consultation with NATO allies and EU partners, on a “coordinated and comprehensive approach,” the White House said.
    Biden’s team has identified a set of economic penalties to impose should Russia launch an invasion, a senior Biden administration official said.
    A separate source familiar with the situation said targeting Putin’s inner circle has been discussed but no decision had been made.    Sanctions against Russia’s biggest banks and the ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies were also being considered, another source said.
    White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it remained unclear whether Putin had made a final decision to invade Ukraine.
    The secure video call, with Biden speaking from the White House Situation Room, is expected to occur at about 1500 GMT.
    Ukraine and NATO powers accuse Russia of building up troops near the border, sparking fears of a possible attack.    Moscow denies any such plan and accuses Kyiv of building up its own forces in its east, where Russian-backed separatists control a large part of Ukrainian territory.
    The senior Biden administration official said Biden would warn Putin of severe economic penalties if he launches a war.
    The United States has urged both countries to return to a set of agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 and designed to end a separatist war by Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.
    “He will make clear that there will be very real costs should Russia choose to proceed, but he will also make clear that there is an effective way forward with respect to diplomacy,” the official told reporters.
    The two leaders head into the talks with scant room for compromise.
    In Moscow, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the talks would focus on what Russia regards as NATO’s creeping expansion towards its borders, as well as long-term security guarantees for Russia.
    Putin has said he wants legally binding guarantees NATO will not expand further eastwards and a pledge that certain types of weapons will not be deployed in countries close to Russia, including Ukraine.
    Putin is expected to raise the possibility of holding another U.S.-Russia summit https://www.reuters.com/world/wide-disagreements-low-expectations-biden-putin-meet-2021-06-15 with Biden too. They last spoke by phone in July and men met face-to-face at a summit in June in Geneva.
    “Of course it (the agenda) is bilateral relations, which remain in quite a lamentable state,” Peskov told reporters.    “And then it’s the questions that loom large on the agenda. Primarily tension around Ukraine, the theme of NATO advancement towards our borders, and President Putin’s initiative about security guarantees.”
    International tensions have risen steadily over Ukraine and the Black Sea region. Russia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday it had scrambled fighter jets to escort two U.S. military reconnaissance planes over the Black Sea.
    On Monday, U.S. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met virtually with all the NATO chiefs of defense about “significant security developments across Europe.”
    At the United Nations, spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Monday the meeting between Biden and Putin “is extremely important, given the current context of what we see going on in many parts of the world.”
(Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington, Gleb Stolyarov in Moscow and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Catherine Evans)

12/7/2021 German Parties Sign ‘New Start’ Coalition Deal Before Handover Of Power
Designated German Chancellor Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD); Robert Habeck, Anton Hofreiter
and Katrin Goering-Eckardt of Germany's Green Party; and Christian Lindner and Volker Wissing of the Free Democratic
Party (FDP) stand on stage during the signing ceremony of a coalition government agreement at the "Futurium
- the house of futures" museum in Berlin, Germany, December 7, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) signed a coalition deal on Tuesday that sets out how to accelerate a green transition and modernise Europe’s biggest economy when they take office this week.
    The alliance between the unlikely bedfellows, the first such grouping at a national level, brings to an end 16 years of conservative-led government under Angela Merkel who did not stand for a fifth term in a September election.
    The SPD’s Olaf Scholz is due to be elected chancellor by the Bundestag lower house of parliament and officially take office on Wednesday.
    Under the logo “Dare More Progress,” leading members of all three parties signed the 177-page agreement in front of television cameras.
    “This should be a morning for a new start,” Scholz said.
    FDP leader Christian Lindner said the last few weeks had been about talking and now it was time for action.
    “From this week we want to work on making progress.    We are under no illusion, we face big challenges,” he said.
    The parties presented the agreement last month but needed members to approve it before signing it.
(´Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Nick Macfie)

12/7/2021 We Don’t Think COVID Plan B Is Required – UK’s Raab
FILE PHOTO: A person wearing a protective face mask walks past seasonal illuminations on the South Bank,
amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in London, Britain, December 4, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain will not require stricter domestic COVID restrictions in the run-up to Christmas because vaccines had put the country into a more resilient position than a year ago, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday.
    “We don’t think Plan B is required,” he told BBC radio.    “Why?    Because of the success of the vaccine programme.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Paul Sandle)

12/7/2021 Mexico Moves Migrants From Southern State; Asylum Seekers Awaited At U.S. Border
FILE PHOTO: Migrants hold hands to control other migrants who want to get
on a bus, in Tapachula, Mexico December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican officials have sped up the transfer of thousands of migrants from southern Mexico to other regions as northern border states prepare to receive asylum seekers sent back to Mexico from the United States.
    Dozens of buses full of migrants, mostly from Central America as well as some from Cuba and Venezuela, have the city of Tapachula in Chiapas state in recent days to head to other states, a Reuters witness and an activist said on Monday.
    Many of the migrants had waited months in Tapachula, near the Guatemala border, to try to regularize their migration status.    Many have left violent and impoverished home countries hoping to eventually seek asylum in the United States.
    U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration on Thursday said it would re-instate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a contentious Trump-era policy that requires asylum seekers to wait out their cases in Mexico, a decision that shelters along the northern border have said could overwhelm their capacity.
    The first group of migrants under the revamped program are expected to be returned to Mexico this week.
    In Tapachula, 45 buses took migrants out of the city on Saturday, said a government source who requested anonymity.
    Migrant rights activist Luis Garcia Villagran said migration officers took 32 full buses of migrants out of the city on Sunday, and another 70 on Monday.
    “They are trying to not saturate the northern border now that MPP is starting,” he said.    “That’s why they are moving them more quickly, controlling where the migrants are going.”
    Mexico’s national migration institute did not respond to a request for comment.
    A Nicaraguan migrant who declined to be identified said he was relived to get on a bus to the city of San Miguel de Allende in the central state of Guanajuato.
    “I was here for a few months but thank God we are going,” he said.
    Large numbers of migrants, especially from Haiti, remained clustered in Tapachula waiting for buses, with some sleeping in a camp outside a stadium that migration officers have used as a processing center.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz, Additional reporting by Jose Luis Gonzalez in Tapachula; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Robert Birsel)

12/7/2021 Biden’s FCC Nominee ‘Enemy Of The Press’ by OAN Newsroom
Gigi Sohn
    Freedom of the press is one of the most sacred parts of America’s democracy. With Joe Biden’s latest nominee for the FCC, however, that freedom is under threat.    OAN’s Pearson Sharp sits down with founder and owner of One America News, Robert Herring Sr. to discuss Biden’s nominee, Gigi Sohn, who’s proving to be an enemy of the First Amendment.


12/7/2021 DOJ Sues Texas Over Redistricting, Claims It Violates Voting Rights Act by OAN Newsroom
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo by AL DRAGO/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
    The Department of Justice is suing the state of Texas.    Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the legal action against the lone star state in a Monday press conference.    He alleged Texas’ recent redistricting is discriminatory in nature. Garland claimed the action violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
    “The complaint we filed today alleges that Texas has violated Section 2 by creating redistricting plans that deny or abridge the rights of Latino or Black voters to vote on account of their race, color or language minority group,” stated the Attorney General.
    Although there is no language explicitly singling out voters of any color in the state’s redistricting process, Garland and his team persist the action has racist intent.    U.S. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta accused Texas of participating in gerrymandering its two new congressional districts to favor white voters.
    “Texas will gain two new congressional seats because of its population growth, almost all of which is due to growth in the state’s minority population,” she stated.    “However, Texas has designed both those new seats to have white voting majorities.    The Congressional plan also deliberately reconfigured a West Texas district to eliminate the opportunity for Latino voters to elect a representative of their choice.”
    Gupta did not delve into the reasons why ethnic minorities would be moving to a supposedly racist state and, instead, claimed Texas was diminishing the number of minority-majority districts.
    “And the State House plan eliminated Latino electoral opportunities by manipulating or eliminating districts where Latino communities previously had elected their preferred candidates,” she continued.    “These redistricting plans will diminish the opportunity for Latino and Black voters in Texas to elect their preferred representatives.”
    Some see the Justice Department’s move as being politically motivated to stop Texas from sending two additional Republican representatives to Washington D.C.
    In the press conference, Garland failed to address child sex crimes committed by CIA operatives, his son-in-law profiting from critical race theory books or his own department’s targeting of concerned parents at school board meetings.
[MERRICK IS ONE OF THE IDIOTS WHO WERE ASSOCIATED WITH PUSHING CRT ON OUR CHILDREN SO NOW THEY ARE SENDING HIM TO TEXAS TO TRY TO FORCE A FEDERAL LAW OVER THE TEXAS STATE LAW TO CONTROL VOTING IN THE TWO NEW DISTRICTS IN THE DEMOCRATS FAVOR AND I HOPE TEXAS PUTS HIM IN HIS PLACE AND THEY ARE NOT LETTING THE DEMOCRATS TRYING TO STEAL AN ELECTION AGAIN BECAUSE OF TAKING OVER TEXAS.].

12/7/2021 Europe Separating People Based On Vaccination Status by OAN Newsroom
    The fight over vaccination status is getting heated all around the world with many European nations implementing some level of restrictions based on vaccination status. One America’s Christina Bobb sat down with Dr. Shea Bradley-Farrell to get her take.
[IT IS ABOUT TIME YOU UNDERSTAND THEY ARE TRYING TO CREATE TWO CITIZENS THOSE WHO SELL THEIR SOULS AND THOSE WHO REFUSED TO COMPLY.].

12/7/2021 Democrat Rep. Susan Wild Claims Economic Woes Are ‘Greatly Exaggerated’ by OAN Newsroom
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
    A vulnerable Democrat representative in Pennsylvania is trying to present the economy in a positive light heading into 2022.
    In a recent appearance on MSNBC, Susan Wild elaborated on a letter she co-authored with other vulnerable Democrats, expressing concern over inflation and the supply chain.    She said that while it is important to keep economics at the forefront of people’s minds, jobs are being filled and the economy is doing very well.
    “I want to make sure that we keep economic issues at the top of the priority list for our leadership,” stated the Democrat.    “But at the same time, I think that the rumors of this economic demise are greatly exaggerated.    I think we’re in really good shape headed into 2022.”
    According to recent polls, 90 percent of voters are worried about the economy with 87 percent worried about inflation in particular.
    Wild won reelection in 2020 by only 14,000 votes out of over 350,000 cast.

12/7/2021 Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Under Threat If Russia Invades Ukraine - U.S. Officials by Andrea Shalal
FILE PHOTO: A road sign directs traffic towards the Nord Stream 2 gas line landfall facility
entrance in Lubmin, Germany, September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. officials have told members of Congress they have an understanding with Germany about shutting down the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior congressional aide told Reuters on Tuesday.
    The White House said Germany had made commitments about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea in the event of aggressive acts by Russia.
    U.S. President Joe Biden told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday the West is concerned Russia will invade Ukraine and warned of “strong economic and other measures” as punishment should Moscow start a military conflict, the White House said.
    U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the fact that gas was not yet flowing through Nord Stream 2 – led by Russian gas giant Gazprom – created leverage for the West over Putin.
    “If Vladimir Putin wants to see gas flow through that pipeline, he may not want to take the risk of invading Ukraine,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House.
    Sullivan said the United States had been in touch with the outgoing and incoming German governments about Nord Stream 2 in the context of a potential invasion.    He declined to characterize the conversations further.
    “The subject of the future of Nord Stream 2 in the context of an invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the coming weeks is a topic of utmost priority.    It has been discussed thoroughly,” he said.
    U.S. officials say they have received assurances from Germany the pipeline would be turned off, the congressional aide said.    But it was unclear if the two sides had agreed on a definition of invasion, the aide said.
    A European diplomat told Reuters U.S. officials had made it clear to allies that they would act to sanction the pipeline in the event of an invasion, which could make any German action a moot point.
    “If the U.S. imposes (additional) sanctions, it’s an academic point, because no one will be able to do business with Nord Stream 2 for fear of running afoul of U.S. sanctions.”
    German officials told reporters on Tuesday that there was still a process to complete before the pipeline would even start operations.
    Biden has long opposed the Russian-German pipeline.    The U.S. State Department has sanctioned Russian entities related to it, but not the company behind it, as it has tried to rebuild ties with Germany that deteriorated under Donald Trump’s administration.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal; additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Doina Chiacu and Jeff Mason; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Heather Timmons, Mark Heinrich, and Marguerita Choy)

12/7/2021 Canadian Arrested For Ransomware Attacks In U.S. After Two Year Probe
FILE PHOTO: A hooded man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this
illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – A 31-year-old Ottawa man has been arrested on suspicion of mounting ransomware attacks in the United States and Canada after a joint probe that took almost two years, police said on Tuesday.
    Matthew Philbert is responsible for numerous ransomware attacks affecting businesses, government agencies and private individuals throughout Canada as well as cyber-related offenses in the United States, the Ontario Provincial Police said.
    Philbert was detained after a 23-month joint probe between Canadian police forces and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which reached out to Canada in early 2020 for help with ransomware attacks.
    He has been charged with fraud, mischief and unauthorized access of computer systems.
    In Anchorage, the U.S. attorney’s office said Philbert had damaged a computer in Alaska in April 2018.    He faces one U.S. count of conspiracy to commit fraud and one count of fraud.
    Canada’s signals intelligence agency said on Monday that global ransomware attacks increased by 151% in the first half of 2021 compared with 2020.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

12/7/2021 U.S. Imposes Sanctions On People In Iran, Syria And Uganda, Citing Rights Abuses
FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past the mural showing U.S. flag with barbed wire and the Statue Of Liberty with skull face
in Tehran, Iran June 25, 2019. Nazanin Tabatabaee/Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency via REUTERS/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday imposed sanctions on more than a dozen people and entities in Iran, Syria and Uganda, accusing them of being connected to serious human rights abuses and repressive acts.
    In an action marking the week of the U.S. Summit for Democracy, the Treasury Department said in a statement it was targeting repression and the undermining of democracy, designating individuals and entities tied to the violent suppression of peaceful protesters in Iran and deadly chemical weapons attacks against civilians in Syria, among others.
    “Treasury will continue to defend against authoritarianism, promoting accountability for violent repression of people seeking to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Andrea Gacki, director of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in the statement.
    Washington blacklisted two senior Syrian Air Force officers it accused of being responsible for chemical weapon attacks on civilians and three senior officers in Syria’s security and intelligence apparatus, according to the statement.
    In Iran, the United States designated the Special Units of Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and Counter-Terror Special Forces, as well as several of their officials, and Gholamreza Soleimani, who commands Iran’s hardline Basij militia.    Two prisons and a prison director were also blacklisted over events that reportedly took place in them.
    Uganda’s chief of military intelligence, Major General Abel Kandiho, was also hit with sanctions over alleged human rights abuses committed under his watch.    The Ugandan military said earlier on Tuesday that it was disappointed by the decision, which it said had been made without due process.
    Tuesday’s action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Caitlin Webber; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Rosalba O’Brien)

12/8/2021 Oil up $1.95 to $71.58, DOW up 492 to 35,719.

12/8/2021 Ending Merkel Era, Scholz Takes Office As German Chancellor by Michael Nienaber
Designated German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reacts after being elected as new chancellor during a session of the
German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, December 8, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
    BERLIN (Reuters) – German lawmakers elected Social Democrat Olaf Scholz as new chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative rule under Angela Merkel and paving the way for a pro-European coalition government which has vowed to boost green investment.
    Scholz, 63, who served as vice chancellor and finance minister in Merkel’s outgoing government, got a clear majority of 395 votes from lawmakers in the Bundestag lower house of parliament, Bundestag President Baerbel Bas said.
    Scholz, who nodded wearing a face mask and waved as he received a standing ovation from lawmakers, received bouquets of flowers and a basket of apples from the leaders of the parliamentary groups.
    After being nominated by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in near-by Bellevue Castle, Scholz will return to parliament to take the oath of office in front of the lawmakers.
    In the afternoon, Merkel will hand over the chancellery to the new leader of Europe’s largest economy which is facing a brutal fourth wave of coronavirus infections and challenges to its democratic order by authoritarian regimes.
    With his down-to-earth and no-nonsense manner, Scholz has positioned himself as Merkel’s natural successor and a safe pair of hands to steer Germany through challenges ranging from tackling the climate crisis to dealing with a more confrontational Russia and a more assertive China.
    Scholz will lead an unprecedented three-way ruling coalition on the federal level with the pro-spending, environmentalist Greens and the fiscally more conservative, libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) – unlikely political bedfellows in the past.
    Scholz is an experienced negotiator and veteran politician who as SPD party secretary general from 2002 until 2004 defended controversial labour market reforms and social welfare cuts under former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
    As labour minister from 2007-2009 in Merkel’s first ruling coalition, Scholz pushed for a generous short-time work scheme, also known as Kurzarbeit, which helped to protect millions of workers from the outfall of the global financial crisis.
    After being major of the northern port city of Hamburg from 2011-2018, Scholz returned to Berlin as Merkel’s finance minister – a role in which he got rid of the goal of balanced budgets and enable record new borrowing to shield companies and employees from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
    On the European level, he worked closely together with France and convinced Merkel to support a debt-financed European Recovery Fund worth 800 billion euros to help EU member states hit the most by COVID.
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Emma Thomasson)

12/8/2021 Biden Warns Putin Of Sanctions, Aid For Ukraine Military If Russia Invades by Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland and Andrew Osborn
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the Build Back Better Act and
its impact on the cost of prescription drugs during a speech in the East Room at the
White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis
    WASHINGTON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Joe Biden warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that the West would impose “strong economic and other measures” on Russia if it invades Ukraine, while Putin demanded guarantees that NATO would not expand farther eastward.
    The two leaders held two hours of virtual talks on Ukraine and other disputes in a video call about U.S.-Russian relations, which have sunk to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War more than three decades ago, as Russia masses tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s border.
    Putin responded to the warning with a demand for reliable, legally binding guarantees against NATO expansion eastward and complained about NATO attempts to “develop” Ukrainian territory,” the Kremlin said.
    The White House said Biden did not make any guarantees to limit NATO expansion with regard to Ukraine.
    “I will tell you clearly and directly he made no such commitments or concessions.    He stands by the proposition that countries should be able to freely choose who they associate with,” Biden’s national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
    No breakthroughs were reported but both sides agreed to continue communications, a development that could lower global tensions.
    The Kremlin has denied harboring any intention to attack Ukraine and has said a troop buildup on its southern border is defensive, but neighboring nations are sounding alarms.
    Biden warned Putin he could face stiff economic sanctions, the disruption of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe, and that the United States and European allies would provide additional defensive capabilities to Ukraine.
    The president “made clear that the U.S. and our Allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation,” the White House said in a statement.
    “Things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now,” Sullivan told reporters after the call, referring to the reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
    In case of an attack, the United States would be looking to respond positively if Baltic allies ask for additional U.S. “capabilities” or “deployments,” he said.
    The United States could also target Russia’s biggest banks and Moscow’s ability to convert roubles into dollars and other currencies, one official said.
    In 2014, Washington focused mainly on defensive, non-lethal aid following Russia’s annexation of Crimea out of fear it would escalate the crisis.
    Biden was “direct and straightforward” with Putin, Sullivan said.    “There was a lot of give-and-take, there was no finger-wagging, but the president was crystal clear where the United States stands on all of these issues,” Sullivan said.
    The Kremlin said Putin told Biden it was wrong to put all the responsibility on Russia’s shoulders for current tensions.
    Moscow has voiced rising irritation over Western military aid to Ukraine, a fellow former Soviet republic that has tilted toward the West since a popular revolt toppled a pro-Russian president in 2014, and what Russia calls creeping NATO expansion.
RUSSIA WANTS GUARANTEES
    Putin complained about NATO attempts to “develop” Ukrainian territory, the Kremlin said.
    “Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees that rule out NATO expansion eastward and the deployment of offensive strike weapons systems in states adjacent to Russia,” the Kremlin said.
    Putin also called for guarantees that offensive strike systems would not be deployed in countries close to Russia, according to the Kremlin.
    Russian TV footage showed Biden and Putin greeting each other in a friendly manner at the start of the virtual summit.
    Both sides say they hope the two leaders can hold an in-person summit to discuss ties between the two nations, which have long-standing differences over Syria, U.S. economic sanctions and alleged Russian cyberattacks on U.S. companies.
    A Ukraine official said after the talks that Kyiv was grateful to Biden for his “unwavering support
    A U.S. congressional defense bill released after the talks included $300 million for Ukraine’s military.
    For the Kremlin, the growing NATO embrace of neighbouring Ukraine – and what it sees as the nightmare possibility of alliance missiles in Ukraine targeted against Russia – is a “red line” it will not allow to be crossed.
    Moscow has questioned Ukrainian intentions and said it wants guarantees that Kyiv will not use force to try to retake territory lost in 2014 to Russia-backed separatists, a scenario Ukraine has ruled out.
WESTERN ALLIES ENGAGED
    Leaders from Britain, the United States, France, Germany and Italy spoke on Monday and “agreed to stay in close touch on a coordinated and comprehensive approach in response to Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders,” the White House said.
    The Russian rouble weakened slightly on Tuesday, with some market analysts predicting the talks would de-escalate tensions and others saying the U.S. sanctions threat eroded hopes of finding common ground.
    U.S. officials have told members of Congress they have an understanding with Germany about shutting down the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia invades Ukraine, a senior congressional aide said.
    “If President Putin moves on Ukraine, our expectation is that the pipeline will be suspended,” Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    The United States has evaluated the possibility of curbing investors’ ability to buy Russian debt on the secondary market, a measure that even if taken only by Washington was seen as having a severe impact on Russia’s government, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.
    Washington could target the Russian Direct Investment Fund as well.
    CNN reported that sanctions could include disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world, an extreme step that would likely require coordination with allies.
    German Gref, chief executive of Russia’s top bank, Sberbank, on Tuesday called that idea “nonsense” and “impossible to execute.”
    The United States has urged both Ukraine and Russia to return to a set of largely unimplemented agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 that were designed to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal, Steve Holland and Andrew Osborn; Additional reporting by Idrees Ali, Trevor Hunnicutt, Matt Spetalnick and Jeff Mason in Washington, Gleb Stolyarov, Dmitry Antonov, Alexander Marrow, Tom Balmforth and Katya Golubkova in Moscow and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Heather Timmons, Mark Heinrich, Peter Cooney and Himani Sarkar)

12/8/2021 Restrictions Boost Popularity Of COVID-19 Jabs – German-Austrian Survey
People wait outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination centre
in Munich, Germany, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Lukas Barth/Files
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Stricter coronavirus restrictions increase people’s willingness to receive the vaccine against the coronavirus, a survey in the German-Austrian border regions published showed on Wednesday.
    The ban on entering public spaces in Austria for people who had not been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, announced on Nov. 5, increased vaccination rates according to data from the survey centre of Germany’s Ifo Institute for Economic Research.
    On the other hand, Austria’s lockdown for the unvaccinated from Nov. 15 did not significantly influence the willingness to vaccinate and a lockdown for everyone in the country starting Nov. 22 slightly reversed the trend, the institute said.
    “Restrictions specifically for vaccine sceptics therefore appear to increase the willingness to get vaccinated more than a lockdown for all,” said Hannes Winner, professor of Economics at the University of Salzburg and co-author of the study.
    The survey was conducted between Oct. 4 and Dec. 4, and looked at data about first vaccinations in 13 German and 16 Austrian districts along the countries’ national border.
    Between the start and end of the survey, vaccination rates in the Austrian counties grew by about 7 percentage points and the German counties saw an increase of nearly 4 percentage points.
(Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska)

12/8/2021 Germany Records Highest Daily COVID Deaths Since February
FILE PHOTO: Members of the medical staff in protective suits treat a patient, on extracorporeal membrane
oxygenation (ECMO) treatment, suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit
(ICU) at Havelhoehe Community Hospital in Berlin, Germany, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany recorded the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 since February on Wednesday as it battles to stop a fourth wave of the pandemic.
    A total of 69,601 new infections were reported, 2,415 more than the same time a week ago, and another 527 people died – the highest number since Feb. 12 – to bring the total to 104,047, the German Robert Koch Institute for disease control said.
    However, the country’s seven-day incidence rate of cases per 100,000 people continued to fall, declining to 427 from 432 on Tuesday.
    Experts have questioned whether the metric means Germany has passed the peak of this wave of the pandemic or whether the figures are unreliable because some health authorities are so overwhelmed, particularly in the hardest-hit areas.
    The country agreed last week to bar the unvaccinated from access to all but the most essential businesses such as grocery stores, pharmacies and bakeries and to ramp up the vaccination campaign.
(Reporting by Emma Thomasson; Editing by Zuzanna Szymanska)

12/8/2021 U.S. Senate Backs Sale Of Missiles To Saudi Arabia by Patricia Zengerle
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks to reporters after a vote on as Senators moved toward
trying to pass a stop-gap increase in the Treasury Department's $28.4 trillion borrowing
authority on Capitol Hill in Washington October 7, 2021. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate rejected a resolution on Tuesday that would have prohibited the proposed sale of advanced medium range air-to-air missiles, missile launchers and other weapons and support to Saudi Arabia.
    The vote was 67 to 30 against the resolution, which was introduced by Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee, as well as Bernie Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats.
    While many U.S. lawmakers consider Saudi Arabia an important partner in the Middle East, members of Congress also have criticized the country for its involvement in the war in Yemen, a conflict considered one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.
    “Exporting more missiles to Saudi Arabia does nothing but further this conflict and pour more gasoline on already raging fire,” Sanders said in a speech urging support for the resolution of disapproval.
    They have refused to approve military sales for the kingdom without assurances U.S. equipment would not be used to kill civilians.    Backers of the sale noted that President Joe Biden’s administration has already barred U.S. sales of offensive weapons to Saudi Arabia.
    “I completely agree with the need to hold Saudi leadership accountable for a variety of actions… but I also believe that it is important that our security partners know that we will uphold our commitments,” said Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
    The weapons package, which was approved by the State Department as well as leaders of the Senate and House foreign affairs committees, would include 280 AIM-120C-7/C-8 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), 596 LAU-128 Missile Rail Launchers (MRL) along other equipment and support, Raytheon Technologies makes the missiles.
    The Biden administration said earlier on Tuesday it strongly opposed the resolution.
    Passage “would undermine the president’s commitment to aid in our partner’s defenses at a time of increased missile and drone attacks against civilians in Saudi Arabia,” the White House Office of Management of Budget said in a statement.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese and Stephen Coates)

11/8/2021 West Could Cut Russia From SWIFT, Sanction Nord Stream, Latvia Says by Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkevics speaks during
news conference in Riga, Latvia March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
    LONDON (Reuters) – The West must send a strong message to Russia to deter it from invading Ukraine, including cutting Russia off from the SWIFT payment system, sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline and strengthening NATO’s eastern flank, Latvia said on Tuesday.
    Hours before U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to discuss Ukraine in a videoconference, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told Reuters: “Russia needs to know in advance what the economic price tag is.”
    U.S. intelligence assesses that Russia could be planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as next year, involving up to 175,000 troops.    The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia.
    U.S. officials have said Biden will tell Putin that an invasion of its neighbour could see Russia and its banks hit with the toughest economic sanctions yet.
    Rinkevics, foreign minister since 2011, said it was unclear if Putin was simply trying to test the West’s resolve or if the Kremlin planned a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
    “Maybe astrology or some other more precise science needs to be involved.    But I do believe that Ukraine for Russia and President Putin is an essential part of the kind of vision of a great Russia,” Rinkevics said in an interview in London.
    He said that if Russia does invade Ukraine, the West should prepare a very strong economic sanctions package, including cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international payment system used by banks around the world and sanctioning the $11 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
    The NATO military alliance should also boost its presence across Eastern Europe to deter Putin and individual NATO allies might provide arms to Ukraine, Rinkevics said.
    “NATO needs to increase its presence in the eastern flank to show Russia that the price of doing some military adventure in Ukraine is more troops, more defence capability and underlying defence capability in the Baltic States, in Poland, in Romania, in Bulgaria,” he said.
    NATO has in recent years strengthened its presence in the Baltic states and across Eastern Europe, a step that has dismayed the Kremlin.
    Rinkevics said battle groups in the Baltics should be reinforced, air defences strengthened, logistical security improved and an increased U.S. presence on the ground.
    “Seeing what is happening now in and around Ukraine, we need also to review where we are with the defence of the eastern flank of NATO,” Rinkevics said.
    “That means more capabilities that could actually send a very strong deterrent message to Russia.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton and Catherine Evans)

12/8/2021 Senators Grill Biden State Dept. On U.S.-Russia Ties by OAN Newsroom
Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to
examine U.S.-Russia policy, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
    Senators on both sides of the aisle are trying to get to the bottom of where Joe Biden stands on the Russia threat. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee grilled Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland on what the Biden administration is doing to combat Russian aggression.
    Reports have come out over the past few weeks claiming Russia is sending troops to the Russia-Ukraine border with international leaders warning Russian President Vladimir Putin may intend to invade his neighbor once again.    Nuland said the threat is real, but admitted the State Department doesn’t really know what Putin is planning.
    “The intended force, if fully mobilized would be twice of what we saw last spring, including approximately 100 battalion tactical groups or nearly all of Russia’s ready ground forces based west of the the Urals,” explained the undersecretary.    “We don’t know whether president Putin has made a decision to attack Ukraine or to overthrow its government, but we do know he’s building the capacity to do so.”
    Several Republicans on the panel highlighted a slew of issues related to Russia’s behavior.    Florida Sen. Marco Rubio pointed to what he called “anti-western sentiments” coming from Russian actors, something he believes mirrors rhetoric from the former Soviet Union.
    Rubio claimed this is bleeding into the international sphere and Russia wants to keep western influence away from its soil by demanding NATO pull troops away from its western border, block neighbor states like Ukraine and Georgia from entering the bloc as well as cease arming Ukrainian troops.
    Additionally, Utah Sen. Mitt Romney warned of a second arms race with Russia, claiming Putin is funneling large sums of money into the country’s nuclear programs.    Romney alleged the Kremlin is developing their nuclear weapons programs using the same Build Back Better message espoused by the Biden administration.
    Ambassador Nuland admitted Russia continues to build its nuclear arsenal and other advanced weapons despite entering a nuclear deal with Joe Biden.
    “The New Start Treaty that was negotiated sum 10 years ago and which was extended by the administration caps the long-range nuclear arsenal.    But you are right that President Putin continues to augment intermediate-range forces and short-range nuclear forces as well as build new exquisite weapons like his hypersonic, which are outside of any arms control regime.”
    Texas Sen. Ted Cruz said it was Joe Biden that gave Vladimir Putin his teeth when he lifted sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.    The controversial pipeline, which has been condemned by both sides of the aisle, is expected to go through Germany and to export oil throughout the European union.    American critics have opposed the construction of Nord Stream 2 while stressing it will make American energy obsolete in the region.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to examine
U.S.-Russia policy with testimony from Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs,
on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
    Sen. Cruz emphasized, Putin retreated from his invasion of Ukraine-occupied Crimea in 2014 before Nord Stream 2 was even a thought.    According to Cruz, the Russian president averted conflict because the country was heavily dependent on Ukrainian energy infrastructure.
    Meanwhile, Joe Biden reportedly signaled his discontent with Vladimir Putin in a virtual call with the Russian president.    Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, claimed the administration is willing to hold the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as a bargaining chip with the hope that threatening of sanctions will compel Putin to withdraw troops.    Sullivan added, the current administration is willing to take stronger action against Russian aggression than the Obama administration did in 2014.
    “I will look you in the eye and tell you just as President Biden looked Putin in the eye and told him today, that things we did not do in 2014, we are prepared to do now,” state the U.S. national security advisor.
    Biden and his foreign policy team are expected to meet with key European allies to discuss the Russian threat, including a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

12/8/2021 Sen. Rubio Tells Airbnb To Delist Properties In China’s Xinjiang Region by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations to examine
U.S.-Russia policy with testimony from Victoria Nuland, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs,
on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has called on Airbnb to delist rentals in China’s Xinjiang region over the ongoing genocide of the Uyghur minority there.    In a letter to Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, the Florida senator said the company has property listings on land that belongs to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, or XPCC.
    Rubio pointed out that Airbnb’s business directly benefits a Chinese government agency that’s running concentration camps for Uyghurs.    The senator added, the U.S. must increase economic pressure on the Chinese Communist Party.
    “There are major American corporations who are either witting or unwittingly lobbyists on behalf of the official narratives and policy preferences of the Communist Party of China, and the reason is pretty simple,” Rubio stated.    “And that is they go to them and say ‘if you want to continue to have access to our marketplace, if you want to continue to be able to sell things here…then we expect you to go talk to your [quote-on-quote] friends in American and get them to back off.'
    Rubio also points out the XPCC is under U.S. sanctions imposed by 45th President Donald Trump.    This bans U.S. companies from doing business in Xinjiang.    The senator added, Airbnb must comply with existing U.S. sanctions on China.

12/8/2021 Sen. Braun: Democrat Lawmakers Join Push To Outlaw Vaccine Mandates by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., arrives to vote on an appropriations bill that funds the government through Feb. 18 and avoids a
short-term shutdown after midnight Friday, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    According to Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), a rising number of Democrat lawmakers are joining his push to strike down Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. In a series of interviews on Tuesday, the Republican said West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and a few others are firmly opposed to imposing vaccine requirements for their constituents.
    “It gets every senator, every House member on record, so I think it’s going to make it tough for Biden to keep pushing forward when it was a bad idea to begin with,” he asserted.
    Braun stressed that Biden’s “crazy policies” must stop.    He added vaccine mandates are a “lunacy,” which would destroy small businesses across America.
    “Any swing state senator, anybody that is listening to their people back home…this doesn’t poll when its vaccine or job and even when you say vaccine or get tested for a job, most of the people who are digging in, regardless of their reasons, aren’t viewing it as an option,” stated the Indiana senator.
    Braun cited a poll by Axios that found only 14 percent of Americans support vaccine mandates.    He also highlighted the ongoing litigation to outlaw Biden’s mandates.

12/8/2021 Early BioNTech, Pfizer Data Suggests Boosters May Protect Against Omicron Infection by Ludwig Burger and Michael Erman
A healthcare worker administers the Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine to
Simphiwe, 13, amidst the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron in Johannesburg,
South Africa, December 04, 2021. Picture taken December 04, 2021. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham
    (Reuters) - BioNTech and Pfizer said on Wednesday a three-shot course of their COVID-19 vaccine was able to neutralise the new Omicron variant in a laboratory test, an early signal that booster shots could be key to protection against infection from the newly identified variant.
    The German and U.S. companies said two doses of their vaccine resulted in significantly lower neutralising antibodies but could still be protective against severe disease.
    “The first line of defence, with two doses of vaccination, might be compromised and three doses of vaccination are required to restore protection,” BioNTech Chief Medical Officer Ozlem Tuereci said at a press conference.
    The companies also said they could deliver an upgraded vaccine targeted specifically at the Omicron variant in March 2022 if one is needed.
    BioNTech and Pfizer are the first manufacturers of a COVID vaccine to issue an official update on the efficacy of their shot against Omicron.
    In samples of blood taken around a month after the third shot the Omicron variant was neutralised about as effectively as two doses neutralised the original virus identified in China.
    The Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong last month, has triggered global alarm about another surge in infections.    Cases have already been reported from Japan to the United States and across Europe.
    “The new data from Pfizer on vaccine effectiveness against Omicron is encouraging,” U.S. President Joe Biden tweeted on Wednesday.    “Anyone who is eligible and has not been boosted should go get a booster today.”
    BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin suggested that countries might consider shortening the time period between second and third doses of the vaccine to combat the new variant.
    He cited recent moves by countries including Britain to bring the third shot forward to three months after the second shot, from six months previously.
    “We believe this is the right way to go particularly if the Omicron is now spreading further, to enable a better level of protection in the winter season,” Sahin said.
    Dr. Walter Orenstein, a professor at Vanderbilt and former director of the U.S. CDC’s immunization programs, said he found the data encouraging because it suggests that the current vaccines are still usable against the Omicron.
    “We may not have to change the vaccine,” he said.    “We may be able to get by with the current vaccine, at least for repression of severe disease.”
OMICRON-SPECIFIC VACCINE
    The World Health Organization classified Omicron on Nov. 26 as a “variant of concern” but said there was no evidence to support the need for new vaccines specifically designed to tackle the variant and its mutations.
    Nevertheless, the companies said they would continue efforts to bring an Omicron-specific COVID-19 vaccine to market.    Work started on Nov. 25.
    They said their planned production of 4 billion doses of the Comirnaty vaccine in 2022 was not expected to change if an adapted vaccine was required.    BioNTech said that even if an adapted vaccine was available in March, it would not be broadly available for some time, noting that perhaps 25 to 75 million doses of the new vaccine would be ready at first.
    Pfizer scientist Kena Swanson said the company is considering also testing two doses of an Omicron-specific vaccine in currently unvaccinated people.
    Pfizer and BioNTech’s findings are broadly in line with a preliminary study published by researchers at the Africa Health Research Institute in South Africa on Tuesday, which said Omicron could partially evade protection from two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and suggested a third shot might help fend off infection.
    Research on the new variant is still at an early stage. Laboratory analysis at University Hospital Frankfurt in Germany found the ability to mount an antibody response to Omicron in people who had three shots was up to 37 times lower than the response to Delta.
    Even so, two shots of the vaccine may still protect against severe disease, Pfizer and BioNTech said.
    The vast majority of surface structures on the Omicron spike protein targeted by the T-cells, which typically emerge after vaccination, are not affected by Omicron’s mutations, they said.
    T-cells are the second pillar of an immune response, alongside antibodies, and are believed to prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells.
    For their analysis, the two companies used a virus that was bio-engineered to have the hallmark mutations of Omicron, known as a pseudovirus, and blood was collected from subjects three weeks after a second vaccine dose or one month after a third.
    There is no significant data yet on how vaccines from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and other drugmakers hold up against the new variant but they are expected to release their own data within weeks.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Alex Richardson, Edmund Blair, Elaine Hardcastle and Sonya Hepinstall)

12/8/2021 Scholz Takes Over As German Chancellor, Ending Merkel Era by Michael Nienaber
Newly elected German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is sworn-in by Parliament President Baerbel Bas during a session of
the German lower house of parliament Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, December 8, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) - Social Democrat Olaf Scholz became Germany’s chancellor on Wednesday, ending 16 years of conservative rule under Angela Merkel and launching his three-way coalition that has pledged to boost green investment and strengthen European integration.
    Scholz, 63, who over the past four years served as vice chancellor and finance minister in coalition with Merkel, won a majority of 395 votes from lawmakers in the lower house of parliament, Bundestag President Baerbel Bas said.
    Wearing a black face mask, Scholz waved as he received a standing ovation from lawmakers and accepted bouquets of flowers and a basket of apples from leading members of parliament.
    After being formally nominated by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in the nearby Bellevue Palace, Scholz returned to the historic Reichstag building in the heart of the German capital to take the oath of office in front of lawmakers and become Germany’s ninth chancellor since the end of World War Two.
    In one of his first interviews as chancellor, Scholz told Welt TV that Russia would have to face consequences if Ukraine’s borders were violated, but he added that Germany and its allies were doing everything possible to avoid such an escalation.
    Concerned by a Russian military build-up near the Ukrainian border, the United States wants Germany to use its pending approval of the nearly finished Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia as leverage in the standoff with Moscow over Ukraine.
    In another interview with ZDF television, Scholz skirted questions about whether Germany would join the United States, Australia and Britain in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
    In parliament, he swore to devote his energies to the welfare of the German people – but did not ask for God’s help, a phrase that is usually included in the oath of office and was spoken by Merkel.
‘STEADY HAND’
    Back in Bellevue Palace, the ministers of the new cabinet received their appointment certificates from the president.
    Merkel officially handed over the chancellery to Scholz and wished him a “steady hand” as Germany faces a surging fourth wave of coronavirus infections and hybrid attacks on democracies by authoritarian leaders.
    In a short speech, Scholz hailed Merkel as a great chancellor and thanked her for a close and trustful relationship over the past years.
    “I would like to build on the northeast German mentality, if I may say so, that has reigned here so far.    Not much will change it this regard,” Scholz said in reference to their shared northern roots in the port city of Hamburg.
    With his down-to-earth and no-nonsense manner, Scholz has positioned himself as Merkel’s natural successor and a safe pair of hands to steer Germany through challenges ranging from tackling the climate crisis to dealing with a more confrontational Russia and increasingly assertive China.
    Scholz will lead an unprecedented tripartite coalition on the federal level with the pro-spending, environmentalist Greens and the fiscally more conservative, libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) – unlikely political bedfellows in the past.
    Scholz is an experienced negotiator and veteran politician who as SPD party secretary general from 2002 until 2004 defended disputed labour market reforms and social welfare cuts under then-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
    As labour minister from 2007-2009 in Merkel’s first ruling coalition, Scholz pushed for a generous short-time work scheme that helped protect millions of workers from the fallout of the global financial crisis.
    After being mayor of Hamburg from 2011-2018, Scholz returned to Berlin as Merkel’s finance minister – a role in which he got rid of the goal of balanced budgets and enabled record new borrowing to shield companies and employees from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
    On the European level, he worked closely with France and persuaded Merkel to support a debt-financed European Recovery Fund worth 800 billion euros ($900 billion) to help EU member states hit hardest by COVID-19.
    Merkel, 67, a lover of opera and hiking in the little spare time she has had in the last 16 years, has given few clues about what she plans to do in retirement.
($1 = 0.8861 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, editing by Miranda Murray, Angus MacSwan and Bernadette Baum and Mark Heinrich)

12/8/2021 Omicron Will Spread Through Americas In Time, Warns Regional Health Agency
FILE PHOTO: Syringes with needles are seen in front of a displayed stock graph and words
"Omicron SARS-CoV-2" in this illustration taken, November 27, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has so far been detected in the Americas in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mexico and the United States, but it is just a matter of time before it circulates in more countries, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) warned on Wednesday.
    The regional health agency said coronavirus infections have turned up in Canada and parts of Mexico, such as Baja California. Except for Panama, Central America is experiencing a steep decline in cases.
    In South America, there has been a steady increase in Bolivia, Peru and Colombia, while Ecuador, Chile and Argentina are reporting a drop, PAHO said.
    Research is ongoing to better understand Omicron’s behavior and the potential risks for the Americas, PAHO director Carissa Etienne told reporters on a webcast news conference.
    “The arrival of a new variant doesn’t necessarily mean that things will be worse, but it does mean that we must be extra-vigilant in the short term,” she said.
    Vaccines remain a critical tool to reduce hospitalizations and deaths and limit the appearance of new variants, PAHO said.
    So far, 55% of the people in Latin America and the Caribbean have been fully vaccinated against COVID, and 20 countries in the region have yet to reach the year-end vaccination coverage target of 40% set by the World Health Organization.
    Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines remain far behind, Etienne said.
    “At the current pace, as many as six countries may not meet the 40% year-end target,” she said.
    PAHO, which is purchasing vaccines for the region through its Revolving Fund, said it has secured deals with AstraZeneca Plc, China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd and Sinopharm.
(Reporting by Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis)

12/8/2021 WHO Warns Against Vaccine Mandates by OAN Newsroom
File – WHO Director, Dr. Hans Kluge is pictured.(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
    The World Health Organization announced its hesitancy to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.    The organization’s European director, Dr. Hans Kluge, made the WHO’s stance known on a recent video presser.    Dr. Kluge said such a sweeping move should only be used as a last resort.
    “…Is to not mandate vaccination if you haven’t reached out first to the communities,” he stated.
    “Mandates around vaccination are an absolute last resort and only applicable when all feasible options to improve vaccination uptake have been exhausted.”
    Although he claims vaccine mandates are effective in some cases, Dr. Kluge said they should not be used as a blanket policy to fight the virus. Context, the doctor stressed, is an important factor to consider before implementing such a measure.    Dr. Kluge also warned governments against creating two classes of citizens based on vaccination status.
    “Ultimately, mandates should never contribute to increasing social inequalities in access to health and social services,” he stated.    “Any measure that may restrict a right or movement of a person, such as lockdowns or mandates, also needs to assure that mental health and wellbeing is cared for.”
    Public backlash was another concern for the doctor.    He asserted that mandates should be judged by their effect and public reaction rather than their intention.
    “The effect that mandating vaccination could have on public confidence and public trust, as well as vaccination uptake, must be considered,” Dr. Kluge continued.    “What is acceptable in one society and community may not be effective and acceptable in another.”
    The doctor warned that forcing vaccinations could lead citizens to question its effectiveness by persuading them by force rather than reason.
    Joe Biden and New York Mayor Mayor Bill de Blasio, however, follow a different science from the WHO.    The Biden administration is still attempting its federal vaccine mandate while New York City’s goes into effect on December 27.

12/8/2021 White House: Biden To Veto Congressional Motion To Ban Vaccine Mandate by OAN Newsroom
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing
at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The Biden administration is threatening to veto any congressional resolutions to outlaw its vaccine mandates.    On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the vaccine mandate for private sector businesses is necessary because of the Omicron variant.
    She also attacked GOP senators and some Democrats behind the push to outlaw the mandate by calling them “the anti-vaccine and testing crowd.”    All 50 Senate Republicans along with Democrat Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and others expressed opposition to the mandate.    Earlier in the day, a district court in Georgia blocked Biden’s mandate for federal contractors in all 50 states.
    A recent poll by the Wall Street Journal found 47 percent of Americans oppose Biden’s vaccine mandate.    This comes as Republicans warn Biden’s veto of a likely congressional resolution would further erode the American democracy and push the country closer to a rule by decree.

12/9/2021 Oil up $0.79 to $72.53, DOW up 35 to 35,754.

12/9/2021 Judicial Watch Wins Court Battle Over Biden’s Hidden Records by OAN Newsroom
US President Joe Biden speaks to the press before boarding Marine One as he departs the White House
in Washington, DC, on December 3, 2021. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
    Government oversight group Judicial Watch won litigation in Delaware over the access to Joe Biden’s Senate documents.    The Delaware Supreme Court ruled that University of Delaware must explain why the 1,850 boxes of Biden’s papers were not made public.
    Those documents are currently supposed to remain hidden until two-years after Biden leaves public office.    Judicial Watch said the papers may shed light on Biden’s dealings in foreign countries as well as his alleged sexual assault on Tara Reade from 1993.
    “It’s only Judicial Watch that’s asking questions about this basic history of Joe Biden,” Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton.    “We can’t let politics get in the way of the enforcement of the rule of law…the University of Delaware should not protecting Joe Biden and release the records.    What is Joe Biden hiding?
    That’s what we want to know and that’s what we are fighting for
.”
    Judicial Watch said now that they have won litigation together with the Daily Caller, Biden’s documents will soon be released.
[Especially the one of sexual assault on a female Tara Reade who worked for him when he was Senator and he has claimed "See NO Evil, Hear NO Evil, Speak NO Evil" to that while he hid in his basement.].

12/9/2021 Senate Votes To Repeal Biden’s Job-Killing Vaccine Mandate by OAN Newsroom
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., right, joined by from left, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.,
Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Sen. John Barrasso, and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, pauses as he speaks during
a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently slammed Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates.    While speaking on the floor Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican said elites in Washington must stop micro-managing Americans.
    McConnell then stressed the Constitution does not give Biden the right to force employees to get the COVID-19 vaccine.    He said he continues to get messages from constituents about the harm caused by Biden’s mandates.
    “Due to Biden’s forced vaccine mandate, I will be terminated,” stated the senator.    “Please let a man who wants to work go to work.    My firm of 103 employees will either loose about 25 to the mandate or lay off four to get to 99.    Which one should we do?
    McConnell said he will not stop fighting against Biden’s vaccine mandate on small businesses.
    Meanwhile, the Senate passed a bill to block the mandate. Here’s more:

12/9/2021 L.A. Police Union Head On Tourists: Stay Away, Cant Guarantee Safety by OAN Newsroom
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore, center, arrives for a news conference outside the Los Angeles Police Headquarters
in Los Angeles Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021. Authorities in Los Angeles on Thursday announced arrests in recent
smash-and-grab thefts at stores, part of a rash of organized retail crime in California. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
    “My message to anyone thinking about coming to Los Angeles, especially during the holiday season, is don’t.”
— Jamie McBride, Director – Los Angeles Police Protective League
    The head of the Los Angeles Police Department’s union issued a dire warning to visitors.    In an interview Wednesday, Jamie McBride of the Police Protective League warned tourists against visiting the city amid a surge in violent crime.    He emphasized they simply cannot “guarantee your safety” as things have gotten out of control.
    “I’ve said it to people before.    it’s like that moviePurge,” explained McBride.    “You know, instead of 24-hours to commit your, these bad people have 365 days to commit whatever they want.”
    However, LAPD Chief Michael Moore disagrees, reassuring the public that the spike in crime is contained and being dealt with accordingly.
    “It’s not out of control, it’s not a spiral that we’ve lost control over,” he insisted.    “It is important that we not have a sense of acquiescing or just lackadaisical approach to this.”
    Additionally, he admitted robberies rose roughly 5 percent compared to last year, but noted a general decline by 13 percent in 2019.    Furthermore, the police chief emphasized almost all 14 criminals who were arrested after a recent smash-and-grab robbery have since been released due to California’s zero bail policy, which he stressed needs to be modified.
    “Eleven were released on zero bail and we need the criminal justice system to look at those offenses and recognize how to keep the most dangerous individuals off the street,” said Moore.
    He then insisted District Attorney George Gascon is committed to holding violent criminal offenders accountable.    Ultimately, Moore went on to welcome tourists to Los Angeles while reassuring that safety is the number one priority.

12/9/2021 Sen. Portman Says China Imports Opioids Via USPS by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Nov. 28, 2017 file photo, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, a member of the
tax-writing Senate Finance Committee, discusses his support for the GOP tax bill during a
TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) is pushing the Biden administration to address the opioid crisis, which is killing Americans at a record high rate. During an interview Wednesday, the Republican stressed the importance of implementing a three-step plan to combat the crisis and, more importantly, to stop the flow of synthetic fentanyl into the U.S.
    “We are in the midst of the worst drug and addiction epidemic in U.S. history,” he noted on Twitter.     “In order to successfully combat this crisis we must stop the influx of drugs coming over our border, bolster prevention efforts & strengthen treatment services."
    Portman said the U.S. needs to work with China and Mexico in a much more aggressive manner to stop the flow of the illicit drug.    The senator is confident the fatal substance is coming from China through the U.S. Postal Service.
    “All we’re asking them to do to do is to screen packages so that our law enforcement can at least stop some of this poison coming into our communities and raising the prices of the incredibly powerful, deadly drug on the streets of our communities, our cities,” Portman explained.
    "The opioid crisis is a direct result of President Biden's open borders.    The border crisis has led to many other crises, but especially when we see this infusion of drugs coming across our southern border."
    For decades, the Ohio leader has been one of the most prominent senators to offer solutions towards combating the opioid crisis.    Portman has vowed to prompt the White House from continuously pushing off the issue.

12/9/2021 Trump: China Hated ‘America First’, Wanted Me Out Of Office by OAN Newsroom
File – President Donald Trump looks on during a rally at the DeltaPlex Arena,
December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    The 45th president said many people think the Chinese Communist Party allowed COVID-19 to spread at the early stages of the outbreak for political purposes.
    In an interview on Wednesday, Donald Trump said he does not believe China released COVID-19 on purpose.    However, he said the Trump administration was standing up to China economically and militarily.
    “You know, don’t want to be naïve,” he stated.    “There are many people that I respect that do think so, OK?    And a lot of people think they did it, so that I would lose the election.”
    Trump added, Beijing was really suffering and wanted him out of the office.
    “That’s certainly one of many theories because I was doing very well against China,” he explained.    “We rebuilt our military, we did things that nobody thought possible.    In that period of time, we rebuilt our military.    We created Space Force, which they hate by the way.    They were taking over space and they hate it. They hated everything I did.”
    The 45th president also said Joe Biden is now surrendering America’s national interests to foreign countries.

12/9/2021 Poll: Macron Losing 2nd Round Election To Center Right by OAN Newsroom
French Presidential candidate Valerie Pecresse is pulling ahead of President Emmanuel Macron
in a potential second round of voting, according to polls. (Rafael Yaghobzadeh/AP Photo)
    The center-right in France could storm to victory against incumbent President Emmanuel Macron.
    According to recent polls, the newly chosen leader of the Republicans Party, Valerie Pecresse, is pulling ahead of Macron in a potential second round of voting.    This is the first time Macron has been shown losing the second round.
    Pecresse was an outsider candidate and was given the nomination after emerging from obscurity to perform well at intraparty debates.    Now in polling, she has taken over the second spot, which was presumed to be the domain of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen.
    According to Pecresse she will be a president of action.
    “Between the incumbent president and myself, there’s more than just a difference in political stance,” she stated.    “There’s a difference in our natures.    Emmanuel Macron has one sole obsession: to please.    I have only one passion: to act.”
    The French presidential election will take place over two rounds in April.    Macron has not announced if he’s running for reelection.

12/9/2021 World Bank Backs Out From Funding Sierra Leone Census by Umaru Fofana
FILE PHOTO: A participant stands near a logo of World Bank at the International Monetary Fund - World Bank
Annual Meeting 2018 in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, October 12, 2018. REUTERS/Johannes P. Christo/File Photo
    FREETOWN (Reuters) – The World Bank has withdrawn its support for a population and housing census in Sierra Leone just days before it was due to begin, according to a letter from the Bank addressed to Sierra Leone’s finance minister.
    President Julius Maada Bio last week announced that the national statistics office would launch a two-week mid-term census on Dec. 10 to correct “anomalies” from the last count in 2015, which the previous administration used to justify creating additional districts in its strongholds.
    The former ruling party and current opposition have said they would boycott the exercise, calling it a political gimmick by Bio’s government to increase their own constituency count ahead of the 2023 presidential election.
    The World Bank was to provide the bulk of the money for the census, using an unspecified portion of a $30 million grant earmarked for Sierra Leone last year to strengthen its statistical system.
    In a letter to Sierra Leone Finance Minister Dennis Vandi that was seen by Reuters, the World Bank’s country director, Pierre Laporte, said the government had failed to meet the necessary conditions for the funds to be disbursed.
    “The Bank experts had previously communicated to the Government that this funding would be disbursed upon the satisfactory completion of several critical actions,” the letter said.
    It went on to say that the funds could still be released if certain conditions were met ahead of the exercise, including ensuring that those conducting the census are adequately trained.
    Statistician General Osman Sankoh told Reuters that the government had already trained more than 15,000 staff for the operation, and that the census would go ahead as planned.
    “A census is a government’s responsibility, supported by development partners,” Sankoh said.    “We are extremely grateful to the World Bank for the support… (but) there are other donors and partners.”
(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Editing by Cooper Inveen and Bill Berkrot)

12/9/2021 U.S. Slams Myanmar Military Over ‘Credible’ Reports Soldiers Killed 11 People
FILE PHOTO: U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price holds a press briefing at the State
Department in Washington, U.S., August 16, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/POOL/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price said on Thursday that the United States was “outraged” by reports that Myanmar soldiers rounded up and killed 11 people in the northwestern region of Sagaing.
    The soldiers were accused of shooting the people and setting fire to their bodies.    Charred remains were discovered in a village.
    Video footage purporting to show the burned bodies was circulated on social media and images were published by some media including the Myanmar Now news portal.
    “We are outraged by credible and sickening reports that the Burmese military bound 11 villagers, including children, in northwest Burma and burned them alive,” Price said.
    Price repeated Washington’s call for the military to end the use of violence and to release those unjustly detained since generals seized power in a Feb. 1 coup.
    The remains were found in a village in Sagaing, an area which has seen fierce fighting between security forces and militia set up by opponents of military rule, said residents, who said some of the victims were still alive when burned.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Simon Lewis; Editing by Dan Grebler and Cynthia Osterman)

12/9/2021 Germany To Pass Extra Budget For More Climate Funds On Monday – Sources by Michael Nienaber
General view at the start of a plenum session of the German lower house of parliament
Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
    BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany’s new coalition government will pass a supplementary budget on Monday to enable more public investments in the shift towards a greener and more digitalized economy, sources told Reuters on Thursday.
    The coalition parties agreed to channel more than 60 billion euros ($67.73 billion) of unused debt in this year’s federal budget into a climate and transformation fund, three people familiar with the matter told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
    The debt-financed injection means that Berlin will now make nearly full use of the 240 billion euro debt ceiling originally granted by its parliament for 2021, the sources added.
    A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment.
    Depending on how much additional debt was needed to finance pandemic emergency measures in November and December, the new government could end up parking up to 80 billion euros in the climate fund for future investments, one of the sources said.
    The government has taken up less debt than projected so far this year as tax revenues developed better than expected and fewer companies asked for pandemic emergency aid over the summer.    From January to October, the federal government borrowed less than 150 billion euros on the markets.
    The budget manoeuvre, as agreed by the centre-left Social Democrats, the pro-spending Greens and the libertarian Free Democrats (FDP) in their coalition deal, allows the parties to make the most of the suspension of Germany’s debt brake prompted by the pandemic this year and next by beefing up the climate fund.
    The coalition wants to deploy the funds to make critical public investments in climate protection measures – from charging points for electric vehicles to better insulating homes – and the digitalization of Europe’s largest economy.
    The new government agreed to use an emergency clause in the constitution for a third year in a row in 2022 to suspend strict debt limits and enable new borrowing of up to 100 billion euros.    This will come on top of unprecedented net new debt of 130 billion euros in 2020 and nearly 240 billion euros in 2021.
    From 2023 onwards, the new ruling coalition wants to return to the “debt brake” rule of the constitution that limits new borrowing to a tiny fraction of economic output.
($1 = 0.8859 euros)
(Reporting by Michael Nienaber, Editing by Victoria Waldersee and Alex Richardson)

12/9/2021 Macron Calls For EU Emergency Response System To Control Borders by Michel Rose and Tassilo Hummel
French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech during a press conference on France assuming
EU presidency, in Paris, France, December 9, 2021. Ludovic Marin/Pool via REUTERS
    PARIS (Reuters) - The European Union needs an emergency response mechanism that a member state can trigger when the bloc’s external borders are under threat, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday.
    Migration crises along the EU’s eastern flank this autumn underlined Europe’s need to strengthen its ability to control who moves in and out of the bloc, the president said.
    Only if Europe mastered its outside borders could free movement within the bloc’s Schengen zone function properly, Macron added, as he set out a key reform plank of France’s rotating presidency of the EU.
    “A sovereign Europe is for me above all a Europe capable of controlling its borders,” Macron told a news conference.
    It comes as thousands of migrants are stuck on the EU’s eastern frontier, in what the Brussels says is a crisis Belarus engineered by distributing visas to would-be migrants in the Middle East, flying them in and pushing them across the bloc’s border.    Belarus denies the accusation.
    Macron said the emergency mechanism would need to rely on the support of EU border agency Frontex, as well as reinforcements from national law enforcement agencies when needed.
    “Often we are too slow to react,” Macron said.
    The rules governing movement across the Schengen zone’s open borders also needed reworking, Macron said, adding that he wanted the bloc to have regular political meetings on migration just as it has on economic matters.
    The bloc has been deeply divided for years in its response to immigration and how to police the common external borders of its Schengen area.
    On the economy, the French president urged the bloc to rethink its budget framework and alter deficit rules to encourage post-pandemic investment and foster growth as the world seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.
    “We must move from a Europe of cooperation within our borders to a Europe that is powerful in the world, fully sovereign, free in its choices and master of its destiny,” Macron said.
    France assumes the six-month rotating EU presidency on Jan 1.

12/9/2021 EU Countries Expected To Agree 9-Month Duration Of COVID Pass – Sources by Francesco Guarascio and Philip Blenkinsop
FILE PHOTO: Tourists and locals watch the sunset by La Almudena Cathedral
in Madrid, Spain, October 3, 2021.REUTERS/Susana Vera/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union countries are expected to agree to limit to nine months the duration of COVID-19 certificates for travel around the bloc, three EU sources told Reuters, but some states are concerned that such a limit could hinder travel.
    Separately, the EU executive proposed at an internal meeting with health experts from member states on Thursday to impose PCR tests on all incoming travellers from outside the bloc, two of the sources said, a step prompted by a lack of firm information so far on the risks posed by the Omicron coronavirus variant.
    The EU introduced COVID-19 passes in July to facilitate travel for people who are fully vaccinated against coronavirus, have recovered from the disease or have a negative PCR test.
    As evidence increased about the waning protection from vaccines, in November the European Commission proposed a nine-month validity limit for COVID-19 passes from the time a person has received two doses (or one in the case of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
    If applied, such a limit would mean that EU citizens wanting to travel freely – without tests or quarantine – next summer across the bloc would need a booster shot.
    One EU official and one EU diplomat said EU governments were expected to reach a consensus on the nine-month limit as early as Friday after a preliminary discussion on Thursday, although one said talks could stretch into next week.
    A third diplomat said there was general support for the nine-month limit, but some countries, especially in eastern Europe, were concerned about this denting the travel industry and free movement of people.
    EU governments have repeatedly said a common approach is needed to avoid further disruption for the travel industry.    However, they have introduced diverging rules.
    France set a seven-month limit on the day the Commission proposed it should be nine months.    The French rule is to apply from Jan. 15, whereas the Commission has proposed a Jan. 10 start.
    A spokesman for the French Embassy at the EU had no immediate comment on the issue.
    In Cyprus, the certificate is to last seven months, whereas in Greece it would expire after six months for older people.
    EU officials said both countries were willing to change to a common EU limit.
TESTS ON ARRIVAL?
    EU health experts also discussed on Thursday a Commission proposal for all travellers from outside the bloc to have to present a negative PCR test, even if vaccinated, two of the sources familiar with the discussions told Reuters.    The Commission’s proposal is not public.
    Health experts could not reach a consensus on the measure, one of the sources said, but talks were continuing.    If agreed, the new measure could also pave the way for the possible lifting of curbs on southern African countries.
    In line with many countries across the world, EU members agreed late in November to impose travel curbs on seven southern African nations.    The variant, first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong but now present in dozens of countries, is considered highly infectious.
    EU diplomats will discuss the matter again at a meeting on Friday in Brussels.
    On Tuesday, EU health ministers were cautious about lifting travel curbs, but the situation is evolving rapidly as new data on Omicron emerges.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Frances Kerry)

12/9/2021 Britain Warns Putin: Don’t Invade Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: Britain's Minister of Defence Ben Wallace arrives at Kastellet during a visit
to Copenhagen, Denmark December 8, 2021. Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix via REUTERS
    STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Britain’s defence minister called on President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to pull back from the brink over Ukraine and warned that Russia would face long-term severe consequences if its forces invaded its neighbour.
    “Any action by Russia to threaten the sovereignty of Ukraine would not only have severe consequences – they’d have long lasting consequences for Russia,” Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
    Wallace called on Kremlin chief Putin to step back from any such moves which he said could trigger a deadly civil war on the edge of Europe.
    “I would just urge him to think again: I don’t think Russia wants those consequences,” Wallace said.    “I don’t want to see a civil war or a war at the edge of Europe.”
    U.S. intelligence assesses that Russia could be planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as next year, involving up to 175,000 troops.
    The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia.    Moscow says the expansion of NATO threatens Russia and has contravened assurances given to it as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
    Wallace said that Russian talk of NATO encirclement was nonsense.
    “Only 6% of the Russian land border is bordered by NATO countries – that’s hardly being surrounded by NATO,” Wallace said.
    “NATO is a defensive alliance – it is in our articles of establishment.    It is only there to defend itself and its members if it were to be attacked.”
    Wallace said it was up to sovereign states and NATO members if they joined NATO – not Russia.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton)

12/9/2021 Italy’s Draghi Will Meet Germany’s Scholz In Coming Days – Statement
FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attend
a Euro zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels, Belgium, December 3, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will meet the new German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, in the coming days, a government statement said following a phone conversation between the two leaders.
    “Prime Minister Draghi congratulated Chancellor Scholz for the start of his mandate,” the statement said.
(Reporting by Angelo Amante; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

12/9/2021 Virginia Republican Governor-Elect Pledges To Remove State From Regional Carbon Market
FILE PHOTO: Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin speaks during his election night party
at a hotel in Chantilly, Virginia, U.S., November 3, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Virginia’s Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin this week pledged to remove the state from a regional cap and trade carbon market using “executive action.”
    Virginia passed a bill in March 2020 under Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, to join the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a market-based program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants in 11 U.S. Northeast and mid-Atlantic states.    The program has brought in $228 million to Virginia to fund state programs on energy efficiency and flooding.
    Youngkin, a former CEO of private-equity firm Carlyle Group, won the election last month in an upset and will take over in January.    His victory is likely to embolden Republicans ahead of next year’s midterm elections, when control of Congress will be at stake.
    Youngkin said in a speech late on Wednesday that “RGGI describes itself as a regional market for carbon, but it is really a carbon tax that is fully passed on to ratepayers.    It’s a bad deal for Virginians.    It’s a bad deal for Virginia businesses.”
    The governor-elect’s pledge came after prices for emissions credits in RGGI hit a record-high $13 per ton in an auction last week amid rising investor confidence in carbon markets and as emissions regulations on power plants take hold.
    It was unclear how long it could take Youngkin to use executive action to remove the state from RGGI and whether he would be successful in doing so.    The Democratic Party of Virginia called Youngkin’s pledge “irresponsible and short-sighted.”
    RGGI membership is also being debated in Pennsylvania.    Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, supports his state joining the pact but there is an effort in the state legislature to block membership.
(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Mark Porter)

12/9/2021 Sen. Rubio: NYT Must Explain If It Suppressed Evidence Of Xi Jinping’s Role In Uyghur Genocide by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 07: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) arrives to a luncheon with Senate Republicans at
the U.S. Capitol Building on October 07, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has demanded the New York Times explain whether it covered up Xi Jinping’s role in the geocide of Uyghur Muslims.
    In a letter to the New York Times on Thursday, Rubio said the newspaper has failed to publish 403-pages of leaked Chinese government documents which detail religious persecution of Uyghurs.    The senator pointed out the documents include a 2014 speech by President Jinping in which he ordered mass detention of Uyghurs in labor camps.
    Rubio stressed the outlet has either underreported or censored that information and he seeks to know if it was done on purpose.    He added too many American companies have cozied up to China for financial gain, but it must stop.
    “Our economy and many of our most important companies have become heavily dependent on China.    This dependence leads to the fact that on a daily basis now, we have not just government leaders, but major and important American corporations and leaders of industry that are advocating for policies and taking actions that are bad for America and our good for China,” stated Rubio.    “Because when forced to choose billions more dollars in profit from China or the well-being of the country they live in and supposedly call home, they choose the profits.”
    Rubio also said it looks like U.S. political leaders have known about the Uyghur genocide for awhile and have made a conscious arrangement not to talk about it.

12/9/2021 Gov. DeSantis: Biden’s Vaccine Mandate Is Dead by OAN Newsroom
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announces a proposal for an increase in pay for state law enforcement agencies
to encourage more officers to relocate to Florida, during a press conference at the Florida Highway Patrol
Troop D headquarters in Orlando, Fla. Monday, Nov. 29, 2021. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) condemned Democrats’ handling of coronavirus.
    While unveiling the state’s Freedom First Budget on Thursday, DeSantis said if things were up to Democrats, the whole state of Florida would have shut down.    He added this would cause economic devastation.
    DeSantis said time and time again his administration has protected Floridians from losing their jobs, also pointing to his recent effort to block Joe Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate. He said thanks to efforts from Republican states, there’s no chance Biden’s edict will ever take effect.
    “OSHA is done, okay?    You can take that to the bank,” said the Republican.    “The Sixth Circuit is never going to uphold what OSHA did.    They are absolutely going to deep six that.”
    He pointed out the litigation to abolish the OSHA mandate is ongoing and that the mandate would fail even if the case had to go up to the Supreme Court.    The governor added the mandate is effectively suspended while a number of states, including Florida, simply refused to enforce it in the first place.
    DeSantis reiterated such a mandate would damage the U.S. economy.
    “The federal government themselves, they’ve pushed back deadlines because they’re faced with potentially losing a lot of employees, and that’s not a good thing to have had happened on your watch,” stated DeSantis.    “And you look at what’s happening in states that have imposed their own mandates on say nurses, now they’re having to call in the National Guard just to be able to staff the hospitals.”
    The Florida governor went on to explain medical officials are now trying to move the goalposts and change the definition of “fully vaccinated” to include booster shots.    He added the Florida state budget has enough resources to offset any damaging effects of federal overreaches.

12/9/2021 Senators Unanimously Pass Bipartisan Bill To Combat Opioid Crisis In Rural Communities by OAN Newsroom
A member of the Capitol Police walks past the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
    The Senate passed a bipartisan bill to combat the opioid crisis in rural communities.
    On Wednesday, the Senate approved the “Rural Opioid Abuse Prevention Act” by unanimous consent.    The legislation, introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) back in September, increases resources for rural communities to respond to and combat the crisis.
    “With today’s passage of my bipartisan bill to reduce opioid addiction, overdoses, and deaths, the Senate proved Democrats and Republicans can still work together to get things done,” said Ossoff after the bill was passed.
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 75,000 people died of opioid overdoses between April of 2020 and April of this year.    This showed a 35 percent increase in opioid overdose deaths from the previous year.
    The bill is now headed to the House for the lower chamber’s consideration.

12/9/2021 Sen. Warren: Facebook Is Not Above The Law by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 26: (L-R) U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
speak to reporters about a corporate minimum tax plan at the U.S. Capitol
October 26, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    Senate Democrat Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) has urged federal regulators to launch a probe into Facebook.    On Thursday, Warren sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, asking them to investigate whether the platform’s parent company, Meta, misled investors and advertising customers.
    Additionally, her colleague, Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday in regards to the same issue.    She said “a thorough investigation by the Commission and other enforcement agencies is paramount, not only because Facebook and its executives may have violated federal law, but because members of the public and businesses are entitled to know the facts regarding Facebook’s conduct.”
    Public information provided by Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, has suggested the company allegedly deceived its customers about brand safety and advertising metrics, which is a federal crime.    Facebook reportedly controlled nearly 75 percent of the social media market in 2020, causing the White House to crack down on the tech giant.

12/9/2021 Biden Vows To Fund, Protect Journalists Worldwide by OAN Newsroom
Joe Biden speaks during his meeting with members of the White House Covid-19 Response Team
on the latest developments related to the Omicron variant in the State Dining Room of the
White House in Washington, D.C., December 9, 2021. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
    Joe Biden has vowed to fund and support free press worldwide.
    Biden, alongside Secretary of State Antony Blinken, hosted the first virtual “Summit for Democracy” on Thursday and spoke with more than 100 leaders worldwide in efforts to support independent media.    Despite reports revealing the current administration was found lobbying mainstream media outlets, Biden insisted the First Amendment is “the bedrock of democracy.”
    This comes after White House officials reportedly said they were unhappy in regards to the media’s coverage of the country’s supply chain crisis.
    “We’re committing critical seed money to launch a new multilateral effort or international fund for public interest media to sustain independent media around the world and through USAID,” said Biden.    “We’re going to be setting up a new defamation defense fund for journalists to help protect investigative journalists against nuisance lawsuits designed to prevent them from doing their work…vital work around the world.”
    In the meantime, the White House has insisted the summit wasn’t a “stamp of approval,” despite leaders from China, Russia, Turkey and Hungary not being invited.
{WE NEED SOMEONE TO PROTECT US FROM THE FAKE NEWS AND NPR AND FROM PSAKI AND SUMMIT FOR DEMOCRACY AND THAT CAN ONLY HAPPEN IF PEOPLE GET TO WATCH OAN, NEWSWEEK AND FOXNEWS.]

12/9/2021 White House Considers More Sanctions In Iran If Diplomacy Towards Nuclear Deal Fails by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 06: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki talks to reporters
during the daily press conference in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House
on December 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. would enforce more sanctions on Iran if needed in order to avoid a potential nuclear crisis.
    “Given the ongoing advances in Iran’s nuclear program, the president has asked his team to prepare in the event the diplomacy fails,” said Psaki.
    Psaki made the announcement on Thursday, adding the only way the U.S. would end sanctions is if they come to a new agreement on a nuclear deal.    This comes after State Secretary Antony Blinken said Iran wasn’t showing seriousness in regards to a deal during last week’s nuclear talks in Vienna.
    “Based on the outcome of the last round of talks and the ongoing advancements in Iran’s nuclear facilities, we are laying the groundwork for another path entirely,” she stated.
    Psaki further added the U.S. has been considering sending a delegation to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week to discuss possible economic sanctions.

12/9/2021 Jury Finds Jussie Smollett Guilty On 5 Felony Counts by OAN Newsroom
Jussie Smollett, leaves the Leighton Criminal Court Building between his mother
Janet Smollett (L) and sister Jurnee Smollett (R), after his trial on disorderly conduct charges
on December 8, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
    A jury found former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett guilty on five counts of felony disorderly conduct in connection with staging a fake hate crime attack on himself.    He was found not guilty on a sixth count.
    Jurors reached the verdict on Thursday after about nine hours of deliberations.
    This all stems from a 2019 false police report where he claimed he was a victim of a racist and homophobic attack by two men.    During closing arguments this week, prosecutors reiterated inconsistencies in Smollett’s story and outlined mountains of evidence showing he orchestrated the phony hate crime.
    However, the 39-year-old continued to claim there was “no hoax” and accused the Nigerian brothers involved of being liars.    Meanwhile, prosecutors argued Smollett carried out a “dry run” of the attack the day prior to the alleged 2019 occurrence.
    He faces a maximum of three years in prison and a $25,000 fine for each count.    The judge will decide his sentencing at a later date.
[WELL YOU ARE GETTING PLENTY OF MEDIA ATTENTION NOW AND YOU FUTURE JAILMATES BUBBA’S REALLY WANT TO MEET YOU BUT THEN GEORGE SOROS MONEY WILL PROBABLY RELEASE YOU IN A CORRUPT COUNTRY.]

12/9/2021 Father And Son Accused Of Reckless Arson In Caldor Fire by OAN Newsroom
Flames consume multiple homes as the Caldor fire pushes into the Echo Summit area,
California on August 30, 2021. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
    A father and son are being held on $1 million bail in connection with starting the Caldor Fire in Northern California.
    David Scott Smith and his son, Travis, were arrested on Wednesday and accused, but not yet charged, with reckless arson.    The El Dorado district attorney said the men were illegally shooting a weapon, which ignited the massive blaze near Lake Tahoe earlier this year.
    Their attorney said it was an accident and that the pair did their best to alert authorities.
    “These people called in the fire on 911.    They called it in as soon as they saw it.    And the call dropped a couple times,     I believe, and they kept calling back.    They also warned some other campers in the area there was a fire,” said Defense Attorney Mark Reichel.
    The fire burned for more than two months across three counties, charring 200,000 acres and destroying more than 1,000 structures, including 770 homes.    Sixteen firefighters and two civilians were injured and tens-of-thousands were forced to evacuate.
    Meanwhile, the men are set to make their first court appearance on Friday.

12/9/2021 Sen. Cruz: Democrat Party Is Structurally Pro-China by OAN Newsroom
Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks
during a hearing to examine U.S.-Russia policy at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C.
on December 7, 2021. (Photo by ALEX BRANDON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
    Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said the Democrat Party is structurally aligned with the Chinese Communist Party.
    The senator from Texas claimed the Democrat Party is funded by Big Tech and other corporate donors who have substantial economic interests in China.    Those interests include China’s cheap labor, its giant consumer market, as well as affordable manufacturing facilities used by U.S.-based companies.
    Cruz said Democrats get their money from donors who in turn make most of their revenues in China.    The senator added Big Tech and legacy media are covering up for China’s wrongdoing at the expense of U.S. national interest.
    “The Democratic Party today is structurally pro-China. They’re major supporters.    Big Business, Big Tech, Big Universities, are all in bed with China and that’s why Biden and Kamala Harris are as well,” stated Cruz.
    Cruz stressed over the past 10 months, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have shown time and again they are willing to capitulate to China on every occasion.

12/10/2021 Oil down $2.05 to $70.59, DOW up 1 to 35,755.

12/10/2021 World Powers To Test Iran’s Good Faith Over Commitment To June Texts – Source by Francois Murphy and Parisa Hafezi
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 1, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner/File Photo
    VIENNA (Reuters) – World powers will assess over the next few days whether Iran is serious in nuclear negotiations after it indicated it was ready to continue talks on the basis of texts that had been agreed at the last round in June, a European source said on Friday.
    Talks on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed on Thursday with the United States and Israel ramping up the rhetorical pressure on Tehran about the possible economic or military consequences if diplomacy fails.
    Iran’s top negotiator said Tehran was sticking to the stance it laid out last week, when the talks broke off with European and U.S. officials accusing Iran of making new demands and of reneging on compromises worked out earlier this year.
    “Iran said it accepted to work from the June texts. This will now be put to the test over the next couple of days,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
    Working groups to discuss sanctions Washington might lift and the nuclear curbs Tehran needs to observe convene on Friday.
    “Iran’s seriousness is obvious.    See who has cancelled other meetings and is in Vienna and who is not,” Iranian negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani told Reuters.
    His comments suggested he was alluding to the United States’ chief negotiator Rob Malley, who is not expected to arrive in the Austrian capital until the weekend.
    “Negotiations on Iran’s (new) drafts are going on,” Bagheri Kani added.
    The indirect U.S.-Iranian talks in Vienna, in which other diplomats from the remaining parties to a now tattered 2015 deal – France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China – shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance with the accord.
    Under that accord, Iran limited its nuclear programme – which the West feared would be used to develop weapons, something Tehran denies – in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.
    Last week’s discussions were the first after a five-month hiatus caused by the election of Iran’s new hardline government under anti-Western President Ebrahim Raisi.
    Western officials have said Iran has abandoned any compromises it had made in the previous six rounds of talks, pocketed those made by others, and demanded more last week.
    Iran wants all sanctions imposed by the United States after then-U.S. President Donald Trump ditched the deal in 2018, to be lifted in a verifiable process.    Iran began violating the deal’s nuclear restrictions about a year after the U.S. withdrawal.
(Additional reporting and writing by John Irish in Doha; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

12/10/2021 Migrant Truck Crashes In Mexico Killing 54 by Jacob Garcia
A police officer raises his arm to block photographers to to avoid taking pictures at the
site of a trailer accident that left at least 49 people dead, most of them migrants from Central
America, in Tuxtla Gutierrez, in Chiapas state, Mexico December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Jacob Garcia
    TUXTLA GUTIERREZ, Mexico (Reuters) -Fifty-four mostly Central Americans were killed on Thursday when the truck they were in flipped over in southern Mexico, in one of the worst accidents involving migrants who risk their lives to reach the United States.
    The trailer broke open, spilling out people, when the truck crashed on a sharp curve outside the city of Tuxtla Gutierrez in the state of Chiapas, according to video footage of the aftermath and civil protection authorities.
    Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandon said 49 people died at the scene, and five more while receiving medical attention.
    “It took a bend, and because of the weight of us people inside, we all went with it,” said a shocked-looking Guatemalan man sitting at the scene in footage broadcast on social media.
    “The trailer couldn’t handle the weight of people.”
    More than 100 people were inside the trailer, authorities said.    Several dozen were injured and taken to hospitals in Chiapas, which borders Guatemala.    Dozens of Guatemalan migrants were named in lists of the injured published on social media.
    A Reuters witness heard cries and sobs among survivors as emergency personnel rushed to the site of where the overturned truck shuddered to a halt by a highway footbridge.
    Reuters images showed a white trailer on its side, with injured people splayed out on tarps on the ground.    There were also rows of what appeared to be bodies wrapped in white cloth.
    A video of the scene streamed on social media showed a woman holding a child wailing in her lap, both covered in blood.    Another video showed a man curled up in pain inside the destroyed trailer, hardly moving as helpers pulled out bodies.
    Men, women and children were among the dead, the Chiapas state government said, and President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Twitter expressed his sorrow at the “very painful” incident.
‘NOT THE BEST WAY’
    Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America typically trek through Mexico to reach the U.S. border, and sometimes cram into large trucks organized by smugglers in extremely dangerous conditions.
    “This shows us that irregular migration is not the best way,” Kevin Lopez, a spokesman for Guatemala’s presidency, told Milenio television after the accident.
    He did not know how many Guatemalan victims there were.
    El Salvador’s foreign minister, Alexandra Hill, said her government was working to see if Salvadorans had died.
    Mexico offered lodging and humanitarian visas to the survivors, and Chiapas Governor Escandon said those responsible for the accident would be held to account.
    Officials in Mexico routinely come across migrants packed into trailers, including 600 people https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/migrants-12-countries-among-600-found-two-trucks-mexico-2021-11-20 found hidden in the back of two trucks in eastern Mexico last month.
    The journey north from Mexico’s border with Guatemala is perilous and expensive, and many migrants fall prey to criminal gangs en route. In January, 19 people, mostly migrants, were massacred with suspected police involvement in northern Mexico.
    Record numbers of people have been arrested on the U.S.-Mexico border this year as migrants seek to capitalize on President Joe Biden’s pledge to pursue more humane immigration policies than his hardline predecessor, Donald Trump.
    Mexican authorities in Chiapas have attempted to persuade migrants to not form caravans to walk thousands of miles to the U.S. border, and have begun transporting people from the southern city of Tapachula to other regions of the country.
    The Biden administration has also urged migrants not to leave their homelands for the United States, and this week saw the restart of a policy initiated under Trump https://www.reuters.com/world/us/first-migrants-sent-mexico-us-under-reboot-trump-era-scheme-2021-12-08 to send asylum seekers back to Mexico to await their court hearings.
    Some critics argue that tougher policies push migrants into the hands of the human smugglers, putting their lives at risk.
    “(Authorities) generate smuggled migration that generates billions of dollars in profits,” said migrant activist Ruben Figueroa.
(Reporting by Jacob Garcia; Additional reporting by Jose Torres, Lizbeth Diaz, Noe Torres and Stefanie Eschenbacher; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Aurora Ellis, Dave Graham and Robert Birsel)

12/10/2021 Analysis-Rohingya Lawsuit Against Facebook A ‘Wake-Up Call’ For Social Media by Rina Chandran and Avi Asher-Schapiro
FILE PHOTO: Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta is displayed behind a smartphone with the Facebook
logo in this illustration picture taken October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    BANGKOK/LOS ANGELES (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A landmark lawsuit by Rohingya refugees against Meta Platforms Inc, formerly known as Facebook, is a “wake-up call” for social media firms and a test case for courts to limit their immunity, human rights and legal experts said.
    The $150 billion class-action complaint, filed in California on Monday by law firms Edelson PC and Fields PLLC, argues that Facebook’s failure to police content and its platform’s design contributed to violence against the Rohingya community.
    British lawyers also submitted a letter of notice to Facebook’s London office.
    While analysts are split over the merits of the case and its chances of success, Rohingya activists said their status of being deemed illegal immigrants in Myanmar left them with few options.
    “The Rohingya lost everything.    But in Myanmar, there is no law for the Rohingya,” said Nay San Lwin, co-founder of advocacy group Free Rohingya Coalition, who has faced abuse on Facebook.
    “Facebook profited from our suffering.    The survivors have no option other than a lawsuit against Facebook.    It will be an injustice if Rohingya survivors are not compensated for their losses,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
    Meta did not respond to a request for comment.
    In an earlier statement in response to the lawsuit, a Meta spokesperson said the company was “appalled by the crimes committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar.”
    “We’ve built a dedicated team of Burmese speakers, banned the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military), disrupted networks manipulating public debate and taken action on harmful misinformation to help keep people safe.
    We’ve also invested in Burmese-language technology to reduce the prevalence of violating content
.”
    A day after the lawsuit was filed, Meta said it would ban several accounts linked to the Myanmar military, and said on Wednesday it had built a new artificial intelligence system that can adapt more easily to take action on new or evolving types of harmful content faster.
    It was a sign that the tech giant was rattled, said Debbie Stothard, founder of the Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN), an advocacy group.
    “The timing of these announcements shows the lawsuit is a wake-up call.    The lawsuit itself is quite a bold move, but the Rohingya clearly felt there were sufficient grounds,” she said.
    “Strategic litigation like this – you never know where it can go.    In recent times we have seen climate-change litigation becoming more commonplace and getting some wins,” she added.
NO PRECEDENT
    More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a military crackdown that refugees said included mass killings and rape.    Rights groups documented killings of civilians and burning of villages.
    Myanmar authorities say they were battling an insurgency and deny carrying out systematic atrocities.
    United Nations human rights investigators said in 2018 that the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence against the Rohingya.
    A Reuters investigation that year, cited in the U.S. complaint, found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook.
    But in the United States, platforms such as Facebook are protected from liability over content posted by users by a law known as Section 230.
    The Rohingya complaint says it seeks to apply Myanmar law to the claims if Section 230 is raised as a defence.
    “Based on the precedents, this case should lose,” said Eric Goldman, a professor of law at Santa Clara University School of Law.    “But you’ve got so much antipathy towards Facebook nowadays – anything is possible.”
    While the technology industry and others have long held that Section 230 is a crucial protection, the statute has become increasingly controversial as the power of internet companies has grown.
    Earlier this year, Meta chief executive Mark Zuckerberg laid out steps to reform the law, saying that companies should have immunity from liability only if they follow best practices for removing damaging material from their platforms.
    The lawsuit is a good test case for courts to limit how much immunity platforms are afforded, said David Mindell, a partner at Edelson PC, one of the law firms that brought the suit.
    “This case is about what happens when a powerful company has this unchecked power over the world,” he said.
WHISTLEBLOWER COMPLAINTS
    Goldman and Mindell said that recent whistleblower complaints from inside Facebook, which allege the company did not act even when it knew its platform was being used for human rights abuses, could buttress the lawsuit, as could the company’s admission that it was “too slow” to contain the abuse.
    The lawsuit highlights that “a company can apologise all they like, but at the end of the day, people were harmed,” said David Kaye, a human rights lawyer who chairs the board of the Global Network Initiative, a group that includes Facebook and other tech firms.
    “And those stateless people can’t go to the government of Myanmar for remedy.    And if they can’t go to the company – what’s the remedy?
    The International Criminal Court has opened a case into the accusations of crimes.    In September, a U.S. federal judge ordered Facebook to release records of accounts connected to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that the social media giant had shut down.
    The progress of the lawsuit would be keenly watched by not just the Rohingya, but also other groups and individuals who have been harmed by online hate speech, said Stothard.
    “Refugees, migrants, LGBT people, other minorities – they have all suffered serious harm,” she said.
    “The question to ask is not, will the lawsuit succeed, but why was it necessary?    It’s about making social media companies accountable,” she said.
(Reporting by Rina Chandran and Avi Asher-Schapiro; Editing by Zoe Tabary. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

12/10/2021 Party Furore Deepens For Britain’s Johnson, Spokesman Was At Lockdown Gathering by Guy Faulconbridge and Kylie MacLellan
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference for the latest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update
in the Downing Street briefing room, in London, Britain December 8, 2021. Adrian Dennis/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) -British Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced mounting pressure on Friday after his Conservatives lost their poll lead over Labour and it was revealed that his chief spokesman attended a festive gathering in Downing Street during a lockdown last year.
    Johnson, who won a landslide victory in a 2019 election, has faced a barrage of criticism since a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned.
    Downing Street had denied a party took place. Johnson said he was furious about the impression that the video gave that there was one rule for those at the heart of British power and another for the people.
    Johnson told parliament on Wednesday that he had been assured COVID rules were not broken and that there had been no party.    He has asked Britain’s most senior civil servant, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, to investigate.
    But broadcasters ITV and the BBC reported that Johnson’s most senior communications adviser, Jack Doyle, had made a speech and handed out awards as part of a joke ceremony at an alleged party on Dec. 18 last year.
    Downing Street declined comment. Doyle, who at the time of the alleged party was deputy director of communications, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Johnson, 57, has faced criticism in recent months over his handling of a sleaze scandal, the awarding of lucrative COVID contracts, the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat and a claim he intervened to ensure pets were evacuated from Kabul during the chaotic Western withdrawal in August.
    Opposition parties have accused him of lying and being unfit for office, and some have called on him to resign.
    As he grappled with the furore, his Conservative Party lost its poll lead over the opposition Labour Party and dozens of his own lawmakers prepared to rebel over new COVID rules.
    A YouGov poll for The Times newspaper showed Johnson’s Conservatives had dropped 3 percentage points from Dec. 2 to 33% of the vote while Labour rose 4 percentage points to 37%.
    Three quarters of people believe that there was a Christmas party in which coronavirus rules were broken and 68% of those polled believe Johnson was not telling the truth when he denied it, The Times said.
    Another Survation poll of 1,178 people carried out on Wednesday and Thursday put Labour on 40% of the vote, up 1 percentage point, and Johnson’s Conservatives down 2 to 34%.
    At the time of the Downing Street gathering, people across Britain were banned from meeting close family or friends for a traditional Christmas celebration – and even from bidding farewell to dying relatives. Nearly 146,000 people have died from COVID in the United Kingdom.
    Johnson imposed new COVID restrictions on England on Wednesday, angering the libertarian wing of his party.
    Dozens of Conservative lawmakers are planning to oppose the new rules in a vote in parliament next week.
    “I expect a record number of Conservative MPs to vote against these latest restrictions,” said John Redwood, a Conservative lawmaker.
    Johnson won 365 of 650 seats in the 2019 snap election, the biggest Conservative Party majority since Margaret Thatcher’s 1987 victory, on a pledge to take Britain out of the European Union.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge, Editing by Paul Sandle and Angus MacSwan)

12/10/2021 Assange’s Fiancée Says They Will Appeal U.S. Extradition Ruling
Stella Morris, partner of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, arrives at the Royal Courts of Justice following
the appeal against Assange's extradition in London, Britain December 10, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – The fiancée of Julian Assange, Stella Moris, said their legal team would appeal “at the earliest possible moment” a court ruling to allow the United States to extradite the WikiLeaks founder.
    The United States won an appeal on Friday in London’s High Court to have Assange extradited to face criminal charges, including breaking a spying law and conspiring to hack government computers.
    “We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment,” she said in a statement.
(Reporting by Michael Holden and Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle)

12/10/2021 U.N. To Publish Xinjiang Findings Soon
FILE PHOTO: A perimeter fence is constructed around what is officially known as a vocational skills education
centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, China September 4, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The United Nations’ human rights office is finalising its assessment of the situation in China’s Xinjiang region, where it has allegations that people have been unlawfully detained, mistreated and forced to work, a spokesperson said on Friday.
    Rupert Colville said that the office of U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet hoped to publish its report in coming weeks and that there had been no progress in talks with Chinese officials regarding her visit.
    Earlier, an unofficial British-based tribunal of lawyers and campaigners said Chinese President Xi Jinping bore primary responsibility for what it said was genocide, crimes against humanity and torture of Uyghurs and members of other minorities in the Xinjiang region.
    Colville said those “deeply disturbing” findings were still being analysed, adding: “But we have of course similarly identified patterns of arbitrary detention and ill-treatment in institutions, coercive labour practices and erosion of social and cultural rights in general.”
    There was no immediate reaction from China, which has in the past said Western powers were seeking to denigrate its reputation by inventing and exaggerating problems in Xinjiang.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

12/10/2021 China Says ‘Uyghur Tribunal’ Is A Lie
FILE PHOTO: A view of the Chinese Embassy plaque in London, Britain, October 24, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    LONDON (Reuters) – The Chinese embassy in London said an unofficial tribunal of lawyers which accused Beijing of genocide against the Uyghurs was nothing more than a political tool of China’s enemies which were spreading lies.
    The unofficial tribunal of lawyers and campaigners said on Thursday that Chinese President Xi Jinping bore primary responsibility for what it said was genocide, crimes against humanity and torture of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in Xinjiang.
    An embassy spokesman said it was “nothing but a political tool used by a few anti-China and separatist elements to deceive and mislead the public.”
    “Anyone with conscience and reason will not be deceived or fooled,” the spokesman said.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge)

12/10/2021 France Threatens EU Legal Action If UK Sticks To Fishing Licence Stance
FILE PHOTO: French fishermen repair their nets at Boulogne-sur-Mer, northern France,
December 28, 2020. Picture taken December 28, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) -France will ask the European Union to start legal action against Britain if it fails to issue more fishing licences by a Friday deadline set by the European Commission, a French minister said.
    Clement Beaune, the junior European Affairs Minister, also accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of trying unsuccessfully to isolate France in the dispute over post-Brexit fishing licences for French fishermen.
    France is still waiting for Britain to approve nearly 100 licences for its fishermen to operate in UK teritorial waters, Beaune told France Info radio.
    “If Britain today gives a few dozen extra licences as a token of goodwill… we will take that into account,” he said, adding that if the deadlock persists, France will ask the Commission at the weekend to announce the start of legal action.
    Britain and the EU agreed to set up a licensing system to grant fishing vessels access to each other’s waters when Britain left the bloc.    But France says it has not been given the full number it is due, while     Britain says only those lacking the correct documentation have not been granted.
    Fishing represents a tiny share of both the French and British economies, but it is politically sensitive.
    “Boris Johnson told himself he could isolate the French.    We have re-mobilised (the Europeans) so that the deal is respected,” Beaune said.
    Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Thursday that Britain never set a deadline for resolving the issue, a comment Beaune said was “not a sign of trust.”
    French Seas Minister Annick Girardin said on Thursday that France would urge the EU Commission to take the matter for arbitration by a committee of British and EU representatives that oversees the implementation of the Brexit trade agreement.
    If that failed, France would push for the Commission to launch litigation proceedings, a move the minister said would take time.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, editing by Gareth Jones)

12/10/2021 Migrant Caravan Brings Highway In Central Mexico To Stand Still by Imelda Medina
FILE PHOTO: Migrants from Central America and Mexico walk along a road in a caravan heading to Mexico City,
in San Miguel Xoxtla, Puebla state, Mexico December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Imelda Medina/File Photo
    SAN MARTIN TEXMELUCAN, Mexico (Reuters) – Hundreds of migrants walking towards Mexico City on Thursday brought traffic to a halt at an important highway connecting the capital and the central state of Puebla, a Reuters witness and a local authority said.
    Migrants, many traveling with children, walked between autos and trucks and some even laid down to rest, a Reuters witness said. They had left the San Martin Texmelucan municipality in Puebla earlier on Thursday.
    “My son fainted, we don’t have food, we don’t have water,” one mother, who declined to give her name, said in a video shared on social media.    Other migrants were seen asking Mexico’s National Guard security force for food, water or safe passage.
    Within recent days, dozens of migrants were sent from the poor southern border city Tapachula to Puebla as Mexican migration authorities attempted to dismantle an improvised camp and head off potential caravans of migrants walking north.
    It was not clear if the migrants trekking on the highway were part of the group that had been transported by migration officials.
    Under pressure to stem the number of migrants crossing the territory on their way north towards the border with the United States, the Mexican government has promised migrants humanitarian visas and transportation to other cities.
(Reporting by Imelda Medina; Editing by Aurora Ellis)

12/10/2021 WikiLeaks Founder Assange One Step Closer To Extradition To United States by Andrew MacAskill
FILE PHOTO: Supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange display signs and banners as they protest
outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Britain, October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on Friday moved a step closer to facing criminal charges in the United States for breaking spying law and conspiring to hack government computers after Washington won an appeal over his extradition in an English court.
    U.S. authorities accuse Australian-born Assange, 50, of 18 counts relating to WikiLeaks’ release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which they said had put lives in danger.
    His supporters cast Assange as an anti-establishment hero who has been victimised by the United States for exposing U.S. wrongdoing in Afghanistan and Iraq.
    The United States won an appeal against a ruling by a London District Judge that Assange should not be extradited because he would likely commit suicide in a U.S. prison.
    “The court allows the appeal,” Judge Timothy Holroyde said.
    The judge said he was satisfied with a package of assurances given by the United States about the conditions of Assange’s detention including a pledge not to hold him in a so-called “ADX” maximum security prison in Colorado and that he would be transferred to Australia to serve his sentence if convicted.
    But further hurdles remain before Assange can be sent to the United States: the legal wrangling is likely to go to the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal.
    Assange’s fiancée, Stella Moris, said his legal team would appeal the decision.
    “How can it be fair, how can it be right, how can it be possible, to extradite Julian to the very country which plotted to kill him?” she said.    “We will appeal this decision at the earliest possible moment.”
    Judge Holroyde said the case must now be remitted to Westminster Magistrates’ Court with the direction judges send it to the British government to decide whether or not Assange should be extradited.
    Assange, who denies any wrongdoing, was not in court.    He remains in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, where he has been for more than two and a half years.
    WikiLeaks came to prominence when it published a U.S. military video in 2010 showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.    It then released thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables.
    U.S. prosecutors and Western security officials regard Assange as a reckless and dangerous enemy of the state whose actions imperilled the lives of agents named in the leaked material.
    His admirers have hailed Assange as a hero for exposing what they describe as abuse of power by modern states and for championing free speech.
(Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Kate Holton)

12/10/2021 Small Business Owners Struggle Amid Rising Inflation by OAN Newsroom
A pedestrian walks by a sore that is closing. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    Amid the country’s highest inflation since 1982, small business owners are having no choice but to raise prices.    Under the Biden administration, inflation is at its record high of 6.8 percent, compared to last year’s 0.8 percent.
    During a press conference on Friday, Joe Biden said inflation is expected to fall in the upcoming months.    However, consumers and business owners across the nation continue to suffer financially due to the cost of nearly everything consistently going up with no signs of stopping.
    Due to a number of obstacles, small business owners are more or less being forced to raise prices in order to survive.
    “My business partner and I see that we need coffee cups, coffee, sugar, milk, everything is a lot more expensive,” said small business owner, Neha Chawla.    “Everything is inflated, and as you know, the workforce is…it’s hard to find people to work that’s finally turning around.    So, everything is inflated.    It’s just what the new life is now.”
    Meanwhile, Biden and his administration have continued to downplay the country’s supply chain crisis and blame it on the coronavirus.    Although, certain small business owners disagree with the virus being the sole cause of inflation, adding their business thrived when the pandemic started.
    Hobby shop owner, Marc Hobbs, said his business was doing exceptionally well at the end of 2020, but over the past couple of months things shifted drastically.
    “If, you know, the wholesale price goes up 15 percent, then our MSRP or you know, the suggested retail price, would also go up 15 percent,” explained Hobbs.
    In the meantime, small business owners have continued to ask for more support from consumers and have yet to see if Biden’s promise that inflation would level out will actually come true.
    “It’s important for all of us to do our part, especially in the holiday season and shop local as much as we can instead of supporting the big box stores,” said Chawla.    “Everyone has supply chain issues.    We have a retail store.    We have a ton of inventory, our inventory’s up by a decent percentage.    So, every little bit helps by supporting local businesses.”

12/10/2021 David Perdue Joins Lawsuit Challenging 2020 Ga. Election by OAN Newsroom
COLUMBUS, GA – DECEMBER 11: David Perdue speaks at a Defend The Majority
campaign event. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
    Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue joined a lawsuit to further examine claims of alleged fraud in Georgia’s 2020 elections.
    In a statement released on Friday, Perdue claimed there were serious violations in the counting of absentee ballots in Fulton County, which is the state’s most populous jurisdiction.    The Republican also said he wanted a judge to consider the alleged evidence after officials conduct a forensic audit.
    The move comes after Perdue launched his campaign for governor and slammed current Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for certifying last year’s election results.
    “It’s simple.    He has failed all of us and cannot win in November.    Instead of protecting our elections, he caved to Abrams and cost us two Senate seats…the Senate majority and gave Joe Biden free reign.    Think about how different it would be today if Kemp had fought Abrams first instead of fighting Trump.    Kemp caved before the election and the country is paying the price today,” Perdue said in his campaign video.
    In an interview after launching his first gubernatorial campaign, Perdue said he wouldn’t have certified Georgia’s 2020 election results if he were governor.

12/10/2021 Gov. DeSantis Intensifies Fight To Keep Migrants Out Of Fla. by OAN Newsroom
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA – AUGUST 10: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis waits to present a check to a first responder during an event to give out
bonuses to them held at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside on August 10, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is doubling down on illegal immigrants, barring state licenses for facilities housing migrant children.
    Gov. DeSantis announced his administration would be proposing a series of reforms for the upcoming legislative session in order to crackdown on the Biden border crisis.    During a press conference in Jacksonville on Friday, DeSantis said he’s recommending contractors involved with harboring illegal immigrants into Florida, be barred from doing any business in the state.    In addition, any private entity helping will have to pay the state restitution.
    “Cartels are eating our lunch with what is going on with these border policies,” said DeSantis.    “They’ve never had it so good.”
    DeSantis also announced an emergency rule Friday, prohibiting the Florida Department of Children and Families to renew or issue state licenses to any childcare agency housing illegal immigrant children, in addition to those who claim to be children looking to be resettled.    Officials said diverting resources to immigrant children brought over by the Biden administration doesn’t serve the people of Florida.
    “It’s more lucrative to take foreigners into these places then it is to help our own kids here in Florida.    For example, $158 for a foster kid, but it’s $500 to $1,400 if someone’s illegally here from a foreign country, and we want to make sure that those licenses are going to facilities that are helping people in Florida,” said DeSantis.
    DeSantis’ team recently told Breitbart News they’ve been able to identify at least 70 “night time flights” carrying migrants allegedly arranged by the Biden administration, all landing in Jacksonville and more taking place across the country.
    City officials standing alongside DeSantis hope this action will deter the Biden administration’s “massive human smuggling operation,” as well as protect the Sunshine State’s most vulnerable children.    Meanwhile, the Republican governor said there’s a responsibility to stand up for the rule of law and against an administration that has decided they don’t want to have a secure border.

12/10/2021 Tenn. Senators Criticize Build Back Better, Blame Biden For Inflation by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCTOBER 26: Ranking Member Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) speaks during a Senate Subcommittee
on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing on Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat,
TikTok, and YouTube on October 26, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)
    Tennessee Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R) and Bill Hagerty (R) have criticized Joe Biden’s Build Back Better bill and are blaming Democrats for the supply chain crisis.
    “If they pass the Build Back Broke plan, as I call it, then inflation is going to go up even more,” said Blackburn.
    On Friday, both Republicans emphasized how price of nearly everything is through the roof.    They also noted the spending bill wouldn’t help resolve the current crisis.
    Hagerty said the Biden administration’s policies contributed to inflation, adding how they incentivized unemployment resulting in labor shortages.    He further criticized how Biden is responsible for increased gas prices.
    “Think about what Biden did when he killed the Keystone XL pipeline, and he’s done everything to really wage war on the oil and gas industry and gas prices are through the roof,” said Hagerty.        “Everything that we buy here in America is going to be transported.    It has a massively inflationary impact and it’s hurting us all.”
    Both senators confirmed they would not be supporting the trillion-dollar bill or any more spending measures by Democrats.
    This comes as a growing number of Americans disapprove of the way Biden is handling key issues.
    A CNBC All-America Economic Survey released on Friday, showed 48 percent of respondents disapproved of Biden’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, while 46 percent approved. His economic approval sunk even further with 37 percent approving compared to 6 percent who disapprove.
    The plummeting numbers suggest Biden’s vaccine mandates are unpopular among Americans.    In addition, the ratings come as inflation surges to a record 39-year high amid the ongoing supply chain crisis.

12/10/2021 Calif. High Schoolers Stage Walkout Over District’s Handling Of Sexual Assault Complaints by OAN Newsroom
General: Hallways sit empty at a school in California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    San Francisco high school students staged a walkout over their district’s handling of sexual assault complaints.
    Friday morning, hundreds of San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) students held a rally at their city hall in protest of the district’s response to sexual assault in schools.    The students alleged school officials don’t take the complaints seriously and instead sweep them under the rug.
    The students are demanding protection even when abuse occurs off campus, in addition to more trauma-informed protocols for people who report abuse.
    Last month, similar walkouts in Oakland and San Francisco took place, suggesting school districts haven’t yet solved this problem.
    A senior at Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of Arts, Daniela S. Oropeza, said she’s had countless meetings with her school’s administration for years.    “And it’s just insane how they say they hear us, but they don’t protect us.    They don’t do anything to change the environment so we feel safe.”
    Meanwhile, the SFUSD superintendent sent a letter to parents assuring them they’re working on sexual harassment prevention within schools.

12/10/2021 Treasury Dept. Places Sanctions On Global Entities For Technology-Related Abuses by OAN Newsroom
The U.S. Treasury Department building is seen in Washington, D.C. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP via Getty Images)
    The Treasury Department issued a number of new sanctions on people and entities worldwide over accusations of human rights abuses.
    On Friday, the Treasury announced sanctions on 15 individuals and 10 entities from China, North Korea, Bangladesh and Burma.    The Department cited connections to “human rights abuse, including technology-enabled abuse and repression.”
    “Our actions today, particularly those in partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression,” stated the U.S. Treasury Department.
    Among the sanctioned individuals are high-level Chinese Community Party (CCP) officials operating in the Xinjiang region of China and affiliates of North Korea’s cartoon studio, SEK, as well as members of the country’s judicial system.    The Treasury additionally pointed out how the program, SenseTime, has a facial recognition software that was made to be used in Xinjiang against Uyghur Muslims, among other Muslim minorities.

12/10/2021 Biden To Speak With Sen. Manchin On Build Back Better by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 10: Joe Biden delivers closing remarks for the White House’s virtual Summit For Democracy in the
Eisenhower Executive Office Building on December 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Joe Biden confirmed he would be speaking with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) in regards to the Build Back Better bill.
    During a press conference on Friday, Biden was asked whether the moderate Democrat was on board with passing the trillion-dollar spending bill.    With most GOP senators opposing the bill, all 50 Democrat senators must be in favor of it to have a chance in an evenly divided Senate.
    Manchin has repeatedly voiced his opposition over his party’s legislation and the Biden administration has continued working to change his mind.
    “I’m going to be talking to him in the beginning of the week and I think if you look at what most people are saying, most of the economists are saying, this Build Back Better bill is not going to increase inflation.     It will diminish inflation,” said Biden.
    Meanwhile, Biden has continued to downplay inflation, calling it a “bump in the road.”    In addition, Biden has claimed gas prices are expected to decrease in upcoming months.

12/10/2021 GOP Senators Warn Biden’s Vaccine Mandate For Truckers Will Make Supply Chain Crisis Worse by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – AUGUST 04: Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) speaks during a signing ceremony for the Great American Outdoors
Act in the East Room of the White House on August 4, 2020 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    A group of Republican senators are standing up to Joe Biden’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine mandate for truck drivers.
    In a letter to Biden, 12 GOP senators, led by Montana Sen. Steve Daines, warned the mandate would make the supply chain crisis worse at the U.S.-Canada border.    The senators pointed out that truck drivers are essential workers and any mandate would hinder the transportation of goods between Canada and the U.S.
    They urged Biden to discuss his proposal with Canadian officials and to come up with a plan that doesn’t include a vaccine mandate.    The American Trucking Associations’ president has also spoken out against the mandate, saying it would cause truckers to leave the job.
    “In our sample survey of our fleets, it came back as 37 percent of our drivers said not only no, but hell no,” said Chris Spear, CEO of the American Trucking Associations.    “Now, let’s just take a conservative number.    Let’s just say 3.7 percent, not 37 percent, were to actually leave rather than get the vaccine.    That’d be catastrophic.    We’re already short 80,000 and that’s going to inflate it to a quarter-million.    So, for us, we’ve tried to be very clear with the administration that if you do this, I understand the logic behind it, but if you do this, these are the consequences.”
    In a separate statement, Daines said Biden imposing a mandate for essential American workers trying to cross the northern border while not imposing any mandate for illegal immigrants crossing the southern border, is hypocritical.    He went on to say Biden needs to stop putting illegal immigrants over American workers.

12/10/2021 Man Arrested For Breaching Las Vegas Airport by OAN Newsroom
An aerial view of McCarran International Airport in
Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    Police arrested a limo driver in a clown mask after he drove onto the tarmac at a Las Vegas airport claiming to have a bomb.
    The suspect, 36-year-old Matthew Hancock, was seen doing “doughnut” turns before ramming the vehicle through a fence at McCarran International Airport.    Hancock reportedly told airport workers he was going to blow the place up and demanded a jet flight to Area 51.
    Hancock later told authorities to address him as “the chosen one.”    Inside the suspect’s vehicle, police found a fake bomb made of wires and an empty gas can.
    Last month, Hancock was captured on security cameras recklessly pulling stunt maneuvers in the same white limo on the Las Vegas Strip. Hancock faces two felony charges of making a false threat of terrorism and was expected to appear in court Friday morning.

12/10/2021 DOD, State Dept. Launch Probes Into Handling Of Afghan Withdrawal by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – AUGUST 31: Joe Biden delivers remarks on the end of the war in Afghanistan in the State
Dining Room at the White House on August 31, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    The State Department and the Pentagon have begun reviews of its handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    In a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said their 90-day review would help them see what they can learn from the pullout.    The review will look into the period between January of 2020 and August 2021.
    “Some of our colleagues spent years in Afghanistan, some completing multiple tours, while others supported the mission from here in Washington or elsewhere.    I believe it is critical for the department and our country that we capture and benefit from the lessons of our engagement in Afghanistan,” Blinken said in a statement.    He then described the effort as an after-action review “of the department’s execution of its duties pertaining to closing out the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.”
    In the meantime, the Department of Defense’s probe will analyze the department’s conduct from February 2020 to August of this year.
    Joe Biden has faced severe backlash for the withdrawal due to an apparent lack of preparation and mismanagement in the months leading up to the pullout date in late August.    A total of 13 U.S. service members died in a terror attack at the Kabul airport in August during the hectic withdrawal.
    Blinken said the team leading the project “will have access to relevant documents and records, and is authorized to interview on a voluntary basis any individual it deems holds information relevant to the scope of the review.”
    Blinken said this includes individuals from both the previous and current administrations who held leadership positions and had relevant involvement with the pullout.    He added he encourages anyone who is asked to cooperate with interview requests.

12/10/2021 Rep. Comer: Democrats Need To Get Over Obsession With Trump by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 16: Ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) speaks at a hearing with the House Committee on Oversight and Reform
in the Rayburn House Office Building on November 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    House Republicans have fired back at Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Calif.) relentless peddling of unfounded allegations leveled at President Trump.
    “Every time Chairman Schiff rises to speak on a bill about intelligence and security and holding the president accountable, I get excited hoping we’re going to hear about that evidence of collusion,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) expressed.
    House Oversight Committee member Rep. Comer took Schiff to task over the now debunked evidence of collusion between President Trump and Russia.    The confrontation came during a floor debate on Thursday, ahead of a vote on the so-called Protecting Our Democracy Act.
    The bill claims to address presidential abuses of power, but for Comer, Democrats have been ignoring the real problems created by the Biden administration and taking up a sham bill to focus on their obsession with Trump.
    “This bill is all about the previous administration.    Every speaker on their side of the aisle has mentioned Donald Trump’s name numerous times.    Every speaker.    It’s time for the majority party to focus on governing and get over their obsession with Donald Trump,” Comer stated.
    Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) echoed this criticism of the Schiff-sponsored bill.
    “Maybe instead of having another bill that attacks President Trump because Democrats are afraid he’s going to run and he’s going to win in 2024, so they want to do everything they can to attack him, maybe instead of another bill attacking President Trump, we should focus on the things that American people care about,” said the Ohio representative.
    The House passed the bill in a 220-208 vote, but it now reportedly faces long odds of advancing in the Senate because of the supermajority of 60 votes needed.

12/10/2021 White House Claims Economy Is A ‘Biden Boom’ Despite Surging Inflation by OAN Newsroom
National Economic Council Director Brian Deese speaks during the daily briefing
at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
    The Biden administration has continued to down play inflation worries as it hits historic levels. Joe Biden’s top economic adviser, Brian Deese, recently tried to defend inflation while millions of Americans who are struggling to get by demand answers.
    At a press briefing on Thursday, Deese claimed that emerging inflation reports, like the Consumer Price Index, use backward data and could be taken out of context.    A reporter then asked Deese if he could shed light on what to expect with inflation moving forward, however, no concrete answer was given.
    This came after Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said transitory is no longer an accurate way to describe inflation and warned factors pushing inflation up could linger well into next year.
    “What we believe is that price increases elevated the level that we are seeing, hit American families and their pocket books and we need to do everything that we can to address those directly,” said the economic adviser.
    Deese went on in a blanket statement to claim inflation is a global issue, but the reporter demanded an answer.
    While it appears Deese is unsure when or if prices will stabilize, he admitted they could be long term.
    “To be very clear, the risk exists that price increases become entrenched in the long term,” he admitted.    “That’s something that would be a real problem for the economy.”
    Earlier this week, a recent survey from the Wall Street Journal found 56 percent of American voters agree that inflation is causing financial strain with 28 percent saying it’s severe.    According to Brain Deese, as per his Twitter, this economy is simply a “Biden boom and no one has noticed it yet.”

12/10/2021 Biden Admin. Having Trouble Showing Strength In Face Of Iran Nuclear Deal by OAN Newsroom
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, speaks during a meeting with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin
at the Pentagon, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    Talks between the U.S. and Iran do not appear to be going to plan and the Biden administration has failed to take a strong stance on deproliferation.
    “I am deeply concerned about the Iranian government’s nuclear actions in recent months, both its continued provocations and its lack of constructive diplomatic engagement,” stated Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin.     Austin hosted his Israeli counterpart, Benny Gantz, at the Pentagon for talks.    The two officials met Thursday to discuss Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs as well as Joe Biden’s efforts to restore the failed 2015 nuclear deal implemented under former President Barack Obama.    Gantz said the international community must take a tougher stance to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
    “Iran is not just a threat to our physical security; Iran possess a concrete threat to our way of life and our shared values,” stated the Israeli Defense Minister.    “In its aspirations to become a hegemon, Iran seeks to destroy all traces of freedom, human dignity and peace in the Middle East and beyond.”
    For his part, Austin, yet again, reiterated U.S. commitment to Israeli defense and he called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
    Meanwhile, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the U.S. will enforce more sanctions on Iran if needed to avoid a potential nuclear crisis.    Psaki made that announcement also on Thursday, adding the only way the U.S. will end sanctions is if they come to a new agreement on a nuclear deal.
    These remarks came after State Secretary Antony Blinken said Iran wasn’t taking efforts to make a deal seriously during last week’s nuclear talks in Vienna.    Psaki further added that the U.S. is considering sending a delegation to the UAE next week to discuss possible economic sanctions.

12/10/2021 1.3K Lbs. Of Fentanyl Seized At Texas Border This Year by OAN Newsroom
A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chemist checks confiscated powder containing fentanyl at the DEA
Northeast Regional Laboratory on October 8, 2019 in New York. (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)
    A record setting 1,300 pounds of fentanyl has been seized at the Texas-Mexico border.    This is compared to only 200 pounds seized in 2020.    On Thursday, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) held a press conference focusing on the smuggling of fentanyl, which is sold as a synthetic heroin to increase profits.
    This means pills are being laced with the deadly drug.    DPS chemist Jennifer Hatch said this leads to death because people don’t realize what they are actually ingesting.    Fentanyl is cheap to make and as a result is able to turn a large profit.
    Even though the drug comes into the U.S. over the southern border, she explained that it’s an international operation.
    “A lot of this stuff is actually coming over from China,” said Hatch.    “What it used to be is fentanyl powder coming in through Mexico and the majority is smuggled up through the border.”
    Operation Lone Star, which was implemented by Republican Governor Greg Abbott earlier this year to crack down on organizations that are making and distributing drugs, has been implemented indefinitely.
    Major Mike Perry of the Texas National Guard said drugs have been crossing the southern border at a drastically increased rate.
    “Six-hundred-sixty-nine turnbacks from Wednesday to Wednesday,” he expalined.    “A turnback is considered a win for us…we are here to repel block any criminal activity coming into the state.”
    There are now 10,000 troops along the border to stop drugs from entering the U.S.

12/10/2021 EU Warns Russia: ‘Aggression Comes With A Price Tag’ by Sabine Siebold and Jan Strupczewski
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a news conference with German Chancellor
Olaf Scholz at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, December 10, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union warned Russia on Friday that it would face consequences if it invaded Ukraine, as Germany’s new chancellor called for talks to resolve tensions after Moscow amassed troops on the border with its southwestern neighbour.
    “Aggression needs to come with a price tag, which is why we will communicate these points ahead of time to Russia,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a joint news conference with Olaf Scholz.
    Ukraine accuses Russia of preparing for a possible large-scale military offensive.    The Kremlin denies planning any attack.
    Von der Leyen said the EU would not discuss publicly any “sanctions and other measures across economic and financial sectors” that the 27-nation bloc would take with its partners against Moscow in the case of an invasion.
    “We want a good relationship with Russia, but it depends first and foremost on the way in which Russia behaves.    Russia is taking a threatening stance towards its neighbours and that undermines Europe’s security,” she said.
    Asked if sanctions could include shutting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline that will carry gas to Europe, she said that, in general, energy should never be used to exert pressure and the energy security of Europe and its neighbours should be secured.
    Scholz declined to answer the question on the Russian-German pipeline, saying that while it was clear that the EU and others would react if there was an invasion of Ukraine, talks to prevent such an outcome were also important.
    Earlier in the day during a visit to France https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/macron-welcomes-scholz-france-germany-seek-common-ground-after-merkel-2021-12-10, Scholz called for a revival of the “Normandy format” talks between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine to resolve the crisis.
    “We are deeply concerned about the troops we are seeing along the Ukrainian border, and that’s why it’s important that Europe be firm in this area and show clearly that Europe’s borders are inviolable,” Scholz said at a news conference later with Charles Michel, president of the EU’s European Council.
    French President Emmanuel Macron warned during his meeting with Scholz about the risk of self-fulfilling prophecies following a U.S. intelligence assessment that a multi-front offensive on Ukraine by Russia could happen as early as next year.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
-After Merkel, France’s Macron welcomes “dear Olaf” is the France trunk (for all your related content needs!)
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(Writing by John ChalmersEditing by Alistair Bell)

12/11/2021 Oil up $1.38 to $71.99, DOW up 216 to 35,971.

12/11/2021 U.S. Imposes Sweeping Human Rights Sanctions On China, Myanmar And North Korea by Daphne Psaledakis, David Brunnstrom and Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: Leaflets from the artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime are
seen at its offices in Hong Kong, China August 18, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday imposed extensive human rights-related sanctions on dozens of people and entities tied to China, Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh, and added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime Group to an investment blacklist.
    Canada and the United Kingdom joined the United States in imposing sanctions related to human rights abuses in Myanmar https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/us-slams-myanmar-military-over-credible-reports-soldiers-killed-11-people-2021-12-09, while Washington also imposed the first new sanctions on North Korea https://www.reuters.com/world/china/us-maintain-troop-level-south-korea-minister-2021-12-02 under President Joe Biden’s administration and targeted Myanmar military entities, among others, in action marking Human Rights Day.
    “Our actions today, particularly those in partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
    China’s embassy in Washington denounced the U.S. move as “serious interference in China’s internal affairs” and a “severe violation of basic norms governing international relations.”
    Embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said it would do “grave harm to China-U.S. relations” and urged Washington to rescind the decision.
    The North Korean mission at the United Nations and the Washington embassies of Myanmar and Bangladesh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    The measures are the latest in a raft of sanctions timed to coincide with Biden’s two-day virtual Summit https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-summit-democracy-rally-nations-against-rising-authoritarianism-2021-12-09 for Democracy, where he announced initiatives to bolster democracy around the world and support for pro-democracy legislation in the United States.
    Biden said on Friday that commitments made by some of the more than 100 world leaders at the summit would push back against rising autocracy around the world, fight corruption and promote human rights.
    “This is going to help seed fertile ground for democracy to bloom around the world,” he said in a speech closing the summit.
    The Treasury on Friday added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime to a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies,” accusing it of having developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs.
    As a result, the company will fall under an investment ban https://www.reuters.com/business/chinas-sensetime-discussing-fate-767-mln-hong-kong-ipo-with-exchange-sources-2021-12-10 for U.S. investors.    SenseTime is close to selling 1.5 billion shares in an initial public offering (IPO).    After news of the Treasury restrictions earlier this week, the company began discussing the fate of the planned $767 million offering with Hong Kong’s stock exchange, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
    SenseTime said in a statement on Saturday that it “strongly opposed the designation and accusations that have been made in connection with it,” calling the accusations “unfounded.”
    “We have complied with the applicable laws and regulations in relation to our business in all material respects in the jurisdictions where we conduct business,” the company said.
    U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang.
    China denies abuses in Xinjiang, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.
MYANMAR, NORTH KOREA
    The Treasury said it was imposing sanctions on two Myanmar military entities and an organization that provides reserves for the military.    The Directorate of Defense Industries, one of the entities targeted, makes weapons for the military and police that have been used in a brutal crackdown on opponents of the military’s Feb. 1 coup.
    The Treasury also targeted four regional chief ministers, including Myo Swe Win, who heads the junta’s administration in the Bago region where the Treasury said at least 82 people were killed https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/myanmar-security-forces-with-rifle-grenades-kill-over-80-protesters-monitoring-2021-04-10 in a single day in April.
    Canada imposed sanctions against four entities affiliated with the Myanmar military government, while the United Kingdom imposed fresh sanctions against the military.
    Myanmar was plunged into crisis when the military overthrew leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government on Feb. 1, triggering daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority insurgents.
    Junta forces seeking to crush opposition have killed more than 1,300 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.
    Campaign group Global Witness said the measures fell short of targeting Myanmar’s natural gas industry, a key source of foreign currency for the junta, and were “unlikely to materially impact the military junta’s bottom line.”
    The Treasury also blacklisted North Korea’s Central Public Prosecutors Office, along with the former minister of social security and recently assigned Minister of People’s Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil.    It also targeted a Russian university for facilitating the export of workers from North Korea.
    North Korea has long sought a lifting of punishing U.S. and international sanctions imposed over its weapons programs and has denounced U.S. criticism of its human rights record as evidence of a hostile policy against it.
    The Biden administration has repeatedly called on North Korea to engage in dialogue over its nuclear and missile programs, without success.
    The U.S. State Department on Friday also barred 12 people from traveling to the United States, including officials in China, Belarus and Sri Lanka.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Simon Lewis, David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Alexandra Alper, Tim Ahmann and David LjunggrenEditing by Chris Sanders, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

12/11/2021 Guatemala Seeks Aid, Smuggler Crackdown After Mexico Migrant Deaths
FILE PHOTO: Migrants travelling to the U.S. paint a banner in an
improvised shelter in Tecun Uman, Guatemala, January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Guatemala urged the United States on Friday to invest in the country and elsewhere in Central America to boost development, and called for a crackdown on people-smuggling gangs after dozens of migrants died in a truck crash in Mexico.
    Officials from Guatemala and Mexico pledged to tackle international people-smuggling networks they blamed for Thursday’s accident that killed 55 mostly Guatemalan migrants.
    Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said a regional “action group” had been set up to fight human-smuggling networks and was backed by the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua and the United States.
    The group will “investigate, identify, learn, and bring to justice the leaders of the organization responsible for this human tragedy,” Ebrard told a televised news conference.
    Speaking alongside Ebrard, Guatemalan Foreign Minister Pedro Brolo urged investment by Washington to alleviate poverty in the region and called for tougher penalties against criminals who benefit from illegal immigration.
    “We invite the U.S. government to support development and investment in our country, as well as in neighboring countries, to avoid and ensure these tragedies are not repeated,” he added.
    Brolo also proposed that the governments of Guatemala, Mexico and the United States organize a meeting soon to align and standardize their migration policies.
    Each month, thousands of migrants fleeing poverty and violence in Central America travel through Mexico to reach the U.S. border. They often cram into large trucks organized by smugglers in dangerous conditions.
(Reporting by Noe Torres and Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Stefanie Eschenbacher; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

12/11/2021 G7 Ministers Present United Front Against Russia Over Ukraine Crisis by William James and Alexander Ratz
Britain's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken wearing face masks to combat the
spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pose for a photograph before a bilateral meeting ahead of the
G7 foreign ministers summit in Liverpool, Britain, December 10, 2021. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -The world’s wealthiest democracies on Saturday sought to present a united front against Russian aggression toward Ukraine as Britain hosted a meeting of foreign ministers in the northern English city of Liverpool.
    The G7 meeting, attended in person by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts from France, Italy, Germany, Japan and Canada, comes amid international concern that Russia could invade Ukraine. Russia denies planning any attack.
    Ahead of the formal discussions, British foreign minister Liz Truss met Blinken on Friday night where they expressed deep concern about the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border, Britain’s foreign office said in a statement.
    Any incursion by Russia “would be a strategic mistake for which there would be serious consequences,” the foreign office added.
    “We need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom,” Truss told foreign ministers at the start of the meeting.
    Ukraine is at the centre of a crisis in East-West relations as it accuses Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive.
    Russia accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilising behaviour, and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.
    Ministers arrived at the Museum of Liverpool to a brass band playing Christmas carols, before convening the first formal meeting session which will look at geopolitical issues including nuclear talks with Iran and the military buildup in Iran.
    “What the G7 meeting this weekend .. is about, is about a show of unity between like-minded major economies, that we are going to absolutely be strong in our stance against aggression, against aggression with respect to Ukraine,” Truss told reporters ahead of the talks.
AGE OF INTROSPECTION
    Britain, as current chair of the G7, is calling for its members to be more strident in their defence of what it calls “the free world.”
    Earlier this week Truss said the “age of introspection” for the West was over and it needed to wake up to the dangers of rival ideologies.    She has highlighted the economic risks of Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and the wider security threat posed by Chinese technology as examples.
    The G7 meeting is also expected to result in a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear programme and grasp the opportunity of ongoing talks in Vienna to revive a multilateral agreement on its nuclear development.
    Both Truss and Blinken stressed the need for Iran to engage in the talks, according to the foreign office statement.
    Germany, which takes over the rotating G7 leadership from Britain next year, is expected to set out its programme for 2022 at the meeting. Ministers from the European Union, Australia, South Korea and India will take part in some sessions as guests of the G7, along with representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
(Reporting by William James, Humeyra Pamuk and Alexander Ratz; Editing by Andrew Heavens amd Ros Russell)

12/11/2021 California Man Charged In Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol Riot Flees To Belarus by Mark Hosenball and Steve Gorman
FILE PHOTO: Police release tear gas into a crowd of pro-Trump protesters during clashes at a rally
to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the
U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A California man charged with assaulting police in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol and using a metal barricade as a battering ram has fled the United States and is believed to have taken refuge in Belarus, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
    Evan Neumann, 49, was indicted on Friday on 14 criminal counts stemming from the deadly Capitol siege by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, expanding on charges originally contained in a criminal complaint filed against Neumann in March.
    Neumann, of Mill Valley, California, near San Francisco, was seen in video footage donning a gas mask while standing near police in front of barricades set up at the base of the West Front of the Capitol Building, prosecutors said in a statement.
    According to documents filed in the case, Neumann later removes his gas mask and shouts at the police, “I’m willing to die, are you?” before he physically assaults several officers and rushes into them using a barricade as a battering ram.
    Neumann, who has yet to make a court appearance in the case, fled from the United States on Feb. 16 and “is currently believed to be in Belarus,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia said in a statement.
    According to an account published by news outlet the Daily Beast, Neumann was featured last month in a Belarusian state television special titled “Goodbye, America,” recounting his journey to the former Soviet republic and its capital, Minsk.
    He said on the program that he was seeking political asylum in Belarus because the United States, in his opinion, is no longer a country of law and order, the Daily Beast reported.
    Neumann is one of more than 220 individuals charged with assaulting or impeding law enforcement during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, which disrupted a joint session of Congress meeting to formally certify the November 2020 presidential election victory of Democrat Joe Biden over Trump, the Republican incumbent.
    Neumann is believed to be the only international fugitive charged in connection with the Capitol riot.
    The siege followed a rally near the White House earlier that day in which Trump exhorted supporters to march on the Capitol during a speech in which he repeated false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud.
    Four people died the day of the riot, and one Capitol police officer died the next day of injuries sustained while defending Congress.    Hundreds of police were injured during the multi-hour melee and four officers have since taken their own lives.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

12/11/2021 Blinken Attends G7 Meeting In Liverpool, Leaders Call For United Front Amid Tensions Between Russia And Ukraine by OAN Newsroom
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (L) greets U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
as he arrives to attend the G7 summit of foreign and development ministers at the
Museum of Liverpool on December 11, 2021. (Photo by PHIL NOBLE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently held talks with allies at the G7 Summit in Liverpool.
    Blinken’s weekend talks with several of his counterparts come amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Over the course of their discussions, leaders began sharing their concerns.
    A spokesperson on Saturday, said Blinken and British Foreign Minister Liz Truss emphasized the importance of U.S. and U.K. coordination.    She stressed the need to deter Russia from further aggression.
    “We need to defend ourselves against the growing threats from hostile actors.    And we need to come together strongly to stand up to aggressors who are seeking to limit the bounds of freedom and democracy,” said Truss.
    Truss said a stronger united voice is needed and it’s important to bring more countries into sphere of standing up for the same values.

12/11/2021 Colo. Gov. Polis Says COVID-19 Emergency ‘Is Over’ by OAN Newsroom
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks at a press conference. (Photo by Chet Strange/Getty Images)
    Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) has refused to revive his statewide mask mandate amid a heated interview with a reporter.    Polis bucked the trend of blue governors and has instead chosen to defend freedom in Colorado, but not without ruffling some liberal feathers.
    “The emergency is over. So, you know, public health doesn’t get to tell people what to wear. I mean, that’s not their job,” said Polis.
    He then stood his ground as liberal journalist Ryan Warner interrogated him, bringing up an anonymous complaint about not having a mask mandate. Warner said the anonymous individual is a healthcare worker and has questioned why when she goes anywhere, she’s the only one wearing a mask.
    Gov. Polis assured he’s doing everything he can to support healthcare workers while following the science, which he says shows excessive mandates aren’t needed when everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated.
    Instead of answering the anonymous question directly, Polis thanked healthcare workers for everything they’ve done throughout the entirety of the pandemic.
    After he was cut off by the interviewer, in a rare turn of events for a governor in a blue state, Polis stressed mask mandates aren’t needed and highlighted that it’s each individual’s responsibility to take care of their health.
    “I think it’s great to wear a mask indoors around others, but when you’re not in an emergency situation…public health would say always wear a mask.    Say it always decreases flu and decreases anything, but that’s not something that you require,” said Polis.    “You don’t tell people what to wear.    You don’t tell people to wear a jacket when they go out in the winter or force them to.    If they get frostbite, it’s their own darn fault.”
    Despite growing opposition that Polis has been facing from mainstream media, numerous Colorado residents and lawmakers, including representative and former small business owner Lauren Boebert, believe his decision to repeal the mandate was long overdue.

12/11/2021 Pa. Supreme Court Throws Out School Mask Mandate by OAN Newsroom
PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 21: Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf addresses supporters before
former President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for statewide Democratic candidates
on September 21, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)
    Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court recently struck down Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s school mask mandate.     On Friday, the state court ruled the governor and his health secretary didn’t have the power to issue the mandate.    The suit was brought on by a group of parents, school districts and Republican legislators.
    A representative for the State Health Department called the ruling “disappointing,” saying forcibly masking kids is designed to keep them safe.
    “The administration recognizes that many school districts want to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for students and staff, and we are hopeful they will make appropriate mitigation decisions moving forward,” said Wolf’s spokeswoman, Beth Rementer.
    The Republicans, however, disagree and say the mandate is divisive and parents should be free to decide what’s best for their kids.
    “It’s the right of parents and legal guardians to gather the facts and decide what they view is in the best interest of their child,” stated Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Pa.).

12/11/2021 Psaki Grilled On Biden, Harris Smollett Tweets by OAN Newsroom
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing the Brady Press Briefing Room of the
White House in Washington, D.C., on December 10, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki evaded a question regarding Kamala Harris and Joe Biden’s original reactions to the Jussie Smollett hoax.
    Psaki was asked if Biden or Harris regretted their initial tweets in light of Smollett’s guilty verdict.    Both declared the incident was evidence of broader American racism in 2019.
    Psaki first deflected, claiming President Trump took the occurrence seriously, but later admitted Smollett wasted public resources.
    “It’s also true and important to note that accusations of hate crime should be taken seriously and they need to be fully investigated, but that’s where everybody was looking at it at the time.    But certainly, knowing what we know now it’s important to also note the danger of lying to police, and lying about hate crimes and the fact that it diverts important resources,” she said.
    In the meantime, neither Biden nor Harris have publicly commented on Smollett’s verdict.

12/11/2021 GOP Senators Push To Block Build Back Better Bill After CBO Report by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 30: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) speaks during a roundtable
discussion with Republican Senators and economists about the Democrats social policy spending bill on
Capitol Hill November 30, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    Republicans in the upper chamber decry Joe Biden’s economic agenda after receiving final word on how much his Build Back Better bill will cost.
    “The radical left could care less.    They are on a mission to pass this monstrosity come hell or high water,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).    “I think today, we show that this…they’re twin daggers aimed at the heart of the American economy.”
    On Friday, South Carolina Sen. Graham broke down the numbers citing the much anticipated Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report released moments before.    The report revealed the spending proposal actually costs nearly $5 trillion, which is $3 trillion more than what Democrats repeatedly promised.
    The CBO added this would increase the budget deficit by $3 trillion over the next ten years.
    Graham warned the bill would also drive up an already skyrocketing inflation rate, which has increased to nearly 7 percent.    He also claimed the bill was written to subvert attention from the hidden costs and said he wonders how Democrats plan to pay for the bill.
    Ahead of the CBO’s announcement, both Republican senators of Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, derided Biden’s agenda.    They lamented the Biden administration’s supply chain crisis and massive spending proposals are costing their constituents big at the grocery store and gas pump.
    They further condemned the high inflation rates as a tax on the American people.    Additionally, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the bill reckless and irresponsible, highlighting Democrats promised their agenda wouldn’t cost a thing.
    Earlier this week, Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy pointed out the U.S. doesn’t have the money to pay for the bill.
    “We’ll have to borrow the money.    We don’t have the $3 trillion.    We don’t even have 5 percent of it.        Now, I think, that the bill represents a spending taxation and borrowing orgy that we don’t need,” said Kennedy.
    In the meantime, Biden and Republican senators continue the fight to sway the opinion of key swing vote, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D).    Biden said he plans to meet with the Democrat senator next week to see if he’ll toe the party line.    However, Sen. Graham said he believes Manchin will use the facts to ultimately decide against the bill.
    Democrats are hoping to pass the bill by Christmas day.

12/11/2021 Gov. Hochul Institutes Mask Mandate In N.Y. by OAN Newsroom
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 11: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul joins military, police, high school bands and others as
they march in the Veterans Day Parade on November 11, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
    The Empire State is ramping up its COVID restrictions in light of the new variant.    New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is proving that once you unmask, you’re bound to go back.
    Andrew Cuomo’s successor announced on Friday that any indoor business without a vaccine requirement must require patrons to wear a face mask.    Any violators will be fined $1,000 per infraction.
    Hochul reassured New Yorkers things could be worse.
    “I don’t want to go back ever again to that place where people couldn’t go to their jobs safely, couldn’t congregate, kids couldn’t go to schools,” Hochul said. “That isolation had a devastating effect on the human condition and we’re still dealing with the fallout today.”
    Not to be outdone by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), Hochul is pushing the rest of the state to catch up to the Big Apple’s strict vaccination and mask requirements. Hochul commended New York City residents for complying with the heavy handed restrictions.
    “Many people in New York City are already dealing with this, been dealing with it for awhile.
    You’ve been doing great and that is why your hospital capacity is good
,” she said.    “That’s why your vaccination numbers are high, your infections are not as high as the rest of the state, but the rest of the state now has a wake up call.”
    Some skeptics believe the move will hurt small businesses struggling to recover from the restrictions.    However, Hochul claimed she’s actually protecting business owners and that the mandate will be temporary.
    “My plan is to make it temporary.    It starts on Monday.    We’ll reassess on January 15 just so businesses have a clarity, they don’t find out last minute.    We’ve been talking to businesses throughout the week to make sure they know what’s happening,” Hochul affirmed.
    Statewide case rates have jumped 43 percent per seven-day period, despite 80 percent of New Yorkers having at least one dose of the vaccine.

12/11/2021 G7 Agrees On Need For Return To Talks To Resolve Russia-Ukraine Crisis – German Minister
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock attend
a plenary session of the G7 summit of foreign and development ministers at the
Museum of Liverpool, in Liverpool, Britain, December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock said on Saturday the G7 agreed that to resolve the crisis over a Russian troop build up on the Ukrainian border, parties needed to return to the negotiating table.
    “We need to take every action to return to dialogue,” Baerbock told reporters on the sidelines of a G7 meeting in Liverpool.    She referred to opportunities like the Normandy Format, which involves Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.
(Reporting by Alexander Ratz, writing by William James)

12/12/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/12/2021 Blinken Heads To Southeast Asia To Deepen Cooperation On China Pushback by Humeyra Pamuk and David Brunnstrom
FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken looks on as he meets Norway's Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt
(not pictured) at the State Department in Washington, U.S., December 9, 2021. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz/Pool
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Biden administration will seek to bolster economic and security cooperation with Southeast Asia through a visit to the region next week by its top diplomat, as it works to forge a united front against China in the Indo-Pacific.
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due in the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Monday and will also visit Malaysia and Thailand on his first Southeast Asia trip since President Joe Biden took office in January.
    Southeast Asia has become a strategic battleground between the United States and China, the world’s two largest economies.    China claims most of the South China Sea, the vital trade route that links the region, and has turned up military and political pressure on self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing considers its own.
    Blinken will pursue Biden’s aim of elevating engagement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to “unprecedented” levels, focusing on strengthening regional security infrastructure in the face of China’s “bullying” and discussing the president’s vision for an Indo-Pacific economic framework, the top U.S. diplomat for Asia, Daniel Kritenbrink, told reporters ahead of the trip.
    The Biden administration sees Southeast Asia as vital to its efforts to push back against China’s growing power, but the lack of a formal structure for economic engagement since former President Donald Trump quit a regional trade deal in 2017 has limited its ability to exert influence, while Beijing’s only grows.
    The administration has yet to spell out what exactly Biden’s envisaged economic framework will entail, although Kritenbrink said it would focus on trade facilitation, the digital economy, supply chain resiliency, infrastructure, clean energy, and worker standards.
    Analysts and diplomats said Blinken would likely seek to woo countries by dangling the prospect of hosting U.S. firms relocating production from China as part of efforts to secure sensitive supply chains and of development finance.    But there was no sign of a willingness to offer the increased access to the U.S. market the region craves.
    “There is a burden of proof on this administration to deliver an economic strategy that shows our allies and partners that we are committed to long-term economic engagement in the region,” said Matthew Goodman, a regional economics expert at Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies.
    “What’s been rolled out so far has promise in that regard, but it needs to be fleshed out.”
    An Asian diplomat said the Biden administration had shown itself serious in its desire to step up engagement with Southeast Asia through a series of senior-level visits this year, Biden’s participation in regional summits, and long-standing security cooperation.
    “But they don’t have a response to China on the economy,” he said.    “The Chinese are ahead of the game by 20 years.    The U.S. needs to do something to help less-developed Southeast Asian countries. Sending aircraft carriers is not enough.”
    Senior Biden administration figures, including Indo-Pacific policymaker Kurt Campbell, are acutely aware of the need to compete more effectively economically in the region with China, but any move to rejoin the trade deal Trump quit would be politically fraught given pledges to rebuild a domestic economy critics say is threatened by such mechanisms.
    Biden’s plan could still be enticing, despite its limitations, Goodman said.
    “If you’re Vietnam, or you’re Indonesia, or Thailand, you want to make a play for being the place where Apple could relocate its assembly capability,” he said.
    “So there’s a lot in there that is interesting to these countries, but there’s a lot more detail that needs to be provided before they are going to be persuaded.”
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Mary Milliken and Daniel Wallis)

12/12/2021 Biden Warns Putin: Russia Will Pay ‘Terrible Price’ If It Invades Ukraine by Andrea Shalal
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the deadly tornadoes that struck
Kentucky, in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    WILMINGTON, Del. (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday said he told Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia would pay “a terrible price” and face devastating economic consequences if it invaded Ukraine.
    Biden told reporters the possibility of sending U.S. ground combat troops to Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion was “never on the table,” although the United States and NATO would be required to send in more forces to eastern flank NATO countries to beef up their defenses.
    “I made it absolutely clear to President Putin … that if he moves on Ukraine, the economic consequences for his economy are going to be devastating, devastating,” he said after remarks about the deadly tornadoes that hit the United States on Friday.
    Biden, who spoke with Putin by telephone for two hours last week, said he had made clear to the Russian leader that Russia’s standing in the world would change “markedly” in the event of an incursion into Ukraine.
    Biden spent the weekend at his home in Wilmington.
    Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven richest democracies on Saturday sent a similar message to Moscow after a meeting in Liverpool, warning of dire consequences for any incursion and urging Moscow to return to the negotiating table.
    G7 finance ministers are meeting virtually on Monday to review economic concerns, including inflation, but will also touch on potential sanctions against Russia if it moves against Ukraine, officials said.
    Ukraine has accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of troops in preparation for a possible large-scale military offensive.
    Russia denies planning any attack and accuses Ukraine and the United States of destabilising behaviour, and has said it needs security guarantees for its own protection.
    Biden last week promised Central European NATO members more military support amid growing concern over the buildup, which countries near Russia’s border worry could result in a similar outcome as Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine, Lithuania’s presidential adviser said.
(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Makini Brice and Tim Gardner; Editing by Chris Reese and Daniel Wallis)
[PUTIN IS NOT SHAKING IN HIS BOOTS HE WILL JUST TELL BIDEN TO GO BACK TO HIS SLEEPY JOE HOLE SO THE PRESS WILL NOT SEE HIS WEAKNESS WHICH THEY WILL NOT SHOW THAT ON THE FAKE NEWS.].

12/12/2021 Time Is Running Out For Iran Nuclear Deal, Germany Says by Alexander Ratz and Humeyra Pamuk
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock
arrive for a family photo at the Museum of Liverpool during the G7 summit of foreign and
development ministers in Liverpool, Britain December 11, 2021. Paul Ellis/Pool via REUTERS
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -Germany’s foreign minister warned on Saturday that time was running out to find a way to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran, speaking after meetings with her counterparts from G7 countries.
    Talks have resumed in Vienna to try to revive the nuclear pact, with both sides trying to gauge the prospects of success after the latest exchanges in the stop-start negotiations.
    “Time is running out,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters in Liverpool, England where G7 foreign ministers are meeting.
    “It has shown in the last days that we do not have any progress.”
    Baerbock said Iran had resumed the talks with a position that set the negotiations back six months.    The current round of talks in Vienna follow a pause of five months after the election of a hardline anti-Westerner as Iran’s president, Ebrahim Raisi.
    Earlier, U.S. officials said Secretary of State Antony Blinken had held a “productive” meeting with counterparts from Britain, Germany and France on Friday, discussing the way forward for the Iran talks.
    A senior State Department official said there was an “intense” conversation among the G7 countries, which were united in their position on the nuclear talks.    “The statement will also be strong on the importance of getting Iran back to the table and that it is possible to conclude a deal but that the time is shrinking, so we’re united in that,” the official, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity, said.
    The official added that U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Robert Malley was heading back to Vienna for talks.
    Iranian officials have previously said they were sticking to their tough stance.
    Under the original nuclear deal, abandoned in 2018 by then-President Donald Trump, Iran limited its nuclear programme in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.    The West fears the programme would be used to develop weapons, something Tehran denies.
    Raisi said on Saturday that Tehran was serious in its nuclear talks in Vienna, the official IRNA news agency reported.
    The indirect U.S.-Iranian talks, in which diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China shuttle between them because Tehran refuses direct contact with Washington, aim to get both sides to resume full compliance with the accord.
    The G7 meeting which is expected to result in a joint call for Iran to moderate its nuclear programme and grasp the opportunity of the Vienna talks.
(Reporting by Humeyra PamukWriting by William JamesEditing by Edmund Blair, Frances Kerry and David Evans)

12/12/2021 G7 Warns Russia Of ‘Massive Consequences’ If Ukraine Is Attacked by Alexander Ratz and Humeyra Pamuk
FILE PHOTO: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, French Foreign
Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss,
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and
Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles attend a plenary session of the G7 summit of foreign and development
ministers at the Museum of Liverpool, in Liverpool, Britain, December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Russia faces massive consequences and severe costs if President Vladimir Putin attacks Ukraine, the Group of Seven warned in a statement on Sunday.
    U.S. intelligence assesses that Russia could be planning a multi-front offensive on Ukraine as early as next year, involving up to 175,000 troops.
    The Kremlin denies it plans to invade and says the West is gripped by Russophobia.    Moscow says the expansion of NATO threatens Russia and has contravened assurances given to it as the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
    At a meeting in the northern English city of Liverpool, the G7 delegates said they were united in their condemnation of Russia’s military build-up near Ukraine and they called on Moscow to de-escalate.
    “Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response,” said the statement, which confirmed a draft version first reported by Reuters.
    “We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the right of any sovereign state to determine its own future.”
    A statement released by the Russian Embassy in London on Saturday evening, before the joint G7 document was reported, said that Britain’s frequent use of the phrase “Russian aggression” during the Liverpool meeting was misleading and designed to create a cause for the G7 to rally round.
    “Russia has made numerous offers to NATO on ways to decrease tensions.    The G7 forum could be an opportunity to discuss them, but so far we hear nothing but aggressive slogans,” the embassy statement said.
‘RED LINE’
    For Moscow, the growing NATO embrace of a neighbouring former Soviet republic – and what it sees as the nightmare possibility of alliance missiles in Ukraine targeted against Russia – is a “red line” it will not allow to be crossed.
    Putin has demanded legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not expand further east or place its weapons close to Russian territory; Washington has repeatedly said no country can veto Ukraine’s NATO hopes.
    In 2014 Russia seized the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine, prompting the West to impose sanctions on Russia.
    The Kremlin on Sunday said that Putin told U.S. President Joe Biden that Russian troops posed no threat and that Moscow was being demonised for moving troops around its own territory.    Putin and Biden have agreed to hold more talks, Moscow said.
    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there were very serious conceptual differences between Russia and the United States on Moscow’s “red lines.”
    U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia could not exert its sphere of influence over Ukraine.
    “That’s what Russia is purporting to assert and if we let that go with impunity, then the entire system that provides for stability, prevents war from breaking out, is in danger,” he told NBC News in a post-summit interview on Sunday.
    The G7 comprises Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as a representative from the European Union.
    “We call on Russia to de-escalate, pursue diplomatic channels and abide by its international commitments on transparency of military activities,” the G7 said.
    “We reconfirm our support for the efforts of France and Germany in the Normandy Format to achieve full implementation of the Minsk Agreements in order to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine.”
(Additional reporting by William James, Writing by Andy Bruce and Guy FaulconbridgeEditing by Raissa Kasolowsky, David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)

12/12/2021 Rescuers Search For Survivors After Explosion In Sicily by Antonio Parrinello and Francesca Landini
Members of a rescue team work at the scene of a gas explosion in a residential
building, in Ravanusa, Italy, December 12, 2021. REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane
    RAVANUSA, Italy (Reuters) -Rescuers plan to work through the night in the Sicilian town of Ravanusa to try to find survivors of a suspected gas explosion that killed at least three people.
    Two people were found alive under the rubble and six were missing, authorities said on Sunday.
    “We have two great friends still under there, we are praying to God that they pull them out okay,” local resident Lillo Cavallaro told Reuters.
    In the explosion late on Saturday, four houses collapsed and another three were damaged, authorities said, adding the blast was likely triggered by a gas leak from the town’s pipes, although an investigation was underway to ascertain the cause.
    Gas grid operator Italgas expressed its sorrow and condolences to people in Ravanusa.    It said its emergency service had received no reports of gas leaks last week.
    “The Ravanusa distribution network was fully inspected in both 2020 and 2021,” said the company, adding that there were no construction sites on the section of pipeline affected.
    Local residents in the town of 11,000 people watched on Sunday as firefighters and civil-protection rescuers tried to locate survivors.
    “It is a small town and everyone knows each other,” said 69 year-old pensioner Arcangelo D’Angelo, adding he knew the missing people.    “What we are living through here is an unimaginable drama and we have no words.”
    Ravanusa is near the southwestern Sicilian city of Agrigento, which is famous for its Greek temples.
(Writing by Francesca Landini; Editing by Gareth Jones, Raissa Kasolowsky and Barbara Lewis)

12/12/2021 Nord Stream 2 Gas Unlikely To Flow If Russia Renews Ukraine Aggression, U.S. Says
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, wearing a face covering to combat the coronavirus spread, attends
a G7 foreign and development ministers session with guest countries and ASEAN nations on the
final day of the summit in Liverpool, Britain December 12, 2021. Olivier Douliery/Pool via REUTERS
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Gas is unlikely to flow through the Nord Stream 2 pipeline if Russia renews its aggression against Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday.
    “That pipeline … doesn’t have any gas flowing through it right now.    And, in fact, it’s a source of leverage on Russia because to the extent (Russian) President (Vladimir) Putin wants to see gas flowing through that pipeline – if and when it becomes operational – it’s very unlikely or hard to see that happening if Russia has renewed its aggression on Ukraine, if it takes renewed action,” Blinken told NBC’s “Meet the Press” program.
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Will Dunham)
[WELL IF THIS CONUMDRUM CONTINUES JOE BIDEN MAY BE REQUIRED TO OPEN THE U.S. OIL PIPELINES AND FRACKING SINCE WITHOUT RUSSIAN PIPELINE AS HE IS ALL READY ROBBED 50 MILLION BARRELS OR UNKNOWN IF MORE DURING 10 DAYS INSTEAD OF 3 DAYS WORTH FROM OUR NATIONAL OIL RESERVE BUT WE CANNOT LET HIM GO AFTER THE OTHER 550 MILLION BARRELS WHICH IS THERE FOR WARS AND OBAMA USED ALL OF IT DURING HIS TERM AND TRUMP HAD TO FILL IT UP AGAIN TO GO FIGHT ISIS AND TAKE THEM OUT SINCE OBAMA CAUSED THEM TO EXIST].

12/12/2021 China’s Xi And Russia’s Putin Dominate The G7 by William James, Alexander Ratz and Humeyra Pamuk
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss speaks during a G7 foreign and development ministers session with guest
countries and ASEAN nations in Liverpool, Britain December 12, 2021. Anthony Devlin/Pool via REUTERS
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) -While Russian President Vladimir Putin keeps the West guessing over Ukraine, it was the might of Chinese President Xi Jinping that garnered the long-term strategic focus when the diplomats from the Group of Seven richest democracies met this weekend.
    The United States and its other G7 allies are searching for a coherent response to Xi’s growing assertiveness after China’s spectacular economic and military rise over the past 40 years.
    Putin was the immediate tactical focus at talks in the English city of Liverpool between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his counterparts.    There was support for President Joe Biden’s attempt to support Ukraine and deter Putin with a clear warning of severe economic sanctions.
    “There’s a huge amount of convergence about what will unfortunately be necessary if Russia makes that very bad choice,” a senior U.S. State Department official said.
    The West is concerned that Russia might be preparing to attack Ukraine.    The Kremlin denies it plans to invade Ukraine but has demanded legally binding security guarantees that NATO will not expand further east.
    Concerns were raised about alleged Russian disinformation campaigns but there was no clear agreement on, for example, whether or not to slap penalties on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, according to sources with knowledge of the discussions.
    Russia was included in what became the G8 in 1997 but was suspended in 2014 after annexing Crimea from Ukraine.    Moscow says the G7 – the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – is making aggressive accusations.
    If Putin, 69, was the short-term concern, Xi’s China was the strategic puzzle on everyone’s lips.
    There were “very, very intense discussions especially on China,” said one official who attended the talks.
‘ANTI-CHINA CLUB’?
    The re-emergence of China as a leading global power is considered to be one of the most significant geopolitical events of recent times, alongside the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union that ended the Cold War.
    China in 1979 had an economy that was smaller than Italy’s, but after opening to foreign investment and introducing market reforms, it has become the world’s second-largest economy and is a global leader in a range of new technologies.
    Founded in 1975 as a forum for the West’s richest nations to discuss crises such as the OPEC oil embargo, the G7 scolded both China and Russia after a summit meeting in Cornwall in June.
    China, which has never been a G7 member, retorted in June following that meeting that “small” groups no longer ruled the world.
    “It’s tremendous that there’s such a focus on the Indo-Pacific here,” said a second State Department official.
    The first State Department official said that foreign ministers discussed the situation in Hong Kong, the Xinjiang region and the importance of peace in the Taiwan straits.
    The need to support Lithuania was also discussed.    China downgraded its diplomatic ties with the Baltic state and suspended consular services after the Taiwanese Representative Office in Lithuania opened on Nov. 18.
    “We have been clear at this meeting this weekend that we are concerned about the coercive economic policies of China,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told reporters.
    The G7 wants to act together over Beijing but without seeming to be an anti-China club.
    Western officials point out that the G7 combined still packs a powerful punch: it has about $40 trillion in economic clout and includes three of the world’s five official nuclear powers.
    There was serious discussion about G7 coordinated action to counter China over disinformation and to support countries snared in what critics cast as China’s global debt-trap web, officials said.
    Canada joined Australia, Britain and the United States in a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on Wednesday.    China has said https://www.reuters.com/lifestyle/sports/china-says-australia-britain-us-pay-price-wrong-acts-2021-12-09 those countries will pay a price for their snub.
    At the G7, Japan and Germany were still undecided and Italy was skeptical about the boycott.
    Blinken heads https://www.reuters.com/world/blinken-heads-southeast-asia-deepen-cooperation-china-pushback-2021-12-12 to Southeast Asia on Monday in an attempt to forge a united front against China in the Indo-Pacific.
(Writing by Guy FaulconbridgeEditing by Frances Kerry)

12/12/2021 G7 Is Concerned About China’s ‘Coercive’ Economic Policies – UK’s Truss
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss attends the G7 summit of foreign and development ministers
at the Museum of Liverpool, in Liverpool, Britain, December 12, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble/Pool
    LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) – The Group of Seven major industrialized countries are concerned about the “coercive” economic policies of China, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Sunday.
    “We have been clear at this meeting this weekend that we are concerned about the coercive economic policies of China,” Truss said at a G7 news conference in Liverpool.
    “And what we want to do is build the investment reach, the economic trade reach, of like-minded, freedom-loving democracies.”
(Reporting by William James; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Andy Bruce)

12/12/2021 White House Economists Support Build Back Better, Moderate Democrats Still Not Convinced by OAN Newsroom
Joe Biden speaks at a “Build Back Better” Clean Energy event. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
    Amidst the country’s worst inflation in almost four decades, Democrats have continued to push their multi-trillion-dollar Build Back Better bill and some economists have claimed more spending will not fuel more inflation.
    In a recent interview, White House Chief Economist Jared Bernstein said passing the social spending bill wouldn’t affect the current supply chain crisis and said gas prices have already dropped since August.    However, Americans have continued to suffer financially with Bernstein saying the bill will help in the long-term.
    “In the near term, Building Back Better does nothing to the current inflation, to the things that we’re talking about now, these month to month prints that we’re describing today.    What it does do is help cut costs for middle class and lower income families, cost of prescription drugs, cost in childcare, cost of education, cost in housing…some of the most challenging aspects in family budgets.    Building Back Better helps to ameliorate those costs.    It ameliorates near term costs, it lowers inflationary pressures over the longer term,” said Bernstein.
    Bernstein is confident the legislation will assist near term costs and that inflation levels won’t change, however, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who is actually in favor of the bill, has said the opposite.    During an interview on Friday, Summers said if he was a senator, he would vote in favor of the measure, but would scale back on certain things within the legislation, including reducing taxes for the rich.
    He further added it was wrong to make large and broad payments earlier in the year, which is why moderate Democrat senators like Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) are doubtful about passing the measure.    Both senators have faced pressure from their party, especially Manchin, who is reportedly set to meet with Biden to discuss the details of the bill this week.
    Although most of the pressure is on the West Virginia senator, Sinema’s vote is also vital for Democrats to be able to pass the measure in an evenly divided Senate.    However, the Arizona senator previously stated she wouldn’t support the legislation and would continue her efforts to renegotiate the bill in order to “vote for what’s right.”
    Meanwhile, the Biden administration said they’re on track to get the measure passed before Christmas, but without the support of Manchin and Sinema it could be delayed until 2022.

12/12/2021 President Trump: America Is Much Weaker Under Biden by OAN Newsroom
Donald Trump speaks during a retreat with Republican lawmakers at Camp David
in Thurmont, Maryland, January 6, 2018. (SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
    The 45th president said the U.S. is “much weaker now” under Joe Biden’s leadership.
    During an interview on Saturday, Trump said America has become much weaker and is no longer respected.    He echoed what used to be the strongest border in history has now turned to the worst as millions of people continue pouring into the U.S. amid Biden’s border policies.
    However, the 45th president said Biden’s botched Afghanistan withdrawal is what really weakened the country in the eyes of other nations.
    “Our military is great.    Our generals are great…except for our television generals, they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.    But I’ll tell you, I really believe that whole Afghanistan disaster was, nobody really believes it.    It’s so hard,” said Trump.    “Our country feels so low right now.    It’s never been so embarrassed.”
    Trump said he doesn’t think the country has ever been thought of worse than it is right now.    He criticized how Biden managed to weaken America’s relationship with other countries and world leaders amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
    Trump also turned to Iran, saying he would have been able to reach a nuclear deal within one week after the 2020 election.
    “We never had a problem with Ukraine in terms of a problem like you have where there very well could be an invasion.    That stuff was not on the table,” Trump stated.    “I got along very great with Putin and with President Xi and all of them.    I got along great with Kim Jong-un, but they understand they couldn’t do any of this stuff.    Now, they’re doing things that are unthinkable.”
    The 45th president also said he would not engage in a full boycott of the Beijing Olympics, adding it’s not only unfair to the athletes, but to many other countries as well.
    “Jimmy Carter tried a bigger version of that, and it was a big failure.    I think that there are many things we can do that are much more powerful than that.    That sends a double signal. It also sends a very negative vibe,” Trump said.
    Trump didn’t confirm whether he planned on running again in 2024, but a Harvard poll suggested Trump is leading potential GOP challengers in the year’s presidential primary by 58 percent.

12/12/2021 Brazen Thieves Snatch Millions In Broad Daylight by OAN Newsroom
General: Chicago Police. (Photo by KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
    Armed robbers smashed into an exotic car dealership before getting away with millions of dollars in watches.    Reports said two men broke into Gold Coast Exotic Motor Cars in Chicago in broad daylight on Saturday.
    Security footage showed one suspect standing guard at the Lamborghini dealership entrance while the other smashed open display cases with a hammer.    Employees chased after the suspects who reportedly got away with at least eight luxury watches worth at least $1 million.
    The robbery comes as Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) has been blaming retailers for the surge in smash-and-grab crimes, saying she’s disappointed that stores aren’t making safety a priority.
    “I’m disappointed that they’re not doing more to take safety and make it a priority,” said Lightfoot.    “We still have retailers that institute plans like security officers in their stores, making sure they got cameras that are actually operational.”
    For business owners like Joe Perillo, Mayor Lightfoot’s excuses aren’t helping address the real problem.

12/12/2021 Sen. Marshall: I Support The Vaccines, But Not The Mandates by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – FEBRUARY 23: Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) questions Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary
of Health and Human Services (HHS), at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor
and Pensions Committee on February 23, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Leigh Vogel-Pool/Getty Images)
    GOP Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to recognize natural immunity when combating the coronavirus pandemic.    Marshall voiced his support for COVID-19 booster shots, but said he believes not everyone needs one.
    “The messaging coming out of the White House has to acknowledge natural immunity and be honest with America,” stated Marshall.
    During an interview on Sunday, the GOP leader emphasized how the CDC reported 92 percent of Americans have some level of immunity to the virus and how it needs to be taken into account in regards to mandating vaccines.    Marshall, who is also a medical physician, clarified he isn’t against the vaccines.
    However, he emphasized being transparent and honest with people about their immunity and giving them options is more efficient, adding “mandates don’t work.”
    “If you’ve had the virus, that needs to be acknowledged and then a decision made with the patient and the doctor, deciding if they should get the booster or not.    Maybe check their level of antibodies.    Take into account what their healthcare situation is,” said Marshall.
    The Kansas senator reiterated boosters are effective and strongly encouraged senior citizens, diabetics and others with underlying health conditions to get the booster, but also acknowledged a federal mandate isn’t a good solution.
    “A diabetic…type II diabetic that’s had the virus, I would check their level of antibodies and probably encourage them to get the booster,” Marshall said.    “But a 19-year-old Navy SEAL who has a higher chance of getting pericarditis, a heart inflammation, than going to the hospital from the virus, I probably would have a different answer.    So, you cannot have a one-size-fits-all recommendation from the federal government.”
    Marshall’s response came after every Senate Republican voted to overturn Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for private businesses earlier this year, also garnering support from Senate Democrats Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).
    The GOP and several Democrats are concerned the mandate is only making things worse for the economy due to labor shortages adding to the current supply chain crisis.    Sen. Marshall has suggested the issue can be curbed better by handling vaccinations at a local level as opposed to federally.
    “I think being honest with America is the plan.    We know the mandates don’t work,” said Marshall.    “From a practical standpoint, mandates are going to cause an economic shutdown.    It’s going to exacerbate inflation.    It’s going to cause brownouts. It’s going to cause supply chain disruptions and national security issues.    Think about this: Half of the National Guard is not vaccinated yet.    What would be happening in Kentucky right now if we shut down half of the National Guard?    I support the vaccines, but not the mandates.”

12/12/2021 Gov. Newsom Uses Texas Abortion Ban As Model For Gun Control by OAN Newsroom
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) speaks as he stands alongside Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.)
(R) during a press conference about Covid-19 vaccinations and housing for homeless veterans on
November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
    On Friday, the Supreme Court allowed challenges to Texas’ abortion ban to move forward in the lower courts.    However, for the time being, the court also left Texas’ Heartbeat Act in place, which offers a $10,000 bounty for citizens who bring a successful lawsuit against anyone who “aides or abets” an abortion after six weeks.
    Newsom contended that if states can shield their laws from review by federal courts, then California would use that authority to ban semi-automatic weapons.    He said if Texas can empower people who have abortions then California would create a bill allowing private citizens to sue anyone who makes or sells assault weapons.
    As usual, Newsom gave no definition of an “assault weapon,” but said the legislation would create a so-called “right of action” allowing private citizens to seek injunctive relief and statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation plus attorney fees, against anyone who manufactures, distributes or sells an assault weapon, ghost gun kit or parts.
    Newsom’s statement comes on the heels of Chief Justice John Robert’s opinion on the Texas law.
    Joining the courts three liberal judges on Friday, Robert’s dissented saying that the Supreme Court risks losing its own authority if it allows states to circumvent the court.
    He said the quote, “clear purpose and actual effect” of the Texas law was to nullify the court’s previous rulings on abortion and undermine the Supreme Court’s fundamental role.    However, its constitutionally relegating the rights back to the states to determine.
    More than two dozen states are reportedly prepared to ban abortion if the Supreme Court case focusing on Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15-weeks undermines Roe v. Wade, and Newsom has made it clear that he’s more than willing to make California a sanctuary for those seeking.    This past week, the California Future of Abortion Council announced a plan with 45 recommendations for the state to consider if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
    The plan includes funding for lodging and travel for people from other states seeking abortion.    The head of the council, Newsom himself, said details of the plan would be revealed in his budget proposal in January.
    In the meantime, California is likely to see a surge in out-of-state patients seeking the procedure.    CEO of Planned Parenthood California, Gilda Gonzales, estimated the number of people traveling to the state would rise nearly 3,000 percent.
[IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THE DEMOCRAT PARTY IN CALIFORNIA AND THEIR POPULATION IS A CONTINOUS NATURE OF ANTI-CHRISTIAN VALUES AND EVENTUALLY THEY WILL HAVE TO ANSWER TO A HIGHER SOURCE THAN THE SUPREME COURT.].

12/12/2021 Ark. Gov. Hutchinson: Vaccine Mandates Are Unconstitutional by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Tuesday, June 22, 2021, file photo, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson testifies before a Senate
Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)
    Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) is ramping up pressure against Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates.    In an interview on Sunday, the governor said people must not be forced or intimidated into getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
    “These mandates are unconstitutional overreaches, and the courts are looking at it in that fashion,” said Hutchinson.
    He stressed Americans must be able to make health decisions for themselves.    Hutchinson also pointed out such mandates are causing economic hardship for millions of Americans.
    “But let’s let them make that decision.    And of course people can make decisions as to where they want to go, but to put the mandate in is unprecedented, it’s going to cause hardship and it’s going to cause division in our country as you can already see,” Hutchinson continued.    “But the mandates I think you’ll see are going to cause even greater hardship and the court’s going to take a look at it.”
    Hutchinson stressed vaccine mandates are divisive, politicized and not good for the country, adding such policies have no place in Arkansas.

12/13/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/13/2021 The Curious Case Of A Map And A Disappearing Taiwan Minister At U.S. Democracy Summit by Humeyra Pamuk, Michael Martina and David Brunnstrom
FILE PHOTO: Chinese and Taiwanese flags are displayed alongside a military airplane
in this illustration taken April 9, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A video feed of a Taiwanese minister was cut during U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy last week after a map in her slide presentation showed Taiwan in a different color to China, which claims the island as its own.
    Sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that Friday’s slide show by Taiwanese Digital Minister Audrey Tang caused consternation among U.S. officials after the map appeared in her video feed for about a minute.
    The sources, who did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter, said the video feed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nw2bfsjTXhA showing Tang was cut during a panel discussion and replaced with audio only – at the behest of the White House.
    The White House was concerned that differentiating Taiwan and China on a map in a U.S.-hosted conference – to which Taiwan had been invited in a show of support at a time when it is under intense pressure from Beijing – could be seen as being at odds with Washington’s “one-China” policy, which avoids taking a position as to whether Taiwan is part of China, the sources said.
    The State Department said “confusion” over screen-sharing resulted in Tang’s video feed being dropped, calling it “an honest mistake.”
    “We valued Minister Tang’s participation, which showcased Taiwan’s world-class expertise on issues of transparent governance, human rights, and countering disinformation,” a spokesperson said.
    Tang’s presentation included a color-coded map from South African NGO CIVICUS, ranking the world by openness on civil rights.
    Most of Asia was shown, with Taiwan colored green, making it the only regional entity portrayed as “open,” while all the others, including several U.S. allies and partners, were labeled as being “closed,” “repressed,” “obstructed” or “narrowed.”
    China, Laos, Vietnam and North Korea were colored red and labeled “closed.”
    When the moderator returned to Tang a few minutes later, there was no video of her, just audio, and a screenshot captioned: “Minister Audrey Tang Taiwan.”    An onscreen disclaimer later declared: “Any opinions expressed by individuals on this panel are those of the individual, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States government.”
    One source told Reuters the map generated an instant email flurry among U.S. officials and the White House National Security Council (NSC) angrily contacted the State Department, concerned it appeared to show Taiwan as a distinct country.
    Washington complained to Taiwan’s government, which in turn was angry that Tang’s video had been cut.
    The source called the U.S. move an over-reaction as the map was not inherently about national boundaries, but the NSC was also angry as the slide had not appeared in “dry-run” versions of the presentation before the summit, raising questions as to whether there was intentional messaging by Tang and Taiwan.
    “They choked,” the source said of the White House reaction.
    A second source directly involved in the summit said the video booth operator acted on White House instructions.    “It was clearly policy concerns,” the source said, adding: “This was completely an internal overreaction.”
    The sources saw the move during a panel on “countering digital authoritarianism” as at odds with the summit’s mission of bolstering democracy in the face of challenges from China and others.    They also said it could signal that the administration’s support for Taiwan was not as “rock solid” as it has repeatedly stated.
    An NSC spokesman said Reuters’ account of the incident was “inaccurate.”
    “At no time did the White House direct that Minister Tang’s video feed be cut,” the spokesman said in an email, also blaming it on confusion over screen-sharing and adding that the full video could be viewed on the summit web page.
    Asked whether she believed the U.S. government cut the video due to the slide, Tang told Reuters in an email: “No, I do not believe that this has anything to do with the CIVICUS map in my slides, or U.S. allies in Asia for that matter.”
    Taiwan’s foreign ministry blamed “technical problems.”
    It later said Tang’s presentation had been provided in advance and not shown at the last minute.
    “Taiwan and the United States have fully communicated on this technical issue, and the two sides have a solid mutual trust and a solid and friendly relationship,” it said.
    The issue comes at a highly sensitive time for U.S.-Taiwan relations, when some Biden administration critics and foreign policy experts are calling for more overt shows of support for the island, including an end to a long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity” as to whether the United States would defend it militarily.
    Taiwan experts said they did not see the color-coding of the map as a violation of unofficial U.S. guidelines, which bar use of overt symbols of sovereignty, such as Taiwan’s flag.
    “It was clearly not to distinguish sovereignty, but the degree of democratic expression,” said Douglas Paal, a former unofficial U.S. ambassador to Taiwan.
    Under U.S. government guidelines https://hiu.state.gov/cartographic_guidance_bulletins/37-Taiwan-2020.pdf as of 2020, U.S. government maps showing sovereignty by color require Taiwan to be shown with the same color as China, although exceptions can be made “when context requires that Taiwan be specifically singled out.”
    Bonnie Glaser of the German Marshall Fund of the United States said the guidelines would not apply to a non-U.S. government map, “but the U.S. would likely want to avoid appearing to endorse that Taiwan is not part of China.”
    “It seems to me that a decision was made at the outset that Taiwan could/should be included in the Summit for Democracy, but only in ways consistent with U.S. policy.”
(Additional reporting by Simon Lewis in Washington and Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)

12/13/2021 Joyful Moment Or Risky Move? Europe Divided Over Kids’ Vaccines by Emilio Parodi, Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Bart H. Meijer
FILE PHOTO: A girl waits at the side of her mother to be inoculated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
in a Children's vaccination center in Leipzig, Germany, December 10, 2021. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel
    MILAN/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – As Europe starts vaccinating younger children, countries are pursuing very different strategies in what will be a major test of parents’ willingness to get their kids inoculated.
    One region in Italy is sending in clowns and jugglers to clinics, France and Germany are targeting only the most vulnerable kids, while Denmark has been administering shots even before the specially-designed vials and syringes have arrived.
    “Vaccination must be a game, a joyful moment when children can feel at ease,” said Alessio D’Amato, health chief of the central Lazio region, in a video as he declared Dec. 15 “Vax Day” for children in the region.
    The European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved the use of Pfizer-BioNTech’s lower-dose vaccine on the 5-11 age group last month, following the go-ahead for older children in May.
    The first deliveries of the smaller paediatric vials will not arrive until Monday though. Timings for the rollout vary, but most countries are preparing to start getting shots into young arms a day or two after the first shipments arrive.
    Belgium may not start roll-out until early January while the national authorities prepare to issue guidance.
    Spain, which ranks among the world’s most-highly immunized countries with 90% of people aged 12 or over fully vaccinated, will start inoculating younger children on Dec. 15.
    Inoculating children and young people, who can unwittingly transmit COVID-19 to others at higher risk of serious illness, is considered a critical step towards taming the pandemic.    In Germany and the Netherlands, kids now account for the majority of cases.
    The roll-out comes as the European Union battles a major wave of infections, accounting for well over half of global infections and 50% of deaths globally.
    Some 27 million 5-11 year olds are eligible for the vaccine in the bloc of about 450 million.
PARENTS WORRY
    But a major hurdle will be winning over parents.
    In the Netherlands, 42% of almost 1,800 parents with kids in the 5-12 age range said they would not get their children inoculated and 12% said they would probably decline, according to a poll by Dutch current affairs television programme Een Vandaag.    Only 30% said they would get their kids vaccinated.
    A survey in Italy by polling firm Noto Sondaggi published on Dec. 5 found that almost two-thirds of those surveyed backed vaccinations, but the percentage dropped to 40% among parents with children aged 5-12 years old.
    A lack of data on the effects on children was given as the main reason for the hesitancy, while a third thought that children would be less likely to get infected and 9% worried about long-term side-effects.
    The U.S. roll-out has been sluggish since it started last month.    Of the 28 million eligible U.S. children in that age group, around 5 million have received at least one dose.
    Some parents have been concerned about reports of heart inflammation, a rare vaccine side effect seen in young men at higher rates than the rest of the population.
    Last week, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it had not found any reports of the condition among 5-11 year-old recipients of the vaccine.
    No serious safety concerns related to the vaccine have been identified in clinical trials, Pfizer and BioNTech have said.
    “The data show that it is safe, effective, and with results very similar to those for older children,” said Dr Luigi Greco, a paediatrician and Lombardy regional manager for training for the Italian family paediatricians’ union.
    Still, some governments are limiting the rollout until there is more data available.
    In France, only kids who are overweight or who have a serious health condition will be offered access to vaccination to start with.
    Germany’s vaccination advisory commission STIKO said it could not make a general recommendation for the vaccine due to limited data available.
    It recommended that children aged five to 11 with pre-existing conditions be given a shot.
CAPTAIN VACCINE
    Some health authorities aren’t even waiting for the specially-made kits to arrive, however, instead using vaccines in stock for adults but extracting only a third of the dose.
    When the Austrian capital Vienna last month opened the first 9,200 slots for inoculating kids, all the appointments were booked within days.
    Denmark followed suit on Nov. 28, saying there was no time to lose.    After less than two weeks, more than 49,000 children aged 6 to 11 had received their first shot, around 13% of that age group.
    The German state of Saxony, among the hardest hit by surging COVID-19 infections, started vaccinating at-risk children under 12 years of age.
    On Friday, Franz Knoppe travelled more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) to the Leipzig Heart Centre in the state’s most populous city from Chemnitz with his two children, aged seven and 11, for a kids’ vaccination drive.
    “We were so happy that vaccinations for children under the age of 12 are possible now,” he told Reuters at the hospital.
    Mathilda, who did not provide her last name, was at the hospital with her six-year old daughter Erna.
    “It’s important to vaccinate the children and to offer safety, just like for adults,” Mathilda said.
    Regional authorities in Italy, meanwhile, are coming up with inventive ways to entertain and engage kids while they get jabbed and making it easy for parents to arrange a slot.
    In Liguria, the authorities have created a cartoon superhero called Captain Vaccine who carries a doctor’s bag and dons a white coat with a big “V” printed on his chest.    He stars in a comic to be distributed in vaccination centres.
(Reporting by Josephine Mason in London, Emilio Parodi in Milan, Nikolaj Skydsgaard in Copenhagen, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam; Additional reporting by Matthias Rietschel in Leipzig, Philip Blenkinsop and Francesco Guarascio in Brussels, Maria Sheahan and Christina Amann in Berlin, Clara-Laeila Laudette in Madrid, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Michael Shields in Zurich; Editing by Alex Richardson)

12/13/2021 EU Studying Possible Russia Sanctions With Britain And U.S
FILE PHOTO: European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell Fontelles attends the G7 summit
of foreign and development ministers in Liverpool, Britain December 11, 2021. Christopher Furlong/Pool via REUTERS
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is discussing a possible new round of economic sanctions on Russia with the United States and Britain, but no decisions will be taken on Monday, the bloc’s top diplomat said.
    The European Union, along with the United States, imposed economic sanctions on Russia in July 2014, targeting its energy, banking and defence sectors, and is considering taking further measures if Russia tries to invade Ukraine.
    “We are in deterrent mode,” Josep Borrell told reporters as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers.
    “In any case we will send a clear signal that any aggression against Ukraine will have a high cost for Russia… We are studying together with the U.S. and the UK what (sanctions )could be, when and how, in a coordinated manner.”
    EU diplomats told Reuters the discussion was focused on a potential gradual increase of any sanctions, ranging from possible travel bans and asset freezes on powerful members of Russia’s political elite and to banning all financial and banking links with Russia.
    Sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany to prevent it becoming operational was also an option, as well as targeting more Russian state-owned defence and energy companies or cancelling natural gas contracts.
    But envoys said such steps were likely to be considered only if the Russian military attempted a full invasion of Ukraine.
    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has repeatedly warned Russia that the Western military alliance is standing by Ukraine amid a large and unusual concentration of Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders.
    Russia says it has no intention to invade Ukraine and accuses Kyiv of deploying half of the Ukrainian army to confront pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott, Editing by Gareth Jones and Timothy Heritage)

12/13/2021 U.S. Imposes Sweeping Human Rights Sanctions On China, Myanmar And North Korea by Daphne Psaledakis, David Brunnstrom and Simon Lewis
FILE PHOTO: Leaflets from the artificial intelligence (AI) startup SenseTime
are seen at its offices in Hong Kong, China August 18, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Friday imposed extensive human rights-related sanctions on dozens of people and entities tied to China, Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh, and added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime Group to an investment blacklist.
    Canada and the United Kingdom joined the United States in imposing sanctions related to human rights abuses in Myanmar, while Washington also imposed the first new sanctions on North Korea under President Joe Biden’s administration and targeted Myanmar military entities, among others, in action marking Human Rights Day.
    “Our actions today, particularly those in partnership with the United Kingdom and Canada, send a message that democracies around the world will act against those who abuse the power of the state to inflict suffering and repression,” Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo said in a statement.
    China’s embassy in Washington denounced the U.S. move as “serious interference in China’s internal affairs” and a “severe violation of basic norms governing international relations.”
    Embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said it would do “grave harm to China-U.S. relations” and urged Washington to rescind the decision.
    “If the U.S. acts recklessly, China will take effective measures to strike back resolutely,” said foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, at a daily briefing on Monday.
    The North Korean mission at the United Nations and the Washington embassies of Myanmar and Bangladesh did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
    The measures are the latest in a raft of sanctions timed to coincide with Biden’s two-day virtual Summit for Democracy, where he announced initiatives to bolster democracy around the world and support for pro-democracy legislation in the United States.
    Biden said on Friday that commitments made by some of the more than 100 world leaders at the summit would push back against rising autocracy around the world, fight corruption and promote human rights.
    “This is going to help seed fertile ground for democracy to bloom around the world,” he said in a speech closing the summit.
    The Treasury on Friday added Chinese artificial intelligence company SenseTime to a list of “Chinese military-industrial complex companies,” accusing it of having developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs.
    As a result, the company will fall under an investment ban for U.S. investors. SenseTime is close to selling 1.5 billion shares in an initial public offering (IPO).    After news of the Treasury restrictions earlier this week, the company began discussing the fate of the planned $767 million offering with Hong Kong’s stock exchange, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said.
    SenseTime said in a statement on Saturday that it “strongly opposed the designation and accusations that have been made in connection with it,” calling the accusations “unfounded
    “We have complied with the applicable laws and regulations in relation to our business in all material respects in the jurisdictions where we conduct business,” the company said.
    U.N. experts and rights groups estimate more than a million people, mainly Uyghurs and members of other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in China’s far-west region of Xinjiang.
    China denies abuses in Xinjiang, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.
MYANMAR, NORTH KOREA
    The Treasury said it was imposing sanctions on two Myanmar military entities and an organization that provides reserves for the military. The Directorate of Defense Industries, one of the entities targeted, makes weapons for the military and police that have been used in a brutal crackdown on opponents of the military’s Feb. 1 coup.
    The Treasury also targeted four regional chief ministers, including Myo Swe Win, who heads the junta’s administration in the Bago region where the Treasury said at least 82 people were killed in a single day in April.
    Canada imposed sanctions against four entities affiliated with the Myanmar military government, while the United Kingdom imposed fresh sanctions against the military.
    Myanmar was plunged into crisis when the military overthrew leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her government on Feb. 1, triggering daily protests in towns and cities and fighting in borderlands between the military and ethnic minority insurgents.
    Junta forces seeking to crush opposition have killed more than 1,300 people, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group.
    Campaign group Global Witness said the measures fell short of targeting Myanmar’s natural gas industry, a key source of foreign currency for the junta, and were “unlikely to materially impact the military junta’s bottom line.”
    The Treasury also blacklisted North Korea’s Central Public Prosecutors Office, along with the former minister of social security and recently assigned Minister of People’s Armed Forces Ri Yong Gil.    It also targeted a Russian university for facilitating the export of workers from North Korea.
    North Korea has long sought a lifting of punishing U.S. and international sanctions imposed over its weapons programs and has denounced U.S. criticism of its human rights record as evidence of a hostile policy against it.
    The Biden administration has repeatedly called on North Korea to engage in dialogue over its nuclear and missile programs, without success.
    The U.S. State Department on Friday also barred 12 people from traveling to the United States, including officials in China, Belarus and Sri Lanka.
(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Simon Lewis, David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick, Alexandra Alper, Tim Ahmann, David Ljunggren and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Chris Sanders, Alistair Bell and Jonathan Oatis)

12/13/2021 Economist: Federal Reserve Made A Mistake On Biden Inflation by OAN Newsroom
FILE – People transport a television to their car after shopping during a Black Friday sale at a
Best Buy store on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, in Overland Park, Kan. Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.8% in
November compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, energy, housing and other items left
Americans enduring their highest annual inflation rate since 1982. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
    Economist Mohamed El-Erian is criticizing the Federal Reserve for failing to tackle inflation. During an interview Sunday, he said the U.S. has not yet reached peak inflation and it could go higher from last month’s reading of 6.8 percent.
    Meanwhile, Fed chair Jerome Powell admitted Joe Biden’s inflation is persistent and not transitory as growth in prices hit its highest in 39-years.    El-Erian said the Fed’s credibility has suffered due to this inconsistency.
    “The Fed must quickly, starting this week, regain control of the inflation narrative and regain its own credibility,” he stressed.    “Otherwise, it will become a driver of higher inflation expectation that feed onto themselves.”
    El-Erian pointed out the Fed never expected inflation to approach 7 percent and he called it a “mischaracterization.”    The economist said the Central Bank must admit its mistake and put every effort into fighting inflation before it’s too late.
    Meanwhile, a former adviser to Barack Obama’s Treasury Department, Steve Rattner, said it will likely take several years to fix Biden’s inflation.
    “So it is going to be painful and it’s going to be painful for growth, it’s going to be painful for jobs and we do have an election coming next year which is gonna be complicated,” he stated in a recent interview.
    Rattner compared Biden’s economy to the inflationary wave of the late 1970s, saying back in the day it took a recession and several painful years to bring prices back to normal.    He added, it’s not yet clear whether Biden’s economy is going that direction.
    Rattner also criticized Biden’s latest spending bill while suggesting it may create more problems.
    “I wouldn’t call it a tragedy, but I would call it a significant disappointment to pass legislation like this that doesn’t really address the revenue side properly in so many ways,” he continued.    “We’re not raising individual tax rates, we’re not dealing with the estate tax problems.    There’s so much missing from it and that’s really quite unfortunate.”
    Rattner also said the Federal Reserve will have to raise borrowing costs next year, which may help address inflation but it poses risks to economic growth going forward.

12/13/2021 Rep. Torres: I’ve Received Threats For Supporting Israel by OAN Newsroom
Ritchie Torres speaks to the media in Bronx, N.Y. on Nov. 3, 2020. (Adam Hunger / AP Photo)
    Democrat congressman Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) slammed his own party for supporting the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement against Israel.
    While speaking to the Israeli-American Council over the weekend, the progressive described how struck he was with just how much hatred he has received for supporting Israel.    He said he’s received death threats and has been the target of a campaign by the Democratic Socialists of America to silence him politically.
    Rep. Torres described a bizarre encounter he had with a Queers for Palestine activist, pointing out that Palestine doesn’t tolerate homosexuality.
    “And so I asked her, she was LGBTQ, what is your opinion of Hamas?” explained the New York lawmaker.    “And she said I support Hamas because Hamas represents the liberation of the Palestinian people, and at that moment I found myself in a state of shock.    For a moment, I thought I was hallucinating.”
    Rep. Torres said he feels that many progressives, which he normally considers himself a part of, have blurred the lines too much between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.

12/13/2021 Iowa GOP Candidate Says CRT ‘Wants To Divide Us’ by OAN Newsroom
People talk before the start of a rally against “critical race theory” (CRT) being taught
in schools at the Loudoun County Government center in Leesburg, Virginia. (AP Photo)
    According to Nicole Hasso, a Republican congressional candidate from Iowa, critical race theory “wants to divide us.”    In a recent interview, the conservative candidate emphasized a big part of her upcoming campaign focuses on education.    She explained why she’s against teaching history with critical race theory.
    Hasso, who is a black woman from Chicago, said the theory labels students as either victims or oppressors.    She went on to call this notion a “Marxist theory.”
    “I just truly believe that it’s a total lie for us to teach our kids that their victims or oppressors,” she stated.    “I am a woman, a black woman, and I believe in justice.    I believe in truth.    I grew up in the south side of Chicago, so I’ve seen injustice all my life.    And so, I will not sit on the sidelines.     I don’t care what color you are.    Justice is key to our country.”
    Hasso further claimed the theory suggests the “American dream” only applies to those who are white, but she believes children need to learn they all have equal opportunities regardless of their race.

12/13/2021 U.K. Opposition Leader Decries COVID Hypocrisy Of Ruling Class by OAN Newsroom
Labour’s Keir Starmer gestures, during the Labour leadership hustings at the
SEC centre, in Glasgow, Scotland, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020 (Jane Barlow via AP)
    British opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer is denouncing the hypocrisy of government officials who had a party at 10 Downing Street while recommending COVID lockdowns for citizens.
    “Well, if the prime minister is going to allow breaking of the rules, parties, quizzes going on in     Downing Street when we’re being asked not to see our loved ones, well why should I follow the rules?” he asked.
    Starmer said Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is personally responsible for that scandal and he believes this is unacceptable.
    “You know, we can argue all morning about what the rules should be, whether this measure is necessary or that measure is necessary,” he explained.    “The critical question is: will the public follow the rules?    And so, of course there is the question of what the conditions should be, but there’s also this basic question of trust and that is broken with the prime minister and that is why he is unfit for office.”
    Johnson aide Allegra Stratton, who laughed when asked about that party, has been forced to resign while MP’s say they expect more resignations from the Johnson cabinet over the scandal.

12/13/2021 European Union Stands United On Russia Sanctions, Top Diplomat Says by Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold
FILE PHOTO: EU flags flutter in front of the European Commission
headquarters in Brussels, Belgium October 2, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union foreign ministers agreed on Monday that any Russia aggression against Ukraine would trigger economic sanctions on Moscow, trying to keep up the pressure after similar statements by NATO and the Group of Seven nations.
    “The European Union stands united in support of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a news conference after the meeting.
    “The ministers, all of them, have been very clear today that any aggression against Ukraine will come with political consequences and with a high economic cost for Russia.”
    The EU and the United States imposed economic sanctions on Russia in July 2014, targeting its energy, banking and defence sectors, and is considering further measures if Russia tries to invade Ukraine after a troop buildup on its borders.
    Borrell, who chaired the meeting, earlier said: “We are studying together with the U.S. and the UK what (sanctions) could be, when and how, in a coordinated manner.”
    Western leaders fear an attack on Ukraine by Russia, which annexed Crimea in 2014 and backs separatists who control parts of eastern Ukraine and are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
    Russia says it has no intention to invade Ukraine and accuses Kyiv of deploying half its army to confront the separatists.
    “We are convinced that Russia is actually preparing for all-out war against Ukraine.    It’s an unprecedented event probably since the Second World War,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.
    “If it’s an unprecedented attack … that means that the answer has to be unprecedented from the Western countries as well.”
    EU diplomats told Reuters discussions were focused on a potential gradual increase of any sanctions, ranging from possible travel bans and asset freezes on Russian politicians to banning financial and banking links with Russia.
    Sanctioning the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany to prevent it becoming operational was also an option, as well as targeting more Russian state-owned defence and energy companies or cancelling natural gas contracts.
    Envoys said such steps were likely to be considered only if the Russian military attempted a full invasion of Ukraine.
    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia that the Western military alliance is standing by Ukraine.    Foreign ministers of the Group of Seven rich democracies warned Russia on Sunday of “massive consequences” if it attacks Ukraine.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott and Sabine Siebold, Editing by Gareth Jones, Timothy Heritage and Alison Williams)

12/13/2021 Britain Reports First Death With Omicron Coronavirus Variant by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden
People queue for their booster jabs outside a coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccination centre in Manchester, Britain, December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble
    LONDON (Reuters) - At least one person has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron coronavirus variant, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday, the first publicly confirmed death globally from the swiftly spreading strain.
    Since the first Omicron cases were detected on Nov. 27 in Britain, Johnson has imposed tougher restrictions and on Sunday cautioned that the variant could overcome the immune defences of those inoculated with two shots of vaccines.
    Britain gave no details on the death other than the person had been diagnosed in hospital.    It was not clear if the patient had been vaccinated or had underlying health issues.
    Deaths from Omicron may have occurred in other countries but none has been publicly confirmed yet outside Britain.
    “Sadly at least one patient has now been confirmed to have died with Omicron,” Johnson told reporters at a vaccination centre in London.
    “So I think the idea that this is somehow a milder version of the virus – I think that’s something we need to set (to) one side – and just recognise the sheer pace at which it accelerates through the population.”
    Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the variant now accounted for 44% of infections in London and would be the dominant strain in the capital within 48 hours. New Omicron infections are estimated at 200,000 per day, Javid said.
    Before the death was announced, Britain said 10 people had been hospitalised with Omicron in various parts of England. Their ages ranged from 18 to 85 years and most had received two vaccination doses.
    The UK Health Security Agency said Omicron – first detected in South Africa, Botswana and Hong Kong in late November – can overcome the immunity of those who have had two shots of vaccines such as AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech.
    South Africa’s health ministry said it was unable to say with certainty if any of its COVID-19 deaths were caused by Omicron as deaths were not broken down by variant.
    The World Health Organization said on Sunday that while preliminary findings from South Africa suggest Omicron may be less severe than the Delta variant – currently dominant worldwide, and all cases reported in the Europe region have been mild or asymptomatic, it remains unclear to what extent Omicron may be inherently less virulent.
NEW LOCKDOWNS?
    Johnson, now grappling with a rebellion in his party over measures to curb Omicron and an outcry over staff parties at his Downing Street office during last year’s lockdowns, said people should rush to get booster vaccines to protect “our freedoms and our way of life.”
    After COVID-19 was first detected in China in late 2019, he faced criticism for initially resisting lockdown.
    He has also been criticised for overseeing mistakes in transferring patients into care homes, and for building a costly test-and-trace system that failed to stop a deadly second wave.
    Johnson has repeatedly said that while mistakes were made, the government was making decisions swiftly in the biggest public health crisis for generations and that it was quick to roll out vaccines.
    More than 146,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.
    Asked if he could rule out tougher restrictions in England before Christmas, Johnson avoided giving a direct answer.    His health minister, Javid, said he knew of no plans for additional measures.
    “There are no plans that I am aware of for any further restrictions,” Javid said.
VACCINE QUEUES
    Johnson faces growing anger from libertarians in his party over tougher curbs on daily life and sinking poll ratings.
    He has also faced criticism over his handling of a sleaze scandal, the awarding of lucrative COVID contracts, the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, and a claim that he intervened to ensure pets were evacuated from Kabul during the chaotic Western withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
    An Ipsos MORI poll for The London Evening Standard newspaper showed opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer’s ranking was 13 percentage points ahead of Johnson, the first time a Labour chief was viewed as a more capable prime minister since 2008.
    It also echoed other polls by showing Labour up three points on 39% ahead of Johnson’s Conservatives, who were down one point since the last survey in November on 35%.
    At St. Thomas’ Hospital Vaccination Centre in central London, a queue of hundreds of people snaked back onto Westminster Bridge.    Reuters journalists also documented queues across London and in Manchester, northern England.
    “The COVID vaccine booking service is currently facing extremely high demand so is operating a queuing system,” the National Health Service said on Twitter.    It suggested trying again later.
    Home testing kits were also unavailable to order.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Michael Holden and Hannah McKay; Editing by Angus MacSwan, Giles Elgood and Mark Heinrich)

12/13/2021 No Punishment For U.S. Troops Involved In Deadly Kabul Strike - Pentagon
FILE PHOTO: Ajmal Ahmad shows shoes of his nephews, victims of a U.S drone strike that
killed 10 civilians, including seven children, as he stands beside a damaged car at the
house's courtyard in Khwaja Bughra in Kabul, Afghanistan November 7, 2021. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon said on Monday that no U.S. military personnel would be held accountable for an August drone strike in Kabul that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.
    An earlier investigation by the Air Force inspector general said the Aug. 29 strike was caused by execution errors, interpreting information that supported certain viewpoints, and communication breakdowns.    The military previously called the strike a “tragic mistake.”
    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters that senior commanders had made a number of recommendations to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about the incident, none of which included any accountability measures for specific personnel.
    Austin accepted the recommendations, Kirby said.
    “I do not anticipate there being issues of personal accountability to be had,” he added.
    Kirby noted the high level of the threat facing U.S. forces following a deadly bombing outside the     Kabul airport that killed 13 troops, context that he said was important.
    “In this case, in the context of this particular strike … there was not a strong enough case to be made for personal accountability.”
    While the Pentagon has said it is working to offer condolence payments and relocation to the family of Afghans killed in the strike, it is still in talks with an aid organization that employed one of the victims.
(Reporting by Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney)
[DO ALL OF YOU REMEMBER WHEN TRUMP DID STRIKES AGAINST PUBLIC ENEMY ONE THE DEMOCRATS WENT BESERK OVER IT AS WELL AS NANCY PELOSI AND WE DO NOT HEAR A WORD ABOUT THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION WHO MADE THE ORDER TO STRIKE WITH GREAT FAILURE AND WE DO NOT HEAR THEM CONDEMNING WHOEVER FOR KILLING CIVILIANS INSTEAD OF THEIR SO-CALLED THREAT AND ANOTHER COVER UP WHICH WAS A TRAGIC MISTAKE BUT IT WAS REALLY A TOTAL IDIOT MISTAKE FROM AN ADMINISTATION THAT DOES NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING.].

12/13/2021 Canada Defense Leaders Apologize For Failure To Curb Sex Assaults by David Ljunggren
FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of National Defence Anita Anand speaks during Question Period in the House of
Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada November 30, 2021. REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo
    OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s defense minister and its top military officer on Monday offered a live televised apology for the government’s failure to do enough to curb what they admitted was systemic sexual misconduct and discrimination in the nation’s armed forces.
    Newly appointed Defence Minister Anita Anand said far too many people in uniform had suffered sexual assault or discrimination based on sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.
    “This misconduct and abuse of power led to a crisis of broken trust in the defense team,” added Anand, named by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to the post in October after complaints that her male predecessor Harjit Sajjan had not done enough to address the problem.
    General Wayne Eyre, chief of Canada’s defense staff, told the televised event that military leaders had betrayed the trust of service members.
    Several senior current and former commanders – including two chiefs of the defense staff – have been accused of sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior.
    Women soldiers have complained that the Liberal government of Trudeau, an avowed feminist, has not done enough to address an issue highlighted in a landmark 2015 report.
    “Today, as minister of national defense, I am apologizing to you on behalf of the government of Canada,” Anand said.    “We must acknowledge the pain and trauma that so many have endured because the very institution charged with protecting and defending our country has not always protected and defended its own members.”
    Almost 20,000 serving and retired members of the military, as well as civilian defense workers, have submitted claims alleging sexual misconduct as part of a class-action lawsuit against the government.
    In April, the government put newly promoted Lieutenant-General Jennie Carignan in charge of a team addressing systemic misconduct inside the armed forces.    It also asked former Supreme Court justice Louise Arbour to lead a probe into military harassment and sexual misconduct.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Will Dunham)

12/13/2021 Donald Trump: Democrats Will Use Liz Cheney And Then Destroy Her by OAN Newsroom
File – President Donald Trump speaks at a rally on September 25, 2021
in Perry, Georgia. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
    The 45th president has continued to criticize congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) for apparently betraying the Republican Party.    In a statement Monday, Donald Trump said she’s supporting far-left Democrats even though those Democrats did everything possible to destroy her father.
    Cheney’s father, Dick Cheney, faced fierce attacks by Democrats while serving as vice president to George W. Bush.    Trump added, Democrats will use Cheney to advance their own agenda and after that they will destroy her too.    He pointed out the congresswoman is now polling at an all-time low in her state of Wyoming.
    Meanwhile, Trump also took aim at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) while asserting the Kentucky lawmaker is giving Democrats “victory on everything.”
    In a separate statement Sunday, the 45th president blasted McConnell for allowing Democrats to raise the debt ceiling without reconciliation.    He said McConnell didn’t have the guts to play the debt ceiling card.    Trump warned Democrats will use the debt ceiling against Republicans at the first chance they get.
    The 45th president then stressed McConnell is hurting GOP senators, the party as a whole and should be voted out of party leadership.

12/13/2021 Canada Could See Surge In COVID-19 Cases As Omicron Spreads – Health Official by Ismail Shakil
FILE PHOTO: Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, attends a news conference as efforts continue to
help slow the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada March 23, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable
    (Reuters) – COVID-19 cases in Canada may rapidly rise in the coming days due to community spread of the Omicron variant, mirroring the situation in the country’s most populous province of Ontario, Canada’s top health official said on Monday.
    The surge of COVID-19 cases in Ontario, which accounts for almost 40% of Canada’s population of 39 million people, has prompted the provincial government to suspend easing of restrictions that were planned to be lifted ahead of the holiday season.
    The province reported 1,536 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, a more-than 70% jump from a week ago, including 80 cases of the Omicron variant, which has spread across over 60 countries since being first detected last month.
    The World Health Organization has said that the Omicron variant poses a “very high” global risk, with some evidence that it evades vaccine protection, but clinical data on its severity is limited.
    At least one patient has died in Britain after contracting Omicron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
    Ontario has directed government staff, who started gradually returning to their offices in November, to go back to working from home at least until early-February, CTV news reported Monday.
    Provincial capital Toronto, which employs about 25% of the city’s workforce, said its staff would continue to work remotely in accordance with new guidance from health officials.
    Toronto-based Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada’s third-largest lender, also decided to pause an earlier plan for employees working remotely to return to its head office starting on Jan. 17.
    In the Ontarian city of Kingston, to the east of Toronto, authorities imposed restrictions to combat Omicron infections.    In a temporary order on Monday, they said no more than five people could congregate, while restaurants must not allow indoor dining after 10 p.m.
    “So what we’re seeing in Ontario, I expect to be seen in other areas of the country, as has been seen in Europe and other areas of the world,” chief public health officer Theresa Tam told a news conference.
    “But for sure we are seeing community transmission, possibly in its early stages, but this can rapidly escalate in the days to come,” she added, after announcing recommendations to improve the Canadian public health system in a report to the parliament.
    Canada needs to hire more health workers, improve technology and governance, as well as provide more stable funding, she said in the report.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Aurora Ellis and Stephen Coates)

12/13/2021 Nuclear Deal With Iran Will Soon Be ’Empty Shell’ -European Diplomats by Francois Murphy
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/
    VIENNA (Reuters) - Major powers and Iran have yet to get down to business at talks on rescuing the 2015 nuclear deal, which will very soon become “an empty shell” without progress, senior British, French and German diplomats said on Monday.
    “As of this moment, we still have not been able to get down to real negotiations,” the diplomats from the so-called E3 said in a statement about the Vienna nuclear negotiations in which they are shuttling between U.S. and Iranian officials.
    “Time is running out.    Without swift progress, in light of Iran’s fast-forwarding of its nuclear programme, the JCPOA will very soon become an empty shell,” they added, referring to the deal, whose full name is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
    The statement offered a pessimistic assessment of efforts to revive the deal under which Iran had limited its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. economic sanctions.
    Republican then-President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord in 2018 and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its nuclear restrictions in 2019.
    His successor, Democrat Joe Biden, has sought a mutual return to compliance with the deal via indirect talks with Iran in which officials from other parties to the deal shuttle between them because Tehran refuses to meet directly with American officials.
    The other countries in the deal are Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
    Diplomats said they made significant progress in the six rounds of negotiations between April and June, when the talks took a five-month hiatus after the election of hard-line cleric Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president.
    During the seventh round, which began on Nov. 29, Iran abandoned any compromises it had made in the previous six, pocketed those made by others, and demanded more, a senior U.S. official has said.
    “We are losing precious time dealing with new Iranian positions inconsistent with the JCPoA or that go beyond it,” the E3 diplomats said in their statement.
    “This is frustrating because the outline of a comprehensive and fair agreement that removes all JCPoA-related sanctions, while addressing our non-proliferation concerns, is clearly visible – and has been so since last summer,” they added.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Writing by Francois Murphy and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mark Porter and Jonathan Oatis)

12/14/2021 Oil down $0.69 to $71.33, DOW down 320 to 35,652.

12/14/2021 U.S. Space Force Holds War Game To Test Satellite Network Under Attack by Mike Stone
FILE PHOTO: Kathleen Hicks (L), the first female U.S. deputy defense secretary, arrives for the first day
in her new role at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., February 9 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. (Reuters) – The United States is testing satellite resiliency to threats from China and Russia miles above the earth’s surface, just weeks after Russia shot down an aging communications satellite.
    The computer-aided simulations included potential shooting down of U.S. missile-tracking satellites, satellite jamming, and other electronic warfare “effects” that are possible tactics in space warfare.    Actual satellites are not used.
    During a visit to Schriever Space Force Base in Colorado, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks saw the ‘Space Flag’ simulated space training exercise hosted by U.S. forces.    It was the 13th such exercise, and the third to involve partners such as Britain, Canada and Australia.
    “It happens in rooms like that … people at a relatively junior level in many cases.
    Collaborating and thinking through challenges and trying to figure out concepts that seem to make sense and discarding ideas that go astray
,” Hicks told reporters en route to Hawaii.
    Pentagon leaders are touring U.S. bases this week while the Biden administration’s draft 2023 budget takes shape.    The Department of Defense hopes to move budget dollars toward a military that can deter China and Russia.
    After Russia successfully conducted an anti-satellite missile test last month, U.S. officials believe there is an increasing need to make the U.S. satellite network resilient to attack and to use opportunities like ‘Space Flag’ to train.
    Satellites are vital to military communications, global positioning navigation, and timing systems that are needed in the event of war.
    The 10-day-long space war game attempts to simulate the cutting edge of the U.S. capability in space. The training exercise involved an adversarial group working to simulate an aggressor nation with space capabilities like Russia or China.
    Russia is not the first country to conduct anti-satellite tests in space.    The United States performed the first in 1959, when satellites were rare and new.
    In Hawaii, Hicks will meet with Pacific military commanders and visit Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam where she will hear about water contamination issues.
(Reporting by Mike Stone at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Richard Pullin)

12/14/2021 Remainers Seek Voice In UK’s Post-Brexit Cacophony by Mark John and Andrew MacAskill
FILE PHOTO: Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray is asked by police officers to leave outside entrance
to Downing Street in London, Britain December 24, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – UK Remainers may take a crumb of comfort as Prime Minister Boris Johnson, elected on a promise to “Get Brexit Done,” sees his poll support dive after a string of scandals.
    But a year after Britain left the European Union, even the most ardent of pro-EU backers accept the divorce was so complete that it could take years to win back anything like the relationship with Europe they would find acceptable.
    “It’ll have to come in stages, over years,” said activist Steve Bray, whose one-man street protests outside the Houses of Parliament since the 2016 referendum provided the noisy backdrop to hundreds of TV broadcasts as the saga unfolded.
    Barely two years ago, British Remainers could plausibly claim to have created the most proactive pro-EU grassroots movement in Europe, mobilising hundreds of thousands to join street demos and millions more to sign anti-Brexit petitions.
    That was not enough to prevent a narrow 52-48% majority for Leave resulting in a “hard Brexit” that took Britain out of the customs union and single market.
    But while polls show Remainers still overwhelmingly reject the logic of Brexit, the post-mortem reckoning they expected to happen this year has been drowned out by other events – chiefly the pandemic – and     Britain’s turbulent domestic politics.
    UK exports took a clear hit from the removal of frictionless trade last year but that has been masked by the more dramatic impact of the pandemic.
    Even the initial bounce Brexit gave to public support for independence in heavily pro-Remain Scotland has faded as voters there started to question whether splitting from England would really mean a quick re-entry into the EU.
    Then there is the fracturing of the Remain front itself, a fragile construct plagued by factionalism.    The main opposition Labour Party – which Remainers always accused of offering lukewarm support – now says Brexit must be made to work.
    While Bray said he was “totally miffed by anyone saying make Brexit work” others simply shrug and say they too have moved on.
    “Labour has accepted Brexit and to be honest, I understand why.    It’s happened – face reality,” said Luke Sandford, 26, who in 2016 joined a London anti-Brexit group, attended marches and helped at Remain HQ before leaving for Sweden two years ago.
VOTE REFORM
    Indeed, surveys show the collapse in Johnson’s ratings owes less to Brexit than to doubts over his trustworthiness and leadership, including allegations his office partied during a 2020 lockdown when festivities were banned.
    While some analysts now bet his government cannot last until general elections slated for 2024, many on the Remain side caution against hopes this might trigger a sequence of events that could one day restore ties with Europe.
    Naomi Smith, head of the Best for Britain group which this year shifted from being an anti-Brexit campaign to an advocate for “internationalist values,” said the EU had made clear it would not rush to welcome Britain back.
    Moreover, she argued, Johnson’s nationalist vision had now secured an electoral advantage as its other backers – notably UKIP and its Brexit Party successor – have shown in the last two elections they will stand down in some seats to ensure victory for the Conservative candidate.
    “Meanwhile the left, the progressives, the Remainers, the internationalists – whatever word you want to use to describe the other end of the spectrum – are fragmented across three, four, sometimes more parties,” she said.
    That split is amplified by Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system, which in the 2019 election left the pro-EU Liberal Democrats and Greens with just 1.9% of parliament seats despite a combined 14.3% of the popular vote.
    Not surprisingly, both the Lib Dems and Greens have long sought electoral reform that would include some version of proportional representation and would want Labour to commit to that before they entered any voting pacts.
    While grassroots Labour supporters backed such a move at this year’s conference, a motion to that effect failed amid resistance from trade unions and after failing to win clear backing from the party leadership.
    Unless that changes before the next general election, Smith said Best for Britain would, as in 2019, offer supporters seat-level polling data so they can vote tactically for the candidate most likely to defeat the Conservative.
    Analysts say whether that has more success this time depends on variables ranging from the timing of the election, the status of the pandemic, the Conservative leadership question and, possibly, the public judgment of Brexit.
    Paula Surridge, deputy director at the UK in a Changing Europe think tank, said that while 10-15% of voters on either side of the Brexit divide still saw that as key to their political identity, for others it was now intermingled with traditional left-versus-right or social class considerations.
    “The electorate is much more fragmented than in these two Leave-Remain blocs,” she said.    “It has left a very volatile electorate that we don’t quite understand at the moment.”
(Editing by Giles Elgood)

12/14/2021 Omicron Poses ‘Very High’ Risk But Data On Severity Limited by Stephanie Nebehay and Ludwig Burger
FILE PHOTO: People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed World Health
Organization (WHO) logo, in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic
    GENEVA (Reuters) – The Omicron coronavirus variant, reported in more than 60 countries, poses a “very high” global risk, with some evidence that it evades vaccine protection but clinical data on its severity is limited, the World Health Organization says.
    Considerable uncertainties surround Omicron, first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, whose mutations may lead to higher transmissibility and more cases of COVID-19 disease, the WHO said in a technical brief issued on Sunday.
    “The overall risk related to the new variant of concern Omicron remains very high for a number of reasons,” it said, reiterating its first assessment of Nov. 29.
    At least one patient has died in the United Kingdom after contracting the Omicron variant, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday.
    The WHO said there were early signs that vaccinated and previously infected people would not build enough antibodies to ward off an infection from Omicron, resulting in high transmission rates and “severe consequences.”
    It is unclear whether Omicron is inherently more contagious than the globally dominant Delta variant, the WHO said.
    Corroborating the WHO’s assessment, University of Oxford researchers published a lab analysis on Monday that registered a substantial fall in neutralising antibodies against Omicron in people who had had two doses of COVID-19 vaccine.
    While the antibody defences from courses of AstraZeneca vaccine and BioNTech/Pfizer have been undermined, there is hope that T-cells, the second pillar of an immune response, can prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells.
THRESHOLD OF PROTECTION?
    A number of vaccine recipients did not produce any measurable neutralising antibodies against Omicron, the Oxford researchers said.    One of them, Matthew Snape, said it was not yet clear how pronounced the real-world decline in vaccine efficacy will be.
    “We don’t know how much neutralising antibody is enough.    We still haven’t really pinned down what is the threshold of protection,” Snape said, adding the best advice for the not-yet-vaccinated is to seek an initial course and for those vaccinated to get booster shots.
    The Oxford researchers said there was no evidence yet Omicron caused more severe disease.
    Their findings were broadly in line with another lab analysis last week on the blood of twice-vaccinated individuals conducted by researchers at the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.
    The analysis also registered a significant drop in antibodies reacting to Omicron, with many blood samples showing no response at all.
    Both the Innsbruck and the Oxford teams said they would widen their research to those who had three vaccine shots.
    Pfizer and BioNTech said last week that two shots of their vaccine may still protect against severe disease, because its mutations were unlikely to evade the T-cells’ response.
    They also said a third booster shot restored a level of antibody protection against Omicron comparable to that conferred by a two-shot regimen against the original virus identified in China.
    The WHO cited preliminary evidence that the number of people getting reinfected with the virus has increased in South Africa.
    While early findings suggest that Omicron may be less severe than the Delta variant, more data is needed to determine whether Omicron is inherently less dangerous, it said.,br>     “Even if the severity is potentially lower than for the Delta variant, it is expected that hospitalisations will increase as a result of increasing transmission.    More hospitalisations can put a burden on health systems and lead to more deaths,” it said.
    Further information was expected in coming weeks, it added, noting the time lag between infections and outcomes.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt, Editing by William Maclean, Robert Birsel and Barbara Lewis)

12/14/2021 Biden To Survey Tornado Damage In Ky. by OAN Newsroom
A car sits among the remains of a destroyed house after a tornado
in Dawson Springs, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (Michael Clubb/AP Photo)
    Joe Biden is set visit Kentucky to survey the damage from multiple tornadoes, which left at least 74 people dead and thousands without power.    He will be in the Bluegrass State on Wednesday and said his administration’s top priority is to make sure all survivors are pulled out of the rubble.
    Biden noted, he will also direct officials to install COVID-19 booster shot sites in tornado damaged areas.    He stressed federal officials will stay as long as it takes.
    “I have the entire federal team, not just the folks going in and making sure we’re not leaving people still breathing under debris; that’s the immediate, immediate, urgent, urgent thing,” he explained.    “And just to get food, water, to people who don’t have it…but number two, there’s a whole range of things including the virus.”
    Biden went on to say he will visit the Army installation at Fort Campbell for a briefing on the storm before continuing to Mayfield and Dawson Springs to inspect damage.
[WILL HE WALK THROUGH THE DAMAGE LIKE TRUMP WOULD HAVE DONE OR RIDE THROUGH IT IN A LIMOSINE LIKE HE DID ON THE BORDER.].

12/14/2021 Sen. Manchin Says Biden’s Spending Bill Relies On Budget Gimmicks by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., leaves his office after speaking with President Joe Biden about his
long-stalled domestic agenda, at the Capitol in Washington, Monday, Dec. 13, 2021. Manchin is a
pivotal Democratic vote on passage of the president’s top legislative priority. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is ramping up criticism of Joe Biden’s spending plans, saying America can not afford the so-called Build Back Better agenda.    While talking to reporters Monday, the lawmaker from West Virginia said it would not be fair to pass the bill now and then come back looking for money to fund its provisions.
    “My grandfather used to say unmanaged debt will make a coward out of the decisions you make and we’re now $29 trillion, we’ll be pushing on the $30 trillion…the Feds are going to make some decisions very soon,” Manchin stated.
    His remarks came after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found Biden’s proposed bill would cost $4.9 trillion, which is way higher than Democrats claims it would.    Manchin explained that this is not sustainable.
    “And we’ve seen figures pretty high on that, and then the CBO came back and confirmed that, the CBO’s figure was even a little bit higher, I think it’s very sobering,” Manchin continued.    “We’re gonna talk about exactly what happened on Friday with the CBO score and inflation reports and things of that sort…I’d like to hear the President’s first, where he’s at and what his concerns may be.”
    The Democrat senators stressed it’s not fair to pass a bill that relies on temporary spending and would require more-and-more money down the road to fund its costly initiatives.

12/14/2021 Herschel Walker: We’re Going To Lose The Freedom That We Have Fought And Died For by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2021, file photo Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaks during former President
Donald Trump’s Save America rally in Perry, Ga. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday, Oct. 27,
endorsed Herschel Walker’s Republican primary bid for a Senate seat in Georgia. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
    Georgia Senate candidate and former NFL star Herschel Walker said America’s biggest problem is the “wrong people are in office” in Washington, D.C. In a recent interview, he said it’s time to restore integrity in the nation’s capitol by electing responsible officials.
    The candidate added, inflation is out of control and America’s national security is at risk amid the loss of public faith in U.S. government.    He stressed the recent gubernatorial election in Virginia shows Americans are finally realizing the political system is broken and it needs to be fixed.
    “We’re going to lose the freedom that we have fought and died for, so many people have fought and died for those freedoms we have,” Walker stated.    “And right now, we’re going to lose it if we don’t put the right people in office.    Right now, we can’t have government control, government mandate, government this, government that — we can’t have that.    This is not the country that our people died for.”
    The Republican, who seeking to unseat Democrat Raphael Warnock in the 2022 midterms, said he’s ready to restore balance and do away with the stigma of race negatively polarizing everyone.
    “There shouldn’t be any color in right wrong; there shouldn’t be any color in law, Walker stated.
    “That’s the reason I said I want to go to Washington because I want to remove that, I want to remove this…whatever color you are there’s no color in what’s right and what’s wrong.”
    The Republican also weighed in on Democrat Stacey Abrams second bid for governor of Georgia, while questioning whether she is an ideal candidate that will portray the state faithfully.
    “Stacey Abrams had done so much, so many things in the state of Georgia, but there’s some celebrities coming in,” he noted.    “But do she represent what Georgia values are?
    Walker concluded, the American people must stand up to government overreach and the abuse of power and say enough is enough.

12/14/2021 Facebook Executive Says Society To Blame For Misinformation, Not Social Media by OAN Newsroom
Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth is pictured. (CHRISTIAN CHARISIUS/GETTY IMAGES)
    A Facebook executive blamed society and not social media for political and COVID-19 misinformation.    In an interview on Sunday, Andrew Bosworth deflected the blame for the spread of misinformation on social media while asserting people are exposed to misinformation because they want to be.
    When asked if vaccine hesitancy would be the same with or without social media, Bosworth said people are going to believe whatever they want regardless of what they are seeing on social media.
    ”The individual humans are the ones who choose to believe or not believe a thing, they’re the ones who choose to share or not share something,” claimed the Facebook executive.    “…Our ability to know what is misinformation is in itself in question, I think is reasonably so.    I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that we possess enough fundamental rightness, even in our most scientific centers of study, to exercise that kind of power on a citizen, another human being.”
    His remarks came after the Biden administration blamed Facebook in July for the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.

12/14/2021 U.S., Palestinian Officials Hold First Economic Dialogue In Five Years - State Department
FILE PHOTO: Activists wave a Palestinian flag outside the White House during a memorial for Palestinians who have died
during the past year of Israeli-Palestinian violence, in Washington, U.S., June 5, 2021. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. and Palestinian officials met virtually on Tuesday to renew the U.S.-Palestinian Economic Dialogue, the first such meeting in five years, the U.S. State Department said.
    They discussed infrastructure development, renewable energy and environmental initiatives, connecting Palestinian and American businesses, addressing obstacles to Palestinian economic development and other topics, it said.
(Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Chris Reese)

12/14/2021 Politician Says Germany Should Ban Telegram Unless It Tackles Extremist Content by Thomas Escritt
A 3D printed Telegram logo and keyboard buttons are placed on a computer motherboard
in this illustration taken January 21, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany should order the messaging programme Telegram removed from Apple’s and Google’s app stores if it continues to ignore requests to help track down extremist content, a senior German official said on Tuesday.
    Telegram has been blamed in Germany for fueling an increasingly virulent subculture of anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists who exchange news about supposed dangers and arrange protests that have spilled over into violence.
    The app, which says it does not bow to “government censorship,” has become increasingly popular with activists and protesters, especially as platforms like Facebook become more responsive to government pressure to crack down on those spreading lies, threats or conspiracy theories.
    Telegram did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
    Last month, a group of protesters held a torch-lit gathering outside the home of the regional interior minister of Saxony, in what was widely seen as an implicit threat of violence against her.
    “What’s happening in Telegram groups and channels violates the compliance rules of Apple and Google who offer it in their stores,” Boris Pistorius, regional interior minister of Lower Saxony, told Der Spiegel.
    “We must urgently talk to them and persuade them to stop distributing Telegram,” he added.
    Germany has some of the world’s strictest compliance rules for social media networks, obliging them to respond rapidly to reports of extremist content.
    But Telegram, which according to its own website was founded in St. Petersburg and is now based in     Dubai, has not responded to requests for assistance from Germany’s justice ministry for help in tracking authors of extremist content.
    The app, which presents itself as a libertarian alternative to other messengers and social networks, has also acquired a devoted following among opposition activists in authoritarian countries such as Belarus and Russia, who value its seeming ability to sidestep state censorship.
(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

12/14/2021 Haiti Prime Minister To Meet Victims Of Fuel Truck Blast That Killed At Least 50 by Gessika Thomas
Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrives at the airport to travel to Cap Haitien after a fuel truck
exploded killing dozens of people, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti December 14, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol
    CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (Reuters) - Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday traveled to the country’s second-largest city Cap-Haitien to meet with victims of a fuel truck explosion that killed at least 50 people during the night.
    The truck flipped over as it was seeking to avoid running over a motorcycle, an official told local media, adding that residents initially scrambled to collect fuel from the accident – likely in response to a spate of severe fuel shortages.
    “I am about to go, in Cap-Haitien, to the bedside of our compatriots who were victims of last night’s tragedy,” Henry wrote on Twitter.    “I will take this opportunity to express my solidarity with the grieving families.”
    He said two campaign hospitals were being set up to attend to the injured, and that three days of mourning had been declared.
    United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said it was working with the government to send six emergency medical kits to Cap-Haitien’s two hospitals to help with the treatment of burns.
    “The situation is critical because there are already about 50 dead bodies,” Cap-Haitien Mayor Yvrose Pierre told Reuters.    “We need human resources, and also material resources, namely serum, gauze, and anything that can be used in case of serious burns.”
    Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste quoted Patrick Almonor of the Cap-Haitien municipal commission saying “Local residents were flocking to the truck when the explosion occurred.”
    A coalition of gangs blockaded fuel terminals for nearly a month starting in October, leading to widespread shortages of gasoline and diesel that forced many businesses to close.    Fuel deliveries resumed last month.
    As rescue workers cleaned up in the aftermath of the explosion, bodies covered in white sheets lay on the ground before they were loaded on to trucks to be taken away.
    The blast also damaged the fronts of houses and shops in the street and charred motorbikes and cars.
    Gangs have grown more powerful https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/gangs-expand-territory-haiti-government-struggles-stay-control-2021-10-17 since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a political vacuum and allowed criminal groups to expand their territory.
(Reporting by Gessika Thomas in Port-au-Prince and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas Editing by Daniel Flynn, Angus MacSwan and Rosalba O’Brien)

12/14/2021 Conservative Revolt Over COVID Curbs Deals Stinging Blow To UK PM Johnson by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Stow Health vaccination centre
in Westminster, London, Britain December 13, 2021. Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) -Almost 100 Conservative lawmakers voted on Tuesday against new coronavirus restrictions, dealing a major blow to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authority and raising questions about his leadership.
    After a day of frenzied failed lobbying, Johnson was handed the biggest rebellion against his government so far by his party over measures he said were necessary to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant.
    The new rules, which included ordering people to wear masks in public places and use COVID-19 passes for some venues, passed thanks largely to the main opposition Labour Party.
    But the revolt piles pressure on Johnson, already under fire over scandals such as reported parties in his Downing Street office last year – when Britain was in a COVID-19 lockdown – and a pricey refurbishment of his apartment.
    Rebelling lawmakers said the vote was a warning shot that he needed to change how the government was operating, or he would face a leadership challenge.
    Some 99 Conservatives opposed plans for the COVID passes, a much higher number of rebels than was expected.    Originally the official figure was put at 98, but the number was later revised upward.
    Among those voting against the government was lawmaker Louie French who was only elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) at the start of the month, while media reported that former Prime Minister Theresa May was among 17 others who abstained.
    Many Conservatives say some of the new measures are draconian, with several questioning the introduction of a certificate of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter some venues, such as nightclubs.
    Others used the votes as an opportunity to vent their anger at Johnson, believing the man who helped the Conservatives win a large majority at a 2019 election is squandering the party’s successes by self-inflicted missteps and gaffes.
    But despite the rumblings of discontent, Conservative Party insiders say there is not enough of a groundswell against Johnson to dislodge him now, although they hope the vote will be a “wake-up call” for the prime minister to reset his agenda.
    “He’s got to now be in some danger,” Conservative lawmaker Geoffrey Clifton-Brown told Sky News.    “And he’s got to realise that because if he doesn’t realise that, then he will be in much bigger danger … I’m still backing him.    But he’s got to change.”
‘HUGE SPIKE’
    Britain reported 59,610 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the highest figure since early January and the fifth highest recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.
    More than 5,300 cases of Omicron have been recorded, with 10 people hospitalised. One person has died https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/britain-says-omicron-spreading-phenomenal-rate-2021-12-13 after contracting the variant, which is set to become the dominant strain in the capital London.
    Before the vote, the government had mounted a campaign to keep lawmakers in check, with Johnson warning his ministers there was a “huge spike” in Omicron cases heading Britain’s way, and that the measures were needed to protect people.
    Ministers tried to win over the Conservative rebels, noting that people who have not had two vaccinations can instead offer proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain access to indoor venues of more than 500 people.
    Health minister Sajid Javid told lawmakers he firmly believed in “individual liberty” but that “the responsible decision to take is…to move to plan B in England.”
    But their arguments fell on deaf ears.    In addition to the 99 Conservatives who voted against the passes, 40 voted against expanding the requirement for mask wearing.
    “I am sure that the prime minister will understand the strength of feeling within the party about the constraint of liberties,” Conservative former minister David Jones told Reuters.    “He is a libertarian himself and     I have no doubt that he will listen to the message from his party.”
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan, Additional reporting by Michael HoldenEditing by William Maclean, Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)

12/14/2021 NATO Rejects Russian Accusations On Missile Deployment
A NATO flag is seen at the Alliance headquarters ahead of a NATO Defence Ministers
meeting, in Brussels, Belgium, October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/Files
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO is not planning to deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe, the Western military alliance said on Tuesday, rejecting Russian accusations and a call by Moscow for a moratorium on this kind of weapons in Europe.
    NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels that Russia itself had violated the meanwhile demised INF treaty for years by deploying new intermediate range nuclear capable missiles in Europe, adding that NATO did not aim to mirror Moscow’s behaviour.
    “The proposal from Russia on a moratorium is not credible because we had a ban and they violated that ban,” Stoltenberg said.
    “So unless Russia in a verifiable way destroys all its SSC-8 missiles, which are those missiles that violated the INF treaty, then it is not credible when they now propose a ban on something they actually have already started to deploy.”
    Stoltenberg was referring to the 1987 INF treaty between then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan that banned intermediate-range nuclear weapons – those with a range of 500 to 5,500 km (310 to 3,400 miles) – in Europe.
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold)

12/14/2021 UK To Remove All Countries From COVID Travel Red List On Wednesday
FILE PHOTO: Digital display boards show cancelled flights to London - Heathrow at O.R. Tambo International
Airport in Johannesburg, South Africa, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/ Sumaya Hisham/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) - The British government will remove all 11 countries from its COVID-19 travel red list from Wednesday because there is now community transmission of Omicron in Britain, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told parliament.
    The new Omicron variant was first detected in southern Africa and Hong Kong.    The British government added 11 African countries to its red list from late November, meaning that only UK citizens or residents arriving from those nations were allowed in and then had to quarantine in a hotel.
    “Now that there is community transmission of Omicron in the UK and Omicron has spread so widely across the world, the travel red list is now less effective in slowing the incursion of Omicron from abroad,” Javid said.
    “We will be removing all 11 countries from the travel red list effective from 4 a.m. tomorrow morning.”
    The 11 countries which will be removed are Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
    Britain has registered more than 4,700 cases of Omicron, with 10 people hospitalised, and one person has died after contracting the variant. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday Britain was facing a “huge spike” in Omicron cases.
CANCELLATIONS
    Travel companies had urged the government to reduce restrictions as soon as possible. London’s Heathrow Airport said last week it was seeing high levels of business travellers cancelling due to concerns over restrictions.
    Britain will still require all inbound travellers to take either a PCR or a rapid lateral flow test a maximum of 48 hours before departure, a measure Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said would be reviewed in the first week of January.
    Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of travel association ABTA, welcomed the removal of the red list but said testing should also have been scrapped.
    “With the testing measures now extending over the Christmas and New Year period, and the industry quickly approaching peak-booking season for summer 2022, travel businesses are facing a very serious situation,” he said in a statement.
    “Consumer confidence in travel has suffered a significant setback, which will outlast these restrictions.”
    Arrivals from the red list countries have had to pay thousands of pounds to quarantine in government-approved hotels.    Many have complained on social media about the costs and conditions of their stay.
    A lack of available rooms also left some people trapped abroad waiting for space to become available in the hotels.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan and Elizabeth Piper; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Paul Sandle and Gareth Jones)

12/14/2021 Nearing ‘End Of The Road’ To Save Iran Nuclear Deal - France
FILE PHOTO: The Iranian flag waves in front of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
headquarters in Vienna, Austria May 23, 2021. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
    UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The door to resuscitating the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is open for now but “we are rapidly reaching the end of the road” to revive a pact that is being gutted by Iran’s nuclear advances, France’s ambassador to the United Nations said on Tuesday.
    “We are nearing the point where Iran’s escalation of its nuclear program will have completely hollowed out the JCPOA,” Nicolas de Riviere told reporters, referring to Iran’s 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal with six powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.
    “Iran has to choose between the collapse of the JCPOA and a fair and comprehensive deal…Iran’s continued nuclear escalation means that we are rapidly reaching the end of the road,” he said, flanked by the U.N. ambassadors from Britain and Germany, a group known as the E3.
    He added: “Iran’s nuclear program has never been more advanced than it is today.    This nuclear escalation is undermining international peace and security and the global non-proliferation system.”
    Under the 2015 accord, Iran limited its nuclear program – which the West feared would be used to develop weapons, something Tehran denies – in return for relief from U.S., European Union and U.N. sanctions.
    In 2018, then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal and reimposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to begin violating its nuclear restrictions about a year later.
    Indirect talks to salvage the deal are now underway in Vienna between Iran and the United States in which officials from the other nations shuttle between the two sides because Tehran rejects direct contact with U.S. officials.
(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Writing by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

12/14/2021 Lab Tests: Eli Lilly, Regeneron Antibody Therapies Lose Out Against Omicron by Ludwig Burger
FILE PHOTO: An Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical manufacturing plant is pictured
at 50 ImClone Drive in Branchburg, New Jersey, March 5, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar
    FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German researchers have found that COVID-19 therapies developed by Eli Lilly and Regeneron lose most of their effectiveness when exposed in laboratory tests to the Omicron variant of coronavirus, likely reducing treatment options if the new variant prevails.
    Two groups of Germany based scientists separately found that protection from GlaxoSmithKline and Vir’s antibody cocktail Xevudy held up when exposed to Omicron in lab experiments, but that this was not the case for Lilly’s antibodies, bamlanivimab and etesevimab, and the antibodies in Regeneron’s Ronapreve drug.
    “The neutralizing activity of several monoclonal antibodies is strongly affected against the Omicron variant and will limit treatment options for Omicron-induced COVID-19,” one of the groups, comprising Cologne and Berlin-based scientists, said in their paper that was posted online on Tuesday.
    The other group of researchers, most of whom were Goettingen-based, said they found the Eli Lilly antibody cocktail failed to inhibit Omicron viruses from entering human cells, while Regeneron’s Ronapreve was “inefficient” in inhibiting Omicron.    GKS’s sotrovimab, however, remained active against the variant. The findings have not yet been peer-reviewed for publication in a medical journal.
LESS EFFECTIVE
    A number of laboratory studies have previously shown a reduced ability of approved vaccines to neutralise the new variant, but the picture on treatments had been less clear.
    According to a real-world analysis in South Africa on Tuesday, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has been less effective at keeping infected people out of hospital since the Omicron variant emerged last month.
    Asked about the antibody findings, Ely Lilly said it expected the efficacy of its antibody combination to be lower.
    “Due to the substitutions contained within the spike protein of the Omicron variant of concern, it appears that bamlanivimab with etesevimab is likely to experience reduced neutralization activity,” said a spokesperson.
    The company was conducting its own Omicron tests, also including its experimental antibody bebtelovimab, and would report the initial findings as soon as possible.
    Regeneron, which last month cited tests suggesting its drug would have reduced efficacy against the Omicron variant, said on Tuesday that it expected to share more information from further analyses soon.
    It added it was working on a number of new antibody drugs with potential to fight Omicron.
MONOCLONAL ANTIBODIES
    Last week, in a similar lab analysis, a group of Germany-based researchers including virologist Sandra Ciesek of the University Hospital Frankfurt came to a similar conclusion on the Regeneron drug, saying Omicron was resistant against it.
    GSK and Vir have said lab tests on viruses that carry all of Omicron’s mutations indicate that their antibody drug would remain effective against the new variant.
    The class of COVID-19 drugs known as monoclonal antibodies – bio-engineered versions of virus-fighting natural proteins – is designed to latch on to the spike protein on the surface of the coronavirus, but Omicron has been found to have an unusually high number of mutations on the spike.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Gareth Jones and Alex Richardson)

12/14/2021 Kamala Harris Announces ‘Root Causes’ Plan To Curb Migration by OAN Newsroom
Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the Freedman Bank Forum at the Treasury
Department in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    Vice President Kamala Harris unveiled the White House’s plan to solve Joe Biden’s border crisis.    Rather than investing in border security, Harris intends to make Central America great again.    The supposed “border czar” announced the approach would be a joint venture between the public and private sectors.
    “The United States has an important role to play in addressing the root causes of migration,” Harris stated.    “At the same time, our government cannot do its works alone.    And again, that is where you have all stepped up in your roles as leaders nationally and internationally to help us get the job done.”
    The administration’s “call to action” plan will be performed in cooperation with seven companies, including PepsiCo and PriceSmart.    The $1.2 billion venture is focused on pushing Central American countries to conform to international norms.    Each company involved will fund various points of interest throughout the region from infrastructure to gender equity.
FILE – A Haitian migrant family member reaches out for help while emerging from a rocky canal
adjacent to a gap in the U.S. border wall in Yuma, Ariz. (AP Photo/Eugene Garcia, File)
    Harris also stressed the importance of rule of law even though she supports the Minnesota Freedom Fund, which bailed out criminals connected to the George Floyd riots.
    “To promoting good governance and rule of law,” said the Vice President.    “Many of us have talked about the significance if your approach, which is to adhere to international norms and standards on issues like corruption and what we can do to create positive incentives for and adherence to rule of law.”
    Harris noted that targeting roots causes for migration would curb the influx of migrants from countries such as El Salvador and Honduras.    The former senator went on to tout the widespread popularity of the plan throughout Central America, claiming the people of the region are its true architects.
    “They are aware of the root causes strategy and they see themselves in it,” she stated, “They see their voices of leadership in it and we are counting on them to lead.”
    The “call to action” has been Harris’ first act as “border czar” since her visit to Guatemala City back in June.    According to reports, illegal immigration at the southern border has increased over 50 percent since the Biden-Harris administration took office.
[LOTS OF TALK BUT NO ACTION TO GO TO THE BORDER TO SOLVE THE CRISIS FROM THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION.].

12/14/2021 Britain To Push Back Against China And Russia In Cyberspace by Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: Hands are seen on a keyboard in front of a displayed cyber code
in this picture illustration taken October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illutration
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain said it would push back at what it casts as attempts by Russia and China to establish national sovereignty over the communications arteries and emerging technologies which will shape the 21st Century.
    Britain depicts China and Russia as strategic rivals whose rush for control of some major technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and microprocessor design could threaten both Western security and a relatively free internet.
    “China and Russia continue to advocate for greater national sovereignty over cyberspace as the answer to security challenges,” according to Britain’s new National Cyber Strategy to be published on Wednesday.
    “Debates over the rules governing cyberspace will increasingly become a site of systemic competition between great powers, with a clash of values,” Britain said.
    That competition, Britain said, will increasingly put pressure on a free internet as big powers and major technology companies promote competing visions of technical standards and internet governance.
    The United States remains the world’s top cyber power, followed by China, the United Kingdom, Russia and the Netherlands, according to Harvard University’s Belfer Center Cyber 2020 Power Index.
    China and Russia have both repeatedly denied Western allegations that either was behind cyber attacks. Both Moscow and Beijing have said the West is in no position to lecture them on hacking or on the technologies they choose to develop.
    Britain said 6G, artificial intelligence, microprocessors, and a range of quantum technologies including quantum computing, quantum sensing and post-quantum cryptography were priorities for development.
    Protecting data would become more crucial, Britain said.
    “This infrastructure is a vital national asset,” Britain said.    “We will take a greater role in ensuring that data is sufficiently protected when processed, in transit, or stored at scale, for example in external data centres.”
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden)

12/15/2021 Oil down $0.66 to $70.47, DOW down 107 to 35,544.

12/15/2021 Pfizer Set To Oust AstraZeneca As Top Supplier Of COVID-19 Shots To Poor Nations by Francesco Guarascio
FILE PHOTO: Vials with Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine labels are seen
in this illustration picture taken March 19, 2021. REUTERS/ REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Pfizer and BioNtech are set to displace AstraZeneca as the main suppliers of COVID-19 vaccines to the global COVAX programme at the start of 2022, a shift that shows the increasing importance of their shot for poorer states.
    The expected change comes with headaches for receiving countries that lack sufficient cold storage capacity to handle the Pfizer vaccine, and amid risks of a shortage of syringes needed to administer that shot.
    AstraZeneca is currently the most distributed vaccine by COVAX, according to data from Gavi, the vaccine alliance that co-manages the programme with the World Health Organization (WHO).
    The programme has so far delivered more than 600 million shots to nearly 150 countries, of which more than 220 million are AstraZeneca’s and about 160 million Pfizer’s.
    But in the first quarter of next year Pfizer is set to take over, according to Gavi and WHO figures on doses assigned by the COVAX programme for future supplies.
    By the end of March, another 150 million Pfizer doses are to be distributed by COVAX, a WHO document shows.
    A spokesperson for Gavi confirmed that Pfizer is far ahead in terms of “allocated” jabs, with about 470 million doses delivered or readied for delivery, against 350 million from AstraZeneca.
    Pfizer is the first provider of COVID-19 vaccines to the European Union, the United States and Japan.
    It has bilateral agreements for more than 6 billion doses, making it by far the largest supplier of COVID-19 vaccines, according to data from UNICEF, a U.N. agency.
    But AstraZeneca has been seen as a crucial supplier to less developed countries, because its shot is cheaper and easier to deliver.
    COVAX bet heavily on AstraZeneca at the beginning of the pandemic, but supply problems and export restrictions from top producer India gradually reduced its reliance on the Anglo-Swedish shot.
    As the programme faced problems in securing doses directly from vaccine makers amid a global scramble for shots, donations from rich nations became more important, turning Pfizer into the main supplier to COVAX.    The United States is donating mostly Pfizer shots to the programme.
COLD CHAIN AND SYRINGES
    The change forced Gavi to rush to invest more in cold chain capacity in receiving countries that do not have enough refrigerators and cold transport equipment to handle the Pfizer shot, which requires lower storage temperatures than the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    The organization warned about insufficient cold chain capacity in some countries, according to an internal report submitted to Gavi’s board at the beginning of December and seen by Reuters.
    The problem is compounded by a risk of shortages of special syringes needed to administer the Pfizer vaccine, Gavi warned in the document.
    The Pfizer jab is “the hardest to deliver given ultra-cold chain and special syringe requirements,” Gavi says in its internal document.
    It is also “the hardest to plan for as these (donated vaccines) often come with earmarking and little notice or in a staggered manner and in small volumes and with short shelf lives,” the document says.
    Wealthy countries donating COVID-19 vaccines with a relatively short shelf life has been a “major problem” for COVAX, a WHO official said last week, as many doses were wasted.
    An EU official told a news briefing last week that EU donations of Pfizer vaccines to COVAX were slowed by a lack of syringes.    A second official familiar with the issue told Reuters that Gavi had to postpone the delivery of some Pfizer doses from Europe because of the lack of syringes.
    Pfizer declined to comment on syringes because it said it does not produce or buy them directly.
    As more doses are made available to poorer nations, UNICEF and the WHO have long been warning of the insufficient supply of the auto-disable syringes, which are crucial for inoculations in poorer nations.
    Auto-disable syringes lock automatically to prevent re-use, which is otherwise common in poorer nations and could spread of diseases.    To make things more complicated, auto-disable syringes needed for the Pfizer vaccine are different from standard syringes, UNICEF said.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Alex Richardson)

12/15/2021 Haiti Searches For Victims Of Fuel Truck Blast That Killed 60 by Gessika Thomas
Haiti's Prime Minister Ariel Henry arrives at the airport to travel to Cap Haitien after a fuel truck
exploded killing dozens of people, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti December 14, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol
    CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (Reuters) -Haitian authorities on Tuesday searched for victims from a fuel truck explosion in the city of Cap-Haitien that killed at least 60 people, amid reports that nearby residents had attempted to take fuel from the vehicle before it exploded.
    Hundreds of people on Tuesday remained at the scene of Monday night’s blast, including shocked neighbors looking for loved ones amid destroyed houses, as well as people attempting to dismantle the charred remains of the truck for scrap metal.
    “I am very concerned about the number of people who died,” said 64-year-old Justorme Louis Fils, who lives near the scene of the explosion.    “I can identify some of the houses of people I know, but I can’t identify them among the victims.”
    The truck had flipped over as it was seeking to avoid running over a motorcycle, he said.
    Haitian newspaper Le Nouvelliste quoted Patrick Almonor of the Cap-Haitien municipal commission as saying, “Local residents were flocking to the truck when the explosion occurred.”
    Severe fuel shortages in recent months have left many Haitians desperate to ensure supplies of gasoline.
    houses and shops and destroyed motorbikes and cars.
    Prime Minister Ariel Henry visited the Justinien University Hospital, where most of the victims are being treated.
    “We are sad that so many people got hurt and so many people died,” Henry said at a news conference.
    Health ministry official Laure Adrien said four people had died in the hospital from their injuries and that 15 people were transferred to other facilities.    The full death toll is not yet known, he said.
    A coalition of gangs blockaded fuel terminals for nearly a month starting in October, leading to widespread shortages of gasoline and diesel that forced many businesses to close.
    The gangs last month lifted the blockade, but many Haitians say they still struggle to find fuel.    The government last week announced a fuel price hike https://www.reuters.com/markets/us/haiti-hike-fuel-prices-subsidies-weigh-state-coffers-2021-12-07 due to the expense of existing subsidies.
    Gangs have grown more powerful https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/gangs-expand-territory-haiti-government-struggles-stay-control-2021-10-17 since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a political vacuum and allowed criminal groups to expand their territory.
    Haiti also suffered a devastating earthquake in August that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed homes in the country’s southern peninsula.
(Reporting by Gessika Thomas in Cap-Haitien and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas Editing by Daniel Flynn, Angus MacSwan, Rosalba O’Brien and Leslie Adler)

12/15/2021 U.S. House Passes Measure Clamping Down On Products From China’s Xinjiang by Patricia Zengerle
FILE PHOTO: People take part in a rally to encourage Canada and other countries as they consider
labeling China's treatment of its Uighur population and Muslim minorities as genocide, outside the
Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., U.S. February 19, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation on Tuesday to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region over concerns about forced labor, part of Washington’s continued pushback against     Beijing’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority.
    The measure passed by unanimous voice vote, after lawmakers agreed on a compromise that eliminated differences between bills introduced in the House and Senate.
    The House last week passed its version of the bill, but that measure failed to advance to the Senate.    But the Senate is expected to pass the compromise version as soon as Wednesday, sending it to the White House, where President Joe Biden has said he will sign it into law.
    “The Administration will work closely with Congress to implement this bill to ensure global supply chains are free of forced labor, while simultaneously working to on-shore and third-shore key supply chains, including semiconductors and clean energy,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
    Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have been arguing over the Uyghur legislation for months.
    The compromise keeps a provision creating a “rebuttable presumption” that all goods from Xinjiang, where the Chinese government has set up a network of detention camps for Uyghurs and other Muslim groups, were made with forced labor, in order to bar such imports.
    China denies abuses in Xinjiang, which supplies much of the world’s materials for solar panels, but the U.S. government and many rights groups say Beijing is carrying out genocide there.
    Republicans had accused Biden’s Democrats of slow-walking the legislation because it would complicate the president’s renewable energy agenda. Democrats denied that.
(Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Grant McCool and Stephen Coates)

12/15/2021 London Nightclub Owners Pan UK’s New COVID-19 Rules For Venues
FILE PHOTO: People enjoy their time at a nightclub, as part of a national research programme assessing the risk of
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) transmission, in Liverpool, Britain April 30, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine/File Photo
    (Reuters) – Nightclub owners in London criticised new restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus variants that will go into effect on Wednesday, saying that a lack of rapid COVID-19 tests will make enforcement a “big challenge.”
    Last week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the new “Plan B” measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, including the use of COVID-19 vaccine passes to enter some venues such as nightclubs and settings with larger crowds.    Negative rapid tests, known as lateral flow tests, will also be accepted.
    Britain has registered almost 4,500 cases of Omicron, with 10 people hospitalised and one person dying after contracting the variant.
    Parliament passed the new rules on Tuesday though 99 members of Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party voted against them in a sign of increasing unhappiness with his leadership.
    Kate Fuller, who owns the Electric Ballroom nightclub in Camden in north London wants to work with the government as much as possible but the lack of available rapid testing is a problem for her business.
    “Since the announcement of the restrictions, our business just took a massive downturn,” she said on Tuesday.    “There’s no testing in a lot of the pharmacies.    If you can’t get the tests, it’s going to be really hard for people to come.”
    “I think for our security and everything, implementing these is just going to be, you know, a big challenge,” Fuller said.
    The new rules will apply to unseated indoor events with 500 people or more, unseated outdoor events with over 4,000 people and events with more than 10,000 attendees.
    Clara Cullen, the venue support manager at charity Music Venue Trust, which supports around 900 music venues in the country, said there had been an increase in cancellations with income falling by 27% in the past week.
    “There will be financial implications to trying to implement the Plan B,” said Cullen.
    The pandemic forced entertainment venues in England to close their doors in March 2020.    They slowly began re-opening in May with safety measures in place.
(Reporting by Will Russell, Ben Makori and Mindy Burrows; Writing by Christian Schmollinger; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

12/15/2021 German Police Conduct Raids In Saxony Over ‘Anti-Vaxxer Murder Plot’
A police vehicle is parked in front of a building during raids in several locations in Dresden, Germany,
December 15, 2021, as part of an investigation into what they said was a plot to murder the state's prime
minister, Michael Kretschmer, by anti-vaccination activists. The searches in the city of Dresden targeted
individual members of a group on the messaging program Telegram, where plans for the killing were discussed
in connection with the state government's coronavirus curbs, police said. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel
    BERLIN (Reuters) – German police searched several locations in the eastern state of Saxony on Wednesday as part of an investigation into what they said was a plot to murder the state’s prime minister, Michael Kretschmer, by anti-vaccination activists.
    The searches in the city of Dresden targeted individual members of a group on the messaging programme Telegram, where plans for the killing were discussed in connection with the state government’s coronavirus curbs, police said.
    The group “Dresden Offlinevernetzung,” or Dresden offline networking, came to the attention of authorities after an investigation published last week by broadcaster ZDF.
    The ZDF report revealed that members of the Telegram group spoke about killing representatives of the Saxony state government at meetings in Dresden.
    Special forces took part in Wednesday’s raids launched after statements by members of the Telegram group suggested that they might be in possession of sharp weapons and crossbows, Saxony police said on Twitter.
    Saxony, which has the second highest rate of new coronavirus cases in Germany and the lowest vaccination rate, has seen protests by opponents of coronavirus restrictions in recent weeks.
    Last month, a group of protesters held a torch-lit gathering outside the home of Saxony’s interior minister, in what was widely seen as an implicit threat of violence against her.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Robert Birsel)

12/15/2021 Mexican Border Towns See Migrant Arrivals Grow As Old Policy Resumes by Lizbeth Diaz
FILE PHOTO: Haitian migrants line up to be brought to a shelter after another in the city filled to capacity, in
Mexicali, Mexico December 13, 2021. Picture taken December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Victor Medina/File Photo
    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A new wave of migrants is arriving at the Mexican border due south of the United States after U.S. judges ordered the resumption of a policy that requires migrants to wait in Mexico for the resolution of their asylum cases.
    Denouncing the lack of shelter space, activists told Reuters on Tuesday that the “Remain in Mexico” program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) launched by former U.S. President Donald Trump, is partly responsible for hundreds of new arrivals.
    “This is just the beginning,” said Tomas Diosdado, director of the Alfa y Omega migrant shelter in Mexicali, a city just across the border from Calexico, California.
    Diosdado said some 750 Haitian migrants have arrived in Mexicali over the past couple weeks, attracted by the MPP resumption. Many wrongly think they will now be allowed to enter the United States, he added.
    On Monday, a U.S. court rejected the latest attempt by the administration of President Joe Biden to end his predecessor’s controversial policy.
    Biden, nearly one year into his presidential term, campaigned on a pledge to reverse many of Trump’s hard-line immigration policies.
    Hundreds of mostly Haitian migrants have also been arriving to the Mexican border city of Tijuana, just south of the U.S. city of San Diego, as well as Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas, according to the activists.
    Last week, U.S. authorities returned the first migrants under the resumed program to Ciudad Juarez, and by Tuesday the number sent there reached 113, according to data from the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration.
    If the Mexican government does not provide more shelter for the returned migrants, the influx will expose more to violence and other hardships like hunger and illness, said Jose Garcia, head of the Juventud 2000 migrant shelter in Tijuana.
    He said he will work to set up a migrant camp on the border for Haitians, who he said are currently forced to wander the city and sleep on the street.
    Under the original 2019 program, some 70,000 migrants seeking asylum were forced to wait weeks and sometimes years in Mexico for a U.S. court date instead of being allowed to await their hearings in the United States.
    Neither the U.S. nor Mexican governments has clarified how long the latest iteration of the program will last.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Additional reporting by Daina Beth Soloman; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Leslie Adler)

12/15/2021 Conservative Revolt Over COVID Curbs Deals Stinging Blow To UK PM Johnson by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits Stow Health vaccination centre
in Westminster, London, Britain December 13, 2021. Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via REUTERS
    LONDON (Reuters) – Almost 100 Conservative lawmakers voted on Tuesday against new coronavirus restrictions, dealing a major blow to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authority and raising questions about his leadership.
    After a day of frenzied failed lobbying, Johnson was handed the biggest rebellion against his government so far by his party over measures he said were necessary to curb the spread of the new Omicron variant.
    The new rules, which included ordering people to wear masks in public places and use COVID-19 passes for some venues, passed thanks largely to the main opposition Labour Party.
    But the revolt piles pressure on Johnson, already under fire over scandals such as reported parties in his Downing Street office last year – when Britain was in a COVID-19 lockdown – and a pricey refurbishment of his apartment.
    Rebelling lawmakers said the vote was a warning shot that he needed to change how the government was operating, or he would face a leadership challenge.
    Some 99 Conservatives opposed plans for the COVID passes, a much higher number of rebels than was expected.    Originally the official figure was put at 98, but the number was later revised upward.
    Among those voting against the government was lawmaker Louie French who was only elected as a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) at the start of the month, while media reported that former Prime Minister Theresa May was among 17 others who abstained.
    Many Conservatives say some of the new measures are draconian, with several questioning the introduction of a certificate of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to enter some venues, such as nightclubs.
    Others used the votes as an opportunity to vent their anger at Johnson, believing the man who helped the Conservatives win a large majority at a 2019 election is squandering the party’s successes by self-inflicted missteps and gaffes.
    But despite the rumblings of discontent, Conservative Party insiders say there is not enough of a groundswell against Johnson to dislodge him now, although they hope the vote will be a “wake-up call” for the prime minister to reset his agenda.
    “He’s got to now be in some danger,” Conservative lawmaker Geoffrey Clifton-Brown told Sky News.    “And he’s got to realise that because if he doesn’t realise that, then he will be in much bigger danger … I’m still backing him.    But he’s got to change.”
‘HUGE SPIKE’
    Britain reported 59,610 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, the highest figure since early January and the fifth highest recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in March last year.
    More than 5,300 cases of Omicron have been recorded, with 10 people hospitalised.    One person has died after contracting the variant, which is set to become the dominant strain in the capital London.
    Before the vote, the government had mounted a campaign to keep lawmakers in check, with Johnson warning his ministers there was a “huge spike” in Omicron cases heading Britain’s way, and that the measures were needed to protect people.
    Ministers tried to win over the Conservative rebels, noting that people who have not had two vaccinations can instead offer proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain access to indoor venues of more than 500 people.
    Health minister Sajid Javid told lawmakers he firmly believed in “individual liberty” but that “the responsible decision to take is…to move to plan B in England.”
    But their arguments fell on deaf ears.    In addition to the 99 Conservatives who voted against the passes, 40 voted against expanding the requirement for mask wearing.
    “I am sure that the prime minister will understand the strength of feeling within the party about the constraint of liberties,” Conservative former minister David Jones told Reuters.    “He is a libertarian himself and I have no doubt that he will listen to the message from his party.”
(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper and Kylie MacLellan, Additional reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by William Maclean, Mark Heinrich and Jonathan Oatis)

12/15/2021 UK Reports Record Daily COVID Cases With Omicron Spreading Rapidly by Andrew MacAskill
People wait in a queue to get a dose of the COVID-19 booster vaccine, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
pandemic, at Smallthorne Community Centre in Stoke-on-Trent, Britain, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Carl Recine
    LONDON (Reuters) – The United Kingdom recorded its most daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday as a senior British health chief said there could be a “staggering” rise over the next few days.
    A further 78,610 COVID-19 infections were reported, about 10,000 more than the previous high reported in January.
    More than 11 million people have now tested positive for the disease in the United Kingdom, which has a total population of around 67 million.
    With a new highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus surging across Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned of a “tidal wave” of infections.
    However, he suffered a blow to his authority on Tuesday when suffered the biggest rebellion of his premiership when more than 100 lawmakers voted against measures to curb the increasing spread of the disease.
    Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, earlier called the Omicron variant “probably the most significant threat” since the start of the pandemic.
    “The numbers that we see on data over the next few days will be quite staggering compared to the rate of growth that we’ve seen in cases for previous variants,” she told a parliamentary committee.
    Harries said that Omicron had the potential to put the national health service “in serious peril” because of the speed at which infections were increasing.
    The new variant of the virus has a doubling time under two days in most regions in Britain, with its growth rate was being notable in London and Manchester in particular.
    More than 10,000 cases of Omicron have been recorded, with at least 10 people hospitalised.    One person has died after contracting the variant, which is set to become the dominant strain in London.
    More than 146,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United Kingdom.
(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill; editing by Michael Holden and Giles Elgood)

12/15/2021 German Police Foil ‘Anti-Vaxxer Murder Plot’ Against State Premier by Riham Alkousaa
A police vehicle is parked in front of a building during raids in several locations in Dresden, Germany,
December 15, 2021, as part of an investigation into what they said was a plot to murder the state's prime minister,
Michael Kretschmer, by anti-vaccination activists. The searches in the city of Dresden targeted individual members
of a group on the messaging program Telegram, where plans for the killing were discussed in connection
with the state government's coronavirus curbs, police said. REUTERS/Matthias Rietschel
    BERLIN (Reuters) - German police have foiled a plot by anti-vaccination activists to murder the state premier of Saxony in eastern Germany, they said on Wednesday, as concerns grow over an increasingly violent pushback against COVID-19 vaccination plans.
    The plot to kill Michael Kretschmer is the latest in a series of incidents that underscore the anger of some Germans over restrictions on the unvaccinated and plans to make vaccinations compulsory for the general population.
    Saxony has one of Germany’s highest levels of COVID-19 infection but also its lowest vaccination rate.    It is a stronghold of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which harbours many vaccine sceptics and anti-lockdown protesters.
    Members of a group called “Dresden Offlinevernetzung,” or ‘Dresden offline network’, had suggested in a chat on messaging platform Telegram that they might be in possession of firearms and crossbows, Saxony police said on Twitter.
    The investigation targeted six suspects – five men and a woman – aged between 32 and 64, Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office said, adding that several pieces of evidence had been found, including crossbows.
‘A LINE HAS BEEN CROSSED’
    Kretschmer, 46, a member of Germany’s opposition conservatives, has been calling for a hard lockdown to break a fourth wave of infections in his state.
    He said the right to free speech should be respected but not used as a cover for violence, adding that the Saxony state government would mobilise additional staff to combat radicalism.
    “Of course you can say what you don’t like. But when violence comes into play, it’s over.    A line has been crossed which we will not tolerate,” Kretschmer told reporters.
    Saxony has the second highest seven-day incidence of COVID-19 among Germany’s 16 federal states, at 824 per 100,000 people compared with a national incidence of 353.
    In Saxony, in the former Communist East Germany, some 62% of the population has had two vaccinations, compared with around 70% nationwide.
    Protests against COVID-19 restrictions in Germany have become more violent, with increased attacks on doctors, politicians and journalists.
    “Such attacks were unthinkable just a few years ago,” said Klaus Reinhardt, head of the German Medical Association.
    In September, a vaccination centre in Saxony was the target of an arson attack.    Earlier this month, a group of protesters gathered outside the home of Saxony’s health minister holding lit torches, in what was seen as an implicit threat of violence.
    German broadcaster ARD reported on Tuesday that more than a dozen politicians, media outlets and public institutions had received letters that threatened “bloody resistance” against the measures and included a wrapped chunk of meat.
    Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office has classified vaccination opponents and coronavirus deniers as a “relevant risk.”
    In his first major address to parliament since taking office last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Wednesday his government would not tolerate violent protests against the coronavirus restrictions.
    “We will not put up with a tiny minority of uninhibited extremists trying to force their will on our entire society,” Scholz said.
(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, Madeline Chambers and Hans Seidenstuecker, Tanya WoodEditing by Gareth Jones)

12/15/2021 Majority Of Salvadorans Approve Of Bukele’s Leadership, Poll Shows by Nelson Renteria
FILE PHOTO: An animation showing El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is displayed on a large screen
at the closing party of the “Bitcoin Week” where he announced the plan to build the first "Bitcoin City"
in the world, in Teotepeque, El Salvador November 20, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File Photo
    SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) – A strong majority of Salvadorans approve of President Nayib Bukele’s government despite controversies over his policies and U.S. sanctions on his cabinet, according to a poll by the investigative unit of local newspaper La Prensa published Wednesday.
    The findings showed that 85.1% of those surveyed either highly approve or somewhat approve of Bukele, 40, despite some skepticism of his move to make El Salvador the first country in the world to adopt bitcoin as legal currency.    He has also largely brushed off accusations from the United States and rights groups of power grabs aimed at weakening democratic institutions.
    Only around 12% partially or highly disapprove, the poll showed.    About 3% of people did not respond to the query.
    That put Bukele’s approval slightly higher than the 84.9% approval rating of the previous poll in September, though it has dipped modestly since June.
    “The approval of the president is similar to that of three months ago, and one of the lowest since he began his mandate, but it still remains above the acceptance that his predecessors had in office, for the same time in office,” La Prensa said of its poll.
    Opposition groups in the country and the White House have harshly criticized Bukele for his combative style of government, which included the firing in May of the judges on the constitutional panel of the Supreme Court, as well as the then-attorney general.
    Washington last week sanctioned members of Bukele’s cabinet for alleged links to corruption cases and gang negotiations.    Bukele has denounced the sanctions.
    Hundreds of Salvadorans protested on Sunday against Bukele and his allies, accusing the president of trying to consolidate power.
    “I don’t believe anything by (La Prensa), but for them to say 85.1%… the approval they report is even higher than it was three months ago.    So the marches were useless?” Bukele said on Twitter about the poll.
    The poll also showed that crime and insecurity, gangs, the economy and unemployment were the top concerns of those surveyed.
    The poll, conducted between Nov. 24 and 29, interviewed 1,520 people from all over the country and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6%.
(Reporting by Nelson Renteria, writing by Cassandra Garrison, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)

12/15/2021 Report: White House, Sen. Manchin In Disagreement Over Child Tax Credit Extension by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 14: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is followed to his car by reporters after participating in
a vote at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Talks on the Build Back Better bill between the White House and moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) appear to be making little progress.
    According to reports on Wednesday, the Biden administration and Manchin are in disagreement over extending the child tax credit, which provides families with up to $300 per kid a month.    The West Virginia senator is said to be reneging on a deal to include a one-year extension of the program and is instead pushing for a multi-year extension, which would increase the cost of the bill.
    “Sen. Manchin is not telling President Biden what to include or not include.    He has always been supportive of the child tax credit,” said one source.    “He has also made it clear the cost should not be greater than $1.75 trillion.”
    Manchin is considered crucial to the legislation as Biden needs the votes of all 50 members of the Democrat Senate Caucus in order to pass it through reconciliation.    Manchin has continuously voiced his concerns that     Democrats are spending too much and too quickly, putting Americans’ taxpayer dollars at risk and increasing inflation.
    In the meantime, Democrats hoped to pass the measure by Christmas, however it seems unlikely.

12/15/2021 Tensions Rise In U.K.’S Conservative Party Against Mandates, Prime Minister Johnson by OAN Newsroom
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson addresses the nation during a COVID
Update at Downing Street on December 15, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Tolga Akmen – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing opposition from lawmakers within his own Conservative Party.
    On Tuesday, Johnson proposed legislation to require vaccine passports, reimplementation of face masks, and mandating COVID vaccines for workers. The laws all passed, but only with support from the opposition Labour Party joining in.
    In what was the largest rebellion since becoming prime minister in 2019, 60-100 Members of Parliament (MPs) voted against the various party proposals.
    “I respect the feelings and I respect the anxieties that colleagues have about restrictions on their liberty, and the liberty of people, but I believe that the approach that we’re taking is balanced and proportionate and right for this country,” said Johnson.
    The rebellion shows a massive break within the ruling Conservative Party and exhaustion over COVID measures in the U.K.

12/15/2021 Trump Accuses N.Y. Attorney General Letitia James Of ‘Prosecutorial Misconduct’ by OAN Newsroom
NEW YORK, N.Y. – AUGUST 03: New York Attorney General Letitia James presents the findings of an
independent investigation into accusations by multiple women that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually
harassed them on August 3, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)
    Donald Trump claimed New York Attorney General Letitia James is engaging in prosecutorial misconduct.
    In a statement on Wednesday, the former New Yorker slammed James for targeting him as part of an ongoing probe of his organization.    James seeks to have Trump testify as part of her investigation into alleged tax fraud inside the Trump organization.
    “I have come to the conclusion that I must continue my work as attorney general.    There are a number of important investigations and cases that are underway, and I intend to finish the job,” James wrote on Twitter.
    However, Trump said James’ investigation is just a witch hunt and her focus should be on resurrecting the crime-ridden state.
    Trump also mocked James for trying to run for governor, saying she didn’t suspend her campaign for the stated reason of going after him, but because she was polling poorly in the primary.
    “Despite weeks of campaigning, she was losing to Governor Hochul by what would have been a massive landslide.    She didn’t drop out of the race for a higher purpose, or to ‘finish existing business.’    She dropped out because her campaign was a complete failure, possibly because the citizens of New York saw how unfairly and viciously she and other highly partisan New York Democrat prosecutors were treating President Donald J. Trump.    It’s called prosecutorial misconduct,” said the 45th president in a statement.
    Trump’s comments come as James is seeking to depose the former president.

12/15/2021 Gov. DeSantis Unveils ‘Stop W.O.K.E. Act’ In Challenge To CRT by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to supporters and members of the media after
a bill signing on Nov. 18, 2021, in Brandon, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File)
    Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) takes on woke indoctrination in the workplace and schools, introducing the first of its kind legislation in the nation.
    DeSantis unveiled the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act” on Wednesday, which stands for “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees.”    The move challenges the teaching of Marxist ideologies in schools and corporate America by declaring critical race theory as an unlawful employment and education practice.
    DeSantis said the proposed legislation would make clear that such teaching violates Florida’s Civil Rights Act.
    “It violates Florida standards to scapegoat someone based on their race, to say that, you know, they’re inherently racist, to say that they’re in a presser or pressed or anything like that.    And that’s good and that’s important, but we also have to realize we got to do more to make sure that that actually carries today in the classrooms and in our society,” stated DeSantis.
    The legislation would strip funds designated to the teaching of critical race theory from schools.
    DeSantis has grown popular among many voters due to his fight for the people mentality.    Over the past year, numerous polls have shown DeSantis as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2024 if President Trump decides against running.

12/15/2021 Biden Speaks Out On Multiple Issues At DNC Event by OAN Newsroom
Joe Biden speaks during an event. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
    Americans’ frustration with Joe Biden has intensified with the average of recent national polls placing his approval below 43 percent, according to Real Clear Politics.    However, this didn’t seem to phase Biden when he delivered remarks about the 2022 midterms at the Christmas party for the Democrat National Committee (DNC) on Tuesday.
    He claimed the election isn’t actually about the votes, but “who gets to count the vote.”     “The struggle is no longer about who gets to vote or making it easier for eligible people to vote, it’s about who gets to count the vote and whether your vote counts at all,” he said.
    Meanwhile, Biden flaunted his social spending plan, which could increase the deficit by nearly $5 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Committee (CBO).    Although, Biden stressed the inspiration behind the sweeping spending plan is simple.
    “I’m worried about families and elderly grandparents, and what their lives are at stake, every one.     Every one is a little harder.    So, you know, so mom can walk out without worrying about falling,” said the Democrat.
    He also weighed in on issues gripping the nation like the tragic tornado in Kentucky, which killed at least 72 known victims, including 12 children.    But instead of grieving, Biden pushed a partisan agenda at the expense of the victims.    This comes one day after Biden admitted he’s unsure if climate change caused the Kentucky tornado and instead pointed to natural weather cycles.
    Biden’s comments followed grim survey numbers surrounding his approval ratings.    Director of Public Opinion for Marist College, Lee Miringoff, noted a growing number of Americans in his surveys indicate disapproval with Biden, with many saying he’s become disconnected from his own politics and that they don’t see him as this country’s leader.

12/15/2021 Poll: Nev. GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Leading Over Democrat Gov. Sisolak by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this June 28, 2021 file photo, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo speaks with journalists at
a news conference announcing his candidacy for governor of Nevada, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
    Two Republican candidates in Nevada’s gubernatorial race are leading over Democrat incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak in hypothetical match-ups.
    A survey released earlier this week by polling firm OnMessage Inc., showed 51 percent of respondents support Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo compared to 41 percent for Sisolak.    In the meantime, former senator and Nevada Secretary of State Dean Heller has held a 6-point lead over the incumbent, at 49 percent to 43 percent.
    “I’m standing here to announce my candidacy for governor because if we don’t put an end to the single party rule eroding our state of the values, laws and opportunities to make Nevada great, we won’t have a whole lot left to fight for,” said Lombardo.
    Both Republicans have vowed to take back the state and put an end to Sisolak’s administration.
    “Nevada is and will be a competitive battleground state.    It was in 2018, it was in 2020, and it will be in 2022,” said John Anzalone, the governor’s pollster, in an interview.    “It will be a very competitive race that we are not taking for granted.”
    Sisolak was leading in earlier polls, but the current survey shows him losing support ahead of the 2022 midterms.

12/15/2021 San Francisco Exempt From Calif. Mask Mandate by OAN Newsroom
A customer enters a Fitness SF gym in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
    San Francisco is exempt from portions of California’s new indoor mask mandate.
    The mandate went into effect statewide on Wednesday, but San Francisco gyms and workplaces have been named as areas of exemption for fully vaccinated people.    The city already had an indoor mask mandate in place for other locations, which haven’t been affected by the exemption.
    According to city health officials, the exemption is to recognize the hard work San Francisco has done in getting a high vaccination rate.
    “It’s a recognition of all of the thought and care that San Francisco residents have been putting into staying as safe as possible,” said Dr. Susan Philip, San Francisco’s health officer.
    The city has made sure that those who are not vaccinated aren’t allowed to eat at a restaurant or improve their health by going to a gym.
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) had relaxed mask mandates back in June, but with the increase of COVID-19 cases since the new Omicron variant, health officials have become worried.    The new mandate will remain in effect until at least Jan. 15.

12/15/2021 Sen. Blumenthal Attends Communist Party Awards Ceremony by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 16: Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) speaks during a “Swords to Plowshares”
event near the U.S. Capitol November 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
    Democrat Sen. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), one of the wealthiest members of the Senate, recently gave out awards at an event associated with the Communist Party.
    Over the weekend, the Connecticut Democrat presented special recognition certificates to winners of the “Amistad Award,” given by the Connecticut People’s World Committee, an affiliate of the Communist Party USA.    The senator was introduced by a Communist Party member who claimed corporations are responsible for imperialism and implored everyone to join the party.
    “Thank you all. This is a beautiful tribute from all our labor leaders honoring how important the Communist Party is,” said Lisa Bergmann, Communist Party USA member.    “And today, now we have a very special surprise guest, our state Senator Richard Blumenthal is here to be part of the awards today and to share some appreciations and recognitions of the awardees.”
    This comes as Democrats have been trying to downplay their party’s association with socialist and communist groups, with the ideology that killed an estimated 100 million people in the last century.

12/15/2021 U.S. Ambassador To UN: Time Running Out To Strike Nuclear Deal With Iran by OAN Newsroom

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Representative of the United
States of America to the United Nations, is pictured. (AP Photo)
    Diplomats within the Biden administration have vowed to loosen America’s grip on Iran as long as they agree to return to the negotiation table in regards to denuclearization.    While speaking at the United Nations Security Council Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield warned time is running out to reach a deal.
    The ambassador stressed Joe Biden is more than willing to lift sanctions on the rouge state, which is a move the Ayatollah has demanded since Biden first proposed a return to the 2015 nuclear deal.    However, she fears Iran is speaking with both sides of its mouth when they claim to want peace.
    “But Iran’s continued nuclear advancements and their lack of urgency in the talks are hollowing out the nonproliferation benefits that would be achieved by mutual return to full JCPOA compliance,” said Thomas-Greenfield.    “Iran’s continued nuclear escalations are inconsistent with the stated goal of returning to mutual compliance with the JCPOA.”
    The Biden administration’s handling of Iran reflects the worries 45th President Donald Trump called attention to when he pulled out of the original deal in 2018.    He worried Barack Obama’s pact did not adequately deter the Ayatollah from developing their nuclear program.
    “At the heart of the Iran deal was a giant fiction that a murderous regime desired only a peaceful nuclear energy program,” Trump stated in 2018.    “Today, we have definitive proof that this Iranian promise was a lie.”
    Other diplomats expressed similar concern that Iran has runaway with their nuclear ambitions.    In a joint statement from ambassadors from France, Germany and the United Kingdom, France’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Rivière, warned Iran’s nuclear program is stronger than ever.    He also warned the situation is grave.
    “For two years now, Iran has been taking unprecedented steps and recently accelerated the pace of most sensitive violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” explained the French ambassador.    “Iran’s nuclear program has never been more advanced than it is today.    This nuclear escalation is undermining international peace and security and the global nonproliferation system.”
    The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) further dowsed Biden’s hopes for a return to the deal while highlighting the body’s limited access to Iran’s nuclear facilities.
    IAEA chief Rafael Grossi claimed cameras have been out of service at a nuclear site of interest for a while, which he said is hindering the group’s ability to monitor Iran. He urged Iran to lift restrictions on the watchdog and cooperate with international norms if the country wants to be recognized as a global leader.
    “There’s no way around the IAEA,” Grossi stated.    “If you want to be a respected country in the community of nations there is no way around it.    We have to work together.”
    In the meantime, Iran has been hashing out nuclear policy with European diplomats in Vienna.    The European delegation have expressed frustrated with Iranian foreign ministers while claiming they are not taking the talks seriously and continue to point fingers elsewhere for their reluctance to work toward peace.
    Additionally, the White House is looking to rally allies in the Middle East against Iran and is sending Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, to Israel next week to discuss the “Iranian problem.”

12/15/2021 DOD: Troops Won’t Be Punished For Kabul Airstrike by OAN Newsroom
Gen. Frank McKenzie, Commander of U.S. Central Command, appears on screen as he speaks from MacDill Air Force Base,
in Tampa, Fla., as he speaks about Afghanistan during a virtual briefing moderated by Pentagon
spokesman John Kirby at the Pentagon in Washington, Monday, Aug. 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
    The Biden administration is hoping to erase its mistakes made in the final days of its unsuccessful withdraw from Afghanistan.    It was announced that Joe Biden’s Pentagon will not be punishing any troops who were involved in the deadly airstrike against a family of Afghan civilians.
    On Monday, U.S. Department of Defense’s Press Secretary John Kirby admitted no one will be punished for the late August incident that killed 10 civilians, including seven children.    Kirby claimed after several internal and independent reviews, top DOD officials concluded none of the troops involved were found criminally negligent, nor found to have violated laws of war.    He suggested those involved will not be held accountable.
    In the final days of the crisis in Afghanistan, the Pentagon ordered an airstrike on a vehicle near Kabul’s airport after claiming it carried weapons that were to be used against U.S. troops.    For nearly three-weeks, the DOD claimed the airstrike was a success and touted their efforts to stop an imminent attack.
    However, reports revealed that the vehicle belonged to 37-year-old Zemari Ahmadi who was working with a U.S.-based humanitarian organization. The nine other victims, including those seven children, were part of Ahmadi’s extended family.    After the reports surfaced, top military commanders finally admitted they made a mistake.
    “I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike,” stated CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie.    “Moreover, we now access that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces.    I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed.”
    Biden’s DOD continued to try to justify the strike by using the excuse that officials were overwhelmed by a suicide bombing that killed 170 potential evacuees and 13 American service members just days prior.br>     Republican critics, however, did not buy their claims. Instead, they are hounding the administration over its apparent incompetence in carrying out an effective withdrawal.    GOP lawmakers pointed to intelligence reports predicting a swift collapse of the Afghan government, an over-reliance on U.S. military training and equipment as well as low moral within the Afghan military.
    Regarding the airstrike, Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) sounded off on the military industrial complex’s propensity to use force without adequately assessing who they are targeting.
    “You’d think you’d kinda know before you off somebody with a Predator drone, whether he’s an aide worker or he’s ISIS-K,” asserted the Kentucky lawmaker.    “You see the thing is…this has been going on for administration after administration.    The Obama administration droned hundred and hundreds of people.    And the thing is there is blowback…there are these beautiful children who were killed in the attack.”
    In the meantime, Kirby stressed DOD Secretary Lloyd Austin is committed to changing how the Pentagon carries out airstrikes.    However, Austin has failed to reveal this framework with the public.
    Critics have further lamented the Pentagon’s stance by claiming when the DOD absolves itself of accountability, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified.
[OF COURSE THEY ARE NOT GOING TO DO WHAT THE UPPER MANGEMENT OF BIDEN’S ADMINISTRATION SHOULD BE PUNISHED SEVERELY FOR THEIR CRIMES.].

12/15/2021 Blue States Want To Propose Law That Allows People To Sue Gun Sellers by OAN Newsroom
FILE — California Gov. Gavin Newsom holds a face mask while speaking at a news
conference in Oakland, Calif., on July 26, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) proposed a plan to allow private citizens to sue gun manufactures and sellers.    The proposed law is based off of a restrictive abortion ban in Texas, which allows Texans to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion after six-weeks of pregnancy.
    “Justice Robert was absolutely right in his dissent around the concern about this opening up the door for similar laws for states that want to turn over enforcement to the public, and provide upwards of $10,000 in legal fees to be recovered for people to report the illegal sale of ghost guns and the illegal sale of weapons of war, assault weapons,” asserted the Democrat.
    On Saturday, Newsom said he will work with legislatures to draft the gun control proposal.    His law would allow private citizens to seek statutory damages of at least $10,000 per violation.    Meanwhile, pro gun advocates were quick to react negatively to this.
    Michael Schwartz, the Executive Director of the San Diego Gun Rights Organization, believes the governor is being vindictive towards people who just want to exercise their rights.
    “So if he believes that they are infringing on a constitutionally protected right in Texas and he’s okay with infringing on a constitutionally protected right in California, it’s extremely hypocritical,” he stated.
    Schwartz doesn’t believe Newsom’s new law will stop criminals, but instead infringe on law abiding citizens who own firearms.
    New York Attorney General Leticia James made an appearance on “The View,” where she commented that she’s looking to follow in the California governor’s footsteps.    The show’s hosts supported the attorney general’s comments, saying she needs to continue her efforts of turning states from red to blue.
    Newsom is aiming to pass the law through California’s state legislature, which is scheduled to reconvene in January.

12/15/2021 Student Loan Payments To Resume In Feb. by OAN Newsroom
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing at the
White House, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    The White House announced it won’t be extending student loan relief.    Despite the Democrat push to extend it, the Biden administration confirmed federal student loan payments will resume on February 1.
    During a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said 41 million borrowers have benefited from the pause and that they will release more details in the coming weeks about their plans.
    “A smooth transition back into repayment is a high priority for the administration, the Department of Education is already communicating with borrowers to help them prepare for return to repayment on February 1 and has secured contract extensions with loan servicer,” she explained.
    Additionally, critics say progressives won’t be happy as they lobbied for an extension that could potentially last as long as the COVID-19 health emergency persists.

12/15/2021 Ky. Gov. Beshear Says 12 Children Among 74 Dead After Devastating Tornadoes by OAN Newsroom
A car sits among the remains of a destroyed house after a tornado in
Dawson Springs, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (Michael Clubb/AP Photo)
    Rescue and recovery efforts have continued in Kentucky after devastating tornadoes destroyed part of the state. Gov. Andy Beshear (D) held a press conference on Tuesday in which he said while the death toll stands at 74, he expects that number to rise.     Beshear said crews are combing through the rubble and removing debris of more than 1,000 homes, which were destroyed.    The governor also said victims range in age from two-months to 98-years-old.     “Twelve of the 74 are children and they are unquestionably more than 100 people that are still unaccounted for, but multiple local and federal search and rescue missions continue operations,” announced Beshear.
    More than 20,000 people remain without power in Kentucky and experts say the electric grid could take months to rebuild.    Meanwhile, a total of 88 people were killed over the weekend when dozens of tornadoes ripped across several states from Arkansas to Illinois.
    “Damage assessments are ongoing and major work continues to remove debris from roadways and restore or replace damaged traffic signals,” continued Beshear.
An American flag hangs from a damaged tree Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Mayfield, Ky. President Joe Biden
is headed to Kentucky to survey damage and offer federal support for the victims of the devastating
tornadoes that killed dozens and left thousands more in the region without heat, water or electricity.
More than 30 tornadoes tore through Kentucky and four other states over the weekend. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
    Meanwhile, Joe Biden is set visit Kentucky to survey the damage. He will be in the Bluegrass State on Wednesday and said his administration’s top priority is to make sure all survivors are pulled out of the rubble.
    Biden noted, he will also direct officials to install COVID-19 booster shot sites in tornado damaged areas.    He stressed federal officials will stay as long as it takes.
    “I have the entire federal team, not just the folks going in and making sure we’re not leaving people still breathing under debris; that’s the immediate, immediate, urgent, urgent thing,” he explained.    “And just to get food, water, to people who don’t have it…but number two, there’s a whole range of things including the virus.”
    Biden went on to say he will visit the Army installation at Fort Campbell for a briefing on the storm before continuing to Mayfield and Dawson Springs to inspect damage.

12/15/2021 Tensions Rise In British Conservative Party Against Mandates, Prime Minister Johnson by OAN Newsroom
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson waves as he leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Minister’s
Questions at the Houses of Parliament, in London, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. British lawmakers have voted to
approve new restrictions to curb the spread of the omicron coronavirus variant. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing opposition from lawmakers within his own Conservative Party.    Why?    On Tuesday, he proposed legislation to require vaccine passports, re-implementation of face masks and mandating COVID vaccines for workers.
    The laws all passed, but only with support from the opposition Labour Party joining in.    In what was the largest rebellion since becoming prime minister in 2019, 60 to 100 Conservative MP’s voted against the various party proposals.
    “I respect the feelings and I respect the anxieties that colleagues have, of course I do,” Johnson stated.    “I respect and understand the anxieties, the legitimate anxieties, that colleagues have about restrictions on their liberty and the liberty of people.    But I believe that the approach that we’re taking is balanced and proportionate and right for this country.”
    The rebellion shows a massive break within the ruling Conservative Party and exhaustion over COVID measures in the U.K.

12/17/2021 Oil up $0.56 to $72.07, DOW down 30 to 35,898.

12/16/2021 Haiti Truck Blast Death Toll Rises To 75 As Doctors Scramble To Treat Wounded by Gessika Thomas and Brian Ellsworth
People point to the remains of a person covered by the debris, who was killed after a
fuel truck exploded, amid reports that nearby residents had attempted to take fuel from the
vehicle before it exploded, in Cap Haitien, Haiti December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Ralph Tedy Erol
    CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti (Reuters) - The death toll from a fuel truck explosion in Haiti rose to 75 on Wednesday as doctors scrambled to treat the wounded from an incident that officials say was made more deadly by residents approaching the vehicle in a desperate search for fuel.
    Rescue workers recovered 61 bodies at the site of the accident, which took place late on Monday in Haiti’s second-largest city of Cap-Haitien, while a director of the city’s main hospital said a further 14 people had died while being treated for wounds.
    “We need all the help we can get.    The hospital is not used to having so many injured,” said Jean Gracia Coq, medical director at the Justinien University Hospital.
    “The shortages have made people let down their guard and not take the precautions that should be taken with regards to fuel.”
    Monday night’s major blast charred the facades of several homes and shops nearby, as well as destroying cars and motorcycles on the street.
    A witness told Reuters that the fuel truck had flipped over after its driver tried to avoid hitting a motorcycle.
    Street vendor Marie-Ange Celicourt took a friend to the hospital who was wounded in the explosion.     “She came to me screaming: ‘I’m burnt!    I’m burnt!'” said Celicourt, 39, a street vendor, while waiting at the hospital for her friend, who she identified only as Geraldine.
    “Her case is serious.    The doctor told me that one of her lungs is burnt but we haven’t told her.”
    The U.S. embassy in Haiti in a statement expressed condolences to the injured and to the families of those who died.
    Rescue workers have completed the search of the area, said Frandy Jean, who heads Haiti’s fire brigade for the northern region.
‘THEY WERE WARNED’
    The impact of the blast was worsened because residents were storing fuel in their homes and because some approached the truck when it flipped.
    “The driver had warned the people not to go near the truck,” Jean told Reuters.    “They did not listen.    They were carrying their telephones, which they used (as flashlights), and some tried to perforate the tank with hammers.”
    The tragedy prompted an emotive lament https://www.reuters.com/world/poor-haiti-one-thing-after-another-pope-says-deadly-blast-2021-12-15 from Pope Francis and a call to prayer for the Caribbean nation, which this year has suffered a brutal wave of gang violence, a presidential assassination and a devastating earthquake.
    Prime Minister Ariel Henry on Tuesday visited Cap-Haitien’s main hospital to meet with victims.    He promised to release government funds in response to the tragedy, and said the deceased would be buried in an official state funeral.
    Wednesday marked the first of three days of national mourning for the victims.
    Haiti suffered crippling fuel shortages for close to a month starting in October when a coalition of gangs blocked access to fuel terminals, forcing some businesses and hospitals to partially or completely shut down.
    The gangs last month lifted the blockade https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/haiti-gangs-lift-fuel-terminal-blockade-amid-shortages-2021-11-12, but many Haitians say they still struggle to find fuel.
    Gangs have grown more powerful since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise, which created a political vacuum and allowed criminal groups to expand their territory.
    Haiti also suffered a devastating earthquake https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/magnitude-7-quake-strikes-western-haiti-usgs-2021-08-14 in August that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed homes in the country’s southern peninsula.
(Reporting by Gessika Thomas in Cap-Haitien and Brian Ellsworth in Caracas; editing by Jonathan Oatis, Daniel Flynn, Alexandra Hudson)

12/16/2021 Canada Advises Against International Travel Amid Omicron Threat by Anna Mehler Paperny and Steve Scherer
FILE PHOTO: A United States-bound passenger walks in Toronto Pearson Airport's Terminal 3, days
before new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing protocols to enter the U.S. come
into effect, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
    TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada’s government implored residents on Wednesday not to leave the country as provinces ramp up vaccinations to combat the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant, even as efforts to head off a COVID-19 wave are complicated by public fatigue over the pandemic.
    COVID-19 case numbers are increasing, with the national seven-day average of new cases at its highest point since Oct. 1, as Canadian hospitals struggle to clear backlogs from months of postponed procedures.    Many exhausted staff members appear ill-equipped for another surge in infections.
    “I say very clearly: Now is not the time to travel,” Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos told a news conference, adding it is clear there is community transmission of Omicron in Canada.
    “I understand this sucks,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters as he urged Canadians to follow public health advice and “be careful during this holiday season.    Get your kids their shots.”
    Children aged 5 to 11 had the highest infection rate of any age group in Ontario for the two weeks ended Tuesday.
    Ontario will start offering a third shot of the vaccine to everyone over age 18 this week, while shortening the required gap between second and third doses to three months from six.
    The province, Canada’s most-populous, is also reducing capacity by half at indoor events with a capacity of at least 1,000, including sports activities, concerts and commercial film and television production.
    Canada has banned travel from 10 African countries because of concerns about the new variant.
    The federal government advised residents in March 2020 not to travel abroad unless necessary.    It withdrew the notice this past October – before the first Omicron cases were reported – citing the success of vaccination campaigns.
    Peter Juni, director of Ontario’s COVID-19 science advisory table, urged people to take precautions, get vaccinated and not take Omicron lightly.
    “What really worries me is that people are asleep at the steering wheel, internationally,” he said.    “They have wishful thinking it will be mild.    … This is not a realistic attitude.”
    Scientists suspect Omicron is more transmissible given its rapid spread, although they caution it is too early to draw conclusions about its severity.
‘MASSIVE VULNERABILITY’
    There is “massive vulnerability” in Canada’s healthcare systems, said Andrew Morris, an infectious disease doctor in Toronto, who added it is “highly likely” they will be overwhelmed.
    In Alberta, a western Canadian province that experienced a punishing fourth wave, Dr. Christopher Doig’s ICU in Calgary still has COVID-19 patients, some of whom have been there for weeks.    It is still operating at about 110% capacity, he said.
    Shifting staff from other areas lets them “surge up” if needed, Doig said.    “The downside of those surges is it pulls staff from other areas,” and the pandemic backlog of surgeries grows.
    Health officials are trying to persuade the public to get third doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
    Amid fears of asymptomatic COVID-19 transmission, provinces that were given millions of rapid antigen tests by the federal government have come under fire for not distributing them more widely.
    Ontario promised to make 2 million tests available in “high-traffic” areas and to allot five per student to school children this week. Quebec will hand out five tests per person starting next week.    Alberta promised to give out 500,000 starting on Friday.
    British Columbia health officials said this week they had not received the tests they were hoping for from the federal government and defended the province’s providing tens of thousands of rapid tests a week to hundreds of private employers.
    Ontario said this week it is “temporarily interrupting” its return-to-office plan for provincial employees.
    Alberta loosened restrictions on private gatherings on Wednesday, with Premier Jason Kenney citing pandemic fatigue.
    Juni said he understands that people are tired of the pandemic.
    “I’m completely exhausted,” he said.    “I’ve had it.    I’m done completely.    But the virus doesn’t care.”
(Reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny and Steve Scherer; Additional reporting by Nia Williams, Allison Lampert, Ismail Shakil, David Ljunggren and Allison Martell; Editing by Paul Simao and Peter Cooney)

12/16/2021 Some British Hospitals Struggle With Staff Shortages Due To COVID-19
FILE PHOTO: Nurses react as they treat a COVID-19 patient in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit)
at Milton Keynes University Hospital, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) pandemic, Milton Keynes, Britain, January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville
    LONDON (Reuters) – British hospitals, particularly in London, are struggling to maintain staffing levels due to the number who are having to isolate with COVID-19, a senior emergency doctor said on Thursday.
    With a new highly transmissible Omicron variant of the virus surging, Britain on Wednesday recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, with a further 78,610 COVID-19 infections reported.
    “The acute problem is actually to do with staffing,” Katherine Henderson, an emergency consultant in London and President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, told BBC Radio.
    “Even if we are not seeing a big rise in hospitalisations yet, we are already seeing the effect on not having the staff to run shifts properly and safely.    So we are worried about patient harm coming about because we just don’t have the staff.”
    Henderson said London was particularly hard hit.
    “We are looking at probably about 10% staff, that is doctors and nurses, who are having to be off.”
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)

12/16/2021 U.S. Builds New Software Tool To Predict Actions That Could Draw China’s Ire by Mike Stone
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks participates in a Red Hill cross-level discussion
with U.S. Indo-Pacific Command leadership and the Environmental Protection agency at USINDOPACOM Headquarters,
Hawaii, December 14, 2021. U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brittany A. Chase/Handout via REUTERS
    HONOLULU, Hawaii (Reuters) -U.S. military commanders in the Pacific have built a software tool to predict how the Chinese government will react to U.S. actions in the region like military sales, U.S.-backed military activity and even congressional visits to hotspots like Taiwan.
    Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks was briefed on the new tool during a visit to the United States Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii on Tuesday.
    “With the spectrum of conflict and the challenge sets spanning down into the grey zone.    What you see is the need to be looking at a far broader set of indicators, weaving that together and then understanding the threat interaction,” Hicks said in an interview aboard a military jet en route to California.
    The tool calculates “strategic friction,” a defense official said.    It looks at data since early 2020 and evaluates significant activities that had impacted U.S.-Sino relations.        The computer-based system will help the Pentagon predict whether certain actions will provoke an outsized Chinese reaction.
    In October, the Chinese military condemned the United States and Canada for each sending a warship through the Taiwan Strait, saying they were threatening peace and stability in the region.    The incident and others like it have fueled demand for the tool, the U.S. official said, to ensure the United States does not inadvertently upset China with its actions.
    While relations between the United States and China are already at low point, the tool provides visibility across a variety of activities such as congressional visits to Taiwan, arms sales to allies in the region, or when several U.S. ships sailing through the Taiwan Strait could provoke an outsized or unintended Chinese reaction.
    China claims democratically ruled Taiwan as its own territory, and has mounted repeated air force missions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the past year, provoking anger in Taipei.
    The new software will allow U.S. officials to look forward at planned actions as far as four months in advance, the official said.
    Hicks is touring U.S. bases this week while the Biden administration’s draft 2023 budget takes shape.    The Department of Defense hopes to move budget dollars toward a military that can deter China and Russia.
(Reporting by Mike Stone in HonoluluEditing by Matthew Lewis and Michael Perry)

12/16/2021 EU Leaders Weigh New Sanctions On Russia Amid ‘Series Of Attacks’ by Philip Blenkinsop and Gabriela Baczynska
Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Latvia's Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins
Slovakia's Prime Minister Eduard Heger arrive for an European Union Summit at the
European Council building in Brussels, Belgium December 16, 2021. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union is under assault from Russia on multiple fronts and must unite behind new economic sanctions, Baltic and central European leaders said on Thursday, with Lithuania citing a risk of possible Russian military strikes from Belarus.
    The warnings at an EU summit were some of the most direct in recent weeks as the United States and its NATO allies seek to deter any possible Russian attack on Ukraine and reduce Moscow’s margin for surprise. Many     NATO allies are also EU member states.     “We really are facing a series of attacks.    I see them all as associated,” Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told reporters, listing what he said was the weaponisation of Middle East migrants on Belarus’ borders with the EU, artificially high prices for Russian natural gas, and Russian disinformation.
    Ukraine remains the main flashpoint between Russia and the West. Washington says Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders, possibly for an invasion.    Moscow says it has a right to move its troops around its own territory as it sees fit but says the manoeuvres are purely defensive.
    EU leaders will warn of “massive consequences” if Russia were to invade Ukraine, according to a draft final summit statement seen by Reuters.    The United States and Britain have taken a similar stance.
    The Kremlin denies the West’s accusations against it, including any plan to invade Ukraine.    It says it has legitimate security interests in the region and on Wednesday handed proposals to the United States that NATO should not expand eastwards or place new weapons systems near Russia’s borders.
    Prime Minister Micheal Martin of Ireland, a neutral country outside NATO, said any disputes with Moscow should be resolved by “peaceful means
‘DANGEROUS SITUATION’
    But Russia’s Baltic neighbours attacked what they see as Moscow’s attempts to blur the line between peace and war.
    “We are probably facing the most dangerous situation in the last 30 years, I am talking about not only Ukraine but the eastern flank of NATO,” said Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, a day after EU leaders held a summit with Ukraine and other former Soviet republics in Brussels.
    He cited fears that Russia might integrate Belarus, which borders Poland and two Baltic states, into its military systems and use its territory “as a possible platform to attack neighbouring countries.”
    Any coordinated EU sanctions will likely depend on Germany, whose new centre-left chancellor Olaf Scholz has taken a tougher line than his centre-right predecessor, Angela Merkel.
    However Berlin would still be torn over whether to risk Russian natural gas supplies to its businesses and households this winter by standing up to Moscow, diplomats said.
    Germany, France and Ukraine sought on Wednesday to revive the “Normandy” format, a diplomatic peace initiative with Russia to end a conflict in eastern Ukraine pitting pro-Russian separatists against Kyiv’s forces.
    “We will underscore again that the inviolability of borders is an important basis for peace in Europe, and that together we will do everything to ensure that this inviolability endures,” Scholz told reporters at his first EU summit as German leader.
    The West imposed economic sanctions on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.    The measures targeted Russia’s energy, banking and defence sectors.
    Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa suggested that one option for the EU in its standoff with Moscow might be to prevent the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany from becoming operational.
(Reporting by Robin Emmott, Sabine Siebold, Kate Abnett, Jan Strupczewski, Gabriela Baczynska, writing by Robin Emmott, editing by John Chalmers)

12/16/2021 Amid Scandals, UK PM Johnson Faces Major Test In Local Election by Victor Jack
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a news conference to update the nation on the Covid-19 booster vaccine program in
the Downing Street briefing room in central London, Britain, December 15, 2021. Tolga Akmen/Pool via REUTERS
    WHITCHURCH, England (Reuters) – Voters went to the polls in a region of central England on Thursday to elect a new member of parliament in a test of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s authority after accusations of sleaze and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    Johnson’s Conservative Party is facing a fight to retain the parliamentary seat for North Shropshire in a so-called by-election, triggered by last month’s resignation of Owen Paterson after he was found to have broken rules on paid lobbying.
    If the Conservatives lose what has long been a loyal seat, it would be yet another blow to Johnson, who is under pressure after experiencing the biggest parliamentary rebellion against his government on Tuesday and over scandals such as reported parties in his office last Christmas when Britain was in a COVID-19 lockdown.
    The battle pitches the Conservatives against the opposition Liberal Democrats, with several lawmakers saying they believed the governing party would lose the seat in the mostly rural constituency, yet another erosion of support in traditionally Conservative-supporting regions.
    Conservative candidate Neil Shastri-Hurst, an army medic and barrister, said he was campaigning mainly on local issues, admitting that voters were concerned by scandals, such as Johnson’s former press secretary, &nb Allegra Stratton, captured on video joking about a lockdown-breaking party in Downing Street.
    “I’d be being disingenuous if I didn’t say the video hadn’t been raised on the doorstep, and clearly it was egregious,” he told Reuters, adding it was right that Johnson ordered an inquiry into the reported parties at his residence.
    “I’m in the army so I know not to be complacent: from day one we’ve been fighting hard in this campaign,” he said.
    Ben Wood, a local councillor running as the opposition Labour Party candidate, said he was doubtful that the Liberal Democrats could wrest control from the Conservatives.
    “People are angry, they feel like they’ve been taken for granted,” he said.
    “I’m absolutely fighting to win this one,” he said.    “I’m running a local campaign on public services, but it’s also offering that alternative in decency, honesty, integrity, which people aren’t getting from the Tories.”
(Editing by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

12/16/2021 France Hardens Travel Curbs With Britain Over Omicron Concerns by Dominique Vidalon and Christian Lowe
FILE PHOTO: People, wearing protective face masks, walk on Trocadero square near the Eiffel Tower in Paris amid
the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
    PARIS (Reuters) – France announced on Thursday that because of surging COVID-19 cases in Britain only designated categories of people would be allowed to travel between the two countries, and anyone arriving from Britain would have to self-isolate.
    Truck drivers will though be exempt from the new rules, the French government said, easing British concerns the restrictions could cause supply chain disruptions.
    France said it was acting now because the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, which scientists say appears to be highly infectious, is spreading rapidly in Britain.
    “Our goal is to limit as much as possible the spread of Omicron across our territory,” French government spokesman Gabriel Attal said on BFMTV television station.
    “Tourism and business travel for people who are not French nationals or Europeans, people who are not French residents, will be limited,” he said.
    He said there were currently 240 confirmed Omicron cases in France, far fewer than in Britain.
    Mark Tanzer, chief executive of British travel association ABTA, said France’s move was “a hammer blow to the winter travel industry, which is already under extreme pressure following the new Omicron restrictions.”
    The new restrictions announced by Paris mean that the only people allowed to travel from France to Britain are British nationals returning home, people attending a funeral of a close relative, people traveling for medical reasons, people carrying out essential work, and some other exceptional cases.
    Under the new rules, people are only allowed to travel from Britain to France if they are a French citizen, or a foreigner permanently resident in France, are carrying out essential work, or are in transit for less than 24 hours.
    Britain’s government reacted swiftly by saying it does not believe tighter border measures are effective when the Omicron variant has spread so widely already, but added it was up to countries to decide whether they want to go down that route.
    “Certainly on our part, given the transmissibility of Omicron and its seeding around the world, we don’t think red lists … are effective or proportionate at this current time,” a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson said, adding he didn’t believe Britain was forewarned of the move.
SELF-ISOLATION
    Under France’s new rules, before entering the country, travelers will need a negative PCR or antigen test not older than 24 hours.    Previously the test could be taken 48 hours before entry.
    Once travelers arrive in France, they will have to self-isolate for seven days, though isolation will be lifted after 48 hours if a test conducted in France is negative.    That restriction until now applied only to non-vaccinated travelers from Britain.
    According to a document published by the French government, the new rules take effect after midnight on Friday night.
    A French transport ministry representative said truck drivers were among the groups still allowed to travel, and the new testing and self-isolation rules would not apply to them.
    On Thursday morning, a Reuters photographer spotted several miles of trucks queuing up on the main road into the British port of Dover, the busiest departure point for maritime journeys to France.    It was not clear what the cause was.
    Port of Dover authorities said France’s new travel crubs, just before Christmas, would in any case further dampen already significantly reduced tourist numbers.
    The latest figures released on Wednesday showed new COVID-19 infections in the United Kingdom reached the highest daily level since the early 2020 start of the pandemic, with more than 78,000 reported.
    France on Wednesday reported 65,713 new coronavirus infections over 24 hours, bringing total cases since the start of the epidemic to 8.4 million.    Total deaths in France since the start of the epidemic reached 120,983.
(Additional reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, Kylie MacLellan, Henry Nicholls, Ingrid Melander, Elizabeth Piper; Editing by William Maclean)

12/16/2021 Pelosi: Crime Wave Caused By ‘Attitude Of Lawlessness’ by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 15: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference in the
U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on December 15, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Americans are reaping what the “defund the police” movement has sown.
    In a press conference on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) commented on the rise in crime throughout many of America’s major cities.    The California Democrat said the problem is impossible to miss, but refused to admit the left’s police funding cuts and bail reform measures could potentially be the root cause.
    “What it is?    It’s absolutely outrageous,” Pelosi stated.    “Obviously, it cannot continue.    But the fact is that there is an attitude of lawlessness in our country that springs from, I don’t know where, maybe you do, and we cannot have that lawlessness become the norm.”
    Unlike some of her more progressive colleagues, Pelosi did admit that many allegedly smash-and-grab robberies don’t stem from desperation.
    “But none of it is acceptable.    And again, it is, it has to be stopped,” she said.    “And again, showing that people are not being able to profit from that.    This isn’t like somebody stealing something to go home because they don’t have the money to buy.    This is about stealing for profit.”
    Pelosi’s district resides within San Francisco, which has seen an increase of up to 18 percent in larceny theft since the start of the year.    In one instance, 80 individuals raided a local Nordstrom of $200,000 worth of merchandise.
    San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) has no longer been able to ignore the effects of the “defund the police” movement.    Breed announced her plan to crack down on crime by increasing law enforcement’s presence in her city.
    “But when a line is crossed, people have to be held accountable for crimes they commit in our city and that’s where our police officers have been critically important to our ability to do so,” said Breed.
    Other major U.S. cities, such as Oakland and Portland, have pushed to refund the police after seeing spikes in crime rates.    Meanwhile, Minneapolis residents rejected legislation to replace the city’s police department with a department of public health last month.
[I DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY PUT IN THE WATER IN SAN FRANCISCO BUT THE COMMENTS BY PELOSI IS JUST OPPOSITE OF THE ACTIONS THAT SHE IS TAKING IN CONGRESS OR THE THREAT OF TRUMP RETURNING TO OFFICE IS SO DEVASTATING THAT HER ILLUSION OF HIM MAKING HER LOOK FOOLISH FOR THE 4TH TIME HAS MADE THEM GO INTO SOME ILLUSION THAT THE WORLD IS OUT TO GET THEM SOMEBODY NEEDS TO DO TESTS ON HER ICE CREAM TO SEE WHAT IS CAUSING THIS DEMENTIA AND THE THINGS WE SEE IN SAN FANCISCO ON THE STREETS.].

12/16/2021 Rep. Scalise: Biden Administration So Focused On Vaccine, Ignoring Other Alternatives by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 17: House Coronavirus Subcommittee Ranking Member Steve Scalise (R-La.) speaks during a hearing
in the Rayburn House Office Building on November 17, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) said the Biden administration is ignoring natural immunity and instead is forcing the COVID vaccine on all Americans.
    During an interview on Wednesday, Scalise emphasized how Joe Biden and his administration are ignoring millions of people who recovered from the coronavirus and have obtained natural immunity.    He stressed how the White House is only pushed for vaccines instead of offering other existing alternatives.
    “There are no investigations or hearings that we’re having on the power of natural immunity…people that got COVID and survived it, and then what does that immunity give you?    It gives you a lot of ability to be safe from future variants, and yet they don’t want to focus on that because I think they still want to deal with government control,” said Minority Whip Scalise.
    Additionally, Scalise noted Democrats are now using COVID-19 and its variants as “pretexts” for centralization of government power in the form of lockdowns, disregarding American freedoms.
    “You look at some of the states that just want to continue to control people’s lives.    And I think now you have a better opportunity to show the contrast between the governors who believe in people and freedom, and say look, let’s follow the science, let’s protect people, but we can’t shut our economy down.    And whatever the latest variant is going to be, there’ll be other variants that come,” said Scalise.
    The Louisiana representative further pointed out the shutdowns in response to new variants only make the economy suffer more, adding “we’ve got to follow the science and let people live their lives again.”

12/16/2021 Biden Stretches The Truth On Key Issues by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden talks to reporters before boarding Marine One for a trip to visit areas
impacted by tornado damage, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
    Joe Biden tried to spin several concerns for Americans during a recent interview.    He sat down with a reporter Tuesday, but seemingly avoided responsibility for key issues.
    Biden held a virtual interview with a local Ohio network and was asked questions on the major issues such as inflation, the Build Back Better bill and vaccines.    During the discussion, he claimed the Build Back Better bill won’t cost Americans a cent.
    According to the Congressional Budget Office estimations, however, this is false.    The CBO pointed out the measure will cost more than the $1.7 trillion they proposed.    In reality, the bill is estimated to cost $5 trillion and add $3 trillion to the nation’s debt with the addition of more accurate costs of the social programs.
    The Associated Press reported wholesale prices increased by almost 10 percent in November.    This indicates inflation will continue to rise.
    Supply chain issues have also been a worry for many Americans this year, especially during the Christmas season.    Biden assured the supply chain is in good shape, but stopped short of promising it won’t cost Americans more money.
    Biden was also asked about vaccine mandates after federal judges put a hold on several lawsuits filed against the administration.    His response was to blame the unvaccinated.
    Biden claimed it’s the unvaccinated who are the problem, but reports have shown the jab fails to completely protect people from getting COVID and spreading it to others.    According to CDC Director, Rochelle Walensky there’s an uptick in hospitalizations among people who have been vaccinated.

[AT FIRST WHEN I READ THE NEXT TWO ARTICLES OF WHY THERE WAS SUCH A 180 DEGREE DECISIONS TO REFUND THE POLICE IN SAN FRANCISCO AFTER TOTALLY DESTROYING IT, BUT THEN IT IS PELOSI AND LONDON ARE SEEING THE WRITING ON THE WALL THEY WILL NOT GET RE-ELECTED AND THEY ARE CHANGING POLICY BUT UNDERSTAND THE REALITY THEY WILL REFUND THEM BUT WILL NOT HAVE THEM TO STOP THE CRIME AND DESTRUCTION WHICH IS THE REAL PROBLEM].
12/16/2021 San Francisco Mayor Reverses Push To Defund Police Amid Surge In Crime by OAN Newsroom
FILE – San Francisco Mayor London Breed listens during a briefing outside City Hall in San Francisco on Dec. 1, 2021.
A fed-up Breed announced Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, San Francisco will dramatically crack down on open drug use
and sales and illegal vending of stolen goods that’s fueled smash and grab robberies. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
    San Francisco, California Mayor London Breed reversed her push to defund the police following a surge in crime in the Democrat-run city.
    During a press conference Tuesday, Breed called for more aggressive policing despite reportedly cutting $120 million from San Francisco’s police and sheriffs departments budget.
    This comes as the city has seen an uptick in crime, including several smash and grab robberies, a substantial increase in car break-in and spike in auto burglaries.
    “Our officers are committed to doing their work and are committed to keeping us safe, but everything they’ve been doing over the recent months and everything we’re going to ask of them in the coming months before we pass a new budget is going to require more overtime funding and it’s going to require more police officers,” Breed explained.
    Meanwhile, the San Francisco mayor has proposed legislation to allow law enforcement officers to access real-time surveillance video in certain situations as well as measures that would make it harder to sell stolen goods.    She’s expected to introduce those initiatives to county supervisors in January.
[THIS WILL BE INTERESTING AS WE WATCH GEORGE SOROS TO THROW MONEY AT HER TO BRIBE HER BACK INTO LINE OR EVEN WORSE DESTROY HER REPUTATION SO THEY WANT HER REPLACED WITH ONE OF THEIR GLOBALIST SOCIALIST ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT ENTITIES.].

12/16/2021 Resurfaced Video Shows Biden’s Judicial Nominee Calling To Dismantle Electoral College, Senate by OAN Newsroom
Dale Ho, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, speaks to reporters after he argued
before the Supreme Court against the Trump administration’s plan to ask about citizenship
on the 2020 census, in Washington, Tuesday, April 23, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
    A Biden district judge nominee, Dale Ho, is facing backlash for his comments regarding elections and congressional power.    In a recently resurfaced video from the 2018 National Civic Leadership Summit, Ho claimed the Senate and Electoral College are “anti-democratic.”
    Ho claimed these institutions lead to the “mal-distribution of political power.”
    “We had obviously lots of practices that are anti-democratic that entrench, in some ways, minority rule in this country.” he stated.    “And I’m talking about things like, you know, the Senate, Electoral College and mal-distribution of political power that results the from those institutions.”
    Ho has faced significant push-back from Republicans during the confirmation process due to inflammatory social media posts he made during the Trump administration. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) pointed out that Ho, in fact, tweeted attacks against multiple GOP lawmakers.
    Additionally, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has even gone so far as to say Ho shows an “open contempt for the Constitution” and should not be confirmed.

12/16/2021 FDA Tightens Warning Of Heart Issues After J&J COVID Vaccine by OAN Newsroom
FILE – A member of the Philadelphia Fire Department prepares a dose of the Johnson & Johnson
COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site setup in Philadelphia, on March 26, 2021. A government advisory panel
is meeting Thursday, Dec. 16, to determine if any restrictions are needed to the Johnson & Johnson
COVID-19 vaccine because of rare but serious blood clots. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
    The FDA is strengthening its warning of possible severe adverse effects of the Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine.    On Wednesday, the federal health agency said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine must not be administered to people with past histories of blood clots and thrombosis.
    The FDA also said other adeno-virus based vaccines must not be used in such patients.    This came after the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) self-reporting system posted almost 20,000 Americans died post-vaccination so far and 100,000 were hospitalized.
    Doctors say vaccine-induced heart problems must be taken seriously.
    “So instead of having 11 percent risk of having an acute coronary syndrome in the next five years, that went up to 25 percent risk,” explained Dr. John Campbell, a medical commentator.    “Now again, we don’t know much about the group, but that increase from 11 percent to 25 percent is, of course, totally massive.    If this were to be applicable to the entire population this would basically mean we’re going to get an unimaginable amount of extra heart attacks.”
    Meanwhile, vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna are also under scrutiny in several European countries after reports of heart problems in young vaccinated males.

12/16/2021 GOP Lawmakers Criticize Disney For Bowing To China by OAN Newsroom
Visitors wearing Mickey Mouse hats take photos at a Walt Disney Co. Shanghai theme park. (NG HAN GUAN / AP Photo)
    Republican lawmakers are criticizing Disney for caving to Communist China with its latest censorship.    In a letter to Disney, 13 Republicans led by congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) criticized Disney for pulling “The Simpson’s” episode called “The Simpson’s go to China.”
    The South Carolina lawmaker said such censorship on behalf of the Communist Party is “disgusting and worthy of condemnation.” The episode in question mentions Tiananmen Square protests and features Homer Simpson saying Mao Zedong killed 50 million people.
    Duncan said U.S. companies doing business with China are facing political pressure.
    “I have notable concerns about American companies doing business in China and accommodations they make with the People’s Republic of China,” he explained.    “It is astonishing to me that there is any level of doubt over the level of access of the Chinese Communist Party as over this conglomerate and similar entities.”
    Duncan stressed Disney bending to the Chinese Communist Party is a betrayal of the company’s founding principles for the sake of profiting from the Chinese market.

12/13/2021 Pelosi Rejects Ban On Lawmaker Stock Trading by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif. reacts as she listens to a question from a reporter during her
weekly press briefing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) rejected putting a ban on lawmakers from trading stocks despite repeatedly bragging about restoring integrity in Congress.    In an email Wednesday, Obama-era ethics chief Walter Shaub called her recent comments “disgusting” and stressed she’s pushing the opposite of government ethics.
    Earlier, Pelosi was asked whether sitting members of Congress and their spouses should be banned from trading individual stocks.    Pelosi claimed her colleagues should be able to participate in Wall Street.
    This came after Pelosi claimed a top Democrat priority is “restoring ethics, integrity and accountability to government.”    Shaub suggested she should start with halting Wall Street participation while in Congress.

12/16/2021 Data Purchasing By Federal Law Enforcement, Other Govt. Agencies by OAN Newsroom
Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Leah Millis/Pool via AP)
    A new report revealed how federal law enforcement agencies and government entities purchase bulk user information from data brokers.    The Center for Democracy and Technology released it earlier this month.
    The report detailed the amount of data purchasing being conducted regularly by agencies such as the FBI, IRS, DEA and other government entities.    The kind of data being collected varies, but includes GPS, internet and social media footprints.
    Legislators have voiced their concerns about this practice with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) leading the charge.
    “These companies need to be shutdown and Congress needs to step up to prevent the government from using a credit card instead of a warrant,” stated the Democrat lawmaker.
    The senator has proposed the ‘Not For Sale Act,’ which would the prevent the purchasing of data without a court-issued warrant.

12/16/2021 Report: Biden’s DOD Discharges 103 Unvaccinated Marines by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A U.S. Marine is seen posted outside the West Wing
at the White House. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
    Joe Biden’s Pentagon is continuing to discharge unvaccinated service members despite concerns by Republican lawmakers.    According to ABC News on Thursday, 103 Marines were purged by Biden’s officials for refusing to take COVID vaccines.
    The report said at least 30,000 service members remain unvaccinated across all branches of the U.S. military, despite Biden’s vaccine mandate.    The Marine Corps said 95 percent of its members received at least one dose of the vaccine, which is the lowest rate of all military branches.
    This comes after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) requested the Pentagon explain its actions and whether or not the discharged service members had requested any exemptions.
    In a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Johnson said the vaccine mandate has been ambiguous and his department has ignored congressional requests for information.    The senator also slammed Austin for discharging 27 Air Force members earlier this week for refusing the vaccine.
    Johnson added the Pentagon must clarify its stance on natural immunity to COVID-19, the adverse effects of vaccines, and provide the number of unvaccinated active duty personnel.    He stressed every person has the right to choose whether to get the jab.

12/16/2021 DOJ Ends Talks Over Compensating Families Separated At Border by OAN Newsroom
YUMA, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 07: A Cuban mother and daughter watch the sunrise while waiting
to be being taken into custody by U.S. Border Patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border
on December 07, 2021 in Yuma, Arizona. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)
    The Department of Justice confirmed the U.S. government will not be compensating families separated at the border.
    On Thursday, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union announced the DOJ’s decision to call off the settlements.    The Biden administration previously floated paying separated family members a whopping $450,000 each in compensation.
    The Justice Department informed lawyers representing families they won’t be offering global settlements for any cases and would defend each case in court.    Meanwhile, DOJ officials said settlements are still possible despite withdrawing from any global settlement talks.
    This comes after a surge in migrants at the southern border continue to overwhelm law enforcement officers in Arizona.
    Reports on Wednesday said more than 6,000 people crossed through Yuma last week, including hundreds of migrants from Haiti.    Hundreds of those apprehended by agents have been reportedly crossing through a gap in the unfinished border wall, which was a key Trump-era project that Joe Biden halted.
    According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data, around 22,000 migrants were apprehended crossing the border in Yuma back in October, showing a 1,200 percent spike from January.

12/16/2021 Rep. McCarthy Asked To Remove Reps. Cheney, Kinzinger From House GOP Conference by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – NOVEMBER 18: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) talks to
reporters during his weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center
on November 18, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has been asked to remove two members of the House from the GOP Conference.
    A group of more than 40 conservative figures sent a letter to McCarthy on Wednesday, asking him to drop Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.). The group cited the pair’s “egregious actions as part of the House of Representative’s Jan. 6 Select Committee.”
    They claimed that by going along with Democrats, the representatives are giving supposed bipartisan justification on the partisan panel.    The letter finished by acknowledging that Cheney and Kinzinger were duly elected and should be allowed to serve, just not with the privileges of the conference they actively seek to undermine.
    “As you are aware, this committee has no formal representation from Republicans.    Both Reps. Cheney and Kinzinger serve at the request of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),” the lawmakers wrote.
    However, this is not the first time GOP lawmakers have voiced their concern.    Back in early September, Freedom Caucus Chair Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) sent a letter calling on McCarthy to remove the two from the GOP Conference for their roles on the select committee.

12/16/2021 DEA: Criminal Drug Networks Are Flooding U.S. With Deadly Fentanyl by OAN Newsroom
Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram speaks at a press conference at the DEA Headquarters
December 16, 2021, in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
    The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says Mexican drug cartels are to thank for America’s surge in fake prescription pills laced with fentanyl. During a press conference on Thursday, the DEA added the nation’s alarming number of overdose-related deaths have been caused by cartels flooding across the border to make a profit.
    “The Mexican drug networks get chemicals largely from China and then they mass produce, often in industrial labs, these deadly substances in Mexico.    And then they pump this poison into the United States,” said DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.
    Recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data showed more than 100,000 people have died from fatal drug overdoses between May of 2020 and April 2021, and the DEA said these tragic deaths are no accident.    Additionally, agents seized more than 15,000 pounds of fentanyl this year and over 20 million counterfeit pills, most being laced with fentanyl.
    Officials said the cartels have harnessed social media apps as the perfect tool to target people of all ages.
    “Drug traffickers are using Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and other mainstream social media apps,” said Milgram.    “People think that they are buying real Xanax pills, real Adderall pills, real Oxycodone, using online platforms that they trust when in reality they’re getting deadly fentanyl pills that look just like the real thing.”
    The agency said these record amounts of fake pills containing fentanyl is chilling.    In the meantime, they assured agents would stop at nothing to combat the cartels fueling the nations opioid epidemic and have warned Americans to remember that “one pill can kill.”

12/17/2021 Oil up $0.56 to $72.07, DOW down 30 to 35,898.

12/17/2021 Voters Give Scandal-Hit UK PM Johnson ‘A Kicking’ With By-Election Loss by William James
Election staff count ballot papers at Shrewsbury Sports Village
in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Britain December 16, 2021. REUTERS/Ed Sykes
    LONDON (Reuters) -Boris Johnson’s Conservatives on Friday lost control of a parliamentary seat they have dominated for nearly 200 years, ratcheting up the pressure on Johnson from his lawmakers, who are in mutinous mood after a series of crises and scandals.
    The defeat was described as ‘a kicking’ for the Conservatives, substantiating fears expressed publicly and privately that the party’s reputation and electoral prospects are now suffering under Johnson’s leadership.
    The centrist Liberal Democrats party candidate, Helen Morgan, won the North Shropshire seat by nearly 6,000 votes, overturning a 23,000-vote Conservative majority from 2019.
    “Our country is crying out for leadership.    Mr Johnson, you’re no leader,” Morgan said in her victory speech.
    The Conservatives had won every previous election for the mostly rural area of central England since the constituency was created in its current form in 1983.    Conservative lawmakers have been dominant in the region for nearly 200 years.
    The huge swing comes as British Prime Minister Johnson faces criticism on several fronts, including over reports his staff held parties last Christmas when the country was in lockdown.
    “Voters in North Shropshire were fed up and they gave us a kicking and I think they wanted to send us a message,” Conservative chairman and lawmaker Oliver Dowden told Sky News.    “I want to say as chairman of the Conservative Party, we’ve heard that loud and clear.”
    Nationwide opinion polls show Conservatives falling behind their main rivals, the Labour Party, following an outcry over lawmakers’ second jobs, criticism of the way Johnson funded the lavish refurbishment of his flat, and a surge in COVID-19 cases.
    “This has to be seen as a referendum on the prime minister’s performance,” Conservative lawmaker Roger Gale, a long-standing critic of Johnson, told the BBC.
    “The Conservative Party has a reputation for not taking prisoners.    If the prime minister fails, the prime minister goes.”
SLEAZE ROW
    The vote for the North Shropshire seat, one of 650 in Britain’s parliament, was called outside of the regular election cycle because the incumbent Conservative resigned after he was found to have broken rules on paid lobbying.
    The government attempted to prevent that resignation by changing rules designed to stop corruption in parliament, but was forced to backtrack after the move provoked a backlash over integrity and trust under Johnson’s leadership.
    British voters often use such by-elections to punish the ruling party, but the scale of the Liberal Democrat victory suggests deep public dissatisfaction with Johnson’s government.
    It still holds a large majority of the seats in parliament after a comprehensive election win in 2019 built on a promise to ‘Get Brexit Done’ that united traditional right-leaning Conservative voters with a swathes of new supporters.
    North Shropshire was a pro-Brexit, staunchly Conservative area.    Analysts say Friday’s heavy defeat may further undermine Johnson’s authority over lawmakers, some of whom are already in open revolt over plans to introduce COVID-19 passports.
    “He needs to change now. He needs to listen to the views of his party,” said a senior Conservative lawmaker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He described Johnson as a talented communicator in need of a better team of advisers.
    Any leadership challenge would require 54 of the party’s elected lawmakers to formally register their lack of confidence.
    For now, that does not seem an imminent threat, with most of Johnson’s toughest critics stressing the need for him to improve rather than calling outright for him to go.
    Britain’s next national election is due in 2024.
(Reporting by William James; Editing by Stephen Coates, Christopher Cushing and Lincoln Feast; Editing by John Stonestreet and Catherine Evans)

12/17/2021 EU To Propose Easing Medicines Flow From Britain To Northern Ireland
FILE PHOTO: People pose with syringe with needle in front of displayed EU flag
in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission is due to set out on Friday legal changes to ease the transport of medicines from Britain to Northern Ireland, a move that could relieve EU-UK tensions over the British province’s future after Brexit.
    The flow of medicines is currently unimpeded, but set to change when a grace period expires at the end of the year.
    Then British operators would need to move regulatory compliance and logistics and testing facilities to the European Union or to Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom but within the EU single market for goods.
    The cost of the move could result in certain companies deciding to stop supplying medicines to Northern Ireland, exacerbating trading problems the province is facing after Brexit.
    The EU executive is set to propose an exception to existing law to allow compliance and logistics to be located in the British mainland.
    The change could also benefit other smaller markets – Cyprus, Ireland and Malta – that have traditionally received certain medicines from Britain.
    A further change, solely for Northern Ireland, could allow marketing of drugs in Northern Ireland after they have been authorised by the British medicines regulator, but before approval from the European Medicines Agency.
    This move could, for example, affect new cancer treatments.
    The Commission declined to comment on the substance of any proposals.
    The changes, which would require approval by the European Parliament and EU governments during 2022, do not represent a formal agreement with Britain on the subject.
    It has advocated removing medicines entirely from the protocol that sets out the post-Brexit trading arrangements of Northern Ireland and a renegotiation of the protocol itself.
    The EU has offered a package of measures designed to ease transit of goods to Northern Ireland.
(Reporting by Philip Blenkinsop; Editing by Alison Williams)

12/17/2021 Brazil’s Bolsonaro Wants Names Of Vaccine-Approving Officials Despite Death Threats by Maria Carolina Marcello and Gram Slattery
FILE PHOTO: Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro adjusts his protective face mask during a ceremony
of signing the Vaccine Technology Transfer Agreement for Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) vaccines, in Brasilia, Brazil, June 1, 2021. REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino/File Photo
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Thursday that he has asked for the names of health officials that had approved COVID-19 vaccines for children in Brazil, saying he planned to make their identities public despite previous death threats.
    In late October, Brazil’s health regulator, Anvisa, released a statement saying that five of its directors had received death threats over the possible approval of COVID-19 vaccinations for children aged between five and 11 years old.    The agency granted such approval for the Pfizer shot on Thursday.
    Anvisa said it had reported the emailed threats to police and prosecutors.
In a live weekly broadcast on multiple social media platforms, Bolsonaro said he does not interfere in Anvisa’s internal affairs, but had asked for the officials’ names so that the public “could come to its own judgments.”
    Bolsonaro has consistently cast doubt on the efficacy and safety of coronavirus vaccines and sharply criticized all forms of social distancing.    His handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 618,000 lives in Brazil, is widely cited as a reason his popularity has plummeted this year.
    Most recent polls have the right-wing former army captain’s approval rating in the low 20s.
    Anvisa did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

12/17/2021 EU Head Warns Of Sanctions With ‘Massive Cost’ If Russia Invades Ukraine
FILE PHOTO: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a media statement
on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic at the European Commission headquarters
in Brussels, Belgium, November 26, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron/Pool/File Photo
    BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is ready to impose sanctions with a “massive cost” for Russia if the Russian military invades Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday.
    “Let there be no doubt.    If Russia were to move against Ukraine, the Union will be in a position to take sanctions that could extract a massive cost.    We have done our work in that respect,” von der Leyen told a news conference following a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
(This story corrects headline to say ‘EU head’, not ‘EU leaders’)
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

12/17/2021 Comscore: MSM Ratings Tank Amid President Trump Departure From White House by OAN Newsroom
US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One before departing Harlingen, Texas on
January 12, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
    Media outlets across the board are losing viewership in light of President Trump’s departure from the White House.
    According to Comscore data reported in the Wall Street Journal on Friday, outlets including the Washington Post, New York Times and CNN, have all seen a decline in ratings.    Politico took the biggest hit with a nearly 50 percent decline in monthly visitors.
    This trend is one Trump predicted throughout his first term.
    “You know what the fake news doesn’t know? They’re getting the highest ratings in the history of television.    When Trump is gone, they’re all going bankrupt.    They will go down, they’re going to say oh I wish…they’re going to be calling we want Trump to run again.    We want him to run again,” Trump said back in November of 2020.
    To fill the void, mainstream media outlets have continuously ran stories linking Trump to the events of Jan. 6, special elections and midterm elections.

12/17/2021 White House: Parliamentarian Rejecting Immigration Reform Is ‘Deeply Disappointing’ by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 14: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily press briefing
at the White House December 14, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the rejection of Democrats’ immigration reform in Build Back Better is “deeply disappointing.”
    Speaking to reporters on Friday, Psaki said the decision relegates millions of dollars to an uncertain and frightening future, adding the Biden administration and Democrat partners “vehemently disagree.”    This comes after the proposal to allow so-called Dreamers to apply for up to two five-year work permits, was found to be against Senate reconciliation rules.
    Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) tweeted the decision just confirms the obvious, adding giving millions to immigrants isn’t a budgetary matter.
    Meanwhile, Psaki said Democrats will keep fighting.
    “And we’ll keep fighting to give relief and protection to the many Dreamers, TPS holders, farmworkers and essential workers who are living in fear,” she said.    Ultimately, it’s time for Congress to stop kicking the can down the road and finally provide certainty and stability to these groups and make other badly needed reforms to our outdated immigration system.”
    Although, Psaki said she isn’t trying to push for an overhaul and instead said she was only “suggesting we support our efforts to get immigration reform done.”
{ILLEGAL ALIENS IMMIGRATION IS NEVER THE WAY TO REFORM SO GO BACK TO THE TRUMP POLICIES THAT WERE WORKING PROPERLY.].

12/17/2021 European Diplomats Say ‘End Of Road Is Near’ For Iran Nuclear Talks by OAN Newsroom
(R to L) Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian meets with the Director General of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi at the foreign ministry headquarters
in the capital Tehran on November 23, 2021. (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)
    European diplomats urged Iranian officials to pick up the pace in hashing out their concerns for a nuclear deal.
    On Friday, several senior diplomats warned time is running out to reach an agreement, despite making what they call technical progress on Thursday.    The delegates said Iran has agreed to a framework for what future negotiations will look like as they hope to return to talks that stalled back in June.
    Additionally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general claimed Iran has allowed cameras back into one of their main nuclear facilities.    This comes after the rogue state claimed the original camera and feed were destroyed as part of an alleged attack.
    “Don’t forget that this is a facility that we know very well.    We know the kind of equipment there is, and when you know an equipment and when you are familiar with the production chain…a production line, you know how much this normally produces given the normal circumstances.    You know how much has been installed, you know how much they declare,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi.
    In the meantime, European negotiators remain confident the time frame for Iran to come back to the bargaining table will be much shorter than this more than 6-month spell.

12/17/2021 Roger Stone Pleads The Fifth In Deposition Before Jan. 6 Committee by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 17: Roger Stone, a former adviser and confidante to former U.S. President
Donald Trump, gets into his vehicle in front of the Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Federal Building
after his deposition before the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Attack
on the United States Capitol on December 17, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Former President Trump campaign advisor Roger Stone appeared for a deposition before the Jan. 6 House Select Committee.
    Stone met with the panel on Friday, but said he exercised his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in response to every question he was asked.    The former Trump advisor contended he pleaded the Fifth because he’s done nothing wrong.    In addition, he called the investigation a “witch hunt,” asserting it’s a partisan exercise.
    Stone has denied any involvement in the events of Jan. 6, but has taken aim at the panel for looking into his actives on Jan. 5.
    “And any claim, assertion or even implication that I knew about or was involved in any way whatsoever with the illegal and politically counterproductive activities of Jan. 6, is categorically false,” said Stone.    “What disturbs me is any investigation into my activities on Jan. 5, which is constitutionally protected free speech, the constitutional right of free assembly.”
    Stone is one of more than 50 individuals who have been subpoenaed by the panel so far.
[Here’s below the fake news version of above:
12/18/2021 Stone invokes 5th Amendment at hearing by Mary Clare Jalonick by ASSOCIATED PRESS
    WASHINGTON – Longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone says he has asserted his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in an interview with the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
    Stone – who was convicted in 2019 of lying to Congress, but subsequently pardoned by Trump – told reporters as he left the deposition Friday that “I did my civic duty and I responded as required by law” but that he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights to every question.
    The committee subpoenaed Stone last month, noting that he spoke at rallies on the day before the insurrection and used members of a far-right extremist group, the Oath Keepers, as personal security guards while he was in Washington. Several members of that militia group broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, along with hundreds of other supporters of former President Donald Trump, and have been charged with conspiring to block the certification of the vote.
    Stone is one of several in Trump’s inner circle who have refused to answer questions from the committee.    The House has already held two of Trump’s top allies – Steve Bannon and former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows – in contempt for not cooperating. But many more witnesses have cooperated.    The panel has done around 300 interviews as it seeks to create a comprehensive record of the attack.
    It is unclear if the panel will vote to hold Stone in contempt.]
[AS YOU CAN SEE ABOVE THE DEMOCRATS AND THE FAKE NEWS IS GETTING DESPERATE TO PUNISH ANYONE FOR THE JANUARY 6 HOAX.].

12/17/2021 Calif. Gov. Newsom Unveils Program To Combat Surge In Crime by OAN Newsroom
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) speaks during a press conference about Covid-19 vaccinations and housing for
homeless veterans on November 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)
    California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has finally taken a stand against crime in the Golden State.
    During a press conference on Friday, Newsom unveiled a multi-million-dollar program to combat a slew of public safety crises, including the surge in smash-and-grab robberies in his state.    The program includes $250 million in grants to local law enforcement agencies to combat these crimes and establishes a prosecutorial task force out of the California Attorney General’s Office.
    More than $20 million is set to go towards the state and district attorney offices for prosecutorial efforts.    The plan also aims to provide assistance to small businesses that were damaged from the smash-and-grab robberies.
    Additionally, he finally addressed Joe Biden’s border crisis.
    “We are also providing $20 million specifically for border issues.    I’m very concerned as a parent,” said Newsom.    “I’m very concerned as a citizen of the state and someone who is highly in tune with what’s going on with drugs in the United States, not just here in the state of California, but what’s happening with fentanyl.    And we have seen some success with our National Guard at the border working in partnership to address the issue of these transnational activities.”
    However, Newsom went on to rollout his controversial gun control proposals, including gun buyback programs and legal attacks against gun manufacturers.    Newsom claimed these are first of its kind proposals and believes his efforts will slow down crime.

12/17/2021 Nev. Democrat Mad At State Party’s Redistricting by OAN Newsroom
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 25: U.S. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV) speaks during a rally for Nevada
Democratic candidates featuring U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at the Las Vegas Academy
of the Arts on October 25, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
    A Nevada Democrat isn’t happy with her state party’s redistricting results.
    Rep. Dina Titus alleged she was cheated out of her congressional district during a town hall on Thursday.    Titus claimed parts of her safe blue voting pool were siphoned off into neighboring districts, creating three “risky districts.”
    Titus accused Republicans of “using gerrymandering to cut out Democratic seats.”    She added, “they could have created two safe seats for themselves and one swing.”
    The congresswoman said reelection already proved increasingly difficult due to Joe Biden’s low approval ratings and policy-induced inflation.    The redistricting was approved by the state’s Democrat legislature and Gov. Steve Sisolak (D-Nev.) last month.
    Titus’ frustration comes as Republicans seek to take back control in the 2022 midterm elections.

12/17/2021 Biden Fails To Follow The Science On Omicron by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden delivers the keynote address at the South Carolina State University’s 2021 Fall
Commencement Ceremony in Orangeburg, S.C., Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
    The White House has provided limited solutions to the newest COVID variant.    Instead, Joe Biden repeated one of his popular campaign slogans by warning Americans that a “very long, dark winter” is ahead of them.
    During a meeting with his COVID-19 response team, Biden trumpeted his administration’s accomplishments against the virus while warning the public of the dangers posed by the Omicron variant.    However, some of his comments contradicted available data.    First, Biden announced the arrival imminent spread of the new variant in the United States.
    “I want to send a direct message to the American people,” he stated.    “Due to the steps we’ve taken, Omicron has not yet spread as fast as it would have otherwise done and as happened in Europe.    But it’s here now and it’s spreading, and it’s going to increase.”
    While there’s no information showing any Biden administration policies have curbed Omicron, it’s more contagious than previous incarnations of COVID-19. A recent study estimated Omicron to be approximately 70 times more transmissible than the Delta variant.
    However, data from South Africa showed Omicron cases to be far milder than that of other strains.     Despite this, Biden continued by suggesting Omicron would ravage the unvaccinated and that vaccines as well as boosters are the only line of defense.
    “For unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for unvaccinated,” he asserted.    “For themselves, their families and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.    But there’s good news: if you’re vaccinated and you had your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death, period.”
    A study from Columbia University found current vaccines and booster shots to be relatively ineffective against Omicron.    Furthermore, the United Kingdom is the only country to have suffered an Omicron fatality with only one death having been recorded as a result of the new variant.
    However, it seems all the Biden administration can offer the American people for Christmas is more boosters and possible restrictions for the unvaccinated.

12/17/2021 GOP Senators Torch Build Back Better Agenda by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 16: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) speaks at a press conference, as Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.)
listens at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Top GOP members of the Senate and House Budget Committees set the record straight about the Democrats’ reckless tax and spend bill.    Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) even went as far as to call Joe Biden’s spending plan a “monster pig.”
    At a press conference on Thursday, Graham reacted to the Biden administration’s claim that the Congressional Budget Office’s bill score is somehow fake.    Graham noted Biden’s remarks about the nonpartisan group were very different when he was vice president.
    Graham pointed out how back in 2010, Biden said “the estimates from the CBO, which is really a, as you know, the gold standard…no Republican or Democrat questions it.” Graham then added, “I want the American people to know that this score from the CBO about the actual cost of the bill is not fake, it’s real.    The effect on the deficit is not fake, it’s real.”
    According to the CBO, Biden’s bill would be almost $3 trillion more than the nearly $1.7 trillion approved in the House bill.    Graham said Democrats would do anything they could to hide this from the American people because it exposes their budget gimmicks.
    Graham also said the Build Back Better bill “never gets better.” Meanwhile, Congressman Jason Smith (R-Mo.), who is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee, agreed.     “Over on the House side we refer to it as a couple other different B’s.    This bill, as I said, bankrupts the economy.    It’s the largest spending bill in the history of the United States.    It’s the largest tax increase in the history of the United States.    And it will add $3 trillion to the deficit…clearly bankrupting the economy,” stated Smith.
    The Biden administration has claimed if the bill passes, it would rebuild a “better America.”    However, Smith pointed out that most American’s idea of a better America doesn’t involve tax hikes and even more government intrusion.
    Smith stressed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) must revise this bill and remove all budget gimmicks.    He added she has more than enough time to do this considering she hasn’t even sent it to the Senate.
[THE ABOVE ARTICLE IS DEFINITE PROOF THAT THE DEMOCRATS TRIED TO CON AMERICA TO TAKE THIS COUNTRY AND DESTROY IT.]

12/17/2021 Sen. McConnell Discusses Tornado Recovery Efforts, Build Back Better by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 16: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) gestures as she speaks at a news conference at the
U.S. Capitol Building on December 16, 2021 in Washington, D.C.(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) discussed the recent series of destructive tornadoes impacting his home state of Kentucky as well as five other states.    During a news conference on Thursday, McConnell addressed recovery efforts for states affected by the fatal storms, along with the Democrats’ trillion-dollar spending bill, inflation, and the ongoing border crisis.
    Joe Biden approved federal aid for the states’ recovery process on Wednesday, covering the entire cost of debris removal and families who are in need of medical resources.    McConnell took action by calling on hospitals to provide as much support as possible for victims who need medical treatment.
    The minority leader further went on to discuss the Biden administration’s Build Back Better bill and how nothing about it was bipartisan until after the infrastructure bill was passed.    With the help of several GOP senators and a few Democrats speaking out against the left’s habit of over spending unnecessarily, the social spending measure most likely won’t pass until 2022.
    “The Democrats wanted to put the whole thing together, both hard infrastructure and what they called soft infrastructure,” said McConnell.    “So, I think it was a good idea for the country and a good idea for Republicans to step up, demonstrating that we could do something on a bipartisan basis that was overwhelmingly approved by the American people.”
    The Kentucky senator further applauded the efforts of moderate Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) for refusing to vote in favor of his party’s bill until several adjustments are made, including lowering its trillion-dollar cost.    All the pressure lies on the West Virginia senator whose vote will be crucial for Democrats to have a chance at passing the legislation in an evenly divided Senate.    His ongoing push for a more bipartisan compromise has sparked rumors of Manchin potentially switching parties.
    “Well, Senator Manchin likes to talk to you, he likes to talk to everybody.    I enjoy our conversations,” said McConnell.    “It would not surprise you to know that I have suggested for years it would be a great idea in the Democratic Party.”
    Meanwhile, Manchin has yet to disclose how he will vote in regards to the bill in order for Democrats to initiate another attempt.

12/17/2021 Ky. Gov. Andy Beshear: We Are Not Broken by OAN Newsroom
A car sits among the remains of a destroyed house after a tornado
in Dawson Springs, Ky., Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021. (Michael Clubb/AP Photo)
    Just days after a tornado devastated Western Kentucky, the governor announced a plan to rebuild the state.    On Thursday, Andy Beshear held a press conference to extend help to victims who lost their homes and businesses.    He called on businesses across the country to help the area while asking them to open an office or a store to help create employment.
    Beshear also encouraged people to apply for disaster unemployment assistance and to visit unemployment insurance locations, which will temporarily replace their wages while they look for work.    The governor stressed he wants the counties affected by the tornado to live again and assured businesses need not to get discouraged.
    The Kentucky governor got emotional as he talked about the towns that no longer stand. He assured people he will bring life back to the state.
    “We are not broken, even when it feels like it.    We will clear this chaos and death from our towns and we will rebuild our structures and our lives.”
    As Christmas quickly approaches Kentucky, First Lady Britainy Beshear has organized a toy drive to keep the magic in the air for families.    She said they received an outpouring amount of support for kids with donations ranging from electronics to gift cards to and bikes.
    Search teams recovered the body of the last person unaccounted for following the disaster.    On Thursday, authorities confirmed the body of 13-year-old Nyssa Brown was located.    She was the last of 244 reported missing in Bowling Green.
    The teen is at least the city’s 16th confirmed death as a result of the tornado.    Six of Brown’s family members were also reportedly killed in the tornado.    The statewide death toll currently stands at at least 76, however, search and rescue efforts remain underway.
    Meanwhile, parts of Kentucky are still without power.    Experts say the electric grid could take months to rebuild.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, standing next to his wife Britainy Beshear, speaks after surveying storm damage
from tornadoes and extreme weather in Dawson Springs, Ky., Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
    Joe Biden made a trip to Kentucky to address his administration’s plans in regards to assisting the six states struck by destructive tornadoes.    He gave his remarks on Wednesday, saying the federal government will be providing financial assistance to the states affected by the storms.    This came after Biden approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky as well as Illinois and Tennessee.
    Biden noted, he will also direct officials to install COVID-19 booster shot sites in tornado damaged areas.    He stressed federal officials will stay as long as it takes.

12/17/2021 Reports: Democrats Likely Won’t Be Able To Pass BBB Agenda This Year by OAN Newsroom
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) talks to reporters at the
Capitol in Washington. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo)
    It’s becoming increasingly unlikely Democrats will be able to pass Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda before the New Year. Bloomberg reported Thursday that Democrat leaders in the Senate failed to break a deadlock over the massive spending agenda.
    The White House has been trying to negotiate with Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) over the costly Child Tax Credit included in the bill.    During a press briefing Thursday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration will continue to push for the legislation.
    “This is a priority for the President to lower cost again, for Americans that I just listed out: child care, elder care, prescription drugs, universal pre-K," she stated.    “All of these things are highly critical to American families and that’s what they want us to seek to see us do…to deliver and that’s going to be our focus.”
    Democrats are hoping to get the bill passed without GOP support, but whether Democrats can actually do that is still facing a parliamentary review.

12/17/2021 U.S. Sees Iran Nuclear Breakout Time As Really Short-Senior Official
FILE PHOTO: Iranian flag flies in front of the UN office building, housing IAEA headquarters, amid the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Vienna, Austria, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States believes Iran’s breakout time to producing enough highly enriched uranium for one nuclear weapon is now “really short” and alarming, a senior Biden administration official told reporters on Friday.
    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, did not have a precise time for the breakout, which has been estimated to be a matter of months.
    “But it’s really short.    It is unacceptably short,” the official said, calling it “alarming.”
    The official said Andrea Gacki, the Treasury Department’s director of foreign asset control, was in the United Arab Emirates earlier this week urging private companies not to evade sanctions against Iran.
    “If you are evading sanctions, the U.S. will have its eye very much on you.    There will be consequences,” the official said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/17/2021 Pfizer Says Pandemic Could Extend Through 2023, Studies Three-Dose Vaccine Course For Children by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Conor Humphries
FILE PHOTO: A medical specialist holds the hand of a patient suffering from the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) at the intensive care unit (ICU) of Toxicology and Sepsis clinic of the Riga East Clinical
University Hospital in Riga, Latvia. Picture taken on October 29, 2021. REUTERS/Janis Laizans
    MADRID/DUBLIN (Reuters) -Pfizer Inc said on Friday the COVID-19 pandemic could extend through next year and announced plans to develop a three-dose vaccine regimen for children ages 2 to 16, a move that could delay its authorisation.
    The U.S. pharmaceutical company made its comments as European countries geared up for further travel and social restrictions and a study warned that the rapidly spreading Omicron coronavirus variant was five times more likely to reinfect people than its predecessor, Delta.
    Pfizer executives said the company believed that by 2024, the disease should be endemic around the globe, meaning it would no longer be a pandemic.    The company projected that “COVID will transition to an endemic state potentially by 2024.”
    Prior to the Omicron variant, top U.S. disease doctor Anthony Fauci forecast the pandemic would end in 2022 in the United States.
    Announcing plans to develop a three-dose regimen for ages 2 to 16, Chief Scientific Officer Mikael Dolsten told a conference call that results of three doses among people older than 16 showed that approach offered greater protection.
    “Therefore, we have decided to modify each of the pediatric studies to incorporate a third dose to the series and seek licensure for a three-dose series rather than a two-dose series as originally anticipated,” the company said.
    Pfizer developed its COVID-19 vaccine with Germany’s BioNTech SE.    The companies have been developing a version of their vaccine tailored to combat the Omicron variant, but have not decided whether it will be needed.    They expect to start a clinical trial for the updated vaccine in January, the Pfizer executives said.
    The risk of reinfection with the Omicron variant is 5.4 times higher https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-five-times-more-likely-reinfect-than-delta-study-says-2021-12-17 and it shows no sign of being milder than the Delta variant, a study by Imperial College London found, as cases soar across Europe and threaten year-end festivities.
    Past infection may offer as little as 19% protection against reinfection by the new variant, Imperial College said, noting that the study of hundreds of thousands of cases, including 1,846 confirmed as Omicron, had not been peer reviewed.
MOVES TOWARDS MORE RESTRICTIONS
    The new findings may add urgency to countries’ efforts to speed up vaccination booster campaigns to try to diminish the burden on hospitals and health systems.    So far, a spike in infections in Britain and elsewhere in Europe has not led to a big jump in hospitalizations or deaths.
    Uncertainty about the impact Omicron’s quickfire spread will have on a global economic recovery was reflected in diverging paths taken by major central banks this week.
    The Bank of Japan maintained its ultra-loose monetary policy on Friday, although it dialed-back emergency pandemic funding.
    Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and Denmark were all moving toward further travel restrictions, following the footsteps of France, which closed its borders this week to most non-resident Britons.
    Switzerland will from Monday until Jan. 24 expand the requirement to show proof of vaccination or recovery from the coronavirus in order to access indoor venues like restaurants, while discos and bars will require a negative test result.
    With the new variant accounting for a fifth of daily cases, the Danish government proposed closing theatres, cinemas, entertainment parks and conference centres, as well as limiting large crowds in stores and shops just seven days before Christmas Eve.
    “In record time, the rules of the game have again been changed,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters.    “This is not a complete closure of the society, as we saw last winter. Our aim is still to keep as much of society open as possible.”
    Denmark logged almost 3,000 Omicron infections in the 24 hours to Thursday evening – doubling the previous day’s count – while overall daily infections broke another record.    Denmark’s parliament must approve the proposed restrictions before they can be implemented.
    Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said that in the face of a “cruel virus,” his government had no choice but to consider unpopular measures including early closing times for bars and restaurants.
    Under rules that could be announced later on Friday, travellers to Germany from Britain would be required to quarantine for two weeks, a German Health Ministry spokesperson said.
RISING DEATH TOLL
    Since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan, China almost two years ago, more than 5 million people have died of COVID-19 globally and more than 272 million cases have been reported.
    More than 8.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered worldwide – an effort now complicated by Omicron’s emergence.
    The variant has driven infections in Britain close to peak levels seen in early 2021, although hospitalisations and deaths remain much lower.    European countries and the United States have also seen infections spike in December.
    European Union governments have agreed to order over 180 million doses of the adapted version of the vaccine being developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, the head of the EU executive body, the European Commission, said.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux, writing by Clara-Laeila Laudette and Timothy Heritage, editing by Frank Jack Daniel and)

12/17/2021 Head Of UK COVID-19 Lockdown Parties Probe Drops Out Over Own Event
FILE PHOTO: New Cabinet Secretary Simon Case arrives for a Cabinet meeting
at Downing Street in London, Britain, September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson
    LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s top civil servant Simon Case has stepped down from leading an investigation into alleged parties last year in government offices in breach of COVID-19 lockdowns after an event was held in his own office.
    “To ensure the ongoing investigation retains public confidence the Cabinet Secretary has recused himself for the remainder of the process,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said.
    “The work will be concluded by Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities."
    “She will ascertain the facts and present her findings to the Prime Minister.”
    A video emerged earlier this month showing Johnson’s staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned, resulting in condemnation from political opponents and the public.
    Johnson, who has said he had been assured COVID rules were not broken and that there had been no party, asked Case to investigate.
    The alleged parties have dismayed voters who were told by government to sacrifice their own Christmas events last year.
    Johnson’s Conservatives lost an election in a previous stronghold on Friday, stepping up pressure from his own lawmakers to reform his operation in Number 10.
    The victorious centrist Liberal Democrat candidate in the North Shropshire seat, Helen Morgan, said voters had said loudly and clearly: “Boris Johnson, the party is over.”
    Case stepped down after the Guido Fawkes website said two events were held in his private office last December.    The BBC said invitations were sent out for one of the events titled “Christmas Party!
    A government spokesperson quoted by the BBC said office staff had taken part in a virtual quiz, with a small number joining from their desks.
    Case played no part in the event, but had walked through the team’s office on the way to his own office, the spokesperson added, according to the BBC.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Grant McCool and Daniel Wallis)

12/17/2021 Pressure Will Grow On China On Climate – U.S. Security Adviser Sullivan
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan addresses the daily press briefing
at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday he believed pressure would grow on China to offer “something fundamentally more ambitious” in the fight against climate change than it has put on the table so far.
    Asked at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank whether the Biden administration would be looking at more ambitious targets following last month’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Sullivan replied:
    “I think almost by definition, we have to be more ambitious, because more ambition is required to get to where we want to go, which is to limit warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.”
    Sullivan said China was a big part of this as the world’s largest emitter.
    “In the months coming out of COP26, I think the focus will shift and the pressure will grow on China to come to the table with something fundamentally more ambitious than what they have put on the table so far,” he said, using the formal title for the summit.
    “I don’t say that in some kind of competitive way, or challenging way, or threatening way, just the reality is that the only way to solve this problem – for China, as well as for the rest of the world – is for that country to step up more.    There are other countries that will have to as well.”
    Cutting coal use was a major bone of contention at COP26, with countries finally agreeing to “phase down” consumption as part of their efforts to keep global temperature rises as close to 1.5 degrees Celsius as possible.
    China is responsible for more than half of global coal-fired power generation and is expected to see a 9% year-on-year increase in 2021, the International Energy Agency said on Friday.
    China has already made a pledge to start reducing coal consumption, but will do so only after 2025, giving developers considerable leeway to raise generation capacity further in the coming four years.
    At the Glasgow summit, China and the United States made a joint declaration committing to ramp up their cooperation on climate change as well as their own national plans.    The world’s two biggest emitters made a similar declaration that helped secure the Paris climate agreement in 2015.
(Reporting Susan Heavey, Steve Holland, David Brunnstrom, Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/17/2021 Italy’s Salvini Says Draghi Should Remain PM, Not Be Next President
FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi holds a news conference after the government met to discuss
stricter coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health pass rules, in Rome, Italy, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Remo Casilli
    ROME (Reuters) – Italian right-wing leader Matteo Salvini said on Friday that Prime Minister Mario Draghi should remain in his current role and not become head of state when the position comes free early next year.
    Parliament will convene to choose a new president in January, and the former European Central Bank chief is the bookmaker’s favourite to replace the Sergio Mattarella, who has made clear he does not want another seven-year term.
    Draghi has never sought to dampen talk that he wants to become president, but Salvini became the latest of several party chiefs to suggest it would be better for Italy’s political stability for him to carry on as head of government.
    Salvini said that without Draghi at the helm it would be hard to keep afloat the broad national unity coalition that includes his rightist League party and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).
    “I make the effort to govern with the PD and Draghi walks off? We have prolonged the (COVID-19) state of emergency to March 31 and Draghi walks off?”, he said, speaking to reporters in the Sicilian city of Palermo.
    “Draghi should remain prime minister.    If you move a pawn it is not easy for everything to stay as it is.”
    Four-times prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is the official presidential candidate of the conservative bloc that includes the League, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party and the hard-right Brothers of Italy.
    The election of the president, involving more than 1,000 parliamentarians and regional representatives, is notoriously unpredictable, conducted through a secret ballot in which rank and file party members often ignore the orders of their leaders.
    Even if Draghi stays on as prime minister, his term will expire in around a year, with new parliamentary elections due in the spring of 2023.
(Reporting by Gavin Jones; Editing by Crispian Balmer)

12/18/2021 Oil down $0.94 to $70.98, DOW down 529 to 35,365.

12/17/2021 China Responds To U.S. Bill Taking Aim At Regime For Alleged Forced Labor In Xinjiang Province by OAN Newsroom
President Joe Biden listens as he meets virtually with Chinese President Xi Jinping from the
Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Nov. 15, 2021. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
    The Chinese Communist Party responded to a bill passed by U.S. lawmakers that placed sanctions on the regime for its treatment of Uyghur minorities in its Xinjiang region.    On Friday, a CCP spokesperson called on the U.S. to peel back sanctions, adding China wouldn’t be afraid to retaliate.
    “U.S. actions have seriously undermined the principles of market economy and international economic and trade rules, seriously harmed the interests of Chinese organizations and companies.    Beijing is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposes the actions,” said spokesperson Wang Wenbin.    “We urge the United States to immediately rectify its mistaken ways.    China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights of Chinese organizations and companies.”
    China has long faced accusations it has sanctioned forced sterilizations and abortions, torture, slave labor and mass sexual assault in concentration camps in Xinjiang.    On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a law putting sanctions on dozens of Chinese entities over their alleged complicity in the repression of mostly Muslim Uyghur minorities.
    Under the law, U.S. businesses will be barred from selling goods to such entities unless they are granted a license to do so.    Further, Americans will be barred from buying public securities connected to those companies.
    Speaking about the bill, one of its authors, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), said this was an important step in making it clear that the U.S. would not fund or support the CCP in its efforts to oppress the minority group.
    “They’ll no longer make Americans, every one of us frankly, unwitting accomplices in the atrocities in the genocide being committed by the Chinese Communist Party,” said Rubio.
    While it enjoyed wide bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, Congress’ bill faced pushback from lobbyists for major corporations including Nike, Coca-Cola and Apple.    They argued the sanctions would severely impact production of their products and would negatively effect the economy.
    Globally, one in five cotton-based garments are made from cotton grown in Xinjiang.    The region is also known for supplying large amounts of polysilicon, which is used in smartphones and solar panels.

12/17//2021 National Security Advisor Sullivan Suggests Long Road Ahead Over China, Afghanistan, Iran Crises by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 07: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan
talks to reporters. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said there’s a long way to go regarding several Biden administration policy goals.
    On Friday, Sullivan spoke at an event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations.    Biden’s right hand man on foreign policy issues touched on several crisis areas including Taiwan, Afghanistan and Iran.
    Sullivan responded to criticisms of the Biden administration, stating its stance on Taiwan is too vague.    He argued U.S.-Taiwanese relations are pretty clear, referencing the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which sets up strong commercial, military and diplomatic relations with the East Asian nation.
    However, America is allowed to engage with the nation without recognizing it as a country.    Sullivan added America has historically had a strong commitment to advancing Taiwan’s interests and will push back against states, especially China, who infringe on Taiwan’s ambitions.
    The top National Security official was also posed questions about the consequences of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. On top of spiraling economic and political crises, winter has posed an equally devastating potential humanitarian crisis.
    The Taliban’s takeover after Biden pulled out of the country has led to food shortages, which could cause mass starvation among Afghans.    The terrorist group’s ascent has also turned away international leaders from engaging with the country, drying up humanitarian assistance.
    Sullivan stressed Biden’s diplomatic team is working to mobilize international partners to help get relief to Afghan residents.    He especially called for allies in the region to step up.
    Additionally, Sullivan lamented talks with Iran over nuclear disarmament aren’t going well.    He claimed since America’s withdrawal from the controversial Obama-era nuclear deal, Iran has grown emboldened and more advanced with its program.    This has caused a stalemate regarding negotiations as both the Biden administration and Iranian regime haven’t made any progress.
    However, Sullivan acknowledged European ambassadors and Iranian officials have made some progress on the nuclear front during talks in Vienna.    Sullivan asserted the international community needs to ban together to make sure Iran never gets a hold of nuclear weapons, adding diplomacy is the only way to do that.
    In the meantime, Sullivan vowed to push the Biden administration to develop a strong diplomatic apparatus to help solve international crises with U.S. leadership with contributions from the international community.

12/17/2021 S.D. Rebels Against Biden’s War On Christmas by OAN Newsroom
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – AUGUST 26: In this screenshot from the RNC’s livestream of the 2020 Republican
National Convention, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem addresses the virtual convention on August 26, 2020.
(Photo Courtesy of the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Committee via Getty Images)
    With supply chain shortages, inflation and the resurrection of COVID restrictions, it seems the Biden administration is doing everything they can to cancel Christmas this year.    However, Gov. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) has encouraged Americans to resist Democrats’ negativity campaign.
    Gov. Noem isn’t allowing Joe Biden to steal the spirit of Christmas.    This past week, Biden has browbeaten Americans, threatening that a “very long, dark winter” is ahead of them.
    “For the unvaccinated, we are looking at a winter of severe illness and death for unvaccinated, for themselves, their families and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm.    But there’s good news,” Biden said.    “If you’re vaccinated and you had your booster shot, you’re protected from severe illness and death, period.”
    Although, Noem said her state still believes in personal responsibility and common sense measures.
    “Encourage them to consistently wash their hands, like we did throughout the pandemic to make sure if they’re not feeling well they should stay home.    Protect the vulnerable individuals and choose to get a vaccine if they would like to.    If they don’t, then go into this knowing that they should focus on exercising, taking their vitamins and being very healthy people,” Noem stated.
    Meanwhile, South Dakotans will celebrate Christmas this year despite Biden’s fearmongering.
    “We plan on doing business as usual and celebrating Christmas.    I think the president’s outlook is focusing on the negatives,” she went on.    “This country needs hope and they need to remember the promises of Christmas and love they have for their family and friends, and enjoy the season.”

12/18/2021 WELL IT LOOKS LIKE WE STOPPED ONE EVIL OF A BUILD BACK BETTER, SO WHAT’S NEXT.

12/18/2021 NOW WE NEED TO STOP ANOTHER EVIL WITH GOD’S HELP.

12/18/2021 UK Brexit Supremo Frost Resigns In Blow To PM Johnson by William Schomberg and Guy Faulconbridge
FILE PHOTO: British Brexit Minister David Frost speaks to the media ahead of a meeting with European Commission
Vice-President Maros Sefcovic in Brussels, Belgium November 19, 2021. REUTERS/Yves Herman
    LONDON (Reuters) -British Brexit minister David Frost resigned on Saturday over disillusionment with the direction of Boris Johnson’s government, dealing a major blow to the embattled prime minister https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/british-pm-johnson-faces-rebellion-parliament-over-covid-measures-2021-12-14 as the Omicron variant sweeps the country.
    The resignation of Frost, a core architect of Johnson’s tumultuous Brexit strategy, raised questions about the future tone of the EU divorce and the immediate course of talks on Northern Ireland.    It also added to a sense of turmoil in Johnson’s Conservative government.
    Frost said he was confident that Brexit was secure, but said he had concerns about the government’s direction.
    “You know my concerns about the current direction of travel,” Frost told Johnson in a letter released by Downing Street.
    “I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change.”
    His resignation was first reported by The Mail on Sunday, which said it was triggered by Johnson’s tougher COVID restrictions but also by a broader discontent with tax rises and the cost of environmental policies.
    Frost said he had agreed with Johnson earlier this month to leave in January, but because his move had been leaked it should happen with immediate effect.
    “We also need to learn to live with COVID,” Frost said.    “I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere.”
    Johnson said he was sorry to receive Frost’s resignation.
    The departure of the British government’s most senior Brexit negotiator comes on top of warnings from some of his Johnson’s own Conservative Party lawmakers that he must improve his leadership or face a challenge.
    Johnson, who won a landslide election victory in December 2019, is facing the biggest crisis of his premiership after a litany of scandals and missteps, which his opponents say show he is unfit to be prime minister.
    He has faced a barrage of criticism since a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned.
    Downing Street had denied a party took place.    Britain’s top civil servant, Simon Case, has stepped down from leading the investigation into alleged parties after it was disclosed that an event had been held in his own office.
    The loss of a parliamentary seat in an election defeat in a Conservative stronghold earlier this week showed public dismay over the litany of scandals and stepped up pressure on Johnson. [nL1N2T2040]
BREXIT FUTURE
    Frost, a former diplomat who was repeatedly hailed by Johnson as “the greatest Frost since the Great Frost of 1709,” was a committed Brexit supporter who negotiated Johnson’s revised EU divorce deal and a trade agreement.
    He cast the United Kingdom’s 2016 vote to leave the EU as part of a broader rebellion against the bloc’s transnational collective governance that wanted to revive the nation-state.
    Having such a true “Brexit believer” at the heart of British power gave reassurance to Brexit supporters in the Conservative Party that Johnson would remain tough on the European Union.
    Frost, until his resignation, was leading an attempt by London to renegotiate parts of the divorce deal concerning Northern Ireland.
    Beyond Brexit, though, the 56 year-old Frost was unhappy.
    In a speech last month, Frost expressed his clear discontent with the course of post-Brexit British policy.
    “We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the European Union from Britain with Brexit, only to import that European model after all this time,” Frost said in a Nov. 22 speech at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Trade.
    He disagreed with “those who think we can treat the private sector as just a convenient way of keeping the public sector running.”
    “It isn’t just a source of taxes,” Frost said.    “We can’t carry on as we were before, and if after Brexit all we do is import the European social model we will not succeed.”
    The opposition Labour Party said the government was in chaos and said Johnson should provide clarity on what would happen in talks with the EU over the Northern Irish Protocol, a part of the divorce deal.
    “Boris Johnson needs to get a grip, tell us his plan for the next few weeks and bring certainty for the people of Northern Ireland by unblocking the stalemate over the Protocol,” said Jenny Chapman, Labour’s shadow minister of state at the Cabinet Office.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and William SchombergWriting by Guy Faulconbridge in LondonEditing by Catherine Evans, Matthew Lewis and Leslie Adler)

12/18/2021 UK Scientists Suggest Many More Have Omicron Coronavirus Variant Than Reported
People walk through the Piazza in Covent Garden amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
pandemic in London, Britain, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) – Scientific advisors to Britain’s government said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were being infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant every day and hospital admissions were likely to surge.
    “Currently observed numbers of Omicron infections admitted to hospital in the UK are probably around one tenth of the true number because the data lags of hospital reporting,” the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said in minutes of a meeting on Dec. 16.
    Data published on Saturday showed confirmed Omicron cases hit 24,968 as of 1800 GMT on Dec. 17, up by just over 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier.
    Without further measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, “modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England,” according to the minutes of the meeting.
(Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

12/18/2021 UK Scientists Suggest Many More Have Omicron Coronavirus Variant Than Reported
People wait to get their COVID-19 booster vaccine at a mobile vaccination
centre in Bolton, Britain, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Phil Noble
    LONDON (Reuters) – Scientific advisors to Britain’s government said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were being infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant every day and hospital admissions were likely to surge.
    “Currently observed numbers of Omicron infections admitted to hospital in the UK are probably around one tenth of the true number because the data lags of hospital reporting,” the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies said in minutes of a meeting on Dec. 16.
    Data published on Saturday showed confirmed Omicron cases hit 24,968 as of 1800 GMT on Dec. 17, up by just over 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier.
    Without further measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, “modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England,” according to the minutes of the meeting.
(Writing by William Schomberg, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

12/18/2021 Final Chile Presidential Polls Show Leftist Boric Edging Ahead by Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
FILE PHOTO: Chile presidential candidate Gabriel Boric, of the left-wing coalition 'Apruebo Dignidad' (I Approve Dignity),
arrives for a live televised debate in Santiago, Chile, December 13, 2021. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado/File Photo
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric has widened his lead in the final polls ahead of the Andean country’s presidential election on Sunday, though the polarized race remains tight against ultra-conservative rival Jose Antonio Kast.
    Ahead of the run-off ballot, two private polls seen by Reuters showed 35-year-old former student protest leader Boric edging ahead of Kast, 55, a far-right lawyer who has defended the legacy of military dictator Augusto Pinochet.
    Chile, the world’s top copper producer and long a role model of market-oriented economic policy in Latin America, is set for its most divisive presidential ballot in decades, with both candidates from outside the centrist mainstream parties.
    A private poll from Cadem, which surveyed 1,007 people with a margin of error of 3.1%, showed Boric taking 55% of the vote versus 45% for Kast, widening his lead over the last week when a similar poll showed him with 52% versus 48% for Kast.
    A second poll by consulting firm Atlas Intel, which had shown a draw earlier in the week, now put Boric ahead with 51% voting preferences versus 49% for Kast.    The survey included 4,062 people with a margin of error of 1%.
    The country is in a two-week blackout period where pollsters cannot openly publish surveys on the vote, but private polls are often commissioned.
    The first opinion polls after the Nov. 21 first round vote had favored Boric, though that lead had appeared to be narrowing until the most recent surveys.
(Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Editing by Adam Jourdan and Diane Craft)

12/18/2021 Omicron Cases Doubling In 1.5 To 3 Days In Areas With Local Spread – WHO by Stephanie Nebehay
FILE PHOTO: People pose with syringe and needle in front of displayed World Health Organization
(WHO) logo, in this illustration taken December 11, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration
    GENEVA (Reuters) -The Omicron coronavirus variant has been reported in 89 countries and the number of cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday.
    Omicron is spreading rapidly in countries with high levels of population immunity, but it is unclear if this is due to the virus’ ability to evade immunity, its inherent increased transmissibility or a combination of both, the WHO said in an update.
    The agency designated Omicron a variant of concern on Nov. 26, soon after it was first detected, and much is still not known about it, including the severity of the illness it causes.     “There are still limited data on the clinical severity of Omicron,” the WHO said.    “More data are needed to understand the severity profile and how severity is impacted by vaccination and pre-existing immunity.”
    It added, “There are still limited available data, and no peer-reviewed evidence, on vaccine efficacy or effectiveness to date for Omicron.”
    The WHO warned that with cases rising so rapidly, hospitals could be overwhelmed in some places.
    “Hospitalizations in the UK and South Africa continue to rise, and given rapidly increasing case counts, it is possible that many healthcare systems may become quickly overwhelmed.”
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Silke KoltrowitzEditing by Mark Heinrich and Frances Kerry)

12/19/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/19/2021 Omicron Coronavirus Cases Surge In UK, Scientists See Bigger Wave by William Schomberg
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan visits a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pop-up vaccination centre at Chelsea
football ground, Stamford Bridge in London, Britain, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/David Klein
    LONDON (Reuters) -Britain reported a surge in cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant on Saturday which government advisors said could be just the tip of the iceberg, and London’s mayor declared a “major incident” to help the city’s hospitals cope.
    The number of Omicron cases recorded across the country hit almost 25,000 as of 1800 GMT on Friday, up by more than 10,000 cases from 24 hours earlier, the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said.
    Seven people believed to have had the Omicron variant had died as of Thursday, up from one death in the UKHSA’s previous data which ran up to Tuesday. Admissions to hospital of people thought to have the variant increased to 85 from 65.
    The government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) said it was “almost certain” that hundreds of thousands of people were being infected with the variant every day and were not being picked up in the figures.
    SAGE said without a further tightening of COVID-19 rules, “modelling indicates a peak of at least 3,000 hospital admissions per day in England,” they said in minutes of a meeting on Dec. 16.
    Last January, before Britain’s vaccination campaign gathered speed, daily hospital admissions in the United Kingdom as a whole surged above 4,000.
    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced a rebellion in his governing Conservative Party over some of the measures he has taken so far to try to curb COVID-19’s latest spread.    A newspaper said on Saturday that Johnson’s Brexit minister, David Frost, had resigned in part because of the new rules.
    The advisors said it was too early to assess the severity of disease caused by Omicron but if there was a modest reduction compared to the Delta variant, “very high numbers of infections would still lead to significant pressure on hospitals.”
    London Mayor Sadiq Khan declared a “major incident” – which allows for closer coordination between public agencies and possibly more central government support – as COVID-19 hospital admissions in the city rose by nearly 30% this week.
    He said health worker absences had also increased.
    “This is a statement of how serious things are,” he said.
    Khan, from the opposition Labour Party, also declared a major incident in January, when rising COVID-19 cases threatened to overwhelm hospitals.
    The Omicron variant https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/how-worried-should-we-be-about-omicron-variant-2021-12-14 is estimated to account for more than 80% of new COVID-19 cases in London, officials said on Friday.
EMERGENCY MEETING
    Johnson was due to chair an emergency committee meeting over the weekend with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which have their own powers over public health.
    A report in The Times newspaper said officials were preparing draft rules which, if introduced, would ban indoor mixing in England — except for work — for two weeks after Christmas when pubs and restaurants would be limited to outdoor table service.
    People would be able to meet in groups of up to six outdoors, the newspaper said, adding that ministers were yet to formally consider the plans.
    Johnson said on Friday “we are not closing things down.”
    A government spokesperson said the government would continue to “look closely at all the emerging data and we’ll keep our measures under review as we learn more about this variant
    The number of all new COVID-19 cases reported in official data fell to 90,418 from a record high of more than 93,000 on Friday, but that was still the country’s second-highest daily toll.    Figures typically dip at the weekend.
    Cases were up 44.4% over the seven days to Dec. 18 compared with the previous week.
    Police clashed with a group of protesters opposed to the latest COVID-19 restrictions near Johnson’s Downing Street office and residence on Saturday.    A number of officers were injured but so far no arrests had been made, police said.
(Editing by Helen Popper, Timothy Heritage and Catherine Evans)

12/19/2021 Chile Heads To The Polls With ‘Two Models Of The Nation’ At Stake by Anthony Esposito and Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
A poster of Lucia Hiriart, the widow of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, reading "Bye old lady"
is seen along a street in downtown Santiago, Chile, December 17, 2021. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chileans head to the polls on Sunday to vote in the Andean nation’s most divisive presidential election in decades, with two candidates offering starkly different visions for the future from pensions and privatization to human rights.
    On one side is Gabriel Boric, a 35-year-old former student protest leader promising social change, who has edged ahead in pre-election polls, versus ultra-conservative Jose Antonio Kast , 55, a lawyer who has won support for a hard law-and-order line.
    “Two models for the nation are going face-to-face,” Kast wrote in a letter published Saturday in local newspaper El Mercurio, citing Boric’s plans for “total transformation” and his own promising “change with order and stability.”
    Both candidates come from outside the centrist political mainstream that has largely ruled Chile since its return to democracy in 1990 after the dark years of military dictatorship under General Augusto Pinochet, whose ghost still looms large.
    Both candidates got under 30% of the vote in a fragmented first round in November and have been battling hard since then to win over sometimes skeptical moderate voters in the copper-rich country of some 19 million people.
    “It is not that I am 100% with Boric, but now it is time to decide between two opposing options and Boric is my choice,” said Javier Morales, 29, a construction worker who attended Boric’s campaign closing event this week.
    Boric supporters say he will overhaul the country’s market-oriented economic model that dates back to Pinochet.    It has been credited for driving economic growth, but attacked for creating sharp divides between rich and poor.
    Kast, meanwhile, has defended Pinochet’s legacy and aimed barbs at Boric for his alliance with the Communist Party in his wide leftist coalition, which has resonated with supporters.
    “I feel Chile needs a bit of order,” said Florencia Vergara, 25, a dentistry student, who is supporting Kast as the “lesser evil” for the economy.    “I like his proposals on economic issues, although I don’t agree with all his political ideals.”
    Boric, who rose to prominence leading a student protest in 2011 to demand better and more affordable education, wrote in an open letter that his government would make the changes Chileans had demanded in widespread social uprisings in 2019.
    “(That means) having a real social security system that doesn’t leave people behind, ending the hateful gap between healthcare for the rich and healthcare for the poor, advancing without hesitation in freedoms and rights for women,” he said.
    The 2019 protests, which ran for months and at times turned violent, sparked a formal process to redraft Chile’s decades-old constitution, a text which will face a referendum vote next year.
    The final polls ahead of the run-off election show Boric widening his lead against Kast, though most polls show a close race.
    Businessman Jorge Valdivia, 54, a Boric supporter, said the vote was a chance for the country to close a chapter on the past and shift toward a more inclusive economic and social system.
    “We can close the dark, damaging and abusive model that benefited a small minority.    We have an opportunity to open things up towards the future in benefit of our children,” he said.
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Natalia Ramos; Editing by Leslie Adler)

12/19/2021 Sen. Manchin On Build Back Better: ‘This Is A No’ by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 17: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is followed by reporters as he leaves a caucus meeting with Senate Democrats
at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 17, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he’s a hard no on the Build Back Better spending bill.
    In an interview on Sunday, the Democrat senator said there’s no way he could support the $1.75 trillion package with current obstacles like inflation, the national debt and geopolitical unrest.    Manchin said he has gone to great lengths to reach an acceptable compromise on the bill.
    “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation, I just can’t.    I have tried everything humanly possible, I can’t get there,” said Manchin.    “This is a no on this legislation.    I have tried everything I know to do.”
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki responded by alleging that Manchin’s comments are at odds with his discussions with Joe Biden and that the pair would continue negotiating the bill’s framework in “good faith.”
    “On Tuesday of this week, Senator Manchin came to the White House and submitted…to the president, in person, directly, a written outline for a Build Back Better bill that was the same size and scope as the president’s framework, and covered many of the same priorities,” Psaki said in a statement.    “While that framework was missing key priorities, we believed it could lead to a compromise acceptable to all.”
    However, with no Republican support in the 50-50 split Senate, Manchin’s opposition means the bill is essentially dead in the water.
[THE DEMOCRATS ARE NOW THROWING DIRT ON THEIR HEAD INTO SLEF PUNISHING THEMSELVES AS GOD HAS PUT A CHECKMATE TO THE GAME TO DESTROY THE UNITED STATES AND IT IS JUST ANOTHER FAILURE OF THE BIDEN PRESIDENCY AND THE HATE THAT WILL BE COMING WILL INTENSIFY IN THE COMING WEEKS AS THE GLOBALIST SOCIALIST ONE WORLD GOVERNMENT IS NOT HAPPY.].

12/19/2021 Construction Begins For The Texas Border Wall by OAN Newsroom
LA JOYA, TEXAS – NOVEMBER 18: U.S. National Guard members patrol an unfinished section of
border wall on November 18, 2021 in La Joya, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)
    Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) announced Texas is making great progress with the southern border wall in the Rio Grande Valley.    On Saturday, Abbott shared some remarks about Joe Biden, illegal immigration and the border wall construction during a press briefing.
    In June, Abbott directed the Texas Facilities Commission to start building the border wall.    He authorized $3 billion in funding for the efforts.
    “Texas is taking what truly is unprecedented action…a state to build a wall on our border, to safeguard the sovereignty of our state and of our nation,” Abbott said during his press conference.
    Also during the press conference, Abbott discussed the fentanyl crisis at the southern border.
    “And we’re seeing something devastating that the Biden administration is not doing enough to respond and that is the enormous amount of the deadly drug, fentanyl, that’s coming across our border.    Two milligrams of fentanyl is a deadly dose. And we have already apprehended enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman, and child in Texas, California, New York, Illinois, and Florida combined,” said Abbott.
    The wall will also have different surveillance devices to monitor future immigration flow.

12/19/2021 Omicron Threat Looms Over Winter Holidays In Europe And U.S.
FILE PHOTO: A girl receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
vaccine in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 5, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah Beier
    LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Netherlands went into lockdown on Sunday and the possibility of more COVID-19 restrictions being imposed ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays loomed over several European countries as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly.
    In the United States, White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci urged https://www.reuters.com/world/us/covid-omicron-variant-raging-through-world-traveling-increases-risk-fauci-2021-12-19 people travelling to visit loves ones to get booster shots and always wear masks in crowded public spaces.
    He said Omicron was “raging through the world” and that travelling will increase the risk of infection even among vaccinated people.    Since the start of the month, U.S. COVID cases have risen 50%, according to a Reuters tally.
    Dutch urban centres were largely deserted https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/netherlands-starts-painful-christmas-coronavirus-lockdown-2021-12-19 as the country began a snap lockdown that threw people’s Christmas plans into disarray.
    Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the shutdown on Saturday evening, ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from Sunday until at least Jan. 14.
    Omicron, a very contagious variant first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, has raced around the globe and been reported in 89 countries, the World Health Organization said on https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-cases-doubling-15-3-days-areas-with-local-spread-who-2021-12-18 Saturday. It said the number of Omicron cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/omicron-cases-doubling-15-3-days-areas-with-local-spread-who-2021-12-18 in areas with community transmission, but noted that much remains unknown about the variant, including the severity of the illness it causes.
    While the Netherlands took the plunge and shut down much of public life to prevent its healthcare system from being overwhelmed, several other European governments are considering additional curbs – at a time when businesses count on people spending more heavily than usual on shopping, entertainment and travel.
    Overall COVID infections are rising in 64 out of 240 countries https://tmsnrt.rs/34pvUyi and territories tracked by Reuters, with 12 countries recording more cases than at any point during the pandemic, including the United Kingdom.
    Sajid Javid, the health minister, declined https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-health-minister-doesnt-rule-out-new-covid-restrictions-before-christmas-2021-12-19 on Sunday to rule out the chance that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will impose further restrictions before Christmas.
    He said the government was taking the “sobering” advice of its scientists seriously, was watching the data closely, and would balance both against the broader impact of restrictions on areas such as businesses and education.
    Johnson is reeling after a series of scandals and missteps, and more than 100 of his own Conservative lawmakers this week voted against the government’s latest measures to tackle what he had warned was going to be a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases.
    Javid said Johnson was not too politically weak to bring in further curbs if necessary.
    In Italy, the government is considering new measures to avoid a surge in infections during the holiday period, local newspapers reported on Sunday.
    After meeting with ministers on Dec. 23, Prime Minister Mario Draghi could mandate that people who have been vaccinated also show a negative test to access crowded places, including nightclubs and stadiums, daily Corriere della Sera reported.
    Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach ruled out a Christmas lockdown on Sunday but warned a fifth COVID-19 wave could no longer be stopped, adding that he viewed mandatory vaccination as the only way to end the pandemic.
(Reporting by Reuters newsrooms; Writing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by John Stonestreet and Daniel Wallis)

12/19/2021 No Lockdown Before Christmas, Germany Says
FILE PHOTO: Passengers wear face masks as they wait for an S-Bahn commuter train on the
platform at Friedrichstrasse station during lockdown amid the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, Germany February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) -Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach ruled out a Christmas lockdown on Sunday but warned a fifth COVID-19 wave could no longer be stopped and backed mandatory vaccination as the only way to stop the pandemic.
    “There will not be a lockdown before Christmas here. But we will get a fifth wave – we have crossed a critical number of Omicron infections,” Lauterbach said, speaking on broadcaster ARD.    “This wave can no longer be completely stopped.”
    In another interview with BILD, Lauterbach added that he did not expect there to be a “hard lockdown” after the holidays either.    The Netherlands, a neighbour, began a lockdown https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/netherlands-starts-painful-christmas-coronavirus-lockdown-2021-12-19 on Sunday at least until Jan. 14 to stem an expected surge of the virus.
    Germany banned unvaccinated people from entering non-essential establishments at the beginning of the month in an attempt to control rising cases amid the spread of the Omicron variant.
    The government still needed to make clear to the populace what would and would not be allowed during the holiday season, Lauterbach said, without specifying what measures were under discussion.
    The government’s scientific advisory panel said in a statement on Sunday that it was necessary to limit contact between people further, with data so far showing that boosters alone would not be enough to contain the spread of the virus.
    Given how quickly and widely the Omicron variant disperses – with Omicron cases doubling every 2-4 days in Germany at present, slower than the UK’s growth rate but faster than the spread of other variants in Germany – a considerable overload of hospitals was to be expected, the statement said.
    Nearly 70% of the population is fully vaccinated against the virus, according to data from Dec. 17.     The country reported 29,348 new cases on Sunday and 180 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute for infectious diseases.    The number of new daily cases rose significantly in October and November but have been slowly falling since the start of the month.
    Lauterbach reiterated his call to make vaccination compulsory in Sunday’s interview with ARD, a policy which parliament is due to debate early next year and which Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said he supports.
    “I believe we can defeat this if we close the gaps in vaccination with mandatory vaccines.    That is my clear conviction,” Lauterbach said.
(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee;Editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Editing by William Maclean)

12/19/2021 Thousands Of Santas Stage Madrid Charity Run For Volcano-Hit La Palma
People wearing Santa Claus outfits take part in a charity race to collect funds to help victims of the Cumbre
Vieja volcano eruption, in Madrid, Spain December 19, 2021. REUTERS/Juan Medina TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
    MADRID (Reuters) – Thousands of people dressed as Santa Claus took part in a charity run through Madrid on Sunday to raise money for people affected by a three-month volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma.
    Decked out in classic red and white outfits, the runners set off in a flurry of fake snow along the Paseo de la Castellana, a major boulevard through the city centre.
    Some runners swapped Santa’s traditional red trousers for more sporty shorts, while many wore face masks as a coronavirus precaution.
    “You have to try to be careful, especially close to Christmas,” said Teresa, taking part with her colleagues, who were all wearing face masks.
    Thousands of people have been evacuated, at least 2,910 buildings have been destroyed and banana plantations have been devastated on La Palma, an island in the Canaries.    The Cumbre Vieja volcano began spewing streams of molten lava in September, but scientists said last week the eruption could be coming to an end.
(Reporting by Michael Gore and Elena Rodriguez; Writing by Jessica Jones; Editing by Frances Kerry)

12/19/2021 UK Health Minister Doesn’t Rule Out New COVID Curbs Before Christmas by Kylie MacLellan
FILE PHOTO: People walk through the Piazza in Covent Garden amid the coronavirus disease
(COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s health minister on Sunday declined to rule out the chance of further COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas, saying the spread of the Omicron variant was a very fast moving situation.
    Britain has reported a surge in Omicron cases, which government advisers said could be just the tip of the iceberg.    On Saturday, London’s mayor declared a “major incident” to help the city’s hospitals cope.
    Asked whether he could rule out new restrictions before Christmas, health minister Sajid Javid told BBC Television: “We are assessing the situation, it is very fast moving.”
    “There are no guarantees in this pandemic I don’t think.    At this point, we just have to keep everything under review.”
    Javid said the government was watching the data on an “almost hourly basis” and listening to its scientific advisers and would balance that against the broader impact of restrictions on things such as businesses and education.
    He said there was a still a lot that is not known about Omicron but waiting until data is clearer may leave it too late to react to it.
    Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay held a meeting of the government’s emergency committee on Sunday to discuss the situation with the UK’s devolved administrations and agreed to increase their funding to tackle the spread of Omicron.
    “They agreed to continue to monitor the emerging data over the coming days, working closely with businesses and public agencies across the UK to understand the impact on industry and services,” a Cabinet Office spokesperson said.
    More than 100 of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s own Conservative lawmakers voted against the government’s latest measures to tackle the spread of COVID-19 earlier this week and Johnson is facing the biggest crisis of his premiership after a litany of scandals and missteps.
    Asked if Johnson was too weak to bring in further curbs, Javid said: “No … if the government felt that further action had to be taken of course we would present that to parliament and it would be for parliament to decide.”
    The number of confirmed Omicron cases recorded across the country was 37,101 as of 1800 GMT on Dec. 18, the UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday, up by more than 12,000 cases from 24 hours earlier.    Twelve people believed to have had the Omicron variant had died as of Friday.
    Javid said the actual number of Omicron infections was likely to be a lot higher.
    The number of all new COVID-19 cases reported in official data on Sunday was 82,886, up 51.9% over the seven days to Dec. 19 compared with the previous week.
    Javid said the government believed about 60% of new COVID-19 cases in England were now Omicron.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he thought new restrictions were inevitable otherwise the health service would be on the verge of collapse under the joint pressures of staff shortages and increased hospitalisations.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Susan Fenton, William Maclean)

12/19/2021 EU Commissioner Warns UK Against Picking Brexit Hardliner To Replace Frost by Conor Humphries
FILE PHOTO: EU Commissioner Financial Services, Stability and the Capital Markets Union Mairead McGuinness speaks at
a news conference on the fostering the openness, strength and resilience of Europe's economic and financial system
in Brussels, Belgium January 19, 2021 at the European Union headquarters. Kenzo Tribouillard/Pool via REUTERS
    DUBLIN (Reuters) – A European Commissioner said on Sunday that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s refusal to compromise on Brexit was “untenable” and called on him not to let Conservative Party “machinations” determine his replacement for Brexit minister David Frost.
    EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness, Ireland’s appointment to the European Commission, said she hoped that the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and other big issues would help nudge Britain to reciprocate on concessions made by Brussels.
    The resignation on Saturday of Frost, a core architect of Johnson’s tumultuous Brexit strategy, raised questions about the future tone of the EU divorce and the immediate course of talks on Northern Ireland.    It also added to a sense of turmoil in Johnson’s Conservative government.
    McGuinness, who said the Commission was not given any advance warning of Frost’s resignation, speculated that Frost’s move could have been linked to an easing of British opposition to the role of the European Court of Justice.
    “I would hope that the mood will be towards compromise and problem solving, not Conservative Party politics, which I’m afraid takes the eye off the real … issues, and will drag out this into next year, which is not good for Northern Ireland,” McGuinness told Irish state radio RTE.
    “If people [in London] are of the view that there will be no compromise, then there will be no progress and that’s untenable,” she said.
    McGuinness called on Johnson to resist pressure to choose a hardliner as Frost’s replacement.
    “If the priority is simply to appease hardliners in the Conservative Party, I think we are in a very bad place,” she said.
    She said the focus had to be on the issues and that it would be “alarming” if progress is dependent on the personality of the negotiator.    Frost’s replacement should be “fully briefed” and begin by acknowledging the concessions made by Brussels.
    “We’re entering 2022.    A referendum happened in 2016. … We must focus on Northern Ireland, not the internal machinations of the Tory Party,” she said.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Neely and Susan Fenton)
[THERE SEEMS TO BE TURMOIL INSIDE THE GOVERNMENT OF GREAT BRITAIN WHO IS ONE OF THE SEVEN HEADS OF THE BEAST THAT CAME OUT OF THE SEA AND IT IS A CONCERN OF ANY PROPHECIES AS TO WHERE IT MENTIONS THAT 3 HEADS WILL HAVE ISSUE AND A EIGHTH HEAD WILL COME.].

12/19/2021 Psaki Blames Conglomerates For Increase In Meat Prices by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 10: White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks to reporters in the Brady Press
Briefing Room at the White House on December 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
    White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki blamed the meat industry for increasing prices, despite the country’s worst inflation in almost four decades.
    During a recent press briefing, Psaki blamed meat conglomerates’ greed, adding they’re taking advantage of the pandemic to increase prices on goods to make a profit.    She explained how Americans experience inflation by seeing price increases on everyday goods like meat and groceries.
    “If you look at industry to industry, it’s a little different.    For example, the President, the Secretary of Agriculture, have both spoken to what we’ve seen is the greed of meat conglomerates.    That is an area, one where people go to the grocery store and they’re trying to buy a pound of meat, two pounds of meat, 10 pounds of meat…the prices are higher,” said Psaki.
    She noted global supply chain issues have also contributed to rising prices, but claimed the Democrats’ Build Back Better plan would have an immediate impact on inflation in the future.
    “Well, 56 economists say that Build Back Better will help quote alleviate some of the strain caused by inflation,” Psaki claimed.
    According to recent data released by the Labor Department, Americans making less than $50,000 have the highest inflation expectations with the median one-year outlook at 6.3 percent.    In the meantime, the cost of consumer goods reportedly rose at an average of 6.8 percent in November, marking a four-decade high.

12/20/2021 No Oil or DOW info.

12/20/2021 ‘We Did It!’ Chile’s Boric Seals Leftist Revival With Election Win by Anthony Esposito and Natalia A. Ramos Miranda
A person casts a ballot during the presidential election, at a polling
station in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. REUTERS/Pablo Sanhueza
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chilean leftist Gabriel Boric won the country’s presidential runoff election on Sunday, capping a major revival for the country’s progressive left that has been on the rise since widespread protests roiled the Andean country two years ago.
    In downtown Santiago, supporters cheered, embraced and waved flags with Boric’s image, as well as rainbow flags of LGBT groups that have backed his socially inclusive policies as well as plans to overhaul Chile’s market-orientated economic model.
    “We did it!” 39-year-old Paola Fernandez said tearfully as she hugged her daughter, adding she was happy because of Boric’s progressive policies.
    With over 99% of ballots counted, Boric, 35, who leads a broad leftist coalition, had 55.86% of the vote, compared with 44.14% for far-right rival Jose Antonio Kast, who conceded defeat.
    “I just spoke to @gabrielboric and congratulated him on his great success,” Kast said on Twitter.     “From today he is the elected President of Chile and he deserves all our respect and constructive collaboration.    Chile is always first.”
    The protests in 2019 shone a spotlight on economic inequality and triggered an official redraft of the constitution.
    “I am going to be the president of all Chileans,” Boric said in a call with center-right President Sebastian Pinera, who will step down in March.
‘I WANT REAL CHANGE’
    Lucrecia Cornejo, 72, a seamstress, backed Boric’s pledge to fix inequalities in education, pensions and healthcare.
    “I want equality, for us not to be as they call us, the ‘broken ones,’ more fairness in education, health and salaries,” she said.    “I want real change.”
    The election was the nation’s most divisive in decades, with the two candidates offering starkly different visions of the future.    Kast https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/chiles-bolsonaro-hard-right-kast-rises-with-frank-talk-crime-focus-2021-11-16, 55, ran a law-and-order campaign and was a defender of former dictator Augusto Pinochet.
    Often likened to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and a hero of Chile’s “unapologetic right,” Kast has said that “two models for the nation” were going head-to-head.
    Both candidates were from outside the centrist political mainstream that has ruled Chile since the return to democracy in 1990 after Pinochet’s military dictatorship.    Both moderated their positions in recent weeks to win over centrist voters.
    Miguel Angel Lopez, a professor at the University of Chile, said Boric faced a complex period ahead and would have to negotiate with the opposition due to a split Congress where neither side has a majority.
    “He now has to make a strong speech where he tries to end the uncertainty.    Lots will depend on that and on his appointments and his decisions.    International investors will be very attentive to this.”
    Boric supporters say he will overhaul the country’s economic model that dates back to Pinochet.    It has been credited for driving economic growth, but attacked for creating sharp divides between rich and poor.
    “We can close the chapter on the dark, damaging and abusive model that benefited a small minority,” said businessman Jorge Valdivia, 54, a Boric supporter.
    Boric, who rose to prominence leading a student protest in 2011 to demand better and more affordable education, wrote in an open letter on Saturday that his government would make the changes Chileans had demanded in the 2019 social uprisings.
    Those protests, which lasted months and at times turned violent, sparked a formal process to redraft Chile’s decades-old constitution, a text that will face a referendum next year.
    “(That means) having a real social security system that doesn’t leave people behind, ending the hateful gap between healthcare for the rich and healthcare for the poor, advancing without hesitation in freedoms and rights for women,” Boric wrote.
<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
EXPLAINER-‘Communism vs fascism?’ Chile braces for polarized presidential run-off
ANALYSIS-In Chile’s polarized election, stark divides offer investors a silver lining
FACTBOX-Chile’s presidential candidates on mining, pensions and LGBT rights
Boric vs Kast https://tmsnrt.rs/3ytn6VG
Boric vs Kast (Interactive version) https://tmsnrt.rs/3m9CzVO
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>
(Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Natalia Ramos; Editing by Adam Jourdan, Daniel Wallis and Peter Cooney)

12/20/2021 Omicron Threat Looms Over Winter Holidays In Europe And U.S.
FILE PHOTO: A girl receives the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine
in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, U.S., December 5, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah Beier
    LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Netherlands went into lockdown on Sunday and the possibility of more COVID-19 restrictions being imposed ahead of the Christmas and New Year holidays loomed over several European countries as the Omicron variant spreads rapidly.
    In the United States, White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci urged people travelling to visit loves ones to get booster shots and always wear masks in crowded public spaces.
    He said Omicron was “raging through the world” and that travelling will increase the risk of infection even among vaccinated people.    Since the start of the month, U.S. COVID cases have risen 50%, according to a Reuters tally.
    Dutch urban centres were largely deserted as the country began a snap lockdown that threw people’s Christmas plans into disarray.
    Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the shutdown on Saturday evening, ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places from Sunday until at least Jan. 14.
    Omicron, a very contagious variant first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, has raced around the globe and been reported in 89 countries, the World Health Organization said on Saturday.    It said the number of Omicron cases is doubling in 1.5 to 3 days in areas with community transmission, but noted that much remains unknown about the variant, including the severity of the illness it causes.
    While the Netherlands took the plunge and shut down much of public life to prevent its healthcare system from being overwhelmed, several other European governments are considering additional curbs – at a time when businesses count on people spending more heavily than usual on shopping, entertainment and travel.
    Overall COVID infections are rising in 64 out of 240 countries and territories tracked by Reuters, with 12 countries recording more cases than at any point during the pandemic, including the United Kingdom.
    Sajid Javid, the health minister, declined on Sunday to rule out the chance that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government will impose further restrictions before Christmas.
    He said the government was taking the “sobering” advice of its scientists seriously, was watching the data closely, and would balance both against the broader impact of restrictions on areas such as businesses and education.
    Johnson is reeling after a series of scandals and missteps, and more than 100 of his own Conservative lawmakers this week voted against the government’s latest measures to tackle what he had warned was going to be a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases.
    Javid said Johnson was not too politically weak to bring in further curbs if necessary.
    In Italy, the government is considering new measures to avoid a surge in infections during the holiday period, local newspapers reported on Sunday.
    After meeting with ministers on Dec. 23, Prime Minister Mario Draghi could mandate that people who have been vaccinated also show a negative test to access crowded places, including nightclubs and stadiums, daily Corriere della Sera reported.
    Germany’s health minister Karl Lauterbach ruled out a Christmas lockdown on Sunday but warned a fifth COVID-19 wave could no longer be stopped, adding that he viewed mandatory vaccination as the only way to end the pandemic.
(Reporting by Reuters newsrooms; Writing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker; Editing by John Stonestreet and Daniel Wallis)

12/20/2021 UK PM’s Wine And Cheese Gathering Was Not A Party – Deputy PM
FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at 10 Downing Street in London,
Britain, December 16, 2021. Frank Augstein/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) - A photograph of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and more than a dozen other people drinking wine in the garden of his Downing Street residence during a lockdown last year does not show a party, his deputy said on Monday.
    The picture, published by the Guardian, shows Johnson with his wife Carrie, who appears to be holding their newborn son, and two other people at a table on a terrace in the Downing Street garden with cheese and wine.
    Nearby is another table of four other people, and a short distance away are a larger group standing on the grass around a table with bottles of wine.
    “Downing Street use that garden as a place of work,” Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab told Times Radio.    “That’s not against the regulations.”
    “I genuinely don’t think it gets classified as a party,” Raab said.    “I don’t think it was a party.”
    The scenes depicted in the photograph add to the scrutiny on Johnson following revelations that his staff held a series of gatherings during COVID-19 lockdowns while the population was being told not to mix with others.
    He has faced a barrage of criticism since a video emerged showing his staff laughing and joking about a Downing Street party during a 2020 Christmas lockdown when such festivities were banned.
    Raab said the new photograph was taken on a day when the government had just held news conference and that sometimes staff had a drink after a long day in the garden.    It was a work gathering, he said.
    Johnson’s wife Carrie, Raab said, had popped down from the Downing Street flat to spend some time with her husband.
    Besides anger over alleged parties, Johnson is grappling with a rebellion inside his party over the direction of his government which critics say is chaotic and has dramatically expanded the power of the state.
    Brexit minister David Frost resigned on Saturday over disillusionment with the direction of the government.
    “You know my concerns about the current direction of travel,” Frost told Johnson in a resignation letter released by Downing Street.
    “I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change.”
(Reporting by William James; writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

12/20/2021 Key Moments Of COVID-19 Pandemic
FILE PHOTO: Christmas decoration is pictured on a window as members of the medical staff in protective suits
treat a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)
at Havelhoehe Community Hospital in Berlin, Germany, December 6, 2021. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    (Reuters) – The upcoming New Year’s Eve will mark the second anniversary of the first reported COVID-19 case in Wuhan, China.    Since then, more than 272 million cases of the disease have been reported worldwide and over 5 million people have died of COVID-19.
    To combat the health crisis, countries around the globe have administered more than 8.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine and drugmakers have developed new treatments.
    Here are some of the key moments of the COVID-19 pandemic from the past two years:
DEC. 31 2019
    The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission, China, reported a cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan, the capital city of the Hubei Province.
JANUARY 2020
    The World Health Organization (WHO) said Chinese authorities have determined the outbreak was caused by a novel coronavirus.    Soon after, Thailand reported the first confirmed case of the coronavirus outside China.
    China on Jan. 23 announced a lockdown in Wuhan, and at month-end the WHO declared the coronavirus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern.”
FEBRUARY 2020
    The WHO named the novel coronavirus SARS-COV2, an acronym for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.    It named the disease caused by the virus as COVID-19, an abbreviation for Coronavirus Disease 2019.
MARCH 2020
    The WHO described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic for the first time.
    Italy’s Lombardy region became the single deadliest coronavirus hotspot on the planet, with more than 3,000 deaths that eclipsed those in China’s Hubei.     “The whole of Italy is closed now,” read a headline in the Corriere della Sera newspaper after Rome imposed the most severe controls on a Western nation since World War II.
    Several other countries, including Spain, France, Thailand, South Korea, Australia and Malaysia, also imposed lockdowns.
    On March 13, the United States declared the pandemic a national emergency to free up $50 billion in federal aid.    Later that month, California became the first U.S. state to issue a “stay-at-home order,” while New York closed non-essential businesses.
    India announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, the same day when the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan were postponed.
    On March 27, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tested positive for the coronavirus.
APRIL 2020
    COVID-19 infections crossed 1 million and the WHO reported evidence that transmission from an infected person could occur before symptoms showed.
JULY 2020
    On July 7, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive.
    Later that month, Moderna and Pfizer launched large clinical trials of their respective COVID-19 shots.
SEPTEMBER 2020
    Death toll from COVID-19 crossed 1 million, less than a year after the virus was discovered in China.
OCTOBER 2020
    On Oct. 1, then-U.S. President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19, a little more than a month before the presidential election.
NOVEMBER 2020
    Pfizer and German partner BioNTech said their experimental COVID-19 shot was more than 90% effective in preventing the disease, the first successful interim data on a COVID-19 vaccine from a large-scale clinical test.
    Moderna Inc became the second U.S. company to demonstrate success of its COVID-19 vaccine, reporting that its shot was 94.5% effective in preventing the disease.
DECEMBER 2020
    Britain approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, making it the first country in the world https://reut.rs/3GIK91q to begin mass inoculations against the coronavirus.
    On Dec. 11, the United States authorized the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for emergency use for people aged 16 and older as deaths from COVID-19 in the country neared 300,000.
    New variants of the coronavirus were detected in Britain, South Africa and India.    The WHO classified the variants from the UK and South Africa as variants of concern.    It later named the strains Alpha and Beta.
JANUARY 2021
    The WHO classified the P.1 variant, first found in Brazil in November 2020, as “variant of concern” following a surge in cases and deaths in the country.    It was later named the Gamma variant.
March 2021
    Brazil’s most-populous state Sao Paulo announced a partial lockdown to combat surging infections, driven in part by a patchy vaccine rollouts.
MAY 2021
    The WHO declared the B.1.617.2 variant, first detected in India, as “variant of concern” at a global level.    The variant fuelled a second wave of infections in the country, driving daily cases above 300,000 and crippling India’s healthcare infrastructure.
    The WHO later named the variant as Delta.
JUNE 2021
    Global COVID-19 related deaths crossed 4 million as the Delta variant became the dominant strain across the world.
JULY 2021
    Israel the became first in the world to step up efforts against the Delta variant by rolling out booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for those aged over 60.
AUGUST 2021
    The U.S. FDA authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for immunocompromised individuals.
SEPTEMBER 2021
    U.S. regulators cleared booster shots of Pfizer’s vaccine for those 65 and older, all people at high risk of severe disease and others who are regularly exposed to the virus.
OCTOBER 2021
    The United States authorized Moderna vaccine boosters for some sections of its population and boosters from Johnson & Johnson for individuals 18 years and above.    It also backed the use of a different shot from the original inoculation as a booster.
    Worldwide COVID-19 deaths surpassed 5 million.
NOVEMBER 2021
    On Nov.4, Britain became the first country in the world to approve an oral COVID-19 antiviral pill jointly developed by Merck & Co Inc and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
    The United States expanded eligibility for booster shots to all adults, even as the WHO voiced concerns about equitable supply of shots globally.
    A new COVID-19 variant, later termed Omicron, was detected in Hong Kong and southern Africa.
DECEMBER 2021
    On Dec. 12, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa tested positive for COVID-19.
    As of Dec. 17, the death toll from COVID-19 stood at 5.6 million.
(Reporting by Leroy Leo and Amruta Khandekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Ankur Banerjee and Aditya Soni)

12/20/2021 AIER: Fauci, Collins Colluded To Smear Anti-Lockdown Scientists by OAN Newsroom
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks about the
coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    The American Institute for Economic Research (AIER) revealed an alleged smear campaign against anti-lockdown scientists by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
    The group claimed to have obtained NIH emails from October 2020 that show the agency’s director, Francis Collins, was calling anti-lockdown scientists “fringe epidemiologists.”    Collins also told Anthony Fauci he wanted “a quick and devastating published take down” of their reports.
(Obtained Email)
    Those scientists are Martin Kulldorff of Harvard University, Sunetra Gupta of Oxford and Jay Bhattacharya of Stanford who all faced severe media attacks over the past year.    Fauci responded to Collins by highlighting media hit pieces that targeted anti-lockdown scientists.
    Meanwhile, former FDA commissioner and now Pfizer board member Scott Gottlieb is dispelling the latest fears about Omicron variant.    In an interview Sunday, he said hospitalizations with COVID-19 have reduced by 30 percent relative to cases in South Africa where Omicron originated.
    “There’s no indication that it causes more severe illness, what we’ve seen in South Africa in particular, is a decoupling between the cases and hospitalizations,” Gottlieb explained.
    The doctor stressed the number of Omicron cases is likely higher than reported, meaning the hospitalizations-to-cases ratio is ever lower.    Gottlieb said there’s no reason for panic or harsh restrictive measures due to Omicron.
    “And more severe cases requiring ICU admissions are down 80 percent relative to past waves in cases versus ICU admissions, so it does appear to be a less severe illness,” the doctor explained further.
    “Now, a lot of people believe, including myself, that the reason why it’s manifesting as a less severe illness is probably because we have baseline immunity in the population.    Probably around 80 percent of Americans and 90 percent of South Africans have some level of immunity, either from prior infection or through vaccination.”
    Gottlieb stressed humanity has likely almost reached “baseline immunity” to COVID-19, although the number of cases may increase in the coming four-to-six-weeks.
[AS USUAL AND FAUCI AND THE DEMOCRATS CONTINUE TRY TO MAKE EVERYTHING A THREAT AND THEY HAVE NO PROOF OF EVERYONE DYING AND IF THEY GET IT AND DEVELOPED HERD IMMUNITY IT IS CORRECT AND IF WE HAD DONE THAT WITH CORONAVIRUS IN THE FIRST PLACE WE MAY HAVE GOT OVER THIS ISSUE BUT LEAVE IT TO BIDEN TO MAKE IT WORSE AS IN EVERYTHING HE HAS DONE SINCE BEEN IN OFFICE HAS FAILED OR MADE IT WORSE.].

12/20/2021 Cheney Challenger Says Rep. Working With People Who Falsify Evidence by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Harriet Hageman addresses a meeting of the Wyoming Business Alliance in Casper, Wyo. (AP Photo/Mead Gruver, File)
    The fight to represent Wyoming in the House of Representatives is heating up. While speaking to Breitbart News over the weekend, Republican candidate Harriet Hageman slammed current GOP Rep. Liz Cheney.
    Hageman said that Cheney has been working with people like California Democrat Adam Schiff who falsify evidence against Republicans.    The challenger believes that Cheney’s entire focus is on January 6 and fighting with the 45th President Donald Trump to the detriment of the people of Wyoming.     “They are livid at the fact she is not representing the people of Wyoming, but she is using our state to continue her war with President Trump,” Hageman asserted.    “And continuing her efforts to deflect from the failures of the Biden administration and the radical (Nancy) Pelosi activities and what is going on on January 6.    This is a witch hunt.”
    The Republican candidate said the committee should be abolished entirely.    Meanwhile, Trump is expected to visit Wyoming for the first time to hold a rally for Hageman and slam Cheney for bedding with Democrats.

12/20/2021 As Omicron Threatens A Global Surge, Some Countries Shorten COVID-19 Booster Timelines by Deena Beasley
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare professional wears a Santa Claus hat at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pop-up
vaccination centre at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, December 19, 2021. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls
    (Reuters) – A growing number of countries are reducing the wait time for COVID-19 vaccine boosters from six months to as few as three in a bid to ward off a new surge in infections from the Omicron variant.
    They are reacting to early evidence suggesting that Omicron is spreading faster than its predecessor, Delta, and is more likely to infect people who were vaccinated or had COVID in the past.    Some scientists, however, say that giving boosters too soon could compromise the level of longer-term vaccine protection.
    While data remains limited, half a dozen laboratory studies have shown that an initial course of COVID-19 vaccines – typically given in two doses – is not enough to halt infection from the Omicron variant, but a booster shot may help.
    Research from southern Africa and the UK shows that the variant is spreading very quickly, prompting forecasts that it will soon outpace Delta in several countries.    Scientists are also trying to determine how severe cases of Omicron are.
    Many countries, including the United States, earlier this year authorized booster doses at six months after a person completes vaccination.    This month, South Korea, the United Kingdom and Thailand cut that interval to three months.    Belgium has lowered it to four months.
    France, Singapore, Taiwan, Italy and Australia have decreased their booster wait time to five months.
    Some countries, including the United States, South Africa and Germany, have stuck to the six-month booster schedule.
    Finland has recommended a three-month booster timeline for at-risk groups, saying it does not believe shortening the time for the general population will slow rising hospitalizations.
    Spain and Lithuania are also so far offering boosters only to people with weak immune systems, the elderly or vulnerable, while India has not decided on a booster campaign.    The World Health Organization, which had told rich countries to prioritize sending first COVID vaccine doses to the developing world, has become more open to boosters in light of rising cases.
    More data is needed, but there is a risk that shorter timeframes could compromise the effectiveness of vaccines given in multiple doses, experts said.
    “In general for multiple-dose vaccines … the immune system works better if it has time to mature,” said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert from the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
IMMUNE SYSTEM DEFENSES
    While studies show that boosters temporarily increase antibody levels, scientists say the goal of a vaccine regimen is to elicit not only antibodies but second-line immune system defenses such as T-cells.
    “All that is going to be helpful for keeping you out of the hospital,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine.
    Multi-dose vaccines prime the immune system, giving it time to marshal those back-up defenses.
    Dr. Luciano Borio, a former Food and Drug Administration acting chief scientist, said, “I do worry that we don’t know what impact it may have on the immune system maturation of the doses.    Three months seems like a very short interval.”
    The United States has no plans to change its current booster timing recommendations, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesperson Kristen Nordlund said in an email.
    “From an immunologic point of view, it does not make sense to shorten the intervals to less than six months,” said a spokesperson for Arkansas’ public health department.
    Still, some experts argue that the six-month interval was arbitrary, and data gathered prior to the rise of the Omicron variant in November has shown that immunity as measured by antibody levels begins to drop off as early as four months after initial COVID-19 vaccinations.
    “Four months is when the waning really started to get substantial,” said Dr. Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California.    “Omicron just forces the issue.”
(Additional reporting by Carl O’Donnel and Michael Erman in New York; Olivia Kumwenda in Johannesburg; Aradhana Aravindan in Singapore; Rocky Swift in Tokyo; Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Krishna Das in New Delhi; Ari Rabinovitch in Israel; Francesco Guarascio in Brussels; Clara-Laeila Laudette in Madrid; Essi Lehto in Helsinki; Josephine Mason in London; editing by Caroline Humer, Michele Gershberg and Cynthia Osterman)

12/20/2021 UK Says COVID Surge ‘Extremely Difficult’ As Omicron Grips Europe by William James and Kylie MacLellan
Activist Steve Bray demonstrates outside Downing Street in London, Britain, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
    LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he would tighten coronavirus curbs to slow the spread of the Omicron variant if needed, after the Netherlands began a fourth lockdown and as other European nations consider Christmas restrictions.
    Speaking after UK media reported Britain might impose new curbs after Christmas, Johnson said the situation was “extremely difficult” https://www.reuters.com/world/uk/uk-says-12-deaths-104-people-hospitalised-by-omicron-2021-12-20 and hospitalisations were rising steeply in London.
    “I have to say to the British public, and I say to everybody, we will not exclude the possibility of going further if we have to do things to protect the public,” Johnson said after a cabinet meeting.
    Omicron infections are multiplying rapidly across Europe and the United States, doubling every two or three days in London and elsewhere and taking a heavy toll on financial markets, which fear the impact on the global economic recovery.
    The variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong and so far been reported in at least 89 countries.    The severity of illness it causes remains unclear.
    Any limits on Christmas celebrations would come at a high political cost for Johnson, already under fire over reports he and his staff broke lockdown rules last year.
    Asked about speculation the government would ban indoor socialising and limit tourism, Johnson said: “We’re looking at all kinds of things … we will rule nothing out.”
    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced a shutdown https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/netherlands-starts-painful-christmas-coronavirus-lockdown-2021-12-19 on Saturday, ordering the closure of all but essential stores, as well as restaurants, hairdressers, gyms, museums and other public places until at least Jan. 14.
    Germany plans to limit private gatherings from Dec. 28 to a maximum of 10 people who have been vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19, according to a draft of proposed steps.    The document also said access to restaurants would remain limited to people who could provide proof of vaccination or recovery.
    Ireland on Friday ordered bars and restaurants to close at 8 p.m. and reduced the capacity in all public events.    Italy is also considering new measures, newspapers reported on Sunday.
‘RAGING THROUGH THE WORLD’
    Coronavirus cases surged in New York City and around the United States https://www.reuters.com/world/us/rising-cases-omicron-highlight-holes-bidens-covid-strategy-experts-say-2021-12-20 over the weekend, dashing hopes for a more normal holiday season and stretching the country’s testing infrastructure just days before Christmas.
    In Washington D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city would reinstate an indoor mask mandate beginning Tuesday and running until the morning of Jan. 31.    All employees, contractors and grantees of the District of Columbia government must be fully vaccinated against COVID and have a booster shot, she said.
    In Geneva, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Omicron is spreading faster https://www.reuters.com/world/omicron-spreading-infecting-vaccinated-who-2021-12-20 than the Delta variant and causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19.
    China, where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was first detected in late 2019, must be more forthcoming with information about its origin, Tedros said.    “We need to continue until we know the origins.    We need to push harder because we should learn from what happened this time in order to (do) better in the future.”    WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said it was too early to conclude Omicron is milder than prior versions of the virus, adding that it could still make enough people sick to “overburden” healthcare systems.
    Many monoclonal drugs “will not work with Omicron,” she said of the infused treatment used to lessen disease severity of COVID-19 patients.
    Monoclonal antibody drugs deliver lab-made versions of the body’s natural antibodies to fight infection, while vaccines spur the body to make its own antibodies and build its own immunity.
    Wall Street’s main indexes opened lower on Monday, dragged down by concerns about the impact of tighter COVID-19 curbs on the global economy.    The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 500 points, or nearly 1.5% in afternoon trading. [MKTS/GLOB]
    European stocks were down 1.33%.    Shopper numbers across Britain’s high streets fell 2.6% over the Dec. 18-19 weekend versus the previous weekend, researcher Springboard said.
    Last week, the European Central Bank cut its euro zone growth forecast for next year to 4.2% from 4.6% previously, citing the pandemic among “headwinds.”
    ECB President Christine Lagarde said, even if economies were learning to adapt to living with COVID-19, tighter restrictions could delay the recovery.
    Israel added the United States to its “no-fly” list, citing concerns over the Omicron variant.    U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Omicron was “raging through the world” as he urged Americans to get booster shots.br>     Booster shots, on top of two-shot vaccinations, appear critical to fighting the variant.    Moderna Inc said a booster dose https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/moderna-says-booster-dose-its-covid-19-vaccine-appears-protective-vs-omicron-2021-12-20 of its vaccine seemed to be protective against Omicron in laboratory testing, and the current version of the shot would remain Moderna’s “first line of defence.”
    More than 274 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 since the pandemic began.    More than 5.65 million people have died.
    The World Economic Forum on Monday postponed its annual meeting in Davos due to the spread of Omicron, putting off the event scheduled for January until mid-2022.
    Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.
    Eikon users can click https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1063154666 for a case tracker.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Nick Macfie and William Maclean; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Mark Heinrich)

12/20/2021 Moderna Says Booster Dose Of Its COVID-19 Vaccine Appears Protective Vs Omicron by Michael Erman
FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination
site n Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar
    (Reuters) - Moderna Inc said on Monday that a booster dose of its COVID-19 vaccine appeared to be protective against the fast-spreading Omicron variant of the coronavirus in laboratory testing and that the current version of the shot would continue to be its “first line of defense against Omicron.”
    The company said its decision to focus on the current vaccine, mRNA-1273, was driven in part by how quickly the recently-discovered variant is spreading.
    Moderna said it still plans to develop a vaccine to protect against Omicron specifically and hopes to start clinical trials early next year.
    “What we have available right now is 1273,” Dr. Paul Burton, Moderna’s chief medical officer, said in an interview.    “It’s highly effective, and it’s extremely safe.    I think it will protect people through the coming holiday period and through these winter months, when we’re going to see the most severe pressure of Omicron.”
    Moderna’s shares were down more than 4% at $282.26 in afternoon trading.
    The company said a two-dose course of its vaccine generated low neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, but a 50-microgram booster dose increased neutralizing antibodies against the variant 37 fold.    A 100-microgram booster – the same strength as the original shots – drove neutralizing antibodies to more than 80 times pre-boost levels.
    Moderna President Stephen Hoge on a conference call said the company currently does not plan to pursue approval for the higher booster dose.
    The antibody levels generated by the lower dose shot “are comfortably above” what would signify a risk of breakthrough infections for other variants of concern, Hoge said.
    Moderna did not specify whether it believes its two-dose regimen will reduce hospitalizations or deaths from the Omicron variant.    Studies by other researchers have shown a “reasonable and robust” T cell response is maintained against the variant, Hoge said, which could suggest protection against severe disease.    T cells in the immune system recognize and eliminate virus-infected cells.
    The new data, which has not yet been peer reviewed, tested blood from people who had received Moderna’s vaccine against a pseudovirus engineered to resemble the Omicron variant.    It is similar to data discussed last week https://www.reuters.com/world/us/early-data-suggests-omicron-more-transmissible-than-delta-cdc-director-2021-12-15 by top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
    It may not be necessary to push antibody levels higher than those generated by the 50-microgram dose for many people, said Hoge. Governments could, however, choose a higher-dose version if they want to confer an enhanced level of protection.
    The company said the 100-microgram dose was generally safe and well tolerated, although there was a trend toward slightly more frequent adverse reactions.
    Regulators authorized the 50-microgram booster of Moderna’s vaccine in October.
    Both the Moderna and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines have been linked to rare cases of heart inflammation, particularly in young men.    Several studies have suggested that Moderna’s vaccine is likely to cause the heart inflammation at a higher rate than Pfizer’s.
    Omicron, a highly contagious variant first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong, has raced around the globe and been reported in 89 countries, the World Health Organization said on Saturday.
(Reporting by Michael Erman in New Jersey and Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Bill Berkrot)

12/20/2021 U.S. re Analysis-Chile Miners Brace As President Elect Signals Environmental Crackdown by Fabian Cambero
Chile's President-elect Gabriel Boric gestures as he celebrates with supporters after winning the
presidential election in Santiago, Chile, December 19, 2021. REUTERS/Rodrigo Garrido/File Photo
    SANTIAGO (Reuters) – Chile’s mining sector is bracing for tighter environmental rules ahead after President-elect Gabriel Boric pledged to oppose a controversial $2.5 billion iron-copper mine that was approved in August after years of legal wrangling.
    “To destroy the world is to destroy ourselves,” Boric told a cheering crowd in his first speech after celebrating election victory on Sunday.
    The 35-year-old leftist lawmaker singled out the planned Dominga mine, which critics say could devastate La Higuera, a coastal ecosystem rich in biodiversity with a large number of marine mammals and birds. The project’s owner, privately held Andes Iron, has long rejected that assertion.
    Boric, who takes office in March, campaigned on a pledge to overhaul Chile’s market-oriented economic model, but details on his stance toward mining were thin.    His comments on Sunday signaled that environmental regulation may be where he looks to make the biggest difference.
    “We don’t want more ‘sacrifice zones’ (areas of high pollution), we don’t want projects that destroy our country, destroy communities and we exemplify a case that has been symbolic: No to Dominga,” Boric said.
    Shares of mining companies dropped sharply on Monday, including Chile-focused lithium miners Albemarle and SQM, amid a wider market retreat.
    Prices for copper, Chile’s major export, are at record highs, which has whetted the appetite of legislators around the region to push for a bigger share of profits to pay for economic recoveries after the coronavirus pandemic.
    In neighboring Peru, the new leftist administration of President Pedro Castillo has given communities stronger backing in a spate of protests against mining firms, often over allegations they pollute local lands and water.
    “If there is something that can have a real impact on the mining industry, in my opinion, we should start looking at the environmental issues,” said Santiago-based Juan Carlos Guajardo, head of consultancy Plusmining.
    Chile has the world’s largest reserves of lithium, the ultra-light battery metal that is mined using brine from beneath pristine salt flats in the Atacama desert, where regulation around water use is already under scrutiny.    Boric has criticized privatization in the sector and wants a state lithium firm.
    The Andean nation is the world’s top producer of copper and the No. 2 producer of lithium, a major ingredient of batteries used in electric vehicles.    Both metals are seeing sharp price rises on soaring demand and a global rush to secure supply.
    Chile is already debating higher taxes on mining firms – something Boric supports – as well as a stalled bill to protect glaciers in the mineral rich Andes.    The industry says that measure, if unchanged, would risk current mines and obstruct new ones.
    It could impact the Andina and El Teniente mines of state company Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, as well as Anglo American’s Los Bronces, Los Pelambres of Antofagasta and Caserones, linked to JX Nippon Mining.
    The National Mining Society (Sonami), representing companies in the sector, declined to comment on the president-elect’s remarks on Sunday or about the outlook for Dominga.
    “It is clear that the new wealth and environmental taxes are on the horizon, while the presidency will support plans to raise royalties on mining firms,” said consulting Teneo in a report.
    Boric, who has moderated his tone in recent weeks to win over centrist voters, did say environmental adjustments would have to be gradual.
    “Not everything can be done at the same time and we will have to prioritize to make progress that allows us to improve, step by step, the lives of our people,” he said.
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero; Editing by Adam Jourdan and David Gregorio)

12/20/2021 Royal Caribbean Says 48 Passengers Test Positive For COVID-19 On Ship
FILE PHOTO: Traders wait for stocks to resume trading on Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. on the floor
of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
(Corrects headline to say COVID-19, not Omicron variant)
    (Reuters) – Royal Caribbean Group said on Monday 48 people on its Symphony of the Seas cruise ship tested positive for COVID-19, fueling concerns that the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus could put a damper on a recovery in the cruise industry.
    The cruise operator said it had 6,091 guests and crew members on board the ship, which ended a week-long cruise in Miami on Saturday after setting sail on Dec. 11.
    The passengers who tested positive were asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic, Royal Caribbean said in a statement, adding that six guests were disembarked earlier in the cruise and transported home.
    Royal Caribbean said 95% of the community on board were fully vaccinated, while 98% of those who tested positive were also fully vaccinated.
    Symphony’s future itineraries are not impacted, it added.
(This story corrects headline to say COVID-19, not Omicron variant.)
(Reporting by Deborah Sophia in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Anil D’Silva)

12/20/2021 U.S. Says Ready To Engage In Diplomacy With Russia
FILE PHOTO: White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan takes questions during a press
briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis//File Photo
    (Reuters) – U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told his Russian counterpart Monday that Washington is ready to engage in diplomacy through multiple channels, including bilateral engagement, the White House said in a statement.
    Sullivan told Yuriy Ushakov, foreign policy adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, that “any dialogue must be based on reciprocity and address our concerns about Russia’s actions,” the White House said.
    Moscow, which has unnerved the West with a troop buildup near Ukraine, last week unveiled a wish list of security proposals it wants to negotiate, including a promise NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.
(Reporting By Paul Grant and Kanishka Singh)

12/20/2021 Russian Businessman Made Millions In Insider Trading Through Hacking, U.S. Says by Nate Raymond
Acting U.S. Attorney Nathaniel Mendell speaks to reporters after Vladislav Klyushin,
a Kremlin-linked Russian businessman accused of participating in a multi-million dollar scheme to
trade on insider information obtained through hacking, was extradited from Switzerland to the U.S.,
at the federal courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
    BOSTON (Reuters) – A Russian government-linked businessman who was extradited to the United States from Switzerland carried out a global, multi-million-dollar insider trading scheme using corporate information stolen from U.S. computer networks, prosecutors said on Monday.
    Vladislav Klyushin, whose company offers media monitoring and cybersecurity services to clients including the Russian government, was charged by federal prosecutors in Boston along with four other Russians.
    Prosecutors accuse them of conspiring to trade on non-public information ahead of earnings announcements by hacking into the networks of two vendors that help companies filing quarterly and annual reports with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
    Those companies included IBM Corp, Snap Inc and Steel Dynamics Inc.    The scheme netted the defendants tens of millions of dollars from 2018 to 2020, according to charging papers.
    Klyushin’s U.S. lawyer had no immediate comment.
    Klyushin, 41, was extradited on Saturday from Switzerland, where he arrested in March while on a ski trip.    His Swiss lawyer had called the case a politically motivated pretext to secure his extradition.
    His legal team has said the real reason for the extradition request was his work and contacts within the Russian government that gave him access to security information.
    They said he came under U.S. prosecutors’ scrutiny because they accused one of his work colleagues of hacking into files of the Democratic Party and its presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to help sway the 2016 election.
    One of his employees at his company M-13 LLC, Ivan Yermakov, was among 12 purported Russian military intelligence officers charged in 2018 with hacking offenses related to the election.
    Yermakov was charged alongside Klyushin in a March 2021 criminal complaint unsealed on Monday.    He could not be reached for comment.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; editing by Grant McCool)

12/20/2021 Germany Set To Restrict Contacts For The Vaccinated – Scholz by Miranda Murray
FILE PHOTO: Empty chairs and tables are pictured on the first day of the temporary closing of restaurants, as the spread of
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Berlin, Germany, November 2, 2020. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse/File Photo
    BERLIN (Reuters) - German leaders are considering tougher contact restrictions and an accelerated booster campaign among other measures after experts warned that the Omicron coronavirus variant could bring critical infrastructure to breaking point.
    Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he supported the likely decision of a meeting of federal and state leaders planned for Tuesday to restrict private contacts for those who have been vaccinated, or have been infected and recovered.
    Scholz, speaking in Rome, said the meeting would also focus on the continued operation of critical institutions such as hospitals, police stations and electricity providers in case of high infection numbers, as well as handing out more boosters.
    According to a draft document seen by Reuters, access to restaurants, theatres and other cultural venues will remain open to the vaccinated and recovered, who will be limited to a maximum of 10 people from Dec. 28 for private gatherings.
    Clubs and discos will also be closed, the document said.
    “The big New Year’s Eve parties won’t be able to take place this year,” the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state, Hendrik Wuest, told broadcaster ARD.
    The government’s scientific advisory panel said on Sunday it was necessary to further limit contact, with data so far showing boosters alone would not be enough to contain the virus’ spread.
    A German Red Cross spokesperson warned of an increasingly dire situation as more emergency personnel, 90% of whom are vaccinated, become infected while intensive care units and emergency rooms are at the limits of their capacity.
    “The situation is putting both physical and psychological strain on emergency service personnel,” the spokesperson said.
    The German Hospital Federation (DKG) also warned the fifth wave could bring a deadly twofold blow of seriously ill patients and massive staff shortages due to coronavirus infections.
    A report in the Bild newspaper citing government sources said on Monday all departments and all state and federal ministries have been instructed to draw up emergency plans in case workers and civil servants have to enter quarantine.
    Health Minister Karl Lauterbach on Sunday ruled out a lockdown before Christmas and said he did not expect a “hard lockdown” after the holidays either.
    At the same time, Lauterbach called for parliament to decide on mandatory vaccinations as soon as possible to stem the coming waves.
    Some 70.3% of Germany’s total population are considered fully vaccinated, while 31.5% have received an additional booster shot, according to official figures.
    In Berlin, the recommended amount of time between the second shot and a booster was shortened to three months, the senator in charge of health for Berlin, Dilek Kalayci, said.
    The Robert Koch Institute infectious disease body reported 16,086 new coronavirus cases within 24 hours on Monday, the smallest rise since early November.    The death toll increased by 119 on Monday, to reach a total of 108,352.
(Reporting by Miranda Murray; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

12/20/2021 Sen. Schumer Vows To Hold Vote On Biden’s Build Back Better Plan Despite Sen. Manchin’s Opposition by OAN Newsroom
FILE – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., talks to reporters about his efforts to
advance their expansive social and environment bill, following a Democratic policy meeting
at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
    Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he and other Democrats will not give up in trying to pass the Build Back Better plan.    The New York lawmaker announced the move in a statement Monday, adding they will keep voting on the act until they “get something done” and have every senators vote on record.
    Schumer notably expressed frustration and disappointment toward fellow Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) after the West Virginia lawmaker announced he would not vote to pass Joe Biden’s social spending package.    Schumer also announced he will hold a virtual special caucus on December 21, which is the longest night of the year.
    Rep. Kat Cammack (R-Fla.) praised Manchin for sinking the Build Back Better bill.    In an interview Monday, the Republican said Manchin did the right thing by announcing his opposition to the bill, which she warned would of fundamentally transformed society.
    Cammack also recounted what she told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) just weeks ago.
    According to the Florida lawmaker, she told Pelosi that Republicans wouldn’t be supporting the bill and “good luck in the Senate.”    Cammack said that obviously they needed more luck and that this was always going to be the outcome.

12/20/2021 DEA Chief: Fentanyl Flooding U.S. Through Southern Border by OAN Newsroom
Tablets believed to be laced with fentanyl are displayed at the Drug Enforcement Administration
Northeast Regional Laboratory in New York. (Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images)
    The Biden administration is finally looking to crackdown on the nation’s fentanyl crisis.    It seems to be picking up the pace in his efforts to get illicit drugs coming in through the southern border out of America.
    On Sunday, Biden’s administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, Anne Milgram, sounded the alarm on fentanyl-laced products plaguing the nation.    She said nefarious Chinese actors are sending chemicals to Mexican drug cartels to make the synthetic drug and the cartels are mass producing fentanyl-laced products as well as trafficking them into the U.S.
    “Right now those chemicals are largely sourced from China, they’re going to the Mexican criminal drug cartels that are then mass producing, often at an industrial scale, fentanyl,” Milgram explained.    “Tiny, tiny amounts can be deadly.    The CDC reports that two milligrams can be a deadly dose…the amount that could fit on the tip of your pen.”
    Additionally, Milgram stressed cartels are falsely advertising fentanyl products as actual prescription drugs through a massive social media campaign.    These efforts, the DEA chief warned, have reached millions of Americans.
    “So we know every single day across America that drugs are being sold on social media sites: Snapchat, TikTok, Facebook,” she noted.    “When you go on your smartphone, and all of use have smartphones today…they could be inside a child’s bedroom, inside a car, wherever you are, those traffickers are there too.”
    The DEA chief also pointed to recent executive orders signed by Joe Biden giving the U.S. Treasury Department authority to sanction foreign actors who contribute to illicit drug trafficking.    The order targets countries in China who are producing chemicals to make fentanyl as well as gangs in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil who manufacture and distribute fentanyl products.
    Milgram touted the DEA and DOJ’s efforts to bring a Chinese national to justice who is allegedly one of the world’s largest distributors of steroids and fentanyl precursor drugs.    Federal agents found more than $2 million worth of Bitcoin in the suspect’s possession, which they say is linked to his illicit activities.    The DOJ is offering $5 million to anyone who can provide information leading to his arrest or evidence that can help prosecutors with their case.
    However, several GOP critics have called out the Biden administration for being late to the game.    Earlier this month, North Carolina Rep. Greg Murphy said the soaring deaths in fentanyl overdoses is directly linked to Biden’s open border policies.
    Additionally, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said Biden has blood on his hands, prompting him and other states to take measures into their own hands.
    “We’re seeing something devastating that the Biden administration is not doing enough to respond to and that is the enormous amount of the deadly drug fentanyl that is coming across our border,” Abbott stated.    “We have already apprehended enough fentanyl to kill every man, woman and child in Texas, California, New York, Illinois and Florida combined.”
    In the meantime, the Treasury Department has yet to use its newly designated power to sanction.
    However, several border states, including Democrat-run California, are taking matters into their own hands to stop fentanyl from coming through the U.S. southern border.
    According to reports, this year more than 100,000 Americans have died from fentanyl overdoses and is the leading cause of death among Americans 18-to-45-years old.

12/20/2021 Canada Foreign Minister Tests Positive For COVID-19, Quebec Shuts Bars, Gyms by David Ljunggren
A traveler walks past a "Mandatory COVID-19 Testing" sign at Pearson International Airport during the coronavirus
disease (COVID-19) pandemic of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, December 18, 2021. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
    OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly said on Monday a rapid COVID-19 test that she had taken proved to be positive, adding she was working in isolation until the result could be confirmed.
    Joly, 42, was named foreign minister in October and would be one of the most prominent domestic politicians to come down with the coronavirus, which is spreading rapidly as the Omicron variant picks up speed.
    “I have taken a rapid test and tested positive for COVID-19.    Following public health guidelines, I am in isolation and will continue my work virtually, as I have been for a number of days, until I get the results of my PCR test,” she tweeted.
    Joly did not give further details. Her chief spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday a spike in cases of Omicron was “scary,” while a top medical official suggested the healthcare system could soon be swamped.
    Earlier in the day, Quebec, Canada’s second-most-populous province, ordered bars, gyms and casinos shut on Monday and directed people to work only from home.
    Quebec Health Minister Christian Dube said the province had a record 4,500 new cases of the coronavirus a day and predicted worse was yet to come.
    He urged Quebecers to cut down personal contacts with the approach of Christmas and New Year’s Day.    The new measures were due to take effect at 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) on Monday.
    “The situation is critical. … Right now we are waging a war against the virus,” Dube told a virtual briefing.
    “We will have new projections from our specialists this evening and let’s be honest, they probably won’t be encouraging,” he said.
    Dube said most schools would shut down immediately until Jan. 10, while restaurants would open only from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and all sporting events would be played without spectators.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)

12/20/2021 U.S. Warns Banks As It Names Five More Chinese Officials Under Hong Kong Act
FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of the Treasury headquarters
in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 29, 2020. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly/File Photo
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday named five already-sanctioned Chinese officials it said had contributed to undermining Hong Kong’s democracy and warned that foreign financial institutions that conduct business with them would be subject to sanctions.
    A six-monthly State Department report to Congress named the five as Chen Dong, He Jing, Lu Xinning, Tan Tienui and Yin Zonghua, all deputy directors at China’s Hong Kong liaison office.
    Naming the five bought to 39 the number of officials so designated under the terms of the U.S. Hong Kong Autonomy Act since October last year.
    “Foreign financial institutions that knowingly conduct significant transactions with the individuals listed in today’s report are subject to sanctions,” the State Department said, as it released an updated report to Congress required under the act.
    It said the report underscored “deep concerns about Beijing’s clear efforts to deprive Hong Kongers of a meaningful voice” in Dec. 19 Legislative Council elections.
    The United States has thus far not sanctioned any foreign financial institution for doing business with those named in accordance with the Hong Kong act, which became law last year.
    Financial institutions found in violation of the act could be subject to so-called secondary sanctions, including restrictions on U.S. loans, foreign exchange, property transactions, exports and transfers, in addition to measures against executives.
    Under the terms of the act, the U.S. Treasury is required to identify any such institution between 30 and 60 days of the submission of the report to Congress.
    The five individuals named on Monday were among seven Chinese official sanctioned in July over China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Daphne Psaledakis in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

12/20/2021 Alaska Sen. Candidate Tshibaka Roasts Murkowski, McConnell by OAN Newsroom
FILE – In this Sept. 26, 2019 fle photo, Alaska Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka addresses
reporters in Anchorage, Alaska. Tshibaka announced plans on Monday, March 29, 2021, to run for the U.S. Senate
seat held by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a fellow Republican, in the 2022 election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
    Alaska Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka slams rival Lisa Murkowski and GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell.    In an interview with Breitbart over the weekend, the candidate said that McConnell may as well be a Democrat since he is pushing Joe Biden’s agenda.
    Tshibaka said that most politicians from both parties have no sense of caring for average people, but just continuing their own power.    She declared the Biden agenda and those like McConnell and Murkowski who she says promote it to be anti-Alaska and claims that Alaskans can see through it.
    “Joe Biden has pursued an anti-Alaska agenda since the time he took office,” stated Tshibaka.    “On day one, he began his assault on Alaska, on our workers, on our economy, on our environment.    And the only way he’s been able to pursue his….radical agenda is with the help of enablers in Congress like Mitch McConnell and Lisa Murkowski.”
    Tshibaka has been endorsed by the 45th president for the office and is polling ahead of Murkowski in first round counting for the ranked choice ballot.

12/21/2021 Oil no change, DOW down 433 to 34,932.

12/21/2021 Omicron Infections Appear No Less Severe Than Delta; COVID-19 Lowers Sperm Count, Motility by Nancy Lapid
People queue to be tested for COVID-19 in Times Square, as the Omicron coronavirus variant continues
to spread in Manhattan, New York City, U.S., December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
    (Reuters) – The following is a summary of some recent studies on COVID-19.    They include research that warrants further study to corroborate the findings and that has yet to be certified by peer review.
    Omicron infections no less severe based on early UK data.
    Infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus do not appear to be less severe than infections from Delta, according to early data from the UK.
    Researchers at Imperial College London compared 11,329 people with confirmed or likely Omicron infections with nearly 200,000 people infected with other variants.    So far, according to a report issued ahead of peer review and updated on Monday, they see “no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection.”
    For vaccines available in the UK, effectiveness against symptomatic Omicron infection ranged from 0% to 20% after two doses, and from 55% to 80% following a booster dose.    The report also estimated that after taking individual risk factors into account, the odds of reinfection with Omicron are 5.4 times greater than for reinfection with Delta.    A study of healthcare workers in the pre-Omicron era estimated that a prior SARS-CoV-2 infection afforded 85% protection against a second infection over 6 months, the researchers said, while “the protection against reinfection by Omicron afforded by past infection may be as low as 19%.”
    Sperm count, motility may be low for months after COVID-19 Sperm quality is impaired for months for some people after recovery from COVID-19, researchers have found.
    The semen itself was not infectious, the researchers found. But among 35 men who provided samples within a month after recovery from symptomatic infection, reductions in sperm motility were evident in 60% and sperm counts were reduced in 37%. As reported on Monday in Fertility and Sterility, semen samples were obtained from 120 Belgian men with an average age of 35 years, at an average of 52 days after their COVID-19 symptoms had resolved.
    Among 51 men tested between one and two months after recovery, 37% had reduced sperm motility and 29% had low sperm counts.    Among 34 men who provided semen samples at least two months after recovery, sperm motility was impaired in 28% and sperm counts were low in 6%.    The severity of COVID-19 infection was not correlated with sperm characteristics.
    “Couples with a desire for pregnancy should be warned that sperm quality after COVID-19 infection can be suboptimal,” the researchers concluded. “The estimated recovery time is 3 months, but further follow-up studies are under way to confirm this and to determine if permanent damage occurred in a minority of men.”     Neutralizing molecule could be cheaper than antibodies An experimental molecule that neutralizes the coronavirus in the same way antibodies do would be cheaper and easier to manufacture, researchers said.
    The molecule belongs to a class of compounds known as aptamers. Because they are made from RNA or DNA, aptamers are easier to synthesize than protein-based antibodies that can only be produced in living cells, said Julian Valero of Aarhus University in Denmark. Like antibodies, the aptamers attach themselves to protein targets – in this case, the spike protein on the virus surface – by folding into a three-dimensional conformation.    A study published in PNAS shows that in test tube experiments, the aptamer binds tightly to the coronavirus spike, preventing it from breaking into human cells.    It inhibits earlier variants of the virus, including Delta, the researchers said.    They are planning tests to see whether it also recognizes and binds to Omicron.
    Use of the aptamer in patients is still far off, with tests in mice only recently begun.    In terms of use in humans, “we’re much closer” to being able to use the aptamer to help diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infections, said Jorgen Kjemsa, also of Aarhus University.    Experiments comparing the use of the aptamer to antibodies in widely used rapid COVID-19 tests for infection are underway, he said.
    Click for a Reuters graphic https://tmsnrt.rs/3c7R3Bl on vaccines in development.
(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

12/21/2021 Peru Community To Attend Mine Blockade Meet In Reversal Of Decision by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun
FILE PHOTO: General view of a mine operated by MMG Las Bambas, in a region where locals claim
mining activity has negatively affected crop yields and killed livestock, outside of
Cusco, Peru October 14, 2021. Picture taken October 14, 2021. REUTERS/Angela Ponce
    LIMA (Reuters) -A Peruvian community blocking a road used by MMG Ltd’s Las Bambas copper mine will attend a government-brokered meeting set for Tuesday, a representative said, backtracking from a previous decision to boycott it.
    “In order to stop people from demonizing the communities as uncompromising, it’s been decided to attend the meeting,” said Victor Villa, a legal adviser for residents of Chumbivilcas, whose month-long blockade forced Las Bambas to suspend production last week.
    Las Bambas said earlier on Monday it does not plan to initiate legal action against Peru “for the time being” over the blockade.    The mining sector has previously called on the government to send law enforcement to remove the blockade.
    The meeting is the government’s latest attempt to defuse the situation without resorting to a state of emergency, which would suspend civil liberties.
    The current blockade has been in place since Nov. 20 by residents of the Chumbivilcas province who complain that the mineral wealth of the mine simply bypasses them and want the company to provide more jobs and money for the area.
    The government had tried to broker a meeting between the parties last week, but Villa called the available proposal “a joke” and did not attend.
    Peru is the world’s no. 2 copper producer and Las Bambas accounts for 2% of world copper supply.
    Las Bambas’ vice president of legal affairs, Claudio Caceres, said that company representatives were planning to attend the government-convened meeting on Tuesday with the Chumbivilcas communities.
    “Currently we’re mainly committed to being able to restart a constructive and real dialogue, at the moment we’re not thinking of taking legal action,” Caceres said in an interview with local radio station RPP.
    The Chinese-owned mine has been a flashpoint of protests since it began operations in 2016.
(Reporting by Marco Aquino and Marcelo Rochabrun in LimaWriting by Anthony EspositoEditing by Bernadette Baum, Matthew Lewis and Sam Holmes)

12/21/2021 WHO Sounds Warning Over Fast-Spreading Omicron by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge
The World Health Organization logo is pictured at the entrance of the
WHO building, in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) - The Omicron variant of the coronavirus is spreading faster than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.
    WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan added it would be “unwise” to conclude from early evidence that Omicron was a milder variant that previous ones.
    “… with the numbers going up, all health systems are going to be under strain,” Soumya Swaminathan told Geneva-based journalists.
    The variant is successfully evading some immune responses, she said, meaning that the booster programmes being rolled out in many countries ought to be targeted towards people with weaker immune systems.
    “There is now consistent evidence that Omicron is spreading significantly faster than the Delta variant,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the briefing.
    “And it is more likely people vaccinated or recovered from COVID-19 could be infected or re-infected,” Tedros said.
    Their comments echoed the finding of study by Imperial College London, which said last week the risk of reinfection was more than five times higher and it has shown no sign of being milder than Delta.
    WHO officials said however that other forms of immunity vaccinations may prevent infection and disease.
    While the antibody defences from some actions have been undermined, there has been hope that T-cells, the second pillar of an immune response, can prevent severe disease by attacking infected human cells.
    WHO expert Abdi Mahamud added: “Although we are seeing a reduction in the neutralisation antibodies, almost all preliminary analysis shows T-cell mediated immunity remains intact, that is what we really require.”
    However, highlighting how little is known about how to handle the new variant that was only detected last month, Swaminathan also said: “Of course there is a challenge, many of the monoclonals will not work with Omicron.”
    She gave no details as she referred to the treatments that mimic natural antibodies in fighting off infections.    Some drug makers have suggested the same.
ENDING THE PANDEMIC
    In the short term, Tedros said that holiday festivities would in many places lead to “increased cases, overwhelmed health systems and more deaths” and urged people to postpone gatherings.
    “An event cancelled is better than a life cancelled,” he said.
    But the WHO team also offered some hope to a weary world facing the new wave that 2022 would be the year that the pandemic, which already killed more than 5.6 million people worldwide, would end.
    It pointed towards the development of second and third generation vaccines, and the further development of antimicrobial treatments and other innovations.
    “(We) hope to consign this disease to a relatively mild disease that is easily prevented, that is easily treated,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency expert, told the briefing.
    “If we can keep virus transmission to minimum, then we can bring the pandemic to an end.”
    However Tedros also said China, where the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was first detected at the end of 2019, must be forthcoming with data and information related to its origin to help the response going forward.
    “We need to continue until we know the origins, we need to push harder because we should learn from what happened this time in order to (do) better in the future,” Tedros said.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge;Editing by Alison Williams)

12/21/2021 UK’s Johnson Says ‘We’re Looking At All Kinds Of Things’ To Tackle Omicron by William James and Kylie MacLellan
FILE PHOTO: People queue to receive COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues,
at a walk-in vaccination centre at Saint Thomas' Hospital in London, Britain, December 15, 2021. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
    LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday he was looking at all kinds of measures to keep the Omicron coronavirus variant under control as the situation was extremely difficult, cautioning that further restrictions might be needed.
    Britain has reported record levels of COVID-19 cases over the past week, with officials and ministers warning that hospitalisations are also rising.
    Speaking after a more than two-hour cabinet meeting to discuss the latest COVID-19 situation, Johnson said the situation was “extremely difficult” and that hospitalisations were rising steeply in London.
    “We will have to reserve the possibility of taking further action to protect the public, and to protect public health and the NHS (National Health Service), and we won’t hesitate to take that action,” Johnson said.
    “We are looking at all kinds of things to keep Omicron under control and we will rule nothing out.”
    British media said ministers had pushed back against the prospect of new restrictions before Christmas and that curbs, lasting between two weeks and a month, were now more likely to be introduced after, possibly from Dec. 28.
    The Times and other media outlets said these would likely include a ban on households mixing indoors, as well as possible limits on the numbers who can meet outdoors and pubs and restaurants limited to opening outdoors only.
    Omicron has raced around the world and so far been reported in at least 89 countries.    It is known to be highly transmissible, but the severity of illness it causes remains unclear.
    The UK Health Security Agency said on Sunday that 12 people in Britain had died with the Omicron variant and 104 were currently in hospital with it.
    Officials warned last week that hospitalisations could hit new highs as the effects of the latest surge of the COVID-19 pandemic work their way through the population.
    Hospitality businesses have called for financial support as the government’s advice for people to limit social contacts in the run-up to Christmas has left pubs and restaurants largely empty during what should be one of their busiest periods.
    Johnson said he regretted the impact on hospitality and the government would “keep the economic side of this under constant review.”
    Johnson’s authority has been undermined by questions over whether he and his staff broke lockdown rules last year.    He suffered a huge rebellion in parliament last week as lawmakers from his own Conservative Party warned against imposing new COVID-19 rules.
    To pass the new rules, which included ordering people to wear masks in public places, Johnson had to rely on the support of the main opposition Labour Party.
    On Monday, Labour leader Keir Starmer called on Johnson to set aside infighting and come up with a plan to tackle the rising cases.    “What I want to see is a government, a prime minister, that gets a grip and puts a plan forward that hopefully we can all get behind,” Starmer told reporters.
(Reporting by William James and Kylie MacLellan, Additional reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Philippa Fletcher and Mark Heinrich)

12/21/2021 President Trump Doubles Down On His Skepticism Of Crypto-Currencies Saying He Prefers A Strong U.S. Dollar by OAN Newsroom
US President Donald Trump speaks during a retreat with Republican lawmakers at Camp David in Thurmont, Maryland,
January 6, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)
    During an interview on Monday, the 45th president said he was never fully convinced that crypto-currencies are a positive development in international finance. Trump said the U.S. dollar must remain the most important currency in the world.
    “Look, I want our currency called the dollar.    I don’t want to have all these others and that could be an explosion some day like the likes of which we’ve never seen,” he stated.    “It could make the big tech explosion look like baby stuff.    I think it is a very dangerous thing.”
    His remarks come amid reports that former First Lady Melania Trump has launched a non fungible tokens platform marking the Trump family’s entry into the buoyant industry of digital finance.
    President Trump also said First Lady Melania is well-respected and loved by both American patriots and digital investors adding he believes she’ll be very successful at her new endeavor, but Trump says what’s good for business is not necessarily good for the country.

12/21/2021 Boston’s Freshly-Elected Mayor Announces A New Vaccine Passport System For The City by OAN Newsroom
A picture taken on March 3, 2021 in Paris shows a vaccine vial reading “Covid-19 vaccine” and a syringe
on an European passport. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP) (Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP via Getty Images)
    Boston’s freshly-elected Mayor announces a new vaccine passport system for the city.    On Monday, the Democrat Mayor Michelle Wu announced the system which will go into effect on January 15th.
    From that day residents and visitors to the city will be forced to show proof of vaccination to enter most indoor spaces, including eating at restaurants or working out in gyms.    The Mayor said it was the most American thing someone could do.
    “There’s a long history in this country of people needing to show their papers,” she stated.    “Whether we’re talking about this from the standpoint as a way to, after, during slavery, post slavery here, we want to make sure that we are not doing anything that would further create a barrier for residents of Boston.”
    This is in stark contrast to the attitude of Boston’s previous mayor, a progressive Democrat and the city’s first black Mayor who compared the passport system to slavery when it was first implemented in other cities.    Protesters showed up while Mayor Wu made her announcement holding signs saying “shame on Wu” and singing the Star Spangled Banner.

12/21/2021 U.K. May Lockdown Due To Omicron by OAN Newsroom
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 27: Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a press conference after cases of the
new Covid-19 variant were confirmed in the United Kingdom on November 27, 2021 in London, England. UK authorities
confirmed today that two cases of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant, which had prompted a flurry of travel bans
affecting several countries in Southern Africa, were found in the UK. (Photo by Jeff Gilbert – Pool/Getty Images)
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warns more lockdowns may be on the horizon for the United Kingdom.    Johnson made the remarks during an interview on Monday.
    “I’ve got to say to the British public and I’ve got to say to everybody, we will not exclude going further if we have to, to do things to protect the public,” he stated.
    The prime minister believes additional measures may be necessary to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
    Although he acknowledged many industries may suffer from from COVID restrictions, Johnson says the measures are for the greater good.
    “That has had consequences for some parts of our economy, and some parts of the hospitality sector,” he continued.    “And you know, I, of course, I in many ways, I regret that.    But if it can help to get down the R, get down the the way that the disease is multiplying, that can be very helpful to us and and to the country.”
    Johnson stressed vaccinations and restrictions are the only way to beat the new variant despite data showing vaccines are less effective against Omicron than previous strains.

12/21/2021 Exclusive: Brazil Shuts Illegal Timber Schemes, Sheds Light On Amazon Logging by Jake Spring
FILE PHOTO: Piles of legal wood are seen in a wood company warehouse in the Amazon rainforest, inside Jamari National
Forest Park in the County of Itapua do Oeste, Rondonia state, Brazil, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Adriano Machado
    BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazilian environmental agents this week shut down schemes involving hundreds of companies the agents said were covering up illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest, according to government documents reviewed by Reuters.
    The operation conducted by the main federal environmental enforcement agency Ibama provides a rare glimpse into how illegally cut Amazon wood is inserted into legal timber supply chains, using shell companies and faking shipments.
    The enforcement operation is one of the most complete ever conducted by the environmental agency, because it caught so many of the people hiding behind or doing business with the shell companies, one Ibama agent told Reuters.
    Ibama identified more than 220 companies and 21 logging concessions involved in various schemes disguising the origin of illegal wood, according to the documents seen by Reuters.
    The environmental agency will place embargoes on the companies this week to prevent them from selling wood and will hand out more than 50 million reais ($8.76 million) in fines, the documents said.
    Ibama has also passed on the findings to public prosecutors and police for further criminal investigation, the documents said.
    Ibama did not respond to a request for comment.
    The agency can issue administrative penalties like fines and embargoes but cannot make arrests or issue criminal charges.    The companies and people involved can appeal the decisions with Ibama.
    Under President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s Amazon deforestation in 2021 surged to the highest level in 15 years, according to official government statistics.
    Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental protections and sought to introduce more mining and farming to the Amazon, saying it is needed to alleviate poverty.
    Brazil permits legal logging, handing out a limited number of concessions that allow only a proportion of trees to be cut in a specific area, and sets quotas capping the harvest.
    Those quotas are given out as credits that then accompany the wood as it is sold and resold, certifying its legal origins until it is made into a “finished product” like furniture or flooring.
    But under the schemes, companies were selling the credits without the wood, the documents said.
    Buyers would then attach the woodless credits to illegally sourced wood with origins such as protected nature reserves or tribal lands.
    In some cases, the companies involved were shell companies that only existed on paper in order to funnel the credits, which could change hands many times before being used, the documents said.
    The scheme involved more than 102,000 cubic meters of illegally cut wood from Para, Rondonia and Mato Grosso states.    That amount represents the harvest of about 97 square kilometers of forest, an area larger than Manhattan, which still pales in comparison to more than 13,000 square kilometers of deforestation officially recorded in the 12 months through July.
    “That’s a drop in the ocean,” said Raoni Rajao, a land use expert at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, when asked about the discovery.
    The Ibama operation provides an example of the most common way which illegal loggers sell their wood into the legal system, according to Rajao.
    “It’s certainly very widespread,” he said.
    Most of the illegally harvested wood was sold into Brazil’s domestic market for a variety of uses, said the Ibama agent, on condition of anonymity.
    The final manufacturer or consumer generally has no way of knowing the wood is illegal as the timber appears to be legitimate in the government system, the agent said.    Therefore, they cannot be held liable, the person said.
    Selective logging to extract valuable timber is often the first step in deforestation, with the remaining forest then burned to clear land for agriculture.
($1 = 5.7052 reais)
(Reporting by Jake Spring; Editing by David Gregorio)

12/21/2021 Europe Braces For Omicron ‘Storm’ As Biden Calls Up Military Medics by Nick Macfie and William Maclean
FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, makes his
way at a restaurant district in Tokyo, Japan, December 1, 2021. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) -Countries across Europe considered new curbs on movement on Tuesday while U.S. President Joe Biden called on military medics to support hospitals and fight the Omicron variant sweeping the world days before the second Christmas of the pandemic.
    Omicron infections are multiplying across Europe, the United States and Asia, including in Japan, where a single cluster https://www.reuters.com/world/coronavirus-cluster-linked-us-base-japan-grows-least-180-2021-12-20 of COVID-19 cases at a military base has grown to at least 180.
    “We can see another storm coming,” said Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s European head, warning https://www.reuters.com/world/significant-surge-european-cases-expected-omicron-spreads-who-2021-12-21     European countries to brace for a “significant surge” in COVID-19.
    Biden https://www.reuters.com/world/us/omicron-surges-biden-expand-testing-warn-unvaccinated-2021-12-21 struck a dire tone about the risks to the one in four American adults still unvaccinated.    He planned to lay out new measures on testing on Tuesday, an administration official said.
    The steps include activating some 1,000 military medical personnel to support hospitals already being overwhelmed.
    Israel recorded its first known death from the Omicron variant, according to Israeli news media which reported that an elderly man died in Beersheba on Monday.
    Germany, Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands and South Korea are among countries to have reimposed partial or full lockdowns or other social distancing measures in recent days.
    Portugal ordered nightclubs and bars to close and told people to work from home for at least two weeks from Saturday.
    Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland – part of the United Kingdom but with devolved responsibilities for health – set out plans for further restrictions on big public events, including sports fixtures, for three weeks after Christmas.
    “It will also mean unfortunately that large scale Hogmanay celebrations, including that planned here in our capital city (Edinburgh), will not proceed,” she said, referring to traditional Scottish New Year parties.
    New Zealand COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said his country, which imposed some of the world’s toughest COVID-19 measures, was delaying the start of a staggered reopening of its border until the end of February.
    “All of the evidence so far points to Omicron being the most transmissible COVID-19 variant yet,” he said.
    Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany will introduce new steps including limiting private gatherings for vaccinated people to a maximum of 10 before New Year’s Eve.    Scholz agreed with the premiers of the 16 federal states that big events, including football matches, would be without spectators.
    The WHO’s Kluge told a news conference in Vienna that within weeks Omicron would dominate in more countries of the region, “pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink.”
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would not introduce new COVID-19 curbs in England before Christmas, but the situation remained extremely difficult and the government might need to act afterwards.
    Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) of extra support for businesses hit hardest by Omicron, which is hammering the hospitality sector and other businesses.
‘I UNDERSTAND THAT MANY ARE TIRED’
    Omicron’s rapid spread means many Britons are changing Christmas plans last-minute, despite a lack of formal curbs.
    Twenty-four-year-old medical student Rebecca Gilmore, who lost her younger brother to suicide earlier in the year, said being apart from her family was especially hard this year but self-isolating with her partner was the right thing to do.
    “It means I’m protecting the most vulnerable people,” she said.
    Sweden will urge all employees to work from home if possible and impose tighter rules for social distancing.
    “I understand that many are tired of this – so am I – but we now have a new virus variant, which means we are in a new situation,” said Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.
    Omicron has hit financial markets hard in recent days, raising investor fears for the global economic recovery as the pandemic cuts travel and seizes up supply chains.
    But world shares gained on Tuesday, with the dollar softening as appetite for riskier assets made a cautious return.    The broader Euro STOXX 600 rose 1.3%. Germany’s DAX’s added 1.27%, with London’s FTSE climbing 0.99%.
    Wall Street’s main indexes rose, following a steep selloff in the previous session.
    In Australia, where Omicron has surged but hospitalisations remain relatively low, Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged state and territory leaders to avoid further lockdowns.
    In the United States, the Biden administration said it would open federal COVID-19 testing sites in New York this week and buy 500 million at-home rapid tests that Americans can order online for free starting in January.
    Omicron now accounts for 73% of all new cases in the United States, up from less than 1% at the beginning of the month.
    New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams is postponing his inauguration ceremony, which was set for Jan. 1, due to the rise in Omicron cases, he said.
    The variant was first detected last month in southern Africa and Hong Kong and has been reported in at least 89 countries.
    The severity of illness it causes remains unclear, but the WHO warned it is spreading faster https://www.reuters.com/world/omicron-spreading-infecting-vaccinated-who-2021-12-20 than the Delta variant and is causing infections in people already vaccinated or who have recovered from the COVID-19 disease.
    More than 274 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 since the pandemic began nearly two years ago. More than 5.65 million people have died.
    Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: open https://tmsnrt.rs/2FThSv7 in an external browser.
    Eikon users can click https://apac1.apps.cp.thomsonreuters.com/cms/?navid=1063154666 for a case tracker.
(Reporting by Reuters bureaux; Writing by Nick Macfie and William Maclean, both in London, and Jane Wardell; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Howard Goller)

12/21/2021 German Police Probe Far-Right Politicians Over Telegram Chats – Spiegel
FILE PHOTO: Flags of the euro-critical Alternative for Germany AFD party are held up by supporters in front
of the Brandenburg Gate during an AFD election campaign rally in Berlin September 16, 2013. German voters
will go to the polls in a general election on September 22. REUTER REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
    BERLIN (Reuters) – German police searched the homes of two politicians from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, Der Spiegel magazine reported on Tuesday, part of a probe into messages in a Telegram chat group that reportedly called for revolution and civil war.
    Police searched two residences in Bavaria and confiscated mobile phones as part of an investigation into the “Alternative Message Group Bavaria” on the Telegram messaging service, prosecutors said in a statement seen by Reuters.
    The statement did not specify that the raids were on AfD politicians.    The prosecutors’ office said it could not give further details at this time.
    The two people whose homes were searched are believed to have made statements in the 200-member Telegram group in December 2020 and are suspected of public incitement, the statement said.
    Neither Der Spiegel or the statement named the suspects.
    Investigators still need to evaluate evidence to determine whether a criminal offence has been committed, the prosecutors said.
    Broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported on Dec. 1 that 16 AfD members of the Bavarian state parliament and 11 AfD legislators from the Bundestag, the lower house of the federal parliament, had taken part in the chat, along with other politicians from the party.
    The broadcaster said it had accessed the chat group.
    According to the Bayerischer Rundfunk report, the chats were filled with fantasies about an outbreak of civil war, Islamophobia and criticism of the government’s coronavirus policy.
    The AfD supports anti-migration and Eurosceptic policies and opposes COVID-19 restrictions such as government mask mandates.
    In a separate case earlier this month, police in the eastern state of Saxony conducted a targeted search of members of a Telegram group as part of an investigation into what they said was a plot to murder the state’s premier.
(Reporting by Christina Amann; Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)

12/21/2021 Harvard Professor Lied About China Ties, U.S. Jury Told As Trial Nears End by Nate Raymond
FILE PHOTO: Charles Lieber leaves federal court after he and two Chinese nationals were charged with lying about their
alleged links to the Chinese government, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Katherine Taylor
    BOSTON (Reuters) – A Harvard University professor misled U.S. authorities by repeatedly lying about his ties to a China-run recruitment program, a prosecutor said on Tuesday, as a closely-watched trial in a crackdown on Chinese influence in U.S. research neared its end.
    Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Casey told a Boston federal jury that Charles Lieber, a renowned nanoscientist and former chair of Harvard’s chemistry department, lied to U.S. investigators to protect his career and Nobel Prize ambitions.
    Casey said evidence established Lieber, 62, had agreed to affiliate with a Chinese university and participate in China’s Thousand Talents Program, which prosecutors say China uses to entice foreign researchers to share their knowledge with it.
    But in his closing argument, Casey said Lieber denied his involvement when confronted by officials at Harvard and the U.S. Defense Department, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, which had awarded him $15 million in research grants that could be threatened.
    “With everything on the line, what did the defendant do?” Casey asked.    “He made up a story.”
    Marc Mukasey, Lieber’s lawyer, countered that the prosecution’s case was full of holes and relied on missing documents and a “muddled,” confused interview with FBI agents after his arrest.
    “Without these critical items of proof, without the evidence that’s missing, the government cannot prove the charges in this case beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
    The trial represents a test of the U.S. Justice Department’s “China Initiative” launched in 2018 to combat Chinese economic espionage and trade secrets theft.    Critics have said the initiative harms academic research and racially profiles Chinese researchers.
    Lieber faces six counts of making false statements, filing false tax returns and failing to disclose a Chinese bank account.
    The tax and bank account charges relate to the up to $50,000 per month prosecutors said Lieber received while affiliating from 2011 to 2015 with Wuhan University of Technology in China.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

12/21/2021 Germany Agrees New Contact Limits To Curb COVID-19
People pass by a Christmas tree close to the Brandenburg gate during evening light, amid the
coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Berlin, Germany December 21, 2021. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse
    BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany will introduce new measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus including limiting private gatherings for vaccinated people to a maximum of 10 people before New Year’s Eve, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday.
    Scholz also agreed with the premiers of Germany’s 16 federal states that big events, including football matches, would take place without spectators.
    Although the steps already introduced, aimed mainly at encouraging people to get vaccinated, were having an effect, a fifth wave threatened Germany, especially due to the omicron variant, Scholz told reporters.
    “It is only a matter of weeks before omicron is dominant here,” said Scholz.
(Reporting by Madeline Chambers and Sarah Marsh)

12/21/2021 ‘Significant Surge’ In European Cases Expected As Omicron Spreads – WHO by Emma Farge
FILE PHOTO: The World Health Organization logo is pictured outside the old and the
new WHO buildings, in Geneva, Switzerland, December 20, 2021. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
    GENEVA (Reuters) -The World Health Organization’s European head on Tuesday warned countries to brace for a “significant surge” in COVID-19 cases as Omicron spreads, and advised the widespread use of boosters for protection.
    Since it emerged in late November, Omicron has been detected in at least 38 of the 53 countries in the WHO’s European region and is already dominant in several of them including Denmark, Portugal and the United Kingdom, Hans Kluge told a news conference in Vienna.
    “We can see another storm coming,” said Kluge.    “Within weeks, Omicron will dominate in more countries of the region, pushing already stretched health systems further to the brink.”
    The WHO’s Europe region includes Russia and other former Soviet republics, as well as Turkey.
    WHO data shows the region has in recent weeks reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases compared to the population size anywhere. Even before Omicron, officials had warned of a further 700,000 deaths https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/total-covid-deaths-europe-could-exceed-22-million-by-march-who-2021-11-23 from the disease by March.
    WHO headquarters in Geneva has advised that vaccine boosters be saved for the most vulnerable, but Kluge urged people to “boost, boost, boost.”
    “The booster is the single most important defence against Omicron,” he said.
    A WHO spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request to comment on Kluge’s remarks.
    So far, 89% of the early Omicron cases in Europe were associated with common COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, sore throat and fever, Kluge said.    Most cases had been reported among adults in their 20s and 30s, spreading initially in cities at social and workplace gatherings, he added.
    “The sheer volume of new COVID-19 infections could lead to more hospitalizations and widespread disruption to health systems and other critical services,” he said.
    “Governments and authorities need to prepare our response systems for a significant surge.”
    The WHO said on Monday that Omicron is spreading faster than the Delta variant https://www.reuters.com/world/omicron-spreading-infecting-vaccinated-who-2021-12-20, causing infections in people already vaccinated or recovered from the disease. Its chief scientist has called it “unwise” to conclude from early evidence it is a milder variant than previous ones.
(Reporting by Emma Farge in Geneva; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Sonya Hepinstall)

12/21/2021 Travel Ban On Southern Africa ‘Inefficient’ But EU States Oppose Lifting – Top Official by Francesco Guarascio
FILE PHOTO: EU Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders arrives at the meeting of the College of
EU Commissioners in Brussels, Belgium October 13, 2021. Aris Oikonomou/Pool via REUTERS
    (Reuters) – Brussels is pushing to lift an “inefficient” travel ban on southern African states over the Omicron variant, but European Union nations are reluctant to drop it, the EU’s commissioner for justice Didier Reynders told Reuters on Tuesday.
    Late in November, EU states agreed to impose travel curbs on seven southern African countries after they reported several cases of the Omicron variant.
    Reynders said the ban had become inefficient because the EU had other tools, including quarantines and tests, to manage the flow of travellers from countries with several Omicron cases.
    In addition to that, the spread of the variant to many other countries in the world, including EU states, further weakened the rationale for that measure.
    But EU states remained reluctant to lift the ban, he said, noting that a new request by the Commission made at a meeting of EU experts on Monday had been rejected by EU governments.
    “We will continue to push not only for diplomatic reasons, but also because is becoming inefficient.    We have other tools,” he said, citing “huge pressure” from South Africa to remove the ban.
    Reynders also said the European Commission was not in favour of measures adopted by seven EU governments that require vaccinated travellers from other EU nations to present a negative test, even if they have a valid COVID-19 certificate.
    He added the measures appeared to be partly justified by fears over the spread of the Omicron coronavirus variant, but that the executive Commission was still assessing whether they were proportionate and necessary.
    “We prefer to use for the free movement in Europe only the certificate without additional measures,” he said.
    Despite this partial setback, the EU certificate was increasingly used across the world.
    “It’s becoming a global standard,” Reynders said.
    He added that more than 30 countries across the world were using the EU’s travel pass, in addition to the 27 EU states, and over 80 more were also asking to use it.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Mark Potter and Alison Williams)

12/21/2021 McConnell Highlights Biden’s Failures, Eyes GOP Victory by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, DC – DECEMBER 16: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gestures as she speaks at a news conference
at the U.S. Capitol Building on December 16, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    According to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), conservative Americans should feel very confident ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.    He rejoiced as the GOP heads into the upcoming New Year in a strong position.
    During a radio interview Monday, McConnell highlighted Joe Biden’s failure to get Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support the near $5 trillion Build Back Better bill.    The Kentucky lawmaker was then asked if he had any “inkling” that Biden’s negotiations would ultimately flop.
    “Not an inkling, but a hope,” he stated.    “Ironically, at my wrap-up press conference at the end of the session I said the single biggest favor Manchin could do for the country is to kill this bill. It was an exciting thing to hear.    It’s exactly what the country needed at this particular in time.”
    McConnell went on to say, Biden is facing a growing amount of backlash from Americans while highlighting Biden’s record low approval ratings.
    “Joe Biden started off over 50 percent, he’s now in the low 40s,” said the senator.    “He just lost his top legislative priority.    We’ve had a terrific year.    The American people have seen what true liberalism looks like.    Actually, I think more accurately, what socialism looks like.”
    McConnell also highlighted Republican victories in this year’s recent special elections despite Biden’s endorsements to Democrat candidates.
    “And we’re heading toward a very significant midterm election next year and we should, in all likelihood, flip both the House and the Senate to the Republican Party,” he continued.
    McConnell went on to say he believes a growing number of Americans are waking up to far-left lawmaker’s attack on values central to the nation’s founding.
    While looking forward, McConnell said he is confident that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) does not have enough votes to pass Biden’s spending bill by Christmas.    The Republican stressed the only change it could have to pass next year is if major revisions are made.

12/21/2021 Exclusive-U.N. Proposing Paying Nearly $6 Million To Taliban For Security -Document, Source by Jonathan Landay
FILE PHOTO: A Taliban fighter guards a street in Kabul, Afghanistan November 25, 2021. REUTERS/Ali Khara/
    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United Nations is proposing to pay nearly $6 million for protection in Afghanistan to Taliban-run Interior Ministry personnel, whose chief is under U.N. and U.S. sanctions and wanted by the FBI, according to a U.N. document and a source familiar with the matter.
    The proposed funds would be paid next year mostly to subsidize the monthly wages of Taliban fighters guarding U.N. facilities and to provide them a monthly food allowance under an expansion of an accord with the former U.S.-backed Afghan government, the document reviewed by Reuters shows.
    The plan underscores the persisting insecurity in Afghanistan following the Islamist Taliban’s takeover in August as the last U.S. troops left, as well as a dire shortage of funds hampering the new government because of a cutoff of international financial aid.
    “The United Nations has a duty as an employer to reinforce and, where necessary, supplement the capacity of host states in circumstances where U.N. personnel work in areas of insecurity,” deputy U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq wrote in an email in response to Reuters’ questions about the proposed payments.    He did not dispute the contents of the document.
    Several experts said the proposed payments raise questions about whether they would violate U.S. and U.N. sanctions on the Taliban and their top leaders, and whether the United Nations could detect diversions of funds for other purposes.
    “What it comes down to is there is no proper oversight,” said the source, who requested anonymity to discuss the matter.
    Those under sanctions include deputy Taliban leader and Interior Ministry chief Sirajuddin Haqqani.     He heads the Haqqani network, a faction blamed for some of the bloodiest attacks over 20 years of war.    The United States, which says Haqqani is close to al Qaeda, is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to his arrest.
    The U.N. Assistance Mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) budget is “currently under review,” but the mission “maintains full compliance with all U.N. sanctions regimes,” Haq said.
    He did not respond to a question about whether the proposed payments would breach U.S. sanctions.
    A U.S. Treasury Department official said the Taliban and the Haqqani network remain designated under the U.S. government’s counterterrorism sanctions program and that unauthorized people supporting them “risk exposure to U.S. sanctions.”
    The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to comment on the U.N. proposal.
FOOD SHORTAGES, ECONOMIC COLLAPSE
    The proposed funds would bolster the cash-strapped Taliban’s ability to protect some 3,500 U.N. personnel in Kabul and 10 field offices.    Many are striving to help the country of 39 million cope with food shortages amid a public services breakdown and an economic collapse accelerated by the evaporation of foreign financial aid.
    The U.N. document says most of a proposed $4 million security budget for 2022 shared by the 20 U.N. agencies operating in Afghanistan “constitutes payments in respect of supplementing host nation resources for their primary responsibility to protect U.N. personnel (as foreseen in our SOMA).”
    SOMA stands for a Status of Mission Agreement with the former government.    Under the accord, the United Nations subsidized the costs to the Interior Ministry of police who protected U.N. facilities, the source said.
    Most of the $4 million would boost the wages of individual Taliban members by $275-to-$319 per month and provide a monthly food allowance of $90 per person, “which was previously only paid in the regions but now also extended to Kabul,” the document said.
    UNAMA would spend an additional nearly $2 million “for similar services” outside the security budget shared with other U.N. agencies, the document added.
    “The U.N. system provided allowances to personnel who perform supplementary security services which are critical to the safety of personnel and compounds, as well as operations and movements in the country,” said Haq.
    Such funds, he said, are paid directly to recipients “and not through the de facto authorities.”
(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Mary Milliken and Peter Cooney)

12/22/2021 Oil up $0.41 to $71.39, DOW up 561 to 35,493 to.

12/22/2021 France Could Soon Have 100,000 COVID Cases A Day, Health Minister Says
    PARIS (Reuters) - France could soon have around 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, health minister Olivier Veran said on Wednesday, up from around 70,000 currently as the country battles a fifth wave of the epidemic.
    The Omicron variant will be the dominant strain of COVID in France by early January, Veran told BFM TV.
    Veran said no new restrictions were on the table for now, although nothing could be ruled out, with authorities hoping an increase in the numbers of people having vaccinations will allow them to keep the virus in check.
    On Dec. 21, France registered a further 210 COVID deaths in hospitals in the last 24 hours, taking the country’s total death toll to 94,913, while it also recorded 72,832 new COVID cases.
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

12/22/2021 UK Reduces COVID-19 Self-Isolation To 7 Days For Most In England
FILE PHOTO: People walk past a government health campaign advertisement encouraging people to
take a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine booster dose, at a bus stop, amid the spread of the
COVID-19 pandemic, in London, Britain, December 17, 2021. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo
    LONDON (Reuters) – The British government said that from Wednesday it was reducing the COVID-19 self-isolation period to seven days from 10 days for people in England who get a negative result on a lateral flow test two days in a row.
    With the Omicron variant spreading rapidly in Britain and record levels of cases over the past week many industries are struggling with staff shortages, including hospitals who have warned of the risk of an impact on patient safety.
    The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said its analysis suggested a seven-day isolation period alongside two negative lateral flow test results had nearly the same protective effect as a 10-day isolation period without testing.
    “We want to reduce the disruption from COVID-19 to people’s everyday lives,” health secretary Sajid Javid said in a statement.
    Rapid lateral flow tests, which are provided free by Britain’s National Health Service, can be self-administered by people at home and give a result in 15 to 30 minutes.
    Those who receive a negative lateral flow result on day six and day seven of their self-isolation period, with tests taken 24 hours apart, will no longer have to isolate for 10 days, the government said.
    The UKHSA said it “strongly advised” those who leave their self-isolation after seven days to limit contact with others in crowded or poorly ventilated spaces, work from home and minimise contact with those most vulnerable to COVID-19.
    “The new approach reflects latest evidence on how long cases transmit the virus for, and supports essential public services and supply chains over the winter, while still limiting the spread of the virus,” the UKHSA said.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

12/22/2021 Biden Gives Ineffective Solutions To Omicron by OAN Newsroom
WASHINGTON, D.C. – DECEMBER 21: U.S. President Joe Biden speaks about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the
State Dining Room of the White House, December 21, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
    Joe Biden addressed the nation regarding COVID-19. On Tuesday, Biden delivered the White House’s response to the Omicron variant ahead of the happiest time of the year.
    Rather than spreading Christmas cheer, Biden voiced his intention to slow the spread of COVID-19 using measures already proven to be ineffective.    First, he wanted to address fears that his reaction to the new variant would mirror that of the country’s initial response to the coronavirus.
    “Another question that folks are asking is: ‘Are we going back to March 2020?’…not this last March 2021, but March 2020 when the pandemic first hit.    That’s what I keep getting asked,” said Biden.    “The answer to that is absolutely no.”
    However, the former vice president did tell Americans to worry about Omicron, but to refrain from panicking.    Biden made sure to let the public know that although he occupies the White House, the buck stops with the unvaccinated.
    “If you’re not fully vaccinated, you have good reason to be concerned,” he continued.    “You may think you’re putting only yourself at risk, but it’s your choice.    Your choice is not just a choice about you, it affects other people.    You’re putting other people at risk.    Your loved ones, your friends, neighbors, strangers you run into, and your choice can be the difference between life or death.”
    Biden noted the relative unpopularity of vaccine mandates, but said they are “legal and effective.”    New York City has seen a sharp uptick in positive cases despite its vaccine passport and an upcoming vaccine mandate.
    The Delaware native announced the opening of 10,000 vaccination sites in order to combat the pandemic of the unvaccinated.    However, Biden failed to note that a recent study showed vaccines and boosters are ten times less effective against Omicron than previous strains of the virus.
    Biden also touted taxpayer-funded at-home COVID tests since it’s been seen that the vaccinated can spread the virus as well.    Although much of the blame was placed at the feet of the unvaccinated, Biden condemned media outlets that promote COVID treatments contrary to those encouraged by his administration.
    “But those choices have been fueled by dangerous misinformation on cable TV and social media.    You know, these companies and personalities are making money by peddling lies and allowing misinformation that can kill their own customers and their own supporters,” Biden stressed.    “It’s wrong.    It’s immoral.”
    At no point in his speech did the Democrat mention the national death toll of Omicron, which currently stands in the single-digits, despite accounting for more than 70 percent of new cases.
    Meanwhile, Biden wished the vaccinated a Merry Christmas, while promising the unvaccinated a winter of “severe death.”

12/22/2021 Secy. Of State Blinken Gives Remarks On ‘Toys For Tots’ Organization by OAN Newsroom
FORT MYER, VIRGINIA – DECEMBER 10: Children of military families carry toys during
a sorting event for the annual Marine Toys for Tots Drive at the Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall
on December 10, 2021 in Fort Myer, Virginia. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    Secretary of State Antony Blinken thanked the “Toys for Tots” foundation for their continued work through the holiday season, noting the State Department’s contributions to their efforts.    Blinken gave the remarks at the Annual Toys for Tots Ceremonial Presentation on Tuesday, highlighting the organization’s rich history of giving since its founding more than 70 years ago.
    “Millions of children have received toys through Toys for Tots, going back to 1947.    It is a terrific program and I have to say we are very proud here at the State Department to be able to support it,” stated Blinken.
    Toys for Tots, founded by a Marine in 1947 and officially recognized under the Marine Corps in 1991, gives an average of 18 million toys to more than 7 million children in need each holiday season.    Local toy campaigns are organized by a Marine in each area and begin in mid-October, continuing on through the first three weeks of December.
    “You want to make sure that no child feels left behind, left out or forgotten during the holidays,” he said.    “And that parents or grandparents who need it, can get a little help.”
    Organizers usually request new and unwrapped toys, which are then organized by volunteers into age and gender groupings, and then subsequently distributed to at-need youth in communities nationwide.    Ninety-seven percent of monetary donations go straight to gifts for the children, while the additional three percent is used for overhead and operating costs.
    “I think the program says a lot about the character of the Marines. They’re some of the toughest people in the world, they also have huge, huge hearts,” Blinken continued.
    Officials have touted the organization’s success while, Blinken noted the State Department annually donates to the program.
    “Every year during the holidays, the State Department employees donate gifts to kids across the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, through the U.S. Marine Corps National Toys for Tots Program.”
    Toys for Tots has donated more than 600 million toys to kids in need, giving nearly 300 million children a brighter Christmas.

12/22/2021 Youngkin Appoints Education Secy., Slams CRT by OAN Newsroom
CHANTILLY, VIRGINIA – NOVEMBER 02: Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin claps after learning
that polling numbers indicated that he was ahead in the Virginia Gubernatorial race Westfields Marriott Washington
Dulles on November 02, 2021 in Chantilly, Virginia. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
    The battle against critical race theory continues with Virginia Republican Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin laying out a plan to take back education.    Youngkin assured his education chief would make sure politics are kept out of the classroom.
    In a recent announcement, Youngkin appointed Aimee Guidera as education secretary and said she understands that parent’s voices matter.    Guidera is the former founder and chief executive of the “Data Quality Campaign,” a leading national organization advocating for improved quality, accessibility and use of education data to increase student achievement.
    Meanwhile, speaking with the press this week, Youngkin said critical race theory wouldn’t take center stage in Virginia public schools for long.
    “We’re gonna pull it out and teach all history.    We’re gonna make sure that Virginia’s kids understand where we’ve come from,” said Youngkin.    “But we’re also gonna make sure our children aren’t told to do everything from a lens of race.”
    He stressed public education would instead be focused on preparing students to solve problems in the real world and restoring excellence.
    “What we’ve seen in Virginia over the last eight years is a degradation in standards and expectations, and as a result test scores dropping,” Youngkin added.
    Youngkin asserted this is the time to take a stand and listen to parent’s concerns about left-wing ideology in the classroom.
    “This is a moment for us to absolutely innovate in public school systems, particularly in our K-12 to start with,” he stated.
    Looking ahead, Youngkin is set to step in as governor of Virginia on Jan. 15 after heavily campaigning on ending critical race theory in public schools.

12/22/2021 ‘Significant Increase’ In Protection Vs Omicron From MRNA Boosters, Study Says
FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "VACCINE Coronavirus COVID-19" and a syringe ar