- Yahoo News
Government report warns of potential violence and foreign interference during Georgia Senate runoffs
With the Georgia Senate runoff races just two weeks away, the Department of Homeland Security is warning of the possibility of “ideologically motivated violence” and even a foreign influence campaign as voters prepare to go to the polls, according to a new internal report obtained by Yahoo News.
- Associated Press
A federal judge said the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled the execution of the only woman on federal death row, potentially setting up the Trump administration to schedule the execution after president-elect Joe Biden takes office. U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss also vacated an order from the director of the Bureau of Prisons that had set Lisa Montgomery’s execution date for Jan. 12. Montgomery had previously been scheduled to be put to death at the Federal Correctional Complex in Terre Haute, Indiana, this month, but Moss delayed the execution after her attorneys contracted coronavirus visiting their client and asked him to extend the amount of time to file a clemency petition.
- The Telegraph
At first glance, the Mawat district of north-east Iraq is a rustic idyll, a belt of rolling hills lined with olive and fruit groves. But on closer inspection - as many visitors have learned the hard way - it is full of hidden dangers. What looks like a Middle Eastern Tuscany was once on the frontline of Iraq's eight-year war with Iran, where Saddam Hussein's army planted vast quantities of land mines. Lurking in its gulleys and orchards are countless Russian and Italian anti-personnel devices - all still lethal. Today, despite nearly 30 years of mine clearance work, more than half remain - a glaring reminder of the scale of the so-called "legacy mine" threat in former warzones. "We get a lot of requests from mayors and villagers around here to clear the area," says Jabar Fatih Mahmoud, 49, an Iraqi employee of the Mines Advisory Group, the British charity, as he showed The Telegraph around a minefield listed on his clearance map as 'Kalka Shenka 2C'. "But this region is also popular with picnickers, and not everyone knows the mines are here." The minefields in Mawat and the surrounding governorate of Sulaymaniyah are a grim example of how such weapons are used not just for military purposes, but to actively punish civilian populations.
China called the McCain's movements "a serious violation" of its sovereignty and security.
- National Review
Senator Rand Paul on Tuesday released his annual report outlining of billions of dollars in "truly outlandish" government waste.This year's "Festivus" waste report, a reference to the fictitious Seinfeld holiday's "airing of grievances," documented nearly $54,746,525,000 in money "totally wasted" by the government."Remember this the next time they tell you there’s 'nothing to cut,'" the Kentucky Republican wrote Wednesday in a Twitter thread highlighting parts of the report.Among Paul's instances of waste were several health studies, including more than $36 million spent on studying why stress makes hair turn gray, more than $1 million spent studying whether people will eat ground-up bugs, and more than $3 million spent interviewing San Franciscans about their edible cannabis use.As far as taxpayer dollars spent aiding other countries, $8.62 billion was spent in Afghanistan on counternarcotics efforts, more than $37 million was spent helping deal with truant Filipino youth, and more than $3 million was spent on sending Russians to American community colleges for a “gap year.”Among funds spent on the environment, energy, and scientific research, more than $1 million was spent walking lizards on a treadmill, nearly $200,000 was spent studying how people cooperate while playing e-sport video games, and more than $2 million on developing a wearable headset to track eating behaviors.The military had several particularly high expenditures this year that Paul listed as waste, including repurposing $1 billion in coronavirus response funds for unrelated acquisitions, more than $ 715 million in lost equipment designated for Syrians fighting ISIS, and $174 million on drones that were lost over Afghanistan.Other eyebrow-raising expenses included more than $4 million spent on spraying alcoholic rats with bobcat urine, more than $10 million spent on would-be coronavirus test tubes that turned up as used soda bottles, and nearly $6 million spent building three bicycle storage facilities at Washington, D.C. Metro stations.In 2020, "Congress spent as never before, doing so ostensibly without a care," the report reads. "Some of that is traceable to COVID-related spending, but a lot of it was not."
According to a new report, ranking officers have discussed what they would do if the president declared martial law. President Donald Trump has filed lawsuits after losing the 2020 presidential election and refuses to acknowledge the defeat. A new report claims military leaders have discussed their plan of action if POTUS were to declare martial law toward the last days of his term.
- Associated Press
With unexpectedly cold weather in the forecast and pandemic-related curfews in some places, Florida is about to have a Christmas unlike any other in recent memory, and it may involve falling iguanas. The National Weather Service earlier this week warned that South Florida could experience the coldest Christmas Day in 21 years. Morning lows on Saturday could drop into the low 30s and 40s degrees Fahrenheit, the weather service said.
- The Telegraph
A dog was crushed to death by its owner after she was knocked over during a confrontation with a mugger in an “unprovoked and unacceptable” attack. Norfolk Terrier, Rufus was crushed while the woman tried to pull the thief off her husband. The man, 56 and his 36 year old wife were walking their two dogs in Westminster, central London, when they were approached by a man pushing a bike along the footpath. The man, who wore a face covering and gloves, stopped the pair before pulling the watch off the man's arm, causing scratches to his forearm. The pair began to struggle and it was at this point that the wife tried to pull the mugger away during the attack at 4.15pm in Spanish Place on August 4.
ANKARA (Reuters) -A COVID-19 vaccine developed by China's Sinovac Biotech is 91.25% effective, according to interim data from a late-stage trial in Turkey, a potentially much better result than reported from a separate trial of the vaccine in Brazil. Researchers in Brazil, which is also running a final Phase III trial of the vaccine, said on Wednesday the shot was more than 50% effective, but withheld full results at the company's request, raising questions about transparency. Common adverse effects caused by the vaccine were fever, mild pain and slight fatigue, they said.
- The Independent
Trump addresses ‘terrible pandemic’ in Christmas message, then hits out at Republicans abandoning him over election defeat
Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump delivered a very traditional Christmas message in which they addressed the “terrible pandemic” and the courageous response of citizens. Shortly after releasing the video on Christmas Eve, Mr Trump was back on Twitter complaining about the lack of support from Republicans whom he claims he saved from electoral defeat but who have now abandoned him.
- The Telegraph
Israel was reported to have launched air strikes against military targets in Syria last night, after war planes flew low over Lebanon, terrifying local residents. The state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) quoted a military source blaming Israeli “aggression” for launching a “barrage of missiles” from the north of the Lebanese city of Tripoli towards Masyaf, in Syria’s Hama province. The source claimed that most of the missiles were intercepted by Syrian air defences, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said that a warehouse and missile factories had been destroyed, with “at least” six casualties. Explosions were reported after midnight in the area around Masyaf, north-west of Homs, which is a significant military area for President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, containing a military academy and scientific research centre believed to have been used to create chemical weapons. The Israeli military said it would not comment on reports in foreign media, but it has allegedly launched dozens of attacks against Iranian militias and other targets in Syria in recent years, with jets regularly crossing over Lebanese air space. Witnesses said that the Christmas Eve flights were louder than usual, however, frightening residents of Beirut who are still traumatised by the August 4 explosion at the city’s port that killed more than 200 people. The catastrophic blast, which destroyed large areas of the city, was caused after a huge store of ammonium nitrate was ignited by a fire. Tamara Qiblawi, a CNN producer based in the Lebanese capital, shared a video apparently showing “illegal overflights” of four Israeli jets. “You very often hear them here but very rarely do you see them,” she added. “These were exceptionally low altitude. Houses shook. Cats freaked out. Chills down people’s spines.” Quoting “reliable sources”, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that the “Israeli strikes targeted military posts of regime forces and Iranian militias”. Syrian activists observed ambulances rushing to the scene of the explosions and the dead were all foreign paramilitaries loyal to President Assad, it added. One attack also targeted the research centre, where ground-attack missiles are developed and stored, and which has been hit several times by Israeli strikes in recent years, the Observatory said. The most recent attack in June, killed nine people, including four Syrians. The United States military has previously claimed that sarin gas, a deadly nerve agent, was being developed at the centre, which the Syrian authorities have denied. According to the SANA report, air defences hit “most” missiles before they reached their target. “Our air defences intercepted an Israeli attack on the Masyaf area,” it said.
- Associated Press
With rich countries snapping up supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, some parts of the world may have to rely on Chinese-developed shots to try to conquer the outbreak. There is no outward reason to believe they won’t, but China has a history of vaccine scandals, and its drugmakers have revealed little about their final human trials and the more than 1 million emergency-use inoculations they say have been carried out inside the country already. Wealthy nations have reserved about 9 billion of the 12 billion mostly Western-developed shots expected to be produced next year, while COVAX, a global effort to ensure equal access to COVID-19 vaccines, has fallen short of i ts promised capacity of 2 billion doses.
At least 15 people have died in recent weeks on the South African side of the Beitbridge border with Zimbabwe in lengthy queues that have been slowed by coronavirus screening, television news channel eNCA said on Friday. The health ministry, Department of Home Affairs and South African police Local did not respond immediately to Reuters' requests on Friday for confirmation of fatalities that local media outlets attributed to exhaustion and ill health owing to a lack of facilities while waiting to cross the border, sometimes for days. Images and videos on local news channels and circulated on social media showed lines of stationary cars, mainly trucks, stretching for kilometres on the narrow road leading to the inland Beitbridge port that serves as the main crossing point between the countries, and is more busy than usual at this time of year because of a seasonal return of migrants to Zimbabwe.
- The Independent
'Is it too late to add something to my Christmas list,’ she wrote.
- Los Angeles Times Opinion
When your party takes its lead from the delusional rantings of a conspiracy theorist, it's time to switch teams.
- The Telegraph
Ghislaine Maxwell only discussed getting a divorce from her husband before her arrest to "protect" him from the "terrible consequences" of being publicly linked to her, according to new court documents. As Ms Maxwell seeks bail prosecutors have argued that the divorce discussions undermined her claim that her marriage to tech CEO Scott Borgerson was a strong reason for her to stay in the United States to face trial. In a newly filed claim, lawyers for Ms Maxwell said: "Prior to her arrest Ms Maxwell and her spouse had discussed the idea of getting a divorce as an additional way to create distance between Ms Maxwell and her spouse to protect him... from the terrible consequences of being associated with her." They argued there was later no reason to continue the idea of a divorce, which "neither of them wanted in the first place", and that the US government had offered "nothing but unsupported innuendo." They added that the suggestion was "particularly callous and belied by the facts".
- Yahoo News Video
With four weeks left in President Trump’s term, he is at perhaps his most unleashed — and, as events of the past few days have demonstrated, at the most unpredictable point in his presidency.
President Tayyip Erdogan said that Turkey would like to have better ties with Israel, but criticized Israeli policy toward Palestinians as "unacceptable" and a "red line" for Ankara, adding that intelligence talks resumed between the two sides. The two countries have had a bitter falling out in recent years, despite strong commercial ties, expelling ambassadors in 2018. Ankara has repeatedly condemned Israel's occupation in the West Bank and its treatment of Palestinians.
- Associated Press
An experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac is 91.25% effective, a Turkish health official said on Thursday. Dr. Serhat Unal, an infectious disease expert serving on Turkey’s medical board, said the finding is based on early results of late-stage trials in the country and added that the vaccine is safe. CoronaVac is a so-called inactivated vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech.
Letitia James wants Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl to drop dime on whoever funded their pro-Donald Trump robocall schemes. The state of New York’s Attorney General’s office has subpoenaed two pro-Trump internet trolls in relation to a possible voter suppression scheme. Jacob Wohl, 22, and Jack Burkman, 58, have been subpoenaed by Attorney General Letitia James in relation to voter intimidation using a targeted robocall.