Orange County, California's school board votes to allow in-person classes without masks or social distancing required; board member Dr. Ken Williams explains the vote.
Orange County, California's school board votes to allow in-person classes without masks or social distancing required; board member Dr. Ken Williams explains the vote.
If confirmed, Ret. US Army Gen. Lloyd Austin would be the first Black defense secretary for the United States.
British-Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert arrived back in Australia on Friday and will soon reunite with her family after more than two years in an Iranian prison. Moore-Gilbert was met by public health officials and members of the Australian Defense Force after leaving her plane at Canberra Airport, less than 24 hours after being released from prison in Iran. Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said Moore-Gilbert, 33, will have to undergo quarantine due to COVID-19 concerns.
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) -Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya said on Friday that he had been "unjustly" detained at the Central American nation's Toncontin international airport for carrying $18,000 in cash, which he said was not his. Zelaya, who led Honduras from 2006 to 2009 and was an ally of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, was deposed by the military in a June 2009 coup as he was preparing to hold a referendum on presidential re-election, which his opponents said was a ploy to stay in power.
Alexei Navalny urged the EU to hit Russian oligarchs spending their fortunes in Europe with sanctions rather than targeting the officials responsible for his poisoning. The Kremlin critic narrowly escaped death after he was attacked with the nerve agent Novichok in August. He accused Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder. “The European Union should target the money and Russian oligarchs," Mr Navalny told the European Parliament in Brussels, “these sanctions would be very popular inside of Russia.” Europe had to treat the oligarchs as “bunch of criminals temporarily in power" rather than be the playground of Mr Putin’s allies, Mr Navalny said. He warned the Russian president would try to rig next year’s elections. The opposition leader said the Kremlin would never take EU sanctions seriously as long as the yachts of Russia’s super-rich were moored in European cities such as Barcelona and Monaco. “They just think that they are playing the European Union because they [the EU] are afraid of deploying real sanctions against real money,” he said. The EU hit six senior Russian officials with sanctions in October after the chemical weapon attack on Mr Navalny, who is recovering in Germany after collapsing on a flight from the Siberian city of Tomsk. He spent three weeks in a medically induced coma. “Unfortunately I will not be the last one, who is poisoned, or killed or treated in this way," he said. Mr Navalny said the travel ban and asset freezes would make little difference to the “colonels” who carried out the attack. They rarely travel outside Russia and didn’t have property or bank accounts in Europe, he said. Germany, which holds the rotating Presidency of the EU, hopes to get agreement on a “European Magnitsky Act” by the end of the year. It could enter into force in January. It would allow the EU to quickly impose sanctions on individuals suspected of human rights violations regardless of where the offence took place in the world.
Five leaders of college Republican groups told Business Insider what they thought of President Donald Trump's election loss.
Men plead innocence following arrest in 2017 as State Department demands release
Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of Las Vegas-based online shoe retailer Zappos.com who spent years working to transform the city's downtown area, has died. Hsieh was with family when he died Friday, according to a statement from DTP Companies, which he founded. Downtown Partnership spokesperson Megan Fazio said Hsieh passed away in Connecticut, KLAS-TV reported.
The Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi forces in Yemen carried out a series of air raids on barracks used by the Iran-aligned group in and around the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, according to local residents. The reported air strikes came after a Houthi missile attack on Saudi oil facilities in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on Monday, and damage inflicted to a tanker by an explosion at a Saudi Red Sea terminal on Wednesday. The coalition said on Friday it had pinpointed and destroyed two mines in the south of the Red Sea, Saudi state TV reported, accusing the Houthis of laying the explosives.
The high-profile epidemiologist who led Sweden's no lock-down strategy in the spring appears to be being sidelined by the government after his prediction that greater immunity would mean a lighter second wave proved badly wrong. Anders Tegnell's biweekly press conference was on Thursday pushed into the shade by an overlapping press conference fronted by Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, where new scenarios prepared by the Public Health Agency were announced. "There's certainly a split, and I'm pretty sure that many in the government have rather lost faith in the Public Health Agency," said Nicholas Aylott, an associate politics professor at Stockholm's Södertorn University. "By some counts, we've now got exactly the same level of spread of the virus that we had in the spring, and that's about as clear a refutation of Tegnell's strategy as you could wish for." Dr Tegnell has always insisted that his Public Health Agency has never pursued a herd immunity strategy, but he repeatedly suggested in the summer that his counterparts in Norway, Finland and Denmark would face a tougher task over the winter because of lower levels of immunity in their populations. This month, though, the number of deaths in Sweden has again begun to soar above that of its Nordic neighbours, with 630 deaths so far registered as a result of Covid-19. That is about ten times the per capita death rate in Norway -- where just 30 Covid-19 deaths were registered between October 28th and November 25th.
The verdict on the U.S.–Mexico border wall President Trump promised to construct is decidedly mixed as the year comes to a close.The “big, beautiful wall,” as Trump referred to it, reached 400 miles in length by the end of October, when the Department of Homeland Security held a ceremony hailing the achievement. But almost all construction was designed to replace existing barriers: Just nine miles of new fencing have been put up at previously empty sections of the border.This is not nothing, given that much of the existing border fencing was in need of an upgrade. Some stretches of the barrier were dilapidated, while new barriers will consist of steel bollards up to 30 feet high, with improved access roads, cameras, lighting, and other features that make breaching the barrier more difficult. However, the president’s efforts to vastly expand the length of the barrier failed, and was replaced by a more modest renovation.The story of the border wall renovation reads rather like Trump’s efforts in the 1990s to develop a real-estate tract on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. What Trump proposed as “Television City,” a gleaming development by the Hudson River that would include residential buildings as well as a massive skyscraper, foundered on bureaucratic inertia, fierce opposition by residents, and Trump’s own financial problems. Trump sold the real estate parcel to investors from Hong Kong, and the resulting development, Riverside South, is an unremarkable residential complex.Similarly, the fantastical visions of a wall running along the entire southern border that Trump sold on the 2016 campaign trail have not come to fruition. The Trump administration faced a continuous stream of lawsuits aiming to halt or slow construction. Democratic lawmakers opposed any funding for construction at all. Property owners on the border also fought the administration for attempting to seize their land through declarations of eminent domain.Trump’s attempts to fund the project have ended in a gambit to circumvent Congress. During budget negotiations in fall 2018, Democrats in Congress pushed to cap funding for border operations at $1.6 billion. However, Trump refused to approve the budget if it didn’t include $5 billion in border wall funds, and the spat led to the longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history. By February 2019, the president caved and signed the budget bill without additional funding — instead, Trump resorted to declaring a national emergency at the southern border in order to divert Pentagon funds for wall construction.The Trump administration was able to turn back “caravans” of illegal immigrants arriving at the southern border that year. However, the national emergency declaration drew opposition from Republican senators including Ben Sasse (R., Neb.), concerned about a possible overreach of executive power. (Sasse ultimately voted against formally condemning Trump’s emergency declaration, arguing that the declaration did not exceed the bounds of what he considers to be an overly broad national emergency statute.)The Supreme Court in November 2020 agreed to hear a case challenging the constitutionality of the emergency declaration; it is possible that the Court will rule that the diversion of Pentagon funds to finance border-wall construction was unconstitutional.By the end of April 2020, the Trump administration had siphoned at least $10 billion in Pentagon funds for wall construction. According to planning documents obtained by the Washington Post in 2019, the administration estimated that construction of 500 miles of new barrier would average out to roughly $36 million per mile.After the budgetary maneuvers, court challenges, and other obstacles, the current barriers are scheduled to reach 450 miles by the end of the year if construction continues apace. The result is like the Riverside South development: nowhere near Trump’s grand ambitions, but nice enough.The project may sit idle during the Biden administration. Joe Biden has already promised to overhaul Trump’s immigration policies, including halting construction of the barrier once he takes office.“There will not be another foot of wall constructed on my administration,” Biden said at a meeting with black and Latino reporters in August.But it’s not yet clear if the incoming president will cease ongoing construction entirely. Federal contractors are at work on new sections of barrier, so the new administration would need to follow current regulatory law if it decided to terminate contracts.“Generally, the [contract] clauses treat the government more favorably, much more favorably, than if it was in the commercial world,” John Horan, a Georgetown University law professor specializing in government contracts, told Arizona Central in mid-November. “There is an established regulatory process to stop these contracts, if the president should so decide, in an efficient and orderly manner that will also fairly compensate the contractors for the work that has been performed.”Meanwhile, even before the election, progressive groups began urging Biden not only to stop construction but to tear down sections of barrier that have already been built.“The construction of this unlawful border wall has desecrated tribal lands, leveled wildlife preservations, and destroyed border communities,” ACLU staff attorney Dror Ladin told the Daily Beast in October. “Every unlawful mile of wall should be taken down, and the government must work with border communities to undo the damage that wall construction has already inflicted.”Just how much of the border wall is “unlawful” could be the subject of future legal battles. For example, should the Supreme Court rule that the Trump administration’s diversion of Pentagon funds toward barrier construction was unconstitutional, that could indicate that some sections of barrier were built illegally and thus give more leverage to Democrats' calling for their destruction.Of course, tearing down walls, like building them, is expensive. And rolling back Trump’s immigration policies may take time, as three people involved in developing Biden’s immigration policy have told NBC. Biden will take office amid an ongoing pandemic, and presumably vaccine-distribution efforts will be a priority.If history is any indication, government action on a border wall will remain somewhat detached from reality. Congress passed the Secure Fence Act in 2006, mandating the construction of double-layered fencing across 670 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, but the “second layer” never materialized. Just as President Trump’s promised wall, running from the Gulf of Mexico to California, turned out to be mostly an expensive renovation of existing barriers.Now, in a Biden administration, progressives will call to tear down the refurbished barriers. But their dream of toppling Trump’s “big, beautiful wall” was made impossible by Trump’s failure to build it in the first place.
Pair arguing about killing of top Iranian nuclear scientist
Turkish prosecutors launched an investigation Friday into the search of a Turkish commercial freighter by the crew of a German frigate participating in a European Union mission to enforce an arms embargo on Libya. Turkey has protested the incident on the Mediterranean Sea, insisting personnel from the German frigate Hamburg illegally searched the Libya-bound freighter Rosaline-A on Nov. 22.. Germany has rejected Turkey’s complaints, arguing the frigate's crew acted correctly.
A Canadian police officer stationed at the Vancouver airport who rejected a plan to arrest Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on the plane she arrived on two years ago, on Friday testified that at the time he told other police officers the best course was to allow border agents to interrogate Meng before arresting her. The testimony from Ross Lundie, a sergeant with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Vancouver International Airport detachment, came at the end of two weeks of witness cross-examination in Meng's U.S. extradition case. Meng, 48, was arrested on a U.S. warrant on charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's business dealings in Iran, causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions.
French police are going through the “worst moral crisis in modern history”, according to one of the country’s leading law enforcement experts, following a string of violent incidents in which officers have been accused of misconduct, brutality and racism. Decades of refusal by successive French governments to introduce UK-style independent oversight and systemic reform have brought its police to a perilous breaking point with swathes of an already sceptical population, according to eminent criminologist Sebastien Roché at CRNS. The French have long felt ambivalent about their force, which has come a long way since the dark days of 1961 in which officers under the command of police chief Maurice Papon, later convicted of crimes against humanity, massacred an estimated 200 Algerian protesters. “You’ll be covered,” he notoriously told his men. Hailed as heroes in the wake of terror attacks, they have been equally vilified as heavy-handed and trigger-happy in recent mass demonstrations, notably during the “yellow vests” revolt where intensive use of stun grenades and rubber bullets maimed dozens. However, in the past two weeks, the image of the French force has taken a battering of rare intensity, bringing to the fore long-held accusations of discrimination towards minorities, violence and a sense of impunity.
In a surprise news conference on Thanksgiving Day, President Trump took questions from the press for the first time since losing re-election—but he doubled down on his “rigged” election claims and appeared to deny the reality that his presidency is ending, saying it will be “very hard” for him to concede to Joe Biden.“I think it’s not right he’s trying to pick a Cabinet,” Trump complained after railing against the supposed “massive fraud” that he claims gave Biden victory.Reiterating his claims of voter fraud in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia despite the fact that state authorities have already certified the election results in those states, Trump appeared to become combative when asked if he would concede if the Electoral College votes for Biden on Dec. 14. Although he eventually did say he would exit the White House if the vote were not in his favor, that answer came after he first repeatedly cast doubt on the Electoral College and election in general. “It’s going to be a very hard thing to concede. Because we know there was massive fraud,” he said when first asked if he would concede. Pennsylvania Certifies Biden as Winner, Driving Stake in Trump’s Legal Effort“Time isn’t on our side … this was a massive fraud, this should never take place in this country, we’re like a third-world country,” he said, suggesting that faulty vote-counting machines gave Biden millions of extra votes.Asked a second time if he would concede if the Electoral College votes for Biden, Trump responded, “Well if they do they made a mistake,” before saying it’s a “possibility” and scolding a reporter who pressed him on the issue: “Don’t talk to me that way, you’re just a lightweight.”Asked by another reporter if he would “leave this building” if the Electoral College elects Biden, he said, “Certainly, I will.”While Trump and his legal team have repeatedly looked to throw out votes in states that Joe Biden carried, none of their challenges have proved successful.Key states such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Georgia—all of which Trump carried in 2016, before flipping blue this year—certified their results this week, ensuring they will send a Democratic slate of voters to the Electoral College. Wisconsin and Arizona, two more states that flipped to Biden, are set to certify their results next week.“Massive fraud has been found. We’re like a third world country,” Trump said, before launching back into allegations of voter fraud that have been repeatedly rebuffed in court and by state election officials of both parties.“I did so well ... that they didn’t know what to do,” he said at one point of election results in Georgia, claiming that ballots for him were “thrown away.”“I don’t know what is going to happen. I know one thing, Joe Biden did not get 80 million votes. And I got 74 million but there were many ballots thrown away, so I got much more than that. But I got 74 million, 74 million is 11 million more than I got last time. … And it’s millions more than Hillary Clinton got.”Underneath all of the bravado, Trump at one point slipped up and blasted “the Biden administration,” apparently inadvertently recognizing Biden’s win.While Trump has refused to concede and maintained that somehow, he would win states he had already lost, his administration has relented behind the scenes.Earlier this week, Emily Murphy, the head of the General Services Administrations—a Trump appointee—signed off on a letter officially allowing the presidential transition to begin. Murphy had previously refused to do so, a partisan move from a historically non-partisan agency.Even Trump appeared to have a moment of clarity Thursday regarding a potential COVID-19 cure and his future (or lack thereof) in the White House.“Don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccine,” he said.Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Greece’s government said Friday it is putting limits on how much private medical facilities can charge for coronavirus tests. Commerce and Consumer Protection Secretary General Panagiotis Stamboulidis said that the price limits would be 40 euros ($48) for PCR tests and 10 euros ($12) for rapid antigen tests. Private medical clinics and hospitals had been charging about 70-120 euros ($84-$143) for PCR tests and around 40 euros for the rapid tests.
French authorities have suspended police officers accused of assaulting and racially abusing a Black man in Paris, after CCTV footage of the incident was released and caused an outcry. The music producer, who has identified himself as Michel, was beaten at the entrance to his studio. French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted by France's BFM TV as being "very shocked" by the CCTV and mobile phone images, which were obtained by the LoopSider news outlet and made headline news on French channels. The officers involved were suspended pending investigation at the interior minister's request. Michel told reporters he'd been walking in the street without a face mask, against French COVID-19 rules. When he saw a police car he went into his studio to avoid getting a fine. But the police followed him inside and arrested him, violently. The video purports to show them kicking and beating him, and he says they hurled racial abuse at him too. They then leave, and throw a tear gas canister into the studio. As anger grew, French soccer stars added to the chorus of condemnation. Kylian Mbappe tweeted that the video was "intolerable" and his fellow Les Bleus striker, Antoine Griezmann wrote: "My France is hurting." The alleged attack on Michel risks inflaming racial tension, and fuelling criticism of a draft law that would limit journalists' ability to show images of French police officers at work. The prime minister's office said on Thursday (November 26) it would set up an independent commission to propose a new draft of the legislation. Some "BlackLivesMatter" protests broke out in Paris in June, a month after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in the United States. The movement resonates in France, in particular in deprived city suburbs, where rights groups say accusations of police brutality, often against people with immigrant backgrounds, remain largely unaddressed. And Paris police were already under fire this week after social media photos and videos showed officers hitting protesters as they cleared out an illegal migrants campsite in a central Paris square.
Chinese authorities said on Friday they were set to charge 12 people from Hong Kong with border violations after they were detained in China more than three months ago while trying to flee from the city by speedboat. The 12, who had all faced charges in Hong Kong linked to anti-government protests, have been held virtually incommunicado in a mainland prison since they were detained at sea, apparently while trying to reach the democratic island of Taiwan. "The investigation of 12 Hong Kong people who were found unlawfully crossing the border has ended," authorities in Yantian district of the southern mainland city of Shenzhen said.
For a brief moment when he saw the tree his father had planted in the Sudanese refugee camp many decades ago, the old man forgot the knives and explosions which had forced him to flee Ethiopia a second time. “My father planted this tree when we lived here before,” said Gebrehiwot Gidey. “It was 10pm when we arrived at the camp, but I could see the tree in the dark. I went up to it and kissed it. I was so happy to see it was still here.” In the Eighties, tens of thousands of people like Mr Gidey fled a ruthless Marxist dictatorship and a vast famine in Ethiopia across the mountains into the scraggy wasteland of Eastern Sudan. Mr Gidey, a 60-year-old man from the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia, lived for years with his family near the border in Um-Rakoba camp. He built a house for himself there and married his wife under the tree his father planted to provide shade from the harsh desert sun. Eventually, when it was safe, Mr Gidey returned to his home in northern Ethiopia’s Tigray region. But now the weathered farmer has had to flee to Um-Rakoba once again.
Democrats once dominated Koochiching County in the blue-collar Iron Range of northern Minnesota. “We’ve got to see if we can get the Democratic Party to moderate and accept the fact that rural Minnesota is not getting more conservative,” said Bakk, who announced last week that he would become an independent after serving 25 years as a Democrat. The party lost House seats in the Midwest, and Democratic challengers in Iowa, Kansas, Montana and North Carolina Senate races, all once viewed as serious threats to Republican incumbents, fell, some of them hard.