Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee asked the White House on Saturday for federal assistance due to the "severity and magnitude" of a Christmas morning explosion's impact. CBS 2's Jessi Mitchell has the latest from Nashville.
- Associated Press
Four people have been arrested in connection with the 2018 crash of a helicopter that killed a central Mexican governor and her husband — who had preceded her as governor — authorities said Friday. The Agusta 109 helicopter crashed in flames 10 minutes after takeoff on Dec. 24 that year while carrying newly installed Puebla Gov. Martha Erika Alonso and her husband, former Gov. Rafael Moreno Valle, as well as three other people. The Puebla state prosecutor's office said the four suspects worked for a Rotor Flight Services, a company “related to the functioning of the aircraft,” It said the suspects were accused of culpable homicide, damage to another's property and false testimony.
DUBAI (Reuters) -At least 10 climbers have died and several more are missing in mountains north of Iran's capital Tehran after heavy snowfall, state media reported on Saturday, and the seven crew members of a ship are also missing after storms in the Gulf. Heavy snow and winds in several parts of Iran in the past few days have closed many roads and disrupted transport. Several climbers remain unaccounted for since Friday when two deaths were reported, while the number reported as missing has increased as concerned families contact the authorities, state television said.
- 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.
- NBC News
All of the symbolism of Christmas is designed to remind us that better days are coming. There is no better year to remember that than this one.
- The Week
Scientists are homing in on the potential cause of allergic reactions to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recorded six severe allergic reactions (all of which were treated successfully) out of the 272,001 doses administered through Dec. 19, and the compound polyethylene glycol, known as PEG, has become a leading suspect in the cases, The Wall Street Journal reports. While still speculative at this point — allergies to PEG are rare and the reactions may have been to something else, per the Journal — PEG is found in other drugs, cosmetics, and food and is known to trigger anaphylaxis on rare occasions, though not all forms of the compound are "equal" in terms of allergic potential.Part of the challenge of pinpointing PEG as the likely catalyst for the reactions is that the compound in the vaccines "is different than what has been previously associated with allergic reactions," James Baker, an immunologist who heads the Michigan Nanotechnology Institute for Medicine and the Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan, told the Journal.PEG is also found in the Moderna vaccine. A health care worker became the first known person to experience an allergic reaction to that shot on Thursday. Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, who said he has a history of allergies, reported tingling sensations, an elevated heart rate, and low blood pressure shortly after his inoculation. The symptoms were akin to a reaction he had previously had to shellfish, he said. He was discharged a few hours later.The incidents, while concerning, are rare — more than 1 million Americans have been vaccinated — and scientists and public health officials maintain the vaccines are safe, effective, and crucial to ending the pandemic. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and CNN.More stories from theweek.com Joe Biden's anti-revolution takes shape 7 scathing cartoons about Russia's massive cyberattack Wonder Woman 1984 is shockingly regressive
- Associated Press
Federal investigators have identified a person of interest in connection with the explosion that rocked downtown Nashville on Christmas Day and were searching a home associated with that person, law enforcement officials said.
- The Telegraph
One of Donald Trump’s most prominent allies in the US Senate has thrown his support behind the US president’s demand for $2,000 stimulus cheques as a new government shutdown looms amid the funding stand-off. Lindsey Graham, who played golf with Mr Trump on Christmas Day, took to Twitter to endorse the president’s call for an increase from the $600 cheques agreed in a major new funding bill passed by Congress. Mr Trump has refused to sign into the law the piece of legislation, which seeks to help those worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and its economic fallout, insisting the direct payments to Americans should be raised. The president’s initial decision not to sign the bill, which was flown down to the Florida golf resort Mar-a-Lago where he is spending Christmas, creates a number of knock-on problems that are yet to be resolved. For one, millions of Americans who have been receiving higher than normal unemployment benefits from the initial rounds of Covid stimulus laws will see their payments disrupted and potentially ended as they time out.
- NBC News
It ended up on its roof on the sand at Fort Funston.
A doctor in Boston with a shellfish allergy developed a severe allergic reaction after receiving Moderna's coronavirus vaccine on Thursday, the New York Times reported on Friday, citing the doctor. Dr. Hossein Sadrzadeh, a geriatric oncology fellow at Boston Medical Center, said he had a severe reaction almost immediately after being vaccinated, feeling dizzy and with a racing heart, the NYT reported. It is the first severe reaction publicly linked to Moderna's vaccine, which is in its first week of a nationwide rollout.
- The Week
China is on course to overtake the United States as the world's biggest economy by 2028, the Center for Economics and Business Research predicted in a report released Saturday. The two countries have long been expected to swap places, but CEBR anticipates the pace has accelerated thanks to China recovering more quickly from the COVID-19 pandemic.A year ago, the CEBR pegged 2033 as the transition year, but China's economy is expected to grow by 2 percent in 2020, the lone major global economy to expand, while the U.S. economy is expected to contract by 5 percent. The report also anticipates China will become a "high-income economy" by 2023, though living standards are expected to remain much lower than in the U.S.China is not an outlier in its region when it comes to future economic growth. "Other Asian economies are also shooting up the table," said Douglas McWilliams, the CEBR's deputy chair. "One lesson for western policymakers, who have performed relatively badly during the pandemic, is that they need to pay much more attention to what is happening in Asia rather than simply looking at each other." Read more at The Guardian and Bloomberg.More stories from theweek.com Joe Biden's anti-revolution takes shape 7 scathing cartoons about Russia's massive cyberattack Wonder Woman 1984 is shockingly regressive
- The Independent
President seems to be banking on Republican politicians disrupting the vote-counting session on 6 January
- The Telegraph
Royal Caribbean, the world's largest cruise company, is trying to prevent victims of the 2019 New Zealand volcanic eruption from suing in the US. Passengers from the Royal Caribbean ship Ovation of the Seas took a trip to White Island, a popular tourist site, last December, when a volcano suddenly erupted, killing 27 visitors and injuring 25 more. Ivy and Paul Reed, from the US state of Maryland, who suffered burns as a result of the eruption, and Australians Marie and Stephanie Browitt, who lost family members because of the eruption, filed separate lawsuits against Royal Caribbean claiming that the cruise line did not properly explain the dangers of visiting White Island. Peter Gordon, a lawyer for the Browitt family, told the Australian Broadcasting Company that Royal Caribbean should have known that the volcano could erupt before allowing its passengers to visit White Island.
- The Conversation
The Abstract features interesting research and the people behind it.* * *David Allen is an assistant professor in biology at Middlebury College who studies the ecology of ticks and tick-borne pathogens.What question are you trying to answer with your work?David Allen: I want to understand what drives blacklegged, or deer, ticks’ abundance and infection rate with the Lyme disease bacteria. We broadly understand what is necessary for the tick to live in an area, but have a harder time explaining why there are such tremendous differences in tick abundance in certain locations and during certain years.Exactly how do you measure tick abundance?Allen: We measure it by what is called “drag cloth sampling.” We drag a 1 meter by 1 meter white cloth along the forest floor. Ticks that are searching for a host, which we call questing, will attach to the cloth as it passes over them. At each of our plots we drag the cloth along the forest floor for 200 meters and check it every 10 meters. This is the standard way to measure tick abundance.What spurred you to study ticks?Allen: I grew up in Vermont in the 1980s and 1990s. During that time I do not remember ever seeing a blacklegged tick or knowing anyone with Lyme disease. When I returned to the state in 2012 to teach at Middlebury College, I would get lots of ticks when hiking. My research was spurred by this rapid and dramatic change in the tick population here.Why is your work important to the public?Allen: The incidence of Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases has increased dramatically in recent years. If scientists in general could better predict where ticks are the most abundant, we could target tick control strategies or at least create prevention messaging to people in those areas, and then hopefully start to decrease the rate of Lyme and other tick-borne diseases. What’s important about ticks that most people don’t know?Allen: Ticks have three life stages: larva, nymph and adult. The second two life stages can transmit the Lyme disease bacteria. When most people think about ticks they picture the adult life stage. For the blacklegged tick this is about the size of a sesame seed. I think that most people don’t have a good picture of what a nymphal tick looks like and how small it is. Nymphs are responsible for most transmission of Lyme disease to people, because they are so hard to see when they are feeding on you. What has been the most surprising finding of your work?Allen: I am surprised by how much tick abundance can vary across locations or years. We have found that in two sites, just three miles away from each other, one can have 20 times more ticks than the other. And then going from one year to the next, the same location can increase or decrease in abundance by four times. What do you hope to study further?Allen: We just started to study the small mammal community. Blacklegged ticks take a single blood meal at each life stage. During the larval and nymphal life stages, these blood meals are typically from small mammals, like mice or chipmunks. It is from these animals that the ticks acquire the Lyme disease bacteria. My students and I have just started tracking the populations of these small mammals to better understand how they contribute to tick abundance and infection. Any stories from the field?Allen: We bait the small mammal traps with a mixture of oats and peanut butter. It turns out that bears find this just as tasty as the mice do. One time after setting out 100 traps, we returned the next morning to find them all thrown about. Some were dented or even pierced through with bear claw markings.[ Thanks for reading! We can send you The Conversation’s stories every day in an informative email. Sign up today. ]This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Read more: * How to grow human mini-livers in the lab to help solve liver disease * No, Lyme disease is not an escaped military bioweapon, despite what conspiracy theorists say * The US has a history of testing biological weapons on the public – were infected ticks used too?David Allen is supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103449. The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the official views of NIGMS or NIH.
- Associated Press
Two women and three girls have been found dead in a home in northwest Arkansas in what authorities said are being investigated as suspected homicides. Deputies responded to a call around 5 p.m. Friday and found the five people dead in a home in Atkins, a city about 65 miles (105 kilometers) northwest of Little Rock, Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones said in a statement. Jones said during a short news conference Saturday that authorities did not immediately have a suspect and that at least some of the people were shot.
The UN said three peacekeepers died in two separate attacks, as rebel and government forces clash.
- The Telegraph
Boris Johnson has "totally capitulated" on fishing in the EU trade deal negotiations, but both sides have compromised, EU diplomatic sources have claimed. On Thursday Mr Johnson finally accepted the bloc’s final offer of returning 25 percent of the value of fish caught in UK waters to British fishermen. It was a “big move”, sources said, because he had been demanding 35 percent of the value of the catch. French officials claimed that the British had made major last minute concessions. The UK and EU settled on a five and a half year transition period before annual negotiations over fishing opportunities would begin. There was satisfaction in Brussels at having forced the prime minister into the climbdown but anxiety he will not be able to sell the deal to hardline Brexiteers in his party. “It won’t be a total victory. It never is,” an EU diplomat said. “I am a little concerned that London has not got the landing rights for the deal with its constituents.” “Whatever happens will be presented as a great victory. The Europeans will yawn,” another source said before confidently predicting that Mr Johnson has the European Research Group of MPs “in his pocket”.
- Yahoo News Video
President Trump’s demand for $2,000 checks for most Americans was rejected by House Republicans as his disorganized actions have thrown the COVID-19 relief and government funding bill into chaos.
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) -The new variant of coronavirus linked to a rapid rise in infections in Britain has been detected in Sweden after a traveller from the United Kingdom became ill and tested positive, the Swedish Health Agency said on Saturday. Health Agency official Sara Byfors told a news conference the traveller had been isolating and that no further positive cases had so far been detected. The unidentified traveller was staying in Sormland, south of Stockholm, according to Signe Makitalo, a regional infection control doctor.
- Associated Press
A team of French investigators will come to Beirut next month to participate in interrogating former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn, a Lebanese justice ministry official said Saturday. Former auto executive Ghosn, who is a Lebanese, Brazilian and French national, fled Japan in a dramatic escape that drew headlines last year, arriving in Lebanon on Dec. 30, 2019. In addition to his trial in Japan, the 66-year-old businessman is facing a number of legal challenges in France, including tax evasion and alleged money laundering, fraud and misuse of company assets while at the helm of the Renault-Nissan alliance.
- The Conversation
In 1921, in a Munich beer hall, newly appointed Nazi party leader Adolf Hitler gave a Christmas speech to an excited crowd. According to undercover police observers, 4,000 supporters cheered when Hitler condemned “the cowardly Jews for breaking the world-liberator on the cross” and swore “not to rest until the Jews…lay shattered on the ground.” Later, the crowd sang holiday carols and nationalist hymns around a Christmas tree. Working-class attendees received charitable gifts. For Germans in the 1920s and 1930s, this combination of familiar holiday observance, nationalist propaganda and anti-Semitism was hardly unusual. As the Nazi party grew in size and scope – and eventually took power in 1933 – committed propagandists worked to further “Nazify” Christmas. Redefining familiar traditions and designing new symbols and rituals, they hoped to channel the main tenets of National Socialism through the popular holiday.Given state control of public life, it’s not surprising that Nazi officials were successful in promoting and propagating their version of Christmas through repeated radio broadcasts and news articles.But under any totalitarian regime, there can be a wide disparity between public and private life, between the rituals of the city square and those of the home. In my research, I was interested in how Nazi symbols and rituals penetrated private, family festivities – away from the gaze of party leaders.While some Germans did resist the heavy-handed, politicized appropriation of Germany’s favorite holiday, many actually embraced a Nazified holiday that evoked the family’s place in the “racial state,” free of Jews and other outsiders. Redefining ChristmasOne of the most striking features of private celebration in the Nazi period was the redefinition of Christmas as a neo-pagan, Nordic celebration. Rather on focus on the holiday’s religious origins, the Nazi version celebrated the supposed heritage of the Aryan race, the label Nazis gave to “racially acceptable” members of the German racial state.According to Nazi intellectuals, cherished holiday traditions drew on winter solstice rituals practiced by “Germanic” tribes before the arrival of Christianity. Lighting candles on the Christmas tree, for example, recalled pagan desires for the “return of light” after the shortest day of the year.Scholars have called attention to the manipulative function of these and other invented traditions. But that’s no reason to assume they were unpopular. Since the 1860s, German historians, theologians and popular writers had argued that German holiday observances were holdovers from pre-Christian pagan rituals and popular folk superstitions. So because these ideas and traditions had a lengthy history, Nazi propagandists were able to easily cast Christmas as a celebration of pagan German nationalism. A vast state apparatus (centered in the Nazi Ministry for Propaganda and Enlightenment) ensured that a Nazified holiday dominated public space and celebration in the Third Reich.But two aspects of the Nazi version of Christmas were relatively new. First, because Nazi ideologues saw organized religion as an enemy of the totalitarian state, propagandists sought to deemphasize – or eliminate altogether – the Christian aspects of the holiday. Official celebrations might mention a supreme being, but they more prominently featured solstice and “light” rituals that supposedly captured the holiday’s pagan origins. Second, as Hitler’s 1921 speech suggests, Nazi celebration evoked racial purity and anti-Semitism. Before the Nazis took power in 1933, ugly and open attacks on German Jews typified holiday propaganda. Blatant anti-Semitism more or less disappeared after 1933, as the regime sought to stabilize its control over a population tired of political strife, though Nazi celebrations still excluded those deemed “unfit” by the regime. Countless media images of invariably blond-haired, blue-eyed German families gathered around the Christmas tree helped normalize ideologies of racial purity. Open anti-Semitism nonetheless cropped up at Christmastime. Many would boycott Jewish-owned department stores. And the front cover of a 1935 mail order Christmas catalog, which pictured a fair-haired mother wrapping Christmas presents, included a sticker assuring customers that “the department store has been taken over by an Aryan!” It’s a small, almost banal example. But it speaks volumes. In Nazi Germany, even shopping for a gift could naturalize anti-Semitism and reinforce the “social death” of Jews in the Third Reich.The message was clear: only “Aryans” could participate in the celebration. Taking the ‘Christ’ out of ChristmasAccording to National Socialist theorists, women – particularly mothers – were crucial for strengthening the bonds between private life and the “new spirit” of the German racial state.Everyday acts of celebration – wrapping presents, decorating the home, cooking “German” holiday foods and organizing family celebrations – were linked to a cult of sentimental “Nordic” nationalism.Propagandists proclaimed that as “priestess” and “protector of house and hearth,” the German mother could use Christmas to “bring the spirit of the German home back to life.” The holiday issues of women’s magazines, Nazified Christmas books and Nazi carols tinged conventional family customs with the ideology of the regime.This sort of ideological manipulation took everyday forms. Mothers and children were encouraged to make homemade decorations shaped like “Odin’s Sun Wheel” and bake holiday cookies shaped like a loop (a fertility symbol). The ritual of lighting candles on the Christmas tree was said to create an atmosphere of “pagan demon magic” that would subsume the Star of Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus in feelings of “Germanness.” Family singing epitomized the porous boundaries between private and official forms of celebration. Propagandists tirelessly promoted numerous Nazified Christmas songs, which replaced Christian themes with the regime’s racial ideologies. Exalted Night of the Clear Stars, the most famous Nazi carol, was reprinted in Nazi songbooks, broadcast in radio programs, performed at countless public celebrations – and sung at home. Indeed, Exalted Night became so familiar that it could still be sung in the 1950s as part of an ordinary family holiday (and, apparently, as part of some public performances today!). While the song’s melody mimics a traditional carol, the lyrics deny the Christian origins of the holiday. Verses of stars, light and an eternal mother suggest a world redeemed through faith in National Socialism – not Jesus. Conflict or consensus among the German public?We’ll never know exactly how many German families sang Exalted Night or baked Christmas cookies shaped like a Germanic sun wheel. But we do have some records of the popular response to the Nazi holiday, mostly from official sources. For example, the “activity reports” of the National Socialist Women’s League (NSF) show that the redefinition of Christmas created some disagreement among members. NSF files note that tensions flared when propagandists pressed too hard to sideline religious observance, leading to “much doubt and discontent.” Religious traditions often clashed with ideological goals: was it acceptable for “convinced National Socialists” to celebrate Christmas with Christian carols and nativity plays? How could Nazi believers observe a Nazi holiday when stores mostly sold conventional holiday goods and rarely stocked Nazi Christmas books?Meanwhile, German clergymen openly resisted Nazi attempts to take Christ out of Christmas. In Düsseldorf, clergymen used Christmas to encourage women to join their respective women’s clubs. Catholic clergy threatened to excommunicate women who joined the NSF. Elsewhere, women of faith boycotted NSF Christmas parties and charity drives. Still, such dissent never really challenged the main tenets of the Nazi holiday. Reports on public opinion compiled by the Nazi secret police often commented on the popularity of Nazi Christmas festivities. Well into the Second World War, when looming defeat increasingly discredited the Nazi holiday, the secret police reported that complaints about official policies dissolved in an overall “Christmas mood.”Despite conflicts over Christianity, many Germans accepted the Nazification of Christmas. The return to colorful and enjoyable pagan “Germanic” traditions promised to revitalize family celebration. Not least, observing a Nazified holiday symbolized racial purity and national belonging. “Aryans” could celebrate German Christmas. Jews could not.The Nazification of family celebration thus revealed the paradoxical and contested terrain of private life in the Third Reich. The apparently banal, everyday decision to sing a particular Christmas carol, or bake a holiday cookie, became either an act of political dissent or an expression of support for national socialism.This article is republished from The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Read more: * Hitler at home: How the Nazi PR machine remade the Führer’s domestic image and duped the world * How Charles Dickens redeemed the spirit of Christmas * Can astronomy explain the biblical Star of Bethlehem?Joe Perry has received funding from the German Academic Exchange Service and Georgia State University.