Friday, December 3, 2021

Wake-Up Call: U-S Coping With New Virus Variant

In a speech yesterday, President Joe Biden said the U.S. will "fight this variant with science and speed, not chaos and confusion."

The national plan for coping with yet another new variant of the COVID-19 virus through this winter season includes more vaccination sites, booster shots for every willing adult, and new test requirements for inbound international travelers. Free at-home virus test kits will be available. But there is no plan to shut down businesses or schools.
Five people in the New York City area have been confirmed to be infected with the omicron variant as of late yesterday. One case was identified in Minnesota and one in Colorado. The man in Minnesota, who reportedly has only minor symptoms, may have picked up the virus during a recent trip to a convention in New York.

Meanwhile, Germany has ordered unvaccinated people to stay home and has barred them from all but essential interaction with the public. The government is considering making vaccination mandatory. Germany and other European countries are coping with a big surge in new COVID cases.

➤GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AVERTED: Congress passed a stopgap bill that extends government spending authorization into the middle of February. Both the House and the Senate passed the bill yesterday, a day ahead of a midnight deadline that would have caused the government to grind to a halt if no action had been taken. The flurry of action was forced by a handful of Republican senators who oppose vaccine requirements and tried to delay all funding in protest.

➤PRAIRIE FIRES STRIKE IN MONTANA: Unseasonably high temperatures, strong winds and dry air are causing a series of unusual December prairie fires in Montana this week. The worst of the fires burned at least two dozen homes and businesses in Denton, east of Great Falls. Temperatures all the way from the Great Plains to the mid-Atlantic were in the 60s and 70s, about 20 to 30 degrees warmer than normal according to the National Weather Service.

➤ALEC BALDWIN NOT WORRIED ABOUT CHARGES IN 'RUST' SHOOTING:  Alec Baldwin opened up to George Stephanopoulos about the shooting death of Halnya Hutchins Thursday (Dec. 2nd) night.

The actor, who claims he never pulled the trigger on the gun that accidentally shot Rust’s director of photography, says the incident took place during a “marking” rehearsal on the set on October 21st.
With Hutchins directing Baldwin where and how to stand, he asked if she wanted to see him cock the gun. According to Baldwin, she said yes, and he did as he was told while aiming the gun right below her armpit.

He told the ABC host, “And I cocked the gun and go, ‘Can you see that? Can you see that? And I let go of the hammer on the gun, and the gun goes off.”

The 30 Rock alum says he doesn’t worry that he will be criminally charged in the shooting, adding, “I have been told by people who are in the know, in terms of even inside the state, that it’s highly unlikely that I would be charged with anything criminally.”

Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies has not ruled out criminal charges as the investigation continues.

➤JUSSIE SMOLLET'S DEFENSE TEAM ARGUES THAT ONE OF THE OSUNDAIRO BROTHERS IS A DISGRUNTLED EX LOVER: Yesterday, during a cross examination, Abimbola Osundairo, the prosecutions star witness in the Jussie Smollett trial, Smollett's lawyers alleged that Osundairo was a bitter ex lover who attacked Smollett because he wouldn't hire him as a bodyguard.

Jussie Smollett
According to The New York Post, Smollett's defense attorney Shay Allen claimed Osundairo used his alleged relationship with Smollett to further his career and told Smollett he’d make this “all go away” and not testify if he paid him and his brother, Olabinjo, $1 million each Allen asked Osundairo, “You told him if he gave you and your brother a million dollars each, you wouldn’t testify?” Osundairo responded “No.”

Allen also tried to make the claim that Smollett and Osundairo had a sexual relationship together by asking when he and the actor started dating. Osundairo responded, “We were never dating."

🎉HOLIDAY EVENTS IN LIMBO: The giant New Year's Eve party in New York's Times Square in still scheduled to go on, but the city of Baltimore has canceled its New Year's Eve fireworks spectacular. Organizers of holiday events across the U.S. are considering whether they should or shouldn't go ahead with plans for their traditional crowd-pleasing events in light of worries about the appearance of the new omnicron variant of the COVID virus. Best to check before heading out to the party.

➤GEORGIA ELECTION WORKERS SUE PUNDIT: Two Georgia election workers have filed a defamation suit against a website, The Gateway Pundit, that falsely accused them of adding 18,000 fraudulent ballots to the count for Joe Biden on election night. The accusation against Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, was quickly debunked by county and state election officials but was spread widely by some news media. The two women have faced death threats, harassment, and racial slurs since the story appeared.

➤ZOOM SEES YOU WHEN YOU'RE SLEEPING. IT KNOWS WHEN YOU'RE AWAKE: The video conference app Zoom just added a feature that rats out people who are late for a meeting. The "attendance status" tool allows Zoom hosts to see whether meeting participants showed up on time or at all for their scheduled sessions.

📚STUDY..PAPER BOOKS BETTER THAN DEVICES WHEN READING TO TODDLERS: Parents who want to read to their toddlers to give them a developmental boost should use traditional books rather than an e-book on a tablet, a new study suggests. University of Michigan researchers found that toddlers are more likely to interact with their parents when they’re sharing a paper children’s book rather than a tablet. Parents also tended to talk more to their children when reading from a paper book. In addition, unruly children prone to emotional outbursts responded better to their parents when reading from print versus digital. Dr. Dipesh Navasaria, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin, who was not involved in the study, says, “Children thrive from back-and-forth interactions with loving, responsive adults in their environment. That’s the number one thing that drives their development, whether it’s speech or social/emotional skills.”

➤FEDEX DRIVER DUMPS PACKAGES: A driver for FedEx dumped from 300 to 400 packages into the bottom of a ravine in Blount County, Alabama, and left them there, according to local authorities. The sheriff said about 450 customers had their deliveries dumped. The embarrassed company has picked up the packages and is working on getting them to their intended recipients. No one has explained why the driver tossed the deliveries.

🏀LeBRON JAMES IS BACK: LeBron James was cleared to play basketball late yesterday after two consecutive COVID tests turned up negative. That means he's eligible to play for the Los Angeles Lakers in tonight's game against the L.A. Clippers.

🏈ANTONIO BROWN SUSPENDED: Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Antonio Brown has been suspended for three games after "misrepresenting" his COVID-19 vaccination status to the NFL. Buccaneers cornerback Mike Edwards and free-agent cornerback John Franklin III were also suspended. In a statement, Brown's lawyer insisted in a statement that Brown has been vaccinated.

🎾CHINESE TENNIS STAR SAYS SHE'S SAFE: Chinese tennis star Peng Suai told concerned officials from the International Olympic Committee that she is "safe and well" during a phone call Thursday. Peng disappeared from public view for two weeks after publicly accusing a former top Communist Party official of making a sexual assault on her three years ago. The publication of "proof of life" photos and videos by Chinese government-controlled media and sports officials has not dispelled concerns about her well-being.

🏀BROOK LOPEZ UNDERGOES SURGERY: Milwaukee Bucks center Brook Lopez underwent back surgery yesterday to address the injury that has kept him from playing since this season's opening game. He is headed for physical therapy now, with no word on when he may be able to return.

🏈CURLEY CULP DIES AT AGE 75: Pro football Hall of Famer Curley Culp has died of pancreatic cancer at age 75. He was a defensive tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Oilers in the 1960s and 1970s and played in two Pro Bowls.

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