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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

WASHINGTON — A series of missteps by federal Bureau of Prisons officials preceded the October 2018 beating death of notorious Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, the Justice Department’s inspector general said in a report on Wednesday.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Top House and Senate leaders have bestowed Congress' highest honor on law enforcement officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The Congressional Gold Medals were presented Tuesday in a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda, which was overrun that day nearly two years ago by supporters of then-President Donald Trump in a brutal and bloody attack. Four medals will be placed at the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, the Metropolitan Police Department, the Capitol and the Smithsonian Institution. President Joe Biden said a medal will be placed at the Smithsonian “so all visitors can understand what happened that day.”

The deadline for obtaining the Real ID needed to board a domestic flight has been pushed back again, with the Department of Homeland Security citing the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the slower-than-expected rollout. The deadline to have a Real ID had been May 3, 2023, but DHS announced Monday that it was pushed back to May 7, 2025. People are getting compliant IDs as they renew driver’s licenses, but DHS said the pandemic resulted in backlogs at state driver’s license offices. Because of the backlogs, many state agencies that issue driver’s licenses automatically extended expiration dates on licenses and ID cards, rather than issuing compliant licenses and cards.

The Biden administration is actively searching for ways to safeguard abortion access for millions of women. But those efforts are bumping up against a complex web of strict new state laws enacted in the months after the Supreme Court stripped the constitutional right. After midterm elections there’s a renewed purpose at the White House to find ways to help women in states have virtually outlawed or limited the treatment, and to enforce policies already in place. But the administration is shackled by a ban on federal funding for most abortions, a conservative-leaning Supreme Court and a split Congress.

As more nurses leave their jobs in hospitals and health-care centers, foundations are pouring millions of dollars into efforts to ensure that more stay in the profession and get more out of the job than just the applause and pats on the back they got during the bleakest days of the pandemic. Philanthropic pledges announced this year to help nurses and the nursing profession include a $125 million donation in February from Leonard Lauder, heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics fortune, to the University of Pennsylvania to create a tuition-free program that eventually will train 40 nurses a year.

Schools contending with soaring student mental health needs and other challenges have been struggling to determine just how much the pandemic is to blame. Are emotional struggles the sign of a disability that will impair their learning, or something more temporary? For students who don’t qualify for special education, where should they go for help? It all adds to desperation for parents trying to figure out how best to help their children. To qualify for special education services, a child’s school performance must be suffering because of a disability in one of 13 categories, according to federal law.

Monday, December 05, 2022

The major freight railroads now face pressure from investors to add sick days after Congress declined to require them as part of the contracts they imposed last week to avert a potentially devastating nationwide rail strike. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility said Monday that two investment managers it works with filed proposals at Union Pacific and Norfolk Southern railroads to allow shareholders to vote on whether rail workers should get paid sick leave. Similar proposals are likely at CSX and at BNSF’s parent company of Berkshire Hathaway. The lack of paid sick time in the industry became a major sticking point this fall in contract talks between the railroads and their 12 unions.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Fresh off an event trumpeting Kentucky’s largest-ever economic development project, Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear filed for reelection Monday, touting his work to increase jobs, expand health care and support teachers during a term marred by a pandemic and deadly storms.

The unabashedly liberal city of San Francisco became the unlikely proponent of weaponized police robots last week after supervisors approved them for limited use. In doing so, the board addressed head-on an evolving technology that's become more widely available, although rarely deployed to confront suspects. San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said armed robots would be used only as a last resort. Three members of the city's Board of Supervisors joined dozens of protesters against the policy outside City Hall on Monday. Police departments across the U.S. are facing increasing scrutiny of militarized equipment, amid a yearslong national reckoning on criminal justice.

Monday, December 05, 2022

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is sounding sympathetic to a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for gay couples. But in arguments Monday, liberal justices suggested that allowing that discrimination could open the door to broader refusals by businesses to serve Black customers, Jewish or Islamic people, interracial couples and many others. The Colorado case is the latest clash of religion and gay rights to land at the high court. A case involving a Colorado baker and a wedding cake for a gay couple ended with a limited decision five years ago and is to return to the court.

Tens of thousands of people are bracing for days without electricity in a North Carolina county where authorities say two power substations were shot up by one or more people with apparent criminal intent. Across Moore County southwest of Raleigh on Monday, businesses handed out free food or coffee and businesses without internet conducted transactions in cash. One local economic official described the area known for its golf courses and local pottery as “eerily quiet” at a time of year when businesses are normally full of tourists and holiday shoppers. County schools were closed. Traffic lights were out throughout the county. Drivers treated intersections as four-way stops, which caused some traffic in places such as downtown Carthage.

The police chief in Tampa, Florida, has resigned after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving her golf cart driven by her husband. Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation Monday after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy. During that stop, O’Connor identified herself as the Tampa chief, flashed her badge and asked to be let go. The deputy issued only a verbal warning. The golf cart did not have a license tag, a requirement for when such vehicles are driven on public streets.

Russia has unleashed what Ukrainian authorities called the latest “massive missile attack” across their country, striking homes and buildings, killing civilians, and disrupting electrical power and water supplies in areas — notably in the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Ukraine’s air force claimed it shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles fired. Hours earlier, two explosions rocked air bases deep inside Russia, and the Defense Ministry in Moscow said it had shot down two Ukrainian drones attacking the sites, and that three Russian servicemen were killed by falling debris and four others were wounded. The attacks at the Russian bases raised the threat of a dangerous escalation in the war.

Pfizer is asking U.S. regulators to authorize its updated COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5. The youngest tots already are supposed to get three extra-small doses of the original vaccine as their primary series. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said Monday that if the Food and Drug Administration agrees, the updated vaccine would be used for the third shot. The FDA already has cleared COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to better target omicron as boosters for everyone 5 and older.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State have made the College Football Playoff, giving the Big Ten multiple programs in the four-team field for the first time. The defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs and fourth-seeded Buckeyes will meet Dec. 31 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The second-seeded Wolverines and third-ranked Horned Frogs will play at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, the same day. The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 9 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Georgia and Michigan have both opened as the favorites to win their semifinals and reach the title game.

The head of U.S. intelligence says Russia’s war against Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces may have the upper hand in coming months. Avril Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.” But she said it's unclear whether he has a “full picture” of the challenges. She said her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply, and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring. In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut.

The listing agent for the Victorian home featured in the “The Goonies” film in Astoria, Oregon, says the likely new owner is a fan of the classic coming-of-age movie about friendships and treasure hunting, and he promises to preserve and protect the landmark. The 1896 home with sweeping views of the Columbia River flowing into the Pacific Ocean was listed in November with an asking price of nearly $1.7 million. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Jordan Miller of John L. Scott Real Estate says the sale is expected to close in mid January. Miller says the new owner, a self-described serial entrepreneur, will make his name known at that time.

China has reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations. The National Health Commission said Sunday one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. China is the last major country trying to stop transmission completely through quarantines, lockdowns and mass testing. Concerns over low vaccination rates among the elderly are believed to figure prominently in the ruling Communist Party’s determination to stick to its hard-line strategy. Last weekend, rare public protests shook several major cities, prompting authorities to ease some measures such as allowing riders to board trains and buses without a virus test for the first time in months.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case, a Republican-led challenge asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the presidency.

The OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia aren't changing their targets for shipping oil to the global economy. The decision Sunday comes amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. Starting Monday, a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies take effect. On the other side, oil has been trading at lower prices on fears a slowing economy will reduce demand. OPEC said in October that's why it was a slashing production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, which remains in effect.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Two college students have won $100,000 in tuition after a confusing finish in the SEC championship game’s halftime competition. Boos rained down from the fans in attendance for the game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 LSU when one of the two students appeared to win the Dr Pepper ball toss competition in overtime on a technicality. The winner was due to get $100,000 and the runner-up $20,000. Baylor student Reagan Whitaker and St. Augustine student Kayla Gibson exchanged leads multiple times in regulation. In overtime, they tied again, but Whitaker was declared the winner. It was announced on the broadcast in the fourth quarter of the game that Dr Pepper would gift both Whitaker and Gibson with $100,000 in tuition.

Russian authorities have rejected a price cap on the country’s oil set by Ukraine’s Western supporters and are threatening to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it. Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60-per-barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday that Russia needs to analyze the situation before deciding on a specific response but that it would not accept the price ceiling. Russia’s permanent representative in Vienna warned, "From this year, Europe will live without Russian oil.”

The United States soccer team captivated the nation with its brief World Cup run. That run ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. The second-youngest team at the tournament played only four games but it was enough to thrill diehard supporters in Doha and briefly unite a fractured nation back home. Fans gathered outside the stadium ahead of Saturday's match to bond over the American team before they marched in together as a collective fan club. United States captain Tyler Adams says “the support has been amazing."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the U.S. is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st century. Austin's speech Saturday caps a week in which the Pentagon has been squarely focused on China’s rise, with the release of a dire report warning of China's growing nuclear arsenal, and the rollout of the U.S.' newest strategic bomber. Austin says China “is the only country with both the will and, increasingly, the power to reshape its region and the international order to suit its authoritarian preferences." He says the U.S. "will not let that happen.”

Scientists along the West Coast are seeking action to help sunflower sea stars recover from catastrophic population declines. The Astorian reports experts say a wasting disease epidemic that started in 2013 has decimated about 95% of the population from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The source is unknown, but some say warming waters due to human-caused climate change could have triggered the outbreak. The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to announce by early next year whether the species should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Without sea stars to keep them in check, sea urchins are causing a troubling decline in kelp forests that provide food and shelter.

Noodle, a senior pug who went viral on TikTok for deciding whether it would be a bones day or a no bones day, has died. His owner, Jonathan Graziano, posted on Instagram that the 14-year-old dog died Friday. The little dog became famous in 2021 when Graziano began posting morning videos of Noodle deciding whether he was going to stand up or flop down in his soft dog bed. This coined the phrase “a no bones day” if Noodle decided to sleep in. Graziano would encourage his fans to follow his lead and treat themselves to soft pants and self care. Graziano said Noodle lived 14 and a half years and made millions of people happy.

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Christian Pulisic covered his face as he walked off. Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta gathered for a group hug. Tim Weah, DeAndre Yedlin and Sean Johnson sat on the field in a small circle with their cleats off.

A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol spread by celebrities is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence. Former President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at Mar-a-Lago. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Those are just a few recent examples of influential people abusing their platforms to amplify antisemitism in a way that has been taboo for decades in the U.S. Some people say the incidents harken back to a darker time in America when powerful people routinely spread conspiracy theories about Jews with impunity.

The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Liberal groups say ruling for the designer will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others to discrimination. Conservative groups argue that ruling against her will force artists to do work that is against their faith. Both sides have described for the court what lawyers sometimes call “a parade of horribles” that could result if the ruling doesn’t go their way. The case marks the second time in five years that the Supreme Court has confronted a similar issue.

Voters with no religious affiliation supported Democratic candidates and abortion rights by staggering percentages in the 2022 midterm elections. The unaffiliated voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide over Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin. They voted against abortion restrictions in Kentucky in Michigan by 4-1 margins. They supported Democrats in other bellwether races by similarly lopsided margins. And the religiously unaffiliated are growing. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults identified as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” in a 2021 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s up 10 percentage points in a decade.

What started as an unplanned vigil last weekend in Shanghai by fewer than a dozen people grew hours later into a rowdy crowd of hundreds. The protesters expressed anger over China's harsh COVID-19 policies that they believed played a role in a deadly fire on Nov. 24 in a city in the far west. Then, a woman defiantly shouted for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to resign, emboldening others. Before dawn, police moved in to break up the gathering. The Nov. 26 protest in Shanghai wasn’t the first or the largest. But it was notable for the bold calls for the leadership change — the most open defiance of the ruling Communist Party in decades.

Most railroad workers weren't surprised that Congress intervened this week to block a railroad strike, but they were disappointed because they say the deals lawmakers imposed didn't do enough to address their quality of life concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time. Railroad workers face difficult tradeoffs that sometimes force them to skip doctor's appointments or miss family events. The railroads acknowledge that more needs to be done to address workers' “work-life balance concerns," but managers believe these new contracts should help create more predictable schedules. And the five-year deals include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.

Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii are bracing for major upheaval if lava from Mauna Loa volcano blocks the quickest route connecting two sides of the island. The molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to find alternate coastal routes in the north and south. That could add hours to commute times, doctor’s visits and freight truck deliveries. The lava is oozing slowly at a rate that could reach the road next week. But its path is unpredictable and could change course, or the flow could stop completely and spare the highway.

Ukraine has won victories on the battlefield against Russia but faces a looming challenge on the economic front. The government has been relying on the central bank to print money to cover its huge deficits caused by the war. Tax revenue has fallen, and defense spending has soared for next year's budget. Kyiv is looking for ways to pay for its war effort at least through next year. By then, hopes are that a price cap on Russian oil sales will put Moscow on the economic defensive. Until then, Ukraine is turning to its allies for more money to avoid worsening inflation that hurts ordinary people.

Friday, December 02, 2022

More than 2,000 experts wrapped up a week of negotiations on plastic pollution Friday, at one of the largest global gatherings ever to address what even industry leaders in plastics say is a crisis. It was the first meeting of a United Nations committee on plastics set up in March to draft what is intended to be a landmark treaty to bring an end to plastic pollution globally. The United Nations Environment Programme held the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Punta del Este, Uruguay Monday to Friday. Even in this first meetings of five set to take place over the next two years, factions came into focus as some countries want top-down global mandates, and the chemical industry wants country-by-country rules.

The Group of Seven nations and Australia have joined the European Union in agreeing to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil. It's a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine. The nations needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect. The price cap aims to prevent a sudden loss of Russian oil to the world that could lead to a new surge in energy prices.

Glowing lava from the world’s largest volcano is a sight to behold, but for many Native Hawaiians, Mauna Loa’s eruption is a time to pray, make offerings and honor both the natural and spiritual worlds. An eruption of a volcano like Mauna Loa has a deep yet very personal cultural significance for many Native Hawaiians. It can be an opportunity to feel a connection with creation itself through the way lava gives birth to new land, as well as a time to reflect on their own place in the world and the people who came before them.

The United States' 988 call service for helping anyone experiencing a mental health emergency is back up and running after a daylong outage. The hotline was out of service Thursday but was restored shortly before midnight and was running Friday. People experiencing a mental health crisis were still able to reach a mental health counselor by texting 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org to start a chat. A Health and Human Services spokeswoman says the federal government is investigating the hotline’s outage. Telecommunications company Intrado provides the emergency response service. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company hasn't returned repeated requests for comment. A telecoms analyst from Recon Analytics says he doesn't think there was “anything malicious."

President Joe Biden is assuring the nation that the U.S. economy is chugging along. But along with his upbeat words on Friday, a new jobs report showed that high inflation remains a threat. At the White House, the president signed a bill to avoid a rail strike that he said could have caused 765,000 job losses in two weeks and plunged the country into recession. But many voters and economists already fear that a downturn is nigh and that the price of reducing inflation will be layoffs. Biden pointed to the addition of 263,000 jobs and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.7% last month as proof that his policies have bulked up the economy.

The United States' newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development. The new bomber is part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China. The B-21 Raider gets its name from the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo and is the first new American bomber aircraft built in more than 30 years. Almost every aspect of the B-21 Raider program is classified. The Pentagon is providing the public its first glimpse of the Raider at an invitation-only event in Palmdale, California, on Friday. Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman is building the Raider, which will take its first flight next year.

The nation’s employers kept hiring briskly in November despite high inflation and a slow-growing economy — a sign of resilience in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. The economy added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate stayed 3.7%, still near a 53-year low. November’s job growth dipped only slightly from October’s 284,000 gain. Last month’s hiring amounted to a substantial increase. All year, as inflation has surged and the Fed has imposed ever-higher borrowing rates, America’s labor market has defied skeptics, adding hundreds of thousands of jobs, month after month. With not enough people available to fill jobs, businesses are having to offer higher pay to attract and keep workers.

Eight years into a U.S. program to control damage from feral pigs, the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife and the environment. They've been wiped out in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015. And there are fewer in parts of the other 30. But in spite of more than $100 million in federal money, officials estimate there are still 6 million to 9 million hogs gone wild nationwide and in three U.S. territories, doing at least $2.5 billion a year in U.S. damages. Estimates in 2014 were 5 million hogs and $1.5 billion in damages. Experts say the bigger figures are due to better estimates, not increases.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Tesla has delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo more than three years after Elon Musk said the company would start making the trucks. The Austin, Texas, company made the deliveries at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed on Twitter, which Musk now owns. Musk drove one of three Tesla Semis in front of a crowd inside the factory. One was white, one was painted with a Pepsi logo, and another with Frito-Lay colors. Musk has said the truck has a range per charge of 500 miles (800 kilometers) when pulling an 82,000-pound (37,000 kilo) load.

The College Football Playoff says it will expand to a 12-team event starting in 2024. The announcement came after the Rose Bowl agreed to amend its contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. That was the last hurdle CFP officials needed cleared to expand the four-team format. The expansion is expected to produce about $450 million in additional gross revenue for the conferences and schools that participate. The plan to expand the playoff was unveiled publicly in June 2021 and it took 18 months of haggling and delays to finally complete.

The Senate has moved quickly to avert a rail strike that the Biden administration and business leaders say would greatly damage the economy. The Senate passed a bill Thursday to bind rail companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached between the rail companies and union leaders in September. That settlement had been rejected by some of the 12 unions involved, creating the possibility of a strike. The Senate vote was 80-15. It came one day after the House voted to impose the agreement. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have vowed to maintain a united front against Russia amid growing worries about waning support for Ukraine in the U.S. and Europe. Biden on Thursday also signaled that he may be willing to tweak aspects of his signature climate legislation that have raised concerns with France and other European allies. While Biden is honoring Macron with a fancy state dinner Thursday evening, the glamour and pomp of the visit has been shadowed by Macron’s criticism of Biden’s climate legislation and the challenges both leaders face amid the mounting costs of keeping military and economic aid flowing to Kyiv.

An official says lava from the world’s largest volcano shouldn’t be able to reach the main highway across Hawaii’s Big Island for at least a week. The scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said at a news conference Thursday that lava flowing down Mauna Loa has “slowed considerably” since it reached flat ground. Ken Hon says the lava is moving 30 to 40 yards per hour and is more than 3 miles south of Route 200. At that rate, it would be at least a week before it reaches the highway. Hon says the flow has become very viscous.

If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: That advice is from the man who made it. Ernő Rubik invented the cube in 1974 and has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys. The latest brain-teaser is called the Phantom, which takes the 3x3 original cube and adds a memory test: Using thermochromic technology, the tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

Russian shelling has cut off power in much of the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson just days after it was restored. Moscow is pressing its drive to destroy Ukraine's energy plants and other key civilian infrastructure as freezing weather sets in. In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned the capital’s millions of residents on Thursday that they should stock up on water and preserved food to see them through a winter that could be miserable if more energy infrastructure is damaged. He also urged people to consider leaving the city. The Ukrainian defense minister said “trying months lie ahead." Ukraine has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks since early October.

It’s December and pretty much every network and streaming service seemingly has a show aimed at spreading holiday cheer. For those looking to skip re-runs of Christmases past, there’s a bounty of fresh shows and specials targeted to traditionalists, romantics and family friendly entertainment. The holiday-themed offerings are abundant this year, including musical events like a “CMA Country Christmas" and a new Mariah Carey holiday special on CBS. There's also the documentary called “Santa Camp” on HBO Max about efforts to make Santa stand-ins more diverse, plus a holiday feast how-to from beloved British home cook Mary Berry.

Word of anti-lockdown protests in China spread on domestic social media for a short period last weekend, thanks to a rare pause in the cat-and-mouse game that goes on between millions of Chinese internet users and the country’s gargantuan censorship machine. Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s internet via a complex, multi-layered censorship operation that blocks access to almost all foreign news and social media, and blocks topics and keywords considered politically sensitive or detrimental to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Videos of or calls to protest are usually deleted immediately. But at moments of overwhelming public anger, experts said, the system can struggle to keep up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Fed Chair Jerome Powell says the Federal Reserve will push rates higher than previously expected and keep them there longer to fight a stubborn bout of inflation. In a speech to the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, Powell also signaled that the Fed may increase its key interest rate by a smaller increment at its December meeting, only a half-point after four straight three-quarter point hikes. But Powell also stressed that the smaller size shouldn’t be seen as a sign the Fed will let up on its inflation fight anytime soon. Financial markets rallied in response to Powell’s suggestion that rate increases will slow.

NEW YORK (AP) — Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere” and “Don’t Stop,” died Wednesday at age 79.

New data shows an experimental Alzheimer's drug modestly slowed the brain disease's inevitable worsening. The next question is how much difference that might make in people's lives. Japanese drugmaker Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen announced earlier this fall that lecanemab appears to work, a badly needed bright spot after disappointments in the quest for better Alzheimer's treatments. Tuesday, the companies released full study results. Eisai says the drug's benefit translates to about a five-month delay in progression over the 18-month study. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether to approve the drug by early January.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Residents in several towns across Louisiana and Mississippi have taken cover amid the blare of tornado sirens amid a severe weather outbreak erupting in the Deep South. There were no immediate reports of damage from the potent storms late Tuesday, but multiple tornado warnings were issued. More than 25 million people are in the path of the vast storm system moving from Texas to Indiana and Georgia. The latest storm outlook says parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are at the highest risk for strong storms. Meanwhile, heavy snow was snarling traffic in parts of the Upper Midwest.

Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper late in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran. Pulisic sprawled on the field and was replaced at the start of the second half. The U.S. Soccer Federation said after the game the American star was taken to a hospital for an abdominal scan. The Americans play the Netherlands on Saturday with the chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. Iran has failed to advance in all six of its World Cup appearances.

President Joe Biden says he hopes lawmakers can work together to fund the government, boost spending for Ukraine and avert a crippling rail strike. His comments came as he met with congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday. Biden is seeking to lock in more legislative wins before Democrats lose unified control of Washington on Jan. 3. But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the likely new Republican House speaker, said Biden “got an indication that it’s going to be different” once the GOP takes control of the House. He blasted the Biden administration’s immigration policies, and promised a new round of investigations once the GOP is in power.

The Senate has passed landmark  bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages. It's an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide. The bill approved Tuesday would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation is “a long time coming” and part of America’s “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.”  Senate Democrats are moving quickly to send the bill to the House and President Joe Biden’s desk.

Monday, December 05, 2022

The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is sounding sympathetic to a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for gay couples. But in arguments Monday, liberal justices suggested that allowing that discrimination could open the door to broader refusals by businesses to serve Black customers, Jewish or Islamic people, interracial couples and many others. The Colorado case is the latest clash of religion and gay rights to land at the high court. A case involving a Colorado baker and a wedding cake for a gay couple ended with a limited decision five years ago and is to return to the court.

Tens of thousands of people are bracing for days without electricity in a North Carolina county where authorities say two power substations were shot up by one or more people with apparent criminal intent. Across Moore County southwest of Raleigh on Monday, businesses handed out free food or coffee and businesses without internet conducted transactions in cash. One local economic official described the area known for its golf courses and local pottery as “eerily quiet” at a time of year when businesses are normally full of tourists and holiday shoppers. County schools were closed. Traffic lights were out throughout the county. Drivers treated intersections as four-way stops, which caused some traffic in places such as downtown Carthage.

The police chief in Tampa, Florida, has resigned after using her position to escape a ticket during a traffic stop involving her golf cart driven by her husband. Mary O’Connor submitted her resignation Monday after an internal affairs review found she violated police department policy during the Nov. 12 stop by a Pinellas County sheriff’s deputy. During that stop, O’Connor identified herself as the Tampa chief, flashed her badge and asked to be let go. The deputy issued only a verbal warning. The golf cart did not have a license tag, a requirement for when such vehicles are driven on public streets.

Russia has unleashed what Ukrainian authorities called the latest “massive missile attack” across their country, striking homes and buildings, killing civilians, and disrupting electrical power and water supplies in areas — notably in the Black Sea port city of Odesa. Ukraine’s air force claimed it shot down more than 60 of the 70 missiles fired. Hours earlier, two explosions rocked air bases deep inside Russia, and the Defense Ministry in Moscow said it had shot down two Ukrainian drones attacking the sites, and that three Russian servicemen were killed by falling debris and four others were wounded. The attacks at the Russian bases raised the threat of a dangerous escalation in the war.

Pfizer is asking U.S. regulators to authorize its updated COVID-19 vaccine for children under age 5. The youngest tots already are supposed to get three extra-small doses of the original vaccine as their primary series. Pfizer and its partner BioNTech said Monday that if the Food and Drug Administration agrees, the updated vaccine would be used for the third shot. The FDA already has cleared COVID-19 vaccines tweaked to better target omicron as boosters for everyone 5 and older.

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Georgia, Michigan, TCU and Ohio State have made the College Football Playoff, giving the Big Ten multiple programs in the four-team field for the first time. The defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs and fourth-seeded Buckeyes will meet Dec. 31 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta. The second-seeded Wolverines and third-ranked Horned Frogs will play at the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, the same day. The national championship game is scheduled for Jan. 9 at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Georgia and Michigan have both opened as the favorites to win their semifinals and reach the title game.

The head of U.S. intelligence says Russia’s war against Ukraine is running at a “reduced tempo” and suggests Ukrainian forces may have the upper hand in coming months. Avril Haines said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is becoming more informed of the challenges that the military faces in Russia.” But she said it's unclear whether he has a “full picture” of the challenges. She said her team expects that both sides will look to refit, resupply, and reconstitute for a possible Ukrainian counter-offensive in the spring. In recent weeks, Russia’s military focus has been on striking Ukrainian infrastructure and pressing an offensive in the east, near the town of Bakhmut.

The listing agent for the Victorian home featured in the “The Goonies” film in Astoria, Oregon, says the likely new owner is a fan of the classic coming-of-age movie about friendships and treasure hunting, and he promises to preserve and protect the landmark. The 1896 home with sweeping views of the Columbia River flowing into the Pacific Ocean was listed in November with an asking price of nearly $1.7 million. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Jordan Miller of John L. Scott Real Estate says the sale is expected to close in mid January. Miller says the new owner, a self-described serial entrepreneur, will make his name known at that time.

China has reported two additional deaths from COVID-19 as some cities move cautiously to ease anti-pandemic restrictions following increasingly vocal public frustrations. The National Health Commission said Sunday one death was reported each in the provinces of Shandong and Sichuan. China is the last major country trying to stop transmission completely through quarantines, lockdowns and mass testing. Concerns over low vaccination rates among the elderly are believed to figure prominently in the ruling Communist Party’s determination to stick to its hard-line strategy. Last weekend, rare public protests shook several major cities, prompting authorities to ease some measures such as allowing riders to board trains and buses without a virus test for the first time in months.

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is about to confront a new elections case, a Republican-led challenge asking the justices for a novel ruling that could significantly increase the power of state lawmakers over elections for Congress and the presidency.

The OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia aren't changing their targets for shipping oil to the global economy. The decision Sunday comes amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market. Starting Monday, a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies take effect. On the other side, oil has been trading at lower prices on fears a slowing economy will reduce demand. OPEC said in October that's why it was a slashing production by 2 million barrels per day starting in November, which remains in effect.

Saturday, December 03, 2022

Two college students have won $100,000 in tuition after a confusing finish in the SEC championship game’s halftime competition. Boos rained down from the fans in attendance for the game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 11 LSU when one of the two students appeared to win the Dr Pepper ball toss competition in overtime on a technicality. The winner was due to get $100,000 and the runner-up $20,000. Baylor student Reagan Whitaker and St. Augustine student Kayla Gibson exchanged leads multiple times in regulation. In overtime, they tied again, but Whitaker was declared the winner. It was announced on the broadcast in the fourth quarter of the game that Dr Pepper would gift both Whitaker and Gibson with $100,000 in tuition.

Russian authorities have rejected a price cap on the country’s oil set by Ukraine’s Western supporters and are threatening to stop supplying the nations that endorsed it. Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, the United States and the 27-nation European Union agreed Friday to cap what they would pay for Russian oil at $60-per-barrel. The limit is set to take effect Monday, along with an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Saturday that Russia needs to analyze the situation before deciding on a specific response but that it would not accept the price ceiling. Russia’s permanent representative in Vienna warned, "From this year, Europe will live without Russian oil.”

The United States soccer team captivated the nation with its brief World Cup run. That run ended Saturday with a 3-1 loss to the Netherlands in the round of 16. The second-youngest team at the tournament played only four games but it was enough to thrill diehard supporters in Doha and briefly unite a fractured nation back home. Fans gathered outside the stadium ahead of Saturday's match to bond over the American team before they marched in together as a collective fan club. United States captain Tyler Adams says “the support has been amazing."

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the U.S. is at a pivotal point with China and will need military strength to ensure that American values, not Beijing’s, set global norms in the 21st century. Austin's speech Saturday caps a week in which the Pentagon has been squarely focused on China’s rise, with the release of a dire report warning of China's growing nuclear arsenal, and the rollout of the U.S.' newest strategic bomber. Austin says China “is the only country with both the will and, increasingly, the power to reshape its region and the international order to suit its authoritarian preferences." He says the U.S. "will not let that happen.”

Scientists along the West Coast are seeking action to help sunflower sea stars recover from catastrophic population declines. The Astorian reports experts say a wasting disease epidemic that started in 2013 has decimated about 95% of the population from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The source is unknown, but some say warming waters due to human-caused climate change could have triggered the outbreak. The National Marine Fisheries Service is expected to announce by early next year whether the species should be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Without sea stars to keep them in check, sea urchins are causing a troubling decline in kelp forests that provide food and shelter.

Noodle, a senior pug who went viral on TikTok for deciding whether it would be a bones day or a no bones day, has died. His owner, Jonathan Graziano, posted on Instagram that the 14-year-old dog died Friday. The little dog became famous in 2021 when Graziano began posting morning videos of Noodle deciding whether he was going to stand up or flop down in his soft dog bed. This coined the phrase “a no bones day” if Noodle decided to sleep in. Graziano would encourage his fans to follow his lead and treat themselves to soft pants and self care. Graziano said Noodle lived 14 and a half years and made millions of people happy.

AL RAYYAN, Qatar — Christian Pulisic covered his face as he walked off. Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Kellyn Acosta gathered for a group hug. Tim Weah, DeAndre Yedlin and Sean Johnson sat on the field in a small circle with their cleats off.

A surge of anti-Jewish vitriol spread by celebrities is stoking fears that public figures are normalizing hate and ramping up the risk of violence. Former President Donald Trump hosted a Holocaust-denying white supremacist at Mar-a-Lago. The rapper Ye expressed love for Adolf Hitler in an interview. Basketball star Kyrie Irving appeared to promote an antisemitic film on social media. Those are just a few recent examples of influential people abusing their platforms to amplify antisemitism in a way that has been taboo for decades in the U.S. Some people say the incidents harken back to a darker time in America when powerful people routinely spread conspiracy theories about Jews with impunity.

The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Liberal groups say ruling for the designer will expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others to discrimination. Conservative groups argue that ruling against her will force artists to do work that is against their faith. Both sides have described for the court what lawyers sometimes call “a parade of horribles” that could result if the ruling doesn’t go their way. The case marks the second time in five years that the Supreme Court has confronted a similar issue.

Voters with no religious affiliation supported Democratic candidates and abortion rights by staggering percentages in the 2022 midterm elections. The unaffiliated voted for Democratic House candidates nationwide over Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin. They voted against abortion restrictions in Kentucky in Michigan by 4-1 margins. They supported Democrats in other bellwether races by similarly lopsided margins. And the religiously unaffiliated are growing. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. adults identified as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” in a 2021 report by the Pew Research Center. That’s up 10 percentage points in a decade.

What started as an unplanned vigil last weekend in Shanghai by fewer than a dozen people grew hours later into a rowdy crowd of hundreds. The protesters expressed anger over China's harsh COVID-19 policies that they believed played a role in a deadly fire on Nov. 24 in a city in the far west. Then, a woman defiantly shouted for Chinese leader Xi Jinping to resign, emboldening others. Before dawn, police moved in to break up the gathering. The Nov. 26 protest in Shanghai wasn’t the first or the largest. But it was notable for the bold calls for the leadership change — the most open defiance of the ruling Communist Party in decades.

Most railroad workers weren't surprised that Congress intervened this week to block a railroad strike, but they were disappointed because they say the deals lawmakers imposed didn't do enough to address their quality of life concerns about demanding schedules and the lack of paid sick time. Railroad workers face difficult tradeoffs that sometimes force them to skip doctor's appointments or miss family events. The railroads acknowledge that more needs to be done to address workers' “work-life balance concerns," but managers believe these new contracts should help create more predictable schedules. And the five-year deals include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.

Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii are bracing for major upheaval if lava from Mauna Loa volcano blocks the quickest route connecting two sides of the island. The molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to find alternate coastal routes in the north and south. That could add hours to commute times, doctor’s visits and freight truck deliveries. The lava is oozing slowly at a rate that could reach the road next week. But its path is unpredictable and could change course, or the flow could stop completely and spare the highway.

Ukraine has won victories on the battlefield against Russia but faces a looming challenge on the economic front. The government has been relying on the central bank to print money to cover its huge deficits caused by the war. Tax revenue has fallen, and defense spending has soared for next year's budget. Kyiv is looking for ways to pay for its war effort at least through next year. By then, hopes are that a price cap on Russian oil sales will put Moscow on the economic defensive. Until then, Ukraine is turning to its allies for more money to avoid worsening inflation that hurts ordinary people.

Friday, December 02, 2022

More than 2,000 experts wrapped up a week of negotiations on plastic pollution Friday, at one of the largest global gatherings ever to address what even industry leaders in plastics say is a crisis. It was the first meeting of a United Nations committee on plastics set up in March to draft what is intended to be a landmark treaty to bring an end to plastic pollution globally. The United Nations Environment Programme held the first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee in Punta del Este, Uruguay Monday to Friday. Even in this first meetings of five set to take place over the next two years, factions came into focus as some countries want top-down global mandates, and the chemical industry wants country-by-country rules.

The Group of Seven nations and Australia have joined the European Union in agreeing to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil. It's a key step as Western sanctions aim to reorder the global oil market to prevent price spikes and starve President Vladimir Putin of funding for his war in Ukraine. The nations needed to set the discounted price that other nations will pay by Monday, when an EU embargo on Russian oil shipped by sea and a ban on insurance for those supplies take effect. The price cap aims to prevent a sudden loss of Russian oil to the world that could lead to a new surge in energy prices.

Glowing lava from the world’s largest volcano is a sight to behold, but for many Native Hawaiians, Mauna Loa’s eruption is a time to pray, make offerings and honor both the natural and spiritual worlds. An eruption of a volcano like Mauna Loa has a deep yet very personal cultural significance for many Native Hawaiians. It can be an opportunity to feel a connection with creation itself through the way lava gives birth to new land, as well as a time to reflect on their own place in the world and the people who came before them.

The United States' 988 call service for helping anyone experiencing a mental health emergency is back up and running after a daylong outage. The hotline was out of service Thursday but was restored shortly before midnight and was running Friday. People experiencing a mental health crisis were still able to reach a mental health counselor by texting 988 or visiting 988lifeline.org to start a chat. A Health and Human Services spokeswoman says the federal government is investigating the hotline’s outage. Telecommunications company Intrado provides the emergency response service. The Omaha, Nebraska-based company hasn't returned repeated requests for comment. A telecoms analyst from Recon Analytics says he doesn't think there was “anything malicious."

President Joe Biden is assuring the nation that the U.S. economy is chugging along. But along with his upbeat words on Friday, a new jobs report showed that high inflation remains a threat. At the White House, the president signed a bill to avoid a rail strike that he said could have caused 765,000 job losses in two weeks and plunged the country into recession. But many voters and economists already fear that a downturn is nigh and that the price of reducing inflation will be layoffs. Biden pointed to the addition of 263,000 jobs and the unemployment rate holding steady at 3.7% last month as proof that his policies have bulked up the economy.

The United States' newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development. The new bomber is part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China. The B-21 Raider gets its name from the 1942 Doolittle Raid over Tokyo and is the first new American bomber aircraft built in more than 30 years. Almost every aspect of the B-21 Raider program is classified. The Pentagon is providing the public its first glimpse of the Raider at an invitation-only event in Palmdale, California, on Friday. Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman is building the Raider, which will take its first flight next year.

The nation’s employers kept hiring briskly in November despite high inflation and a slow-growing economy — a sign of resilience in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. The economy added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate stayed 3.7%, still near a 53-year low. November’s job growth dipped only slightly from October’s 284,000 gain. Last month’s hiring amounted to a substantial increase. All year, as inflation has surged and the Fed has imposed ever-higher borrowing rates, America’s labor market has defied skeptics, adding hundreds of thousands of jobs, month after month. With not enough people available to fill jobs, businesses are having to offer higher pay to attract and keep workers.

Eight years into a U.S. program to control damage from feral pigs, the invasive animals are still a multibillion-dollar plague on farmers, wildlife and the environment. They've been wiped out in 11 of the 41 states where they were reported in 2014 or 2015. And there are fewer in parts of the other 30. But in spite of more than $100 million in federal money, officials estimate there are still 6 million to 9 million hogs gone wild nationwide and in three U.S. territories, doing at least $2.5 billion a year in U.S. damages. Estimates in 2014 were 5 million hogs and $1.5 billion in damages. Experts say the bigger figures are due to better estimates, not increases.

Thursday, December 01, 2022

Tesla has delivered its first electric semis to PepsiCo more than three years after Elon Musk said the company would start making the trucks. The Austin, Texas, company made the deliveries at a factory near Reno, Nevada. The event was livestreamed on Twitter, which Musk now owns. Musk drove one of three Tesla Semis in front of a crowd inside the factory. One was white, one was painted with a Pepsi logo, and another with Frito-Lay colors. Musk has said the truck has a range per charge of 500 miles (800 kilometers) when pulling an 82,000-pound (37,000 kilo) load.

The College Football Playoff says it will expand to a 12-team event starting in 2024. The announcement came after the Rose Bowl agreed to amend its contract for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. That was the last hurdle CFP officials needed cleared to expand the four-team format. The expansion is expected to produce about $450 million in additional gross revenue for the conferences and schools that participate. The plan to expand the playoff was unveiled publicly in June 2021 and it took 18 months of haggling and delays to finally complete.

The Senate has moved quickly to avert a rail strike that the Biden administration and business leaders say would greatly damage the economy. The Senate passed a bill Thursday to bind rail companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached between the rail companies and union leaders in September. That settlement had been rejected by some of the 12 unions involved, creating the possibility of a strike. The Senate vote was 80-15. It came one day after the House voted to impose the agreement. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Presidents Joe Biden and Emmanuel Macron have vowed to maintain a united front against Russia amid growing worries about waning support for Ukraine in the U.S. and Europe. Biden on Thursday also signaled that he may be willing to tweak aspects of his signature climate legislation that have raised concerns with France and other European allies. While Biden is honoring Macron with a fancy state dinner Thursday evening, the glamour and pomp of the visit has been shadowed by Macron’s criticism of Biden’s climate legislation and the challenges both leaders face amid the mounting costs of keeping military and economic aid flowing to Kyiv.

An official says lava from the world’s largest volcano shouldn’t be able to reach the main highway across Hawaii’s Big Island for at least a week. The scientist in charge at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said at a news conference Thursday that lava flowing down Mauna Loa has “slowed considerably” since it reached flat ground. Ken Hon says the lava is moving 30 to 40 yards per hour and is more than 3 miles south of Route 200. At that rate, it would be at least a week before it reaches the highway. Hon says the flow has become very viscous.

If you’ve ever had trouble solving a Rubik’s Cube, a good piece of advice is to break it down into steps. It’s worth a shot: That advice is from the man who made it. Ernő Rubik invented the cube in 1974 and has seen his color-matching puzzle go from a classroom teaching tool in Hungary to a worldwide phenomenon with over 450 million cubes sold and a mini-empire of related toys. The latest brain-teaser is called the Phantom, which takes the 3x3 original cube and adds a memory test: Using thermochromic technology, the tiles revert to black unless the heat of the user’s hand keeps them visible.

Russian shelling has cut off power in much of the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson just days after it was restored. Moscow is pressing its drive to destroy Ukraine's energy plants and other key civilian infrastructure as freezing weather sets in. In Kyiv, Mayor Vitali Klitschko warned the capital’s millions of residents on Thursday that they should stock up on water and preserved food to see them through a winter that could be miserable if more energy infrastructure is damaged. He also urged people to consider leaving the city. The Ukrainian defense minister said “trying months lie ahead." Ukraine has faced a blistering onslaught of Russian artillery fire and drone attacks since early October.

It’s December and pretty much every network and streaming service seemingly has a show aimed at spreading holiday cheer. For those looking to skip re-runs of Christmases past, there’s a bounty of fresh shows and specials targeted to traditionalists, romantics and family friendly entertainment. The holiday-themed offerings are abundant this year, including musical events like a “CMA Country Christmas" and a new Mariah Carey holiday special on CBS. There's also the documentary called “Santa Camp” on HBO Max about efforts to make Santa stand-ins more diverse, plus a holiday feast how-to from beloved British home cook Mary Berry.

Word of anti-lockdown protests in China spread on domestic social media for a short period last weekend, thanks to a rare pause in the cat-and-mouse game that goes on between millions of Chinese internet users and the country’s gargantuan censorship machine. Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s internet via a complex, multi-layered censorship operation that blocks access to almost all foreign news and social media, and blocks topics and keywords considered politically sensitive or detrimental to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Videos of or calls to protest are usually deleted immediately. But at moments of overwhelming public anger, experts said, the system can struggle to keep up.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Fed Chair Jerome Powell says the Federal Reserve will push rates higher than previously expected and keep them there longer to fight a stubborn bout of inflation. In a speech to the Brookings Institution on Wednesday, Powell also signaled that the Fed may increase its key interest rate by a smaller increment at its December meeting, only a half-point after four straight three-quarter point hikes. But Powell also stressed that the smaller size shouldn’t be seen as a sign the Fed will let up on its inflation fight anytime soon. Financial markets rallied in response to Powell’s suggestion that rate increases will slow.

NEW YORK (AP) — Christine McVie, the British-born Fleetwood Mac vocalist, songwriter and keyboard player whose cool, soulful contralto helped define such classics as “You Make Loving Fun,” “Everywhere” and “Don’t Stop,” died Wednesday at age 79.

New data shows an experimental Alzheimer's drug modestly slowed the brain disease's inevitable worsening. The next question is how much difference that might make in people's lives. Japanese drugmaker Eisai and its U.S. partner Biogen announced earlier this fall that lecanemab appears to work, a badly needed bright spot after disappointments in the quest for better Alzheimer's treatments. Tuesday, the companies released full study results. Eisai says the drug's benefit translates to about a five-month delay in progression over the 18-month study. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether to approve the drug by early January.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Residents in several towns across Louisiana and Mississippi have taken cover amid the blare of tornado sirens amid a severe weather outbreak erupting in the Deep South. There were no immediate reports of damage from the potent storms late Tuesday, but multiple tornado warnings were issued. More than 25 million people are in the path of the vast storm system moving from Texas to Indiana and Georgia. The latest storm outlook says parts of Louisiana and Mississippi are at the highest risk for strong storms. Meanwhile, heavy snow was snarling traffic in parts of the Upper Midwest.

Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper late in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout rounds of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran. Pulisic sprawled on the field and was replaced at the start of the second half. The U.S. Soccer Federation said after the game the American star was taken to a hospital for an abdominal scan. The Americans play the Netherlands on Saturday with the chance to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. Iran has failed to advance in all six of its World Cup appearances.

President Joe Biden says he hopes lawmakers can work together to fund the government, boost spending for Ukraine and avert a crippling rail strike. His comments came as he met with congressional leaders at the White House on Tuesday. Biden is seeking to lock in more legislative wins before Democrats lose unified control of Washington on Jan. 3. But Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the likely new Republican House speaker, said Biden “got an indication that it’s going to be different” once the GOP takes control of the House. He blasted the Biden administration’s immigration policies, and promised a new round of investigations once the GOP is in power.

The Senate has passed landmark  bipartisan legislation to protect same-sex marriages. It's an extraordinary sign of shifting national politics on the issue and a measure of relief for the hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples who have married since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision that legalized gay marriage nationwide. The bill approved Tuesday would ensure that same-sex and interracial marriages are enshrined in federal law.  Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said the legislation is “a long time coming” and part of America’s “difficult but inexorable march towards greater equality.”  Senate Democrats are moving quickly to send the bill to the House and President Joe Biden’s desk.

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