O’Neil, Hodges, Minoso, Kaat, Oliva, Fowler Get Into Baseball Hall of Fame

Buck O’Neil, a champion of Black ballplayers during a monumental, eight-decade career on and off the field, joined Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and three others in being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday. Former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat also were chosen along with Bud Fowler by a pair of veterans committees. Oliva and Kaat are the only living new members. Dick Allen, who died last December, fell one vote shy of election. The 16-member Early Days and Golden Days committees met separately in Orlando, Florida. The election announcement was originally scheduled to coincide with the big league winter meetings, which were nixed because of the MLB lockout. The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022, along with any new members elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. First-time candidates David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling on the ballot, with voting results on Jan. 25. …

US Condemns Militant Attack in Mali that Killed 31

The United States “strongly condemns” a militant attack on a bus in central Mali that killed at least 31 people and wounded 17, the State Department said Sunday.  Unidentified gunmen on Friday opened fire on the bus as it traveled from the village of Songho to a market in Bandiagara, 10 kilometers away.  The villages sit in the heart of the Mopti region, an epicenter of violence in Mali fueled by insurgents linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group.  “The United States strongly condemns the attack on civilians on Saturday near Bandiagara, Mali, which left 31 dead and 17 injured,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a written statement.  “We extend our deepest condolences to the Malian people and will continue to partner with them in their pursuit of a safe, prosperous, and democratic future,” Price said.  Jihadist attacks have surged across Africa’s Sahel region, killing thousands and displacing millions across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.  …

Kennedy Center Honors, Its Traditions Are Back Once More

The Kennedy Center Honors is returning to tradition this year. The lifetime achievement awards for artistic excellence will be presented Sunday night in a gala at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house after the coronavirus pandemic forced delays and major changes to last year’s plans. Honorees include Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels, actress-singer Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell. This year’s event also represents a return to political normalcy, with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden planning to attend. The Democrat will be the first president to be at the Kennedy Center Honors since 2016.  President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump skipped the show the first three years he was in office after several of the artists honored in 2017, his first year in office, threatened to boycott a White House reception if the Republican participated.  The Trumps also scrapped a traditional White House ceremony for the honorees, which Biden is resuming. Presidents usually host a lighthearted gathering with the honorees at the White House before the awards ceremony. Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to bump the annual December ceremony back to May 2021. Performance tributes to the artists were filmed over several nights and at multiple locations on campus. This year’s main COVID-related modification was shifting the annual Saturday ceremony, where honorees receive their medallions on rainbow-colored ribbons, to the Library of Congress instead of the State Department. Sunday’s ceremony, which will be broadcast Dec. 22 by CBS, is the centerpiece of the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary of cultural programming. The center opened in 1971. …

Cruise Ship With COVID Infections Arrives in New Orleans

A Norwegian Cruise Line ship with at least 10 passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19 docked Sunday in New Orleans, where health officials said they were trying to disembark people without worsening the spread of the coronavirus illness. Local news outlets in New Orleans confirmed the Norwegian Breakaway had arrived in the city. The ship departed New Orleans on Nov. 28. The Louisiana Department of Health said in a late Saturday news release that over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement that confirmed a “handful of COVID-19 cases among guests and crew.” The company said all of the identified cases involved people without symptoms of the illness.  Norwegian said it requires all passengers and crew members to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus prior to departure. “We are testing all individuals on Norwegian Breakaway prior to disembarkation, as well as providing post-exposure and quarantine public health guidance by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” the company’s statement said. “Any guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 will travel by personal vehicle to their personal residence or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the company.” The state health department — which is working with the cruise line and state and local officials to contain the outbreak — said at least 10 people on the ship tested positive for COVID-19. More than 3,200 people were on board the ship, officials said. Some disembarking passengers told WVUE-TV in New Orleans that they were notified about the positive cases on the ship, while others said they had no idea about the outbreak until being asked about it by a reporter. “We didn’t hear of this until we kind of heard you talking a second ago,” said Don Canole, a passenger from North Carolina. “It would have been nice to have known. We would have taken maybe a few more precautions.” Passengers said they were tested for COVID-19 exposure on Saturday before disembarking Sunday. The cruise line also gave passengers take-home rapid tests as they left the ship, according to WVUE. The company said no changes to scheduled future sailings on the Norwegian Breakaway are currently planned, and the ship was scheduled to depart again Sunday evening. Cruise ships were an early source of outbreaks last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as some ships were rejected at ports … Continue reading “Cruise Ship With COVID Infections Arrives in New Orleans”

Reactions to Bob Dole’s Death From US Dignitaries, Veterans

U.S. dignitaries and military veterans are mourning former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole, a World War II veteran and former Republican presidential candidate who served in Congress for 36 years. Dole, who had stage 4 lung cancer, died Sunday at age 98, according to his wife, Elizabeth Dole. ___ “Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves. I will miss my friend. But I am grateful for the times we shared, and for the friendship Jill and I and our family have built with Liddy and the entire Dole family. … He had an unerring sense of integrity and honor. May God bless him, and may our nation draw upon his legacy of decency, dignity, good humor, and patriotism for all time.” — President Joe Biden, who served with Dole in the Senate. ___ “Laura and I are saddened by the passing of a great patriot, Senator Bob Dole. This good man represented the finest of American values. He defended them in uniform during World War II. He advanced them in the United States Senate. And he lived them out as a father, husband, and friend. Our entire family benefitted from that friendship, including my father. I will always remember Bob’s salute to my late dad at the Capitol, and now we Bushes salute Bob and give thanks for his life of principled service.” — Former President George W. Bush, speaking of Dole’s tribute to former President George H.W. Bush. ___ “Bob Dole was an American war hero and true patriot for our Nation. He served the Great State of Kansas with honor and the Republican Party was made stronger by his service. Our Nation mourns his passing, and our prayers are with Elizabeth and his wonderful family.” — Former President Donald Trump. ___ “Senator Bob Dole was a war hero, a political leader, and a statesman — with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party. Our thoughts are with Elizabeth and the Dole family.” — Former President Barack Obama. ___ “Bob Dole dedicated his entire life to serving the American … Continue reading “Reactions to Bob Dole’s Death From US Dignitaries, Veterans”

Belgian Police Use Water, Tear Gas on COVID Protesters

Belgian police used water cannon and tear gas Sunday to disperse some rowdy protesters in Brussels after most demonstrators marched peacefully to protest tightened COVID-19 restrictions that aim to counter a surge of coronavirus infections. Thousands came to reject the new measures announced Friday, the third week in a row that the government has tightened its rules as an avalanche of new cases strains the country’s health services, depriving people with other life-threatening diseases of treatment. Shouting “Freedom! Freedom!” and carrying banners that said, “United for our freedom, rights and our children,” protesters marched to the European Union headquarters. Some also carried signs critical of vaccines and against making vaccine shots mandatory.  The main crowd in Sunday’s mostly peaceful march had already dispersed when about 100 protesters ran into a riot police barricade cordoning off access to the European Commission. After a brief stand-off with police, protesters hurdled trash and other objects, including a bicycle, at police and set off firecrackers and flares. Police used water cannon and fired tear gas to disperse the crowd. There were no immediate reports of injuries.  On Friday, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced that day care centers and primary schools will close for the holiday a week early, and children must now wear masks from the age of 6. Indoor events will only be allowed with a maximum of 200 people. Previously, the government closed nightclubs, and ordered bars and restaurants to shut at 11 p.m. for three weeks. Speculation had been rife that closing times would be brought forward to 8 p.m. but the cabinet decided against it. According to the latest coronavirus figures, the EU nation of 11 million appears to have reached a plateau. On a weekly average, 17,862 new daily cases were reported in Belgium, a rise of 6% over the previous week. Hospital admissions rose 4%. More than 3,700 people are hospitalized with the virus, 821 of them in intensive care. More than 27,000 people with the virus have died in Belgium since the outbreak began last year. …

Coronavirus Omicron Variant Spreading in US, Elsewhere

At least 38 countries have reported cases of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus. U.S. President Joe Biden calls the variant a cause for concern – “not panic” – as scientists work to determine whether it is more dangerous than other strains. Precautionary measures threaten the global recovery from the pandemic with South Africa crying foul at travel restrictions imposed. VOA’s Arash Arabasadi has more. …

Bob Dole, Longtime US Republican Figure, Dies at 98

Bob Dole, a severely wounded U.S. soldier left for dead on a World War II battlefield and who later became a fixture for decades on the American political scene, died Sunday at the age of 98. Dole was the plain-spoken son of the Midwestern prairie state of Kansas, which he represented in the U.S. Senate for 27 years, rising to be the chamber’s Republican majority leader. Dole was the party’s nominee for vice president in 1976 and two decades later its presidential candidate in a losing effort as Democrat Bill Clinton won re-election. Dole’s death was announced by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, his wife’s organization honoring the country’s military caregivers. It said he died in his sleep. Dole had announced almost a year ago that he had advanced lung cancer and was beginning treatment. Tributes came from across the political spectrum. U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement Sunday saying, “Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves.” Biden also said Dole “had an unerring sense of integrity and honor.” Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered that flags at the U.S. Capitol be flown at half-staff as a tribute to Dole, according to her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill.   Utah Republican Senator Mitt Romney said on Twitter, “When I think of the greatest generation, I think of Senator Bob Dole — a man who dedicated his life to serving our country.”   Former Republican President George W. Bush said, “This good man represented the finest of American values. He defended them in uniform during World War II. He advanced them in the United States Senate. And he lived them out as a father, husband, and friend.” Bush’s successor, Democratic President Barack Obama, tweeted, “Senator Bob Dole was a war hero, a political leader, and a statesman—with a career and demeanor harkening back to a day when members of the Greatest Generation abided by a certain code, putting country over party. Our thoughts are with Elizabeth and the Dole family.” In his last years, Dole came to personify the bravery of the World War II generation of military veterans. He raised money for the World War II … Continue reading “Bob Dole, Longtime US Republican Figure, Dies at 98”

Omicron Variant Spreading, but Its Severity on Peoples’ Health Undetermined   

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has now spread to 40 countries and 16 of the 50 U.S. states, but top U.S. government health officials said Sunday they are not certain about the severity of its effects on the health of people who contract it.  “It does not look like there’s a great deal of severity to it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show.   He said, however, it was important to “hold judgment until we get more experience” with the variant as it spreads from country to country and across geographically widely separated U.S. states.  Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, expressed uncertainty as well, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, “Does this in fact turn out to be less dangerous” than previous coronavirus variants? “Scientists are all over this, hard at work 24/7 to get these answers.”  “It’s certainly possible,” Collins said, “that this is not the last emerging variant that will attract a lot of attention and a lot of concern.”  U.S. President Joe Biden has imposed a ban on flights to the United States from eight southern Africa countries. Starting Monday, people traveling to the United States must have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than a day ahead of their trip, instead of the previous three-day period.  Some experts in the U.S. have suggested that testing might soon be required on domestic flights in the U.S., but Collins said that would be “extremely onerous,” adding that he did not know how much such a requirement would inhibit the spread of the coronavirus within the country.  “I think we’ve got it just about right” with imposition of the international travel restrictions, Collins said. Israel, Japan and Morocco have barred the entry of foreign travelers altogether.  With the rapid advance of the omicron variant in the U.S., the number of first-time vaccinations has increased, reaching a six-month high last Thursday, even as about 60 million people eligible for inoculations remain unvaccinated, refusing shots for a variety of reasons.  In South Africa, the omicron variant has been spreading twice as fast as the delta variant, which previously had been considered the most contagious.  The U.S. has recorded more than 784,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic first swept into the country 21 months ago, more than in any other nation across the globe, and 48.9 million coronavirus cases, according to the Centers … Continue reading “Omicron Variant Spreading, but Its Severity on Peoples’ Health Undetermined   “

Putin to Visit New Delhi Amid Spotlight on Indian Defense Purchase

Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in India Monday for a summit as Moscow begins the delivery of air defense missile systems to India that could spur U.S. sanctions. India’s $5.4 billion deal with Russia to purchase S-400 air defense missile systems highlights New Delhi’s challenge in maintaining its partnership with Moscow, even as it embraces closer strategic ties with the United States. While Washington has often warned New Delhi that the purchase of five long range surface-to-air missile systems from Russia runs counter to 2017 U.S. legislation, India’s consistent message has been that its national security interests guide its defense purchases. “The government takes sovereign decisions based on threat perceptions, operational and technological aspects to keep the armed forces in a state of readiness to meet the entire spectrum of security challenges,” Minister of State for Defense Ajay Bhatt told Parliament Friday. India says it needs the S-400 system to counter the threat from China — it is expected to be deployed along disputed Himalayan borders where troops from both countries have been locked in a standoff since last year. Washington imposed sanctions on Turkey last December for purchasing the same missile system from Russia under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, whose aims include deterring countries from buying Russian military equipment. New Delhi however is optimistic about getting a presidential waiver, as its strategic ties with the United States continue to gain momentum in the two countries’ common efforts to contain China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region — India is part of the Quad group expected to play a key role in countering China. Potential waiver U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price told a November 23 briefing that the Biden administration has not decided on a potential waiver for India, but analysts in Washington say a waiver is inevitable.  “The Biden administration doesn’t want to do anything that would risk imperiling its relations with New Delhi. Sanctioning India would plunge bilateral relations to their lowest point in several decades,” Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Wilson Center in Washington, said.  However, he said, a waiver for India would be a one-time affair.  “It won’t offer any blanket free passes to New Delhi on its broader defense trade with Moscow. So, the Russia factor will remain a rare tension point in U.S.-India relations,” he said. Strategic affairs experts point out that while India and Russia have pulled in different geopolitical … Continue reading “Putin to Visit New Delhi Amid Spotlight on Indian Defense Purchase”

Pope Francis Visiting Migrant Camp on Greek Island of Lesbos

Pope Francis will travel to Lesbos on Sunday to meet asylum-seekers at a migrant camp there on his second visit to the Greek island that was at the forefront of Europe’s refugee crisis. Francis is on a five-day trip to Cyprus and Greece during which he has highlighted the struggles of refugees and migrants, an issue that has become the cornerstone of his papacy. On his previous visit to Lesbos in 2016, at the height of Europe’s migration crisis, Francis walked through the squalid and dangerously overcrowded Moria camp and famously brought 12 Syrian refugees back to Rome with him. Moria, at its worst point the size of a town of 20,000 people, burned down last year after becoming a symbol of Europe’s stumbling response to a crisis that left much of the burden to be carried by small islands like Lesbos. On Sunday, the pope will visit the temporary camp that was hastily set up after the blaze, in an old army firing range, home to around 2,300 mostly Afghan asylum-seekers. Dozens of police officers were deployed inside and migrants were queuing up to enter the tent where the pope was due to speak. “The issue of migration cannot disproportionately affect the countries on the borders of the European Union,” Migration Minister Notis Mitarachi said on Sunday. Greece, like other Mediterranean countries Italy, Spain and Cyprus, has long been the gateway into the European Union for people fleeing war, poverty or persecution in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. While the number of people crossing to Greece from Turkey has fallen dramatically in recent years, the government, fearing a possible wave of refugees from Taliban-conquered Afghanistan, is hardening its migration policy. Public attitudes toward migrants have also become increasingly hostile. Greece has come under fire from rights groups for building “prison-like” closed holding centers for migrants on five islands close to Turkey, including Lesbos, and for intercepting migrant boats at sea. Ahead of the pope’s visit, about two dozen asylum-seekers, some of whom have been in limbo on Lesbos for years, gathered for Mass in a small Roman Catholic church. “We hope that by this visit, maybe something can change,” said Landrid, a 42-year-old man who fled a separatist insurgency in Cameroon.      …

Activist Groups Take Cautious Approach to White House Democracy Summit 

When the leaders of more than 100 countries gather virtually in a Summit for Democracy sponsored by the Biden administration next week, groups focused on human rights and civil society say they want to see concrete commitments to push back against rising authoritarianism, as well as an admission by the United States that it has work to do in order to shore up its own democratic institutions. According to the State Department, the summit on December 9-10 is meant to focus on three things: defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights. The gathering is part of an effort to reassert the United States’ role on the global stage as a leader of Democratic nations — echoing President Joe Biden’s assertion that “America is back” after four years of the Donald Trump administration, in which the country largely stepped away from an international leadership role. The Biden administration has been working to position the United States as a buffer between the democratic nations and the increasingly aggressive authoritarian governments in the world, particularly China and Russia. However, the summit comes at a time when democratic institutions in the United States are under assault and is complicated by a guest list that includes countries that human rights groups have identified as trending toward authoritarianism, including India, the Philippines and Poland. ‘Democratic backsliding is a fact’ “The damage that has been done to democracy over the last 10 years, but particularly the last five years, has been felt in every region of the world. Democratic backsliding is a fact,” Helena Hofbauer Balmori, international program director for civic engagement and government at the Ford Foundation, a philanthropic organization that seeks to promote social justice, told VOA. Among other things, she said that the summit must address what she called the “closing of civic space.” The summit, she said, must produce “a strong statement regarding democratic values and practices, and the basic rights that come with it, such as the rights to the freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly that are essential for civil society to play a strong role within any government.” “Electoral democracy is, unfortunately, not enough,” Hofbauer Balmori said. “We need to create the spaces where citizens can play a role and engage and help contribute to the solution of complex problems.” Rights defenders under strain In advance of the summit, the nonprofit democracy … Continue reading “Activist Groups Take Cautious Approach to White House Democracy Summit “

What is the US National Archives?

When John Carlin started his job at the head of the U.S. National Archives back in June of 1995, he was shocked to learn that government emails were not being preserved.  “They, at that time, did not consider email as a record, and I said, ‘Folks, I may not be an archivist, but those are records,’” says Carlin, who served as archivist for a decade. “By September I was able to go through the process of getting that changed. More and more records now are coming in the archives in the electronic form.”  The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official records keeper of the United States government. Among the records in its possession are presidential papers and materials, which former president Donald Trump is trying to keep out of the hands of the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Presidential libraries are part of the National Archives and White House records are kept forever.  “Authentic history is not possible without records that have been kept and preserved so their authenticity is backed up 100 percent,” Carlin says. “Accountability goes forward for a long time and people who work for the White House including the president, him or herself, can and should be held accountable. And, without those records, that cannot be done. Overall, only 1%-3% of all of the materials created by the U.S. government during the course of conducting its business are considered important enough, for legal or historical reasons, to preserve for all time. “The National Archives holds over 15 billion pages of textual records, over 18 million maps, charts and architectural drawings, more than 43 million images, more than 365,000 reels of film and over 110,000 videotapes, to say nothing of the billions of electronic records,” says Meghan Ryan Guthorn, acting deputy chief operating officer of the agency. “We’re focused on openness, cultivating public participation, and strengthening our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records. I kind of like to think of the agency like the nation’s filing cabinet.” NARA keeps its holdings in 44 locations across the country, including the iconic National Archives building in Washington. For Carlin, the former archivist, some of the most memorable materials include those related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.   “I mean, literally, they tore apart the room that JFK died in from the assassination on that day in Dallas. Everything was kept,” Carlin says. “Everything in the … Continue reading “What is the US National Archives?”

US, West Blast Taliban Over Reported ‘Summary Killings’ of Ex-Security Forces

The United States on Saturday led a group of Western nations and allies in condemnation of the Taliban over the “summary killings” of former members of the Afghan security forces, reported by rights groups, and demanded quick investigations. “We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces as documented by Human Rights Watch and others,” read a statement by the United States, the European Union, Australia, Britain, Japan and others, which was released by the State Department. “We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” the group of nations said, as it called on Afghanistan’s new rulers to ensure the amnesty is enforced and “upheld across the country and throughout their ranks.” Early this week Human Rights Watch released a report that it says documents the summary execution or enforced disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents “who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces” from mid-August through October. “Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances,” the countries, which include Canada, New Zealand, Romania, Ukraine and several European nations, said in their statement. The Taliban took power in Afghanistan in mid-August as the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and the country’s military collapsed. Washington held talks with Taliban officials earlier this week when it urged the hardline Islamist group to provide access to education for women and girls across the country. It also “expressed deep concern regarding allegations of human rights abuses,” a U.S. spokesperson said.  …

Stuck Jet Stream, La Nina Causing Weird Weather

America’s winter wonderland is starting out this season as anything but traditional.  The calendar says December, but for much of the country, temperatures beckon for sandals. Umbrellas, if not arks, are needed in the Pacific Northwest, while snow shovels are gathering cobwebs in the Rockies.  Meteorologists attribute the latest batch of record-shattering weather extremes to a stuck jet stream and the effects of a La Nina weather pattern from cooling waters in the equatorial Pacific. It’s still fall astronomically, but winter starts December 1 for meteorologists. This year, no one told the weather that.  On Thursday, 65 weather stations across the nation set record high temperature marks for December 2, including Springfield, Missouri, hitting 24 Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and Roanoke, Virginia, 22 Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Billings, Montana, broke long-time high-temperature records by 6 degrees.  Parts of Canada and Montana have seen their highest December temperatures in recorded history. On Friday, parts of South Carolina and Georgia hit record highs.  In Washington state, Seattle, Bellingham and Quillayute all set 90-day fall records for rainfall. Bellingham was doused by nearly 60 centimeters (nearly 24 inches) of rain. The Olympic and Cascade mountains got hit harder, with more than 127 centimeters (50 inches) in three months, according to the National Weather Service. Forks, Washington, received more rain in 90 days than Las Vegas gets in 13 years. On top of that, there is a blizzard warning on Hawaii’s Big Island summits with up to 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) of snow expected and wind gusts of more than 161 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour).  Meantime, snow has gone missing in Colorado. Before this year, the latest first measurable snowfall on record in Denver was November 21, in 1934. There’s a slight possibility of snow Monday night, according to the weather service. Yet, with no snow since April 22, this is the third-longest stretch the city has gone without it. Stationary stream One big factor: The jet stream — the river of air that moves weather from west to east on a roller coaster-like path — has just been stuck. That means low pressure on one part of the stream is bringing rain to the Pacific Northwest, while high pressure hovering over about two-thirds of the nation produces dry and warmer weather, said Brian Hurley, a senior meteorologist at the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, … Continue reading “Stuck Jet Stream, La Nina Causing Weird Weather”

CNN Fires Chris Cuomo for Helping Brother Deal With Scandal

CNN has fired anchor Chris Cuomo after details emerged about how he assisted his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, as the politician faced sexual harassment allegations earlier this year.  The network suspended Chris Cuomo earlier in the week to investigate his involvement with his brother’s defense.  “We have retained a respected law firm to conduct the review, and have terminated him, effective immediately,” CNN said in a statement. “While in the process of that review, additional information has come to light. Despite the termination, we will investigate as appropriate.”  The network did not immediately release additional details.  Chris Cuomo said on Twitter that he was proud of the work he did at the network.  “This is not how I want my time at CNN to end but I have already told you why and how I helped my brother. So let me now say as disappointing as this is, I could not be more proud of the team at Cuomo Prime Time and the work we did as CNN’s #1 show in the most competitive time slot,” he said.  As women came forward accusing former Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment, his brother, despite being a CNN anchor, pressed sources for information on the accusers and reported back to the governor’s staff on what he was learning.  He was active in helping craft their response to the charges, according to emails and a transcript of his testimony to investigators working for state Attorney General Letitia James. Her office found Andrew Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women.  Chris Cuomo previously acknowledged talking to his brother and offering advice when the governor faced harassment charges. But more detail has emerged about the help he gave. Andrew Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial. …

US Official Accuses Iran of Reneging on Nuclear Compromises

A senior U.S. State Department official on Saturday accused Iran of reneging on the compromises it made in the last round of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement and making more demands in its most recent proposals. “We can’t accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow-walks its nuclear diplomacy,” the official said, speaking on background. The official said that the U.S. remained committed to the talks in Vienna but that Iranian negotiators “are going to have to change the posture that they take.” “They are not going to get a better JCPOA deal out of these talks,” the official predicted, referring to the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The State Department official’s assessment of the negotiations came one day after diplomats negotiating to revive the deal that curbed the Iranian nuclear program paused the talks until next week, with officials from the United States and Europe criticizing Iran for a lack of progress. “What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks in Vienna,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, addressing a virtual conference of world leaders organized by the Reuters news agency. “If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead end, we will pursue other options,” he added, without elaborating. Earlier progress A U.S. State Department spokesman said Friday on background that earlier rounds of negotiations with Iran “made progress, finding creative compromise solutions to many of the hardest issues that were difficult for all sides.” But, he said, “Iran’s approach this week was not, unfortunately, to try to resolve the remaining issues.” European officials also expressed frustration with Iran over the talks. A statement Friday from senior officials from France, Britain and Germany — the three European powers acting as mediators in the nuclear talks — said, “This week, [Iran] has backtracked on diplomatic progress made.” The United States and Iran resumed indirect negotiations in Vienna on Monday, with the mediators seeking to bring both sides back into compliance with the 2015 JCPOA deal. U.S. and Iranian negotiators previously held six inconclusive rounds of indirect talks in Vienna from April to June, when Iran suspended the negotiations ahead of … Continue reading “US Official Accuses Iran of Reneging on Nuclear Compromises”