New Country, New Name for US Citizen ‘Enes Kanter Freedom’

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New Country, New Name for US Citizen 'Enes Kanter Freedom' kanter playing in a basketball game Enes Kanter will take the oath of U.S. citizenship on Monday and legally change his name to Enes Kanter Freedom. (Getty Images)

Sunday, 28 November 2021 04:23 PM

Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter is changing his name to “Enes Kanter Freedom” to celebrate becoming a United States citizen.

Kanter's manager, Hank Fetic, told The Associated Press that Kanter will have his citizenship oath ceremony on Monday afternoon and at the same time will complete his legal name change.

The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Kanter, 29, is a native of Turkey who has been an outspoken critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Turkish government. Kanter has said his passport was revoked by his homeland in 2017.

The 2011 first-round draft pick has also taken to social media to support Tibetan independence and criticize Chinese treatment of the Uyghur people. During games, he has worn shoes decorated to say “Free Tibet” and argue for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Rep. Mace: China Pushed Back Against US Delegation Trip to Taiwan

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Rep. Mace: China Pushed Back Against US Delegation Trip to Taiwan Rep. Mace: China Pushed Back Against US Delegation Trip to Taiwan Rep Nancy Mace (R-SC). (Anna Moneymaker/Getty)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 03:58 PM

Rep. Nancy Mace, who traveled with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to Taiwan over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, said Sunday that China pushed back hard against the trip.

"We were in [South] Korea at the time, in Japan, serving Thanksgiving to our troops," the South Carolina Republican told Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures."

"Many of our troops during COVID couldn't get back home over the last two years, couldn't have family travel to see them. That was the major intent of the program."

At the end of the trip, before the delegation boarded a plane for Taiwan, the Chinese tried to stop them, said Mace.

"It was the Chinese embassy pushing back very strongly against every member on that trip, demanding that we don't visit Taiwan," said Mace. "Of course I don't get permission from China or Communist China to do anything and so we ignored their demands and we went to Taiwan anyway."

The group met with Taiwan's minister of foreign affairs, the president, and others in the government, and also took an "innovation tour" to see the technology that is being worked on, said Mace.

But while they were there, "China flew eight lanes across the international defense zone," said Mace. "They're the ones showing aggression."

She added that it is "beyond me" that the United States should allow China to continue to be aggressive to America's friends and partners, but she came back from the trip "stronger with that feeling today than ever before."

The United States, she continued, will have to stand strong against China's aggression against Taiwan and elsewhere.

"We should not listen to China's demands when it comes to this," said Mace.

"We know with their aggression, what they're trying to do is eventually take over Taiwan. I think if Taiwan goes, then other countries will be vulnerable. Look at the humanitarian crisis in China, what they've done to the Uyghurs. There are other ways besides militarily that we should look at via the economy and the kind of business we do in China to hold them accountable and keep them from going to wars with any country in the Asia-Pacific region. It's bad for countries there and eventually, it will harm the United States of America and allies abroad."

Mace on Sunday also spoke out against the upcoming vote on the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill.

"One of the reasons that inflation is going to get significantly worse is because of the greater spending we have through Build Back Better and through other COVID-19 relief programs," said Mace.

"I believe until Republicans are in the majority in 2022 and I believe that will happen, it will be significant. We will win at least two dozen seats or more. It will be incumbent upon us to try to reverse some of the policies that will be created."

Original Article

Trump Jr. Blasts Americans As ‘Sheep’ For Not Protesting COVID Restrictions

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Trump Jr. Blasts Americans As 'Sheep' For Not Protesting COVID Restrictions Trump Jr. Blasts Americans As 'Sheep' For Not Protesting COVID Restrictions Donald Trump Jr. speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:55 PM

Donald Trump Jr. lauded European protests against COVID-19 restrictions — and trashed Americans as “sheep” for not doing the same.

In comments to Fox News host Dan Bongino, Trump Jr. said “Europe is pushing back.”

But America, he continued, “is sitting there like sheep. 'Oh, this is great. We'll just go along with what these guys who've gotten nothing right in the last two years tell us.' “

“It's absolute insanity," Trump Jr. said.

Trump Jr. also alleged the U.S. media was deliberately not reporting on the recent wave of protests in Europe over winter restrictions, including some that turned into riots.

The Associated Press has regularly reported on the unrest, as have broadcast outlets including the New York Times , ABC News, and NBC News

"You don't hear about what's going on as it relates to the riots in Europe on a daily basis now against the vaccine mandates because our media wants to block that out," Trump Jr. alleged.

"They're going to make sure that you never hear about it because they don't want you getting these kind of ideas that freedom may actually still exist in some parts of the world."

Several European countries have introduced measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 as winter approaches, and the United Sates introduced requirements for federal workers to be vaccinated.

Earlier this month, Morning Consult noted the United States has higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than most European countries.

In the same interview with Fox, Trump Jr. criticized President Joe Biden for abandoning his cure for cancer efforts. While vice president in the Obama administration he led the Cancer Moonshot Taskforce and after the term ended he started the Biden Center Initiative.

"He was also going to cure cancer, if I remember correctly, Dan," Trump Jr. told Bongino. "Remember that? Everyone was, 'Oh, that's great, we should definitely elect him.' I haven't seen much movement on that."

Original Article

Travel Ban May Be Too Late to Stop Omicron Spread: WH Critics

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Travel Ban May Be Too Late to Stop Omicron Spread: WH Critics Travel Ban May Be Too Late to Stop Omicron Spread: WH Critics (Dreamstime.com)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:21 PM

Experts warn travel bans may be too late to fend off the spread of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

With its high number of mutations that could make it more transmissible, omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa, triggering curbs in flights into countries including the United States.

“By the time we have enough information to institute a travel ban, the cat’s already out of the bag, so to speak,” Nicole Errett, a professor at the University of Washington who has done research on public health emergency preparedness, told The Washington Post.

“Omicron has already been detected in other continents. A travel ban could in theory buy some time by reducing the spread of new seed cases, but we are talking on the order of days to weeks,” she added.

Confirmed and suspected COVID -19 cases caused by the new variant have been detected in a growing number of regions, including Britain, Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Italy, Hong Kong, Israel and the Czech Republic, the Post reported.

Austria also joined the growing list, Reuters reported Sunday. And two planes from South Africa landed in the Netherlands on Saturday with 61 people infected with the coronavirus, including 13 cases the new omicron variant, the Post reported.

Health officials in Australia also confirmed two fully vaccinated, asymptomatic passengers on a flight into Sydney tested positive for the variant, the news outlet reported.

Meanwhile, critics called out the administration for its “worse than useless” response the omicron variant.

“No worries, travel ban begins next week because you know, variants don’t spread on holiday weekends,” Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., tweeted. “Who really believes this variant isn’t already here?”

The weekend-long delay in launching the ban on travel also ticked off Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., who lamented “the stunning hypocrisy of Democrats” regarding COVID travel bans during the last 20 months.

“When President Trump took bold and decisive action in February 2020 to impose travel restrictions into the United States from coronavirus hot spots, Joe Biden attacked him, calling this decision a disgrace and xenophobic,” said Stefanik, the New York Post reported.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., joined in on the condemnation of the travel measure as “worse than useless.”

“Joe Biden and Tony Fauci push crushing restrictions on Americans — like masking two-year-olds — that are pointless,” Cotton tweeted. “But when it comes to targeted travel bans to protect American citizens, it’s nothing but incompetence and half measures from this White House.”

Original Article

Barrasso: ‘Mad Hatter’ Biden Pushing ‘Alice in Wonderland’ Spending Bill

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Barrasso: 'Mad Hatter' Biden Pushing 'Alice in Wonderland' Spending Bill Barrasso: 'Mad Hatter' Biden Pushing 'Alice in Wonderland' Spending Bill : Senator John Barrasso, R-Wyo., speaks in 2020. ( Nicholas Kamm-Pool/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 02:14 PM

President Joe Biden is acting like the "Mad Hatter" with his "Alice in Wonderland" push to pass the $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" bill while the country is already experiencing record inflation, Sen. John Barrasso said Sunday.

"I view this as a back-breaking bill for the country, with the expenses, spending, adding to debt, inflation, and taxes that are going to hit the American people," the Wyoming Republican said on Fox News' "Fox News Sunday." "He's saying the cost will be zero, zero, zero, and the budget analysts say there will be much added to the debt and taxes will go up."

Biden has also promised that people making less than $400,000 a year will not see a tax hike, said Barrasso, but "that is not what experts say."

"The experts say one out of three will pay more in taxes on all the issues and inflation," he continued. "Across the board, people look at persistent inflation. That is the thing that will hurt our economy the most."

Further, the bill is all about Democrats' spending, said Barrasso.

"You get rid of the gimmicks of accounting and this bill that the Democrats are proposing is $4 trillion in additional spending," said Barrasso. "There is not a single Republican who will vote for the bill or to raise the debt ceiling. This is on the Democrats."

Barrasso on Sunday also spoke out against a Department of the Interior report recommendation for price increases and reforms for companies drilling for oil on federally owned lands, coming at a time when Biden is releasing 50 million barrels of crude oil from the nation's strategic reserves.

"On day one in the White House, the president drew a target on the back of American energy and pulled the trigger with petroleum reserve," said the senator. "He's putting a Band-Aid on the bullet hole [with] the reserve. It is there for emergencies, national emergencies, war, not to cover over bad policies."

And now, "we're using more oil from Russia, from Vladimir Putin's Russia than from Alaska," said Barrasso. "This is a jackpot for Vladimir Putin. The president and environmental movement will not let us use American oil, so President Biden going hat in hand to OPEC and Russia saying, please produce more oil so we can buy from you. This is a disaster and a major policy mistake … to give additional money to Vladimir Putin is really to the long-term detriment of the United States."

Original Article

Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson: McCarthy Should Call Out Boebert, Gosar

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Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson: McCarthy Should Call Out Boebert, Gosar Arkansas Gov. Hutchinson: McCarthy Should Call Out Boebert, Gosar Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson speaks about the coronavirus pandemic and vaccine distributions on Jan. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 01:28 PM

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should be publicly condemning lawmakers such as GOP Reps. Lauren Boebert and Paul Gosar when they've acted inappropriately toward other members of Congress, Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Sunday.

"I think whenever, even in our own caucus, our own members, if they go the wrong direction it has to be called out," Hutchinson said on CNN's "State of the Union." "It has to be dealt with, particularly whenever it is breeching the civility — whenever it is crossing the line in terms of violence or increasing the divide in our country."

Boebert, of Colorado, came under fire after she made comments to supporters suggesting that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., who is a Muslim, is a jihadist. She has apologized, but Omar has called on McCarthy and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to "take appropriate action."

"Saying I am a suicide bomber is no laughing matter," Omar said on Twitter.

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Meanwhile, the House voted earlier this month to censure Gosar, of Arizona, after he posted an animated video on Twitter depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., with a sword.

"One of the things that is really important to us in the future is increasing the civil debate and civil discourse," Hutchinson said Sunday. "We've got to look for ways that we can bring people together and not divide and certainly along racial lines. I think this last week, our justice system gave two very good verdicts that indicated that we can hold people accountable whenever they go after somebody because of their race or whenever they take the law into their own hands. Let's look for ways to bring people together and decrease that divide."

The governor also discussed the new omicron coronavirus variant. More than half of Arkansas' residents are unvaccinated, even though the shot rates are climbing, said Hutchinson, adding that delta variant "has been tough on us."

"We don't welcome a new variant, and it is a great concern," said Hutchinson. "The message as a governor is steady as you go. We obviously have to have more information and get better prepared in increasing our vaccination rates."

However, even though the state's rates remain low, Hutchinson has refused to institute any vaccine mandates and he still believes that his approach works.

"What we've seen is that through education, through information, vaccination rates go up," he said. "That's more productive than a mandate that comes down that people will resist. You have to know the culture and you have to know how people respond to it. And in Arkansas, that information-based education is what is working and will be effective. The mandates are not something that the people of Arkansas are going to respond well to."

Original Article

NYT: Dems Struggle to Energize Base Amid Voter Frustrations

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NYT: Dems Struggle to Energize Base Amid Voter Frustrations NYT: Dems Struggle to Energize Base Amid Voter Frustrations President Joe Biden (L) talks to Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., looks on after signing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on Nov. 15, 2021. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 01:16 PM

Democrats are raising alarms about sinking support among voters disappointed about President Joe Biden's broken campaign promises.

Despite passage of Biden's $1 trillion infrastructure bill and House passage of a nearly $2 trillion social policy and climate change bill, Democrats have little incentive to vote in the midterms, the New York Times reported.

It’s not just the lack of action on party priorities — a large percentage of frustration is with the Democratic Party itself, the news outlet reported.

“It’s frustrating to see the Democrats spend all of this time fighting against themselves and to give a perception to the country, which the Republicans are seizing on, that the Democrats can’t govern,” Bishop Reginald Jackson, who leads the AME churches across Georgia, told the Times.

“And some of us are tired of them getting pushed around, because when they get pushed around, African Americans get shoved.”

Adding to the angst is the fact Democrats have slim congressional majorities, and can’t pass anything unless the entire caucus agrees.

Biden needs to signal he’s at least fighting for immigration and voting rights, Faiz Shakir, a close adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told the Times.

“I’m a supporter of Biden, a supporter of the agenda, and I’m frustrated and upset with him to allow this to go in the direction it has,” Shakir, who managed Sanders’ presidential run in 2020, told the Times.

“It looks like we have President Manchin instead of President Biden in this debate,” he said referring to centrist Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

“It’s made the president look weak,” Shakir told the news outlet.

White House advisers argue that winning swing voters, particularly the suburban independents in battleground districts, will keep Democrats in power — or at least curb the scale of their midterm losses, the Times reported.

But according to a survey conducted by Global Strategy Group, a Democratic polling firm, only about one-third of white battleground voters think that either infrastructure or the broader spending bill will help them personally, the Times reported, adding, among white Democratic battleground voters, support for the bills is only 72%.

Tomás Robles, co-chair of Lucha, a Latino civil rights group based in Phoenix, Ariz., widely credited with helping Democrats win the state in 2020, said people were “disillusioned and unmotivated” by what they had seen in the first 10 months of Democratic governance.

“When you’re not passing bold progressive policies, you have to be able to show something,” Robles told the times. “President Biden gets the most blame because he’s the most visible, but it’s the party as a whole that has failed its voters.”

Original Article

Gottlieb: ‘Good Degree’ Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron

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Gottlieb: 'Good Degree' Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Gottlieb: 'Good Degree' Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Dr. Scott Gottlieb (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 12:36 PM

Vaccine developers have “a pretty good degree in confidence” that fully vaccinated people who’ve gotten a COVID-19 booster are protected against the omicron variant, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb said three questions have to be answered about the new variant. Is it more virulent? Does it escape immunity? Does it spread faster?

“Is this making people more ill? There's no indication that it is,” he said of the first question.

“It has a lot of mutations that we know correlate with escape from immunity that's conferred by prior infection or by the vaccines,” he said of the second unknown — and added “there’s an assumption right now” the omicron variant also has increased “transmissibility.”

“But even if its ability to escape the immunity that we've acquired from prior infection of vaccines does make it more transmissible in certain circumstances, the question here is going to be whether or not a fully boosted individual is someone who's had three doses of vaccine has good protection against this variant,” Gottlieb noted.

“And right now, if you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a boosted vaccine — so three full doses of vaccine — is going to be fairly protective against this new variant,” he said.

Gottlieb added researchers also want to know if someone who has immunity from prior infection from the delta variant is protected.

“If someone who's been infected with delta is well protected from this and someone who is fully boosted is also well protected from this, that could be a pretty good backstop from this becoming really epidemic in the United States,” he said.

Gottlieb also predicted studies that will be available in the next week or two will shed more light on the question of immunity provided by booster shots.

“We're going to have studies out maybe by the end of this week, but certainly into next week, where what scientists are going to do is take the plasma from people who either had two doses of vaccine or had three doses of vaccine or were never vaccinated and just recovered from a delta infection,” he said.

“I would expect that those studies are going to show that the neutralization against this virus declined substantially. But that doesn't mean that the vaccines won't be effective," he said.

“Remember, with the old South African variant, which also escaped the vaccines, we saw neutralization decline by two thirds in those studies,” he continued.

“But when the vaccines actually were put into the population, the mRNA vaccines were almost equally effective against B.1.351 as they were against the Wuhan variant. So, you could see a decline in neutralization of vaccines will still be effective.”

Original Article

Gottlieb: ‘Good Degree’ Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron

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Gottlieb: 'Good Degree' Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Gottlieb: 'Good Degree' Of Confidence in Vaccine Protection Against Omicron Dr. Scott Gottlieb (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 12:36 PM

Vaccine developers have “a pretty good degree in confidence” that fully vaccinated people who’ve gotten a COVID-19 booster are protected against the omicron variant, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday.

In an interview on CBS News’ “Face The Nation,” Gottlieb said three questions have to be answered about the new variant. Is it more virulent? Does it escape immunity? Does it spread faster?

“Is this making people more ill? There's no indication that it is,” he said of the first question.

“It has a lot of mutations that we know correlate with escape from immunity that's conferred by prior infection or by the vaccines,” he said of the second unknown — and added “there’s an assumption right now” the omicron variant also has increased “transmissibility.”

“But even if its ability to escape the immunity that we've acquired from prior infection of vaccines does make it more transmissible in certain circumstances, the question here is going to be whether or not a fully boosted individual is someone who's had three doses of vaccine has good protection against this variant,” Gottlieb noted.

“And right now, if you talk to people in vaccine circles, people who are working on a vaccine, they have a pretty good degree of confidence that a boosted vaccine — so three full doses of vaccine — is going to be fairly protective against this new variant,” he said.

Gottlieb added researchers also want to know if someone who has immunity from prior infection from the delta variant is protected.

“If someone who's been infected with delta is well protected from this and someone who is fully boosted is also well protected from this, that could be a pretty good backstop from this becoming really epidemic in the United States,” he said.

Gottlieb also predicted studies that will be available in the next week or two will shed more light on the question of immunity provided by booster shots.

“We're going to have studies out maybe by the end of this week, but certainly into next week, where what scientists are going to do is take the plasma from people who either had two doses of vaccine or had three doses of vaccine or were never vaccinated and just recovered from a delta infection,” he said.

“I would expect that those studies are going to show that the neutralization against this virus declined substantially. But that doesn't mean that the vaccines won't be effective," he said.

“Remember, with the old South African variant, which also escaped the vaccines, we saw neutralization decline by two thirds in those studies,” he continued.

“But when the vaccines actually were put into the population, the mRNA vaccines were almost equally effective against B.1.351 as they were against the Wuhan variant. So, you could see a decline in neutralization of vaccines will still be effective.”

Amazon Consumer Chief: Shopper Optimism Growing; Labor Still a ‘Challenge’

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Amazon Consumer Chief: Shopper Optimism Growing; Labor Still a 'Challenge' (CBS/"Face the Nation")

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 12:26 PM

Consumers are ready to have a "very thoughtful holiday season" and head back out into the world, and their optimism was reflected over the holiday weekend, Dave Clark, the CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, said Sunday.

Still, finding workers remains a "challenge," even though Amazon brought on tens of thousands of workers last week, Clark said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We're right in the middle of what we call 'Turkey Five,' which is between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, and we're off to a great start," Clark said. "We had a record-breaking Black Friday, and it's really interesting to see how customers are spending in this first post-vaccine holiday as we start to come back together."

And the shopping trends are reflecting as much, said Clark.

"Consumers are spending on things like apparel," said Clark. "We're seeing a lot of uptick in denim and dresses. We're seeing a lot of things like home decor, particularly in our holiday decor, which is showing I think families and friends are preparing to come back together, as they just did at Thanksgiving, and plan to do in the Christmas holidays. We continue to see spend on things like toys. A lot of kids are going to have a good visit from Santa this holiday season, I suspect."

The one downturn, though, is in electronics, and that is also reflective of the pandemic, said Clark.

"People have spent so much during COVID, supporting their home offices and various electronics, but we're off to a very good start," he continued. "I don't see inflation particularly impacting consumers this holiday season so far, and we're very optimistic about what's to come."

Meanwhile, the White House has blamed the delta coronavirus variant for adding to shipping delays, and Clark said it's still too early to understand what will happen with the newest variant, omicron.

"I am incredibly optimistic around what the scientists and these companies that have supported us with these miraculous vaccines are going to do," said Clark. "I think consumers are going to wait and see in terms of what happens with that but are going to move on with their lives into this holiday season."

Amazon does not require its employees to be vaccinated, but Clark said the company has spent "hundreds of millions of dollars" to invest in laboratory equipment to test employees and has offered numerous on-site vaccine clinics.

"We do think vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and we continue to work with our teams to incentivize them and help them understand why it's so important and get them vaccinated," said Clark.

Amazon is also facing the "challenge" to find good employees, even with average wages of $18 an hour, but the company did bring 45,000 employees on board last week, said Clark.

"I hear from small businesses every day about how challenging it is for them to fill their roles," he continued. "I think it's just because people are looking at their lives so differently through the course of the pandemic."

People are also reevaluating what kind of work they want now, because "so many things have changed for people during the course of the pandemic. It's hard to say it's one particular thing. We're proud of the offering we have for employees, and we're finding success with it, as I said, hiring over 40,000 people a week for the next few weeks. But it's a challenge."

Book: Hunter Biden Given Expensive Gem to Seal Deal With Chinese Energy Consortium

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Book: Hunter Biden Given Expensive Gem to Seal Deal With Chinese Energy Consortium Book: Hunter Biden Given Expensive Gem to Seal Deal With Chinese Energy Consortium (AP)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 11:43 AM

A Chinese mogul reportedly gave Hunter Biden an expensive gem and offered $30 million in a bid to seal a deal with a Chinese-government-linked energy consortium to expand its business around the world, according to a new book.

New York Post columnist Miranda Devine’s book, “Laptop from Hell,” highlights emails that reportedly document the deal found on Hunter Biden’s laptop, left in a Delaware repair shop in April 2019.

An excerpt from the new book was reprinted in the New York Post on Sunday.

In the excerpt, Devine writes the deal started when James Gilliar, a British ex-SAS officer, and Ye Jianming, the chairman of CEFC China Energy Co. — one of the world’s largest — worked together in the Czech Republic.

Ye aimed to ensure the Czech Republic would become China’s “Gateway to the European Union,” a priority of China’s President Xi Jinping, and needed an influential partner to help with acquisitions in other locations around the world that had strategic significance for the Chinese state.

Gilliar thought that partner would be the Biden family, Devine wrote — and connected with Hunter Biden. In the winter of 2015, Ye and CEFC executive director Jianjun Zang flew to Washington for a meeting scheduled in Hunter Biden’s diary for Dec. 7, 2015.

But Hunter and his uncle Jim Biden wanted more control of the CEFC partnership and a regular income stream, she wrote. Tony Bobulinski, a naval officer turned wealthy institutional investor came highly recommended by Gilliar to build what they planned would be a world-class investment firm, called SinoHawk.

Three weeks after Joe Biden left office as Vice President in 2017, Hunter flew to Miami with Gilliar and Walker to meet Ye, she wrote.

But Hunter flew home the day before the lunch, having already met Ye during a private dinner at which the CEFC chairman made him an offer: “$10 million a year, for a minimum of three years, for ‘introductions alone,’” she wrote.

Ye sealed the new alliance with a gift — a 3.16 carat diamond worth $80,000 — photographs of the stunning stone appear on Hunter’s laptop, she wrote.

Original Article

Mississippi Gov. Reeves: Roe v. Wade ‘Wrongly Decided’ Abortion Rights

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Mississippi Gov. Reeves: Roe v. Wade 'Wrongly Decided' Abortion Rights (NBC/"Meet the Press")

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 11:30 AM

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, just days before the Supreme Court is to hear oral arguments on his state's law banning all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, said Sunday he believes the Roe v. Wade case was "wrongly decided" and that there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits individual states from limiting access to abortions.

"I think this law can be enacted within a changing confinement of Roe V. Wade, but I also believe Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided," Reeves, a Republican, said on NBC News's "Meet the Press," adding that in a similar reading of the Constitution when Roe was decided in 1973, there was "no fundamental right" there to an abortion.

Reeves further said he believes the 1992 case of Casey v. Planned Parenthood, where the Supreme Court affirmed the Roe decision that states are prohibited from banning most abortions, was "wrongly decided."

"If you look at the Casey ruling, what you find in my opinion is a ruling that was not based upon fundamentals of the Constitution, but a ruling that was determined based upon what the perceived political perception was at that time," said Reeves. "I don't think the judicial branch of government should ever allow politics to play into their decision-making, and I think they did in Casey."

Abortion laws around the country are not uniform, and in some more liberal states are "much more similar to the abortion laws in China and North Korea than they are to Europe or many other countries around the world," Reeves added.

The governor also rejected a question from show anchor Chuck Todd as to whether his statements against COVID-19 vaccine mandates, which he opposes because Mississippi believes in "freedom and individual liberty, conflict with his stance on abortion.

"The far left loves to scream my body, my choice," he said. "What I would submit to you, choice, is they absolutely ignore the fact that in getting an abortion there is an actual killing of an innocent unborn child that is in that womb … the difference between vaccine mandates and abortions is vaccines allow you to protect yourself. Abortions go in and kill other American babies."

Meanwhile, Reeves let Mississippi's state of emergency concerning the pandemic expire last Saturday, and he told Todd the state's average infections are down "90% from where we were in mid to late summer."

Further, the state's vaccination numbers are continuing to rise, but still, not enough people have gotten their shots and mandates are not the answer, said Reeves.

"The president's decision to try to mandate vaccines, is a decision, by the way, that flies in the face of what he said throughout the campaign," said Reeves. "That's one of the reasons his poll numbers are so low. He ran for office saying one thing and he's decided to govern in a different way. Those mandates are hardening those individuals not interested in getting vaccinated."

Reeves, though, insisted he believes in the vaccines.

"I took my shots on Facebook Live," he said. "I don't like shots very much. That was my way in which to tell the people of Mississippi I think this is the best way for you to protect yourselves. I also believe in individual liberties and freedoms and people can make decisions on what's best for them after they talk to their physicians."

Original Article

Chris Christie Aims to Shape Future for GOP and for Himself

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Chris Christie Aims to Shape Future for GOP and for Himself Chris Christie Aims to Shape Future for GOP and for Himself

JILL COLVIN Sunday, 28 November 2021 11:18 AM

Chris Christie is everywhere.

The former New Jersey governor and onetime Republican presidential candidate denounced “conspiracy theorists” during a September appearance at the Ronald Reagan Library in California. He followed up with a speech this month to influential Republicans in Las Vegas, warning that the party will only succeed if it offers a "plan for tomorrow, not a grievance about yesterday.”

In between, he's been interviewed by everyone from Laura Ingraham on Fox News to David Axelrod, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, on CNN.

On its face, Christie's publicity campaign is in service of “Republican Rescue,” his new book that offers a simple prescription for his party: stop talking nonsense about 2020 and focus on the future — or keep losing elections. But the frenzied pace of his appearances and the increasingly obvious jabs at Donald Trump suggest Christie is plotting a political comeback with the 2024 campaign in mind.

In a recent interview, Christie said he hadn’t made a decision yet about his political future and wouldn’t until after next year's elections. But he was blunt in saying he would run if he believes he can be elected.

“If I see a pathway to winning, I’ll run,” he said. “And I feel like I have the skills and the talent and the ability to be able to make a difference in our party and in the country. And I’m certainly, at 59 years old, not ready to retire. But I’m not going to do it if I don’t see a pathway to winning. So that’s why I’m not making any decision now.”

One of the biggest questions that hangs over the 2024 campaign is whether Trump will run again. If the former president does, polls suggest he would easily clinch the nomination. But until that's decided, Christie is testing the openness of GOP voters to someone who largely supports Trump's record but dismisses Trump's lies that the last election was stolen.

It's an approach that pits him against other Republicans who may run in 2024, including Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who have taken high-profile stands against Trump.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Mike Pompeo, Trump's former secretary of state, have pitched themselves as fierce Trump loyalists. Former Vice President Mike Pence has tried to find something of a middle ground, highlighting his work alongside Trump but noting the two hold different views about the circumstances surrounding the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

As candidates largely break into pro- and anti-Trump camps, "there is a thing to being in a unique lane that does in fact endorse some of President Trump's policies but at the same time doesn’t hesitate to criticize where Christie would disagree with him," said longtime GOP pollster Adam Geller. He worked on Christie's two winning New Jersey gubernatorial campaigns as well as Christie's 2016 presidential bid, followed by Trump's.

Others aren't so sure, arguing that Christie aligned himself with Trump until it was no longer politically convenient.

“It’s clearly disingenuous,” said Tim Miller, a former spokesperson for the Republican National Committee and a vocal Trump critic. “Chris Christie enabled Donald Trump maybe more than anyone in the establishment of the Republican Party. And now he wants to get the kudos of saying something that is reality but without any of the reflection about what he did to get us here."

Christie and Trump have had a complicated relationship during the nearly 20 years that they've been “friends."

As a U.S. attorney, Christie successfully prosecuted the father of Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Trump and Christie were fierce competitors for the GOP nomination in 2016. After Christie dropped out of the race, he became the first major elected official to endorse Trump, a move that lent legitimacy to the eventual president's campaign.

“The line of supporting Donald Trump starts behind me,” Christie recently told Ingraham.

Christie stood in for Democrat Hillary Clinton during Trump's 2016 debate prep and was rewarded for his loyalty by being tasked with chairing the presidential transition. But after the election, Christie was fired from that role in a move seen as retribution for the elder Kushner's prosecution. Still, Christie ultimately found his way back into Trump's inner circle, heading the administration's commission on opioid misuse, serving as an informal adviser and again helping with debate preparation last year.

But Christie describes Trump's reaction to the 2020 election won by Democrat Joe Biden as a breaking point. In appearances and interviews, Christie says he was “incredibly disappointed and disillusioned” by Trump’s refusal to concede the election, which culminated in his followers’ violent storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an effort to halt the certification of Biden's win.

Christie now argues that the party must disavow Trump’s lies and move past his grievances if it wants to succeed. Voters, he argues, “want sanity and they want common sense."

“As Republicans, we need to free ourselves from the quicksand of endless grievances. We need to turn our attention to the future and quit wallowing in the past. We need to face the realities of the 2020 election and learn — not hide — from them,” he writes in the book, calling on the party to rid itself of conspiracies and focus on providing voters with a positive alternative to Democratic policies.

Trump has started hitting back. In a statement this month, the former president said Christie was “just absolutely massacred by his statements that Republicans have to move on from the past.”

Christie dismissed the blowback. “Anybody can say whatever they want. These are my opinions. This is what I believe,” he says, and he is already pondering how a 2024 campaign might look different from 2016. His previous bid was heavy on town hall-style events targeted to voters in New Hampshire, home to the nation's first presidential primary. Christie finished sixth there.

A second campaign, he said in the interview, would be different.

“You won’t just see me wandering around up there. One of the things that I learned was, when I ran the first time, is motion isn’t progress,” he said. “I’m going to be very deliberate about what I do, both in the runup to a decision and then certainly if I do decide to run, in how I conduct a campaign and try to make all the time I expend really count.”

For now, Christie appears to be reveling in the attention of being back in the political game after a hiatus that included a bout with COVID-19 that landed him in the intensive care unit. He's working on a second book focused on “bringing the country together," co-chairing a national Republican group focused on redistricting strategy and serving as a top fundraiser for the Republican Governors Association, a group he once led, giving him access to some of the party's most consequential donors.

GOP strategist Mike DuHaime, a longtime Christie adviser who worked on Christie's 2016 campaign, said it was too soon to be talking about a race so far off.

“You can only plot so much,” he said. "And there are so many other factors outside of our control that you just kind of have to say what you think and do what you think is right."

Original Article

Sen. Cassidy: Won’t Vote for ‘Bad, Bad’ Build Back Better Bill

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Sen. Cassidy: Won't Vote for 'Bad, Bad' Build Back Better Bill Sen. Cassidy: Won't Vote for 'Bad, Bad' Build Back Better Bill Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. (Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 10:37 AM

Sen. Bill Cassidy, who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, said Sunday he won't vote for the $1.75 trillion "Build Back Better" legislation as it's a "bad, bad bill" that will fuel inflation and comes at too much cost.

"As it's going to be implemented, there are things that don't sunset, and it's going to cost $4.65 trillion on top of what the federal government is going to pay," the Louisiana Republican said on ABC News's "This Week," quoting an analysis from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.

"One-third of the expenditures are tax cuts for billionaires," he added. "There's corporate welfare. It's going to raise the price of gasoline by about 20 cents a gallon. It has federal dictates as to how your child's preschool is handled, the curriculum…it's a bad, bad, bad bill."

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., who was also on the program, said she is sure the vote will be held by Christmas. Members of the House passed the $1.7 trillion act along party lines on Nov. 19. It includes billions in spending for climate initiatives, universal pre-K, affordable housing, and Medicare expansion.

The measure may have difficulty passing in the Senate, as Democrat Sens. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are pushing back against the bill's price tag.

Cassidy also spoke out against the tax cuts "to billionaires" that the Build Back Better bill allows, and the increase to the debt limit that Democrats want.

"[With] the corporate welfare in this bill, if you earn $500,000 a year and buy an $80,000 electric vehicle, you can get a $12,000 credit," said Cassidy. "A middle-class person who can't afford a used car is paying for a tax credit for someone who makes $500,000 a year. Republicans wouldn't agree to that. Now we're asked to increase the debt limit to pay for it."

Meanwhile, Cassidy, who is also a physician, said Sunday he agrees with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other health experts who are calling for COVID-19 vaccination efforts to continue, considering the threat of the new omicron variant.

"Get vaccinated," he said. "Get your booster shot. Folks ask me about vaccinating children. Yes, they are less likely to have significant illness, but they bring it home to grandma, grandpa, and the parents. As a physician, I would say follow the recommendations."

There is still a lot of vaccine resistance in Cassidy's state, but it's now among the states with the lower incidents of infection.

"One beef that I've had it's clear that previous infection gives immunity," said Cassidy. "Dr. Fauci said that in a committee hearing. There's been no analysis as to the longevity of that or anything else that folks want to know. I've been previously infected. Am I immune? The CDC is not interested in looking at that. I think the American people know they're getting gamed a little bit. The CDC should do that work too."

Original Article

Black Friday Shopping Drops as Spending Spreads Throughout Season

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Black Friday Shopping Drops as Spending Spreads Throughout Season Black Friday Shopping Drops as Spending Spreads Throughout Season People shop in The Galleria mall during Black Friday on Nov. 26, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

By Fran Beyer | Sunday, 28 November 2021 10:26 AM

Shoppers beat Black Friday this year.

Traffic at retail stores sank 28.3% compared with 2019 levels on the day-after-Thanksgiving kickoff to Christmas shopping, CNBC reported, citing preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions.

The drop reflected the trend of Americans shifting more of their spending online — and starting their Christmas shopping earlier in the year, the news outlet reported.

“It’s clear shoppers are shopping earlier this season, just as they did last season,” Brian Field, senior director of global retail consulting at Sensormatic, told CNBC, pointing to COVID-19 concerns and supply chain worries.

The data also showed traffic was up 47.5% compared with 2020 levels, when many shoppers stayed at home amid fears about COVID-19 and retailers operating on reduced hours, CNBS reported.

The peak time for Black Friday shopping in stores was 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., similar to trends in past years, the data found — and Black Friday is still predicted to be the busiest in-store shopping day of the season, the news outlet reported.

On Thanksgiving day, visits to brick-and-mortar stores cratered 90.4% from 2019 levels, Sensormatic found. Retailers including Target, Walmart and Best Buy chose to close on the holiday. Target has said it will be a permanent shift.

Field told the news outlet that traffic on Black Friday was closest to returning to 2019 levels in the South, followed by the Midwest and then the West and Northeast. He doesn’t believe fears over the omicron variant had any impact on consumers’ behavior that day.

“If you start seeing outbreaks in the U.S., the thing that I think would drive [traffic down] would be if governments and communities start locking down again,” Field told CNBC. “Otherwise, I think the trends will be very similar to what we expect them to be.”

CNBC reported that according to data from Adobe Analytics, retailers rang up $8.9 billion in sales on Black Friday, down from a record of about $9 billion the year earlier — the first time ever that growth reversed from the prior year.

On Thanksgiving day, consumers spent $5.1 billion on the internet, flat from year-ago levels, Adobe found, the news outlet reported

Retailers have been spreading out their promotional offers, as well.

A survey by the National Retail Federation found 61% of consumers had already started purchasing holiday gifts before Thanksgiving.

Trial Set to Start on Charges Smollett Faked Racist Attack

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Trial Set to Start on Charges Smollett Faked Racist Attack Trial Set to Start on Charges Smollett Faked Racist Attack In this Feb. 24, 2020 file photo, former "Empire" actor Jussie Smollett leaves the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago. A judge on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021, denied a last-ditch effort to dismiss a criminal case against actor Jussie Smollett, who is accused of lying to police when he reported that two masked men attacked him in downtown Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton, File)

DON BABWIN Sunday, 28 November 2021 10:07 AM

A popular actor steps out onto the street and is brutally reminded that, despite his fame and wealth, places still exist where the color of his skin and sexual orientation put him in danger.

That was the story that ricocheted around the world after Jussie Smollett, a Black and openly gay actor, reported to Chicago police that he was the victim of a hate crime.

Nearly three years later, Smollett is about to stand trial on charges that he staged the whole thing.

He was charged with felony disorderly conduct after law enforcement and prosecutors said he lied to police about what happened in the early morning hours of Jan. 29, 2019, in downtown Chicago. He has pleaded not guilty. Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday. Disorderly conduct, a class 4 felony, carries a sentence of up to three years in prison but experts have said it is more likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service.

Smollett told police he was walking home from a Subway sandwich shop at 2 a.m. when two men he said recognized him from the TV show “Empire” began hurling racial and homophobic slurs at him. He said the men struck him, looped a makeshift noose around his neck and shouted, “This is MAGA country,” a reference to then-President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Reaction to his reported assault underscored the increasingly polarized political landscape; Democratic politicians and others called it a shocking example of Trump-era bigotry and hate, while Republicans accused liberals of rushing to paint the president's supporters as racists.

Just weeks later came the stunning announcement that Smollett was charged with staging the attack to further his career and secure a higher salary. And, police said, he hired two brothers from Nigeria, to pretend to attack him for $3,500.

This made the spotlight on Smollett shine even brighter, but this time he was vilified as someone willing to use one of the most potent symbol of racism in the U.S. to further his career.

“The most vile and despicable part of it, if it’s true, is the noose,” Judge John Fitzgerald Lyke Jr., who is Black, said during Smollett's first court appearance. “That symbol conjures up such evil in this country’s history.”

Smollett also became a national punch line. He was the subject of a “Saturday Night Live” skit and a host of Black celebrities, from NBA analyst Charles Barkley to comedian Dave Chappelle, took turns poking fun at him.

Then came the anger that Smollett's fame accorded him influence that is out of reach for most. Reports indicated Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, at the request of former first lady Michelle Obama's onetime chief of staff, communicated with a member of Smollett's family early in the investigation. Foxx recused herself from the case then her office suddenly dropped the charges, and Foxx found herself at the center of a media firestorm as she refuted the suggestion that her office gave the television star a break.

All that set the stage for what turned a simple question of Smollett's innocence or guilt into a convoluted legal saga that has dragged on for nearly three years.

Trial was delayed in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought cases around the country to a halt for months. But also, charges were filed, dropped and filed again by a special prosecutor who was brought in to take over the case.

Smollett — whose career has since faded — will this week return to the glare of the media spotlight, but this time as he passes the forest of news cameras as he makes his way to and from court.

The producers of “Empire,” on which he starred for four years, renewed his contract for the sixth and final season in 2019, but he never appeared in an episode. Nor has he released any music or given significant musical performances.

He has, however, directed an independent film, funded by his own production company, that is premiering at the American Black Film Festival this month. The movie, “B-Boy Blues” is an adaptation of a 1994 novel, the first in a series, about the lives of gay Black men in New York.

But once in court, what will unfold will be what may sound like a bad movie for the simple reason that a short movie is exactly what authorities have long maintained Smollett was trying to create.

Key witnesses will be the brothers, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, who say Smollett wrote them a check to stage the attack. They are expected to characterize Smollett as the star and director of an “attack" in full view of a surveillance camera that he mistakenly believed would record the whole event.

And, according to their lawyer, the brothers will also describe how Smollett drove them to the spot where the incident was to play out for a “dress rehearsal.”

“He was telling them ‘Here’s a camera, there’s a camera and here’s where you are going to run away,’” said their lawyer, Gloria Rodriguez.

NIH Director Collins: Omicron ‘Not Good News’ But ‘No Reason to Panic’

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NIH Director Collins: Omicron 'Not Good News' But 'No Reason to Panic' NIH Director Collins: Omicron 'Not Good News' But 'No Reason to Panic' National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins holds up a model of the coronavirus while testifying before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on May 26, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 09:44 AM

There is "no reason to panic" over the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, but it's still a "great reason" for people to have their vaccines and their booster shots, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday.

Still, Collins told CNN's "State of the Union" that it will take at least two or three more weeks to determine if the antibodies that have been generated by the current vaccines that everyone "have all had or should have had" will offer protection against the mutation coming from South Africa that has put the world on alert.

There are good reasons to believe that the current vaccines will also offer protection against the omicron variant, which creates spike proteins of a different shape, but it will take two or three more weeks to be certain, he added.

The vaccines that were generated against the original coronavirus have worked well with other variants, including the delta version responsible for the current surge of disease in the United States, and the booster shots "work particularly well," said Collins.

"The booster enlarges the capacity of your immune system to recognize all kinds of different spike proteins it's never seen," said Collins. "This is a great day to get boosted or find out how to do so at vaccines.gov."

Meanwhile, "it's certainly not good news" that there is yet another variant, said the doctor.

"We don't know yet how much of an impact this will have," he said. "It ought to redouble our efforts to use the tools that we have, which are vaccinations and boosters, and to be sure we're getting those to the rest of the world, too, which the U.S. is doing more than any other country."

The emergence of the new virus also means people must continue to pay attention to mitigation strategies, particularly social distancing and wearing masks when around people who may not be vaccinated, said Collins.

"I know, America, you're really tired of hearing about those things but the virus is not tired of us, and it's shape-shifting itself," he said.

There is also no data to suggest that omicron will cause more serious illness than previous strains of the virus, and there is a report from South Africa that people infected with the omicron variant have a milder illness, said Collins.

However, he stressed that "we think it's more contagious," as shown in its rapid spread through multiple districts in South Africa.

One of the major concerns with the delta variation was its increased ability to spread, but Collins said he doesn't know if omicron will compete with delta.

"We've had occasions we thought a variant was going to take over in the United States," said Collins. "Remember beta; it never took off because delta was so incredibly effective at spreading that it couldn't compete. We don't know what omicron looks like if it gets to our country. I hope it doesn't but it's fairly likely we'll see cases. Will it be able to compete or fizzle?"

There is currently no evidence that the variant is in the United States, he added.

"The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is looking at tens of thousands of isolates every week," said Collins. "We'll find out if it's here."

Original Article

NIH Director Collins: Omicron ‘Not Good News’ But ‘No Reason to Panic’

getfile.aspxguidC5FF511D 630C 4A92 B7ED 1ACEA27C5E02 1

NIH Director Collins: Omicron 'Not Good News' But 'No Reason to Panic' NIH Director Collins: Omicron 'Not Good News' But 'No Reason to Panic' National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins holds up a model of the coronavirus while testifying before a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on May 26, 2021. (Sarah Silbiger-Pool/Getty Images)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Sunday, 28 November 2021 09:44 AM

There is "no reason to panic" over the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, but it's still a "great reason" for people to have their vaccines and their booster shots, Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, said Sunday.

Still, Collins told CNN's "State of the Union" that it will take at least two or three more weeks to determine if the antibodies that have been generated by the current vaccines that everyone "have all had or should have had" will offer protection against the mutation coming from South Africa that has put the world on alert.

There are good reasons to believe that the current vaccines will also offer protection against the omicron variant, which creates spike proteins of a different shape, but it will take two or three more weeks to be certain, he added.

The vaccines that were generated against the original coronavirus have worked well with other variants, including the delta version responsible for the current surge of disease in the United States, and the booster shots "work particularly well," said Collins.

"The booster enlarges the capacity of your immune system to recognize all kinds of different spike proteins it's never seen," said Collins. "This is a great day to get boosted or find out how to do so at vaccines.gov."

Meanwhile, "it's certainly not good news" that there is yet another variant, said the doctor.

"We don't know yet how much of an impact this will have," he said. "It ought to redouble our efforts to use the tools that we have, which are vaccinations and boosters, and to be sure we're getting those to the rest of the world, too, which the U.S. is doing more than any other country."

The emergence of the new virus also means people must continue to pay attention to mitigation strategies, particularly social distancing and wearing masks when around people who may not be vaccinated, said Collins.

"I know, America, you're really tired of hearing about those things but the virus is not tired of us, and it's shape-shifting itself," he said.

There is also no data to suggest that omicron will cause more serious illness than previous strains of the virus, and there is a report from South Africa that people infected with the omicron variant have a milder illness, said Collins.

However, he stressed that "we think it's more contagious," as shown in its rapid spread through multiple districts in South Africa.

One of the major concerns with the delta variation was its increased ability to spread, but Collins said he doesn't know if omicron will compete with delta.

"We've had occasions we thought a variant was going to take over in the United States," said Collins. "Remember beta; it never took off because delta was so incredibly effective at spreading that it couldn't compete. We don't know what omicron looks like if it gets to our country. I hope it doesn't but it's fairly likely we'll see cases. Will it be able to compete or fizzle?"

There is currently no evidence that the variant is in the United States, he added.

"The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is looking at tens of thousands of isolates every week," said Collins. "We'll find out if it's here."

Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron

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Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron

Sunday, 28 November 2021 09:43 AM

Americans should be prepared to fight the spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, but it is too soon to say what actions are needed, including possible mandates or lockdowns, top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

The United States must do "anything and everything" amid likely cases of the variant, but it is "too early to say" whether we need new lockdowns or mandates, Fauci told ABC News.

"You want to be prepared to do anything and everything," he added.

The new Omicron coronavirus variant, first discovered in South Africa and announced in recent days, has now been detected in a growing number of other countries.

Fauci, in an NBC News interview on Saturday, said it was possible that it was already in the United States, although no official case has been confirmed.

U.S. health officials will be speaking again with their South African colleagues about the variant later on Sunday, he told ABC News' "This Week" program in a separate interview.

Original Article

Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron

getfile.aspxguid2A090993 E02F 4028 8A8F BA193B6CDEE4 1

Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron Fauci: Too Soon for Lockdowns Until More Learned About Omicron

Sunday, 28 November 2021 09:43 AM

Americans should be prepared to fight the spread of the new COVID-19 variant Omicron, but it is too soon to say what actions are needed, including possible mandates or lockdowns, top U.S. infectious disease official Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Sunday.

The United States must do "anything and everything" amid likely cases of the variant, but it is "too early to say" whether we need new lockdowns or mandates, Fauci told ABC News.

"You want to be prepared to do anything and everything," he added.

The new Omicron coronavirus variant, first discovered in South Africa and announced in recent days, has now been detected in a growing number of other countries.

Fauci, in an NBC News interview on Saturday, said it was possible that it was already in the United States, although no official case has been confirmed.

U.S. health officials will be speaking again with their South African colleagues about the variant later on Sunday, he told ABC News' "This Week" program in a separate interview.