Iran rejects U.S. talks, pushes Biden to lift sanctions

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 6:57 AM PT – Monday, April 5, 2021

As U.S. officials head to Vienna to engage in talks with Iran, it appears one topic is already off limits.

In a statement Sunday, Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi said there will be no direct or indirect talks with the U.S. on the country’s nuclear program throughout the week. The Iranian diplomat reiterated Joe Biden has to lift all sanctions on Iran and pay compensation before any talks could begin.

“We are negotiating with the Joint Commission, meaning the 4+1 countries, we will relay to them our demand and condition for returning to the nuclear deal,” Araghchi stated. “Our demand is that America must first resume complying with its entire commitments.”

Last Friday, both countries agreed to send delegates to Vienna to discuss possible solutions to mutual tensions with U.S. officials saying they believed the focus of the discussion would be the JCPOA and Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

This combined photo released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, shows Iranian diplomats attending a virtual talk on nuclear deal with representatives of world powers, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 2, 2021. The chair of the group including the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and Iran said that the participants "emphasized their commitment to preserve the JCPOA and discussed modalities to ensure the return to its full and effective implementation," according to a statement after their virtual meeting, referring to the acronym for the accord — the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Abbas Araghchi, center, heads the Iranian diplomats. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

This combined photo released by the Iranian Foreign Ministry, shows Iranian diplomats attending a virtual talk on nuclear deal with representatives of world powers, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, April 2, 2021. (Iranian Foreign Ministry via AP)

“This is just the first step…its going to be a difficult path because of how much time has gone by and how much mutual distrust there is, but our goal is to discuss indirectly with our European and other partners who will discuss with Iran to see whether we could define those steps that both sides are gonna have to take,” explained Robert Malley, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran. “If were serious about coming back into compliance with the deal.”

However, Iran’s pull-back appears to demand a full U.S. capitulation and has reignited claims of the nation meddled in the 2020 election to get Democrats in office so that Trump-era sanctions, which have crippled their economy, could be lifted.

The talks are scheduled to begin Tuesday.

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Ukraine-NATO to hold joint drills amid ongoing war with Russia

Ukrainian servicemen walk along a snow covered trench guarding their position at the frontline near Vodiane, about 750 kilometers (468 miles) south-east of Kyiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2021. The country designated 14,000 doses of its first vaccine shipment for the military, especially those fighting Russia-backed separatists in the east. Ukrainians are becoming increasingly opposed to vaccination: an opinion poll this month by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology found 60% of the country's people don't want to get vaccinated, up from 40% a month earlier. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Ukrainian servicemen walk along a snow covered trench guarding their position at the frontline near Vodiane, about 750 kilometers (468 miles) south-east of Kyiv, eastern Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:24 AM PT – Monday, April 5, 2021

Ukraine is preparing to hold joint military drills with NATO forces amid a renewed threat of escalation in the ongoing conflict with Russia.

“On this path, we have everyone’s full and permanent support,” stated Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. “Support by Ukraine’s international partners, by Europe and United States in particular.”

The leader of Ukraine said the EU and the Biden administration have provided security reassurances in case of a major Russian offensive in the Donbas region. However, experts pointed out the U.S. and EU have already failed to honor their previous guarantees under the Budapest Memorandum back in 2014.

“As for the situation in eastern Ukraine, in Donbass, complete ceasefire is a prerequisite to continue tough, though very important talks in the Minsk and Normandy formats,” stated President Zelenskiy. “I underline, once again, that our army is able to resist anyone’s attack and it strengthens our stance in settling the conflict by diplomatic means.”

Russia is reportedly moving its forces toward the Ukrainian border because the Kremlin believes the weak Biden administration will not risk a major war over Ukraine.

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Supreme Court Passes on Workplace Religious Bias Cases

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Supreme Court Passes on Workplace Religious Bias Cases Supreme Court Passes on Workplace Religious Bias Cases (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Andrew Chung Monday, 05 April 2021 09:58 AM

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday sidestepped a chance to further expand religious rights, turning away two cases in which employees accused companies of violating federal anti-discrimination law by insufficiently accommodating requests for time off to meet religious obligations.

The justices declined to hear appeals by two men of different Christian denominations – a Jehovah's Witness from Tennessee and a Seventh-day Adventist from Florida – of lower court rulings that rejected their claims of illegal religious bias. Lower courts found that the accommodations the men sought would have placed too much hardship on the employers.

In a dissent, conservative Justices Neil Gorsuch and Samuel Alito said the court should have taken up the case from Tennessee.

At issue in the cases was the allowances companies must make for employees for religious reasons to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits employment discrimination based on religion as well as race, color, sex and national origin.

Twitter Again Suspends Rep. Taylor Greene’s Account ‘In Error’

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Twitter Again Suspends Rep. Taylor Greene's Account 'In Error' marjorie taylor greene speaks into mic outside the capitol Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) speaking at a press conference just outside the Capitol at the House Triangle. (Michael Brochstein/Sipa via AP Images)

By Charlie McCarthy | Monday, 05 April 2021 08:33 AM

Twitter on Sunday briefly suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene's account for the second time in little more than two weeks.

The social media platform said in a statement Taylor Greene's account was locked mistakenly, due to a technical glitch.

"[An automated system] took enforcement action on the account referenced in error. This action has been reversed, and access to the account has been reinstated," a Twitter spokesperson told Mediaite.

Taylor Greene, R-Ga., took to the Twitter alternative site Gab to suggest her latest ban might have been due to a tweet in which she wished her followers a Happy Easter.

Happy Easter, everyone! He is risen!

"After tweeting, 'He is risen! Happy Easter!' I was suspended this morning for 12 hours!" Greene wrote on Gab. "Was it my Christian faith?"

Taylor Greene also suggested the suspension might have been the result of her "willingness to Fire Fauci."

"Message to Big Tech," she wrote. "I’LL NEVER STOP!!!"

Twitter previously suspended Taylor Greene’s account in January for spreading misinformation about the election.

Then on March 19, Twitter mistakenly suspended Greene again "in error."

"We use a combination of technology and human review to enforce the Twitter Rules across the service," a Twitter representative said at the time. "In this case, our automated systems took enforcement action on the account referenced in error. This action has been reversed, and access to the account has been restored."

Taylor Greene compared her March suspension to a person being wrongly convicted on Newsmax TV’s "National Report."

"My account was suspended for 12 hours and served the full 12 hours," Greene said. "So that's like being convicted and serving prison time when you never did anything wrong and serving the full sentence."

Taylor Greene, serving her first House term, won Georgia’s 14th Congressional district unopposed. She was removed by Democrats from her committee for her public statements and supposed threats – including a Facebook page posing with an AR-15 rifle and a collage of the members of the liberal “Squad.”

Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., filed a resolution to expel Taylor Greene from the House.

"It would be very foolish for anyone in Congress to expel me when I have done absolutely nothing wrong," Greene said on "National Report."

"And if Democrats and Republicans join together to have me expelled for doing nothing wrong, for a few comments on social media, then this is a real precedent that the American people will not stand for, and my district would just reelect me and send me back, so their effort will fail."

Taylor Greene told "Greg Kelly Reports" she didn’t care politicians on both sides of the isle have shunted her.

"Here in the District of Communism, is what I call it, I get the cultural version of dirty looks all the time and I couldn’t care less because the people up here, in this military state, with our big border wall, with razor wire around the capitol complex, nobody here voted for me and put me in Congress, it’s the people back home that did that and that’s where the real America is," Taylor Greene said.

"You see, D.C. is like a big bubble. It’s a beltway. And they’re so disconnected from real people. They don’t understand that people don’t want be forced to walk around wearing these masks. A lot of these paper masks it’s like putting a napkin on your face and wrapping rubber bands around your ears."

Original Article

Sen. Barrasso: Border Officials Told Us to Delete Photos of Migrant Facilities

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Sen. Barrasso: Border Officials Told Us to Delete Photos of Migrant Facilities Sen. Barrasso: Border Officials Told Us to Delete Photos of Migrant Facilities Minors lie inside a pod at the Donna Department of Homeland Security holding facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley run by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Donna, Texas. (AP/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool)

By Brian Freeman | Sunday, 04 April 2021 10:48 PM

Sen. John Barrasso said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures” that he was told by border officials to delete photos of migrant facilities during a recent visit with other Republican lawmakers.

“We were told to delete the pictures,” the Wyoming senator said. “No one did. You’ve seen the video coming out of all of these kids crammed together under the foil blankets, huddling together.”

He added that that they are “crammed like sardines,” emphasizing that “This is what the Biden administration is trying to hide from the American public.”

Barrasso stressed that “This is both a humanitarian crisis and a national security crisis.”

He also emphasized that the fact that Customs and Border Protection is only testing children when they leave the facilities – rather than when they arrive – means the testing is not halting the spread of the virus.

"They do the instant test. And then those that have been tested positive are just kind of moved to one side of the courtyard, those negative to the other of this courtyard," Barrasso said. "They've all been exposed, and then they're sent all across the country. You know, that is the real tragedy of this. And we're not sure what variant of the of the coronavirus they're carrying. They are carrying it, though, all around America."

Barrasso added that "The irony here is that we're hearing a lot about Joe Biden wanting vaccine passports to prove that people have vaccines," "Meanwhile, the border crossers, they don't even require I.D. We don't know who they are, where they're coming from, what their background is."

Buttigieg: AOC infrastructure plan ‘bolder’ than Biden’s

ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - MARCH 30: U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg attends an event titled “Transforming Rail in Virginia” at the Amtrak-VRE station in March 30, 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. The Transforming Rail in Virginia program will cost about $3.7 billion and will double Amtrak service and double Virginia Railway Express (VRE) service along the I-95 corridor, as well as work toward the separation of freight and passenger lines. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 7:10 PM PT – Sunday, April 4, 2021

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg commented on New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) push to make the infrastructure bill bigger. On Sunday, Buttigieg said AOC’s proposal was bolder than the already proposed $2 trillion plan.

He said this was part of the bargaining process as Republicans have asked for a smaller bill and progressives have asked for something larger. Recently, AOC urged Joe Biden to push for a $10 trillion bill, which she claimed to be “realistic.” However, Buttigieg argued the bill has more than enough funding to develop America’s infrastructure.

“There are obviously a lot of people on the other side of the aisle saying, ‘This is too big, too bold,” Buttigieg stated. “And then, some of our friends on our side of the aisle are saying: It should be even bolder.’ Again, that’s a natural part of this conversation and this process, but let me stress, this is the biggest investment in American job creation proposed or, if achieved, since World War II. This is a huge deal.”

Republicans criticized the infrastructure bill for allocating only five percent of its budget for traditional infrastructure maintenance.

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Pentagon Approves Third Military Base to House Migrant Children

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Pentagon Approves Third Military Base to House Migrant Children Pentagon Approves Third Military Base to House Migrant Children A migrant from Guatemala holding a child arrives in the U.S., crossing the Rio Grande in a raft piloted by smugglers on March 30, 2021 in Roma, Texas. (Joe Raedle/Getty)

By Nick Koutsobinas | Sunday, 04 April 2021 05:50 PM

The Pentagon on Friday approved the use of a California Army National Guard base to house unaccompanied migrant children traveling alone, reports The Associated Press. The housing, located at Camp Roberts in central California, is said only to be temporary. It is not known how many children will be placed there.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Saturday it has not finalized its decision and that the camp is “under active consideration.”

“When HHS decides to activate an Emergency Influx Site for unaccompanied migrant children we will notify state and local authorities as well as members of Congress,” the department said in a statement.

But a defense official told Fox News HHS approved the decision.

"On April 2, the Department of Defense approved a request for assistance from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for facilities and land to temporarily house unaccompanied children at Camp Roberts, California."

"This support is being provided on a fully-reimbursable basis… DoD only provides this kind of support where it has no impact on military readiness and its ability to conduct its primary missions."

Border authorities have encountered more than 9,000 children since February, a record high since May 2019, which saw 11,000 unaccompanied children at the border. President Joe Biden during his first month in office suspended Title 42 for unaccompanied children only. The policy, which began last March under the Trump administration, allows Customs and Border Protection to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus in holding facilities.

According to Fox, Customs and Border Protection encountered approximately 171,000 migrants in March.

Former CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan and Heritage senior research fellow Lora Ries say the crisis is only getting worse.

"We have a crisis on the border, even though the Biden administration still refuses to acknowledge it… Today's numbers are just more evidence of this undeniable reality – and proof that President Biden's policies are driving this crisis."

Original Article

Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US

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Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US US President Joe Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty)

By Brian Freeman | Sunday, 04 April 2021 04:39 PM

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal is meant to collectivize the nation, political strategist Dick Morris said Sunday in a harsh criticism of the bill.

Speaking on “The Cats Roundtable” radio show hosted by John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM, Morris, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, said Biden’s infrastructure package is "designed to collectivize the United States, to regiment us, to unionize us, and to make us controllable and tractable as an economy.”

Stressing that “the metaphor that comes to mind is when Stalin insisted that all the farmers go to collective farms,” Morris cautioned that the main feature of the infrastructure legislation is that “you cannot get those funds unless you unionize. Davis-Bacon will control all of that spending. You have to have a union for your company to qualify. That’s going to force the entire construction industry and huge numbers of other industries into unionization.”

He also emphasized that Biden intends to make the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act part of the legislation bill, which he said would “be the greatest disaster we’ve ever had.”

Morris warned that the general public does not yet know about the PRO Act, but said that the end result would be that “nobody can work for themselves. Everybody has to be on a corporate payroll. If you are a consultant or a contractor or a freelancer, you have to close up shop and become an employee of your client or the people you contract with.”

He said that this means that some “30 to 40 million people who make their living that way are going to have to be now on payroll,” stressing that such a law is already in effect in California and has “totally deformed the economy” of that state.

Morris said that the overall goal of Biden’s strategy on this legislative package is “to organize our economy for more efficient government control. It sounds like in Germany where everybody basically works for a few large companies and there are only one or two large unions that represent everybody.”

Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US

getfile.aspxguid04C90CB6 F174 4E37 B090 5A82F4AD243E

Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US Dick Morris Slams Infrastructure Bill as Ploy to Collectivize US US President Joe Biden speaks about the March jobs report in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2021. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty)

By Brian Freeman | Sunday, 04 April 2021 04:39 PM

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal is meant to collectivize the nation, political strategist Dick Morris said Sunday in a harsh criticism of the bill.

Speaking on “The Cats Roundtable” radio show hosted by John Catsimatidis on WABC 770 AM, Morris, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, said Biden’s infrastructure package is "designed to collectivize the United States, to regiment us, to unionize us, and to make us controllable and tractable as an economy.”

Stressing that “the metaphor that comes to mind is when Stalin insisted that all the farmers go to collective farms,” Morris cautioned that the main feature of the infrastructure legislation is that “you cannot get those funds unless you unionize. Davis-Bacon will control all of that spending. You have to have a union for your company to qualify. That’s going to force the entire construction industry and huge numbers of other industries into unionization.”

He also emphasized that Biden intends to make the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act part of the legislation bill, which he said would “be the greatest disaster we’ve ever had.”

Morris warned that the general public does not yet know about the PRO Act, but said that the end result would be that “nobody can work for themselves. Everybody has to be on a corporate payroll. If you are a consultant or a contractor or a freelancer, you have to close up shop and become an employee of your client or the people you contract with.”

He said that this means that some “30 to 40 million people who make their living that way are going to have to be now on payroll,” stressing that such a law is already in effect in California and has “totally deformed the economy” of that state.

Morris said that the overall goal of Biden’s strategy on this legislative package is “to organize our economy for more efficient government control. It sounds like in Germany where everybody basically works for a few large companies and there are only one or two large unions that represent everybody.”

Original Article

Chad Wolf Faults Lack of Enforcement, Accountability Amid Migrant Surge

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Chad Wolf Faults Lack of Enforcement, Accountability Amid Migrant Surge chad wolf Chad Wolf , former acting secretary of homeland security in 2020 in Washington, DC. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Sunday, 04 April 2021 02:25 PM

Former acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf on Sunday lamented the lack of enforcement and accountability at the southern border as a massive surge of migrants continues.

In an interview on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Wolf blamed the new Biden administration for policies that have tied the hands of Customs and Border Protection officials.

“The [Biden] administration right now is not enforcing” restrictions and “there is no immigration consequence to illegal behavior,” he charged.

“They are simply treating this as a capacity issue,” he said. “So they are building more facilities, they are trying to process more individuals through and they are not holding individuals accountable for that illegal behavior.”

According to Wolf, the situation is “absolutely frustrating for Border Patrol agents today and I talked to several of them.”

“Those in the Rio Grande Valley [sector]… ground zero, where a lot of the surge is occurring, almost half of them are no longer on the border doing the national security mission,” he said.

“The are back at Border Patrol stations caring and feeding for these thousands of individuals in their facilities,” he continued. “That's not what they signed up for. That's not their training. Their training is to enforce the law, making sure that drugs and contraband and other illegal migrants are not coming into the country. Over half of them in RGV are not doing that today.”

Wolf said Border Patrol agents, when they hear official announcements from the Department of Homeland Security and White House “saying the border is closed, the border is secure, they know that's a lie.”

“I believe there's a loss of confidence in both departmental leadership as well as in the White House with your agents,” Wolf said.

Wolf charged “over 5-6,000” unaccompanied minors were allowed across the border because the administration is not enforcing a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health order.

“They are using this public health authority to turn around single adults and some families who have minors and they are turning minors back to Mexico but they will not return minors to Northern Triangle and put them in families which is what we did during the Trump administration,” he charged.

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Original Article

Gov. Reeves: Infrastructure Plan Is a ‘Political Statement’ Resembling Green New Deal

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Gov. Reeves: Infrastructure Plan Is a 'Political Statement' Resembling Green New Deal tate reeves stands in front of a campaign sign for himself and the trump pence campaing Mississipppi Gov. Tate Reeves (Brandon Dill/Getty Images)

Sunday, 04 April 2021 01:06 PM

Mississippi GOP Gov. Tate Reeves said Sunday the Biden administration’s infrastructure plan is a “political statement” that resembles the progressive Green New Deal more than a plan to rebuild the nation’s roads, bridges, trains and airports.

In an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Reeves said infrastructure repair need not be tied to a $2 trillion tax hike — and we shouldn’t spend more on electric vehicles.

“This plan spends $110 billion on roads and bridges and spends more than that on the combination of Amtrak and public transit,” he said. “What's even worse, it spends $100 billion on clean water, which Mississippi can certainly use.

“It spends more on subsidizing electric vehicles — $155 billion to subsidize electric vehicles,” he continued. “That is a political statement. It's not a statement on trying to improve our infrastructure in America so it looks more like the Green New Deal than an infrastructure plan. “

According to Reeves, the nation needs a plan “we can afford and pay for and to truly invest in the infrastructure needs in this country.”

“We don't have to hike tax by $2 trillion to do it,” he insisted.

Reeves asserted the infrastructure work could be paid for in “different ways,” though he wasn’t specific.

“One way you pay for it is by seeing significant improved economic growth,” he said. “We saw that throughout the Trump administration, because the policies were pro business. They were pro growth and revenue has improved.”

Reeves also weighed in on vaccine compliance, and said education — and not endorsements — is the key.

“The vaccine is our path towards normalcy. It's one that I hope more folks across the country will recognize,” he said.

“We need the educate folks, we need to make sure we educate all people and let them know this vaccine is safe. …I think the education piece is more important than the endorsement piece.”

“It's kind of like politics. Getting endorsements are important,” he added. “At the end of the day, you got to educate the voters on why you should be elected. So I think that's something we need to work on.”

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Original Article

Turkey begins requiring negative PCR test for travel

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A woman wears a protective face mask while walking on Galata bridge in Istanbul, Turkey amid the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 2:05 PM PT – Saturday, December 26, 2020

Turkey has begun requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to board an incoming plane. Turkey’s health minister announced the new policy Friday, which bars those who fail to comply.

All passengers flying in from Britain, South Africa or Denmark will be required to quarantine in addition to providing a negative test result. This is a change from Turkey’s previous policy, which only required a test for those showing symptoms.

One traveler said her trip to Amsterdam was derailed since she couldn’t get a PCR test on such short notice.

“Yesterday at 20 past 8 p.m., I got an email from Eurostar that if I want to go to Amsterdam, I need a PCR test,” the traveler said. “But how can I get PCR test in the night or even in one day?”

These new international requirements are effecting travelers worldwide. Only more changes are expected to come as countries continue to issue new policies to combat the pandemic.

MORE NEWS: Congress Is Focused On COVID-19 Relief Bill, Gov’t Funding

Original Article

Cincy Police Close Street for Suspicious RV Following Nashville Blast

Cincy Police Close Street for Suspicious RV Following Nashville Blast Cincy Police Close Street for Suspicious RV Following Nashville Blast (Dreamstime)

By Brian Trusdell | Friday, 25 December 2020 08:07 PM

Police in Cincinnati closed a downtown street for approximately two and a half hours Friday to investigate a parked recreational vehicle before giving the ''all clear” and reopening the area.

The unusual action came hours after a recreational vehicle exploded in downtown Nashville, Tennessee, Christmas morning after broadcasting alerts for anyone who could hear them to clear the area.

"We take anything like this extremely seriously. We got units here as quickly as possible and cleared all the traffic out of the area,” Cincinnati Police Sgt. Jerry Hodges told the Cincinnati Enquirer. ''I understand people on heightened alert these days," Hodges said. "Everything turned out great."

Police said they were alerted to the RV at about 4:30 p.m. by security and police at the city’s federal building. Using K-9 units, the RV was cleared about 7 p.m. There were conflicting reports — such as one by local CBS/CW affiliate WKRC, which said the RV’s engine was running. Others, such as the Enquirer, said the engine was not running but that an internal generator could be heard starting, apparently to maintain temperature.

The RV was owned by a local man but had out-of-state license plates due to a recent purchase.

"Out of an abundance of caution, based on the incident in Tennessee we are using Explosive Detection K9s to clear the scene," officials told the Enquirer. "At this time there is nothing else indicating there is anything else of a suspicious nature."

Fauci Acknowledges He Increased His Estimates on Herd Immunity

Fauci Acknowledges He Increased His Estimates on Herd Immunity anthony fauci speaks at press conference Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Friday, 25 December 2020 01:26 PM

Dr. Anthony Fauci admits he has been slowly increasing his estimates on what the U.S. would need to achieve herd immunity against COVID-19.

According to The New York Times, many epidemiologists have been estimating since the start of the pandemic that it would take 60% to 70% of the population to acquire resistance to the coronavirus in order for the disease to fade away.

And the Times noted Fauci, the most prominent U.S. infectious disease expert, tended to agree during the pandemic’s early days. But about a month ago he raised the estimate to ''70, 75%.'' In a Dec. 16 interview with CNBC he said: ''75, 80, 85%'' and ''75 to 80-plus percent.''

Fauci concedes he has been deliberately moving the goal posts, partly based on new science and his gut feeling the U.S. is finally ready to hear what he really believes.

He said it may take close to 90% immunity to stop the virus.

Now that some polls show that many more Americans are ready for vaccines, Fauci said he felt he could deliver the message that a return to normal might take longer than first believed, the Times noted.

''When polls said only about half of all Americans would take a vaccine, I was saying herd immunity would take 70 to 75 percent,'' Dr. Fauci said. ''Then, when newer surveys said 60 percent or more would take it, I thought, 'I can nudge this up a bit,' so I went to 80, 85.''

A Gallup poll last month showed that 58% of Americans are now willing to get the vaccine. The number is up from a low of 50% in September.

Sen. Blackburn Praises Nashville Law Enforcement for Quick Action

Sen. Blackburn Praises Nashville Law Enforcement for Quick Action marsha blackburn sits behind table Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. (Jason Andrew-Pool/Getty)

By Sandy Fitzgerald | Friday, 25 December 2020 12:45 PM

Sen. Marsha Blackburn Friday praised members of the Nashville Police Department for their quick action in the wake of a massive explosion that rocked the mostly empty streets in the city early Christmas morning.

"This is a time when we are so grateful that we have members of the police, that thin blue line that continues to stand between chaos and calm, for the good work that they have done this Christmas morning when this tragedy, this unspeakable, unseemly tragedy, has occurred in downtown Nashville," the Tennessee Republican told Fox News.

Metro Nashville Police Department spokesman Don Aaron said that police had been responding to a call about shots being fired just before 6 a.m. local time but found no signs of a shooting. However, the officers noticed a suspicious vehicle and called for a hazardous response unit. While they waited, the vehicle exploded.

Blackburn said there will be more information from the FBI, which is leading the investigation into the explosion, which officials said was apparently set off intentionally.

The senator said her office has been in touch with state, local, and federal authorities, and that the explosion is a "tragic situation."

"We are of course concerned for safety and security, and we are grateful for the first responders and law enforcement who found it suspicious, again, cordoning off the area and working to protect people that live in this downtown area," said Blackburn.

The section where the explosion took place is a "very busy" part of the city, Blackburn said.

"You are down around Broadway," she said. "Of course in Nashville, we have lots of bars and venues, live music venues. You have the Country Music Hall of Fame that is within a few blocks of this area, as is the Symphony Hall, as is the arena, so it is a very busy area. Other times, there is a lot of pedestrian traffic in this area. We are just so grateful for law enforcement and people that were watching and felt this was suspicious."

Bidens Send Christmas Message to America

Bidens Send Christmas Message to America jill and joe biden stand onstage Joe Biden walks offstage with his wife, Jill Biden, after speaking Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

By Jeffrey Rodack | Friday, 25 December 2020 12:10 PM

Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, taking time to recognize the many Americans who are struggling this year, wished everyone a Merry Christmas.

Their comments came in a two-minute video posted to his Twitter account Friday morning.

''Jill and I wish you and your family peace, joy, and happiness this season,'' Biden said. ''But we know for so many of you in our nation, this has been a very difficult year. And we’re reminded in this season of hope our common humanity and what we’re called to do for one another.

''Many of our fellow Americans are struggling to find work, literally put food on the table, pay their rent or their mortgage. We’re reminded we’re on this Earth to care for one another, to give what we can, and to be a source of help and hope to friend and stranger alike."

His wife noted this is also a season of gratitude.

''And we’re so thankful for the frontline and essential workers who have put themselves at risk for all of us — and for the scientists and researchers who worked to deliver vaccines that are an incredible scientific breakthrough.''

The Bidens concluded their message by saying: ''So from our family to yours: Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.''