Covid live: WHO and Europe class Omicron as variant of concern; US and Canada bring in travel curbs

ECDC follows WHO in threat assessment of new variant; countries bar foreign nationals from several southern African nations; UK sees most new infections for a month

First European case of new Covid variant detected in BelgiumB.1.1.529 variant ‘most worrying we’ve seen’, says UK medical adviserWhat do we know about the new ‘worst ever’ Covid variant?Tell us: how are you affected by the southern Africa travel restrictions?

Hungary needs to increase the number of people taking booster shots against COVID-19 to curb infections, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told state radio this morning.

Reuters report that Orbán said the government would extend a special campaign making vaccinations available without any prior registration to next week following a surge in Covid-19 cases.

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Guardian November 27, 2021, 12:13 am
Musical theater legend Stephen Sondheim dies at 91

The composer and lyricist earned a Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

CBS November 27, 2021, 12:09 am
Boeing, airline stocks tumble as new Covid variant spurs travel curbs

A new Covid variant is sparking travel curbs just as many countries were welcoming back visitors.

CNBC November 26, 2021, 10:13 pm
Biden administration calls for hike in federal drilling fees in report that largely sidesteps climate issues

The Department of the Interior on Friday released a long-awaited review of oil and gas drilling on federal lands and oceans that recommends an increase in leasing fees and consideration of environmental concerns in leasing decisions. But the report largely sidesteps climate change issues, and does not recommend a halt to new oil and gas leasing -- a promise President Joe Biden campaigned on.

CNN November 26, 2021, 9:01 pm
Fauci says U.S. in 'active communication' with South African scientists about Covid variant

The U.S. will speak Friday with scientists in South Africa for data on the emerging, heavily mutated Covid-19 variant detected there, Dr. Anthony Fauci said.

CNBC November 26, 2021, 8:50 pm
Omicron variant spreads to Europe as UK announces countermeasures

Experts stress importance of delaying import of new Covid variant to UK to avoid Christmas mixing

Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage

As an alarming new Covid variant spread to Europe on Friday, scientists warned that it would inevitably reach Britain, while ministers faced calls to urgently speed up the vaccination programme.

Thousands of travellers were left stranded or with their plans in disarray after flight bans were introduced targeting countries across southern Africa, where the variant was discovered. Hotel quarantine and enhanced testing would be brought in across the UK, the health secretary, Sajid Javid, said.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 8:13 pm
Biden administration proposes oil and gas drilling reform but stops short of ban

The long-anticipated report did not indicate that the Biden administration would take climate change impact into account when approving new oil and gas leases.

CNBC November 26, 2021, 7:57 pm
Zoom, Peloton shares rise on new Covid variant fears

Shares of Zoom and Pelton closed were up more than 5% on Friday as the concern of a new Covid variant boosted some stay-at-home stocks.

CNBC November 26, 2021, 7:39 pm
BioNTech says it could tweak Covid vaccine in 100 days if needed

Company says it will know in two weeks whether current Pfizer jab is effective against Omicron variant

Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage

BioNTech says it could produce and ship an updated version of its vaccine within 100 days if the new Covid variant detected in southern Africa is found to evade existing immunity.

The German biotechnology company is already investigating whether the vaccine it developed with US drugmaker Pfizer works well against the variant, named Omicron, which has caused concern due to its high number of mutations and initial suggestions that it could be transmitting more quickly.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 7:30 pm
Black Friday underway as shoppers predicted to spend a record-setting amount this holiday season

More than 108 million people plan to shop either in-store or online on Black Friday. After a quieter year last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, holiday sales are forecast to increase up to 10.5%. Meg Oliver reports.

CBS November 26, 2021, 7:20 pm
US officials say Merck Covid pill effective but questions remain over pregnancy

FDA scientists consider possible toxicity and birth defects before public meeting next week

US federal health regulators say an experimental Covid-19 pill from Merck is effective but will seek input from outside experts on risks of birth defects and other problems during pregnancy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) posted its analysis of the pill before a public meeting next week where academic and other experts will weigh in. The agency isn’t required to follow the group’s advice.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 6:36 pm
French ex-minister Nicolas Hulot accused of rape and sexual assault

Former environment minister denies allegations as four women come forward in TV documentary

A popular French environmentalist and former government minister faces new allegations of rape and sexual abuse after several woman came forward in a TV documentary to testify that he had assaulted them.

The claims come four years after Nicolas Hulot, 66, was first accused of rape by the granddaughter of the late Socialist president François Mitterrand.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 5:56 pm
Ukraine has uncovered Russian-linked coup plot, says president

Volodymyr Zelenskiy says there is evidence of ‘coup d’état’ being planned for early December

Ukraine’s president has said intelligence services uncovered a plot involving a group of Russians and Ukrainians to overthrow his government next week.

Speaking at an hours-long press conference, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said Ukrainian intelligence had obtained audio recordings of the plotters discussing their plans, which he said involved tying to enlist the support of Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 5:46 pm
Marjorie Taylor Greene lays out demands for GOP House speaker vote if Republicans retake majority in 2022

Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Donald Trump's staunchest allies in Congress, on Thursday laid out demands for a GOP leader to earn her vote for House Speaker if Republicans are able to retake the majority after the 2022 elections and cast doubt on House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy being elected to the position.

CNN November 26, 2021, 5:29 pm
A new Covid variant is no surprise when rich countries are hoarding vaccines | Gordon Brown

Western countries are destroying surplus doses of vaccine while the poorest nations go without. This must change

Despite the repeated warnings of health leaders, our failure to put vaccines into the arms of people in the developing world is now coming back to haunt us. We were forewarned – and yet here we are.

In the absence of mass vaccination, Covid is not only spreading uninhibited among unprotected people but is mutating, with new variants emerging out of the poorest countries and now threatening to unleash themselves on even fully vaccinated people in the richest countries of the world.On Thursday, the UK’s Department of Health, which has placed a travel ban on southern Africa, warned that the B.1.1.529 “Omicron” variant was the most “complex” and “worrying” seen so far. And yet with 9.1bn vaccines already manufactured and 12bn expected by the year’s end – enough to vaccinate the whole world – this was the “arms race” that we could have won. No country should be facing yet another winter with the uncertainty of a new wave of Covid hanging over us.

Gordon Brown is the WHO ambassador for global health financing, and was UK prime minister from 2007 to 2010

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 5:00 pm
Germany ‘at crossroads’ as Covid cases surge across Europe

Urgent measures needed to avoid ‘chaos’, warns expert, as Spain, Portugal and Netherlands tighten rules

Coronavirus – latest updatesSee all our coronavirus coverage

Germany’s top health officials have raised the prospect of a national lockdown, warning that a rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases and a dramatic increase in the number of patients in intensive care meant contact reduction was the only way of tackling the crisis and avoiding “the road to chaos”.

“We need a massive contact reduction immediately,” said Prof Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s federal disease control agency.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 4:28 pm
Eye Opener: How retailers are handling what could be a record-breaking holiday season

Millions of people are expected to shop on Black Friday. Also, a new, possibly more dangerous, COVID-19 variant found in South Africa is causing several countries to cancel flights from South Africa. All that and all that matters in today’s Eye Opener.

CBS November 26, 2021, 4:22 pm
What is happening at Ukraine's border? Putin's buildup of Russian troops sparks concern

A previous build-up of Russian forces on the border preceded Moscow's annexation of Crimea. President Vladimir Putin is threatening Ukraine again.

USAtoday November 26, 2021, 4:08 pm
Will we ever cure the common cold? We ask the expert

Prof Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, on the possibility of a cold vaccine

Famously, there is no cure for the common cold. But with the success of the Covid vaccine, could it finally be in grabbing – or, rather, jabbing – distance? I asked Prof Sheena Cruickshank, an immunologist at the University of Manchester, about the possibility of a cold vaccine.

I have just recovered from what everyone is calling the “super cold”. It was awful. Eyes streaming, head about to explode. I hadn’t felt like that since I found out Boris Johnson had won the election. Could a vaccine end this misery?
Let’s take a step back. The common cold is just a blanket term for different upper respiratory viruses: adenoviruses, coronaviruses, parainfluenza and so on. Rhinoviruses are the most common cause, but there are roughly 160 variations. So a vaccine that works on one might not work on another. And they’re expensive and complicated to make. A company isn’t going to fund something that doesn’t work against many strains.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 4:00 pm
Some climate campaigners praise Biden for releasing emergency oil reserves

Move appears to contradict president’s climate crisis goals but some say it defends the economy ‘against disruption’

In a surprising move, some climate crisis campaigners have praised Joe Biden for ordering the release of emergency oil reserves in an attempt to reduce energy prices across the country.

On Tuesday, the president announced the release of a record 50m barrels of oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in coordination with other countries including China, India and the UK.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 3:00 pm
Macron tells Johnson to ‘get serious’ on Channel crisis after tweeted letter

French president says: ‘We do not communicate on these issues by tweets’ after PM issues five-point plan via Twitter

President Emmanuel Macron has told Boris Johnson to “get serious” or remain locked out of discussions over how to curb the flow of people escaping war and poverty across the Channel.

In a further sign of an escalating diplomatic crisis since the deaths of 27 people on Wednesday, the French leader criticised the UK’s decision to issue a five-point plan via Twitter instead of conducting bilateral talks.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 2:57 pm
Trump photo with Rittenhouse reveals ‘Mount Trumpmore’ sculpture

Miniature Mount Rushmore with ex-president’s face on it was given to him by South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, last year

Pictures released before the Thanksgiving holiday showed Donald Trump with Kyle Rittenhouse, with the head of a martial arts organisation – and with his own miniature Mount Rushmore, his own visage visable next to those of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt.

The internet duly lit up.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 2:24 pm
Abigail Spanberger on Biden, FDR and what Democrats want - "The Takeout"

The Virginia congresswoman talked with host Major Garrett about losses in Virginia and how Democrats should be thinking about the midterm elections.

CBS November 26, 2021, 1:55 pm
Tell us: how are you affected by the southern Africa Covid travel restrictions?

We would like to hear from those travelling or who have plans to travel from countries in the region

Flights from countries in the southern Africa region will be banned on Friday due to a new variant which was first spotted in Botswana and identified on Tuesday.

Six countries which will be added to England’s red travel list at midday on Friday include South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini and Zimbabwe.

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 11:07 am
Democrats and Republicans compete for title of who's more foolish in leading America

Elections show many voters may well be searching for an alternative to the Democratic Party to lead. Too bad Republicans aren't giving them one.

USAtoday November 26, 2021, 11:01 am
The NHS staffing crisis is killing people – and this winter it will be even worse | Polly Toynbee

With staff quitting over conditions and a recruitment black hole, a pay rise for nurses is the least Sajid Javid should do

NHS politics tends to focus on easily measured inputs: how many beds have been cut as a result of austerity, how many nurses’ and doctors’ posts are empty, the lack of ambulances, MRI scanners and hospital repairs. But the ultimate output measure is how many people die needlessly as a result of these things.

An alarming number of excess deaths among people who were not suffering from Covid-19, analysed this week by the Financial Times, suggests the sheer magnitude of the current NHS crisis. The analysis finds that 2,047 more people died this year in the week ending 12 November than during the same period between 2015 and 2019, but only 1,197 of those people had Covid-19 on their death certificates. That’s just one week. This “raises the possibility that since the summer more people have been losing their lives as a result of the strains on the NHS or lack of early diagnosis of serious illness”. Cardiovascular disease and strokes are the most frequent causes of extra deaths, where every minute counts.

Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist

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Guardian November 26, 2021, 11:00 am
The EU wants to stop flights from southern Africa over a new COVID variant

The European Union said Friday it's planning to stop air travel from southern Africa to counter the spread of a new COVID-19 variant as the 27-nation block battles a massive spike in cases.

NPR November 26, 2021, 10:37 am
U.S. lawmakers meet with Taiwan's president in a surprise visit

Five U.S. lawmakers met with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen Friday morning in a surprise one-day visit intended to reaffirm the United States' "rock solid" support for the self-governing island.

NPR November 26, 2021, 10:10 am
Biden spends first Thanksgiving as president on Nantucket

President Biden is celebrating the first Thanksgiving of his presidency on the New England island of Nantucket. Nancy Cordes has the details.

CBS November 26, 2021, 2:23 am
Biden administration releases statements after guilty verdicts in Arbery murder trial

President Biden and Vice President Harris released statements calling for a continued commitment to racial justice Wednesday after a Georgia jury found Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William "Roddie" Bryan guilty of murder in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in February 2020.

CBS November 25, 2021, 10:25 pm
Biden had benign, potentially precancerous lesion removed during colonoscopy

President Joe Biden had a single 3-millimeter polyp removed during his routine colonoscopy last week at Walter Reed medical center.

CNN November 25, 2021, 3:45 am
Bidens spend Thanksgiving in Nantucket

President Biden and his family are heading to Nantucket Island for their annual Thanksgiving getaway.

CBS November 25, 2021, 3:21 am
Trump hotels, other businesses reportedly subpoenaed, but executive Matthew Calamari expected to avoid charges

The developments in the criminal probe of the Trump Organization come as Donald Trump signals he may run against President Joe Biden in the 2024 election.

CNBC November 24, 2021, 9:52 pm
WHO says fully vaccinated should wear masks and physically distance as Covid infections surge

The WHO's chief said the majority of reported Covid cases worldwide are in Europe, but added that "no country or region is out of the woods" just yet.

CNBC November 24, 2021, 7:08 pm
Actor who performs in 'Jesus Christ Superstar' and as Michael Jackson charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot

A professional Broadway actor was arrested for invading the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 with fellow members of the Oath Keepers and other Trump supporters.

CNBC November 24, 2021, 6:47 pm
Leaders of pro-Trump groups Oath Keepers, Proud Boys subpoenaed in Jan. 6 Capitol riot probe

The bipartisan House panel is probing the facts and causes of the riot, when hundreds of former President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Capitol.

CNBC November 24, 2021, 3:19 pm
Analysis: Donald Trump is running again, part 7,282

It's the absolute worst-kept secret in politics: Donald Trump is full-speed-ahead on a 2024 presidential bid.

CNN November 24, 2021, 1:08 am
As China threat rises, can Aukus alliance recover from rancorous birth?

Questions mount about pact’s ultimate purpose and implications for other Asean countries

It was initially seen as an audacious enlistment by Joe Biden of Australia into the 21st-century struggle against China, elevating the country in the process to a significant regional military power and finally giving substance to Global Britain and its tilt to the Indo-Pacific.

But since then the “ruckus” about Aukus, as Boris Johnson described it, has not stopped. If this was the start of a new “anti-hegemonic coalition” to balance China’s rise, it has not quite blown up on the launchpad, but nor has it taken off as smoothly as intended.

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Guardian November 23, 2021, 2:47 am
Rotterdam riot: police fire shots as Covid protesters torch vehicles – video

A demonstration against Dutch government plans to impose restrictions on unvaccinated people turned violent. Police said rioters in Rotterdam started fires and threw fireworks, to which they responded by firing warning shots and using water cannon

 Rotterdam police open fire as Covid protest turns violent Continue reading...

Guardian November 20, 2021, 5:26 am
Michel Barnier in French election spotlight as lurch to right pays off

Mild-mannered former centrist has become a surprise favourite to win Les Républicains’ nomination

Who is leading the race to be the next president of France?

In a restaurant in prosperous western Paris, fans of the EU’s former negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, crowded in to hear their hero speak, cheering the mild-mannered 70-year-old who has gone from rank outsider to potential favourite in the contest to choose a presidential candidate for the right’s Les Républicains.

Barnier is one of the big surprises of the unpredictable pre-election season in France. He was known for almost 50 years in right-wing French politics as a centrist, liberal-minded neo-Gaullist, devoted to the European cause. But he has amazed observers by significantly hardening his stance as the rightwing party prepared to decide on its candidate early next month.

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Guardian November 18, 2021, 4:32 pm
Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, dies aged 84 – video obituary

Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state, has died at the age of 84 from Covid complications. Powell was a retired four-star general who served as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in the early 1990s, before joining the George W Bush administration as secretary of state. Before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Powell made the case to the United Nations security council that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons. He later said that this represented 'a blot' that will 'always be a part of my record'. Although he was a Republican, in 2008 he endorsed Barack Obama for president. In the years that followed, he felt increasingly detached from the party, ultimately leaving it in the wake of the 6 January insurrection on the Capitol

Colin Powell, former US secretary of state, dies at 84 of Covid complicationsJoe Biden leads tributes to ‘dear friend’ and ‘patriot’ Colin Powell Continue reading...

Guardian October 18, 2021, 9:44 pm
Face masks, PPE and throwaway cutlery – after Covid, where’s next for sustainable packaging?

The global pandemic pushed consumer behaviour back toward single-use plastics to avoid contamination. So how can short-term hygiene requirements be balanced with long-term sustainability goals?

In the last five to 10 years, the packaging industry has gone through something of a rebirth. Where previously sustainability was a bit of an add-on, many companies today are busily working behind the scenes to make their packaging more eco-friendly. And while there is much work to be done – the recycling rate of plastic packaging in Europe stood at just 40% last year – a 2020 report by McKinsey attested that sustainability is indeed driving significant change in consumer packaging. “Regulators are moving on the issue, and fast-moving consumer goods companies and retailers are proactively making bold commitments to improve both the sustainability of their packaging and to fundamentally rethink their packaging systems,” the report stated.

Then along came the pandemic. Suddenly – and for good reason – hygiene trumped all other concerns. Sustainability came second to safety, and the use of single-use plastics began to go up. For example, a survey in France in July 2020, cited by the European Environment Agency, found that 5% of people had been throwing disposable face masks on to public roads, and the UK’s Foodservice Packaging Association reported last April that single-use cups and cutlery – some of the kinds most often found on beaches and countryside – were “in huge demand”.

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Guardian September 17, 2021, 12:46 pm
The weird, the wonderful and the political: highlights from the 2021 Met Gala red carpet

The Met Gala has returned to the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art after a year off due to Covid-19. There were multiple show-stopping outfits from Lil Nas X, while Kim Kardashian turned heads by dressing entirely in black, even covering her face. Amid the glamour, some guests highlighted social issues. The Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had 'tax the rich' written in red across the back of her white gown and the sports star Megan Rapinoe carried a clutch bag with the words ‘in gay we trust’

The Met Gala 2021: eight key moments from fashion’s big nightMet Gala 2021: stars explore ‘American independence’ theme – in pictures Continue reading...

Guardian September 14, 2021, 8:42 am