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U.S. judge blocks Biden federal employee COVID vaccine mandate

Judge blocks federal employee vaccine mandateA judge in Texas ruled on Friday that President Joe Biden could not require federal employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus and blocked the U.S. government from disciplining employees who failed to comply.

Biden issued an order requiring about 3.5 million workers to get vaccinated by Nov. 22 barring a religious or medical accommodation -- or else face discipline or firing.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Brown said the question was whether Biden could "require millions of federal employees to undergo a medical procedure as a condition of their employment. That, under the current state of the law as just recently expressed by the Supreme Court, is a bridge too far."


Louie Anderson, Emmy-winning 'Baskets' comedian, dies at 68 after cancer diagnosis

Louie Anderson

Louie Anderson, known for his award-winning role in "Baskets," has died after being diagnosed with cancer. He was 68.

Anderson died at a hospital in Las Vegas of complications from cancer, said Glenn Schwartz, his longtime publicist. Anderson had a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Schwartz said in a previous Tuesday statement.

The St. Paul, Minnesota native won a 2016 Emmy for best supporting actor for his unlikely role in the comedy "Baskets" as Christine Baskets, mom to twin sons played by Zach Galifianakis. Anderson received three consecutive Emmy nods for his performance.


Meat Loaf remembered by Cher, Boy George and more: 'I hope paradise is as you remember'

Meat Loaf dies at 74

Friends, family and fellow musicians are sharing their love and memories of Meat Loaf, the rock superstar known for the iconic "Bat Out of Hell" album who died Thursday at 74.

The loss of the singer, born Marvin Lee Aday, was announced Friday in a family statement posted on his official Facebook page.

"Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight," the statement said. "We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man... From his heart to your souls…don’t ever stop rocking!"


'Once-in-a-decade' winter storm to blast Southeast with snow, sleet, freezing rain

Storm forning for SEA winter storm was forecast to bring a miserable mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of the Southeast on Friday and into early Saturday, meteorologists warned.

Winter weather advisories, winter storm and ice warnings were in effect Friday for dozens of counties from South Carolina to Virginia due to the approaching storm. The winter storm could ice over a large swath of eastern North Carolina and the northeastern corner of South Carolina, while dumping snow around Norfolk, Virginia, the National Weather Service said.

Ice is likely in beach cities such as Wilmington, North Carolina, and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which "would cause significant impact to travel, along with stress to trees and power lines," the Weather Service added.


A jury has been seated in the civil rights trial in George Floyd's death

Former Minneapolis police oficers on trial

A jury was seated Thursday in the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers who were on the scene when fellow officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes and ultimately killed him.

A pool reporter in the courtroom said of the 10 women and eight men chosen for the jury, 16 appeared to be white and two appeared to be Asian.

Magnuson told the court the trial could last for about a month, NPR member station Minnesota Public Radio reported. Opening statements are expected Monday.

This week's trial is one of a series of legal consequences for the four ex-officers charged by federal and state authorities in Floyd's killing, which set off a wave of global protests over racial justice and police accountability after it occurred in May 2020.


The nursing home staffing crisis right now is like nothing we've seen before

Omicron hitting nursoing home stafs

The omicron wave is hitting nursing homes hard, with infections among residents and staff reaching record highs in recent weeks.

There were more than 40,000 residents who tested positive last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost a 10-fold rise since November. Cases for staff hit a record high of more than 67,000 cases the first week of January, but started to decline last week.


Mitch McConnell’s viral Black voter comments cause widespread furor

Mitch McConnellComments by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell regarding Black voters in the US have gone viral online and sparked widespread outrage.

The Kentucky Republican was speaking after Republican senators once again blocked Democrats’ voting rights legislation on Capitol Hill on Wednesday evening.

Speaking to reporters after the bill failed and the Senate rejected a change to the filibuster rule that could facilitate its passage, McConnell was asked for his message to voters in minority communities who are concerned that voting restrictions being enacted in many states will keep them from the ballot box without new federal laws.

“The concern is misplaced, because if you look at the statistics, African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans,” McConnell said.


‘Havana syndrome’ unlikely caused by hostile foreign power, CIA says

Havana Syndrome

An initial CIA investigation into the mysterious set of symptoms known as Havana syndrome has found that it is unlikely to be the result of a worldwide campaign of attacks by a foreign power against US diplomats and spies.

However, two dozen cases, including some of those originally afflicted in Havana in 2016, could not be explained and would be further studied for evidence of a possible attack, according to a senior CIA official who briefed the US press.

“While we have reached some significant interim findings, we are not done,” the CIA director, Williams Burns, said in a statement. “We will continue the mission to investigate these incidents and provide access to world-class care for those who need it.”


US accuses Russia of conspiring to take over Ukraine government

Biden warns Russia

The US has alleged that Russian intelligence is recruiting current and former Ukrainian government officials to take over the government in Kyiv and cooperate with a Russian occupying force.

The US Treasury on Thursday imposed sanctions on two Ukrainian members of parliament and two former officials it said were involved in the alleged conspiracy, which involved discrediting the current government of the president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“Russia has directed its intelligence services to recruit current and former Ukrainian government officials to prepare to take over the government of Ukraine and to control Ukraine’s critical infrastructure with an occupying Russian force,” the Treasury statement accompanying the sanctions said.


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