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Pentagon must act to prevent extremist recruitment of unvaxxed service members

Military vaccinationsAnger over COVID-19-related measures such as vaccines, masks and restrictions on travel, education and public gatherings looks certain to carry over into 2022 because of new variants, uneven vaccination rates and the continued politicization of public health. Meanwhile, tensions mount over Russia in Ukraine, China’s intentions towards Taiwan and Iran’s ramping up uranium enrichment while trying to drive the United States out of the Middle East.

COVID-19 threatens the U.S. military’s readiness, leading to the decision that military personnel should be vaccinated, show a religious exemption or face separation. The military has announced measures to enforce this rule to ensure readiness of the force, but it is not yet sure of all the second- and third-order effects of the decision. Therefore, the Biden administration should take several additional steps to ensure that separated military personnel do not become susceptible to extremist messaging and recruitment.


Companies scramble to defend against newly discovered 'Log4j' digital flaw

Log4J attacking companies

Late last week, the staff of the popular world-building video game Minecraft published an unusual blog post announcing that a version of the game had a digital flaw that hackers could exploit to take over players' computers. The gaming company released a patch and encouraged players who run their own servers to do the same.

But the cybersecurity community quickly realized that the vulnerability, embedded in an incredibly popular and common software tool, could potentially impact billions of devices.


Epstein accuser says Maxwell and Epstein groomed her, Maxwell was often in room during abuse

Maxwell often in room when girls were abusedA 41-year-old woman told jurors Tuesday how Ghislaine Maxwell allegedly helped groom and recruit her into the life of financier Jeffrey Epstein decades ago, including watching at times as Epstein forced her into sexual acts.

The woman — testifying under the pseudonym Jane — was the first of four alleged victims who will testify at Maxwell’s sex-trafficking trial in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. She gave a mostly matter-of-fact account of being lured into Epstein’s world of daily erotic massages as a 14-year-old and globe-trotting on private jets.

Maxwell, 59, who was Epstein’s longtime associate and paramour, has pleaded not guilty.



Emhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony

Emhoff lights first candle in national ceremony

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff lit the first candle at the annual lighting of the National Menorah on Sunday to kick off the first night of Hanukkah, according to CNN.

“It's ... an honor to be here on behalf of the Biden-Harris administration, to be here as this beautiful menorah is lit in front of the People's House right behind us here on the people's front lawn in this land of the free,” Emhoff said during his remarks.

The Second Gentleman, who is Jewish, said Americans must fight against anti-Semitism, saying that Jews all over the world have experienced discrimination and violence. However, he said that Hanukkah was a reminder of how resilient Jews have been in the face of hardship and troubles.


World reacts to omicron much faster than previous variants; it could be in US undetected, experts say


Within days of its discovery, fears over the omicron COVID-19 variant have spread across the globe, sending stocks tumbling, prompting travel restrictions and drawing international attention to an uptick in cases in South Africa.

The reaction is happening weeks faster than the world’s sluggish response to the delta variant. By the time delta was named a "variant of concern" by the World Health Organization in May 2021, it had already spread in India for months and had been seeded across the globe.

In contrast, omicron was first reported to the WHO on Tuesday as COVID cases in South Africa have suddenly spiked to thousands per day. By Friday, it had been named and labeled a "variant of concern," the most serious type.

Experts have applauded the WHO for moving quickly to sound the alarm on omicron, and South Africa for its fast, transparent reporting on the variant.


U.S. judge in Rittenhouse trial says jury can consider teen provoked attack

Rittenhouse jury can consider lesser chargeThe judge in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse said on Friday he would instruct the jury they can consider the prosecution's argument that the teenager provoked an encounter with one of two men he fatally shot during protests in Wisconsin last year.

The ruling is a boost for prosecutors because it opens the door for them to argue that Rittenhouse was the aggressor, which would raise the bar for the teenager's effort to convince the jury that he acted in self-defense.

The decision comes after nearly two weeks of testimony that included considerable evidence supporting the teen's argument that he fired after being attacked.

Ahead of the trial, some legal experts told Reuters that prosecutors faced a formidable challenge in bringing a successful prosecution.



Biden administration asks judge to halt strict Texas abortion law

Biden administration asks judge to halt Texas abotion lawPresident Joe Biden's administration on Friday urged a judge to block a near-total ban on abortion imposed by Texas - the strictest such law in the nation - in a key moment in the ferocious legal fight over abortion access in the United States.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Sept. 1 allowed the Republican-backed law to take effect even as litigation over its legality continues in lower courts. The U.S. Justice Department eight days later sued in federal court to try to invalidate it.

During a hearing in the Texas capital of Austin, Justice Department lawyers asked U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to block the law temporarily, saying the state's Republican legislature and governor enacted it in an open defiance of the Constitution.



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