Covid Biden says to beat Omicron variant ‘we have to shut down

Covid: Biden says to beat Omicron variant ‘we have to shut it down worldwide’ – live. The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack announced that former Trump justice department official Jeffrey Clark would not testify on Saturday, after he claimed a medical condition precluded him from appearing at a deposition.

Former Trump DOJ official Jeffrey Clark, after agreeing to testify to Jan. 6 committee on Saturday, conveniently now announces he has a medical condition that means he can’t appear tomorrow after all

The move by Clark comes days after the select committee granted him a last minute reprieve and held off recommending him for criminal prosecution for ignoring a subpoena in exchange for testifying before House investigators.

But the night before his scheduled deposition date, Clark informed the select committee that he could not appear after all.

“Through his attorney, Mr Clark has informed the select committee of a medical condition that precludes his participation in tomorrow’s meeting,” Tim Mulvey, a spokesman for the select committee said in a statement. “He has provided ample evidence of his claim.”

The select committee said Clark’s deposition would be postponed until 16 December.

The extensively mutated Omicron variant possibly picked up some genetic material from the virus that causes the common cold during one of its mutations, according to a new study.

The researchers believe the mutation could have come from an individual infected with both viruses and it could help the virus evade immune system attacks. The genetic sequence found in this version of the virus – but not in previous ones – also appears in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the human genome, Reuters reports.

Health officials have been alarmed by the number of mutations observed in the Omicron variant, which has far more than its predecessors. Questions still remain about how easily the new version of the virus will spread and how severe the symptoms caused by it will be. But the new research suggests it might move more quickly but do less damage.

The study has not yet been peer-reviewed and was published on the open science website, OSF Preprints. There are competing scientific theories about the mutations and more research is needed to better understand the new variant.

I am Gabrielle Canon checking in from the west coast to take you through the rest of the evening’s news.

Even with the latest discovery of the Omicron variant – which has been documented in eight states across the US as of Friday – health officials still consider Delta to be the top concern going into the winter holidays.

Today Missouri, Nebraska, Maryland, and Pennsylvania each reported cases of the new strain, Reuters reports, joining California, New York, Minnesota, and Hawaii.

Omicron is believed to be more contagious but initial reports indicate it may be less severe than previous variants of Covid.

Nebraska had six confirmed cases, the state’s health department said. Only one of the six people was vaccinated and none have needed to be hospitalized with Covid-19, the department added.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced the first three cases of the Omicron variant in his state, adding that none of the three individuals were hospitalized. And in Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia man in his 30s tested positive for Omicron, city health officials said.

Walensky and other health experts said the best way to fight the spread of Covid-19, regardless of the strain, remains to get vaccinated.”

It was a slow close do the work week in Washington. Here’s where things stand so far this afternoon.

Biden signed into law a bill that will fund the government through February, averting a government shutdown – at least for now.
Biden’s doctor said the president’s raspy voice was the result of a “frog in one’s throat”. In a memo, Dr Kevin O’Connor, affirmed that Biden was tested three times for Covid-19 and each result was negative.
Psaki said the White House was preparing a range of options to deter Russian aggression as tension escalate at the border with Ukraine. She said a call between Biden and Putin was under consideration.
Biden is scheduled to depart for Camp David on Friday evening and return on Sunday to attend the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony.

And here’s a video of Biden cheekily blaming his affectionate baby grandson for giving him a cold.

Democrats and abortion rights advocates are promising a showdown over the issue in next year’s midterms as the Supreme Court appears poised to undermine – and possibly overturn – longstanding legal precedent enshrining a constitutional right to the procedure.

Already, vulnerable Democrats running in competitive races next year are highlighting the issue as strategists point to polling that strong majorities want Roe, the 1973 supreme court ruling, to remain the law of the land.

For Democrats, it’s something of a political silver lining in an otherwise nightmare scenario. But a decision weakening or overruling Roe could also be a galvanizing force in next year’s midterm elections, as Democrats promise to defend abortion rights against Republican-led efforts to eliminate them.

“It’s earth-shattering,” said Jenny Lawson, vice-president of organizing and engagement campaigns for Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “The court’s actions are going to change the way people think about reproductive freedom and how essential it is. It will be a driving force of the election, undoubtedly.”

Trump official to plead the fifth to Capitol attack committee

Former Trump lawyer John Eastman, who was connected to efforts to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election win on 6 January, will plead the fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination before the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, writes Hugo Lowell.

The move by Eastman, communicated in a letter to the select committee by his attorney, is an extraordinary step and appears to suggest a growing fear among some of Trump’s closest advisers that their testimony may implicate them in potential criminality.

“Dr Eastman has a more than reasonable fear that any statements he makes pursuant to this subpoena will be used in an attempt to mount a criminal investigation against him,” Eastman’s lawyer, Charles Burnham, told the select committee in a letter on Wednesday.

The select committee issued a subpoena to Eastman last month as they sought to uncover the extent of his role in Trump’s scheme to prevent Biden from being certified as president and return himself to office for a second term despite losing the 2020 election.

House investigators also took an interest in Eastman after it emerged that he played an integral part in a 4 January Oval Office meeting where he presented a memo advising then vice-president Mike Pence about ways to stop and delay Biden’s certification from taking place.

French sports stars and politicians have expressed anger at the acquittal of a coach accused of domestic violence against the Olympic judo champion Margaux Pinot, as the state prosecutor launched an appeal.

Pinot, 27, a gold medallist at the Tokyo Olympics, had serious facial injuries including a fractured nose when she filed a police complaint in the early hours of Sunday. She said her partner and trainer, Alain Schmitt, had attacked her at her flat outside Paris, wrestled her to the ground, verbally abused her, punched her many times, repeatedly smashed her head on to the ground and tried to strangle her.

Pinot said she managed to escape the apartment with the aid of neighbours and called police. Officers arrested and questioned Schmitt that night.

The case was fast-tracked to a court hearing on Tuesday where Schmitt, 38, denied the allegations. The state prosecutor requested a one-year suspended sentence for what they deemed “very serious violence”. But the judge decided there was not “enough proof of guilt” for the prosecution to proceed. “A court is never there to tell who is telling the truth and who is lying,” the judge said.

Schmitt told the court that he denied the allegations “100%” and that it had been a fight between lovers, started by Pinot.

Pinot posted a picture of her swollen, injured face on social media. She talked of the “blood across the floor of my apartment” and said: “What was missing? My death at the end, perhaps? It’s probably judo that saved me and my thoughts go out to other women who cannot say the same.

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