VIRUS OUTBREAK-OMICRON

More omicron detected as hospitals strain under delta surge

New York has announced three more cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, bringing to eight the number of state cases linked to the new variant. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday said the cases appear to be unrelated. Seven of them have been found in New York City and the other is in Suffolk County. The number of states finding the variant is growing as well. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington state announced their first cases Saturday, a day after New Jersey, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Maryland reported their first cases. Missouri announced its first presumed case Friday. The variant also has been detected in Nebraska, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, Colorado and Utah.

AP-US-VIRUS-OUTBREAK-CRUISE-SHIP-NEW-ORLEANS

COVID outbreak on cruise ship approaching New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Officials say 10 people aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship approaching New Orleans have tested positive for COVID-19. The Louisiana Department of Health said in a news release that the Norwegian Breakaway had departed New Orleans on Nov. 28 and is due to return this weekend. Over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico. More than 3,200 people are on board the ship. Prior to disembarking in New Orleans, each person on board will be tested for the coronavirus. Anyone who tests positive will either go directly home or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the cruise line.

AP-EU-UNITED-STATES-RUSSIA

Biden, Putin set video call Tuesday as Ukraine tensions grow

MOSCOW (AP) — Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin plan to speak in a video call Tuesday as tensions between the United States and Russia escalate over a Russian troop buildup on the Ukrainian border. The buildup is seen as a sign of a potential invasion. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden will press U.S. concerns about Russian military activities on the border and reaffirm U.S. support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Putin intends to express Russia’s opposition to any move to admit Ukraine into the NATO military alliance. 

AP-US-UNITED-STATES-RUSSIA-SANCTIONS-OPTIONS

No shortage of sanction options if Russia invades Ukraine

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has plenty of options to make good on its pledge to hit Russia financially if President Vladimir Putin sends troops into Ukraine. Financial experts and former diplomats say the possibilities range from sanctions hitting Putin’s associates to cutting Russia off from the financial system — known as SWIFT — that sends money flowing around the world. The United States and European allies have made no public mention of any plans to respond militarily if Russia invades Ukraine. Instead, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has promised “high impact economic measures.”

BC-AS-INDONESIA-VOLCANO

Death toll rises to 13 in Indonesia volcano eruption

LUMAJANG, Indonesia (AP) — The death toll following the eruption of the highest volcano on Indonesia’s most densely populated island of Java has risen to 13, with seven people still missing, officials say as rain continues to pound the region and hamper search efforts. Mount Semeru spewed thick columns of ash more than 12,000 meters (40,000 feet) into the sky, and searing gas and lava flowed down its slopes after a sudden eruption Saturday triggered by heavy rains. Several villages were blanketed with falling ash. The head of the geology agency says a thunderstorm and days of rain, which had eroded and finally collapsed the lava dome atop the 12,000-foot Semeru, led to the eruption.

SCHOOL SHOOTING-MICHIGAN-SCHOOL’S HANDLING

Third party to probe Oxford High’s actions ahead of shooting

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan school leader says a third party will investigate events at Oxford High School leading up to a school shooting that left four students dead and six other students and a teacher wounded. Oxford schools Superintendent Tim Throne said in a statement Saturday that he called for the outside investigation because parents have asked questions about the school’s version of events leading up to the shooting this week. He also elaborated on interactions with the student leading up to the shooting. His comments came after a news conference Friday by Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald that detailed numerous warning signs from the student charged in the shooting. 

AP-US-CUOMO-SEXUAL-HARASSMENT

CNN fires Chris Cuomo for helping brother deal with scandal

NEW YORK (AP) — CNN has fired anchor Chris Cuomo after details emerged about how he assisted his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as the politician faced sexual harassment allegations earlier this year. The network suspended Chris Cuomo earlier in the week to investigate his involvement with his brother’s defense. CNN hired a law firm for the review. The firm recommended Chris Cuomo’s termination and CNN chief Jeff Zucker informed the anchor of the decision on Saturday. Cuomo issued a statement on Twitter calling the decision disappointing. Even with the firing, CNN said it will continue to investigate Cuomo’s conduct “as appropriate.”

SCHOOL SHOOTING-MICHIGAN

Michigan parents found in building; bond set at $500K apiece

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) — A judge has imposed a combined $1 million bond for the parents of the Michigan teen charged with killing four students at Oxford High School, hours after police said they were caught hiding in a commercial building. James and Jennifer Crumbley entered not guilty pleas to each of the four involuntary manslaughter counts against them during a hearing Saturday held on Zoom. Judge Julie Nicholson assigned bond of $500,000 apiece to each of the parents and placed other requirements such as GPS monitoring, agreeing with prosecutors that they posed a flight risk.

AP-US-OBIT-BAND-OF-BROTHERS-VETERAN

Edward Shames, last ‘Band of Brothers’ officer, dies at 99

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A World War II veteran who was the last surviving officer of “Easy Company,” which inspired the HBO miniseries and book “Band of Brothers,” has died. Edward Shames was 99. An obituary posted by a funeral home said Shames, of Norfolk, Virginia, died peacefully at his home on Friday. Shames was involved in some of the most important battles of World War II. He made his first combat jump into Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord. He also fought with Easy Company in Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge. Shames was the first member of the 101st to enter Dachau concentration camp, just days after its liberation.

MAN JUMPS FROM PLANE

Passenger jumps out of plane taxiing at Phoenix airport

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities say a passenger on an arriving Southwest Airlines flight taxiing at Phoenix’s main airport opened a galley door, jumped out and ran to an airport fire station where he barricaded himself. The man’s identity wasn’t released and it wasn’t immediately clear why he jumped form Flight 4236 after its arrival from Colorado Springs on Saturday. A Southwest spokesperson said the flight captain notified the tower and the plane went to its assigned gate.  A Fire Department spokesperson said the man locked himself in a fire station dorm room but firefighters were able to get him to unlock the door. He was taken to a hospital with a leg injury.

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