Local / Regional

US and World

Updated

Inflation is soaring, businesses are struggling to hire and President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have been in free fall. The White House sees a common culprit, namely COVID-19. Biden’s team views the pandemic as the root cause of both the nation’s malaise and his own political woes. The Biden team sees getting more people vaccinated and finally controlling COVID-19 as the key to reviving the country and Biden’s own standing. But the coronavirus has proved to be a vexing challenge. The economy is actually improving, but there are signs COVID-19 will leave its scars. And now there's a new variant, omicron, to worry about. Read more

MILAN (AP) — Reports: Italy, Germany repor… Read more

Updated

Germany’s health minister says he hopes that the sight of air force planes transferring patients across the country will act as a “wake-up call” to millions who are still holding out on getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Health Minister Jens Spahn said Saturday that there has been a welcome increase over the past week in the number of people getting their first shots, with 450,000 recorded. But he said it’s still not enough and “this figure of nearly 12 million unvaccinated adults is still far, far too high.” So far, 68.4% of the population of 83 million people is fully vaccinated, below the 75% minimum threshold eyed by the government. Read more

Updated

Czech President Miloš Zeman has been discharged from the capital’s military hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. The 77-year-old Zeman had already been discharged following more than a month’s treatment for an unspecified illness on Thursday. But he was readmitted only hours later after testing positive for the coronavirus. The president received monoclonal antibodies in a standard treatment for people belonging to risk groups. He is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 including a booster. The hospital said Saturday that Zeman has no symptoms of COVID-19. Zeman is a heavy smoker and drinker who has suffered from diabetes. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair. Read more

Updated

The latest on the new omicron variant: Two new cases confirmed in Britain as new restrictions are being placed on travel with each passing hour. Read more

After a season of being restricted to watching snow accumulate on distant mountains, Italian skiers are finally returning to the slopes that have been off-limits since the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020. But just as the industry is poised to recover from the lost season, a spike in cases in the Alpine province bordering Austria is underlining just how precarious the situation remains. Snow making has been on full-speed in two valleys in Italy’s South Tyrol, which are opening Saturday ahead of a general season opening on Dec. 5. The slopes of San Vigilio Di Marebbe, which hosts an annual world cup event, were groomed and ready to go for the first skiers of the new season.   Read more

Updated

Demands by Democrats to fix the nation’s broken immigration system were wielded as a cudgel against Republicans during the 2020 campaign. Elect us, went the argument, and we’ll stop the cruel treatment of migrants at the border, and put in place lasting and humane policies that work. Action on the issue has been hard to find a year into Joe Biden's presidency, and there is growing consternation privately among some in the party that the Biden administration can’t find the right balance on immigration.   Read more

Updated

The world is racing to contain a new coronavirus variant that is potentially more dangerous than the one that has fueled waves of infection on nearly every continent. A World Health Organization panel on Friday named the variant “omicron” and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern. That's the same category that includes the delta variant. Much of the world imposed immediate travel bans on visitors from southern Africa, where the new variant was discovered. The U.S. is putting its travel limits into effect Monday. The White House says agencies and airlines need the time to put the restrictions into effect.  Read more

Updated

South African scientists identified a new version of the coronavirus this week that they say is behind a recent spike in COVID-19 infections in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province. It’s unclear where the new variant emerged, but scientists in South Africa first alerted the World Health Organization and it has also been seen in Botswana and travelers to Hong Kong, Belgium, Israel and elsewhere. Health minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days, although experts are still trying to determine if the new variant is actually responsible. In a statement on Friday, the WHO designated it as a “variant of concern,” naming it “omicron.” Read more

This week’s new entertainment releases include a new album from saxophone legend Kenny G, a documentary about the 12 young soccer players and their coach trapped in a flooded Thailand cave, and Jane Campion makes a triumphant return to filmmaking in “The Power of the Dog.” On the small screen, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” may have wrapped its two-season NBC run, but there’s another chapter for the musical dramady starring Jane Levy: In Wednesday's “Zoey’s Extraordinary Christmas,” the title character is determined that her family get the memorable Christmas that her now-ill father always provided. And the sun will come out Thursday for NBC’s live production of the hit Broadway musical “Annie.” Read more

A WHO panel named the variant "omicron" and classified it as a highly transmissible virus of concern, the same category that includes the delta variant, the world's most prevalent. Read more

Updated

Nations across Europe are taking new measures in an attempt to keep a COVID-19 spike from spiraling out of control, hoping that action now will safeguard the joys of Christmas next month. A spike in cases fueled by the contagious delta variant forced governments to act to rein in infections even in countries not seeing surges and where vaccination rates are high. Meanwhile, the world on Friday was confronted with yet another challenge in its long pandemic ordeal: the discovery of a new, potentially more transmissible COVID-19 variant found in southern Africa. Belgium and the Netherlands are among some of the worst hit countries in Western Europe and are facing a series of new restrictions. Read more

Updated

The European Union nations have agreed to impose a ban on travel from southern Africa to counter the spread of a new COVID-19 variant. The 27 nations on Friday acted within hours upon the advise of the EU executive which said all needed to be extra cautious in dealing with the variant until it became clear how bad of a threat it would be, the EU presidency said in a statement. The EU presidency, currently held by Slovenia, also called on all member states “to test and quarantine all incoming passengers.” Read more

Updated

U.S. health officials say Merck's experimental COVID-19 pill is effective but they raised questions about its safety during pregnancy. The Food and Drug Administration posted its review Friday ahead of a public meeting next week where outside experts will debate the drug's benefits and risks. If FDA authorizes the drug it would be the first pill for U.S. patients infected with the virus. All FDA-authorized drugs currently used against coronavirus require an IV or injection. The FDA will ask its experts whether the drug's benefits outweigh its risks for various patient groups, including pregnant women. Read more

Updated

Poland isn't planning any new lockdowns or other restrictions despite skyrocketing COVID-19 infections and deaths. Poland's medical professionals are criticizing perceived government inaction that bucks a European trend to put limits on the unvaccinated. On Friday, the country recorded slightly over 420 COVID-19 related deaths, a day after registering nearly 500 deaths. Across Europe, governments are imposing new restrictions in hopes of putting the brakes on surging infections. The Polish government is urging citizens to get vaccinated and has made mask-wearing in public compulsory. Yet it appears to have little appetite for the kind of restrictions that have triggered protests and rioting elsewhere. Read more

Updated

Israel's prime minister says the country is “on the threshold of an emergency situation” after authorities detected its first case of a new coronavirus variant in a traveler who returned from Malawi. The Health Ministry says the traveler and two other suspected cases, all of whom were vaccinated, have been placed in isolation. A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett says the new strain is more contagious than the delta variant. Israel has barred travel to sub-Saharan Africa. Read more

Updated

Coronavirus infections in the Czech Republic have jumped to a new record high in a surge that hit the country’s president and has delayed the appointment of the new prime minister. The Health Ministry says the daily tally of new cases was 27,717 the previous day. That's almost 2,000 more than the previous record, set on Tuesday. The country’s infection rate has risen to a new record high of 1,231 new cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. Meanwhile, Czech President Milos Zeman will be discharged from Prague’s military hospital after he was readmitted to it Thursday following a positive test for COVID-19.     Read more

Updated

As several European nations tighten up or lock down to combat a spike in coronavirus infections, life in Britain is almost back to normal. Pubs, restaurants, theaters and shops are all busy. This is not the first time in the pandemic that Britain has been out of step with many of its neighbors. But this time, it’s happy to be different. Scientists say the surge that is now hitting mainland Europe, driven by the highly transmissible delta strain of the virus, walloped Britain in the summer. While cases have been stubbornly high in the U.K. since then, it means Britain is not seeing the same spike in infections and hospitalizations that is worrying some of its neighbors. Read more

Updated

Indonesia has recovered significantly from a mid-year spike in coronavirus cases and deaths that was one of the worst in the region, but with its vaccination drive stalling and with holidays approaching, experts and officials warn it could soon face another surge. Most vaccines have been distributed in the more urban areas on the archipelago nation’s biggest islands of Java and Bali, while many on smaller, more rural islands — where health care systems are often rudimentary and the population tends to be older — have not been reached. Read more

Like others in Europe, Switzerland is facing a steep rise in coronavirus cases. But its federal government, unlike others, hasn’t responded with new lockdown measures. Analysts say it doesn’t want to stir up more opposition to its anti-COVID-19 measures, which face a crucial test at the ballot box this weekend as critics have grown increasingly loud. On Sunday, as part of the country’s regular referendums, Swiss voters will cast ballots on a “COVID-19 law” that has unlocked billions of Swiss francs (dollars) in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic. Polls suggest it will pass, but critics are well-financed and increasingly vocal. Read more

Singapore’s top court will decide Tuesday on the fate of a Malaysian man on death row who is believed to be mentally disabled. The hearing at the Court of Appeal was originally scheduled for Nov. 10, a day before Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam was to be executed by hanging for trying to smuggle less than 43 grams (1.5 ounces) of heroin into the country. But the hearing was postponed after he was diagnosed with COVID-19 in a case that has drawn international attention. UK-based rights group Reprieve says that if the court dismisses the appeal, Nagaenthran, 33, would again be at immediate risk of execution, which could take place very quickly.  Read more

Updated

President Joe Biden is wishing Americans a happy and closer-to-normal Thanksgiving. It was the second Thanksgiving celebrated in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. The president and first lady Jill Biden visited a Coast Guard station on Nantucket Island to extend Thanksgiving greetings virtually to service members around the world and chat with Coast Guard personnel. They also released a holiday greeting to Americans in a video recorded before their trip to Nantucket for the holiday. The Bidens also called in to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which resumed in full. Read more

Updated

The second Thanksgiving of the COVID-19 pandemic comes as a resurgent virus has pushed new infections in the U.S. to 95,000 daily and caused alarming increases at hospitals in Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Arizona. American families are facing dilemmas over gatherings that have become burdened with the same political and coronavirus debates consuming other arenas. Many who skipped traditional gatherings last year, before vaccines were available, are putting aside concerns and getting together again. Others are opting to be cautious and stick to smaller groups and avoid travel. Read more

Updated

A new coronavirus variant has been detected in South Africa that scientists say is a concern because of its high number of mutations and rapid spread among young people in Gauteng, the country’s most populous province. Health Minister Joe Phaahla announced THursday that South Africa has seen a dramatic rise in new cases, adding that the new variant appears to be driving the spike. He said the new variant, currently identified as  B.1.1.529, has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong, in travelers from South Africa. The WHO’s technical working group is to meet Friday to assess the new variant and may decide whether or not to give it a name from the Greek alphabet.  Read more

Updated

Czech President Milos Zeman has been readmitted to hospital after he tested positive for COVID-19, just hours after he had been discharged following more than a month’s treatment for an unspecified illness. The presidential office said Zeman was tested after he arrived at his official residence in Lany, west of Prague, Thursday afternoon. His official program was postponed, and it was unclear whether Zeman would be able to swear in the country’s new prime minister as scheduled Friday — a process already long delayed due to his previous hospitalization. Read more

Updated

Giant balloons once again wafted through miles of Manhattan, high school and college marching bands from around the country were back, and so were the crowds at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. After being crimped by the coronavirus last year, the event returned in full Thursday, though with precautions. The Thanksgiving parade is the latest U.S. holiday event to make a comeback amid the ongoing pandemic. Still, some safety measures continued. Parade staffers and volunteers had to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and most were required to wear masks.  Read more

US and World News

Updated

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid returned Saturday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves after missing nine games because of COVID-19 protocols. The four-time All-Star hadn’t played since Nov. 6, with the 76ers going 2-7 without him. Embiid is averaging 21.4 pints and 9.6 rebounds in 10 games this season. He also sat out on Nov. 1 against Portland to rest. Philadelphia coach Doc Rivers said before the game that Embiid would be a game-time decision. The star center went through his normal pregame routine, then received a raucous standing ovation from the fans during introductions. Embiid is one of four 76ers to be sidelined this season as part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols, along with Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Isaiah Joe. Read more

Updated

Matthias Mayer edged fellow Austrian Vincent Kreichmayr on Saturday in the season-opening World Cup men’s downhill at Lake Louise. Mayer finished in 1 minute, 47.74 seconds. He started seventh. Kreichmayr had a time of 1:47.97. He was the first racer on the course. Feuz was the overall leader in men’s downhill last season, followed by Mayer. After more than 15 inches of snow in a 24-hour period forced the cancellation of a downhill Friday, course workers worked early Saturday to shift snow and groom the course for a noon start. Read more

Updated

Extortion of avocado growers in western Mexico has gotten so bad that 500 vigilantes from a so-called “self-defense” group known as United Towns, or Pueblos Unidos, have gathered and pledged to aid police. The vigilantes were armed with AR-15s and other rifles, as well as a motley collection of shotguns. They said that drug cartels like the Viagras and the Jalisco cartel have been charging avocado growers ‘war taxes’ of about $1,000 per acre ($2,500 per hectare). Tired of the extortion demands and kidnappings, growers and farmers formed the group earlier this year, and it now claims to have almost 3,000 members. Read more

Updated

Inflation is soaring, businesses are struggling to hire and President Joe Biden’s poll numbers have been in free fall. The White House sees a common culprit, namely COVID-19. Biden’s team views the pandemic as the root cause of both the nation’s malaise and his own political woes. The Biden team sees getting more people vaccinated and finally controlling COVID-19 as the key to reviving the country and Biden’s own standing. But the coronavirus has proved to be a vexing challenge. The economy is actually improving, but there are signs COVID-19 will leave its scars. And now there's a new variant, omicron, to worry about. Read more

Updated

Hassan Haskins scored five touchdowns and Aidan Hutchinson had three sacks, helping No. 6 Michigan finally beat No. 2 Ohio State 42-27 to give Jim Harbaugh his first win as a coach against the rivals. The Wolverines clinched the Big Ten East and will play in the conference title game next week with playoff hopes in hand. They now have a chance to win a Big Ten title for the first time since 2004 and a national championship for the first time since 1997. Ohio State had won a school-record eight straight in the storied series. Read more

Updated

Blake Shapen threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns in his first start for ninth-ranked Baylor, and the Bears still have a shot at making the Big 12 championship game. Abram Smith added 117 yards rushing and a touchdown for the 10-2 Bears in 27-24 win over Texas Tech, which missed a field goal on the game's final play. Baylor then had to wait for the outcome of Saturday night's game between No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 10 Oklahoma. A win by the Cowboys would put Bears in next week's title game.  Read more

Updated

The new potentially more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus has popped up in more European countries, just days after being identified in South Africa., leaving governments around the world scrambling to stop the spread. The U.K. on Saturday tightened its rules on mask-wearing and on testing of international arrivals after finding two cases. New cases were confirmed Saturday in Germany and Italy, with Belgium, Israel and Hong Kong also reporting that the variant has been found in travelers. There are growing concerns that the pandemic and associated lockdown restrictions will persist for far longer than hoped because of fears that the new variant has the potential to be more resistant to the protection offered by vaccines.  Read more

Updated

No. 15 UTSA’s undefeated season has ended in a blowout as North Texas running backs DeAndre Torrey and Ikaika Ragsdale combined for five touchdowns in a 45-23 rout of the Roadrunners. Quarterback Frank Harris had two of UTSA’s three lost fumbles before sitting the second half at UNT’s rain-soaked Apogee Stadium. A Top 25 team had never played in the 10-year-old facility. UTSA is still playing in the Conference USA championship game Friday. North Texas improves to 2-47 against ranked opponents. Read more

Updated

The Seattle Mariners have acquired All-Star second baseman Adam Frazier from the San Diego Padres in exchange for two minor leaguers. The trade addresses one of Seattle’s biggest needs entering the offseason, finding a middle infielder to pair with shortstop J.P. Crawford. But Frazier’s versatility allows Seattle to still be aggressive with other possible moves should another middle infielder become available. San Diego acquired left-handed reliever Ray Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier in the deal. Read more

Updated

Stetson Bennett passed for 255 yards and four touchdowns, and No. 1 Georgia finished its undefeated regular season with a 45-0 victory over Georgia Tech. Georgia gained momentum for next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game against No. 3 Alabama in Atlanta. It is the first undefeated regular season for the Bulldogs since 1982, when they capped a streak of three consecutive SEC championships with tailback Herschel Walker. Georgia Tech finished with three wins for the third consecutive season under coach Geoff Collins. Read more

Updated

The NHL has postponed two more games for coronavirus-related reasons. That brings the total number of postponements to five so far this season. The New York Islanders' upcoming games Sunday at the Rangers and Tuesday at the Philadelphia Flyers were postponed. Forward Casey Cizikas on Saturday became the latest Islanders player to test positive and go into the NHL's COVID-19 protocol. The team would have had as many as eight players unavailable. The league says the possibility of additional spread contributed to the Islanders' games through at least Tuesday being called off for now. The NHL postponed three Ottawa Senators games in mid-November because of that team's virus outbreak. Read more

Updated

After 21 years since last playing in Australia, the United States women’s soccer team needed only 24 seconds to score against the Matildas. Turns out that was all the new-look American side needed in a 3-0 win at Sydney’s Olympic stadium before a record crowd of 36,109. Ashley Hatch scored her first international goal when Australia’s defense failed to clear the ball from the opening kickoff, and Hatch found herself one-on-one with goalkeeper Teagan Micah. Hatch calmly slotted a low shot to the right of Micah. Rose Lavelle scored the second American goal in the 49th minute and captain Lindsey Horan finished the scoring from a penalty in the 68th. Read more

Updated

The New York Mets have bolstered their lineup with three free-agent deals, adding speedy center fielder Starling Marte to go along with Mark Canha and All-Star infielder Eduardo Escobar. Marte’s four-year contract is worth $78 million, according to a person familiar with the deal. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contracts are pending physicals and haven’t been announced by the team. New York also has agreements in place with Canha, a veteran outfielder who also can play first base, and Escobar, who hit 28 homers this season. Read more

Updated

California and Colorado this year banned state agencies from using the word “alien” to refer to immigrants who entered the U.S. without permission. Supporters of the change say the word is demeaning and dehumanizing, and can have an impact on the treatment of immigrants. The Biden administration took a similar step for federal agencies. Yet the term “alien” remains in wide use in many states. That includes Texas, where a legislative effort to end its use recently failed. The word became a focal point of debate in several states earlier this year as the number of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border swelled and led to fierce backlash from Republicans. Read more

Updated

More than $1 million has been raised for a man who spent 43 years behind bars before a judge overturned his conviction in a triple killing. The GoFundMe fundraiser to benefit Kevin Strickland had raised nearly $1.4 million as of midday Saturday. The Midwest Innocence Project set up the online fundraiser as they fought for his release, noting that he wouldn’t receive compensation from Missouri and needed help paying for basic living expenses. The state only allows wrongful imprisonment payments to people who were exonerated through DNA evidence, so the 62-year-old Strickland wouldn't qualify. Read more

Updated

The Dayton Board of Zoning Appeals has approved the city’s request to demolish a 129-year-old historic building that once was the site of the Wright brothers’ first bike shop. The city wants to tear down the site because the building has deteriorated to a point where it can no longer be maintained and redeveloped. Public safety concerns have also been raised by some who fear the building could collapse. But the Dayton Landmarks Commission rejected the demolition request in September. The panel instead recommended that the city re-advertise the property and encourage its renovation in a way that preserves the historic facade. Read more

Updated

Shortstop Wander Franco and the Tampa Bay Rays have finalized an $182 million, 11-year contract that includes a club option for the 2033 season. The deal could be worth up to $223 million if the club option is exercised and incentives are reached. The contract is the largest financial commitment to a player in the Rays' 24-year history and the biggest in major league history for a player with less than a year of major league service time. The 20-year-old Franco finished third in this year's American League Rookie of the Year voting. Read more

Updated

Skirmishes have erupted in Serbia between police and anti-government demonstrators who briefly blocked roads and bridges in the Balkan country in protest against new laws they say favor interests of foreign investors who are devastating the environment. Hundreds of people on Saturday appeared simultaneously in the capital Belgrade, the northern city of Novi Sad and other locations to block main bridges and roads for one hour in what organizers described as a warning blockade. Cordons of police deployed to block access to the demonstrators, which led to skirmishes. Organizers said a number of people have been detained.    Read more

Updated

A Russian court has ordered five people to remain in pre-trial detention for two months pending an investigation into a devastating blast in a coal mine in Siberia that resulted in dozens of deaths. Authorities reported 51 deaths after a methane explosion rocked the Listvyazhnaya mine in the Kemerovo region in southwestern Siberia on Thursday. The toll included 46 miners and five rescuers. The tragedy appears to be the deadliest in Russia since 2010. The Central District Court in the city of Kemerovo ruled Saturday to jail the mine's director, his deputy, section supervisor and two state officials. They are accused of violations that resulted in multiple deaths and face up to seven years in prison if convicted.  Read more

Updated

Germany’s health minister says he hopes that the sight of air force planes transferring patients across the country will act as a “wake-up call” to millions who are still holding out on getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Health Minister Jens Spahn said Saturday that there has been a welcome increase over the past week in the number of people getting their first shots, with 450,000 recorded. But he said it’s still not enough and “this figure of nearly 12 million unvaccinated adults is still far, far too high.” So far, 68.4% of the population of 83 million people is fully vaccinated, below the 75% minimum threshold eyed by the government. Read more

Updated

Czech President Miloš Zeman has been discharged from the capital’s military hospital after testing positive for the coronavirus. The 77-year-old Zeman had already been discharged following more than a month’s treatment for an unspecified illness on Thursday. But he was readmitted only hours later after testing positive for the coronavirus. The president received monoclonal antibodies in a standard treatment for people belonging to risk groups. He is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 including a booster. The hospital said Saturday that Zeman has no symptoms of COVID-19. Zeman is a heavy smoker and drinker who has suffered from diabetes. He has trouble walking and has been using a wheelchair. Read more

Updated

Migrant smuggling networks organizing English Channel crossings have reaped tens of millions of euros this year. 2021 has been the busiest and deadliest ever recorded. Police and aid workers say the price per person varies depending on the network between 3,000 and 7,000 euros ($3,380 and $8,000). Experts say it's big business run by organized crime. The rubber boats sometimes leave in a flotilla. More than two dozen a day. And they're more overloaded than ever with people trying to reach Britain from France. Twenty-seven people died Wednesday in a sinking that is now being investigated by French organized crime prosecutors.  Read more

Updated

Worried scientists in South Africa are scrambling to combat the lightning spread across the country of the new and highly transmissible omicron COVID-19 variant as the world grapples with its emergence. The omicron variant has sent South Africa from a period of low transmission to rapid growth of new confirmed cases in the space of two weeks. The country’s numbers are still relatively low. But omicron’s speed in infecting young South Africans alarms experts. What looked like a cluster infection among some university students in Pretoria ballooned into hundreds and then thousands of new cases. Scientists studying the surge identified the new variant that is likely responsible for 90% of the new cases. Read more

Updated

Security forces have fired tear gas at protesters throwing rocks in Burkina Faso’s capital. Tensions have risen across the conflict-riddled nation with the population angry at the government’s inability to stem violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. Several hundred protesters took to the streets early Saturday morning calling for President Roch March Christian Kabore to resign. The government’s crackdown on the protesters follows a week of a mobile internet shutdown which the government said was for national security reasons. The president has vowed to increase aid to the military and investigate the deaths in the Sahel while calling on the population to maintain calm. Read more

Updated

Postal workers who recall packages and letters piled up in distribution hubs a year ago are gearing up for another holiday crush. The Postal Service and private shippers UPS and FedEx are bolstering their hiring by bringing in about 230,000 seasonal workers to ensure they don’t become overwhelmed by packages again. But low product inventories and port and supply chain disruptions are creating new uncertainty about getting gifts delivered on time. Despite that, U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said this month: “We are ready.” Read more

Updated

Several members of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe in northern Minnesota are working to address animal neglect on their tribal lands — and in doing so bringing their community closer to its spiritual roots. Kids are helping their elders in animal rescues, pet food and supplies are routinely distributed in the community and the first permanent veterinary clinic is one final permit away from breaking ground. Animals are central to Ojibwe beliefs and sacred origin stories. So promoting pet care reinforces the Creator’s intentions for harmony between humans and animals — a value that some say faded over the years. Read more

After a season of being restricted to watching snow accumulate on distant mountains, Italian skiers are finally returning to the slopes that have been off-limits since the first pandemic lockdown in March 2020. But just as the industry is poised to recover from the lost season, a spike in cases in the Alpine province bordering Austria is underlining just how precarious the situation remains. Snow making has been on full-speed in two valleys in Italy’s South Tyrol, which are opening Saturday ahead of a general season opening on Dec. 5. The slopes of San Vigilio Di Marebbe, which hosts an annual world cup event, were groomed and ready to go for the first skiers of the new season.   Read more

Updated

Taiwan’s annual Golden Horse Awards kicked off Saturday with a Hong Kong drama receiving the most nominations for the Asian equivalent of the Academy Awards. This year, the Hong Kong film “Drifting” which is based on a 2012 court case involving homeless people in a working neighborhood, received 12 nominations including for Best Director, Best Leading Actor and Best Cinematography. Two Taiwanese movies, titled “The Soul,” “The Falls” and “Till We Meet Again” received 11 nominations each. “Revolution of Our Times,” a documentary about the Hong Kong political unrest in 2019 by Hong Kong director Kiwi Chow, won Best Documentary Feature. Chow sold the film's copyright to a European distributor and disposed of all his footage amid a crackdown on Hong Kong opposition.  Read more

Updated

Algerians are voting Saturday to elect their mayors and regional leaders amid widespread worry and frustration over rising prices for basic goods. The government is hoping the election confirms support for President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, who won election after nationwide pro-democracy protests and the army chief ousted his predecessor. But many Algerians see Tebboune's leadership as only a cosmetic change and are deeply disillusioned by politics. Turnout appeared low at voting stations Saturday morning in Algiers. The government recently announced an end to subsidies on some basic goods, pushing up prices.  Read more

Updated

Macao police have detained the head of Macao’s biggest casino junket organizer and others after Chinese authorities issued an arrest warrant for them over accusations that they ran an illegal cross-border gambling syndicate. The arrests in the gambling enclave came after prosecutors in Wenzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang on Friday accused Suncity Group CEO Alvin Chau and another person of setting up casinos across China. Casinos and most forms of gambling are illegal in mainland China, and semi-autonomous Macao is the only Chinese city allowed to operate a casino. Mainland visitors are able to travel to Macao to gamble but are required to obtain a visa. Suncity has denied allegations it's targeting mainland Chinese with online gambling.   Read more