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Los Angeles councilman facing federal corruption charges will 'step back' from participating in meetings

Los Angeles City Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas will "immediately step back" from participating in council and committee meetings as he faces federal corruption charges, according to a letter he sent his colleagues Monday.
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'Hawkeye' Episode 3 Recap: Echo Makes Her Move on Clint Barton and Kate Bishop
The newest episode of the Disney+ Marvel show featured car chases, trick arrows and saw Alaqua Cox's Echo steal the show in her MCU debut.
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Where Each Supreme Court Justice Stands on Roe v. Wade
The future of abortion rights in the U.S. could depend on the justices' willingness to overturn a precedent set almost 50 years ago.
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Pro-life, pro-choice lawmakers brace for historic Supreme Court abortion arguments
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.
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'Unanimous conclusion' that Peng Shuai is 'fine,' says IOC member Dick Pound
Long-time International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound has said that the "unanimous conclusion" by those on a call with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai is that she is "fine."
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Abortion is a fundamental right. We should all be concerned about what restricting it will mean
The Supreme Court case, Dobbs vs. Jackson, has been an important rallying point for reproductive rights advocates because the repercussions of this law will be felt across every corner of the country.
The Department of Education Must Commit to Free Speech and Due Process | Opinion
Now that Catherine Lhamon leads OCR again, she has a chance to prove her critics wrong by backing Title IX policies that respect the rights of all students.
Most Americans believe COVID-19 leaked from Wuhan lab, support 'reparations' for cover-up, poll finds
A new poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly believed that the coronavirus pandemic stemmed from a lab leak in Wuhan, China, and that the Chinese government subsequently lied about it.
Person suffers life-threatening injuries in house fire in Suitland, Md.
A fire broke out in a home on Campbell Drive in Suitland.
Man Shot Dead in Front of His Young Child in Parking Lot: Police
Donta Roberts, 20, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide following the shooting in Milwaukee.
Woman Who Helped Domestic Violence Victims Shot Dead By Ex-Boyfriend—Police
Leslie Reeves, 45, was found dead in a home in Farmersville, Illinois, on Thanksgiving Day.
Students describe barricading doors with tables during Michigan high school shooting that left 3 dead and 8 injured
Supreme Court hearing oral arguments in case that could overturn landmark abortion ruling in Roe v. Wade
Wednesday, Dec. 1, is a significant day in abortion politics as the Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health. Here are some key details about the case and what you can expect:
Judges dubious of Trump lawyers' claims in major case on Jan. 6 Committee documents: 'One president at a time'
Judges on a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., expressed doubts Tuesday about arguments by former President Trump's lawyers that they should bar the Biden administration from releasing documents from the former president's term to the House Jan. 6 Committee.
Young Americans are really down on democracy and reeling from the pandemic
New numbers from a Harvard Institute of Politics poll revealed startling data about the mental health of young Americans and their views on the state of U.S. democracy.
15-Year-Old Is in Custody After Shooting
A student was arrested with a handgun that his father had bought four days before the attack. Here’s the latest.
Tate Myre: Students Want to Rename Oxford High School's Stadium After Shooting 'Hero'
Oxford Wildcats football player Tate Myre was reportedly shot trying to disarm the shooter.
Abcarian: Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones learns the laws aren't just for the little people
Alex Jones will probably never take responsibility for the pain he caused the families of Sandy Hook victims. But at least he will be made to pay.
Granderson: Why 'Succession' keeps us glued to our screens watching irredeemable people
'Succession,' in Season 3, sinks deeper into evil — maybe a perfect story for our times.
Calls to 'defund the police' clash with reality for many Americans, city polls show
Despite calls for police reform, residents in Louisville and Oklahoma City worry more about rising crime than police misconduct.
House could vote on stopgap funding bill to avert shutdown Wednesday
The House of Representatives could vote as soon as Wednesday to approve a stopgap measure to prevent a government shutdown at the end of the week when funding runs out Friday at midnight.
Supreme Court to hear biggest fight over abortion rights in decades
The nation's top court will hear oral arguments in a challenge to Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban, which many see as a bid to overturn Roe v. Wade.
These Sheets Feel Like You’re Wrapped up in Huge Flannel Pajamas
Photo: Scouted/The Daily Beast/Brooklyn.Scouting Report: These sheets are so soft and comfortable that you may never get out of bed.Supposedly Brooklinen makes the most amazing sheets imaginable. Supposedly they are “the most popular sheets on the internet.” Whatever. I didn’t believe the hype.Then I tried the sheets.Read more at The Daily Beast.
'Christmas in Rockefeller Center': How to Watch the Festive Tradition Online
The annual tradition continues in New York City with NBC hosts and musical guests all joining together to light the Rockefeller Christmas tree.
Letters to the Editor: During Hanukkah, pondering what binds all free-thinking Jews together
Jews have many different ideas about their faith and identity, but they all have something in common: a shared history of oppression and survival.
Letters to the Editor: Homeless shelters don't work. Use California's $31-billion surplus to build housing
A nonprofit director warns that efforts to shelter unhoused Angelenos are falling short and the state should use its surplus to build more housing.
Understanding the abortion industry's greatest lie
The reason women "need" abortion is the greatest lie women have ever been told.
Editorial: UC dumped college entrance exams. Big mistake
UC eliminated the SAT and any other entrance exam for college admissions. That's too bad. There are better ways to use tests for fairer admission decisions.
2021 tried to start on a unified note but soon fell to the pandemic's contentious chorus
Late last year in the middle of a dark December — infections running rampant, hospitals pushed to the brink — 2021 held such promise.
Researchers discover skull of deadly, fast swordfish-like reptile with a 3-foot-long skull
Ichthyosaurs were fast creatures that preyed on small fish. But a recently discovered skull suggests the species was able to eat large prey.
Cuomo adviser claimed Atlantic journalist-turned-CNN reporter was 'on our side' during harassment scandal
Newly-released documents show Cuomo allies believing former Atlantic staff writer Edward-Isaac Dovere was "on our side."
Christmas 2021 travel: 112 million people will journey for holidays, survey says
The 2021 holiday season might see more travelers than last year if the new COVID-19 Omicron variant doesn’t sway people to cancel their plans.
These women speak candidly about their abortions. Here's what they want you to know
In D.C. and across the country, people gathered by the thousands in coordinated rallies to demand reproductive justice for all. The main message? Everyone loves someone who's had an abortion.
A man was ill and couldn’t hang Christmas lights at his home for a food drive. A stranger got the job done.
Bob Coffey and four of his employees spent three hours hanging thousands of lights.
Omicron? Many Americans give it a shrug
The dangers of the Omicron COVID-19 variant are unknown. But many Americans aren't very worried.
How Trump-backed secretary of state candidates would change elections in the United States
They question whether Joe Biden is president. And now they want to run elections for the next presidential campaign.
The American West went through climate hell in 2021. But there's still hope
The region has entered a dangerous era of hotter heat waves, ever-more-brutal droughts and a growing threat of violence.
Letters to the Editor: Oroville is now a 'constitutional republic.' Will it give up Social Security too?
If Oroville, Calif., is willing to secede over vaccine mandates, its residents should also do without a host of other government benefits and protections.
Khalilzhad on dealing with Taliban - "Intelligence Matters"
Host Michael Morell talks with Khalilzhad about the history of U.S. engagement in Afghanistan.
Chile’s presidential runoff pits Pinochet supporter against left-leaning reformer. Here’s what to know.
After voting to reform the constitution, Chileans appear to be having second thoughts.
Our country is skeptical about whether 'America is back,' more uncertain about US global leadership
The American people clearly recognize the threats our country faces but they are increasingly unsure and equivocal about whether or how the United States should lead in the world.
Why Nobody Should Take Up Donald Trump's Election Debate Offer
The former president has suggested such an event would be a "ratings bonanza for television," as he blasted the media for "trying to demean the real results."
Russia's Threats, Energy Crisis Put Ukraine on The Brink | Opinion
Russia is escalating pressure on Ukraine, threatening to drag the U.S. and NATO into their worst confrontation with Moscow since the Cold War.
Iran Feels Cornered by the Biden Administration
Few Saudi officials are more candid or colorful these days than Prince Turki al-Faisal, a son of the late King Faisal and former ambassador to Washington. Although he no longer holds a government position, the prince retains influence and insight into the kingdom and, thanks to a two-decade-long career as Riyadh’s intelligence chief, understands better than anyone its rivalry with Iran. So I was mildly surprised by his frank assessment of the current state of affairs. “The Iranians,” he told me, “have us by the cojones.” (He was speaking in a private setting and later assured me that I could quote him.)The kingdom should feel secure enough in the face of an adversary strangled by sanctions, whose economy is less than a third the size of its own, whose military budget is less than a quarter of the kingdom’s, and whose oil production is at an all-time low. And yet, anxiety within Saudi Arabia, a Sunni Arab monarchy, vis-à-vis Iran, a Shiite Persian theocracy, has been a constant over the past few decades, and not without reason.Iranian officials have been boasting for years that they control four Arab capitals: Beirut, Damascus, Sanaa, and Baghdad. Across these countries, Tehran runs a network of militias through which it projects power, siphons off local resources, and forms a ring of fire that essentially encircles Saudi Arabia. Iran’s cheaper, asymmetrical approach to warfare gives it an advantage over its richer Gulf neighbors with well-armed but less experienced traditional forces. Add to that a nuclear program that is progressing apace, and Prince Turki is indeed right. Or at least he would have been until very recently because subtle but serious shifts in the Middle East are making Iran feel insecure and cornered. That, paradoxically, is why Tehran is acting overconfidently and being uncompromising, all of which makes for a dangerous combination.Let’s start with Iran’s nuclear program. Tehran had hoped that Joe Biden’s presidency would herald an easy and quick return to the nuclear agreement that Donald Trump pulled out of, and with it would come the lifting of sanctions. But the Biden administration has been more intransigent than the Iranians expected. Almost a year after Biden took office, no relief is in sight for Iran’s economy. It contracted by 7 percent from 2019 to 2020, and the national currency has taken a plunge. Iran’s oil exports rose to 2.5 million barrels a day in 2016, after the nuclear deal came into effect, then dropped to 400,000 barrels a day under Trump. Under Biden, oil exports have inched up, but barely, and the country’s reserves have strengthened only thanks to rising oil prices. Under Trump, Iran lost access to more than $100 billion of its foreign reserves; so far under Biden, they remain off limits, in bank accounts around the world. Iran needs this money to stabilize its national currency, keep its economy running, and stave off protests. And yet, despite all this, Iran appears in no mood to compromise, continuing to fund and develop its nuclear program and regional power plays.But tighter resources are not Iran’s most serious concern. An Iranian academic based abroad, who asked to remain anonymous because he still travels regularly to Tehran, told me that although Iran is not able to spend as much as it used to on its regional allies and proxies (the figure is almost half of what it was in 2014, down to about $2 billion to $3 billion a year, he estimates), the real challenge facing Tehran is the rapidly changing regional landscape—which is precisely why it cannot compromise in nuclear talks.[James Jeffrey and Dennis Ross: The Iran Nuclear Deal isn’t the problem. Iran is.]First there are the ongoing Israeli strikes on Iranian military assets in Syria and suspected sabotage of Iranian energy or nuclear installations over the past couple years. Within Syria, Iran also has to cooperate and sometimes compete with the mightier Russian military, which dilutes some of its power on the ground.More confounding was the outburst of popular anger in Beirut and Baghdad in the fall of 2019 against corruption and sectarianism, which also targeted Iranian influence and Tehran’s proxy militias in both countries. Iran’s involvement in Lebanon and Iraq has brought no economic benefits to those countries’ populations, except for Tehran’s closest allies or a corrupt few. Meanwhile both countries sink into a state of economic disrepair. Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran analyst at the Carnegie Endowment (where I am a nonresident fellow), describes this dynamic as an “axis of misery.” The 2019 protests happened while Iranians themselves were out marching against their government; taken together, the various movements were among the more complex challenges that Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, had to face in his career. The Iranians were concerned enough by the wave of discontent that Soleimani was personally involved in the violent crackdowns in all three countries, before he was killed by a U.S. strike in Iraq in January 2020.The protests have continued to simmer in Lebanon and Iraq. In the latter, the mood shift against Tehran resulted in the trouncing of Iranian allies in parliamentary elections last month. That’s not to say Iran’s influence in Iraq is being rolled back, but that there is a breach in its hold on the country. Barely a month after the election, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the form of a drone attack on his residence, which U.S. and Iraqi officials blamed on pro-Iran militias. Whether Iran ordered the attack is almost irrelevant—if it did, the move denotes anger and insecurity; if it didn’t, the assassination attempt indicates the loosening of its control over the militias.In Lebanon, protesters chanted slogans against the Iran-backed party-cum-militia Hezbollah and its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, for the first time, including in some of the cities where the group is most powerful. An investigation into last year’s Beirut port blast appears to be making Hezbollah uneasy. This summer, a series of incidents saw members of Hezbollah clash with people from different religious communities in various locations and, in a country with too many guns, at least two members of the Shiite group were shot dead—signaling that its aura of invincibility has taken a hit. Opposition groups in Lebanon are hoping to replicate some of the success witnessed in Iraq to claw parliamentary seats away from Hezbollah and its allies during next year’s elections. Here again, while popular discontent is real and Iran is learning that domination through oppression and assassinations is never-ending hard work, Tehran will continue to deploy all tools, including violence, to maintain its grip.So can the popular pushback against Iran translate into real political change? The short answer is no, at least not in a meaningful way, because there are few local mechanisms to outmaneuver Iran and its entrenched allies inside Lebanon and Iraq.This brings us to the regional dynamics and the Biden administration. The past few months have been an interesting multidimensional chess game across the Middle East: Iraq hosted talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran; the United Arab Emirates foreign minister visited Damascus; Jordan and Egypt drew up proposals to help address Lebanon’s energy crisis; Jordan, Israel, and the UAE signed a separate energy deal; and much else besides. This is more regional activity, mostly cooperative, than the Middle East has seen in years.[Read: How America can win the Middle East]It’s easy to over interpret the intentions behind such moves or how much strategic thinking is involved. But three parallel patterns have emerged, all of which should worry Tehran.First, the efforts to engage with Iran to de-escalate tensions appear to be mostly pro forma, including by the Saudis. The kingdom’s foreign minister described the talks in Baghdad as “cordial” and “exploratory,” while another official said the dialogue lacked substance. A high-level delegation from the UAE is expected to travel to Tehran in the coming weeks. No one expects decades of rivalry and enmity to end, and there’s no sign yet that Tehran is offering enough to Riyadh for it to reopen the Saudi embassy in Iran. Regional engagement with Iran can help reduce tensions while the high-stakes nuclear talks inch forward. At the very least, Arab countries can turn to the U.S. and say, in effect: “We have engaged; we’ve been positive; we got nothing.”Second, nothing has served Iran’s interests better in past years than division among and dysfunction within Arab countries. Petulant moves such as Riyadh’s brief kidnapping of Lebanon’s prime minister in 2017, or its rush into war in Yemen in 2015, have backfired, providing opportunities for Iran to deepen its involvement in both countries. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saudi Arabia was a reluctant, almost absent, partner in post-Saddam Iraq, to the benefit of Iran. Now Arab countries appear to be working together on an ad hoc basis to address regional energy issues; even Saudi Arabia is discussing deals worth billions of dollars with Iraq. Two years ago, a senior Saudi official told me that the best way to counter Iran would be with an economic vision for the region.Furthermore, decades into a chilly peace between Israel and its neighbors Jordan and Egypt, several Gulf countries have signed peace treaties with Israel, a set of agreements known collectively as the Abraham Accords, and the evolution of the public relationship and cooperation between Israel and the UAE has been particularly swift. The agreements have done little to help the Palestinians and played into Iran’s decades-long propaganda efforts to brand itself as the only real defender of the Palestinian cause. But the Accords also present a true strategic challenge for Tehran, which now faces a front of Arab countries actively working with Israel.Finally, there are the overtures to the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad by Jordan and the UAE—pragmatic realpolitik at its best, or perhaps worst. Assad should be facing trial at the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide, but 10 years after the start of the peaceful uprising turned bloody civil war in Syria—in which an overwhelming majority of casualties were the result of government shelling, with Russian help later on—Assad is clearly not going anywhere.Meanwhile, Jordan’s economy has taken a real hit over the past decade because of the closing of borders, the choking off of trade, and the flood of incoming refugees. Jordan’s imperatives for reaching out to Assad are different from the UAE’s, but both see an advantage in diluting Iran’s presence in Syria even slightly. (Trying to peel Syria away from Iran has been a longtime dream of many, including the George W. Bush administration, but ties have run deep between Damascus and Tehran since the early days of the Iranian revolution.) Even a diplomatic spat between Riyadh and Beirut a few weeks ago appears to have been the result of a convoluted effort by the kingdom to gain leverage in Lebanon again, after it ceded ground to Iran in prior years. In other words, Arab countries are signaling to Tehran that it is no longer the only player in Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria. (Yemen is a different problem.)All of this regional activity is happening with the U.S. quietly coordinating in the background, encouraging some moves while discouraging or ignoring others (such as the overtures to Assad), but overall engaging in much more diplomacy across the region ahead of the nuclear talks with Iran that resumed this week after a five-month hiatus.Crisis is always around the corner in the Middle East, and if the nuclear negotiations with Iran go nowhere, tensions will rise again rapidly. This is where the unusual level of inter-Arab dialogue and efforts at cooperation could provide some balance, and a rare win-win for everyone. Except the leaders of Iran.
23 FSA eligible items to buy before the 2021 deadline
It's time to stock up on the healthcare essentials before the deadline.
Trump Tested Positive for COVID Before Biden Debate, Not After, Says His Ex-Chief of Staff
Reuters/Brian SnyderDid Donald Trump risk endangering countless numbers of people by showing up for an in-person presidential debate with Joe Biden days after testing positive for COVID-19 last September? That’s the extraordinary new claim from Mark Meadows, Trump’s former chief of staff.The Guardian obtained a copy of Meadows’ upcoming book, The Chief’s Chief, which claims Trump tested positive three days before his first debate against Biden on Sept. 29 last year. Meadows recounts Trump taking off on a helicopter from the White House lawn on Sept. 26 to get to a Pennsylvania rally right after attending the Supreme Court confirmation event for Amy Coney Barrett—now known to have been a super-spreader event.Meadows recounts the White House doctor calling him as Marine One lifted off with Trump on board. “Stop the president from leaving,” Sean Conley purportedly told Meadows. “He just tested positive for COVID.”Read more at The Daily Beast.
After the 'Rust' movie set shooting, investigators look into the ammo supplier
Investigators are still trying to determine how live ammunition ended up on the set of Rust. In October, Rust cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was killed by a prop gun armed with a live bullet.
POLITICO Playbook: Scoop: Conservatives plot government shutdown over vaccine mandate
And CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely.
Yellowjackets Reminds You How Much Fun It Is to Wait
If the whole season had dropped on Netflix it'd be all anyone was talking about, but there's pleasure in not knowing what's next.