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O’Neil, Hodges, Minoso, Kaat, Oliva, Fowler Get Into Baseball Hall of Fame

Buck O’Neil, a champion of Black ballplayers during a monumental, eight-decade career on and off the field, joined Gil Hodges, Minnie Minoso and three others in being elected to the baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

Former Minnesota Twins teammates Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat also were chosen along with Bud Fowler by a pair of veterans committees.

Oliva and Kaat are the only living new members. Dick Allen, who died last December, fell one vote shy of election.

The 16-member Early Days and Golden Days committees met separately in Orlando, Florida. The election announcement was originally scheduled to coincide with the big league winter meetings, which were nixed because of the MLB lockout.

The six newcomers will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York, on July 24, 2022, along with any new members elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

First-time candidates David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez join Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling on the ballot, with voting results on Jan. 25.

US Condemns Militant Attack in Mali that Killed 31

The United States “strongly condemns” a militant attack on a bus in central Mali that killed at least 31 people and wounded 17, the State Department said Sunday. 

Unidentified gunmen on Friday opened fire on the bus as it traveled from the village of Songho to a market in Bandiagara, 10 kilometers away. 

The villages sit in the heart of the Mopti region, an epicenter of violence in Mali fueled by insurgents linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group. 

“The United States strongly condemns the attack on civilians on Saturday near Bandiagara, Mali, which left 31 dead and 17 injured,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a written statement. 

“We extend our deepest condolences to the Malian people and will continue to partner with them in their pursuit of a safe, prosperous, and democratic future,” Price said. 

Jihadist attacks have surged across Africa’s Sahel region, killing thousands and displacing millions across Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. 

Cruise Ship With COVID Infections Arrives in New Orleans

A Norwegian Cruise Line ship with at least 10 passengers and crew members infected with COVID-19 docked Sunday in New Orleans, where health officials said they were trying to disembark people without worsening the spread of the coronavirus illness.

Local news outlets in New Orleans confirmed the Norwegian Breakaway had arrived in the city. The ship departed New Orleans on Nov. 28. The Louisiana Department of Health said in a late Saturday news release that over the past week, the ship made stops in Belize, Honduras and Mexico.

Norwegian Cruise Line issued a statement that confirmed a “handful of COVID-19 cases among guests and crew.” The company said all of the identified cases involved people without symptoms of the illness. 

Norwegian said it requires all passengers and crew members to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus prior to departure.

“We are testing all individuals on Norwegian Breakaway prior to disembarkation, as well as providing post-exposure and quarantine public health guidance by the (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” the company’s statement said. “Any guests who have tested positive for COVID-19 will travel by personal vehicle to their personal residence or self-isolate in accommodations provided by the company.”

The state health department — which is working with the cruise line and state and local officials to contain the outbreak — said at least 10 people on the ship tested positive for COVID-19. More than 3,200 people were on board the ship, officials said.

Some disembarking passengers told WVUE-TV in New Orleans that they were notified about the positive cases on the ship, while others said they had no idea about the outbreak until being asked about it by a reporter.

“We didn’t hear of this until we kind of heard you talking a second ago,” said Don Canole, a passenger from North Carolina. “It would have been nice to have known. We would have taken maybe a few more precautions.”

Passengers said they were tested for COVID-19 exposure on Saturday before disembarking Sunday. The cruise line also gave passengers take-home rapid tests as they left the ship, according to WVUE.

The company said no changes to scheduled future sailings on the Norwegian Breakaway are currently planned, and the ship was scheduled to depart again Sunday evening.

Cruise ships were an early source of outbreaks last year at the start of the coronavirus pandemic as some ships were rejected at ports and passengers were forced into quarantine. The CDC issued a no-sail order in March 2020, prompting a standstill that ended last June as cruise ships began to leave U.S. ports with new health and safety requirements.

Kennedy Center Honors, Its Traditions Are Back Once More

The Kennedy Center Honors is returning to tradition this year.

The lifetime achievement awards for artistic excellence will be presented Sunday night in a gala at the Kennedy Center’s main opera house after the coronavirus pandemic forced delays and major changes to last year’s plans.

Honorees include Motown Records creator Berry Gordy, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels, actress-singer Bette Midler, opera singer Justino Diaz and folk music legend Joni Mitchell.

This year’s event also represents a return to political normalcy, with President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden planning to attend. The Democrat will be the first president to be at the Kennedy Center Honors since 2016. 

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump skipped the show the first three years he was in office after several of the artists honored in 2017, his first year in office, threatened to boycott a White House reception if the Republican participated. 

The Trumps also scrapped a traditional White House ceremony for the honorees, which Biden is resuming. Presidents usually host a lighthearted gathering with the honorees at the White House before the awards ceremony.

Last year, the pandemic forced organizers to bump the annual December ceremony back to May 2021. Performance tributes to the artists were filmed over several nights and at multiple locations on campus.

This year’s main COVID-related modification was shifting the annual Saturday ceremony, where honorees receive their medallions on rainbow-colored ribbons, to the Library of Congress instead of the State Department.

Sunday’s ceremony, which will be broadcast Dec. 22 by CBS, is the centerpiece of the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary of cultural programming. The center opened in 1971.

Український супутник «Січ-2-30» відправлено до США

Запуск заплановано 10 січня 2022 року з мису Канаверал (штат Флорида, США)

Чисельність військових Росії поблизу України може зрости до 175 тисяч – міністр оборони

Олексій Резніков зазначив, що повідомив про це парламент України і дані розвідки Міноборони збігаються з даними США

«Цього разу все серйозніше» – Петро Порошенко про тиск Путіна на Європу

«Путін прагне скасувати процес інтеграції України до НАТО»

Omicron Variant Spreading, but Its Severity on Peoples’ Health Undetermined   

The omicron variant of the coronavirus has now spread to 40 countries and 16 of the 50 U.S. states, but top U.S. government health officials said Sunday they are not certain about the severity of its effects on the health of people who contract it. 

“It does not look like there’s a great deal of severity to it,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told CNN’s “State of the Union” show.  

He said, however, it was important to “hold judgment until we get more experience” with the variant as it spreads from country to country and across geographically widely separated U.S. states. 

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, expressed uncertainty as well, saying on NBC’s “Meet the Press” show, “Does this in fact turn out to be less dangerous” than previous coronavirus variants? “Scientists are all over this, hard at work 24/7 to get these answers.” 

“It’s certainly possible,” Collins said, “that this is not the last emerging variant that will attract a lot of attention and a lot of concern.” 

U.S. President Joe Biden has imposed a ban on flights to the United States from eight southern Africa countries. Starting Monday, people traveling to the United States must have a negative COVID-19 test result no more than a day ahead of their trip, instead of the previous three-day period. 

Some experts in the U.S. have suggested that testing might soon be required on domestic flights in the U.S., but Collins said that would be “extremely onerous,” adding that he did not know how much such a requirement would inhibit the spread of the coronavirus within the country. 

“I think we’ve got it just about right” with imposition of the international travel restrictions, Collins said. Israel, Japan and Morocco have barred the entry of foreign travelers altogether. 

With the rapid advance of the omicron variant in the U.S., the number of first-time vaccinations has increased, reaching a six-month high last Thursday, even as about 60 million people eligible for inoculations remain unvaccinated, refusing shots for a variety of reasons. 

In South Africa, the omicron variant has been spreading twice as fast as the delta variant, which previously had been considered the most contagious. 

The U.S. has recorded more than 784,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic first swept into the country 21 months ago, more than in any other nation across the globe, and 48.9 million coronavirus cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Nearly 200 million people are fully vaccinated in the U.S. and more than 45 million people have received booster shots.   

Bob Dole, Longtime US Republican Figure, Dies at 98

Bob Dole, a severely wounded U.S. soldier left for dead on a World War II battlefield and who later became a fixture for decades on the American political scene, died Sunday at the age of 98.

Dole was the plain-spoken son of the Midwestern prairie state of Kansas, which he represented in the U.S. Senate for 27 years, rising to be the chamber’s Republican majority leader.

Dole was the party’s nominee for vice president in 1976 and two decades later its presidential candidate in a losing effort as Democrat Bill Clinton won re-election.

Dole’s death was announced by the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, his wife’s organization honoring the country’s military caregivers. It said he died in his sleep. Dole had announced almost a year ago that he had advanced lung cancer and was beginning treatment.

U.S. President Joe Biden issued a statement Sunday saying, “Bob was an American statesman like few in our history. A war hero and among the greatest of the Greatest Generation. And to me, he was also a friend whom I could look to for trusted guidance, or a humorous line at just the right moment to settle frayed nerves.”

Biden also said Dole “had an unerring sense of integrity and honor.”

Separately, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered that flags at the U.S. Capitol be flown at half-staff as a tribute to Dole, according to her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill.  

In his last years, Dole came to personify the bravery of the World War II generation of military veterans. He raised money for the World War II memorial on the National Mall in Washington and often visited the site on weekends to greet the last of the American World War II veterans visiting the site.

Dole’s right hand was rendered useless by a battlefield injury under Nazi gunfire in Italy. He spent years greeting voters and Washington officialdom with his left while he clutched a pen tucked in his right hand to discourage people from a normal handshake.

In his autobiography, “One Soldier’s Story,” Dole wrote that in 1945, “As the mortar round, exploding shell, or machine gun blast — whatever it was, I’ll never know —ripped into my body, I recoiled, lifted off the ground a bit, twisted in the air, and fell face down in the dirt.”

“For a long moment I didn’t know if I was dead or alive. I sensed the dirt in my mouth more than I tasted it. I wanted to get up, to lift my face off the ground, to spit the dirt and blood out of my mouth, but I couldn’t move,” he wrote.

“I lay face down in the dirt, unable to feel my arms. Then the horror hit me — I can’t feel anything below my neck! I didn’t know it at the time, but whatever it was that hit me had ripped apart my shoulder, breaking my collarbone and my right arm, smashing down into my vertebrae, and damaging my spinal cord,” Dole recounted.

In political life, Dole was often at odds with more conservative Republicans, but for more than three decades was among the party’s top officials. He was viewed in Washington as a political pragmatist.  

Dole opposed many of the Great Society programs of President Lyndon Johnson, but supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In the early 1970s, Dole was the party’s national chairman, was the vice presidential running mate to President Gerald Ford in 1976 in his losing bid for a full elected term and held leadership roles in the Senate.  

In the 1996 election, President Clinton handily won re-election, capturing 31 states to 19 for Dole.

Синоптики оголосили попередження через негоду у понеділок

Негоду оцінили у перший рівень небезпечності

У Дніпрі відкрили оновлений пам’ятник жертвам Голодомору

У Дніпрі, на привокзальній площі, відкрили оновлений пам’ятник жертвам Голодомору – поклонний хрест. На початку 30-х років ХХ століття тут, на площі, помирали українські селяни, тікаючи з голодних сіл до міста.

Раніше на цьому місці стояв дерев’яний хрест, встановлений активістами ще 2006-го року без дозволу тодішньої міської влади.

Нинішній хрест виготовлений з граніту.

Оновлення хреста – це громадська ініціатива, розповіла Радіо Свобода директорка КЗ «Музей спротиву Голодомору» Лілія Богачева.

«Це – результат злагодженої роботи громадських об’єднань. 9 грудня відзначається Міжнародний день пам’яті жертв злочинів геноциду. Вирішили відкрити й освятити хрест сьогодні, а 9-го числа можна буде сюди прийти і вшанувати. Ми готуємо історичну довідку, аби подати документи в область на затвердження цього хреста в якості культурної пам’ятки», – сказала вона.

Оновлений хрест освятили священники Православної церкви України.

«Ми навмисно не приурочили оновлення пам’ятного знака до Дня пам’яті жертв голодоморів, бо вважаємо, що в будь-який день потрібно пам’ятати про трагедію, яка сталася на теренах нашої плодючої землі майже сто років тому», – сказав військовий капелан Дмитро Поворотний.

Раніше неподалік від хреста жертвам Голодомору в Дніпрі стояв пам’ятник «всесоюзному старості» Григорієві Петровському. Його повалили в січні 2016 року.

Українця Захтея два місяці тримали в підвалі карцеру колонії у Сімферополі – омбудсмен

Денісова звернулась до влади Росії щодо українця Захтея

Бойовики минулої доби не порушували «тишу» на Донбасі – штаб ООС

Від початку поточної доби обстрілів теж не було, кажуть у штабі

Активісти влаштували марафон на підтримку засудженого кримського політв’язня Олексія Бессарабова

5 грудня Олексію Бессарабову виповнилося 45 років

Activist Groups Take Cautious Approach to White House Democracy Summit 

When the leaders of more than 100 countries gather virtually in a Summit for Democracy sponsored by the Biden administration next week, groups focused on human rights and civil society say they want to see concrete commitments to push back against rising authoritarianism, as well as an admission by the United States that it has work to do in order to shore up its own democratic institutions.

According to the State Department, the summit on December 9-10 is meant to focus on three things: defending against authoritarianism, addressing and fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.

The gathering is part of an effort to reassert the United States’ role on the global stage as a leader of Democratic nations — echoing President Joe Biden’s assertion that “America is back” after four years of the Donald Trump administration, in which the country largely stepped away from an international leadership role.

The Biden administration has been working to position the United States as a buffer between the democratic nations and the increasingly aggressive authoritarian governments in the world, particularly China and Russia.

However, the summit comes at a time when democratic institutions in the United States are under assault and is complicated by a guest list that includes countries that human rights groups have identified as trending toward authoritarianism, including India, the Philippines and Poland.

‘Democratic backsliding is a fact’

“The damage that has been done to democracy over the last 10 years, but particularly the last five years, has been felt in every region of the world. Democratic backsliding is a fact,” Helena Hofbauer Balmori, international program director for civic engagement and government at the Ford Foundation, a philanthropic organization that seeks to promote social justice, told VOA.

Among other things, she said that the summit must address what she called the “closing of civic space.” The summit, she said, must produce “a strong statement regarding democratic values and practices, and the basic rights that come with it, such as the rights to the freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly that are essential for civil society to play a strong role within any government.”

“Electoral democracy is, unfortunately, not enough,” Hofbauer Balmori said. “We need to create the spaces where citizens can play a role and engage and help contribute to the solution of complex problems.”

Rights defenders under strain

In advance of the summit, the nonprofit democracy advocacy organization Freedom House issued freedom “scorecards” for the various countries participating in the event, highlighting the fact that many of them fall significantly short in terms of respecting the rights and freedoms of their own citizens.

“We’d like to see a very clear articulation that governments are willing to face the challenges that they have at home and own that as part of their process as democracies,” Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, executive vice president of Freedom House, told VOA.

She said that her organization would like to see the participants in the summit come together in a statement of support for “human rights defenders” around the world who, she said, are “under tremendous strain.”

“These are journalists, activists, people who run human rights [nongovernmental organizations], women’s groups, religious leaders, trying to push for universal human rights in their countries,” she said. “They are being imprisoned, they are being arrested, harassed and in some cases killed by authoritarian regimes.”

Additionally, she said that the world’s democracies should come together to condemn the increasingly common practice of “transnational repression,” by which authoritarian governments reach across their own borders to silence activists in other countries. She cited the alleged involvement of Saudi Arabia in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey as an example.

Complicated example

That the United States should be convening a summit on democracy strikes some observers as ironic, given that outside organizations, including the Economist Intelligence Unit and the Stockholm-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA), have recently noted the country’s declining commitment to democratic values.

Citing restrictive voting rules, gerrymandered voting districts that favor one party over another, and the persistent claim by some members of the Republican Party, with no evidence, that the most recent presidential election was illegitimate, IDEA this month added the U.S. to its list of “backsliding democracies.”

“The idea of the United States convening the world’s democracies to talk about democracy raises the question of whether the United States should lead on something like that,” Eric Bjorklund, president of Democracy International, a group that promotes government accountability and free, legitimate elections, told VOA. “Because we now have a situation where a substantial part of one of our political parties doesn’t appear to believe in democracy and is willing to try to overturn elections.”

More than words

A common refrain among human rights organizations and civil society groups was the hope that the summit will do more than simply offer leaders the opportunity to speak in favor of democratic values without holding them accountable for actually implementing them.

“We think that the summit needs to be a place of honesty, humility and true commitment to working through the issues, the human rights issues that are faced by countries around the world, including the United States of America,” Joanne Lin, national director for advocacy and government relations at Amnesty International USA, told VOA.

“It’s a question of whether or not the summit is actually going to be the launching point for meaningful multilateral engagement and challenge or whether it’s going to be more of a one-off event that convenes governments virtually but doesn’t actually have meaningful accountability afterwards,” she said.

Hofbauer Balmori of the Ford Foundation agreed: “The big challenge is to actually come out with some mechanisms that make it possible to hold governments to account for their commitments, and to make sure that in these mechanisms, you have countries, governments and civil society who can help to push for the best aspiration.”

What is the US National Archives?

When John Carlin started his job at the head of the U.S. National Archives back in June of 1995, he was shocked to learn that government emails were not being preserved. 

“They, at that time, did not consider email as a record, and I said, ‘Folks, I may not be an archivist, but those are records,’” says Carlin, who served as archivist for a decade. “By September I was able to go through the process of getting that changed. More and more records now are coming in the archives in the electronic form.” 

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the official records keeper of the United States government. Among the records in its possession are presidential papers and materials, which former president Donald Trump is trying to keep out of the hands of the congressional committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Presidential libraries are part of the National Archives and White House records are kept forever. 

“Authentic history is not possible without records that have been kept and preserved so their authenticity is backed up 100 percent,” Carlin says. “Accountability goes forward for a long time and people who work for the White House including the president, him or herself, can and should be held accountable. And, without those records, that cannot be done.

Overall, only 1%-3% of all of the materials created by the U.S. government during the course of conducting its business are considered important enough, for legal or historical reasons, to preserve for all time.

“The National Archives holds over 15 billion pages of textual records, over 18 million maps, charts and architectural drawings, more than 43 million images, more than 365,000 reels of film and over 110,000 videotapes, to say nothing of the billions of electronic records,” says Meghan Ryan Guthorn, acting deputy chief operating officer of the agency. “We’re focused on openness, cultivating public participation, and strengthening our nation’s democracy through public access to high-value government records. I kind of like to think of the agency like the nation’s filing cabinet.”

NARA keeps its holdings in 44 locations across the country, including the iconic National Archives building in Washington. For Carlin, the former archivist, some of the most memorable materials include those related to the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. 

 “I mean, literally, they tore apart the room that JFK died in from the assassination on that day in Dallas. Everything was kept,” Carlin says. “Everything in the room was kept.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the National Archives in 1934, but the agency has items that date back to before the nation’s founding. Well-known documents like the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are in the National Archives, but so are naturalization records that can verify the U.S. citizenship of immigrants, and military records of everyday citizens. 

“We do not throw military personnel records away. And we don’t set a date for very practical reasons,” Carlin says. “Anybody that leaves the military, in order to be eligible for veteran benefits, has to prove they left honorably and that requires a record. And that record is kept in our archives in St. Louis. And it has to be kept preserved and made accessible.” 

The public has access to many of these records. However, some archival materials are withheld from the public for a variety of reasons, including national security concerns, donor wishes, court orders and other statutory or regulatory provisions. The National Archives encourages public participation. 

“Maintaining the records and, just as importantly, if not more importantly, providing public access to them, can help illuminate the history of a nation,” says Ryan Guthorn. “The preservation of records documents the activities of a country’s government and citizens over time. It’s a really important way to track how a country has evolved and how the rights of citizens have been protected and managed by the government.”

Presidential historian Shannon Bow O’Brien says access to original documents is critical because while people’s memories may differ, the actual records tell the true story. 

“These tell us what they were doing, when they were doing it, how they were doing it, what they said,” says O’Brien, a professor in the government department at The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts. “If you look at the documents, or you look at the paper trails that are in the archives, you can see the decision-making processes, you can see why things develop the way they developed.” 

The public can explore National Archive holdings via an online catalog and expert archivists are on hand to answer questions online.

Today, Carlin worries the agency continues to lack sufficient funding to properly do its job. 

“If you don’t have enough staff upfront to work with the agency, particularly electronic records, there’s going to be mistakes and records lost along the way that should have gone to the National Archives,” Carlin says. 

During his decade-long tenure as archivist, Carlin pursued federal and private funds to renovate the National Archives building in Washington, and added public exhibits as part of an effort to enrich the overall visitor experience. 

“The very fundamentals of our whole system are right there,” Carlin says, referring to the Charters of Freedom — the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. “It’s incredibly important and valuable that citizens take advantage of that opportunity to go there and spend a couple hours and really learn a lot about what has made this country great and what has to be supported going forward for it to stay great.”

US, West Blast Taliban Over Reported ‘Summary Killings’ of Ex-Security Forces

The United States on Saturday led a group of Western nations and allies in condemnation of the Taliban over the “summary killings” of former members of the Afghan security forces, reported by rights groups, and demanded quick investigations.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of summary killings and enforced disappearances of former members of the Afghan security forces as documented by Human Rights Watch and others,” read a statement by the United States, the European Union, Australia, Britain, Japan and others, which was released by the State Department.

“We underline that the alleged actions constitute serious human rights abuses and contradict the Taliban’s announced amnesty,” the group of nations said, as it called on Afghanistan’s new rulers to ensure the amnesty is enforced and “upheld across the country and throughout their ranks.”

Early this week Human Rights Watch released a report that it says documents the summary execution or enforced disappearance of 47 former members of the Afghan National Security Forces, other military personnel, police and intelligence agents “who had surrendered to or were apprehended by Taliban forces” from mid-August through October.

“Reported cases must be investigated promptly and in a transparent manner, those responsible must be held accountable, and these steps must be clearly publicized as an immediate deterrent to further killings and disappearances,” the countries, which include Canada, New Zealand, Romania, Ukraine and several European nations, said in their statement.

The Taliban took power in Afghanistan in mid-August as the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and the country’s military collapsed.

Washington held talks with Taliban officials earlier this week when it urged the hardline Islamist group to provide access to education for women and girls across the country.

It also “expressed deep concern regarding allegations of human rights abuses,” a U.S. spokesperson said. 

Stuck Jet Stream, La Nina Causing Weird Weather

America’s winter wonderland is starting out this season as anything but traditional. 

The calendar says December, but for much of the country, temperatures beckon for sandals. Umbrellas, if not arks, are needed in the Pacific Northwest, while snow shovels are gathering cobwebs in the Rockies. 

Meteorologists attribute the latest batch of record-shattering weather extremes to a stuck jet stream and the effects of a La Nina weather pattern from cooling waters in the equatorial Pacific.

It’s still fall astronomically, but winter starts December 1 for meteorologists. This year, no one told the weather that. 

On Thursday, 65 weather stations across the nation set record high temperature marks for December 2, including Springfield, Missouri, hitting 24 Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) and Roanoke, Virginia, 22 Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit). Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Billings, Montana, broke long-time high-temperature records by 6 degrees. 

Parts of Canada and Montana have seen their highest December temperatures in recorded history. On Friday, parts of South Carolina and Georgia hit record highs. 

In Washington state, Seattle, Bellingham and Quillayute all set 90-day fall records for rainfall. Bellingham was doused by nearly 60 centimeters (nearly 24 inches) of rain. The Olympic and Cascade mountains got hit harder, with more than 127 centimeters (50 inches) in three months, according to the National Weather Service. Forks, Washington, received more rain in 90 days than Las Vegas gets in 13 years.

On top of that, there is a blizzard warning on Hawaii’s Big Island summits with up to 30.5 centimeters (12 inches) of snow expected and wind gusts of more than 161 kilometers per hour (100 miles per hour). 

Meantime, snow has gone missing in Colorado. Before this year, the latest first measurable snowfall on record in Denver was November 21, in 1934. There’s a slight possibility of snow Monday night, according to the weather service. Yet, with no snow since April 22, this is the third-longest stretch the city has gone without it.

Stationary stream

One big factor: The jet stream — the river of air that moves weather from west to east on a roller coaster-like path — has just been stuck. That means low pressure on one part of the stream is bringing rain to the Pacific Northwest, while high pressure hovering over about two-thirds of the nation produces dry and warmer weather, said Brian Hurley, a senior meteorologist at the weather service’s Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. 

If the jet stream moves more or bends differently, rain and other extreme weather won’t be as concentrated, Hurley said.

This is a typical weather pattern with a natural La Nina weather oscillation, he said. The flip side of El Nino, a La Nina is a cooling of parts of the central Pacific Ocean that changes weather patterns across the globe. La Ninas tend to bring more rain to the Pacific Northwest and make the South drier and warmer. 

These bouts of extreme weather happen more frequently as the world warms, said meteorologist Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground who now works at Yale Climate Connections.

In Boulder, Colorado, meteorologist Bob Henson enjoyed a rare December bike ride on Thursday.

Still, “there’s a lot of angst about the lack of snow,” he said. “It puts you in a psychic quandary. You enjoy the warm weather while keeping in mind it’s not good for Earth to be warming.” 

Explainer: How Unusual to Charge Parents in School Shooting?

Guns used in U.S. school shootings have often come from the homes of young perpetrators, but parents are rarely charged for the violence that occurs, experts say.

That’s what makes the case against Ethan Crumbley’s parents uncommon, following the fatal shooting of four students at Oxford High School in southeastern Michigan. Oakland County prosecutor Karen McDonald said Jennifer and James Crumbley ignored opportunities to intervene, just a few hours before the bloodshed.

Jennifer and James Crumbley are charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, while their son, Ethan Crumbley, 15, is charged as an adult with murder, terrorism and other crimes. 

The Crumbley parents, who were taken into custody early Saturday, and their lawyers haven’t commented on the shooting or the charges.

Here’s a look at the issues facing the parents:

What do we know about the gun?

The semi-automatic handgun used in the shooting Tuesday was purchased by James Crumbley on November 26 while his son stood by at the shop, according to investigators.

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Jennifer Crumbley referred to it on social media as a “Christmas present” for her son, and Ethan posted a picture of it on social media, calling it his “new beauty,” McDonald said.

With some very limited exceptions, minors in Michigan aren’t allowed to possess guns. But there is no Michigan law that requires owners to keep guns locked away from kids.

“So many states do. There’s 23 states plus Washington, D.C., that have some form of a secure storage law,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Will involuntary manslaughter be tough to prove?

“It’s an unusual charge to bring,” said Eve Brensike Primus, who teaches criminal procedure at University of Michigan law school.

Police said Ethan Crumbley emerged from a bathroom and started shooting other students in the hallway at Oxford High. A few hours earlier, he and his parents had met with school officials. A teacher had found a drawing on his desk with a gun pointing at the words, “The thoughts won’t stop. Help me,” according to the prosecutor.

Ethan Crumbley, who had no disciplinary record, was told to get counseling but was allowed to stay in school. His backpack was not checked for a weapon, McDonald said.

Primus said authorities must show gross negligence by the parents and causation, or the act of causing something. 

“The prosecutor is going to need facts to support the argument that these parents really knew there was a risk that their son would take a gun and shoot people dead,” she said. “Not just that their son was troubled in some way. This is a homicide charge that carries years in prison. This is not a small charge.”

In 2000, a Flint-area man pleaded no contest to involuntary manslaughter after a 6-year-old boy who was living with him found a gun in a shoebox and killed a classmate.

Why aren’t parents charged more often?

A 2019 assessment by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found that guns came from the home of a parent or close relative in 76% of school attacks where firearms were used. In about half, the firearms were easily accessible. 

But laws aimed at restricting gun access are not always enforced and vary in strength, experts say. 

“Our laws haven’t really adapted to the reality of school shootings, and the closest we have are these child access prevention laws,” said Kris Brown, president of the Brady gun control advocacy group. 

In 2020, the mother of an Indiana teen was placed on probation for failing to remove guns from her home after her mentally ill son threatened to kill students. He fired shots inside his school in 2018. No one was injured but the boy killed himself. 

In Washington state, the father of a boy who killed four students at a high school in 2014 was convicted of illegally possessing firearms.  He was not charged for the shooting, although one of his guns was used.

US Official Accuses Iran of Reneging on Nuclear Compromises

A senior U.S. State Department official on Saturday accused Iran of reneging on the compromises it made in the last round of talks to revive the 2015 nuclear agreement and making more demands in its most recent proposals.

“We can’t accept a situation in which Iran accelerates its nuclear program and slow-walks its nuclear diplomacy,” the official said, speaking on background.

The official said that the U.S. remained committed to the talks in Vienna but that Iranian negotiators “are going to have to change the posture that they take.”

“They are not going to get a better JCPOA deal out of these talks,” the official predicted, referring to the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The State Department official’s assessment of the negotiations came one day after diplomats negotiating to revive the deal that curbed the Iranian nuclear program paused the talks until next week, with officials from the United States and Europe criticizing Iran for a lack of progress.

“What we’ve seen in the last couple of days is that Iran right now does not seem to be serious about doing what’s necessary to return to compliance, which is why we ended this round of talks in Vienna,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday, addressing a virtual conference of world leaders organized by the Reuters news agency.

“If the path to a return to compliance with the agreement turns out to be a dead end, we will pursue other options,” he added, without elaborating.

Earlier progress

A U.S. State Department spokesman said Friday on background that earlier rounds of negotiations with Iran “made progress, finding creative compromise solutions to many of the hardest issues that were difficult for all sides.” But, he said, “Iran’s approach this week was not, unfortunately, to try to resolve the remaining issues.”

European officials also expressed frustration with Iran over the talks. A statement Friday from senior officials from France, Britain and Germany — the three European powers acting as mediators in the nuclear talks — said, “This week, [Iran] has backtracked on diplomatic progress made.”

The United States and Iran resumed indirect negotiations in Vienna on Monday, with the mediators seeking to bring both sides back into compliance with the 2015 JCPOA deal. U.S. and Iranian negotiators previously held six inconclusive rounds of indirect talks in Vienna from April to June, when Iran suspended the negotiations ahead of its presidential election that month.

Under the JCPOA, Iran promised it would curb nuclear activities that could be weaponized in return for international sanctions relief. Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

The U.S. administration of former President Donald Trump quit the JCPOA in 2018, saying it was not tough enough on Iran, and reimposed U.S. sanctions. Iran retaliated a year later by starting to publicly exceed JCPOA limits on its nuclear activities. Trump’s successor, President Joe Biden, has said he wants to honor the deal again if Iran does the same.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed Iran’s latest breach of JCPOA limits on Wednesday, saying it had begun using advanced centrifuges at its underground nuclear facility in Fordo to enrich uranium up to 20% purity, a short step away from weapons-grade levels.

‘Nuclear blackmail’

Israel, a key U.S. ally whose destruction Iran has vowed to pursue, reacted to that news with alarm. The Israeli government said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett spoke by phone with Blinken on Thursday and accused Tehran of using its Fordo advances as “nuclear blackmail” in the JCPOA talks. It said Bennett urged the United States and other world powers to respond by stopping the negotiations immediately.

Speaking to reporters in Stockholm on Thursday, Blinken said, “We will not accept the status quo of Iran building its [nuclear] program on the one hand and dragging its feet in talks on the other. That’s not going to last.”

“We’re going to know very, very quickly, I think in the next day or two, whether Iran is serious or not,” he said.

That was the first time any Biden administration official had publicly stated such a specific and short time frame for assessing Iran’s negotiating position, after months of declining to do so.

Pair of Iranian proposals

On Wednesday, Iran handed two proposals to the Western powers for the U.S. sanctions that it wants to be lifted and for the nuclear limits it is prepared to resume in return for the U.S. sanctions relief.

“My understanding from the latest news reporting is that [Iran’s proposals] have been maximalist demands that are unworkable for the United States,” Jason Brodsky, policy director of U.S. advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran, said in a VOA interview.

Brodsky said Iran could accept IAEA demands to restore U.N. inspectors’ access to cameras at a centrifuge workshop in Karaj, after blocking such access for months.

“It would be a token concession to keep the process going,” he said.

Some information in this report came from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.

Заява Білорусі про порушення повітряного простору з боку України не відповідає дійсності – Держприкордонслужба

«Державна прикордонна служба України неодноразово наголошувала на тому, що в рамках посилення кордону та проведення прикордонної операції «Полісся» для моніторингу кордону активно використовуватиметься як авіація, так і безпілотні літальні комплекси. Авіація використовувалася і сьогодні»

Резніков: «Велика війна в Україні може занурити у кризу всю Європу»

«Ми повинні переконати Москву, що ціна нового наступу буде надто високою»