Germany’s Merkel Bows Out After 16 Years

December 7, 2021 4:17 am

BERLIN (AP) – Angela Merkel is credited with raising Germany’s profile and influence, working to hold a fractious European Union together, managing a string of crises and being a role model for women in a near-record tenure that ends with her leaving office amid praise from abroad and enduring popularity at home. The former scientist, raised in communist East Germany, was already assured of a place in the history books when she became the first female chancellor in 2005. Sixteen years later, the 67-year-old is bowing out around a week short of the record for longevity held by her one-time mentor, Helmut Kohl, who reunited Germany during his 1982-1998 tenure. Her designated successor, Olaf Scholz, is expected to take office Wednesday.


Sunoco Ordered To Dredge Lake, Pay $4M Over Spill

December 7, 2021 4:06 am

A pipeline developer will dredge part of a contaminated lake and pay more than $4 million for spilling thousands of gallons of drilling fluids at a popular state park outside Philadelphia. That’s according to Pennsylvania state officials, who announced the settlement with Sunoco Pipeline LP on Monday. The spill happened in August 2020 during construction of Sunoco’s troubled Mariner East pipeline. The spill contaminated wetlands, tributaries and part of the 535-acre lake at Marsh Creek State Park in Chester County. About 33 acres of the lake were placed off limits to boating and fishing because of the spill. The settlement will allow construction on the pipeline to resume.

Two Tigers At Pittsburgh Zoo Test Positive For COVID

December 7, 2021 3:56 am

(WPXI) – Two tigers have tested positive for COVID-19 at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, according to the zoo. According to a press release, the tigers began showing signs including occasional coughing and loose stool but have otherwise been in good condition. The initial results came from a rapid antigen test and was later confirmed by voluntary nasal swabs gathered from the cats. PCR testing of fecal matter has also been submitted for analysis. Animal care staff continue to provide supportive care to the tigers; the felines are eating normally and are expected to make a full recovery. “We are taking this situation seriously and are continuing to provide the best care possible to our tigers,” said Dr. Jeremy Goodman, president and CEO in the press release. “We do not allow any of our visitors to come within close proximity to any of our cats, so the risk of transmission to our guests is very low.” The infected tigers likely contracted the virus after exposure to an asymptomatic zoo employee.

School Officials Could Also Face Charges In Shooting

December 6, 2021 1:30 pm

OXFORD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) – The prosecutor overseeing the case against the student accused in last week’s deadly Michigan school shooting and who took took the rare step of charging his parents has left open the possibility that school officials could also face charges. Oakland County Prosecutor Karen McDonald said Monday on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that the investigation into Tuesday’s attack at Oxford High School will determine whether school officials will face charges. She noted that three hours before 15-year-old Ethan Crumbley opened fire, killing four students and wounding six others and a teacher, he was sent back to class after his parents and school counselors met about a drawing a teacher found on his desk showing a bullet and the words “blood everywhere.”

NYC; Vaccine Mandate For Private Sector Employers

December 6, 2021 10:17 am

NEW YORK (AP) – Mayor Bill de Blasio says all New York City employers will have to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for their workers by Dec. 27. De Blasio said Monday that the new mandate is aimed at preventing a spike in coronavirus infections during the holiday season and the colder months. He called it a “preemptive strike” to “stop the further growth of COVID.” Vaccinations are already required for city employees including teachers, police officers and firefighters, and a vaccination mandate for employees of private and religious schools was announced last week. De Blasio said he expects the new mandate to survive any legal challenges.

Fauci Says Early Reports ‘Encouraging’ On Omicron Variant

December 6, 2021 4:30 am

U.S. health officials say that while the omicron variant of the coronavirus is rapidly spreading in the country, early indications suggest it may be less dangerous than delta, which continues to drive a surge of hospitalizations. President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told CNN’s “State of the Union” scientists need more information before drawing conclusions about omicron’s severity. But reports from South Africa, where it emerged and is becoming the dominant strain, suggest hospitalization rates have not increased alarmingly. Omicron had been detected in about a third of U.S. states by Sunday. Fauci said the Biden administration is considering lifting travel restrictions against non-citizens entering the United States from several African countries.

Jussie Smollett Denies Staging Attack

December 6, 2021 5:17 pm

CHICAGO (AP) – Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett has denied that he staged an anti-gay, racist attack on himself, testifying at his trial that “there was no hoax.” Smollett is facing charges that he lied to Chicago police about the January 2019 attack downtown Chicago. He is refuting testimony from two brothers who said last week Smollett, who is gay and Black, orchestrated the assault and paid them $3,500 to carry it out. Smollett says the money was for meal plans and training because he wanted to get more toned. Asked by his attorney if he was planning a hoax, Smollett said no.

Omicron Variant In Pennsylvania

December 6, 2021 4:18 am

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Health officials are reporting the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in Pennsylvania, a man in his 30s from Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Department of Public Health announced the case in a news release Friday. No other details were immediately available, including whether the man was vaccinated against COVID-19 or if he had been traveling. Health officials say contact tracing is underway. People in at least five other states have tested positive for omicron. Scientists are still learning about the new variant, including whether it is more contagious, as some suspect, and whether it can thwart vaccines.

Haitian Gang Releases Three More Hostages

December 6, 2021 4:23 am

(AP) – A religious group based in Ohio has announced that a violent gang in Haiti has released three more hostages, while another 12 remain abducted. The statement Monday from Christian Aid Ministries said the people were released on Sunday in Haiti and are “safe and seem to be in good spirits.” The group provided no further details. On Nov. 21, the religious organization announced that the 400 Mawozo gang had released the first two hostages of a group of 17 kidnapped in mid-October. There are 12 adults and five children in the group of 16 U.S. citizens and one Canadian, including an 8-month-old.

Bob Dole Will Lie In State At the U.S. Capitol

December 6, 2021 4:26 am

WASHINGTON (AP) – The body of the late Sen. Bob Dole of Kansas will lie in state in the U.S. Capitol on Thursday as congressional leaders honor the former Republican presidential candidate and World War II veteran. He served in Congress for 36 years. Dole died Sunday at the age of 98. He was a leader known for his caustic wit, which he often turned on himself but didn’t hesitate to turn on others, too. He shaped tax and foreign policy and worked vigorously to help the disabled, enshrining protections against discrimination in employment, education and public services in the Americans with Disabilities Act.