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AP Top News at 10:24 am EST – The Philadelphia Inquirer

AP Top News at 8:32 p.m. EST
More omicron cases pop up as world rushes to learn more
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus popped up in countries on opposite sides of the world Sunday and many governments rushed to close their borders even as scientists cautioned that it’s not clear if the new variant is more alarming than other versions of the virus. The variant was identified days ago by researchers in South Africa, and much is still not known about it, including whether it is more contagious, more likely to cause serious illness or more able to evade the protection of vaccines. But many countries rushed to act, reflecting anxiety about anything that could prolong the pandemic that has killed more than 5 million people.
Supreme Court set to take up all-or-nothing abortion fight
WASHINGTON (AP) — Both sides are telling the Supreme Court there’s no middle ground in Wednesday’s showdown over abortion. The justices can either reaffirm the constitutional right to an abortion or wipe it away altogether. Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that declared a nationwide right to abortion, is facing its most serious challenge in 30 years in front of a court with a 6-3 conservative majority that has been remade by three appointees of President Donald Trump. “There are no half measures here,” said Sherif Girgis, a Notre Dame law professor who once served as a law clerk for Justice Samuel Alito.
Fauci fires back at Cruz over COVID claims about Chinese lab
WASHINGTON (AP) — Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, blasted Sen. Ted Cruz for suggesting that Fauci be investigated for statements he made about COVID-19 and said the criticism by the Texas Republican was an attack on science. “I should be prosecuted? What happened on Jan. 6, senator?” Fauci, who is President Joe Biden’s chief medical adviser, said in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” It was a reference to the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump that was stoked as Cruz helped lead GOP objections to Congress’ certifying the 2020 election results.
EXPLAINER: What we know and don’t know on new COVID variant
LONDON (AP) — South African scientists identified a new version of the coronavirus 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 first emerged, but scientists in South Africa alerted the World Health Organization in recent days, and it has now been seen in travelers arriving in several countries, from Australia to Israel to the Netherlands. On Friday, the WHO designated it as a “variant of concern,” naming it “omicron” after a letter in the Greek alphabet. WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT OMICRON? Health Minister Joe Phaahla said the variant was linked to an “exponential rise” of cases in the last few days.
WHO criticizes travel bans on southern African countries
JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The World Health Organization on Sunday urged countries around the world not to impose flight bans on southern African nations due to concerns over the new omicron variant. WHO’s regional director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, called on countries to follow science and international health regulations in order to avoid using travel restrictions. “Travel restrictions may play a role in slightly reducing the spread of COVID-19 but place a heavy burden on lives and livelihoods,” Moeti said in a statement. “If restrictions are implemented, they should not be unnecessarily invasive or intrusive, and should be scientifically based, according to the International Health Regulations, which is a legally binding instrument of international law recognized by over 190 nations.” Moeti praised South Africa for following international health regulations and informing WHO as soon as its national laboratory identified the omicron variant.
In French Pantheon, Josephine Baker makes history yet again
PARIS (AP) — France is inducting Josephine Baker — Missouri-born cabaret dancer, French World War II spy and civil rights activist — into its Pantheon, the first Black woman honored in the final resting place of France’s most revered luminaries. On Tuesday, a coffin carrying soils from the U.S., France and Monaco — places where Baker made her mark — will be deposited inside the domed Pantheon monument overlooking the Left Bank of Paris. Her body will stay in Monaco, at the request of her family. French President Emmanuel Macron decided on her entry into the Pantheon, responding to a petition.
Northwest residents urged to stay alert as storms roll in
Weather officials urged Northwest residents to remain alert Sunday as more rain was predicted to fall in an area with lingering water from extreme weather earlier this month. “There’s some good news and some pending news,” said Steve Reedy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle. The weather service on Saturday warned that flooding was possible through Sunday in northwestern Washington, but an atmospheric river — a huge plume of moisture extending over the Pacific and into the Northwest — moved farther north into Canada than expected overnight. “The impacts weren’t quite as bad as we were anticipating during the overnight period,” Reedy said.
Who is the real Ghislaine Maxwell: Epstein enabler or pawn?
NEW YORK (AP) — Ghislaine Maxwell spent the first half of her life with her father, a rags-to-riches billionaire who looted his companies’ pension funds before dying a mysterious death. She spent the second with another tycoon, Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while charged with sexually abusing teenage girls. Now, after a life of both scandal and luxury, Maxwell’s next act will be decided by a U.S. trial. Starting Monday, prosecutors in New York will argue that even as she was sipping cocktails with the likes of Prince Andrew, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, Maxwell, 59, was secretly abetting Epstein’s crimes with girls as young as 14.
Fashion designer Virgil Abloh dies of cancer at 41
NEW YORK (AP) — Virgil Abloh, a leading designer whose groundbreaking fusions of streetwear and high couture made him one of the most celebrated tastemakers in fashion and beyond, has died of cancer. He was 41. Abloh’s death was announced Sunday by the luxury group LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and Abloh’s own Off-White label, which he founded in 2013. Abloh was the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, but his ubiquitous, consumer-friendly presence in culture was wide-ranging and dynamic. Some compared him to Jeff Koons. Others hailed him as his generation’s Karl Lagerfeld. “We are all shocked after this terrible news.
Phil Saviano, key clergy sex abuse whistleblower, dies at 69
BOSTON (AP) — Phil Saviano, a clergy sex abuse survivor and whistleblower who played a pivotal role in exposing decades of predatory assaults by Roman Catholic priests in the United States, has died. He was 69. Saviano’s story figured prominently in the 2015 Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” about The Boston Globe’s investigation that revealed how scores of priests molested children and got away with it because church leaders covered it up. He died on Sunday after a battle with gallbladder cancer, said his brother and caregiver, Jim Saviano. In late October, Phil Saviano announced on his Facebook page that he was starting hospice care at his brother’s home in Douglas, Massachusetts, where he died.

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