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Checkup finds Joe Biden ‘vigorous’; Kamala Harris in power for over an hour

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Kamala Harris was — for one hour and 25 minutes — acting president while Joe Biden was under anesthesia

President Joe Biden remains “healthy” and “vigorous” and fit for duty, but is showing some signs of aging, his doctor said Friday after the oldest president in American history underwent his first routine physical in office and — in a history-making moment — briefly transferred power to Vice President Kamala Harris while he underwent a colonoscopy.

Ms. Harris, the first woman, first Black person and first person of South Asian descent to be vice president, was — for one hour and 25 minutes — acting president while Mr. Biden was under anesthesia.

Over more than five hours Friday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the President underwent a battery of blood, physical, gastrointestinal, dental, vision and neurological examinations. Dr. Kevin O’Connor, who has been Mr. Biden’s primary care physician since 2009, wrote in a six-page memo released by the White House that Mr. Biden, who turns 79 on Saturday, “remains a healthy, vigorous, 78-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency.”

Dr. O’Connor, however, revealed that he investigated Mr. Biden for increased instances of “throat clearing” during public remarks and a stiffening of his gait. Dr. O’Connor reported that Mr. Biden’s coughing was the result of gastrointestinal reflux and that the stiffened gait was the result of a new diagnosis of “mild peripheral neuropathy,” spinal arthritis and compensation for a broken foot sustained a year ago.

Interest in Mr. Biden’s health has been high ever since he declared his candidacy for the White House in 2019 and remains intense as speculation about a 2024 reelection bid swirls. The visit to the medical center in the Washington suburbs was for his first routine physical exam as president — and his first since December 2019.

As part of the screening, Mr. Biden underwent an “extremely detailed neurological exam” that ruled out stroke, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but caught the neuropathy, which is nerve damage in the hands and feet. Dr. O’Connor said the most common cause of the condition is diabetes, but Mr. Biden is not diabetic. Mr. Biden, he said, would soon try custom orthotics to improve his gait.

During the course of Mr. Biden’s colonoscopy a “benign-appearing polyp” of about 3 millimeters was identified and removed and would be studied over the coming week. Dr. O’Connor said Mr. Biden has never had colon cancer.

Mr. Biden’s reported body mass index classified him as slightly overweight, but his cholesterol was under control. Mr. Biden, Dr. O’Connor said, is prescribed the anticoagulant Eliquis, the statin Crestor and the seasonal allergy spray Dymista, and regularly takes the over-the-counter allergy pill Allegra and the antacid Pepcid.

Dr. O’Connor reported that Mr. Biden does not use tobacco products or drink alcohol and that he exercises at least five days per week.

Press secretary Jen Psaki said he resumed his duties after speaking with Ms. Harris and White House chief of staff Ron Klain at approximately 11:35 a.m.

As Mr. Biden left the medical center in the afternoon, he said he was feeling “Great!” “Great physical and a great House of Representatives vote,” he said, referring to the House passage of his roughly $2 trillion social and environmental agenda.

After arriving back at the White House, he said “Nothing’s changed” with his health, joking, “We’re in great shape, and I’m looking forward to celebrating my 58th birthday.” While serving as acting President Ms. Harris was working from her office in the West Wing, Mr. Psaki said. She later traveled to Ohio once Mr. Biden awoke from the procedure.

Mr. Biden was keenly aware of the history he was making when he selected Ms. Harris to be his running mate, Mr. Psaki said, adding that she made “history every day” in the job.

“Today was certainly another chapter in that history I think that will be noted for women, young girls across the country,” she added.

During Mr. Biden’s last physical exam, doctors found the former vice president to be “healthy, vigorous” and “fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency,” according to a doctor’s report at the time.

In that report, Dr. O’Connor said that since 2003, Mr. Biden has had episodes of atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat that’s potentially serious but treatable. At the time, Dr. O’Connor cited a list of tests that showed Mr. Biden’s heart was functioning normally and his only needed care was a blood thinner to prevent the most worrisome risk, blood clots or stroke.

Mr. Biden had a brush with death in 1988, requiring surgery to repair two brain aneurysms, weak bulges in arteries, one of them leaking. Mr. Biden has never had a recurrence, his doctor said, citing a test in 2014 that examined his arteries.

Dr. Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine and geriatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, read the White House report and said it contained nothing that’s particularly worrisome.

“All in all, according to this report it seems like he’s in pretty good shape, with very common age-related illness,” including atrial fibrillation and stiff gait, Dr. Linder said.

While the cause of Mr. Biden’s mild neuropathy is unknown, Dr. Linder said it is not an unusual problem and not a cause for concern unless it’s bothersome for the president. He added that there is no reason to think the small polyp that was removed was cancerous, given Ms. Harris’s previous medical history.

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Ex-Trump aide Meadows cooperating with House Jan. 6 panel

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, is cooperating with a House panel investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, putting off for now the panel’s threat to hold him in contempt, the committee’s chairman said Tuesday.

The panel “will continue to assess his degree of compliance,” Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said in a statement. He said Meadows has produced records and will soon appear for an initial deposition.

The agreement comes after two months of negotiations between Meadows and the committee and after the Justice Department indicted longtime Trump ally Steve Bannon for defying a subpoena. Meadows’ lawyer had previously indicated that his client would not comply, a stance the committee said was unacceptable.

“The Select Committee expects all witnesses, including Mr. Meadows, to provide all information requested and that the Select Committee is lawfully entitled to receive,” Thompson said.

Under the tentative agreement, Meadows could potentially decline to answer the panel’s questions about his most sensitive conversations with Trump and what Trump was doing on Jan. 6 as hundreds of rioters violently broke into the Capitol and interrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory.

Trump — who told his supporters to “fight like hell” that morning — has attempted to hinder much of the committee’s work, including in an ongoing court case, by arguing that Congress cannot obtain information about his private White House conversations.

Meadows’ lawyer, George Terwilliger, said in a statement that “we appreciate the Select Committee’s openness to receiving voluntary responses on non-privileged topics.”

Terwilliger said he was continuing to work with the committee and its staff on a potential accommodation that would not require Meadows to waive the executive privileges claimed by Trump or “forfeit the long-standing position that senior White House aides cannot be compelled to testify before Congress.”

The deal with Meadows highlights how the committee is trying to balance its need for information about Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 insurrection against the desire to complete the investigation quickly. While the committee has rejected Trump’s legal arguments and Biden has waived executive privilege to hand over documents and records, the panel wants to avoid lengthy legal entanglements that could delay their work.

Still, Meadows’ intention to work with the panel is a victory for the seven Democrats and two Republicans on the committee, especially as they seek interviews with lower-profile witnesses who may have important information to share. The panel has so far subpoenaed more than 40 witnesses and interviewed more than 150 people behind closed doors.

Terwilliger had previously said that Meadows wouldn’t comply with the panel’s September subpoena because of Trump’s privilege claims. But the House panel insists it has questions for Meadows that do not directly involve conversations with Trump.

In the committee’s September subpoena, Thompson cited Meadows’ efforts to overturn Trump’s defeat in the weeks before the insurrection and his pressure on state officials to push false claims of widespread voter fraud.

“You were the president’s chief of staff and have critical information regarding many elements of our inquiry,” Thompson wrote. “It appears you were with or in the vicinity of President Trump on January 6, had communication with the president and others on January 6 regarding events at the Capitol and are a witness regarding the activities of the day.”

Lawmakers on the committee had hinted for several weeks that they were prepared to hold Meadows in contempt, as they had Bannon. But Thompson said just before Thanksgiving that the committee “won’t rush the effort” to make clear that they had given Meadows, a former Republican congressman from North Carolina, every chance to cooperate.

On Wednesday, the committee will vote on whether to pursue contempt charges against a separate witness, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, after he appeared for a deposition earlier this month but declined to answer questions. The House could vote to hold him in contempt as soon as this week. It would be up to the Justice Department to decide whether to indict him.

A report from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee detailed how Clark championed Trump’s efforts to undo the election results and clashed as a result with Justice Department superiors who resisted the pressure, culminating in a dramatic White House meeting at which Trump ruminated about elevating Clark to attorney general. He did not do so after several aides threatened to resign.

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Israeli doctor believes he caught Omicron variant of Covid in London | Coronavirus

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A doctor who was one of the first people in the world to become infected with the Omicron variant says he believes he caught the virus when he was in London for a major medical conference attended by more than 1,200 health professionals.

The disclosure from Elad Maor will raise fears that the variant may have been in the UK much earlier than previously realised – and that other medics could have been exposed to it too.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Maor, a cardiologist at Sheba Medical Centre near Tel Aviv, described how he returned to Israel on 23 November after the three-day meeting at ExCeL London, a large convention centre in Newham, east London. He began experiencing symptoms within days, and tested positive on 27 November.

The time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) is thought to be up to 14 days, though symptoms typically appear within five days of exposure.

The 45-year-old, a father of three and an associate professor of cardiology at Tel Aviv University, arrived in London on 19 November and stayed four nights at a hotel in Islington, north London. Maor has so far shown mild Covid-19 symptoms, including a fever, muscle ache and a sore throat.

Delegates at the London conference.
Delegates at the London conference. Photograph: c/o Elad Maor

Speaking to the Guardian from his home in Israel, where he is self-isolating, Maor also said he had probably infected a 69-year-old colleague with the virus after flying back from London. The colleague has since tested positive for the Omicron variant.

While he cannot be certain how or when he became infected, Maor, who had received three doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, is convinced it occurred in the UK. “I got the Omicron in London, for sure,” he said. “That is interesting because that was 10 days ago in London – really, really early.”

The revelation will raise fresh questions about how early the new variant may have been present in the UK and Europe. Governments around the world are urgently scouring databases for recent cases of Covid infections, screening travellers and decoding the viral genomes of the new variant as they try to measure how far it has spread and where it originated.

Data shows it was circulating before it was officially identified in southern Africa last week and it has since been detected in more than a dozen countries. Work to establish if it is more infectious, more deadly or can evade vaccines will take weeks.

UK map

Maor said he had nothing but praise for the organisers of the PCR London Valves 2021 conference, who asked for proof of vaccination before allowing entry to ExCeL London. However, pictures of the meeting taken by Maor and reviewed by the Guardian show not everyone was wearing masks. The conference was attended by 1,250 people in person and a further 2,400 watched online.

The doctor, who travelled to the conference in east London using the tube and Docklands Light Railway each day, noticed similar behaviour on public transport. “Many of the people on the tube were not wearing masks,” he said. “I was actually surprised by that.”

He undertook a PCR test on 20 November – his second day in the UK – and again on 21 November – the first day of the medical conference – as per UK and Israeli travel rules. After attending the final day on 23 November, he flew from London via Heathrow airport at 9pm. Upon arrival at Tel Aviv in the early hours of 24 November, he had a third PCR test – which also came back negative.

“The only reasonable explanation is that I got infected on the last day of the meeting – maybe at the airport, maybe at the meeting,” he said. “That’s why the [third] PCR was too early to detect the infection. So either the second day of the meeting or the last day of the meeting because there is a lag between the time you get infected, and when the PCR turns positive.”

Having initially tested negative for Covid-19 when returning to Israel, he returned to work at the Sheba Medical Centre before developing symptoms, and a fourth PRC test said he was positive. Maor has since been told he is the third confirmed Omicron case in Israel, and the first in the country with no travel links to southern Africa.

Maor said it “feels weird” to be one of the first people in the world to become infected with the Omicron variant. “As a physician I am not used to being under the spotlight.”

Although his wife accompanied him to London, neither she nor any of his children have experienced symptoms or tested positive for Covid-19. “That’s reassuring, I think,” he said. “I think the transmissibility of this [variant] is not completely different or extremely different to what I know about Delta.”

Maor urged people to get vaccinated and to have a booster jab if eligible. “I can’t emphasise the importance of that enough,” he said. “Things could have ended much worse for my family and friends – I am sure that my disease could have been worse if not for the vaccine.”

The Europa Group, which is based in Toulouse and organised the PCR London Valves 2021 conference at ExCeL London, posted a message on its official conference website confirming it had learned on 30 November that a delegate had tested positive for Covid after returning to their home country.

Speaking from France, a spokesperson for the Europa Group said: “As you may imagine, the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone who visited PCR London Valves was our number one priority.

“All protocols mandated by the UK government were put in place. Anyone entering the congress centre had to present a valid health pass and were requested to wear a mask. Hydro-alcoholic gel and masks were made readily available for all participants and disposal bins for used protective equipment were provided.”

Israel shut its borders to foreigners from all countries for 14 days on Saturday to try to contain the spread of Omicron and has reintroduced counter-terrorism phone-tracking technology to trace contacts of a handful of people who have likely been infected. The UK has added 10 countries to its travel “red list”.

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Manchester United plot move to sign Real Madrid superstar for free

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Premier League club Manchester United have entered the race to sign Real Madrid star Luka Modric when his contract expires next summer. Earlier, it was being reported that the Croatian skipper is open to a move to Manchester City.

If El Nacional is to be believed, the interim manager of Manchester United, Ralf Rangnick, is interested in signing Luka Modric next summer. This could also be due to the fact that Modric has had a successful professional partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane. All three players used to play for an extremely successful Real Madrid side.

Rumors of Modric looking for a move have emerged after a delay in his contract extension with Los Blancos. The addition of Luka Modric to Manchester United’s squad would bring tons of experience in midfield. His time and pairing with Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid would be of immense help to the team.

Real Madrid were in the process of extending Luka Modric’s contract ahead of its expiry in 2022. However, nothing seems to have advanced since the initial reports. It was also reported that Serie A giants Inter Milan are also planning to have Modric’s services once his contract with Los Blancos expires.

Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs has also revealed in the past that he wants Luka Modric to sign for Manchester United.

Ryan Giggs wants Luka Modric to join the Red Devils.Just imagine, Manchester United fans… https://t.co/E5E2dBFugA

Meanwhile, the new interim boss of the Red Devils was spotted at Old Trafford today. He is expected to be present as hosts Manchester United take on Arsenal in the English Premier League on Thursday.

Ralf Rangnick was at Old Trafford today together with John Murtough. It’s his first time into the stadium – he was dreaming of Premier League chance, it’s now time to start. 🔴 #MUFCHe’s expected to be there in the stands also tomorrow for Man Utd-Arsenal.@oliverhunt111 📸⤵️ https://t.co/M5oK1YEqO7


Former Real Madrid players can help Manchester United find the European glory again

Manchester United last won the UEFA Champions League in 2008, when Cristiano Ronaldo was living his youth dream at Old Trafford under Sir Alex Ferguson. Ronaldo was a sensation back then as he won everything with the Red Devils.

He then decided to make a move to La Liga giants Real Madrid in a then-record deal of around £80 million. The Portuguese has won everything with Real Madrid as well. He is now back again with Manchester United in probably the last leg of his career.

Manchester United have roped in Jadon Sancho, Donny Van De Beek and Raphael Varane in recent times to challenge again in the Champions League. The Red Devils have had an eventful group stage. But they have managed to qualify for the knockout stage, thanks to the Champions League supremacy of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ralf Rangnick will take some time to bring in his managerial impact upon the Premier League giants. Once it is settled he will eye nothing shorter than the league title and the Champions League. It is here that former Real Madrid players like Ronaldo, Varane and Modric (if and when signed) will prove to be his king makers.



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