In its weekly assessment of the pandemic released on Tuesday, the UN health agency said cases and deaths globally have risen by about 6%, with about 3.6 million new infections and 51,00 new deaths reported in the previous week.
WHO’s Europe director Dr. Hans Kluge warned that without urgent measures taken soon, the continent could see another 700,000 deaths by the spring.
“The European region remains in the firm grip of the Covid-19 pandemic,” Kluge said, calling for countries to increase vaccination and to take other control measures like masking and social distancing to avoid “the last resort of lockdowns.”
He noted that while more than 1 billion vaccine doses have been administered across WHO’s European region, which stretches to central Asia, the range in vaccination coverage varies from 10% to 80%.
In the last week, Austria, the Netherlands and Belgium have all adopted stricter measures including partial lockdowns to try to stem the latest surge of the coronavirus. Germany is also set to record more than 100,000 Covid-19 deaths this week, with some politicians now calling for a vaccine mandate, like the one ordered in Austria.
Globally, WHO reported that Covid-19 in Southeast Asia and the Middle East dropped by 11% and 9% respectively.
The biggest decrease in coronavirus deaths in the last week was seen in Africa, where fatalities fell by 30%, continuing a decreasing trend in Covid-19 that first began in late June.
Although cases remained stable in the Americas, WHO said the number of deaths rose by about 19%.
The agency said the easier-to-spread delta variant remains the predominant version of Covid-19 globally. Of the more than 840,000 sequences uploaded to the biggest publicly available database of viruses in the last week, about 99.8% were the delta variant.
Other variants including mu, lambda and gamma made up fewer than 1% although they continue to make up a significant proportion of sequences from Latin America.
FIFA 22 Team of the Group Stage: Release date & predictions
Ultimate Team players were spoiled throughout the Black Friday event, receiving several excellent Signature Signings player items. Here are a few of the new faces set to dominate FIFA 22.
Ultimate Team’s Signature Signings player items are designed to celebrate some of the most successful transfers in recent times. Some key players have made their mark at their clubs and have earned drastic upgrades. Furthermore, these upgrades are of a permanent variety.
The following payers enjoyed extraordinary debut seasons at their current club. Here’s a list of the best FUTfrom worst to best.
Best FUT Signature Signings: ranked list
If you were lucky enough to get one of the 14 Signature Signings player items available in packs, chances are you’ve got an above-average player on your hands.
Even if you’ve packed one of the early names on this list, many of the current SBCs available require a Signature Signings item. Therefore, even a Signature Signings player you don’t intend on using has a lot of value.
- Raul Jiménez
- Jesper Karlsson
- Ridle Baku
- Andrej Kramaric
- Marcus Edwards
- Gelson Martins
- Axel Witsel
- Edouard Mendy
- Diego Carlos
- Milan Škriniar
- Youcef Atal
- Rúben Dias
- Marcos Llorente
- Renato Sanches
- Kevin De Bruyne
- Wissam Ben Yedder
The five best Signature Signings in Ultimate Team
5. Rúben Dias
The 2020/2021 Premier League defender of the year is the first of two Manchester City players to earn a Signature Signings item. This 89 overall Dias is a monstrous defender. The Portuguese international is available at around.
Players may have concerns with his 76 pace but the defender truly doesn’t feel that heavy or clunky. His defending and physical stats are out of this world. There are a ton of great options at right-back to pair with Dias. His Manchester City teammates João Cancelo and Kyle Walker are fantastic choices.
The center-back boasts a high defensive work rate and is easy to link thanks to his Premier League association. Also, an underrated short passing stat of 87 makes him feel like a confident option on the ball.
4. Marcos Llorente
Marcos Llorente’s base card was one of the best midfield options at launch. This special item expands on much of what made him a stellar choice. This card works best at CM thanks to the high attacking work rate.
His pace is excellent for a central midfielder. Llorente is the ideal all-rounder at his position. He does most things really well without truly being exceptional in one given category. He can recover lost balls, dribble past the opponent, and set up goals for your forwards.
The one glaring issue is the fact that this card’s price is currently inflated. Players can scoop up Llorente for around 490,000 coins. This is a steep price for a card that boasts minor upgrades.
3. Renato Sanches
Although Renato Sanches’ overall is not as high as most of the players on this list, his current valuation of around 750,000 should tell you a little bit about how excellent this item is. For starters, the high/high work rate is exceptional for a midfielder that can be utilized on both sides of the pitch.
The ability to excel on offense or defense depending on your play style and squad is incredibly valuable. The midfielder’s pace, dribbling, and physicality are top tier while above-average passing stats are also a welcome sight.
Sanches is no slouch in front of goal either – 93 shot power and 84 long shots mean he can strike from distance. With Ligue 1 items running rampant this year, Sanches is an incredibly popular choice as a CDM, CM, or CAM.
2. Kevin De Bruyne
After much deliberation, De Bruyne slots in at the number 2 spot. His influence on the current state of FUT is going to be powerful. Without a doubt, Signature Signings De Bruyne is one of the best midfielders in the game.
Firstly, he’s quite easy to link with his ties to Manchester City. 5* weak foot is a wonderful trait for high-level players to have. This makes De Bruyne a dual-threat driving up the middle of the pitch. Just because De Bruyne’s passing is absurdly excellent, don’t think you won’t be taking your chances in front of goal. The midfielder is more than capable of netting his own goals thanks to amazing shooting stats.
De Bruyne is best utilized as a CAM or CM. Make sure to boost his pace with a chemistry style given that it is the only area that needs an increase. The Belgian is one of the smoothest midfielders in FUT at the moment.
1. Wissam Ben Yedder
Given how amazing De Bruyne’s item is, this may seem like a controversial decision. However, Ben Yedder has all of the qualities to effortlessly torment opposing defenders. One look at the card and it’s clear that Ben Yedder is going to be a nightmare in the Weekend League.
Signature Signings Ben Yedder has received one of the most significant upgrades in comparison to his base card. It’s always nice when a hefty price tag of around 860,000 is justified by a massive upgrade. Still, this item remains an unattainable luxury for most players. Those lucky enough to get their hands on him have a top-class striker at their disposal.
His links to Ligue 1 and his French nationality make him supremely easy to build a team around. The high/low work rate and 5* weak foot is the best possible combination for a striker. A striker’s three most important categories are dribbling, pace, and shooting. Suffice to say, Ben Yedder excels at all three.
Increasing pace and shooting with a hunter chemistry style is going to result in goal after goal for your team. Ben Yedder is an extremely meta option for high-level players and is the best card of the Signature Signings promo.
The positive reception of Ultimate Team’s Black Friday content has FIFA 22 players excited at what’s to come next. Hopefully, EA continues to deliver quality player items that are accessible through various means.
For all of the latest FIFA 22 news keep an eye on Charlie INTEL.
Image Credits: EA
Conservatives Eye Kooky Gov’t Shutdown Gambit to Undo Joe Biden’s Vax Mandates
With government funding set to run out in a matter of days, a group of hardline Republicans are once again ready to shut it all down—this time, in the name of blocking President Joe Biden’s efforts to mandate the COVID vaccine for federal workers.
But even if they manage to force a shutdown over the weekend, this maneuver won’t actually result in the change these conservatives want. And yet, that’s not really the point.
Conservatives are only able to shut down the government because Democratic leaders didn’t leave themselves enough time to pass a funding bill through the normal process, which takes at least a few days if senators insist on running out the clock on all debate time. That means the Senate is relying on “unanimous consent” to fast-track the stopgap spending bill. But a few conservative senators don’t look apt to go along with those agreements.
Without every senator on board, Democrats can’t pass a funding bill in time to avoid a shutdown, even if a number of Republicans want to keep the government open. That leaves conservatives in the position of having power for a few days—just enough time to make a point, raise some money, and prepare for the real battle.
Opposition to Biden’s policies to require federal workers to get vaccinated—and compel private companies to vaccinate their workers—is intense among conservatives. The party’s lawmakers have acted accordingly, and their action against the mandates has provided a convenient way to win over the base without explicitly advocating against vaccines.
Republicans have already fundraised off their anti-mandate opposition, including the Senate GOP’s official campaign arm, which began running ads on Facebook on Tuesday urging people to support the fight against Biden’s “authoritarian” vaccine mandates.
Leveraging the minority’s biggest threat—a shutdown—to advance the anti-mandate push will be catnip for these lawmakers’ constituencies, translating into donations and clout on social media that will have an impact long after the government reopens.
So it’s not shocking that conservatives are looking ahead, and treating this doomed fight as a warm-up to turn upcoming legislative fights into referendums on Biden’s vaccine mandate policy.
But there’s actually more to the shutdown than a cynical ploy for fundraising and clout.
According to a senior GOP aide familiar with the strategy, conservatives are eyeing the annual authorization of defense spending—which will have to pass both chambers with some GOP support—as the real avenue for their push. This shutdown, it seems, is more about gathering troops for the actual legislative battle.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) told The Daily Beast he “absolutely” thinks funding for enforcing vaccine mandates in the defense spending bill could be the next front, insisting Biden is “abusing his executive authority” to further his political aims.
The prospect of a prolonged conservative revolt over vaccine mandates may cause headaches for Democrats looking to speedily pass legislation. Ironically, however, it may end up causing more headaches for Republicans.
On Wednesday, there was disarray within the Senate GOP ranks: not even all conservatives, much less moderates, are on board with the mandate protest strategy. Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), a staunch member of the MAGA wing,that it was “all talk” and said the courts were the appropriate venue to contest the policy.
Proponents of the maneuver, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), may take an off-ramp in the form of a symbolic vote on an amendment opposing mandates. But it’s unlikely their more raucous House colleagues will accept that outcome.
Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) tweeted on Wednesday that “anything less” than stopping the funding resolution “is unacceptable and unAmerican.”
Regardless of how far the push goes, there’s reason to believe it will be a political loser for the GOP. Their hardcore supporters might loathe vaccine mandates, but the voters the party must win over to recapture the House and Senate majorities in 2022 may not.
On Wednesday morning, House Republicans convened for a political strategy meeting focused on messaging for the 2022 midterms. According to a source familiar with the meeting, staff for the party’s House campaign arm said that while they had not recently polled the issue of vaccine mandates, that’s only because they had already found it was not a top priority for voters in key swing districts.
The House GOP strategists, the source recalled, said the mandate issue might galvanize voters in heavily Republican districts but that the economy and immigration provided the best messaging opportunities for the party in the districts they need to flip.
Democrats, meanwhile, were flabbergasted that of all the hills to die on, Republicans would threaten to shut down the entire government in order to halt a policy meant to protect more Americans against a deadly disease.
When asked about the GOP’s threats, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) burst into laughter.
“Make sure you write that laugh,” he told The Daily Beast. “Some of the things that come from the Republican Party are just beyond my understanding of what right and wrong is.”
Democratic operatives also said the anti-mandate push only reinforces their core 2022 argument that Republicans won’t be able to move the country past the pandemic.
The continued threat of the virus was on full display Wednesday. As Republicans pushed to shut the government down over efforts to protect the workforce, the first recorded case of the highly transmissible Omicron variant was recorded in California.
“This just reinforces that the GOP is anti-vax, while most Americans are anti-COVID,” said Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist.
While the push for a shutdown has come centerstage in recent days, it’s a manifestation of a month’s-worth of angling from the right flank of congressional Republicans.
Eleven Senate Republicans, led by Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS), in the early days of Novemberin a letter that funds for vaccine mandates in government funding could cause a hubbub.
“Please be advised (many weeks in advance of the current spending period, which ends on December 3, 2021) that we will not support—and will use all means at our disposal to oppose—legislation that funds or in any way enables the enforcement of President Biden’s employer vaccine mandate,” the letter read.
And House GOP members slowly planted their spin on the issue on social media, with outspoken members like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA)Senate Republicans to “stand strong” in forcing a shutdown if there’s no guarantee government funds won’t support the vaccine mandates.
While the continuing resolution is still likely to pass the House—where only a simple majority is required—the Senate would need unanimous consent for the legislation to be passed by the end of Friday, when government funding runs out. Marshall told reporters on Wednesday that he’s pinning the fate of the funding on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“As long as he makes sure we don’t fund the unconstitutional mandate, we’ll be okay with unanimous consent. So it’s totally on his back,” Marshall said.
Democrats, of course, are unmoved by an argument that the public will blame them for a weekend government shutdown over their unwillingness to defund vaccine mandates. And there’s clearly hesitation from GOP leaders to support the effort.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) hasn’t shown any inclination to back the conservative push, and he insisted publicly on Wednesday he did not expect a shutdown.
McConnell is perhaps the GOP’s most prominent vaccine promoter and has been more circumspect about vaccine mandates than his House counterpart, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
All 50 Senate Republicans, McConnell included, have signed on to a symbolic effort led by Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) to undo Biden’s mandates. But that doesn’t mean a critical mass would support shutting down the government to make it happen.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, warned on Wednesday, “I’ve seen shutdowns… I think it’s something that ought to be avoided, if you could.”
I met Donald Trump at 14 and flew with Prince Andrew, claims Ghislaine Maxwell’s accuser
Ghislaine Maxwell’s accuser told a court in New York on Wednesday how she was introduced by Jeffrey Epstein to Donald Trump at his Florida resort and took part in one of his beauty pageants, as the defence challenged her memory of the alleged abuse she suffered.
On the third day of the trial, “Jane” – now an actress in her 40s – was asked by Ms Maxwell’s lawyers whether she had been introduced to the former US president in Palm Beach.
“He [Epstein] took you to Mar-a-Lago when you were 14, you claim?” asked Lara Menninger, acting for the defence.
“Yes,” Jane said.
“He [Epstein] took you in a dark green car and you met Donald Trump there, correct?” Ms Menninger asked.
Jane spoke about a teen pageant she took part in years later wearing a $2,000 (£1,500) dress gifted to her by Epstein.
Jane, referred to as “Victim One” in Ms Maxwell’s indictment, told how at the age of 14 she had flown on Epstein’s private jet with high-profile figures including Prince Andrew, who was dragged into proceedings a day earlier during testimony given by the financier’s pilot.
Jane did not allege any wrongdoing by the Duke or Mr Trump. Ms Maxwell has denied six counts related to her alleged involvement in Epstein’s sexual abuse of teenage girls.
Jane said on Tuesday that she had sexual encounters with Epstein at his Palm Beach home multiple times a month when she was 14, 15 and 16. Other people participated, she said, including the heiress, 59, who touched her breasts.
Ms Menninger asked Jane about apparent discrepancies between her descriptions of Ms Maxwell’s role and earlier conversations with prosecutors before Ms Maxwell’s July 2020 arrest.
“When you spoke with the Government in December 2019, with your lawyers there, you told the Government you were not sure whether Maxwell ever touched you during these encounters, correct?” Ms Menninger asked. “I don’t recall,” Jane replied.
“You told the Government you were not sure if Ghislaine kissed you,” the defence continued. “I don’t recall,” she said. “You told the Government you had no memory of Ghislaine being present when you claim Epstein engaged in any sexual contact?” “I don’t recall,” she said.
Alison Moe interjected with objections nearly 30 times during cross-examination, with many sustained.
‘My timeline was wrong,’ alleged victims admits
Ms Maxwell’s defence pointed to a statement Jane gave the US Government about flying to New York with Epstein and Ms Maxwell when she was 14 in 1994 to see The Lion King. However, they said she must have been mistaken as the musical did not open until 1997.
“My timeline was wrong,” Jane admitted. Ms Menninger spoke about other young women who Jane claimed were present during the abuse.
One aspect of Ms Maxwell’s defence is attempting to undermine accusers’ recollection of events. Her attorneys are expected to call psychologist Elizabeth Loftus as a witness, to discuss how people can form “false memories”.
The prosecution attempted to paint a picture of an alleged victim changing her story to include accusations against the British socialite only after the late financier’s death in 2019.
Jane’s first meeting with authorities was in late 2019. On Tuesday, Jane said she did not tell anybody about any abuse because she was “terrified” and “felt gross and ashamed”.
“These memories came to you after two years?” Ms Menninger said, insinuating she and others were scapegoating Ms Maxwell for Epstein’s crimes. “Memory is not linear,” Jane answered.
Jane ended her time in the witness box saying she was hoping to “finally find some closure to all of this”.
Siblings show their support for Ghislaine
After court was adjourned for the day, Ms Maxwell’s brother Kevin expressed relief at seeing his sister for the first time in more than 500 days.
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