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Voters cast ballots in bellwether Malaysian state election

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Voters wearing masks cast their ballots on Saturday in a Malaysian state election that pits Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Malay party against its allies in the government for the first time amid a widening rift.

The poll in southern Malacca state is seen as a bellwether for voting behavior that could shape political alliances in national elections, which are not due until 2023 but are widely expected to be called next year.

The state poll will see a three-way fight between a camp led by Ismail’s United Malays National Organization, or UMNO, another by ally parties Bersatu and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, and the opposition alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim

UMNO and Bersatu, the two biggest parties in the ruling alliance, are at loggerheads but have agreed to share power until the next general election.

Voters queued up, a meter apart, outside schools and other polling centers to have their temperature scanned before being allowed to cast ballots for 28 state assemblymen. A total of 112 candidates are contesting, leading to tight races for all the seats. Nearly half a million people are eligible to vote until 5:30 p.m. (0930 GMT).

The Malacca polls were called after the UMNO-led state government collapsed when four assemblymen pulled their support. A victory would be a boost for UMNO, which had led Malaysia since independence from Britain in 1957 but was ousted in 2018 elections by Anwar’s reformist alliance amid a multibillion-dollar financial scandal.

Anwar’s alliance, however, crumbled last year after Muhyiddin Yassin withdrew his Bersatu party and formed a new government with UMNO, PAS and several other parties. But Muhyiddin was forced to resign in August after infighting cost him majority support. Ismail, who was Muhyiddin’s deputy, then took office, bringing back UMNO’s rule.

Most observers believe the main fight is between UMNO and Anwar’s opposition alliance as Bersatu lacks grassroot strength.

A big win for UMNO could potentially lead to challenges in ruling party states that are helmed by Bersatu, accelerate plans to call for early general elections and may prompt PAS and other parties supporting Bersatu to review their alliance, analysts said.

Campaigning in Malacca, which is around a two-hour drive from Kuala Lumpur has been muted amid strict rules as the country emerged from a virus lockdown last month after a successful vaccination roll-out. Political rallies, walkabouts and house visits were banned, taking the campaigning to social media and making results unpredictable.

The polls come as Malaysia gradually reopens its borders to vaccinated travelers. The country has vaccinated more than 76% of its population, including most adults. Daily infections have dropped dramatically to around 6,000 from its peak of more than 20,000 in August. The country has recorded 2.57 million cases and nearly 30,000 deaths.

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Download Burning (2018) {Korean With Subtitles} BluRay 480p [550MB] || 720p [1.3GB] || 1080p [3GB]

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Biden delivers remarks, to push shots, not more restrictions as variant spreads

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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden will urge Americans to get vaccinated including booster shots as he seeks to quell concerns Monday over the new COVID-19 variant omicron, but he won’t immediately push for more restrictions to stop its spread, his chief medical adviser said.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert and Biden’s leading COVID-19 adviser, said Monday that there were as yet still no cases of the variant identified in the U.S. but that it was “inevitable” that it would make its way into the country.

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Fauci said scientists hope to know in the next week or two how well the existing COVID-19 vaccines protect against the variant, and how dangerous it is compared to earlier strains.

“We really don’t know,” Fauci said, calling speculation “premature.”

The new variant poses the latest test to Biden’s efforts to contain the pandemic, mitigate its impacts on the economy and return a sense of normalcy to the U.S. during the holiday season.

Biden was to speak Monday about the urgency of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect against variants, especially as roughly 80 million Americans aged 5 and up haven’t yet received any shots. But Biden was not expected to announce any new virus-related restrictions, beyond last week’s move to restrict travel from South Africa and seven other countries in the region, effective Monday.

Other nations were also moving to close their borders or reinstate lockdowns amid a host of other severe measures to prevent the omicron variant from spreading, but Fauci indicated that the U.S. was not following suit.

Asked if more U.S. restrictions were imminent, Fauci said, “I don’t think so at all.” Later, on “CBS Mornings,” he said, “Let’s not be talking about lockdowns.”

Fauci said there was no need to panic about the new variant, but “we should be concerned, and our concern should spur us to do the things that we know work,” such as vaccinations.

The move to limit most travel from the countries where omicron was first identified was meant to provide time for the U.S to learn more about the variant and to “intensify” the domestic vaccination campaign, Fauci said.

“It buys you a couple of weeks because if you can keep things out in force for a couple of weeks you can do a lot of things,” he told CBS.

Still, he said omicron would eventually reach the U.S. and could, like the delta variant before it, become the dominant strain, since omicron “has a transmissibility advantage” over other variants.

Pharmaceutical companies are already adjusting their existing COVID-19 vaccines to better attack the omicron variant, but Fauci said Americans should make it a priority to get either their first shots or a booster dose now, rather than waiting for a new formulation.

“I would strongly suggest you get boosted now,” he said.

He added that depending on what scientists learn about the omicron variant in the coming weeks “we may not need” targeted boosters to contain that strain of the virus.

Any omicron-specific vaccine probably could not begin to be produced for another two or three months, so getting boosters now is a “very important initial line of defense,” Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer for the vaccine-maker Moderna, said Monday.

Burton said Moderna and other vaccine companies are testing existing COVID-19 vaccines to determine how effective they are against the omicron variant.

“If we need to manufacture an omicron-specific variant, it’s going to take some weeks, two to three months is probably what we’re looking at to be able to really begin to manufacture,” Burton told ABC.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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‘Defeated’ Mike Lindell Ends 96-hour TV Marathon After Failing to Gain Support

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Mike Lindell ended a 96-hour online marathon entitled, Thanks-a-thon, after failing to gain strong support for his Supreme Court case.

The MyPillow CEO has long been a fervent supporter of former President Donald Trump and has continued to make baseless claims that the 2020 election was rigged in favour of President Joe Biden and that he would file a lawsuit.

Despite providing no evidence for widespread election fraud, Lindell claimed he would have the support of multiple states’ attorneys in general as he hoped to take this issue to the Supreme Court.

The 60-year-old claimed he would have this support by Thanksgiving, a deadline he set himself, but he did not receive it and the lawsuit was not filed.

By the end of the marathon, Mike Lindell appeared defeated, according to viewers, and in his final words asked the people to take action.

The brief clip has been posted to Twitter and viewed over 150,000 times with many viewers remarking how tired and defeated Lindell appears.

The clip, shared by attorney Ron Filipkowski, was posted to Twitter with the caption: “As Mike Lindell concludes his 96-hour marathon to convince America to rise up and demand the Supreme Court accept his case. He sounds pretty damn beaten down and defeated. Poor guy.”

He said: “If you have a voice you have got to speak out, we are going to be that voice.”

Lindell then started to say he would be back before trailing off and looking down away from the camera. He then stopped speaking as he tapped a pen on the desk before continuing.

He said: “Everybody watching, it depends on all of you now. We have got the tools and we are going to be back and talk about the pathway forward.”

Mike Lindell on Freedom Patriot Network
Mike Lindell’s 96-hour TV marathon ended in failure.
Freedom Patriot Network

During the stream, Newsweek also reported on the low number of viewers despite the claim by Lindell that millions were watching. On the Youtube stream of the event, only a dozen people were watching the event.

Posted on Lindell’s Youtube channel, Freedom Patriot Network, the stream ended with 9,164 views.

The exact viewing figures are unclear as the event was also being streamed on Lindell’s own platforms, Frank Speech, and Lindell TV where viewing figures are not shared publicly.

On Wednesday, Lindell held a protest outside the Fox News headquarters in Manhattan in the hopes the network would start covering his election fraud case. Only a handful of protesters joined the pillow salesman in the rally, where they could be seen on camera chanting “”Shame on Fox, shame on Fox.”

Newsweek has contacted Lindell for comment.

Mike Lindell
Mike Lindell, CEO of My Pillow, speaks during a campaign rally held by U.S. President Donald Trump at the Target Center on October 10, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mike Lindell ended his online Marathan after 96 hours
Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

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