News Headlines 12/7/21

BIDEN TO WARN PUTIN OF PAINFUL ECONOMIC SANCTIONS IF RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: President Biden will warn Russian President Vladimir Putin in their video call today (December 7th) of painful economic sanctions if Russia invades Ukraine. The message will come as Russia has massed tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine and U.S. intelligence has warned of preparations for a potential invasion as early as January. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said yesterday, “We’ve consulted significantly with our allies and believe we have a path forward that would impose significant and severe harm on the Russian economy. You can call that a threat. You can call that a fact. You can call that preparation. You can call it whatever you want to call it.” Putin, meanwhile, is expected to demand guarantees that NATO will never expand to include Ukraine, which has long wanted to join. The Associated Press said that while there’s little prospect that Ukraine would be invited to join NATO anytime soon, the U.S. and its allies won’t rule it out. 

JUSTICE DEPT. SUES TEXAS OVER NEW RESDISTRICTING MAPS: The Justice Department sued Texas yesterday (December 6th) over its new redistricting maps, saying they discriminate against minority voters, particularly Latinos. The suit claims the Republican-controlled state violated the Voting Rights Act in how it drew new district boundaries this year for its congressional delegation and state legislature. The lawsuit contends that while most of the population growth in Texas over the past decade came from Black, Latino and Asian people, the new maps dilute their votes by scattering them across districts. It also says the maps pack Black and Latino communities into weirdly-shaped districts while preserving seats for white Republicans. A spokesman for Republican Governor Greg Abbott said, “We are confident that Texas’ redistricting plans will be upheld by the courts, and our office continues working with the Office of the Attorney General to ensure Texans are represented fairly.”

NYC IMPOSES STRICTEST MANDATE, SAYING ALL PRIVATE EMPLOYERS MUST REQUIRE COVID VACCINATION: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday (December 6th) that the city will require all private employers to mandate that their workers be vaccinated against Covid-19, the strictest mandate of any state or big city in the country. De Blasio said it will take effect on December 27th, four days before the last day of his term, and that regular Covid testing won’t be allowed as an alternative. The mayor said it’s a, quote, “preemptive strike” aimed at avoiding a spike of infections amid holiday gatherings and the cold weather, and it also comes as the new omicron variant has emerged. A spokesman for Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who is also a Democrat, said he, quote, “will evaluate this mandate and other  Covid strategies when he is in office.” 

WOMAN TESTIFIES MAXWELL PRESSURED HER INTO GIVING EPSTEIN SEXUAL MASSAGES WHEN SHE WAS A TEEN: A British woman using the pseudonym “Kate” testified in Ghislaine Maxwell‘s sexual trafficking trial yesterday (December 6th) that Maxwell pressured her into giving Jeffrey Epstein sexual massages when she  was a teenager, although of the legal age of consent at 18. She testified about one particular incident in which Maxwell left out a schoolgirl’s outfit for her to wear with Epstein and told her, “I thought it would be fun for you to take Jeffrey his tea in this outfit.” After the sexual encounter that took place after that, she said Maxwell asked her if she had fun and told her, “You are such a good girl.” “Kate” further testified that Maxwell told her Epstein was “demanding” about sexual massages, and that it was, quote, “very difficult to keep up” with his sexual needs.