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    President Joe Biden's visit to a computer chip factory in Bay City, Michigan, continues his push for his economic agenda. The South Korean company, SK Siltron, is planning a $300 million expansion that could quadruple its production in the coming years. A White House official says the Democratic president’s remarks in Michigan on Tuesday will also emphasize falling gas prices and efforts to protect abortion access. Biden will appear with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat who just won reelection in a closely watched race. Whitmer's victory over Republican 2020 election denier Tudor Dixon has burnished her standing within the Democratic Party.

      Soccer is not human society itself, with all its thorny issues. But it is at times a reflection of  the entire planet. Nations, their disputes and their aspirations don't just go away when the World Cup begins. The political issues have been coming fast and furious on a near-daily basis at one of the most heavily scrutinized World Cups in the tournament’s history. And outside the tournament bubble, the world itself has kept turning in some of its harshest ways. The rest of the world, it turns out, doesn’t end where the soccer pitch begins.

        The U.S. Navy has dismissed Beijing's protests over a “freedom of navigation operation" conducted near a Chinese-held island in the South China Sea. The Navy's 7th Fleet issued a rebuttal to China's objections to Tuesday's mission that included the guided missile cruiser USS Chancelorsville sailing past a Chinese-controlled island. China called the action illegal and an infringement on its sovereignty and security and said it drove off the ship. The U.S. Navy says China has engaged in actions to misrepresent lawful U.S. maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims" in the South China Sea. China claims the area virtually in its entirety and has refused its smaller neighbors' claims to the same islands.

          A federal trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal is closing with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power. The NAACP says the General Assembly removed Black voters from the coastal 1st District to make it easier for Republicans to win and dilute African American votes. The General Assembly says it drew maps fairly to deal with 10% population growth concentrated along the coast. A panel of three federal judges will hear closing arguments in the case Tuesday morning in Charleston. A ruling is expected later.

            With police out in force, there was no word of additional protests against strict government anti-pandemic measures Tuesday in Beijing, as temperatures fell well below freezing. Shanghai, Nanjing and other cities where online calls to gather had been issued were also reportedly quiet. Rallies against China’s unusually strict anti-virus measures spread to several cities over the weekend in the biggest show of opposition to the ruling Communist Party in decades. Authorities eased some regulations, apparently to try to quell public anger, but the government showed no sign of backing down on its larger coronavirus strategy, and analysts expect authorities to quickly silence the dissent.

              House Republicans are promising aggressive oversight of the Biden administration once they assume the majority next year. They are planning to take particular focus on the business dealings of presidential son Hunter Biden, illegal immigration at the U.S-Mexico border and the originations of COVID-19. The House members expected to lead those investigations include Ohio's Jim Jordan, a favorite of former President Donald Trump. Jordan is likely to lead the House Judiciary Committee. Another is Kentucky's James Comer, who is expected to lead the House Oversight and Reform Committee.

              South Korea’s government has ordered some of the thousands of truck drivers who have been on strike to return to work, insisting that their nationwide walkout over freight fare issues is hurting an already weak economy. Despite facing the threat of delicensing or even prison terms, the strike’s organizers say they will defy the order and accused President Yoon Suk Yeol’s conservative government of suppressing their labor rights and ignoring what they described as worsening work conditions and financial strain caused by rising fuel costs and interest rates. The order targets the drivers of cement trucks among a broader group of truckers participating in the walkout.

              Congressman A. Donald McEachin, a Virginia Democrat, has died after a battle with colorectal cancer. He was 61. McEachin’s chief of staff, Tara Rountree, said in a statement late Monday: “Valiantly, for years now, we have watched him fight and triumph over the secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013. Tonight, he lost that battle.” McEachin represented Virginia’s 4th Congressional District, which includes part of Richmond and extends south to the North Carolina border. He was reelected to a fourth term earlier this month. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called her late colleague “a tireless champion for Virginia families and a force for economic opportunity and environmental justice.”

              A greater-than-expected demand for aid has forced the Connecticut General Assembly to considering how to cover the extra cost of promised bonuses for thousands of frontline workers who remained on the job the during the coronavirus pandemic. Connecticut lawmakers voted Monday in a special session to revamp the distribution formula for the $30 million Connecticut Premium Pay Program for private sector workers. A proposal also would earmark an additional $76.6 million. The move comes after officials predicted planned bonuses of up to $1,000 for eligible workers would end up being only $233, given the large number of claimants.

              The former warden of an abuse-plagued federal women’s prison known as the “rape club” went on trial Monday. The former warden is accused of molesting inmates and forcing them to pose naked in their cells. Ray J. Garcia retired after the FBI found nude photos of inmates on his government-issued phone last year. Garcia is among five workers charged with abusing inmates at the federal correctional institution in Dublin, California, and the first to go to trial. Prosecutors said during opening statements that Garcia followed a pattern that started with compliments and flattery and escalated to sexual encounters. Garcia has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, Garcia would face up to 15 years in prison.

              Australia’s environment minister says her government will lobby against UNESCO adding the Great Barrier Reef to a list of endangered World Heritage sites, arguing that criticisms of government inaction on climate change are outdated. Officials from UNESCO and the International Union for Conservation of Nature released a report Monday warning that without “ambitious, rapid and sustained” climate action, the world’s largest coral reef is in peril. The report, which recommended shifting the Great Barrier Reef to endangered status, followed a 10-day mission to the famed reef system off Australia’s northeast coast. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says the report is a reflection on Australia’s previous government, which was voted out of office in May after nine years in power.

              Incoming and returning Republicans to the North Carolina Senate have chosen a key lawmaker on tax, voting and energy issues to become majority leader for the next two years. The Senate Republican Caucus on Monday elected Sen. Paul Newton of Cabarrus County to the post. Newton succeeds Sen. Kathy Harrington, who didn't seek reelection this fall to her Gaston County seat. The caucus also agreed to nominate Phil Berger to a seventh term as president pro tempore when the session convenes in January. He has held the job since 2011. Senate Democrats meeting separately Monday reelected Sen. Dan Blue of Wake County as minority leader.

              The Senate is set to vote Tuesday on legislation to protect same-sex and interracial marriages, putting Congress one step closer to passing the landmark bill and ensuring that such unions are enshrined in federal law. Senate Democrats are moving to quickly pass the bill while they still hold the majority in both chambers. The House would still have to vote on the legislation and send it to President Joe Biden. A test vote Monday evening moved the legislation closer to passage, with 12 Republicans who have previously supported the bill voting again to move it forward. Democrats set up a Tuesday afternoon vote on final passage.


              Republican officials in a rural Arizona county refused Monday to certify the 2022 election despite no evidence of anything wrong with the count, a decision that was quickly challenged in court by the state's top election official.

              The refusal to certify by Cochise County in southeastern Arizona comes amid pressure from prominent Republicans to reject results showing Democrats winning top races.

              A growing number of Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, are criticizing Donald Trump for dining with a Holocaust-denying white nationalist and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West. Pence, in an interview Monday, said the former president had “demonstrated profoundly poor judgment” when he met last week at his Mar-a-Lago club with West, who is now known as Ye, as well as Nick Fuentes, a far-right activist with a long history of making antisemitic and white nationalist remarks. Trump has said he didn’t know who Fuentes was before the meeting but has so far refused to denounce his views.

              New Jersey Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Monday his administration has launched a promised review of its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Murphy says his administration hired regional law firm Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads — which has offices in the state as well as Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — along with management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group to conduct the review. The review is expected to end with a report in late 2023, the governor said. New Jersey was among the first states hit by the virus, announcing its first positive case in early March 2020.

              An Oregon Senate panel has rescinded the security measure it imposed on state Sen. Brian Boquist after he made threatening statements during an acrimonious 2019 legislative session, in a case that centers on free speech. Since July 2019, Boquist has been required to give 12 hours notice before coming to the Oregon State Capitol, in order to give the state police time to bolster their security. Boquist maintained in a lawsuit that this measure violates his free speech rights as an elected official. In a ruling last April, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed. Boquist suggested Monday that the Senate Conduct Committee suspend the interim safety measure until federal courts rule on the matter.

              In-person early voting for the last U.S. Senate seat is underway statewide in Georgia's runoff, with Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock working to get the jump on Republican challenger Herschel Walker who is putting less emphasis on advance balloting.

              President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass legislation to intervene and block a railroad strike before next month’s deadline in the stalled contract talks. Biden said Monday that a tentative agreement approved in September provided a pay raise for workers, protected their health care benefits and improved their leave policy. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said lawmakers will take up legislation to impose those terms this week. If Congress acts, it will end the negotiations between four rail unions that rejected their deals and the railroads. Eight other rail unions have ratified their deals that include 24% raises and $5,000 in bonuses.

              The White House says first lady Jill Biden has drawn inspiration from the nation's founding documents to decorate for the holidays. The first lady's theme is “We the People." The White House said Monday the holiday décor represents what unites Americans during the holidays and throughout the year. A copy of the Declaration of Independence is on display in the library. The gingerbread White House includes a replica of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. New this year is a wooden menorah built by White House carpenters.

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