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In our news wrap Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the annual "ball drop" festivities will move forward as planned on New Year's Eve. The FDA will reportedly authorize Pfizer's COVID vaccine boosters for 12 to 15-year-olds. Mourners lined up in South Africa to pay respects to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu as he lay in state at St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town.
The White House says Mr. Biden warned Russia again not to invade Ukraine. The Kremlin says President Putin warned that any new sanctions would mean a complete breakdown in relations. The two leaders had an initial call earlier this month. Formal security talks begin next month.
And we will have much more after the news summary.
On the pandemic, new hospitalizations of children rose 66 percent last week. Daily admissions are now the highest in the pandemic, and infections among nursing home workers jumped 80 percent. Today, federal health officials appealed to that group to get boosters. Meanwhile, The New York Times and others reported that, on Monday, the FDA will authorize Pfizer vaccine boosters for kids 12 to 15 years old.
And a South African study found Johnson & Johnson's booster cut the risk of hospitalization in Omicron cases by 85 percent.
The Omicron surge the Omicron surge is also forcing U.S. cities to decide about going ahead with New Year's Eve celebrations. Today, crews in New York prepared for the annual ball drop in Times Square.
Outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio said the festivities will move forward as planned.
Bill de Blasio (D), mayor of New York:
It's going to be outdoors, vaccination only, masks required, socially distanced. But we want to show that we're moving forward. And we want to show the world that New York City is fighting our way through this.
Boston is also pressing on with its New Year's plans, but concerts and other events are being moved outdoors to allow for more spacing.
And the CDC warned today against going on cruises. It said the chance of getting infected is very high, regardless of vaccination status.
In Sudan, security forces reportedly killed at least four protesters today amid mass rallies against the military regime. A medical group says it happened in Omdurman, when security forces opened fire on crowds. Thousands also protested in Khartoum. Security forces used tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the crowds, demanding a return to civilian rule.
Shahinaz Gamal, protester (through translator):
Our position is clear. We are opposed to any negotiations, partnership or compromise with the generals. We came out today to bring down this ruling military council and to have a civilian democratic government afterwards.
Major demonstrations have rocked Sudan since October's military coup, despite tightened security measures.
Mourners lined up in South Africa today to pay respects to the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He lay in state at St. George's Anglican Cathedral in Cape Town, where he had preached against racial injustice. Hundreds filed past the simple pine casket.
Jonathan Butler, musician (through translator):
I'm here to say goodbye, but to also celebrate the bishop, Archbishop Tutu, because he's meant so much to me in my life.
I have had fond memories of meeting and spending time with him. And I think I want to be — he's left that impression on me that integrity, character and service is everything.
The lying in state continues tomorrow. A requiem mass and funeral will take place on New Year's Day. Tutu died Sunday at the age of 90.
Back in this country, a wind-driven wildfire in Colorado forced evacuations of nearly 35,000 people from two towns near Denver. Smoke rose over neighborhoods in Superior and Louisville, and cars lined up trying to leave the area. Winds gusting to 100 miles an hour were pushing the flames.
The latest winter storm in the Pacific Northwest socked in a major highway for much of the day. Heavy snow shut down about 80 miles of Interstate 90 across Washington state. The same storm has iced local roads in the region and tangled up traffic in Seattle and Portland. The arctic blast is expected to last until the weekend.
Teva Pharmaceuticals was found guilty today of fueling opioid addiction in New York state. A jury said the company used misleading marketing tactics that had lethal consequences. A separate trial will determine damages. All told, more than 3,000 opioid-related lawsuits are pending in the U.S.
In economic news, first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped last week by 8,000 to 198,000. And the four-week average was the lowest since 1969. The numbers indicate that the Omicron surge has yet to trigger new layoffs.
And on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 90 points to close at 36398. The Nasdaq fell 24 points. The S&P 500 slipped 14.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": inside Turkey's battle with a Kurdish separatist movement in Iraq; two critics give their takes on the best of books of 2021; some reflections on a challenging year, plus some reasons to be hopeful; and much more.
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