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News Wrap: UK imposes new lockdown amid coronavirus surge

In our news wrap Monday, the United Kingdom imposed a new lockdown as the coronavirus variant spreads, Washington, D.C. activates National Guard ahead of expected protests against certifying President-elect Biden's win, a British judge refuses to send WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the U.S., and Iran says it has ramped up uranium enrichment as the country seizes a South Korean tanker.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    Washington, D.C., activated the National Guard ahead of expected protests against certifying president-elect Biden's victory. On Wednesday, Congress needs to come the electoral votes, as we have been reporting. And President Trump has called for mass demonstrations.

    Today, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged locals to stay away.

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser:

    We will not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents, or cause destruction in our city.

    So, again, we're asking D.C. residents and people who live in the region to avoid confrontations with anybody who's looking for a fight.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Some 340 National Guard troops will be used for traffic control and other roles, but they will not be armed.

    On the COVID-19 pandemic, British officials imposed a new lockdown across England, as a new variant of the virus spreads. In the U.S., New York became at least the fourth state to report a case of that new strain. And Governor Andrew Cuomo announced fines for hospitals that don't use vaccines within a week of receiving them.

    We will focus on vaccinations after the news summary.

    Overseas, Iran says that it has ramped up uranium enrichment again, this time to 20 percent purity. That is still far short of weapons-grade. But today's announcement marks Tehran's latest violation of a 2015 nuclear deal since President Trump quit the pact in 2018.

    Also today, Iran's Revolutionary Guard seized a South Korean tanker ship carrying chemicals and its crew. It happened near the entrance to the Persian Gulf. Iran claimed the ship had polluted the region's waters. The Iranians have demanded that South Korea release $7 billion worth of assets frozen by U.S. sanctions.

    We will return to all of this later in the program.

    A British judge today refused to order WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange extradited to the U.S. to face espionage charges. The judge said that Assange's mental health is so bad that he might kill himself. Supporters erupted in cheers outside the court once the ruling was announced.

    But Assange's partner warned it's too soon to celebrate.

  • Stella Moris:

    We are extremely concerned that the U.S. government has decided to appeal this decision. It continues to want to punish Julian and make him disappear into the deepest, darkest hole of the U.S. prison system for the rest of his life.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Assange is wanted in the U.S. for publishing thousands of documents that exposed U.S. military misdeeds in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The Slack messaging service was hit today with a global outage, affecting millions of people worldwide. During the pandemic, Slack has been widely used by people working or attending school at home. The company said it's investigating what caused the outage.

    And Wall Street pulled back today amid fears of new COVID lockdowns and uncertainty about the U.S. Senate run-offs in Georgia. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 382 points to close at 30223. The Nasdaq fell 189 points, and the S&P 500 slipped 55.

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