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DECEMBER 23, 2021
ISSUE NO. 79

'Twas the week before Christmas, on a chilly Thursday morning in December,
When POLITI-Kids sent their final 2021 issue that celebrated Christmas and a year to remember.


2021 was a year that we will never forget
With Covid, Olympics, and a new president.


Many students finally got off of Zoom
And the state of Georgia turned Blue.


Many statues and monuments were finally removed
And Biden’s infrastructure bill was also approved.


Moderna and Pfizer gave us Covid Vaccines
And Britney Spears was finally freed.


President Trump was kicked off Twitter and Facebook
And with one listen to Red (Taylor’s Version) we were all hooked.

Simone Biles led by example by taking care of her mental health
And billionaires launched into space to prove their wealth.


We spent a lot of time watching TikTok
And remember the boat that caused the Suez Canal block?


Masks were taken off and put back on,
And we saw Champ, Major, and now Commander on the White House front lawn.


While this is the last issue of a crazy year,
The POLITI-Kids team would like to thank you all for being here. 


Regardless of the news cycle that kept us on our toes,
You all read us each week, and that means more than you know.


We hope you all have a wonderful holiday,
And get to celebrate in a special and safe way.

 

Rocking around the Christmas Tree,
The POLITI-Kids Team
Aloïse Phelps and Alexa Velickovich
PS. We are off for the next two weeks, but we'll see you all in 2022! 

COMMANDER IN TREATS
Puppy Commander plays fetch at the White House

Rumors flew around Twitter early this week about a very legendary spotting at the White House. No, it wasn’t a celebrity, political figure or even Santa Claus. Rather, the rumblings circulated about a four-legged friend romping around the lawn of the White House.

A few hours later, President Joe Biden confirmed that the puppy was the newest member of the Biden family. Commander, a 3-month-old German Shepard puppy, has extremely pointy ears and an irresistibly adorable face. The dog was a gift from Biden's brother and sister-in-law and is the third German Shepard to live in the White House during this administration. Major, the Biden's other dog, lives with family friends.

President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden shared a video of Commander exploring his new home at the White House. The video shows the president playing fetch in a garden with the puppy. Later on, Commander pulls his family around on his leash and investigates all the new scents and smells.

The arrival of Commander revamped the discussion of the long-promised White House cat. In an interview this fall, Dr. Biden said that the cat was living with a foster family in preparation for her arrival to the White House. The Biden assured everyone that the cat, who has yet to be named, will be arriving at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in January. Until then, Commander will be the only furry friend in the White House.

(Source: The New York Times / Image Source: Twitter)

WORD OF THE WEEK:
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION 
(noun): a promise to do something differently in the New Year.

New Year’s resolutions can come in many forms, but the goal is to improve life in the year ahead. For some people, this means changing a bad habit, like eating less junk food. Other people promise to develop a good habit, like volunteering in the community or recycling more. It can be hard to decide what resolutions you want to make for the upcoming year but taking time to reflect on the past year and picking specific things you want to change can really help.

The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution started in Ancient Rome. Janus, a mythical god, was known to have two faces — one looking forward and one that looked backward. On December 31, the Romans believed that Janus looked backward on the old year and forward into the new year, and it became a symbolic time for Romans to make resolutions for the New Year and be forgiven for their past wrongdoings. 
JOKE OF THE WEEK:

Q: What do you call a blind reindeer?

A: No-eye-deer!

Below is an excerpt from a POLITICO article, along with some questions to help guide your reading. 
To read the full article, click here.
Biden expanding testing and reinforcing hospitals in face of Omicron
By Adam Cancryn
December 21, 2021

President Joe Biden rolled out new measures designed to expand coronavirus testing and reinforce hospitals, warning Tuesday that the U.S. faces a wave of infections fueled by the Omicron variant that could strain the nation’s health system once again.

Biden, delivering his second Covid-focused speech in a month marked by rising caseloads, pled with Americans to get vaccinated and seek out boosters, calling the virus’ resurgence a matter of “deadly business” for the millions who have refused the shots.

But he rejected fears that Omicron would prompt a return of widespread lockdowns and school closures, arguing that the government is far better prepared to respond to accelerating cases and hospitalizations.
...
The administration plans to send thousands more troops and medical personnel to aid overburdened hospitals, set up FEMA surge facilities and prepare shipments of protective gear to hard-hit spots around the country. It will further scale up vaccination sites and reopen federal testing locations.

And in a notable move, the federal government is purchasing 500 million at-home rapid tests that Americans will be able to order for free beginning in January.

Those initiatives amount to a redeployment of emergency defenses seen last year, ahead of expectations that the more contagious Omicron variant will drive an explosion of infections throughout the winter.
...
More than a quarter of adults are still not fully vaccinated nearly a year into a vaccination campaign hampered by deepening partisanship, with studies showing them at much higher risk of hospitalization and death from Omicron than those who have gotten their shots.

Nearly 70 percent of fully vaccinated adults, meanwhile, have yet to receive their boosters — alarming officials in the wake of evidence that breakthrough Omicron infections are much more likely among those who have yet to get the additional shot.

The U.S. is now recording more than 140,000 daily new Covid-19 cases on average, roughly double the levels seen in early November.

Administration officials expect that sharp increase to continue throughout the winter, fueled by a variant so transmissible that it has became the dominant strain of Covid-19 within weeks of emerging in the U.S. Omicron accounted for nearly three-quarters of all new infections last week, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
...
Those concerns are driving the planned buildout of testing and hospital capacity, even as Biden and top health officials downplayed the threat to the majority of Americans who are fully vaccinated. Officials are optimistic that Omicron cases will not prove as severe as previous variants, yet have nevertheless grown worried that the sheer volume of infections could result in enough hospitalizations to strain the system.

The administration is setting up federal testing sites again, with the first due to open in New York City this week. And after weeks of criticism over its reluctance to send out free at-home tests, the government will buy 500 million tests that it plans to mail out on request.

Those free tests will not be available until January, and the administration is still setting up the website where people can request them. Officials have also yet to settle such questions as how many tests can be ordered at once. They also could not immediately say what proportion of those 500 million tests will be available on day one of the program, or what the purchase would ultimately cost the federal government.

Still, it represents a sharp about face for an administration that previously dismissed the idea of sending out free tests — arguing at the time that it would be too costly and inefficient.

Biden earlier this month promised to distribute 50 million free rapid tests to community health centers and launch a separate initiative beginning in mid-January requiring private insurers to reimburse people for their individual purchases of rapid tests.

But the plan prompted immediate backlash from public health experts who panned it as inadequate and overly complicated. Since then, demand for tests has exploded amid the Omicron surge, prompting severe shortages and worries in the administration that the need for more tests will only continue to rise.
...
In addition to expanding testing availability, the administration is also preparing a range of reinforcements for hospitals on the front lines of the surge. Along with putting service members on standby, federal emergency response teams are being sent to six states: Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, New Hampshire, Arizona and Vermont.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency will help hospitals expand capacity and provide additional transportation to move patients to other facilities as beds fill up. In an echo of the pandemic’s early days, hundreds of ventilators will be sent to states. Officials are also readying shipments of protective equipment to Covid-19 hot spots.

Biden also plans to further ramp up vaccination efforts, especially as initial data show booster shots are critical to providing robust protection against Omicron. That effort includes opening up new vaccination clinics in high-demand areas and working with pharmacies to add more appointment times and capacity.


GUIDED ARTICLE  QUESTIONS:
1. What new measures are being implemented to contain the spread of the Omicron variant?


2. What percentage of adults are still not fully vaccinated? What percentage have not received their boosters?


3. How does the Omicron variant affect vaccinated adults vs. unvaccinated?


4. Is the Omicron variant more or less contagious? 


5. Which Covid-19 strain is more dominant in the U.S.?


6. When will free tests become available? 


7. Why did the Biden administration previously dismiss the idea of sending out free Covid-19 tests?


8. What potential problems may arise with the free test program?


9. Why are service members and federal emergency response teams being deployed to help, and what will they be doing? 


10. What is Biden doing to ramp up vaccination efforts? 
PAW-LITICO OF THE WEEK: MAX
Submitted by POLITI-Kid Mona Zhang

Max is a 3-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier adopted during the pandemic. His favorite foods include chicken, fish and pizza crusts. He loves stuffed toys and doesn’t even rip them up while playing, contrary to misconceptions about his breed’s aggressiveness and strong jaws. He loves hanging out on park benches, playing tug and imitating the sounds of other species (mostly pigs and horses).

Do you want your pet to be next Paw-litico of the week?
Send us a photo and a bio to politikids@politico.com
Print out and color this New Year's Eve crown to celebrate 2022!
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: 
BLACK-EYED PEAS (HOPPIN' JOHN)
Adapted from Epicurious

In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas or Hoppin' John (a traditional soul food) on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year. Legend holds that the peas represent coins and the greens, of course, good ol’ dollar bills.
 
Ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
– 4 ounces slab bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces (optional)
– 1 medium onion, finely chopped
– 5 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
– 4 garlic cloves, smashed
– 2 cups black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained
– Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
 
Directions:
1. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium.

2. Add bacon, if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until some of the fat begins to collect in the pan and bacon starts to look shiny, about 5 minutes.

3. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender, about 5 minutes.

4. Add thyme sprigs, garlic, black-eyed peas, and 8 cups cold water and bring to a simmer over medium-high.

5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, skimming any foam from surface, until beans are tender, 35–45 minutes.

6. Discard thyme; season with salt.

7. To serve, drizzle beans with oil and top with thyme leaves and some pepper.
CRAFT OF THE WEEK: 
CHRISTMAS PAPER CHAIN
Adapted from MessforLess

.
Supplies:
– Construction paper: red, brown, tan, green and white
– Tape
– Glue stick
– Scissors
– Ruler
– Markers: brown, black and red
– Googly eyes, 3 sets

Instructions:
1. Sart by cutting 2 strips of tan & one strip of brown paper about 2 inches by 8.5 inches. Don't worry about the measurement being exact, as long as all 3 strips are the same.


2. Add eyes and a nose to the center of your one tan strip which will become Santa. Add eyes, a smile and a big red nose to the brown strip. Draw eyes, a nose and a mouth on the last tan strip, which will become an elf.

3. To finish making the Santa, cut a beard out of the white paper and a hat out of red paper. To decorate the red hat, cut a little white paper for the bottom and top. Make the shapes of these squiggly like a cloud. Draw a smile on the beard with a red marker. Attach the beard to Santa with the glue stick.

4. Curl the Santa strip around and use tape to secure it into a loop. Attach his hat with a piece of tape on the back, so that the hat sticks up.

5. To complete Rudolph, cut two antlers out of brown construction paper. I find it easier to draw some basic antlers onto brown construction paper and cut them out.

6. Use the tape to secure the strip into a loop then glue the bottoms of the antlers to the strip so they stick up. 

7. To make the elf, cut out two pointed oval ears and a pointed green hat. Cut out a little white circle pom pom and attach it to the top of the elf's hat. Secure the ears to the sides of the strip with the glue stick so they stick out on the sides. Attach the elf's hat to the back of the strip with tape so that it stands up from the loop. Then, use some tape to secure the strip into a loop.

8. Cut two more strips of red and green paper, the same size as the ones you made before. Place the green paper strip through the Santa and reindeer and tape it to secure it into a loop. Place the red strip through the reindeer and the elf, and tape it to secure into a loop.

9. Keep as is or repeat for a longer chain!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the following POLITICO'sPOLITI-Kids and celebrities. Is your birthday coming up? Let us know by submitting your name and date of birth here!

December 24: Dr. Anthony Fauci, Louis Tomlinson

December 27: Timothée Chalamet, Hayley Williams, Savannah Guthrie

December 28: Han Ah-Sue, Tom Frank, Zach Montellaro, John Legend, Maggie Smith, Seth Meyers, Gayle King

December 29: Amy McClurg, Erica Martinson, Grace Goodman, Holly Otterbein, Taha Faiq, Alison Brie, Ted Danson

December 30:  Jen Scholtes, Philip Harman, LeBron James, Ellie Goulding

December 31: Annie Lindahl, Mark Wegner

January 1: Alex DiNino

January 2: Ben Storrow, Michael Zapler, Dax Shepard, Taye Diggs

January 3: Marc Heller, Matt Woelfel, Greta Thunberg, Florence Pugh, J.R.R. Tolkien

January 4: Adriel Bettelheim, Caitlin Emma, David Kihara, Jill Martin, Tamara Mukulu

January 5: Bradley Cooper, Diane Keaton

January 6: Christa Marshall, Kaitlyn Locke, Eddie Redmayne, Kate McKinnon

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