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DECEMBER 10, 2021
ISSUE NO. 78
ALL HOPE IS NOT FROST

Happy Friday, snowflakes! 

There's something about this time of year that always feels a little more magical. Despite everything going on in the world, the cozy weather, bright lights and holiday cheer seem to always bring people together — and what's not to enjoy about that! This weekend you'll be able to find us under warm blankets, sipping hot cocoa and watching one of our favorite holiday films, Elf. 

Stay jolly,
The POLITI-Kids Team

Aloïse Phelps and Alexa Velickovich

DEAF-INITELY AN AMAZING TEAM

A varsity football team in California has gone 12-0 this year — an impressive record for any football team. It was the first time in the team’s 68-year history that this has happened. But what makes this story even more spectacular is the fact that all 23 players and their coaches are deaf.

Throughout the season, the Cubs played only hearing teams and defeated all of them, sometimes by significant margins. The players and coaches use American Sign Language (ASL) to communicate with each other on the field. Despite having lost every single game for the previous seven seasons, this team shined and even made it to the California State Championship last weekend.

Sadly, the Cubs lost that game, but their story has been an inspiration for athletes around the country. Many deaf schools reached out to show their support for the team and were grateful for the example the Cubs set.

Though football season is now over, basketball has started and all but two football players are on the team. They are using their championship loss as fuel to be one of the best teams in the league for basketball and come back even stronger for football next season.

(Source: The LA Times)
*For a guide to American Sign Language, check out POLITI-Kids At Home!

WORD OF THE WEEK:
OMICRON
(Pronounced ah-muh-kron)

Omicron is the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. As you may have noticed, all the variants of Covid-19 are named after a different greek letter (remember Delta?). 

Here is what we know so far about the Omicron variant so far: 
– South Africa first reported the variant to the World Health Organization about two weeks ago. It was labeled as a "variant of concern", meaning it was likely to have significant effects.

– The strain has spread around the globe and has been detected in 50 countries. The variant is in 19 U.S. states so far.

– The symptoms of Omicron seem to be milder than previous strains of the coronavirus.

– On Thursday, Pfizer announced that its booster shot can protect against Omicron. 
JOKE OF THE WEEK:

Q: What is an ig?

A: A snow house without a loo!

Below is an excerpt from a POLITICO article, along with some questions to help guide your reading. 
To read the full article, click here.
Omicron wave: How to do travel restrictions right this time
By Carmen Paun and Ryan Heath
December 1, 2021

President Joe Biden is mulling new travel restrictions to slow the spread of Omicron in the U.S., as a new Morning Consult poll shows nearly 80 percent of U.S. adults back a ban on arrivals from eight southern African countries that went into effect Monday.

The latest ban was imposed on the region where the heavily mutated coronavirus variant Omicron was originally identified, though experts have not established where the variant started.

The first U.S. case of Omicron was identified in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed on Wednesday.

Possible forthcoming measures identified by the White House include more aggressive pre-arrival testing and a self-quarantine system for international arrivals. These are tools that could help make travel restrictions more effective in potentially slowing down the spread of the virus from international arrival, health experts say. They also argue that blanket national bans are a blunt tool, and that wider distribution of vaccines in low-income countries and observance of mask wearing and social distancing remain more effective in responding to the virus.

Travel bans can work to contain viruses such as Ebola, where infected people show symptoms of sickness, but not for coronavirus, which commonly has asymptomatic carriers, said Ingrid Katz, an infectious disease physician and associate faculty director at Harvard Global Health Institute.

Katz called Biden’s travel ban “theater” because it allows U.S. citizens and residents, and others from countries where Omicron is present, into the country without the need to quarantine upon arrival, which could allow for the variant’s spread.

But the proposal the White House is expected to announce soon should make restrictions more serious — and more in line with the science.

The White House now wants anyone arriving into the country to get tested one day before travel, instead of three days under current rules. The CDC recommends all passengers get tested 3-5 days following travel and unvaccinated travelers should quarantine.
...
Those measures are light in comparison to the arrival caps and hotel quarantine measures put in place by many countries during the pandemic.

Countries including Taiwan, Hong Kong and New Zealand continue to maintain strict hotel quarantine rules, ranging from seven to 21 days, applied to all arrivals. The purpose is to isolate any positive cases before carriers can spread them into the community, without completely shutting a border.

From the early weeks of the pandemic, health experts have warned that the key to slowing the spread of Covid-19 is universally practicing safe behaviors, such as social distancing and mask-wearing in public. The Trump administration — and many other governments — were nevertheless tempted to turn to bans on travelers from China and Europe to show they were taking decisive action.

While the restrictions helped some countries to minimize, and at times eliminate the virus, those successes were only possible when strict quarantine regimes were in place: an option the United States never pursued.
...
Though experts warned new variants would continue to emerge, governments continued to lean on travel restrictions as a method for containing the spread of the virus across borders — from outright bans on certain travelers, to severe arrivals caps and mandatory hotel quarantine systems — rather than dealing with the root issue: lack of vaccinated people.

Africa remains the most under-vaccinated region of the world, with some 7 percent of its 1.3 billion people fully immunized, while North America has vaccinated about 55 percent of its population, according to Our World in Data.

With more than 50 countries banning travelers from southern Africa, pandemic specialists have immediately pushed back. They point out there is no definitive answer on the source country of Omicron, and that given travel bans usually come with exceptions for citizens of a given country, those loopholes are enough to ensure a variant will make it into any country operating such a system.
...
In the end, the most effective policy for minimizing the effects of new variants will remain widespread vaccination. “New variants will continue to menace the globe if we keep failing to invest in last-mile vaccine delivery” in low-income countries, said Ritu Sharma, vice president at CARE.


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


2. Are travel bans effective in containing the spread of the coronavirus? Why or why not?


3. What measures have other countries implemented to contain the spread of coronavirus? Do you think the United States should implement similar measures? Why or why not?


4. What practices are key in slowing the spread of Covid-19?


5. What percentage of North America is vaccinated?


6. Why are pandemic specialists pushing back on the southern Africa travel ban?


7. Do the current U.S. travel restrictions apply to everyone arriving to the country?


8. What is the most effective policy for minimizing the effects of new variants?
NOTABLE NEWS THIS WEEK
 
The White House on Monday announced a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. American athletes will still be able to compete in the games, but the U.S. delegation of officials and diplomats typically present at the Games won’t be “contributing to fanfare." The boycott comes after the United States has repeatedly criticized China’s ruling Communist Party for a string of human rights abuses and atrocities and is meant to “send a clear message” to the Chinese government. 

The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday authorized a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for 16- and 17-year-olds, giving those teens access to the shots as the Omicron variant spreads worldwide. Eligible teens will be able to get the shot once they are at least six months past their second dose. Allowing the Pfizer shot to boost 16- and 17-year-olds may increase their protection from infection as winter weather forces most Americans indoors, where the coronavirus spreads more easily. 

The Unicode Consortium, a not-for-profit organization responsible for digitizing the world’s languages, shared the most used emojis of 2021. 92 percent of the world’s online population use emoji, and in the number one spot is the Tears of Joy smiley face 
😂It accounts for over five percent of all emoji use. The other top ten, in order, are: ❤️ 🤣 👍 😭 🙏 😘 🥰 😍 😊
PAW-LITICO OF THE WEEK: SEVAN
Submitted by POLITI-Kid Jason Shervinski

My name is Sevan, and I live in sunny Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with my two dads, Jason and Michael. I love to wear shirts because they keep me warm while I am chasing the peacocks and iguanas that live in my neighborhood. My absolute favorite thing to do is go for rides in the car especially if I am going to grandmas, because she likes to give me lots of treats!

Do you want your pet to be next Paw-litico of the week?
Send us a photo and a bio to politikids@politico.com
Can you sign your name using the American Sign Language alphabet?
(Source: National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders)
RECIPE OF THE WEEK: 
GINGERBREAD PEOPLE 
Adapted from SallysBakingAddiction
gingerbread men cookies

Ingredients:
– 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
– 3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
– 2/3 cup molasses
– 1 large egg, at room temperature
– 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
– 3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1 Tablespoon ground ginger (yes, 1 full Tablespoon!)
– 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Directions:

1. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat on medium high speed until combined and creamy-looking. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Next, beat in egg and vanilla on high speed for 2 full minutes. The butter may separate — that’s ok.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves together until combined. On low speed, slowly mix into the wet ingredients until combined. The cookie dough will be quite thick and slightly sticky. Divide dough in half and place each onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap each up tightly and pat down to create a disc shape. Chill discs for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Chilling is mandatory for this cookie dough.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. 

4. Remove 1 disc of chilled cookie dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour a work surface, as well as your hands and the rolling pin. Roll out disc until 1/4-inch thick.

5. Cut into shapes. Place shapes 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Re-roll dough scraps until all the dough is shaped. Repeat with remaining disc of dough.

6. Bake cookies for about 9-10 minutes.

7. Allow cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet. Transfer to cooling rack to cool completely. Once completely cool, decorate as desired.
CRAFT OF THE WEEK: 
CARDBOARD GINGERBREAD HOUSE
Adapted from ProjectKid
cardboard and paper craft gingerbread house for kids diy
.
Supplies:
– Square tissue box
– Cardboard 
– Scissors
– Glue or hot glue gun
– Colored and white cardstock 
– Red and white paper straws
– Green felt
– Red and white mini pompoms
– White paint pen
– White cupcake liner
– Pipe cleaners
– Iridescent glitter 
– Foam brush

Instructions:
1. Trace the side of the tissue box onto cardboard and cut out. Repeat to make a second piece. Print template, trace, and cut cardboard sides for the front and the back of the house. Cut a piece of cardboard for the roof.

2. Glue the four sides to the box.

3. Bend the roof piece in half and glue on top. Decorate as you see fit, or use the suggestions in the following steps!

4. Cut paper straws at an angle and glue them to the side edges of the front of the house. Glue two more to the front edge of the roof.

5. Cut colored cardstock into doors and windows. 

6. Make a candy window by attaching small segments of a cupcake liner to the sides of a circular window.

7.  Make a mini wreath by twisting a green pipe cleaner into a circle. Glue on a small pipe cleaner bow, and glue to the front door.

8. Add a snowy roof by painting a piece of white cardstock, sized to match the roof, with glue and sprinkle with glitter; let dry. Fold in half, cut a “drippy” edge, and glue to the roof.

9. Cut holly leaves from green felt and glue them to the apex of the roof with three mini red pom-poms. 
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 10: Emily Christian, Erin Durkin, Katelyn Fossett, Lulu Parajuli

December 11: Marianne Levine, Sarah Morgan, Hailee Steinfeld, Rita Moreno

December 12: Taylor Thomas, Yu Wu


December 13: Sherryl Malik, Taylor Swift

December 14: Grace McKellip

December 15: Isabel Dobrin, Mollie Parlini, Valerie Yurk, Maude Apatow

December 17: Sabrina Rodriguez, Allan James Vestal, Claudine Hellmuth, Kam Burns, Samantha Bailey, Sarah Paulson, Eugene Levy

December 18: Edward Klump, Ryan McCrimmon, Billie Eilish, Brad Pitt, Sia, Christina Aguilera, Steven Spielberg

December 19: Alec Gaffney, Jake Gyllenhaal

December 20: Francis Chung, John Yearwood, Jonah Hill

December 21: Sabina Lowitt, Jane Fonda, Kaitlyn Dever, Quinta Brunson

December 22: Kristin Longe
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