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The United States' newest nuclear stealth bomber has made its public debut after years of secret development. The new bomber is part of the Pentagon’s answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China. The B-21 Raider is the first new American bomber aircraft built in more than 30 years. The Pentagon provided the public its first glimpse of the Raider at an invitation-only event in Palmdale, California, on Friday. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calls it “the embodiment of America’s determination to defend the republic that we all love.” Falls Church, Virginia-based Northrop Grumman is building the Raider, which will take its first flight next year.

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FBI Director Chris Wray is raising national security concerns about TikTok. He warned Friday that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government “that doesn’t share our values.” Wray said the FBI was concerned that the Chinese had the ability to control the app’s recommendation algorithm, “which allows them to manipulate content, and if they want to, to use it for influence operations.” He also asserted that China could use the app to collect data on its users that could be used for traditional espionage operations. A TikTok spokesperson says it is “on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns.”

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A special council set up to review the Maine National Guard's response to sexual assault and sexual harassment is focusing on how to improve responses to individual cases. The Advisory Council on Military Sexual Trauma, delivered its report Thursday to Gov. Janet Mills. She created the council earlier this year. The report outlines how to improve coordination of state and local law enforcement, prosecutors and the guard’s response to cases. Maine Adjutant Gen. Douglas Farnham says the council has provided opportunity for service members to learn how to support survivors and provide accountability.

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The nation’s employers kept hiring briskly in November despite high inflation and a slow-growing economy — a sign of resilience in the face of the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes. The economy added 263,000 jobs, while the unemployment rate stayed 3.7%, still near a 53-year low, the Labor Department said Friday. November’s job growth dipped only slightly from October’s 284,000 gain. Last month’s hiring, though down from the explosive pace at the start of 2022, amounted to a substantial increase. All year, as inflation has surged and the Fed has imposed ever-higher borrowing rates, America’s labor market has defied skeptics, adding hundreds of thousands of jobs, month after month.

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President Joe Biden's first White House state dinner has drawn big names from the worlds of entertainment, politics, business and fashion to celebrate French President Emmanuel Macron. The official guest list included late-night TV talk-show host Stephen Colbert, “Good Morning America” anchor Robin Roberts, actors Jennifer Garner, Ariana DeBose and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and singer John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen. Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was there, as was House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who hopes to succeed Pelosi. The 338 guests passed through a White House decorated for the holidays. Trolleys took them to a heated party tent on the South Lawn.

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The European Union is edging closer to a $60-per-barrel price cap on Russian oil. It's a highly anticipated and complex political and economic maneuver designed to keep Russian oil flowing into global markets while clamping down on President Vladimir Putin’s ability to fund his war in Ukraine. EU nations sought to push the cap across the finish line Thursday after Poland held out to get as low a figure as possible. There's a deadline to set the price for discounted oil by Monday, when a European embargo on seaborne Russian crude and a ban on shipping insurance for those supplies take effect.

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The Supreme Court says the Biden administration program to cancel student loans will remain blocked for now, but the justices have agreed to take up the case in late winter. The court’s decision to hear arguments relatively quickly means it is likely to determine whether the widespread loan cancellations are legal by late June. That’s about two months before the newly extended pause on loan repayments is set to expire. The administration had wanted a court order that would have allowed the program to take effect even as court challenges proceed. But as a fallback, it suggested the high court hold arguments and decide the issue.

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Street protests that broke out in several Chinese cities over the weekend may have come as a surprise, but the ruling Communist Party has been preparing for this moment for years, decades even. Ever since the last major demonstrations culminated in the bloody military crackdown of 1989, China has been building an internal security force aimed at overwhelming, intimidating, imprisoning and silencing all challenges. By most estimates, China spends more on internal security than on national defense. This includes police, paramilitary troops and internet spies that have honed their skills against minority rights activists, pro-democracy advocates and independent labor organizers. That's what faces anyone daring to protest China's severe anti-COVID-19 measures.

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Legislation to avert a freight rail strike in the United States is headed to President Joe Biden's desk. A bill to avoid the strike won final approval Thursday, clearing the Senate in a bipartisan vote. The bill will bind rail companies and workers to a proposed settlement that was reached between the rail companies and union leaders in September. That settlement had been rejected by four of the 12 unions involved, creating the possibility of a strike. The Senate vote was 80-15 and came one day after the House voted to impose the agreement. Biden has vowed to sign it quickly.

More Politics

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A federal appeals court has halted an independent review of documents seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate, removing a hurdle the Justice Department said had delayed its criminal investigation into the retention of top-secret government information. The decision by the three-judge panel represents a significant win for federal prosecutors, clearing the way for them to use as part of their investigation the entire tranche of documents seized during an Aug. 8 FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. It also rejects the arguments of Trump’s lawyers, who had said the former president was entitled to have a so-called “special master” conduct a neutral review of the thousands of documents taken from the property.

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Spanish officials say a suspicious parcel has been discovered at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and detonated by police. The finding on Thursday came as police reported a wave of explosive packages being sent in Spain, including one that ignited at the Ukrainian Embassy on Wednesday, injuring one person. Police say other explosive devices concealed in postal packages were sent over the past two days to Spain’s Defense Ministry, a European Union satellite center in Spain and an arms factory that makes grenades sent to Ukraine. An earlier one was sent to the Spanish Prime Minister. There were no other reports of injuries.

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José Irizarry accepts that he’s known as the most corrupt agent in U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration history, admitting he conspired with Colombian cartels to build a lavish lifestyle of sports cars, jewels and paramours around the world. But as he used his final hours of freedom to tell his story to The Associated Press, Irizarry says he won't go down alone, accusing some long-trusted DEA colleagues of joining him in skimming millions from money laundering stings to fund a decade-long joyride of luxury travel, strip clubs, party boats and prostitutes. Now federal investigators are following Irizarry's confessional roadmap, questioning up to two-dozen agents and prosecutors.

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Word of anti-lockdown protests in China spread on domestic social media for a short period last weekend, thanks to a rare pause in the cat-and-mouse game that goes on between millions of Chinese internet users and the country’s gargantuan censorship machine. Chinese authorities maintain a tight grip on the country’s internet via a complex, multi-layered censorship operation that blocks access to almost all foreign news and social media, and blocks topics and keywords considered politically sensitive or detrimental to the Chinese Communist Party’s rule. Videos of or calls to protest are usually deleted immediately. But at moments of overwhelming public anger, experts said, the system can struggle to keep up.

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Congress is moving urgently to head off the looming U.S. rail strike. The House passed a bill Wednesday that would bind companies and workers to a proposed settlement reached in September that failed to gain the support of all 12 unions involved. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration. It would impose a compromise labor agreement brokered by President Joe Biden's administration. That agreement was ultimately voted down by four of the 12 unions representing more than 100,000 employees at large freight rail carriers. The unions have threatened to strike if an agreement can’t be reached before a Dec. 9 deadline.

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The White House says Thursday's state dinner for the president of France is meant to highlight the ties that bind the United States and its oldest ally. First lady Jill Biden and White House staff previewed the arrangements on Wednesday. Maine lobster poached in butter, beef with shallot marmalade and a trio of American cheeses are on the menu. Dessert is orange chiffon cake, with roasted pears and creme fraiche ice cream. A glitzy White House state dinner is a high diplomatic honor reserved for only the closest U.S. allies. Thursday's affair will be the first one of the Biden administration.

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A top European Union official has warned Elon Musk that Twitter needs to beef up to protect users from hate speech, misinformation and other harmful content to avoid violating new rules. The EU's commissioner for digital policy, Thierry Breton, told Musk on Wednesday that the social media platform will have to significantly increase efforts to comply with the rules that threaten big fines or even a ban in the 27-nation bloc if tech giants don’t comply. The two held a video call to discuss Twitter’s preparedness for the rules. Breton says Musk told him that the new EU rules were “a sensible approach to implement on a worldwide basis.”

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