Photos: Five first ladies decorate first White House Christmas

The White House on Monday unveiled its Christmas decorations and the “Gifts from the Heart” theme selected by first lady Jill Biden. It took over 100 volunteers more than a week to showcase the 41 Christmas trees, 6,000 feet of ribbon, over 300 candles, 10,000 ornaments, 25 wreaths and 78,750 holiday lights now adorning the People’s House, which has marked the holiday through several traditions established over two centuries. Members of the US Marine Band play holiday music during a press tour of White House Christmas decorations in Washington, DC on November 29, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)  Two women look at a booklet describing Christmas decorations in the White House as US First Lady Jill Biden speaks during an event, to thank the volunteers from the area who helped decorate the White House for the holiday, in the East Room of at the White House in Washington, DC on November 29, 2021. (Photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP)  President Benjamin Harrison was the first to stand a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and candles inside the White House for family and friends to enjoy in 1889.…

Re-live Melania Trump’s White House Christmas at Trump ‘charity’ fundraiser

As Jill Biden Monday unveiled this year’s White House holiday decorations, Americans also were reminded of what they were missing: Melania Trump’s more edgy aesthetic, which included infamous blood-red trees that was likened to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining.” If Donald Trump’s wife didn’t much like the job of decorating the White House for the holidays — she was famously recorded by a top aide saying, “Who gives a (expletive) about Christmas stuff and decoration?” — the former first lady apparently likes offering inspiration for a fundraiser on her husband’s behalf. Donald Trump is headlining a fundraiser Friday in his adopted home state of Florida. In an airport hangar in Naples, Florida, 100 Christmas trees “will re-create Melania’s Yuletide decoration of the White House,” New York Daily News columnist Richard Johnson reported. Topiary trees line the East colonnade during the 2018 Christmas Press Preview at the White House in Washington, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. Christmas has arrived at the White House. First lady Melania Trump unveiled the 2018 White House holiday decor on Monday. She designed the decor, which features a theme of “American Treasures.” (AP…

Bay Area great Joan Baez featured on amazing new folk collection

Looking for the ultimate gift for the folk music fan on your holiday shopping list? If so, check out the amazing new “VMP Anthology: The Story of Vanguard” vinyl box set. This limited edition collection focuses on Vanguard Records’ reign as arguably the premier folk music label of the ’50s and ’60s and features such artists as Doc Watson, Odetta and the Bay Area’s own Joan Baez The set includes six albums — “At Carnegie Hall,” the Weavers (1957); “My Eyes Have Seen,” Odetta (1959); “Joan Baez,” Joan Baez (1960), “It’s My Way!” Buffy Sainte-Marie (1964); “Doc Watson,” Doc Watson (1964); and “Today!” Skip James (1966). Related Articles Trans-Siberian Orchestra is ready to rock this Christmas season Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir offers free holiday concert Grammys 2022: List of nominees in top categories Bay Area superstar H.E.R. nominated for eight Grammy Awards Who’s playing Jerry Garcia in Martin Scorsese Grateful Dead biopic? The albums are remastered from their original mono tapes from the Vanguard vaults and served up to fans on 180-gram, multi-colored vinyl. The collection also comes with extensive liner notes and a multi-episode…

No, Nancy Pelosi didn’t buy a mansion in Florida

By Brett Clarkson | South Florida Sun Sentinel FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The conservative blogosphere was buzzing on a report this week claiming that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was purchasing a sprawling, $25 million oceanfront mansion on Jupiter Island. But the claim is “completely false,” a Pelosi spokesperson said Wednesday. “There’s no such pending sale nor is the family looking or interested,” Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill, wrote in an email. The agent representing the seller of the property at the center of the reports repeated the denial, saying the buyer is not Pelosi nor anyone associated with her. Tweets and conservative blog reports emerged with the claims that Pelosi was under contract to purchase the oceanfront home in Hobe Sound on the ultra-rich Jupiter Island for $25 million. Many were critical of the alleged purchase by one of the country’s top Democrats who has been critical of Florida’s Republican leadership. “Remember this the next time she criticizes @GovRonDeSantis for keeping Florida open and taxes low,” tweeted Andrew Pollack, father of a student murdered in the 2018 Parkland school shooting and a vocal…

Dolphins’ rookie class providing building blocks for franchise after career days for Waddle, Phillips

For all the grief the Miami Dolphins (5-7) have received for their 2020 first-round draft picks, they appear to really have hit on their early 2021 selections. There was no greater example than Sunday’s 33-10 win over the Carolina Panthers where receiver Jaylen Waddle and outside linebacker Jaelan Phillips had career-best performances and safety Jevon Holland came up with an interception. For as much criticism as has been dished to general manager Chris Grier, coach Brian Flores and the Dolphins’ brass for draft picks and roster decisions, their two first-round picks and early second-round choice in this year’s draft are all paying dividends. “They work hard,” said Flores in a Monday web conference. “Football’s important to them. They’re team-first. Those guys are tough. They’re competitive. They enjoy playing with one another, support each other. “I’m confident that they’ll continue to get better because they’ll continue to put the work in, and they’re all sponges. They want to get better. They want to learn. They want to improve. They want to help our team.” After Waddle’s nine receptions for a career-high 137 yards and a touchdown,…

Ravens ILB Patrick Queen’s rib injury not considered serious, coach John Harbaugh says

Ravens inside linebacker Patrick Queen’s rib injury, which briefly knocked him out of Sunday’s win over the Cleveland Browns, is “not something that should linger,” coach John Harbaugh said Monday. Queen, who led the Ravens with eight tackles, including a game-high two tackles for loss, and had a fumble recovery, left the game in the third quarter after tackling tight end David Njoku. But he returned to action and said afterward that he was feeling “good.” “I just tried to hit somebody that was a little bit bigger than me,” Queen joked after the 16-10 win. “I took the effects of it, but that’s football — it comes with it. So I’m just happy that I’m still healthy. Thank God for that.” Harbaugh said the Ravens avoided serious injury during Sunday’s game, but he cautioned that with how “things have popped up late, I’m not saying definitive yet that way. But we look OK.” The team has 16 players on injured reserve, including two recent additions in outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee) and rookie safety Ar’Darius Washington (foot). Tight end Nick Boyle, who missed practice…

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack sells Glencoe mansion for $3.9M

Chicago Bears outside linebacker Khalil Mack on Monday sold his six-bedroom, 6,100-square-foot mansion in Glencoe for $3.9 million. A six-time Pro Bowler, Mack, 30, played in seven games for the Bears this year before undergoing season-ending foot surgery. In Glencoe, Mack made a slight profit on the 15-room mansion, which he purchased new in 2018 for $3.75 million. In June, Mack officially listed the mansion for $5 million. He cut his asking price in September to $4.65 million. Built in 2017, the mansion has six full bathrooms, three half-baths, four fireplaces, a custom-built walnut library, an enclosed screened porch with a hot tub, a slate roof, copper gutters and a lower level with a wine cellar, a yoga studio, a media room and an exercise room. The mansion sits on a gated, 0.5-acre property. “The home presented itself as if it were new construction,” listing agent Michael LaFido of eXp Realty told Elite Street. “We produced a ton of interest and traffic. We had many agents laugh at the price and they said we would never sell for more than he paid.” LaFido co-listed the…

Vote now: Bay Area News Group girls athlete of the week

Welcome to the Bay Area News Group (Mercury News & East Bay Times) girls athlete of the week poll. For the entire academic year, we will provide a list of candidates who stood out over the previous week and allow you, the reader, to vote for the winner. This week, we consider performances from Nov. 22-28. Polls close at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Vote as many times as you’d like until then. Candidates for future Athlete of the Week polls can be nominated at highschools@bayareanewsgroup.com. We also review stats submitted to MaxPreps by coaches/team statisticians. On to the nominees: Belle Bramer, Los Gatos basketball: Sophomore forward had 12 points, four rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots in a season-opening 46-30 victory over Mountain View.  Ellie Buckley, Campolindo cross country: Junior ran a time of 18:04.5 over the 3.1-mile course in Fresno to lead the Cougars to the Division III title at the CIF State cross country championships. Buckley was fifth overall in the D-III race as Campo edged Del Oro 109-120. Ashley Chavez, Fremont-Sunnyvale soccer: Outside back played relentless defense in season-opening 1-0 win over…

Big north San Jose office building lands Silicon Valley buyer

SAN JOSE — A big north San Jose office building has been bought by a local real estate company, a sign that investors have maintained a healthy appetite for choice properties in the Bay Area’s tech hubs. The building, located near the interchange of State Route 237 and Zanker Road in San Jose, has been purchased by an affiliate of Menlo Equities, a veteran Bay Area real estate company. Holger Technology Partners, the Menlo Equities affiliate, paid $35 million for the building, which is at 300 Holger Way, according to documents filed on Nov. 24 with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office. KBS Capital Markets Group sold the building, a structure that totals 99,600 square feet. The building is part of the District 237 tech campus on Holger Way just off State Route 237. District 237, a tech campus on Holger Way in north San Jose, with a monument sign and some office buildings visible. ( Cushman & Wakefield ) At one point, KBS had owned all eight buildings in the office campus, a complex the real estate firm had bought in 2013 for $239 million.…

Biden urges COVID-19 shots, says omicron in U.S. inevitable

President Joe Biden sought to reassure a nation anxious about the scary new omicron variant of the virus that causes COVID-19, as his administration Monday imposed restrictions on travel from several African countries to give Americans more time to get vaccinated. “Sooner or later, we’re going to see cases of this new variant in the United States,” Biden said in a White House news briefing. “This variant is a cause for concern, not a cause for panic.” The president’s remarks came as travel restrictions he had called for on Friday were to take effect for non-citizens entering the United States from South Africa, where the omicron variant was first detected, as well as the African countries of Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi. Biden said his administration will “fight this variant with scientific knowledge and speed, not chaos and confusion.” “We have more tools to fight this variant than ever before,” Biden said. Though it remains unclear how effective the vaccines authorized in the U.S. by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson will be against the omicron variant, Biden said the vaccines remain…

With surplus of cash, here’s how SF Giants should spend to contend this winter

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey has elected to retire, Kevin Gausman signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and after spending six years in a Giants uniform, Johnny Cueto is a free agent. With three veteran players headed out the door, the Giants know they must work diligently to fill a leadership void this offseason. Fortunately for Farhan Zaidi, Scott Harris and Gabe Kapler, the Giants also know they have a massive amount of money at their disposal. During the 2021 season, Posey, Gausman and Cueto combined to earn more than $60 million, which should now be reallocated toward new players who can help the Giants defend their 2021 National League West title. Related Articles As Gausman departs, SF Giants receive a reminder of sky-high expectations All-Star pitcher Gausman reportedly leaves SF Giants for Blue Jays SF Giants: Brandon Crawford pens emotional tribute to Buster Posey SF Giants’ latest moves send a clear signal: Zaidi era has reached a turning point After agreeing to deal with DeSclafani, SF Giants reportedly near contract with another key starter The front office has already been active this offseason, signing starter…

Holidays 2021: You can’t keep a good Bay Area ‘Nutcracker’ down

The indefatigable Nutcracker finally met its match. Ever since the Russian import first found an American beachhead in San Francisco in the waning months of World War II nothing has been able to halt the ballet’s inexorable march across the U.S. holiday landscape. From rural hamlets to the most sophisticated cities, “The Nutcracker” swept away all resistance with a phalanx of Mouse Soldiers and a rear guard of Sugar Plum Fairies. The triumph seemed permanent and irreversible, at least until the annus horribilis of 2020, when the nation’s “Nutcrackers” were consigned to the barracks, like just about every other communal holiday tradition shuttered by COVID-19. Sure, some ballet companies offered online productions. But as the father of a daughter who owned the role of the naughty gingersnap I can attest that at least half the magic of “The Nutcracker” takes place in the audience, where kids dressed up for the occasion experience their first ballet, watching their costumed peers in the production. In retrospect San Francisco Ballet’s 2019 diamond jubilee production would have been hard to top, so perhaps a year off did the old…

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey steps down as CEO

By MICHELLE CHAPMAN and TALI ARBEL Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey has stepped down as CEO of the social media platform. He has been succeeded by Twitter’s current chief technology officer, Parag Agrawal. Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires in 2022. Agrawal joined Twitter in 2011 and has been CTO since 2017. In a letter posted on his Twitter account, Dorsey said he was “really sad…yet really happy” about leaving the company and that it was his decision. On Sunday, Dorsey had sent a cryptic tweet reading only “I love Twitter.” Twitter shares rose 5% to $49.47 in morning trading after the announcement. Twitter was caught up in the heated political atmosphere leading up to the 2020 election, particularly when it banned former President Donald Trump following his incitement of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Dorsey defended the move, saying Trump’s tweets after the event resulted in a risk to public safety and created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance” for the company. Trump sued the company, along with Facebook and YouTube, in July for alleged censorship. Critics argued that…

Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey stepping down as CEO

By MICHELLE CHAPMAN Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey will step down as CEO of the social media platform, the company announced. He will be succeeded by Twitter’s current Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal. THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below. Shares of Twitter are surging on a report that co-founder Jack Dorsey will step down as the company’s chief executive. Twitter’s stock, which has consistently underperformed the market, jumped more than 10% at the opening bell Monday before trading was halted pending news. CNBC first reported that Dorsey may step down soon, citing anonymous sources. Twitter Inc. did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press early Monday. On Sunday, Dorsey sent the tweet “I love Twitter.” Dorsey is also the top executive at Square, a financial payments company that he founded, and some big investors have openly questioned whether he can be effective leading both. Last year, the company came to an agreement with two of those activist investors that kept Dorsey in the top job and gave a seat on the company board to Elliott Management…

Monday Morning Lights: What it was like covering Serra vs. St. Francis championship game amid gunshots and sirens

Serra vs. St. Francis: The scary scene at CCS final I didn’t hear the gunshots in the parking lot amid the roars of the crowd as Serra was about to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown with a little more than two minutes left against St. Francis. There was nothing out of the ordinary in the moments that followed on Friday night in the Central Coast Section Division I championship game at Westmont High. Serra went for a two-point conversion. The play unfolded right in front of me on the sideline. St. Francis stopped the Padres at the goal line. There was 2:18 on the clock, Serra led by four. I was thinking that St. Francis had faced this exact deficit before. In the team’s historic victory over De La Salle in September, the Lancers gave up a touchdown with 1:38 left to fall four points behind. They responded with an epic drive that ended with St. Francis scoring a touchdown with 16 seconds remaining to become the first team from this region in 30 years to beat De La Salle. As…

Jussie Smollett trial begins: The accusation, the expected testimony

CHICAGO (AP) — Two brothers stand at the center of the case that prosecutors will lay before jurors when the trial of Jussie Smollett begins this week. The 39-year-old former “Empire” actor, who is Black and gay, contends he was the victim of a racist and homophobic assault in downtown Chicago in January 2019. The siblings, who worked with him on the TV show, say he paid them $3,500 to pose as his attackers. Smollett is accused of lying to police about the alleged attack and has been charged with felony disorderly conduct. A class 4 felony, the crime carries a sentence of up to three years in prison but experts have said it is more likely that if Smollett is convicted he would be placed on probation and perhaps ordered to perform community service. The trial starts with jury selection Monday in a Chicago courtroom and is expected to last a week. It is not known whether Smollett will testify. But the siblings, Abimbola and Olabinjo Osundairo, will take the witness stand. They are expected to repeat what they have told police officers and…

Prince Charles lawyers up against claims he’s the ‘royal racist’

Prince Charles on Sunday called in lawyers to fight claims in a new book that he’s the “royal racist” — the royal family member who angered Prince Harry and Meghan Markle by questioning the skin color of their future children. A spokesperson for the future king also slammed the claims, telling the U.K. tabloid “The Sun”: “This is fiction and not worth further comment.” The Sun reported that the Prince of Wales had called in lawyers to address the claims. The claims come in the new book, “Brothers And Wives: Inside the Private Lives of William, Kate, Harry and Meghan,” the Page Six column in the New York Post first reported. Harry and Meghan, who is biracial, set off speculation about the identity of a racist family member during their March 7 interview with Oprah Winfrey. Meghan told Winfrey there were “concerns and conversations about how dark (her and Harry’s son, Archie’s) skin might be when he was born … Those were conversations the family had with Harry.” According to Page Six, author Christopher Andersen stops short of identifying future-king Charles as the unnamed racist…

4 children, woman found shot to death in California home

LANCASTER  — Four children and a woman were found shot to death in a Southern California home and a man believed to be the children’s father was detained, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said. The victims were found Sunday night in a home in the city of Lancaster in the high desert Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles, the department said in a statement. Deputies found a woman, a girl and three boys with gunshot wounds to the upper torso and paramedics pronounced all of them dead at the scene, the department said. All of the children were under age 12. The man believed to be the children’s father was detained after he showed up at the lobby of the Lancaster sheriff’s station and was being interviewed by investigators, the department said. The sheriff’s statement did not disclose when he arrived at the station or what reason he gave for going there. Deputy Juanita Navarro, a department spokesperson, said such interviews can take several hours and it was not known if the man had been arrested. Related Articles 2 minutes, 20 gunshots, 3 dead:…

Travel restrictions by country following the Omicron variant outbreak

By Lilit Marcus and Barry Neild | CNN Just as many countries around the world were beginning to loosen their border restrictions, reports of a newly detected coronavirus variant in South Africa sent many of those doors slamming shut again. The new B.1.1.529 variant was named Omicron by the World Health Organization on November 26. Different countries and territories have taken different approaches toward preventing the spread of this new variant. The most up-to-date information is below, but please be aware that governments can change their regulations on a moment’s notice. Check back for further updates. Angola Angola announced on Saturday that it will close its borders with seven countries in southern Africa in an effort to prevent the spread of the new Omicron variant, according to state media. Angola’s borders with South Africa, Botswana, Lesoto, Eswatini, Malawai, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zimbabwe will be closed until January 5, 2022. Australia Australian officials have suspended all inbound and outbound flights to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa and Zimbabwe for at least 14 days and has banned foreigners with a travel history…

Leftist holds commanding lead in Honduran presidential vote

By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Leftist opposition candidate Xiomara Castro held a commanding lead early Monday as Hondurans appeared poised to remove the conservative National Party from power after 12 years of continuous rule. Castro declared herself the winner despite orders from the National Electoral Council to political parties to await official results. “We win! We win!” Castro, Honduras’ former first lady who is making her third presidential run, told cheering Liberty and Re-foundation party supporters when only a fraction of the ballots had been tallied. “Today the people have obtained justice. We have reversed authoritarianism.” The National Party also quickly declared victory for its candidate, Tegucigalpa Mayor Nasry Asfura, but the early returns were not promising. By early Monday, Castro’s wide early lead was holding up. With 51% of the polling station tallies in, Castro had 53% of the votes and Asfura 33%, according to the National Electoral Council preliminary count. With more than 1.8 million votes counted, Castro held a margin of more than 350,000 votes. The council said turnout was more than 68%. On Sunday night, thousands of people packed…