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Nearly a year into his presidency, Biden is again struggling to beat back a resurgent virus.

todayDecember 18, 2021

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WASHINGTON — The latest surge of the coronavirus is another reminder for President Biden of how hard it is to get ahead of the pandemic.

Vaccine effectiveness has waned in the onslaught of Delta and Omicron. A spike in demand for testing is straining the system. And masks remain a political issue across the country.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Biden’s promise to “shut down the virus, not the country” remains only partly fulfilled. Stubborn resistance to vaccines among millions and the arrival of the fast-spreading new variant have upended the president’s plans for a hopeful, end-of-the-year holiday season.

Just a week before Christmas, Mr. Biden had to offer a warning of gloom.

“We are looking at a winter of severe illness and death — if you’re unvaccinated — for themselves, their families, and the hospitals they’ll soon overwhelm,” Mr. Biden said at the White House on Thursday. “The whole point is: Omicron is here, it’s going to start to spread much more rapidly in the beginning of the year, and the only real protection is to get your shots.”

Issuing dire new warnings is not where Mr. Biden or his top advisers expected they would be at this point in the year.

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Reveling in the Joys of Books, and Reading, at a Baghdad Book Fair

BAGHDAD — Protesters in Baghdad hold a sit-in demanding that U.S. troops leave Iraq. Counterterrorism troops patrol streets. A federal court ponders whether to certify results of parliamentary elections two months ago.But at the Baghdad International Fair grounds, almost no one cares about all that.Inside is the Baghdad International Book Fair. It’s not even the bigger book fair of the same name that the Iraqi government has sponsored for decades. […]

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