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home : news : national news free January 16, 2021

Global death toll from COVID-19 tops two million
The global death toll from COVID-19 topped 2 million Friday as vaccines developed at breakneck speed are being rolled out around the world in an all-out campaign to vanquish the threat.

The milestone was reached just over a year after the coronavirus was first detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Friday, January 15, 2021

President Trump's impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day
President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial could begin on Inauguration Day, just as Democrat Joe Biden takes the oath of office in an ever-more-extraordinary end to the defeated president’s tenure in the White House.

The timing is not set and depends heavily on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decides to transmit the article of impeachment to the Senate. Democrats hoping to avoid interrupting Biden’s inauguration have suggested holding back until the new president has a chance to get his administration going.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

US COVID-19 deaths hit another one-day high
Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. hit another one-day high at over 4,300 with the country’s attention focused largely on the fallout from the deadly uprising at the Capitol.

The nation’s overall death toll from COVID-19 has eclipsed 380,000, according to Johns Hopkins University, and is closing in fast on the number of Americans killed in World War II, or about 407,000. Confirmed infections have topped 22.8 million.

With the country simultaneously facing a political crisis and on edge over threats of more violence from far-right extremists, the U.S. recorded 4,327 deaths on Tuesday by Johns Hopkins’ count. Arizona and California have been among the hardest-hit states.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Airbnb to block, cancel DC bookings ahead of inauguration
Airbnb says it will be blocking and cancelling all reservations in the Washington, D.C. area during the week of the presidential inauguration.

The decision, announced today, was in response to various local, state and federal officials asking people not to travel to Washington, D.C. It came two days after it said it was reviewing reservations in the area ahead of the inauguration and said it will bar any guests associated with hate groups or violent activity.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

McConnell ditches Trump as House moved today toward certain impeachment
President Donald Trump was on the verge of being impeached, at press time today, for a second time in a fast-moving House vote, just a week after he encouraged loyalists to “fight like hell” against election results and then a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

During debate today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asked Republicans and Democrats to “search their souls” ahead of the historic afternoon vote. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Man ID'd as speaker office invader appears in court
The man identified as the rioter photographed sitting in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office chair during last week’s Capitol insurrection made his initial federal court appearance Tuesday.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Man accused of threatening inauguration violence
A suburban Chicago man accused of threatening to take the lives of President-elect Joe Biden and other Democrats at the upcoming inauguration in Washington, D.C., has been arrested, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Wednesday, January 13, 2021

US prosecutors may charge protesters who stormed Capitol with sedition
The FBI warned law enforcement agencies ahead of last week’s breach of the U.S. Capitol about the potential for extremist-driven violence and prosecutors are now weighing sedition charges against at least some of the Trump loyalists who stormed the building, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The statements by FBI and Justice Department officials were intended as both a defense of federal law enforcement preparations before the deadly riot and a warning to participants that they are still subject to arrest and felony charges even if they have left Washington.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

US shifts to speed mass vaccinations; won't hold back on second doses
Barely a month into a mass vaccination campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration unexpectedly shifted gears Tuesday to speed the delivery of shots. A slow start had triggered widespread concern from states and public health officials.

Now, Health and Human Services Alex Azar has announced two major changes. First, the government will no longer hold back required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, practically doubling supply. Second, states should immediately start vaccinating other groups lower down the priority scale, including people age 65 and older, and younger people with certain health problems.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Third lawmaker in lockdown after last week's siege
A third Democratic member of the House who was forced to go into lockdown during last week’s violent siege at the U.S. Capitol has tested positive for COVID-19.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., said on Twitter that he tested positive Tuesday morning. He said he is not feeling symptoms but expressed dismay at the spate of positive test results and blamed Republican members of Congress who declined to wear a mask when it was offered to them during the lockdown.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

PM says Ireland must face full truth of the past
Ireland’s prime minister said today that the country must “face up to the full truth of our past,” as a long-awaited report recounted decades of harm done by church-run homes for unmarried women and their babies, where thousands of infants died.

Micheal Martin said young women and their children had paid a heavy price for Ireland’s “perverse religious morality” in past decades.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Another record decline reported in US cancer death rate
Researchers today reported another record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they attribute to success against lung cancer.

The overall cancer death rate has been falling since 1991. From 2017 to 2018, it fell 2.4%, according to an American Cancer Society report, topping the record 2.2% drop reported the year before.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Oratory, at a time when things are falling apart, reassures and opens door for hope
In moments of crisis, of war and terror, of loss and mourning, American leaders have sought to utter words to match the moment in hope that the power of oratory can bring order to chaos and despair.

Lincoln at Gettysburg. Franklin Roosevelt during the Depression and World War II. Reagan after the Challenger disaster. Bill Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing. George W. Bush with a bullhorn at Ground Zero in 2001 and Barack Obama after the slaughter of congregants at a South Carolina church.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Study identifies children likely to become heavy online users
Specific groups of kindergartners in the U.S. are more likely to be frequent users of social networking, online gaming or messaging by the end of fifth grade, according to our new study in the journal Child Development. My colleagues and I identified these groups based on analyses of data from 10,460 U.S. schoolchildren followed over six years. Understanding which children are frequent users of online technologies is important because such use may displace developmentally appropriate activities including physical activity, sleep and independent book reading.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Biden chooses Burns as CIA director
William Burns, a well-known figure in diplomatic circles around the world, is President-elect Joe Biden’s choice to lead the CIA, a selection likely to be embraced by the rank and file at the nation’s premier spy agency.

A former ambassador to Russia and Jordan, Burns, 64, had a 33-year career at the State Department under both Republican and Democratic presidents. He rose through the ranks of the diplomatic corps to become deputy secretary of state before retiring in 2014 to run the Carnegie Endowment of International Peace.

Monday, January 11, 2021

House Speaker Madigan 'suspends' campaign for retention
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on Monday said he was “suspending” his campaign for a 19th term in the leadership post.

Madigan, the longest-serving leader of a legislative body in U.S. history, issued a statement that began, “This is not a withdrawal.”

Monday, January 11, 2021

US ramps up vaccinations to get doses to more Americans
The U.S. is entering the second month of the biggest vaccination effort in history with a major expansion of the campaign, opening football stadiums, major league ballparks, fairgrounds and convention centers to inoculate a larger and more diverse pool of people.
Monday, January 11, 2021

Here we go again, Impeachment looming
Impeachment pressure mounting, the House worked swiftly Monday to try to oust President Donald Trump from office, pushing the vice president and Cabinet to act first in an extraordinary effort to remove Trump in the final days of his presidency.

Trump faces a single charge — “incitement of insurrection” - in an impeachment resolution that could go to a vote by mid-week. First, Democrats called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office before Jan. 20, when Democrat Joe Biden is to be inaugurated.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Businesses rethink political donations after Capitol siege
Businesses are rethinking political contributions in the wake of the deadly Capitol siege by President Donald Trump’s supporters on Wednesday.
Monday, January 11, 2021

Army investigating officer who led group to Washington rally
The Army is investigating a psychological operations officer who led a group of people from North Carolina to the rally in Washington that led up to the deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.

Commanders at Fort Bragg are reviewing Capt. Emily Rainey’s involvement in last week’s events in the nation’s capital, but she said she acted within military regulations and that no one in her group broke the law.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Biden repeatedly refuses to endorse impeachment
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden says that President Donald Trump isn’t “fit for the job,” but he repeatedly refused to endorse growing Democratic calls to impeach him a second time.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

California is desperate, but volunteer health corps dwindles
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California desperately needs more medical workers at facilities swamped by coronavirus patients, but almost no help is coming from a volunteer program that Gov. Gavin Newsom created at the start of the pandemic. An army of 95,000 initially raised their hands, and just 14 are now working in the field.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Indonesia passenger jet carrying 62 goes missing Saturday on domestic flight
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — A jet carrying 62 people lost contact with air traffic controllers minutes after taking off from Indonesia’s capital on a domestic flight on Saturday, and debris found by fishermen was being examined to see if it was from the missing plane, officials said.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Park service eyeing Bush family home
DALLAS (AP) — The Texas house where former U.S. President George W. Bush spent his childhood is under study for possible designation as a national park, the National Park Service said Friday.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Rioters who stormed Capitol face backlash
NEW YORK (AP) — A printing company in Maryland saw the photo on Twitter Wednesday night: an employee roaming the halls of the U.S. Capitol with a company badge around his neck. He was fired the next day.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Safety issues mount as snow skiers hit backcountry
DENVER (AP) — On March 14, Colorado’s governor issued an executive order shutting down ski resorts across the state. The coronavirus had arrived and was spreading rapidly in small mountain communities that were attracting hordes of spring break revelers.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Author's rail trailer tiny house stars in new children's book
LAS VEGAS (AP)  When Hannah Doss bought an old railroad trailer about three years ago, she figured she could convert it into an affordable, cozy place to live,  a tiny house, one of the downsized, mobile domiciles that are so popular these days.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Quilt artists create amazing textiles to admire or cozy up with

(AP) — In this winter of hunkering down at home, there’s a trend that’s just right for the times: quilts as decor and as art.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

So you want to plant a tree from seed? First thing to do, chill
(AP) — How exciting to think of a full-size tree locked up within each seed still clinging to the branches of sugar maples, hornbeams, oaks, sycamores and other trees at the end of summer.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Leave it to Biewer: New toy dog to join US shows
NEW YORK (AP) — It’s called the Biewer terrier, and it’s been busy.

The American Kennel Club announced this week that the tiny, chipper Biewer — pronounced like “beaver” — became its 197th recognized breed. That makes the toy dogs eligible to compete for best in show at many U.S. events, including the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club show, which will be held in June this year instead of its usual February date.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Pandemic feeds demand for backyard chickens
ROSS, Calif. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic is coming home to roost in America’s backyards.
Saturday, January 9, 2021

Trump will skip Biden inauguration
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said today he won’t attend President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Pfizer study suggests vaccine works on variant
(AP) — New research suggests that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine can protect against a mutation found in the two more contagious variants of the coronavirus that have erupted in Britain and South Africa.
Friday, January 8, 2021

PPP: More coronavirus relief is on the way for small businesses
NEW YORK (AP) — Millions of business owners  are about to get help. The Small Business Administration and the Treasury Department are preparing to revive the PPP five months after its first two rounds of funding ended.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Biden to speed release of coronavirus vaccines
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden will release most available COVID-19 vaccine doses to speed delivery to more people, a reversal of the Trump administration’s approach, his office said Friday.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Woman who accused black teen arrested
NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her phone and then tackled him at a New York City hotel was arrested in her home state of California.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Woman shot during Capitol riot, an Air Force veteran, Libertarian
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Like President Donald Trump, the San Diego woman fatally shot by police as a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol had used Twitter to amplify her views, including false allegations that November's election was riddled with fraud.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Missouri woman believed to be the last Civil War widow dies
O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) — Helen Viola Jackson’s 1936 marriage to James Bolin was unusual to say the least: He was 93 and in declining health, and she was a 17-year-old schoolgirl.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Trump Administration invests $16 million in high-speed broadband in rural Illinois, Oregon and South Carolina
WASHINGTON — The Trump Administration today announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $16 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Illinois, Oregon and South Carolina. This investment is part of the $550 million Congress allocated to the second round of the ReConnect Program.
Friday, January 8, 2021

Chaos, violence and mockery
“Where are they?” a Trump supporter demanded in a crowd of dozens roaming the halls of the Capitol, bearing Trump flags and pounding on doors.

They — lawmakers, staff members and more — were hiding under tables, hunkered in lockdowns, saying prayers and seeing the fruits of the country’s divisions up close and violent.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Warnock, Ossoff win in Georgia handing Dems Senate control
Democrats won both Georgia Senate seats — and with them, the U.S. Senate majority — as final votes were counted Wednesday, serving President Donald Trump a stunning defeat in his turbulent final days in office while dramatically improving the fate of President-elect Joe Biden’s progressive agenda.

Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democratic challengers who represented the diversity of their party’s evolving coalition, defeated Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler two months after Biden became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1992.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Facebook bans Trump thru inauguration at least
After years of treating President Donald Trump’s rhetoric with a light touch, Facebook and Instagram are silencing his social media accounts for the rest of his presidency. The move, which some called justified following Wednesday’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, is also a somber reminder of the enormous power that social-media platforms can exercise when they choose.

Facebook and Instagram said today they will bar Trump from posting at least until the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Biden win confirmed; Trump says transition will be smooth
Congress confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the presidential election winner before dawn today after a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in a stunning attempt to overturn the election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Trump in the White House.
Thursday, January 7, 2021

Pence defies Trump, says he doesn't have power to reject electoral votes
Congress convened today for an extraordinary joint session to confirm the Electoral College  vote won by Joe Biden, in the face of President Donald Trump’s relentless effort to overturn the election and cling to the White House.

The typically routine proceeding was anything but, as Trump mounts his desperate attempt to stay in office. Trump’s Republican allies in the House and Senate planned to object to the election results, heeding supporters’ pleas to “fight for Trump” as the president himself staged a huge rally outside the White House.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

The CIA's new recruitment website seeks to diversity the spy agency
WANTED: Spies from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Striving to further diversify its ranks, the CIA launched a new website Monday to find top-tier candidates who will bring a broader range of life experiences to the nation’s premier intelligence agency

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

WHO visit to China under negotiation
China said Wednesday it was still negotiating with the World Health Organization the dates and itinerary for a visit by international experts looking into origins of COVID-19, after the head of the agency criticized Beijing for not finalizing permissions for the mission.

China’s position on the hunt for the origins of the pandemic “has always been open and responsible,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Biden to name Merrick Garland attorney general
President-elect Joe Biden has selected Merrick Garland, a federal appeals court judge who in 2016 was snubbed by Republicans for a seat on the Supreme Court, as his attorney general, two people familiar with the selection process said Wednesday.

In picking Garland, Biden is turning to an experienced judge who held senior positions at the Justice Department decades ago, including as a supervisor of the prosecution of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. The pick will force Senate Republicans to contend with the nomination of someone they spurned in 2016 — refusing even to hold hearings when a Supreme Court vacancy arose — but Biden may be banking on Garland’s credentials and reputation for moderation to ensure confirmation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

All hands on deck: Virus resurges and reshapes
Despite growing vaccine access, January is looking grim around the globe as the coronavirus resurges and reshapes itself from Britain to Japan to California, filling hospitals and threatening livelihoods anew as governments lock down businesses and race to find solutions.

England headed back into lockdown. Mexico City’s hospitals hold more virus patients than ever. Germany reported one of its highest daily death tolls to date Tuesday. South Africa and Brazil are struggling to find space for the dead. Even pandemic success story Thailand is fighting an unexpected wave of infections.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Control of Congress a 'battle of inches'
Democrat Raphael Warnock won one of Georgia’s two Senate runoffs Wednesday, becoming the first Black senator in his state’s history and putting the Senate majority within the party’s reach.

A pastor who spent the past 15 years leading the Atlanta church where Martin Luther King Jr. preached, Warnock defeated Republican incumbent Kelly Loeffler.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Americans gather near White House to show their support for Trump
As Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people gathered across from the White House to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud.

Lou Murray, a life insurance salesman from Boston, said he and many others still hoped Congress and Vice President Mike Pence would not certify the vote. “I hope Vice President Pence has courage today, and I hope any politician who thinks he has a future shows courage to stand up and do what’s right,” Murray said.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Illinois lameduck session starts Friday
SPRINGFIELD — Illinois lawmakers will return to the capital city on Friday for a “lame duck” session that is expected to focus on the state’s COVID-19 response, a nearly $4 billion budget deficit and a host of social issues being advanced by the Legislative Black Caucus.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

DC mayor calls in National Guard ahead of vote
WASHINGTON (AP) — Washington, D.C.’s mayor urged calm Monday as some 340 National Guard troops were being activated while the city prepared for potentially violent protests surrounding Congress’ expected vote to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Georgia runoff elections will determine nation's political balance of power
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia voters are deciding the balance of power in Congress in a pair of high-stakes Senate runoff elections today.
Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Air pollution may contribute to Alzheimer's and dementia risk
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. It slowly destroys memory, thinking and behaviors, and eventually the ability to carry out daily tasks.

As scientists search for a cure, we have been learning more about the genetic and environmental factors that can increase a person’s risks of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

In particular, my colleagues and I in preventive medicine, neurology and gerontology have been looking at the role of outdoor air pollution.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Tensions rise as Iran steps up uranium enrichment
Iran said Saturday it plans to enrich uranium up to 20% at its underground Fordo nuclear facility “as soon as possible,” pushing its program a technical step away from weapons-grade levels as it increases pressure on the West over the tattered atomic deal.

The move comes amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. in the waning days of the administration of President Donald Trump, who unilaterally withdrew America from Tehran’s nuclear deal in 2018.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Trump, on tape, presses Georgia official to 'find' him votes
President Donald Trump pressured Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to “find” enough votes to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election, repeatedly citing disproven claims of fraud and raising the prospect of “criminal offense“ if officials did not change the vote count, according to a recording of the conversation.

The phone call with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Saturday was the latest step in an unprecedented effort by a sitting president to pressure a state official to reverse the outcome of a free and fair election that he lost. The president, who has refused to accept his loss to Democratic president-elect Biden, repeatedly argued that Raffensperger could change the certified results.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,“ Trump said. “Because we won the state.“

Monday, January 4, 2021

California funeral homes run out of space, turn families away, as COVID rages
As communities across the country feel the pain of a surge in coronavirus cases, funeral homes in the hot spot of Southern California say they must turn away grieving families as they run out of space for the bodies piling up.

The head of the state funeral directors association says mortuaries are being inundated as the United States nears a grim tally of 350,000 COVID-19 deaths. More than 20 million people in the country have been infected, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Pelosi narrowly reelected speaker of the House
Nancy Pelosi was narrowly reelected Sunday as speaker, giving her the reins of Democrats’ slender House majority as she and President-elect Joe Biden set a challenging course of producing legislation to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy and address other party priorities.

“We accept a responsibility as daunting and demanding as any that previous generations of leadership have faced,” the California Democrat told the chamber as she accepted a fresh two-year term in her post, perhaps her last. Citing the 350,000 Americans who’ve died from COVID-19 and the millions who’ve lost jobs and livelihoods, she won a standing ovation when she said, “Our most urgent priority will continue to be defeating the coronavirus. And defeat it, we will.”

Monday, January 4, 2021

St. Louis homicide rate in 2020 highest in fifty years
St. Louis recorded its worst homicide rate for 50 years in 2020, even though the total number of homicides last year fell just short of the city’s all-time record.

Police said 262 people were killed in St. Louis last year — five less than the record of 267 set in 1993. But because the city’s population has declined since 1993, the homicide rate was much higher in 2020.

Monday, January 4, 2021

India bars vaccine maker from exporting
India will not allow the export of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for several months, the head of Serum Institute of India, which has been contracted to make 1 billion doses of the vaccine for developing nations, said Sunday.
Monday, January 4, 2021

British pop musician Gerry Marsden dies
LONDON (AP) — Gerry Marsden, lead singer of the 1960s British group Gerry and the Pacemakers that had such hits as “Ferry Cross the Mersey” and the song that became the anthem of Liverpool Football Club, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” has died. He was 78.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Wednesday's session to count electoral votes taking on added importance now
WASHINGTON (AP) — Wednesday’s congressional joint session to count electoral votes has taken on added importance this year as congressional Republicans allied with President Donald Trump are pledging to try and undo Democrat Joe Biden’s victory and subvert the will of the American people.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Illinois Supreme Court to rule on cannabis license dispute
CHICAGO (AP) — The stage is set for a decisive legal battle in Illinois’ highest court between a large, well-established company and a far smaller upstart over a cannabis-growing license potentially worth millions.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Neflix reworks leftovers in game show
NEW YORK (AP) — Just in time for anyone facing a heaving, post-holiday refrigerator comes a TV show about what to do with all those dubious dishes — leftovers.
Monday, January 4, 2021

Palestinians say Israeli gunshot in the neck paralyzed man
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Saturday a youth is suffering from paralysis a day after he was shot in the neck by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank.

The man, Haron Abu Aram, 24, was left quadriplegic, the ministry said.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

GOP torn over Trump's Electoral College challenge
President Donald Trump’s extraordinary challenge of his election defeat by President-elect Joe Biden  is becoming a defining moment for the Republican Party before next week’s joint session of Congress to confirm the Electoral College  results.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging Republicans not to try to overturn the election, but not everyone is heeding him. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri vows to join House Republicans in objecting to the state tallies. On the other side of the party’s split, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska warns such challenges are a “dangerous ploy” threatening the nation’s civic norms.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

7 charged with felonies in vandalism to federal buildings
Seven people are facing felony charges after at least two federal buildings in Philadelphia were vandalized on New Year’s Eve and the discovery of what police said were Molotov cocktails and other suspicious devices.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Blackwater guard defiant: 'I acted correctly'
Evan Liberty was reading in the top bunk of his cell one evening late last month when a prison supervisor delivered news he had hoped for.

“He says, ‘Are you ready for this?’“ Liberty recalled. “I said, ‘Uh, I’m not sure. What is going on?’ He said, ‘Presidential pardon. Pack your stuff.’“

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Texas judge dismisses suit aimed at overturning election
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a last-gasp lawsuit led by a House Republican that aimed to give Vice President Mike Pence the power to overturn the results of the presidential election won by Joe Biden when Congress formally counts the Electoral College votes next week.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

VIRUS TODAY: California struggles to tame COVID-19
After months of serving as a role model in the fight against COVID-19, California has seen infections race out of control for weeks. It now has the worst coronavirus diagnosis rate in the U.S. Experts say a variety of factors combined to wipe out California’s past efforts, which for much of the year tamped down on surges and kept the virus at manageable levels. Cramped housing, travel and Thanksgiving gatherings contributed to the spread, along with the public’s fatigue amid regulations that closed many schools and businesses and encouraged — or required — an isolated lifestyle.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Child labor in palm oil industry tied to Girl Scout cookies
They are two young girls from two very different worlds, linked by a global industry that exploits an army of children.
Saturday, January 2, 2021

Bomb-sniffing dogs? Check. Times Square crowd? Not this year
Gone were the revelry and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that typify Times Square on New Year’s Eve, replaced by empty streets and an eerie quiet as the final moments of 2020 ticked away.

This was New Year’s Eve in the age of COVID-19.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

China OKs 1st COVID homegrown vaccine
BEIJING (AP) — China authorized its first homegrown COVID-19 vaccine for general use Thursday, adding another shot that could see wide use in poorer countries as the virus surges back around the globe.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Serial squirrel: Neighbors keep eye out for fierce rodent
NEW YORK (AP) — Residents of a Queens neighborhood are dealing with a squirrely threat.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

COVID-19 dominates annual list of banished words, terms
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP) — Even as vaccines are being rolled out to battle the coronavirus, wordsmiths at Lake Superior State University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula say they want to kick any trace of it from the English language.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Hawley to contest Biden's Electoral College win
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., said he will raise objections next week when Congress meets to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the election, forcing House and Senate votes that are likely to delay — but in no way alter — the final certification of Biden’s win.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Magnitude 3.6 earthquake jolts San Francisco Bay
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A magnitude 3.6 earthquake has jolted the San Francisco Bay Area on the last day of 2020.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Illinois deputy shoots suspect after chase into Missouri
SPANISH LAKE, Mo. (AP) — An armed robbery suspect is hospitalized after being shot by an Illinois police officer who had chased the suspect into Missouri.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Work begins to turn SC racist store into racial harmony site
LAURENS. S.C. (AP) — Regan Freeman had spent more than a year organizing a project to tell the story of a Black South Carolina pastor who reached out to Ku Klux Klan members who wanted him dead because of his race.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Biden inauguration to feature memorial for COVID victims
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is planning a lighting ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool to honor those killed by the coronavirus the day before he is sworn into office on Jan. 20.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Nashville bombing spotlights vulnerable voice, data networks
PHOENIX (AP) — The Christmas Day bombing in downtown Nashville led to phone and data service outages and disruptions over hundreds of miles in the southern U.S., raising new concerns about the vulnerability of U.S. communications.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Minneapolis to release bodycam video in fatal shooting
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Police in Minneapolis said they would release body camera video on Thursday from a traffic stop that ended with a man shot dead, the city’s first police-involved death since George Floyd died while being restrained by officers in May.
Thursday, December 31, 2020

Italian 'Pinocchio' takes puppet to its roots
(AP) — The latest cinematic rendering of “ Pinocchio, ” from Italian director Matteo Garrone, is informed not by the friendly 1940 Walt Disney retelling, but the original source material. Carlo Collodi’s 1883 novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio” is a much darker affair than the song-filled animated version and Garrone’s film is also a more intense experience, even if he too has softened some of Collodi’s edges.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Noon Year's Eve: Toasting new year early
(AP) — Don’t want to stay up till midnight on the last day of the year? Families, early sleepers and those wanting to social distance might consider a midday celebration for December 31.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Girlfriend warned Nashville man was building bombs
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than a year before Anthony Warner detonated a bomb in downtown Nashville on Christmas, officers visited his home after his girlfriend told police that he was building bombs in an RV trailer at his residence, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. But they were unable to make contact with him, or see inside his RV.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Use of 'vaccine for the world' approved in UK
LONDON (AP) — Britain authorized an easy-to-handle coronavirus vaccine Wednesday and decided to stretch out the time between doses to allow more people to get some level of protection faster as infections surge. The first greenlight for the shot dubbed the “vaccine for the world” brought a measure of hope that the pandemic could be brought under control.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Mitch McConnell's roadblock may not be sustainable as pressure mounts
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s push for bigger $2,000 COVID-19  relief checks stalled out in the Senate as Republicans blocked a swift vote proposed by Democrats and split within their own ranks over whether to boost spending or defy the White House.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No travel history in 1st case of virus variant
DENVER (AP)  A new variant of the coronavirus that may be more contagious has been found in a Colorado man who had not been traveling, triggering a host of questions about how the first reported U.S. case of the new version showed up in the Rocky Mountain state.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant?
(AP) — Will COVID-19 vaccines work on the new coronavirus variant? Experts believe so, but they’re working to confirm that.
Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Nashville bomber: Hints of trouble, motive elusive
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In the days before he detonated a bomb in downtown Nashville on Christmas, Anthony Quinn Warner changed his life in ways that suggest he never intended to survive the blast that killed him and wounded three other people.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Georgia's two GOP senators back $2,000 checks
WASHINGTON (AP) — The two GOP senators from Georgia, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, announced today they support Trump’s plan for bigger checks. They are in the fights of their political lives against Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in Jan. 5 runoff elections that will determine which party controls the Senate.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

New US dietary guidelines: No candy, sweets for kids under 2
(AP) — Parents now have an extra reason to say no to candy, cake and ice cream for children before their second birthday. The first U.S. government dietary guidelines for infants and toddlers, released today, recommend feeding only breast milk for at least six months and no added sugar for children under age 2.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Statue of slave kneeling before Lincoln is removed
BOSTON — A statue of Abraham Lincoln with a freed slave appearing to kneel at his feet — optics that drew objections amid a national reckoning with racial injustice — has been removed from its perch in downtown Boston.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Home prices rise at fastest pace in 6 years
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. home prices jumped in October by the most in more than six years as a pandemic-fueled buying rush drives the number of available properties for sale to record lows.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

$2,000 checks up to the Senate today
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s push for $2,000 COVID-19 relief checks vollied into the Senate after the House voted overwhelmingly to meet the president’s demand to increase the $600 stipends, but Republicans have shown little interest in boosting spending.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Wiser resolutions? Lessons from COVID's unfulfilled ones
(AP) — She’d wanted to frame and hang them — just three printed pictures that had been sitting in Lucy O’Donoghue’s suburban Atlanta house since the year began. That’s all. Yet with a full-time job and two small kids, she hadn’t found the time.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Trump signs COVID aid, sparks fight in GOP
WASHINGTON (AP) — Shelving his objections, President Donald Trump has signed a $2 trillion-plus COVID-19 and annual federal spending package providing relief for millions of Americans, even as Congress returns to confront the White House on remaining priorities in a rare end-of-session showdown.
Monday, December 28, 2020

After naming bombing suspect, focus turns to motive
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — With federal officials having identified the man believed to be behind Nashville’s Christmas Day bombing, authorities now turn to the monumental task of piecing together the motive behind the explosion that severely damaged dozens of downtown buildings and injured three people.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Female CO will command Aircraft Carrier for first time
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Navy announced Friday that Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt will assume command of USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) marking the first time a female commanding officer will lead the crew of one of the Navy's 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Fauci: US taking hard look at variant of coronavirus
WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health officials believe the coronavirus mutation that set off alarms in parts of Britain is no more apt to cause serious illness or be resistant to vaccines than the strain afflicting people in the United States but it still must be taken “very seriously,” the government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Illinois reports 104 new COVID-19 deaths, total now 15,969
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois public health officials on Sunday reported 3,767 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 in the state, including 104 confirmed deaths.
Monday, December 28, 2020

2 dead after crash near Walcott
WALCOTT, Iowa (AP) — Two people are dead and another person is injured after a wrong-way, head-on crash on an eastern Iowa interstate highway.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Human body parts found discarded at 2 sites in Arizona
PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) — Human body parts that authorities say may have been intended for medical research were found this weekend in northern Arizona.
Monday, December 28, 2020

'Wonder Woman 1984' debuts with pandemic best $16.7M
NEW YORK (AP) — Despite premiering simultaneously by streaming service, “Wonder Woman 1984” managed the best box office debut of the pandemic, opening with $16.7 million over the Christmas weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Monday, December 28, 2020

Judge delays execution of only woman on death row
WASHINGTON (AP) — A federal judge said the Justice Department unlawfully rescheduled the execution of the only woman on federal death row, potentially setting up the Trump administration to schedule the execution after President-elect Joe Biden takes office.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

British double agent George Blake dies in Russia
MOSCOW (AP) — George Blake, a former British intelligence officer who worked as a double agent for the Soviet Union and passed some of the most coveted Western secrets to Moscow, has died in Russia. He was 98.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Trump's court appointments will leaves decades-long imprint
WASHINGTON (AP) — On this, even President Donald Trump’s most fevered critics agree: He has left an imprint on federal courts that will outlast his one term in office for decades to come.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

St. Louis nears record with 4 Xmas Eve deaths
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Four fatal shootings Christmas Eve brought St. Louis homicide toll for the year within reach of its all-time annual record.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

'Unprecedented' mail volume delays some Christmas gifts
SAN RAMON, Calif. (AP) — Some who mailed holiday presents weeks early this year found they didn’t act early enough as Christmas arrived with their gifts stuck in transit.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Sweeping outages continue in Tennessee
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sweeping communications outages continued to plague large swaths of Tennessee on Saturday as federal investigators combed the site for clues into the explosion of a recreational vehicle that rocked sleepy downtown Nashville on Christmas.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Child found in cemetery before Christmas doing okay
HINCKLEY, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio police chief is hailing what he called an “overwhelming“ response to the story of a young boy found in a cemetery two days before Christmas.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Notable travel writers and guides laud places that helped define America
(AP) — Sixteen notable writers have created a combined list of places that they believe helped shape and define America, from coastal Oregon and Solvang, California, to Ellis Island and New Hampshire’s Black Heritage Trail.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Legoland theme park in Florida plans expansion with at least six new rides
WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — The Legoland theme park in Florida is planning an expansion next year including new rides, according to plans filed with the city nearest the attraction.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

Young trees need some dressing up for winter protection
(AP) — My young trees are decked out in their winter finery: arboreal attire, perfumes and cosmetics that will protect them through the winter.
Saturday, December 26, 2020

New round of clemency benefits Manafort and more
President Donald Trump pardoned more than two dozen people, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Charles Kushner, the father of his son-in-law, in the latest wave of clemency to benefit longtime associates and supporters.
Thursday, December 24, 2020

Republicans block $2,000 stimulus checks despite Trump demand
House Republicans shot down a Democratic bid on Thursday to pass President Donald Trump’s longshot, end-of-session demand for $2,000 direct payments to most Americans as he ponders whether to sign a long-overdue COVID-19 relief bill.

The made-for-TV clash came as the Democratic-controlled chamber convened for a pro forma session scheduled in anticipation of a smooth Washington landing for the massive, year-end legislative package, which folds together a $1.4 trillion governmentwide spending with the hard-fought COVID-19 package and dozens of unrelated but bipartisan bills.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

COVID in Ca.: 2 million and counting
California became the first state to record 2 million confirmed coronavirus cases, reaching the milestone on Christmas Eve as close to the entire state was under a strict stay-at-home order and hospitals were flooded with the largest crush of cases since the pandemic began.

A tally by Johns Hopkins University showed the nation’s most populated state has recorded 2,010,157 infections since January. More than 23,000 people have died from the virus.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ameren purchases wind farm in rural Missouri
Ameren Missouri said Wednesday that it bought its first wind farm and plans to make a “transformational advancement” into renewable energy.

The subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ameren Corp. said it closed on its acquisition of the High Prairie Renewable Energy Center in Adair and Schuyler counties, in rural northeastern Missouri. The company said the 400-megawatt project is the first of two planned investments in Missouri wind power generation.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas subdued in year of virus
A stream of marching bands joyously paraded through Bethlehem today, but few people were there to greet them as the coronavirus pandemic and a strict lockdown dampened Christmas Eve celebrations in the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Similar subdued scenes were repeated across the world as the festive family gatherings and packed prayers that typically mark the holiday were scaled back or canceled altogether. In Australia, worshippers had to book tickets online to attend socially distanced church services. Pope Francis was set to celebrate Mass in a near-empty Vatican service early in the evening, hours before a curfew went into effect in Italy.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas Eve concert held in Paris' fire-wrecked Notre Dame
Wearing hard hats and protective suits, the choir of Notre Dame Cathedral sang inside the medieval Paris landmark for the first time since last year’s devastating fire for a special Christmas Eve concert.

Accompanied by an acclaimed violinist, a rented organ and a soprano soloist, 20 singers performed beneath the cathedral’s stained-glass windows amid the darkened church, which is transitioning from being a precarious hazardous clean-up operation to becoming a massive reconstruction site.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

UK and EU reach post-Brexit agreement
After months of talks and at almost the last minute, Britain and the European Union struck a provisional free-trade agreement Thursday that should avert New Year chaos for cross-border traders and bring a measure of certainty for businesses after years of Brexit turmoil.

With just over a week until the U.K.’s final split from the EU, the British government said the “deal is done.”

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Insurance shoppers: You might want to plan now to trim next spring's tax bill
An unpleasant tax surprise may be lurking next spring for some people who bought health insurance this year on the Affordable Care Act’s coverage marketplaces.

The problem centers on income, or what shoppers think they will make.

People can get help from the government to buy coverage, depending on their income. But they have to estimate their income for the coming year to figure out how much help they need in the form of tax credits.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

What the new COVID relief package means for your money
A second wave of federal coronavirus relief totaling $900 billion could begin flowing to millions of Americans as soon as the year’s end, nearly nine months after Congress passed the original pandemic relief package known as the CARES Act.

Here’s what the COVID relief package — part of a $2.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress and now awaiting the president’s signature — could mean for you, your family, your home or your business.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Fed sues Walmart over its role in the opioid crisis
The Justice Department sued Walmart on Tuesday, accusing it of fueling the nation’s opioid crisis by pressuring its pharmacies to fill even potentially suspicious prescriptions for the powerful painkillers.

The civil complaint filed points to the role Walmart’s pharmacies may have played in the crisis by filling opioid prescriptions and Walmart’s own responsibility for the allegedly illegal distribution of controlled substances to the pharmacies at the height of the opioid crisis. Walmart operates more than 5,000 pharmacies in its stores around the country.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

A child so sick, they feared the worst; now they urge change
Kale Wuthrich watched doctors surround his son in the emergency room, giving him fluids though IV tubes, running a battery of tests and trying to stabilize him. He was enveloped by the confusion and fear that had been building since his 12-year-old suddenly fell ill weeks after a mild bout with the coronavirus.

“He was very close at that point to not making it, and basically they told me to sit in the corner and pray,” Wuthrich said. “And that’s what I did.”

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

'Cheer' star pleads not guilty, sex charges
“Cheer” star Jerry Harris has pleaded not guilty to federal child pornography charges and allegations that he solicited sex from minors at cheerleading competitions and convinced teenage boys to send him obscene photographs and videos of themselves.

Harris, 21, of Naperville, Illinois, was indicted earlier this month in a seven-count indictment that included the child sex, porn and other allegations. A complaint  filed in September initially charged him with child pornograph y.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Holiday travel surges despite outbreak
Some are elderly and figure they don’t have many Christmases left. Others are trying to keep long-distance romance alive. Some just yearn for the human connection that’s been absent for the past nine months.

Millions of Americans are traveling ahead of Christmas and New Year’s, despite pleas from public health experts that they stay home to avoid fueling the raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 nationwide.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Pfizer to supply US with additional 100M doses
Pfizer said today it will supply the U.S. government with an additional 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine under a new agreement between the pharmaceutical giant and the Trump administration.
Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Relief bill will end 'surprise' medical bills
People with private health insurance will see the nasty shock of “surprise” medical bills virtually gone, thanks to the coronavirus compromise passed by Congress.

The charges that can run from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars come from doctors and hospitals that are outside the network of a patient’s health insurance plan. It’s estimated that about 1 in 5 emergency visits and 1 in 6 inpatient admissions will trigger a surprise bill.

Although lawmakers of both parties long agreed that the practice amounted to abusive billing, a lobbying war between doctors and insurers had thwarted a compromise, allowing the impasse to become a symbol of dysfunction in Washington.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

US deaths in 2020 top 3 million, most ever counted
This is the deadliest year in U.S. history, with deaths expected to top 3 million for the first time — due mainly to the coronavirus pandemic.

Final mortality data for this year will not be available for months. But preliminary numbers suggest that the United States is on track to see more than 3.2 million deaths this year, or at least 400,000 more than in 2019.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Scientists urge concern, not alarm, over new virus
Does it spread more easily? Make people sicker? Mean that treatments and vaccines won’t work? Questions are multiplying as fast as new strains of the coronavirus, especially the one now moving through England. Scientists say there is reason for concern but that the new strains should not cause alarm.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Why should I trust the vaccine when it was developed so fast?
Editor’s Note: With a coronavirus vaccination effort now underway, you might have questions about what this means for you and your family. If you do, send them to The Conversation, and we will find a physician or researcher to answer them. Here, Dr. Lana Dbeibo, a clinical assistant professor of medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine, answers reader questions about the vaccine and compromised immune systems and whether to get the vaccine if a person has had previous adverse reactions to a vaccine.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020

California discusses rationing care as virus surges
California’s overwhelmed hospitals are setting up makeshift extra beds for coronavirus patients, and a handful of facilities in hard-hit Los Angeles County are drawing up emergency plans in case they have to limit how many people receive life-saving care.

The number of people hospitalized across California with confirmed COVID-19 infections is more than double the state’s previous peak, reached in July, and a state model forecasts the total could hit 75,000 patients by mid-January.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Barr: 'No reason' for special council on Biden's son
Breaking with President Donald Trump, outgoing Attorney General William Barr said today he saw “no reason” to appoint a special counsel to look into the president’s claims of election fraud or the tax investigation into the son of President-elect Joe Biden.

In his final press conference, Barr also broke with Trump in reinforcing that federal officials believe Russia was behind the cyberespionage operation targeting the U.S. government. Trump had suggested without evidence that China could be responsible.

Barr said the investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial dealings was “being handled responsibly and professionally.”

Monday, December 21, 2020

Congress seals deal on COVID relief
Congressional leaders have hashed out a massive, year-end catchall bill that combines $900 billion in COVID-19 aid with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and reams of other unfinished legislation on taxes, energy, education and health care. The huge, still-unreleased bill is slated for votes on Monday — with lawmakers having only a few hours to read it before casting their votes.

Here are some highlights of the measure with overall funding amounts and specific amounts for some but not necessarily all initiatives; some amounts are not yet available and some aspects of the catchall bill do not involve spending.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Jupiter and Saturn will be closer tonight than in centuries
Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky Monday, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century.

Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system aren’t particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Cut off: Britain hit with more travel bans
Trucks waiting to get out of Britain backed up for miles and people were left stranded at airports Monday as countries around the world imposed tough travel restrictions on the U.K. because of a new and seemingly more contagious strain of the coronavirus in England.

A growing number of countries halted air travel from Britain, while France banned British trucks for 48 hours while the new variant is assessed.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Christmas tree in Champaign comprised of 10,000 bottles
A Christmas tree made of about 10,000 recycled glass bottles and weighing 1.5 tons is on display in central Illinois through next month.

A team of workers has been putting the final touches on the 31-foot tree made of melted glass in downtown Champaign. It took roughly two weeks to make.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Final goodbye: Recalling influential people of the world who died in a year devastated by the pandemic
In a year defined by a devastating pandemic, the world lost iconic defenders of civil rights, great athletes and entertainers who helped define their genres.

Many of their names hold a prominent place in the collective consciousness — RBG, Kobe, Maradona, Eddie Van Halen, Little Richard, Sean Connery, Alex Trebek, Christo — but pandemic restrictions often limited the public’s ability to mourn their loss in a year that saw more than a million people die from the coronavirus.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

The best gift of all this season at Christmas time
Looking for a last-minute gift idea? Here's one: Donate to your local food bank, and send the folks on your annual card list a note, telling them you've made a contribution in their name.

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a second plague sweeping America -- hunger -- and there's no vaccine for this one. But each of us can help inoculate our fellow citizens against desperation and despair by generously giving the best gift of all: kindness.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

De-stress holiday debt with a solid payoff plan
In a holiday season that many of us will spend apart from loved ones, gift-giving might feel even more important than usual. After all, if you can’t travel to see family, at least you can see them unwrap gifts over a video call, right?
Sunday, December 20, 2020

How to spot fake shopping sites and avoid scams
Ben Black bought what he thought was a well-priced drone online. But the drone never showed up, the site stopped responding to his emails and he never got his $100 back.

He was scammed.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Pompeo says Russia 'behind cyberattack
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Russia was "pretty clearly" behind the grave cyberattack against the United States, the first administration official to publicly tie the Kremlin to the widespread intrusion at a time when President Donald Trump has kept silent on the failure to protect government and private-sector computer networks.
Saturday, December 19, 2020

Illegal winery busted at Alabama town's sewage plant
Sheriff’s officials say they’ve busted an illegal winery that was operating at a municipal sewage plant in a small north Alabama town.

The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement it received an anonymous tip about an alcohol operation at a municipal building in the town of Rainsville on Thursday. Investigators then uncovered what’s described as a large illegal winery inside the Rainsville Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Fed finds big US banks in solid shape; keeps dividend limits
The Federal Reserve said Friday that the 33 largest U.S. banks are in strong shape despite the pandemic’s economic shock.

The banks have ample capital cushions girding them against unexpected losses and that will also enable them to keep lending even under the most severe straits, the central bank said.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

In FBI probe, Texas AG faces aggressive, ethical prosecutor
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has spent years dodging legal and public relations blows that might have knocked others out of politics. The Republican has so far proven too wily for political opponents and prosecutors, winning reelection and rising to national prominence as a conservative crusader even while under felony indictment.

But criminal allegations from Paxton’s top deputies have set him up to square off against a formidable new opponent: A federal prosecutor with a team of seasoned FBI agents and a track record of getting corrupt public officials sent to prison.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

States spent over $7B competing for early virus medical supplies
Ray Bellia had a good business before the coronavirus pandemic. He topped $4 million in annual sales from his New Hampshire store that specialized in protective gear for police.

Then he got a call from a buyer with the state of Massachusetts asking if he had anything that could protect people from COVID-19. As it happened, he did. He went on to sell the state 300,000 disposable masks for 97 cents each.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Jupiter and Saturn merging in night sky Monday, closest in centuries
Jupiter and Saturn will merge in the night sky Monday, appearing closer to one another than they have since Galileo’s time in the 17th century.

Astronomers say so-called conjunctions between the two largest planets in our solar system aren’t particularly rare. Jupiter passes its neighbor Saturn in their respective laps around the sun every 20 years.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Faith in America faces more big issues in 2021
For many religious denominations in the United States, there were two shared preoccupations in 2020 beyond the usual matters of faith: How to cope with the coronavirus pandemic and how to respond to tumultuous political events.

With Joe Biden replacing Donald Trump as president, and with vaccines eventually expected to ease the threat of COVID-19, the challenges for faith leaders in 2021 will shift.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Lawmakers told to expect to be in session and voting this weekend on relief
Bearing down on a midnight shutdown deadline, top negotiators on a must-pass, almost $1 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package are committed to sealing an agreement today as they resolve remaining differences in hopes of passing the legislation this weekend.

The pressure is on. Government funding lapses at midnight tonight and a partial, low-impact shutdown would ensue if Congress fails to pass a stopgap spending bill before then. That’s not guaranteed, said Senate GOP Whip John Thune, who said some Republicans might block the stopgap measure to keep the pressure on if the talks haven’t borne fruit.

Friday, December 18, 2020

COVID-19 deaths in US hit all time high as we await 2nd vaccine
The U.S. stood on the verge of adding a second COVID-19 vaccine to its arsenal Friday as the outbreak descended deeper into its most lethal phase yet, with the nation regularly recording over 3,000 deaths per day.

The Food and Drug Administration was evaluating a shot developed by Moderna Inc. and the National Institutes of Health and was expected to give it the green light soon, clearing the way for its use to begin as early as Monday.

Friday, December 18, 2020

US blacklists top Chinese chipmaker
The Trump administration blacklisted China’s top chipmaker today, limiting the Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp.’s access to advanced U.S. technology because of its alleged ties to the Chinese military.

“We will not allow advanced U.S. technology to help build the military of an increasingly belligerent adversary,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement explaining the decision to put SMIC on the U.S. government’s so-called Entity List.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Supreme Court: Challenge to Trump's census plan to exclude illegals premature
The Supreme Court has dismissed as premature a challenge to President Donald Trump’s plan to exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count used to allot states seats in the House of Representatives.

But the court’s decision today is not a final ruling on the matter and it’s not clear whether Trump will receive final numbers from the Census Bureau before he leaves office next month.

Friday, December 18, 2020

Fed keeps rate near zero; sees better economy in '21
The Federal Reserve said Wednesday  that it will keep buying government bonds until the economy makes “substantial” progress, a step intended to reassure financial markets and keep long-term borrowing rates low indefinitely.

The Fed also reiterated after its latest policy meeting that it expects to keep its benchmark short-term interest rate near zero through at least 2023. The Fed has kept its key rate there since March, when it took a range of extraordinary steps to fight the pandemic recession by keeping credit flowing.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

39 states file anti-trust lawsuit against Google today
A group of 38 states filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google today, alleging that the search giant has an illegal monopoly over the online search market that hurts consumers and advertisers.

The lawsuit, announced by Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, was filed in federal court in Washington, D.C. by states represented by bipartisan attorneys general.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

First major storm of the season made history with record-breaking snow
The first major snowstorm of the season left the Northeast blanketed in snow, setting records in some areas.

“Williamsport Regional Airport made history,” the National Weather Service in State College said, reporting 24.7 inches of snow. Forecasters said that was the most snow in that location from a single storm on record, breaking the previous record of 24.1 inches set there in January 1964.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

US agency warns of 'grave' threat from hack
U.S. authorities are expressing increased alarm about an intrusion into computer systems around the globe that officials suspect was carried out by Russia.

The cybersecurity unit of the Department of Homeland Security said Thursday that the hack “poses a grave risk to the Federal Government and state, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as critical infrastructure entities and other private sector organizations.”

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Second vaccine gets public review
A second COVID-19 vaccine moved closer to joining the U.S. fight against the pandemic today as government advisers convened for a public review of its safety and effectiveness.

It’s the next-to-last step for the vaccine developed by drugmaker Moderna and the National Institutes of Health. The panel of physicians and medical researchers was expected to endorse it, followed by the Food and Drug Administration’s OK within hours or days.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Macron is the latest world leader to catch COVID-19
French President Emmanuel Macron is the latest world leader to test positive for COVID-19, joining a growing list of others just as inoculation drives against the illness are beginning in a number of countries.

Macron, 42, has repeatedly said he is sticking to strict sanitary protocols during the pandemic, including not shaking hands, wearing a mask and keeping distance from other people. The Elysee Palace announced today that Macron would be isolating for seven days.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Just what exactly are the hang ups on the virus relief package?
Congressional negotiators on the long-delayed $900 billion COVID-19 economic relief package worked through a handful of remaining holdups today as they labored to seal a final agreement for more help to businesses and the unemployed and new stimulus payments to most Americans.
Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sackler family, owners of OxyContin maker, offers 'sadness'
Two of the owners of the company that makes OxyContin acknowledged to a congressional committee today that the powerful prescription painkiller has played a role in the national opioid crisis but stopped short of apologizing or admitting wrongdoing as they made a rare appearance in a public forum.
Thursday, December 17, 2020

Liberals and environmental groups welcome Buttigieg and other expected picks
Joe Biden is picking deal-makers and fighters to lead a climate team he’ll ask to remake and clean up the nation’s transportation and power-plant systems, and as fast as politically possible.

While the president-elect’s picks have the experience to do the heavy lifting required in a climate overhaul of the U.S. economy, they also seem to be reassuring skeptics that he won’t neglect the low-income, working class and minority communities hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and climate change.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Snake and eggs? Floridians could soon eat pythons
Donna Kalil estimates she’s eaten a dozen pythons in the last three years or so.

That’s not including the python jerky, says Kalil, a python hunter for the South Florida Water Management District. “I eat that several times a week because I take it out with me on python hunts and I eat it out there.”

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Leaving California: State's growth rate at record low as more people flee
More people are leaving California than moving here, continuing a trend that coupled with fewer births has slowed the growth rate in the nation's most populous state to a record low amid a pandemic that is reshaping its future.

Officially, California added 21,200 people from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, increasing the state's population a paltry 0.05% to 39.78 million people — still by far the most of any state.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

US: Vietnam, Switzerland currency manipulators
The U.S. Treasury Department has branded Vietnam and Switzerland as currency manipulators while putting China and nine other countries on a watch list in an annual report designed to halt countries from manipulating their currencies to gain unfair trade advantages.

It marked the first time that the United States has labeled another country as a currency manipulator since August 2019 when it called out China at a time when the world’s two largest economies were locked in tense trade negotiations.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Opioid industry has paid advocacy groups $65M
A bipartisan congressional investigation released today found that key players in the nation’s opioid industry have spent $65 million since 1997 funding nonprofits that advocate treating pain with medications, a strategy intended to boost the sale of prescription painkillers.

The report  from Sens. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Wyden of Oregon found the contributions continued in recent years, even as the industry’s practices and the toll of opioid addiction came under greater scrutiny.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Florida shuts down bay known nationally for its oysters
Because of a dwindling oyster population, a Florida agency voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down oyster harvesting in Apalachicola Bay through the end of 2025, dealing a blow to an area that historically produced 90% of the state’s oysters and 10% of the nation’s.

People in the area are divided between coming up with a long-term plan to save the industry, and allowing it to continue on a limited basis. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation commission did express the hope of reopening the bay before the ban on commercial and recreational harvesting ends if oysters recover sooner.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Negotiators closing in on COVID relief deal
Top congressional leaders are nearing agreement on a long-delayed COVID-19 relief package, hoping to seal a deal later today that would extend aid to individuals and businesses and help ship coronavirus vaccines to millions.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., a coauthor of a $908 billion bipartisan package, said leadership negotiators are close to agreement on legislation that would extend direct payments of perhaps $600 to most Americans. No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune of South Dakota confirmed the likely addition of direct payments in that range, as well as a $300-per-week bonus federal unemployment benefit to partially replace a $600-per-week benefit that expired this summer.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

World's space achievements a bright spot in stressful 2020
Astronauts blasted into orbit from the U.S. for the first time in nearly a decade, three countries sent spacecraft hurtling toward Mars, and robotic explorers grabbed rocks from the moon and gravel from an asteroid for return to Earth.

Space provided moments of hope and glory in an otherwise difficult, stressful year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

US regulators OK genetically modified pig for food
U.S. regulators have approved a genetically modified pig for food and medical products, making it the second such animal to get the green light for human consumption. But the company behind it says there are no imminent plans to sell it for meat.

The pig is genetically engineered to eliminate the presence of alpha-gal, a type of sugar found in many mammals. The sugar makes its way into many products — including medications, cosmetics and food — and can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Feds to delay protection for monarch butterfly
Federal officials on Tuesday declared the monarch butterfly “a candidate” for threatened or endangered status, but said no action would be taken for several years because of the many other species waiting for that designation.

Environmentalists said delaying that long could spell disaster for the beloved black-and-orange butterfly, once a common sight in backyard gardens, meadows and other landscapes now seeing its population dwindling.

The monarch’s status will be reviewed annually, said Charlie Wooley, head of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes regional office. Emergency action could be taken earlier, but plans now call for proposing to list the monarch under the Endangered Species Act in 2024 unless its situation improves enough to make the step unnecessary.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

FDA allows use of over-the-counter home test for COVID
The first home test for COVID-19 that doesn’t require a prescription will soon be on U.S. store shelves.

U.S. officials Tuesday authorized the rapid coronavirus test which can be done entirely at home. The announcement by the Food and Drug Administration represents another important — though incremental — step in U.S. efforts to expand testing options.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

The coronavirus vaccine: A doctor answers five questions
Editor’s Note: With the Food and Drug Administration issuing emergency use authorization for a vaccine to limit the spread of coronavirus, you might have questions about what this means for you. If you do, send them to The Conversation, and we will find a physician or researcher to answer them. Here, Dr. Jason McKnight, a primary care physician at Texas A&M University, answers five questions about the rollout and distribution underway.
Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Census numbers-crunching documents at center of latest fight
A federal judge has rejected an emergency request from the Trump administration that would stop it from being immediately forced to release documents showing how the 2020 census numbers have been crunched in the weeks since the U.S. head count ended in October.

U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh said in her ruling late Sunday that “time is of the essence“ in dismissing the claims of government attorneys who said they have no way of meeting her court-ordered deadline without releasing all 88,000 documents a search has produced, with no time to review and redact confidential information.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Fed to weigh further options for aiding US economy in peril
The Federal Reserve’s policymakers face an unusual conundrum as they meet this week: A short-term economic outlook that is worsening even while the longer-term picture is brightening thanks to the emergence of coronavirus vaccines.

When its meeting concludes Wednesday, the Fed could announce steps to try to offset the pandemic’s increasing drag on growth. Or it could choose to mostly watch and wait, for now.

Monday, December 14, 2020

US health workers get COVID-19 vaccine
The biggest vaccination campaign in U.S. history kicked off Monday as health workers rolled up their sleeves for shots to protect them from COVID-19 and start beating back the pandemic — a day of optimism even as the nation’s death toll closed in on 300,000.

“I feel hopeful today. Relieved,” critical care nurse Sandra Lindsay said after getting a shot in the arm at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York.

Monday, December 14, 2020

US Embassy says Sudan no longer on list of terror sponsors
The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said Monday that President Donald Trump’s administration has removed Sudan from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could help the African country get international loans to revive its battered economy and end its pariah status.

The U.S. Embassy in Khartoum said in a Facebook post that the removal of Sudan was effective as of Monday, and that a notification to that effect, signed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would be published in the Federal Register. It said the 45-day congressional notification period has lapsed.

Monday, December 14, 2020

AP-NORC poll: America's virus concerns stable as cases spike
Deaths from the coronavirus pandemic are spiking across the country, yet a new poll finds little increase in alarm among Americans about COVID-19 infections and no significant change in opinion about how the government should act to slow the spread.

The survey from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds about 4 in 10 Americans say they are extremely or very worried about themselves or a family member being infected with the virus, about the same as in October and slightly lower than in surveys conducted in March and in July. Stable majorities continue to favor requirements that people wear masks and limit the size of gatherings.

Monday, December 14, 2020

UAW, US Attorney reach deal
The United Auto Workers and the U.S. attorney’s office in Detroit say they have reached a settlement to reform the union in the wake of a wide-ranging bribery and embezzlement scandal.

Terms of the deal will be announced at a Monday afternoon news conference in Detroit.

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Electoral College, an unlovable compromise
For a compromise that has lasted more than 200 years, the Electoral College doesn’t get a lot of love.

According to the National Archives, more Constitutional amendments have been proposed to alter or abolish the Electoral College than on any other subject — more than 700 proposals in the nation’s history.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Gunman shot by police at NYC cathedral Christmas concert
A man was fatally shot by police on the steps of a landmark New York City cathedral Sunday after he began firing two semiautomatic handguns at the end of a Christmas choral concert, police said.

The gunfire began just before 4 p.m. at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Film: Love, Irish farmer style in 'Wild Mountain Thyme'
(AP) — Ask any actor, Irish accents are notoriously tricky. Even natives can struggle with regional dialects. So it is a little alarming that the first voice you hear in “ Wild Mountain Thyme ” is Christopher Walken’s, who sounds exactly like you think Christopher Walken attempting an Irish accent would. It is a bold choice, certainly, and not the most solid footing to start out on. Still it might be worth giving this odd little duckling of a film a chance.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir airs Monday
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Broadway’s Kelli O’Hara and Richard Thomas of “The Waltons” are the guest artists for “Christmas with The Tabernacle Choir,” but there’s another stellar attraction: The annual event was taped pre-coronavirus, free of health constraints or virtual tricks.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Woodrow Wilson's Carolina home gets new name
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The caretakers of former President Woodrow Wilson’s teenage home in South Carolina have changed the name of the landmark site, seeking to more accurately reflect the era that formed the 28th president’s segregationist views.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

African American Music museum to open January
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A new museum in Tennessee that focuses on African American music will open next month in Nashville.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Philadelphia Flower Show outdoors for the 1st time
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flower Show, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event,” will move outside next year for the first time in its nearly 200-year history because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Loss of 'snowbirds' amid pandemic another hit to US tourism
PHOENIX (AP) — This is the first winter in five years that Steve Monk and his wife, Linda, haven’t driven to Arizona from their home in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

As Lipinski prepares to leave office, he expresses concerns about the future
JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski has represented the 3rd District in Congress since 2005.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Why are scientists turning away from brain scans?
NEW YORK (AP) — Brain scans offer a tantalizing glimpse into the mind’s mysteries, promising an almost X-ray-like vision into how we feel pain, interpret faces and wiggle fingers.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Can I stop wearing a mask after I am vaccinated?
(AP) — Can I stop wearing a mask after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

No. For a couple reasons, masks and social distancing will still be recommended for some time after people are vaccinated.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Vaccine hitting the states on Monday
WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s first COVID-19 vaccine will begin arriving in states Monday morning, U.S. officials said Saturday, after the government gave the final go-ahead to the shots needed to end an outbreak that has killed nearly 300,000 Americans.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

As leaders fete Paris climate pact, Biden pledges to rejoin
PARIS (AP) — U.S. President-elect Joe Biden pledged Saturday to rejoin the Paris climate accord on the first day of his presidency, as world leaders staged a virtual gathering to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the international pact aimed at curbing global warming.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Virgin Galactic test flight Saturday ends prematurely
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A Virgin Galactic test flight Saturday ended prematurely when the spacecraft landed safely at Spaceport America in southern New Mexico after its rocket engine failed to ignite high above the Earth.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Hunt still on for suspects in ransacking of Chicago stores
CHICAGO (AP) — The summer night when crowds descended on downtown Chicago, shattered store windows and poured inside the gaping holes to grab as much merchandise as they could carry away is a distant memory to many in the city.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Cottagecore holidays: Decorations with a homespun vibe
(AP) — Along with bread-baking and closet reorganizing, another nesting trend on the home front is "cottagecore" style.
Saturday, December 12, 2020

Women's Hall of Fame honors Franklin, Morrison
SENECA FALLS, N.Y. (AP) — “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin and Nobel laureate and “Beloved” author Toni Morrison were inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame this weekend.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Panel endorses Pfizer vaccine
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. government advisory panel endorsed widespread use of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine Thursday, putting the country just one step away from launching an epic vaccination campaign against the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Biden fills Cabinet with Obama allies, while probe into Hunter's finances ramps up
WASHINGTON (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden is getting the old gang back together.

Increasingly deep into the process of selecting Cabinet members and other senior staff, the incoming Biden administration has a distinctly Obama feel.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Hondurans forming migrant caravan for US stoppe in homeland
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (AP) — Hundreds of Hondurans trying to start a new caravan to reach the U.S. border were stopped by Honduran security personnel Thursday before they even reached the border with neighboring Guatemala.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Hundreds of GOP members sign onto Texas-led election lawsuit
HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas lawsuit asking the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory has quickly become a conservative litmus test, as 106 members of Congress and multiple state attorneys general signed onto the case .
Friday, December 11, 2020

Northern lights a 'big miss,' US space forecaster says
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — An initially promising U.S. forecast for the northern lights has gone bust.
Friday, December 11, 2020

Famous names mispronounced
(AP) —America’s preeminent infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, and its incoming vice president, Kamala Harris, join the Renaissance master himself, Leonardo da Vinci, atop this year’s list of most mispronounced words, as compiled by the U.S. Captioning Company, which captions and subtitles real-time events on TV and in courtrooms.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Vaccine faces penultimate hurdle
WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. government advisory panel convened on Thursday to decide whether to endorse mass use of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine to help conquer the outbreak that has killed close to 300,000 Americans.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

2020: Stormy and fiery, climate disasters wouldn't stop
(AP) — Nature struck relentlessly in 2020 with record-breaking and deadly weather- and climate-related disasters.
Thursday, December 10, 2020

Black bikers see racism in Myrtle Beach traffic plan
Motorcycle clubs roar into Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, each May for separate week-long rallies, one mostly white, the other mostly Black. Each brings millions of dollars, spent by hundreds of thousands of bikers, and some inevitably let loose, with binge drinking, public nudity and noise competitions that rattle the beachfront high-rises.

Civil rights lawyers have now accused the city in federal court of racial discrimination by creating an experience so unpleasant that Black visitors will eventually go away. In opening arguments last week to five Black and four white jurors, an NAACP lawyer said Myrtle Beach during Bikefest is “like a city under martial law,“ The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reported.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Like everything else 2020, taxes will be like no other year
It’s the time of year to start thinking about taxes — but the upcoming filing season is going to be a bit trickier for many Americans due to rampant unemployment, working from home and general upheaval due to COVID-19.

Here are a few pandemic specific conditions — good and bad — to be aware of.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

New White House offer adds $600 checks to COVID-19 relief
The Trump administration is back in the middle of Capitol Hill’s confusing COVID-19 negotiations, offering a $916 billion package to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would send a $600 direct payment to most Americans but eliminate a $300-per-week employment benefit favored by a bipartisan group of Senate negotiators.

The offer arrived Tuesday with the endorsement of the top House Republican and appeared to demonstrate some flexibility by powerful Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. But Democrats immediately blasted the plan over the administration’s refusal to back the partial restoration, to $300 per week, of bonus pandemic jobless benefits that lapsed in August.

The House today will pass a one-week government funding bill to give lawmakers more time to sort through the hot mess they have created for themselves after months of futile negotiations and posturing and recent rounds of flip-flopping. Without the measure, the government would shut down this weekend.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Former president of nation's largest teachers union vying for education secretary
The former president of the nation’s largest teachers union has received endorsements from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and dozens of national Hispanic organizations as she pursues the top job at the U.S. Education Department in the Biden administration.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, who was president of the National Education Association until September, has been calling members of Congress to build support for her candidacy. She has been courting Democrats and some Republicans, including Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is chairman of the Senate education committee and a former education secretary.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Researchers say millions of connected smart devices are vulnerable to hacking
Researchers at a cybersecurity firm say they have identified vulnerabilities in software widely used by millions of connected devices — flaws that could be exploited by hackers to penetrate business and home computer networks and disrupt them.

There is no evidence of any intrusions that made use of these vulnerabilities. But their existence in data-communications software central to internet-connected devices prompted the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to flag the issue in an advisory.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

America closing in on a vaccine
Documents released by U.S. regulators today confirmed that Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine was strongly protective against COVID-19 — offering the world’s first detailed look at the evidence behind the shots.

The Food and Drug Administration posted its analysis online even as across the Atlantic, Britain on Tuesday began vaccinating its oldest citizens with the Pfizer-BioNTech shots.

But the U.S. judges experimental vaccines in a unique way: On Thursday, the FDA will convene what’s essentially a science court that will debate — in public and live-streamed — just how strong the data backing the shots really is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Should I continue to wipe down groceries and other COVID-19 questions
Should I wipe down groceries during the pandemic?

Experts say it’s not necessary for most people.

The coronavirus spreads mainly through the respiratory droplets people spray when talking, coughing, sneezing or singing. It’s why health experts stress the importance of wearing masks and social distancing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Years of research laid groundwork for speedy COVID-19 shots
How could scientists race out COVID-19 vaccines so fast without cutting corners? A head start helped — over a decade of behind-the-scenes research that had new vaccine technology poised for a challenge just as the coronavirus erupted.

“The speed is a reflection of years of work that went before,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told The Associated Press. “That’s what the public has to understand.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Rural Kansas hospital illustrates depths of crisis
The radiology technician slept in an RV in the parking lot of his rural Kansas hospital for more than a week because his co-workers were out sick with COVID-19 and no one else was available to take X-rays.

A doctor and physician assistant tested positive on the same day in November, briefly leaving the hospital without anyone who could write prescriptions or oversee patient care. The hospital is full, but diverting patients isn’t an option because surrounding medical centers are overwhelmed.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Senator says Trump, McConnell likely to back COVID relief bill
A proposed COVID-19 relief bill is expected to get backing from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell but it won’t include $1,200 in direct payments to most Americans, a Republican senator involved in the bipartisan talks says.

“President Trump has indicated that he would sign a $908 billion package — there’s only one $908 billion package out there and it’s ours,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Sunday. “The pain of the American people is driving this, and I’m optimistic that both those leaders will come on board.”

Monday, December 7, 2020

Millions turn to food banks for 1st time ever
The deadly pandemic that tore through the nation’s heartland struck just as Aaron Crawford was in a moment of crisis. He was looking for work, his wife needed surgery, then the virus began eating away at her work hours and her paycheck.

The Crawfords had no savings, mounting bills and a growing dread: What if they ran out of food? The couple had two boys, 5 and 10, and boxes of macaroni and cheese from the dollar store could go only so far.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Pearl Harbor remembered 79 years later
Officials gathered in Pearl Harbor today  to remember those killed in the 1941 Japanese attack, though public health measures adopted because of the coronavirus pandemic meant no survivors were present.

The military  broadcast video of the ceremony live online for survivors and members of the public to watch from afar.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Peoria man photographs houses to spread love for hometown
Photographer Bryan Smith is on a crusade to save Peoria, one house at a time.

The lifelong Peorian began photographing houses and posting the images online in mid-2016, shortly after Caterpillar executives announced that the corporate headquarters was leaving Peoria.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

At home: Making the most of lighting can keep moods lifted
Many of us are working and studying at home by day, then trying to shift into relaxation mode in the very same rooms at night. And we’re doing all of this while battling the many stresses that 2020 keeps on delivering.

If ever there was a time when things could be a bit brighter, this is it.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Bring in the experts: It's time to secure your home network
Not all that long ago, managing your home network’s security didn’t involve much more than installing an antivirus program on your PC. If only it were still so simple.

It’s no longer just about protecting the computer on which you may be working from home and the laptops the kids may be using as online school starts. Odds are good you’ve got a few other internet-connected devices around the house -- phones, tablets, game consoles, maybe a “smart” TV or thermostat or refrigerator or light bulb or kid’s toy or security camera or video-streaming gadget or voice-activated digital valet.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

World can start dreaming of pandemic's end
The U.N. health chief declared Friday that positive results from coronavirus vaccine trials mean the world "can begin to dream about the end of the pandemic," but he said rich and powerful nations must not trample the poor and marginalized "in the stampede for vaccines."

In an address to the U.N. General Assembly's first high-level session on the pandemic, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus cautioned that while the virus can be stopped, "the path ahead remains treacherous."

Saturday, December 5, 2020

A bleak outlook for millions on unemployment
Tina Morton recently faced a choice: Pay bills — or buy a birthday gift for a child? Derrisa Green is falling further behind on rent. Sylvia Soliz has had her electricity cut off.
Saturday, December 5, 2020

Illinois to get vaccine for 54,000 people
Illinois public health officials reported 10,959 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday and a second consecutive day of near-record deaths.

The 192 fatalities from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, matched the toll from May 13, at the height of the initial wave of the disease in Illinois.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Do 'self-cleaning' elevator buttons really work?
Do “self-cleaning” elevator buttons really work?

Without rigorous independent studies, experts say it’s hard to verify claims of “self-cleaning” or “antiviral“ surfaces that have popped up during the pandemic.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Biden to call for 100 days of mask wearing
Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to commit to 100 days of wearing masks as one of his first acts as president, stopping just short of the nationwide mandate he’s pushed before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

The move marks a notable shift from President Donald Trump, whose own skepticism of mask-wearing has contributed to a politicization of the issue. That’s made many people reticent to embrace a practice that public health experts say is one of the easiest ways to manage the pandemic, which has killed more than 275,000 Americans.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Alison Lurie has died at age 94
Alison Lurie, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist whose satirical and cerebral tales of love and academia included the marital saga “The War Between the Tates” and the comedy of Americans abroad “Foreign Affairs,” died Thursday at age 94.

Lurie, a professor emerita at Cornell University, died of natural causes, according to her husband and partner, Edward Hower.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Scandalous 1st Christmas card for sale
Cheers! The first commercially printed Christmas card is up for sale — a merry Victorian-era scene that scandalized some who denounced it as humbug when it first appeared in 1843.

The card, being sold online starting Friday through a consortium run by Marvin Getman, a Boston-based dealer in rare books and manuscripts, depicts an English family toasting the recipient with glasses of red wine.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Judge dismisses charges in Missouri duck boat deaths
A federal judge has dismissed neglect and misconduct charges against three employees of a tourist boat that sank on a Missouri lake in 2018, killing 17 people.

U.S. District Judge Doug Harpool filed an order Wednesday upholding a recommendation made in September.

Friday, December 4, 2020

6 vice presidents talk about job once thought invisible
After interviewing Dan Quayle in Arizona for his documentary on the vice presidency, filmmaker Jeffrey Roth was rushing to the airport to catch a flight to Wyoming, where he had an appointment with Dick Cheney the next morning.

He had little time to spare. Suddenly, traffic halted for a motorcade to pass. It was Vice President Mike Pence and his entourage.

Roth appreciates the irony. At least, he can now. He made his flight, “President in Waiting” is finished and set to debut on CNN Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Pelosi optimistic, says momentum is growing for COVID relief
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave an optimistic assessment of the prospects for a mid-sized COVID-19 relief bill and a separate $1.4 trillion governmentwide spending bill today, teeing up expectations for a successful burst of legislative action to reverse months of frustration on pandemic relief.

Pelosi told reporters that she and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are in sync on a plan to reach agreement on the massive omnibus spending bill and to add COVID-19 relief to it.

Friday, December 4, 2020

A flurry of clemency action expected in coming weeks
Advocates and lawyers anticipate a flurry of clemency action from President Donald Trump in the coming weeks that could test the limits of presidential pardon power.

Trump is said to be considering a slew of pardons and commutations before he leaves office, including potentially members of his family, former aides and even himself. While it is not unusual for presidents to sign controversial pardons on their way out the door, Trump has made clear that he has no qualms about intervening in the cases of friends and allies whom he believes have been treated unfairly, including his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Vaccine rollout barrels on with social justice in mind
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine to the right people could change the course of the pandemic in the United States. But who are the right people?

As the decision looms for President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration, a new analysis argues for targeting the first vaccines to the same low-income Black, Hispanic and Native American households that have disproportionately suffered from the coronavirus. But no one at the federal level has committed to the idea, which would be a significant shift from the current population-based method adopted by Operation Warp Speed.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

House Democrats promise pre-holiday virus relief
The No. 2 House Democrat told colleagues Thursday morning that the chamber won’t adjourn for the year without delivering at least some measure of COVID-19 relief, as Democrats show greater flexibility after absorbing losses in last month’s elections.

But Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., also told lawmakers on a virtual caucus gathering that leaders are shooting to adjourn for the holidays a week from now, an optimistic timetable given the welter of difficult, unresolved issues dogging the long-stalled relief effort.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Admiral who directed raid on bin Laden has new book
NEW YORK (AP) — The retired U.S. Navy admiral who directed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has a new book coming out. William McRaven’s “The Hero Code: Lessons Learned from Lives Well Lived,“ his first publication since the bestselling “Make Your Bed,” is scheduled for April.
Thursday, December 3, 2020

Barr appoints special counsel in Russia probe investigation
Attorney General William Barr has given extra protection to the prosecutor he appointed to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe, granting him authority to complete the work without being easily fired.

Barr told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he had appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as a special counsel in October under the same federal regulations that governed special counsel Robert Mueller in the original Russia probe.  He said Durham’s investigation  has been narrowing to focus more on the conduct of FBI agents who worked on the Russia investigation, known by the code name of Crossfire Hurricane.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Britain approves vaccine
Britain became the first country in the world to authorize a rigorously tested COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday and could be dispensing shots within days — a historic step toward eventually ending the scourge that has killed more than 1.4 million people around the globe.

In giving the go-ahead for emergency use of the vaccine developed by American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany’s BioNTech, Britain vaulted past the United States by at least a week. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is not scheduled to consider the vaccine until Dec. 10.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Stay home for the holidays or get tested twice, CDC urges
Health officials on Wednesday urged Americans to stay home over the upcoming holiday season and consider getting tested for coronavirus before and after if they do decide to travel.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

US lawmakers unveil anti-slavery amendment
National lawmakers are expected on Wednesday to introduce a joint resolution aimed at striking language from the U.S. Constitution that enshrines a form of slavery in America’s foundational documents.

The resolution, spearheaded and supported by Democratic members of the House and Senate, would amend the 13th Amendment’s ban on chattel enslavement to expressly prohibit involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. As ratified, the original amendment has permitted exploitation of labor by convicted felons for over 155 years since the abolition of slavery.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

US tightens definition of service animals allowed on planes
The government has decided that when it comes to air travel, only dogs can be service animals, and companions used for emotional support don’t count.

The Transportation Department issued a final rule Wednesday that aims to settle years of tension between airlines and passengers who bring their pets on board for free by saying they need them for emotional support.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

UN: Warmer world in 2020 busted weather records, hurt people
An overheating world obliterated weather records in 2020, creating an extreme year for hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves, floods, droughts and ice melt, the United Nations’ weather agency reported Wednesday.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

China's space ambitions: Robot on Mars, a human on the moon
BEIJING (AP) — China’s landing of its third probe on the moon is part of an increasingly ambitious space program that has a robot rover en route to Mars, is developing a reusable space plane and is planning to put humans back on the lunar surface.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

China's space ambitions: Robot on Mars, a human on the moon
China’s landing of its third probe on the moon is part of an increasingly ambitious space program that has a robot rover en route to Mars, is developing a reusable space plane and is planning to put humans back on the lunar surface.

The Chang’e 5, the first effort to bring lunar rocks to Earth since the 1970s, collected samples on Wednesday, the Chinese space agency announced. The probe landed Tuesday on the Sea of Storms on the moon’s near side.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Police: Beaten bowling manager asked patrons to wear masks
GLEN BURNIE, Md. (AP) — The manager of a Maryland bowling alley was assaulted after he asked some patrons to wear face masks, police said.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Walmart drops $35 minimum for its members' online orders
NEW YORK (AP) — Shoppers on who pay a $98-a-year membership fee will get free shipping on orders of any size starting Friday.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Alaska man charged in the shooting deaths of family
An 18-year-old Alaska man just out of jail for assault has been charged with killing four members of his family, including two cousins ages 7 and 10, charging documents released Tuesday said.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Watchdog: US nuclear dump facing space, staffing challenges
The federal government’s only underground nuclear waste dump could run out of room if the number of drums shipped to the New Mexico site keeps expanding or if a new method for measuring the waste is unraveled as part of a pending legal challenge, according to a nonpartisan congressional watchdog.

The Government Accountability Office in a recent report said better planning is needed at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant to avoid potential disruptions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

President Trump files lawsuit in Wisconsin
President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Wisconsin seeking to disqualify more than 221,000 ballots in the state’s two most Democratic counties, a longshot attempt to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the battleground state he lost by nearly 20,700 votes.

Trump filed the day after Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and the chairwoman of the Wisconsin Elections Commission certified Biden as the winner of the state’s 10 Electoral College votes. Trump asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take the case directly, rather than have it start in a lower court, and order Evers to withdraw the certification.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

At tiny rural hospitals, weary doctors treat friends, family
MEMPHIS, Mo. (AP) — As Dr. Shane Wilson makes the rounds at the tiny, 25-bed hospital in rural northeastern Missouri, many of his movements are familiar in an age of coronavirus. Masks and gloves. Zippered plastic walls between hallways. Hand sanitizer as he enters and exits each room.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Study: Students falling behind in math during pandemic
A disproportionately large number of poor and minority students were not in schools for assessments this fall, complicating efforts to measure the pandemic’s effects on some of the most vulnerable students, a not-for-profit company that administers standardized testing said Tuesday.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Man arrested after boy forced out of car, killed by vehicle
FORT MITCHELL, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama soldier was charged with reckless murder after allegedly forcing his girlfriend’s unruly 5-year-old son to get out of a car at night along a road where the boy was hit and killed by another vehicle, authorities said.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Americans face new COVID-19 restrictions after Thanksgiving
Americans returning from Thanksgiving break faced strict new coronavirus measures around the country Monday as health officials brace for a disastrous worsening of the nationwide surge because of holiday gatherings over the long weekend.
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Biden to nominate Yellen to head treasury
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden on Monday announced his senior economic team, including his plans to nominate the first woman to head the Treasury Department as well as several liberal economists and policy specialists who established their credentials during the previous two Democratic administrations.
Monday, November 30, 2020

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