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home : news : national news free January 28, 2021

Most aggressive energy agenda of all
President Joe Biden is aiming to cut oil, gas and coal emissions and double energy production from offshore wind turbines through executive orders today.

The orders  target federal subsidies for oil and other fossil fuels and halt new oil and gas leases on federal lands and waters.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


Ponytails, polish ok for gals; beards still out for guys
Female soldiers can let their hair down, and flash a little nail color under new rules being approved by the Army. But male soldiers will still have to shave.

Army leaders announced Tuesday that they are loosening restrictions on various grooming and hairstyle rules, as service leaders try to address longstanding complaints, particularly from women. The changes, which also expand allowances for earrings and hair highlights and dyes, are particularly responsive to women of various ethnicities, and will allow greater flexibility for braids, twists, cornrows and other styles more natural for their hair.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Oceanic shark populations drop 71% since 1970
When marine biologist Stuart Sandin talks about sharks, it sounds like he’s describing Jedis of the ocean. “They are terrific predators, fast swimmers and they have amazing senses — they can detect any disturbance in the ocean from great distance,” such as smells or tiny changes in water currents.

Their ability to quickly sense anything outside the norm in their environment helps them find prey in the vastness of the open ocean. But it also makes them especially vulnerable in the face of increased international fishing pressure, as global fishing fleets have doubled since 1950.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Biden to reopen 'Obamacare' markets for COVID-19 relief
Fulfilling a campaign promise, President Joe Biden plans to reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special sign-up opportunity geared to people needing coverage in the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden is expected to sign an executive order Thursday, said two people familiar with the plan, whose details were still being finalized. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the pending order ahead of a formal announcement.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Buying homeowners insurance? Ask these questions
Purchasing insurance may not be as fun as choosing new furniture and paint colors, but it’s a critical part of the homebuying process. Your homeowners insurance policy is a financial safety net in case of a disaster, so you’ll want to ask a few important questions to make sure you have the coverage you need at a price you can afford.
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Edmunds: Mustang Mach-E vs. Tesla Model Y
The 2020 Tesla Model Y is an intriguing pick for an electric SUV. It has a relatively small footprint but provides cavernous passenger and cargo space. And with a current entry price of $43,190 including destination and handling fees, it’s also one the most affordable electric SUVs around.

But there’s a new rival aimed at taking on the Model Y: the all-new 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E. The Mach-E is priced competitively. It starts at $43,995 and, unlike Tesla, still qualifies for federal tax credits. But which EV is better? Edmunds’ experts tested both to find out.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Major winter storm drops foot of snow on Midwest
A major winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of the middle of the country while another system blanketed parts of the Southwest with snow, disrupting travel for a second consecutive day today and shuttering many schools.

There were closures of several coronavirus testing sites on Monday and Tuesday in Nebraska and Iowa, and both states saw 12 to 15 inches  of snow in places. At least 4 inches  of snow was expected through today across most of an area stretching from central Kansas northeast to Chicago and southern Michigan.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Trump impeachment goes to Senate, testing his sway
House Democrats delivered the impeachment case against Donald Trump to the Senate for the start of his historic trial, but Republican senators were easing off their criticism of the former president and shunning calls to convict him over the deadly siege at the U.S. Capitol.

It’s an early sign of Trump’s enduring sway over the party.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

First private space crew paying $55M each to fly into outer space
The first private space station crew was introduced today: Three men who are each paying $55 million to fly on a SpaceX rocket.

They’ll be led by a former NASA astronaut now working for Axiom Space, the Houston company that arranged the trip for next January.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Senate filibuster fight cools for now, battles ahead
Easing off a stalemate, the Senate moved forward today with a power-sharing agreement in the evenly-split chamber after Republican leader Mitch McConnell backed off his demand that Senate Democrats preserve the procedural tool known as the filibuster.

The stand-off between McConnell and new Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had all but ground the Senate to a halt in the early days of the Democratic majority and threatened President Joe Biden’s agenda. Schumer refused to meet McConnell’s demands.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Harriet Tubman may be headed to the face of a $20 bill again
With a change of administrations, it looks like Harriet Tubman is once again headed to the front of the $20 bill.

Biden press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put the 19th century abolitionist leader on the $20 bill.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

FBI has received 200,000+ photos and videos of rioters involved in Capitol seige
These suspects weren’t exactly in hiding.

“THIS IS ME,” one man posted on Instagram with a hand emoji pointing to himself in a picture of the violent mob descending on the U.S. Capitol. “Sooo we’ve stormed Capitol Hill lol,” one woman texted someone while inside the building. “I just wanted to incriminate myself a little lol,” another wrote on Facebook about a selfie he took inside during the Jan. 6 riot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

House sending Trump impeachment to Senate
As the House prepares to bring the impeachment charge against Donald Trump to the Senate for trial, a growing number of Republican senators say they are opposed to the proceeding, dimming the chances that former president will be convicted on the charge that he incited a siege of the U.S. Capitol.

House Democrats will carry the sole impeachment charge of “incitement of insurrection” across the Capitol late Monday evening, a rare and ceremonial walk to the Senate by the prosecutors who will argue their case. They are hoping that strong Republican denunciations of Trump after the Jan. 6 riot will translate into a conviction and a separate vote to bar Trump from holding office again.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Russian hack of US agencies exposed weaknesses
The elite Russian hackers who gained access to computer systems of federal agencies last year didn't need to painstakingly break one-by-one into the networks of each department in order to cause havoc.

Instead, they got inside by sneaking malicious code into a software update pushed out to thousands of government agencies and private companies.

That hackers were able to exploit vulnerabilities in the supply chain to launch a massive intelligence gathering operation wasn't especially surprising. U.S. officials and cybersecurity experts have sounded the alarm for years about a problem that has caused havoc, including billions of dollars in financial losses, while also defying easy solutions from the government and private sector.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Supreme Court ends Trump emoluments lawsuits
The Supreme Court on Monday brought an end to lawsuits over whether Donald Trump illegally profited off his presidency.

The justices threw out Trump’s challenge to lower court rulings that had allowed lawsuits to go forward alleging that he violated the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting payments from foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel and patronize other businesses owned by the former president and his family.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio won't seek reelection
Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, said Monday that he won’t seek reelection due in part to how it’s gotten “harder to break through the partisan gridlock and make progress,” and plans to end a career in federal government spanning more than three decades.

Portman’s announcement comes the same day the U.S. Senate is receiving the House impeachment article  against former Republican President Donald Trump. While some Republican senators have criticized going ahead with the trial next month with Trump out of office, Portman said last week he would listen to both sides before making a decision on how to vote.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Biden plans to sign order for government to buy more US goods
President Joe Biden plans to sign on Monday an executive order that aims to boost government purchases from U.S. manufacturers, according to administration officials.

The United States has shed roughly 540,000 factory jobs since last February as the coronavirus pandemic hurled the world’s largest economy into recession. The goal of the order would be to use the $600 billion the federal government spends on procurement to boost domestic factories and hiring, said officials who insisted on anonymity to discuss the forthcoming announcement.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Merck ends development of two potential COVID-19 vaccines
Merck is giving up on two potential COVID-19 vaccines following poor results in early-stage studies.

The drugmaker said Monday that it will focus instead on studying two possible treatments for the virus that also have yet to be approved by regulators. The company said its potential vaccines were well tolerated by patients, but they generated an inferior immune system response compared with other vaccines.

Monday, January 25, 2021

China's Xi calls for unity in fighting virus, climate change
Countries must cooperate more closely in fighting the challenges of the pandemic and climate change and in supporting a sustainable global economic recovery, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday in an address to the World Economic Forum.

“Humanity has only Earth and one future,” Xi said in remarks from Beijing to a virtual gathering that is taking place in lieu of the annual in-person meetings in Davos, Switzerland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Aloha shirts on 'boogaloos' link peace to violence
HONOLULU (AP) — People following a violent movement that promotes a second U.S. civil war or the breakdown of modern society have been showing up at recent protests across the nation armed and wearing tactical gear. But the anti-government “boogaloo” movement has adopted an unlikely public and online symbol: the so-called Hawaiian shirt.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Thousands arrested in Russian opposition protest
MOSCOW (AP) — Protests erupted in dozens of cities across Russia on Saturday to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin’s most prominent foe. Police arrested more than 2,100 people, some of whom took to the streets in temperatures as frigid as minus-50 Celsius (minus-58 Fahrenheit).
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Doctors seek review of vaccine gap
LONDON (AP) — A major British doctors’ group is says the U.K. government should “urgently review” it’s decision to give people a second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine up to 12 weeks after the first, rather than the shorter gap recommended by the manufacturer and the World Health Organization.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

When travel is safe again: Lotusland offers a meditative retreat
MONTECITO, Calif. (AP)  The botanical gardens at Lotusland, near Santa Barbara, California, offer a meditative retreat outdoors.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Tips to grow by:: For the sake of your plants, go easy on the salt
(AP) — Removing ice from roads and walkways in winter might be essential for safety, but salt can be damaging to plants and soil.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Dry January is moist for some at rocky start of 2021
NEW YORK (AP) — A raging pandemic, tumultuous presidential election and deadly Capitol insurrection have combined to make the annual tradition of Dry January more moist than air-tight for some.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Warm meals, cold times: Getting to know root veggies
(AP) — Root vegetables are pretty much what they sound like: vegetables that grow under the earth and must be dug up to be harvested. In cold weather, from late fall to early spring in temperate climates, root vegetables are pretty much all that’s seasonally available, other than some late-summer crops that are hardy enough to store.
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Insurers now covering food in some cases as a way to improve health
(AP) — When COVID-19 first swarmed the United States, one health insurer called some customers with a question: Do you have enough to eat?
Saturday, January 23, 2021

Taylorville native arranges music for inaugural
WASHINGTON, D. C. — Anyone who watched any part of the Inaugural festivities on Wednesday realizes there were thousands upon thousands of moving parts to pull off such a monumental task. This includes the music performed by the military bands which goes along with the pomp and circumstance.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Washington briefs: 1st Black Pentagon chief okayed
WASHINGTON (AP) — Lloyd J. Austin, a West Point graduate who rose to the Army’s elite ranks and marched through racial barriers in a 41-year career, won Senate confirmation Friday to become the nation’s first Black secretary of defense.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Existing home sales rise in 2020 to highest in 14 years
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sales of existing homes rose 0.7% in December, pushing the entirety of 2020 to a pace not seen in 14 years and providing one of the few bright spots for a U.S. economy mired in a global pandemic.
Friday, January 22, 2021

Amazon offers to assist with vaccine distribution
Amazon is offering its colossal operations network and advanced technologies to assist President Joe Biden in his vow to get 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations to Americans in his first 100 days in office.

“We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology, and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” wrote the CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer division, Dave Clark, in a letter  to Biden. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against COVID-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Day 2: 10 pandemic exec orders signed
Deep in the deadliest coronavirus wave and facing worrisome new mutations, President Joe Biden will kick off his  national COVID-19 strategy to ramp up vaccinations and testing, reopen schools and businesses and increase the use of masks — including a requirement that Americans mask up for travel.

Biden also will address inequities in hard-hit minority communities as he signs 10 pandemic-related executive orders today. Those orders are a first step, and specific details of many administration actions are still being spelled out.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Winning Powerball ticket sold in old coal mining town
The jackpot-winning Powerball ticket worth $731.1 million was sold in a struggling coal mining town whose biggest previous claim to fame was being the hometown of baseball legend Lefty Grove, the Maryland Lottery announced on Thursday.

Coney Market, a convenience store in the Allegany County town of Lonaconing, will receive a $100,000 bonus from the Maryland Lottery for selling the ticket to the fifth-largest lottery prize in U.S. history.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Keystone XL oil pipeline is halted as Biden decides to revoke the permit
Construction on the long disputed Keystone XL oil pipeline halted Wednesday as incoming U.S. President Joe Biden decided to revoke its permit.

Biden’s Day One plans included moving to revoke a presidential permit for the pipeline.

The premier of the oil-rich Canadian province of Alberta called it an “insult” and said the federal Canadian government should impose trade sanctions if it is not reversed.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Eli Lilly: Antibody drug can prevent COVID-19 illness in nursing homes
Drugmaker Eli Lilly said today its antibody drug can prevent COVID-19 illness in residents and staff of nursing homes and other long-term care locations.

It’s the first major study to show such a treatment may prevent illness in a group that has been devastated by the pandemic.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Some COVID mutations may dampen vaccine effectiveness
Scientists are reporting troubling signs that some recent mutations of the virus that causes COVID-19 may modestly curb the effectiveness of two current vaccines, although they stress that the shots still protect against the disease.

Researchers expressed concern Wednesday about the preliminary findings, in large part because they suggest that future mutations could undermine vaccines. The research tested coronaviruses from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, and was led by Rockefeller University in New York with scientists from the National Institutes of Health and elsewhere.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Patients with mild to moderate COVID symptoms get infusion treatment
Tim Yarnik, his wife and daughter were on their way to an outing in St. Louis and planned to visit his dad, who lives in Staunton, on the way there.

His dad, Art, who's 87 years old and lives alone, wasn't acting himself, and his forehead felt warm. They urged him to be tested for COVID-19. Two days later, he tested positive for the virus. His fever was 103 degrees. "We were frightened for him," Yarnik said.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Chicago teachers to vote on walkout over opening
The Chicago Teachers Union’s House of Delegates on Wednesday approved a resolution that would have its members stay out of the classroom until it reaches an agreement on health and safety protocols with the school district.

The resolution now goes to the union’s 25,000 members for a vote. If a majority approve the resolution by Saturday, teachers would stay at home Monday. However, they could continue to teach their students remotely.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Biden takes the helm as president
Joe Biden became the 46th president of the United States on Wednesday, declaring that “democracy has prevailed“ as he took the helm of a deeply divided nation and inherited a confluence of crises arguably greater than any faced by his predecessors.

Biden’s inauguration came at a time of national tumult and uncertainty. The chilly Washington morning was dotted with snow flurries, but the sun emerged just before Biden took the oath of office, the quadrennial ceremony persevering even though it was encircled by security forces evocative of a war zone and devoid of crowds because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The will of the people has been heard, and the will of the people has been heeded. We’ve learned again that democracy is precious and democracy is fragile. At this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,“ Biden said. “This is America’s day. This is democracy’s day. A day in history and hope, of renewal and resolve.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Indian village cheers for Harris during swearing-in
Residents of a tiny Indian village surrounded by rice paddies flocked to a Hindu temple, setting off firecrackers and praying and as they watched Kamala Harris, who has strong roots to the village, take her oath of office and become the U.S. vice president on Wednesday.

Groups of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti pants watched the inauguration live as reporters broadcast the villager’s celebrations to millions of Indians. The villagers chanted “Long live Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath.

Earlier, the villages adorned their temple with flowers, offering special prayers for Harris’ success. Her maternal grandfather was born in the village of Thulasendrapuram, about 350 kilometers (215 miles) from the southern coastal city of Chennai

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

His term at an end, Trump bids farewell to Washington, hints of comeback
His presidency over, Donald Trump said farewell to Washington today but also hinted about a comeback despite a legacy of chaos, tumult and bitter divisions in the country he led for four years.

“So just a goodbye. We love you,“ Trump told supporters at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland where he walked across a red carpet and boarded Air Force One to head to Florida. “We will be back in some form.”

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Trump pardons ex-strategist Steve Bannon and nearly 150 other people
President Donald Trump pardoned former chief strategist Steve Bannon in the final hours of his White House term as part of a flurry of clemency action that benefited more than 140 people, including rap performers, ex-members of Congress and other allies of him and his family.

The last-minute clemency, announced after midnight today, follows separate waves of pardons over the past month for Trump associates convicted in the FBI’s Russia investigation as well as for the father of his son-in-law.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

McConnell said Trump 'fed lies' to mob about Biden election
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell opened the Senate today saying the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol was “fed lies” by the president and others in the deadly riot to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election.

McConnell’s remarks are his most severe and public rebuke of outgoing President Donald Trump. The Republican leader vowed a “safe and successful” inauguration of Biden on Wednesday at the Capitol, which is under extremely tight security.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

COVID-19 mutations rise along with cases
The race against the virus that causes COVID-19 has taken a new turn: Mutations are rapidly popping up, and the longer it takes to vaccinate people, the more likely it is that a variant that can elude current tests, treatments and vaccines could emerge.

The coronavirus is becoming more genetically diverse, and health officials say the high rate of new cases is the main reason. Each new infection gives the virus a chance to mutate as it makes copies of itself, threatening to undo the progress made so far to control the pandemic.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Virus, economy top list of priorities
Containing the coronavirus outbreak and repairing the economic damage it has inflicted are the top priorities for Americans.

Overall, 53% of Americans name COVID-19 as one of the top five issues they want the government to tackle this year, and 68% mention in some way the economy, which is still reeling from the outbreak. In an open-ended question, those priorities far outpace others, like foreign affairs, immigration, climate change or racial inequality.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Biden: Transgender woman to serve
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Pennsylvania Health Secretary Rachel Levine to be his assistant secretary of health, leaving her poised to become the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Great Expectations: Biden has set the bar high for reform. Can he deliver?
Back when the election was tightening and just a week away, Joe Biden went big.

He flew to Warm Springs, the Georgia town whose thermal waters once brought Franklin Delano Roosevelt comfort from polio, and pledged a restitching of America’s economic and policy fabric unseen since FDR’s New Deal.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Study: In pandemic era, older adults isolated but still resilient
Since the pandemic’s descent, they have generally been viewed as among those at higher risk — older Americans, some of them medically vulnerable, figuring out how to navigate life in a COVID-saturated, increasingly isolated world.

That’s one type of health — physical. When it comes to mental and emotional health, older adults in the United States are showing resilience and persevering despite struggles with loneliness and isolation, the latest self-reported results in an ongoing study suggest.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Coronavirus deaths rising in 30 US states pushing toll toward 400,000
Coronavirus deaths are rising in nearly two-thirds of American states as a winter surge pushes the overall toll toward 400,000 amid warnings that a new, highly contagious variant is taking hold.

As Americans observed a national holiday today, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pleaded with federal authorities to curtail travel from countries where new variants are spreading.

Monday, January 18, 2021

WHO chief lambasts vaccine profits
The World Health Organization chief on Monday lambasted drugmakers’ profits and vaccine inequalities, saying it’s “not right” that younger, healthier adults in wealthy countries get vaccinated against COVID-19 before older people or health care workers in poorer countries and charging that most vaccine makers have targeted locations where “profits are highest.”

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus kicked off the WHO’s week-long executive board meeting — virtually from its headquarters in Geneva — by lamenting that one poor country received a mere 25 vaccine doses while over 39 million doses have been administered in nearly 50 richer nations.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Inauguration rehearsal evacuated after fire in homeless camp today
The U.S. Capitol complex temporarily locked down Monday during a rehearsal for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration after a fire in a homeless encampment about a mile away sent a plume of smoke into the air and caused security concerns.

But law enforcement officials said there was no threat to the public and the fire was not believed to be a threat to the inauguration. The evacuation of some participants and the lockdown were ordered by the acting chief of Capitol Police in an abundance of caution, officials said. District of Columbia firefighters responded and put out the fire.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Notable riot arrests, from horns to Baked Alaska
More than 125 people have been arrested so far on charges related to the violent insurrection  at the U.S. Capitol, where a Capitol police officer and four others were killed.

Charges from the Jan. 6 riot range from curfew violations to serious federal felonies related to theft and weapons possession.

From a man pictured kicking his feet up on a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to a far right-wing media personality known as “Baked Alaska” to the bare-chested guy sporting a furry hat with horns, here’s a list in alphabetical order of some of the more notable arrests and allegations made by authorities.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Some in far-right circles talk of a coming civil war following siege on Capitol
War-like imagery has begun spreading in far-right circles after the attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters, with some elected officials and party leaders rejecting pleas to tone down rhetoric calling for a second civil war.

In northwestern Wisconsin, the chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party was forced to resign Friday after refusing for a week after the siege to remove an online post urging followers to “prepare for war.” The incoming co-chair of the Michigan GOP and her husband, a state lawmaker, have joined a conservative social media site created after the Capitol riot where the possibility of civil war is a topic.

Monday, January 18, 2021

European powers press Iran to back off latest nuclear move
Germany, France and Britain pressed Iran on Saturday to back off the latest planned violation of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, saying that Tehran has “no credible civilian use” for uranium metal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday Iran had informed it that it had begun installing equipment for the production of uranium metal. It said Tehran maintains its plans to conduct research and development on uranium metal production are part of its “declared aim to design an improved type of fuel.”

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Biden: We'll 'manage the hell' out of feds' COVID response
President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to boost supplies of coronavirus vaccine and set up new vaccination sites to meet his goal of 100 million shots in 100 days. It's part of a broader COVID strategy that also seeks to straighten out snags in testing and ensure minority communities are not left out.

"Some wonder if we are reaching too far," Biden said Friday. "Let me be clear, I'm convinced we can get it done."

The real payoff, Biden said, will come from uniting the nation in a new effort grounded in science.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Biden adds many Obama veterans to team
President-elect Joe Biden on Saturday filled out his State Department team with a group of former career diplomats and veterans of the Obama administration, signaling his desire to return to a more traditional foreign policy after four years of uncertainty and unpredictability under President Donald Trump.
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Inauguration week prayer event aims to show Christian unity
As a politically divided nation prepares to inaugurate a new president in the wake of a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a group of Christian leaders is hoping to ease tensions through prayer during three days of ecumenical, nonpartisan programming.

Using the slogan and social media tag (hash)PeaceWithJustice, the effort aims to project spiritual unity and counter people’s feelings of helplessness with action, during a time of high alert with thousands of troops securing the capital following the Jan. 6 violence, which has led to about 120 arrests so far.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

NY prosecutors interview Michael Cohen about Trump finances
New York prosecutors conducted an hourslong interview Thursday of Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, asking a range of questions about Trump’s business dealings, according to three people familiar with the meeting.
Saturday, January 16, 2021

Bowl games look to future after weathering challenging year
Even after canceling the Tournament of Roses parade during the summer and scaling back the pregame festivities normally associated with the Rose Bowl, David Eads and his staff were still preparing for a College Football Playoff semifinal on New Year’s Day to be played at the picturesque stadium in Pasadena, California.

That was until the day before the CFP pairings were announced and the game was moved to Dallas due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

NRA declares bankruptcy, plans to incorporate in Texas
The National Rifle Association announced Friday it has filed for bankruptcy protection and will to incorporate the nation’s most politically influential gun-rights group in Texas instead of New York, where a state lawsuit is trying to put the organization out of business.

The announcement came months after New York’s attorney general sued the NRA, seeking its dissolution  over claims that top executives illegally diverted tens of millions of dollars for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts for associates and other questionable expenditures.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

China builds hospital in 5 days after surge in virus cases
China on Saturday finished building a 1,500-room hospital for COVID-19 patients to fight a surge in infections the government said are harder to contain and that it blamed on infected people or goods from abroad.

The hospital is one of six with a total of 6,500 rooms being built in Nangong, south of Beijing in Hebei province, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

China had largely contained the coronavirus that first was detected in the central city of Wuhan in late 2019 but has suffered a surge of cases since December.

Saturday, 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







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