Lara Spencer reports the buzziest stories of the day in "GMA" Pop News.
Lara Spencer reports the buzziest stories of the day in "GMA" Pop News.
During a legislative hearing on Thursday, lawmakers expressed their outrage toward the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) after more than 4 million Texas customers were left without electricity and heat during a deadly cold snap this month. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the energy agency, which manages 90% of the state’s power grid, is responsible for the devastation that resulted from the blackout. “They downplayed the severity of it, at the same time telling me and the public that they were fully prepared for it,” Abbott said at the hearing.
President Joe Biden spoke to King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Thursday -- the two leaders' first call amid pressure on his new administration to change the U.S. relationship with the kingdom over its alleged human rights abuses. In particular, the Biden administration is set to release an unclassified report from the U.S. intelligence community on the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident who lived in Virginia. The report, whose release is required by law, is expected to implicate Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, King Salman's son and heir to the Saudi throne.
The House on Thursday passed the Equality Act, a top agenda item for President Joe Biden that would prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ Americans in a 224-206 vote. Three Republicans voted with all Democrats on the measure, which the House also passed two years ago but languished in the then-GOP-controlled Senate. In 2019, eight House Republicans supported the bill.
The United States conducted a military airstrike in eastern Syria along the border with Iraq targeting Iranian-backed militias in retaliation for a recent rocket strike in Erbil in northern Iraq that left several Americans injured, according to a U.S. official. The airstrike targeted structures in the eastern Syrian town of Al Bukamal that belong to Kataib Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed militias that have launched rocket attacks in the past against American facilities in Iraq, said the U.S. official. The airstrike was ordered by President Joe Biden in retaliation for a Feb. 15 rocket attack against a U.S. base in the northern Iraqi city of Erbil that killed a coalition contractor and left several American contractors and a U.S. military service member wounded.
The federal agency tasked with connecting unaccompanied children to relatives or sponsors in the U.S., is on the verge of maxing out its capacity to hold children before they are resettled, new government data shows. The Office for Refugee Resettlement, a division of Health and Human Services, has more beds than ever before in its history, but the coronavirus pandemic has cut the amount of usable space nearly in half. The use of temporary holding facilities was heavily criticized by Democrats and immigrant advocates just two years ago when a surge of migrant families caused similar capacity issues.
The number of reported sexual assaults and unwanted sexual contact at the three military academies went down last year according to an annual Pentagon report released on Thursday, but only because the coronavirus pandemic resulted in cadets and midshipmen being sent home for the fourth academic quarter of the 2019-2020 academic year. Sending the cadets and midshipmen home because of coronavirus safety restrictions also prevented Pentagon researchers from carrying out a large-scale anonymous survey undertaken every two years years that determines how prevalent sexual assaults are at the military academies.
Scientists are now studying a new "home-grown" COVID-19 variant that has been identified and is circulating in the New York City area. Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and at Columbia University published their separate findings this week, ahead of a formal scientific peer review process. While analyzing over 1,100 samples for mutations found in the South Africa and Brazil variants, Columbia researchers didn't detect high numbers of those specific variants.
A $1 billion class-action lawsuit has been filed against Texas wholesale electricity retailer Griddy Energy for allegedly charging exorbitant prices during last week's historic storm that left millions powerless in the freezing cold. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Chambers County resident Lisa Khoury in Harris County on Monday, who claimed her electricity bill soared to $9,340 the week of the storm.
The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday announced that communities receiving State Homeland Security Program and Urban Area Security Initiative grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be required to spend at least $77 million of those funds directly battling domestic violent extremism. The money will help "ensure we have the necessary capabilities to detect and protect against threats from DVE," Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement. "This approach will help raise the nation's security baseline and prioritize activities to combat DVE, including open source analysis of threats, execution of threat assessment programs, the development and sharing of intelligence across states and between states and the federal government, and the development of training and awareness programs."
With spring only a few weeks away, ColourPop Cosmetics has the perfect launch to help you transition into lighter days. The brand recently teamed up with Disney to release beautiful new makeup picks inspired by the classic film, "Bambi." Packaged in floral prints as well as vibrant purples, yellows and greens, the assortment includes 12 products.
Julia Tinetti, 31 and Cassandra Madison, 32, met in 2013 while employed at the Russian Lady Bar in New Haven. At some point, they learned that both had a tattoo of the flag of the Dominican Republic, and were born and adopted from the country. "After that moment, we were so tight," Tinetti told "Good Morning America."
Although the pace of the coronavirus vaccine rollout seems to be picking up across the country, many Americans have been left frustrated by their inability to secure an appointment. With limited vaccine supplies, and very high demand, state-run websites have been overwhelmed, even crashing at times, as millions attempted to log on at the same time. In Massachusetts, 50,000 new COVID-19 vaccination appointments that became available Thursday were "nearly filled" within 90 minutes of their release, the state reported.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken is making his first "trip" as the top U.S. diplomat, the State Department said, although he's not really going anywhere. With the Biden administration's coronavirus travel restrictions still in place, Blinken will hold meetings and attend cultural events with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts on Friday via video teleconference from Washington. "We have designed this trip to resemble as close as we can a physical trip and we're doing the best we can to fulfill our diplomatic mission and to further our relationships with our close North American partners, given the reality in which we currently live," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Thursday.
The acting Capitol Police chief on Thursday strongly denied that her department failed to heed intelligence reports ahead of the Jan. 6 attack warning of potential violence. In her opening statement to a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing investigating security failures, acting Chief Yogananda Pittman addressed new focus on questions about intelligence failures that have triggered finger-pointing over who was responsible, saying nothing warned of something so overwhelming. "The department was not ignorant of intelligence, indicating an attack of the size and scale we encountered on the 6th," Pittman said.
The plastic spud formerly known as Mr. Potato Head is going gender-neutral in a reintroduction. Hasbro announced Thursday that the company is officially dropping the "Mr." from the Mr. Potato Head brand name, to make sure "all feel welcome in the Potato Head world." "The new branding and logo bring a fresh look with a whimsical color palette and will introduce new product, including create your own potato head family, to appeal to the modern consumer," a spokesperson for the brand said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., accused Republicans on Thursday of watering down her proposal to form an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol by challenging the scope of the probe -- the latest indication that efforts to launch an independent inquiry could be delayed by partisanship. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday criticized Pelosi's initial discussion draft as "partisan by design" because it would give Democrats more appointees on the panel than Republicans -- a break from the 50-50 split of the 9/11 Commission lawmakers see as the model for their effort.
Illinois Rep. Marie Newman displayed a transgender pride flag outside her Capitol office in a dig against controversial Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, who made transphobic comments about her daughter. The two lawmakers have clashed over the Equality Act, a bill that the House of Representatives will vote on Thursday that seeks to ban discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Newman, a Democrat, choked on tears as she spoke on the House floor on Tuesday, saying the bill would offer protections for transgender people, including her daughter Evie.
Zoom said it will start providing live transcription services for free accounts in a bid to boost accessibility. Jen Hill, the company's product marketing manager, made the announcement in a blog post on Wednesday, saying the update that provides automatic closed captioning should be available to all users later this fall. In the meantime, meeting hosts who require live transcription services can request the feature ahead of time via an online form.
Getting protein from plant-based sources like beans and nuts instead of animal proteins like red meat and dairy is linked to fewer deaths related to dementia and heart disease, according to a new study. The women in the study who ate more protein from plant-based sources had an associated lower risk of deaths related to heart disease and dementia and a lower risk of all-cause mortality, or death from all causes, in comparison to women who ate more red meat, dairy and eggs. Why a plant-based diet could impact health factors like dementia and heart disease is the subject of two working theories in medical and nutritional science literature, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OB-GYN.
California became the first state to report 50,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The state's death toll now stands at 50,994. The grim milestone occurred after 806 additional deaths were reported in Los Angeles County on Wednesday, due to a backlog from the holidays, with most deaths occurring between Dec. 3, 2020 and Feb. 3, 2021, according to the Los Angeles County Public Heath Department.