By Scott Malone and Gina Cherelus BOSTON/NEW YORK (Reuters) - Street crews dug out snow-clogged roads across the U.S. Northeast on Friday after a powerful blizzard, as temperatures plunged during a brutal cold spell that has already killed at least 18 people. Extreme cold will reach from New England to the Midwest and down to the Carolinas, forecasters warned. Temperatures were expected to be 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit below average across the northeastern United States for the next several days. From Baltimore to Caribou, Maine, workers battled to clear snow and ice as wind chills were forecast to fall as low as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 40 degrees Celsius) in some areas after sundown, according to the National Weather Service. In the latest fatality blamed on the harsh conditions, a driver slid off an icy road, killing a pedestrian, early on Friday in North Charleston, South Carolina, city officials said. The 17-year-old driver was arrested on charges including going too fast for the conditions, they said. "THE DANGERS ARE REAL," the officials warned in a Twitter message. "Huge patches of ice all over the city. Stay at home." In much of New England on Friday, the highs reached only into the single digits or teens Fahrenheit, but wind chills made it feel below zero in many places. "It can be very dangerous," said Dan Pydynowski, a meteorologist with private forecasting service AccuWeather. "Any kind of exposed skin can freeze in a couple of minutes." There were noticeably fewer tourists on Friday afternoon in New York City's Times Square, which is usually thronged with visitors. Arjun Shah, a 22-year-old Briton, studies in Indiana but had never visited the U.S. East Coast. He flew in to New York City, where temperatures have been below freezing since Christmas Day, just 24 hours before the blizzard struck. "Oh it's so bad! It's not this bad in London," Shah said, shivering while taking a break from snapping photos of Times Square. FROZEN MONUMENTS In Washington, bundled-up tourists ventured onto the frozen Reflecting Pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial before being shooed away by a National Park Service ranger. The memorial, also normally busy with visitors, was mostly vacant with temperatures in the teens and bone-chilling winds that sent American flags whipping straight out from their poles. "I don't think I've felt this cold, ever," said Zoie Irwin, a 19-year-old student from San Francisco State University as she huddled with friends. At the nearby National World War II Memorial, Varun Solipuram, a 31-year-old native of Hyderabad, India, who studies in California, said he was taken aback by snow in the bright winter sun. "It's really beautiful," Solipuram said. The storm that swept in on Thursday with gusts of more than 70 miles per hour (113 km per hour), dumped 22 inches (56 cms) of snow in parts of Maine and 17 inches (43 cm) in parts of Massachusetts, before ending on Friday, the National Weather Service said. The storm was powered by a rapid drop in barometric pressure that some weather forecasters called a bombogenesis, or a "bomb cyclone." Cities from Houston to Boston have stepped up efforts to bring the homeless to shelters. Authorities said that three homeless people in Texas died from exposure to the cold. Canada's largest city, Toronto, scrambled to find emergency shelter for the homeless as temperatures dropped to record lows after the sweeping storm knocked out power to tens of thousands in eastern provinces and destroyed coastal roads. Numbing temperatures have also had some unusual effects: cold-shocked iguanas fell out of trees in Florida and wildlife officials in the state said they had rescued more than 200 stunned sea turtles from freezing waters. Schools in New York were open, while children in Boston and Baltimore enjoyed a second day of canceled classes. Schools in Newark, New Jersey, opened two hours later than usual. Commuters riding railways serving New York and Boston's suburbs endured extensive delays as crews worked to repair frozen equipment and clear snow-covered tracks. New York's John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia airports resumed flights on Friday after closing during whiteout conditions the day before. More than 1,500 flights at U.S. East Coast airports had been canceled by Friday evening, most at the New York area's three major airports and Boston Logan International Airport. Nearly 500 members of the National Guard were activated to assist with the emergency response along the East Coast, including 200 in New York state, authorities said. (Additonal reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Jonathan Allen and Scott DiSavino in New York, Colleen Jenkins in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Ian Simpson in Washington and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Toni Reinhold)
British finance minister Rishi Sunak will next week promise yet more spending to prop up the economy during what he hopes will be the last phase of lockdown, but he will also probably signal tax rises ahead to plug the huge hole in the public finances. Sunak, who is due to announce a new budget plan on March 3, has already racked up more than 280 billion pounds ($397 billion) in coronavirus spending and tax cuts, pushing Britain's borrowing to a peacetime record. Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to lift England's current lockdown entirely only in late June so Sunak is expected to rely heavily on the debt markets again.
- Associated Press
Italy on Wednesday pressed the United Nations for answers about the attack on a U.N. food aid convoy in Congo that left a young ambassador and his paramilitary police bodyguard dead. Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told lawmakers in Rome that Italy has asked both the U.N. and the U.N. World Food Program to open an investigation into the security arrangements for convoy, which was attacked two days earlier. The minister said Italy also will spare no effort to determine the truth behind the killing of Ambassador Luca Attanasio and Carabiniere paramilitary officer Vittorio Iacovacci.
- ABC News Videos
The CDC says 17% of adults in the U.S. have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. ABC’s Megan Tevrizian has the latest.
- KCRA - Sacramento Videos
It's Theme Park Food and Drink Week in Woodland, and downtown restaurants are teaming up to serve up some favorites to get customers to support them during the pandemic.
A Chinese couple paid $155,000 in fees to have 7 children in violation of the country's 2-child policy
China ended its one-child policy in 2015, but it's still struggling with declining birth rates and an aging population.
Christopher Cantwell, known as 'The Crying Nazi,' sentenced to 41 months in prison on extortion charges
Cantwell went viral after he posted a YouTube video of himself crying and pleading with police not to hurt him.
- The Guardian
Let’s be clear: whatever he may say, Biden absolutely has the power to unilaterally cancel all federal student debt Students activists at Washington University in St Louis pull a mock ball and chain representing student debt. Photograph: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images At his recent town hall, Joe Biden made a series of convoluted and condescending comments about American student debt. His remarks cast doubt on his ability, or willingness, to confront this country’s ballooning student loan crisis. Within hours, #cancelstudentdebt was trending on Twitter. Biden’s rambling justification of the status quo was peppered with straw men, invocations of false scarcity and non-solutions. He pitted working-class Americans against each other, implying that people who attend private schools aren’t worthy of relief, as though poor students don’t also attend such schools. He said that money would be better spent on early childhood education instead of debt cancellation, as if educators aren’t themselves drowning in student debt, and as if we can’t address both concerns at once. He suggested relying on parents or selling a home at a profit to settle your debt, a luxury those without intergenerational wealth or property cannot afford. And he touted various programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), that have totally failed borrowers: over 95% of PSLF applicants have been denied. In contrast to Biden’s smug comments, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley recently revealed that she defaulted on her student loans. Similarly, at a recent Debt Collective event, congressional hopeful Nina Turner said that she and her son owe a combined $100,000. Former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has, of course, proudly confessed to being in debt, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has said that becoming a congressperson was easier than paying off her debt. Philadelphia councilmember Kendra Brooks (who is planning to introduce a city resolution calling on the Biden administration to cancel all student debt) has also spoken out about her own struggles as a borrower. Their experience and candor – and commitment to real solutions including cancellation – demonstrate why we need debtors, not millionaires, in our public offices. Let’s be clear about another thing. Biden absolutely has the legal authority to use executive power to cancel all federal student debt. Congress granted this authority decades ago as part of the Higher Education Act. It’s even been put to the test: in response to the Covid pandemic, Donald Trump and his former education secretary, Betsy DeVos, used that authority three times to suspend payments and student loan interest. As he rambled on, Biden gave the distinct impression that he preferred not to have the power to do so. That way he could blame Congress should his campaign promises go unkept. (The day after the town hall, Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, attempted to clarify her boss’s remarks about whether he will use executive authority to cancel student debt. She stated that the administration was still considering the possibility.) Adding to the confusion, Biden seemed unable to keep his own campaign pledges straight, muddling his student debt cancellation proposals. For the record, he campaigned on two distinct planks. One: “immediate” cancellation of $10,000 for every borrower as a form of Covid relief. Two: the cancellation of all undergraduate student loans for debt-holders who attended public universities and HBCUs and who earn up to $125,000 a year. Keeping these two promises is the absolute minimum the Biden administration needs to do to keep the public’s trust. But the Biden administration should, and can, do much more. Biden should cancel all student debt using executive authority. It is the simplest way the new administration can help tens of millions of people who are being crushed by the double whammy of unpayable loans and an economy-destroying pandemic. Yet, to date, all the Biden administration has done for this country’s 45 million student debtors is extend Trump and DeVos’s federal student loan payment suspension. Continuing a flawed Republican policy is hardly a progressive victory – especially not for the 8 million FFEL borrowers who are unconscionably left out of the moratorium. Biden owes this country debt relief not only because he campaigned on it, but because he helped cause the problem. A former senator from Delaware, the credit card capital of the world, he spent decades carrying water for financial interests and expanding access to student loans while limiting borrower protections. Biden’s brand is empath-in-chief, but on student debt he is alarmingly out of touch Biden’s record shows that he won’t address the problem without being pushed. Indeed, the fact that the president has embraced debt cancellation at all (however inadequate his proposals) is testament to ongoing grassroots efforts. The Debt Collective, a group I organize with, has been pushing for student debt abolition and free public college for nearly a decade. On 21 January, we launched the Biden Jubilee 100 – 100 borrowers on debt strike demanding full cancellation within the administration’s first hundred days. A growing list of senators and congresspeople have signed on to resolutions calling on Biden to cancel $50,000 a borrower using executive authority. (It’s worth noting that the $50,000 figure is based on outdated research. After three years of rapidly rising debt loads, the scholars behind it now recommend $75,000 of cancellation.) A growing chorus of voices from across the country and a range of backgrounds are shouting in unison: cancel student debt. Biden’s brand is empath-in-chief, but on student debt he is alarmingly out of touch. The president has shared that his own children borrowed for college and noted that he was the “poorest man in Congress” – meaning the poorest man in a body of millionaires. He didn’t question the ease with which his well-connected kids got well-compensated jobs enabling them to repay their loans, nor mention that people his age were able to go to college without being burdened by a mountain of debt. All people want today is the same opportunity that Biden and his peers had. Instead of acknowledging this generational disparity, Biden reiterated a common criticism of more generous forms of student debt cancellation – that it would help the privileged, specifically the minuscule subset of debt-holders who attended the Ivy League. But as Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response: “Very wealthy people already have a student loan forgiveness program. It’s called their parents.” As things stand, poor and working people typically pay more for the same degrees than their affluent counterparts due to years or decades of monthly payments and accumulating interest. Our debt-financed higher education system is a tax on poor people who dare pursue a better life. Imagine if, instead of defending the status quo, Biden used his platform to articulate the social benefits of cancelling student debt. He could have said that cancelling student debt will support 45 million Americans and provide an estimated trillion-dollar economic boost over the next decade and create millions of desperately needed jobs. He could have spoken about canceling student debt as a way to help close the racial wealth gap, acknowledging that Black borrowers are the most burdened, or talked about how education should be free and accessible to all if we want to expand opportunity and deepen democracy. He could have acknowledged that cancellation will help struggling seniors, especially those having their social security checks garnished because of student loan defaults. He could have mentioned that debt cancellation is popular, even among many Republicans, and that eliminating it will help his party stay in power. He didn’t say any of that, and so we have to say it. Debtors have to get organized, connecting online and protesting in the streets. We live in a period of intersecting crises. Some of them are very difficult to solve. But cancelling student debt is easy. By refusing to act, the president and his administration are choosing to perpetuate a system that causes profound, pointless, and preventable harm. Astra Taylor is the author of Democracy May Not Exist, but We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone, and an organizer with the Debt Collective
- Business Insider
An ex-girlfriend tipped off the FBI about an alleged US Capitol rioter after he called her a 'moron'
Richard Michetti was arraigned Tuesday in Philadelphia over his alleged participation in the January 6 insurrection.
- Miami Herald
By April, millions of genetically modified mosquitoes could begin to be released in dozens of areas up and down the Florida Keys in an unconventional and controversial experiment to reduce or eliminate an invasive species of bug responsible for the transmittal of deadly diseases like zika, dengue fever and chikungunya.
- Business Insider
GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger called out Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene for hanging a sign declaring binary gender across the hall from a lawmaker with a trans daughter
Greene and Rep. Marie Newman were sparring over the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation.
- The Independent
The Democratic operative criticised the Senator’s daughter for receiving a pay increase as a CEO
Jill Biden assures Kelly Clarkson things will get better after her divorce: 'If I hadn't gotten divorced, I never would have met Joe'
In a new interview on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," first lady Jill Biden offered the singer advice about healing after divorce and finding love again.
- The Independent
Angry Democrat Gerry Connolly tells Trump ally he ‘will not be lectured’ by someone who tried to overturn election
Accusing Jim Jordan of ‘gaslighting,’ Gerry Connolly said ‘I didn’t vote to overturn an election and I will not be lectured by people who did about partisanship’
- The Daily Beast
Jim Watson./GettyLouis DeJoy had a defiant message on Wednesday for those craving to see him ousted as U.S. Postmaster General: “Get used to me.”The comment came after Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) asked the embattled U.S. Postal Service chief how long he would remain as Postmaster General—“long time,” DeJoy spat back—during a Wednesday hearing in the House Oversight Committee.That exchange was indicative of the entire proceeding, which was frequently chippy, combative, and fueled by Democratic lawmakers’ outrage over DeJoy’s handling of the USPS at a time of worsening mail delays and difficult questions about the service’s long-term viability.DeJoy’s crack to Cooper made Democrats’ blood boil even more. But he may have a point, at least for now: because the postmaster general is installed by the service’s board of governors—and not by the president—it means that President Joe Biden, or Congress, cannot fire DeJoy even if they wanted to.His removal would only be possible when Biden fills Democratic vacancies on the USPS Board of Governors, which has the authority to hire and fire postmasters general. Confirming those spots in the Senate will take time, though the Washington Post reported on Wednesday that Biden has identified three nominees to move forward.In the meantime, though, Democratic lawmakers are working with DeJoy on urgent legislation to reform the agency’s finances and employee pension burden, even while many publicly call for his resignation.To many Democrats, DeJoy’s performance on Wednesday on Capitol Hill may make that balancing act harder: they found much to dislike not only in what the postmaster general said, but how he said it.“I gotta say—I just don’t think the postmaster gets it,” said Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), a member of the Oversight Committee who questioned DeJoy on Wednesday about the agency’s delivery standards. “I think it’s time for him to go.”“I thought he approached a lot of our questions with that exact same attitude, which was one of sneering condescension,” Krishnamoorthi told The Daily Beast after the hearing, invoking DeJoy’s response to Cooper. “That’s not gonna fly, man. Not gonna fly.”Wednesday’s hearing was the second time in DeJoy’s short tenure that he has been subjected to a high-profile grilling in the House Oversight Committee. Shortly after taking the USPS’ top job in June 2020, delays and irregularities quickly began to mount—a particularly alarming development for lawmakers on the eve of an election in which more voters than ever planned to vote by mail.Biden to Nominate 3 New USPS Board Members, Opening Path to Oust DeJoyIn a contentious August 2020 hearing, Democrats interrogated the former logistics executive and GOP mega-donor on everything from cuts in overtime hours to the price of a stamp. Questioning from Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) produced a memorable DeJoy response: “I will submit that I know very little about postage and stamps.”By the time House Democrats called DeJoy back to Capitol Hill this week, their worst fears about the USPS delays’ impact on the voting system had failed to materialize. But they still had plenty of questions about DeJoy’s stewardship of the USPS: in October, the USPS inspector general issued a report finding that the changes DeJoy made to delivery schedules and protocol led to the worsening delays. Already battered by the pandemic, the USPS limped into a busy holiday season, and is now providing the poorest service that many longtime observers of the agency have ever seen.Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), a member of the Oversight panel, was a 29-year veteran of the USPS before she came to Congress. She told The Daily Beast after the hearing that she has never seen the service in such dire straits as it is now: “I don’t think we’ve ever confronted this,” she said.The unprecedented delays are happening around the country. In Washington, D.C., just 40 percent of all first-class mail arrived on time by the end of December 2020—compared to nearly 90 percent the same time the year before. Chicago residents are receiving holiday packages a month-and-a-half late. Lawmakers are inundated with calls and emails from frustrated constituents looking for answers; this week, 33 senators signed a letter to DeJoy asking him to explain the recent delays.DeJoy apologized for those delays at the top of Wednesday’s hearing. “We must acknowledge that during this peak season we fell far short of meeting our service goals,” he said. “I apologize to those customers who felt the impact of our delays"But Lawrence expressed concern about DeJoy’s forthcoming “strategic plan” to get the USPS through this difficult stretch. Though the postmaster general has not revealed specifics, he testified on Wednesday that he will propose cuts to delivery standards, including the standard that local mail be delivered within two days. Democrats believe that would be a disastrous move at a time when the USPS is struggling to compete with private-sector competitors, particularly if it is coupled with consumer cost increases, which DeJoy has suggested.“To say that’s what’s bold and needed… that’s not leadership,” said Lawrence. “He has to prove himself. He heard us loud and clear, that he needs to prove himself.”The Michigan Democrat stopped short of saying that DeJoy deserved removal, and told The Daily Beast that she and other Democrats are working with the USPS on postal reform legislation. On Wednesday, CNN reported that Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) was supportive of working with DeJoy to pass reforms.In the wake of the new political reality in Washington, the postmaster general has begun to attempt outreach to Democratic lawmakers. Lawrence said that during the last administration, DeJoy did not take her calls or respond to her—but after the 2020 election, they had a “cordial” call.Other Democrats see any charm offensive as too little, too late. Krishnamoorthi said he is supportive of working with whatever USPS leadership is in office in order to pass reforms, but argued that DeJoy should go as soon as is possible.Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA), a senior member of the Oversight Committee, issued a statement after DeJoy’s hearing hailing Biden’s nomination of three appointees to the USPS Board of Governors—and explicitly stated his hope they would remove DeJoy. “These nominations are an important first step toward reforming the Postal Service,” said Connolly. “My hope is the newly constituted Board will do the right thing and bring in a new, qualified Postmaster General.”A majority of the nine-member board would be required to support DeJoy’s removal. Currently, there are four Republican appointees, and two Democratic appointees. If all Biden’s choices are confirmed, Democrats would hold a majority on the board.The Republicans on the Oversight Committee had questions for DeJoy about mail delays, but largely cast him as a victim in an anti-Trump Democratic crusade. Rep. James Comer (R-KY), the top Republican on the panel, compared the party’s concerns about USPS delays—and Trump’s potential role in those delays—to the Trump impeachment investigation he said was predicated on “baseless conspiracies.”Far-right Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), meanwhile, suggested that the root cause of USPS delays was actually the Black Lives Matter protests that took place over the summer, and read articles from fringe outlets like the Gateway Pundit to prove his point. And Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA) raised the unfounded belief in widespread conspiracies about election fraud while saying it was not time to get into “specifics.”At one point, tempers flared when Connolly said that Republicans who voted to object to the Electoral College certification on Jan. 6 had “no right to lecture” anyone on the dangers of partisanship.Democrats left more concerned about the fate of the USPS, however, than the state of things in Congress. “It’s not some theoretical concept,” said Krishnamoorthi. “It’s not some abstract issue, it’s real for every single one of us… I’ve gotta tell you, people are starting to work around the mail, which is a scary concept.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- The Independent
Who is Heidi Cruz? The high-powered Goldman Sachs executive and wife to ‘disgraced’ Texas senator Ted Cruz
Heidi Cruz’s ‘high powered’ role on her husband’s campaign trail prompts comparisons with Hillary Clinton
- Business Insider
NASA just unveiled a high-def, 360-degree panorama of Mars from the Perseverance rover. It's made from 142 photos.
The Perseverance rover wasted no time snapping photos on Mars. NASA scientists stitched together 142 of them to create a high-definition panorama.
People are digging up past anecdotes from John Mayer's exes after he praised the 'Framing Britney Spears' documentary
He has been accused of manipulation and misogyny, with Jessica Simpson's memoir "Open Book" and Taylor Swift's song "Dear John" cited as examples.
- Business Insider
Amazon reportedly told workers to 'Vote NO' in a historic union election and to drop ballots in a USPS mailbox that recently appeared at their Alabama warehouse
Amazon workers told Vice they feel higher-ups directed them to mail ballots at the mailbox to "monitor us and gauge how many people are using" it.
- Yahoo News
Mitch McConnell: Nancy Pelosi's plan for investigating the Capitol attack is a 'bizarre partisan concept'
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’s concerned Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plan to establish a commission to probe the assault on the U.S. Capitol would be overly “partisan.”
- Business Insider
A preliminary study from Israel suggests people vaccinated against COVID-19 have lower viral loads, which are linked to less spread of the virus.