Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) with a dunk vs the Los Angeles Lakers, 01/23/2021
Zach LaVine (Chicago Bulls) with a dunk vs the Los Angeles Lakers, 01/23/2021
It also highlighted the massive sparkler on her left hand.
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden ran for the White House as an apostle of bipartisanship, but the bitter fight over the $1.9 trillion pandemic measure that squeaked through the Senate Saturday made clear that the differences between the two warring parties were too wide to be bridged by Biden’s good intentions. Not a single Republican in Congress voted for the rescue package now headed for final approval in the House and a signature from Biden, as they angrily denounced the legislation and the way in which it was assembled. Other marquee Democratic measures to protect and expand voting rights, tackle police bias and misconduct and more are also drawing scant to zero Republican backing. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times The supposed honeymoon period of a new president would typically provide a moment for lawmakers to come together, particularly as the nation enters its second year of a crushing health and economic crisis. Instead, the tense showdown over the stimulus legislation showed that lawmakers were pulling apart, and poised for more ugly clashes ahead. Biden, a six-term veteran of the Senate, had trumpeted his deep Capitol Hill experience as one of his top selling points, telling voters that he was the singular man able to unite the fractious Congress and even come to terms with his old bargaining partner, Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader. But congressional Democrats, highly familiar with McConnell’s tactics, held no such illusions. Now, they worry that voters would punish them more harshly in the 2022 midterm elections for failing to take advantage of their power to enact sweeping policy changes than for failing to work with Republicans and strike bipartisan deals. Congressional Democrats want far more than Republicans are willing to accept. Anticipating the Republican recalcitrance to come, Democrats are increasingly coalescing around the idea of weakening or destroying the filibuster to deny Republicans their best weapon for thwarting the Democratic agenda. Democrats believe their control of the House, Senate and White House entitles them to push for all they can get, not settle for less out of a sense of obligation to an outdated concept of bipartisanship that does not reflect the reality of today’s polarized politics. “Looking at the behavior of the Republican Party here in Washington, it’s fair to conclude that it is going to be very difficult, particularly the way leadership has positioned itself, to get meaningful cooperation from that side of the aisle on things that matter,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md. But the internal Democratic disagreement that stalled passage of the stimulus bill for hours late into Friday night illustrated both the precariousness of the thinnest possible Democratic majority and the hurdles to eliminating the filibuster, a step that can happen only if moderates now deeply opposed agree to do so. It also showed that, even if the 60-vote threshold to break a filibuster were wiped away, there would be no guarantee that Democrats could push their priorities through the 50-50 Senate, since one breakaway member can bring down an entire bill. Republicans accused Democrats of abandoning any pretext of bipartisanship to advance a far-left agenda and jam through a liberal wish list disguised as a coronavirus rescue bill, stuffed with hundreds of billions of extraneous dollars as the pandemic is beginning to ebb. They noted that when they were in charge of the Senate and President Donald Trump was in office, they were able to deliver a series of costly coronavirus relief bills negotiated between the two parties. “It is really unfortunate that at a time when a president who came into office suggesting that he wanted to work with Republicans and create solutions in a bipartisan way and try to bring the country together and unify, the first the thing out of the gate is a piece of legislation that simply is done with one-party rule,” said Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican. At their private lunch recently, Republican senators were handed a card emblazoned with a quotation from Ron Klain, the White House chief of staff, calling the coronavirus bill the “most progressive domestic legislation in a generation,” a phrase that party strategists quickly began featuring in a video taking aim at the stimulus measure. The comment was a point of pride for liberal Democrats, but probably not the best argument to win over Republicans. “I don’t understand the approach the White House has taken. I really don’t,” said Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, a leader of a group of 10 Republicans who had initially tried to strike a deal with the White House but offered about one-third of what Biden proposed. “There is a compromise to be had here.” Yet even as Biden hosted Republicans at the White House and engaged them in a series of discussions that were much more amiable than any during the Trump era, neither he nor Democratic congressional leaders made a real effort to find a middle ground, having concluded early on that Republicans were far too reluctant to spend what was needed to tackle the crisis. Democrats worried that if they did not move quickly, negotiations would drag on only to collapse and leave them with nothing to show for their efforts to get control over the pandemic and bolster the economic recovery. They wanted to go big and not wait. “We are not — we are not — going to be timid in the face of big challenges,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the majority leader. “We are not going to delay when urgent action is called for.” While McConnell lost legislatively, he did manage to hold Republicans together when there was an appetite among some to cut a deal. He learned in 2009, when President Barack Obama took office at the start of the Great Recession, that by keeping his Republican forces united against Democrats, he could undermine a popular new Democratic president and paint any legislative victories as tainted by partisanship, scoring political points before the next election. The same playbook seems to be open for 2021. As they maneuvered the relief measure through Congress using special budget procedures that protected it from a filibuster, Democrats were also resurrecting several major policy proposals from the last session that went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Senate. Foremost among them was a sweeping voting rights measure intended to offset efforts by Republicans in states across the country to impose new voting requirements and a policing bill that seeks to ban tactics blamed in unnecessary deaths. House Republicans opposed both en masse and the outlook for winning the minimum 10 required Republican votes in the Senate is bleak. In the coming weeks, House Democrats plan to pass more uncompromising bills, including measures to strengthen gun safety and protect union rights — two pursuits abhorred by Republicans. Democrats fully recognize the measures will run into a Republican stone wall, but that is the point. In getting Republicans on the record against what Democrats see as broadly popular measures, they are hoping to drive home the idea that, despite their party’s control of Congress and the White House, they cannot move forward on the major issues of the moment with the filibuster in place. They want voters to respond. “We can’t magically make the Republicans be for what the people are for,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat. “The people are overwhelmingly for the agenda we are passing, and democracy works, so if the people want these bills to pass, they will either demand that we do away with the filibuster or demand that some Republican senators who refuse to do what the people want leave office.” Frustrated at their inability to halt the pandemic measure, Republicans lashed out at Democrats and the president. “They are doing it because they can,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, the top Republican on the Budget Committee, who said Biden’s pledges on fostering unity now rang hollow. “This is an opportunity to spend money on things not related to COVID because they have the power do so.” Democrats would agree — they are using their substantial leverage to reach far beyond what Republicans can support, and say they are justified in doing so. “Let’s face it,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “We need to get this done. It would be so much better if we could in a bipartisan way, but we need to get it done.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
A new market rally attempt has begun, but don't rush in or assume old winners like Tesla will lead. The Senate passed the Biden stimulus plan.
A sprawling camp in the Mexican city of Matamoros, within sight of the Texan border, has since 2019 been one of the most powerful reminders of the human toll of former President Donald Trump's efforts to keep migrants out of the United States. The camp has dwindled to just a few dozen in residents in recent days, after hundreds of asylum seekers living there were finally allowed to cross the border to press their claim to stay in the United States. President Joe Biden last month rolled back the program - known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) - that had forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico.
When Gov. Andrew Cuomo came under fire just a few weeks ago over his handling of nursing home deaths in the pandemic, he and his top advisers followed their usual playbook to stem the fallout: They worked the phones, pressing his case in private calls to legislators and other New York Democrats. Then came a crisis that Cuomo’s signature blend of threats, flattery and browbeating could not mitigate. And he seemed to know it. As three women stepped forward with claims of sexual harassment and other unwanted advances by Cuomo, the most visible governor in America effectively went dark. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times After one of the women detailed her accusations against the governor in a Medium post, state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat, decided that she would come out with a statement calling for an independent investigation — an implicit rebuke of Cuomo. She reached out to the governor’s team to alert them, aware of the typical angry response. No call came, she said. “None of my colleagues have said they have heard from the governor on this,” Krueger said of the harassment accusations. At the greatest moment of political peril for Cuomo in his decade in power, interviews with nearly two dozen Democratic lawmakers, strategists and Albany veterans paint a portrait of a governor who is increasingly isolated. Cuomo faces a federal inquiry into his administration’s handling of nursing home deaths during the pandemic and an independent investigation into the harassment allegations, making his political path forward more challenging by the day. On Friday, the state Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, passed legislation to significantly curtail Cuomo’s vast emergency powers. When the governor appeared to suggest that he had played a role in the bill’s formulation, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — not prone to criticizing Cuomo — immediately shot that down, pointedly saying in a statement that “we did not negotiate this bill with the governor.” Other lawmakers on Friday escalated their calls to reprimand the governor, demanding investigations, impeachment proceedings and even resignations, after The New York Times reported that his administration had rewritten a report to obscure the full extent of nursing home deaths. “If true, everyone involved in lying to the public and to the Legislature must resign immediately,” said state Sen. Rachel May, a Democrat from Syracuse. “And that includes the governor.” It is an extraordinary turnaround for the man who was former President Donald Trump’s most prominent foil in the early months of the pandemic and whose power in New York appeared nearly unassailable as 2021 began. Some people who have spoken to Cuomo in recent days have described him as shaken by the speed with which the political fallout arrived, with dueling scandals and reports of his bullying behavior all converging, very publicly, at once. Others have questioned whether he grasped the gravity of his circumstances. But the rapidly unfurling crises, they said, have been especially challenging for a governor who has always sought to be in control. Now he is at the whims of often-fickle public opinion, fuming legislators and investigations. Amid mounting scrutiny and nine days without a news conference, Cuomo picked Wednesday to emerge, one week after Lindsey Boylan, one of two former aides to speak out, detailed her accusations — which the governor has strenuously denied. His appearance followed strategy sessions with a small circle of trusted loyalists at the governor’s mansion, amid internal deliberations about both the substance of his remarks and how to manage the delivery and tone on a sensitive subject, according to people who have been in touch with the team. Longtime advisers and allies have helped the governor navigate the series of crises. They include two former top aides, Steven Cohen, the former secretary to the governor, and William Mulrow, another former secretary to the governor who now works at the private equity firm Blackstone; Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide; Cuomo’s pollster, Jefrey Pollock; and Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor. The result Wednesday was an uncharacteristically rattled chief executive who delivered an emotional apology for his conduct but insisted that he had never “touched anyone inappropriately” and that he did not intend to resign. “Palace intrigue aside, there’s a job to be done, and New Yorkers elected the governor to do it,” a spokesperson for the governor, Richard Azzopardi, said in a statement. “Which is why he has been focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible, making sure New York is getting its fair share in Washington’s COVID relief package and working on a state budget that is due in three weeks.” People who have been in touch with Cuomo’s team described some staff members — in particular, younger ones — as demoralized and exhausted as a series of controversies play out on top of a year of navigating COVID-19 in an exceptionally demanding environment. Several staff members have departed his office in recent days, citing a variety of reasons. Among those who have left are Gareth Rhodes, who served as a member of the state coronavirus task force and was a frequent guest star during Cuomo’s news briefings, and members of his press team. As the Legislature heads into high-stakes budget negotiations, even Cuomo’s traditional allies acknowledge that his influence has taken a hit. “It’s made his job more difficult,” said Jay Jacobs, the New York State Democratic Party chair, who said he had spoken with Cuomo on Thursday. “When you’re under this kind of pressure, that’s going to influence the amount of, the degree of, your political strength.” Jacobs seems to be the relatively rare political figure who has discussed the accusations with Cuomo directly. As the allegations unfolded, Cuomo’s team denied wrongdoing and issued statements, but a number of leading lawmakers in Albany and Washington did not hear from the governor on the matter. Donors, some of whom embrace Cuomo as a moderating force in the party, began to worry about his future. And a person close to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul described an uptick in outreach to her office from political figures around the state — an unmistakable sign of uncertainty around Cuomo. At least for now, many Democratic voters appear to see the dynamics concerning the governor differently, a reminder that the political impact of the controversies is fluid and unpredictable. A Quinnipiac University poll out Thursday showed that Democrats overwhelmingly did not believe that he should resign, and half of those Democrats surveyed supported his running for reelection next year. But if Democratic voters are reserving some judgment on Cuomo, he has faced a staggering backlash from politicians in his party, many of whom have traditionally been reluctant to publicly challenge him — in some cases, for fear of retribution. Overlaying all of the turmoil is a sense of great uncertainty around whether additional women will raise allegations. “Any further people coming forward, I would think it would be time for him to resign,” the state Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said on Spectrum News’ “Capital Tonight” Thursday. Indeed, the public outcry and the dearth of vocal defenders illustrate both the complexities of the problems Cuomo faces and how little he has invested in building mutually respectful relationships in politics. As with other New York politicians in times of extreme crisis, it is a dynamic that is haunting him now. “The governor is in trouble because he’s a very tough guy and there are many people who don’t like him,” said George Arzt, a veteran New York political consultant who has known Cuomo for years. “He doesn’t have that reservoir of friends and good feeling to sort of push back. At this point, you don’t see many surrogates out there, and that’s a problem.” Asked to point a reporter to surrogates for the governor, spokespeople for Cuomo did not respond. In interviews over the past week, observers of Cuomo discussed political comparisons to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned abruptly after revelations of his involvement with a prostitution ring. In both cases, critics saw the men as domineering personalities who made enemies in political circles — leaving few people willing to go to bat for them when scandal hit. “Spitzer at one point thought that he could fight it, and that was quickly given up when he realized that his allies were not saying a word,” Arzt recalled. Certainly, he suggested, Cuomo “has his own inner circle that is still ready to go to war with him” — not to mention a long list of accomplishments in office and, Arzt said, “tremendous skill as a tactician.” “I do believe if anyone can get out of this, he can,” Arzt said, “if no other shoe drops.” And as Hank Sheinkopf, another longtime Democratic strategist, put it, “Eliot Spitzer had no friends. Andrew Cuomo has some friends.” This week, Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference, said of Cuomo that it was “ridiculous to ask him to resign.” And while few prominent New York politicians have rushed to defend him, many have also held their fire regarding the question of resignation, deferring first to the independent investigation. For now, Cuomo continues to occupy a prominent space on the national stage. As the chair of the National Governors Association, he kicked off a meeting with President Joe Biden and other governors during the last week of February. Cuomo and Biden have had a strong political alliance in the past, but the two have not otherwise spoken since the harassment allegations broke, a Biden adviser said. The White House has indicated that it supports the independent investigation of the accusations of harassment against the governor. “When the investigation concludes, Democrats, I believe, will coalesce around doing the right thing,” Jacobs said. “We have to let the chips fall where they may, but I don’t see the value in a rush to judgment. I only see the potential cost.” In the meantime, Cuomo’s allies have quietly conducted outreach to figures including the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader. “I feel that a woman’s statements have to be taken seriously but that he deserves a full, fair investigation,” Sharpton said. “So I’m not calling, as of yet, for his resignation. But I’m also not attacking the women.” The question for Cuomo is whether Democratic leaders are willing to wait for that investigation to play out or if other developments force a reassessment of their posture before that happens. There are also many people in New York politics who have accumulated a list of grievances toward Cuomo that span decades. Some of them may relish the chance to break from him if they sense enough weakness — as they did with one of his predecessors. “I distinctly remember with Spitzer, watching it all go down and saying at the time to myself, if he just had a few more friends who were willing to stand by him, I bet he could get past this,” Krueger said. “But it was all really rapid, and there wasn’t anybody coming forward.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Eight police officers were injured in total as partygoers grew aggressive when they tried to shut down the event in south London.
The return of budget airline Flybe could be in the balance after the resignation of a hedge fund manager who was driving the revival of the collapsed airline.
‘Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have it counted,’ Biden was set to say at Sunday's Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast.
SAVANNAH, Ga. — Sundays are always special at the St. Philip Monumental AME church. But in October, the pews are often more packed, the sermon a bit more urgent and the congregation more animated, and eager for what will follow: piling into church vans and buses — though some prefer to walk — and heading to the polls. Voting after Sunday church services, known colloquially as “souls to the polls,” is a tradition in Black communities across the country, and Pastor Bernard Clarke, a minister since 1991, has marshaled the effort at St. Philip for five years. His sermons on those Sundays, he said, deliver a message of fellowship, responsibility and reverence. “It is an opportunity for us to show our voting rights privilege as well as to fulfill what we know that people have died for, and people have fought for,” Clarke said. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times Now, Georgia Republicans are proposing new restrictions on weekend voting that could severely curtail one of the Black church’s central roles in civic engagement and elections. Stung by losses in the presidential race and two Senate contests, the state party is moving quickly to push through these limits and a raft of other measures aimed directly at suppressing the Black turnout that helped Democrats prevail in the critical battleground state. “The only reason you have these bills is because they lost,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who oversees all 534 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia. “What makes it even more troubling than that is there is no other way you can describe this other than racism, and we just need to call it what it is.’’ The push for new restrictions in Georgia comes amid a national effort by Republican-controlled state legislatures to impose harsh restrictions on voting access, in states like Iowa, Arizona and Texas. But the targeting of Sunday voting in new bills that are moving through Georgia’s Legislature has stirred the most passionate reaction, with critics saying it recalls some of the racist voting laws from the state’s past. “I can remember the first time I went to register,” said Diana Harvey Johnson, 74, a former state senator who lives in Savannah. “I went to the courthouse by myself and there was actually a Mason jar sitting on top of the counter. And the woman there asked me how many butterbeans were in that jar,” suggesting that she needed to guess correctly in order to be allowed to register. “I had a better chance of winning the Georgia lottery than guess how many butterbeans,” Harvey Johnson continued. “But the fact that those kinds of disrespects and demoralizing and dehumanizing practices — poll taxes, lynchings, burning crosses and burning down houses and firing people and putting people in jail, just to keep them from voting — that is not that far away in history. But it looks like some people want to revisit that. And that is absolutely unacceptable.” The bill that passed the House would limit voting to at most one Sunday in October, but even that would be up to the discretion of the local registrar. It would also severely cut early voting hours in total, limit voting by mail and greatly restrict the use of drop boxes — all measures that activists say would disproportionately affect Black voters. A similar bill is awaiting a vote in the Senate. Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has indicated he supports new laws to “secure the vote” but has not committed to all of the restrictions. Voting rights advocates say there is deep hypocrisy embedded in some of the new proposals. It was Georgia Republicans, they point out, who championed mail balloting in the early 2000s and automatic voting registration just five years ago, only to say they need to be limited now that more Black voters have embraced them. Georgia was one of nine mostly Southern states and scores of counties and municipalities — including the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan — whose records of racist voter suppression required them to get federal clearance for changes to their election rules. The requirement fell under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the civil rights era law that curtailed the disenfranchisement of Blacks in the South. The changes Republicans are now pursuing would have faced stiff federal review and possible blockage under the part of the act known as Section 5. But the Supreme Court, with a conservative majority, effectively gutted that section in a 2013 ruling. Even after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, churches played a key role in civic engagement, often organizing nonpartisan political action committees during the 1970s and ’80s that provided, among other resources, trips to vote on Sunday where it was permitted. The phrase “souls to the polls” took root in Florida in the 1990s, according to David D. Daniels III, a professor of church history at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Raphael Warnock, one of the Democrats who won a special Senate race in January, is himself the pastor of the storied Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Historically, churches provided Black congregants more than just transportation or logistical help. Voting as a congregation also offered a form of haven from the intimidation and violence that often awaited Black voters at the polls. “That was one of the things that my father said, that once Black people got the right to vote, they would all go together because they knew that there was going to be a problem,” said Robert Evans, 59, a member of St. Phillip Monumental. “Bringing them all together made them feel more comfortable to actually go and do the civic duty.” In Georgia, the role of the AME church in civic engagement has been growing under the guidance of Jackson. Last year he began Operation Voter Turnout, seeking to expand the ways that AME churches could prepare their members to participate in elections. The operation focused on voter education, registration drives, assistance with absentee ballots and a coordinated Sunday voting operation. It had an impact in last November’s election, even amid the coronavirus pandemic: According to the Center for New Data, a nonprofit research group, African Americans voted at a higher rate on weekends than voters identifying as white in 107 of the state’s 159 counties. Internal numbers from Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group, found that Black voters made up roughly 37% of those who voted early on Sunday in Georgia, while the Black population of Georgia is about 32%. State Rep. Barry Fleming, a Republican and chief sponsor of the House bill, did not respond to requests for comment, nor did three other Republican sponsors. In introducing the bill, Republicans in the Legislature portrayed the new restrictions as efforts to “secure the vote” and “restore confidence” in the electoral process, but offered no rationale beyond that and no credible evidence that it was flawed. (Georgia’s election was pronounced secure by Republican electoral officials and reaffirmed by multiple audits and court decisions.) Limiting Sunday voting would affect Black voters beyond losing the assistance of the church. It would inevitably lead to longer lines during the week, especially in the Black community, which has historically been underserved on Election Day. The bill would also ban what is known as “line warming,” the practice of having volunteers provide water, snacks, chairs and other assistance to voters in line. Latoya Brannen, 43, worked with members of the church and a nonprofit group called 9 to 5 to hand out snacks and personal protective equipment in November. “We’ve learned that giving people just those small items helps keep them in line,” Brannen said. She said she had occasionally handed out bubbles to parents who brought young children with them. If Sunday voting is limited, it could induce more Black Georgians to vote by mail. During the pandemic, churches played an instrumental role in helping African Americans navigate the absentee ballot system, which they had not traditionally used in the same proportion as white voters. At Greater Gaines Chapel AME, a church about a half-mile from St. Philip Monumental, Israel Small spent most of last fall helping church members with the absentee process. “We took people to drop boxes to help make sure it would be counted,” said Small, 79. He said he was angered to learn this winter that Republicans were moving to restrict mail voting, too. Among the changes Republican state legislators have proposed is a requirement that voters provide proof of their identification — their license numbers or copies of official ID cards — with their absentee ballot applications. That signals a shift for Republicans, who have long controlled the Statehouse; in 2005 they passed a similar proposal, but for in-person voting. That measure included a new “anti-fraud” requirement that voters present one of a limited set of government-issued identification cards, like a driver’s license, at voting stations. The restrictions affected Black voters disproportionately, data showed. At the same time, state Republicans were moving to ease the process of absentee voting — predominantly used by white voters then — by stripping requirements that absentee voters provide an excuse for why they couldn’t vote in person and exempting them from the new photo-identification requirement. Justice Department lawyers reviewed the proposals under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and found that the new ID law would likely make voting disproportionately harder for Black citizens. The attorneys recommended that the George W. Bush administration block it. In a memo that the department’s political leadership ultimately disregarded, staff lawyers noted that a sponsor of the legislation had told them that she believed Black voters were likely to vote only when they were paid to do so, and that if the new law reduced their voting share it was only because it would limit opportunities for fraud. The memo also stated that the law’s sponsors defended the more lenient treatment of mail voting — like its exemption from the ID provision — by arguing that it was more secure than in-person voting because it produced a paper trail. Now, after an election year in which former President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely disparaged mail voting as rife with fraud, state Republicans are arguing that mail-in voting needs more restrictions. There is no new evidence supporting that assertion. But one thing did change in 2020: the increase in Black voters who availed themselves of absentee balloting, helping Democrats to dominate the mail-in ballot results during the presidential election. “It’s just really a sad day,” Small, from the Greater Gaines church, said. “It’s a very challenging time for all of us, just for the inalienable right to vote that we fought so hard for, and right now, they’re trying to turn back the clock to try to make sure it’s difficult,” he said. Clarke of St. Philip Monumental said the Republican effort to impose more restrictions could backfire, energizing an already active electorate. “Donald Trump woke us up,” he said. “There are more people in the congregation that are more aware and alert and have a heightened awareness to politics. So while we know that and we believe that his intentions were ill, we can honestly say that he has woken us up. That we will never be the same.” This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
Pope Francis was wrapping up his visit to Iraq on Sunday, drawing thousands to a rebuilt churches, squares and an open-air sports venue.
What happened Shares of Norwegian Cruise (NYSE: NCLH) surged 30.5% in February, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The cruise company's stock is trading at a one-year high but is still around 50% below its pre-pandemic level of around $58 back in January last year.
Republican state lawmakers are pushing for social media giants to face costly lawsuits for policing content on their websites, taking aim at a federal law that prevents internet companies from being sued for removing posts. GOP politicians in roughly two dozen states have introduced bills that would allow for civil lawsuits against platforms for what they call the “censorship” of posts. The federal liability shield has long been a target of former President Donald Trump and other Republicans, whose complaints about Silicon Valley stifling conservative viewpoints were amplified when the companies cracked down on misleading posts about the 2020 election.
Organizers and residents opposed metal shredder from operating in a Latino neighborhood already overburdened by pollution Climate activists stage a die-in near Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s home to protest a metal recycling plant on the Southeast Side on Thursday. Photograph: Dominic Gwinn/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock On the 30th and last day of their hunger strike, activists from Chicago’s Southeast Side held a vigil. Mourning the health of the hunger strikers who’ve gone without food for a month, demonstrators clad in funeral attire carried a fake casket on Thursday through Logan Square, the North Side neighborhood where Mayor Lori Lightfoot lives. Southeast Side organizers and residents are demanding the city stop a metal shredder from operating in a Latino neighborhood already overburdened by pollution. “In order to continue, we’re going to give our body nutrients. We’re going to go back to eating, and we’re going to continue the fight. But we’re not going to do it alone,” said Yesenia Chavez, organizer with United Neighbors of the 10th Ward. Chavez is among eight others who joined the hunger strike after 4 February, when three organizers announced they would go as long as it takes to stop Southside Recycling from operating. Chavez said she experienced severe weight loss, headaches, muscle pains, and anxiety attacks during her 25 days not eating solid foods. Lightfoot has come under fire for aiding the owners of General Iron, a controversial metal scrapper in an affluent white neighborhood, in closing the facility last year - and then allowing the business to construct a new metal recycling plant in a low-income Black and brown community across town. The mayor wrote a letter on 23 February acknowledging the hunger strike and the environmental racism the East Side neighborhood faces, but stopped short of denying the final permit needed for Southside Recycling to operate. Hunger strikers called the letter “insulting” in their own statement. Thursday’s rally drew more than 200 people from across the city. It started at a church outside Lightfoot’s block, which was heavily blockaded by police, and snaked through the streets of Logan Square. Protestors wore “Stop General Iron” masks (referring to the metal shredder that closed in December) and carried signs saying “We deserve clean air!” and “Ecological devastation is immoral.” At one point, they stopped traffic at a busy intersection. Chicago activists wore masks and carried signs that read ‘Stop General Iron’, referring to the metal shredder on the North Side that closed last year. Photograph: Dominic Gwinn/ZUMA Wire/REX/Shutterstock Many of the speakers were students from George Washington high school, located half a mile from the proposed facility. “There’s no reason why I should starve for a week to get Lori’s attention,” said Gregory Miller, a 15-year-old student organizer. The defunct General Iron site was rife with controversy. The scrapyard violated US Environmental Protection Agency standards in 2018, 2012 and 2006, and was widely regarded by neighbors as a nuisance. “There was a near constant rumble of massive machinery, and our facility manager had to replace external air filters weekly,” said a spokesperson from PAWS Chicago, a nearby animal shelter. The particulate matter that often escapes these types of businesses can lead to severe heart and lung conditions, according to Dr Susan Buchanan, public health professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Reserve Management Group (RMG), the metal recycling company that owns General Iron and Southside Recycling, is adamant that the pollution controls at the new site will be enough to keep residents safe. “We’ve been made a target, but we are not the enemy,” wrote Steve Joseph, CEO of RMG, in an op-ed. Chicago’s Southeast Side has a long history of environmental pollution. The steel mills that once attracted immigrants to the neighborhood with good-paying jobs are gone now, due to manufacturing jobs moving overseas in the 1980s. But the area is still home to toxic industries pouring a million pounds of heavy metals into the air every year. Oscar Sanchez lost about 20 pounds from participating in the hunger strike all 30 days. His grandmother, a recent widow who has suffered from COVID-19, called him before the rally. “She’s hooked up to an air tank, [because] the only air she can breathe is not from the Southeast Side.” But she was more concerned for her grandson, according to Sanchez. “She said, ‘I miss your grandpa. Don’t make me miss you too.’”
States have continued steadily lifting restrictions, despite warnings from top federal health officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci that new coronavirus cases in the United States have plateaued at a very high level after their drastic drop has stalled and that the country urgently needed to contain the spread of more transmissible variants. Arizona, California and South Carolina joined a growing list Friday by loosening restrictions, to varying degrees. Arizona’s governor ended capacity limits on businesses but said they must still require masks. South Carolina’s Republican governor lifted the state’s mask mandate in government buildings, while recommending restaurants continue requiring masking. California will allow amusement parks and outdoor sports and live events at stadiums to restart April 1, with reduced capacity and mandatory masks. Sign up for The Morning newsletter from the New York Times “We’ve just now recently experienced the worst surge,” Fauci said Friday during a White House coronavirus briefing, adding that the country had plateaued at between 60,000 and 70,000 new cases per day. “When you have that much of viral activity in a plateau, it almost invariably means that you are at risk for another spike.” The seven-day average of new cases was about 61,000 as of Friday, the lowest average since October, according to a New York Times database. But that number was still close to last summer’s highest peak. Fatalities are falling, too, in part because of vaccinations at nursing homes. Yet the nation is still routinely reporting 2,000 deaths in a single day. Fauci warned the United States could be following the same treacherous path that Europe has recently been on. “They plateaued,” he said. “And now, over the past week, they saw an increase in cases by 9% — something we desperately want to avoid.” He warned that the virus mutates as it replicates, a process that can be extended when immunocompromised people are infected. He said that maintaining masking, hand-washing and social distancing was urgent. The B.1.1.7 variant, first identified in Britain, is spreading so rapidly in the United States that data analysis suggest that, as of this week, it has most likely grown to account for 20% of new U.S. cases. And scientists in Oregon have identified a single case of a homegrown variant with the same spine as B.1.1.7 that carries a mutation that could blunt the effectiveness of vaccines. Earlier this week, Texas and Mississippi, both Republican-led states, lifted mask mandates. President Joe Biden denounced those moves as “a big mistake” that reflected “Neanderthal thinking,” saying it was critical for public officials to follow the guidance of doctors and public health leaders as the coronavirus vaccination campaign gains momentum. Other Republicans have been more cautious. Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio said he would lift all public health measures aimed at curbing the virus crisis, but only once new cases there drop under a certain threshold. In Alabama, Gov. Kay Ivey said she would extend the state’s mask mandate through April 9. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey has taken what he calls a “measured approach,” barring local leaders from enacting measures that shut down businesses and allowing major league sports to restart if they receive approval from the state’s Department of Health Services. Among Democrats, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan said Tuesday that she was easing restrictions on businesses and would allow family members who had tested negative for the coronavirus to visit nursing home residents. In California, the state’s public health department also loosened some restrictions Friday, saying that amusement parks could reopen on a limited basis as soon as April 1. In New York City, limited indoor dining has returned. And Thursday, Connecticut’s governor said the state would end capacity limits later this month on restaurants, gyms and offices. Masks remain required in both places. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has implored states not to relax their restrictions yet. A new report from the CDC found that counties that allowed restaurants to open for in-person dining in the United States had a rise in daily infections weeks after. The study also said that counties that issued mask mandates reported a decrease in virus cases and deaths within weeks. This article originally appeared in The New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company
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Pfizer (NYSE: PFE) and BioNTech (NASDAQ: BNTX) recently started a clinical trial testing their coronavirus vaccine in pregnant women. While this subset of the market would seem to be a minor addition to the vaccine's potential, Fool.com contributors Brian Orelli and Keith Speights break down the clinical trial's clear benefits for the companies in this video from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 22. Brian Orelli: Finally, Pfizer and BioNTech had two interesting news events this week.
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