Friday, February 12, 2021

Wake-Up Call: House Dems Rest Their Trump Case

The House managers prosecuting the case against former President Donald Trump in his Senate impeachment trial concluded their presentation after a second day Thursday that was shorter than the first. The managers repeated some of their points from the first day, including their arguments that: Trump had for months stoked the anger and violence that led to the attack on the Capitol with his constant assertions that the presidential election had been stolen; that Trump was derelict in not doing anything for hours to stop the assault or send help; and that the rioters believed they had been attacking at his direction to "stop the steal," using video of attackers at the Capitol saying that's why they were there.

But they also warned yesterday about what they said the future effects could be if Trump is not convicted on the charge of "incitement of insurrection" and barred from holding federal office again. Rep. Joe Neguse said, "If we pretend this didn’t happen, or worse, if we let it go unanswered, who’s to say it won’t happen again?," and Rep. Ted Lieu stated, "I'm not afraid of Donald Trump running again in four years. I'm afraid he's going to run again and lose, because he can do this again." They also charged that Trump had incited and condoned violence among his supporters since he launched his 2016 presidential campaign, citing incidents such as praising violence among audience members at his rallies and his remarks saying there were good people on "both sides" after the Charlottesville white nationalist rally that led to violence.

The Defense: Trump's attorneys will begin the presentation of their defense today. One of them, David Schoen, said it should go quickly, indicating that even though they have 16 hours they can use, they might be done without using any time on Saturday. If things do go that quickly, the vote on whether or not Trump is guilty could take place this weekend. Schoen yesterday criticized the Democrats' presentation, telling reporters that it was "offensive," and that the managers, quote, "haven’t tied it in any way to Trump." He also said he believed making the public relieve the attack hurts efforts at unity.

➤BIDEN: U.S. HAS SECURED COMMITMENTS FOR ENOUGH VACCINE FOR 300 MILLION PEOPLE BY JULY: President Biden said yesterday that the administration has secured commitments for enough coronavirus vaccines by the end of July for 300 million Americans to be fully vaccinated. The contractual commitments from Moderna and Pfizer to supply the 600 million doses -- two doses for 300 million people -- by the end of July is more than one month earlier than had previously been expected. That good news came as the U.S. is on track to surpass Biden's stated goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office, with more than 26 million doses already given in his first three weeks.

➤REPORT: CUOMO AIDE SAYS HID NUMBER OF NURSING HOME COVID DEATHS: An aide to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told Democratic state lawmakers Wednesday that the administration hid the number of nursing home deaths from Covid-19 so that it couldn't, quote, "be used against us," the New York Post reported Thursday. The report cited an audio recording of a meeting between Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa and state Democrats, with DeRosa telling them that when they got a request from the state legislature for the nursing home death numbers, quote, "we froze." She explained that then President Donald Trump had been turning the issue into a, quote, "giant political football," saying, "He starts tweeting that we killed everyone in nursing homes." She added, "So we do apologize. I do understand the position that you were put in. I know that it is not fair."

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that more than 9,000 recovering coronavirus patients in New York were released into nursing homes from hospitals early in the pandemic under a much-criticized Cuomo directive that was later rescinded, citing new records it obtained. That number is more than 40 percent higher than what the state health department previously released.

➤SIX KILLED IN MORE THAN 130-VEHICLE CRASH ON TEXAS HIGHWAY: There were six people killed and dozens injured in a massive crash on a Texas highway involving more than 130 vehicles during a winter storm yesterday morning. At least three people were critically injured among the more than 65 people who were brought to hospitals. The crash happened on Interstate 35 near downtown Fort Worth, where the surface of the highway was icy because of the storm.

➤CHARGES DROPPED AGAINST BUFFALO COPS WHO SHOVED ELDERLY PROTESTER TO GROUND: Prosecutors said yesterday that felony assault charges had been dropped against two Buffalo, New York, police officers who shoved a 75-year-old protester to the ground last June during protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing, after a grand jury declined to indict them. The incident drew national attention after Officers Robert McCabe and Aaron Torgalski were seen on video shoving Martin Gugino as crowd control officers were clearing protestors for an 8 p.m. curfew. Gugino fell backward onto the pavement, hit his head and began bleeding. He suffered a fractured skull and brain injury and was hospitalized for a month. The Buffalo Police Department will carry out an internal affairs investigation of the incident, according to The Buffalo News.

➤S-F SUES ITS SCHOOLS, CITING RECORD CHILD SUICIDES: San Francisco has taken the extraordinary step of suing the city's own school district in order to get children back into classes, with its lawsuit filed yesterday citing a record-high number of suicidal children as experts say keeping the schools closed is causing a mental health crisis among children. Benioff Children's Hospital has seen a 66 percent increase in the number of suicidal children in the emergency room, and 75 percent increase in children who need hospitalization for mental health services, the lawsuit says. The city's 52,000 public school students haven't had in-person classes since last March, and even though schools have had the go-ahead since last September from public health officials to reopen, the district and teachers unions have been unable to reach an agreement on holding in-person classes again. Those who want schools to reopen cite data that shows it can and has been done safely with proper precautions like face masks and physical distancing. The lawsuit notes that 114 of San Francisco's private, parochial and charter schools have reopened, and there have been fewer than five cases that were suspected to have been caught in those schools.

➤VALENTINE’S DAY SCAMS: BEWARE PHONY ROMANCES, FAKE SHOPPING OFFERS: Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and scams are reflecting that. Lynette Owens is the global director of internet safety at Trend Micro, and says the number of scams related to romance and/or Valentine’s Day are up 20 percent over last year, due to the “double whammy” of people spending more time online and more time in isolation due to the pandemic. Owens says these scams often appeal to someone’s emotional needs, for example connecting through a dating app or social network—and usually will ask you for something, whether it be money or personal information. You should try and verify a person is legitimate before giving them any personal information, let alone any money. The Better Business Bureau says other red flags include the person hurrying you off the dating site to engage via email or text; the person always finding a reason to not meet in person; and the person hinting about having a lot of bad luck stories in your first interactions. You should also be weary of phishing websites set up to look like legitimate websites. Overall: be weary of websites and search for them on Google before ordering from them, don’t share personal information, and watch out for fake password reset messages via email.

🎾SERENA WILLIAMS WINS IN THIRD ROUND AT AUSTRALIAN OPEN: Serena Williams won her third-round match at the Australian Open yesterday, beating 19-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (5), 6-2. Other third round winners yesterday included Number 3 Naomi Osaka and fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina. On the men's side, second-seeded Rafael Nadal won his second-round match and Number 6 Alexander Zverev won in the third round. Eighth-seeded Diego Schwartzman was upset in the third round, falling in straight sets to 114th-ranked Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.

Meanwhile, fans will no longer be allowed in the stands at the Australian Open after the Victoria state government announced a five-day lockdown due to Covid-19 outbreak at a hotel. The tournament was allowing up to 30,000 fans a day, 50 percent of normal capacity.

🏒NHL STARTING GAME-DAY COVID RAPID TESTING: The NHL announced new coronavirus safety protocols Thursday to try to stop potential outbreaks, which will include doing same-day rapid tests for players, team personnel and on-ice officials. That will be in addition to daily PCR testing, which is more accurate, but takes 12 to 24 hours to get results. Other expanded protocols include having all team meetings virtually, removing the plexiglass around the penalty box, and recommending players not leave their homes except for practices, games or essential activities. There are currently five NHL teams on pause because of players on the Covid list, either due to positive tests or contact tracing.

⚾MLB SEASON TO START APRIL 1ST: Major League Baseball announced yesterday that its season will begin on April 1st, with an opening day schedule of 15 games. Every team will be playing its first game on the same day for the first time since 1968. The regular season is scheduled to end on October 3rd.

🏈TOM BRADY TO HAVE MINOR KNEE SURGERY: Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady will have minor surgery on his knee during the offseason, the Tampa Bay Times first reported yesterday. ESPN cited a source as saying it wasn't a recent injury, and that the surgery had been planned for months. The news comes less than a week after the 43-year-old Brady won his record seventh Super Bowl as he led the Buccaneers to a 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

🏌CANTLAY TIES COURSE RECORD IN OPENING ROUND AT PEBBLE BEACH: Patrick Cantlay is at the top of the leaderboard after the opening round of the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in California yesterday, tying the Pebble Beach course record with a 10-under 62. Cantlay has a two-stroke lead over fellow American Akshay Bhatia and Sweden's Henrik Norlander, who are tied in second place.

🏊OLYMPIC GOLD MEDAL SWIMMER INDICTED IN U.S. CAPITOL ATTACK: Klete Keller, who won two Olympic gold medals for the U.S. as a swimmer, was indicted on seven charges yesterday related to his alleged involvement in the U.S. Capitol attack. USA Today reported that the 38-year-old was indicted for knowingly and unlawfully entering and remaining in a restricted area, interfering with official government business, engaging in disorderly conduct to disrupt a session of Congress and interfering with law enforcement during a civil disorder, among other things. The Washington Post said he could potentially face more than 15 years in prison. Keller won gold in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics anchoring the four-man team that included Michael Phelps in the 4x200 freestyle.

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