Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Wake-Up Call: U-S Passes 500,000 Dead Milestone

Wall Street Journal 2/23/21
The U.S. passed 500,000 coronavirus deaths on Monday, a number that seemed unimaginable when the pandemic began one year ago and that accounts for some 20 percent of deaths reported worldwide. The number of cases and deaths in the U.S. have fallen significantly in recent weeks after a deadly surge over the holidays. However, despite that and the ongoing campaign to vaccinate Americans, experts warn that tens of thousands of more deaths are likely in the next few months. President Biden marked yesterday's sad milestone with a candlelight moment of silence after he delivered remarks remembering those who've died and trying to offer comfort to those they left behind. Biden, who ordered flags on federal property lowered to half staff for five days, urged Americans to, quote, "resist becoming numb to the sorrow," and to, "Remember those we lost and those left behind." He also looked to a brighter future, saying, "This nation will smile again. This nation will know sunny days again. This nation will know joy again." 

After he spoke, Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff stood outside the White House for a moment of silence. Five hundred candles, each standing for 1,000 people who've died, lined the stairways on either side of them, and the Marine Band played "Amazing Grace."

➤SUPREME COURT ALLOWS N.Y. PROSECUTOR TO GET TRUMP'S TAX RECORDS: The Supreme Court yesterday declined to stop former President Donald Trump's tax records from being turned over to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who's been trying to get them from since 2019 as part of a criminal investigation. Accounting firm Mazars, which has long done work for Trump and his businesses, had said it would comply with a subpoena for more than eight years of Trump's personal and corporate tax records, but Trump sued to try to stop it. Vance issued a statement yesterday that said only, "The work continues." Trump put out a statement blasting Vance's investigation as politically motivated and saying the Supreme Court, quote, "never should have let this 'fishing expedition' happen, but they did."

Supremes Reject Election Cases: The Supreme Court yesterday also rejected cases related to the November election that had been filed by Trump and his allies in five states Joe Biden won, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

➤LEADER IN ALLEGED OATH KEEPERS CONSPIRACY NOW SAYS DIDN'T MEET WITH SECRET SERVICE: Former Army Ranger Jessica Watkins, a leader in an alleged Oath Keepers conspiracy in the January 6th U.S. Capitol attack, is now saying she didn't meet with the Secret Service that day. Watkins had said in a court filing over the weekend that she was given a VIP pass to the earlier rally that day at which then-President Donald Trump and others spoke, had met with Secret Service agents, and was providing security for lawmakers and others. But yesterday, Watkins said she'd only spoken with Secret Service members as she went through security at the rally. Her new court filing says of that interaction, "She was given directives about things she could and could not do, including directions to leave all tactical gear outside of the VIP area, and she abided by all of those directives." In response to Watkins' earlier claim, the Secret Service had denied that private citizens were working with them to provide security on January 6th. The Justice Department has indicted Watkins on several charges related to the attack.

➤WIFE OF MEXICAN DRUG KINGPIN 'EL CHAPO' ARRESTED IN U.S.: The wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman was arrested Monday at Virginia's Dulles International Airport on drug charges. Emma Coronel Aispuro, a dual citizen of the U.S. and Mexico, has been accused of helping him run his cartel, charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin and marijuana in the U.S. The Justice Department has also accused her of helping Guzman escape from a Mexican prison in 2015 and taking part in the planning of a second prison escape. Guzman was extradited to the U.S. in 2017 and is serving a life sentence after being convicted.

➤PROBE CRITICAL OF COLORADO POLICE IN FATAL 2019 ARREST OF ELIJAH MCCLAIN: The results of an independent investigation released Monday criticized police handling of a 2019 incident in Aurora, Colorado, in which Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man, died after an arrest when someone called police to report him as suspicious. The report was critical of police for their aggressive treatment of McClain, with body camera footage showing him crying out in pain, apologizing, trying to explain himself, and pleading with police as they restrained him, sat or kneeled on him, and used "pain compliance" techniques. A neckhold made him unconscious, and paramedics later gave him ketamine to sedate him. McClain suffered cardiac arrest and later died after being taken off life support. The report also said the initial decision to stop McClain, quote, "did not appear to be supported" by reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in criminal activity.

➤FAMILIES OF SERVICEMEMBERS KILLED IN PENSACOLA ATTACK SUE SAUDI ARABIA: The families of three U.S. servicemembers who were killed and 13 others who were severely wounded in a December 2019 attack by a Saudi Air Force member at Naval Air Station Pensacola have sued Saudi Arabia. Saudi Air Force Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Al-Shamrani, a flight student at the base, opened fire, killing three Navy servicemembers and wounding 13 people before being killed by law enforcement. The lawsuit claims Saudi Arabia knew Al-Shamrani had been radicalized and had anti-American views. Former Attorney General William Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray said last year that Al-Shamrani had communicated with al-Qaida operatives for some time, including right up to the attack.

➤BIDEN URGED TO HAVE U-S BOYCOTT 2022 BEIJING WINTER OLYMPICS: Republican Rep. John Katko of New York urged President Biden yesterday to have the U.S. boycott the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing suspected human rights violations by China against the Uighurs (WEE-gurs), a mostly Muslim ethnic minority. In a letter sent to Biden, Katko accuses China of "genocide," writing, "The actions taken by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) are antithetical to the values of both the United States and its allies around the world. Participation in an Olympics held in a country who is openly committing genocide not only undermines those shared values but casts a shadow on the promise for all those who seek free and just societies." China has detained more than one million Uighurs in internment camps and prisons in recent years, something it depicts as a "re-education" campaign. There are also allegations that China is carrying out a mass sterilization campaign against the Uighurs, something Beijing denies.

➤CHEROKEE CHIEF WANTS JEEP TO STOP USING TRIBE'S NAMES FOR SUVs: The chief of the Cherokee Nation wants Jeep to stop using the tribe's name for its Cherokee and Grand Cherokee SUVs. Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said in a statement, "I'm sure this comes from a place that is well-intended, but it does not honor us by having our name plastered on the side of a car." He said instead, "The best way to honor us is to learn about our sovereign government, our role in this country, our history, culture and language and have meaningful dialogue with federally recognized tribes on cultural appropriateness." A spokesperson for Stellantis, Jeep's parent company, said the Cherokee name was chosen, quote, "to honor and celebrate Native American people for their nobility, prowess and pride." Hoskin also addressed the issue more broadly in his statement, saying that corporations and sports teams should stop using Native American names, images and mascots.

➤POLL: MID-30s ARE LIFE'S BEST YEARS: A new poll finds that a majority of Americans believe the mid-30s is the best time in life and that 36 would be the perfect age at which to be frozen in time. While being in your 20s is an idealized time, 40 percent said they wouldn't go back to being that age. The OnePoll survey found that 59 percent said they used to be obsessed with fighting the aging process, but 41 percent said they actively embrace it, and 71 percent said it's become more common for Americans to accept and embrace their age. At the same time, more than half said they believe they not only look younger than their age, but feel younger too. Additionally, 63 percent plan to shift their focus from looking younger to feeling younger.

⚾MARINERS PRESIDENT AND CEO MATHER RESIGNS OVER NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT PLAYERS: Seattle Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather resigned Monday after video surfaced over the weekend of a recent online Bellevue, Washington, Breakfast Rotary Club event in which he made negative comments about players and the MLB team's organization strategy. The remarks included being critical of the English skills of Japanese former All-Star pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma and a top prospect from the Dominican Republic, Julio Rodriguez, and admitting the team possibly manipulated service time for some of its top prospects. 

Mariners Chairman John Stanton said Mather resigned before a decision had to be made about whether he’d be fired, stating, "There were a number of comments made by Kevin that, as I’ve said, didn’t reflect the Mariners, don’t reflect what I believe, what our ownership believes, and were inappropriate."

🏈STEELERS HEAD COACH TOMLIN REPORTEDLY DIAGNOSED WITH COVID-19: Media reports yesterday said that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had been recently diagnosed with Covid-19. The 48-year-old posted a statement on social media yesterday in which he appeared to confirm that he has Covid, while not outright saying it, stating, "I want to thank everyone who reached out to express their concern for my health. Luckily I have had minimal symptoms and I'm thankful to be in good health. . . . I'll be back in the office soon while I continue to work virtually from home."

🏒RANGERS' PANARIN TAKING LEAVE OF ABSENCE AFTER RUSSIAN REPORT: New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence after a report in a Russian tabloid this past weekend that cited a former coach as saying Panarin attacked a woman in a hotel bar in Latvia in December 2011, a claim he denies. The coach, Andrei Nazarov, said he was speaking out because of Panarin's repeated criticism of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin. The Rangers said in a statement, "Artemi vehemently and unequivocally denies any and all allegations in this fabricated story. This is clearly an intimidation tactic being used against him for being outspoken on recent political events. Artemi is obviously shaken and concerned and will take some time away from the team."

⚾PUJOLS' WIFE'S INSTAGRAM POST SUGGESTS THIS WILL BE HIS LAST YEAR: The wife of future baseball Hall-of-Famer Albert Pujols suggested in an Instagram post Monday that he will retire after this season. Deidre Pujols wrote, "Today is the first day of the last season of one of the most remarkable careers in sports! I’m talking about my husband @albertpujols who since the time he was a child would eat, sleep, and breathe this sport." But Deirdre amended her post last night, adding "based on his contract" when talking about this season. The 41-year-old Pujols is in the final year of a 10-year contract with the Los Angeles Angeles. The L.A. Times also reported yesterday that Pujols has, quote, "not determined" if this season will be his last.

🏀UNDEFEATED BAYLOR RETURNING AFTER THREE-WEEK PAUSE DUE TO COVID: Number 2 Baylor, which is still undefeated for the season, is returning to play on Tuesday after a three-week pause due to coronavirus issues in the men's basketball program. Baylor will resume its season at home against Iowa State, the first of three games in five days.

➤WOODLEY CONFIRMS ENGAGEMENT TO GREEN BAY QB RODGERS: Actress Shailene Woodley confirmed on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon last night (February 22nd) that she's engaged to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The 29-year-old said when Fallon asked if congratulations were in order, "Yes, we are engaged. But for us, it's not new news, you know? So it's kind of funny. Everybody right now is freaking out over it and we're like, 'Yeah, we've been engaged for a while.'" Rodgers, who's 37, mentioned getting engaged and thanked his fiancee while accepting his third career MVP award earlier this month, but didn’t say her name.

No comments:

Post a Comment