Friday, September 3, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Dozens Dead In N-E After Ida Drench

Daily Mail Screenshot 9/3/21

The day after after the remnants of Hurricane Ida pummeled the Northeast and parts of the mid-Atlantic with torrential, record-breaking rains that led to flash floods, the human toll came into focus Thursday, with dozens of people found to have been killed. At least 23 people died in New Jersey and 13 people in New York City, most of them in flooded basement apartments, and three people were killed in Westchester County, north of New York City. At least five people died in Pennsylvania, one person in Maryland, and a Connecticut state police sergeant was killed when his police car was swept away by floods. Meteorologists said the remnants of Ida were enhanced when they merged with a storm front, causing the historic downpours, dropping over nine inches of rain in some parts of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and nearly as much in areas of New York City. 

There were also at least 10 tornadoes across a stretch of states from Maryland to Massachusetts, including an EF-3 tornado in Mullica Hill, New Jersey, with winds of 150 miles per hour.

Louisiana: Meanwhile, some recovery from Ida continued in Louisiana, where flights resumed in New Orleans yesterday and power returned to parts of the city's business district. There was a big decline in people in the state without running water, down from 600,000 to 185,000. But most places in the southern part of the state remained without power, and gas shortages were still a problem. At least 13 people were killed in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, by Ida, including three Louisiana nursing home residents who'd been evacuated to a warehouse. Many neighborhoods remained flooded outside of New Orleans, which was protected by its levee system that held up after being fortified about Hurricane Katrina.

➤BIDEN SLAMS SUPREME COURT'S REFUSAL TO BLOCK TEXAS' SIX-WEEK ABORTION BAN: President Biden yesterday sharply criticized the Supreme Court's decision the night before not to block Texas' new six-week abortion ban from going into effect. The high court divided 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal to bar the law that would ban most abortions in the state from coming into force. Biden directed federal agencies to do what they can to, quote, "insulate women and providers" from the impact of the law, saying they were launching what he called a "whole-of-government effort to respond to this decision." Attorney General Merrick Garland released a statement saying the Justice Department was “deeply concerned” about the law, which is also enforced by allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone involved in facilitating abortions, such as someone who drives a woman to a clinic to get an abortion, for at least $10,000. Garland's statement said the department was, quote, "evaluating all options to protect the constitutional rights of women, including access to an abortion."

➤FAUCI SUPPORTS COVID VACCINE BOOSTER, SAYS THREE SHOTS LIKELY TO BE NORM: Dr. Anthony Fauci spoke yesterday in support of the administration's decision to recommend Covid-19 vaccine booster shots, calling the protection from a third shot "dramatic" and "durable." Speaking during a briefing of the White House coronavirus response team, Fauci also said that getting three doses of the Pfizer or Moderna mRNA vaccines instead of two would likely become the new standard of being fully vaccinated.

➤ISIS-INSPIRED EXTREMIST STABS SIX IN NEW ZEALAND TERRORIST ATTACK: An Islamic extremist who New Zealand authorities say was inspired by the Islamic State (ISIS) stabbed six people Friday at a supermarket in Auckland. Three of the victims were seriously injured. Authorities knew about the suspect and were concerned enough about him that they were following him around the clock, so they were able to shoot and kill him within 60 seconds of him beginning his stabbing spree. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the man was a Sri Lankan national inspired by ISIS who'd moved to New Zealand in 2011. She said the man was well known to the nation’s security agencies, but there had been no legal basis to detain him previously.

➤CHENEY NAMED VICE CHAIR OF JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: House Democrats elevated Republican Rep. Liz Cheney to vice chairwoman of the select committee investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Cheney is one of just two Republicans on the panel, along with Rep. Adam Kinzinger, after others refused to service following Speaker Nancy Pelosi rejecting two of the five GOP members chosen for the panel by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Some Republicans have been trying to oust Cheney and Kinzinger from the GOP conference because they accepted appointments to the panel.

➤WHAT ARE THE ODDS YOU’VE BEEN EXPOSED TO COVID AND JUST DIDN’T GET SICK?The pandemic is still happening, and you may have wondered what the chances are that you have been exposed to the virus but not gotten symptoms. Infectious diseases specialist Monica Gandhi says, “It really is so transmissible that I think there’s a high chance, depending on the community transmission rate in your area-- if you have a substantial or high transmission rate in your area based on the CDC definitions-- that you may have been exposed.” 

Epidemiologist Jennifer Nuzzo says it’s also important to realize that being exposed doesn’t necessarily equate to infection. But the Delta variant is so transmissible that if you’ve been out and about in an area with a lot of spread and you didn’t wear a mask or social distance, there’s a solid chance you’ve been exposed. Nuzzo says whether exposure causes an infection depends on a few factors: how close you were to the infected person who was shedding virus, how much virus that person was putting out, and what the ventilation was like in the area where you were. Gandhi says that many vaccinated people who were exposed probably wouldn’t notice as they may have produced an immune response that successfully fought off the virus before it could cause symptoms. 

Also, the growing consensus among infectious disease specialists is that we’re all going to be exposed to COVID-19 at some point, and as such it’s best to do so with some immunity-- which you can get via a vaccine.

➤MAN ARRESTED AFTER ACCOSTING MSNBC REPORTER DURING POST-HURRICANE REPORT: A 54-year-old man was arrested by federal marshals yesterday after he was accused of accosting an MSNBC reporter who was doing a live report in Mississippi after Hurricane Ida. A man was seen during the broadcast pulling over in a pickup truck and then running toward and yelling at Shaquille Brewster as he was reporting on the storm's aftermath from Gulport, shouting, "You're going to report this accurately, right?" Brewster and the cameraman turned away from the man, who kept yelling, and then he walked up to Brewster again. Benjamin Dagley was wanted by police in Gulfport on suspicion of assault and by the sheriff’s department in Ohio’s Cuyahoga County for a probation violation. He pled guilty in 2018 to having broken into an electroplating company and drilled holes in tanks of dangerous chemicals. He was sentenced to five years’ probation and 30 days in jail.

➤FAA BANS VIRGIN GALACTIC SPACE LAUNCHES WHILE PROBE CARRIED OUT: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) yesterday (September 2nd) barred Virgin Galactic from launching anyone into space again while an investigation is carried out into a problem that happened during July’s flight with founder Richard Branson on board. According to the FAA, the rocketship carrying Branson and five others veered off course during is descent to its New Mexico desert runway, putting it outside the air traffic control clearance area. Virgin Galactic said the deviation was caused by high-altitude wind, and that the pilots, quote, "responded appropriately," adding, "at no time did the ship travel above any population centers or cause a hazard to the public." The ban came as Virgin Galactic announced plans to launch three Italian researchers to the edge of space in a few weeks.

➤WVA DOING ANOTHER ROUND OF PAYING REMOTE WORKS TO MOVE TO THE STATE: After running a program in which West Virginia offered $20,000 in cash and other incentives for remote workers to move there, the state is now doing another round. Thousands of inquiries were made about the program, and 53 new West Virginia residents moved to Morgantown under it. The state said yesterday (September 2nd) that it's now taking applications for people who want to move to another West Virginia city, Lewisburg. Under the program, participants who move to the state get $12,000 along with annual passes for whitewater rafting, golf, rock climbing, horseback riding, skiing and ziplining, with the total worth of the relocation package valued at more than $20,000. For applicants who aren't accepted, a consolation prize is being offered this time around of $2,500 in mortgage assistance if they decide to move to West Virginia anyway. The state is doing this as the 2020 census found that West Virginia lost a greater percentage of its residents than any other state in the past decade, and is the only state with fewer residents than it had in 1950.

➤THESE 8 STATES WILL LET YOU FLASH AN IPHONE DRIVER’S LICENSE:  People in a few states will soon be able to show their driver’s license on their iPhones and Apple Watches. This means users will soon be able to use digital IDs to get through security at participating airports in lieu of a physical identification card. The first states to offer the feature will be Arizona and Georgia; while Connecticut, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Utah will do so at a later date. Apple did not announce a specific timeline for the roll out, and for now, the feature will be limited to airport-security use only.

➤FACT-CHECKING STUDY FINDS EVERYDAY NEWS READERS HAVE A PRETTY GOOD BULLSH** DETECTOR: Here’s something to help you sleep tonight. Researchers at MIT have found that many people have a pretty good handle on detecting online misinformation. Specifically, they found that crowdsourced fact-checking for accuracy from regular, everyday news readers stacks up to the work performed by professional fact-checkers. Senior study co-author David Rand says, “There’s no one thing that solves the problem of false news online. But we’re working to add promising approaches to the anti-misinformation tool kit.”

➤TWITTER FINALLY LAUNCHES SUPER FOLLOWS: Twitter announced Wednesday that it has officially started the rollout of Super Follows. The feature, first revealed back in February, allows users to charge a monthly fee in exchange for access to additional content. Twitter will take a cut of the earnings. A Twitter spokesperson says, “With Super Follows, people can monetize bonus, ‘behind-the-scenes’ content for their most engaged followers on Twitter.” This new feature is, as of now, limited to a select number of U.S. Twitter accounts, and allows users to pay either $2.99, $4.99, or $9.99 for a monthly subscription. So far, it’s unclear if sexual content will be allowed in the context of Super Follows.

🎾TOP SEEDS DJOKOVIC, BARTY ADVANCE AT U.S. OPEN: The top-seeded men and women, Novak Djokovic and Ash Barty, easily won their second-round matches at the U.S. Open yesterday to advance. For Djokovic, it was another step closer to completing the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969 and claiming a record 21st major championship. The day's other winners included the men and women's gold medalists from the recently-ended Tokyo Olympics, Alexander Zverev and Belinda Bencic.

⚾BOTH LEADOFF HITTERS IN MARLINS-METS GAME HOMER ON FIRST PITCH: Both of the leadoff hitters in the game between the Miami Marlins and the New York Mets hit home runs on the first pitch they faced last night, the first time that's happened in an MLB game since at least 1985, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The Marlins' Miguel Rojas and the Mets' Jonathan Villar hit the homers at New York's CitiField in what would be a 4-3 Mets win.

➤BIG 12 CONSIDERING EXPANSION, FOUR LEADING CANDIDATES: The Big 12 is considering expansion, with Texas and Oklahoma planning to leave the conference in 2025. The Athletic first reported yesterday (September 2nd) that there are four leading candidates to join: BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston. The Big 12 will have only eight members when Texas and Oklahoma leave.

🏒NHL'S COVID PROTOCOLS TO MAKE THINGS TOUGHER FOR UNVACCINATED PLAYERS: Things are going to be tougher next season for NHL players who aren't vaccinated against the coronavirus, with the league yesterday informing teams of the health and safety protocols, which ESPN reports have significant restrictions for the unvaccinated. They will be subject to daily testing, as opposed to at least every third day for vaccinated players. When teams are on the road, unvaccinated players will only be allowed to go to the team hotel, practice facility and arena, and can't use the bar, restaurant, gym or pool at the hotel, or have teammates or visitors in their rooms. They are barred from carpooling or using saunas, and are encouraged not to eat or drink on flights, go to bars or clubs or eat indoors without people outside of their households or personal bubbles.

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