Thursday, September 9, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Ida Death Toll Rises In Louisiana

The death toll from Hurricane Ida in Louisiana rose to 26 yesterday after health officials reported 11 more deaths in New Orleans, mostly older people who died from the heat in the wake of the storm when they didn't have power. Still, there was some good news from the city, with electricity nearly fully restored and a nighttime curfew lifted. However, in areas outside New Orleans that were hardest hit when Ida came ashore on August 29th as a Category 4 hurricane, hundreds of thousands were still without power because of the destruction of power lines that it takes time to repair, and some places still didn't have water. Some 28,000 people are either staying in shelters or in hotel rooms being provided via the Federal Emergency Management Agency.


➤AP...FENCING RETURNING AROUND U.S. CAPITOL AHEAD OF PLANNED RALLY: The fencing that surrounded the U.S. Capitol for months after the January 6th attack is going to be reinstalled because of law enforcement officials' concerns about potential violence at a planned rally on September 18th, AP reported, citing a person described as being familiar with the discussions. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi suggested during her weekly press conference yesterday that there would be increased security measures, saying, "We intend to have the integrity of the Capitol be intact." The rally organizers say it's to demand, quote, "justice" for the hundreds of people who've been charged in the January attack, with intelligence indicating that far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are planning to attend.

 Meanwhile, the FBI released new video yesterday of the person they believed planted two pipe bombs outside the Republican and Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington the night before the January 6th attack. Also released was a digital map showing the suspect circling the RNC and DNC office locations.

➤TEXAS DEATH ROW INMATE GETS EXECUTION STAY OVER RELIGIOUS ISSUE: The U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay of execution yesterday evening for a 37-year-old Texas death row inmate over a religious issue, issuing it about three hours after he could have been executed. John Henry Ramirez, who was convicted of killing convenience store worker Pablo Castro during a 2004 Corpus Christi robbery, claimed he state was violating his religious freedom by not allowing his pastor to lay hands on him and say prayers out loud at the time of his lethal injection. Texas prison officials says direct contact is a security risk, and prayers said out loud could be disruptive and would go against maintaining an orderly process. The high court directed its clerk to establish a briefing schedule so Ramirez’s case could be argued in October or November.

➤REPORT SAYS NAVY HELICOPTER WAS VIBRATING 'SIDE-TO-SIDE' BEFORE CRASH THAT KILLED FIVE: The Navy helicopter that crashed off the Southern California coast on August 31st, killing five crewmembers, was having "side-to-side" vibrations that caused the main rotor to hit the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln while landing, and it fell off the deck, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Only one of the crewmembers was rescued, and five sailors on the carrier deck were also injured. The crash summary, which AP said was in a Navy Safety Center document, didn't say what might have caused the vibrations.

➤BIDEN REMOVES 18 TRUMP APPOINTEES TO MILITARY ACADEMY BOARDS: The Biden administration yesterday removed 18 appointees named to U.S. military academy boards by Donald Trump in the final months of his presidency. The 18 people, including former Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, press secretary Sean Spicer and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, were sent letters calling on them to resign by the close of business yesterday from their positions on the boards of the Air Force Academy, Military Academy or Naval Academy, or be terminated. White House spokesman Jen Psaki said yesterday, "I will let others evaluate whether they think Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer and others were qualified, or not political, to serve on these boards. But the president’s qualification requirements are not your party registration. They are whether you’re qualified to serve and whether you are aligned with the values of this administration." Several of the letter recipients spoke out against it.

➤SUPREME COURT RETURNING TO IN-PERSON SESSIONS: After hearing cases by phone during the pandemic, the U.S. Supreme Court announced yesterday that the justices plan to return to their traditional in-person proceedings when their new term begins on the first Monday in October. However, the courtroom sessions won't be open to the public, quote, "out of concern for the health and safety of the public and Supreme Court employees." The public will continue to be able to listen to live broadcasts of the arguments, a practice that began during the phone arguments. The last session in the Supreme Court building was on March 9, 2020.

➤ONE REASON MORE PEOPLE ARE QUITING JOBS..THEY'VE NEVER MET CO-WORKERS: More people have been quitting their jobs amid the pandemic after the initial shock to the economy in the spring of 2020, and the New York Times suggests one of the reasons is that many employees hired after the pandemic began who work in jobs that allow them to work from home may have never met their coworkers in person. Zoom calls and meetings aren't the same as daily in-person interaction, and the Times suggests that lack of connection had contributed to a, quote, "easy-come, easy-go attitude toward workplaces." Stanford University organizational psychologist and professor Bob Sutton told the newspaper, "If you’re in a workplace or a job where there is not the emphasis on attachment, it’s easier to change jobs, emotionally." To counter that, some companies have created positions like "head of remote" to help keep employees working well together and feeling motivated. Stanford postdoctoral scholar Jen Rhymer, who studies workplaces, told the Times that companies could also help workers by being proactive about socialization, through actions like scheduling small group activities, hosting in-person retreats, and setting aside time for day-to-day chatting.

➤PAT SAJAK AND VANNAH WHITE EXTEND 'WHEEL' CONTRACTS: Pat Sajak and Vanna White have extended their contracts to host Wheel of Fortune through at least the 2023-2024 season. Variety reports that as part of the new deal, Sajak will also serve as consulting producer in addition to his hosting duties. The news comes a week after the show lost its executive producer, Mike Richards. He stepped down following the controversy following his appointment as Jeopardy! host.

➤BOB ODENKIRK RETURNS TO 'SAUL' SET: Bob Odenkirk is back! The Better Call Saul star posted a selfie of himself getting prepped to film the AMC show’s sixth season on Wednesday. The actor suffered what he described as a “small heart attack” while on the Saul set in late July.

➤MEN WHO EAT VEGGIES FART MORE; TAKE LARGER DUMPS: Scientists have discovered that men who eat a more plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes fart more and have larger stools than men following a standard western Diet. Researchers from the Liver and Digestive diseases Networking Biomedical Research Centre in Barcelona followed 18 healthy men and found that those following the plant-based Mediterranean diet farted seven more times per day and had stools twice the size as people following a Western diet on average although the number of stools was the same.

➤MACY'S THANKSGIVING DAY PARADE TO RETURN IN 2021: The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will return to New York City’s streets this year. On November 25th, the parade will be broadcast on NBC and feature the traditional giant balloons, celebrity performers, clowns and marching bands. However, there will be COVID-19 protocols in place, including a vaccination requirement for all parade volunteers. Face coverings will also be required, with exceptions for singers and some other performers.

🏈NFL SEASON KICKS OFF TONIGHT: The new NFL season begins tonight, starting with a game between the reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys in Tampa. The contest will kick off a season that will for the first time in history feature 17 regular-season games, the first change to the season structure since 1978, when it became 16 games.

🎾DJOKOVIC INTO U.S. OPEN SEMFINALS: Top-seed Novak Djokvoic defeated sixth-seeded Matteo Berrettini in their quarterfinal match Wednesday to advance to the semifinals. He is now two wins away from getting the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since 1969 and a men's record 21st major championship. He'll face fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev in the semis, after he beat Lloyd Harris in straight sets in their quarterfinal. There were two upsets on the women's side, including the U.K.'s Emma Raducanu defeating 11th-seeded Belinda Bencic, the gold medalist from the Tokyo Olympics, in their quarterfinal. The 150th-ranked 18-year-old became the first qualifier to make it to the semifinals at the U.S Open since the Open era began in 1968. In the other quarterfinal, 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari beat Number 4 Karolina Pliskova.

⚾JETER, WALKER, SIMMONS, MILLER INDUCTED INTO BASEBALL HALL OF FAME: Former New York Yankees star shortstop and captain Derek Jeter led the class of 2020 that was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday in a ceremony that was delayed by more than year due to the pandemic. A crowd of some 20,000 was on hand in Cooperstown, New York, for the event, at which Larry Walker, Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller were also inducted. Walker, just the second Canadian in the Hall, was selected in his 10th and final year, having played for Montreal, Colorado and St. Louis. The 72-year-old Simmons had a 21-year career with the St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee and Atlanta, and Miller built a strong players union, the Major League Baseball Players Association, which he led from 1966 to 1983, and led the charge for free agency in the 1970s.

🏒PENGUINS' CROSBY TO MISS START OF SEASON AFTER SURGERY: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby will miss the start of the NHL season, with the team announcing yesterday that the 34-year-old will be out at least six weeks after having wrist surgery. General manager Ron Hextall said Crosby had been dealing with the injury for years and that they'd tried all the minimally invasive options before deciding on surgery. The Penguins play their first game of the season on October 12th.

🤼WWE LEGEND 'TRIPLE H' RECOVERING AFTER 'CARDIAC EVENT': WWE legend Paul "Triple H" Levesque is recovering after suffering what was described as a a "cardiac event." The WWE said yesterday that the 52-year-old underwent a procedure last week following a "cardiac event" that was caused by a genetic heart issue, and is expected to make a full recovery. Levesque, a 14-time WWE world champion who hasn't wrestled since 2019, is now the WWE's executive vice president of global talent strategy and development. 

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