Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Wake-Up Call: Migrants Being Removed From Texas Encampment

U.S. officials said Monday that more than 6,000 Haitians and other migrants had been removed from an encampment around a bridge at the Texas border town of Del Rio. The administration defended the strong response that includes immediately flying the migrants back to Haiti, with six more flights scheduled for today. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called it a, quote, "challenging and heartbreaking situation," but warned, "If you come to the United States illegally, you will be returned. Your journey will not succeed, and you will be endangering your life and your family’s life."

The Homeland Security Department issued a statement in reaction to images that drew criticism of border agents on horseback using what appeared to be whips and the horses to push back migrants at the Rio Grande, calling it "extremely troubling" and promising a full investigation. White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the images "horrific."

U-S TO TAKE IN MORE REFUGEES: The administration said yesterday that the U.S. would take in 125,000 refugees and their families next year, fulfilling a pledge President Biden made to raise the refugee number cap that had been cut to 15,000 under former President Donald Trump, the lowest number since the 1980 Refugee Act took effect. The administration said it would focus on several key groups, including Central Americans, Afghans at risk due to their affiliation with the U.S., LGBQT refugees, and members of the Uighur ethnic group targeted by the Chinese government.

➤U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY BEGINS TODAY IN NYC AFTER TWO YEARS: The annual, week-long United Nations General Assembly begins today in New York City for the first time in two years, after all the addresses were pre-recorded last year because of the pandemic. This year, world leaders were given the choice of coming to New York or appearing online, and more than 100 of the leaders decided to appear in person. The U.S. requires a vaccination or a recent negative Covid-19 test for entry, meanwhile the U.N. complex in Manhattan is operating of an honor system in which anyone entering attests they don't symptoms and haven't tested positive in the last 10 days. Among those speaking on the first day today will be President Biden.

Pfizer said Monday that its Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective in children ages five to 11, and they they'll seek U.S. authorization for this age group soon. Pfizer tested a dose of about one-third of what's given in the current shots, but after two doses, the children developed antibody levels just as strong as in teens and young adults that got the regular-strength shots, company senior VP Dr. Bill Gruber told AP. The side effects were similar or fewer than those that teens get, such as arm soreness, fever and achiness.

➤PANDEMIC TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS TO U.S. TO BE EASED: The administration is easing pandemic travel restrictions to the U.S., saying Monday that foreigners will be allowed to fly to United States if they have proof of Covid-19 vaccination and a negative Covid test. The new rules will take effect in November. The eased restrictions will replace a patchwork of rules that had banned non-citizens who'd been in the U.K., European Union, China, India, Iran, Ireland, Brazil or South Africa in the previous 14 days.

➤TRUDEAU HOLDS ON AS PRIME MINISTER IN CANDIAN ELECTIONS: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau held on to his position in Canada's parliamentary elections yesterday as his Liberal Party won the most seats of any party. However his bid of calling early elections to try to win a majority of seats in the House of Commons failed, nearly replicating the results from two years ago. The opposition had accused Trudeau of calling an unnecessary early vote for his own personal ambition.

➤DOCTOR WHO DEFIED NEW TEXAS ABORTION BAN SUED: A San Antonio doctor who said he performed an abortion in defiance of Texas' new law banning the procedures after six weeks, essentially daring someone to sue him under the law's enforcement mechanism that allows anyone to sue someone who facilitates an abortion, was in fact sued Monday. There were two lawsuits brought against Dr. Alan Braid, filed separately by former attorneys in Arkansas and Illinois, who both said they're not anti-abortion, but sued to force the courts to rule on the law. Braid wrote in the Washington Post that he'd performed an abortion on a woman on September 6th who was beyond six weeks, but still in her first trimester. He wrote, "I fully understood that there could be legal consequences -- but I wanted to make sure that Texas didn’t get away with its bid to prevent this blatantly unconstitutional law from being tested."

➤FBI SEARCHES FAMILY HOME OF PETITO'S FIANCE, LAUNDRIE: The FBI on Monday searched the family home of Brian Laundrie, Gabrielle Petito's fiance, one day after it was announced that a body believed to be that of Petito was found in Wyoming. The FBI had a search warrant for Laundrie's parents' home in North Port, Florida, and they were removed from the home before the search and then brought back inside for questioning. A number of items were removed from the home and a car was towed away. Meanwhile, investigators are still searching for Laundrie, who disappeared a week ago on Tuesday. He had refused to talk to investigators or to Petito's family after returning home alone earlier this month from a cross-country van trip with Petito. She never came home.

➤S-F MAYOR DEFENDS MASKLESS CLUB DANCING:  San Francisco Mayor London Breed is defending herself after video was taken of her dancing maskless at a crowded indoor club on Friday night in violation of her administration's mask mandate that requires patrons be masked unless they're eating or drinking. Beed said in her defense, "My drink was sitting at the table. I got up and started dancing because I was feeling the spirit and I wasn't thinking about a mask." She also added that, quote, "we don't need the fun police to come in and micromanage and tell us what we should or shouldn't be doing." Breed also noted that proof of vaccination was required to get in. The San Francisco Chronicle reported, however, that Breed was maskless throughout the night, and the city's health department said masks are required indoors regardless of vaccination status. The 47-year-old Breed was at a concert at the Black Cat nightclub, where members of the R&B group Tony! Toni! Toné! were performing.

➤GOP OPERATIVE PARDONED BY TRUMP CHARGED IN ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION SCHEME: A Republican political operative pardoned by then-President Donald Trump last December for a 2012 bribery conviction involving an endorsement of presidential candidate Ron Paul has been charged in an illegal campaign contribution scheme. Jesse Benton, the former chief strategist of the pro-Trump Great America PAC, and Doug Wead, a presidential historian and author who's been an adviser to several presidential campaigns, were accused in federal court of conspiracy to solicit and cause an illegal contribution by a Russian foreign national during the 2016 presidential election. Wead allegedly told the Russian national he could meet an unnamed presidential candidate at a September 22, 2016, political event in exchange for a contribution, which would violate the law against soliciting campaign contributions from foreigners. The indictment doesn't say which candidate, but the only major party candidates left at the time were Trump and Hillary Clinton, and AP says Trump had a Pittsburgh fundraiser that day. The men allegedly disguised the funds by creating a fake invoice.

➤GEORGE HOLLIDAY, MAN WHO FILMED RODNEY KING VIDEO, DIES OF COVID: George Holliday, the man who shot the video seen around the world of four white police officers beating Black driver Rodney King in Los Angeles in 1991, died Sunday of Covid-19, according to a longtime friend, Robert Wollenweber. He was 61. Holliday filmed the scene with his new video camera after being awakened by a traffic stop outside his San Fernando Valley home. The grainy footage was a key piece of evidence at the officers' trial. After they were all acquitted in April 1992, riots broke out in Los Angeles during which more than 60 people died and hundreds of businesses were looted or destroyed over several days. King, who was awarded $3.8 million in 1994 after suing the city, drowned his pool in 2012 at age 47.

➤UNIVERSAL OPENS FIRST THEME PARK IN CHINA: Universal Studios opened its first theme park in China Monday. Universal Studios Beijing opened under Covid-19 restrictions, including required face masks and use of a phone app health code that shows whether the visitors have been to regions at high-risk of infection. Represented at the theme park are Universal's Jurassic Park, Kung Fu Panda, and Harry Potter franchises, and Minions from Despicable Me. It's the fifth theme park worldwide for Universal Studios.

➤PRINCESS BEATRICE GIVES BIRTH TO FIRST CHILD, A DAUGHTER: The U.K.'s Princess Beatrice gave birth to her first child on Saturday, a daughter, with husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Buckingham Palace announced yesterday. The baby's name wasn't immediately revealed. She is the 12th great-grandchild of Queen Elizabeth the Second. The 33-year-old Beatrice is the older daughter of Prince Andrew and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.

🎵STUDY..LISTENING TO SONGS YOU WANT TO SING ALONG TO INCREASES YOUR CHANCES OF MAKING MISTAKES BEHIND THE WHEEL:  Apparently singing and driving is dangerous. Brunel University researchers put participants in driving simulations, and found that listening to music that was loud or had lyrics led to higher levels of emotional arousal, compared to listening to soft, non-lyrical music. Past studies have found that loud music with lyrics can elevate levels of aggression, and encourage overconfidence, particularly among younger drivers. Researcher and psychologist Costas Karageorghis says, “The most important thing to consider when listening to music while driving is to ensure you are not mentally overloaded. [...] one of the easiest [things to] control is our choice of auditory stimulation, whether it be talk radio, podcasts or music. Through minimizing distractions, motorists are much better able to focus on the road and therefore stand a better chance of identifying potential hazards in time.”

➤POLL..43 PERCENT SAY THEY ARE DOING THEIR 'DREAM JOB':  Every child is asked what they want to be when they grow up, but how many of them actually go on to do it? A new survey of 2,000 Americans found a number that might be surprisingly high to some, with 43 percent saying they are working in their childhood "dream job." Another 19 percent of top of that have previously had their dream job, even though they're not in it now. The OnePoll survey for The Genius of Play found that doctor or nurse, at 33 percent, was the top thing the respondents wanted to be when they grew up, followed by lawyer at 24 percent, actor at 23 percent, artist at 22 percent and teacher at 21 percent.

➤BLACK WEDDING DRESS TREND GROWS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC:  A growing number of brides are opting to walk down the aisle in black. Notable wedding dress designer Vera Wang previously spoke about her use of the color black in her fall 2012 and spring 2019 collections, telling Harper’s Bazaar, “A lot of people were shocked-- they said it was depressing to have brides in black. I said, ‘Not at all, it’s sexy.’ Then of course a lot of brides embraced it.” As a result, other brands, including Maggie Sottero, Leanne Marshall, Galia Lahav and Marchessa have added black bridal gowns to their collections. David’s Bridal senior manager, Laura McKeever even says, “We are definitely seeing an increase in brides considering alternative styles or colors, like black gowns, tying into the trends that we’re seeing during the pandemic of non-traditional styles.[...] we have seen a 3.7x growth year over year in black bridal gowns.” Google Trends data shows online queries about black wedding dresses have more than quadrupled from January 2004, and the term is currently at its peak, likely due to the approaching fall season.

🏈PACKERS DOWN LIONS 35-17: The Geen Bay Packers downed the Detroit Lions 35-17 at home last night, as Detroit blew a 17-14 halftime lead, not scoring at all in the second half. It was standout night for Packers running back Aaron Jones, who caught three of quarterback Aaron Rodgers' four touchdown passes and rushed for a fourth TD. Rodgers, meanwhile, was 22 of 27 for 255 yards, passing John Elway for 10th all-time in passing yards with 51,633.

🏈TEXANS QB TAYLOR COULD MISS FOUR WEEKS WITH HAMSTRING INJURY: Houston Texans head coach David Culley said Monday that quarterback Tyrod Taylor is day-to-day after suffering a hamstring injury Sunday. However, the Houston Chronicle reported that Taylor could be out for four weeks. Culley said Deshaun Watson won't be activated, meaning third-round pick Davis Mills would be in line to start Thursday against the Carolina Panthers if Taylor can't play.

🏈COLTS QB WENTZ UNCERTAIN WITH BOTH ANKLES SPRAINED: Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz is uncertain for Week 3 after he sprained both ankles in Sunday's 27-24 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Colts knew that Wentz had injured his right ankle, which led him to leave in the fourth quarter, but doctors found out Monday that he'd sprained his left ankle too. Head coach Frank Reich said yesterday, "I know Carson has a high threshold of pain. My history with Carson is that he’s a pretty fast healer and he’s tough. If he can play, he’ll play."

⚾PEREZ BREAKS BENCH'S SINGLE-SEASON HOMERS RECORD FOR CATCHERS: The Kansas City Royals' Salvador Perez hit his 46th home run last night, breaking Hall of Famer Johnny Bench's record for the most homers by a catcher in a single season, set in 1970. Perez hit the record-breaking two-run homer in the fifth inning of the Royals' 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians. Perez also moved into a tie for the major league lead in homers with the Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

⚾LESTER GETS 200TH CAREER WIN: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jon Lester got his 200th career win last night in a 5-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. Lester is the third active pitcher with 200 wins, along with the Houston Astros' Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, and the 30th left-hander in MLB history to reach the mark.

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