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It’s Groundhog Day, and according to tradition, we’ll get six more weeks of winter if furry Phil sees his shadow. Shadow or not, forecasts are showing a powerful storm brewing that threatens to bring a potentially crippling combination of snow and ice across much of the US. More than 90 million people are currently under winter weather alerts from the Rockies to New England.
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Shootings across the US made for a harrowing, heartbreaking weekend of gun violence. Three people were killed and three injured in a shooting at a Kenosha, Wisconsin, tavern. A person of interest has been located and is facing a charge. In Austin, Texas, three people were killed after an apparent “domestic situation,” and the suspect – an ex-sheriff’s detective – is still on the run. In Columbus, Ohio, one person was killed and five wounded in a drive-by shooting at vigil for a gun violence victim. The US has recorded at least 50 mass shootings since the Atlanta-area spa shootings on March 16, which left eight people dead. We’re also learning more about last week’s Indianapolis shooting, in which police say a 19-year-old killed eight people at a FedEx facility. The suspect legally bought the two assault rifles used in the attack after he’d been investigated by the FBI due to his potential for violence.
Pfizer and BioNTech said they are seeking US Food and Drug Administration emergency use authorization for their Covid-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. If authorized, this would be the first Covid-19 vaccine for younger children. What does that means for children and their parents? Here are some questions and answers. The move towards vaccinating this age group comes as the US appears to be turning a corner in the pandemic with fewer hospitalizations and increased vaccinations. One expert acknowledged the progress but said he felt “we’re still in two Americas” – a reference to differing vaccination rates regionally – and another expert warns gaps in those rates still could hinder the country’s progress. Globally, the true effects of the pandemic are still being registered. People with learning difficulties died from Covid-19 at a rate nine times higher than the general population during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK, according to a new study. And despite the reopening of some of the world’s major business hubs, Hong Kong is still stuck in limbo, after it prioritized opening to China over the rest of the world.
All Americans 16 years and older are now eligible for Covid-19 vaccines. The White House recently moved up this blanket eligibility date from May 1 and is now embarking on a media blitz to get more shots into arms. More than half of US adults have now had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, but there’s still a long way to go to achieve herd immunity and vanquish the growing threat of coronavirus variants. Dr. Anthony Fauci says the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, temporarily paused due to a handful of reports of dangerous blood clots, could be back to the market with restrictions or warnings by Friday. Meanwhile, the global coronavirus death toll has now surpassed 3 million, and several countries, like India and Brazil, are battling some of the worst waves of the virus they’ve seen yet.
The Senate voted 50-48 Thursday evening to extend the nation’s debt limit through early December after Democrats and Republicans reached a deal to avert economic disaster following weeks of partisan deadlock over the issue. Eleven Senate Republicans broke ranks to vote with all Democrats to overcome a filibuster so that the debt ceiling deal announced earlier in the day could move forward. The House will next have to approve the extension before it can be sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. An aide familiar with negotiations told CNN that the deal is to increase the ceiling by $480 billion, which is how much the Treasury Department told Congress it would need to get to December 3. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that the debate over the US debt ceiling amounts to “flirting with a self-inflicted crisis” but that everyone “breathed a sigh of relief” after Democrats and Republicans reached a deal. However, it does not resolve the underlying partisan stalemate over the issue. It merely delays the fight until another day.
3. Build Back Better
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced he will propose a new migration deal between the countries of North and Central America this week at a virtual climate summit convened by President Biden. His plan would involve asking Central American migrants – and Mexicans considering emigration – to work planting trees and crops across Mexico for three years in return for a six-month US work visa and an eventual path to US citizenship. López Obrador says he hopes the arrangement would provide jobs for more than 1.2 million Central Americans and Mexicans. Economic uncertainty, worsened by the pandemic and natural disasters, has sent record numbers of migrants northward. Biden has discouraged migration at this time and asked Central American leaders to tighten borders to lessen the crush in the US.
4. HBCU threat
Jury deliberations in Derek Chauvin’s trial in the death of George Floyd are expected to begin this week, meaning a verdict could come soon. Minneapolis and other US cities are preparing for possible protests in the aftermath. Unrest is already roiling other communities as they process their own police violence tragedies. At least 100 people were arrested in demonstrations in nearby Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, following the police shooting death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. The governor also addressed law enforcement’s alleged mistreatment of journalists covering those protests, including the arrest of a CNN producer. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing growing calls for police reform after bodycam footage was released showing the deadly police shooting of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old boy.
Allies of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny claim his health is rapidly deteriorating as he remains detained in a Russian penal colony. In spite of reports he is in danger of renal failure and heart complications, Navalny is continuing his hunger strike in protest of poor access to medical care. Nearly a dozen Russian politicians have published an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, saying he is personally responsible for the life of Kremlin critic. US national security adviser Jake Sullivan says the White House is weighing options to punish Russia if Navalny ends up dying in custody.
In the coming weeks, Ghana’s parliament is set to debate a draft bill – framed in the guise of “family values” – that seeks to introduce some of the harshest anti-LGBTQ laws on the African continent. The prospect of it passing is pushing the country’s LGBTQ community into the shadows. LGBTQ Ghanaians have been left asking how things got so bad, so quickly, and Western diplomats say they have been caught by surprise. But what one Ghanaian activist calls a “homophobe’s dream bill” has deep roots in Ghana’s religious community. It also found key inspiration from a US ultra-conservative group with Russian ties.
Andrew Lloyd Webber bought a dog because ‘Cats’ was so bad
Beware, you may get some songs stuck in your head.
YouTube star Jake Paul wins latest boxing match in first round against Ben Askren
YouTube to boxing: the ultimate career left turn
Apple’s hosting a ‘Spring loaded’ event tomorrow, and people think it’ll reveal a bunch of new products
More Apple Pencils? New iPads? Some device you’ve never heard of but will become a common necessity in coming years? Who knows!
Restaurant offers free burgers for a year if you get a special tattoo
Apparently lots of people are interested, so those must be some delicious burgers.
Man tops off helicopter proposal with 5 engagement rings
“You can try all five or pick one,” said this absolute king.
That’s how many US women lost their jobs between February and April of last year. Some worry that women workers, who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, may be underserved by the White House’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan because of the types of industries it focuses on.
Police found a collection of more than 8,000 items of Nazi memorabilia on Tuesday at the house of a pedophile suspect in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It contained a variety of items from the Third Reich period, such as official’s uniforms, flags, insignias, coins, medals, images of Adolf Hitler, guns and ammo from the Nazi regime, according to Rio de Janeiro Police Chief Luis Armond.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after an April 2020 mass shooting in rural Nova Scotia that left 22 dead. Canadians are marking the anniversary of the tragedy, which led to swift legislative action to ban more than 1,500 models and variants of assault-style weapons.
What would you like in your tea?
This double-chambered teapot, sometimes called an assassin’s teapot, would be a very cool addition to a (non-poisonous) morning routine. (Click here to view.)