National News Content

Connections: How we can work together to support our Asian and Asian American neighbors

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 2:29pm
The Levine Center to End Hate is partnering with Monroe Community College to present a series of conversations exploring the history of racism and xenophobia aimed at Asian and Asian American communities in the U.S. The series, "Asian Matters: Standing with Rochester's Asian American Communities," comes after recent attacks on Asians and Asian Americans. Our guests discuss how we can work together to support our Asian and Asian American neighbors. Our guests: Karen Elam , director of the Levine Center to End Hate at the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester Natasha Chen Christensen , associate professor of sociology at Monroe Community College Pilapa Esara Carroll , associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at SUNY Brockport Christina Lee , coordinator for global education at Monroe Community College

County and city partner with URMC for pop-up vaccination clinics in minority communities

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 2:29pm
Monroe County is partnering with University of Rochester Medical Center and the city of Rochester’s Department of Recreation and Human Services to provide additional vaccination hubs to underserved communities. They are called equity pods, designed to specifically target city residents who do not have access to larger vaccination sites. The county’s chief community engagement officer, Dr. Candace Lucas, said these portable clinics also offer a sense of security to those who are still skeptical about the vaccination process. “We work together to identify the best location for familiarity and trust,” said Lucas. “We work to make sure that it is staffed by people who are familiar and representative of the community that we are working with.” Lucas said the locations usually include neighborhood recreation centers, apartment complexes, or churches. She said once the pod locations are selected, recruitment often involves a grassroots approach. “We really are reaching people by going door-to

Connections: Discussing the pandemic's mental health burden on young adults

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 2:26pm
Research shows the pandemic has had significant mental health burdens on young adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63 percent of 18-24-year-olds surveyed reported symptoms of anxiety or depression, with 25 percent reporting increased substance use to deal with that stress. 25 percent said they seriously considered suicide. This hour, we talk to mental health experts about this issue, as well as young people who share their personal experiences. Our guests: Megan Clifford , psychotherapist and mental health first aid instructor. Soren Kilmer, student at Nazareth College Julia Smith, contributing writer 585 Magazine and recent Nazareth College graduate

Fairport lift bridge reopening delayed again

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 2:23pm
The reopening of the Fairport Lift Bridge has been delayed again. The more than century-old bridge was closed back in September 2019 for repairs. The bridge had been expected to reopen in November of 2020, but that was delayed due to supply chain issues and having to fabricate certain parts for the 107-year-old bridge. Most recently it was hoped the bridge could reopen in April, but on Friday, the New York State Department of Transportation said that due to those supply chain and fabrication issues, the opening of the bridge has been delayed until later this spring. No other specifics on the potential date for reopening were available. The DOT said that it will continue to communicate with the village on the schedule for reopening over the coming weeks. Bryan White is Village Manager in Fairport. He would obviously like to see the bridge open sooner than later, noting that with COVID-19 infection rates hopefully continuing to come down, and more people getting outside, he’d like to

White House Tries To Snuff Out Report On Staffers Who Were Let Go For Pot Use

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 2:20pm
The White House says five employees were let go from their jobs related to past marijuana use, even though personnel policies were updated so that past pot use would not automatically bar people from working there. Responding to a Daily Beast report about the issue, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday on Twitter : "The bottom line is this: of the hundreds of people hired, only five people who had started working at the White House are no longer employed as a result of this policy." Psaki pointed to a recent NBC report on the new guidelines , which were negotiated because marijuana use is legal in some places in the United States but remains illegal under federal law. The NBC report said the White House would grant waivers on a case-by-case basis to people who smoked marijuana on a "limited" basis and don't need a security clearance. The waiver requires employees to stop all pot use and agree to drug testing. "As a result, more people will serve who would not have in the

Groceries And Rent Money: Why Support For COVID Isolation Is More Important Than Ever

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 1:21pm
While everyone's hopes are trained on COVID-19 vaccines to lead the way out of the pandemic, public health experts say that other public health tools are still crucial for stopping the virus. One of those tools — contact tracing — may finally be ready to have its moment, says Crystal Watson , senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security . During the winter surge, contact tracers were overwhelmed ; they couldn't possibly reach everyone who tested positive — and their close contacts — to tell them to stay home to slow the spread. That's starting to change, Watson says. Case numbers are entering the zone where contact tracers can get on top of transmission. Vaccinations are ramping up and injecting hope into the public health response. And there's finally billions of dollars — in the American Rescue Plan — to boost these efforts, so that if concerning coronavirus variants continue to spread through the summer and beyond, health departments can be ready, Watson says.

Behind The Scenes Of Pandemic Governing: Colorado's Polis On Tests Of Leadership

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:48pm
A little more than a year into the pandemic in the U.S. and governors across the country continue to be thrust into the spotlight as they maneuver through vaccine distribution and decisions on opening up their states. During the public health emergency, governors have used extraordinary powers to shut down businesses and mandate masks and social distancing. No governor ever ran for office "expecting to lead a state through a pandemic," says Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat. "Somebody has to be governor and I happened to be here at this time, so I'm just going to do my best to make the most informed decisions I can." Polis, a 45-year-old former congressman and tech entrepreneur, has issued hundreds of executive orders of his own but says he believes that persuasion, more than written policies, may be more important for taming the pandemic. "The policies matter a bit, and people focus so much on those. Do you tell people they have to wear masks? Do you close down? What capacity do

Judge In Chauvin Trial Denies Request To Move Trial Out Of Minneapolis

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:35pm
The judge in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin says he won't move the case to another venue or delay the proceedings. Chauvin's defense attorney had sought to change the trial's location, arguing that a jury pool would be unduly influenced by recent news of Minneapolis' settlement with George Floyd's family. "I do not think that that would give the defendant any kind of a fair trial beyond what we are doing here today," Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said. "I don't think there's any place in the state of Minnesota that has not been subjected to extreme amounts of publicity on this case." Cahill also denied a defense motion to delay the proceedings, saying that Chauvin's trial will surely attract media attention no matter when it takes place. The case is being watched closely, having sparked a national debate on racial injustice and police brutality. Chauvin is white; Floyd was Black. The judge acknowledged that he was "a little shocked" when two

Blue Shield Spent Years Cultivating a Relationship with Newsom. It Got the State Vaccine Contract.

Latest Updates From Kaiser Health News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:35pm

SACRAMENTO — Gavin Newsom was just making a name for himself as mayor of San Francisco in 2005 when Blue Shield of California wrote him its first major check.

This story also ran on Desert Sun. It can be republished for free.

The young, business-friendly Democrat had exploded onto the national scene the year before by issuing same-sex marriage licenses in San Francisco, and he was pushing his next big idea, called Project Homeless Connect. The initiative would host bazaar-style events in neighborhoods across the city, linking homeless people to services like food assistance and health care.

Newsom needed financial support from businesses, and Blue Shield answered with a $25,000 contribution.

Over the next 16 years, as Newsom’s political career flourished, the health insurance behemoth became one of his most generous and trusted supporters. It contributed nearly $23 million to Newsom’s campaigns and special causes, according to a California Healthline analysis of political and charitable contributions. Of that, nearly 90% has funded the homelessness initiatives that critics and allies say are dearest to Newsom’s heart.

Newsom, elected governor in 2018, in turn has rewarded Blue Shield and its executives with positions of power during the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed nearly 56,000 Californians’ lives.

Facing mounting criticism early this year over the chaotic covid-19 vaccination rollout and a growing recall effort to remove him from office, Newsom gave the insurer a $15 million, no-bid contract to take over California’s life-or-death effort to quickly vaccinate its 40 million residents. Last spring, Newsom also enlisted Blue Shield’s CEO, Paul Markovich, to help steer the state’s covid testing strategy, another component of the state’s pandemic response that had faltered.

“Blue Shield responded early and responded often,” and it was among the first to invest in Newsom’s controversial homelessness ideas, said Philip Mangano, who led homelessness policy under former President George W. Bush and now informally advises Newsom. “Gavin understood they could be depended on over the years.”

But Newsom’s decision to rely on Blue Shield is backfiring. A growing number of public health officials and lawmakers say Blue Shield isn’t the right choice to coordinate the state’s vaccine distribution. And California’s counties, which are implementing the state’s coronavirus response, simply refuse to sign on with the insurer.

Newsom’s political future now hinges, in part, on how quickly Blue Shield — which is still charged with leading how vaccines are allocated — can get shots into Californians’ arms. The Republican-driven recall campaign slams him for his response to the pandemic and for violating his own public health recommendations when he dined last fall at the exclusive French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley with people from outside his household.

Recall organizers say they have submitted 2.1 million signatures, and county election officials have until April 29 to certify that at least 1.5 million are valid in order for the state to set a recall election this fall.

Newsom did not respond to interview requests.

Blue Shield, which has already contributed $269,000 to a political account that Newsom could tap to fight a recall election, also declined multiple interview requests. But in an email, spokesperson Don Campbell said the Oakland-based company regularly supports candidates who share its mission of improving health care access and affordability.

“There is no financial or other benefit being bestowed upon, or accrued by, Blue Shield,” Campbell said. “Blue Shield was asked by the state to help with vaccines. Our reward is to help save lives.”

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Blue Shield isn’t alone in donating to the governor and his projects. Other interest groups have given more, such as Silicon Valley’s Facebook and the health care giant Kaiser Permanente, which covers about one-quarter of the state’s population. (KHN is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

Kaiser Permanente is advising Blue Shield on vaccine distribution and has a special agreement with the state to vaccinate Californians — including patients outside its system. Kaiser Permanente also invested in homelessness projects in San Francisco after Newsom got them off the ground, and twice last year responded to Newsom’s pleas for corporate dollars to combat the state’s toughest crises: It gave $25 million to a state homelessness fund set up by Newsom and $9.75 million to an immigrant covid relief fund.

But unlike Blue Shield, which gave $20 million to the homelessness fund, Kaiser Permanente has never donated to Newsom as a political candidate, according to local and state campaign records. Blue Shield has given to Newsom in every elected office he has held over the past 20 years.

“That’s how the game works. It’s just about standard influence peddling,” said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist. “What’s different here is the degree, or the depth of what [Blue Shield] has done under this governor.”

Over time, the company has funded Newsom and his policy initiatives in a way it hasn’t contributed to other politicians at the local or state level, records show, helping elevate him to higher office.

Blue Shield wrote its first check to Newsom for $500 in 2002, when the company was based in San Francisco and he was a city supervisor pushing an ambitious social welfare agenda to help both poor people and businesses that were growing impatient with the explosion of homeless people sleeping in front of their establishments and crowding hospital emergency rooms. It was Blue Shield’s only donation to a local political race in California that year, according to records with the secretary of state’s office.

After he had ascended to the mayor’s office, 14 of Blue Shield’s top executives, including Markovich, contributed a combined $5,150 — on a single day, Aug. 22, 2007 — according to campaign statements filed with the San Francisco Ethics Commission. The company’s contributions continued when he served as lieutenant governor from 2011 to 2019.

But the company’s investment in Newsom soared during the 2018 gubernatorial race. Blue Shield and its executives contributed $71,550 to Newsom’s campaign, and the company partnered with powerful labor unions to form a special committee that allowed them to spend unlimited amounts of money on Newsom’s behalf. Blue Shield chipped in nearly $1 million to that effort, and also gave $1 million to a committee formed by health industry groups to defeat one of Newsom’s primary opponents, then-state treasurer John Chiang.

After Newsom won the election, Blue Shield contributed $100,000 to his inauguration celebration and cut a $50,000 check in his name to a charity supporting firefighters.

With Newsom in office, Blue Shield focused on again giving to the governor’s deepest passion: homelessness. In January 2020, the same month Newsom promised to dedicate unprecedented resources to combating homelessness, Blue Shield announced its $20 million donation to his homelessness fund, which later transformed into “Project Homekey.” That initiative is intended to finance the conversion of more than 6,000 hotel rooms across the state into housing units.

“No one sector can solve the homelessness crisis alone,” Blue Shield quoted Newsom as saying in its Jan. 17, 2020, press release announcing its donation. “It’s our collective responsibility to meet this moment with bold action and intentional leadership — and that’s exactly what Blue Shield’s leadership is doing.”

Behind the scenes in our meeting with @BlueShieldCA CEO Paul Markovich. We cannot solve our homelessness crisis alone in California, and we are so thrilled for Blue Shield's $20mm investment in our statewide homelessness fund. #CaliforniaForAll @CAgovernor @GavinNewsom pic.twitter.com/Ug6AdneFBw

— Kathleen Kelly Janus (@kkellyjanus) January 28, 2020

The donation to Project Homekey came shortly before covid derailed Newsom’s sweeping health and homelessness agenda. But Newsom’s confidants say the relationship he forged with Blue Shield assured him that the company could quickly turn around the state’s troubled vaccination program.

“Because of their early investment, there was a level of trust — I would even say camaraderie — established going forward,” Mangano said. “Blue Shield took a risk way back when Gavin was becoming mayor. There are other organizations like Kaiser Permanente who have since staked out positions in support, but they weren’t there early and they weren’t the ones taking the greatest risk.”

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When Newsom announced that Blue Shield would take over California’s vaccine distribution, he emphasized the job would be in the hands of a nonprofit with an expansive provider network equipped to quickly get vaccines into arms. While it remains a nonprofit, the state stripped Blue Shield of its tax-exempt status in 2014, alleging it operated much like a for-profit insurance company.

The insurer, which covers about 4 million Californians, took in $21 billion in revenue in 2019, the most recent year for which data is available, with net income of slightly more than $573 million. The same year, it paid Markovich $7.5 million, plus benefits.

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has given Blue Shield a poor rating for efficient patient care. And on the chief job Newsom is asking it to do — getting vaccines to patients — Blue Shield is average, ranking 3 out of 5 in the national ranking on flu shots.

No other state appears to have delegated the vaccination job to an insurer, said Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association. And because counties refuse to contract with Blue Shield, the Newsom administration is scrambling to give counties the option to work with the state government instead.

A growing number of state and local lawmakers are calling the deal a waste of taxpayer money.

“I don’t think having Blue Shield step in is going to get teachers vaccinated any quicker. I don’t think it’s going to get the 70-year-old Black folks vaccinated any quicker,” said state Sen. Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles), adding that she has “more faith” in her local public health experts than in Blue Shield. “And they’re not doing it for free.”

Newsom has insisted that the insurer won’t be allowed to profit.

But critics of the deal argue that even though Blue Shield isn’t technically allowed to make money off vaccinating Californians, the company stands to gain enormous prestige.

Since taking over the program on March 1, Markovich has appeared in press conferences and the company has produced slick advertising urging Californians to get vaccinated. In one ad, viewers are left with the image of the company’s blue logo on a black screen.

“This is not about making money. This is about the marketing opportunity it represents. It’s huge,” said Michael Johnson, a Blue Shield whistleblower who left his post as director of public policy in 2015. “The reason Blue Shield has been selected for this is not because of its capabilities, but because of its relationship with Newsom.”

Methodology

How California Healthline compiled data about political and charitable spending by Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente

Political contributions: Blue Shield of California made direct contributions to Gavin Newsom’s personal campaign accounts for every political office he has held since 2002, when he served as a San Francisco supervisor. These contributions can be found on the California secretary of state’s website or the San Francisco Ethics Commission website.

Additionally, Blue Shield has given large contributions to a ballot measure account run by the governor called “Newsom’s Ballot Measure Committee,” which can accept unlimited amounts of money. Those contributions can be found on the California secretary of state’s website. And Blue Shield made sizable contributions, known as “independent expenditures,” to two ballot measure committees that benefited Newsom’s 2018 gubernatorial bid. One, “Newsom for Governor 2018, Sponsored by Labor Organizations and Blue Shield of California,” was also supported by the Service Employees International Union and teachers, police and firefighters unions. The other, “Chiang for Governor 2018; Health Care Providers for Fiscal Accountability Opposed to John,” also received contributions from the California Medical Association and California Dental Association.

Charitable contributions: Blue Shield and Kaiser Permanente have made “behested payments,” which are donations to charities and other nonprofit organizations in elected officials’ names. Blue Shield gave in Newsom’s name to “Project Homeless Connect” while he was mayor and “Project Homekey” as governor.

Kaiser Permanente gave to Project Homekey and a state covid immigrant relief fund in Newsom’s name. Behested payments to state elected officials are disclosed on the California Fair Political Practices Commission website, and behested payments to Newsom when he was mayor are on the San Francisco Ethics Commission website.

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

KHN (Kaiser Health News) is a national newsroom that produces in-depth journalism about health issues. Together with Policy Analysis and Polling, KHN is one of the three major operating programs at KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation). KFF is an endowed nonprofit organization providing information on health issues to the nation.

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Categories: National News Content

Report: Reed accused of sexual misconduct by former lobbyist

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:34pm
ENDWELL, NY (WSKG & WXXI News) A former lobbyist is accusing Republican Rep. Tom Reed (NY-23) of sexual misconduct. The Washington Post is reporting Nicolette Davis, then a lobbyist for an insurance company, was at a bar with the six-term congressman following a fishing trip when he began rubbing her shoulders before unhooking her bra. According to the Post story, Reed was drunk at the time and was later escorted from the bar. “This account of my actions is not accurate,” said a statement from Reed sent to WXXI News and other media on Friday. Reed has been a regular critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is also facing allegations of sexual misconduct , and has publicly noted he is considering a run for governor in 2022. In the Washington Post story, Reed was asked how his advocacy for women, including backing legislation that required lawmakers to be personally liable for settlements with staffers who alleged harassment. The response from Reed on Friday in a statement supplied by his

FLCC wins grant to fight student food insecurity

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:19pm
By some estimates , up to half of college students in the U.S. are food insecure. In New York state, all 64 State University of New York campuses offer free, donated food to students in need. This week, SUNY awarded grants to 17 colleges to purchase refrigerators for their food pantries; Finger Lakes Community College was among the recipients. Sara Iszard, director of FLCC's community standards and counseling office, said this will allow the school to make a wider variety of food available. "Along with what can be considered much healthier food," she added. "A lot of fresh produce, fruits, meats, those types of things, and dairy, which students don't have access to through our food cupboard currently." Iszard expects the refrigerated items to be available by this summer after her office moves to a more central and visible location on campus. FLCC's food pantry has remained open throughout the pandemic and food is also made available on weekends to students who live in the school's

Why SkySilk Came Out of Nowhere To Save Parler After Capitol Riot

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 12:06pm
On Jan. 10, just days after pro-Trump rioters blitzed the U.S. Capitol, Amazon Web Services pulled the plug on the conservative social media site Parler. Parler grew desperate. It had relied on Amazon's Web-hosting services to reach its burgeoning audience of more than 12 million. After Amazon cut it off, it was rejected by six other Web hosts. It seemed doomed to disappear from the Web. Until SkySilk showed up. The obscure Los Angeles-based, Web-hosting company extended a hand and brought Parler back online last month. In his first interview since that moment, SkySilk CEO Kevin Matossian said he never intended to jump into the middle of the national debate over online speech. Instead, he said, he made a deal with Parler to spite tech giants such as Amazon, which abuse their might. "Is the power that is being wielded by Big Tech more dangerous than the hate and vitriol of certain places on the Internet?" he asked. "We took the position that big technology's overreach, this unchecked

Biden And Harris Meeting In Atlanta With Asian American Community Leaders

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 11:05am
In the wake of this week's deadly attacks on Asian American women in the Atlanta area, President Biden and Vice President Harris are meeting with local community leaders Friday in Georgia's capital to discuss the tragedy. The previously planned visit to Atlanta had initially been intended as a victory lap for the passage of the president's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, which won approval in the closely divided Senate thanks to Democratic victories in two Georgia runoff elections. But Tuesday's shootings at area massage spas that killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent, abruptly changed White House plans. The motives behind the attack by a gunman are still not entirely clear, but the shooting rampage occurs against the backdrop of a 149% escalation in hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States in 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. That increase roughly tracks with the COVID-19 pandemic and former President Donald

Not Enough Vaccine Doses In Europe To Stop A 3rd Wave, German Health Minister Says

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 11:01am
German Health Minister Jens Spahn is telling Germans to diligently follow coronavirus safety rules, warning that vaccines won't arrive quickly enough to prevent a third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. New infections in Germany are rising at a "very clearly exponential rate," Spahn said. "There are not yet enough vaccine doses in Europe to stop the third wave by vaccination alone," Spahn said at a news conference Friday, according to a translation by Deutsche Welle . "Even if the deliveries from EU orders come reliably, it will still take a few weeks until the risk groups are fully vaccinated." Germany's infection rate is rising at a pace not seen since the record spike it endured in December and January. The numbers fell sharply in February, but they're now curving upward again as Germany enters a third wave of the pandemic, propelled by new variants and infections among people younger than 65. With Germany set for a four-day-weekend in early April due to the Easter holiday, Spahn said

CDC Says Schools Can Now Space Students 3 Feet Apart, Rather Than 6

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 10:45am
Updated March 19, 2021 at 12:46 PM ET The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidance for schools. On Friday, the agency announced it "now recommends that, with universal masking, students should maintain a distance of at least 3 feet in classroom settings." Previously the guidance stated, "Physical distancing (at least 6 feet) should be maximized to the greatest extent possible." The new guidelines still call for 6 feet of distance between adults and students as well as in common areas, such as auditoriums, and when masks are off, such as while eating. And the 6-foot distancing rule still applies for the general public in settings such as grocery stores. The change is momentous because in many places around the country, the 6-foot guidance has been interpreted as requiring schools to operate on part-time or hybrid schedules to reduce class sizes. A 3-foot rule would allow many more schools to open in person full time. The revision was spurred by some new

Coming up on Connections: Friday, March 19

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 10:17am
First hour: Discussing the pandemic's mental health burden on young adults Second hour: How we can work together to support our Asian and Asian American neighbors

Biden To Nominate Former Sen. Bill Nelson Of Florida As NASA Head

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 10:12am
President Biden on Friday announced his intent to nominate former Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida to the top job at NASA. Nelson, who spent six days in orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1986, would replace Jim Bridenstine, who resigned in January to make way for the new administration's appointee. Nelson represented Orlando and Florida's Space Coast in the U.S. House of Representatives before eventually moving to the Senate in 2001, where he served three terms before then-Gov. Rick Scott defeated him in 2018. He was the ranking member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Nelson is one of three people to have flown on the space shuttle while serving in Congress. "Most every piece of space and science law has had his imprint, including passing the landmark NASA bill of 2010," the White House said in a statement . "That law set NASA on its present dual course of both government and commercial missions." Nelson, shown in his official NASA portrait,

More Protesters Killed As Myanmar's Junta Intensifies Crackdown On Dissent

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 9:33am
Security forces in Myanmar reportedly shot and killed nine anti-junta protesters on Friday, bringing the number killed in six weeks of post-coup unrest in the Southeast Asian country to well over 200. Meanwhile, Indonesia issued a blunt statement calling for Myanmar's military leaders to stop the violence and for the country "immediately to restore democracy." Despite the call from Indonesia and from the U.S., the European Union and others, the military leadership in Myanmar, also known as Burma, has only intensified its push in recent weeks against supporters of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Some 224 people have been killed and 2,258 have been arrested, charged or sentenced, according to the latest report from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Myanmar-focused human rights organization based in neighboring Thailand. The organization's death toll does not appear to include nine more reported on Friday by Reuters, which cited a funeral services provider and media.

Genesee Brewery invests to accommodate growth in Seagram's Escapes

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 7:44am
The corporate parent of Genesee Brewery is expanding capacity, but this time the focus is on a product that is part of the company’s ‘Beyond Beer’ portfolio. FIFCO USA will invest $5 million this year and about $13 million in the coming years for additional equipment as part of the strong growth of Seagram’s Escapes. Brewery manager Tim Hawn said "Seagram’s Escapes is now our number one brand, outpacing our beer brands in volume and profitability." "Beer industry growth is coming from flavored malt beverages, seltzers and through innovation," Hawn added. "We’re investing behind that while our beer business also grows share but in declining or flat categories." The company said that last year, Seagram’s Escapes experienced record growth of nearly 35 %. That helped offset the shortfalls in other parts of the business resulting from closures of restaurants and bars caused by the pandemic. Officials said that, at times, the brewery struggled to keep up with demand for Seagram’s, and that

FBI Director Wray Discusses Capitol Riot Investigation, Domestic Terrorism Threats

WXXI US News - Fri, 03/19/2021 - 6:19am
FBI Director Chris Wray gives an update on the investigation into the Capitol insurrection. He has described the threat of domestic terrorism in the U.S. as "metastasizing" across the country.
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