National News Content

Trump Praises Limbaugh, Who Died Wednesday, As A 'Legend'

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 5:04pm
Tributes to the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh poured in on Wednesday following news of his death earlier in the day . He was 70 years old. Former President Trump praised the talk show host as a "legend." "He was with me right from the beginning. And he liked what I said and he agreed with what I said. And he was just a great gentleman. Great man," Trump said in a phone interview on Fox News. Trump in February 2020 awarded Limbaugh a Presidential Medal of Freedom, shortly after Limbaugh's lung cancer diagnosis . "He was a very unique guy. And he had tremendous insight. He got it. He really got it," Trump said on Wednesday. Limbaugh's brand of off-the-cuff, right-wing conservatism bought him a massive audience with Republican listeners who felt disengaged from what they viewed as a liberal media machine. His trademark brand of dismissing all things "politically correct" paved the way for content that later appeared on Fox News and Newsmax, and arguably set the stage for bombastic

Airport renaming ceremony criticized for not being ‘inclusive’

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 4:38pm
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello unveiled a new sign for the Frederick Douglass International Airport in a small ceremony Sunday, but some say last weekend’s ceremony intentionally kept the community out. “It was deliberate,” said Monroe County Democratic Minority Leader Vince Felder.“There’s no other way to look at it even if you want to. There’s no other way to look at it because if you wanted people to know you would have told them.” He also called the celebration of the name change “a farce.” “It was not a celebration,” said Felder. “A celebration includes folks. This was a limited event designed to boost certain people and exclude others.” The community driven effort to rename Rochester’s airport after Frederick Douglass started with a petition last summer. Felder and Republican Karla Boyce co-sponsored legislation to make it happen. It became official in August, but needed Federal Aviation Administration approval in order to finalize. Felder said things went largely quiet since

Cuomo turns the tables, attacks a critic of his COVID-19 nursing home policies 

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 4:37pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched an attack on one of the critics of his nursing home policies - Assemblyman Ron Kim, who lost his uncle to COVID-19 in a nursing home. Cuomo said Kim’s disagreements over nursing home policies is really about an old feud over a bill to regulate nail salons. Cuomo has come under increasing fire for his administration’s decision to withhold for months the true number -- 15,000 -- of nursing home residents and other older adults in long-term care who died of coronavirus. On Wednesday, in a phone briefing with reporters, the governor singled out Kim, a Queens Democrat, who had an uncle die of COVID-19 in April in a nursing home in Flushing, one of the areas hardest hit by the virus when New York was at the epicenter of the pandemic. "There’s been a long, hostile relationship with Assemblyman Kim," Cuomo said. Cuomo said Kim’s attacks are really about a dispute the two had over the regulation of abuses in New York City nail salons several years ago. He accused Kim

Rochester to have 1 of 4 new COVID-19 mass vaccination sites

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 4:17pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that the federal government will establish four additional vaccination sites to increase the amount of COVID-19 vaccine available to New Yorkers. One of those sites will be in Rochester, at the former Kodak Hawkeye parking lot on Ave. E. Others will be in Buffalo, Albany and Yonkers. Cuomo says the Federal Emergency Management Agency will manage the sites that will vaccinate approximately 1,000 New Yorkers each day beginning in the first week of March. Appointments will be initially reserved for members of the community where the sites are located. The sites are focused on improving vaccine access in socially vulnerable communities. They will target communities and populations historically underserved by the traditional health care system that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. "From day one, New York has prioritized equitable vaccination access with aggressive efforts targeted at reaching communities that were hit the hardest by COVID," Cuomo said.

Florida Governor Accused Of 'Playing Politics' With COVID-19 Vaccine

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 4:13pm
In Florida, Democrats are criticizing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who they claim is allowing politics to play a role in COVID-19 vaccine distribution. DeSantis became testy when questioned by reporters at a vaccination event near Lakewood Ranch, an upscale community on Florida's Gulf Coast. The vaccination event was the latest in a series of state-sponsored clinics at retirement communities. Under DeSantis' "Seniors First" initiative, the COVID-19 vaccine is being made available to everyone age 65 and over in Florida — an estimated 4.5 million people. According to the Bradenton Herald , DeSantis reached out to the developer of the Lakewood Ranch community, offering to use it as the site for a vaccination drive. Working with a county commissioner, the state reserved shots for residents of two ZIP codes in Manatee County that cover Lakewood Ranch and other well-to-do communities. At a news conference, reporters peppered DeSantis with questions about the perception that he was favoring one

Connections: Discussing the RPO's 2020-2021 season with new music director Andreas Delfs

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 3:51pm
The Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra has a new music director. Andreas Delfs is a native of Germany and has held chief artistic posts with orchestras in Europe and North America. He has been a frequent guest conductor of the RPO. Delfs joins us this hour to discuss his work, his priorities for the RPO, and the orchestra’s 2021 season – one of its most diverse. Our guests: Andreas Delfs , music director for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Jeff Tyzik , principal pops conductor for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra Juliana Athayde , concertmaster for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra

Connections: Debating the presence of police in schools

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 3:50pm
Students in the Rochester City School District no longer see police officers in their schools. As part of the approval of the city’s budget in June, all 12 school resource officers were removed from RCSD campuses. The call to remove police officers from schools is being made by districts across the country; those calls escalated following the killing of George Floyd. Advocates for removal say officers make students feel unsafe and they can criminalize students – especially students of color. Those who support the presence of police in schools say well-trained officers can help students diffuse conflicts and address issues like drug and alcohol use. Our guests this hour discuss the issue: Eamonn Scanlon , education and policy analyst for The Children’s Agenda Je’Carl Hill, associate coordinator at Teen Empowerment , and recent Rochester City School District graduate Tony Micciche, former Monroe County Legislator

White House Announces Expanded COVID-19 Testing, Manufacturing And Virus Sequencing

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 3:15pm
The White House plans to increase testing capacity in the U.S. through multiple channels, officials said in a media briefing on Wednesday. The administration says it will spend $650 million to expand testing for K-8 schools and settings where people congregate such as homeless shelters, via new "hubs" created by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense. Regional coordinating centers will work to increase testing capacity, partnering with labs and universities to collect specimens, perform tests and report results to public health agencies. The plan could mean an additional 25 million tests per month, and it's intended to aid President Biden's effort to open schools for in-person learning. HHS and DOD will also spend $815 million to increase domestic production of testing supplies and materials. That funding will go toward manufacturing of supplies including filter pipette tips, polymers used in antigen tests, and injected molded plastics to house

'Sum Of Us' Examines The Hidden Cost Of Racism — For Everyone

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 2:45pm
DAVE DAVIES, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. I'm Dave Davies in today for Terry Gross. Our guest today, Heather McGhee, has a new book about the importance of recognizing and fighting racism in America. But it isn't just an argument that racial discrimination is morally wrong and unfair, even deadly to people of color. The heart of McGhee's case is that racism is harmful to everyone, and thus we all have an interest in fighting it. Drawing on a wealth of economic data, she argues that when laws and practices have discriminated against African Americans, whites have also been harmed. When people unite across racial and ethnic lines, she argues, there's a solidarity dividend that helps everyone. Heather McGhee is the former president of the progressive think tank Demos, where she spent much of her career. She holds a BA in American Studies from Yale and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. She currently chairs the board of Color of Change, a nationwide online racial justice

Justice Department Charges 3 North Korean Hackers For Global Cyberattacks

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 2:18pm
Updated at 2:57 p.m. ET The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against three North Korean hackers for allegedly conducting a series of destructive cyberattacks, computer-enabled bank thefts and cryptocurrency heists around the world. Prosecutors say the defendants — Jon Chang Hyok, Kim Il and Park Jin Hyok — are members of North Korea's military intelligence agency known as the Reconnaissance General Bureau. They face charges of conspiracy to commit computer fraud and conspiracy to commit wire and bank fraud. "As laid out in today's indictment, North Korea's operatives, using keyboards rather than guns, stealing digital wallets of cryptocurrency instead of sacks of cash, are the world's leading 21st century nation-state bank robbers," said John Demers, the assistant attorney general for national security. According to the indictment, the three men attempted to steal and extort more than $1.3 billion in cash and cryptocurrency from their victims. The indictment builds on a

In Seconds, Atlantic City's Trump Plaza Hotel And Casino Is Reduced To Rubble

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 2:06pm
Former President Donald Trump's shuttered hotel and casino in Atlantic City, N.J., was demolished Wednesday morning, collapsing amid gentle cheers from the crowd. At about 9 a.m., a series of controlled explosions were heard before the 39-story building imploded on itself. The whole process unfolded in less than 30 seconds, from start to finish. The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino opened its doors in 1984. For a brief period, it was the most successful casino in Atlantic City, The Associated Press reported . But by the time it closed its doors in 2014, it was the poorest-performing casino in town. The plaza was purchased by billionaire Carl Icahn in 2016. He also purchased the Trump Taj Mahal, which he later sold to Hard Rock Café International, NPR previously reported . Controlled demolition for Trump Plaza was originally scheduled for Jan. 29. The city had planned to auction off the chance to blow the building up to the highest bidder, pressing the button from anywhere in the world or

Winter Storm Leaves Many In Texas Without Power And Water

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 2:00pm
Updated at 6:30 p.m. ET Nearly 3 million homes and businesses in Texas remain without power, some for a third consecutive day, as severe winter weather continues to pummel the state, forcing some localities to issue boil-water notices and urge residents to reduce their electricity usage. Heavy snowfall, ice storms and bitter temperatures continue to put an enormous strain on the state's power grid. This as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages roughly 75% of the Texas power grid, announced Wednesday morning that some 600,000 households had power restored overnight. Officials in Houston also issued a boil-water notice for the city's residents Wednesday. "Do no[t] drink the water without boiling it first," Houston Public Works said from its official Twitter account . "Bring all water to a boil for at least two minutes. Let it cool before using." In Harris County, which includes Houston, Judge Lina Hidalgo warned residents about extended power outages. "Let me

Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh, A Conservative Lodestar, Dies At 70

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 1:55pm
Conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh, who entertained millions and propelled waves of Republican politicians, has died at age 70. He had announced to listeners last year that he had stage four lung cancer. Limbaugh's death Wednesday morning was confirmed by his wife, Kathryn, at the start of his radio program. Before right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, before Fox News, there was Limbaugh. His voice entertained millions of listeners, cheered conservatives hungry to see their beliefs reflected on the airwaves, and elevated long-shot Republicans to national prominence. "I always say my real purpose is to attract the largest audience I can, and hold it for as long as I can, so I can charge confiscatory advertising rates," Limbaugh told NPR in a 2007 interview. "Every time I've said that, it's, 'Oh, he's just saying that! He doesn't care what he says! He's just trying to generate a big audience!' And that's not true. The benefit here is, I have the freedom to be entirely honest

Indian Woman Sued For Defamation Over #MeToo Complaint Against Her Boss Is Acquitted

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 1:49pm
A court in New Delhi delivered a verdict Wednesday in one of India's most high-profile #MeToo cases. But it was the accuser herself who was on trial, not the man she alleged had sexually harassed her. In 2018, when journalist Priya Ramani accused her former editor of sexually harassing her in a hotel room two decades earlier, it triggered a flood of similar allegations against Mobashar Jawed Akbar, who goes by M.J. Akbar and had since become a government minister. More than 20 other women came forward with similar stories, including allegations of rape . They fueled the #MeToo movement in India . Akbar denied the allegations and sued Ramani for criminal defamation. On Wednesday, she was acquitted. "I feel vindicated on behalf of all the women who have ever spoken out against sexual harassment," a smiling Ramani told reporters outside the courtroom. In October 2018, Ramani tweeted that the unnamed "male boss" she had described in an article for Vogue , who made inappropriate advances

What Will Tesla's New German Gigafactory Mean For Germany's Auto Industry?

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 12:33pm
Seven years ago, Mathias Döpfner was at a ceremony celebrating Tesla founder Elon Musk. Döpfner, the head of German media company Axel Springer, was seated next to a CEO of one of Germany's biggest carmakers, and he turned to him and asked, "Isn't this guy dangerous for you?" As he later recounted , the CEO shook his head. "These guys in Silicon Valley, they have no clue about engineering, about building really beautiful and great cars," the CEO told him. "So we don't have to worry." At the time, the value of Tesla's shares was $23 billion, a quarter of that of Germany's largest carmaker, Volkswagen. But times have changed. Tesla's market capitalization has skyrocketed to more than $700 billion, more than three times that of Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW — Germany's three largest automakers — put together. To make matters worse for Tesla's German competitors, Musk is overseeing the finishing touches on his company's latest project — Tesla's newest Gigafactory, in a town southeast of

Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, February 17

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 11:31am
First hour: Debating the presence of police in schools Second hour: Discussing the RPO's 2020-2021 season with new music director Andreas Delfs

Shoppers Splurged In January As New Stimulus Checks Arrived

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 10:33am
As it turns out, January was for shopping. Retail spending soared 5.3% last month compared to December, much more than anticipated, as U.S. families began receiving new federal coronavirus relief checks. People bought more across the board last month, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday : furniture, electronics, clothes, sports equipment, restaurant food, groceries. In a replay of early fall , hard-hit department stores saw the biggest gains. Spending there jumped 23.5% compared to December, still below what it was before the pandemic hit, but inching closer. Overall, most retail categories have surged past and beyond their pre-pandemic levels. Only five remain down compared to January of last year: clothing stores (-11.1%), gas stations (-7.8%), electronics and appliance stores (-3.5%), department stores (-3%) and of course restaurants and bars (-16.6%). Retail sales — which include spending on household goods and clothing, gasoline and cars, food and drink — are a key factor

Health Foundation follows up on disparities and system racism

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 9:13am
A local organization says that the recent incident involving a 9-year-old girl who was handcuffed and pepper-sprayed by police highlights the need for change in dealing with health disparities and systemic racism. The Greater Rochester Health Foundation recently sent a letter out to its supporters and partners pointing to the incident as an example of the need to design systems that can provide compassionate treatment, free from discrimination by race or other identities.

News Brief: Texas Power Outage, Biden Town Hall, Troops In Afghanistan

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 7:05am
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit NOEL KING, HOST: The situation for people in Texas is still perilous today. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: Millions of people don't have electricity and many haven't for up to three days. It's freezing outside. There's no water for many people. Grocery stores are running out of food. And in a big winter storm, many elements of the state's electrical grid have failed. KING: Joey Palacios from Texas Public Radio is on the line with us from San Antonio. Hi, Joey. JOEY PALACIOS, BYLINE: Hi, Noel. KING: I know your power has been on and off. Do you have electricity right this moment? PALACIOS: No, actually, I don't, haven't had power for about 48 hours now. KING: Oh, my goodness. And so how are you adapting? What are you doing? Are you OK? PALACIOS: I'm under, like, three blankets right now. I have a sweater. I have jacket. I have a robe. I'm wearing two layers of pajama pants right now. So it's an all layered affair at the moment. KING: OK. I can hear you

In Rochester, local mushers take on snowy winters with dogs and kicksleds

WXXI US News - Wed, 02/17/2021 - 7:00am
If you're in Cobbs Hill on a snowy day, you might just see an unfamiliar sight. Two dogs pulling Pippa Kohn through the streets, or through the park, on her kicksled. Kohn and her husband Ben Thompson live in Rochester, with their three dogs. Two huskies, Koda and Fritz, and a dutch shepherd named Ivan. And as often as they can, they all get suited up to go dogsledding. “It’s been a real talking piece,” said Kohn. “Last time we were out someone told us, ‘Wow! That seems like a really cool way to exercise your dog!’” Kohn has been fascinated with the idea of dog sledding since she learned about the iditarod in the fourth grade. She grew up in Western New York, and always loved the snow, and dogs. “When I was nine I actually asked my parents for a sled dog team, which I didn’t get.” she said. “But the desire to try dog sledding and wanting a husky kept with me.” It wasn’t until five years ago, while she was living in Washington State, that she and her husband adopted their first husky,
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