National News Content

A Fire And Cyberattack Cause Major Blackouts Across Puerto Rico

WXXI US News - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 3:22am
A large fire at an electrical substation for Puerto Rico's new electricity provider, Luma Energy, knocked out power for hundreds of thousands of the island's residents Thursday. At the height of the blackout, nearly 800,000 customers were without power, according to Luma. By midnight, roughly 60,000 customers were still in the dark. "The fire caused major blackouts across the entire island. The situation is under assessment and work is being done to restore the system," LUMA Energy tweeted. The fire and blackout were not the only crises facing Luma on Thursday. Earlier that day, the company announced its client portal and mobile app fell victim to a cyberattack that disrupted customer access to its online services. The DDoS attack, or distributed denial of service attack, generated 2 million visits per second to the client portal and mobile app, impacting many customers' ability to access account information, according to Luma. The company said in a statement that it "regrets that its

Lyme Disease-Carrying Ticks Are Turning Up On California's Beaches

WXXI US News - Fri, 06/11/2021 - 1:17am
As temperatures rise in California and people in search of respite head for the beach, there's a new concern beyond damaging sun rays and strong undercurrents: disease-carrying ticks that appear to be spreading all along the Golden State's coast. The black-legged arachnids that carry Borrelia burgdorferi , the bacterium that causes Lyme, are common on the East Coast, where they usually are found in wooded areas and tall grass. But new research shows the blood-sucking critters are capable of thriving along the West Coast too, though experts don't exactly know why or how. An unexpected home in California Dan Salkeld, a biology researcher at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, led a four-year study that found the ticks on beaches along much of Northern California, from Mendocino County down to Monterey County. It appears they're also moving further south, including to Malibu, Manhattan Beach and Newport Beach, Salkeld told NPR affiliate KCRW — though he notes that the threat of

2 Artists Want G-7 Leaders To End E-Waste. So They Sculpted Them Out Of Trash

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 8:00pm
CARBIS BAY, England — Security is tight in the English county of Cornwall as President Biden and other leaders of the Group of Seven – seven of the world's wealthiest countries — prepare to meet for a weekend summit beginning Friday. But if you want to catch a firsthand glimpse of Biden, Germany's Angela Merkel or the other powerful politicians, your best bet may be a two-story sculpture that replicates their likenesses using electronic waste in the hills overlooking the resort where they are meeting. The sculpture, which is drawing large crowds, is arranged like Mount Rushmore — but with the G-7 leaders instead of U.S. presidents. The sculptors, artists Joe Rush and Alex Wreckage, have dubbed it "Mount Recyclemore." Rush says he hopes the leaders spotted it on their flights to Cornwall and that it encourages them to address the world's avalanche of e-waste. "The message is we have to find a way of dealing with this electrical waste that we're producing, because we haven't got ways of

10 Senators Say They Agree On Infrastructure 'Framework' — But There Are Few Details

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 7:08pm
Updated June 10, 2021 at 7:53 PM ET A bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators says they agree on a "framework" for a deal on an infrastructure package, but the members did not release any details and top leaders from both parties have been mostly silent on the development. According to two sources familiar with the negotiations, the agreement is focused on "core, physical infrastructure." The proposal would cost $1.2 trillion over eight years and include $579 billion in new spending. The plan would not have any tax hikes, and aides did not provide any further details on how the costs would be offset. In a short statement, the group of five Republicans and five Democrats didn't give any details on the size or scope of the proposal but said it would be "fully paid for and not include tax increases." "We are discussing our approach with our respective colleagues, and the White House, and remain optimistic that this can lay the groundwork to garner broad support from both parties and meet

Legislative session draws to a quieter close

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 5:39pm
New York’s legislative session is drawing to a close, but without the usual frenzy of hallways crowded with lobbyists and protesters and few last minute backroom deals. For the second year in a row, the New York State Capitol has been off limits to visitors, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing multiple scandals, is largely isolated from the negotiations. COVID -19 pandemic restrictions have been lifted in New York in recent weeks, and sports stadiums, theaters, restaurants and bars are opening back up. The Capitol, though, remains closed to the public, and has been since March 2020. Advocates for changes to the state’s parole laws to allow elderly incarcerated persons a chance at a parole hearing, camped in tents on the lawn outside and made speeches through a bullhorn, perhaps hoping they would be heard inside the Capitol’s 6-foot thick granite walls. Scott Wexler, executive director of the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association, was part of a news conference held in an underground

The Senate Has Just Confirmed The First Muslim American Federal Judge In U.S. History

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 5:29pm
Updated June 10, 2021 at 5:27 PM ET A son of Pakistani immigrants has just been confirmed by the Senate as the first Muslim American federal judge in U.S. history. Zahid Quraishi was confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey by a vote of 81-16 on Thursday. "It's a historic appointment as the first Muslim Article 3 judge in history. He just has this long, very enviable record of public service," Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, told NPR. Quraishi's father, Nisar, emigrated to New York from Pakistan in 1970. The elder Quraishi opened a medical practice and continued seeing patients until he died of complications from coronavirus in April 2020. He served two tours in Iraq Quraishi, a graduate of Rutgers Law School , was in an active law practice but gave that up to join the Army after the 9/11 attacks, Tobias said. He served two tours in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004 and 2006. In 2019, he was appointed as a U.S.

Dawson Company tapped as Bull’s Head developer

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 5:06pm
City of Rochester officials have selected The Dawson Company of Atlanta, Georgia to serve as the prime developer for the planned Bull’s Head revitalization project. The 12-acre plot located at the crossroads of Brown Road, Genesee, and West Main Streets was, at one point in time, a thriving commercial hub. But those days have long since passed. Today, vacant buildings outnumber businesses in the Bull’s Head neighborhood, and while city administrations have for about 20 years attempted to breathe new life into the area, little progress has been made. Under the administration of Mayor Lovely Warren, the city acquired the parcels that make up the 12-acre development site, as well as Bull’s Head Plaza on the corner of Genesee and West Main streets. The undertaking cost about $11 million. Warren, at a news conference Thursday, stated the goal of the development is to bring the neighborhood back to its former glory. “(Dawson) are dedicated to reversing the red-lining, the disinvestment, and

Labor Department Issues Emergency Rules to Protect Health Care Workers From Covid

Latest Updates From Kaiser Health News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 5:05pm

Labor Department officials on Thursday announced a temporary emergency standard to protect health care workers, saying they face “grave danger” in the workplace from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The new standard would require employers to remove workers who have covid-19 from the workplace, notify workers of covid exposure at work and strengthen requirements for employers to report worker deaths or hospitalizations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“These are the workers who continue to go into work day in and day out to take care of us, to save our lives,” said Jim Frederick, acting assistant secretary of Labor for occupational safety and health. “And we must make sure we do everything in our power to return the favor to protect them.”

The new rules are set to take effect immediately after publication in the Federal Register and are expected to affect about 10.3 million health care workers nationwide.

The government’s statement of reasons for the new rules cites the work of KHN and The Guardian in tallying more than 3,600 health care worker covid deaths through April 8. Journalists documented far more deaths than the limited count by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which through May tallied 1,611 deaths on case-reporting forms that were often incomplete.

The Lost on the Frontline project documented early calls for better respiratory protection for health care workers than loose-fitting face masks, noted serious complaints to OSHA from hospital workers that went unaddressed and revealed repeated employer failures to report dozens of worker deaths. It also found that health care employers were often remiss in notifying workers about exposure to the coronavirus on the job.

The new standard would address some of those problems.

The rules require workers to wear N95 or elastomeric respirators when in contact with people with either suspected or confirmed covid. They strengthen employer record-keeping requirements, saying employers must document all worker covid cases (regardless of whether they were deemed work-related) and report work-related deaths even if they occur more than 30 days after exposure.

Until now, employers were required to report a hospitalization only if it came within 24 hours of a workplace exposure. Now all work-related covid hospitalizations must be reported. The rules also mandate notification about exposure to a sick colleague, patient or customer if the worker was not wearing a respirator.

There is a lot to like about the new rule ― except for the timing, according to Barbara Rosen, vice president of the Health Professionals and Allied Employees union in New Jersey.

“It’s a little late,” she said. “If we had had this in place at the beginning, it would have saved a lot of lives and a lot of suffering that has gone on with health care workers and probably patients in hospitals because of the spread.”

She said she was pleased with the requirement that workers be paid when they isolate with covid and that employers formulate a detailed covid plan with the input of non-managers.

The day after he took office, President Joe Biden issued an executive order calling on OSHA to “take swift action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace.” The rule has been criticized for coming late — about which Labor Department officials said on a press call that such standards typically take years, not months, to formulate. It has also been derided for failing to enact requirements on employers outside of health care.

“OSHA’s failure to issue a COVID-specific standard in other high-risk industries, like meat and poultry processing, corrections, homeless shelters and retail establishments is disappointing,” according to a statement from David Michaels, a former OSHA administrator and professor with the George Washington University School of Public Health. “If exposure is not controlled in these workplaces, they will continue to be important drivers of infections.”

The new rule also cites 67,000 worker complaints during the pandemic, with “more complaints about healthcare settings than any other industry.” The rule would protect workers from retaliation for staying home when sick with covid, alerting their employer about a covid hazard or exercising their rights under the emergency rule.

Through March 7, about half of health care workers said they had received at least their first dose of a covid vaccine, according to a KFF-Washington Post poll. About one-third of those polled said they were unsure if they would get a vaccine. The issue has been controversial, especially in Houston, where workers at one hospital staged a protest over their employer’s vaccine mandate.

The new rules exempt some office-based health care workplaces where all staff members are vaccinated and measures are taken to screen people with potential illness. The rule summary estimates the measures will prevent 776 deaths and 295,000 infections.

The new rule also says it will “enable OSHA to issue more meaningful penalties for willful or egregious violations, thus facilitating better enforcement and more effective deterrence against employers who intentionally disregard … employee safety.”

Kristin Carbone said the measure came too late for her mother, Barbara Birchenough, 65, a New Jersey hospital nurse who’d asked family members to gather gardening gloves and trash bags to serve as makeshift personal protective equipment before she fell ill and later died on April 15, 2020. Still, she said, it’s a necessary step.

“If there is a silver lining,” she said, “I’m glad that out of this tragedy come positives for the people that are left behind.”

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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New Report Details Firsthand Accounts Of Torture From Uyghur Muslims In China

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 5:03pm
According to a new report from Amnesty International published Thursday, the Chinese government's actions against people in Muslim minority groups in the country constitute crimes against humanity. The report details systematic state-organized mass imprisonment, torture and persecution against people in Xinjiang province, including Uyghurs and Kazakhs. It also details the extensive cover-up efforts by the Chinese government. More than 50 people who've been detained in camps contributed testimonies to Amnesty International's report, and every single one of them said they were tortured or otherwise mistreated. The United Nations has said that up to 1.5 million Uyghurs are in internment camps in China. Speaking to NPR's Weekend Edition last year, Adrian Zenz, senior fellow in China studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, called it probably the largest incarceration of an ethnoreligious minority since the Holocaust and said the effort meets the U.N.'s definition of

Welcome To Froggyland, The Croatian Taxidermy Museum That May Soon Come To The U.S.

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
SPLIT, Croatia — There's a lot of hype surrounding Froggyland . The brochure for the museum, located outside the walls of Split's ancient palace built for the 4th century Roman Emperor Diocletian, declares: "Froggyland and first love will never be forgotten!" On the travel website Tripadvisor , Froggyland has 644 reviews, six times more than the local fine art museum and twice that of the city's world-renowned archaeological museum. It even outperforms the "Game of Thrones" museum; parts of the series were filmed nearby. Most of the reviews have five stars, like this one : "Froggytastic!!! Probably the best stuffed frog museum I have ever visited." The sounds of a lily pad pond piped through outdoor speakers greet visitors. Inside, it's quiet, because the 507 frogs on display have been dead for more than a century. But they look very much alive, thanks to the work of Ferenc Mere, a mustached Hungarian taxidermist who lived from 1878 to 1947 and spent 10 of his years catching frogs,

The Odds Of Kyrsten Sinema Striking An Infrastructure Deal With Republicans Are Slim

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: Bipartisan negotiations between President Biden and West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito failed to reach a deal this week on an infrastructure package. On Capitol Hill, a new round of talks has begun. This time, they are being led by the Senate's second-most talked about moderate. That would be Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis is here to take a little bit of a deeper look at what this senator is bringing to the table. Hey, Sue. SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Hey there. KELLY: All right. So what is - what's Sinema's role? What is her goal with this fresh round of infrastructure talks? DAVIS: Well, she's leading the talks along with Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio. Sinema, like Manchin, has really tried to build these quiet friendships and relationships across the aisle. This is a smaller group of 10 senators. It's not a direct negotiation with the White House. It's

U.S. To Donate 500 Million Doses Of COVID-19 Vaccine Globally

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: The U.S. will donate 500 million doses of COVID vaccine to the rest of the world. President Biden made that announcement today in Cornwall, England. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And in this moment, our values call on us to do everything that we can to vaccinate the world against COVID-19. It's also in America's self-interest. As long as the virus rages elsewhere, there's a risk of new mutations that could threaten our people. KELLY: Well, to help answer some of the questions raised by this plan, let's bring in the man in charge of it. Jeff Zients is the White House coronavirus response coordinator. He's traveling with the president, and we've got him on the line now from Cornwall, England. Mr. Zients, welcome. JEFF ZIENTS: Well, please, Jasmine (ph), it's a pleasure to be with you. KELLY: Glad to have you with us. All right. Let's walk through this - 500 million doses that the U.S. will give to

Putin Meeting Will Test Biden's Vow To Prioritize Human Rights

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
AILSA CHANG, HOST: As President Biden and the other G-7 leaders from some of the world's wealthiest economies prepare to meet for a weekend summit in the English county of Cornwall, one of the biggest attractions is a two-story sculpture that has emerged from the hills nearby. It's a reproduction of the faces of all seven leaders in the style of Mount Rushmore. But instead of stone, the sculptor's material is discarded electronics. And he has named his work Mount Recyclemore. NPR London correspondent Frank Langfitt is in Cornwall and joins us now. Hey, Frank. FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Hi, Ailsa. CHANG: Hi. So are you, like, literally next to the sculpture right now? (Laughter) What does it look like? LANGFITT: It's fascinating. And it's also become this big tourist attraction. There must be 60 or 70 people here staring at it. And what the artist has done is he's basically taken - I'll give you an example. If you look at Boris Johnson, his face is made of old Samsung phone backings. CHANG

French Ambassador Describes What He's Watching For On Biden's 1st Trip Overseas

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST: The U.S. and the U.K. are signing a new Atlantic Charter today outlining common values, signaling a renewal of the special relationship between the two nations. President Biden is in the U.K. today, Day 2 of a carefully choreographed trip to make the case that America is back, rejoining, recommitting to international alliances after four years of Trump and America first. After Britain, Biden heads to Brussels to meet with NATO leaders, EU leaders, what Biden calls like-minded democracies - among them, France. Philippe Etienne is France's ambassador to Washington, and he's on the line now to discuss what France will be watching for on this, Biden's first overseas trip as president. Ambassador, welcome back to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. PHILIPPE ETIENNE: Oh, thank you. Thank you very much, Mary Louise, for having me, and especially today, since yesterday, we have opened France to American citizens. So it's a good opportunity.

Omar Is Forced To Clarify After Democrats Say She Equated U.S., Israel With Terrorists

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 4:28pm
Rep. Ilhan Omar issued a statement clarifying comments she made this week that appeared to compare the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban, prompting criticism from both sides of the aisle and from Democratic leadership. The backlash unfolded when the Minnesota Democrat tweeted a video of her question to Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. Her caption on the tweet read: "We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban. I asked @SecBlinken where people are supposed to go for justice." A group of 12 Democrats, led by Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois, denounced Omar's comments in a joint statement late Wednesday. "Equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban is as offensive as it is misguided," the lawmakers said, asking Omar to clarify her remarks. "Ignoring the differences between democracies governed by the rule of law and contemptible organizations that

World Leaders Are Meeting To Tackle Climate Change And Pandemic Recovery

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 3:00pm
LONDON — For the first time in nearly two years, the leaders of seven of the world's wealthiest democracies will meet to try to tackle some of the biggest global problems, including the post-pandemic recovery, climate change and the challenge of China. The three-day meeting of the Group of Seven, hosted by the United Kingdom, will open on Friday in Carbis Bay , a seaside resort in Cornwall in southwest England. President Biden, who arrived in the U.K. on Wednesday on his first overseas trip since taking office, has big goals of his own: to reestablish U.S. global leadership and repair old friendships in the wake of the Trump years. During his time in the White House, former President Donald Trump famously criticized America's democratic allies — "the European Union is a foe," he claimed — and sometimes praised its authoritarian rivals, including Russia, which was kicked out of what was then the G-8 in 2014 for annexing Crimea. In Cornwall, Biden will strike a completely different tone.

Federal COVID Workplace Safety Rules Are Here. But Only For Health Care Workers

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 2:49pm
Fifteen months into the pandemic, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a mandatory workplace safety rule aimed at protecting workers from COVID-19. But it only applies to health care settings, a setback for unions and worker safety advocates who had called for much broader requirements. Called an emergency temporary standard, the rule takes effect as soon as it's published in the Federal Register and can remain in place for up to six months, during which a permanent rule could be considered. The new rule mandates that employers develop and implement a COVID-19 plan and take steps to reduce the chance of transmission, including keeping people at least 6 feet apart indoors, installing barriers between workstations where distancing is not possible, ensuring ventilation systems are working properly, and providing and ensuring each employee wears a face mask when indoors, or a respirator and other personal protective equipment when exposed to people with suspected or

Spring Numbers Show 'Dramatic' Drop In College Enrollment

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 2:43pm
Undergraduate college enrollment fell again this spring, down nearly 5% from a year ago. That means 727,000 fewer students, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse. "That's really dramatic," says Doug Shapiro, who leads the clearinghouse's research center. Fall enrollment numbers had indicated things were bad , with a 3.6% undergraduate decline compared with a year earlier, but experts were waiting to see if those students who held off in the fall would enroll in the spring. That didn't appear to happen. It's really the end of a truly frightening year for higher education. There will be no easy fixes or quick bounce backs. - Doug Shapiro, National Student Clearinghouse "Despite all kinds of hopes and expectations that things would get better, they've only gotten worse in the spring," Shapiro says. "It's really the end of a truly frightening year for higher education. There will be no easy fixes or quick bounce backs." Overall enrollment in undergraduate and

Another woman accuses Flagler-Mitchell of sexual harassment

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 2:42pm
Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell is facing new allegations, this time from a woman who claims he sexually harassed her after she asked for his assistance on a county Child Protective Services matter. The woman, whose name CITY is withholding, filed her complaint with the state Division of Human Rights on June 8. In it, she alleged that between August and October 2020, Flagler-Mitchell made unwanted sexual advances toward her. The Monroe County District Attorney's Office is also investigating the allegations, said spokesperson Calli Marianetti. Monroe County Legislators were provided with copies of the complaint Thursday. County Attorney John Bringewatt also sent a memo to Legislature President Joe Carbone notifying that if the County Legislature is sued over the matter, it will have to retain outside counsel to defend itself. He noted that the memo does not constitute authorization for Flagler-Mitchell to be “defended or indemnified at county expense.” In her complaint,

Little Lady Liberty: France Is Sending The U.S. A Second, Smaller Statue Of Liberty

WXXI US News - Thu, 06/10/2021 - 2:41pm
The Statue of Liberty will celebrate Independence Day with her little sister this year. One hundred thirty-five years after gifting the original Lady Liberty , France is sending a second, smaller Statue of Liberty across the Atlantic just in time for America's July Fourth festivities. The bronze sibling statue, nicknamed the "little sister," has been in France since its completion in 2009. The statue has a lot to look up to in her big sister. Standing at 9 feet and weighing nearly 1,000 pounds, the replica is one-sixteenth the size of the original. On June 19, the smaller sibling will board a shipping vessel in Le Havre, a port in Normandy, bound for New York Harbor and will be erected across from the original on Ellis Island after a nine-day voyage. Starting on June 20, its journey to New York can even be followed live online . Both statues will stand facing one another from July 1-5, and then the smaller one will be taken to Washington, D.C., to be installed at the French ambassador
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