National News Content

As Campus Life Resumes, So Does Concern Over Hazing

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 7:09pm
There were zero reported deaths from college hazing incidents in 2020, but as campuses reopen to students, there have already been two hazing-related deaths this year. Eight men face a range of charges, including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, evidence tampering and failure to comply with underage alcohol laws, after Stone Foltz, a sophomore at Bowling Green State University, died on March 7 of alcohol poisoning. At a news conference on April 29, Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson described the fraternity event in which initiates were told to drink 750 milliliters of hard alcohol — or about 40 shots, according to Hank Nuwer, editor of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives . Dobson said Foltz's death was "the result of a fatal level of alcohol intoxication during a hazing incident." Experts like Nuwer are concerned that as students return to in-person learning and are eager to take part in "the college experience," more hazing-related deaths may be on the way. "There seems to be

New York lawmakers mandate minimum staffing for nursing homes, hospitals

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 6:35pm
The New York State Legislature approved measures that will require hospitals and nursing homes to meet minimum staffing levels of nurses and other health care staff. Measures mandating minimum staffing at health care facilities have been around for several years, but the spotlight on stressed and understaffed hospitals and nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic finally prompted the bill’s passage. Senate sponsor and Health Committee chair Gustavo Rivera spoke before the vote. “This is an historic moment,” said Rivera, who added that in the decade he’s held office, he’s had more meetings on the topic than any other issue. The measures provide different approaches to hospitals and nursing homes. The state health commissioner would establish minimum staffing levels for nursing homes and would impose civil penalties if the homes fail to meet the minimum standards. Each resident would receive an average of 3.5 hours of care a day, with at least one hour from registered or licensed

Census shows population fell in Monroe County, metro area

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:40pm
Monroe County and the Rochester metropolitan area both lost population over the past decade, according to data released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. The Rochester metropolitan area, which includes the city, Monroe County, and several neighboring counties, fell 1.1 percent to 1,067,486 in 2020 from 1,079,671 in 2010, according to census figures. Monroe County’s population fell by 0.5 percent, dropping to 740,900 in 2020 from 744,344 in 2010. The Census Bureau hasn’t yet released a standalone population count for the city. The population losses captured in the census are not precipitous, but they represent a reversal in direction. This is only the second time since the county was founded in 1821 that the decennial census showed a population decline. The last time was in 1980, when the county’s official population fell to 702,238 from 711,917 in 1970. Between 1960 and 1970, the headcount had grown by over 20 percent, just as it did between 1950 and 1960. In recent decades, Monroe

Monroe County COVID-19 data: 197 new cases, 5 new deaths

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:26pm
Monroe County's latest COVID-19 data, released Tuesday, shows 197 new cases. Five people also died between April 8-26. The county's seven-day rolling average of new cases is 213 per day, and the average positivity rate is 3%. There are 221 people in the Finger Lakes region who are hospitalized; 46 of them are in the intensive care unit. Nearly 51% of Monroe County residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and almost 40% are fully vaccinated. The percentage of total hospital beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a seven-day rolling average is 39%; the percentage of available ICU beds is 44%. Here is the age breakdown of the latest COVID-19 cases in Monroe County:

Man Who Shot And Killed 3 At Kansas Jewish Centers Dies In Prison

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:21pm
Frazier Glenn Miller Jr., a lifelong, unrepentant white supremacist who shot and killed three people outside a Jewish community center and retirement home in suburban Kansas City in 2014, has died in prison. Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross, dedicated his life to white supremacy. He spent decades writing and spreading racist and antisemitic messages and threatening and inflicting violence against liberals, Blacks and Jews. A lifetime of hate culminated in the attacks on the two Jewish sites in Overland Park, Kan., after which he was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. As NPR's Embedded has reported , his case has been cited as a cautionary tale about law enforcement's failure to take seriously the threat of violence posed by white supremacists. Miller, whose execution by lethal injection was pending active legal appeals, died in the El Dorado Correctional Facility in Kansas on Monday. He was 80 years old. An official cause of death was not immediately available, though

Warren proposes Office of Neighborhood Safety

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 5:06pm
When Mayor Lovely Warren submits her budget proposal to Rochester City Council later this month, the spending plan will include funding for a new Office of Neighborhood Safety, which officials intend to serve as a hub for the city’s violence reduction initiatives. How much the city will invest in the office remains an open question, however. Much like other cities across the country, Rochester has seen a spike in violence over the past year. There have been 22 homicides in the city this year, with nearly three-quarters of those deaths the result of gun violence, according to the Rochester Police Department. The average age of victims is 32, and 13 of the 22 cases remain open. Warren first announced that she would create the Office of Neighborhood Safety during her State of the City address in January. She held a news conference Tuesday at Father Laurence Tracy Advocacy Center on North Clinton Avenue to release additional details about the office, which would be community-led and

Deadly Protests Continue In Colombia

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:22pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Protests over the president of Colombia's plan to raise taxes have turned deadly. At least 19 people have died following a crackdown by the police in response, and starting last week, tens of thousands have taken to the streets. The president has since walked the plan back. The finance minister announced he'll resign. However, it's done little to quell protesters' momentum. Earlier today, we spoke with Ramon Campos, an independent journalist from Colombia, about why and what the protesters say is so problematic with the tax plan. RAMON CAMPOS: The tax reform bill has lots of different elements, but the most problematic one was the fact that the government was proposing to apply a VAT tax to different food staples that didn't have it before. So coffee was one of them, and it really sort of broke the camel's back because coffee has never had a VAT tax in Colombia - coffee and other elements, too, also things like electricity and

Texas Lawmakers Debate Measures To Protect Against Future Power Failures

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:22pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit AILSA CHANG, HOST: After deadly blackouts gripped Texas in February, state lawmakers vowed to protect people from future power failures. But now lawmakers are pushing measures that critics say could do the opposite. As Mose Buchele of member station KUT reports, they may also threaten the growth of renewable energy in Texas. MOSE BUCHELE, BYLINE: When weather forecasters warned of the winter storm heading to Marfa, Texas, in February, Lesley Villarreal started getting text messages from friends. They were asking if they could come over if the power failed. That's because not only does her house have a gas stove; it's got old-fashioned gas heaters, too. LESLEY VILLARREAL: We don't really use that often because it's not maybe the safest thing because you're talking about some, like, old gas heaters that actually have flame. Like, there's fire. BUCHELE: But they keep the house warm without electricity. She says over three days without power, her

Tech Sees Bigger Opportunity In Utah — If The State Works On Its Image

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:11pm
On any given day, half a dozen cranes tower over the "Silicon Slopes" region just south of Salt Lake City erecting glassy office buildings to make more room for Utah's steadily growing tech industry. Companies and the state want that growth to continue, but industry leaders argue that to do so, Utah's image needs some work. That's why tech lobbyists such as Sunny Washington are pushing for more socially inclusive legislation at the state Capitol. Washington works for the industry's advocacy organization, also called Silicon Slopes. "As much as companies try to do all the active outreach, it can honestly be undone if we have some crazy law that is not very reflective of our state," Washington says. She and other lobbyists argued against an unsuccessful bill that would have banned transgender girls from competing on girls' school sports teams. They also supported legislation to change the name of Dixie State University, whose name is associated with the Confederacy. "We have a lot of

White House Commits Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars To Increase Vaccine Access

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:11pm
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit AILSA CHANG, HOST: July 4 - that is the deadline President Biden is setting to get 70% of American adults at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot. Biden is also pledging hundreds of millions of dollars to expand vaccine access and to bolster vaccine confidence. About a third of the country has been vaccinated so far. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The light at the end of the tunnel is actually growing brighter and brighter, so Americans have sacrificed and served to make this progress possible, showing the best of who we are as a people. We need you. We need you to bring it home, get vaccinated. CHANG: But vaccination rates are dropping, and public health restrictions can't be lifted until a bigger portion of the country gets vaccinated. We're going to talk about all of this now with White House senior advisor for COVID response, Andy Slavitt. Welcome. ANDY SLAVITT: (Inaudible) for having me on, Ailsa. CHANG: Thank you for being

Charlie Crist To Run Against DeSantis In Florida Governor's Race

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 4:11pm
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: There were zero reported deaths from college hazing incidents in 2020, but the pandemic lull on campuses is fading. And six young men have been charged with manslaughter after a sophomore at Bowling Green State University died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party. It's the second hazing-related death this year. Experts like Hank Nuwer are concerned that more may be on the way. He's an emeritus professor of journalism at Franklin College. He's written five books on hazing. Welcome to the program. HANK NUWER: Thank you. CORNISH: Can you give us just shortly the details of the Ohio case? NUWER: Well, Ohio's had several problems this particular year. But Stone Foltz died at Bowling Green State University. He was asked to drink a handle of alcohol, which amounts to 40 shots. CORNISH: As I mentioned, several people have been charged in this case. And among those charges, there's involuntary manslaughter, hazing, obstruction of justice. How common are charges at all

Supreme Court Weighs Crack Cocaine Sentencing Disparity

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:57pm
The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case involving sentencing disparities between people found guilty of possessing crack cocaine and those possessing powdered forms, and whether recent changes in federal law should apply retroactively to those given long prison terms for small amounts of crack. The case stems from changes to the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act, which put in place sentences for crack cocaine possession that were 100 times more severe than those for the powered form of the drug. The disparity was seen by many as racially motivated, as those sentenced for crack possession were proportionally more likely to be Black. In 2010, Congress and the Obama administration amended the law to reduce the sentencing disparities between the two forms of cocaine to 18-to-1, and in 2018, lawmakers and the Trump administration made the change retroactive, affecting those still serving time under the original statute. But Congress left out sentences for low levels of crack from

Tourism official sees reason for optimism as some pandemic restrictions ease

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:54pm
As pandemic restrictions ease and vaccinations increase, a local tourism organization is looking for more visitors to come to the Rochester area this summer. Visit Rochester had put some of its marketing plans on hold for a while during the pandemic. And even though COVID-19 is still around, things are easing in terms of restrictions, and more people are getting vaccinated, so that tourism agency is restarting its marketing efforts. That’s according to the President & CEO of Visit Rochester, Don Jeffries. He said that they are focusing on the fact that Rochester is a relatively easy market to drive to, since it’s within a 5-hour drive of a third of the U.S. population. Jeffries said that includes major northeastern cities as well as communities across New York state. “And we’re targeting those markets, particularly Buffalo, Albany, Binghamton, Syracuse. We target those markets because they’re good ‘drive’ markets. We also have another marketing campaign ready to go, the minute they

Trees Talk To Each Other. 'Mother Tree' Ecologist Hears Lessons For People, Too

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:39pm
Trees are "social creatures" that communicate with each other in cooperative ways that hold lessons for humans, too, ecologist Suzanne Simard says. Simard grew up in Canadian forests as a descendant of loggers before becoming a forestry ecologist. She's now a professor of forest ecology at the University of British Columbia. Trees are linked to neighboring trees by an underground network of fungi that resembles the neural networks in the brain, she explains. In one study, Simard watched as a Douglas fir that had been injured by insects appeared to send chemical warning signals to a ponderosa pine growing nearby. The pine tree then produced defense enzymes to protect against the insect. "This was a breakthrough," Simard says. The trees were sharing "information that actually is important to the health of the whole forest." In addition to warning each other of danger, Simard says that trees have been known to share nutrients at critical times to keep each other healthy. She says the

Connections: An update on how the pandemic has affected rates of domestic violence & sexual assault

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:30pm
According to a new report for the Council on Criminal Justice, during lockdowns, rates of domestic violence rose by an average of about eight percent in the U.S. and across the globe. The data represents people who were able to seek help. In October, we were joined by representatives from RESOLVE of Greater Rochester and Willow Domestic Violence Center to discuss how social isolation, unemployment, and stay at home orders were impacting victims of violence and assault. We reexamine the issue now, more than a year into the pandemic. We also discuss how to help people who may be seeking help. Our guests: Mary Whittier , interim CEO of RESOLVE of Greater Rochester Meaghan de Chateauvieux , president and CEO of Willow Domestic Violence Center "Marie", intimate partner abuse survivor

Connections: Heather McGhee on her book, "The Sum of Us"

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:27pm
In her new book, Heather McGhee argues that America will not reach its potential until white people understand that racism hurts everybody. McGhee uses historical examples to make her case -- from the subprime mortgage crisis to the filling and closing of formerly all-white public swimming pools. Her book is called "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together." She'll be a keynote speaker at Monroe Community College on May 19, but first, she joins us on Connections. Our guest: Heather McGhee , author of "The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together"

Biden Sets New Goal: At Least 70% Of Adults Given 1 Vaccine Dose By July 4

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 2:06pm
Updated May 4, 2021 at 3:43 PM ET President Biden on Tuesday announced a new goal to administer at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of American adults by the Fourth of July. The administration also aims to have 160 million adults fully vaccinated by then, a push to improve the level of immunity in the country to the point where the coronavirus has less of an opportunity to spread and so that more public health restrictions can be lifted, administration officials told reporters. As of Monday, more than 246 million vaccine doses have been administered across the United States. More than 56% of the adult population has received at least one dose , while 40% of adults have gotten two doses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The July Fourth goal would mean about 100 million shots during the next 60 days — a slowdown from the earlier vaccination pace , and a recognition that those most eager to get the shot have already done so, administration officials

Pfizer Says FDA Will Soon Authorize COVID-19 Vaccine For 12-15 Age Group

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 1:24pm
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to authorize the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for children 12 to 15 years old, a decision that could come by some time early next week. The vaccine is currently authorized only for people age 16 and older. A ruling should come "shortly," Pfizer Chairman and CEO Albert Bourla told investors in a conference call Tuesday morning. The company announced in late March that it would ask the FDA to expand its emergency use authorization to allow younger people to receive the vaccine, citing clinical trials that showed the vaccine elicits "100% efficacy and robust antibody responses" in adolescents from 12 to 15 years old. News of the pending authorization comes as children now represent a rising proportion of new coronavirus cases in the U.S., where more than 100 million adults have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Pfizer is conducting pediatric studies to determine the safety and benefits of administering its vaccine to young

Cuomo signs eviction moratorium extension 

WXXI US News - Tue, 05/04/2021 - 12:39pm
Saying the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic aren’t over, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signed a measure passed by the New York State Legislature that extends a moratorium on evictions through Aug. 31. "As we approach the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, it is critical that we continue to protect both New York's tenants and business owners who have suffered tremendous hardship throughout this entire pandemic," Cuomo said. "Extending this legislation will help to ensure that vulnerable New Yorkers and business owners who are facing eviction through no fault of their own are able to keep their homes and businesses as we continue on the road to recovery and begin to build back our economy better than it was before." Opponents said the measure doesn’t do enough to help landlords and should end earlier. The protections for tenants and small landlords ended May 1. Under the extension, renters can continue through August to cite economic hardship caused by the pandemic as a
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