National News Content

'Now Is Not The Time To Stop Wearing A Mask,' Says CDC Director Rochelle Walensky

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 7:41pm
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention voiced concern on Wednesday about the recent climb in the number of new cases of the coronavirus, warning that pandemic fatigue and the loosening of restrictions may be setting the stage for yet another surge this spring. In an interview with NPR's All Things Considered, Dr. Rochelle Walensky said the next few weeks could prove pivotal in determining whether nearly one year into the pandemic, the United States will finally be able to find its way out of the crisis. But she said the nation is facing headwinds from both the spread of highly transmissible variants of the virus, and efforts to roll back guidelines around everything from mask use to how quickly businesses can reopen. "I think the next two or three months could go in one of two directions," Walensky told host Ari Shapiro. "If things open up, if we're not really cautious, we could end up with a post-spring break surge the way we saw a post-Christmas surge. We

State-FEMA mass vaccination clinic opens in Rochester

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 7:08pm
Hundreds of Rochester residents received their first dose of the COVID vaccine Wednesday at the former Kodak Hawkeye location on St. Paul Street. New York state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency run the site, one of four mass vaccination clinics opened around the state to make the vaccine more accessible to underserved communities. At the site, health care worker Rico Jemison and his wife, Wilma, received their first dose together. Wilma has underlying health conditions, which qualifies her to receive a vaccine. Jemison said trying to schedule his wife’s vaccination appointment had become tedious because most places were booked 15 weeks out. “When this came out, we were able to get it set up within a day," said Jemison. Jemison said now that he and his wife are finally vaccinated, he’s hopeful and looking forward to the end of the pandemic. Appointments opened up last week, along with a multi-faceted campaign to fill the first slots reserved exclusively for Rochester

SUNY Educational Opportunity Centers expand free workforce training

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:41pm
SUNY Educational Opportunity Centers are expanding their online workforce training with more options for students. That includes certifications in childhood development, emergency telecommunications and entrepreneurial skills. While COVID-19 has greatly affected the economy, it was already in flux before the pandemic hit, said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras. “We are changing from basically a manufacturing type of economy to an information economy and that’s changing even with artificial intelligence and automation, which just requires more training in our society,” Malatras said. According to the state comptroller’s office, more than 12 percent of jobs in New York state were lost last year. “How do you rebuild back? You rebuild back into those areas that were already growing that require new training that require new degrees. This is our biggest obligation." Malatras added that nine of the 20 academic and career training programs offered are “self-paced” so that students can start at

Reed continues to eye governor’s mansion; timeline is ‘sooner rather than later’

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:24pm
Southern Tier Rep. Tom Reed is continuing to entertain the possibility that he’ll run for governor in 2022. The Corning Republican, whose district stretches across western New York, the Finger Lakes, and the Southern Tier, told reporters Wednesday he is monitoring the field of potential candidates and is still gathering input and support. “We’re in that process,” Reed said. “Gaining that additional input from stakeholders, but we are going to continue to do that and we’re probably going to do that much more publicly as we go forward because we want to make sure people know who we are, what we stand for.” Later in the day, Axios reported that Reed is beginning to hire campaign staff. Reed, formerly the mayor of Corning before being elected to Congress in 2011, first started making public his potential gubernatorial aspirations in an interview with The Buffalo News’ Jerry Zremski in late 2019. Since then, he’s continued to raise his profile as a sparring partner with Gov. Andrew Cuomo,

'No Remorse': Toronto's Van Attack Killer Found Guilty Of 1st Degree Murder

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:18pm
Twenty-eight-year old Alek Minassian was found guilty on 26 charges that include murder and attempted murder Wednesday for purposefully driving a van through a crowd in Toronto nearly three years ago. On April 23, 2018, the man drove a white rental van onto a crowded sidewalk and plowed into pedestrians, killing 10 people and wounding another 15 . Defense attorney Boris Bytensky argued his client's autism disorder rendered him incapable of developing empathy and therefore unaware of the consequences of his actions, the Canadian Broadcast Corporation reported. Justice Anne Molloy immediately dismissed that as a defense. She found Minassian guilty of 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder. Lack of empathy, she said, was not a defense. "He freely chose the option that was morally wrong, knowing what the consequences would be for himself, and for everybody else," Molloy said. "It does not matter that he does not have remorse, nor empathize with the victims."

Rochester women create safe festival for chaotic times

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 6:01pm
After the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Rochester singer and songwriter Siena Facciolo, and her friend, the writer Taylor Solano, took a hard look at the past year. Black Lives Matter. A contentious presidential election. A pandemic that has killed more than a half-million Americans. The rapid response by Facciolo and Solano was to create this weekend’s CommUNITY Arts and Wellness Festival. CommUNITY, with the tail end of the word spelled in all capital letters, less you miss the point. Unity. Three days of music, yoga, dance, live painting, writing, workshops. An upbeat prelude to Monday’s International Women’s Day. “One thing that I think this festival is offering, and the thing that I think has been taken away from a lot of people this year because of COVID, has been safety,” Facciolo says. “I think this festival is trying to offer a safe kind of refuge for whoever wants to come, and for the musicians and performers and workshop leaders, that we have not experienced with

'Neanderthal Thinking:' Biden Says Too Soon For States To Lift Mask Mandates

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 4:17pm
Updated at 8:38 p.m. ET President Biden said on Wednesday that states like Texas and Mississippi are making a big mistake by ending mandates to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at a time when the nation is making a push to boost vaccinations. "The last thing — the last thing — we need is the Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime, everything's fine, take off your mask. Forget it. It still matters," Biden told reporters as he met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Oval Office. It was uncharacteristically harsh language from Biden, who has placed a premium on civility. And it comes less than a week after he visited with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Houston to talk about federal assistance for helping the state recover from deadly winter storms, and boost vaccinations in the state. President Biden greeted Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in Houston late last month, following severe winter storms in the region. Mandel Ngan / AFP via Getty Images Abbott and Mississippi Gov. Tate

Colombia's President On Amnesty For Venezuelans: 'We Want To Set An Example'

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 4:16pm
Colombian President Iván Duque has won praise from the Biden administration, the United Nations and Pope Francis for his decision last month to provide temporary legal status to undocumented migrants from neighboring Venezuela. But according to Duque, what's been lacking from the international community is money to pay for a crisis that's similar in scope to the outflow of Syrian refugees in the 2010s. Of the 5.4 million Venezuelans who have fled an authoritarian regime and a collapsing economy in their homeland, some 2 million have settled in Colombia. About half of these newcomers to Colombia are undocumented and Duque's new policy will allow them to legally live and work in Colombia for up to 10 years. Duque said it will also provide migrants with better access to education, health care and legal employment. Colombia's open-door approach contrasts with harder-line policies in nearby Peru, Ecuador and Chile where — amid rising xenophobia — governments have put in place visa

'Embarrassed' Cuomo Apologizes But Won't Resign Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 4:03pm
In his first press briefing since three women came forward with claims of sexual harassment, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized for acting "in a way that made people feel uncomfortable," but denied touching anyone inappropriately and said he would not resign. New York's attorney general is conducting an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations, which were raised in the past week by two former aides and a woman who met Cuomo at a wedding. Cuomo — who is facing mounting calls to resign — reiterated that he will fully cooperate with that investigation, and asked New Yorkers to wait for the full report before forming an opinion. "I fully support a woman's right to come forward and I think it should be encouraged in every way," Cuomo said. "I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable. It was unintentional and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it and, frankly, I am embarrassed. And that's not easy to say." He said that he

Cuomo offers apology, says he's staying

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 3:14pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the first time publicly addressed sexual harassment accusations against him, saying Wednesday that he did not intend to make anyone uncomfortable and that he is truly sorry. Many are calling for his resignation, including some members of Cuomo’s own Democratic Party, but the governor says he’s not leaving. At times welling with emotion, Cuomo looked into the camera and offered an apology to all New Yorkers, and to the women who say he harassed them. “I now understand that I acted in a way that made people feel uncomfortable,” Cuomo said. “It was unintentional, and I truly and deeply apologize for it. I feel awful about it, and frankly, I am embarrassed by it.” Cuomo said he never touched anyone inappropriately. He also said he’s learned from the experience and promises that he will be “the better” for it. Two former aides, Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett, say the governor engaged in inappropriate behaviors, including touching, an unsolicited kiss, intrusive

Senate Democrats, White House Agree To Tighter Income Limits For Stimulus Checks

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 3:10pm
Senate Democrats have reached an agreement with the White House to tighten the limits on who can receive the next round of stimulus checks as part of President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package, according to several Democratic sources. The change comes after demands from moderate Democrats to make sure the latest round of checks is targeted at lower-income families. The full amount of the checks remains unchanged at $1,400, but the amount would phase out quickly for higher earners. The Senate plan would still allow individuals earning up to $75,000 per year and couples earning up to $150,000 per year to receive the full benefit. But the payments would phase out more quickly and end entirely for individuals earning $80,000 or more and couples earning $160,000 or more. The cutoffs in the House bill were much higher, with individuals earning up to $100,000 and couples earning up to $200,000 still receiving some benefit. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters at

Connections: Discussing the allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Andrew Cuomo

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 2:26pm
Three women have come forward, alleging that Governor Andrew Cuomo subjected them to various forms of sexual harassment. The governor has apologized for what he describes as misunderstandings, but not harassment. Now some Democrats are calling on Cuomo to resign, and protesters demonstrated outside his office yesterday. Our guests discuss what comes next: Lisa Nolan , director of prevention education at Willow Domestic Violence Center Nicole Hushla Re , longtime Western New York-based political consultant, currently serving as Assemblywoman Sarah Clark’s chief of staff Paul Keneally , partner at Underberg & Kessler LLP

New Initiative By Health Insurers Aims To Help Vaccinate 2 Million Vulnerable Seniors

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 1:59pm
The country's rollout of COVID-19 vaccines is picking up speed, with a third new vaccine ramping up production and an accelerated timeline promising enough supply for every American adult by the end of May. Still, the process of finding and booking appointments remains difficult for many eligible individuals. Now, a new initiative by more than a dozen health insurance providers is aiming to promote health equity by making it easier for seniors from underserved populations to get vaccinated. Andy Slavitt, senior adviser on the White House COVID-19 Response Team, said at a regular Wednesday briefing that the pilot program will help 2 million of the country's most vulnerable seniors overcome three commonly-cited challenges: questions about the vaccine, scheduling and transportation. "This commitment came from organizations who have the call centers, technology and community relationships to run a pilot program like this, and it comes on the heels of our call to action last week to the

What The Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls Have To Tell Us

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 1:35pm
Seven years ago this April 14, armed Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped 276 school girls in the remote Nigerian town of Chibok. Fifty-seven of them managed to escape by jumping onto the highway as the trucks into which they'd been forced were driving away. The Boko Haram convoy continued on, taking the remaining 219 hostages to a destination, and a fate, unknown. In Bring Back Our Girls: The Untold Story of the Global Search for Nigeria's Missing Schoolgirls , Wall Street Journal reporters Joe Parkinson and Drew Hinshaw, who were based in Africa at the time, present the story in gripping detail. The girls' return remained elusive for years, until the release or escape of 107 of the girls between 2016 and 2017. The school girls' ordeal is central to the book, revealed through lengthy interviews conducted by the authors with 20 of those girls. Their accounts revealed brutal beatings, repeated death threats, near-starvation conditions and ongoing coercion to convert to Islam and enter into

Yard-Sale Bowl Revealed To Be Rare Chinese Artifact Worth Up To $500,000

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 1:18pm
In a tale the stuff of yard-sale legend, a small porcelain bowl sold at its $35 asking price has turned out to be a rare, 15th-century Chinese artifact worth up to half a million dollars. An unidentified Connecticut man bought the bowl from a yard sale near New Haven last year, and later emailed photos to Sotheby's seeking an evaluation, according to The Associated Press . Appraisers determined it dates back to the Ming dynasty of the early 1400's, and estimated its worth at between $300,000 and $500,000. The bowl, which Sotheby's calls "exceptional and rare," will be available to the highest bidder as part of the firm's Important Chinese Art auction in New York later this month. "It's always quite astounding to think that it kind of still happens, that these treasures can be discovered," said Angela McAteer, Sotheby's senior vice president and head of its Chinese Works of Art Department. "It's always really exciting for us as specialists when something we didn't even know existed here

Ronny Jackson 'Bullied' Subordinates And Broke Alcohol Rules, Pentagon Report Finds

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:54pm
Updated at 3 p.m. ET Rep. Ronny Jackson made sexual and denigrating statements about a female subordinate, smelled of alcohol while on duty and humiliated his staff during his long stint as a White House physician, according to a scathing new report from the Defense Department's inspector general. In one incident, the report states that when Jackson was on a presidential trip to Manila, Philippines, in 2014, he made inappropriate comments about a female medical subordinate's breasts and buttocks, got drunk with junior staff and banged on the female subordinate's door in the middle of the night, raising a commotion in the hotel. When the woman woke up and answered the door, Jackson told her, "I need you," according to the Pentagon report . After another staff member came into the hallway, the report adds, Jackson insisted they all go to his hotel room. Jackson, a 53-year-old retired Navy rear admiral, began his White House tenure during George W. Bush's administration, working as a

WATCH: Gov. Andrew Cuomo's briefing - March 3

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:50pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds a press briefing at approximately 1 p.m.

Coming up on Connections: Wednesday, March 3

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:46pm
First hour: Discussing the allegations of sexual harassment against Governor Andrew Cuomo Second hour: Governor Andrew Cuomo's press briefing

House Cancels Thursday Session After Police Warn Of Possible Attack On Congress

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:28pm
Updated at 5:47 p.m. ET The House of Representatives has canceled its Thursday session after the U.S. Capitol Police said it is aware of a threat by an identified militia group to breach the Capitol complex that day. The Senate plans to remain in session on Thursday to debate amendments to the COVID-19 relief bill. March 4 is a significant date for far-right conspiracy theorists who believe that former President Donald Trump will return to power on that day. Presidents were inaugurated on March 4 until 1933, after which the 20th Amendment to the Constitution moved the date to Jan. 20. The threat comes nearly two months after extremist Trump supporters broke into the Capitol, forcing lawmakers and the vice president to flee moments ahead of an angry mob. The insurrection resulted in the deaths of several people and the arrest of more than 250. In a statement issued Wednesday, the Capitol Police, which was heavily criticized for its handling of the Jan. 6 insurrection, said it had

Explosion Outside Dutch Coronavirus Testing Site, Police Say

WXXI US News - Wed, 03/03/2021 - 12:16pm
Dutch police in a town north of Amsterdam are investigating an explosion outside of a coronavirus test center early Wednesday. Police say the explosion went off at about 6:55 a.m. outside of the center in Bovenkarspel, a town about 40 miles northeast of Amsterdam. There were no injuries from the blast. Investigators told local media that the explosion appeared intentional, as remnants of an exploded metal cylinder were found outside of the building. Police spokesman Menno Hartenberg told Reuters that it "must have been placed" there. "Something like that doesn't just happen by accident." Officers were alerted to the incident by a security guard, who called police saying he heard a loud bang. The area surrounding the test center was cordoned off while police investigated. Police said five windows were shattered, according to Deutsche Welle . This incident comes just two weeks ahead of national elections on March 17. It also happened the same day that pandemic lockdown rules in the
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