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How D.C. Locals Are Processing The Insurrection At The Capitol

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 7:55am
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Washington, D.C., is the federal district provided in the Constitution as a home for the U.S. government. It was a new city, created a site deliberately not north or south, but on the border of a new country that was even then divided. Of course, it's become a real city, too, that's home to 700,000 people. Nobody knows that city better than Kojo Nnamdi. He's hosted "The Kojo Nnamdi Show" on WAMU for more than two decades, and he joins us now from his home in Washington, D.C. Kojo, thanks so much for being with us. KOJO NNAMDI: You're welcome, Scott. And thank you for inviting me. SIMON: A sad and anxious time - what are people you know, as you're able to get around the city, saying? NNAMDI: People feel personally attacked by what happened at the Capitol on January 6 because even though we understand that this is federal property, it is also in our town. And we are, frankly, determined that there shall never be a similar

OPINION: Moral Tragedy Looms In Early Chaos Of U.S. COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 7:00am
On April 12, 1955, a wave of public relief resonated across the United States as news arrived of a vaccine that could successfully prevent polio — one of the most feared diseases in the U.S . at the time, causing "more than 15,000 cases of paralysis a year," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To the terror of parents, many of those paralyzed or killed by polio were children. Jonas Salk and his research team announced that their vaccine against the virus was safe and effective; the federal government quickly gave official approval, and vaccination distribution began across the U.S. within weeks. But collective relief soon gave way to frustration. There were simply not enough doses of the vaccine to go around at the start. Even worse, the available doses weren't going to the groups deemed most in need; instead, people who were socially well-connected and wealthy were finding ways to jump the line. Oveta Culp Hobby , Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare at

Broken New Year's Resolutions Already? It's OK To Give Yourself A Break

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 7:00am
It's mid-January, and maybe you've resolved to lose 20 pounds this year, exercise every day, or quit drinking. And — so far — you have failed. So you give up. Sound familiar? Every new year, we are bombarded with messages like "new year, new you," but for many of us, just living through the last several months has been a major accomplishment. This year, it's OK to give ourselves a break, says Dr. Rachelle Scott , director of psychiatry at Eden Health , a concierge-style health care start-up with offices in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. "There are days we're just getting up and showering and, you know, just doing basic activities of daily living. And that's OK," she says. We are far too hard on ourselves. "There are periods in time where we really need rest and we really need to heal. And I think we're in a time where that's certainly the case." Recharge your body It's a particularly trying time to be a human right now. A Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll conducted in mid

Republicans Wonder How, And If, They Can Pull The Party Back Together

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 7:00am
In a matter of hours on Jan. 6, the Republican Party went from shrugging off its loss of the White House to a party in crisis. It was becoming clear just before the violent insurrection at the Capitol that the party had lost two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, making President Trump the first president since Herbert Hoover whose party lost the White House, the House and the Senate in one term. And plenty of Republicans blamed Trump for the Democrats' success in Georgia. Trump's own defeat means the GOP has failed to get a majority of votes in seven of the last eight presidential elections. Now, Trump leaves office as the only president to be impeached twice, and the House vote against Trump over the Capitol insurrection marked the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history. The Republican fault lines go in every direction: between the grassroots and the establishment, between big donors and aspiring presidential candidates, between House leaders and Senate leaders. Republican

U.S. Executes Dustin Higgs In 13th And Final Execution Under Trump Administration

Sat, 01/16/2021 - 1:56am
The U.S. government has executed Dustin Higgs, the last prisoner to be executed during the Trump administration, and the 13 th in the span of six months. The Supreme Court declined to stop the execution, although some justices dissented, noting that before the first of the 13, it had been 17 years since a federal execution had been carried out. Justice Sonia Sotomayor called it an "unprecedented rush," saying that "after waiting almost two decades to resume federal executions, the Government should have proceeded with some measure of restraint to ensure it did so lawfully." Higgs, along with two other men, killed three women in 1996. Willis Haynes actually pulled the trigger. Haynes pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison. Higgs was found guilty in 2000 of multiple federal offenses including first-degree premeditated murder, three counts of first-degree felony murder, and three counts of kidnapping resulting in death. The killings took place in the Patuxent Research Refuge,

Defense Official: Scores Of Current And Former Military Probed In Extremism Cases

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 8:07pm
The FBI continues to investigate last week's mob attack on the Capitol and make arrests that include current and former military service members. Now NPR has learned the domestic extremism problem within the ranks may be more serious than officials realized. A senior defense official who was not authorized to speak publicly tells NPR that there were 143 notifications of investigations by the FBI last year of former and current military members. Of these, 68 pertained to domestic extremism cases the FBI had opened with current or former military personnel as subjects of investigation. The vast majority are former military; many with unfavorable discharge records, according to the official. The majority of these cases involve anti-government/anti-authority motivations, including attacks on government facilities and persons in positions of authority. One-fourth are associated with white nationalism. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

New Chief's Ties Shock Radio Free Asia, While Pompeo Visit To VOA Stirs Outcry

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:45pm
The new president of the federally funded Radio Free Asia network most recently ran a consulting company from Boise, Idaho that has represented foreign governments and interests. Among them is Taiwan. That connection has startled veterans of the international broadcaster. "Are you serious?" said Libby Liu, who led Radio Free Asia for 14 years. "I don't think it's appropriate for a registered lobbyist for a foreign government to be leading a free-press organization, even democracies we support and admire." Radio Free Asia distributes news to audiences in China, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and North Korea as a "surrogate broadcaster." In recent years, RFA's reports on the oppression of Uighur Muslims by Chinese authorities helped to bring their plight to international attention. The mission of Radio Free Asia, like its sister networks covering other parts of the world, is to provide independent coverage in countries without a free press. The recent professional activities of the

NRA Files For Bankruptcy Amid Fraud Suit In New York

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:42pm
The National Rifle Association filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Texas on Friday as its current home, New York, pursues a fraud case against the organization. The NRA was founded in New York in 1871 and has since presented itself as a defender of Second Amendment rights. The NRA attributes the move to Texas to a "corrupt political and regulatory environment" in New York. New York Attorney General Letitia James filed suit to have the NRA dissolved in August. She accused CEO Wayne LaPierre and other senior staff with diverting millions of the nonprofit group's dollars to luxury vacations, private jets and more . James called for the funds to be returned and the executives to be prohibited from serving on any not-for-profit in New York ever again. "This is a transformational moment in the history of the NRA," LaPierre said in a statement. He said the NRA is "dumping New York ... at a time when the NRA is in its strongest financial condition in years. " NPR's Tim Mak previously reported

Lawsuit seeks federal monitor for RPD

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:10pm
Three Rochester men are seeking a federal monitor for the Rochester Police Department as part of an excessive force and false arrest lawsuit they’ve filed against the department. In a complaint filed Thursday in federal court, the three men allege that they were physically assaulted by a Rochester police officer whom top brass neglected to discipline and remove from patrol as a result of a previous excessive force complaint. “They should have taken this guy off the streets,” said their lawyer, Elliot Shields. The claim by Craig Puritt, Anthony Hall, and Shamell Killings stems from an incident that allegedly took place on Monroe Avenue near Meigs Street during the early morning hours of May 27, 2018. According to the complaint, the men were walking on the sidewalk on Monroe when Puritt, who was trailing by about half a block, attempted to walk around Rochester police officer Michael Stephens, who was making an arrest. The complaint states that Puritt didn’t interfere with the arrest,

Outgoing CDC Director Warns Of Pandemic's Peak: 'We're About To Be In The Worst Of It'

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:07pm
Next week marks one year since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first coronavirus case in the United States. Dr. Robert Redfield, the outgoing CDC director, has been heading the federal public health agency's response to the pandemic from the start. Redfield's departure on Wednesday, when President-elect Joe Biden will usher in a new administration, comes as a record surge in COVID-19 cases is sweeping across the country. The U.S. has far surpassed all other nations with more than 23 million virus-related cases and more than 391,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University . But, even as the pandemic enters its deadliest stage yet, Redfield told NPR on Friday that the country is "about to be in the worst" months of the crisis. As his tenure winds down, the CDC director said in an interview with All Things Considered that he stands by his federal health agency's response to the pandemic despite what he characterized as an early "learning curve" and

When White Extremism Seeps Into The Mainstream

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 6:04pm
During the chaos of the Capitol on January 6, it was impossible to miss the flags and symbols. Taken together, they allowed for a kind of brisk vexillology of the American right. There were the Trump 2020 flags, of course — and, as has been widely noted, one rioter brandished a Confederate flag in the Capitol building, a historical first. Some people waved "thin blue line" flags, meant to express support for the police and people who worked in law enforcement, even as they squared off with police officers . But there were symbols and signs that branded many of the rioters as part of more fringe cohorts: the orange hats of the "Western chauvinist" Proud Boys; the banner of the Three Percenter Movement , a far-right militia group that sprouted up in response to Barack Obama's presidency; the Kek flag , popular among alt-right types on sites like 4chan and meant to invoke the Nazi war flag ; the Gadsen flag, which has been repurposed by a slew of different neo-Nazi and militia groups.

Parler Executive Responds To Amazon Cutoff And Defends Approach To Moderation

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:49pm
Parler calls itself a "conservative microblogging alternative" to Twitter and "the world's premier free speech platform." But it's been offline for five days, and possibly forever, after Amazon kicked Parler off of its Web hosting service. Founded in 2018, Parler is a favorite of right-wing extremists and supporters of President Trump. It has few restrictions on what users can post, attracting people who say they are being censored by Twitter and Facebook. And it says it collects less data on users than other social media companies. Last weekend, Amazon pulled the plug , saying it found messages on Parler "that clearly encourage and incite violence" and that Parler's plan to use volunteers to remove this content wouldn't be sufficient. Parler filed a lawsuit against Amazon, saying Amazon "blindsided" the company by abruptly cutting off service and that Amazon "never expressed any concerns" with Parler's moderation system before last weekend. Amazon responded by saying Parler

'All Hands On Deck': National Mall Is Closed As Agencies Fortify D.C.

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:41pm
Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET The National Mall, where millions of people have gathered to mark historic events in Washington, D.C., was closed to the public late Friday morning, as officials announced a string of security measures meant to foil any attempts to derail next week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden. The National Park Service began a "temporary public closure" of the National Mall late Friday morning, citing a request from the U.S. Secret Service. The agencies say they're worried that pro-Trump extremists are planning new violence, building on last week's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. "The unprecedented nature of the recent civil unrest at the U.S. Capitol coupled with the real and substantial threat of violence and unlawful behavior poses an unprecedented public safety and security challenge," the National Park Service said on Friday. With the National Mall closure, the public will be barred from entering an area some 2 miles in length from the Capitol complex to

HHS Civil Rights Office Tackles Health Care Discrimination Of People With Disabilities

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:34pm
Civil rights officials at the Department of Health and Human Services issued a series of actions to protect people with disabilities from health care discrimination by medical providers during the pandemic. The actions, by the Office of Civil Rights, or OCR, at the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically address discrimination related to the denial of treatment for people with disabilities who have COVID-19 or the symptoms of COVID-19. They include: The start of a process to write regulations that explicitly prohibit medical workers from denying care to people with disabilities based on subjective decisions about the quality of their life or by issuing a Do Not Resuscitate order without the patient's consent or against their stated preference. A revision to the guidelines of four health care systems, in North Carolina, North Texas, Southwest Texas and the Indian Health System, to assure that people with disabilities and older people are not passed over for scarce care,

676 new cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County; no new deaths

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:28pm
The latest data from the Monroe County Department of Public Health shows 676 new cases of COVID-19. There were no new deaths in the numbers released on Friday. The 7-day rolling average of new cases is 538 new cases per day. The 7-day rolling average positivity rate for Monroe County is 7.5%. The Finger Lakes region has a positivity rate of 7.63%, the 4 th highest among regions around the state. 793 people in the Finger Lakes Region are hospitalized, 152 of them are in ICU. The percentage of total hospital beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a 7-day rolling average is 33%. The region has the highest percentage of COVID patients hospitalized in the state. The percentage of ICU Beds available in the Finger Lakes region on a 7-day rolling average is 24%. Here is the age breakdown of the latest COVID-19 cases in Monroe County:

Argentina Takes A Shot With Russia's Sputnik Vaccine

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:12pm
As nations around the world scramble to start vaccinating against COVID-19, many countries are finding it difficult if not impossible to get the vaccines they want. Case in point — Argentina. President Alberto Fernández promised to start vaccination campaigns in the South American nation before the end of 2020. They managed to hit that goal but just days before the New Year dawned — and not exactly as they'd hoped. Argentina tried to position itself to get early access to a vaccine. It hosted multiple vaccine trials for multiple pharmaceutical firms. It negotiated pre-purchase contracts with several pharmaceutical companies. It arranged to be the primary manufacturer of AstraZeneca's vaccine in Latin America. Yet as nations in Europe and North America started rolling out vaccines, the only doses Argentina could get their hands on were of the controversial Sputnik V from Russia. Russia's Health Ministry, which is involved in developing Sputnik, authorized its use before it had even gone

Nazareth College partners with 540 West Main to give students access to anti-racism workshops

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 5:04pm
540 West Main founder Calvin Eaton said the organization took their social justice themed workshops online because of the COVID-19 pandemic and with that came opportunity. “We’ve now been connecting with people as far away as Australia, all different parts of New York, Boston, Toronto, the west coat,” said Eaton. “It's not just people tuning into a webinar, it's a discussion and a dialogue.” The added flexibility connected the organization with local colleges as well. Nazareth College is the first local organization to partner with the non-profit. The agreement allows Nazareth students in the College's Partners for Learning and Partners for Serving programs to access the workshop. Freshman Nina DeMilta said she was one of roughly 100 students that have taken the courses so far. DiMilta said she learned a lot about herself during the sessions like “Introduction to Anti-racism Practice” and “What to Black Women is the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment?” The 19th Amendment allowed

VIDEO: Face It! You're Bad At Judging Physical Distance. Here's How To Do It

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 4:56pm
Keeping a physical distance from other humans is more critical than ever in the pandemic, with COVID-19 cases surging and more contagious variants spreading. Yet humans are not very good at it. Learn how to judge when you are at the recommended six feet of distance from others. Marc Silver, Xueying Chang, Kaz Fantone and Ben de la Cruz/NPR / YouTube Lately I picture myself lying on the ground a lot. That's the strategy I use to make sure I practice physical distancing — one of the key ways to prevent coronavirus transmission along with masking up and hand washing. And when I want to gauge whether I'm 6 feet away from somebody else, I imagine myself lying on the ground. Then I add – um — a couple of inches. Following these guidelines is more critical than ever in this stage of the pandemic, with surging numbers in many parts of the world along with the discovery of seemingly more contagious strains of COVID-19. Yet everyone I interviewed for this article has observed that keeping 6 feet

Police prep for potential violent protests at State Capitol; no credible threats so far

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 4:47pm
The New York State Capitol is bracing for potential violence and armed protesters in the coming days after FBI warnings about significant threats in online chatter from white supremacy and other far-right groups. State Police said there are no specific credible threats against the building in downtown Albany but are nevertheless stepping up patrols and taking precautions to harden security. State Police Troop G Commander Major Christopher West said at a Friday briefing at the troop’s headquarters that steps have been taken to increase security at the Capitol. They include closing one of two main entrances on State Street and setting up concrete barriers to divert traffic away from the building. “We are also aware of information that groups have been advocating for armed protests at state capitols nationwide ahead of the inauguration,” West said. “While there is no credible threat to Albany, we still have taken additional steps to increase security.” West said New York’s National Guard

Coronavirus FAQ: Do Airplane Passengers Not Know There's A Pandemic Going On?

Fri, 01/15/2021 - 4:36pm
Each week, we answer "frequently asked questions" about life during the coronavirus crisis. If you have a question you'd like us to consider for a future post, email us at goatsandsoda@npr.org with the subject line: "Weekly Coronavirus Questions." When I booked a flight from Boston to Washington, D.C., in mid-January, I knew that sharing confined indoor spaces with strangers was a risk in the middle of a pandemic. But a year into living with the coronavirus, I figured it wasn't a huge risk. My reasoning: 1) It's a short flight. 2) Everyone knows how to wear a mask and social distance by now. 3) Surely airlines have adopted measures to help reduce chances of transmission if a traveler is infected but doesn't yet know it. I was so naive. My 11:15 a.m. flight was delayed to 12:39 p.m. Then to 1:32 p.m. Then it was canceled and rebooked for 4 p.m. And delayed to 4:45 p.m. Then we all got on the plane — and got off again, when the plane's electronic system broke on the runway. So I had many