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Cuomo has reservations about his own proposal to tax the rich

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 5:12pm
In his budget plan, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed imposing new higher income taxes on New York’s wealthiest residents if President Joe Biden and Congress don’t come through with enough federal aid to close the state’s budget deficit. But at the same time, he offered a contradictory message, saying it might hurt the state’s competitiveness and cause the rich to flee the state. Cuomo said in his budget proposal that he needs $15 billion in federal aid to ease a two-year budget deficit largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If he doesn’t get that, one option that he presented is a proposal to create five graduated higher income tax brackets for New Yorkers earning more than $5 million a year. The brackets end with a top tax rate of 10.82% for those who bring in over $1 billion annually. But the governor said he fears the implementation of that plan could cause the wealthy to leave the state, defeating the purpose of the tax. He said it would raise only a tenth of what’s needed -- $1.5

Monroe County officials “cautiously optimistic” as COVID-19 cases decline

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 5:11pm
Monroe County appears to be seeing better days as coronavirus infection rates reach their lowest number in two months. The county’s seven-day average for new positive cases hit just below 409 on Thursday. Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said it’s a moment for cautious optimism, especially given how much the infection rate has changed since autumn. The current positivity rate is 6.1%. “If we had the numbers that we have today back then, we would have been very concerned,” said Bello. “The reason why our numbers look good and we’re optimistic is because in context of what we’ve gone through and the peak that we went through, things look very good.” However, hospitalization rates are still too high, Bello said. There are 727 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the region, and 168 in intensive care units as of Thursday. He says that hospitalizations are a lagging indicator, and hopes that in the coming days those numbers will decline as well. County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael

City’s Person in Crisis team will replace police on some calls

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 4:56pm
The city of Rochester has officially launched its Person in Crisis (PIC) team, a corps of social workers which will be available to respond to mental health and substance abuse calls that would otherwise be fielded by police. The PIC Team consists of 14 full and part-time workers who will respond in teams of two to crisis calls around the clock, every day of the week. The decision whether to send the team without police, or in tandem with officers, will be made by 911 and 211 dispatchers according to the nature of the call. Generally, the team would respond alone if a behavioral issue was at play, no crime was being committed, and no weapon was involved. The team is housed under the Office of Crisis Intervention Services inside the Department of Recreation and Human Services. The city’s Homicide Response Team, Family and Crisis Intervention Team (FACIT), and the Victim Assistance Unit are part of the same office. “What we’re launching here today is the only alternative first responder

Judge Refuses To Reinstate Parler After Amazon Shut It Down

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:19pm
Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET A federal judge has refused to restore the social media site Parler after Amazon kicked the company off of its Web-hosting services over content seen as inciting violence. The decision is a blow to Parler, an upstart that has won over Trump loyalists for its relatively hands-off approach to moderating content. The company sued Amazon over its ban, demanding reinstatement. U.S. District Judge Barbara Rothstein sided with Amazon, which argued that Parler would not take down posts threatening public safety even in the wake of the attack on the U.S. Capitol and that it is within Amazon's rights to punish the company over its refusal. "The Court rejects any suggestion that the public interest favors requiring [Amazon Web Services] to host the incendiary speech that the record shows some of Parler's users have engaged in," Rothstein wrote on Thursday. "At this stage, on the showing made thus far, neither the public interest nor the balance of equities favors granting

Nearly 1 In 5 Defendants In Capitol Riot Cases Served In The Military

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:18pm
As a violent mob descended on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, lawmakers and aides hid wherever they could, waiting for the military and police to arrive. But many of those who stormed the Capitol were military veterans themselves, who had once sworn to protect the Constitution. In fact, an NPR analysis has found that nearly 1 in 5 people charged over their alleged involvement in the attack on the U.S. Capitol appear to have a military history. NPR compiled a list of individuals facing federal or District of Columbia charges in connection with the events of Jan. 6. Of more than 140 charged so far, a review of military records, social media accounts, court documents and news reports indicate at least 27 of those charged, or nearly 20%, have served or are currently serving in the U.S. military. To put that number in perspective, only about 7% of all American adults are military veterans, according to the U.S. Census Bureau . Several veterans are charged with violent entry and disorderly

National Guard soldiers honored as helicopter crash investigation continues

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:15pm
The investigation continues into the Wednesday night crash of a military helicopter in Mendon. Meanwhile, the three soldiers killed in that crash were honored on Thursday. There were two processions involving a number of area first responders including police and fire vehicles as the bodies of the three National Guard soldiers were brought from the crash site to the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office in Brighton. The U.S. Army is now the lead investigating agency into the crash of the medevac Blackhawk helicopter which was on a training mission at the time. The Sheriff’s Department got numerous 911 calls when the crash happened about the aircraft flying unusually low and sounding like the engine was sputtering. The chopper is based at an Army Aviation Support Facility at the Rochester Airport, and county executive Adam Bello asked for the community’s support in dealing with this tragedy. “I’m asking that we all please remember their service and sacrifice, lend a hand in support of

Biden To Keep Wray On As FBI Director

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 3:13pm
Christopher Wray is staying at the helm of the FBI. Less than 24 hours after President Biden's press secretary, Jen Psaki, generated speculation about Wray's future after giving a noncommittal response when asked whether Biden had confidence in the FBI director, Psaki made clear that Wray will remain at his post. "I caused an unintentional ripple yesterday so [I] wanted to state very clearly President Biden intends to keep FBI Director Wray on in his role and he has confidence in the job he is doing," Psaki wrote on Twitter on Thursday. Wray, a low-key lawyer and former Justice Department official, is less than four years into his 10-year term atop the FBI. He was hand-picked by former President Donald Trump to lead the bureau after Trump fired James Comey. But Wray quickly fell out of favor with Trump, who considered him disloyal and frequently speculated about firing him. Trump and his allies attacked Wray for what they perceived as his unwillingness to root out alleged bad actors

Biden Announces Executive Actions Meant To Help Reopen Schools

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 2:27pm
President Biden has called reopening schools a " national emergency " and said he wants to see most K-12 schools in the United States open during his first 100 days in office, which would be between now and April. On Thursday, he announced he would sign several executive actions, including measures meant to push the process along. These come after actions signed on Wednesday geared toward improving college access and providing relief for student loan borrowers. Here are the details of Thursday's actions, as announced by the White House: More personal protective equipment: Schools will be eligible for full reimbursement for supplies such as masks, gowns and gloves through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund. More testing: A Pandemic Testing Board will use the Defense Production Act and other means to produce and distribute more tests, including for schools. Workplaces with the resources, such as movie sets , have relied on frequent and rapid testing to operate

Connections: Local landlords discuss their struggles during the pandemic

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 2:24pm
We talk to landlords about the struggles they are experiencing during the pandemic. Large corporations that own properties are doing quite well, but many properties are owned by local individuals who are struggling to pay their mortgages. They're concerned that landlords are being stereotyped. We discuss it with our guests, who are landlords: Pastor Fritz Longabaugh Pat Gallagher Karl Weekes

Connections: What you need to know when it's your turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 2:21pm
What do you need to know when it's your turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine? We've talked with local vaccine recipients who have shared their experiences with us. Some have said the language used in the vaccine fact sheets and disclosure forms is confusing. The vaccines are safe and have been vetted, but what's the difference between Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) and FDA approval ? How long will we have to wear masks and practice physical distancing? Our guests answer your questions, and they discuss disease prevention and transmission mitigation when it comes to the vaccines. Our guests: Ghinwa Dumyati , M.D., professor in infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine and the Center for Community Health and Prevention at the University of Rochester Medical Center Emil Lesho , D.O., infectious disease and internal medicine specialist at Rochester Regional Health

Police Find 1st 'Cannabis Factory' In London's Financial District, Destroy 826 Plants

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 1:07pm
Home to the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and scores of corporations, the financial district, known as the City, is normally teeming with activity. But the scenes, sounds and scents of the normally busy City have been restrained thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Recently, people in the area noticed something else in the air. The smell of cannabis. Police say they found the first "cannabis factory" in the City of London last week. Officers destroyed 826 plants found in the basement of a non-residential property inside London's financial district. It was the strong smell of cannabis that led officials to the bust, which police called "significant." The growers likely took advantage of reduced footfall amid the pandemic, police say, as the normally bustling area makes it less than ideal for a covert, illegal farm. Police cheekily headlined a press release about the incident "City of London Police weeds out crime." The City, London's historic center and financial hub, is

South Korean Ex-Coach Sentenced To 10 Years Over Sexual Assault Of Olympic Champion

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 1:03pm
A former top South Korean speedskating coach has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison for repeatedly sexually assaulting an Olympic champion. Shim Suk-hee, a star short track speedskater who has won four Olympic medals including two golds, accused former coach Cho Jae-beom of rape in 2019. He was indicted after she said she endured dozens of incidents of sexual abuse over the course of more than three years, starting in 2014 when she was 17. On Thursday, a court in the city of Suwon sentenced Cho to 10 1/2 years in prison, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported . He must also complete 200 hours of treatment for sexual offenders. Shim's lawyers had pushed for a sentence almost twice as long. "The accused committed sexual assault by force, repeatedly using the victim's inability to protest against her speedskating coach for the national team," the court said, according to Yonhap. Separately, Cho previously received an 18-month sentence for physically abusing the skater and

Just Move: Scientist Author Debunks Myths About Exercise And Sleep

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 12:51pm
For much of history, human beings needed to be physically active every day in order to hunt or gather food — or to avoid becoming food themselves. It was an active lifestyle, but one thing it didn't include was any kind of formal exercise. Daniel Lieberman is a professor in the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard. He says that the notion of "getting exercise" — movement just for movement's sake — is a relatively new phenomenon in human history. "Until recently, when energy was limited and people were physically active, doing physical activity that wasn't necessarily rewarding, just didn't happen," Lieberman says. "When I go to these [remote African tribal] villages, I'm the only person who gets up in the morning and goes for a run. And often they laugh at me. They think I'm just absolutely bizarre. ... Why would anybody do something like that?" Lieberman has spent a lot of time with indigenous hunter-gatherers in Africa and Latin America, cataloging how much time they

Unemployment Claims Stay Stubbornly High As Biden Takes Office

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 11:22am
The number of Americans filing for new state unemployment benefits dipped to 900,000 — down from the previous week but still high by historical standards, signaling the economic challenges facing the Biden administration. The latest weekly data from the Labor Department was likely distorted somewhat by the ebb and flow of government relief programs, but the overall picture continues to show a struggling U.S. job market as President Biden takes office. Claims for help under a federal program for gig workers and the self-employed rose sharply, suggesting many people are trying to renew their benefits after that program briefly lapsed in December. Between the two programs, a total of 1.3 million unemployed workers sought help last week, a modest increase from the week before. Biden has made clear he will prioritize dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout as the recent surge in infections continues to weigh on in-person businesses such as bars and restaurants

Photos: The Internet's Favorite Inauguration Day Fashions

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 11:01am
The presidential inauguration ceremony on Wednesday looked a lot different than in previous years. Masks were a reminder of a pandemic still raging. The ceremonial parade was canceled and some customs went virtual . In a historically rare snub, a sitting President Trump was absent for the swearing-in ceremony of his successor, Joe Biden. But, at least for the sartorially minded, an abundance of strategically selected outfits helped elevate an unusual and scaled-back ceremony. There were repurposed woolen mittens , elaborate face masks and dramatic collars. Over on social media, amateur fashion sleuths looked on, attaching symbolism and pronouncing the emergence of new clothing aesthetics. Bright color choices told their own stories and paid tribute to leaders past. There was Amanda Gorman , the youngest inaugural poet in history, who captivated the country with the reading of her poem, "The Hill We Climb." In a vibrant canary yellow Miuccia Prada coat, a red satin Prada headband and a

Biden Administration Prepares To Overturn Trump Abortion Rule

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:59am
President Biden is preparing to reverse a Trump administration policy that prohibits U.S. funding for nongovernmental groups that provide or refer patients for abortions — the first of several moves reproductive rights advocates are hoping to see from the Biden administration. In prepared remarks released by the White House on Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci tells the World Health Organization's executive board that Biden will soon revoke the Mexico City Policy "as part of his broader commitment to protect women's health and advance gender equality at home and around the world." The policy, first instituted by the Reagan administration, has pingponged on and off between Republican and Democratic presidents ever since. Trump reinstituted and expanded the policy, which critics describe as a "gag rule," within days of taking office. An analysis published in 2019 in the medical journal The Lancet found that the Mexico City Policy increased the abortion rate in at least some affected countries,

Coming up on Connections: Thursday, January 21

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 10:02am
First hour: What you need to know when it's your turn to receive a COVID-19 vaccine Second hour: Local landlords discuss their struggles during the pandemic

U.S. Will Remain In WHO, Fauci Announces, As Biden Reverses Trump Move

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 9:07am
Updated at 10:06 a.m. ET "I am honored to announce that the United States will remain a member of the World Health Organization," Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday, informing the WHO's executive board that President Biden has reversed former President Donald Trump's move to leave the U.N.'s health agency. The U.S. will also fulfill its financial obligations to the WHO, Fauci, chief medical adviser to the president, said, as well as cease a drawdown of U.S. staff who work with the organization. The U.S. relationship with the WHO is "one that we value deeply and will look to strengthen going forward," Fauci said. Biden has sent letters to retract Trump's withdrawal to the U.N. secretary-general and to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Fauci said, addressing Tedros as "my dear friend." Tedros responded on Twitter , "Thank you my brother Tony for leading the delegation" at the executive board meeting and for announcing the renewed U.S. support for the WHO. Tedros also welcomed

The Spark That Changed Georgia's Politics: Grassroots Activism

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 8:08am
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit NOEL KING, HOST: This week, two Democrats from Georgia were sworn into the U.S. Senate, Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff. For decades, Georgia was a reliably Republican state. So what happened? Organizers say it took a years-long campaign that was not aimed at flipping the party that controlled the state, but aimed at building a new and better Georgia regardless of party. Deborah Scott is one of the organizers. She moved to Georgia as a teenager to attend Clark Atlanta University. She was from Ohio. And she was astonished to realize that in the late 1980s, the KKK would still show up to civil rights marches. DEBORAH SCOTT: All together in their full regalia from head to toe - it was a sight to behold. It was the first time I saw them face-to-face. I saw their eyes. I saw the look in their eyes. I saw the fear in our eyes. But I also saw the hate in theirs. KING: Deborah Scott told me the story of how she got to and then helped change the state of

Biden's Early Days Are About Action, Rep. Blunt Rochester Says

Thu, 01/21/2021 - 8:08am
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit NOEL KING, HOST: In his inaugural address, President Joe Biden called for an end to, quote, "this uncivil war." (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation, one nation. KING: He asked for unity and he described the challenges that face his administration and this country. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) BIDEN: We face an attack on our democracy and on truth - a raging virus, growing inequity, the sting of systemic racism, a climate in crisis, America's role in the world. Any one of these will be enough to challenge us in profound ways. But the fact is, we face them all at once, presenting this nation with one of the gravest responsibilities we've had. Now we're going to be tested. Are we going to step up, all of us? KING: After that speech, he took immediate action to reverse some of President Trump's policies. He signed 15 executive actions. The U.S. will rejoin