Friday, Jan. 21, 2022
New Mexico requests guard for teachers, cleanup of Biden’s press conference, Georgia DA requests Grand Jury in Trump probe, BYU investigation, Amazon’s clothing store and crypto’s bad day.
Good Friday morning. Here’s what is happening:
The Associated Press: New Mexico’s governor is asking National Guard troops to serve as substitutes for sick teachers amid rapid spread of the omicron COVID-19 variant.
New Mexico is the first state in the nation to ask National Guard troops to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Wednesday the unprecedented effort to reopen classrooms in the capital city of Santa Fe and shore up staffing across the state.
New Mexico has been struggling for years to recruit and retain educators, leaving teaching routinely to long-term substitutes who do not have full teaching credentials.
Her administration says school districts and preschools are seeking at least 800 substitute teachers and day care workers for shifts ranging from one classroom period to the entire day. They’re also asking state bureaucrats to volunteer to serve.
Other states have worked to mobilize state workers and National Guard soldiers to support schools. Last year Massachusetts mobilized its National Guard, first to support COVID-19 testing on school campuses, then to drive school buses. On Tuesday, Oklahoma allowed state workers to volunteer as school substitutes while continuing to receive their salaries.
But New Mexico is the first state to report recruiting troops into the classroom in response to COVID-19 staffing shortages.
Members of the Guard will serve on active duty, drawing their usual pay. State workers who teach in classrooms will get marked as paid leave that doesn’t subtract from individual vacation allotments.
The governor said state workers are encouraged to participate in a spirit of public service and that no one is being drafted. The state hopes to quickly deploy 500 new substitute teachers and day care workers.
“We’ve determined that we have enough state employees, with the volunteer support with the Guard, to get to that 500 fairly readily, and that’s just looking at key departments like the education department and veterans department,” Lujan Grisham said at a news conference on the steps of a vacant high school in Santa Fe.
A surge in infections linked to the omicron variant among school staff and teachers prompted a weeklong switch to remote classes at Santa Fe Public Schools that could end as soon as Monday.New Mexico has become the first state in the U.S. to ask National Guard troops and state bureaucrats to volunteer as substitute teachers amid the pandemic. The state has seen a surge in infections among school staff due to the omicron variant.apne.wsNew Mexico asks Guard to sub for sick teachers amid omicronSANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico is the first state in the nation to ask National Guard troops to serve as substitute teachers as preschools and K-12 public schools struggle to keep classrooms open amid surging COVID-19 infections.
CNN: President Joe Biden sought to clarify his stance on a Russian incursion in Ukraine Thursday: 'Russia will pay a heavy price' if units move across the Ukrainian border.
"I've been absolutely clear with President Putin. He has no misunderstanding. If any -- any -- assembled Russian units move across Ukrainian border, that is an invasion. But it will be met with severe and coordinated economic response that I've discussed in detail with our allies, as well as laid out very clearly for President Putin," Biden said at the top of an event aimed at promoting the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last year.
If Putin chooses to invade, Biden added, "Russia will pay a heavy price."
During the news conference Wednesday, the President predicted Putin would "move in" to Ukraine -- though he speculated that the Russian leader is still not clear on what he's going to do. In a comment that sent shockwaves across Europe, Biden then alluded to disunity among US allies about how to respond to anything less than a full invasion.
"It's one thing if it's a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not do," Biden told reporters at an East Room news conference. "But if they actually do what they're capable of doing with the forces amassed on the border, it is going to be a disaster for Russia if they further invade Ukraine."
The remarks prompted near-immediate outcry in Kyiv, where officials had been meeting with Biden's top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as Russian troops amass on the country's border. High-level attempts to clean up the comment soon followed at the White House, including a Wednesday evening statement from press secretary Jen Psaki, and subsequent media appearances by Psaki and Vice President Kamala Harris on Thursday morning.
In a subtle but strongly worded tweet Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a "reminder" to the US.
"We want to remind the great powers that there are no minor incursions and small nations. Just as there are no minor casualties and little grief from the loss of loved ones. I say this as the President of a great power," Zelensky said.
Business Insider: White House Press Secretary said Thursday President Biden is 'absolutely is not predicting that the 2022 elections would be illegitimate.'
Psaki said on Thursday that Biden was not casting doubt on the upcoming elections, but was stressing the importance of fighting to protect voting rights against former President Donald Trump's "Big Lie" that the 2020 election was rigged.
"I've talked to the president a lot about this. He absolutely is not predicting that the 2022 elections will be illegitimate," Psaki said.
"The point he was making is that the former president asked a number of states ... to overturn the outcome of the election. Now obviously, if there's an effort to do that, we've got to fight against that. That's what our commitment is to doing," she continued. "But he was not making a prediction. He has confidence in the American people. And we're going to do everything we can to protect people's rights."
Psaki's comments come after Biden was asked during his first solo press conference of the year whether he will trust the 2022 election results if Congress does not pass voting rights legislation. Biden and Democrats have tried to pass a voting rights package to counter new laws in several Republican-led states that tighten voting access and politicize the election administration process.
"Well it all depends on whether or not we're able to make the case to the American people that some of this is being set up to try to alter the outcome of the election," Biden told reporters on Wednesday.Jake Tapper grills Psaki on Biden's suggestion that elections won't be legit if voting rights bills aren't passed. "I mean, isn’t the correct answer if this isn’t passed do you believe the upcoming election will be fairly conducted and legitimate isn’t the correct answer, yes?"
Fox News: Rep. Jim Clyburn said Thursday he was ‘absolutely concerned’ about the legitimacy of the 2022 midterm elections on the heels of President Biden’s controversial remarks Wednesday.
USA Today: Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is under fire for saying Thursday that black people vote just as much as ‘Americans.’
Fox News: Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich deleted a tweet that said Democrats should back-hand Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema over her filibuster stance.
CNN: The Supreme Court Thursday rejected another attempt to block Texas' six-week abortion ban.
Over the furious dissent of three liberal justices, the Supreme Court on Thursday rejected another attempt by abortion providers to block Texas' six-week abortion ban.
The court's order is the latest setback for providers who are trying to revive challenges to the law five months after it was allowed to go into effect, bringing a halt to most abortions in the country's second-largest state.
The three liberal justices wrote a scathing dissent.
"This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies," Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan. "I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee."
Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the controversial law to remain in effect but it cleared limited path forward for the providers to sue a handful of licensing officials in Texas in order to block them from enforcing the law. The court's ruling was a devastating blow to supporters of abortion rights who had hoped the justices would block the law outright. Instead, the case was returned to the conservative 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
The dispute settled Thursday centered on whether the appeals court should immediately return what is left of the providers' case to a district court judge who has expressed deep skepticism over the law, or whether the case could remain in the 5th Circuit for proceedings that could take months to resolve, further delaying the providers' case.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution: The District Attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, has requested a special grand jury for her investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the state’s 2020 election results.
In a Thursday letter to Christopher S. Brasher, chief judge of Fulton County’s Superior Court, Willis said the move was needed because a “significant number of witnesses and prospective witnesses have refused to cooperate with the investigation absent a subpoena requiring their testimony.”
She cited comments Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made during an October 2021 interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd, in which he said “if she wants to interview me, there’s a process for that.”
So-called special purpose grand juries are rarely used in Georgia but could be a valuable tool for Willis as she takes the extraordinary step of investigating the conduct of a president while he was in office.
Her probe, launched in February, is centered on the Jan. 2 phone call Trump placed to Raffensperger, in which he urged the Republican to “find” the votes to reverse Joe Biden’s win in Georgia in November 2020.
Special grand juries, which typically have 16 to 23 members, can’t issue indictments. But they can subpoena witnesses, compel the production of documents, inspect and enter into certain offices for the purposes of the investigation.
Willis said a special grand jury would be beneficial because jurors can be impaneled for a longer period and would be focused on the one probe. A regular Fulton County grand jury is seated for two months. Jurors typically hear hundreds of felony cases before their service ends.
The Guardian: Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told January 6 investigators that President Trump held secret meetings at The White House in the days before the Capitol attack.
The former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack that Donald Trump hosted secret meetings in the White House residence in days before 6 January, according to two sources familiar with the matter.
The former senior Trump aide also told House investigators that the details of whether Trump actually intended to march to the Capitol after his speech at the Ellipse rally would be memorialized in documents provided to the US Secret Service, the sources said.
The select committee’s interview with Grisham, who was Melania Trump’s chief of staff when she resigned on 6 January, was more significant than expected, the sources said, giving the panel new details about the Trump White House and what the former US president was doing before the Capitol attack.
Grisham gave House investigators an overview of the chaotic final weeks in the Trump White House in the days leading up to the Capitol attack, recalling how the former president held off-the-books meetings in the White House residence, the sources said.
The secret meetings were apparently known by only a small number of aides, the sources said. Grisham recounted that they were mostly scheduled by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, and that the former chief usher, Timothy Harleth, would wave participants upstairs, the sources said.
CNN: Led by Rudy Rudy Giuliani, Trump officials worked in December 2020 to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that the former president lost.
NBC News: The January 6 committee has asked Ivanka Trump to give voluntary testimony.
CNN: A judge has denied an InfoWars host’s attempt to dismiss charges related to the January 6 attack.
CNBC: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated a stock disclosure law nine times last year.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm violated the STOCK Act at least 9 times last year, by selling shares of stock worth up to $240,000 and failing to disclose those sales within the 45-day window that the 2012 law requires.
The dates of Granholm’s stock sales ranged from April to late October, according to federal disclosure documents first reported by Business Insider. But Granholm did not disclose any of them until mid-December, which was in some cases a full 6 months after the deadline to report the sale had passed.
Granholm filed her two disclosures on Dec. 15 and Dec. 16, revealing 9 stock sales in total, some of which dated back as far as April of last year.
The transactions included shares of the real estate website Redfin worth between $16,000 - $75,000, according to Granholm’s disclosures.
She also sold shares in the ride hailing company Uber worth up to $50,000, and the financial services giant Invesco, also worth up to $50,000.
The STOCK Act expanded the accountability and reporting requirements for financial holdings, both for members of Congress and high-level employees of the Executive Branch like Granholm.
BBC News: Former Pope Benedict failed to act on four child abuse cases when he ran the Munich archdiocese, a report says.
Pope Benedict, then called Josef Ratzinger, held the position from 1977 to 1982. He has denied the accusations.
But a new report into historical abuse allegations carried out by a German law firm incriminated the former pontiff.
Abuse continued under his tenure, it is alleged, and the accused priests remained active in church roles.
The former pope, now aged 94, became the first Church leader to resign in more than 600 years in 2013, citing exhaustion. Since then, he has led a largely quiet life in the Vatican City and is known as pope emeritus.
The new report from German law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl was commissioned by the Catholic Church.
"Two of these cases concern abuses committed during his tenure and sanctioned by the state," lawyer Martin Pusch said as he announced the report.
"In both cases, the perpetrators remained active in pastoral care."
The Vatican said in a statement that it would examine the details of the report once it had been published.
"As we reiterate the sense of shame and regret for the abuses on minors by priests, the Holy See expresses its support for all victims and it confirms the path to protect minors, guaranteed safe spaces for them," the Vatican added.
A previous report into historical abuse in Germany concluded that more than 3,600 people nationwide had been abused by clergy members between 1946 and 2014. Many of the victims were very young and served as altar boys.
The new report looking into the Munich and Freising areas specifically found at least 497 abuse victims from 1945 to 2019.
In addition to the former pope, the report criticised other Church figures, including the region's current archbishop, Cardinal Reinhard Marx. He was found to have failed to act in two cases of alleged abuse.
ABC News: The FBI raid on Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar’s home is related to a probe into the former Soviet state of Azerbaijan and several U.S. businessmen.
A federal grand jury in Washington is investigating the matter, but it's unclear if Cuellar is a target of the grand jury's probe, ABC News was told.
After FBI agents executed a search warrant at Cuellar's home in Laredo, Texas, an aide to Cuellar said in a statement that the congressman "will fully cooperate in any investigation."
"He is committed to ensuring that justice and the law are upheld," the statement said.
On Wednesday, an FBI spokesperson emphasized that any "law enforcement activity" at Cuellar's home and campaign office was "court-authorized."
Cuellar, who represents Texas' 28th Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, has been in Congress since 2005. In recent years he has served as a co-chair of the Congressional Azerbaijan Caucus, and repeatedly met with Azerbaijan officials, including the ambassador of Azerbaijan, Elin Suleymanov.
ABC News: British police arrested two men as the investigation into the hostage-taking incident at Texas synagogue continues.
Two men were arrested in England on Thursday morning as part of an ongoing investigation into a hostage-taking incident at a synagogue in the United States, British authorities said.
Counterterrorism officers detained one of the men in Birmingham and the other in Manchester, about 85 miles north of Birmingham. The pair "remain in custody for questioning," according to a statement from the Greater Manchester Police.
Assistant Chief Constable Dominic Scally of the Greater Manchester Police has said that counterterrorism officers are assisting their U.S. counterparts in the probe of Saturday's hourslong standoff between American authorities and a hostage-taker at the Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, about 27 miles northwest of Dallas.
An armed man claiming to have planted bombs in the synagogue interrupted Shabbat services on Saturday just before 11 a.m. local time, taking a rabbi and three other people hostage, according to Colleyville Police Chief Michael Miller.
Two teenagers were arrested in southern Manchester on Sunday evening in connection with the synagogue attack. They were questioned and later released without being charged, Greater Manchester Police said in a statement Tuesday. Multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News that the teens are Akram's children.
Daily Mail: The Texas suspect ranted about 'f***ing Jews' and urged more Muslims to launch jihad in the U.S. in a final phone call to family minutes before he was killed.
Salt Lake City Tribune: Brigham Young University is under federal investigation for how it disciplines LGBTQ students.
The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into Brigham Young University and how it disciplines its LGBTQ students to determine whether the private religious school is violating their civil rights.
This type of federal scrutiny is surprising and rare, especially with church-owned schools like BYU — it typically happens only in places where there are believed to be potential systemic or serious issues.
The investigation of BYU officially started late last year and it concerns Title IX, the federal law that protects against discrimination on the basis of sex in schools.
Federal investigators were first alerted to a possible issue at BYU, which is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after a complaint was filed in response to changes made to the school’s strict Honor Code in spring 2020.
At the time, the university had removed a controversial section from the rules that banned “homosexual behavior.” Some students celebrated, openly coming out as queer after, they said, school officials told them it was OK. But a few weeks later, the school clarified that same-sex partnerships would still be prohibited, even if the ban was no longer expressly written.
Those who act against that instruction by holding hands or kissing, according to administrators, could continue to face discipline. LGBTQ students protested, saying they felt gaslit and tricked into coming out.
The investigation, headed by the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Education, will examine whether such actions by BYU are allowable because it is a private school or if they violate LGBTQ students’ rights, by disciplining them more harshly than heterosexual peers who don’t face the same consequences for similar romantic behaviors.
University spokesperson Carri Jenkins said in a statement that she believes the federal office will find BYU is properly exempt and within its rights to enforce the church’s policies against same-sex relationships.
“BYU is exempt from application of Title IX rules that conflict with the religious tenets of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Jenkins said. “BYU does not anticipate any further action by OCR on this complaint.”BYU has exemptions as a private school that allows it to ignore some federal rules on sex discrimination. But the federal investigation signals that the university might be going beyond those in how it treats LGBTQ students.trib.alBYU is under federal investigation for how it disciplines LGBTQ studentsFederal investigators are scrutinizing how Brigham Young University disciplines its LGBTQ students.
Boston Herald: The Justice Department has dropped a case against Gang Chen, an MIT professor who was accused of hiding ties to China.
The Justice Department Thursday dropped its case against Gang Chen, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor charged last year with hiding work he did for the Chinese government, saying it “could no longer meet its burden of proof at trial.”
“As prosecutors, we have an obligation in every matter we pursue to continually examine the facts while being open to receiving and uncovering new information,” said Rachael Rollins, U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, in a statement. “Today’s dismissal is a result of that process and is in the interests of justice.”
Chen was arrested and charged on January 14, 2021, with two counts of wire fraud, one count failing to file a foreign bank account report (FBAR) and one count of making a false statement in a tax return, according to a contemporary FBI statement.
Chen, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in China, at the time of his arrest headed MIT’s Pappalardo Micro/Nano Engineering Laboratory and serves as director of the Solid-State Solar Thermal Energy Conversion Center.Judge grants prosecutors’ request to dismiss charges against MIT professor accused of concealing ties with China bostonglobe.com/2022/01/20/met… via @BostonGlobebostonglobe.comJudge grants prosecutors’ request to dismiss charges against MIT professor accused of concealing ties with China - The Boston GlobeIn a motion filed Thursday, prosecutors asked US District Judge Patti Saris to dismiss the four-count indictment charging Gang Chen, a naturalized US citizen born in China, with wire fraud, failing to report a Chinese bank account, and making a false statement on his tax return.
San Francisco Chronicle: Police shot and killed an armed man at San Francisco International Airport Thursday morning.
Police officers fired multiple shots "to neutralize the threat" of a man brandishing two firearms at the San Francisco International Airport's International Terminal on Thursday morning, airport officials said. CPR was administered to the suspect, but he died from his injuries, officials said.
The incident occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m. in front of the airport's BART station entrance, airport spokesperson Doug Yakel said in an email statement. An airport employee alerted police to the man allegedly displaying suspicious behavior.
San Francisco Police Department officers initially tried to deescalate the situation using nonlethal measures, but the suspect continued "to advance," Yakel said.
Also, a bystander in the area was injured in the gunfire, Yakel said. The person was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
BART service was temporarily suspended to and from the airport. Trains are running again, BART said on Twitter. The airport station is open but the primary entrance remains closed, the agency said. "Passengers can enter and exit the station through the secondary entrance on the upper level," BART said.
Page Six: Prince Andrew will not travel to New York to give testimony in his sexual assault lawsuit.
The Duke of York — who was stripped of his military titles and HRH styling by his mother, Queen Elizabeth — will instead give a deposition to be transmitted live from London, in the sexual-assault civil suit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
The case does not yet have a court date. Sources said there is no legal reason for Andrew to be in the US.
Previously, a source close to Giuffre told The Post: “It would be very bad for him not to be present, it’s unthinkable…”
Meanwhile, speculation is swirling about what could happen next for the disgraced royal if he loses the lawsuit.
Andrew has been busy freeing up his assets, including selling his $23.7 million Swiss chalet, as one royal insider told The Post that inside the palace, officials hope he will settle with Giuffre — seeing it as the “least worst option.”
The Associated Press: Kyle Rittenhouse is seeking the return of his gun used during the Kenosha, Wisconsin, protests so he can destroy it.
Rittenhouse’s attorney Mark Richards filed paperwork with the Kenosha County Circuit Court on Wednesday seeking the return of the items, explaining that Rittenhouse wants the AR-15-style rifle back so that it can be destroyed, the Kenosha News reported. He also wants the clothing he was wearing the night of the shootings returned.
Law enforcement has had the gun since the day after Rittenhouse shot three men, two of them fatally, on Aug. 25, 2020, during a night of protests and unrest in the southeastern Wisconsin city of Kenosha over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer.
Rittenhouse family spokesman David Hancock said Thursday that Rittenhouse wants to destroy the rifle and plans to throw out his clothing so that no one can use any of it to “celebrate” the shootings.
“At the end of the day, two people did lose their lives, period,” Hancock said. “That weapon was involved in that. That weapon doesn’t belong on a mantle. It doesn’t belong in a museum. It belongs where Kyle wants it, and Kyle wants it destroyed. ... There’s plenty of people out there who would like to hold these items up, on both sides. That’s nothing Kyle’s interested in.”
The Hill: Sens. Joe Manchin and Susan Collins are pushing forward with their effort to reform an 1887 election law.
Manchin and Collins — meeting together with a crowd of reporters in the Senate basement — said that a bipartisan group of senators is discussing overhauling the Electoral Count Act, as well additional protections for election workers including beefing up penalties for threatening poll workers.
"I'm very encouraged by the fact that so many of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle have indicated an interest in making sure that votes are properly counted and certified and that means overhauling the 1887 Electoral Count Act, it means looking at additional protections against violence and threats for poll workers and election officials," Collins told reporters.
Manchin added that the senators "just think it's such a needed thing to secure our elections" and wanted to ensure that election and poll worker intimidation would be "dealt with in the harshest penalties, we're not going to fool with our count."
The decision by Manchin and Collins to drive their efforts back into the spotlight comes after Collins convened a bipartisan group of senators earlier this month to talk about potential election reforms.
But those talks have largely flown under the radar as Democrats made a failed bid to bypass the 60-vote legislative filibuster in order to pass a sweeping election and voting rights bill.
That effort unraveled late Wednesday night when Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voted with Republicans to prevent a one-time rules change that would have nixed the 60-vote hurdle for the elections bill. Instead, under the rules change, opponents could have slowed down the bill by holding the floor, but after that it could have passed by a simple majority.
The Associated Press: Another poll shows President Joe Biden’s approval ratings have hit a new low.
President Joe Biden ends his first year in the White House with a clear majority of Americans for the first time disapproving of his handling of the presidency in the face of an unrelenting pandemic and roaring inflation, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.
More Americans disapprove than approve of how Biden is handling his job as president, 56% to 43%. As of now, just 28% of Americans say they want Biden to run for reelection in 2024, including only 48% of Democrats.
Asked on Wednesday at a wide-ranging news conference about his flagging popularity, Biden responded, “I don’t believe the polls.”
It’s a stark reversal from early in Biden’s presidency.
In July, 59% of Americans said they approved of Biden’s job performance in an AP-NORC poll. His approval rating dipped to 50% by late September in the aftermath of the chaotic and bloody U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and amid surging coronavirus infections and the administration’s fitful efforts to push economic, infrastructure and tax policies through Congress.
CNN: New York Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman was arrested Thursday during a voting rights protest at the U.S. Capitol.
"Today, Congressman Jamaal Bowman joined a voting rights non-violent direct action at the North Barricade of the US Capitol Building and was arrested by the US Capitol Police," Marcus Frias, a spokesman for Bowman, said in a statement. "We will provide more information and updates as we gather them."
US Capitol Police said in a tweet that before noon Thursday, "demonstrators started blocking one side of the North Barricade outside the US Capitol," adding that officers started making arrests after issuing three warnings to the protesters.
The department said it had arrested more than two dozen people in connection to the protest.
The Republican: Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has announced she will run for governor after current Gov. Charlie Baker ruled out a third term.
Fifty days after Gov. Charlie Baker ruled out a third term in office, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey entered the gubernatorial field early Thursday morning — releasing a short video that captured the breadth of her impressive legal battles waged “as the people’s lawyer” against predatory lenders, ExonMobil, the Sackler family and Purdue Pharma.
Healey shattered barriers as the country’s first openly gay attorney general, and as recently as last week, she made headlines announcing a major settlement with student loan company Navient that will impact more than 1,500 Massachusetts borrowers.
In the Democratic race for governor, Healey faces two female candidates, propelling a path for a historic race that in some ways parallels last year’s Boston mayoral campaign, in which two female candidates of color squared off to helm the city.
But Healey, whose campaign war chest exceeds $3.6 million, now emerges as the frontrunner against state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Harvard professor Danielle Allen.
“Massachusetts, I know the years of the pandemic have been really hard,” Healey said at the start of her campaign launch video. “But I see a state that’s coming together with courage, grit and caring to do great things. From Worcester to Woburn, New Bedford to North Adams, Massachusetts will come back stronger than ever — because we’re working together.”I'm all in! I’ve spent my career standing up for the people of Massachusetts. Now I'm running for Governor to bring our communities together and build an economy that helps every family thrive. Will you join me? bit.ly/supportmaura
The Hill: Former Maryland Rep. Donna Edwards has announced she is running for her old House seat.
CBC: A Florida man has been charged after four people, including a baby, were found dead in the freezing cold near the Manitoba-Minnesota-North Dakota border.
A Florida man has been charged with human smuggling after four people, one an infant, were found dead in a Manitoba field, near the Canada-U.S. border, on Wednesday.
"What I am about to share is going to be difficult for many people to hear," RCMP Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said at a news conference in Winnipeg on Thursday. "It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy."
The bodies of a man, woman and baby were found together in one area, while the body of a teen boy was found a few metres away, she said.
They are believed to have died from exposure to the freezing weather while attempting to walk across the border from Canada to the United States.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the district of Minnesota also issued a release late Thursday afternoon saying 47-year-old Steve Shand of Florida has been arrested and charged with human smuggling in connection with the incident.
Before the bodies were discovered in Manitoba, U.S. Border Patrol officers had stopped a 15-passenger van about one kilometre south of the international border in a rural area between the official ports of entry at Lancaster, Minn., and Pembina, N.D., the release stated.
Shand was driving with two passengers determined to be undocumented foreign nationals from India, Acting U.S. Attorney Charles J. Kovats stated in the news release.
Officers also found cases of plastic cups, bottled water, bottled juice and snacks in the van. While Shand and the passengers were being taken to the border patrol station in North Dakota, police came across five more Indian nationals just south of the border, walking in the direction of where Shand was arrested, the release stated.
They said they had walked across the border expecting to be picked up by someone, and estimated they had been walking around for more than 11 hours.
Two of them had serious injuries and were transported to a hospital, the release stated.
One person in the group had a backpack he said he was carrying for a family of four that had been with the group but had become separated during the night. The backpack contained children's clothes, a diaper, toys and some children's medication.
The bodies have been tentatively identified as that family of four, the release from the U.S. Attorney's Office stated.
NPR: Meat Loaf, the Grammy-winning singer famous for 'I'd Do Anything For Love,' has died.
Meat Loaf, the Grammy-winning American singer and actor, has died at the age of 74. An official announcement was posted to his Facebook page early Friday morning. Meat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, was best known for the 1977 album Bat Out Of Hell, one of the best selling albums of all time, having sold 43 million copies worldwide. Meat Loaf won a 1994 Grammy Award for the song "I'd Do Anything For Love."
Meat Loaf also appeared in over 65 movies, with iconic roles in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Fight Club, among others.
"We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man," the statement read. "We thank you for your understanding of our need for privacy at this time. From his heart to your souls...don't ever stop rocking!"Meat Loaf, the American singer and actor, has died at the age of 74. He also appeared in over 65 movies, with iconic roles in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" and "Fight Club," among others.n.prMeat Loaf, Grammy-winning singer famous for ‘I’d Do Anything For Love,’ has diedMeat Loaf, born Marvin Lee Aday, was best known for Bat Out Of Hell, one of the best selling albums of all time.
WFOR-TV: An American Airlines flight from Miami to London was forced to turn around Wednesday night after a woman refused to wear a mask onboard.
Flight 38 was about an hour and a half into its flight to Heathrow Airport when it circled back and returned to Miami International Airport.
Police dispatch called for officers to meet the plane at Gate D14 because a passenger was not respecting the mask mandate. Once it landed, more than 100 passengers were informed they had to get off the plane.
“We weren’t given any instructions, just told that we had to go back and now we can’t get our luggage,” said one passenger.
American Airlines issued a statement apologizing for the inconvenience.
“American Airlines flight 38 with service from Miami (MIA) to London (LHR) returned to MIA due to disruptive customer refusing to comply with the federal mask requirement. The flight landed at MIA where local law enforcement met the aircraft. We thank our crew for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”
The flight was canceled as a result of the incident. Many passengers stayed overnight in Miami to catch the flight that was re-booked for Thursday.
The woman who refused to wear a mask was not arrested, however, she was put on American’s internal no-fly list pending further investigation.
CNBC: Peloton is halting production of its bikes and treadmills as demand wanes.
Peloton is temporarily halting production of its connected fitness products as consumer demand wanes and the company looks to control costs, according to internal documents obtained by CNBC.
Peloton plans to pause Bike production for two months, from February to March, the documents show. It already halted production of its more expensive Bike+ in December and will do so until June. It won’t manufacture its Tread treadmill machine for six weeks, beginning next month. And it doesn’t anticipate producing any Tread+ machines in fiscal 2022, according to the documents. Peloton had previously halted Tread+ production after a safety recall last year.
The company said in a confidential presentation dated Jan. 10 that demand for its connected fitness equipment has faced a “significant reduction” around the world due to shoppers’ price sensitivity and amplified competitor activity.
Peloton shares closed Thursday down 23.9% at $24.22, bringing the stock’s market value to $7.9 billion. During trading, shares hit a 52-week low of $23.25. The drop also brought the stock below $29, where it was priced ahead of Peloton’s initial public offering.
CNBC: Amazon is opening its first clothing store, which includes high-tech fitting rooms.
After upending brick-and-mortar retail, Amazon is opening a clothing store in the physical world.
The first Amazon Style store, located in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California, will open its doors later this year, the company announced Thursday.
The store will feature women’s and men’s apparel, shoes, and accessories from a mix of well-known and emerging brands, with prices catering to a wide range of shoppers.
“You’ll find everything from the $10 basic to the designer jeans to the $400 timeless piece,” Simoina Vasen, managing director of Amazon Style, told CNBC. “We want to meet every budget and every price point.”
At roughly 30,000 square feet, the retail space is around the size of a typical T.J. Maxx location, but smaller than the average department store.
Shoppers will rely heavily on their smartphone in order to browse the store.
When shoppers walk into the store, they’ll see “display items,” featuring just one size and color of a particular product; the remaining inventory for each product will kept in the back of the store. After logging into the Amazon app on a smartphone, they’ll scan a QR code on the item to view additional sizes, colors, product ratings and other information, such as personalized recommendations for similar items.
“This allows us to offer more selection without requiring customers to sift through racks to find that right color, size and fit,” Vasen said.
After scanning the QR code on an item, shoppers can click a button in the Amazon app to add the item to a fitting room or send it to a pickup counter.
The Verge: Facebook is exploring plans to allow users to make, showcase and sell NFTs.
Social media conglomerate Meta is exploring plans to let users create, showcase, and sell NFTs on Facebook and Instagram, according to a report from The Financial Times.
If the company launches such tools, it would be the biggest show of mainstream support for NFTs to date, and help solidify the controversial assets’ place in the digital world.
As per the FT, the plans are “at an early stage and could yet change.” The publication says teams at Facebook and Instagram are “readying” a feature that will let users display NFTs as their profile pictures, as well as working on a prototype to let users mint new NFTs. Others at Meta are reportedly discussing “launching a marketplace for users to buy and sell NFTs.”
Exactly how far along these plans are is impossible to say, but it’s not the first show of interest in NFTs we’ve seen from Meta’s leaders. Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said last December that the company is “actively exploring NFTs and how we can make them more accessible to a wider audience,” while last October Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg spoke about how the metaverse will need to support “ownership of digital goods or NFTs.”
CNN: Home prices rose 16.9 percent in 2021, the highest on record.
The median home sales price was $346,900 in 2021, up 16.9% from 2020, and the highest on record going back to 1999, according to the National Association of Realtors. Home sales had the strongest year since 2006, with 6.12 million homes sold, up 8.5% from the year before.
While that was bad news for would be buyers, it was a boon for those who already owned a home. A typical homeowner accumulated $50,200 in housing wealth, looking at the median price from 2020 to 2021.
"That is a sizable wealth gain for homeowners across the country," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "The housing market has seen a spectacular performance this last year with sales rising and prices rising. But inventory is at an all-time low."
By the end of 2021, there were fewer homes for sale than ever. The inventory of unsold existing homes fell to a record low of 910,000 at the end of December. That's a 1.8-month supply of homes at the current pace, also an all-time low.
CNBC: Cryptocurrencies tumbled Thursday, with bitcoin falling as much as 8 percent and ethereum falling 9 percent.
Bitcoin plummeted by 8% in the last 24 hours, and trading at $38,524 as of 10:56 p.m. ET, according to CoinDesk data.
Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, dived more than 9%. It was trading at $2,828 as of 10:57 p.m. ET, according to CoinDesk.
The declines in cryptocurrencies follow Wall Street losses on Thursday. The Nasdaq was down almost 5% this week, and the S&P 500 is into its third straight week of losses.
Reuters: The Federal Reserve is looking into issuing its own digital currency.
Fox Business: New York City Mayor Adams was paid in bitcoin and ethereum for his first paycheck.
CNBC: Netflix shares fell 20 percent after the bell Thursday as the number of new subscribers slowed.
The Washington Post: Some journalists covering the Winter Olympics in Beijing are planning to use burner phones as they expect spying by the Chinese government.
Journalists covering the Winter Olympics next month say they’ll do their work in Beijing on brand-new cellphones and laptops. When the Games are over, they’ll simply leave them behind or throw them away.
The reason: Reporters are concerned that any devices they use there could become infected with tracking software, enabling Chinese authorities to spy on their contents. Hence, the use of “burner” phones and computers.
ESPN: ESPN will not send staff to the Winter Olympics over COVID-19 concerns.
The Hollywood Reporter: CBS News has hired Washington Post political reporter Robert Costa to serve as chief election and campaign correspondent.
Costa will report for all CBS News platforms, including streaming, and will also contribute to the network’s investigative and enterprise reporting. In addition, CBS News, Costa and The Washington Post plan to collaborate on occasional special projects and investigations.
Costa also recently released he book Peril with co-author Bob Woodward, about the end of Donald Trump’s presidency and the beginning of Joe Biden’s administration.
The journalist is a TV veteran, having served as the moderator of PBS’ Washington Week from 2017-2020. He was also a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
“Bob Costa is one of the best political reporters of his generation,” said Neeraj Khemlani, president and co-head of CBS News and Stations, in a statement. “From Peril and print to television and streaming, Costa’s fearless political reporting and unrivaled access to key decision-makers consistently stand out, bringing clarity and deep insight to readers and viewers everywhere. We couldn’t be more excited to welcome him to the CBS News team.”(thread) Personal news: Starting in Feb., I will be the Chief Election & Campaign Correspondent for CBS News. My reporting will focus on the 2022 midterms, the 2024 election, and American democracy. Stay tuned for in-depth stories, scoops, investigations, and on-the-road reports.
The Hollywood Reporter: ABC News is making a podcast push, launching a program for ‘Good Morning America.’
The New York Post: A peek inside the home office of Dr. Anthony Fauci shows a bobblehead of of himself as well as life-size portrait.
A peek inside Dr. Anthony Fauci’s home office reveals he’s surrounded by images of himself — including his own bobblehead and a life-size portrait on the wall.
The glimpse into the nation’s top infectious disease expert’s workspace started making the rounds on social media Wednesday after an eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed the images of Fauci.
The footage of President Biden’s chief medical adviser first appeared in the “Fauci” documentary released in September last year.
In the documentary, Fauci, 81, can be seen sitting at his computer typing what appears to be an email as a canvas print of his likeness looms over him.
A framed photo of what appears to be Fauci’s face can also be seen perched on a bookshelf behind him.
And a Dr. Fauci bobblehead is spotted on a different shelf next to a photo of his daughter.
TMZ: Adele was forced Thursday to cancel her Las Vegas residency due to COVID-19 infections on her team.
Adele says she's tried everything possible, but the show will NOT go on, as they say -- COVID has forced her to cancel her upcoming Vegas residency.
Adele apologized to fans Thursday for having to cancel at the last minute. She says she tried hard to make sure her show was ready in time, but she says it's been nearly impossible with delivery delays, and half of her team being down due to COVID-19.
Adele was set to have her opening show this weekend as a part of her “Weekends with Adele” residency. She planned to do 24 shows starting this month and running through April.
This day in history: It was this day in 1999 that the U.S. Coast Guard made one of the largest drug busts in American history, seizing over 9,500 pounds of cocaine, The Washington Post reported.
Federal authorities announced one of the largest cocaine seizures in U.S. history yesterday and local Arizona police said they found a pair of tunnels under the U.S.-Mexican border that they suspect were built to sneak drugs into the Southwest.
The capture of nearly five tons of cocaine aboard a Houston-bound ship and the discovery of the tunnels in Nogales, Ariz., illustrated two of the ways U.S. land and sea borders continue to come under pressure from international drug traffickers despite interdiction efforts by U.S. law enforcement agencies.
The cocaine, totaling about 9,500 pounds, was found last week hidden under a load of iron ore aboard the Cannes, a 580-foot, Greek-owned bulk carrier, after it was boarded by Coast Guard inspectors about 125 miles southwest of Jamaica, officials said. They said the load ranked among the five largest cocaine seizures recorded by U.S. authorities.
Its street value was estimated at up to $186 million.
In a statement, President Clinton praised the cooperation of the Coast Guard, the Customs Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration in making the seizure and arresting five of the ship's crew.
The commissioner of Customs, Raymond W. Kelly, said it is not yet known who owned the drugs, where they were loaded onto the ship or where they were supposed to be distributed. But he cited unspecified indications that crew members might have been planning to remove the cocaine in Mexico so it could then be smuggled overland across the U.S. border in smaller loads.
The first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the U.S. on this day in 2020. The New York Times: First Patient With Wuhan Coronavirus Is Identified in the U.S.
A man in Washington State is infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, the first confirmed case in the United States of a mysterious respiratory infection that has killed at least six people and sickened hundreds more in Asia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced on Tuesday.
Federal officials also announced expanded screenings for the infection at major airports in the United States. In addition to New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, airports in Atlanta and Chicago will begin examining passengers arriving from Wuhan, China, for signs of illness.
The infected man, who is in his 30s and a resident of Snohomish County, Wash., developed symptoms after returning from a trip to the region around Wuhan where the outbreak began.