House narrowly approves $1.9B to fortify Capitol after riot
The House on Thursday narrowly approved $1.9 billion to fortify the Capitol after the Jan. 6 insurrection, as Democrats pushed past Republican opposition to try to harden the complex with retractable fencing and a quick-response force following the most violent domestic attack on Congress in history.
The bill’s 213-212 passage came a day after the House approved the formation of an independent commission to investigate the deadly mob siege by President Donald Trump’s supporters, who battled police to storm the building in a failed attempt to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s election.
The two measures now face an uncertain outcome in the evenly divided Senate as most Republicans have objected to both. Tensions are running high at the Capitol, with Democrats growing exasperated with Republicans who refuse to acknowledge the severity of the insurrection because of what appears to be their devotion to Trump — and fears of crossing him.
US jobless claims fall again as some states end federal aid
Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week — the latest encouraging sign for the rebounding U.S. economy — just as Republican-led states are moving to cut off a federal benefit for the jobless.
Twenty-two states, from Texas and Georgia to Ohio and Iowa, plan to begin blocking a $300-a-week federal payment for the unemployed starting in June, according to an Associated Press analysis. All have Republican governors and legislatures.
Recipients have been able to receive the $300 federal benefit on top of their regular state unemployment aid. The payment, which lasts nationwide until Sept. 6, was included in President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion financial rescue package.
US, Russia at odds over military activity in the Arctic
The Biden administration is leading a campaign against Russian attempts to assert authority over Arctic shipping and reintroduce a military dimension to discussions over international activity in the area.
As Russia assumed the rotating chairmanship of the Arctic Council on Thursday, the U.S. rallied other members to oppose Moscow’s plans to set maritime rules in the Northern Sea Route, which runs from Norway to Alaska, and its desire to resume high-level military talks within the eight-nation bloc. Those talks were suspended in 2014 over Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The effort reflects growing concerns in Washington and among some NATO allies about a surge in Russian military and commercial activity in the region that is rapidly opening up due to the effects of climate change. Russia has expressed similar suspicion about NATO’s motives.
Hero intern who helped save Giffords will run for her seat
Daniel Hernandez Jr., the intern hailed as a hero for helping save the life of then-U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords following an attempted assassination a decade ago, announced Thursday he’s running to represent her former district in Congress.
Hernandez was a 20-year-old college student in his first week interning for Giffords when he went to her “Congress on your corner” constituent event where a gunman opened fire killing six and injuring 13, including Giffords, in 2011. He kept the congresswoman conscious and applied pressure to her head wound until paramedics arrived.
His actions were widely praised during a period of shock and unity that gripped the nation. Then-President Barack Obama called Hernandez a hero at a memorial for the victims and also while he a guest at the State of the Union address weeks later
Experts predict busy Atlantic storm season but not like 2020
The Atlantic hurricane season will be busier than normal, but it’s unlikely to be as crazy as 2020’s record-shattering year, meteorologists said Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasted that the hurricane season, which runs from June through November, will see 13 to 20 named storms. Six to 10 of those storms will become hurricanes and three to five will be major hurricanes with winds of more than 110 mph (177 kilometers per hour), the agency predicted.
Since 1990, a typical season sees 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes — a climate normal that has increased in recent decades. There’s a 60% chance that this hurricane season will be busier than normal and only a 10% chance it will be below normal, NOAA said.
Teen baker sweetens lives making desserts for those in need
Vedika Jawa’s mission to sweeten the lives of those in need began when she was just 13, on a family trip to San Francisco. She could not help but see the multitudes living on the streets.
She returned home to Fremont, California, determined to help. Reaching out to homeless shelters, she offered to bake sweet treats. Some managers ignored her; others told her to come back when she was older. But she persisted.
Jawa organized a neighborhood bake sale, collected ingredients in her school and contacted a shelter’s CEO, who eventually allowed her to bake for residents. That was the start of Bake4Sake, her student-run nonprofit that distributes desserts to those in need.
Spain’s migrant drama highlights EU outsourcing policy flaws
The sight of hundreds of migrants swimming or climbing fences separating the Spanish enclave of Ceuta from the rest of Africa this week is a stark reminder of just how dependent the European Union can be on the whims of countries it chooses to pay to enforce its migration policy.
Since well over 1 million migrants entered the EU in 2015, most of them refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, the world’s biggest trading bloc has spent vast sums trying to ensure that migrants no longer set out for Europe on arduous overland treks or dangerous sea journeys.
The EU granted billions of euros and other incentives to Turkey, for instance, to stop people leaving for Europe. Yet, just over a year ago, the government in Ankara waved thousands of people through the land border to Greece, sparking violence that almost erupted into open conflict.
Biden signs US anti-Asian hate crimes law
United States President Joe Biden signed anti-hate crime legislation on Thursday directing federal law enforcement to address a rise in violent attacks against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There are simple core values and beliefs that should bring us together as Americans. One of them is standing together against hate, against racism,” Biden said at a White House ceremony attended by Democratic legislators and administration officials.
The new law seeks to speed the Justice Department’s review of anti-Asian hate crimes, and designates an official at the department to oversee the effort. Importantly for enforcement of anti-hate crime laws, it will make reporting easier for victims of all types of hate crimes and provide training for local and state officials.
Navajo Nation outpaces wider US: 60 percent fully vaccinated
The Navajo Nation continues to lead the United States in vaccination efforts, having fully vaccinated 102,372 individuals as of May 15 – 60 percent of the tribal lands’ population of roughly 170,000 – according to data released on Thursday.
By comparison, the US has fully vaccinated 37.8 percent of its population as of May 19, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data. The US state with the highest percentage, Maine, sits at 50 percent fully vaccinated.
The Navajo Nation, which encompasses an area larger than West Virginia across four states that effectively serves as a reservation, reached this feat roughly six months after vaccine distribution began.
Biden orders climate risk strategy for US financial assets
President Joe Biden is ordering his administration to create a strategy to quantify the risks climate change poses to both public and private financial assets.
In a four-page executive order that he signed Thursday, the president is asking Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, in her role as head of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, to recommend steps to reduce climate risks to financial stability, according to the administration. That assessment, which would be provided within six months, would also detail plans financial regulators have for bolstering disclosures.
A separate government-wide strategy for identifying and disclosing climate risk to government programs, assets and liabilities is set to be developed within 120 days. It will be drafted by National Economic Council Director Brian Deese and National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy in coordination with Yellen and the Office of Management and Budget. The Labor Department will be directed to analyze how to protect pensions from climate change risk.
Oil slumps two percent on possible return of Iranian supply
Oil slumped to the lowest in nearly a month as traders focused on the likelihood of a renewed nuclear deal with Iran and the potential removal of sanctions on the country’s crude exports.
Futures fell 2.1% in New York on Thursday, posting a third straight decline in the longest losing streak since March. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said world powers have accepted that major sanctions on his country will be lifted. But he said diplomats are still discussing “details and finer points” before there’s “a final agreement.”
The prospect of a return of Iranian supply is also being reflected in Brent’s prompt timespread. The spread’s backwardation narrowed to just a few cents, a sign that market tightness may be easing.
China furious after US warship sails close to disputed Paracels
China has reacted with fury after the United States Navy sent a warship through waters in the disputed South China Sea near the Paracel Islands in a mission it said was to “assert” navigational rights and freedoms, but China said was illegal.
The Chinese military’s Southern Theatre Command said on Thursday the USS Curtis Wilbur had entered the waters without permission, and that its ships and planes followed the US vessel.
Spokesperson Tian Junli said the PLA had “expelled” the USS Curtis Wilbur, describing the US as a “true troublemaker”, state broadcaster CGTN reported.
What to know about the COVID-19 variant identified in Oklahoma
The COVID-19 variant recently identified in a cluster of cases in Oklahoma likely spreads faster and seems to have some resistance to antibodies generated through vaccinations, according to an Oklahoma health expert.
Dr. Dale Bratzler, the chief COVID officer for the University of Oklahoma, said data indicates B.1.617.2 variant — also called an India variant for where it was first detected — is about six times more resistant than other variants to the antibodies generated by vaccines.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Friday that it identified a cluster of 17 cases of the B.1.617.2 variant, including three that were in fully vaccinated people. Two others were partially vaccinated.
Millions of mice are swarming Australian towns. Now there's a plan to end the plague with poison
"The only good mouse is a dead mouse," Australia's Deputy Prime Minister declared this week, as New South Wales stepped up its war on mice with a plan to poison the plague infesting large parts of the state.
For months, mice have ravaged fields and infested homes in eastern Australia, from the Victoria border in the south all the way to the country's northern state of Queensland, causing millions of dollars of damage to crops and machinery.
As winter approaches, the hungry rodents are even seeking shelter inside people's houses, according to professional cleaner Sue Hodge.
New York Yankees' breakthrough infections demonstrate the Covid-19 vaccine works. Here's why
In one week, there were nine cases of Covid-19 in fully vaccinated members of the New York Yankees organization: one player, three coaches and five team staff. The revelation has led to questions about vaccine efficacy and fears of super-strength variant strains.
But experts say these cases show the vaccine is working, and testing remains a useful tool.
A Major League Baseball spokesperson confirmed to CNN Wednesday that eight of those nine cases were asymptomatic. Each of the nine were fully vaccinated -- it had been at least 14 days since their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.
Sheriff's Deputy Lifts Car To Free Pinned VA Woman: Video
A Virginia sheriff's deputy, who earlier this year received a Top Cop Award in the state, is being celebrated again for lifting — on his own — an overturned vehicle just enough to let a woman escape serious injury.
Gloucester County Sheriff's Deputy Jon Holt was responding to a report of an overturned vehicle on the night of May 7. A bodycam video released by the sheriff's office shows Holt helping the people inside the vehicle.
"The driver was laying underneath the vehicle with her head pinned by the sunroof," the sheriff's office said Tuesday in a statement. "Seeing the trauma her child was witnessing, Deputy J. Holt went into overdrive."
Bragging He Smoked Weed In Capitol Riot Traps New York Man: Feds
Sitting in his dentist's chair for a routine appointment about a week after the failed Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Daniel Warmus of Alden, New York, spilled his guts.
Warmus bragged not only about breaching the Capitol and refusing a Capitol Police officer's order to leave but also that he smoked a joint inside the landmark building, the FBI said.
Another patient heard it all, including the audio of a video Warmus played, and alerted the FBI, an unnamed FBI special agent from the agency's field office in Buffalo said in an affidavit.
Catalytic Converter Thefts Soar With Price Of Precious Metals
Car owners across the United States frequently leave an essential item that can cost $1,000 or more virtually unsecured outside overnight, allowing thieves to swipe it in a matter of minutes.
More thieves are catching on, too, as reports of catalytic converter thefts are rising extensively in big cities, midsize suburbs and small towns throughout the United States.
Experts say the platinum, palladium, rhodium, and gold that make up catalytic converters are what's driving up the thieves' desire to target this specific car part, a part of a car's exhaust system that turns toxic gases produced by vehicle exhausts into harmless ones like steam.
Good News Network
Florida Man rescues his dog from an Alligator
There’s nothing Mike McCoy wouldn’t do for his adored 8-month-old chocolate lab Jack—including, it seems, wrestling an alligator.
Mike McCoy and Jack the puppy were walking near a pond behind a middle school in the town of Holiday when the gator appeared out of nowhere. It tried to pull Jack under the water. Then Mike did the unthinkable. He jumped in the water too.
“I previously read up on my environment and gators. I got around, thumbed him the eye, picked him out of the water so he couldn’t get anywhere until he let the dog go. And in the interim he decided, I don’t have him, I’ll bite you,” said McCoy to ABC Action News.