Chicago Tribune: Gov. J.B. Pritzker set to unveil exit plan for mask mandate by Dan Petrella and Clare Spaulding
Gov. J.B. Pritzker is set to unveil his planned off-ramp from pandemic restrictions in Illinois on Wednesday as the omicron-driven COVID-19 surge continues to subside, sources said.
Pritzker said during an appearance in Springfield on Tuesday that people looking for some indication of when his mask mandate would end should “stay tuned.”
“We’re very close,” he said, while declining to offer any specifics.
Pritzker’s move would follow announcements from Democratic counterparts on both coasts on plans to roll back mask mandates in the coming weeks.
A decision on the mask mandate that has been in place since August for all indoor public places in Illinois would also come at a pivotal time for the first-term governor.
Detroit Free Press: Ambassador Bridge partly reopens after shutdown by truckers protesting vaccine mandates by Emma Stein and Frank Witsil
A protest on the Ambassador Bridge by Canadian truckers critical of pandemic vaccine mandates has shut down the international gateway for two days, creating traffic gridlock, concerning businesses and making headlines.
Truckers calling themselves the Freedom Convoy are opposing a Canadian mandate requiring drivers entering Canada to be fully vaccinated or face testing and quarantine requirements.
U.S.-bound bridge traffic reopened early Tuesday, a day after the ongoing protest forced the busy span to close, but the U.S. side was still impassable, setting off a firestorm of political activity and tough talk.
It was unclear Tuesday afternoon when the bridge — one of America's busiest international border crossings — would fully reopen and how seriously it was affecting commerce.
Both Detroit and Windsor have significant auto operations and the standstill is a huge concern for businesses that already have been suffering from global supply chain and local staffing issues.
Texas Tribune: Earthquakes in Texas doubled in 2021. Scientists cite years of oil companies injecting sludgy water underground by Erin Douglas
MIDLAND — One local said it sounded like a pickup truck had rammed into the side of their house. Another said it sounded like the air conditioner fell off the roof. A third compared the experience to getting off of a rollercoaster, dizzy and a bit shaky.
“In the hardest ones we’ve experienced, there is a bunch of shaking, and the pictures shook off the walls,” said Christina Bock, 45, who lives in Gardendale, a rural community north of Odessa in the heart of West Texas oil and gas country. Earthquakes have dislodged her deck from the house and left cracks in her walls, she said.
“You’ll hear a loud bang. If you’re inside, you assume it’s a car wreck or that something exploded outside,” said Bock, a paralegal who has lived in Gardendale for 13 years. “The scary thing is that they are happening pretty much daily at this point.”
More than 200 earthquakes of 3 magnitude and greater shook Texans in 2021, more than double the 98 recorded in 2020, according to a Texas Tribune analysis of state data maintained by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin.
Boston Globe: For some, report on Mass. traffic stops shows stubborn racial biases persists in policing by Tonya Alanez and Danny McDonald
Despite no findings of police bias, a new state report revealing stark racial disparities in outcomes of traffic stops in Massachusetts is further documentation of inequities in the justice system, community leaders and experts said.
Released Monday, the report analyzed 11 months of traffic stops in 2020 and determined Black and Latino drivers were more likely than white drivers to be subjected to searches during stops and had a higher chance of receiving a criminal citation or being arrested.
However, the 400-plus-page document said there was no evidence of racial disparity when it came to the drivers police chose to pull over.
The Rev. Jeffrey Brown of Twelfth Baptist Church in Roxbury said the findings felt all too familiar.
“We’ve been dealing with issues around traffic stops for decades now. . . . And it doesn’t seem like there’s any systemic change that’s happening to stop it,” Brown said.
The Oregonian: Worker shortages fuel debate over self-serve gas in Oregon by Chris Lehman
Oregon’s nearly-one-of-a-kind ban on self-serve gasoline is once again the subject of debate in the Oregon legislature.
Lawmakers on the Joint Transportation Committee
heard testimony Tuesday from supporters of a bill that would allow gas stations to offer drivers the choice to pump their own fuel. If House Bill 4151
is approved, it would end Oregon’s status as one of just two states with restrictions on self-serve fuel, the other being New Jersey.
“I believe it’s our job as legislators to be responsive to what the people we represent want, and to be willing to re-evaluate the policies we have in place when they may no longer serve us,” said Rep. Julie Fahey, D-Eugene. Fahey is one of nine sponsors of the measure, more than half of whom are Republicans.
Oregon’s ban on self-serve gasoline has been in place since the mid-20th century, and generations of Oregonians have grown up with little experience pumping their own fuel, except when traveling out of state.
Washington Post: Covid deaths highest in a year as omicron targets the unvaccinated and elderly by Fenit Nirappil and Dan Keating
Though considered milder than other coronavirus variants, omicron has infected so many people that it has driven the number of daily deaths beyond where it was last spring, before vaccines were widely available, according to Washington Post data.
Omicron has been particularly lethal to people over 75, the unvaccinated and the medically vulnerable, according to doctors and public health officials. The soaring death toll also illustrates why experts pleaded with the public to beware of the highly contagious variant even though it is less virulent
“That feels quite jarring to people who may have assumed omicron is generally on a per-case level less severe and given the fact we have vaccinated at least some portion of the country,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Even if on a per-case basis fewer people develop severe illness and die, when you apply a small percentage to a very large number, you get a substantial number.”
CNN: McConnell and McCarthy split over RNC censure resolution by Veronica Stracqualursi
(CNN)— The top two Republican leaders in Congress were at odds Tuesday over the Republican National Committee's recent resolution that formally censured GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger for serving on the House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, pressed by CNN's Manu Raju on the RNC's decision to refer to that day as "legitimate political discourse" in the resolution, said that what occurred on January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol was "a violent insurrection."
"We all were here. We saw what happened," McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said Tuesday. "It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next. That's what it was."
In a rare break with the RNC, McConnell said the committee should not be "singling out members of our party who may have different views from the majority," adding that it's "not the job of the RNC."
Christian Science Monitor: Who’s crafting public policy? A push to diversify Capitol Hill staff. By Christa Case Bryant
When Jennifer DeCasper quit her job as a Colorado prosecutor to move to Washington, D.C., and serve the American people, she didn’t imagine doing it on the tarmac of Dulles Airport.
But amid the 2008-09 Great Recession, the only job she could get was guiding planes to their gates with orange batons and handling baggage. So there she was, wearing a fluorescent vest and waiting at the foot of the stairs to a plane, when a former law firm colleague handed over her bag. The woman didn’t even recognize Ms. DeCasper.
“Dulles was probably my greatest job, because it taught me the most in terms of humility, in terms of the way you treat people, the way you see people,” says Ms. DeCasper, who a year later landed a position with GOP lawmaker Tim Scott of South Carolina, and is today the senator’s right-hand woman. “I truly think that Dulles was necessary for me to be who I am today as the chief of staff.”
Ms. DeCasper brings a different worldview to an institution traditionally staffed by upper-class graduates of elite universities. She was born to a teenage mother in Lincoln, Nebraska, and her dad worked as a garbageman.
New York Times: House Passes Bill to Shore Up Postal Service, Working to Avert Insolvency by Emily Cochrane
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday approved the most significant overhaul of the Postal Service in nearly two decades, seeking to address the beleaguered agency’s financial woes and counter pandemic-era mail delays that became a flash point in the 2020 elections.
The service has teetered on the brink of insolvency for years, as repeated efforts to revamp its structure and finances have stalled in Congress. In 2020, a slowdown of mail delivery and a series of operational changes ahead of the election, in which a record number of votes were cast by mail because of the pandemic, prompted intense scrutiny and helped set off a renewed effort to address the agency’s troubles.
The House approved the measure 342 to 92.
A companion bill in the evenly divided Senate has bipartisan backing, including more than a dozen Republican co-sponsors, signaling sufficient support for the measure to move through that chamber and become law.
POLITICO Europe: Macron and Kremlin spar over outcome of meeting on Ukraine by Giorgio Leali
French President Emmanuel Macron and the Kremlin delivered contradictory statements Tuesday on the outcome of a high-stakes meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukraine.
The two leaders met for more than five hours in Moscow on Monday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, triggered by Putin massing more than 100,000 troops near the country’s borders.
Neither Macron nor Putin announced any deal but a senior Elysée official later told reporters the Russian leader had committed not to undertake any “new military initiatives ” — only to be contradicted by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov a few hours later.
The Elysée later backtracked, saying that a commitment to no new military initiatives was merely discussed — rather than agreed to — at the meeting.
However, at a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in Kyiv on Tuesday, Macron insisted he had received assurances from Putin on the military front.
“He told me that he would not initiate an escalation, and I think this is important,” Macron said.
BBC News: Bosnia shivers as ghost of nationalism returns by Jeremy Bowen
On a sunlit winter afternoon, it is easy to imagine how life can be good in Bosnia. The pitched roofs of houses on the steep slopes of Sarajevo's valley look like stacks of snow-covered cuckoo clocks. Children skate on an outdoor rink at one of the venues built for the Winter Olympics of 1984.
In the terrible war years between 1992 and 1995, when Sarajevo was besieged by the Bosnian Serb Army, I saw how bad, brutal, and short life could be here too. Bosnia-Herzegovina experienced bloodshed, cruelty and suffering that no-one had seen in Europe since World War Two.
Perhaps that should have been the end of it. The war ended in 1995 with an agreement thrashed out at a US Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. It froze the conflict rather than settled it.
A big force of peacekeepers, and a High Representative with powers to pass laws made sure the deal stuck, but the world moved on some time ago.
The problem for Bosnia is that it did not.
Al Jazeera: Burkinabe prosecutors seek 30 years for Compaore in murder trial
Military prosecutors in Burkina Faso have requested 30 years in jail for former President Blaise Compaore over the 1987 murder of his predecessor, Thomas Sankara.
The court was asked on Tuesday to find him guilty in absentia of an “attack on state security”, “concealment of a corpse” and “complicity in a murder”.
At the request of the defence, which has yet to make a plea, the trial was then suspended until March 1.
Sankara was an army captain aged 33 when he came to power in the Sahel state in 1983, renaming the country the following year from Upper Volta to Burkina Faso, which means “land of the honest men”.
Reuters: 'No to the IMF': thousands protest in Argentina against debt deal by Miguel Lo Bianco and Horacio Soria
BUENOS AIRES, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Thousands of Argentines marched through the streets of Buenos Aires on Tuesday to protest against a likely deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to revamp more than $40 billion of debt the country cannot pay back.
The protesters paraded through the capital with banners saying "no to paying the IMF" and "no to an IMF deal", a sign of rising tension in the South American nation over the tentative agreement struck late last month.
Argentina and the IMF announced a breakthrough in talks in late January to revamp a failed 2018 loan, which would see debt payments pushed back but involve pledges to meet certain economic targets agreed with the lender. read more
That agreement still needs details ironed out and approval from both Argentina's Congress and the IMF board.
"No to the government's deal with the IMF," said Celeste Fierro, a protest leader, wearing a T-shirt reading "scams are not paid".
Guardian: Emmanuel Macron’s remarks on Russia set alarm bells ringing by Patrick Wintour
Domestic critics of Emmanuel Macron, Nato hardliners and the leadership in Ukraine will be suspiciously examining the French president’s late-night remarks at his Moscow press conference on Monday for signs of freelancing.
At one level, Macron, three months from a re-election campaign, stuck pretty faithfully to the script he had exhaustively agreed with his Nato partners before his meeting with Vladimir Putin, but at another level his particular view of Russia as a European nation, and lofty talk of a new security guarantees, will have set alarm bells ringing.
The specifics of the five hours of discussions between the French and Russian leaders, and points of convergence, were kept from the world at the press conference, but that did not stop Macron hinting at shifts in Nato’s outlook that some members say should never be made in response to military intimidation.
Hollywood Reporter: Joe Rogan Slams Spotify Backlash as “Political Hit Job” by James Hibberd
Joe Rogan slammed his recent controversies as “a political hit job.”
In the Tuesday episode of his Spotify podcast The Joe Rogan Experience, Rogan discussed his recent headlines with his guest, comic Akaash Singh.
“In a lot of ways, this is a relief,” Rogan said. “That video [of Rogan saying the n-word in his podcast over the years] had always been out there. This is a political hit job. They’re taking all this stuff I’ve ever said that’s wrong and smushing it all together. It’s good because it makes me address some stuff that I really wish wasn’t out there.”
Rogan also pushed back on right-wing criticisms of his recent apology video, noting, “You should apologize if you regret something. I do think you have to be careful not to apologize for nonsense.”
The illustrious Sarah Breedlove, better known as Madam C.J. Walker, became one of the nation’s first women self-made millionaires more than a century ago by turning the use of hot combs, brushes, and the “Walker Method” pomade formula she perfected into a Black haircare empire.
Today, Walker’s descendants, including her great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles, are continuing their ancestor’s legacy with the recent launch of MADAM by Madam C.J. Walker, a new Sundial Brands beauty and haircare line.
The collection of 11 new products was inspired by the pioneering Black-American haircare mogul herself, according to the company.
“We worked together to merge 100 years of research, development, science and technology to ensure that the products are as innovative and effective as the original Walker line,” Bundles said in a press release about the new brand’s creation. “This collection embodies Madam Walker’s spirit of empowerment and pays homage to modern women of color.”
Everyone have a great evening!