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Biden visits storm-battered Texas, pledges federal aid ‘for the long haul’

WASHINGTON – At an emergency response center in Houston on Friday, President Biden praised officials who had slept in stairwells as they worked around the clock to help people without electricity or clean water in due to devastating storms, low temperatures and the breakdown of basic utilities that had crippled Texas.

At a food bank, Mr Biden hugged a little girl who was volunteering, then spoke to a woman about the death of her oldest son, again tapping into the pain of others by accessing his own.

Later, during a visit to a stadium turned into a mass vaccination site that will administer gunshots to the arms of some 6,000 Texans a day, Mr Biden assured the federal government would work to provide water. clean drinking, blankets, food, fuel and shelter for those struggling to rebuild their lives in the state.

“We will be true partners to help you recover,” said Mr. Biden. “We are gone for the long haul.”

Relief from infrastructure and coronaviruses may be the official agenda in Washington, but the overwhelming nature of mourning has been the unofficial theme this week for a White House facing a pandemic that has resulted in catastrophic loss of life and now a disaster in the country. second largest state.

Not all presidents naturally take on the role of comforting the grieving, but Mr Biden, who lost his first wife and buried two children, is the rare politician who seems to draw his strength from the experience.

“He has given a lot of hope to people who know their suffering does not go unnoticed,” Sylvester Turner, Democratic Mayor of Houston, said in an interview. “He responds very quickly and his presence here means a lot to a lot of people.”

Mr Biden began the week by presiding over a solemn celebration of the pandemic’s latest milestone: more than 500,000 Americans dead.

“As we have been fighting this pandemic for so long, we must resist becoming numb with pain,” he said during a White House speech Monday night.

And when he traveled to Houston with First Lady Jill Biden, the President first used the power of his office to show his support for a community ravaged by twin crises.

“You save people’s lives,” Biden told a group of emergency medical workers at an emergency operations center. “As my mother would say, you are doing the work of God.”

In Harris County, which includes Houston, about 50% of its 4.9 million people lost power when storms hit. Nearly two weeks later, about 10,000 residents were still boiling their water, according to county officials, and more than 50,000 statewide were still on boil water advisories, according to officials from the Federal Land Management Agency. emergency room.

As soon as Mr. Biden hit the ground in Texas, he set a different tone than his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, who has more than once threatened to deny federal funding to states recovering from disasters because ‘he had toxic political relations with state officials there. .

Mr Biden, who launched a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief program with very little Republican support, was joined by Republican elected officials who praised him for approving a declaration of major disaster for Texas, providing the flow of federal resources to some 126 counties throughout the storm-affected state. That’s about half of the counties Governor Greg Abbott, who joined Mr Biden on the trip, asked to be covered by the statement. Storm damage is expected to exceed $ 20 billion, according to the Insurance Council of Texas.

“Governor and Senator Cruz and I have called for a federal government statement that provides access to public and private assistance through FEMA,” said Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas and another trip participant. , referring to junior state senator Ted Cruz, who was in Florida speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “This is going to be important for our recovery.”

“It’s good that Senator Cornyn is here,” Harris County’s top elected representative Lina Hidalgo told reporters who asked her about Mr. Cruz’s absence. “It’s good that Governor Abbott is here. This is a very important example of unity. “

At the food bank, Dr Biden slipped cans of peaches into food wrappers for students who rely on free school meals while the president spoke to children and told them about his own family.

It was a marked difference from Mr. Trump, who in 2018 was criticized for visiting a disaster relief center in Puerto Rico, only to throw paper towels at category hurricane survivors. 5. “I was having fun,” Mr. Trump said afterwards. “They were having fun.”

Mr. Biden sounded more reassuring – and less partisan – than his predecessor.

“We’re not here today as Democrats or Republicans,” Biden said. “We are here today as Americans.”

Maria Jimenez Moya contributed reporting from Houston.

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Residents of a Texas border town have long been overlooked. The storm made the situation worse.

DEL RIO, Texas – Surrounded by ranch land, tall mesquite trees, and acres of thorny scrub, the border town of Del Rio may sound like the definition of rural Texas. Residents said they had long felt estranged from the state’s centers of power and bewildered by the changing approaches to immigration by their elected leaders in Washington.

And that’s just at typical times. Last week’s epic winter storm, which blanketed the area with more than 11 inches of snow and collapsed the state’s power grid, plunging most of the county’s residents into dark, unheated homes, has left many behind. feeling even more isolated, neglected and forgotten.

More than a week later, many shelves remain empty at local grocery and hardware stores, and a boil water advisory was finally lifted in Val Verde County, which includes Del Rio, on Thursday. Earlier in the week, a line of cars over a mile long drove to a food distribution site where federal officials distributed water, fresh fruit and produce. And on Thursday, as state lawmakers grilled utility officials 250 miles away in Austin over the power grid outage, workers at a city nutrition program provided meals to around 600 inhabitants, more than double its usual daily load.

“I really have the feeling that we are a bit invisible and unheard,” said Michael Cirilo, a 39-year-old juvenile detention officer. Like most of its neighbors in Del Rio, a predominantly Hispanic city of about 36,000, it lost power for several days last week. “Sometimes we feel like we are a bit alone here.”

Located in a southwestern part of the state on the Edwards Plateau, the bicultural Del Rio sits across the Rio Grande from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico, a transit station for migrants crossing the states. -United. Laughlin Air Force Base, where military pilots train, is east of the city, and San Antonio, the nearest metropolitan area, is about 250 km away.

Rick Martinez, 41, who has a market in town, has made the roughly three-hour drive to San Antonio several times over the past week to stock up on produce that has not been restocked at Del Rio. On the contrary, the storm has reinforced how remote his city is, he said, and how he cannot depend on government aid in times of crisis.

“We probably need to work together on our community emergency response and just leave the government out of it,” he said, referring to his hometown, “because they left us completely out of there. ‘difference.

According to him, politicians are only interested in Del Rio, where he has always lived, during the election season. “When they run for office, that’s when you see them,” he laughs. “People are flying over us. They never stop.

Val Verde County, where the median household income is around $ 46,000 and where about 85% of residents are Hispanic, has been politically fluid for decades. But after several presidential elections in which he was found to be the Democratic candidate, he switched to Donald J. Trump in November. Mr. Martinez was among those who viewed Mr. Trump as someone who listens – especially on immigration matters.

No other elected official, he said, has found a viable way to fix the immigration system in a way that is sustainable for the city. “We needed someone, at least in our eyes, to start fighting against a deck that’s stacked against us,” he said. “He said things that maybe were nasty to some people, but we always felt like he was fighting for us.”

In recent weeks, the number of migrants entering Del Rio has increased, propelled by expectations of a friendlier reception from the Biden administration and by changes in Mexican policy that are making it more difficult for the United States to ‘expel some of them.

The outbreak worried Mayor Bruno Lozano, known as Ralphy, who said the city only had one center to help migrants and a limited number of volunteers, concerns that prompted him the week latest to advocate for President Biden to temporarily halt the influx across the border. The winter storm had depleted the city’s resources, he said in a video, and the city would not be able to cope.

“If you send these people to our community, we will be forced to make the decision to leave them destitute in these dire circumstances,” he said in the video, which included footage of sterile shelves and long lines. of masked and grouped buyers. waiting to enter a grocery store.

The mayor, a Democrat, also pleaded with Mr Biden not to release migrants without proper testing for Covid-19, in order to protect “taxpaying citizens”.

Mr Lozano, 38, said he understood the concerns of his constituents – and why someone like Mr Martinez would have voted for Mr Trump.

“The federal government is forcing local aid, local volunteers, local nonprofits to choose between their own citizens and friends, family and neighbors – and migrants who have gone through hell and returned to the states -United, ”he said in an interview. week. “We shouldn’t have to have to deal with these migrants, even during the good times.”

In the end, only one migrant family spent the night in Del Rio during last week’s storm, said Tiffany Burrow, director of operations for the Val Verde Border Humanitarian Coalition. Migrants apprehended by the U.S. Border Patrol are dropped off at the center, and volunteers help facilitate the non-financial details of the journey to their final destination.

On Monday, around 20 migrants asked for help from the coalition. But by Wednesday that number had risen to 76 – about triple what they typically saw in a single week before the recent surge that started last month, Ms Burrow said.

Mr Lozano said he had no choice but to put residents ahead of immigrants. “Here we are,” he said, “a rural town disconnected from the major metropolitan areas – and we are being left behind.”

It’s not just border issues, he said. He is dismayed by the headlines announcing large transit and infrastructure projects and mass Covid-19 vaccination sites across the state and country – initiatives that have yet to result in Del Rio, he said. “And us,” he asked.

This sentiment was shared by many residents of the city.

Elsa Hernandez, a retired school secretary, has not had running water for over a week. Her broken pipes cannot be fixed, she said, as there are no supplies in Del Rio for any of the city’s plumbers. Ms. Hernandez, 68, has lived with a friend for several days and feels left behind.

“I feel like I’m not getting any support,” she said, adding that she was worried about how she would pay for the damage caused by the storm. She also blamed city officials, who she said failed to adequately prepare residents for the storm.

About 30,000 of Val Verde County’s 49,000 residents lost power during the storm, said County Judge Lewis Owens, the top elected official. At least 15 dialysis patients had to be transported an hour’s drive to Eagle Pass, also a border town, when a hospital lost water pressure.

State lawmakers on Thursday held hearings to investigate the Texas Electric Reliability Council and its handling of last week’s power outages, which affected nearly every one of the state’s 254 counties and left more four million Texans without power, some for several days. Five officials have resigned from the board of directors of the group, which oversees the Texas power grid.

Mayor Lozano noted that his office was also without power and had sporadic internet access, making it difficult to coordinate aid and keep in touch with residents. Still, he said the lessons learned would mean better preparation for the next disaster.

If anything, he and other elected officials said, the storm underscored how unprepared the region was for such a crisis. The county didn’t have enough generators or a stockpile of basics like bottled water, Owens said, but it would for the next disaster.

Yet residents this week criticized their elected officials. Debra Reschman-Luna, an educator who lives in Del Rio, said she felt several city leaders blamed it elsewhere. “It’s a bit difficult for the federal government to hear from you and see you when your local officials are not a voice for you,” she said.

Ms Reschman-Luna said her political leanings were “totally fluid”. She does not identify as a Republican or Democrat, and instead casts her ballot for the candidate who she believes “serves the greater good.” It was up to local authorities to ensure that the voices of residents echoed on a larger scale, Ms Reschman-Luna said, adding that this had not happened as a result of the storm.

For the other residents, politics was out of their minds.

This week Juanita Balderas, 31, dragged a cart along a dirt road to the food distribution site, which was placed in front of a cemetery, on a barren expanse of land lit only by scattered fake flowers next to tombstones. Ms Balderas said she chose to walk from her mother’s house nearby after learning the length of the line.

Ms Balderas said she stocked up for the cold weather, but all of her food went bad after losing power last Monday. The pipes to her house burst, so her family – her husband and two children – went to her sister’s house.

All that mattered now was putting food on the table and fixing his broken house. “You know what, things are going on, you can’t control the weather,” she said. “I can’t blame anyone.”

Travel News

Video: Texans face long lines and empty shelves at grocery stores

TimesVideoTexans Face Long Queues And Empty Shelves At Grocery Stores Days of freezing temperatures and power outages have left many Texans faced with long queues and under-stocked shelves in grocery stores, with forecasts of colder weather for the days to come.

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“ Right now we feel so long and with no end in sight ”

As the reality of an indefinite psychological marathon descended, many newspaper writers began to count their blessings, in articles tinged with both gratitude and fear.

“There have been a lot of losses in recent months, including transport on public buses, cycling because the cycle path is destroyed, the library is closed. … When I hear that this could go on for another year, I feel desperate. But I’m taking it one day at a time and I’m thankful that I can pay my bills, have a roof over my head, and have figured out how to get food so far. – 70-year-old retired woman from Michigan.

In their preliminary analysis, Dr Mason and Dr Willen found that expressions of guilt, privilege and gratitude emerge early in the epidemic and appear in about a third of the 530 English-speaking contributors in total. Ten of these columnists devoted most of their articles to give thanks – for what they have, and to see what they took for granted.

“Part of it is white liberal guilt, feeling bad about doing right when so many aren’t,” Dr. Mason said. “But we have a lot of people of color who are not privileged, and they feel guilty for a slightly different reason. They see family members dying, losing their jobs and not being able to pay their rent. “

“The world feels like it is imploding again with the murder of black and brown people by the police, children murdering innocent protesters, teachers scared to go to schools, the economy continues to collapse, a hurricane. It’s overwhelming … we’re all sick of it. – Nonprofit worker and mother in her 40s from New Jersey

Over the summer, Covid-19 epidemics swept across much of the country, even as Black Lives Matter protesters took to the streets in more than 400 towns and villages. In August, California was in flames, ravaged by one of the worst wildfires on record. And it all seemed to fuel an increasingly wicked and deeply polarized presidential campaign that escalated through September and October.

Many people, especially the young columnists, were ready to shout. “At this point, selfish as it sounds, I’d rather be homeless than spend another day in this house,” wrote a young woman, a late teenage student from New York City. “It might sound dramatic and I might be angry, but I’m done with it.

Newspapers swell and recede like a living organism, spreading the growing sense that the world is pulling away from its moorings. “The record high temperature in Death Valley reminds me to remember the desperation over the climate crisis,” wrote another woman, a software engineer in her 50s from California. “The pandemic made it seem like everything fell apart.”

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Why Long Beach is a model for vaccine deployment


As virus cases and hospitalizations decline and increasing attention shifts to vaccine rollouts across the state, California officials are trying to strike a balance between speeding up the process and ensuring vulnerable populations are not. not excluded.

On Tuesday, Dr Mark Ghaly, Secretary of State for Health and Human Services, told a press conference that the two goals are not mutually exclusive.

“This notion that we have to make a choice between speed and fairness – it’s a false choice,” he said. “We can do both.”

[Track coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in California.]

But in a state where officials have repeatedly said fairness is a top priority and that transparency will be built into the effort, information on who gets vaccinated and in what order has been hard to come by.

So far, more than 3.5 million doses of the vaccine have been administered in California, Dr. Ghaly said. The statewide vaccination rate, he said, is increasing day by day, since an increase in hospitalizations during the holidays. According to a New York Times tracker, about 7.4% of the state’s population has had at least one bullet. This number is 8% for the whole country.

However, the state has not released population statistics on who received the vaccines, so it is unclear whether Latinos or other Californians of color who have been at disproportionate risk have been vaccinated at. proportionate rates.

[Read about how wealthier white people are going to poorer neighborhoods to get vaccines.]

Dr Ghaly suggested state officials consider several methods of getting vaccine suppliers to specifically target vulnerable communities, including with payments for performance.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week that the state would revamp its approach to vaccine distribution after widely criticizing that the rollout was confusing and piecemeal.

Part of that restructuring involved bringing in two of the state’s largest health insurers, Blue Shield of California and Kaiser Permanente, to help with a state-wide distribution system that would prioritize fairness and would streamline a patchwork system.

And the state created a website and data portal that officials say would not only inform Californians when they are eligible for a vaccine and help them make appointments, but they also help collect and to share data with federal agencies or other people likely to work vaccines.

[Visit the site,, to sign up for notifications.]

Dr Ghaly declined to share details of the partnerships on Tuesday, but said any transition to new systems would not disrupt existing appointments.

Experts said recruiting larger and more experienced health care providers could help speed up vaccine deployment which has been hampered by its implementation by already overwhelmed local public health departments.

In at least one place, however, just having a smaller, more agile agency in charge made a significant difference, officials said.

Mayor Robert Garcia of Long Beach told me that the fact that the city has its own health department, separate from that of Los Angeles County, has helped make its vaccine rollout a model within the state. , greeted by Mr. Newsom.

“We can act quickly and make decisions quickly,” Garcia said. “It has been very beneficial.”

The city of about 467,000 people – the second largest in Los Angeles County – was the first jurisdiction to move from immunizing healthcare workers, staff and nursing home residents to immunizing employees of nursing homes. grocery stores and critical public school teachers and staff. Anyone aged 65 and over was also eligible, according to state instructions.

And he’s also set to start vaccinating crucial workers at California State University in Long Beach.

[See how the vaccine rollout is going in California and other states.]

About 48,000 doses had been administered as of Tuesday, according to data provided by Jennifer Rice Epstein, a spokeswoman for the city. The city has also vaccinated non-residents who work in Long Beach, but if the doses had all been paid to residents, that would represent more than 10% of the population.

This includes vaccines for 16,000 healthcare workers, nearly 7,000 residents and workers in long-term care facilities and 2,500 grocery store workers.

Mr Garcia said the city’s health department has been able to build on significant work bringing testing to the hardest hit neighborhoods, where many low-paid and often undocumented workers live.

[Read more about what a map of Los Angeles County’s unequal Covid-19 surge tells us.]

“We had one of the best test surgeries in the state,” he said. “A lot of our test sites have just become vaccination sites.”

These efforts were coupled with a robust notification system that frequently updates users, even if they are not yet eligible for a vaccine, he said.

Vaccines against covid19>

Answers to your questions about vaccines

Currently, more than 150 million people – almost half of the population – are eligible for vaccination. But each state makes the final decision as to who goes first. The country’s 21 million healthcare workers and three million residents of long-term care facilities were the first to qualify. In mid-January, federal officials urged all states to open eligibility to all people 65 and older and adults of all ages with health conditions that put them at high risk of becoming seriously ill. or die from Covid-19. The adults of the general population are at the back of the pack. If federal and state health authorities can remove the bottlenecks in vaccine distribution, everyone 16 years and older will become eligible as early as this spring or early summer. The vaccine has not been approved in children, although studies are ongoing. It can take months for a vaccine to be available to anyone under the age of 16. Visit your state’s website for up-to-date information on immunization policies in your area.

You shouldn’t have to pay anything out of pocket to get the vaccine, although you will be asked for insurance information. If you don’t have insurance, you should still get the vaccine at no cost. Congress passed a law this spring that prohibits insurers from enforcing any cost sharing, such as a copayment or deductible. It was based on additional protections prohibiting pharmacies, doctors and hospitals from billing patients, including those who are uninsured. Even so, health experts fear that patients will stumble upon loopholes that expose them to surprise bills. This could happen to those who are billed doctor’s fees with their vaccine, or to Americans who have certain types of health coverage that do not fall under the new rules. If you get your vaccine from a doctor or emergency care clinic, tell them about any hidden costs. To make sure you don’t receive a surprise bill, it is best to get vaccinated at a health service vaccination site or local pharmacy once vaccines become more widely available.

This remains to be determined. It is possible that the Covid-19 vaccination will become an annual event, just like the flu vaccine. Or the benefits of the vaccine may last for more than a year. We have to wait and see how durable the protection against vaccines is. To determine this, researchers will follow vaccinated people looking for “revolutionary cases” – those people who contract Covid-19 despite being vaccinated. This is a sign of weakening protection and will give researchers clues about how long the vaccine will last. They will also monitor the levels of antibodies and T cells in the blood of those vaccinated to determine if and when a booster injection might be needed. It’s conceivable that people will need boosters every few months, once a year, or just every few years. It’s just a matter of waiting for the data.

Data from the city showed that about 49% of those vaccinated in Long Beach are white – a reflection of the fact that most of the vaccines went to residents 65 and older, a predominantly white population, Ms Epstein wrote. in an email. . About 21% were Hispanic or Latin American, about 20% Asian, and 7.6% black or African American.

According to data from the US Census Bureau, the city’s population is made up of almost 45 percent Hispanics or Latinos, and about 28 percent white, 12 percent Asian, and 11 percent black.

Still, it’s hard to get a sense of how this compares to other jurisdictions or the state more broadly in the absence of more detailed data. But the figures suggest that it will be difficult to speed up vaccinations to specific risk groups.

Either way, Garcia said he believes statewide partnerships with insurers could help streamline vaccine distribution even further, especially dose allocation to providers – who ‘they are public health services or clinics.

“There has to be a change,” he said. “I am optimistic that this new system will solve some of the problems.”

(This article is part of California today newsletter. Register to have it delivered to your inbox.)

Read more:

  • “We build the plane while we fly.” Has the outdoor dining ban helped curb the rise of the virus in Los Angeles? It didn’t hurt, epidemiologists say, and officials had to try everything. [The Los Angeles Times]

  • The state’s immunization campaign is expected to begin prioritizing people by broad age categories from February. This angered disability advocates, who say he ignores those with medical conditions that put them at higher risk if they contract the coronavirus. [The San Francisco Chronicle]

  • San Jose and Oakland may need groceries to compensate workers with an additional “risk premium”. [The Mercury News]

If you missed it, Kroger, which owns several supermarket chains, including Ralphs, said it would close two stores in Long Beach after the city imposed a similar order, demanding an additional $ 4 an hour from workers. during the pandemic. [The Los Angeles Times]

There weren’t that many cheers for “Hollyboob”. (I’ll see myself outside.) Six people were arrested for this.

California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. PT on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: Have you been forwarded this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.

Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, graduated from UC Berkeley and has reported statewide, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow us here or on Twitter.

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from UC Berkeley.

Travel News

US aircraft carrier returns home after long sea tour to observe Iran

WASHINGTON – The aircraft carrier Nimitz is finally returning home.

Last month, the Pentagon ordered the warship to remain in the Middle East amid Iranian threats against President Donald J. Trump and other U.S. officials, just three days after announcing the ship was returning home as a signal to defuse the growing tensions with Tehran.

As those immediate tensions appear to ease a bit and President Biden seeks to resume talks with Iran over the 2015 nuclear deal from which Mr Trump has withdrawn, three Defense Department officials have said Monday that the Nimitz and her 5,000-member crew were ordered Sunday to return to the ship’s home port of Bremerton, Wash., after a 10-month longer-than-usual deployment.

The Pentagon had been engaged for weeks in a muscle-flexing strategy to deter Iran and its Shiite proxies in Iraq from attacking US personnel in the Persian Gulf to avenge the death of Major General Qassim Suleimani. General Suleimani, commander of the elite Iranian Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, was killed in a U.S. drone strike in January 2020.

The Pentagon then claimed last month – without presenting any evidence – that it detected new information that Iran was targeting Mr. Trump in the weeks leading up to the inauguration. The Nimitz and its attack plane wing were therefore ordered to stay close to the Persian Gulf, just in case.

Biden’s aides assessed soon after taking office that it was time to send the Nimitzes home. General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of Army Central Command, said last week that US firepower in the region had most likely helped deter Iran and its proxies from any attack in the last days of the Trump administration.

“For the most part, they were able to tell them now is not the time to start a war,” General McKenzie said, according to Defense One, who was among the publications traveling to the region with him. “All of this is probably not the result of the military component. I’m sure there is a political calculation in Iran to come up with a new administration and see if things change.

Indeed, Robert Malley, a seasoned Middle East expert and former Obama administration official, was selected last week to be Mr. Biden’s special envoy to Iran. He will be tasked with trying to persuade Tehran to curb its nuclear program – and to stop enriching uranium beyond the limits imposed by a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers – and to agree to new negotiations. before the United States lifted its punitive economic sanctions against Iran.

This prospect angered important regional allies. Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi last week warned the Biden administration against returning the nuclear deal even if it tightened the terms of the deal. Gen. Kochavi also said he had ordered his forces to step up preparations for possible offensive action against Iran in the coming year.

No decision has been made on sending another carrier to the Middle East to relieve the Nimitz, the three Pentagon officials said on Monday, but carriers Eisenhower in the Mediterranean and Theodore Roosevelt in the Pacific could be shipped to the weeks or months to come. .

The Air Force is also expected to continue to send B-52 bombers on periodic round-trip U.S. show-of-force missions to the Persian Gulf. Two B-52s flew a 36-hour mission from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana last week – the first under the Biden administration and the third in total this year – 10 days after a similar bomber tandem flew the same route from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

“It’s still a tense time,” said Vice Admiral John W. Miller, a retired Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet commander who recently visited the Persian Gulf region. .

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Long County, Georgia Covid Case and Risk Tracker

By Jordan Allen, Sarah Almukhtar, Aliza Aufrichtig, Anne Barnard, Matthew Bloch, Sarah Cahalan, Weiyi Cai, Julia Calderone, Keith Collins, Matthew Conlen, Lindsey Cook, Gabriel Gianordoli, Amy Harmon, Rich Harris, Adeel Hassan, Jon Huang, Danya Issawi, Danielle Ivory, KK Rebecca Lai, Alex Lemonides, Allison McCann, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Jugal K. Patel, Alison Saldanha, Kirk Semple, Julie Walton Shaver, Anjali Singhvi, Charlie Smart, Mitch Smith, Albert Sun, Derek Watkins, Timothy Williams, Jin Wu, and Karen Yourish. Reporting was provided by Jeff Arnold, Ian Austen, Mike Baker, Ellen Barry, Samone Blair, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Aurelien Breeden, Elisha Brown, Emma Bubola, Maddie Burakoff, Alyssa Burr, Christopher Calabrese, Zak Cassel, Robert Chiarito , Izzy Colón, Matt Craig, Yves De Jesus, Brendon Derr, Brandon Dupré, Melissa Eddy, John Eligon, Timmy Facciola, Bianca Fortis, Matt Furber, Robert Gebeloff, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Matthew Goldstein, Grace Gorenflo, Rebecca Griesbach, Benjamin Guggenheim, Barbara Harvey, Lauryn Higgins, Josh Holder, Jake Holland, Jon Huang, Anna Joyce, John Keefe, Ann Hinga Klein, Jacob LaGesse, Alex Lim, Eleanor Lutz, Alex Matthews, Patricia Mazzei, Jesse McKinley, Miles McKinley, KB Mensah , Sarah Mervosh, Jacob Meschke, Lauren Messman, Andrea Michelson, Jaylynn Moffat-Mowatt, Steven Moity, Paul Moon, Derek M. Norman, Anahad O’Connor, Ashlyn O’Hara, Azi Paybarah, Elian Peltier, Sean Plambeck, Laney Pope , Elisabetta Povoledo, Cierra S. Queen, Savannah Redl, Scotland Reinhard, Thomas Rivas, Frances Robles, Natasha Rodriguez, Jess Ruderman, Kai Schultz, Alex Schwartz, Emily Schwing, Libby Seline, Sarena Snider, Brandon Thorp, Alex Traub, Maura Turcotte, Tracey Tully, Lisa Waananen Jones, Amy Schoenfeld Walker, Jeremy White, Kristine White, Bonnie G. Wong, Tiffany Wong, Sameer Yasir and John Yoon. Data acquisition and additional work provided by Will Houp, Andrew Chavez, Michael Strickland, Tiff Fehr, Miles Watkins, Josh Williams, Shelly Seroussi, Rumsey Taylor, Nina Pavlich, Carmen Cincotti, Ben Smithgall, Andrew Fischer, Rachel Migliozzi, Alastair Coote , Steven Speicher, Hugh Mandeville, Robin Berjon, Thu Trinh, Carolyn Price, James G. Robinson, Phil Wells, Yanxing Yang, Michael Beswetherick, Michael Robles, Nikhil Baradwaj, Ariana Giorgi, Bella Virgilio, Dylan Momplaisir, Avery Dews, Bea Malsky and Ilana Marcus.

Additional risk assessment contributions and advice by Eleanor Peters Bergquist, Aaron Bochner, Shama Cash-Goldwasser, and Sheri Kardooni of Resolve to Save Lives.

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The rioters followed a long conspiratorial road to the Capitol

“We were aware of the existence of Brendan Hunt in 2013 when he attacked the families of Sandy Hook,” said Lenny Pozner, whose son was killed at school, and who founded the HONR network, a a volunteer organization that seeks to remove harmful online content. . “I’m not surprised that he has become more radical.”

“Once people buy into the concept that the government is an evil organization that tries to harm them at all times, it is easy for people to radicalize and find others who agree.” he added.

Mr Hunt was assigned to a public defender, who declined to comment on Tuesday.

Sandy Hook was the first American mass shooting to spark viral and fantastical claims that it was a bogus event organized by the Obama administration as a pretext to confiscate Americans’ guns. Since then, virtually every high-profile mass shooting has generated similar theories.

Ms Greene, elected to Congress in November, has been circulating false theories for years, especially around mass shootings. On Tuesday, CNN reported that in 2018 and 2019, Ms Greene had indicated her support on her Facebook page for commentators recommending violence against Democratic leaders. In January 2019, CNN reported, Ms. Greene “liked a comment that a bullet to the head would be faster” to fire House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In response, Ms. Greene posted a statement on Twitter assign inflammatory content to “teams of people” who “manage my pages”.

During his 2020 campaign, Politico tapped into his social media accounts, finding Islamophobic conspiracy theories and the false claim that George Soros, a wealthy Democratic donor, is a Nazi. After calling the 2020 presidential ballot a “fraudulent and stolen election,” Ms Greene voted on Jan.6 with 146 other Republicans against certification of the Electoral College tally that officially declared Mr Biden the winner. The day before the Capitol riot, she called the Stop the Steal protests “our moment in 1776”.

In 2018, she wrote on Facebook: “The people in power stop the truth and control and block investigations, then provide cover to the real enemies of our nation.”

When a follower from Jamestown, New York, released false statements about the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., And said Sandy Hook was ‘staged’, Ms Greene responded: ” This is all true. The message was released last week by Media Matters for America, a liberal group that monitors conservative media news and publications.

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As Biden lifts ban, transgender people have long sought-after chance to enlist

Among the roughly 200,000 transgender Americans of recruiting age is James Wong, an engineering student at Carnegie Mellon University who, while in Girl Scouts as a child, became an ace at survival skills, including including lighting a fire using only a flint and an ax.

“I like leading people, I like solving problems, I want to serve my country,” Mr. Wong said in an interview from his home in Los Angeles, where he takes distance education. “The army is a natural fit for me.”

Mr. Wong, 20, initially considered applying to one of the United States’ service academies, but the ban prevented him from entering. Instead, he joined the ROTC, hoping that politics would change by the time he graduated and could be made an officer. Before the virus finished school, he would wake up at 4:30 a.m. several times a week to go to physical training, but he knew that, under the ban, he would have to leave the ROTC when the time came to do a workout. military physical examination. Now he hopes to continue with ROTC this summer.

“I have met all the standards,” he says. “None of the cadets or commanders have a problem with me.”

When President Trump announced the ban, many legal scholars thought the courts would eventually find that the courts violated the constitutional right to equal protection of laws. But the legal process evolved so slowly that it effectively denied many young people the opportunity to join the military, according to Shannon Minter, a civil rights lawyer and legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco, who continued. the Department of Defense on behalf of Mr. Talbott and other transgender recruits.

“It was a ban based purely on discrimination, and we all knew it would be overturned, but maybe not in time to help,” he said.

Mr. Minter has spent years fighting Pentagon lawyers. Now that the Biden administration has overturned the settlement, his lawsuits are moot. But he added that the ban had an unlikely silver lining.

“Before Trump’s ban, most people had no idea transgender people were even in the military – they were stereotyped,” he said. “I think it raised acceptance. It has forced people to realize that there are some really talented and committed transgender people who want to serve.

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Joe Biden’s Family Bible Has a Long History

When President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. takes the oath on Wednesday, he will likely get his hands on a family artifact that has followed him throughout his 50-year political career: a large Bible, accented with a Celtic cross. , which has been in his family since 1893.

The Bible has been a staple during Mr. Biden’s recent swearing-in ceremonies as US Senator and Vice President. His son Beau Biden also used it when he was sworn in as Delaware’s attorney general.

Mr. Biden, who will make history as the country’s second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, has often invoked his faith during the 2020 presidential campaign as he courted voters with a pledge to restore “l ‘soul of America’.

In an interview last month with Stephen Colbert, Mr. Biden shared a bit of history on the family legacy.

“Every important date is there,” Biden said. “For example, every time I take an oath for anything, the date is written.”

But on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Mr. Biden’s inaugural committee said he couldn’t confirm whether Mr. Biden would use that book for his inauguration – or even if he would use just one Bible. (President Trump used two.)

The Bible that a president-elect chooses to use for the swearing-in ceremony often sends a symbolic message to the American public, said Seth A. Perry, associate professor of religion at Princeton University and author of “Bible Culture and” Authority in the early United States. “

“It’s hard to imagine the inauguration ritual without this book at this point,” Professor Perry said. “It’s part of the landscape. It’s part of what gives the moment the authority it has.

Here’s a look at how the Bible has featured in some of the most pivotal moments in U.S. history: the inaugurations of new U.S. presidents.

Like much of the pageantry associated with presidential inaugurations, the presence of a Bible at swearing-in ceremonies is steeped in tradition, dating back to the country’s first president.

At his inauguration in 1789 in New York City, George Washington used a Bible from the Masonic Lodge of St. John’s No. 1. The Bible was allegedly retrieved after attendees noticed there was none in Federal. Hall, where Washington was preparing to take the oath of office, according to Claire Jerry, curator of political history at the National Museum of American History.

The Bible represented the deal Washington made with the American people, she said.

“Having sacred images associated with making a covenant is quite consistent and underscores this idea that we, who attend the swearing-in, and the individual who takes the oath enter into a very deep relationship. with each other, ”Dr Jerry says.

The Washington Bible was used in the inaugurations of four other presidents: Warren G. Harding, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush.

In 2017, Mr. Trump used a Bible given to him by his mother when he was a child, and one used by Abraham Lincoln for his inauguration in 1861, just before the start of the Civil War. Barack Obama also used the Lincoln Bible for taking the oath, but in 2013, for his second investiture, he supplemented it with a Bible given to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1954.

Some presidents have taken an oath with the Bible open to a specific verse or passage, Dr Jerry said. Popular choices include verses in Proverbs and Psalms.

According to Mark Dimunation, head of the Rare Books and Special Collections division at the Library of Congress, presidents-elect often look for a text they have a personal connection with, or a text that represents the story of the moment in which they take Office.

“The electricity of that moment was deep,” Dimunation said of the use of the Lincoln and King Bibles by Mr. Obama, the country’s first black president. “He was installed in these objects that really only seem like a book, but he carries with him the weight of his moment and his story.

The Library of Congress, home to many notable Bibles, including Lincoln’s, often receives inquiries from politicians for texts they hope to use for their oaths. Getting the library texts into the hands of politicians is no easy feat.

“You need a village,” Dimunation said.

Texts must go through a conservation examination and are often transported in a specially constructed box to provide protection from inclement weather and other adverse conditions. The whole process is “managed at a high level of security,” said Dimunation.

While presidents and members of Congress are constitutionally required to take an oath, they are not required to lay hands on a sacred text in doing so. But if they choose to swear on an object, they can pretty much use any text they like.

John Quincy Adams used a law book in his ceremony, and in 1963, after Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in on Air Force One with his hand on a Roman Catholic missal.

Over the years, members of Congress have also incorporated other texts into their swearing-in ceremonies, sometimes speaking of their own personal faith or belief, Dr Jerry said.

In 2007, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the only Muslim in Congress at the time, used Thomas Jefferson’s Qur’an in his swearing-in ceremony. In her swearing-in photo, Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat from Michigan, used a Koran given to her by her best friend.

Jacey Fortin contribution to reports.