Categories
Travel News

Adriano Espaillat is the last member of Congress to test positive for the virus after the Capitol siege.

Representative Adriano Espaillat, Democrat of New York, announced Thursday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus, as concerns continue to mount on Capitol Hill that efforts to lock lawmakers in safe places during the siege of last week by Trump supporters could have led to a super spreader event.

Mr Espaillat, 66, who received his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine last week, said he had no symptoms and was isolating himself at home. In a report, he said he understood that it took time for the vaccine to be fully effective and that he had continued to take all the necessary precautions. Guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that people who test positive for the virus must self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of their symptoms.

The two vaccines licensed for emergency use in the United States, manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, have been shown to be about 95% effective in preventing symptomatic cases of Covid-19. But neither of the two vaccines is perfect, and researchers are still unsure how much vaccines reduce the virus’s ability to silently infect people. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two injections, separated by three or four weeks, and they are not expected to work fully until about a week or two after a person has received the second vaccine.

Capitol Hill has long struggled to control the spread of the pandemic within its marble walls, a random effort escalated last week as hundreds of unmasked Trump supporters stormed the building and forced lawmakers to take shelter in confined secure places throughout the Capitol complex. Lawmakers, assistants and journalists who took refuge in two separate rooms on either side of the Capitol have been warned of possible exposure to the coronavirus.

Although cases have continued to emerge since the 117th Congress was sworn in almost two weeks ago, House Democrats have blamed a group of their fellow Republicans who refused to wear masks during the attack pending in a safe place that the police regain control of the building.

Representatives Bonnie Watson Coleman, Democrat of New Jersey, Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington, and Brad Schneider, Democrat of Illinois, all tested positive following the attack and cited the Republican refusal to wear masks during the siege. Rep. Ayanna S. Pressley, Democrat from Massachusetts, is in isolation after her husband, who was with her in the room, tested positive and said in a statement the diagnoses were the result of “my callous Republican colleagues” who refused to wear masks. .

In response to these accusations and concerns about the spread of the virus on Capitol Hill, the House earlier this week approved a system of fines for members who refuse to adhere to a mask mandate on the floor.

It is not known whether Mr. Espaillat took refuge in the secure room. But on Wednesday, he was among lawmakers who spoke in the House – while wearing a mask – before voting to impeach President Trump for the second time.

Mr. Espaillat noted that colleagues who had tested positive in recent days “collectively occupy a range of gender, age, race and ethnicity”.

“Covid-19 does not discriminate,” he said. “It is incumbent upon each of us to prioritize social distancing from each other – even if this poses a temporary inconvenience – and to wear a face mask. There is no single panacea and we must adjust our daily habits and practices for our own health and safety as well as for the health and safety of those around us and in our communities.

Categories
Travel News

Education secretary Betsy DeVos is the second cabinet member to resign.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos tendered her resignation in a letter to President Trump on Thursday, saying she would resign on January 8.

“We should recognize and celebrate the many accomplishments of your administration on behalf of the American people,” said the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “Instead, we have to clean up the mess caused by the violent protesters invading the United States Capitol in an attempt to undermine the affairs of the people.

“This behavior was unacceptable for our country,” she added. “There is no doubt as to the impact of your rhetoric on the situation, and this is the inflection point for me.”

Ms. DeVos was one of the first cabinet secretaries to condemn the violent mob on Capitol Hill Wednesday.

“The peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from the banana republics,” Ms. DeVos said in a statement. statement posted on Twitter after the capture of the Capitol. “The work of the people must continue.”

Ms DeVos joins a growing exodus of administration officials in the dying days of the Trump administration. She is the second cabinet official to step down following the resignation of former Transport Secretary Elaine Chao earlier Thursday.

Categories
Travel News

Trump asks Giuliani’s son to become a member of the Holocaust Memorial Council.

After raising a coterie of close friends and allies to prominent positions on boards and commissions in recent weeks, President Trump on Wednesday announced his intention to appoint Andrew H. Giuliani, an assistant to the White House and his personal attorney’s son, Rudolph W. Giuliani, be a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Two other White House officials – Nicholas F. Luna and Mitch Webber – have also been named members, according to the statement released by the White House. Those appointed by the president serve a five-year term on the board, which acts as the board of trustees of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

Andrew Giuliani and the President have enjoyed a close personal relationship for years, including when Mr. Giuliani was a teenager and Mr. Trump helped him reconcile with his father after his parents divorced, according to a report in The Atlantic. . And in 2017, the president hired young Mr. Giuliani to work in the White House’s Office of Public Liaison and Intergovernmental Affairs after a series of marketing jobs, earning him a salary of $ 95,000 as a special assistant to the president, according to the White House. documents.

“He’s known the president since he was a baby,” elder Giuliani told The Atlantic. “Now did he know him in the first place because he was the mayor’s son?” Of course, but they also had a relationship independent of me.

The choice to place Mr. Giuliani on the board seemed to be clearly political, especially given the dissonance between the board’s past advocacy work, like his condemnation of neo-Nazi rhetoric at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, and a number of statements made by Mr. Giuliani’s father.

In a 2019 interview, the elder Mr Giuliani, who was raised as a Roman Catholic, said he was “more Jewish” than George Soros, the liberal philanthropist who is himself a Holocaust survivor.

Mr Giuliani’s appointment is the latest in a series of similar moves by Mr Trump to place friends on coveted boards. Last week, the president hired Elaine Chao, the transportation secretary and wife of Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, for a six-year term on the board of directors of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. The president also placed his former White House adviser, Kellyanne Conway, in a role on the Air Force Academy visitors’ council.

Categories
Travel News

Third member of Cincinnati city council charged with corruption

For Cincinnati, it was a one-two-three punch.

The first blow came in February when Tamaya Dennard, interim president of Cincinnati City Council, was arrested and charged with accepting $ 15,000 in bribes in exchange for a council vote. She pleaded guilty in June and faces up to 20 years in prison when sentenced in federal court next week.

The second landed last week when Jeffrey Pastor, another city council member, was accused of taking $ 55,000 in bribes in exchange for promises to help city development projects, including including the redevelopment of a building in the city center. Mr. Pastor pleaded not guilty and resisted calls to resign.

Then, on Thursday, Alexander Sittenfeld became the third member of city council charged with corruption when he was arrested at his home and accused of taking $ 40,000 in bribes while promising to “deliver the votes” for the same downtown development project that Mr. Pastor was on. involved, federal prosecutors said.

The charges against a third member of the council, made up of nine people, stunned local political leaders and reinforced what federal prosecutors called a “culture of corruption” that has undermined trust in town hall.

“The citizens of Cincinnati must ask themselves right now: How can this trust be restored when a third of city council has been arrested this year for corruption and extortion and honest service?” Chris Hoffman, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s field office in Cincinnati, said at a press conference Thursday.

The charges against Mr. Sittenfeld immediately upended the political pecking order in Cincinnati.

A Democrat known as the PG, Mr Sittenfeld lost to former Governor Ted Strickland in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary in 2016, but was seen as a promising candidate for mayor next year. A Princeton University graduate who received a Marshall Scholarship to attend a graduate school at the University of Oxford, he was first elected to city council in 2011 and was Cincinnati’s top vote voter in of the last two city-wide elections, according to his Council biography.

“He was the bright young boy in Cincinnati City politics with Ivy League pedigree and old money family,” said David Niven, associate professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati. “It was not a local pol that everyone expected, mixed with the more serious political aspect.”

Prosecutors said Sittenfeld accepted six checks totaling $ 40,000 from federal agents posing as real estate investors and hid the money in a political action committee he secretly controlled.

According to a six-count indictment, Mr Sittenfeld accepted the bribe money in 2018 and 2019, while promising to ‘give the votes’ and perform other official acts for the downtown development project, which required municipal council approval.

The case began in 2018 when Mr Sittenfeld asked for money Chinedum Ndukwe, a former Cincinnati Bengals player, whom Mr Sittenfeld knew was actively seeking a deal with the city to develop the project and had failed in his attempts, prosecutors told me.

Mr Sittenfeld was unaware that Mr Ndukwe was already cooperating with federal authorities on the investigation which would lead to corruption charges against Mr Pastor, a Republican.

At a meeting in November 2018 organized with the help of Mr. Ndukwe, Mr. Sittenfeld went to lunch at a restaurant in downtown Cincinnati and told undercover officers he would lead the votes for the project. real estate, prosecutors said.

He presented voting data showing he was politically popular in Cincinnati and said he would likely be the next mayor, prosecutors said.

“I can move more votes than any other single person,” Sittenfeld said, according to the indictment. On another occasion, in December 2018, he said: “Don’t let these be my famous last words, but I can still get a vote to my left or a vote to my right,” according to prosecutors.

Over the following months, prosecutors said, Mr Sittenfeld told undercover officers he continued to pressure officials to support the project.

David M. DeVillers, the US attorney for the Southern Ohio District, said prosecutors did not believe Mr. Pastor and Mr. Sittenfeld were working together, even though their cases both involved Mr. Ndukwe as a witness cooperating.

Mr Sittenfeld has been charged with two counts each of wire fraud, corruption and attempted extortion by a government official, prosecutors said. He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Cincinnati on Thursday and was released without cash bond. His lawyer, Diane Menashe, declined to comment.

Political leaders have expressed outrage at the accusations, saying they have severely damaged public confidence in local government. Mayor John Cranley, a Democrat who is due to step down next year due to term limits, called on Mr Sittenfeld to step down and urged new candidates to get involved in city politics.

“With three council members arrested, it is hard not to say that there is a culture of the corruption problem in City Council,” he told reporters. “We have to clean the house and change it.”

Distinguishing between the two previous corruption cases and the one against Mr Sittenfeld, Mr Cranley said that while Mr Pastor and Ms Dennard, a Democrat, appeared ‘desperate for money’ Mr Sittenfeld seemed motivated by the “Accumulation of power”.

Alex Triantafilou, Chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said the leaders of the two parties must come together “to eliminate the bad actors and restore confidence in our city”.

“This city of Cincinnati is now on its knees” he wrote on Twitter. “We need radical reform, unlike anything we have ever seen in the history of this city. Voters in this city need to make some serious changes in 2021 and they need to understand how broken City Hall really is.

Categories
Travel News

LSU fraternity member charged with criminal fraud

A Louisiana State University fraternity member has been charged with a hazing event that left another student on life support, authorities said.

Terry Pat Reynolds II, 21, a member of Phi Kappa Psi, was arrested on Monday and charged with a dozen counts of misdemeanor and one count of criminal hazing and one count of non-solicitation of assistance, according to a affidavit of arrest.

The LSU Police Department began investigating on October 19 after fraternity members dropped off a severely intoxicated student at a hospital in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The police did not identify him.

Hospital staff told investigators the student was unresponsive and had “frothy pink foam” coming from his mouth and nose, which staff said was a sign of organ failure. according to the arrest report. The student was immediately put on life support, authorities learned.

The student’s blood alcohol level was .451, nearly six times the legal limit, police said.

Investigators recovered the cell phones of some of the students involved and discovered that Mr. Reynolds, who served as LSU’s Phi Kappa Psi Section ‘New Educator Member’, had welcomed new fellowship members to his home. off campus earlier in the evening. October 18.

The arrest document says Mr. Reynolds sent a group text message to 62 members of Phi Kappa Psi, 56 of whom were new to the fraternity, urging them to “come to my house.” He added: “I hope you are ready to be hammered if you stop.

The new members who showed up were ordered to drink large amounts of alcohol as a group, and Mr Reynolds did not let them go until they finished their bottles, according to the report.

“The defendant then collected more alcohol for him to consume because he had not finished the previous bottle quickly enough,” the report said. “This behavior continued until several bottles and cans of alcohol were consumed by new members.”

At one point, some of the students messaged other new members who were not present to ask for help finishing the alcohol, police said.

Credit…East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office

“There are at least 10 that they need to get down,” Reynolds wrote in the group’s thread, according to the report.

No 911 calls were made from the residence, police said.

During the investigation, police learned that 18 new fraternity members were associated with the event, five of whom were designated drivers who did not drink. Police found that 13 had been hazed that evening, including the student who was dropped off at hospital.

When officers searched Mr. Reynolds’ residence, they found full, empty bottles of booze strewn throughout the house and in garbage cans and bags outside, according to the arrest report.

Mr. Reynolds was taken to East Baton Rouge Parish Jail Monday and was released later that day on $ 13,500 bail, jail records show.

It was not clear if he had a lawyer. He could not be contacted immediately Wednesday afternoon. Contacted by phone, her mother declined to comment.

“The university has said on several occasions that hazing would not be tolerated and that the university acts quickly when allegations of hazing are made,” Ernie Ballard III, a spokesperson for LSU, said Wednesday.

Mr Ballard said the university and the national organization Phi Kappa Psi had suspended the LSU chapter of the fraternity. The university’s student advocacy and accountability office will look into possible violations of the school’s student code of conduct, he said.

“They remain under provisional suspension as the university also conducts its investigation now,” he said.

The student who was hospitalized has been released and is doing well, Ballard said.

The arrest comes just over a year after a former LSU student was convicted of negligent homicide for his role in the hazing death of an 18-year-old fraternity engagement who became extremely intoxicated during an initiation ritual in 2017.

Prosecutors said Matthew Naquin, 21, of Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas, led a hazing event called “Bible study” in which promises Phi Delta Theta had to drink alcohol if they gave the incorrect answer to trivia questions or not correctly reciting the Greek alphabet.