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Colorado health officials warn of a new wave as counties relax restrictions on viruses.

Colorado health officials warn of yet another wave of infections as new coronavirus cases in the state reach levels not seen since January and counties begin to ease viral restrictions.

The state reports an average of 1,661 new cases per day, up 18% in the past two weeks, according to a New York Times database. Hospitalizations increased by 19% over the same period. Deaths from the virus, which tend to lag behind infections for several weeks, have increased slightly.

“We are seeing what appears to be the start of a fourth wave of Covid-19 in Colorado,” Scott Bookman, the state’s Covid-19 incident commander, said at a press briefing Thursday. He urged people to remain vigilant to get tested, as more of the state’s population is getting vaccinated.

As in many parts of the country where the number of cases is increasing, health officials say this increase has been in part fueled by the spread of more contagious variants of the virus, particularly the B.1.1.7 variant found for the virus. first time in Britain. This variant is estimated to be around 60% more contagious and 67% deadlier than the original version. B.1.1.7 is now the most common source of new coronavirus cases in the United States, and tracking by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that “variants of concern,” including B.1.1.7 and a California variant, CAL.20C, now accounts for more than half of all new coronavirus cases in Colorado.

Even as cases mount, the state on Friday ended its “numbering system” which required counties to impose capacity limits on restaurants, offices and gyms, based on the number of cases, percentages of tests positive and hospitalizations in these areas. The change transferred control of pandemic regulations to local counties, raising concerns from some public health experts that the move could lead to an increase in cases and hospitalizations. Several counties with an increase in cases and hospitalizations, such as El Paso and Douglas counties, have said they do not plan to impose restrictions beyond those prescribed by the state.

The state still demands that counties comply with its mask mandate – which will remain in place until May 2 – and with limits on mass gatherings inside.

“I am concerned that in the absence of policies and behaviors to slow transmission,” said Elizabeth Carlton, associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health, “we will continue to see an increase in hospitalizations related to Covid-19 in people who have not yet been vaccinated. “

“It worries me,” said Dr. Bill Burman, director of Denver Public Health, of counties choosing to be more lax with the restrictions. Denver relaxed some regulations on Friday, but maintained some restrictions, such as capacity limits for bars, offices and retail stores.

An analysis released this month and conducted by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health found that delaying policy changes, state or local, until mid-May “would avoid a big number of deaths and hospitalizations ”. Mobility in the state is also at its highest level since the start of the pandemic, according to the report.

State officials defended the change last week, pointing to the relatively low number of hospitalizations and deaths compared to peaks seen in December. Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, said in a press briefing Tuesday that he was confident counties could take greater responsibility, but urged people to be cautious.

“I think the number of cases and hospitalizations will unfortunately continue to increase before they decrease,” Polis said, adding that he hoped it would be a small spike as more and more people did. vaccinate.

About 41% of the state’s population has received at least one vaccine against Covid-19 and 25% have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State officials said they would continue to monitor hospitalization levels. Under the governor’s public health order, the state could require counties to put in place additional restrictions if their residents’ hospitalizations threatened to exceed 85% of the hospital’s capacity.

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Biden’s infrastructure spurs wave of lobbying in Congress

WASHINGTON – Members of Congress have embarked on a lobbying frenzy to ensure their favorite projects and political priorities are included in President Biden’s $ 2 trillion jobs and infrastructure plan, eager to shape this which could be one of the largest public works investments in a generation.

Officials across the country are dusting off lists of construction projects and social programs, hoping to secure their part of a plan to remedy what the administration estimates to be at least $ 1 trillion in improvements backward infrastructure, and the economic and racial inequalities that have existed for decades.

Senior lawmakers have started collecting lists of demands from their colleagues for what should be included in the bill, while senior White House officials are responding to a torrent of calls from grassroots parliamentarians, who all have their own ideas.

“My phone is exploding,” Pete Buttigieg, the transportation secretary, said in an interview. Almost any lawmaker “can point to a road, bridge or airport” in their district that is in urgent need of repair.

“There is a ton of interest from Congress,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Biden is expected to meet with a group of Republicans and Democrats in the White House to discuss the plan, as part of a push to forge a bipartisan compromise that may ultimately prove fruitless given GOP resistance to the scope of the package. The five cabinet officials who have been asked to navigate the infrastructure package through Congress, including Mr Buttigieg, continue to discuss the plan with Republicans and Democrats.

“The door is open,” California President Nancy Pelosi said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” Sunday. “Our hand is outstretched. Let’s find out where we can find our common ground. We still have the responsibility to fight for bipartisanship. “

The process is crucial to Mr. Biden’s strategy to push the far-reaching plan through a Congress where his party has tiny majorities, at a time when the space for a bipartisan compromise is tight and even Democrats differ on how to structure and pay for such a huge package. Mr Buttigieg told Fox News on Sunday that Mr Biden wanted to see “major progress in Congress” by Memorial Day, and lawmakers are eager to participate.

Representative Mikie Sherrill, Democrat from New Jersey, wants to tackle the Gateway rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Kentucky Republican and Minority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell has suggested that the “functionally obsolete” Brent Spence Bridge in his state should receive funding. And progressive lawmakers have a five-part wishlist that includes reducing drug costs and providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers.

“If you want to get broad bipartisan support, you invite others to participate in the process,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper of Delaware, who heads the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Each senator has shared with us the priorities of their states. We have good ideas. “

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio of Oregon, the chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and the committee’s senior Republican, Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri, are also calling on lawmakers to identify priorities in their districts.

“I have been called the Tunnel-obsessed MP,” Ms. Sherrill said in an interview. “The Gateway Tunnel is the most important piece of infrastructure in the country given the number of people passing through the Hudson River tunnels, their decay and the economic blow we would suffer if these tunnels collapsed in any way. it would be.

While infrastructure has long been hailed as the policy area with the best prospects for bipartisan cooperation, Congress has failed in recent years to agree on legislation that would fund long-term transport projects beyond routine re-authorization of funding.

With Democrats newly in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House, Mr Biden is thinking much bigger. His proposal includes not only billions of dollars in spending on highways, bridges and other physical facilities, but also huge new investments in areas that have not traditionally been seen as infrastructure, like paid vacations and construction. child care.

This view, which critics say is too broad and some progressives believe needs to be broader, has encouraged lawmakers in both chambers to try and use the package to accomplish all sorts of political priorities.

“Members of Parliament will try to put as much as possible on this vehicle,” said Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland.

While Republicans in both chambers have signaled they are reluctant to support such a costly and sweeping proposal paid for by tax hikes, they are working hard to influence an end product that many of them may ultimately refuse to accept. support.

“I think we would all agree that we need a robust infrastructure package focused on roads, bridges, airports, seaports, water networks and broadband, but this proposal goes way beyond that, ”said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine and a member of a bipartisan group seeking compromise, said in an interview. “It seems to me that our first goal should be to try to shape the packaging and reduce its cost.”

Mr. Biden and the Democrats have repeatedly challenged Republicans to engage in bipartisan negotiations. By incorporating the Republicans’ proposals, including individual projects for their districts and states, Democrats hope to increase the political risks of voting against the bill. Some Republicans are already under fire for celebrating funding for the nearly $ 1.9 trillion pandemic relief program they unanimously opposed.

Still, the infrastructure measure has a much more bumpy path to enact than the stimulus package, which Democrats beefed up last month. With conflicting ambitions for what could be one of the few major legislative vehicles this year, Democratic leaders face a daunting challenge in leading the package through Congress.

“I think the American people want us to take a very broad look at what infrastructure means and address these crises as quickly as possible,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, the independent Vermonter who heads the budget committee.

Knowing that the measure will include tax changes to help pay for part of the plan, some moderate Democrats in high-tax states have pushed for the repeal of the so-called SALT cap, which limits the amount of local and state taxes that can be paid. deducted from federal income tax. Others have warned that Mr Biden’s proposal to increase corporate tax to 28% from 21% was too steep.

Representative Richard E. Neal of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, suggested bringing back the Build America Bonds created after the Great Recession to help states and cities borrow money for construction projects. ‘infrastructure. Senate Democrats have unveiled their own plans to pay part of the package by raising taxes on multinational corporations that hide profits overseas.

“I think everyone realizes that we have to come together because failure is not an option,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, in an interview. The administration, he said, “is going to talk to a lot of members – this is a big big bill – and try to incorporate some good ideas that other members have as well.”

Mr Schumer noted that the Biden administration has already included two of its priorities – funding the transition to clean cars and legislation to boost U.S. technology investment and research – in the package, and will fit very probably to other changes.

Mr. Buttigieg did not give details on how officials would choose which transportation projects to receive funding. But he said there would most likely be a mix of ways to fund the proposals, including through existing grant programs and creating new funding streams.

In an email sent to congressional lawmakers last week, Department of Transportation officials provided preliminary details on how $ 621 billion from Mr. Biden’s proposal could be spent on transportation and transportation projects. infrastructure. The largest allocations included $ 174 billion for electric vehicles, with an additional $ 115 billion to repair and build roads and bridges.

Officials have proposed $ 85 billion for public transit, $ 25 billion for airports and $ 17 billion for ports and waterways. The email, obtained by The New York Times and first reported by Roll Call, stressed that the figures given were preliminary and could be revised during negotiations.

Cities, towns and states across the country already have designs on the funds. According to an analysis by the National Association of Counties, an advocacy group, road projects of various sizes – such as $ 204 million in road renovations in Lane County, Oregon – could receive long overdue funding . The administration highlighted the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans and the I-81 freeway in Syracuse as opportunities to reduce racial inequalities caused by the construction of freeways.

Bridge projects, which face a nearly 40-year repair backlog, are sure to compete for funding. Projects for which local tax funds have already been approved, such as a $ 54 billion initiative to expand light rail systems in the Seattle area, could also receive support, experts said. Amtrak officials have said they could speed up the creation of a national rail service that reaches 160 additional communities in the United States.

Beth Osborne, director of Transportation for America, an advocacy group, said the process of sorting out competing priorities to produce the package will be grueling.

“God bless those employees and members who need to understand this,” said Ms. Osborne, a former Senate aide who helped work on the 2009 stimulus bill. “On the one hand, it’s going to be tough. On the other hand, that’s why people come to work in Washington. “

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What is driving the wave at the southern border?

“They have experienced six years of continuous drought in these areas,” Gass said. “They have no food, no way to find a job or a livelihood, and they eat the seeds they would normally save for planting. And when the seeds are gone, they don’t have much to do.

On top of that, the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the region’s urban and rural communities and made it doubly perilous to undertake a long journey.

Biden said he would seek to remedy the situation by setting up migrant triage centers and shelters in those countries, so migrants can start claiming asylum in the United States rather than reporting to unexpectedly at the southern border. But he has yet to release a comprehensive immigration plan, leaving close observers to speculate on what his overall strategy will emphasize.

Last month, at his first press conference as president, Biden said he asked Vice President Kamala Harris to examine “the basic reasons people leave Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. in the first place, “listing a few major factors:” It’s because of earthquakes, floods. It is because of the lack of food. It’s because of gang violence. It’s because of a whole range of things. “

But as he rolls out the plan, Biden runs into rampant corruption in many national and local governments, which can make it difficult for aid to flow directly, as he has acknowledged.

He recalled the work he had started as vice president under Barack Obama, whose administration faced a surge of migrants on the southern border in 2014 and 2015 that was spurred by a confluence of violence from gangs and natural disasters in the area. “What I was able to do was not to give money to the Head of State, because there are so many corrupt, but I was able to say: ‘OK, we need lighting in the streets to make a difference? I’m going to put the lighting on, ”” he said.

Experts pointed out that while the Obama administration has taken steps to work directly with local governments and establish accountability mechanisms, this approach was still incomplete when Trump became president and rolled back most new reform initiatives.

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Democrats face wave at border

The Democratic-led House on Thursday passed bills that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, including so-called Dreamers, and ultimately grant legal status to nearly a million agricultural workers and their families.

By casting votes on these targeted bills – rather than the total immigration overhaul proposed by President Biden – Democratic lawmakers hoped to draw a clear line between themselves and Republicans on some of the more popular and uncontroversial elements. of Biden’s broader immigration plan.

They insist on what they see as an advantage on an issue where public opinion has shifted significantly to the left over the past five years: Polls show more than four in five voters nationwide now support authorization of Dreamers, or immigrants brought to the United States. as children, to become citizens.

But this advantage may be threatened due to an increasingly difficult situation on the US-Mexico border. A flood of asylum seekers and other migrants have arrived since the start of the Biden administration, drawn in part by the new president’s more accommodating tone compared to that of his predecessor.

Republicans seized on this wave, calling it a “Biden border crisis” in a new round of political ads and conservative media coverage.

As the political career of former President Donald Trump illustrates, there is arguably no problem that divides conservatives and liberals as radically as immigration. As the country’s views have become significantly more pro-immigrant during Mr. Trump’s tenure, a tough stance against illegal immigration has also become one of the main rallying cries for the GOP.

Mr Biden and his Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas are balancing their desire to reject Trump’s no-compromise approach – especially when it comes to unaccompanied minors, who arrived at the border this month at a rate of around 400 people per day – with a recognition that proceeding as usual is simply not an option, as tens of thousands of migrants, fleeing insecurity and poverty at home, need a housing and treatment.

Immigration was not a top concern for most Americans a month ago. A Pew Research Center poll in early February found that only 38% of the country believed “curbing illegal immigration” should be a top priority among US foreign policy goals.

This was half of the share saying protecting American jobs should be a priority area of ​​foreign policy. And even fewer said that to reduce legal immigration should be a priority.

But in a CNN poll released last week, immigration was the only issue, out of a list of seven, on which Americans gave Mr. Biden significantly negative reviews. Forty-nine percent of respondents disapproved of the way he treated immigration, while 43 percent approved.

Among political independents, it was 15 points in the hole: 53% disapproved, 38% approved.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee this week, Mayorkas acknowledged that the situation at the border “is undoubtedly difficult” and sought to manage expectations. “We are working around the clock to manage it, and it will take time,” he said.

With coronavirus vaccines becoming rapidly available, many states are looking to exceed President Biden’s target of getting vaccines to all adults by May 1.

Alaska and Mississippi have already opened the vaccine to all people 16 years of age or older, regardless of risk factors. Other states – including Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Ohio and Utah – aim to follow suit this month or next.

A recent NPR / PBS NewsHour / Marist College poll found that more than three in five Americans aged 75 and over have been vaccinated. But divisions remain: nearly half of all respondents who said they voted to re-elect Donald Trump in November said they would not get a vaccine once it became available.

Vaccine distribution ultimately rests with the states, but Mr Biden was keen to grab the bull by the horns – positioning the federal government as a sort of air traffic controller for vaccine deployment.

The $ 1.9 trillion relief package he signed last week has a lot to do with it, as it includes large allocations for vaccine distribution and for state and local governments. I caught up Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a Washington correspondent covering health policy, for an overview – and what we know (and what we don’t know) about the Biden administration’s plans.

The relief bill includes billions for vaccine distribution and coronavirus testing, and hundreds of billions for school districts and state and local governments. Is this funding tied to certain benchmarks? How is the administration using this funding to help guide vaccine distribution nationally?

In fact, I don’t think we know what benchmarks the Biden administration uses. I asked what metrics they would use to judge the success of their plan to step up coronavirus testing in schools. I did not get a clear answer.

States manage vaccine distribution in very different ways. Most are making the vaccines available to residents gradually, depending on their age and other risk factors, but in some states – and some counties in other states – the vaccines are now available to all adults. Where are health experts, both at the CDC and elsewhere, asking themselves on this? Is this worrying for epidemiologists, or are they saying we are at a point where it makes sense for vaccines to be freely available?

The bottom line for health experts is this: It is important that as many people as possible get vaccinated as quickly as possible. Most states go beyond immunizing higher priority groups, like healthcare workers or people who live in nursing homes, and offer the vaccine to at least essential workers. But as you can see, some states have lowered the age of eligibility while others have not.

Vaccination in the United States has always been a state matter, and the guidelines issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are just that – guidelines. That said, President Biden has ordered all states to make all adults eligible for the vaccine by May 1.

As the supply of vaccines increases, we will soon see a reversal: instead of having too little vaccine for an audience that demands it, we will have more than enough and the problem will be to ensure that people who don’t want to take it.

Biden said last week that the federal government would get an additional 100 million doses of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine. How long will it take for these vaccines to be available? Are we near a point where supply more or less equals demand?

These doses will likely not be available until the second half of this year. The White House envisions they would be available to immunize children, or for booster doses, or to reformulate vaccines to combat emerging variants.

That said, we are indeed approaching – or at least moving towards – a point where supply equals demand. The administration expects to have enough vaccines on hand to immunize all adult Americans by the end of May.

Public opinion polls have shown that there is a stubborn reluctance to take the vaccine among certain demographic groups in the country – particularly Republican men, about half of whom said in a recent survey that they would not take a vaccine. even if it became available. Are officials concerned about this and are leaders taking action to address this reluctance?

The hesitation over vaccines is of great concern to public health officials. Opposition to vaccination could slow down the campaign to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading, slowing efforts to revive the economy and restore some semblance of normal life. And health officials know there is no one size fits all; different groups hesitate for different reasons, and public education campaigns must be tailored to address the concerns of individuals.

As for Republicans, like our colleagues Annie karni and Zolan Kanno-Youngs recently reported, the White House faces a delicate task. Former President Donald Trump spent months telling people the virus was a hoax, and many of his supporters don’t want to be vaccinated (although he and his wife, Melania, were vaccinated before leaving the White House. ).

Trump was conspicuously absent from a recent public service announcement featuring the four other living former presidents urging Americans to get vaccinated. But in a TV interview on Tuesday, he publicly endorsed the inoculation, telling his supporters, “I would recommend it.” The question remains open as to the impact this will have. Meanwhile, the Biden administration is working with a bipartisan group called the Covid Collaborative, which is working to tackle the Conservatives’ reluctance to vaccines.

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Texas drops virus restrictions as wave of reopens unfold

But on Wednesday, the state said bars could open at 30 percent of their indoor capacity on Friday. With two days’ notice to reopen, he called former employees, eager to return to work, and restocked inventory. Then, on Friday, it opened its doors and once again welcomed regular customers he hadn’t seen in a year for a drink at the bar.

“It was an exhilarating feeling to see this happen,” said Medford, who is also president of the state’s Bars and Taverns Association. “It was really the first time in a year that I got out of bed and was excited, I had something to look forward to.”

After some counties in Washington state allowed theaters to reopen, Nick Butcher, 36, made up for lost time by attending screenings of The Lord of the Rings trilogy for three consecutive nights. He bought some M & Ms’s at the concession stand, walked away from the other onlookers, and said he felt like things were almost back to normal.

“I’m actually getting optimistic, overall,” said Mr. Butcher, a software engineer at Microsoft who recently recovered from a case of Covid-19, along with several relatives. “This week is one of the first times I’ve walked into my office almost since the start of the pandemic.”

A return to crowded offices and schools has left other Americans both excited and worried.

Amanda Sewell, a teacher at Tates Creek High School in Lexington, Ky., Will welcome students to her classroom next Monday for the first time in a year. Decorations from last year’s Mardi Gras celebration are still hanging in the classroom. The date on her whiteboard still reads March 13, 2020 – the day school closed and she returned home, convinced it would only take a few weeks before she and her students were back in class.

Ms Sewell is now fully vaccinated against the virus and said she was delighted to see her students in person after teaching Insensitive Squares on Zoom for months. But she knows things won’t be the same as before.

“I’m still a little suspicious in that I feel like some people think that because we have a vaccine the pandemic is over, and it’s definitely not,” said Ms Sewell. . “I have the impression that we are still several months away from getting closer to normal.”

Dave montgomery contribution to reports.

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Wave of student suicides pushes Las Vegas schools to reopen

This fall, when most school districts decided not to reopen, more parents began to speak out. Parents of a 14-year-old boy from Maryland who committed suicide in October described how their son had “given up” after his district decided not to return in the fall. In December, an 11-year-old boy in Sacramento shot himself in his Zoom course. Weeks later, the father of a teenager in Maine attributed his son’s suicide to isolation from the pandemic.

“We knew he was upset because he could no longer participate in his school activities, football,” Jay Smith told a local television station. “We never guessed it was so bad.”

President Biden has presented a robust plan to speed up vaccinations, expand coronavirus testing and spend billions of dollars to help districts reopen most of their schools in his first 100 days in office.

By then, children in districts like Clark County, with more than 300,000 students, will be out of school for over a year.

“Every day we feel like we have run out of time,” Dr Jara said.

As the pandemic approaches, youth suicide rates have been on the rise for a decade; by 2018, suicide had become the second leading cause of death among young people and young adults, behind accidents. And the most recent Behavioral Risk Survey, released last year by the CDC, which tracks trends in high school student health, shows a steady increase over the past decade in the percentage of students who report having lingering feelings of sadness or hopelessness, as well as in those who planned and attempted suicide.

Since the lockdowns, districts have been reporting clusters of suicides, CDC’s Dr Massetti said, and many said they were struggling to connect students to services.

“Without in-person instruction, there is a gap that is currently not being addressed,” she said.

Suzie Button, senior clinical director of high school programming at the Jed Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit that works on suicide prevention, said hundreds of schools and colleges – including the county de Clark – are teaming up with the organization to better serve students during the pandemic.

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Video: On day one, Biden signs wave of executive orders

new video loaded: On day one, Biden signs a flurry of decrees



On day one, Biden signs a flurry of decrees

President Biden on Wednesday signed 17 decrees, memoranda and proclamations from the Oval Office, including the return of the Paris climate accords and the putting up of masks on federal property.

“I thought that with the state of the nation, there is no time to waste today. Get to work immediately. As we indicated earlier, we will be signing a number of Orders in Council over the next few days, the week. And I’m going to start today with the aggravated Covid crisis, Covid-19, with the economic crisis that followed, and the climate crisis, issues of racial equity. “And the first order I’m going to sign here is for Covid. And that requires, as I’ve said all the time, where I have authority, the obligation to wear masks, to maintain social distancing on federal property and interstate commerce, etc. This is the first I sign. “The second one I’m signing off here is support for underserved communities with regards to how we treat people in health care and other things that you can, we’ll give you copies of these decrees. And the third one that I’m going to sign, and the one that we will do while you are all here, is the commitment I made to join the Paris climate agreement today.

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Trump’s latest wave of pardons includes names pushed by supporters of criminal justice reform.

President Trump, during his one tenure alone, used the power of mercy on behalf of convicted liars and crooked politicians, some of whom were his friends. But the long list of pardons his team has put together for him to sign his last full day in office includes the names of people serving life sentences on drug or fraud charges and who for years have sought clemency.

In the past, the administration has emphasized leniency towards low-level offenders to blunt criticism that Mr. Trump inappropriately offered pardons to people with whom he had personal connections. . Tuesday’s group includes non-violent offenders whose names have been spreading for years among lawyers who believe their punishments never match their crimes and whose cases underscore the broken nature of the country’s criminal justice system.

The names were recommended by a group that included Alice Johnson, who worked with # Cut50, a prisoner advocacy group, and Mark Holden, a former Koch Industries executive. Ms Johnson herself was granted full pardon after speaking on Mr Trump’s behalf at the Republican National Convention and continued to personally lobby Mr Trump and his family members over their cases. The Department of Justice’s pardoning attorney’s office was left out of the process, as was typical in Trump’s White House.

Among those pardoned on Tuesday, according to those directly involved in the process, is Darrell Frazier, who has served more than 30 years of a life sentence for drug conspiracy. During his incarceration, Darrell founded the Joe Johnson Tennis Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports children in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Craig Cesal is serving a life sentence without parole on a marijuana charge. “My crime was that my truck repair business in Chicago repaired trucks operated by a Florida long-haul trucking company whose drivers smuggled marijuana down south,” he told the Washington Post in 2016.

Lavonne Roach, a non-violent offender, is serving a 30-year sentence after being charged with conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine. Ms. Roach, a Lakota Sioux, has been in prison since 1994.

Chalana McFarland was sentenced in 2005 to 30 years on several counts of mortgage fraud. She was sent to prison when her daughter was 4 years old. Since July, she has been serving her sentence at home over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus in Florida prisons.

Michael Pelletier, a paraplegic who has used a wheelchair since the age of 11, was serving a life sentence in federal prison for a non-violent marijuana conspiracy.

Most clemency applications are filed with the pardon attorney’s office for years, while some people serving time for drug or fraud charges have been put on the president’s radar thanks to direct calls from lawyers on which the administration relied.

The final list, which is expected to be part of a larger package announced by the president on Tuesday, was sent to the White House board office by Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and senior adviser, for verification, according to one. people directly involved. .

Lawyers have said they hope the Biden administration will be able to revamp the leniency process and that the pardons approved by Mr. Trump will give the next administration cover with the Tories in the future.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said the administration would not comment on the pardons.

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Trump prepares the wave of forgiveness for the last hours

Among those under study are figures as disparate as Sheldon Silver, the disgraced former New York Assembly speaker, and rapper Lil Wayne, who pleaded guilty last month to a gun charge in fire. Rudolph W. Giuliani says he’s not expecting one, and Stephen K. Bannon’s chances seem to have waned. Mixed among the big names, juvenile drug offenders are under consideration.

As President Trump enters the final hours of his tenure, he has focused on who should benefit from his clemency power. With White House attorney Pat A. Cipollone and advisers including Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. Trump has spent days sifting through the names and recommendations, compiling a list that officials say they intend to disclose on Tuesday, his last full day in office.

The size and precise composition of the list are still being determined, but it will likely cover at least 60 pardons or commutations and possibly more than 100. Already, Mr. Trump has phoned some of the recipients, people informed at their topic said, and he held another meeting on the topic Monday afternoon.

There are no plans for Mr. Trump to include a pardon for himself on the list to be released Tuesday or for him to preemptively forgive his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, neither of whom are. has been accused. any wrongdoing, officials said. But Mr. Trump’s final decision to forgive himself and his family members, they said, could remain an open question until noon on Wednesday, when his four-year term ends.

Some of the pardons and commutations are likely to go to people whose supporters say they have been sentenced to excessively long sentences or other miscarriages of justice, or who have shown proof of rehabilitation. Mr Kushner worked with Alice Johnson, who has become a national symbol of the movement to reduce what many on both sides see as excessive sentences for non-violent drug crimes. Mr Trump commuted his sentence and subsequently granted Ms Johnson a full pardon after speaking at the Republican National Convention last year.

But Mr. Trump has already made clear his willingness to use his clemency power on behalf of allies, supporters, people he sees as victims of the excessive prosecution and people who forge bonds with him. and his team.

Among those being considered for a pardon or commutation is Mr Silver, who was twice convicted of corruption and sentenced to jail last summer, two people briefed on the talks said.

Mr. Silver was sued by Preet Bharara while he was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mr Bharara was sacked by Mr Trump in 2017 and has since become an open critic of the President’s management of the Justice Department.

Other candidates for leniency include Lil Wayne, a Trump supporter who pleaded guilty last month to illegally carrying a gold-plated .45 caliber Glock handgun and ammunition as a criminal while traveling aboard a private jet last year, people briefed on the talks said. He faces a sentence of up to 10 years.

Another person being considered for leniency is Sholam Weiss, the recipient of what is believed to be the longest white-collar prison sentence ever, according to a person who discussed the matter with a family member and a other person briefed on conversations at the White House. .

Mr Weiss was sentenced to over 800 years in prison in 2000 for racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering linked to a massive fraud scheme that siphoned $ 450 million from an insurance company, leading to its collapse . He spent a year on the run before being arrested in Austria and extradited to the United States.

Mr. Weiss has drawn support from people with ties to Mr. Trump, including attorney Alan M. Dershowitz, who represented Mr. Trump in his first impeachment in the Senate last year, and Brett Tolman, a former prosecutor who worked with the The White House on leniency applications and filed documents last month indicating he had been lobbying “for leniency support” for Mr. Weiss.

Supporters of Mr Weiss argue his sentence is an example of the so-called trial sentence, where prosecutors offer less jail time in return for guilty pleas, then hand down much longer sentences at trial to punish those who refuse such transactions.

A White House spokesperson declined to comment on possible pardons.

The question of the president’s potential legal issues hangs over the process. Mr. Trump’s company faces a criminal investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which is examining whether the president and his company have committed financial or tax crimes in recent years. This investigation involves state law and would not be affected by any pardons the President might grant himself, which would apply only to federal law.

Two people close to the Trump organization had wanted to see Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump receive pre-emptive pardons, believing they could face serious scrutiny from federal prosecutors in the future. But White House officials objected to it, and Donald Trump Jr. told associates he didn’t want a preventive pardon because he didn’t think he needed it.

The president was warned about forgiving himself by Mr Cipollone and former attorney general William P. Barr. White House officials also believe that any consideration he plans to grant himself a pardon could also turn more Republicans against him in his next Senate impeachment trial.

Beyond the dramatic new precedent such a move would set, some Trump advisers fear he would lose his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination if he granted himself a pardon.

The finances of the Trump organization are under investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., who questioned former personal attorney for President Michael D. Cohen for hours last week , according to people briefed on the interview. Trump officials have called it a politically motivated fishing expedition.

Another preventive pardon that was under discussion was for Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump organization.

Mr. Weisselberg, an accountant who began his career working for Mr. Trump’s father, was a central player in the federal investigation into Mr. Cohen. Manhattan federal prosecutors sought Mr. Weisselberg’s testimony before a grand jury as they investigated Mr. Cohen for helping arrange illegal payments of silence during the 2016 presidential campaign to two women who said they had had relations with Mr. Trump.

Mr Weisselberg testified, but on condition that prosecutors grant him immunity for his statements to the grand jury so that they cannot be used against him.

But after indicting Mr. Cohen, prosecutors came to question whether Mr. Weisselberg was being completely honest about the Trump Organization’s role in the silence payments, and they began to consider whether he had committed perjury or obstruction of justice, according to people informed on the matter. Nonetheless, prosecutors have never charged Mr. Weisselberg with wrongdoing.

However, Mr. Weisselberg, like Mr. Trump, is unlikely to receive a preventive pardon, officials briefed on the discussions said, in part out of fears Mr. Weisselberg would lose his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. .

A lawyer for Mr Weisselberg declined to comment.

Then there are allies like Mr. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist, who left in a wave of fiery criticism against Mr. Trump and his family in 2017, but then came to defend the president again during of his first impeachment trial. Mr Bannon was charged with fraud last year relating to the construction of a wall along the southern border in support of Mr Trump’s immigration policy. He pleaded not guilty.

A person close to Mr Trump has described the pardon given to Mr Bannon as a ‘coin toss’, but a White House official said that is unlikely to happen.

Last month, Mr. Trump granted clemency grants to more than four dozen people, including Roger J. Stone Jr., his longtime advisor and friend; its former campaign chairman, Paul J. Manafort; and the father of his son-in-law, Charles Kushner.

He also pardoned four former Blackwater contractors who were convicted of a massacre of Iraqi civilians in 2007.

Benjamin Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Michael S. Schmidt contribution to reports.

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‘Accelerated wave of executions’ facing small Supreme Court review

“None of these legal questions are trivial,” wrote Justice Breyer. “What should courts do when faced with legal questions like this? Will they just ignore them? Or are they, as in this case, “hurry up, hurry up”? This is not a solution.

Members of the court’s conservative majority expressed frustration at the last-minute stay requests, saying they amounted to a litigation game. “The proper response to this maneuver is to quickly deny unfounded claims,” ​​Judge Clarence Thomas, accompanied by Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch, wrote in a concurring opinion in an Alabama case. in 2019.

Perhaps there was another reason for moving swiftly in federal affairs: If the court had issued even brief reprieves, there was good reason to believe the Biden administration would have halted executions.

Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra University, said the court would pay the price for his inability to respond to detainees’ demands. “From a historical perspective,” he said, “the most significant damage caused by the court’s recent performance in death penalty cases may be to its own institutional position.

If Judge Breyer looked sad, it was because he had hoped just a few years ago that the court would reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty. He had set out his case in a major dissent in 2015, which must have been on Justice Scalia’s mind when he made his comments a few months later.

Judge Breyer wrote in the 46-page dissent that he considered it “highly likely that the death penalty violates the Eighth Amendment,” which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. He said exonerations in the death row were frequent, death sentences were handed down arbitrarily and the capital justice system was marred by racial discrimination.

Judge Breyer added that there was little reason to believe that the death penalty deters crime and that the long delays between convictions and executions could themselves violate the Eighth Amendment. Most countries do not apply the death penalty, he said, and the United States is an international exception in accepting it.