March 03, 2021

Headlines

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Human smuggling probe: SUV in California crash entered through hole in border fence, officials say
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Thirteen people who died after a semitruck slammed into their packed SUV near the U.S.-Mexico border were among 44 who entered the United States through a 10-foot hole cut into Southern California’s border fence, Customs and Border Protection said Wednesday."All are suspected to have entered the U.S. illegally," the agency said in a statement. "Border Patrol is investigating the smuggling events."Two cars were seen on surveillance video leaving the area of the fence hole around 6 a.m. PT Tuesday, according to the agency.One vehicle, a Chevrolet Suburban, carried 19 people and caught fire after entering the U.S. and traveling 30 miles to the intersection of Interstate 8 and State Route 115, the agency said. All passengers escaped the vehicle and were taken into custody by Border Patrol agents.
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Fact check: California's COVID-19 vaccine plan doesn't give priority to homeless people, prisoners
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Shifting plans for distributing COVID-19 vaccines are drawing out new criticism for plans to administer the shots.In a Facebook post on March 1, comedian and podcaster Adam Carolla took aim at the state of California. “In California the homeless and prisoners are getting the vaccine before taxpayers,” he wrote in the post that about 12,000 users have reacted to. “It sounds like something out of Idiocracy. If that isn’t the most California way of doing things I don’t know what is.”Advocates have fought for those populations to be prioritized because they live in close quarters, such as homeless shelters, and cannot easily maintain social distance.While Carolla is correct that California is administering vaccines to those groups, a shift in the state’s distribution plan in January no longer gave them priority for the vaccine.
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South Korea economy shrank in 2020 for 1st time in 22 years
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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea’s central bank says the country’s economy shrank for the first time in 22 years in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic destroyed service industry jobs and depressed consumer spending.Preliminary data released by the Bank of Korea on Thursday showed the country’s gross domestic product last year contracted 1% from 2019. It was the first annual contraction since 1998, when South Korea was in the midst of a crippling financial crisis.The economy would have been even worse if not for the country’s technology exports, which saw increased demand driven by personal computers and servers as the pandemic forced millions around the world to work at home.The bank expects South Korea’s economy to manage a modest recovery this year driven by exports. But it says it would take a longer time for the job market to recover from the damage to services industries such as restaurants and transportation.
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Kroger, Starbucks and Target among retailers defy Texas, will still require masks even after state lifts mandate
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No mask, no service.Even as some states roll back mask mandates, some of the nation’s largest retailers including Kroger, Macy’s, Starbucks and Target are not rolling back theirs.Kroger, which also owns supermarket chains including Ralphs and Dillons, said in a statement to USA TODAY that it will "continue to require everyone in our stores across the country to wear masks until all our frontline grocery associates can receive the COVID-19 vaccine."Best Buy also told USA TODAY it had no plans to change its mask policy.Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's decision to lift the face covering requirement and "open Texas 100%" to full capacity on March 10 conflict with safety protocols at many businesses.Only health care workers, people over 65 and adults with pre-existing conditions are currently eligible for vaccines in Texas.
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Graton Resort & Casino raises minimum wage for all workers
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ROHNERT PARK, Calif. (KRON) – Graton Resort & Casino on Wednesday announced it is raising its minimum wage across the board for all workers. This includes:“Families in Northern California struggle to get by on the minimum wage,” said Graton Rancheria Tribal Chairman Greg Sarris.  “We already offer 100% paid employee health insurance. A wage increase seemed only fitting to help our team members after a difficult year.”The raise goes into effect March 8.
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Australia’s leader backs attorney-general accused of rape
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday expressed support for his attorney-general, who this week denied accusations he raped a schoolgirl when he was a teenager.Morrison told reporters Australia must follow the rule of law and the presumption of innocence in the matter, after police concluded there was insufficient evidence to investigate lawmaker Christian Porter, a 50-year-old former prosecutor.The woman who accused Porter died by suicide last year after she had gone to police and then later withdrawn her complaint. Her accusation against Porter became public last week after being sent anonymously to Morrison and other lawmakers. The case has intensified scrutiny of the culture in Parliament, where a staff member two weeks ago made an unrelated claim that she was raped by a senior colleague.
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Smash-and-grab robber targets TikTok’s cranberry juice guy in SF
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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Nathan Apodaca, the viral Fleetwood Mac “Dreams” skateboarder, is down on his luck after a trip to San Francisco with his family last week.According to TMZ, Apodaca’s two rental cars were broken into after parking in a garage near Twin Peaks Overlook.According to the report, his family lost “credit cards, checks, sunglasses, reading glasses and some wallets filled with identifying information.”Estimated loss of damage is around $4,000.This isn’t the first time Apodaca had back luck with cars.His car broke down back in September, but it lead him to posting a TikTok that now has over 80 million views. The video shows him drinking Ocean Spray Cran-Raspberry juice to the tune of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”According to Billboard, the 1977 No. 1 hit had its biggest streaming week ever, with over 8.47 million streams, thanks to the viral TikTok.
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Texas governor faces fallout after lifting Covid restrictions
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(CNN)Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is facing a torrent of criticism over his surprise decision to roll back his state's mask mandate and business restrictions -- moves that strategists and activists in both parties said are aimed at appeasing an impatient Republican base ahead of his 2022 reelection bid and with an eye on the 2024 presidential race.The two-term Texas governor announced Tuesday in Lubbock, in an event at a Mexican restaurant surrounded by supporters where he took no questions, that he was dropping his orders aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision could hasten the spread of the virus at a moment in which only a small sliver of the state's population has been vaccinated, public health experts said.
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State agency disputes report of ‘botched’ COVID-19 vaccine shots at Oakland Coliseum
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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) – Cal OES is disputing a report of botched COVID-19 vaccine doses being administered at the Oakland Coliseum. In a statement to KRON4, Cal OES said in part it “cannot substantiate the report of botched doses” and it has “serious concerns on the accuracy” of the claims being made.This comes following a local media report that thousands who visited the Oakland Coliseum vaccination site received the wrong vaccine dosages recently. Officials said the public should be “rest assured that vaccines administered at the Coliseum are being dispensed in a manner consistent with medical and scientific best practices and will work as designed.”The Coliseum opened as a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic mid-February. This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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Graton Resort & Casino raises minimum wage
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Graton Resort & Casino has announced across-the-board, industry-leading minimum wage increases effective March 8, 2021, for all team members.
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"I still get asked, 'Where are you from?'" Senator Tammy Duckworth speaks out against recent spik…
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Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois joins "Red and Blue" anchor Elaine Quijano to discuss the recent spike in violent attack against Asian Americans. She also weighs in on recent sexual harassment allegations against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and why she says President Biden's former nominee for budget director, Neera Tanden, faced discrimination during the confirmation process.
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In Alabama, a vote to keep Confederate monument protections
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Alabama lawmakers have rejected legislation that would give cities and counties in the Dep South state a possible avenue to take down Confederate monuments and relocate them elsewhere
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See Fauci's reaction to states lifting mask mandates
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CNN's Erin Burnett and Dr. Anthony Fauci discuss the governors of Texas and Mississippi deciding to ease their coronavirus restrictions, even completely lifting mask mandates, amid the pandemic.
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Chicago mayor proposes search warrant changes after botched raid
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday announced proposed changes in how police execute search warrants in light of a botched raid in 2019 when officers stormed the wrong apartment and handcuffed a naked Anjanette Young. The mayor and Police Superintendent David Brown outlined the new procedures during a press conference and subsequent news release in the hope of regaining trust and providing transparency after that high-profile mishap.Before a search warrant is conducted, it must be approved by a deputy chief or above, three ranks higher than what was previously required, according to Lightfoot. An independent investigation must verify all the information in the search warrant, and according to the proposal, officers will have to "conduct a planning session ... to identify any potentially vulnerable people" who could be inside the residence.
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Capitol riot probe zeroes in on Pentagon delay in sending troops
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Three hours and 19 minutes, while a riot raged at the Capitol.That’s how long the commanding general of the D.C. National Guard says elapsed between then-Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund’s “frantic” plea for help quelling a violent mob and the ultimate approval of military aid by the Pentagon. The discrepancy between his estimate and the Pentagon's conflicting testimony isnow at the heart of lawmakers’ investigation into the security lapses that prolonged the siege on Congress on Jan. 6.The conflict in officials’ accounts of their response to the insurrection came into sharper view on Wednesday, when D.C. National Guard chief William Walker told senators he was blocked from reacting quickly while Pentagon officials disputed his account. As lawmakers wrestle with an investigation into what went wrong, they found their key witnesses on very different pages.
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Judge orders release of Proud Boy charged in U.S. Capitol riot
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SEATTLE -- A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the release of suburban Seattle man and prominent member of the Proud Boys far-right group, pending trial on charges filed in connection with the January insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell in Washington, D.C., granted Ethan Nordean's request for release despite prosecutors' new allegations about the key role he played as the Proud Boys' de facto leader and an organizer of the Capitol riot, The Seattle Times reported. Though she called evidence of Nordean's alleged role troubling, Howell ruled the government had "not met its burden by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant poses a danger to the community, or by a preponderance that he will flee" before trial. Under the ruling, Nordean, 30, who is known in far-right circles by his alias, "Rufio Panman," will be restricted to home detention and must remove all firearms in his home, among other conditions.
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IG finds misuse of office by Elaine Chao at Transportation
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The Transportation Department’s watchdog asked the Justice Department to criminally investigate Elaine Chao late last year after it determined she had misused her office when she was transportation secretary under President Donald Trump but was rebuffed, according to a report released Wednesday.The report said the Justice Department’s criminal and public integrity divisions declined in December to take up the case for criminal prosecution following the inspector general’s findings that Chao inappropriately used her staff and office for personal tasks and to promote a shipping business owned by Chao’s father and sisters. That company does extensive business with China.“A formal investigation into potential misuses of position was warranted,” deputy inspector general Mitch Behm wrote in a letter to lawmakers.
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Dollar Tree will open 600 stores this year
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New York (CNN Business)Dollar Tree said Wednesday that it will open 600 new stores this year, continuing dollar store chains' torrid growth across the United States.The announcement comes as the pandemic has taken a toll on many retailers and forced thousands of stores to close. But dollar stores have surged as economically-strapped customers seek out bargains on food, household essentials and other items. Dollar Tree(DLTR) said Wednesday that sales at stores open for at least one year increased 4.9% during the 13 weeks ending Jan. 30, compared with the same stretch a year ago.The company, which also owns the Family Dollar chain, will open 400 Dollar Tree stores and 200 Family Dollar stores this year. The two chains combined have nearly 15,700 US locations and last year opened around 400 stores.
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Internal watchdog said ex-Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao misused position, referred case for prosecution
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The U.S. Transportation Department's inspector general's office formally investigated former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao for potential violations of ethics rules and misuse of her position — and ultimately referred the case for criminal prosecution in late 2020.The inspector general's investigation focused, among other things, on how Chao — who is married to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. — may have aided her family's shipping company, Foremost Group, which does significant business in China, according to a report that was publicly released this week.Foremost Group is helmed by her father, James S.C. Chao, and her sister, Angela Chao. Neither Elaine Chao nor McConnell as a financial stake in the company, based on publicly available information and financial disclosure forms.
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Origin of golden Trump statue revealed
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The golden statue of former President Donald Trump unveiled at CPAC and celebrated by supporters originally came from China, not Mexico as the artist initially said.
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Kentucky Prep Athletes Could Get an Extra Year Under Proposed State Bill
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A fifth-year senior could become a common term next year in Kentucky high school athletics if a proposed bill passes the state House. It would allow students to repeat a year of school, meaning seniors could come back for another year to compete.Senate Bill 128 unanimously passed the state Senate by a 36-0 vote, and now it moves to the House. The bill is aimed at students in public schools who can use the 2021-22 school session as a supplemental year. They can retake, and supplement, coursework they have already completed.If passed into law, then local school districts would then have discretion to approve or deny requests by the students. If approved, then students can participate in sports and all other Kentucky High School Athletics Association (KHSAA) activities.
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