Drug executives: Big jump in vaccine supply is coming soon
WASHINGTON (AP) — COVID-19 vaccine makers told Congress on Tuesday to expect a big jump in the delivery of doses over the coming month, and the companies insist they will be able to provide enough for most Americans to get inoculated by summer.
By the end of March, Pfizer and Moderna expect to have provided the U.S. government with a total of 220 million vaccine doses, up sharply from the roughly 75 million shipped so far.
“We do believe we’re on track,” Moderna President Stephen Hoge said, outlining ways the company has ramped up production. “We think we’re at a very good spot.”
That’s not counting a third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, that’s expected to get a green light from regulators soon. The Biden administration said Tuesday that it expects about 2 million doses of that vaccine to be shipped in the first week, but the company told lawmakers it should provide enough of the single-dose option for 20 million people by the end of March.
Looking ahead to summer, Pfizer and Moderna expect to complete delivery of 300 million doses each, and J&J aims to provide an additional 100 million doses. That would be more than enough to vaccinate every American adult, the goal set by the Biden administration.
Takeaways from Congress’ first hearing on Capitol riot
WASHINGTON (AP) — Security officials testifying at Congress’ first hearing on the deadly siege of the Capitol cast blame and pointed fingers on Tuesday but also acknowledged they were woefully unprepared for the violence.
Senators drilled down on the stunning security failure and missed warning signs as rioters loyal to former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, in a misguided attempt to stop lawmakers from certifying President Joe Biden’s election.
Five people died in the attack, including a Capitol Police officer. The security officials lost their jobs, and Trump was impeached by the House on a charge of inciting the insurrection, the deadliest attack on Congress in 200 years. Trump was ultimately acquitted by the Senate.
Here are some takeaways from the testimony:
Tiger Woods seriously injured in crash on steep LA-area road
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tiger Woods was in the driver’s seat of a mangled SUV that rolled and ended up on its side down a steep roadway in the Los Angeles suburbs Tuesday morning, seatbelt still fastened, both legs seriously injured.
He was lucid enough to give his name —“Tiger” — to the sheriff’s deputy who had poked his head through a hole in the windshield.
“At that moment, it clicked in my mind and I immediately recognized him as Tiger Woods,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez said Tuesday.
The single-car crash was another setback for Woods, the preeminent golfer of his generation who has spent the last decade in a cycle of injuries, self-inflicted personal problems and an arrest for DUI. Each time, he returned to the course and won.
Even at 45, Woods is among the more recognizable sports figures in the world and remains golf’s biggest draw. His 2019 Masters victory was seen as a transcendent comeback and further cemented his reputation for toughness and clutch performances. Briefly Tuesday, the world paused and worried that Woods might be critically injured or worse. As it became clear that his life wasn’t in danger, the obvious question came out: Can he play golf again?
No charges against officers involved in Daniel Prude’s death
Police officers who put a hood over the head of a mentally distraught Black man, then pressed his body against the pavement until he stopped breathing will not face criminal charges after a grand jury declined to indict them, New York’s attorney general announced Tuesday.
Daniel Prude, 41, died last March, several days after his encounter with police in Rochester, New York. Police initially described his death as a drug overdose. It went mostly unnoticed. But nightly protests erupted after body camera video was released nearly six months later following pressure from Prude’s family.
Attorney General Letitia James, whose office took over the investigation, said her office had “presented the strongest case possible” to the grand jury, but couldn’t persuade it that the officers had committed a crime.
“I know that the Prude family, the Rochester community and communities across the country will rightfully be disappointed by this outcome,” said James, who traveled to Rochester to announce the grand jury’s decision at a church near where Prude was fatally injured.
She said she was bound to respect the grand jury’s decision, but she also condemned a system that she said had “frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable for the unjustified killing of African Americans.”
Critics: GOP measures target Black voter turnout in Georgia
ATLANTA (AP) — Fueled by Black turnout, Democrats scored stunning wins in Georgia in the presidential and U.S. Senate races. Now, Republicans are trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
GOP lawmakers in the once reliably red state are rolling out an aggressive slate of voting legislation that critics argue is tailored to curtail the power of Black voters and undo years of work by Stacey Abrams and others to increase engagement among people of color, including Latino and Asian American communities.
The proposals are similar to those pushed by Republicans in other battleground states: adding barriers to mail-in and early voting, major factors in helping Joe Biden win Georgia’s 16 Electoral College votes and Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff take the two Senate seats that gave Democrats control of the chamber.
But one aspect of their plans, a proposal to eliminate early voting on Sundays, seems specifically targeted at a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign used by Black churches, referred to as “souls to the polls.” It’s led many to suggest Republicans are trying to stop a successful effort to boost Black voter turnout in Georgia, where they make up about a third of the population and have faced a dark history of attempts to silence their voices in elections.
“It’s a new form of voter suppression, the Klan in three-piece suits rather than white hoods,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald III of the First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which has participated in souls to the polls events. “They know the power of the Black vote, and their goal is to suppress that power.”
For Senate rules arbiter, minimum wage is latest minefield
WASHINGTON (AP) — She’s guided the Senate through two impeachment trials, vexed Democrats and Republicans alike with parliamentary opinions and helped rescue Electoral College certificates from a pro-Trump mob ransacking the Capitol. She also does spot-on impersonations of senators including Bernie Sanders.
Elizabeth MacDonough, an English literature major and the Senate’s first woman parliamentarian, is about to demonstrate anew why she’s one of Washington’s most potent, respected yet obscure figures. Any day, she’s expected to reveal if she thinks a federal minimum wage boost, progressives’ most prized plank in Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief plan, should fall from the bill.
Her decision, a political minefield likely to elicit groans from whichever side she disappoints, will play an outsize role in deciding the wage increase’s fate. It may not be definitive — majority Democrats might try overriding an opinion they don’t like.
“Elizabeth has a soul-crushing job, to which she brings an enormous amount of soul,” said her predecessor, Alan Frumin, whom she replaced when he retired in 2012.
The House plans to vote Friday on its version of the relief bill, which includes the minimum wage increase.
Authorities: Prison riots in Ecuador leave 62 dead
QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Sixty-two inmates have died in riots at prisons in three cities in Ecuador as a result of fights between rival gangs and an escape attempt, authorities said Tuesday.
Prisons Director Edmundo Moncayo said in a news conference that 800 police offices have been helping to regain control of the facilities. Hundreds of officers from tactical units had been deployed since the clashes broke out late Monday.
Moncayo said that two groups were trying to gain “criminal leadership within the detention centers” and that the clashes were precipitated by a search for weapons carried out Monday by police officers.
Photographs and videos on social media show alleged inmates decapitated and dismembered amid pools of blood.
Deadly prison riots have happened relatively frequently in recent years in Ecuador, whose prisons were designed for some 27,000 inmates but house about 38,000.
Top board leaders resign after deadly Texas power outages
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Top board leaders of Texas’ embattled power grid operator said Tuesday they will resign following outrage over more than 4 million customers losing electricity last week during a deadly winter storm, including many whose frigid homes lacked heat for days in subfreezing temperatures.
The resignations are the first since the crisis began in Texas, and calls for wider firings remain in the aftermath of one of the worst power outages in U.S. history.
All of the five board directors who are stepping down, including Chairwoman Sally Talberg, live outside of Texas, which only intensified criticism of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The resignations are effective Wednesday — a day before Texas lawmakers are expected to sharply question grid managers and energy officials about the failures during hearings at the state Capitol.
Another candidate for a director position, who also does not live in Texas, said he was withdrawing his name.
Four of the departing board members acknowledged “concerns about out-of-state board leadership” in a letter to grid members and the state’s Public Utility Commission, which oversees ERCOT. During the crisis, ERCOT officials removed contact information for board members off its website, saying they had become the target of threats.
Beat poet, publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti dies at 101
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lawrence Ferlinghetti, the poet, publisher, bookseller and activist who helped launch the Beat movement in the 1950s and embodied its curious and rebellious spirit well into the 21st century, has died at age 101.
Ferlinghetti, a San Francisco institution, died Monday at his home, his son Lorenzo Ferlinghetti said. A month shy of his 102nd birthday, Ferlinghetti died “in his own room,” holding the hands of his son and his son’s girlfriend, “as he took his last breath.” The cause of death was lung disease. Ferlinghetti had received the first dose of the COVID vaccine last week, his son said Tuesday.
Few poets of the past 60 years were so well known, or so influential. His books sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, a fantasy for virtually any of his peers, and he ran one of the world’s most famous and distinctive bookstores, City Lights. Although he never considered himself one of the Beats, he was a patron and soul mate and, for many, a lasting symbol — preaching a nobler and more ecstatic American dream.
“Am I the consciousness of a generation or just some old fool sounding off and trying to escape the dominant materialist avaricious consciousness of America?” he asked in “Little Boy,” a stream of consciousness novel published around the time of his 100th birthday
He made history. Through the City Lights publishing arm, books by Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and many others came out and the release of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl” led to a 1957 obscenity case that broke new ground for freedom of expression.
Mars rover’s giant parachute carried secret message
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The huge parachute used by NASA’s Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message, thanks to a puzzle lover on the spacecraft team.
Systems engineer Ian Clark used a binary code to spell out “Dare Mighty Things” in the orange and white strips of the 70-foot (21-meter) parachute. He also included the GPS coordinates for the mission’s headquarters at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Clark, a crossword hobbyist, came up with the idea two years ago. Engineers wanted an unusual pattern in the nylon fabric to know how the parachute was oriented during descent. Turning it into a secret message was “super fun,” he said Tuesday.
Only about six people knew about the encoded message before Thursday’s landing, according to Clark. They waited until the parachute images came back before putting out a teaser during a televised news conference Monday.
It took just a few hours for space fans to figure it out, Clark said. Next time, he noted, “I’ll have to be a little bit more creative.”
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