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World Briefing

Arrivals will need COVID test

NEW YORK — Anyone flying to the U.S. will soon need to show proof of a negative test for COVID-19, health officials announced Tuesday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requirement expands on a similar one announced late last month for passengers coming from the United Kingdom. The new order takes effect in two weeks. The CDC order applies to U.S. citizens as well as foreign travelers. The agency said it delayed the effective date until Jan. 26 to give airlines and travelers time to comply. The new restrictions require air passengers to get a COVID-19 test within three days of their flight to the U.S., and to provide written proof of the test result to the airline. Travelers can also provide documentation that they had the infection in the past and recovered. Airlines are ordered to stop passengers from boarding if they don’t have proof of a negative test.

House races to oust Trump

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House pressed forward Tuesday toward impeaching President Donald Trump for the deadly Capitol attack, taking time only to try to persuade his vice president to push him out first. Trump showed no remorse, blaming impeachment itself for the “tremendous anger” in America. Three Republicans, however, including third-ranking House GOP leader Liz Cheney of Wyoming, announced they would vote to impeach Trump, cleaving the party’s leadership. “The President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack,” said Cheney in a statement. “There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.” Reps. John Katko of New York, a former federal prosecutor, and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, an Air Force veteran, said they, too, would vote to impeach. “All of us have to do some soul searching,” said Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, imploring other Republicans to join. Trump, meanwhile, warned the lawmakers off impeachment and suggested it was the drive to oust him that was dividing the country. “To continue on this path, I think it’s causing tremendous danger to our country, and it’s causing tremendous anger.”

Enbridge fights shutdown order

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. — Enbridge said Tuesday it would defy Michigan’s demand to shut down an oil pipeline that runs through a channel linking two of the Great Lakes, contending that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision was based on bad information and political posturing. The Democratic governor in November moved to revoke a 1953 state easement that allowed part of the Canadian company’s Line 5 to be placed along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. Saying Enbridge had repeatedly violated the terms and put the lakes at risk, Whitmer gave the company 180 days — until May 12 — to turn off the flow. Enbridge filed a federal lawsuit challenging the order shortly after it was issued. Vern Yu, president for liquids pipelines, gave a point-by-point-response to the state’s termination notice in a letter Tuesday and said it wouldn’t close Line 5. “Our dual pipelines in the straits are safe, fit for service and in full compliance with the federal safety standards that govern them.”

US shifts to speed COVID shots

WASHINGTON — Facing a slower-than-hoped coronavirus vaccine rollout, the Trump administration abruptly shifted gears Tuesday to speed the delivery of shots to more people. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced a series of major changes to increase supply of vaccines, extend eligibility to more seniors and provide more locations for people to get shots. Administration officials describing the new policies conveyed a notable sense of urgency. One change will have some teeth to it. Azar said going forward the federal government will base each state’s allocation of vaccines partly on how successful states have been in administering those already provided. Azar also said the government will stop holding back the required second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, practically doubling supply.

Wine, vines headed home

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The International Space Station bid adieu Tuesday to 12 bottles of French Bordeaux wine and hundreds of snippets of grapevines that spent a year orbiting the world in the name of science. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule undocked with the wine and vines — and thousands of pounds of other gear and research, including mice — and aimed for a splashdown Wednesday night in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampa. The Atlantic had been targeted, but poor weather shifted the arrival to Florida’s other side. SpaceX’s supply ships previously parachuted into the Pacific. The carefully packed wine — each bottle nestled inside a steel cylinder to prevent breakage — remained corked aboard the orbiting lab. Space Cargo Unlimited, a Luxembourg startup behind the experiments, wanted the wine to age for an entire year up there. None of the bottles will be opened until the end of February. That’s when the company will pop open a bottle or two for an out-of-this-world wine tasting in Bordeaux by some of France’s top connoisseurs and experts. Months of chemical testing will follow. Researchers are eager to see how space altered the sedimentation and bubbles. Agricultural science is the primary objective, stresses Nicolas Gaume, the company’s CEO and co-founder, although he admits it will be fun to sample the wine. He’ll be among the lucky few taking a sip. “Our goal is to tackle the solution of how we’re going to have an agriculture tomorrow that is both organic and healthy and able to feed humanity, and we think space has the key,” Gaume said from Bordeaux.

Divers recover data recorder

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian navy divers searching the ocean floor on Tuesday recovered the flight data recorder from a Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea with 62 people on board. The device is expected to help investigators determine what caused the Boeing 737-500 to nosedive into the ocean in heavy rain shortly after taking off from Jakarta on Saturday. The 26-year-old jet had been out of service for almost nine months because of flight cutbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said. It resumed commercial flights last month. TV stations showed divers on an inflatable raft with a large white container containing the flight data recorder heading to a Jakarta port. Military chief Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the plane’s other “black box,” the cockpit voice recorder, was likely to be found soon because its beacon was being emitted in the same area. The devices were buried in seabed mud under tons of sharp objects in the plane’s wreckage, navy Chief Adm. Yudo Margono said. He said at least 160 divers were deployed Tuesday in the search. More than 3,600 rescue personnel, 13 helicopters, 54 large ships and 20 small boats are searching the area just north of Jakarta where Flight 182 crashed and have found parts of the plane and human remains in the water at a depth of 23 meters (75 feet). So far, the searchers have sent 74 body bags containing human remains to police identification experts who on Monday said they had identified their first victim, 29-year-old flight attendant Okky Bisma.

More relief payments on the way

The IRS said that after initial problems, it is getting more of the second round of relief payments to taxpayers. The government began distributing the payments, worth $600 per eligible adult and dependent, at the end of December. However, many people who filed their taxes with an online preparation service initially found that their payment did not make it to them directly. That is because money may have been sent to a temporary bank account established by the tax preparer, which is no long active. By law, the financial institution must return payments sent to closed or inactive accounts. While there is no exact measure of how often this happened, the National Consumer Law Center estimates that up to 20 million Americans may have been impacted by the administrative issue. A number of tax preparation companies said that they were able to resolve the issues. H&R Block said its customer payments were processed as of last Wednesday, January 6. Aside from special cases, H&R Block said its customers should have received their payments already. TurboTax said that payments for customers affected by the error were deposited on Friday. The IRS said Tuesday that it worked over the weekend to help a smaller set of impacted taxpayers and is reissuing payments for eligible taxpayers whose accounts may have been closed. Those reissued payments may come in the form of a direct deposit or by mail — either as a paper check or debit card.

Cancer death rate declines again

NEW YORK — Researchers on Tuesday reported another record one-year decline in the U.S. cancer death rate, a drop they attribute to success against lung cancer. The overall cancer death rate has been falling since 1991. From 2017 to 2018, it fell 2.4%, according to an American Cancer Society report, topping the record 2.2% drop reported the year before. Lung cancer accounted for almost half of the overall decline in cancer deaths in the past five years, the society reported. Cancer remains the country’s second leading cause of death, after heart disease. An estimated 1.9 million new U.S. cancer cases will be diagnosed this year. Nearly 609,000 Americans will die from cancer, the society estimates.

Not him, Chuck Norris’ rep says

NEW YORK — Chuck Norris’ manager says the “Walker, Texas Ranger” star was not present at last week’s deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol. A photo of a man resembling Norris apparently with a member of the mob began trending online. “This is not Chuck Norris,” Norris manager Erik Kritzer said. “Chuck remains on his range in Texas where he has been with his family,” Kritzer said. He acknowledged that the man photographed looked somewhat like Norris but “Chuck is much more handsome.” Norris, though, is a Trumper.

Cat turns up 3 years after slide

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — A pet cat believed killed along with her owner in a huge mudslide has been found three years later. The Animal Shelter Assistance Program in Santa Barbara County says the calico named Patches was brought in as a stray last month and a microchip scan revealed her identity. Patches had been missing since Jan. 9, 2018, when a rainstorm on the vast burn scar of the Thomas Fire sent a debris-laden torrent crashing down through hillside neighborhoods of Montecito, northwest of Los Angeles. Twenty-three people were killed, including cat owner Josie Gower. The devastation of the debris flow was so terrible that the bodies of two victims were never found. Patches was found less than a quarter-mile from where her Montecito home stood. She was reunited with Gower’s partner, Norm Borgatello, on New Year’s Eve. “Though we don’t know exactly what she’s been doing with her life for the past three years, we can see that both Patches and Norm are thrilled to be reunited,” the shelter said in a Facebook post.

QB will guest-host on ‘Jeopardy!’

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says he will be a guest host on “Jeopardy!” during the offseason. The show is currently using a series of interim hosts to replace Alex Trebek, who died of cancer on Nov. 8. That process began when record-holding contestant Ken Jennings made his debut on an episode that aired Monday. Rodgers was a winning “Celebrity Jeopardy!” contestant in 2015. “The show has been so special to me over the years,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “It’s been a staple at my house here in Green Bay for the last 16 years — 6 o’clock, watching Alex and trying to get as many questions as I can. When the opportunity came up in 2015, that was a dream come true. It really was. To be on there, to get to meet Alex was just such a special moment. We’re all obviously sad about his passing.” Rodgers first made the announcement earlier Tuesday during a appearance on Sirius XM’s “The Pat McAfee Show.” A representative from “Jeopardy!” declined comment and said no announcement has been made about future guest hosts. “I may have jumped the gun a little bit, so I apologize to ‘Jeopardy!’ if they wanted to announce it,” Rodgers said. “I just got so excited on the show earlier. It kind of just went down the last couple of days, us figuring it out. It is very exciting. It’s for the offseason. We’ll be even more excited when that opportunity gets a little closer.” Rodgers mentioned the nostalgic connection people have to certain figures based on their childhood. He compared meeting Trebek during his “Celebrity Jeopardy!” stint to his first production meetings with Keith Jackson, John Madden and Dan Fouts, longtime broadcasters he had watched as a kid. “We all have so much love and affection I think for what (Trebek’s) meant to just that half hour, that 22 minutes of our lives on a daily basis for those of us who are big fans of the show,” Rodgers said. “To be able to be a guest host is really, really special for me. I can’t wait for the opportunity.”

Book of Elish photos coming

NEW YORK — At age 19, Billie Eilish is already looking back. The Grammy-winning star is releasing a collection of hundreds of rarely seen photos in May, Grand Central Publishing announced Tuesday. The book is called “Billie Eilish” and, according to Grand Central, will “capture the essence of Billie inside and out, offering readers personal glimpses into her childhood, her life on tour, and more.” “Billie Eilish” includes text but is “predominantly” photos, the publisher said. In a statement Tuesday, Eilish said: “I spent many hours over many months poring through my family albums and archives, handpicking all of the photos in this book. I hope you love it as much as I do.”

Plans to retrieve radio imperiled

NORFOLK, Va.– Fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is threatening a company’s plans to retrieve and exhibit the radio that had broadcast distress calls from the sinking Titanic. The company, RMS Titanic Inc., said Monday that its revenues plummeted after coronavirus restrictions closed its exhibits of Titanic artifacts, causing the firm to seek funding through its parent company. Some of the exhibitions, which are scattered across the country, are still closed, while others that have reopened are seeing limited attendance. RMS Titanic Inc. recently missed a deadline with a federal admiralty court in Virginia to submit a funding plan for the radio expedition. The company left open the possibility that it may no longer seek the court’s approval for the undertaking if a plan isn’t submitted in the coming weeks.

3 House Democrats test positive

WASHINGTON– Within a span of about 24 hours, three House Democrats announced they tested positive for COVID-19, prompting concern that last week’s insurrection at the Capitol has also turned into a super-spreader event threatening the health of lawmakers and their staffs. Those who tested positive were among dozens of lawmakers who were whisked to a secure location when pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the Capitol on Wednesday. Some members of Congress huddled for hours in the large room, while others were there for a shorter period. The three are Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash. and Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey. All three lawmakers are isolating. Schneider said he was not feeling symptoms, while Watson Coleman said she was experience mild, cold-like symptoms. Jayapal did not elaborate on how she was feeling, but noted that she began to quarantine several days ago out of concern about conditions in the secured room. Within hours of their announcements, Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., and Anthony Brown, D-Md., introduced legislation that would impose a $1,000 fine on any member of Congress refusing to wear a mask on Capitol grounds during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michigan plans to charge ex-gov

FLINT, Mich. — Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, his health director and other ex-officials have been told they’re being charged after a new investigation of the Flint water scandal, which devastated the majority Black city with lead-contaminated water and was blamed for a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease, The Associated Press has learned. The AP could not determine the nature of the charges against Snyder, former health department director Nick Lyon and others who were in his administration, including Rich Baird, a friend who was the governor’s key troubleshooter while in office. Courtney Covington Watkins, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said only that investigators were “working diligently” and “will share more as soon as we’re in a position to do so.”

Hacked list likely to grow

WASHINGTON — The number of federal agencies and private companies who learn that they have been affected by a massive Russian hack is expected to grow as the investigation into it continues. The FBI and other agencies last week attributed the intrusions to Russia as part of what officials described as an intelligence-gathering operation rather than an effort to damage or disrupt U.S. government operations. U.S. officials said at the time that fewer than 10 federal agencies were believed to have been compromised “by follow-on activity on their systems.” So far, the list of agencies known to have been affected includes the Treasury, Commerce and Justice departments, among others. “I think this will expand accordingly as we identify” additional victims, William Evanina, the director of the U.S. National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said. “I think the hard part for the investigators is we don’t know what we don’t know, but I think this will continue to grow.”

Free speech case before court

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday wrestled with whether to revive a lawsuit brought by a Georgia college student who sued school officials after being prevented from distributing Christian literature on campus. The school, Georgia Gwinnett College, has since changed its policies and the student has graduated. A lower court dismissed the case as moot and an appeals court agreed, but the student, Chike Uzuegbunam, is urging the justices to allow the case to move forward. He’s seeking just $1 and says he wants the Lawrenceville, Georgia, school to be held accountable for its past policies. Groups across the political spectrum including the ACLU say the case is important to ensuring that people whose constitutional rights were violated can continue their cases even when governments repeal the policies they were challenging. Both conservative and liberal justices expressed some concerns with Uzuegbunam’s argument. Chief Justice John Roberts suggested to Uzuegbunam’s attorney, Kristen Waggoner of the group Alliance Defending Freedom, that it was problematic that “the only redress you’re asking for is a declaration that you’re right.” And Justice Elena Kagan noted that “people can’t bring a suit for pure vindication alone … for the psychic satisfaction that it gives to hear a court say that.” Kagan, however, also brought up what she said was the most famous case she could think of where someone had sought a symbolic $1 in a lawsuit. In that case, former radio DJ David Mueller sued singer-songwriter Taylor Swift after she accused him of groping her, saying he was falsely accused and lost his job as a result of the allegation. She countersued for $1 alleging sexual assault. ” That’s what happened. The jury gave her $1,” Kagan said, later adding: “Why isn’t that the same as this? The petitioner here says he was harmed. He wasn’t able to speak when he should have been able to speak…He’s just asking for $1 to redress that harm.”

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