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 • Headlines: Tuesday, January 19, 6:25 AM   (More news)
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  A commission formed by President Donald Trump to promote "patriotic eduction" has released its report instructing educators to teach slavery in a broader context while grouping progressivism and identity politics with racism, communism and fascism as threats to U.S. principles. The report published Monday was written by The President's Advisory 1776 Commission, which Trump announced the formation of in September against the backdrop of a summer of nationwide racial injustice protests following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed in May by a White police officer. In his announcement of the commission, Trump blamed the political left for having "warped, distorted and defiled the American story with deceptions, falsehood and lies" and that the "left-wing rioting and mayhem are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools." The report was released a little more than a month after Trump announced the commission's 18 conservative members, none of who is a historian, and amid uncertainty that they would even meet with weeks remaining before his administration would leave the White House. The White House released the report on Monday describing it in a statement as "a definitive chronicle of the American founding" but was quickly chastised by historians and organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union on Monday accused the Trump administration of attempting to rewrite history. "America has existed longer with slavery than without, and reports like this make it clear that its legacy continues to manifest through systemic racism," it said in a statement. Jim Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, said the report "weaves myth, distortion, deliberate silences and misreading of evidence to create narrative/argument few professional historians would consider plausible." And Thomas Sugrue, a professor of social cultural analysis and history at New York University, said the report could be boiled down to three arguments: that slavery was an aberration in U.S. history, that progressivism is un-American and that the recognition of group identities is racist. "Its absurdities are compounded by its omissions," he continued via Twitter. "Where are the native Americans? No mention. How convenient." In the 45-page report, the commission writes framing the founders as proponents of slavery is not only untrue but "has done enormous damage, especially in recent years, with a devastating effect on civic unity and social fabric" and that slavery must be viewed in a broader perspective, and not simply a U.S. institution. It also lists progressivism and couples racism with identity politics as threats to U.S. principles, which also includes slavery, communism and fascism. Under the racism and identity politics section, the commission said in the report that the Civil Rights Movement following the major legislative reforms concerning segregation in the 1960s "almost immediately turned to programs that ran counter to the lofty ideals of the founders." To rewrite inequalities, affirmative action in the form of preferential treatment was employed, moving the country away from a system of equality to one of "explicit group privilege that, in the name of 'social justice' demands, equal results and explicitly sorts citizens into 'protected classes' based on race and other demographic," the report said. Ibram X. Kendi, a professor in history at Boston University and the director of the Antiracism Center, rebuked the report as "the last great lie of the Trump administration." "If we have commonly been given preferential treatment, then why do Black people remain on the lower and dying end of nearly every racial disparity," he asked via Twitter. The report then calls for a renewed teaching of the history of the United States at the family dinner table, in grade school classrooms and university lecture halls, the latter of which it described as often being "hotbeds of anti-Americanism, libel and censorship that combine to generate in students and in the broader culture at the very least disdain and at worst outright hatred for this country." Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit and nonpartisan watchdog in the nation's capital, accused the Trump administration of racism with the report. "The Trump administration is marking Martin Luther King Day by putting out a report that defends the Found Fathers for owning slaves and attacks the Civil Rights Movement," it said via Twitter.
  On this date in history: In 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. In 1920, threats against the life of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, because of his activities in suppressing criminal radicalism, led officials to take every precaution to guard the head of the Justice Department. In 1938, the Spanish Nationalist air force bombed Barcelona and Valencia, killing 700 civilians and wounding hundreds more. In 1961, President Eisenhower met with his successor, John F. Kennedy, to complete plans for the transition of power. Both met privately at first before conferring with the incoming and outgoing secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense. In 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India. In 1975, China published a new Constitution that adopted the precepts and policies of Mao Zedong. In 1977, U.S. President Gerald Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who had been convicted of treason for her World War II Japanese propaganda broadcasts as Tokyo Rose. In 1983, police in Bolivia arrested Klaus Barbie, the so-called Butcher of Lyons. Barbie was a Nazi Gestapo chief accused of for the capture, torture and deaths of thousands of Jewish people and French resistance workers in Lyon, France. In 1995, Russian forces captured the presidential palace in the rebel republic of Chechnya. In 2007, former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, the only member of Congress to plead guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Ney was released after 17 months. In 2020, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC Championship Game and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. The 49ers and Chiefs faced off in Super Bowl LIV two weeks later.
  Today is Tuesday, Jan. 19, the 19th day of 2021 with 346 to follow.The moon is waxing. Morning stars are Mars, Uranus and Venus. Evening stars are Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Neptune, Saturn and Uranus. Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include Scottish engineer James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, in 1736; Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1807; American short story writer/poet Edgar Allan Poe in 1809; French post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne in 1839; Ebony magazine founder John H. Johnson in 1918; former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in 1920; author Patricia Highsmith in 1921; actor Jean Stapleton in 1923; actor Tippi Hedren in 1930 (age 91); television newscaster Robert MacNeil in 1931 (age 90); singer Phil Everly in 1939; British stage singer/actor Michael Crawford in 1942 (age 79); singer Janis Joplin in 1943; actor Shelley Fabares in 1944 (age 77); singer Dolly Parton in 1946 (age 75); chef Paula Deen in 1947 (age 74); singer/actor Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1953 (age 68); artist Cindy Sherman in 1954 (age 67); actor Katey Sagal in 1954 (age 67); comedian Paul Rodriguez in 1955 (66); painter Thomas Kinkade in 1958; author Edwidge Danticat in 1969 (age 52); actor Shawn Wayans in 1971 (age 50); comedian Frank Caliendo in 1974 (age 47); actor Jodie Sweetin in 1982 (age 39); Pete Buttigieg, transportation secretary nominee, in 1982 (age 39); filmmaker Damien Chazelle in 1985 (age 36); U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson in 1992 (age 29); rapper Mac Miller, born Malcolm James McCormick, in 1992; actor Logan Lerman in 1992 (age 29).On this date in history:In 1861, Georgia seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. In 1920, threats against the life of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, because of his activities in suppressing criminal radicalism, led officials to take every precaution to guard the head of the Justice Department. In 1938, the Spanish Nationalist air force bombed Barcelona and Valencia, killing 700 civilians and wounding hundreds more. In 1961, President Eisenhower met with his successor, John F. Kennedy, to complete plans for the transition of power. Both met privately at first before conferring with the incoming and outgoing secretaries of State, Treasury and Defense. In 1966, Indira Gandhi was elected prime minister of India. In 1975, China published a new Constitution that adopted the precepts and policies of Mao Zedong. In 1977, U.S. President Gerald Ford pardoned Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who had been convicted of treason for her World War II Japanese propaganda broadcasts as Tokyo Rose. In 1983, police in Bolivia arrested Klaus Barbie, the so-called Butcher of Lyons. Barbie was a Nazi Gestapo chief accused of for the capture, torture and deaths of thousands of Jewish people and French resistance workers in Lyon, France. In 1995, Russian forces captured the presidential palace in the rebel republic of Chechnya. In 2007, former U.S. Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, the only member of Congress to plead guilty in the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. Ney was released after 17 months. In 2020, the San Francisco 49ers defeated the Green Bay Packers to win the NFC Championship Game and the Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game. The 49ers and Chiefs faced off in Super Bowl LIV two weeks later. A thought for the day: "You're all you've got." -- American singer Janis Joplin
  Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include: -- Scottish engineer James Watt, inventor of the steam engine, in 1736 -- Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1807 -- American short story writer/poet Edgar Allan Poe in 1809 -- French post-Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne in 1839 -- Ebony magazine founder John H. Johnson in 1918 -- Former U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar in 1920 -- Author Patricia Highsmith in 1921 -- Actor Jean Stapleton in 1923 -- Actor Tippi Hedren in 1930 (age 91) -- Television newscaster Robert MacNeil in 1931 (age 90) -- Singer Phil Everly in 1939 -- British stage singer/actor Michael Crawford in 1942 (age 79) -- Singer Janis Joplin in 1943 -- Actor Shelley Fabares in 1944 (age 77) -- Singer Dolly Parton in 1946 (age 75) -- Chef Paula Deen in 1947 (age 74) -- Singer/actor Desi Arnaz Jr. in 1953 (age 68) -- Artist Cindy Sherman in 1954 (age 67) -- Actor Katey Sagal in 1954 (age 67) -- Comedian Paul Rodriguez in 1955 (66) -- Painter Thomas Kinkade in 1958 -- Author Edwidge Danticat in 1969 (age 52) -- Actor Shawn Wayans in 1971 (age 50) -- Comedian Frank Caliendo in 1974 (age 47) -- Actor Jodie Sweetin in 1982 (age 39) -- Pete Buttigieg, transportation secretary nominee, in 1982 (age 39) -- Filmmaker Damien Chazelle in 1985 (age 36) -- U.S. Olympic gold medal-winning gymnast Shawn Johnson in 1992 (age 29) -- Rapper Mac Miller, born Malcolm James McCormick, in 1992 -- Actor Logan Lerman in 1992 (age 29)
  The former Florida Department of Health data scientist who says she was fired after refusing to doctor the state's COVID-19 data has turned herself in to the police after a warrant had been issued for her arrest. Rebekah Jones, 31, turned her self in to the authorities Sunday and was charged with one count of offenses against users of computers, computer systems, computer networks and electronic devices, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement said in a statement on Monday. According to court records, Jones was released after posting a $2,500 bond. Prior to being arrested, she tweeted that she was to be "censored by the state of Florida until further notice," accusing the Sunshine state of "jailing scientists for the crimes of knowing and speaking." Jones has been in a legal fight with Florida that stems from her firing in May and her turn as a whistle blower as she has accused the government, particularly Gov. Ron DeSantis, of trying to cover up the extent of the state's coronavirus outbreak to keep businesses open. Her home was raided by authorities in early December under a search warrant, accusing her of illegally breaching an emergency messaging alert system in November to send out a message encouraging its users to voice criticism over Florida's handling of the coronavirus. On Saturday, Jones tweeted that the cause for her arrest was not related to the sending of the message but to some other documents in her possession. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement on Monday refuted her statement, saying "evidence retrieved from a search warrant on Dec. 7 shows that Jones illegally accessed the system sending a message to approximately 1,750 people and downloaded confidential [Florida Department of Health] data and saved it to her devices." Jones, in a tweet on Saturday, said she would turn herself in "to protect my family from continued police violence, and to show that I'm ready to fight whatever they throw at me."
  The world was not prepared to battle the coronavirus, an independent World Health Organization panel said in an interim report that also says both the U.N. health body and China acted too slowly to stop the spread of COVID-19. The report published Monday by The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness & Response found failures at multiple levels of government and health organizations that allowed the death toll and impact of COVID-19 to grow. "For all that our institutions and systems have sought to respond to the pandemic ... the sobering fact is they have been no match for the virus and the speed with which it has spread across the globe," the panel wrote in the report. "Despite the myriad shining examples on every continent of human ingenuity in response to the virus, we have failed in our collective capacity to come together in solidarity to create a protective web of human security." The 13-member panel, created through a WHO resolution passed last spring, said it has already become clear the worst of the pandemic lies ahead, urging for the immediate adoption of decisive and effective action to save lives and reduce overall damage. The panel said it found that public health measures known to curb the pandemic such as early case detection, contact tracing, physical distancing and mask wearing were not widely enforced in many countries, "The failure to apply such measures is continuing to result in an unacceptable toll of death, illness and transmission," the report said. It also said the current pandemic alert system is "slow, cumbersome and indecisive," the international response has deepened inequalities within nations and between them, there has been a failure to take the existential risks posed by the threat of pandemics seriously and that the WHO is underpowered to do what it is expected of it. "The panel believes that the COVID-19 pandemic must be a catalyst for fundamental and systemic change in preparedness for future such events, from the local community through through to the highest international levels," it said. The disease, which has since since spread around the world infecting more than 95 million people and killing more than 2 million, was first reported in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December of 2019. Both China and the WHO have been criticized over their response to the pandemic, and the United States has consequently withdrawn its membership from the U.N. health body, accusing it of aiding the Asian nation in covering up its initial outbreak of the virus. The report said there were "lost opportunities" to apply basic public health measures at the earliest opportunity, stating both China and WHO reacted too slowly to the initial outbreak. "What is clear to the panel is that public health measures could have been applied more forcefully by local and national health authorities in China in January [2020]," the report said. Concerning the WHO, the report said it was unclear why it waited until Jan. 22 of last year to convene the first meeting of the Emergency Committee and why it was unable to agree to declare a public health emergency of international concern until Jan. 30. The panel said it is still considering what actions the WHO and governments could have taken that may have resulted in more forceful action, including whether it would have helped if the WHO had described the outbreak as a pandemic earlier, which it waited until March of 2020 to do so. "Although the term pandemic is neither used nor defined in the International Health Regulations, its use does serve to focus attention on the gravity of a health event," it said. Overall, the panel said that it is "overwhelming evident" that choices made at both national and subnational levels "have shaped the severity of the epidemic in each country," stating that there is not a simple formula that can be applied to all nations that would guarantee response success. "Rather, there is a complex interaction between technical and other capacities and political and decision-making systems, which determines the willingness to take action," it said. The panel is to deliver its final report in May at the 74th World Health Assembly.
  Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller on Monday said the thousands of National Guard troops who will provide security in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden will be vetted for insider threats following the arrests of former and active duty military personnel who participated in the Capitol siege earlier this month. In a statement, Miller said the Pentagon with the FBI will vet the approximately 25,000 troops who will be deployed to the nation's capital for Wednesday's inauguration event. "While we have no intelligence indicating an insider threat, we are leaving no stone unturned in securing the capital," Miller said, adding that the federal agencies will lead the effort usually conducted by law enforcement due to the scope of military involvement. "The D.C. National Guard is also providing additional training to service members as they arrive in D.C. that if they see or hear something that is not appropriate, they should report it to their chain of command," he said. The statement was issued following the arrests of former and active members of the military who were charged with storming the Capitol building with the crowd of President Donald Trump supporters on Jan. 6, resulting in at least five deaths, including that of Ashli Babbitt, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force who was shot dead by a Capitol Police officer. Several active and former members of the U.S. military have been charged over their involvement in the siege including most recently an Army reservist who works as a contractor with "Secret" security clearance and access to munitions at Naval Weapons Station Earle. Prosecutors charged Timothy Louis Hale-Cusanelli, of Colts Neck, N.J., on Friday with five federal counts for sieging the building. Law enforcement learned of Hale-Cusanelli's involvement from a source who contacted the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, according to a statement of facts that accompanied the criminal compliant. The source told authorities that Hale-Cusanelli is an avowed White supremacist and Nazi sympathizer who posts videos on YouTube about his political beliefs. During a recorded conversation, Hale-Cusanelli is alleged in the statement of facts to have told the unnamed source of his involvement in the storming of that Capitol building, admitting to encouraging other members to "advance" and gave directions via hand signals. "Hale-Cusanelli told the [source] that if they'd had more men they could have taken over the entire building," the court document said. Among service men charged, Larry Rendall Brock, Jr., is one of the more prominent as the retired Air Force lieutenant colonel has been widely seen in photos carrying flex cuffs and wearing tactical gear in the Capitol building. He was charged Jan. 10. Master Sgt. Michel Sauret, an Army Reserve Command spokesman, said in a statement that the Army is working closely with the FBI to identify people who participated in the Capitol building attack "to determine if the individuals have any connection to the Army." Maj. Gen. William Walker told ABC's Good Morning America on Monday that the National Guards troops to be deployed to Washington, D.C., will be screen before they leave their home state. "What it is is a credentialing process," he said. "So, they're screened and they're repeatedly screened until they are actually put on the street. And even then, we can pull somebody off." Walker described the troops will undergo an "enhanced" vetting process that will involve "more screening, more details and it's layered." "The FBI is a part of it, the Secret Service is a part of it, and once they are certain that there is no insider threat, then that soldier, guardsman or airman is given a credential," he said.
  The number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths approached 400,000 Monday, as hard-hit states like California braced for more cases and vaccine supplies were running out in many states. The death toll for the United States was reported at 398,806 by Monday, according to the online Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker. Reported daily U.S. cases Monday were 174,513 with 1,723 deaths. The U.S. has reported a total of 24 million cases since the outbreak began. In Northern California, a new strain of the virus, the L452R variant, first identified in Denmark, was identified by officials to be present in nursing homes, jails and a hospital in San Jose. "It's too soon to know if this variant will spread more rapidly than others, but it certainly reinforces the need for all Californians to wear masks and reduce mixing with people outside their immediate households to help slow the spread of the virus," said Erica Pan, state epidemiologist for the California Dept. of Public Health said in a statement. "We also urge anyone who has been exposed to the virus to isolate from others to protect themselves and their loved ones," she added. Officials on Sunday said the new strain was identified in an outbreak before Christmas at Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical that infected 90 people and killed at least one. Meanwhile multiple states are running out of COVID-19 vaccine doses. Of a total of more than 31 million doses distributed to the states, only 12,279,180 had been distributed and 10,595,866 people had been vaccinated by Sunday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Colorado, Gov. Jared Polis on Monday ordered hospitals and other vaccine providers to start using about 40,000 doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that had been held in reserve for second doses and administer them immediately as first doses. In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz announced Monday that 60,000 new first doses would be provided at nine distribution centers for people over 65 and teachers and childcare providers. However, patients must sign up online beginning at noon Tuesday and Walz warned the number of doses would be small compared to the estimated 1 million people eligible to receive the first dose of the vaccine. "This is going to be harder than going to Ticketmaster and ordering Bruce Springsteen tickets," Walz told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  The head of the U.S. Census announced his resignation Monday, almost a year before he was scheduled to retire, amid a showdown over the Trump administration's orders about the counting of undocumented U.S. residents. In a resignation letter on his agency blog, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham praised U.S. Census employees who "made great sacrifices to continue our work" during the global pandemic. Dillingham said he would finish his term Jan. 20, the day President-elect Biden is sworn into office. He was not scheduled to leave until the end of the year. Democrats called for Dillingham's ouster after a whistleblower reported last week that Dillingham was trying to pressure career census employees rush out a report on undocumented immigrants in the United States and was offering financial incentives to get the job done quickly. The U.S. Census is already behind schedule on release of its official count of residents in the United States. The count every 10 years is used to apportion the number of U.S. congressional seats per state, as well as to determine federal aid for schools, housing and other federal services. Last summer, the Donald Trump administration issued Executive Order 13880, which demanded that the census not count residents who were not U.S. citizens. The move was seen as a way to damage congressional representation in states with large cities, which Trump has criticized as Democratic strongholds. In December, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the executive order, dismissing a lawsuit brought by 23 state's attorneys to halt the order. Trump also pressured the Census administration workers to stop census data collection early, which the high court also upheld. Dillingham's early departure from the bureau means he is leaving before incoming President-elect Biden has a chance to fire him.
  A special group of independent United Nations rights experts issued a letter Monday calling the Jan. 6 violence in the U.S. Capitol "a shocking and incendiary event." More than 20 independent reporters for the U.N. called for "solidarity with the American people who stand for democracy, equality and the rule of law at this critical moment," in a statement issued Monday. The observers condemned what they called a "violent attempt" to overthrow the results of the 2020 election. "We stand with the democratic outcomes of the recent elections and urge political leaders to do everything in their power to de-escalate tensions and unify the country in full respect for democracy and the rule of law," the letter said. In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, the U.N.'s peace and security experts noted that fears of further violence ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Biden on Wednesday, have led to a military build-up, with thousands of troops stationed in Washington, D.C., along with government buildings across the 50 state capitals. Monday's letter urged the U.S. government, private sector and other groups to make sure that international human rights standards were followed when holding Capitol rioters accountable, including considering freedom of expression and due process of law. "We maintain our hope that the US democracy will emerge strengthened from this crisis without damage to its institutions and with renewed commitment to peaceful pluralism, rule of law and democratic governance," the letter added. Independent experts from the "special procedures" body in the U.N. Human rights system conduct independent fact-finding and monitoring in troubled nations around the world.

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