Archives October 2021

Colin Powell Dies From COVID, Was Fully Vaccinated

Colin Powell, the first black U.S. Secretary of State, has died as a result of COVID-19 complications, his family has said. He was 84 years old.

Powell, a retired four-star general who served as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005 under George W. Bush, had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In a statement announcing his death, his family called him a “remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” and thanked medical staff at Walter Reed National Medical Center, where he was being treated.

Before embarking on an influential career in politics, the New Yorker was a soldier for more than 30 years.

Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—the most senior military officer in the U.S. Armed Forces—between late 1989 and 1993, overseeing the U.S. invasions of Panama and Kuwait, as well as Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf War against Iraq. He was also a key player in the build up to that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The decorated service member leaves behind wife Alma, son Michael, daughters Linda and Annemarie.

Former president Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush were “deeply saddened” by Powell’s death. Bush said he was “a great public servant” and was “widely respected at home and abroad.”

Powell was also seen as a controversial figure. In 2003, he lied to the U.N. Security Council about the war. He claimed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had secretly kept weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s claims that it had no weapons of mass destruction represented a “web of lies,” Powell told the council. Those weapons were never found.

Powell, who had been a Republican for almost all of his political life, later became disillusioned with many in the GOP and instead threw his weight behind Democrats. Perhaps the most well-known was Barack Obama, the first Black president who Powell endorsed in the final month of his 2008 campaign for the White House.

On January 10, Powell said he no longer considered himself “a fellow Republican, days after he called on then-president Donald Trump to resign over the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C, four days earlier.

Source: Newsweek

Baltimore police union pushes back on city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate

The Baltimore City police union is telling its officers to not disclose their COVID-19 vaccination status.

Baltimore City’s mandate requiring all city employees get vaccinated takes effect Monday.

In a letter sent Friday to officers, FOP3 President Mike Mancuso said it’s trying to delay that policy until the city reaches a bargaining agreement with the FOP. Until then, the union says officers should not do anything to reveal whether they’re vaccinated.

The mayor’s communication director Cal Harris spoke about the concerns over the vaccination mandate as they wait a decision.

“Labor Commissioner Deborah Moore-Carter led a productive meeting Friday afternoon with the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police and their attorney, Commissioner Michael Harrison, and representatives from the City’s Law Department and Human Resources to discuss concerns over the vaccination mandate,” Harris said. “We will remain in close contact with the FOP until a solution is reached, and we are hopeful it will.”

According to a BPD representative, 64% of the entire department has at least one vaccine dose.

The same issue is also taking place in Chicago, where critics of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan said losing more officers would risk public safety.

“If you fail to report your status by then, you will be placed in non-disciplinary, non-pay status,” Lightfoot said. “My expectation is that people who swore an oath to serve and protect the city are going to honor that oath.”

Back in Baltimore, members of the City Council responded.

In a statement, Baltimore City Councilman Ryan Dorsey said, “I’ve never known the FOP to have an interest in the health and welfare of Baltimore City or its people. They are led by and overwhelmingly represent people who don’t live here, and seem only to despise us. They contribute to and benefit from our city’s epidemic of violence. Why would anybody expect better of them with regard to a global pandemic?”

Councilman Mark Conway also released a statement Friday night, “COVID-19 has killed more than 700,000 Americans and 1,000 people in Baltimore. Through truly miraculous scientific advances, we have three vaccines that protect against hospitalization and death in nearly all cases. I have tried to do all I can through the course of this pandemic to keep myself and others safe, including getting vaccinated at the earliest opportunity, but we need collective progress to meaningfully put this virus behind us. I fully support the mayor’s vaccination requirement as sound public health policy for Baltimore and city government.”

A spokesman from Mayor Brandon Scott said, “Labor Commissioner Deborah Moore-Carter led a productive meeting this afternoon with the Baltimore City Fraternal Order of Police and their attorney, Commissioner Michael Harrison, and representatives from the City’s Law Department and Human Resources to discuss concerns over the vaccination mandate. We will remain in close contact with the FOP until a solution is reached, and we are hopeful it will.”

Mancuso’s letter follows in its entirety:

“Over the past several weeks, our attorneys at SBWD and I have been trying to communicate with the city in an attempt to get clarity on their new COVID vaccination policy. We have made several attempts to talk to the city about the various, and very obvious, issues with their vague policy. We were advised a couple of weeks ago, and again Wednesday, that the city would provide us with answers to our questions. We were then pushed to yesterday morning (Thursday, Oct. 14) when we received an invite to discuss the vaccination policy next week on Oct. 21. Yes, that’s three days after their policy is scheduled to go into effect.

“FOP3 believes that there are multiple collective bargaining issues that surround the city’s vaccination policy. We have made multiple attempts to sit down and discuss these issues to no avail. Due to the city’s continuous refusal to meet with FOP3, I had our attorneys at SBWD file an unfair labor practice with the Office of the Labor Commissioner. Also, our attorneys at SBWD will be filing a court action today (Oct. 15), in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, in an attempt to at least delay the implementation of this policy until it can be bargained with FOP3.

“It is understandable that our members have questions about a policy with so little information being provided by the city. Until the city responds to our right to bargain these issues, or the courts intervene, I suggest you do nothing in regard to revealing your vaccination status as it is outlined in the city’s policy. Obviously, this is an individual choice on how each of you handles this situation. Whatever choice you make FOP3 and I will be there to support you in your decision.

“Until I have more information be safe and look out for one another.”

Source: WBAL

Baltimore’s Mayor Scott returns from COVID-19 quarantine

Baltimore’s mayor spent the last 10 days isolated at home after testing positive for COVID-19.

As he returned to work Friday, he shared with the 11 News I-Team some of the lessons he learned.

Mayor Brandon Scott gets tested regularly for COVID-19, and a series of three tests more than a week ago confirmed he’d been infected.

During quarantine, Scott said he “worked a lot, (held) a lot of virtual meetings, a lot of pop-up, popping in on agency heads and staff.”

Like the reaction of many people, the mayor said it came as a surprise when a COVID-19 test came back positive on Oct. 4. Scott is careful to follow COVID-19 protocols, typically wearing a mask indoors as his own order requires.

So, how was he was exposed?

“They can’t narrow it down because I interact with so many people, but again, this is why I get tested frequently. This is why I am going to be (an) even more mask nut to take that even further,” Scott said.

Scott received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March. His positive test puts him in the category of a breakthrough infection.

To date in Maryland, there have been 25,476 breakthrough infections, which is less than 1% of the 3.6 million people who have been fully vaccinated.

Scott said he had just minor symptoms, which he credited to the vaccine.

“I was able to do interviews with your station and others. I was able to work from home because I was vaccinated. (It’s) the only reason I wasn’t in a hospital bed,” Scott said.

Scott returns to work as the city’s rate of fully vaccinated people has reached 53.6% of the population. But some communities, such as Cherry Hill at 23% and Brooklyn-Curtis Bay at 21%, lag far behind in people receiving just one shot of the vaccine.

“This is why we have been taking the vaccine to them. I have been out there myself seeing people get vaccinated, making sure we use credible messengers so we can break through some of the issues, the hesitancy that we have,” Scott said.

Scott is now nearly eight months past his vaccination, and a Food and Drug Administration panel just recommended a booster for the J&J vaccine, also known as the Janssen vaccine.

Source: WBAL

Clinton “doing fine” and will be out of hospital soon

Bill Clinton is doing fine and will be released soon from a Southern California hospital where he’s being treated for an infection, President Joe Biden said.

Biden said Friday during remarks at the University of Connecticut that he had spoken to Clinton and the former president “sends his best.”

“He’s doing fine; he really is,” Biden said.

“He’s not in any serious condition,” Biden said. “He is getting out shortly, as I understand it. Whether that’s tomorrow or the next day, I don’t know.”

Clinton, 75, was admitted to the University of California Irvine Medical Center, southeast of Los Angeles, on Tuesday with an infection unrelated to COVID-19, his spokesman said.

An aide to the former president said Clinton had a urological infection that spread to his bloodstream, but he is on the mend and never went into septic shock, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Clinton spokesman Angel Ureña said Friday that Clinton would remain hospitalized overnight to receive further intravenous antibiotics.

“All health indicators are trending in the right direction, including his white blood count which has decreased significantly,” Ureña said in a statement.

“President Clinton continues to be in excellent spirits, and is deeply grateful for the outstanding care he is receiving and the well wishes that people have sent from across America and around the world,” the statement said.

The aide, who spoke to reporters at the hospital on the condition his name wasn’t used, said Clinton was in an intensive care section of the hospital but wasn’t receiving ICU care.

Source: WBAL

Jan. 6 panel sets vote on contempt charges against Bannon

A congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection has set a vote to recommend criminal contempt charges against former White House aide Steve Bannon after he defied the panel’s subpoena on Thursday.

The chairman of the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the committee will vote next Tuesday to recommend the charges. That would send the recommendation to the full House for a vote.

If the House votes to pursue the contempt charges against Bannon, the Justice Department will ultimately decide whether to prosecute. The committee had demanded documents and testimony from Bannon, who was in touch with President Donald Trump ahead of the violent attack.

“The Select Committee will not tolerate defiance of our subpoenas, so we must move forward with proceedings to refer Mr. Bannon for criminal contempt,” Thompson said in a statement.

The committee had scheduled a Thursday deposition with Bannon, but his lawyer said that at Trump’s direction he wouldn’t appear. Bannon also failed to provide documents to the panel by a deadline last week.

A deposition for a second witness that had been scheduled for Thursday, former Defense Department official Kashyap Patel, has been delayed, but Patel is still engaging with the committee, a committee aide said.

Two other men who worked for Trump — former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and longtime Trump social media director Dan Scavino — were scheduled for depositions Friday, but they have both been pushed back as well, according to the aide. Meadows, like Patel, has been given a “short postponement” as he is in talks with the panel. Scavino’s deposition has been rescheduled because there were delays in serving his subpoena.

Bannon’s testimony is just one facet of an escalating congressional inquiry, with 19 subpoenas issued so far and thousands of pages of documents flowing in. But his defiance is a crucial development for the committee, whose members are vowing to restore the binding force of congressional subpoenas after they were routinely flouted during Trump’s time in office.

Source: AP News

3 employees killed in shooting at postal facility in Memphis

Two U.S. Postal Service workers were fatally shot Tuesday at a postal facility in Memphis and a third employee identified as the shooter died from a self-inflicted gunshot, authorities said. It was the third high-profile shooting in or near that west Tennessee city in weeks.

U.S. Postal Inspector Susan Link said the three postal workers were found dead after the shooting at the East Lamar Carrier Annex in a prominent Memphis neighborhood. FBI spokeswoman Lisa-Anne Culp said the shooting was carried out by a third postal service worker, who shot him or herself.

No identities or motive were released by Link or Culp at a brief news conference late Tuesday afternoon.

The shooting occurred at a post office facility in the historic Orange Mound neighborhood, southeast of downtown Memphis. The carrier annex is only used by employees.

The street leading to the complex was blocked by police Tuesday afternoon following the shooting, and the FBI, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and other federal authorities went to investigate. Bystanders watching the police activity talked near a convenience store at an intersection. Nearby, officers had blocked the street with yellow crime scene tape and barricades. Some cars slowed down as they drove past police and reporters.

A white four-door car was towed from the scene, but it was not clear who it belonged to.

“The Postal Service is saddened at the events that took place today in Memphis,” USPS said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with the family members, friends and coworkers of the individuals involved. The Postal Service will be providing resources to all employees at the East Lamar Carrier Annex in the coming days and weeks.”

The violence follows other shootings in the Memphis area in recent weeks. The franchise owner of a sushi counter inside a Kroger grocery store in the suburb of Collierville fatally shot one person and wounded 14 others before killing himself on Sept. 23, investigators said. A week later, a teenage boy was shot and critically wounded inside a Memphis school and police detained a second boy believed to be the shooter.

Source: AP News

US federal vaccine mandate to be enforced before the end of the year, White House confirms

On September 9, President Biden announced a national vaccine mandate that will apply to federal workers, companies with over 100 employees and government contractors. The rule for private companies is set to be issued by the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Fines for non-compliance could be up to $14,000 per violation, according to The Hill. The mandate will also apply to an additional 17 million healthcare workers at hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to Reuters.

U.S. to open land borders to fully vaccinated people

The United States will allow fully vaccinated legal travelers to enter the country through land borders in Canada and Mexico, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is expected to announce Wednesday.

Beginning early next month, nonessential travelers, such as those entering for tourism or to visit family members, will be required to show proof of Covid vaccination to Customs and Border Protection officers when they cross land borders. A similar, previously announced policy will also take effect at the same time for air travelers entering the U.S.

Around the start of the new year, essential travelers, such as truck drivers crossing U.S. land borders, will also be required to be fully vaccinated. The officials said the delay will allow essential workers time to get vaccinated without disrupting trade.

Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020, only “essential travel” has been allowed across the Canadian and Mexican borders, keeping many family members and loved ones separated. Essential travel, however, has been allowed regardless of vaccination status.

Source: NBC News

Obama to campaign for McAuliffe in tight race for Virginia governor

Former President Barack Obama will join a rally for Terry McAuliffe next week, another sign of the urgency national Democrats feel in Virginia’s gubernatorial race. McAuliffe announced Obama’s visit — scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23, in Richmond — during an appearance Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There’s going to be a lot of excitement,” McAuliffe said. “The stakes are so huge. People don’t understand. They come out in presidential years, but they have to come out in this off-year.”

Virginia holds its election for governor every four years in the year after a presidential election, making the contest both a referendum on the party in the White House and a bellwether for the following year’s midterm races. McAuliffe served as governor from 2014 to 2018, but state law prohibits consecutive terms.

The race is shaping up to be highly competitive. A poll last week from Christopher Newport University placed McAuliffe at 49 percent and Republican Glenn Youngkin at 44 percent, within the 4.2 point margin of error. The same poll in late August found McAuliffe with a 9-point lead.

Obama’s will be the latest in a string of high-profile Democratic assists for McAuliffe. First lady Jill Biden will campaign with McAuliffe on Friday in Henrico County. And Stacey Abrams, a former state legislator in Georgia who became a national figure after losing a close race for governor in 2018, is expected to appear with McAuliffe on Sunday in Norfolk.

Source: NBC

Jon Gruden resigns as Raiders coach over offensive emails

Jon Gruden has resigned as coach of the Las Vegas Raiders after emails he sent before being hired in 2018 contained racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments.

Gruden released a statement Monday night, saying: “I have resigned as head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. I love the Raiders and do not want to be a distraction. Thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, and fans of Raider Nation. I’m sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone.”

He stepped down after The New York Times reported that Gruden frequently used misogynistic and homophobic language directed at Commissioner Roger Goodell and others in the NFL.

Special teams and assistant head coach Rich Bisaccia will take over on an interim basis.

It was a rapid downfall for Gruden, who is in the fourth year of a 10-year, $100 million contract he signed with the Raiders in 2018. It started on Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Gruden used a racist term to describe NFL union chief DeMaurice Smith in a 2011 email to former Washington executive Bruce Allen.

The emails were discovered in a workplace misconduct investigation into the Washington Football Team but ended up costing Gruden his job when they also showed Gruden denounced the drafting of a gay player and the tolerance of players protesting during the playing of the national anthem among other issues.

Gruden apologized for his “insensitive remarks” about Smith, saying they were made out of frustration over the 2011 lockout. But the latest emails sent from between 2011-18 when Gruden was an analyst for ESPN show his use of derogatory language went well beyond that.

A league source confirms the accuracy of the emails and said they were sent to the Raiders last week. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t made the emails public.

Source: AP News