November 29, 2020 7:52 am
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Faulting inaction in Washington, governors and state lawmakers are racing to get pandemic relief to small-business owners, the unemployed, renters and others whose livelihoods have been upended by the widening coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, elected officials are spending the last of a federal relief package passed in the spring as an end-of-year deadline approaches and the fall COVID-19 surge threatens their economies anew. Democrats have been the most vocal in criticizing President Donald Trump and the GOP-controlled Senate for failing to act, but many Republican lawmakers are also sounding the alarm. Underscoring the need for urgency, the number of new COVID-19 cases reported in the United States reached 205,557 on Friday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University – the first time its daily figure topped the 200,000 mark. Its previous daily high was 196,000 on Nov. 20. The total number of cases reported in the U.S., since the first one in January, has topped 13 million.
November 29, 2020 7:58 am
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former Trump campaign associate who was the target of a secret surveillance warrant during the FBI’s Russia investigation says in a federal lawsuit that he was the victim of “unlawful spying.” The suit from Carter Page alleges a series of omissions and errors made by FBI and Justice Department officials in applications they submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to eavesdrop on Page on suspicion that he was an agent of Russia. “Since not a single proven fact ever established complicity with Russia involving Dr. Page, there never was probable cause to seek or obtain the FISA Warrants targeting him on this basis,” the lawsuit says, using the acronym for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Page has received death and kidnapping threats and has suffered economic losses and “irreparable damage to his reputation,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal court in Washington. The lawsuit to some extent echoes the conclusions of a Justice Department inspector general report that found significant problems with the four applications. Former FBI and Justice Department leaders who were involved in signing off on the surveillance have since testified they wouldn’t have done so had they known of the extent of the issues, and the FBI has initiated more than 40 corrective steps aimed at improving the accuracy and thoroughness of applications.
November 29, 2020 7:56 am
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis, joined by the church’s newest cardinals in Mass on Sunday, warned against mediocrity as well as seeking out “godfathers” to promote one’s own career. Eleven of the 13 new cardinals sat near the central altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, where Francis on Saturday had bestowed upon them the red hats symbolizing they are now so-called princes of the church. Two of the new cardinals couldn’t make it to Rome because of pandemic travel complications. The freshly-minted cardinals who did come to the Vatican wore protective masks and purple vestments, as the Church began the solemn liturgical season of Advent in the run-up to Christmas. In his homily, Francis decried what he called “a dangerous kind of sleep: it is the slumber of mediocrity.” He added that Jesus “above all else detests lukewarm-ness.”
November 29, 2020 7:59 am
LONDON (AP) — The British government appointed a vaccines minister on Saturday as it prepares to inoculate millions of people against the coronavirus, potentially starting within days. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Conservative lawmaker Nadhim Zahawi will oversee the country’s biggest vaccine program in decades. The U.K. medicines regulator is currently assessing two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca — to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7, if it receives approval.
November 29, 2020 7:54 am
LONDON (AP) — Dave Prowse, the British weightlifter-turned-actor who was the body, though not the voice, of arch-villain Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” trilogy, has died. He was 85. Prowse died Saturday after a short illness, his agent Thomas Bowington said Sunday. Born in Bristol, southwest England, in 1935, Prowse was a three-time British weightlifting champion and represented England in weightlifting at the 1962 Commonwealth Games before breaking into movies with roles that emphasized his commanding size, including Frankenstein’s monster in a pair of Hammer Studios horror films. Director George Lucas saw Prowse in a small part in “A Clockwork Orange” and asked the 6-foot-6-inch (almost 2-meter) actor to audition for the villainous Vader or the Wookie Chewbacca in “Star Wars.” Prowse later told the BBC he chose Darth Vader because “you always remember the bad guys.”
November 29, 2020 7:44 am
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s highest court on Saturday night threw out a lower court’s order preventing the state from certifying dozens of contests on its Nov. 3 election ballot in the latest lawsuit filed by Republicans attempting to thwart President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the battleground state. The state Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, threw out the three-day-old order, saying the underlying lawsuit was filed months after the expiration of a time limit in Pennsylvania’s expansive-year-old mail-in voting law allowing for challenges to it. Justices also remarked on the lawsuit’s staggering demand that an entire election be overturned retroactively. “They have failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted,” Justice David Wecht wrote in a concurring opinion. The state’s attorney general, Democrat Josh Shapiro, called the court’s decision “another win for Democracy.” President Donald Trump and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, meanwhile, have repeatedly and baselessly claimed that Democrats falsified mail-in ballots to steal the election from Trump. Biden beat Trump by more than 80,000 votes in Pennsylvania, a state Trump had won in 2016. The week-old lawsuit, led by Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of northwestern Pennsylvania, had challenged the state’s mail-in voting law as unconstitutional.
November 29, 2020 7:48 am
JEANNETTE, Pa. (WPXI) – Shortly before 6:40 a.m. Saturday, an in-flight emergency prompted an aircraft with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 171st Air Refueling Wing to make an emergency landing Saturday, which required the dumping of fuel over Westmoreland County. According to a release, the crew reported smoke in the cockpit which required an immediate emergency landing of the KC-135 Strato-tanker. The fuel was dumped over Westmoreland County per emergency protocols, the release states, out of necessity to lighten the weight of the aircraft and ensure a safe landing. The plane safely landed at Pittsburgh International Airport. The 171st Air Refueling Wing is cooperating with appropriate agencies to ascertain the effects and required follow-up actions to address the dumped fuel, according to the release.
November 29, 2020 2:00 am
The Pennsylvania Department of Health announced Saturday that they have added 8,053 new cases of the coronavirus over the past 24 hours, bringing the statewide total to 351,667. County-specific information and a statewide map are available here. Saturday, there were 10,275 total deaths attributed to COVID-19, reflecting an increase of 41 new deaths over that same period. In nursing and personal care homes, there are 32,915 resident cases of COVID-19, and 1,232 cases among employees, for a total of 39,381 at 1,232 distinct facilities in 63 counties. Out of our total deaths, 6,430 have occurred in residents from nursing or personal care facilities. Approximately 14,198 of our total cases are among health care workers. Washington County added 139 new infections for a total of 4,511 cases of COVID-19. There were no new deaths reported Saturday, leaving the county’s death toll to 70. Allegheny County added 663 new cases for a total of 27,484, and with the addition of 1 new deaths Saturday, the county’s death toll rose to 505. Greene County added 22 new cases for a total of 732. No new deaths were added Saturday, leaving the death toll at five. Across the United States, COVID-19 cases have now surpassed thirteen million and more than two-hundred-and sixty-three-thousand people have died. Mask wearing is MANDATORY in all businesses until further notice and residents are REQUIRED to wear a facial covering in public places. Employees of those businesses are REQUIRED to wear a mask as well.
November 29, 2020 2:00 am
The 2020 Two-Thousand Turkeys Campaign turned out to be a smashing success! Far exceeding its goal of one-hundred-thousand-dollars. The grand total for this years fundraiser; $207,863. The fundraiser is a grassroots effort supported by local businesses, organizations and individuals whose donations put a turkey dinner on the table of families being served each month by the Greater Washington County Food Bank. This year, the need is great. An estimated 29,000 people in Washington County are food-insecure, and about half of those are served by the food bank. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, dependence on the food bank has increased. By summer, requests for food skyrocketed 150% since the onset of the pandemic. Donations are still being accepted through the Washington County Food Bank’s website at gwcfb.org. You’ll find a listing for 2000 Turkeys. Just click on the link and make your donation. You can also mail your donation to “2000 Turkeys, P.O. Box 2000, Washington, PA, 15301.” Co-sponsored by WJPA Radio and the Observer-Reporter, 2000 Turkeys has been around since the early 1980s, when it was launched to help feed the underemployed and unemployed during the holiday. The 2000 Turkeys campaign is the largest fundraiser for the food bank.
November 28, 2020 10:17 am
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s supreme leader is calling for “definitive punishment” of those behind killing of a scientist linked to Tehran’s disbanded military nuclear program. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made the comment Saturday in a statement carried on his official website. Khamenei called Mohsen Fakhrizadeh “the country’s prominent and distinguished nuclear and defensive scientist.” Iranian officials have blamed Israel for the killing. Israel, long suspected of killing scientists a decade ago amid tensions over Tehran’s nuclear program, has yet to comment on the killing Friday. The slaying threatens to renew tensions between the U.S. and Iran.