Posts tagged with "CBS News"

Left out in the rain: NASA says Hurricane Nicole peeled patch of insulation off Artemis

November 16, 2022

NASA’s uber-expensive Space Launch System (SLS) Moon rocket— each successful launch of Artemis will cost about $4.1 billion, according to the U.S. space agency—is still out on the pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, having survived hurricane-level wind gusts last week, reports Futurism.

The question is, why was the rocket left out in a tropical storm? Predictions for Hurricane Nicole were that it could bring 75 mph winds during its expected landfall as a Category 1 hurricane along Florida’s east coast. Forecasters said that the upper part of the rocket could see higher wind gusts, possibly above 85 mph.

Now, that its engineers have inspected the spacecraft for damage, Artemis Mission Manager Mike Sarafin says that a ten-foot-long piece of insulation peeled away from the rocket while Hurricane Nicole stormed by, and it’s too late to go in and fix it on the launch pad.

The piece of insulation is designed to minimize aerodynamic heating during ascent where the fairing of the rocket attaches to NASA’s Orion capsule. The strip, a caulk-like material called RTV, peeled off the base of the crew capsule’s protective nose cone.

In short, it’s news that nobody wanted to hear.

“It was an area that was about ten feet in length [on the] windward side where the storm blew through,” said Sarafin, as quoted by CBS News. “It is a very, very thin layer of RTV; it’s about .2 inches or less… in thickness.”

Additionally, according to  ABC News, one of the umbilicals, which attach to the rocket boosters, was exhibiting “erratic signals” and the team may switch to a backup harness.

NASA was forced to again postpone the launch date—this time, from Monday, November 14, to Wednesday, November 16.

NASA’s SLS rocket is currently scheduled to launch at around 1 a.m. (EST) early Wednesday morning, ferrying the capsule into orbit, and allowing it to journey on to the Moon and back.

Where the latest incident leaves that upcoming launch window remains to be seen. NASA’s teams are meeting today to discuss if the rocket is ready for launch.

The weather for a Wednesday launch, at least, is looking good.

“I feel good headed into this attempt on the 16th,” Sarafin told reporters. “The team is moving forward as one unit,” he added. “We’ve just got some work to do.”

Research contact: @futurism

Report: Homemade baby food contains as many toxic metals as store-bought options

August 19, 2022

Making baby food at home with store-bought produce isn’t going to reduce the amount of toxic heavy metals in the food your baby eats, according to a new report discussed on CBS News.

“We found no evidence to suggest that homemade baby foods made from store-bought produce are better than store-bought baby foods when it comes to heavy metal contamination,” said the paper’s coauthor Jane Houlihan, research director for Healthy Babies, Bright Futures.

An alliance of nonprofits, scientists, and donors, HBBF, which produced the report, has a stated mission of reducing babies’ exposures to neurotoxic chemicals.

Researchers tested 288 foods bought at stores and farmers markets nationwide across the United States—including grains, fruits, vegetables, snacks, teething foods, and family items that babies eat, such as cereals and rice cakes—for lead, arsenic, mercury and cadmium. Those heavy metals are among the World Health Organization’s top 10 chemicals of concern for infants and children.

“Toxic metal exposure can be harmful to the developing brain. It’s been linked with problems with learning, cognition, and behavior,” according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Researchers also pored over data from 7,000 additional food tests reported in published studies and by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Results showed that 94% of manufactured baby foods, family foods, and homemade purees made from purchased raw foods contained detectable amounts of one or more heavy metals.

Lead was found in 90% of manufactured baby food bought by shoppers for the report and 80% of store-bought family food and homemade purees. There is no safe level of lead, according to the AAP.

Arsenic was found in 68% store-bought baby food and 72% of family food either purchased or prepared at home. Cadmium was found in 65% of purchased baby food and 60% of family foods, and mercury was in 7% of store-bought baby food and 10% of family foods. (The highest levels of mercury are found in seafood, which was not tested in this analysis.)

The new report is a follow-up to a November 2019 report in which Healthy Babies, Bright Futures tested 168 foods purchased from major baby food manufacturers. That analysis found 95% of store-bought baby food contained lead, 73% contained arsenic, 75% contained cadmium and 32% contained mercury. One-fourth of the foods tested that year contained all four heavy metals.

“After that report we saw so many people saying you can get around this problem by making your own baby food at home, so we decided to check,” Houlihan said. “We suspected we’d find heavy metals in all kinds of food because they’re ubiquitous contaminants in the environment.

“And that is exactly what we found: Heavy metals were in foods from every section of the store,” Houlihan said. “What this says is that as the FDA is setting standards for heavy metals in baby food, they need to go beyond the baby food aisle.”

What’s a parent or caregiver to do? Feed baby with as many different types of foods as possible, said pediatrician Dr. Mark Corkins, chair of the Committee on Nutrition of the American Academy of Pediatrics. He was not involved in the study.

“If you spread foods out, and offer a wide variety of options, you’ll have less toxicity,” Corkins said. “And nutritionally that’s always been the right thing to do to get the most micronutrients from the food you eat.”

The report found buying organic didn’t lower heavy metal levels either, which was “not shocking or surprising,” said Corkins.

“It’s the soil and water that’s contaminated with arsenic and other heavy metals, so it doesn’t matter if it’s organic or traditional farming methods,” Corkins said. That would apply to locally grown crops or even backyard gardens, if the soil had not been verified to be metal-free.

However, buying organic can help avoid other toxins the new report did not consider, such as herbicides and pesticides, said Dr. Leonardo Trasande, director of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health. He was not involved in the study.

“There are other benefits to eating organic food, including a reduction in synthetic pesticides that are known to be as bad for babies, if not even more problematic,” Trasande said.

“We’ve seen multiple studies show significant effects of synthetic pesticides on cognitive function in children as a result of prenatal exposure. We’ve seen images of the brain where certain parts are smaller that are crucial for higher order functioning after exposure,” he added. “A simple step would simply be to say eat organic because regardless of anything we’re talking about in this report, it’s good for you.”

Least contaminated foods

Tested foods with low metal content contain one-eighth as much heavy metal contamination as foods with the highest levels, experts say. These are foods that can be “eaten freely,” the report suggested.

Fresh bananas, with heavy metal levels of 1.8 parts per billion, were the least contaminated of foods tested for the report. That’s an “82-fold difference in average level of total heavy metals” from the most contaminated food, rice cakes, which tested at 147 parts per billion, according to the investigation.

After bananas, the least contaminated foods were grits, manufactured baby food meats, butternut squash, lamb, apples, pork, eggs, oranges, and watermelon, in that order. Other foods with lower levels of contamination included green beans, peas, cucumbers, and soft or pureed home-cooked meats, the report found.

Infant formula made with lead-free tap water was recommended. Tap water that has been tested and is free of lead is always a good choice. Milk is also a good choice, but only for babies 12 months and older.

Some healthy lower-metal foods, such as yogurt, unsweetened applesauce, beans, cheese, hard-boiled eggs and grapes that have been cut lengthwise, were good choices for snacks for babies, according to the report.

Fresh and frozen fruit — including those used in homemade purees — were options as well. But don’t use canned fruits if you can avoid it: “Tests find lead 30 times more often in canned fruit than in fresh and frozen fruit,” the report stated.

Parents and caregivers can also reduce their baby’s exposure to heavy metals by making some smart substitutions, the report said.

Using a frozen banana for a teething baby instead of a rice-based teething biscuit or rice rusk could lower total intake of heavy metals by 95%, according to the report. Another suggested teething aid: peeled and chilled cucumber spears.

Avoid or limit these foods

The most heavily contaminated foods eaten by babies were all rice-based: Rice cakes, rice puffs, crisped rice cereals and brown rice with no cooking water removed are heavily contaminated with inorganic arsenic, which is the more toxic form of arsenic.

Arsenic is a natural element found in soil, water, and air, and because rice is grown in water, it is especially good at absorbing inorganic arsenic. (“Inorganic” is a chemical term and has nothing to do with the method of farming.) Brown and wild rice are the worst offenders, as the bran contains the highest arsenic concentrations.

Prior research has shown that even low levels of inorganic arsenic exposure can impact a baby’s neurodevelopment. A meta-analysis of studies on the topic found a 50% increase in arsenic levels in urine would be associated with a 0.4-point decrease in the IQ of children between the ages of 5 and 15.

Testing by HBBF found rice cakes were the most contaminated with inorganic arsenic, followed by crisped rice cereal, rice-based puffs and brown rice. The report recommended those foods be avoided entirely, unless the brown rice is cooked with extra water that is poured off before consumption (much like pasta). It’s best to do that with all rice, including white and wild rice, the report said, as it can reduce arsenic levels by up to 60%.

Rice-based teething biscuits or rusks and white rice came next on the most contaminated list, the report said. White rice is milled to remove the outer layers, but experts say arsenic levels remain high enough to be concerning, especially if rice is a daily staple.

“Inorganic arsenic averaged 100 parts per billion in brown rice infant cereal and 74 parts per billion in white rice infant cereal in our tests,” Houlihan said. “Baby food companies have taken brown rice cereal off the market because of its high arsenic levels.”

Parents and caregivers can help by staying away from high-arsenic varieties of white rice grown in Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, or simply “U.S.” and, instead, choosing lower-arsenic basmati rice from California, India and Pakistan, as well as sushi rice from the United States, the report said.

Serve these foods rarely

After rice-based foods, the analysis found the highest levels of heavy metals in raisins, non-rice teething crackers, granola bars with raisins and oat-ring cereals. But those were not the only foods of concern: Dried fruit, grape juice, arrowroot teething crackers and sunflower seed butter all contained high amounts of at least one toxic metal, according to the report.

“Many foods have a kind of unique, heavy metal profile,” Houlihan explained. “For example, we saw very high levels of cadmium in things like spinach, leaf lettuce, and peanut butter.”

“As a parent, you don’t know what you’re picking up out of the produce bin,” jane Houlihan said. “Is it elevated because of the cultivar—the particular type of sweet potato or carrot? Or is it elevated because it’s grown in an area where the soil has naturally high levels of lead?

Answering these questions will be the responsibility of government regulators and industry, Houlihan said. The FDA has a Closer to Zero campaign, for example, which could take on the issue.

“And remember, if you’re protecting the basic ingredients that parents are using to make food at home, you’re not only protecting babies and toddlers, you’re protecting pregnant women as well. Babies in utero are particularly vulnerable to toxins while the brain is growing at such a rapid pace.”

With no way of knowing levels of toxic metals in the soil where produce is grown, parents and caregivers need to add one more step to their efforts to avoid these substances, Houlihan suggested. In addition to mixing up the variety of foods and not serving the same options each day, parents can “choose different brands or varieties of foods or shop in different stores from week to week to avoid choosing a high-metal source regularly.”

Research contact: @CBSNews

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki plans to leave for an on-air role at MSNBC

April 4, 2022

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, is planning to leave her post to take an on-air role at MSNBC, a source familiar with the matter told CNBC on April 1.

Psaki, who is still fleshing out details with the company, is expected to leave the White House around May, Axios reported earlier Friday.

Psaki will host a show for NBCUniversal’s streaming platform, Peacock, Axios reported. She had reportedly also been in talks with CNN and other networks.

Psaki did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

“We don’t have anything to confirm about Jen’s length of planned service or any consideration about future plans,” a White House official told CNBC in an email. “Jen is here and working hard every day on behalf of the president to get you the answers to the questions that you have, and that’s where her focus is.”

News networks have long looked to recruit spokespeople and other high-profile Beltway figures for their day-to-day political coverage, both as anchors and regular contributors.

Longtime ABC News host George Stephanopoulos, for instance, was formerly the White House communications director under President Bill Clinton. MSNBC political analyst and host Nicolle Wallace was a senior spokesperson for the George W. Bush administration and a spokesperson for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Last March, former President Donald Trump’s final Press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, joined Fox News as a commentator. More recently, CBS News signed ex-Trump official Mick Mulvaney as a paid contributor.

Research contact: @CNBC

Justice Thomas’ wife Ginni and Mark Meadows swapped 29 deranged texts after Trump’s loss

March 28, 2022

In the weeks after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, outgoing White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ phone blew up with texts from Ginni Thomas, a conservative activist and wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who urged him over and over again to keep trying to overturn the results, reports The Daily Beast.

“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!!” she texted, going on to call Biden’s win “the greatest Heist of our History.” The trove of texts, 29 in all, were among 2,320 texts Meadows provided to the House select panel probing the Capitol riot.

All 29 texts were obtained by CBS News and The Washington Post on Thursday, March 24.

  “This is a fight of good versus evil,” Meadows wrote to Thomas in a message. “Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs… The fight continues.”

In another, Thomas cited a deranged belief that the “Biden crime family & ballot fraud co-conspirators” were being arrested and “will be living in barges off GITMO to face military tribunals for sedition.”

Panel members have said the messages could be just a fraction of the communications between Meadows, who is not cooperating with the panel, and Thomas.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

NYC announces first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for private companies

December 7, 2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced what he called a first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for private companies on Monday, December 6, reports the local CBS-TV affiliate.

“This is how we put health and safety first by ensuring there is a vaccine mandate that reaches everyone universally in the private sector,” de Blasio said. “We’re going to do this so that every employer is on a level playing field, one universal standard.”

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi said that, while the city is monitoring, the Omicron variantDelta cases have been going up in every borough since early November.

“Vaccines work, and vaccine mandates work—particularly when joined with efforts to build vaccine confidence, provide incentives, and improve access, as we have in New York City,” he added. “We’ve seen this with our health care workers, school staff, and public employees. Now it’s time for the private sector to step up and follow suit.”

The mayor said that the city will release specific rules on December 15, before the mandate takes effect on December 27.

New York City previously imposed vaccine mandates for city workers, but this would be the first-of-its-kind for private employees.

Mayor-elect Eric Adams said he will “evaluate” the mandate when he gets into office.

Research contact: @CBSNews

To boldly go: William Shatner sets record in space with Blue Origin sub-orbital flight

October 14, 2021

William Shatner, the 90-year-old veteran of countless imaginary space voyages playing Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, blasted off for real Wednesday, October 13,—becoming the oldest person to reach the final frontier in a PR bonanza for Jeff Bezos and his rocket company Blue Origin, reports CBS News.

Over the course of about 11 minutes, Shatner and three crewmates took off atop a hydrogen-fueled rocket, climbed to edge of space more than 62 miles up and enjoyed three to four minutes of weightlessness, along with spectacular views of Earth, before plunging back to a gentle parachute-assisted touchdown.

“It was so moving to me,” Shatner said after landing. “This experience is something unbelievable.”

He said he was overwhelmed, and that Bezos has given him the most profound experience he can imagine. “I’m so filled with emotion about what just happened … it’s extraordinary,” he told Bezos.

“I hope I never recover from this. I hope that I can maintain what I feel now,” he said. “I don’t want to lose it.”

The flight marked only the second crewed launch of a New Shepard capsule since Bezos, his brother Mark, 82-year-old aviation pioneer Wally Funk, and Dutch teenager Oliver Daemen took off on July 20 on the company’s first such flight.

Shatner eclipsed Funk’s age record by eight years and John Glenn’s mark before that by 13.

“I want to see space, I want to see the Earth, I want to see what we need to do to save Earth,” Shatner told Gayle King on “CBS Mornings” before launch. “I want to have a perspective that hasn’t been shown to me before. That’s what I’m interested in seeing.”

Boshuizen and de Vries paid undisclosed sums for their seats aboard the New Shepard spacecraft, but Shatner was an invited guest of Blue Origin. Powers, a former NASA flight controller who is now Blue Origin vice president of flight operations, flew as a company representative.

While the New Shepard rocket and capsule are only capable of up-and-down sub-orbital flights, Shatner and his crewmates endured the same liftoff accelerations space shuttle astronauts once felt—about three times the normal force of gravity — and even higher “G loads” during descent back into the lower atmosphere.

Even so, Shatner and his crewmates were considered passengers, not astronauts, aboard the automated New Shepard. But professional astronauts nonetheless welcomed them to the brotherhood of space travelers.

I’m impressed. I mean, he’s 90 years old and showing that somebody at his age can actually fly to space,” Matthias Maurer, a European Space Agency astronaut launching to the International Space Station at the end of the month, told CBS News.

“Even if it’s, let’s say, just a sub-orbital flight, I’m highly impressed, and I wish him all the best. Hopefully it will be the experience of a lifetime. And yeah, I hope many more people will follow his steps and also experience space.”

Blue Origin’s 18th New Shepard flight began at 10:49 a.m. (EDT) when the BE-3 engine powering the company’s 53-foot-tall booster ignited with a roar, throttled up to 110,000 pounds of thrust and lifted off from Launch Site One at the company’s West Texas launch site near Van Horn.

Climbing straight up, the booster quickly accelerated as it consumed propellant and lost weight, reaching a velocity of about 2,200 mph and an altitude of some 170,000 feet before engine shutdown.

The New Shepard capsule then separated from the booster at an altitude of about 45 miles and both continued climbing upward on ballistic trajectories, but rapidly slowing.

The onset of weightlessness began shortly after separation. All four passengers were free to unstrap and float about as the capsule reached the top of its trajectory and arced over for the long fall back to Earth. The New Shepard capsule is equipped with some of the largest windows in a currently flying spacecraft, giving Shatner, de Vries, Boshuizen and Powers picture-window views of Earth far below.

Plunging back into the dense lower atmosphere, the passengers, back in their padded, reclining seats, were briefly subjected to more than five times the normal force of gravity before three large parachutes deployed and inflated, slowing the craft to about 15 mph, CBS News reports.

An instant before touchdown, compressed-air thrusters were programmed to fire, slowing the ship to just 2 mph or so for landing.

A few minutes earlier, the New Shepard booster flew itself back to a pinpoint landing a few miles away, reigniting its BE-3 engine, deploying four landing legs and settling to a concrete landing pad. Assuming no problems are found, the rocket will be refurbished and prepared for another flight.

The mission marked the sixth piloted commercial, non-government sub-orbital spaceflight in a high-stakes competition between Bezos’ Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Power play: Putin signs law enabling him to serve two more terms as Russia’s president

April 6, 2021

On April 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin—who already has served two decades as his nation’s leader—signed into law a change to the country’s constitution that will allow him to run for two more six-year terms; thereby granting himself the chance to remain in power until 2036, CBS News reports.

A copy of the new law was posted on the government’s legal information website on Monday, confirming that the legislation—the success of which was really never in doubt — had been finalized. Prior to the new law, Putin would have been required to step down after his fourth and current term in 2024. 

But in March last year, Valentina Tereshkova, a lawmaker from Putin’s ruling party, proposed the constitutional change during a discussion in the State Duma (congress). After Tereshkova, who is a Soviet cosmonaut and was the first woman to go to space, suggested the amendment, Putin himself showed up in the parliament building and offered his backing for the idea, undermining earlier speculation that he might seek to maintain power by taking another role.

In principle, CBS notes, this option would be possible, but on one condition,” Putin told lawmakers in a televised speech a year ago. “If the constitutional court gives an official ruling that such an amendment would not contradict the principles and main provisions of the constitution.”

Putin said then that the Russian president was “the guarantor of the country’s security and domestic stability” and that the country should avoid political upheavals. “Russia has fulfilled its plan when it comes to revolutions,” he said.

In July last year, Russians were given the opportunity to vote on a raft of constitutional reforms, including the change to the limit on presidential terms. Other measures included a proposed ban on same-sex marriages, new language mentioning for the first time the importance of “faith in God,” and measures meant to protect “traditional family values” and forbidding top officials from holding dual citizenship.

Russians could either vote for or against the whole package of changes, but there was little doubt even as ballots were cast about the outcome. The vote was seen widely as an effort to demonstrate Putin’s broad support in the country.

Political opposition leader and outspoken Putin critic Alexey Navalny—who is currently on hunger strike as he serves a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges he insists are politically motivate— criticized the vote last summer as a populist spectacle designed to give the Russian leader the right to be “president for life.”

“I know that in two years, instead of working normally at all levels of the state, all eyes will be on the search for potential successors,” Putin said in an interview with state-run television last year. “We must work and not look for successors.”

He’s said at the time that he might consider running for a fifth term, but insisted that he hadn’t yet made a final decision.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Protection for primates: Great apes at San Diego Zoo receive COVID-19 vaccine

March 5, 2021

Several gorillas, orangutans and bonobos at the San Diego Zoo have received an experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed specifically for animals since January. They are the first-known non-humans to get the shot, CBS News reports.

An orangutan named Karen—who made history in 1994 as the first ape in the world to have open-heart surgery—was among those who received the vaccine, according to National Geographic.

Last month, Karen, along with three other orangutans and five bonobos at the zoo, received two doses each of the vaccine, which was developed by the global veterinary pharmaceutical company Zoetis.

“This isn’t the norm. In my career, I haven’t had access to an experimental vaccine this early in the process and haven’t had such an overwhelming desire to want to use one,” Nadine Lamberski, chief conservation and wildlife health officer at the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, told Nat Geo.

The decision to vaccinate the apes came after Frank, a 12-year-old gorilla at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park tested positive for coronavirus—and then the whole group of eight western lowland gorillas got sick in January. They all are in recovery now.

Infections also have been confirmed in dogscatsminktigers, lions and several other species around the world, reports CBS News. However, great apes are a particular concern among conservationists.

All species of gorillas are listed as endangered or critically-endangered on the IUCN Red List, with “susceptibility to disease” as one of the main threats. Infections spread rapidly among the animals, who live in close familial groups.

COVID-19 has the potential to wipe out populations of gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans and bonobos if humans don’t take steps to prevent its spread, experts have warned.

Zoetis started development on a COVID-19 vaccine for dogs and cats after the first dog tested positive for the virus in Hong Kong over a year ago, notes CBS.  The vaccine was deemed safe and effective in October—but testing had only been done in dogs and cats.

Still, Lamberski decided vaccinating the great apes was worth the risk. She told National Geographic that they haven’t suffered any adverse reactions and will soon be tested for antibodies to determine if the shots were a success. 

“It’s not like we randomly grab a vaccine and give it to a novel species,” she said. “A lot of thought and research goes into it—what’s the risk of doing it and what’s the risk of not doing it? Our motto is, above all, to do no harm.”

Lamberski said that, because vaccines are made for a specific pathogen and not a specific species, it’s common to give a vaccine meant for one species to another. Apes at the zoo get flu and measles vaccines developed for humans.

A spokesperson for Zoetis told National Geographic that other U.S. zoos have requested doses of the vaccine for their own great apes. The company expects more to be available in June.

Research contact: @CBSNews

Going, going … Donald Trump plans early adieu on Inauguration Day

January 19, 2021

Donald Trump will be clinging to the last vestiges of his presidency—thousands of feet in the air and hours before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration—on Wednesday, January 20, The Huffington Post reports.

The outgoing president is taking Air Force One home to Florida while he still can—arriving there before Biden is sworn in around noon, according to CBS News.

As it stands now, Trump is “scheduled to land in West Palm Beach at 11a.m. (ET) Wednesday morning with just 1 hour left in his Presidency. He no longer has access to Air Force One as of noon that day,CBS’s Ben Tracy tweeted Sunday.

Trump would no longer be deemed the commander-in-chief after noon and the plane would lose its “Air Force One” call sign―which Trump wanted to avoid, NBC News noted earlier.

Usually, the HuffPost noted, presidents depart on another government jet to begin civilian life.

The White House sent out invitations for Trump’s departure event at Joint Base Andrews, which begins at 8 a.m. (ET), Bloomberg reported. Guests can bring up to five other people, must wear masks and should arrive between 6 a.m. and 7:15 a.m, Bloomberg said after viewing one of the invites.

Trump has requested the red-carpet treatment with a 21-gun salute and military band, reports noted.

His helicopter goodbye from the White House’s South Lawn is expected to be a low-key affair. Some White House aides will be there to send off Marine One and attendance will be “limited,” Bloomberg reported. Heightened security around the inauguration and the White House following the Capitol insurrection curtailed the size.

Trump, the only president to be impeached twice and the only president in modern history to not attend his successor’s inauguration, will likely spend the rest of the day at his Mar-a-Lago club.

Palm Beach police recently warned residents that the Secret Service would have a “final road closure near Mar-a-Lago” on January 20 and would be closed for several days, CBS in Miami reported.

“Beyond this, we do not foresee any future road closures related to the presence of a former President,” police wrote.

Research contact: @HuffPost

As COVID-19 rages, Trump asks Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare

June 29,2020

The number of confirmed new coronavirus cases per day in the United States hit an all-time high of 40,000 on Friday, June 26—eclipsing the mark set during one of the deadliest stretches in late April, CBS News reports; noting that there is “ample evidence” that the pandemic is making a comeback.

Yet, even so, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court late on June 25 to terminate the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare—the only health insurance to which many Americans have access. If the justices agree, they will wipe out coverage for as many as 23 million Americans, The New York Times reports.

In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before a midnight deadline, the Administration joined Republican officials in 18 states in arguing that, in 2017, the largely Republican Congress had rendered the law unconstitutional when it zeroed out the tax penalty for not buying insurance—the so-called individual mandate.

In his brief, Solicitor General Noel J. Francisco maintained that the health law’s two remaining central provisions are now invalid because Congress intended that all three work together, the Times said.

The court has not said when it will hear oral arguments, but they are most likely to take place in the fall, just as Americans are preparing to go to the polls in November.

Republicans have long said their goal is to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act but have yet to agree on an alternative. They are bracing for the possibility that the effort to overturn the health law will cost them, according to the Times report.

Joel White, a Republican strategist, said in a recent interview with the news outlet that he considered it “pretty dumb to be talking about how we need to repeal Obamacare in the middle of a pandemic.”

Democrats, who view health care a winning issue—and who reclaimed the House majority in 2018 on their promise to expand access and bring down costs—are trying to use the Supreme Court case to press their advantage. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has scheduled a vote for Monday, June 29, on a measure to expand the healthcare law, in an effort to draw a sharp contrast between Democrats and Republicans.

“President Trump and the Republicans’ campaign to rip away the protections and benefits of the Affordable Care Act in the middle of the coronavirus crisis is an act of unfathomable cruelty,” Pelosi said in a statement late Thursday night, after the administration’s brief was filed.

“If President Trump gets his way,” she added, “130 million Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the A.C.A.’s lifesaving protections and 23 million Americans will lose their health coverage entirely.”

Research contact: @nytimes