By Kristen Hays and Amanda Orr HOUSTON (Reuters) - Torrential rains have killed at least 15 people in Texas and Oklahoma, including three in Houston where floods turned streets into rivers and led to about 1,000 calls for help in the fourth-most populous U.S. city, officials said on Tuesday. The death toll is set to rise with numerous people still missing in Texas after the storms slammed the states during the Memorial Day weekend, causing record floods that destroyed hundreds of homes, swept away bridges, and even unearthed a coffin from a Houston cemetery. It washed ashore on the banks of a bayou. "A lot of folks drove their car into high water and had to abandon those vehicles," Mayor Annise Parker said at a news conference. Two of the dead in Houston were found in their cars and another was spotted floating in a bayou. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office said six people have died in weather-related incidents over the holiday weekend in the state. Though Parker said parts of the city were unscathed, more than 1,000 vehicles were submerged in the Houston floods and people took instead to bicycles, kayaks and surfboards to navigate water-covered streets. The Houston Fire Department brought about 500 people to safety in boats, local media reports said. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he had assured Texas Governor Greg Abbott that he could count on help from the federal government as the state recovers from the floods. Abbott has declared a state of disaster in at least 40 Texas counties, including Harris County, home to Houston. Abbott said he has deployed the state's National Guard and was worried the death toll could rise. "It's devastating to see what I saw on the Blanco River when this tidal wave of water just swept away neighborhoods," he said, recalling a disaster area in central Texas. Twelve people are confirmed missing and about another 30 are unaccounted for due to flooding that hit along the Blanco River, county officials said. The missing were from two families whose vacation home was swept off its foundation in Wimberley, a town about 30 miles (50 km) southwest of Austin. Search dogs and boats were being used to search for the missing. The river rose so quickly and with such force, it caused a flood gauge to break, Hays County officials said. There was no damage estimate available for the state, which has a $1.4 trillion-a-year economy and is the country's main domestic source of energy as well as an agricultural and manufacturing power. Houston resident Dutch Small, 40, climbed onto the roof of his car when the water came up to his knees inside his vehicle and was eventually rescued by a passing tow truck driver. "It happened so fast. Every person that died in the flooding, I know what was going through their minds. They didn't measure the threat accurately. They were like me," Small told Reuters. The National Weather Service issued tornado and thunderstorm watches for later on Tuesday and said more rain is expected this week in Texas and Oklahoma. One of those killed was an 18-year-old girl whose car was swept away by flood waters as she returned home from her high school prom, police in Devine, Texas, south of San Antonio, said. More than 200 flights had been canceled by early on Tuesday evening at airports in Houston and Dallas, some of the nation's busiest, as blocked roads made it difficult for workers to get to their jobs. A sinkhole also closed a runway at the Dallas/Fort Worth International airport. Roughly 100,000 customers lost power throughout the state after the storm due to high winds and rising waters that caused power poles to snap. In Houston, about 11 inches (28 cm) of rainwater fell on Monday while parts of Austin were hit by as much as 7 inches (18 cm). Helicopter crews in both cities plucked people to safety who had been stranded in cars and on top of buildings. (Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Additional reporting by Terry Wade and Amanda Orr in Houston, Jim Forsyth in San Antonio, Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Bill Trott and Sandra Maler)
- Associated Press
A federal judge in Washington on Friday night halted a plan to release and put on house arrest the Arkansas man photographed sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office during last week's riot at the U.S. Capitol. Richard Barnett will instead be brought to Washington, D.C., immediately for proceedings in his case, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell ordered Friday night, staying a decision by another judge to confine Barnett to his home in Gravette, Arkansas, until his trial. Howell's ruling came hours after U.S. Magistrate Judge Erin Wiedemann in Arkansas set a $5,000 bond for Barnett and ordered that a GPS monitor track his location.
- National Review
Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) warned Friday that one third of Republican voters could leave the party if GOP senators vote in impeachment proceedings to convict President Trump. Paul made the comments in an interview on Fox News’s The Ingraham Angle. The senator’s remarks come amid an increasing divide between congressional Republicans who oppose impeaching the president, and a smaller number who support the measure following the riots at the Capitol on January 6. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) is reportedly hopeful that Republicans can use impeachment to purge Trump from the GOP, although he would need the support of at least 16 additional Republican senators to vote to convict. “Look, I didn’t agree with the [Capitol] fight that happened last week, and I voted against overturning the election, but at the same time, the impeachment is a wrongheaded, partisan notion, [and] if Republicans go along with it, it’ll destroy the party,” Paul said during the interview. “A third of the Republicans will leave the party,” Paul continued. “This isn’t about, anymore, the Electoral College, this is about the future of the party, and whether you’re going to ostracize and excommunicate President Trump from the party. Well, guess what,? Millions of his fans will leave as well.” While a majority of Americans believe Trump should be removed from office immediately, just 17 percent of Republicans support expelling Trump from the presidency, according to an Axios–Ipsos poll released on Thursday. Support for Trump among Republicans has fallen since the Capitol riots, however 60 percent believe the party should continue to follow Trump once he leaves office, an ABC News/Washington Post poll found.
The white woman caught on tape getting into a physical altercation with a Black female security guard the evening before the Capitol riots lost her job at UMass Hospital. The termination occurred after her daughter went viral for exposing her identity on social media. On January 5th, Therese Duke and a group of pro-Trump protesters that included other family members were filmed harassing Ashanti Smith, a security guard working at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington D.C.
Bee Nguyen, Georgia's first Vietnamese American state representative, donned an áo dài to her swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday. Regarded as the most popular national costume of Vietnam, the áo dài for women is a long dress with a contoured top that flows over loose-fitting trousers that reach the sole of the feet. Nguyen, 39, decided to wear the garment in response to the Capitol siege on Jan. 6, in which rioters carried the South Vietnamese flag.
- Associated Press
An Arkansas man was accused Thursday of beating a police officer with a pole flying a U.S. flag during last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents. In an arrest affidavit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, an FBI agent said Peter Francis Stager is shown in video and photographs striking a prone police officer repeatedly with the flagpole after rioters dragged the officer down the Capitol's west stairs. Confidential informants had recognized Stager in riot video and photographs and alerted authorities, who have charged Stager with interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder, according to the affidavit.
- Charlotte Observer
An Army private first class was arraigned on sexual assault charges before a military judge.
- The Week
GOP officials are reportedly worried controversial pro-Trump House members could run for Senate, governor
Georgia and Arizona were two of the most crucial states in this election cycle, and it looks like they'll remain at the forefront of the coming battle within the Republican Party, The New York Times reports.Things have grown tense in the Sun Belt states, where mainstream Republicans are hoping to fend off President Trump's allies. In Arizona, for instance, the state GOP is trying to censure Republican Gov. Doug Ducey — as well as former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Cindy McCain — in part because he has been "deemed insufficiently beholden to Trump," Politico reports. In Georgia, there's a faction on the right that wants to defeat Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who has faced Trump's wrath for not supporting his election conspiracy theories, in a gubernatorial primary in 2022.Both situations reportedly have the more traditional half of the Republican Party concerned — privately, the Times reports, GOP officials are concerned some high-profile members of the House that are considered staunch Trump loyalists who have "propagated fringe conspiracy theories," like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), as well as Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), could launch campaigns for Senate seats and governorships in their states in 2022. So, even as, per USA Today, Republican senators ponder whether to vote to convict President Trump in his upcoming impeachment trial, and then potentially vote to bar him from future public office, their fight against him is seemingly far from over. Read more at The New York Times, Politico, and USA Today.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future
- The Telegraph
Government must 'get a grip' of what is now a full-blown crisis in the fishing industry, say fishermen
Scotland's fishermen have told Boris Johnson his Brexit trade deal leaves them with the "worst of both worlds" amid export delays and collapsing market prices. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Scottish Fishermen's Federation (SFF) said the industry was facing "mounting financial losses" and the only way to ensure a fair price was a 72-hour round trip to land catch in Denmark. Elspeth Macdonald, the trade group's chief executive, said there was "huge disappointment and a great deal of anger about your failure to deliver on promises made repeatedly to this industry." She accused him of having "spun a line" about a 25 per cent uplift in the UK's quota and demanded urgent details of promised compensation for the disruption. Her concerns were echoed by Scotland's seafood processors, who said ministers in both London and Edinburgh need to "get a grip" of the long delays exporters are facing. A third of fishing boats in Scotland are tied up at harbours and the industry is estimated to be losing £1 million per day. Exporters warned they face possible bankruptcy amid a suspension of road deliveries due to border delays. Transport company DFDS stopped exports last week after delays in getting new paperwork introduced following the expiry of the Brexit transition period for EU border posts in France. It aims to resume the service on Monday. Paperwork has to be approved before consignments can be sent to DFDS's warehouse in South Lanarkshire and then on to English Channel ports. In her letter to the Prime Minister, Ms McDonald said: "Many fishing vessels are tied to the quay wall.” She added: "This industry now finds itself in the worst of both worlds. Your deal leaves us with shares that not only fall very far short of zonal attachment, but in many cases fail to ‘bridge the gap’ compared to historic catches, and with no ability to leverage more fish from the EU, as they have full access to our waters. "This, coupled with the chaos experienced since 1st January in getting fish to market means that many in our industry now fear for their future, rather than look forward to it with optimism and ambition."
- Associated Press
A Florida waitress who noticed bruises on an 11-year-old boy flashed him a handwritten note asking him if he needed help, and when he nodded yes, she called the police, authorities said. Orlando police credited Flaviane Carvalho, a waitress at Mrs. Potato Restaurant, with coming to the boy's aid on New Year's Eve when the child’s parents weren’t looking. Police took the boy to a hospital where doctors found bruises on his face, earlobes and arms.
- Architectural Digest
When it came to the lighting in his home, Pardo drew inspiration from the insides of fruits, nuts, and seeds, as well as sea creatures and machine parts.Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- The Independent
National Guard authorised to use lethal force at Capitol as they prepare for potential inauguration protests
Thousands of troops with lethal weapons will be guarding the inauguration as threats of pro-Trump demonstration and attacks intensify
- The Week
A reserve of second-dose COVID-19 vaccines set to be repurposed as first doses is already empty, state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans tell The Washington Post.Both the coronavirus vaccines currently authorized in the U.S. require two doses to be fully effective. So when distribution of first doses began, the Trump administration held back matching second doses to make sure recipients would be fully protected against COVID-19. Amid a massive demand for more doses, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced earlier this week that the department would begin doling out those reserved doses to more people, saying increased production speed would make up for the soon-to-be-depleted reserve.But as officials soon learned, the federal government had stopped stockpiling second dose vaccines weeks ago, they tell the Post. Both first and second doses were instead taken right off the manufacturing line. That meant Azar's announcement reportedly released a stockpile that didn't exist. The U.S. had already reached its maximum distribution capacity, and new doses distributors were expecting next week weren't coming, the Post reports.HHS spokesperson Michael Pratt confirmed in an email to the Post that the last of the reserve had been taken out for shipment this weekend. He didn't acknowledge Azar's comments, but said Operation Warp Speed had "always intended to transition from holding second doses in reserve as manufacturing stabilizes and we gained confidence in the ability for a consistent flow of vaccines." he also said states had only ordered 75 percent of the vaccines available to them. Read more at The Washington Post.More stories from theweek.com 5 more scathing cartoons about Trump's 2nd impeachment Trump's vaccine delay is getting suspicious The worst-case scenario for America's immediate future
The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America. * The NRA then sued James in federal court, accusing her of violating its right to free speech. * Karl Racine, attorney general for Washington, D.C., filed a separate lawsuit in August against the gun lobby and its foundation "for misusing charitable funds to support wasteful spending by the NRA and its executives."What they're saying: "Today, the NRA announced a restructuring plan that positions us for the long-term and ensures our continued success as the nation’s leading advocate for constitutional freedom – free from the toxic political environment of New York," the NRA's Wayne LaPierre said in letter to members and supporters Friday. * "The plan can be summed up quite simply: We are DUMPING New York, and we are pursuing plans to reincorporate the NRA in Texas," LaPierre added. * "Under the plan, the NRA will continue what we’ve always done – confronting anti-gun, anti-self-defense and anti-hunting activities and promoting constitutional advocacy that helps law-abiding Americans." * "Our work will continue as it always has. No major changes are expected to the NRA’s operations or workforce. " LaPierre also claimed Friday that the NRA is "as financially strong as we have been in years," despite the organization laying off or furloughing dozens of employees, canceling its national convention and cutting salaries last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, per AP. * A spokesperson for the NRA said in May that like "every other business and nonprofit, we are forced to make tough choices in this new economic environment," per AP. * In its bankruptcy petition filed in Texas, the NRA listed assets and liabilities of as much as $500 million each, Bloomberg reported. Go deeper: The NRA's dwindling political influenceEditor's note: This story has been updated with additional details. Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.
- Associated Press
In the birthplace of Mexico’s vigilante “self-defense” movement, a new group has emerged entirely made up of women, who carry assault rifles and post roadblocks to fend off what they say is a bloody incursion into the state of Michoacán by the violent Jalisco cartel. The rural area is traversed by dirt roads, through which they fear Jalisco gunmen could penetrate at a time when the homicide rate in Michoacán has spiked to levels not seen since 2013.
- The Telegraph
Wearing a giant furry hat, black leather jacket and a beaming smile, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un introduced “the world’s strongest weapon” – a new submarine-launched ballistic missile – at a nighttime parade on Thursday in Pyongyang. The display of North Korea’s military might followed a rare congress of the ruling Workers' Party, during which leader Kim denounced the United States as his country's “foremost principal enemy” and vowed to strengthen the North’s nuclear war deterrent. On Friday, the reclusive regime’s state media released 100 photos of a mass celebration of the national armory, including tanks and rocket launchers, all flanked by rows of marching soldiers, noticeably not wearing masks. Military aircraft were illuminated by LED lights as they flew overhead in formation. “They’d like us to notice that they’re getting more proficient with larger solid rocket boosters,” tweeted Ankit Panda, a North Korea expert and author of ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb’, as the parade unfolded in Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square. As the spectacle reached its climax, the military rolled out what analysts said appeared to be new variants of solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles – which are more quickly deployed than liquid-fuelled versions - and four Pukguksong-class submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).
- The Independent
Trump will take nuclear football out of DC on his final day in office - and the codes will be deactivated at the stroke of noon
Military officials will have second 45-pound briefcase ready for Joe Biden
- Yahoo News Video
A friendly $100 wager over the 2020 presidential election has landed in a Florida small claims court.
Pfizer will temporarily reduce its deliveries to Europe of its vaccine against COVID-19 while it upgrades its production capacity, the company and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said on Friday. The reduction in deliveries is due to Pfizer limiting output so that it can upgrade production capacity to 2 billion vaccine doses per year from 1.3 billion currently, the FHI said. "It is as yet not precisely clear how long time it will take before Pfizer is up to maximum production capacity again."
A chunk of stimulus payments are missing in action, thanks to a mix up that put as many as 13 million checks into invalid bank accounts.Why it matters: The IRS (by law) was supposed to get all payments out by Friday. Now the onus could shift to Americans to claim the money on their tax refund — further delaying relief to struggling, lower-income Americans.Get smarter, faster with the news CEOs, entrepreneurs and top politicians read. Sign up for Axios Newsletters here.What's going on: The newest COVID-19 relief bill — signed in the final days of 2020 — mandated the $600 payment to those making up to $75,000 per year (or 150,000 for joint filers) get out by Jan. 15. * The fast turnaround meant “some payments may have been sent to an account that may be closed or, is or no longer active, or unfamiliar,” according to the IRS website.To get a sense of the speed: It took 19 days to distribute half the first-round payments last spring, but two-thirds of payments were out the door just a week after the latest bill became law, according to an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. * Billions of those dollars are in the process of being returned to the IRS by tax preparers because of the error, though the IRS would not say how many payments were incorrectly deposited. * Jackson Hewitt estimates funds were deposited in 13 million accounts that were no longer open.How it works: These accounts are typically set up by tax prep companies, most often used by financially constrained taxpayers to get their refunds faster. * Some tax preparers told CNBC that the money would be deposited starting Feb. 1. What’s next: It’s up to those whose payments haven’t been disbursed by today to claim what’s owed on their tax return. * “You can wait until the money shows up, or you’re going to file your return and claim your money there,” Janet Holtzblatt, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center and former official at the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Analysis, tells Axios. * “There’s going to be confusion” about which option to pick.Of note: Any refunds that also claim the earned-income tax credit — which offsets tax bills for lower income workers — can’t be issued before mid-February, prolonging the delay as the Washington Post points out.What to watch: The incoming Biden administration wants to issue another round of direct payments. Depending on the timing, the IRS could be juggling those checks at the height of tax season. * “I can never say with IRS that things are impossible, but it's going to be a challenge to get those payments out during filing season,” Holtzblatt says.You can check the status of your stimulus payment — and whether you can expect it by paper check, debit card or direct deposit — here.Be smart: sign up FREE for the most influential newsletter in America.
- Architectural Digest
The Manhattan-based interior designer preserved the element of gritty New York through a “raw but elevated” renovationOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest