Sunday TODAY’s Willie Geist runs through the Highs and Lows of the week, including the thrill-seekers in the U.K. who got stuck at the top of a roller coaster and had to take the stairs all the way down and, the grandparents reuniting with their grandchildren after more than a year
Scientists have recorded a rise in nuclear activity in the destroyed nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine since it was covered over in 2017, but the rise has levelled off and does not exceed safety standards, staff said on Wednesday. Staff at the plant said the rise in "neutron flux density", which if significant could indicate an uncontrolled nuclear reaction, did not pose a threat of such an event based on their mathematical models. "After the establishment of a new safe confinement which has been in the designed position for more than four years, an increase in the neutron flux density is actually observed," scientists at Ukraine's Institute For Safety Problems Of Nuclear Power Plants said in a statement.
Chauvin - the white former officer convicted in Minnesota state court of murdering Floyd, a Black man - is scheduled to be sentenced on multiple murder and manslaughter convictions on June 25. In a six-page ruling dated Tuesday, District Court Judge Peter Cahill found that prosecutors had proven Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority, treated Floyd with particular cruelty, committed the crime as a group and did so with children present, all aggravating factors.
A Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday plans to interrogate former security officials from Donald Trump's administration on failures to avert the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, saying signs of looming danger had been in "plain sight." "The federal government was unprepared for this insurrection, even though it was planned in plain sight on social media for the world to see," said Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Oversight Committee, at the start of a hearing examining the security failures. Maloney's committee will hear testimony from two men in high-ranking positions during the closing weeks of the Trump administration, former acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller and former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.
- Business Insider
Bill Gates is reportedly hiding out in his mansion at a billionaires' golf club in California that costs $250,000 to join
Bill Gates has been at his $12.5 million mansion at The Vintage Club for about three months, a source told Page Six. Membership costs $250,000.
- Business Insider
All but one Republican lawmaker left the floor during Liz Cheney's speech against Trump, CNN reports
Rep. Liz Cheney gave a speech on the House floor blasting Trump and Republican lawmakers over false election claims.
- Business Insider
More than 120 retired generals and admirals wrote to Biden suggesting he wasn't legitimately elected and questioning his mental health
The letter published by "Flag Officers 4 America" appeared to advance a false conspiracy theory that the 2020 election was illegitimate.
A judge found aggravating factors in George Floyd's death that could mean a longer sentence for Derek Chauvin
Aggravating factors in George Floyd's death call for a sentence that surpasses sentencing guidelines, Judge Peter Cahill found.
Alex Rodriguez says 'go Yankees' in response to question about Jennifer Lopez dating Red Sox fan Ben Affleck
Rodriguez is a former Yankees star. And Affleck once shut down the production of "Gone Girl" for four days because he refused to wear a Yankees cap.
- Associated Press
FBI agents were at a large Hindu temple in New Jersey on Tuesday as a new lawsuit claimed it was built by workers from marginalized communities in India who were lured to the U.S. and forced to work long hours for just a few dollars per day. The lawsuit accuses the leaders of the Hindu organization known as Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha, or BAPS, of human trafficking and wage law violations. An FBI spokesperson confirmed that agents were at the temple on “court-authorized law enforcement activity,” but wouldn't elaborate.
- The Independent
Democrats calls out Cruz for misstating the facts
- Business Insider
Donald Trump Jr.'s ex-wife and Tiffany Trump became 'inappropriately close' to Secret Service agents, new book says
Tiffany Trump spent "an unusual amount of time alone with a Secret Service agent on her detail" after she broke up with a boyfriend, the book says.
- Raleigh News and Observer
“There were so many shots that we had difficulty in counting the number.”
- USA TODAY
Carnival Cruise Line aims for July restart from Florida and Texas, cancels other sailings through July
Carnival Cruise Line announced Tuesday that it is planning to restart its U.S. operations with 3 ships sailing out of ports in Texas and Florida.
- The Week
Despite its standing as the world's most vaccinated country, the 115-island archipelago Seychelles is seeing a dramatic resurgence in COVID-19 transmission, bringing its daily case rate to "a higher number of infections per capita than India," The Wall Street Journal reports. To date, approximately 67 percent of Seychelles' population is vaccinated — the majority of those citizens received Chinese vaccine Sinopharm, while the remainder received Covishield, a derivative of AstraZeneca's shot manufactured in India. But according to the island nation's health ministry, "more than one third of new active cases are people who are fully vaccinated." Authorities have not yet disclosed how many of the new cases are among Sinopharm recipients, but "the situation is being watched all over the world for what it says about the effectiveness of vaccines," writes the Journal. On Friday, the World Health Organization cleared the Sinopharm shot for emergency, global use, despite little data on its efficacy in patients over 60. According to the Journal, the authorization is expected to help "alleviate a severe shortage of doses in the developing world, as vaccine exports from COVID-19-struck India grind to a halt." To help curb the spread of infections, the Seychelles government recently instituted new preventative measures, such as early bar closures and bans on household intermingling. The good news, however, is most of Seychelle's cases appear to be mild, said Kate O' Brien, director of immunizations, vaccines and biologicals at the World Health Organization. "The Sinopharm vaccine really requires two doses," she added, "and some of the cases that are being reported are occurring either soon after a single dose, or soon after a second dose." More stories from theweek.comAn anti-vax conspiracy theory is apparently making anti-maskers consider masking up, social distancingTed Cruz walks out of gun violence hearing after failing to change the subjectThe top 4 congressional leaders are headed to the White House for the 1st time since 2019
- The Week
During a Senate Judiciary Committee on "ghost guns" (firearms made at home that lack a serial number) on Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) tried to change the subject to a debate about police funding. "If you don't support abolishing the police, why do you keep voting for nominees who advocate abolishing the police?," Cruz asked his Democratic colleagues, referring to Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Kristen Clarke, whom President Biden has nominated to run the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) responded to Cruz's attempted diversion by telling him his words were "a complete distortion of [Gupta's and Clarke's] positions" before adding that "we're not here to talk about those nominees. If you want to stay, we can do it at the end of the hearing, but right now we're gonna move on." Cruz was next seen getting up and walking out of the room, and though the timing was conspicuous, he left to attend another overlapping committee meeting. "As you well know, Senator Cruz, that is a complete distortion of their positions" -- Sen. Blumenthal (you can then see Cruz walking out of the gun violence hearing) pic.twitter.com/y9eHZFbwnY — Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2021 This story has been updated to include Cruz's explanation for leaving the hearing. More stories from theweek.comAn anti-vax conspiracy theory is apparently making anti-maskers consider masking up, social distancingThe top 4 congressional leaders are headed to the White House for the 1st time since 2019Democrats are fiddling while Republicans prepare to burn down Rome
- USA TODAY
The conference chair is the third-ranking position among House Republicans. Liz Cheney was elected to it, then removed from it, by her peers.
- The Daily Beast
Carlos Gil/GettyROME—Last week, Salvatore Martello, the mayor of the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, which is just 8 square miles in area, bragged that his island was nearly COVID-free after all of its residents would soon be fully vaccinated.Now, islanders are panicking after more than 2,000 migrants and refugees from all over unvaccinated Africa started arriving in smugglers’ boats on Saturday. By Sunday, 20 boats in all had arrived, carrying some 2,000 desperate souls who had somehow skirted the Libyan Coast Guard and made it all the way across the calm sea.Migrants Rescued at Sea Between Death and HopeLocal business owners voiced concerns that the arrival of migrants en masse has already scared off many people planning their holidays. The owner of the Hotel Baja Turchese said he had received several cancellations by people who were coming because they thought the island would be COVID-free.“The migrants change the dynamic, because even if they have to quarantine and get tested, they have already potentially brought the virus back to the island,” he told The Daily Beast.But many of the asylum-seekers escaping to the island had no choice but to flee the poverty, violence, and persecution they faced in their home countries.On Monday, most of the migrants had been processed and, based on their interviews, were primarily from sub-Saharan Africa, including countries like Eritrea and Somalia that have not yet received a single dose of anti-COVID vaccines. Others were migrant workers who had been laboring in the oil fields of conflict-ridden Libya, where they suffered through consistent wage theft, discrimination and waves of violent civil strife.Because the tiny reception center on the island is not conducive to social distancing, most were made to sleep on the hot pavement under the scorching sun in the dock area to avoid potentially infecting islanders. Until Sunday, the migrant center had been empty for nearly two years.“The situation on Lampedusa is literally explosive,” Domenico Pianese, a police official, said in a statement to local media. “If we have another day like yesterday, with an incessant succession of disembarking, it won’t be possible to manage public and health safety.”The island, which is closer to North Africa than Europe, has long been a magnet for migrants who have crashed their rickety blue fishing boats onto its rocky shores. The island hit a near breaking point in 2011, when thousands of people escaping Arab Spring violence in North Africa arrived.Libya’s Migrant ‘Holding Areas’ Have Become Death CampsBut in 2014, when NGO rescue boats started patrolling the seas after Italy’s government-sponsored Mare Nostrum rescue mission ended, boats carrying migrants were often intercepted and rarely made it to Lampedusa, allowing the island to beef up its tourism industry. This summer, they were hoping for a windfall with stir-crazy Europeans looking for remote beaches and guaranteed sun.It is unclear if Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s recent trip to Libya in any way changed the Libyan Coast Guard’s response to the latest exodus. Italy has trained and funded the Libyan coastguards and supplied them with boats, even as they have been accused of—and caught on video committing—horrific human rights abuses, including shooting at and leaving migrants to drown.When they are intercepted by Libyan coastguards, the migrants are usually taken to squalid detention centers until smugglers, working with complicit guards, try to get them across the sea again. On Monday, the Libyan coastguards stopped some 600 migrants on several smuggler ships from departing, according to UNHCR.The migrants and refugees that arrived will all have to quarantine and be tested, Martello says, and many will isolate on ferries docked off the island or be shuttled to the considerably larger land mass of Sicily. A massive ship is on its way to the island to offer additional accommodation. The bulk of the tests should be done by the end of the week. No COVID test results have yet been released.So far this year, some 12,000 migrants have made it across the sea to Italy—four times the number that made it last year in the same time frame. They have come either on their own in fishing boats or were rescued by one of just a couple of NGO boats allowed to deliver them to land. Late Monday, the NGO group Alarm Phone, which tries to alert authorities to boats in trouble, reported that around 400 people were languishing on boats between Malta and Lampedusa. By nightfall, no one had rescued them.In April, Italy was criticized by humanitarian groups after ignoring distress calls from a boat off Libya, which eventually capsized. At least 130 people were thought to have drowned in that accident. So far this year, around 500 migrants are known to have died at sea trying to reach safety. And they won’t be the last, especially if the group on Lampedusa are viewed only as COVID threats.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? 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- The Independent
Town in northern California sees spike in crimes perpetrated against Asian Americans
Ma'Khia Bryant's family blamed foster care for her death. Experts agree she shouldn't have been left home unsupervised.
Teenage foster children are especially vulnerable when left unsupervised, John DeGarmo, founder of The Foster Care Institute, told Insider.
- The Independent
Liz Cheney has been ousted from her position in the House Republican Party leadership. The party removed Ms Cheney from her post as conference chairwoman by a voice vote because of her opposition to Donald Trump’s election lies. The motion to remove the Wyoming representative was put forward by Virginia Foxx and supported by GOP leader Kevin McCarthy.