National Headlines

onurdongel/iStockBY: IVAN PEREIRA, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — New York City high school students who chose in-person learning in the beginning of the school year will return to their classrooms on March 22, more than five months after officials temporarily switched all students to remote learning when COVID-19 cases rose.

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Monday that the city's Department of Education has undertaken several recommendations by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including testing, mask mandates and social distancing, to ensure that students and staff will be safe for the remainder of the school year.

In addition, de Blasio said high school sports will resume with strict safety protocols and small crowds.

"We are ready to go. We have all the pieces we need to bring high school back and bring it back strong. And, of course, to bring it back safely," the mayor said during his daily news briefing.

Roughly 55,000 public high school students, about 20% of the total high school student body, chose to have their classes in-person when they were asked at the beginning of the year, according to the city's Department of Education.

The mayor and the education department shut down all school buildings for in person learning on Nov. 19 as coronavirus cases rose during the fall.

Students in 3K to fifth grade were allowed to return to in-person in December, while middle school students went back to in-person learning in February.

Incoming NYC Schools Chancellor Meisha Ross Porter told reporters the department has closely monitored COVID-19 cases since the phased-in re-opening, and said as of Monday, there was a 0.57% positivity rate in schools.

"We are going to continue with what we know works, weekly in-person testing for our students, educators and staff, and now our student athletes as well, a 30-day supply of PPE, nightly deep cleanings, mandated social distancing and mask-wearing," she said.

De Blasio said the city will emphasize outdoor sports where it can and warned parents to avoid larger gatherings at the games.

"We have to protect everyone," he said. "And then as things get healthier and healthier in this city, we'll be able to open it up even more.”

The mayor added that the city plans extend the sports season into the summer, possibly as late as August.

When asked if parents will have an option of changing their students' learning preference to in-person classes, de Blasio said it was too early to offer that, citing new variants and other potential health risks.

He did say that the city's Department of Education is currently working on bringing all students back to in-person learning for the next school year.

"We are bringing our schools back fully in September, period. I want everyone to understand everything is working, all systems go, to bring our schools back 100% in September," he said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



The Black Conservative PreacherBY: OLIVIA RUBIN, AARON KATERSKY, AND ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — A New York man with ties to the Oath Keepers militia group and former President Donald Trump's longtime adviser Roger Stone has been arrested and charged in connection with the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Roberto Minuta, of Newburgh, New York, was seen in a video first unearthed by ABC News flanking Roger Stone on the morning of Jan. 6 outside a Washington, D.C., hotel.

In the video, Minuta can be seen standing with Stone wearing a baseball hat and military-style vest branded with the Oath Keeper logo.

Minuta, who was spotted on video later that day in the gathering crowd approaching the Capitol, has been charged with obstruction of Congress and unlawful entry.

"Minuta and others affiliated with the Oath Keepers breached the U.S. Capitol grounds, where Minuta aggressively berated and taunted U.S. Capitol police officers responsible for protecting the Capitol and the representatives inside of the Capitol," according to charging documents.

The FBI arrested Minuta in Newburgh on Saturday, the official told ABC News.

In February, Minuta's wife confirmed to ABC News that her husband had gone to the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, but said that he never went inside the Capitol building.

He was "another patriot outside the Capitol Building ... standing up for freedom," she said.

Attempts to reach her Monday were unsuccessful.

The arrest comes as the Department of Justice continues to pursue individuals who participated in the Jan. 6 Capitol attack. Dozens of individuals with ties to extremist groups have been arrested for their role, including at least five people associated with the Oath Keepers -- three of whom have been charged with conspiracy.

The FBI said in one court filing that some members of the Oath Keepers "took steps to plan an operation to stop, delay, and hinder Congress' certification of the Electoral College vote."

Stone, in a statement to ABC News, said that he does not know Minuta, nor was he "familiar with his name prior to his being identified in earlier media stories where it was alleged that he was involved in illegal events up at the Capitol.""If he was indeed among those who volunteered to provide security while I visited Washington DC I was unaware of it," Stone said.

The longtime GOP operative has maintained that he played "no role whatsoever in the Jan. 6 events" and has repeatedly said that he "never left the site of my hotel until leaving for Dulles Airport" that afternoon. He has also decried attempts to ascribe to him the motives of the people around him.

Stone also said that while he has acknowledged that the Oath Keepers provided security for him on Jan. 5, "that does not in any way provide proof or evidence" that he was involved in or had advance knowledge "of the illegal acts at the Capitol on January 6."

"I could not even tell you the names of those who volunteered to provide security for me, required because of the many threats against me and my family," Stone previously told ABC News.

Oath Keepers were known to be providing security for Stone during his D.C. visit. Reports surfaced in January that militia members were traveling with Stone on the day before the Capitol assault as the Trump loyalist helped set the stage for the "Stop the Steal" events that were intended to give a forum to the president's false claims that the 2020 election had been rigged.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



DNY59/iStockBy BILL HUTCHINSON and WHITNEY LLOYD

(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd kicked off Monday with prosecutors asking the judge to put jury selection on hold.

Before jury selection could begin, Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, told the court that he will file a petition for the Minnesota Supreme Court to review a Court of Appeals decision issued on Friday asking that trial Judge Peter Cahill consider reinstating a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.

State prosecutor Matthew Frank requested that Cahill delay jury selection in light of the defense petition regarding the additional charge.

"We won't know exactly what the charges are if we now go forward and start picking the jury," Frank argued. "So this court would be making decisions about jurors for a trial about which we don't know what the exact charges are going to be yet. And that jeopardy, once it attaches, that clearly cannot happen.”

When Cahill refused the request to delay the high-profile case, Frank told the court he would file a motion seeking further direction from the appellate court on whether Chauvin's trial should proceed with jury selection while a decision on whether to allow the third-degree charge is pending in the state Supreme Court.

"Unless the Court of Appeals tells me otherwise we're going to keep going," Cahill told the attorneys Monday afternoon after going over a series of motions, most agreed on by the prosecution and defense.

Cahill said he will call potential jurors back on Tuesday morning.

Opening arguments in the trial are tentatively scheduled to begin on March 29. The trial is expected to last up to two months and prosecutors and defense attorneys said they plan to call nearly 400 potential witnesses to testify, 362 by the prosecution.

The Court of Appeals ruled that Cahill erred when he dropped the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin in October and asked him to reconsider his decision. Cahill, in response to the Court of Appeals ruling, stated that because Chauvin planned to asked the state Supreme Court to review the appellate decision, he does not have jurisdiction to even entertain arguments on whether he should reinstate the third-degree charge.

In light of the state's intent to file a motion to delay the proceedings, Cahill put jury selection on hold until at least Tuesday to give Frank time to file his request for guidance from the appeals court.

"The State is fully ready to go to trial, but the trial must be conducted in accordance with the rules and the law,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is prosecuting Chauvin, said in a statement “Now that Mr. Chauvin has stated his intention to appeal Friday’s Court of Appeals ruling to the Minnesota Supreme Court, as is his right, the district court does not have jurisdiction to conduct jury selection or hear and rule on other substantive matters in the trial. We have filed a motion with the Court of Appeals to ensure that justice is pursued properly.”

Chauvin is already facing charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

"We are not trying to delay this case," Frank said. "We want to try it right ... we don't want to create appeal issues," Frank said.

Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, said in court that he believes that jury selection can proceed while they wait for the Supreme Court to review the Court of Appeals ruling on third-degree murder.

"We are prepared to try this case. It is not our intent to delay this case," Nelson said.

The legal wrangling commenced Monday as a large crowd of protesters demanding justice for Floyd demonstrated outside the Hennepin County Courthouse.

“I’m expecting justice," Floyd's sister, Bridgett Floyd, told ABC News as she entered the courthouse. "We're gonna walk out of there with a conviction."

Chauvin, 44, who was videotaped kneeling on Floyd's neck for a prolonged period of time on the day the 46-year-old Black man died, is being tried separately from three other former officers involved in the death that prompted protests nationwide. J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter and are scheduled to go on trial in August.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



MarianVejcik/iStockBY: DANIEL MANZO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — A polar vortex in February delivered the coldest temperatures in that month to the lower 48 states since 1989, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report released Monday.

Temperatures in the contiguous U.S. were about 3.2 degrees F colder than the average for that month in the 20th century, NOAA said.

It was the 19th-coldest February among 127 years of record keeping, and for December through February, the three months that constitute meteorological winter, temps in the contiguous U.S. actually were 1.4 degrees F above average, among the warmest one-third on record.

(1 of 7) JUST IN: U.S. had its coldest #February in more than 30 years; Record-breaking deep freeze engulfed much of #Texas -- @NOAANCEIClimate

See: https://t.co/26esT0Bmra #StateOfClimate pic.twitter.com/jW7YJIY0JO

— NOAA (@NOAA) March 8, 2021

The middle of the month saw a major Arctic air outbreak in much of U.S., leading to frigid temperatures and several snowstorms. A blocking pattern in the jet stream prolonged the outbreak.

Six states -- Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma -- had one of their 10 coldest Februarys ever recorded, NOAA said. Texas and Illinois each had their 11th coldest.

According to the report, 62 all-time daily low temperature records were broken, with much of Texas enduring its coldest air temperatures since December 1989. Millions in Texas lost power and were without water for extended periods.

"This," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told Houston ABC station KTRK-TV, "is the winter version of Hurricane Harvey.”

The major Arctic blast also caused a very active weather pattern that included numerous winter storms loaded with snow and ice. Nearly three-quarters of the lower 48 states were covered by snow on Feb. 16, a new daily record since that data first was recorded in October 2003.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



guvendemir/iStockBY: STEPHANIE EBBS, ABC NEWS

(WASHINGTON) — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Monday defended her agency's decision not to endorse travel for vaccinated Americans, saying that, even as the CDC says they can socially gather without masks, increasing travel would add to the number of COVID-19 cases and pose a risk to the majority of the country not yet vaccinated.

Walensky said the agency's guidance has not changed, saying that travel has increased COVID-19 cases and that, even though people who are vaccinated are less likely to become seriously ill, CDC doesn't have enough data yet to know if they can transmit the virus to others.

"In terms of travel, here's what we know: Every time that there's a surge in travel, we have a surge in cases in this country. We know that many of our variants have emerged from international places, and we know that the travel corridor is a place where people are mixing a lot," she said.

"We are really trying to restrain travel at this current period of time, and we're hopeful that our next set of guidance will have more science around what vaccinated people can do, perhaps travel being among them.”

CDC's guidance on travel, last updated in mid-February, says to avoid non-essential travel because it increases the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Masks are required on most forms of interstate transportation as well as big transportation hubs like airports and train stations. If people plan to travel they should get vaccinated if possible, get tested before and after the trip, wear a well fitting mask, and maintain distance from others when possible, the guidance says.

Some states also require travelers to quarantine when they return to the state if they visited an area with a high number of COVID-19 cases.

Public health officials attributed the intense surge in cases in January to the increased travel over the winter holidays and even as those numbers have declined officials like Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci say they are still too high for the country to relax.

Biden administration officials say there will be enough supply of vaccines for everyone in the country by the end of May and that we could resume more activities like socializing and eating at restaurants this summer if the majority of Americans get vaccinated, but until then its important to keep the number of COVID-19 cases down.

Public health experts, including Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, say it's even more important to avoid scenes like last year's spring break crowds when the country is so close to getting everyone the vaccine.

"Given how close we are to the finish line anybody who gets infected today and dies in three or four weeks is somebody who would have gotten vaccinated a month from now," he told ABC News.

The CDC said Monday that people who are fully vaccinated -- meaning at least two weeks after receiving all necessary doses the vaccine -- can gather with other vaccinated individuals in small groups without wearing masks or social distancing. Fully vaccinated individuals can also spend time with people who aren't vaccinated as long as they are at low risk for disease and keep it to small groups and wear masks if the people who aren't vaccinated are from multiple households.

But any of those gatherings, like grandparents visiting unvaccinated grandkids, are limited by location, Walensky said, because the CDC still wants people to refrain from traveling.

"We would like to give the opportunity for vaccinated grandparents to visit their children and grandchildren who are healthy and who are local, but our travel guidance currently has been unchanged," she said.

Walensky said that because the vast majority of the population still isn't vaccinated, the CDC needs to prioritize keeping those people safe, especially if people who are vaccinated can still transmit the virus. According to CDC data, 12% of adults have received two doses of the vaccines, but 9.2% of the total population, including those under 18.

"I think it's important to realize, as we're -- as we're working through this, that still over 90% of the population has not yet been vaccinated, and that it’s our responsibility to make sure, in the context of 60,000 new cases a day, that we protect those who remain unvaccinated and remain vulnerable," she said.

White House Senior COVID-19 Adviser Andy Slavitt said the administration does believe that being able to travel is motivating some people to get vaccinated and that they hope to increase the list of what vaccinated Americans are able to do, but that CDC will only do that when the data supports that it is safe.

Walensky said the CDC will update the guidance on what vaccinated individuals can do safely as more people get the vaccines but until then the focus should be on protecting people who aren't vaccinated from contracting the virus.

"The recommendations issued today are just a first step. As more people get vaccinated and the science and evidence expands, and as the disease dynamics of this country change, we will continue to update this guidance," she said.

"Importantly, our guidance must be -- must balance the risk to people who have been fully vaccinated, the risks to those who have not yet received the vaccine, and the impact on the larger community transmission of COVID-19 with -- when we are -- what we all recognize to be the overall benefits of resuming everyday activities and getting back to something -- to some of the things we love in life."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



MotoEd/iStockBy EMILY SHAPIRO, ABC News

(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, around 300,000 people are expected to descend on Florida for a motorcycle rally this week, Daytona Beach city officials said.

Bike Week lasts from March 5 to March 14. The event is estimated to generate $75 million for Daytona Beach, according to the city's Chamber of Commerce.

Most years, about 400,000 to 500,000 people attend, but this year a "reasonable estimate would be around 300,000 ," Janet Kersey, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce, told ABC News via email Monday.

"With good weather and the vaccine now in distribution that could improve," Kersey continued. "We know our hotels are doing well with strong occupancy numbers reported to the Volusia County Hotel & Lodging Association."

"Event activities take place now throughout the entire north/central Florida area," she added.

Due to COVID-19, Kersey said, "there was much discussion" about canceling, but she said the city council "was very meticulous in its decision to move forward."

Last summer, dozens of COVID-19 cases were linked to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota, which attracted about 460,000 people.

Kersey stressed that detailed safety plans were created for businesses and hotels.

Changes this year include limiting some businesses to 60% indoor capacity, Daytona Beach officials said.

"Residents and visitors should wear face coverings when indoors and physical distancing is not possible," city officials said, adding that businesses will follow distancing and mask guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We're ready to roll for #BikeWeek2021!

Stay safe and let us know if you need any help.

Remember... no cars on Main Street!

MORE BIKE WEEK DETAILS: https://t.co/g1JlVRd5W4 #BikeWeek #DaytonaBeach #CityDaytonaBeach #LoveDaytonaBeach #KeepDaytonaBeautiful #WorldFamousDB pic.twitter.com/fDvmMSbrlX

— Daytona Beach Police (@DaytonaBchPD) March 5, 2021

"Outside those same safety protocols are in place with cleaning, staff mask wearing, etc.," Kersey said. "There is also a motorcycles-only traffic this year for the first time and reduced parking on Main Street to allow for better social distancing. Parking has been added to the Ocean Center utilizing their larger lots which is just one block north of Main Street and allows for outdoor walking and spacing."

Florida does not have a statewide mask mandate.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Courtesy Ben Crump LawBy ALEX PEREZ, ANDY FIES and WHITNEY LLOYD, ABC News

(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The video showing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinning George Floyd under his knee for more than 9 minutes as Floyd begs for his life and onlookers scream for the officer to relent may appear damning. But is what Chauvin did criminal? And is that video enough to prove him guilty of the murder and manslaughter charges he faces when he goes on trial?

Legal professionals who have followed the pre-trial filings and maneuverings say that even with that stunning and difficult-to-watch visual evidence, the case against Chauvin is anything but a slam dunk.

While Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is bringing the state’s case against Chauvin before Judge Peter Cahill, the lead prosecutor in court is assistant attorney general Matthew Frank. Frank will face difficult challenges posed by the requirements of the law. For instance, in order for Chauvin to be guilty of the most serious charge -- second degree unintentional murder -- prosecutors must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he caused Floyd’s death. But autopsy results will complicate that task.

The county medical examiner’s autopsy report found that the 46-year-old Floyd died of a combination of causes including “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression” and that his system showed “fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.” Although the report called the manner of death “homicide,” it’s not clear how much weight that carries in court. The report states this “is not a legal determination of culpability or intent.”

Meanwhile, an independent autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family also reported he died by homicide but said it was “caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain." Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump, also criticized the medical examiner's autopsy for including toxicology results, saying, “The cause of death was that he was starving for air. It was lack of oxygen. And so everything else is a red herring to try to throw us off.”

So there is likely to be a “battle of the experts” at the trial over what exactly caused Floyd’s death, according to Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Mike Brandt. Those testifying about the autopsies “are going to be up on that stand for a long time getting into heavy duty scientific stuff about the different mechanisms of what was going on in George Floyd's body at the time the knee was on the neck.” He said defense attorneys will raise questions like whether “the lack of oxygen occurred because he had a cardiac incident?” Or was his death brought about from “some combination of controlled substances?”

Such autopsy arguments, suggests Brandt, could muddy the picture of what exactly caused Floyd’s death.

University of Minnesota law professor Richard Frase agrees, stressing that “on any element of the prosecution's case, the defense just has to raise a reasonable doubt or at least get one juror to say, ‘I'm not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that they've proved causation here.’”

But Frase believes that even with these arguments over physiological mechanics, the prosecution has the edge because they can argue Floyd “wouldn't have died as soon as he did if the police hadn't been stressing him physically and emotionally. And as long as they accelerate his death, that's causation.”

Another challenging requirement of the second degree murder charge is that prosecutors must prove Chauvin caused Floyd’s death “while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense.” In this case, that offense is third degree felony assault defined as someone intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm.

Did Chauvin commit an assault when he restrained George Floyd or was he justifiably acting as a police officer is trained to do in such a situation?

Here, Brandt foresees a second “battle of the experts," this time use-of-force specialists. He predicts those on the defense side will say that the restraint Chauvin used on Floyd was reasonable and even authorized by the Minneapolis police training manual, filed as an exhibit in the case. They will argue, Brandt says, such restraint was warranted because “these are unpredictable situations. His feet were still free. His head was still free he could head butt you. He can do any number of things. And it's dangerous, particularly somebody who has got controlled substances in them.”

Joseph Daly, professor emeritus at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Minneapolis, suggests Chauvin will try to dodge the assault element by asking the court to look more closely at the video.

“[Chauvin is] gonna say, ‘I never knelt on his neck for nine minutes. If you look carefully, you'll see my knee on his shoulder. Sometimes my knee is on his back. I'm not kneeling on his neck all the time. I had no intention of assaulting this guy. I had no desire to assault him. And I wasn't assaulting him. I was trying to get him under control using techniques that I was taught in the Minneapolis police department to use,’” said Daly.

Frase predicts expert witnesses for the prosecution will testify that Chauvin’s use of force was unreasonable and, even if authorized, it went well beyond that same police manual. It apparently permits the restraint Chauvin used but only when suspects are “actively resisting.” Frase says that’s key because Floyd is clearly unconscious and not resisting well before Chauvin finally removes his knee. Yet the officer “kept up the force,” notes Frase, and “the prosecution can say any use of force has to be necessary and no force, even non-deadly force, was necessary anymore when he passed out.”

Some legal observers believe the lesser charge of second degree manslaughter is going to be easier for the prosecution. It requires proof that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death through, according to the statute, “culpable negligence,” meaning that he created an “unreasonable risk and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm.” Brandt believes “there’s a lot more room for the prosecution under that charge.” He notes that the length of time Chauvin spent with his knee on Floyd’s neck or back makes it clear he was creating an unreasonable risk or taking a chance of death or harm. He thinks prosecutors will say, “Come on, what else would happen by doing this?”

A recent development could mean third degree murder will be added to the charges against Chauvin. That’s what he was initially charged with following Floyd’s death, until Judge Cahill dismissed that charge in October. An appellate court ruling on Friday means Cahill must now reconsider allowing the charge.

If he does reinstate the third degree murder charge, as prosecutors want, Frank’s team would have to prove Chauvin caused Floyd’s death "by perpetuating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life,” according to the statute.

The maximum penalties for all of the charges are severe -- 40 years for second degree murder, 25 years for third degree and 10 years for the manslaughter charge. But these are also misleading and are another area where expectations may conflict with reality.

Presiding Judge Cahill is required by Minnesota law to follow sentencing guidelines. Under these, the penalty for both second degree unintentional murder and third degree is about 10 to 15 years. For the manslaughter charge, the common sentence under the guidelines is four years. While prosecutors have asked for an “upward departure” allowing Cahill to impose a longer sentence, legal experts interviewed by ABC News all believe it very unlikely that he would hand down anything close to that 40-year maximum for the most serious charge. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty.

Three weeks have been set aside for jury selection. But will finding impartial jurors be possible, particularly given how widely viewed the video was and the weeks of protests and violence that impacted Minneapolis after the incident? Frase acknowledges it’s a difficult task, but not an impossible one, noting that potential jurors could be drawn from rural areas “that really don’t pay much attention to Minneapolis” and may hold views that would balance those of its residents.

The jurors will serve anonymously, but the verdict they render will be widely scrutinized. Daly says this “might be one of the most important cases ever in the United States.” For those paying attention, he says it means re-examining “the power of the police and the use of force and how police are trained. Are they the guardians of the people? Are they warriors against the people? What is the function of the police?”

These are the sorts of questions this trial may prompt many to consider both in the courtroom and across the country.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



ABC NewsBy DANIEL MANZO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The warmest air since November continues to build in parts of the Central U.S. and will spread towards the Northeast over the next few days.

Minneapolis hit a high of 62 degrees on Sunday making it the warmest day since Nov. 9 when they hit 66 and Chicago is expected to be in the low 60s on Monday. The last time they were that warm was Nov. 20.

A large chunk of the U.S. from northern Florida to North Dakota will see temperatures in the 70s and 60s Monday.

Record highs are also possible Monday across the northern Plains from Nebraska to North Dakota and temperatures in parts of the central U.S. Monday will be up to 30 degrees above average when, just three weeks ago, much of the Central U.S. was seeing a brutal prolonged cold blast.

On Tuesday, the warmth will build even more and we should see upper 70s and low 80s in parts of the Plains and the 70s into parts of the Upper Midwest. Even Chicago will be in the upper 60s Tuesday which is more than 20 degrees above average.

The mild air will also be spreading towards the East on Tuesday and temperatures in the 60s and even some low 70s will be possible across the Mid-Atlantic.

New York City is forecast to hit 60 degrees on Tuesday. The last time it was above 60 degrees in New York City was Dec. 25.

Later in the week, temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60s to near 70 in parts of the Northeast.

The last time Philadelphia was warmer was on Nov. 11 with a high of 71 degrees.

Even Boston is expected to reach the upper 60s by Thursday and Friday and in New York, temperatures will be in the mid-60s by the end of the week. The last time New York City was 65 degrees or higher was Nov. 26.

Most of the U.S. will remain pretty quiet weather-wise through most of Monday.

Attention turns to a western storm that will slide down the West Coast and bring the next shot of rain and mountain snow to California beginning later Monday in northern California and Tuesday in southern California.

There could be some brief thunderstorms with heavy rain and downpours on Tuesday night in Los Angeles with locally over 1 inch of rain possible there through Thursday. This could cause some localized flooding, and debris flows on burn areas.

In the Southern California Mountains, locally up to a foot of snow will be possible through Thursday.

Any precipitation is welcome news for California right now since areas like Los Angeles are nearly 6.5 inches below their average precipitation for the wet season. Additionally, San Francisco is over 10 inches below their average for the wet season.

By the end of the week, this storm should arrive in the central U.S. and could become the next significant weather to have wide-ranging impacts.

Meanwhile, next week is looking cooler across the entire country so even though much of the U.S. is getting a spring preview this week, it looks like winter might try to make a small comeback next week.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Raghu_Ramaswamy/iStockBy JOSH MARGOLIN, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- In some cases, they wanted to join the military or police so they would be able to commit acts of violence toward members of minority groups.

In others, they planned to join the military or police to learn how to wage war against members of those minority groups.

Based on investigations between 2016 and 2020, agents and analysts with the FBI's division in San Antonio concluded that white supremacists and other right-wing extremists would "very likely seek affiliation with military and law enforcement entities in furtherance of" their ideologies, according to a confidential intelligence assessment issued late last month.

The document, obtained by ABC News, was distributed to law enforcement agencies both in Texas and elsewhere in the country. It focuses on extremists inspired by the white-supremacist publication "Siege," which served as motivation for the neo-Nazi group known as "Atomwaffen Division," among others. The report is titled "Siege-Inspired Actors Very Likely Seek Military and Law Enforcement Affiliation, Increasing Risk of Tradecraft Proliferation and Color of Law Offenses in the FBI San Antonio Area of Responsibility."

Conclusions in the assessment were based on information from records and informants, some of whom had "excellent access," the FBI authors wrote in the Feb. 25 document.

"In the long term, FBI San Antonio assesses [racially motivated violent extremists] successfully entering military and law enforcement careers almost certainly will gain access to non-public tradecraft and information, enabling them to enhance operational security and develop new tactics in and beyond the FBI San Antonio" region, the document said.

FBI spokesperson Katherine Gulotta said that "FBI field offices routinely share information with their local law enforcement partners to assist in protecting the communities they serve." She did not specifically address the content of the report.

Critics say the document once again shows the nation's top law enforcement agency has been slow to deal with the problem of white-supremacist infiltration of police and the military, even as FBI agents watched evidence mounting.

"When we asked the FBI last year to testify about white supremacists executing plans to infiltrate law enforcement entities across America, the bureau refused and told us it had no evidence that racist infiltration was a problem," Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) said in a statement. "Now, the January insurrection -- and the growing evidence of off-duty law enforcement officers being involved in the attack on Congress -- and this newly leaked report confirm in my mind that the FBI's failure to level with the American people about organized racist infiltration of law enforcement is having dangerous and deadly consequences."

Raskin, the chairman of the House Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee, led a hearing last year on white supremacy and the federal government's response to the problem. He also released a report detailing FBI warnings about the way white supremacists infiltrate law enforcement, and said the bureau was reluctant to deal with the problem during the Trump administration.

"We are continuing to press the FBI for information about how it plans to counteract the contagion of white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement bodies," Raskin said after learning of the newly released report. "The FBI must answer specifically for what it is doing to combat white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement. It must work to root out officers who seek state power to terrorize our communities under color of law."

Addressing the issue of violent extremism, FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers last week that the bureau has been "sounding the alarm" about the rising domestic terror threat for "a number of years now."

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wray said that there are currently 2,000 domestic terrorism investigations, up from almost 1,000 when he first started in 2017.

"Whenever we've had the chance we've tried to emphasize that this is a top concern and remained so for the FBI," Wray said. "The FBI will not tolerate agitators and extremists who plan or committed violence. Period. And that goes for violent extremists, of any stripe."

The authors of the Feb. 25 report wrote that their assessment is "based on evidence [extremists] expressed a desire to join the military and law enforcement primarily to obtain tradecraft to prepare for and initiate a collapse of society, specifically by engaging in violence against the US government and specified racial and ethnic groups. Online peers encouraged them to seek these careers and [extremists] built relationships with associates seeking military employment, focusing on the associates' current and future martial skills."

In addition, the report says extremists are "likely to seek to exploit familial and social connections when pursuing military and law enforcement employment, reducing obstacles and increasing opportunities ... to acquire tradecraft."

Since the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, lawmakers and officials have increasingly focused on the issue of white supremacy and other types of violent extremism in the military and law enforcement. According to research by news organizations including The New York Times, at least 30 people with law enforcement training have been tied to the events of the insurrection, which left five dead, including a Capitol Hill police officer.

The Pentagon is so concerned about right-wing extremism and white supremacy in the ranks that the entire military has been ordered to do a one-day "stand down" to address the problem.

"This is behavior that can really tear at the fabric of our institution," Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC News' Martha Raddatz Sunday on This Week. "And so we want to make sure that our troops are reminded of what our values are, reminded of the oath that we took coming in."

Former FBI Agent Michael German, whose expertise was infiltrating white supremacist groups for the bureau, said he continues to be troubled by the way FBI leadership is dealing with the problem.

"In 2006, the FBI warned in writing that white supremacists seek to infiltrate law enforcement, and its 2015 Counterterrorism Policy Guide instructed agents conducting domestic terrorism investigations of white supremacists and far-right militias to modify their tactics because the subjects of these investigations often have 'active links' to law enforcement," German said. "Yet when Congress sought answers about what the FBI was doing to address this threat, FBI managers disavowed the intelligence."

German, now an author and fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, said that the new report from San Antonio "makes clear that white supremacist infiltration of law enforcement and recruitment from the ranks continued to be a problem even as their superiors disavowed it. When FBI managers won't accept intelligence reports coming from their agents working the streets, it is no wonder intelligence failures like the Capitol attack occur."

"The problem isn't a lack of intelligence or barriers to collection," German said. "It is that FBI managers continue to ignore the intelligence they receive if it doesn't fit their preferred narratives about what the terrorist threat looks like."

FBI spokesperson Gulotta did not respond to ABC News' questions about the criticism.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



katifcam/iStockBy MORGAN WINSOR, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- An off-duty firefighter and his family are being commended for rushing to render aid to a shooting victim in Tennessee.

Capt. Brad Petty of the Chattanooga Fire Department was driving with his family on their way home from his son's wrestling tournament on Saturday afternoon when they saw a car swerve off to the side of Interstate 24 in Rutherford County near Murfreesboro, about 34 miles southeast of Nashville. A man jumped out of the car and began frantically waving for someone to stop, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department.

"When I saw the panic in that man’s face, I knew I needed to stop and do what I could," Petty said in a statement Sunday.

Petty pulled over to help and found a young woman suffering from a gunshot wound to the head. She was traveling with her siblings when someone shot into their car, striking her in the backseat, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department.

Petty opened her airway and used her brother's shirt to apply pressure to her wound. Meanwhile, Petty's daughter, who is a trained lifeguard, relayed information to a 911 dispatcher and helped keep the victim's siblings calm, according to the Chattanooga Fire Department.

The victim was flown to a hospital and her condition was unknown, according to the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.

Petty's family captured video of the air ambulance preparing to land on the highway to transport the victim.

"I’m just glad we were in the right place at the right time," Petty said. "I ask for prayers for the victim and her family."

That section of the highway was closed for several hours while authorities investigated the incident, which the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office described as "a potential road rage shooting."

"Detectives are still following leads in this shooting," the sheriff's office said in a statement Sunday. "This remains an active and ongoing investigation."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Courtesy Foltz familyBy MARLENE LENTHANG and NICHOLAS CIRONE, ABC News

(BOWLING GREEN, Ohio) -- Stone Foltz, a Bowling Green State University student, died Sunday after an alleged hazing incident involving alcohol.

"The death of Stone Foltz is a tragedy. He was a beloved son, brother, and grandson," family attorney Sean Alto said.

Foltz, a sophomore in the university's College of Business, was hospitalized Thursday after "alleged hazing activity involving alcohol consumption" at an off-campus Pi Kappa Alpha event in Bowling Green, Ohio, the university said in a statement. He was in critical condition at the ProMedica Toledo Hospital for three days.

"At this time we are gathering all of the facts leading to his untimely death and we have no interest in commenting on speculation," Alto said. "However, we do ask that you please show respect and consideration for Stone’s family. Despite their unbearable grief, they agreed to donate Stone’s organs so that others may have a second chance at life."

The Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity told ABC News in a statement they were "horrified and outraged" by the incident.

"We extend our deepest and sincere sympathy to the student's family and friends and all of those affected by this tragic loss," the organization said in its initial statement, erroneously saying Foltz had died while he was still hospitalized.

The Delta Beta Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha at Bowling Green State University has been placed on administrative suspension following the incident, per the international fraternity.

"As more details are confirmed, we will also pursue permanent suspension of Delta Beta Chapter as well as expulsion of all chapter members from the International Fraternity," the organization said.

The international fraternity said it will cooperate fully with authorities in the matter.

The university placed the fraternity on an interim suspension as they work with law enforcement to investigate.

"We want to express our care and support of our students and community affected," university spokesperson Alex Solis said.

"Given that Pi Kappa Alpha is not currently recognized as a registered student organization, the fraternity’s Greek letters were removed from its on-campus residence this morning," Solis said.

In a statement summarizing a campus-wide email from BGSU President Rodney K. Rogers, the university spokesperson said, "Those who knew Stone remember him as a kind, selfless person with a great sense of humor. The University mourns his tragic loss and shares in his family and friends’ sorrow."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



carlballou/iStockBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Two men have been charged with murder after the body of a teen was found wrapped in plastic at a New York City fish market.

The 19-year-old was unconscious and unresponsive when she was found Saturday morning at 95 South St. in downtown Manhattan, according to the New York City Police Department.

Police identified the woman as Rosalee Sanchez.

The person who found her, inside a vacant warehouse, called 911 Saturday, ABC New York station WABC-TV reported.

Austin Boehm, 25, and Christian Mercado, 20, were arrested Sunday and charged with second-degree murder. Neither the suspects nor the victim have listed home addresses, police said.

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death, police said. The investigation is ongoing.

Additional details were not immediately available.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office via FacebookBy BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC News

(NEW ORLEANS) -- A boater who had been missing in the waters of Lake Pontchartrain near New Orleans was found dead on Sunday after being ejected from a pleasure craft that slammed into a highway drawbridge, authorities said.

The crash occurred about 7 p.m. on Saturday when the boat, with four other people aboard, hit the Highway 11 drawbridge on the northeast side of the lake, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

A search for the overboard boater was immediately launched as the Coast Guard deployed a 29-foot rescue boat and helicopter crew to the area.

Officials said the Coast Guard station in New Orleans deployed a 29-foot rescue boat and a helicopter crew to assist in the search for the missing boater. The St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries also joined the search.

The search was suspended Sunday when the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office discovered the missing boater unresponsive around 11:30 a.m., according to the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials said the other four occupants of the boat were taken to University Medical Center, New Orleans, including two who were flown there by helicopter, according to the St. Tammany Fire Protection.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Matthew Jonas/MediaNews Group/Boulder Daily Camera via Getty ImagesBY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS

(DENVER) — An out-of-control street party near the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, on Saturday drew up to 800 people, most appearing to be college-aged, prompting violent clashes with SWAT police who deployed at least one armored vehicle to disperse the crowd, according to authorities.

The bedlam ensued in the University Hill neighborhood as hundreds of people took to the streets just blocks from the university campus, most dispensing with COVID-19 social distancing rules and mask wearing, according to a social media post authenticated by ABC News shows.

During the several hours of chaos, rowdy revelers shooting off fireworks are alleged to have thrown bricks and rocks at police, flipped over a private car and caused heavy damaged to a police armored vehicle and a fire truck, according to a spokesperson for the Boulder Police Department. Three Boulder SWAT team members suffered minor injuries, the spokesperson said.

"Regarding what happened tonight on University Hill, the Boulder Department is reviewing all body worn camera footage and shared social media videos/photos to identify the individuals involved in damaging property and assaulting first responders," the Boulder Police Department said in a tweet early Sunday.

Colorado University, Boulder, officials condemned the conduct and threatened to permanently expel any student found to have attacked police and other first responders during the mayhem.

"It is unacceptable and irresponsible, particularly in light of the volume of training, communication and enforcement the campus and city have dedicated to ensuring compliance with COVID-19 public health orders. CU Boulder will not tolerate any of our students engaging in acts of violence or damaging property," the university's statement said.

Police started receiving complaints about 7 p.m. of a large gathering at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and 10th Street, about five blocks west of the university campus. At round 8:30 p.m., a SWAT team in an armored vehicle rolled into the neighborhood and a police officer on a loud speaker was heard ordering the crowd to disperse, saying, "This is an unlawful assembly.”

"Due to riot conditions, you are ordered to leave the area. You must leave the area immediately. If you fail to leave, you will be subject to arrest and the use of tear gas," the police announced.

It was not immediately clear if police used tear gas on clear the street.

By 9 p.m., most of the revelers had cleared out.

“Detectives will review every lead we have to identify and arrest those responsible for this reprehensible and unacceptable behavior,” Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold said in a tweet.

Boulder County District Attorney Michael Dougherty released a statement on Sunday, saying his office is working with police detectives to identify suspects who "should be held fully responsible for their outrageous actions.”

“Our community was put at risk last night by the individuals involved in the incident in the Hill area. Their callous disregard for our community’s safety and well-being is shameful," Dougherty's statement said. "There is no excuse for this conduct, especially while the people of this community endure the pandemic.”

The episode erupted as police and prosecutors were already investigating possible criminal and civil violations stemming from an off-campus party at an apartment building in the same University Hill neighborhood that occurred over the previous weekend, according to ABC affiliate station KMGH-TV in Denver. A screen recording of a Snapchat video taken by someone at the party was shared on social media, showing dozens of people at the event with no social distancing going on or masks being worn, according to KMGH.

In October, the City of Boulder issued a mandatory two-week quarantine for four properties in the neighborhood, city officials told KMGH, adding most are associated with fraternities.

ABC News' Jeffrey Cook contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



alvarez/iStockBY: MEREDITH DELISO, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. In the days, weeks and months that followed, millions of Americans started working and learning remotely, social distancing became the new norm and mask-wearing was widely encouraged, if not mandated, to help reduce the spread of the virus.

Nearly a year later, those and other mitigation measures are enduring signs of how the pandemic has fundamentally changed how we live. Nearly three-quarters of U.S. adults (74%) said their everyday life has changed due to COVID-19, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted late last year. That's up from 67% in summer 2020.

The return to some semblance of "normal" life will be gradual, experts say, to help protect against new COVID-19 variants as people get vaccinated against the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told MSNBC’s "Morning Joe" Thursday that he’s hopeful we could return to a sense of normal, such as kids back in school and adults at work, by the fall or winter -- if the U.S. stays on track with vaccinations.

"If things go smoothly, we should be seeing it by fall, mid-fall, early winter," Fauci said, noting that the viral mutations could "slow down that trajectory." But the timeframe, as well as what that "new normal" would look like is uncertain.

Until then, here are some ways life has been changed a year into the pandemic.

Masks still 'critical'

Before the pandemic, mask-wearing was relatively rare in the United States. But early guidance against wearing masks (in part fearing a shortage for healthcare workers) evolved and face coverings became commonplace.

Masks also became deeply political, with some resisting wearing them, either as a matter of personal liberty or skepticism, even after science indicated that they not only protected others but the wearer as well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to recommend that everyone age 2 and older should wear a face covering when outside their home to limit the spread of COVID-19. Effective last month, masks are also required on planes, buses, trains and other forms of public transportation when traveling within, into or out of the U.S.

A majority of states still have mask mandates in effect, though some have started to lift or let them expire amid falling COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations as well as the start of mass vaccinations, including Iowa, North Dakota and Montana. Mississippi, Texas and Alabama have also recently announced their mandates will end.

Public health officials have warned against easing restrictions, like mask mandates, too soon during the vaccine rollout, and President Joe Biden has called on all Americans to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his term.

"I hope everybody has realized by now these masks make a difference," he told reporters last week in response to Texas lifting its mandate. "It still matters. ... It’s critical, critical, critical, critical that they follow the science."

Social distancing a priority

Individuals have had to weigh many decisions on socializing safely while navigating the pandemic for a year now. Maybe you've stuck with your social bubble, or are looking to form one among a group of fully vaccinated friends and family. Overall, most Americans were still avoiding small gatherings (54%) and public places (56%) as of mid-February, according to a forthcoming Gallup poll.

Shopping, dining out and other public destinations are likely still to be at limited capacity with social distancing enforced -- depending on where you live. Most states and cities have gradually reopened in phases; New York City just brought back movie theaters, with entertainment venues to follow in April. Meanwhile, Texas will lift all restrictions on March 10, while one state -- South Dakota -- never implemented any.

Travel continues to be impacted during the pandemic, as business trips have gone virtual and vacation plans have been postponed or canceled in favor of road trips. The number of travelers going through TSA checkpoints daily has hovered around 1 million people in recent weeks, down from at least 2 million people during the same period last year.

As more and more people get vaccinated, public health protocols such as social distancing and non-essential travel are still being encouraged.

"We don't want people to think because they got vaccinated that other public health recommendations just don't apply," Fauci said during a CNN Town Hall meeting late last month. "Getting vaccinated doesn't say I have a free pass to travel nor does it say I have a free pass to put aside all of the public health measures we talk about all the time."

Workforce dynamics shift

COVID-19 continues to have a profound impact on the workforce, from who's employed to where people work.

Nearly a year out from unprecedented unemployment rates in the spring (14.8% in April), the economy still needs to recover about 10 million jobs lost during the pandemic.

Women have borne the brunt of unemployment loss. By January, more than 2.3 million women had left the workforce, compared to nearly 1.8 million men, since start of the pandemic, according to the National Women's Law Center.

Service workers have been particularly affected as well -- those in jobs requiring human contact may still be out of work, while others who were deemed essential, such as grocery store workers, have continued to work with the threat of exposure to the virus.

Those who could transitioned to working from home -- with 70% of workers remote in April, according to a Gallup poll. In the months since, that number has fallen, though a majority still continue to work remotely in some capacity. By the end of January, more than half of U.S. workers (56%) were still working remotely all or part of the time, according to the most recent Gallup poll.

School reopening in flux

Similarly, in-person learning has been largely disrupted by the pandemic. Since schools were forced to close in mid-March, the road to returning to the classroom has been a largely uncertain one, as COVID-19 cases have surged and waned, more has been learned about how schools can safely reopen and educators wait to get vaccinated.

Some public school districts, like in San Francisco and Los Angeles, have been closed for nearly a full year now. Others, like in New York City, have reverted from partially in-person to fully remote and back again based on COVID-19 positivity and hospitalization rates. A few states, including Iowa, Florida and, in recent days, Arizona, have ordered schools to reopen.

Nationwide, reopening to this point is fairly fragmented. According to Burbio, which aggregates school and community calendars from 1,200 school districts, 27.5% of K-12 students were fully remote, 44.7% were in person daily, and 27.8% were in a hybrid model as of Feb. 28.

The impact of this disrupted year on learning loss is pervasive, studies have found. Thousands of students have also been reported "missing" from school systems nationwide since March 2020, adding to concerns about the long-term consequences of the pandemic.

ABC News' Anne Flaherty contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Local News

WJTN Headlines for Mon., Mar 8, 2021

Bemus Point man wanted in Jamestown, arrested on drug charges...         A Bemus Point man wanted in the city of Jamestown has been arrested for allegedly being found in poss...

Read More