Two new COVID-19 vaccine centers being established in California
WASHINGTON - The federal government is stepping in to help California speed up COVID-19 inoculations, announcing Wednesday the creation of two community vaccination centers.
Jeff Zients, who leads President Joe Biden’s task force on COVID-19, said the initiative will help “two of the communities most hard hit by this pandemic.” One will be located at Cal State in Los Angeles and the other center will be run out of the Oakland Coliseum.
He said both locations will be run in partnership with the state but staffed mostly by federal workers, including officials from Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“These sites in California are just the beginning,” Zients said.
The vaccination centers are part of the Biden administration’s effort to ramp up inoculations as new coronavirus variants emerge. California has struggled to deliver vaccines, and its initial efforts have been marred by confusion and snarls in the supply chain. - Los Angeles Times
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin taking gavel of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee
CHICAGO - Illinois’ senior U.S. senator, Dick Durbin, will officially take the gavel as chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee as a result of a power-sharing agreement reached Wednesday between Democratic and Republican leaders in the evenly split chamber.
Democrats technically have majority control of the Senate due to Vice President Kamala Harris’ ability to cast tiebreaking votes. But organizing of the chamber had been delayed due to the insistence by the Senate’s GOP leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, that the 60-vote filibuster rule be preserved in exchange for installing Democrats as committee chairs.
McConnell later dropped that demand when two Democrats said they supported keeping the filibuster.
Durbin, who is the No. 2 ranking Democrat in the chamber’s leadership, has served on the judiciary committee since 1997 and has seen the panel’s reach expanded to include issues such as civil and human rights. To accept the chairman’s gavel, Durbin gave up a role on a top Senate appropriations subcommittee.
Durbin, 76, who won a fifth term on Nov. 3, has indicated the need to quickly approve President Joe Biden’s nomination of Merrick Garland, a Chicago native, as attorney general.
Additionally, in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Durbin has pushed for federal action to further combat domestic terrorism. - Chicago Tribune
California man rescued after being stranded a week in deep Sierra Nevada
LOS ANGELES - A Tahoe man survived for seven days in California's Sierra Nevada, hemmed in by deep snow after being led into danger by his GPS.
Harland Earls, 29, visited friends in Grass Valley the weekend before the worst of a winter storm hit, according to a Sierra County Sheriff’s Office press release.
On Jan. 24, Earls headed for Truckee by way of Highway 49. Trusting his GPS when it indicated that Henness Pass Road was a shorter route, he changed direction.
Unaware that the road is not plowed and open only in the summer, he followed the device’s instructions and soon found himself stuck as the storm dumped 6 to 8 feet of snow.
After nearly a week without word from Earls, his family reported him missing to the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday and searched for him along Highway 49.
Meanwhile, Earls was holed up in his pickup truck with food, water, winter clothes and a forced-air propane heater he had brought with him, according to Nevada County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ray Kress.
On the seventh day, Sunday, Earls ran out of food and water. He repurposed snowboards as snowshoes, hiking to a high point to get cell service and call 911, Kress said.
Though the call dropped, sheriff’s officials pinpointed Earls’ location, near Alleghany in Sierra County.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter reached Earls before Kress, who was headed there with an eight-person search-and-rescue team, and plucked him out of the snow.
Earls was found to be in good medical condition, authorities said. - Los Angeles Times
BBQ vs. Cuban sandwiches: Congress members make Super Bowl wager
WASHINGTON - Kansas City-area Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Sharice Davids savored California chocolate last year after the Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
This year, they’re hoping for Cuban sandwiches.
Cleaver, D-Mo., and Davids, D-Kan., have once again put Kansas City barbecue on the line as the Chiefs look to repeat as Super Bowl champions when they face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday.
The Democrats from both sides of the state line have made a wager with Tampa-area Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist.
“Chiefs Kingdom has been ready to Run It Back since last February, and the only way we fail to do so is if we miss the bus to the game on Sunday afternoon,” Cleaver said.
Cleaver has put up Gates Bar-B-Q, a Missouri favorite the congressman has long championed, while Davids has bet fare from Joe’s Kansas City, the iconic restaurant on the Kansas side of the metro.
If the Chiefs win, the Florida Democrats will owe Cleaver and Davids local specialties of Latin guava pastries, flan and Cuban sandwiches.
This year’s bet also includes a new, less tasty provision. Losers will have to wear COVID-19 masks with the logo of the winning team on the House floor, a pandemic-era stipulation that was not in the wager Cleaver and Davids made last year with California Democrats. - McClatchy Washington Bureau