10 things you need to know today: February 12, 2021
House prosecutors say Trump will incite more violence unless convicted, Biden rescinds Trump border emergency order, and more
House Democrats say Trump will incite more violence if not convicted
House impeachment managers rested their case against former President Donald Trump on Thursday, after arguing that convicting him was the only way to prevent him from being elected and inciting violence again. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colo.), one of the Democrats prosecuting the case in the Senate, said the pro-Trump rioters who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6 were following Trump's directions, as they had previously after Trump encouraged violence. "Was it obvious that the crowd on Jan. 6 was poised for violence? Prepared for it? Absolutely," Neguse said. "There can be no doubt that the risk of violence was foreseeable." The arguments came on the third day of Trump's historic second impeachment trial. Trump's legal team will make its arguments for acquittal on Friday. A verdict is expected this weekend.
Biden rescinds Trump emergency order justifying border wall
President Biden on Thursday rescinded former President Donald Trump's declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, and blocked the use of federal money to build a border wall. "I have determined that the declaration of a national emergency at our southern border was unwarranted," Biden wrote in a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Biden said his administration would conduct a "careful review" of the Trump administration's spending on the project. Biden had paused border wall construction and questioned the validity of Trump's emergency declaration in another executive order he signed on his first day in office last month. Trump issued his order in early 2019 after clashing with lawmakers who resisted funding wall construction.
Biden announces deal to buy 200 million more vaccine doses
President Biden said Thursday that the federal government had signed contracts to buy 200 million more coronavirus vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna. Biden, speaking at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, said the deal was part of his administration's push to make more shots available and pick up the pace of the immunization effort. "We have to stay vigilant, we have to stay focused and for God's sake, we have to remember who we are. We are the United States of America. We can do this," Biden said. With the added vaccines — 100 million each from the two companies — the number of doses ordered by the U.S. will increase to 600 million from 400 million. It will take months to administer vaccinations to a majority of Americans, but Biden said the drug makers had agreed to speed up deliveries.
Commission: 40 percent of coronavirus deaths could have been prevented
About 40 percent of U.S. coronavirus deaths, which now total 475,000, could have been prevented if the country had managed to keep its COVID-19 mortality rate in line with those of other developed nations, according to a Lancet Commission report released Thursday. The Lancet Commission on Public Policy and Health in the Trump Era put some of the blame on former President Donald Trump's "inept and insufficient" response to the pandemic, and some on social inequities that contributed to the higher death rate among Black COVID-19 patients. Trump's failure to create a national response hampered public health measures, such as mask wearing, that could have saved lives, said commission co-chair Dr. Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at the City University of New York's Hunter College and an advocate of single-payer health care.
CBO forecasts 2nd biggest budget deficit since WWII
The federal budget deficit is on track to reach $2.3 trillion for the current fiscal year, with or without a new round of coronavirus relief, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in new forecasts released Thursday. The shortfall would be the second biggest since World War II, behind last year's $3-trillion-plus deficit. The latest figure reflects an improving economic situation, although the deficit projection has grown since the CBO's September estimate due mostly to the $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill Congress approved in December. Projected deficits for the next few years have declined due to the anticipation of faster economic growth, which should increase tax revenue.
Fauci predicts 'open season' for coronavirus vaccines by April
Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Thursday he expects the number of available COVID-19 doses to "allow for much more of a mass vaccination approach" beginning in March or April. Right now, COVID-19 vaccines are in short supply, and every state has restricted their distribution to older people and essential workers. But the top federal infectious disease expert said priority groups are getting their shots and more vaccine doses are becoming available, so it should soon be "open season" for people to get their shots. "I would imagine by the time we get to April ... virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated," Fauci said. The federal government's new deal to buy 200 million more vaccine doses from Pfizer and Moderna this summer will give the U.S. enough doses to vaccinate nearly every American.
China bans BBC World News in diplomatic spat
China has barred BBC World News from airing in the country, saying the channel's reports "seriously violated" China's rules on "truthful and fair" news reporting. The move was seen as a response to a decision by British regulators to revoke the license of state-owned Chinese broadcaster CGTN. China has criticized BBC reports on the coronavirus outbreak in China, and on allegations of forced labor and sexual abuse in the Xinjiang region that is home to predominantly Muslim ethnic groups, including the Uighurs. The ban was largely symbolic, as the channel was only available on limited cable TV systems, including those in hotels and apartment compounds for foreigners. China last year expelled foreign reporters for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.
U.S. jobless claims fall but remain above pre-pandemic record
The number of Americans who filed new applications for unemployment benefits fell last week to 793,000, down 19,000 from the revised 812,000 total from the previous week. Still, the new claims exceeded the 760,000 economists had expected, and remained above the pre-pandemic single-week record of 695,000. The U.S. economy added 49,000 jobs in January, a sign that the economic recovery had slowed during the winter surge in coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, which forced renewed restrictions on many businesses. "Despite the surprising speed of recovery early on, we are still very far from a strong labor market whose benefits are broadly shared," Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said.
Judge denies request for new arrest warrant for Kyle Rittenhouse
A Wisconsin judge ruled Thursday that Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, will remain free on a $2 million bond as he awaits trial for fatally shooting two men during a protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Prosecutors had requested a new arrest warrant for Rittenhouse, and additional $200,000 bond. They argued that he violated the conditions of his bail by failing to update the court about his current address. Rittenhouse's former attorney said the teen is living in a "safe house." Rittenhouse's current attorney, Mark Richards, said his client "is not running." Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder ordered the defense to give the court Rittenhouse's current address. Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers say he fired in self-defense.
Jazz pianist Chick Corea dies at 79
Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Chick Corea died on Tuesday, his family announced Thursday. He was 79. In a statement posted on Facebook, the Corea family said he "passed away from a rare form of cancer which was only discovered very recently." Corea was a member of the pioneering jazz fusion band Return to Forever and avant-garde jazz ensemble Circle, and performed with Miles Davis, Gary Burton, and Herbie Hancock. His solo and collaborative albums The Song of Singing, Return to Forever, and Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy are considered jazz essentials. Corea was nominated for 60 Grammys, winning 23 times. In a final message posted on social media, Corea thanked his fans, saying they "helped keep the music fires burning bright."