June 5, 2020

Brazil's coronavirus death toll hit 34,021 on Thursday, with the country surpassing Italy to become third in the world when it comes to COVID-19 fatalities.

Only the United States and United Kingdom have higher death tolls. Brazil's health ministry also announced on Thursday night that there were 1,473 coronavirus deaths in the country over the last 24 hours, a daily record. Brazil now has 615,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with more than 70 percent of cities affected.

Despite the numbers skyrocketing, Brazil's far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, complained on Thursday about lockdown efforts by state governors and mayors who want to slow the spread of COVID-19. "We can't go on like this," he said. "Nobody can take it anymore. The collateral impact will be far greater than those people who unfortunately lost their lives because of these last three months here."

Miguel Lago, director of Brazil's Institute for Health Policy Studies, told The Guardian he is "very worried" about the number of cases in the country, adding, "we are going to witness hospitals collapsing in almost every state. I think the worst is still to come." Lago believes Bolsonaro is rushing to reopen the economy in order to help him get re-elected in 2022, telling The Guardian, "He doesn't care about the lives of the Brazilians who will die because of his absolutely irresponsible behavior." Catherine Garcia

8:42 a.m.

Larry King, the longtime radio and television broadcaster, died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his production studio and television network, Ora Media, announced. He was 87. No cause of death was given, but CNN previously reported that King had been hospitalized with COVID-19 earlier this month.

King is perhaps best-known for his 25-year run hosting CNN's nightly Larry King Live, which ran from 1985 to 2010, though he continued working after that.

The Associated Press estimates King conducted somewhere around 50,000 on-air interviews, which included guests from all walks of life. Per AP, he claimed he never prepared for his interviews, delivering them in a non-confrontational style that "relaxed his guests," many of whom reportedly sought out his show because of his "middle-of-the-road" stance. The statement from Ora Media said King "always viewed his interview subjects as the true stars of his programs, and himself as merely an unbiased conduit between the guest and the audience." Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

8:13 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday night set the timeline for former President Donald Trump's impeachment trial.

As expected, the House will send over the article of impeachment charging Trump with incitement of insurrection Monday at 7 p.m. ET. Senators will then be sworn in as members of the impeachment court on Tuesday, and then House impeachment managers and Trump's defense team will spend several days drafting their legal briefs while the Senate will continue with non-impeachment business before both sides begin their presentations the week of Feb. 8.

The GOP seems pleased with the scheduling agreement. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who opposes impeachment, said it's "fair to all concerned," and a spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who seems open to voting to convict Trump, called it a "win for due process ... especially given the fast and minimal process in the House." Read more at CBS News and Axios. Tim O'Donnell

January 22, 2021

COVID-19 is spreading among the National Guard troops sent to protect the Capitol.

About 26,000 Guard members from every state were sent to the Capitol area after Trump supporters' Jan. 6 attack, and many have remained to protect the area in the week after President Biden's inauguration. Close to 200 of those soldiers have since tested positive for COVID-19, defense officials tell The Wall Street Journal. Hundreds more are quarantining in hotel rooms after being exposed to the virus, Politico reports.

Guard members who arrived in the days before the inauguration lined the halls of the Capitol to sleep between their 12-hour shifts. They didn't get coronavirus tests before arriving, one Guard member told Politico, saying "right after the holidays they packed us together like sardines in buses and rooms for this." And things got worse Thursday as Guard members were told to set up their base camps outside the Capitol complex — and take their breaks outside too — after Capitol Police seemingly removed them from the grounds. Dozens were relegated to rest in a parking garage Thursday night, packed close to rest once again.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent Thursday night and Friday morning pointing fingers over the garage situation and offered up their offices for naps. Biden apologized to National Guard Bureau head Daniel R. Hokanson in a Friday call, and first lady Jill Biden dropped off some cookies. The Guard members have since been allowed back inside the Capitol, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) did call his troops back home. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 22, 2021

Tom Brokaw is signing off at NBC.

The 80-year-old veteran journalist announced Friday he's retiring from NBC News after 55 years with the network, CNN and Deadline report.

"During one of the most complex and consequential eras in American history, a new generation of NBC News journalists, producers and technicians is providing America with timely, insightful and critically important information, 24/7," Brokaw said. "I could not be more proud of them."

Brokaw served as NBC Nightly News anchor for 22 years, from 1982 to 2004. He first joined NBC in 1966, according to CNN, and the network noted in a press release he "has spent his entire journalism career with NBC News" after getting his start in its Los Angeles Bureau.

Brokaw in 2018 faced allegations of sexual harassment from two women, which he denied. He has been continuing to serve as a special correspondent for the network. NBC says Brokaw "will continue to be active in print journalism, authoring books and articles, and spend time with his wife, Meredith, three daughters and grandchildren."

NBC News' Kasie Hunt paid tribute to Brokaw on Friday, writing, "I'm still in awe I had the chance to learn from him and am so incredibly grateful for the interest he took in my career and the advice he gave so freely," while CNN's Brian Stelter described this as the "end of an NBC News era." Brendan Morrow

January 22, 2021

President Biden has issued another two executive orders aimed at the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout.

Millions of Americans have claimed unemployment insurance as they lost their jobs amid the pandemic, not to mention thousands of noncitizen workers who haven't been eligible for the benefits. Congress has so far passed two relief bills aimed at helping those who have lost their jobs, though many families are still struggling. Biden is pushing Congress to pass another $1.9 trillion stimulus program, but took initial and immediate relief steps Friday with another round of executive orders.

The first order would increase how much families are given through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program each week. About 12 million families rely on the program, and this order would boost food stamp benefits for a family of four by 15 percent, National Economic Council Director Brian Deese tells The New York Times. And while Biden has called for another round of $1,400 stimulus checks, this order would direct the IRS to ensure Americans are getting their $600 payments as well. Notably, the order will also let people claim unemployment benefits even if they quit their job because they feel unsafe working it during the pandemic, among other economic benefits aimed at low-income Americans.

The second order meanwhile lays the groundwork for ensuring federal workers and contractors are paid at least $15 per hour and can access paid leave, CNN reports. It also undoes some of former President Donald Trump's orders that let a president hire and fire employees for political reasons and limited federal workers' bargaining rights.

Biden has spent the first two days of his presidency issuing executive orders to combat Trump's policies on immigration, climate, the pandemic, and more. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 22, 2021

In the wake of this month's deadly attack on the Capitol building, the White House is pledging to confront the "serious and growing" threat of "domestic violent extremism."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced Friday that President Biden is requesting a "comprehensive threat assessment" from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence focused on domestic violent extremism, which will be conducted in coordination with the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

"The January 6 assault on the Capitol and the tragic deaths and destruction that occurred underscored what we have long known: the rise of domestic violent extremism is a serious and growing national security threat," Psaki said. "The Biden administration will confront this threat with the necessary resources and resolve."

Psaki said the threat assessment Biden has ordered is the "first step" toward doing so, and it will provide "fact-based analysis upon which we can shape policy."

Additionally, Psaki said the National Security Council will launch a "policy review effort" focused on "how the government can share information better about this threat" and "support efforts to prevent radicalization, disrupt violent extremist networks, and more." Finally, she said, the Biden administration will work to coordinate "relevant parts of the federal government to enhance and accelerate efforts to address" domestic violent extremism.

A mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6 while Congress was meeting to certify Biden's election win, leaving five people dead. Biden condemned the rioters as "domestic terrorists," and CNN previously reported that his administration plans to "make domestic terrorism a significant focus of the National Security Council." Brendan Morrow

January 22, 2021

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Friday that there's "some evidence" a surging COVID-19 variant may be more deadly than the original strain.

The B117 strain was first identified in London, and has since spread across the U.K. and arrived in other U.S. and other countries. "In addition to spreading more quickly, it also now appears that there is some evidence that the new variant ... may be associated with a higher degree of mortality," Johnson said in a Friday press conference.

Before Johnson's announcement, evidence suggested the variant was no more inherently deadly than the original COVID-19 strain. But evidence the U.K.'s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group assessed for the government shows that it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. Sir Patrick Vallance, the government's chief scientific advisor, cautioned that the data is "not yet strong," saying "there's a lot of uncertainty around these numbers and we need more work to get a precise handle on it."

Even if the variant is not necessarily more deadly, its rapid transmission rate could allow it to infect — and therefore kill — more people. Still, research suggests both major COVID-19 vaccines currently in distribution will still be just as effective against the new strain. Kathryn Krawczyk

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