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House January 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani and three other Trump allies

On Tuesday, the House select committee investigating the January 6 assault on U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas to former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and three others – Jenna Ellis and Sidney Powell, two lawyers who worked to promote the president’s false claims about the election, as well as Boris Epshteyn, a former Trump White House aide.

The committee is demanding documents and testimony from Giuliani, Ellis, Powell, and Boris Epshteyn, who all challenged the 2020 election results. The panel’s chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement: “the four individuals we’ve subpoenaed today advanced unsupported theories about election fraud, pushed efforts to overturn the election results, or were in direct contact with the former President about attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes.”

Giuliani, Ellis, Powell, and Boris Epshteyn participated in a November 19, 2020 press conference that featured outlandish claims the election had been stolen and that Trump had won in a “landslide.”

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Website for free at-home COVID test kits is launched one day early

One day ahead of the scheduled rollout of free COVID-19 tests distributed by the Biden administration, Americans are able to place orders for their free test kits through a form posted by the U.S. Postal Service. The White House announced last week that it would publicly launch the site on Wednesday, 1/19. However, by Tuesday morning the site was up and running.  By early Tuesday afternoon, more than 500,000 users were visiting the test website. Every household is eligible to order four rapid antigen COVID-19 tests for free, to be delivered by the Postal Service, which will begin shipping tests in late January.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Tuesday: “It will officially launch tomorrow morning. It’s in the beta testing phase right now.”   A White House official said in a statement that the website is running at “limited capacity” as the government works to troubleshoot potential issues ahead of its formal launch Wednesday. An announcement was added to the webpage on Tuesday afternoon, saying that the administration has “tests for every residential address in the U.S.” and urged Americans to “check back tomorrow if you run into any unexpected issues.”

The White House also says it plans to launch a hotline that will allow Americans to order their own tests over the phone, if they have difficulty ordering on the website. Orders of the COVID-19 tests will be delivered for free via first-class mail. .

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LA Clippers’ Paul George to have extended period of rest due to right elbow injury

The LA Clippers announced on Tuesday that they are extending Paul George’s period of rest for a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.  The Clippers will see how his elbow responds to determine his timetable for return.

Back on Christmas Day, the Clippers initially said George would be evaluated for the injury in three to four weeks. The seven-time All-Star hasn’t seen the court since Los Angeles beat the Kings 105-89 on Dec. 22.  George was averaging 24.7 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game on the season prior to the injury.

The Clippers have gone 5-8 in George’s absence, and are also playing without Kawhi Leonard, who is rehabbing a torn ACL in his right knee for the entire season.

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LA Dodgers promote former relief pitcher Brandon Gomes to general manager

The Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Tuesday that they have promoted Brandon Gomes to general manager. The former vice president and assistant GM is the 12th general manager in franchise history. The 37-year-old Gomes has been in the Dodgers organization since 2017. Gomes is a former pitcher, playing five major-league seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2011 to 2015, making 173 career relief appearances with a 4.20 ERA.

The Dodgers also hired two new assistant general managers on Tuesday — the organization promoted director of baseball operations Alex Slater, and hired Washington Football Team chief legal officer Damon Jones. Slater has been in the Dodgers front office since 2014, and worked for the San Diego Padres from 2009 to 2014.  Jones previously spent more than a decade with the Washington Nationals as senior vice president and general counsel. His full title with Los Angeles will be vice president, assistant GM and baseball legal counsel.

The Dodgers also promoted the club’s pitching coordinator, Rob Hill, to director of minor league pitching. Brandon McDaniel was promoted to vice president of player performance, and Thomas Albert to head athletic trainer.

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Family of tornado victim in central Illinois sues Amazon over warehouse collapse

The family of an Amazon delivery driver, who died when the central Illinois Amazon facility where he worked collapsed due to a tornado, filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday in Madison County. The lawsuit on behalf of 26-year-old Austin McEwen claims that Amazon failed to warn employees of dangerous weather or provide safe shelter before a tornado slammed into the Edwardsville facility on Dec. 10, killing McEwen and five others.

McEwen’s parents, Randy and Alice McEwen, allege that Amazon administrators knew severe weather was imminent but had no emergency plan nor evacuated employees from the fulfillment center.  Mrs. McEwen said at a news conference on Monday: “Sadly, it appears that Amazon placed profits first during this holiday season instead of the safety of our son and the other five.”  The lawsuit stated that Amazon “carelessly required individuals … to continue working up until the moments before the tornado struck” and “improperly directed” McEwen and colleagues to shelter in a rest room, which it says the company knew or should have known wasn’t safe.  The lawsuit seeks more than $50,000 from each of the four defendants named in the suit, which includes, the construction company that built the facility and the project’s developer.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel released a statement that countered that the lawsuit: “This was a new building less than four years old, built in compliance with all applicable building codes, and the local teams were following the weather conditions closely. Severe weather watches are common in this part of the country and, while precautions are taken, are not cause for most businesses to close down. We believe our team did the right thing as soon as a warning was issued.”  Nantel said the company would defend itself against the lawsuit but would continue to focus on “supporting our employees and partners, the families who lost loved ones, the surrounding community, and all those affected by the tornadoes.”

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Newly elected Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia begins term by signing executive actions including a ban on critical race theory in public schools, lifting school mask mandates

Newly-elected Governor Glenn Youngkin of Virginia began his term on Saturday with executive actions directed at education and the COVID-19 pandemic, which notably included a ban on critical race theory in public schools and a lifting of school mask requirements. Youngkin also issued executive actions terminating the Virginia Parole Board, rescinding a vaccine mandate for state employees and establishing a commission to combat anti-Semitism.

Youngkin became the first Republican to win statewide office in Virginia since 2009.  He signed nine executive orders and two executive directives following his swearing-in, saying that the executive actions are steps to help launch “the work of restoring excellence in education, making our communities safer, opening Virginia for business and reinvigorating job growth, and making government work for the people, and not the other way around.”

The first executive order from Glenn Youngkin prohibits the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts,” including critical race theory, an academic concept developed by legal scholars to examine the ongoing effects of racism in American policies and institutions. Youngkin said in his executive order: “Political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms,”adding that “inherently divisive concepts, like critical race theory and its progeny, instruct students to only view life through the lens of race and presumes that some students are consciously or unconsciously racist, sexist, or oppressive, and that other students are victims.”

Youngkin also removed school mask requirements statewide. The governor’s order states that parents with children in public schools “may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child’s school or educational program.”  The order continued:“A child whose parent has elected that he or she is not subject to a mask mandate should not be required to wear a mask under any policy implemented by a teacher, school, school district, the Department of Education, or any other state authority.”  The removal of a mask mandate in public schools prompted pushback from school districts outside of Washington, D.C.  Following the governor’s executive order, Arlington Public Schools announced Saturday there would be no change to its mask requirements, with the face coverings still required for staff and students inside school grounds and on buses. Fairfax County Public Schools – the state’s largest school system — also said the district would continue to require universal masking.  Alexandria City Public Schools also stated it will continue to require all individuals wear masks in schools, facilities and on buses.

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Las Vegas Raiders fire general manager Mike Mayock after three seasons and 25-24 record with team

The Las Vegas Raiders announced in a statement that they have fired general manager Mike Mayock.  The Raiders said: “We have relieved Mike Mayock of his duties as General Manager of the Las Vegas Raiders. We thank Mike for his contributions over the last three years in helping to form the foundation for the franchise to to build upon in its future.”  Mayock spent three seasons with the team, in which the Raiders went 25-24. They reaching the AFC Wild Card Round this season.

Las Vegas will now be searching for both a head coach and GM. Jon Gruden resigned in October after emails he sent containing racist, anti-gay and misogynistic comments became public.   Special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia was made Gruden’s interim replacement, and went on to lead the Raiders to the postseason, winning each of their final four games to secure a wild-card berth, which ended with Saturday’s wild-card loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Former Clemson quarterback Hunter Johnson transferring back to program

Former five-star recruit Hunter Johnson will transfer back to Clemson for the 2022 season. The 24-year-old Johnson was initially a 5-star recruit in 2017, when he committed to Clemson. He played one season with the Tigers before transferring to Northwestern.

Said Johnson: “I initially reached out to Coach Swinney to honestly see if he had any GA [graduate assistant] spots. I reached out to him and he asked if I had my sixth year because of COVID-19 and I told him I still did. It wasn’t really my intention initially of calling him.It was pretty exciting and I took a day or so to think over things and it felt like it was a great situation for me… just being able to go finish  my sixth year and play at a place I’ve grown to love over the years and be part of the room.”

Johnson will serve as a backup QB for Clemson in 2022 behind D.J. Uiagalelei and Cade Klubnik.  At Northwestern, he tallied 856 passing yards and five touchdowns across nine games.

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Dozens of homes destroyed, power outages after tornado hits Southwest Florida

Dozens of homes were destroyed Sunday morning when severe weather tore through southwest Florida. At least 28 homes in Lee County were destroyed, with an additional 62 homes damaged. More than 7,000 were without power and as many as 200 people were displaced, while at least four people were injured.

The National Weather Service estimates winds reached 118 mph. The path of the tornado was 125 yards wide and 1.8 miles in length. Also its path, the tornado damaged more than 100 mobile homes and 30 mobile homes were displaced from their foundation

The NWS also determined that at least one EF2 tornado touched down in the south Fort Myers area Sunday morning around 8 a.m. Video of the tornado showed debris whirling high in the sky.  The NWS continues to assess the situation, though videos on social media clearly showed tornados touching down in various places, most notably in Lee and Collier counties.

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Suspect holding people hostage at synagogue in Colleyville, Texas is dead; hostages are released safely

All hostages were released safely from a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas (about 30 miles northwest of Dallas) following a 10+ hour standoff. According to local and federal law enforcement officials, the man responsible is dead.

The group of four hostages, which included the rabbi of the synagogue, were taken hostage at about 10:41 a.m. Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue. The hostages were being held by a man demanding the release of a federal prisoner being held in North Texas who was convicted in 2010 of attempted murder in a terrorism-related case, officials said. One of the hostages was released shortly after 5 p.m. and FBI crisis negotiators continued to communicate with the man in the synagogue Saturday night. The FBI’s hostage rescue team breached the synagogue and rescued the hostages around 9pm, Colleyville Police Chief Michael C. Miller said. The hostages, all of whom were adults, were not physically harmed and did not require medical attention, officials said. Police Chief Miller said the suspect, whose identity has not been released, is dead. Officials did not release details on how the man died.

Law enforcement agencies, including several North Texas police departments, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the FBI’s Dallas field office as well as the agency’s hostage rescue team based in Quantico, Virginia, descended on Colleyville as the situation unfolded.

President Biden thanked those who worked to bring the four hostages home to their families, saying: “There is more we will learn in the days ahead about the motivations of the hostage-taker. But let me be clear to anyone who intends to spread hate — we will stand against antisemitism and against the rise of extremism in this country. That is who we are, and tonight, the men and women of law enforcement made us all proud.”

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