The Wider World

Harris’ vote saves Biden’s plan

KAMALA HARRIS cast the deciding vote as the Senate agreed to begin debate on President Joe Biden’s “American Rescue Plan” (Flicker/Gage Skidmore).

President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan” to fight the effects of the coronavirus pandemic won a narrow but key victory Thursday in the U.S. Senate.

With all 50 Democrats voting in favor of a motion to begin debate on the bill, and all 50 Republicans voting against, the tie was broken by Vice President Kamala Harris as president of the Senate.

To keep the support of moderate Democrats, some components of the original proposal were softened or scratched. Gone is the $15 an hour minimum wage, and eligibility for the $1400 direct payments to citizens was lowered to those earning $80,000 a year or less. Households with an annual income of $160,000 – but no more – would also qualify. The bill will also pay for vaccines, testing, aid for state, county and city governments and other groups.

As an alternative, Republicans have proposed a package about one-third as large, according to the Associated Press.

News: Stay, says D.C. police chief to National Guard

PROTESTERS outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. (Wikipedia/Tyler Merble).

Concern about the possibility of another attack on the U.S. Capitol, the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police has asked National Guard troops to stay to provide additional security. Yogananda Pittman wants as many as 2,200 troops for another two months to avoid repetition of the Jan. 6 incident when right-wing extremists stormed the seat of Congress in an attempt to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.

The possibility of an another assault by extremists was raised by monitoring by law enforcement of social media traffic among anti-government groups, some of whom maintain that its Donald Trump and not Joe Biden who is the  rightful president.

Business: Red ink flows on Wall Street

The investment community, worried about the bond market and rising interest rates, showed its nervousness Thursday as big losses were racked up across the board. The Dow Jones Average fell 345.95 points to 30,914.14. The S&P 500 fell 51.25 points to 3,768.47 and the Nasdaq retreated 274.28 points to 12,723.47. It was the market’s third straight rough day after a big boom on Monday.

Sports: Big Ben will be back this fall

BEN ROETHLISBERGER (All-Pro Reels Photography)

Ben Roethlisberger, the long-time star quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will be around for a while longer. A new contract announced Thursday would put “Big Ben” behind center again for the 2021 NFL season.

According to USA Today, “Ben,” 39, agreed to take a salary cut to free up some space for the team under the salary cap. The Steelers started out hot, winning their first 11 games and finished with a 12-4 season. However, they lost their first round playoff game to Cleveland in a contest in which Roethlisberger threw four interceptions.

Creighton University men’s basketball coach Greg McDermott was suspended Thursday after the controversy generated when he urged his players to “stay on the plantation,” a remark which some associated with slavery. McDermott apologized.

Weather: Grab your sunshine now

The West Orange County area should see sunny skies for the next two days, but the weekend will eventually see the weather turn cloudy and showers will arrive next week. Friday’s high is expected to be 75, with an overnight low of 50. The sun will stay on Saturday, but temperatures will cool to 67 (50 overnight) and clouds will set in Sunday with a high of 65 (50). Along the coastal areas of Huntington Beach, daytime highs will be four to five degrees cooler during the day.

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