By BRYAN ROMBOT | Staff Writer Here are some of this week's top news stories:
Biden says: ‘The troops will be home by September!’
(Photo by Andrew Harnick-Pool/Getty Images)
To close the longest-ever American war, President Biden addressed the public Wednesday declaring that troops in Afghanistan will come home by the 20th anniversary of 9/11. In addressing the nation from the Treaty Room of the White House, Biden said that the time is right and that America can’t wait any longer. “I’m now the fourth United States President to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan: two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.” It is a sign that the United States is ready to close this chapter in its history. The withdrawal stems from the recent successes by the Trump administration in the Middle East, particularly the assassinations of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Hamza bin Laden (the Obama administration had killed his father, Osama bin Laden) and Qassem Soleimani, as well as the destruction of the ISIS “caliphate, and new threats elsewhere.” But the President reaffirmed that if the Taliban double-crosses the United States, he will respond. He stated: “And the Taliban should know if they attack us as we draw down, we will defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal.”
Colton Underwood comes out as gay
(Screenshot of Colton Underwood from ABC/Disney)
Bachelor alum Colton Underwood declared himself gay in a sitdown with Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America earlier this week. The 29-year-old star had been dating figures such as Cassie Randolph and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman. In his sitdown with Robin Roberts, he stated: “I came to terms with that earlier that year and have been processing it. The next step in all this was sort of letting people know. I’m still nervous, but it’s been a journey for sure.” So far, producers of The Bachelor have been supportive of this move. Underwood is reported to be in talks with Netflix in producing a documentary series reflecting on this move.
Fauci says not to panic over J&J vaccine concerns
(Photo by Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images)
In a sit down with CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell, Dr. Anthony Fauci calmed fears over the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. But he urged caution and advised recipients to be aware. “It depends on when they got it. It appears that this adverse event occurs between six days and 13 days. So if you had it a month or two ago, I think you really don’t need to worry about anything. If you are in the time frame of within a week or two of having gotten vaccinated, remember one thing: This is a very rare event. It’s less than one in a million. Having said that, you still want to be alert to some symptoms, such as severe headache, some difficulty in movement, or some chest discomfort and difficulty breathing.” This remark comes in the wake of the CDC’s decision to pause the Johnson & Johnson vaccine distribution after six women who received the vaccine came down with blood clotting problems. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine, created with Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital of Boston, Massachusetts, was the third vaccine that the CDC had approved for distribution to the public after Pfizer and Moderna. Fauci further explained that this move was not an overreaction but a cautionary measure.
“No, I don’t think so. I think they did the prudent thing. Our FDA and our CDC, when you talk about regulatory and public health agencies, are really the gold standard throughout the World, and we want to make sure that safety is a very important issue without overreacting. That’s the reason why they said ‘pause.’ They didn’t say ‘Stop, forget it. It’s over.’ They said, ‘Let’s take a look at it. Do it as expeditiously and quickly as possible, and if we’re gonna get back on track, we’ll get back on track,’” Fauci said to O’Donnell. But while the CDC and FDA continue to investigate, Fauci reassured Americans that the J&J vaccine is still effective. “It doesn’t mean anything for the efficacy. This has nothing to do with efficacy. The J&J vaccine is still a very highly efficacious vaccine for COVID-19 disease,” said Fauci. He continued, “I just want to make sure we do it in a very scientifically-based way where you evaluate all the data and make a very and good decision we hope based on the data.”
Several Congressional Democrats introduce court-packing legislation
(Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
The Democratic-held Congress has officially introduced legislation to expand the Supreme Court of the United States from nine to 13 justices. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), House Judiciary Chairman Representative Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Representatives Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the legislation Thursday. The bill would expand the court size to 12 justices. Speaking in front of the Supreme Court, Senator Markey stated: “It’s out of balance. It needs to be fixed.” Senator Markey, and Representatives Nadler, Johnson, and Jones cite Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opposition to Merrick Garland and his push for Trump-appointed Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett as a reason. Markey stated: “Republicans have purposefully warped and weaponized the highest court of the land for their own partisan gain.” However, a bipartisan blowback from both Democrats and Republicans has followed the wake of this announcement. Long Island Representative Tom Suozzi (D-NY) opposed this move in a New York Post statement. “This is a system that has worked well for a long time. Changing it based on party control is not a good practice,” Suozzi said. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) also was hesitant to support Markey’s bill. “I’m not ready to sign on,” Durbin remarked. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she would not “bring it to the floor.” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) stated: “It will end the Supreme Court’s legitimacy and the end of the rule of law in America.”
Baylor drops Jeep after “hood” remarks
(Photo by KWTX)
The Baylor Bears have gotten into an ire with a local Jeep dealership after some comments had drawn Baylor University’s criticism. Ted Teague, who owns Allen Samuels Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram in Waco, Texas, gave Baylor University a lifted Jeep Wrangler to commemorate Baylor winning the NCAA Championship. He had told KWTX that Baylor’s coach Scott Drew could “use it to recruit, pull some people out of the hood.” Baylor used the Jeep Wrangler during Tuesday night’s parade in Waco; Baylor then returned the vehicle to the dealership due to Teague’s remarks. Coach Scott Drew and Baylor’s athletic director Mark Rhoades issued the following statement: “We can confirm that we are not accepting the Jeep driven in the parade on Tuesday. As a department, we are committed to recruiting a diverse group of student-athletes, coaches, and staff, all of whom are valued members of the community.” Teague has apologized for his remarks stating that: “I know that I disrespected a countless number of people within our amazing Waco community, and beyond. I am deeply disappointed and saddened by my actions and offer each of you my most sincere apologies.”
Bernie Madoff dead at the age of 82.
(Photo by Louis Lanzano, The Associated Press)
Notorious scam artist Bernie Madoff passed away on Wednesday at the age of 82 due to natural causes in federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. The Laurelton, Queens native had been suffering from End-stage renal disease and other chronic conditions, and his lawyers had been filing for Madoff’s early release from federal prison. Federal officials and later a judge had denied the request. Madoff pled guilty in March 2009 after admitting to authorities that he had conned millions of dollars in investment money from thousands of clients, racking up to $65 billion. His victims ranged from Floridian retirees to famed producer Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon, actress Kyra Sedgwick, former Disney executive Jeffery Katzenberg, and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. While posing as an investment advisor, the FBI exposed his Ponzi scheme in 2008 as a multibillion-dollar scheme. He used people’s investment savings to fund a lavish lifestyle for him, his wife, and close friends. New York Mets former owner Fred Wilpon, Yeshiva University (with whom Madoff was a board member), New York University, the International Olympic Committee, and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity were also affected by the Ponzi scheme due to Madoff ties to these groups.