Chicago has canceled school for today after the Chicago Teachers Union voted Tuesday night for classes to go remote due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. In a statement, the union said, “This decision was made with a heavy heart and a singular focus on student and community safety.” This comes as schools across the nation are grappling with how to keep students and teachers safe as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads. In suburban Chicago, one district had to close five schools Tuesday because more than 500 teachers and staff were out sick. In Florida, thousands of teachers have called out sick as COVID cases skyrocket in the Miami area. On Tuesday, President Biden reiterated his support for keeping schools open during the COVID surge.
President Joe Biden: “We know that our kids can be safe when in school, by the way. That’s why I believe schools should remain open.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to largely stick with its new COVID isolation guidance saying people with asymptomatic infections can stop isolating after five days — down from 10 days. On Tuesday, the CDC said infected people could take a rapid test before ending isolation, but the agency is not mandating it. Meanwhile, new government data show 113,000 people are now hospitalized with COVID-19 — higher than during the Delta surge over the summer.
Officials in India have announced a weekend curfew in Delhi as COVID cases reach a nine-month high. Between Friday night and Monday morning, all nonessential businesses will be closed in India’s largest city. Meanwhile, Hong Kong is banning flights from the United States, Britain and six other countries for the next two weeks.
The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection is asking Sean Hannity, the Fox News host and close confidant to Donald Trump, to voluntarily cooperate with its investigation. In a letter, the committee said it believed Hannity had “advance knowledge regarding President Trump’s and his legal team’s planning for Jan. 6.” On Tuesday, the committee released a number of text messages sent by Hannity to White House officials before and after the insurrection. On January 5, Hannity wrote to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, saying he was “very worried about the next 48 hours.” Shortly after the news broke about Sean Hannity’s text messages, Donald Trump canceled a news conference he had scheduled for Thursday on the first anniversary of the insurrection. The January 6 committee has also indicated it hopes to speak with former Vice President Mike Pence as part of its investigation. Meanwhile, Trump is facing two new federal lawsuits for his role in encouraging the deadly insurrection. One suit was filed by a U.S. Capitol Police officer, the other by two members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police.
Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro was interviewed on MSNBC Tuesday by Ari Melber. Navarro outlined his support last year for what he called the “Green Bay Sweep” — a plan to overturn the election results in six states.
Peter Navarro: “We had over a hundred congressmen and senators on Capitol Hill ready to implement the sweep. The sweep was simply that. We were going to challenge the results of the election in the six battleground states. They were Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, Nevada.”
Ari Melber: “Do you realize you are describing a coup?”
Peter Navarro: “No. I totally reject many of your premises there.”
A new investigation by The Washington Post and ProPublica has found Facebook played a key role in spreading false information about the 2020 election in the lead-up to the January 6 insurrection. The news outlets report at least 650,000 messages were posted on Facebook attacking the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory prior to the insurrection, with many calling for political violence, including executions.
On Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday to proceed with a vote to change the filibuster rule to prevent Republicans from blocking new voting rights legislation. Schumer spoke on the floor of the Senate.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “There is no better way to heal the damage of January 6th than to act so that our constitutional order is preserved for the future. If we do not act to protect our elections, the horrors of January 6th will risk becoming not the exception but the norm. The stakes could not be higher, so we are going to move forward.”
It remains unclear, however, if the Democratic leadership has the votes needed. On Tuesday, Democratic Senator Joe Manchin voiced skepticism about changing the filibuster rules.
Sen. Joe Manchin: “Let me just say, to being open to a rules change that would create a nuclear option, it’s very, very difficult. That’s a heavy lift.”
The Canadian government has agreed to give over $15 billion to Indigenous children harmed by Canada’s child welfare system, including tens of thousands of children who were taken from their families and put into the system. In addition, Canada has pledged to spend another $15 billion to reform the nation’s child welfare system. First Nations Manitoba Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse praised the unprecedented settlement.
Cindy Woodhouse: “We have a long way to go to address the poverty in our nations, and no amount of money will ever be the right amount, nor will it bring back a childhood lost. But today is about acknowledgment, about being seen and heard.”
U.S. authorities have arrested a retired Colombian military commando for his alleged involvement in last year’s assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. The man, Mario Antonio Palacios, was arrested in Panama while traveling to Colombia after being deported from Jamaica. He was then flown to Miami, where he appeared in court on Tuesday. Palacios is accused of being part of a mercenary team hired to carry out the execution. It is still unknown who hired the mercenaries to attack Moïse’s home.
A Palestinian prisoner has ended a 141-day hunger strike after Israel agreed to release him next month. Hisham Abu Hawash began the hunger strike to protest what’s known as administrative detention, where Israel holds Palestinians without charge or trial. His brother Imad celebrated the news on Tuesday.
Imad Abu Hawash: “I can’t describe how happy I am. I even can’t express how happy I am. Today we are happy for Hisham, who won over this oppressive, criminal state, Israel. Today Hisham achieved victory for all the prisoners, martyrs, all the Palestinians, even for those who are in the diaspora.”
In more news from the region, the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports 2021 was the deadliest year for Palestinians since 2014, as Israeli forces killed 313 Palestinians last year, including 71 minors. In addition, Israel demolished nearly 300 residential structures in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem last year — the highest number since 2016. This left nearly 900 Palestinians homeless. The demolitions are continuing. On Tuesday, Israeli forces demolished part of a healthcare center which serves 20,000 people in occupied East Jerusalem.
In Sudan, security forces fired live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas at protesters on Tuesday as demonstrations continue across Sudan demanding civilian rule. Security forces blocked roads leading to the Republican Palace in central Khartoum. Seventy protesters were reportedly injured across the country Tuesday. The protest came two days after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned.
Sami Saleh: “Today, after Hamdok’s resignation, the people are confirming the need for Sudanese men and women of all parties to move forward despite the repression. They are facing off against the state, as you can hear the sound of the bombs being fired at those on the frontlines who are facing this abuse for the sake of a free, peaceful and just state.”
The president of Kazakhstan has declared a two-week state of emergency in parts of the country and has dismissed his entire Cabinet following days of protests over rising fuel prices. Earlier today, protesters in the oil-rich nation stormed the mayor’s office in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, and attempted to break into the presidential residence.
Here in New York, the district attorney of Albany County has announced he is dropping a sex crime charge against disgraced former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. In October, the county sheriff filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo, charging him with forcible touching for allegedly groping his former assistant Brittany Commisso inside the Executive Mansion. In a statement, Albany District Attorney David Soares said, “While we found the complainant in this case cooperative and credible, after review of all the available evidence we have concluded that we cannot meet our burden at trial.”
In California, a Republican lawyer and vocal critic of vaccine mandates has died after contracting COVID-19. Kelly Ernby was 46 years old. She worked as a deputy district attorney in Orange County. In December, she spoke at a rally against vaccine mandates, telling protesters, “There’s nothing that matters more than our freedoms right now.”
Today is Julian Assange’s 1,000th day locked up in the Belmarsh high-security prison in London. Supporters of the WikiLeaks founder are expected to rally outside the prison demanding his release and to oppose U.S. plans to extradite him for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.