PA loses education secretary as COVID looms; AP Headlines

AP PA Headlines 8/6/20

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s top education official is leaving the job as schools grapple with plans to develop and implement pandemic reopening plans. The board of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology in Lancaster on Tuesday hired Education Secretary Pedro Rivera to be its next president. Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf says he plans to nominate one of Rivera’s top deputies to succeed him. Wolf says he’ll nominate Noe Ortega, the deputy secretary for post-secondary and higher education. Rivera has been part of Wolf’s cabinet since the start of his first term more than five years ago.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Two days of legislative hearings are giving Pennsylvania state lawmakers little reason for optimism about the set of problems ahead as schools plan to reopen during the pandemic. The state House Education Committee heard experts say there’s been lots of planning but much concern about what lies ahead. Among the issues are questions about what standards schools should use to decide whether to shut down a school or a district when an outbreak occurs, a prospect that looms large as the school year is about to begin.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Reopening schools during the coronavirus pandemic means putting children on school buses, and districts are working on plans to limit the risk. The strategies being considered include limiting bus capacity, filling buses from the back and coming up with plans to handle children who exhibit symptoms.

Planners have developed a wide array of strategies to reduce the health risks, but nobody has found a silver bullet. Many schools are surveying parents to determine how many students will need bus transportation and how many plan to drive their kids to school. Others are making decisions about bus capacity that involve a trade-off between safety and affordability.

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Authorities say a 5-year-old girl who disappeared from a Philadelphia-area home during the height of Tuesday’s storm was found dead and was believed to have been swept away in floodwaters. Police in Montgomery County’s Towamencin Township said Eliza Talal, described as autistic and nonverbal, was found Wednesday morning next to a creek after waters receded. Chief Paul Dickinson said she had last been seen at about noon and was believed to have gone out of her Lansdale home and “was pulled into the water.” Weather authorities, meanwhile, confirmed two tornadoes in Montgomery and Bucks counties during the storm.

HARRISBURG, Pa, (AP) — Pennsylvania is seeing 23 additional deaths from COVID-19, a day after reporting no new pandemic deaths for the first time in months. Total deaths since the coronavirus came to Pennsylvania early this year are now at 7,232 in the state. Health officials say infections are up significantly among younger people, particularly those 19 to 24 years old. They’ve alerted medical professionals about the trend, in which cases are up among that younger cohort in every region of the state.

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SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle City Council in a preliminary vote decided unanimously to reduce the police department by up to 100 officers through layoffs and attrition. The move was pushed by demonstrators who have marched in the city following George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis. The Seattle Times reports final votes are still to come next week, and the council Wednesday rejected a push to cut the department’s remaining 2020 budget by 50% and reinvest that money, as many Black Lives Matter protesters have urged. The amendments passed in a committee are expected to save only about $3 million of the departments $400 million annual budget this year.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic challenger Joe Biden joined President Donald Trump on Wednesday in scrapping plans to accept his party’s presidential nomination in a convention extravaganza. Neither campaign has announced an alternative to the Democrats’ original plans for Milwaukee and the Republicans’ shifting plans spanning Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jacksonville, Florida. It’s yet another striking demonstration of how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended American life and the 2020 presidential campaign. It’s denying Trump and Biden coveted personal experiences with party faithful and leaving their campaigns looking for alternative ways to capitalize on a moment that still can reach millions of Americans via television and online.

NEW YORK (AP) – Facebook has deleted a post by President Donald Trump, citing its coronavirus misinformation policy. The post in question featured a link to a Fox News video in which Trump says children are “virtually immune” to the virus. Facebook said in a statement Wednesday that the video includes false claims that a group of people is immune from COVID-19. It says that is a violation of its policies around harmful COVID-19 misinformation. A tweet from Trump with the same video remained up on Twitter as of Wednesday afternoon. A few hours later, Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump campaign from tweeting until it removed the same video.

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal judge in Mississippi is calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn qualified immunity. The legal principle protects law enforcement officers from being sued for some actions. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote that it has shielded officers who violate people’s constitutional rights. Reeves started his Tuesday ruling with a recitation of harm done by police to African Americans, including the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and Sandra Bland. Because of court precedents, Reeves dismissed a lawsuit that a Black motorist from South Carolina filed against a white Mississippi police officer. But he said qualified immunity is wrong.

CHICAGO (AP) — The State Department says Russia is using social media, state-funded media and a loose network of proxy websites to amplify conspiracy theories and misinformation, most recently around the coronavirus. That’s a rare disclosure for the Trump administration, which has been cautious about blaming the Kremlin for disinformation campaigns, especially around the U.S. election. The department has detailed a number of deceptive proxy websites that Russia is using to push conspiracy theories around the coronavirus in hopes of stirring up confusion and fear for U.S. and European audiences.

JOHNS, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan couple who came under attack for displaying the Norwegian flag because some observers mistook it for a Confederate flag have found another way to show their Scandinavian pride. Greg and Kjersten Offenbecker took Norway’s flag down from their inn near Lansing last month after being accused of promoting racism. The Norwegian and Confederate flags have similar color schemes, but the patterns and symbols are different. The Lansing State Journal reports the couple is replacing the flag with a vimple, which is a long, pennant-shaped flag, in the colors of the Norwegian flag. Kjersten Offenbecker’s grandfather was born in Norway.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tony Danza and Alyssa Milano have been signed on to be in the reboot of the old-school sitcom “Who’s the Boss?” But what about the other actors who were in the original? Sony Pictures Television says the door is open for the return of Judith Light and Danny Pintauro. Sony says the two actors are “supportive of the new series” — and they hope to find a way to get them back on the show.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — You know how they say a car starts to lose its value the moment you drive it off the dealer’s lot? That wasn’t the case for a Minnesota man who recently sold his vehicle. Bob Sportal of Prinsburg ended up selling his car for the same price he paid for it. But before you get too excited, a few facts are in order. Sportal bought a rusty Chevy pickup in 1957 — for $75 dollars. And he was able to get his initial investment back when he sold his truck for that same $75. In the meantime, he logged loads of miles on it during the decades he owned it. Even the sale brought him back in time. Sportal sold the pickup to the grandson of the man he bought the truck from..

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