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Huge NASA SLS rocket faces critical test firing before moon mission - CBS News
The test firing is a final major hurdle for what will be the most powerful rocket ever launched.
A critical test firing Saturday of the four main engines powering the first stage of NASA's gargantuan Space Launch System moon rocket is the final major hurdle before the fully assembled booster's costly, oft-delayed launch late this year on an unpiloted test flight. Bolted in place atop the massive B-2 test stand at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, the upgraded Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines are scheduled to fire for a full eight minutes starting around 5 p.m. EST, the same duration needed for an actual flight. Including shuttle flights and post-shuttle ground tests, RS-25 engines have been started more than 3,000 times to date and fired for more than 18,000 minutes all told, but never four at once and never with a rocket the size of the SLS. The goal is to test the stage's performance as a whole under flight conditions. The Boeing-managed Space Launch System rockets first stage will be test fired while bolted to NASA's massive B-2 test stand at the Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. NASA "This will be our first test simultaneously firing all four RS-25 engines in this new Space Launch System configuration," said Jeff Zotti, Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 program director. "We're all looking forward to seeing the core stage of the world's most powerful rocket fire up for the very first time." The flight version of the SLS will include two 17-story-tall Northrop Grumman solid-fuel strap-on boosters, each one generating 3.6 million pounds of thrust; the four RS-25s, generating a combined 1.6 million pounds of push; a hydrogen-fueled second stage; an Orion crew capsule and an emergency escape system. The rocket will weigh 5.75 million pounds, stand 322 feet tall and generate 8.8 million pounds of thrust at liftoff, making it the most powerful operational rocket in the world and the most powerful U.S. rocket ever built. Even more powerful variants are planned by NASA for its Artemis moon program, pushing liftoff thrust to a staggering 9.5 million pounds. For the so-called "green run" Saturday, the Boeing-managed SLS rocket's 212-foot-tall, 27.6-foot-wide first stage will be tested as a fully operational booster, loaded with 537,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and 196,000 gallons of liquid oxygen for a planned 485-second test firing. With the stage locked down on the test stand throughout, new state-of-the-art engine computers will throttle the main engines down to 95% thrust about a minute into the test. They will do the same during an actual flight to reduce stresses on the rocket when it passes through the region of maximum aerodynamic pressure. The 7,775-pound engines, which earlier helped power 21 shuttle launches, also will hydraulically gimbal, or move to commanded positions at specified times, to verify their ability to precisely steer the rocket during the climb to space, both early in flight and later in the ascent. The engine nozzles feature new insulation to protect them from the heat they will eventually experience from the nearby 5,000-degree solid rocket booster exhaust plumes. The business end of the SLS first stage: four upgraded Aerojet Rocketdyne RS-25 engines that once helped power 21 space shuttle launches. NASA Throughout the ground-shaking test, sensors will monitor other stresses and strains, temperatures, propellant flow rates, pressures and a variety of other parameters to make sure the rocket is ready for launch on the first Artemis moon mission late this year. Equally important, the test will verify the performance of the rocket's complex flight computer system and software along with pre-flight propellant management and safety systems. "The test is scheduled for 485 seconds," said Julie Bassler, SLS core stage manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "The stage is instrumented with over 1,400 sensors including pressure, temperature, accelerometers and strain gauges." "With this hot fire, there's a lot of data, including how the avionics and software command and control will perform with the integrated core stage and engine propulsion system," Bassler said, adding, "This green run test is the first time we fire up this core stage. So this is a huge milestone for us." Said Boeing SLS program manager John Shannon, a former space shuttle flight director: "This is the most heavily instrumented vehicle we will ever fly. So we'll get a tremendous amount of engineering data." The next time the Space Launch System core stage will be fired is during the launch of #Artemis I, the first integrated flight of SLS and @NASA_Orion, and the first mission of the agency’s Artemis program. MORE on the Green Run Hot Fire >> https://t.co/4Et3QY8INhpic.twitter.com/nlLh1X5XYm — NASA_SLS (@NASA_SLS) January 13, 2021 Assuming the green run test goes well and no major problems are encountered, NASA managers hope to ship the SLS stage by barge to the Kennedy Space Center in February. Once there, the stage will be attached to two solid-fuel boosters currently being assembled, or "stacked," on a mobile launch platform in the cavernous Vehicle Assembly Building. The already complete upper stage will be mounted atop the core and the rocket will be topped off by a Lockheed Martin Orion crew capsule and its emergency escape system. The assembled rocket and its launch platform then will be hauled to pad 39B by powerful crawler-transporter and prepared for flight. Unlike SpaceX rockets and others under development, the SLS is not reusable and the first stage booster and its engines will be destroyed when they fall back into the atmosphere after the climb to space. NASA hopes to launch the rocket on its maiden flight late this year, sending the unpiloted Orion capsule on a flight 40,000 miles beyond the moon and back. What happens after that will depend in large part on how the Biden administration prioritizes space. An artist's impression of a Space Launch System rocket during launch. NASA NASA currently is working to a Trump administration schedule that calls for the first piloted SLS-Orion flight — Artemis 2 — in 2023, followed by a moon landing using the third SLS rocket by the end of 2024. But that schedule assumes funding to develop a new moon lander. The program has not yet received the necessary budget from Congress, and it's not yet known what level of support the Biden administration will provide. For its part, the SLS team is optimistic the first Artemis rocket will be ready for launch before the end of the year. "This powerful rocket is is going to put us in a position to be ready to support the agency and the country's deep space mission to the moon and beyond," said John Honeycutt, NASA SLS program manager at Marshall. But it has been a rocky road. The development program is well over budget and at least two years behind schedule. NASA's inspector general reported last March that total SLS program costs were expected to climb above $18 billion by the time the Artemis 1 rocket finally takes off. The delays and high costs have prompted debate about the need for the SLS to ferry astronauts to the moon given the availability of less powerful but much less expensive SpaceX Falcon Heavy rockets and other heavy-lift boosters now in development. But NASA managers say the SLS is the only rocket available in the near term that is capable of accommodating the Orion crew capsule and other large components envisioned for the Artemis program.
Live Updates: FBI tracking "extensive amount of concerning online chatter" before inauguration of Joe Biden, says director - CBS News
"We're looking at individuals who may have an eye towards repeating that same kind of violence that we saw last week," said FBI Director Chris Wray.
Jennifer Leigh Ryan of Texas flew to Washington D.C. from Denton, Texas, with a small group of people on January 5, prosecutors said on Friday. She was later seen entering the Capitol in videos she herself posted to Facebook, according to a complaint filed for her arrest in the United States District Court in Washington D.C. According to the charging documents, in a video posted on January 6, Ryan said: 'We're gonna go down and storm the Capitol. They're down there right now and that's why we came and so that's what we are going to do. So wish me luck.'" A now-deleted Facebook Live video showed Ryan walking to the Capitol, entering the building via the Rotunda entrance and saying: "We are going to f---ing go in here. Life or death, it doesn't matter. Here we go." She also stated her name, "y'all know who to hire for your realtor. Jenna Ryan for your realtor," as well as, "U-S-A! U-S-A!... here we are, in the name of Jesus!" and Fight for freedom!... this is our house!" After the breach occurred, she tweeted: "We just stormed the Capital (sic). It was one of the best days of my life." Before the complaint was unsealed, Ryan, who is also a conservative radio talk show host, told CBS Dallas / Fort Worth that she never entered the U.S. Capitol building. And, in a statement to the station, maintained that the protest, now linked to five deaths, was "peaceful." "We exercised our right to free speech and peaceful protest. There was no violence. I did not break any window, I just posed by the window because I was taking photos all over DC all day. I did not go into the capital (sic)," she said, later adding, "I do not condone the violence that occurred on January 6, 2020 and I am truly heartbroken for the people who lost their lives" Ryan has been charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority," and "disorderly Conduct on Capitol Grounds."
Retired Air Force officer at Capitol riot intended "to take hostages," prosecutor says - CBS News
Larry Brock was arrested Sunday in Texas after being photographed on the Senate floor during the deadly riot wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs.
A retired Air Force officer who was part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week carried plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he intended "to take hostages," a prosecutor said in a Texas court on Thursday. "He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer said of retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock Jr. He did not provide specifics. The prosecutor had argued that Brock should be detained, but Magistrate Judge Jeffrey L. Cureton said he would release Brock to home confinement. Cureton ordered Brock to surrender any firearms and said he could have only limited internet access as conditions of that release. This undated photo provided by the Grapevine, Texas Police Department shows, Larry Rendall Brock Jr. Brock, a retired Air Force officer was arrested in Texas and charged in federal court in the District of Columbia. GrapevineTexas Police Department via AP "I need to put you on a very short rope," Cureton said. "These are strange times for our country and the concerns raised by the government do not fall on deaf ears." Brock appeared in court in a light green jumpsuit, a mask and with shackles at his hands and feet. Weimer did not detail a specific plan by Brock but noted "his prior experience and training make him all the more dangerous." He also read in court social media posts from Brock, including one posted on the day of the Capitol riot that said: "Patriots on the Capitol. Patriots storming. Men with guns need to shoot their way in." Brock was arrested Sunday in Texas after being photographed on the Senate floor during the deadly riot wearing a helmet and heavy vest and carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs. The 53-year-old is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Brock's attorney, Brook Antonio II, noted that Brock has only been charged with misdemeanors. Antonio said there was no direct evidence of Brock breaking doors or windows to get into the Capitol, or doing anything violent once he was inside. "It's all talk. It's all speculation and conjecture," said Antonio, who noted Brock's long service in the military, including being reactivated after September 11 and his four tours in Afghanistan. Weimer said Brock will likely face additional charges. More than 100 people have been arrested in the Capitol riot, with charges ranging from curfew violations to serious federal felonies related to theft and weapons possession. A man wearing a helmet and vest and holding plastic zip-tie handcuffs stands in the Senate Chamber with other protesters after storming the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. He was later identified as retired Air Force officer Larry Rendall Brock and arrested. Win McNamee / Getty Images The FBI has been investigating whether some of the rioters had planned to kidnap members of Congress and hold them hostage. Before his arrest, Brock told The New Yorker magazine that he found the zip-tie cuffs on the floor and that he had planned to give them to a police officer. "I wish I had not picked those up," he said. There was no evidence presented that Brock had a firearm on the day of the Capitol riot. Antonio asked an FBI agent who was testifying whether it was possible Brock had just picked up the cuffs, and the agent acknowledged that was a possibility. Weimer read a termination letter from Brock's former employer that said he had talked in the workplace about killing people of a "particular religion and or race." Weimer also read social media posts in which Brock referred to a coming civil war and the election being stolen from President Donald Trump. Weimer said Brock's posts also referenced the far-right and anti-government Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters, a loose anti-government network that's part of the militia movement. The Oath Keepers claim to count thousands of current and former law enforcement officials and military veterans as members. The FBI agent though testified there was no evidence beyond the social media posts that Brock was involved with either of those groups. Judges across the country, including some nominated by Trump, have repeatedly dismissed cases challenging the election results, and Attorney General William Barr has said there was no sign of widespread fraud.
Capitol rioters communicated using military hand signals, law enforcement official says - CBS News
The apparent use of "small unit tactics," trained to military and law enforcement, drew immediate scrutiny from investigators
A Washington D.C. police officer witnessed rioters using military-style hand signals to communicate inside the Capitol building during the breach on January 6, a law enforcement official tells CBS News. The identification of individuals using military, small unit tactics is among the "highest priorities" for a Sedition Task Force being run by the D.C. U.S. Attorney's office. The apparent use of "small unit tactics," trained to military and law enforcement, drew immediate scrutiny from investigators. These tactics were witnessed both outside and inside the Capitol Building, CBS News has learned. Federal investigators are reviewing images that appeared on social media, as well as thousands of hours of video from closed circuit cameras positioned outside the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the Republican National Committee, the Democratic National Committee, the Capitol campus and police body cameras. Acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said Tuesday his office is looking into possible seditious conspiracy charges in its investigation of the riot. Sherwin said the investigation into rioters' planning includes combing through travel records, financial information and communications. On Thursday, prosecutors said a retired Air Force officer who was arrested in Texas after being featured in a viral photo carried plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he intended "to take hostages." "He means to take hostages. He means to kidnap, restrain, perhaps try, perhaps execute members of the U.S. government," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Weimer said of retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock Jr., who was also the subject of a New Yorker article. Federal authorities have charged more than 40 people in connection with the Capitol riot. Among them were two off-duty Rocky Mount, Virginia, police officers, Jacob Fracker and Thomas Robertson, who are each facing one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. Fracker is a corporal in the Virginia National Guard, and he is not currently on duty with Virginia National Guard troops in Washington, D.C. The Virginia National Guard will be conducting an investigation. Prosecutors wrote in a complaint that Robertson wrote in a social media post, "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business ... The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us." Fracker posted a since-deleted comment on Facebook that read, "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y'all do what you feel you need to," according to the complaint.
Post-COVID lungs worse than the worst smokers' lungs, surgeon says - CBS News
Texas trauma surgeon Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall says that means even survivors could have long-term post-COVID problems.
A Texas trauma surgeon says it's rare that X-rays from any of her COVID-19 patients come back without dense scarring. Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall tweeted, "Post-COVID lungs look worse than any type of terrible smoker's lung we've ever seen. And they collapse. And they clot off. And the shortness of breath lingers on... & on... & on." "Everyone's just so worried about the mortality thing and that's terrible and it's awful," she told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth. "But man, for all the survivors and the people who have tested positive this is — it's going to be a problem." Bankhead-Kendall, an assistant professor of surgery with Texas Tech University, in Lubbock, has treated thousands of patients since the pandemic began in March. Lubbock, Texas trauma surgeon Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall. CBS Dallas She says patients who've had COVID-19 symptoms show a severe chest X-ray every time, and those who were asymptomatic show a severe chest X-ray 70% to 80% of the time. "There are still people who say 'I'm fine. I don't have any issues,' and you pull up their chest X-ray and they absolutely have a bad chest X-ray," she said. In X-ray photos of a normal lung, a smoker's lung and a COVID-19 lung that Bankhead-Kendall shared with CBS Dallas, the healthy lungs are clean with a lot of black, which is mainly air. In the smoker's lung, white lines are indicative of scarring and congestion, while the COVID lung is filled with white. "You'll either see a lot of that white, dense scarring or you'll see it throughout the entire lung. Even if you're not feeling problems now, the fact that that's on your chest X-ray — it sure is indicative of you possibly having problems later on," she said. X-rays of a normal lung, a smoker's lung and a COVID patient's lung. Dr. Brittany Bankhead-Kendall via CBS Dallas Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert and senior scholar at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CBSN that some patients with severe COVID-19 could feel the impact for years to come. "When someone recovers from pneumonia, whether it's a bacterial pneumonia or a viral pneumonia, it's going to take some time for their chest X-rays to improve. Chest X-rays lag your clinical improvement. So you may be better, but your chest X-ray still looks bad," he said. "And we know that people with COVID-19 can get severe pneumonia, and some of that pneumonia will lead to damage to the lungs that will take time to heal. And some of it may be permanent." He said the potential long-term health consequences are another reason people should take warnings about the disease seriously. "It's not something you can blow off. This isn't something you want to have. Because even if you survive, you still may be left with some severe complications that make it very hard for you to go back to your baseline functioning." Bankhead-Kendall said it's important that if you're experiencing shortness of breath after your COVID-19 goes away, you stay in touch with your primary care doctor. She also points out, "There is no long-term implication of a vaccine that could ever be as bad as the long-term implications of COVID."
Twitter CEO says banning Trump was not a decision to "celebrate," but an action with "real and significant ramifications" - CBS News
Jack Dorsey said the ban was "the right decision for Twitter": "Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all."
In a widely shared social media thread, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday stood by last week's decision to ban President Trump from his company's platform, saying it was something he does not "celebrate or feel pride in," but something that was decided "based on threats to physical safety both on and off Twitter." Twitter permanently banned Mr. Trump's account on Saturday because of "the risk of further incitement of violence" in the wake of the deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol. Dorsey said it was "the right decision" in his post Wednesday. "We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety," he said. "Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all." I believe this was the right decision for Twitter. We faced an extraordinary and untenable circumstance, forcing us to focus all of our actions on public safety. Offline harm as a result of online speech is demonstrably real, and what drives our policy and enforcement above all. — jack (@jack) January 14, 2021 However, Dorsey said, banning accounts "has real and significant ramifications." "While there are clear and obvious exceptions, I feel a ban is a failure of ours ultimately to promote healthy conversation ... Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation." Having to take these actions fragment the public conversation. They divide us. They limit the potential for clarification, redemption, and learning. And sets a precedent I feel is dangerous: the power an individual or corporation has over a part of the global public conversation. — jack (@jack) January 14, 2021 He also said that Twitter is just a small part of a larger conversation across the internet. Dorsey said that if people do not agree with a platform's rules and the enforcement of those rules then "they can simply go to another service." But that ability is limited when events unfold as they did last week, when multiple social media sites, seemingly uncoordinated, censored Mr. Trump and others who allegedly incited violence in Washington, D.C. "This moment in time might call for this dynamic, but over the long term it will be destructive to the noble purpose and ideals of the open internet," Dorsey said. "A company making a business decision to moderate itself is different from a government removing access, yet can feel much the same." In efforts to help combat this, Dorsey said he is working on a platform that can serve as "a foundational internet technology that is not controlled or influenced by any single individual or entity." For the time being, however, he said global public conversation is the "best and most relevant" solution. "Everything we learn in this moment will better our effort, and push us to be what we are: one humanity working together." Parler sues Amazon over shutdown10:13 Mr. Trump addressed social media censorship on Wednesday in his first video message after the House impeached him on one count of incitement of insurrection for "willfully inciting violence against the government of the United States" on January 6. After condemning last week's riots at the Capitol — without taking ownership for any of the incitement that he has been impeached for — Mr. Trump talked about the "unprecedented assault on free speech we have seen in recent days." Shortly after the riots, Twitter permanently suspended Mr. Trump's personal account, and Facebook suspended his account for the rest of his presidency. On Tuesday, YouTube temporarily banned Mr. Trump from uploading new content. Meanwhile, "free speech" platform Parler was suspended from the Apple and Google app stores, and eventually shut down by Amazon Web Services, for its failure to moderate content that incited violence. Several posts showed Trump supporters calling on others to partake in a "million militia march" on January 20, and for "patriots" to take their weapons to Washington. Many individuals called for a second civil war because Mr. Trump lost the election. "These are tense and difficult times. The efforts to censor, cancel and blacklist our fellow citizens are wrong, and they are dangerous," Mr. Trump said in the video, which was posted on the White House Twitter account. "What is needed now is for us to listen to one another, not to silence one another. All of us can choose by our actions to rise above the ranker and find common ground and shared purpose." Trump releases another video statement01:24
Ohio researchers discover new strain of COVID-19 - CBS News
"The mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person," Ohio State University said in a statement.
The U.S. has again hit a record high for coronavirus deaths. More than 4,300 Americans died from the virus on Tuesday. While the pace of vaccinations is picking up, with nearly 1 million shots delivered Tuesday, a possible new coronavirus strain has appeared in Ohio. Researchers at Ohio State University discovered a new variant that carries a mutation identical to the strain found in the U.K., but was likely already present in the U.S. The dangerous strain from the U.K. has been detected in 11 states. Researchers said they also found another U.S. strain with three other gene mutations that were not previously seen. The strain with three new mutations was more prominent in Columbus in recent weeks, they said. "Also, like the U.K. strain, the mutations in the Columbus strain are likely to make the virus more infectious, making it easier for the virus to pass from person to person," the university said in a news release on Wednesday. Peter Mohler, a co-author of the study, said there is no evidence showing that the coronavirus vaccines will be less effective against the new mutations. "At this point, we have no data to believe that these mutations will have any impact on the effectiveness of vaccines now in use," Mohler said. Arizona leads the nation in per capita COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The home of the Arizona Cardinals, State Farm Stadium in Glendale, is now a mass vaccination site for health care workers, first responders, teachers and child care workers. The Arizona Department of Health Services is prepared to give at least 600 shots a day and the stadium will be open around the clock for at least the next two months. The race to vaccinate is taking on added urgency with California having more than 30,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus. "In my 34 years, I never thought I would see anything like this," said Ken McKenzie, who runs a funeral home in Southern California. This time last year "there would probably be two or three people that I'd be caring for," he said. "Right now, there's probably 40 or 50 embalmed bodies here with families waiting to have closure."
House votes to impeach Trump for second time – here's how the vote breaks down - CBS News
10 Republicans joined Democrats in voting to impeach President Trump – the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice.
Washington — The House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Trump on one count of incitement of insurrection, making him the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice. The vote came exactly one week after a mob of the president's supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in an effort to block Congress from counting the Electoral College votes and confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory. How the vote breaks down 232 for impeachment
- 222 Democrats
- 10 Republicans
- 197 Republicans
- 0 Democrats
- Liz Cheney of Wyoming
- Tom Rice of South Carolina
- John Katko of New York
- Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio
- Peter Meijer of Michigan
- Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
- Dan Newhouse of Washington
- Fred Upton of Michigan
- Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington
- David Valadao of California
- Kay Granger of Texas
- Andy Harris of Maryland
- Greg Murphy of North Carolina
- Daniel Webster of Florida
For first time, COVID-19 vaccinations around the U.S. near 1 million doses a day - CBS News
Yet even with the faster pace of inoculations, tens of millions of doses of vaccine sit unused.
The lagging effort to vaccinate the U.S. population against COVID-19 is finally picking up speed, raising hopes that a growing number of Americans can soon be inoculated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday reported that more than 951,000 doses of the vaccine had been administered to people around the country. That is by far the fastest daily pace of vaccinations since the rollout started a month ago and a big jump from the previous day, when just under 340,000 doses were given. The first COVID-19 vaccine, which was produced by drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech, began shipping in the U.S. on December 13. U.S. releases reserve COVID vaccine doses02:12 On Tuesday, the federal government gave states the green light to vaccinate anyone over age 65, a move aimed at increasing the number of Americans who could seek protection from the coronavirus. Previously, the U.S. said states should reserve their doses for health care workers and nursing home residents. The government also said it would release all doses of the vaccine it has available for distribution. The shift in strategy follows growing concerns that the government's vaccination effort, a key element of the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed initiative, has not lived up to its name. A number of states have recently opened mass vaccination sites and started to diverge from the federal plan. To that end, New York City officials on Friday said they would begin to vaccinate teachers and residents over 75 as early as this week. The move to jump-start vaccinations also comes as COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise. On Tuesday alone, there were over 235,000 new coronavirus infections in the U.S. and 4,470 deaths attributed to the virus, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Trump administration shifts vaccine strategy05:16 "I'm truly surprised that it's apparently been quicker to plan, develop and mass produce a vaccine than to develop and implement a plan to roll it out," said Andrew Read, a professor of biology and entomology at Penn State University. Even with the recent pickup in vaccinations, more than two-thirds of the doses sent to states have yet to be administered. As of Tuesday, nearly 30 million doses had been shipped to all 50 states as well as to U.S. territories. Of those, according to CDC data, just 10.3 million — about 30% — had gone into people's arms.
2 Virginia police officers face federal charges in Capitol riots - CBS News
One officer claimed the two were escorted by Capitol Police, but prosecutors say he wrote he "attacked the government."
Two police officers in Rocky Mount, Virginia are facing federal charges in the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Sergeant Thomas Robertson and Officer Jacob Fracker have been charged with unlawful entry into a restricted area and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds. According to a criminal complaint, Robertson and Fracker were photographed inside the Capitol building in front of a statute, with one seen pointing and the other making an obscene gesture. At the time of the riot, the two were off-duty from their jobs as police officers with the Rocky Mount Police Department, the complaint says. The photo was shared initially only with other members of the Rocky Mount Police Department, but Robertson re-posted it to his own Facebook account after others shared the photo on social media, according to the complaint. In a comment on social media, Robertson allegedly said he was "proud" of the photo because it showed he and Fracker were "willing to put skin in the game," the complaint said. Sergeant Thomas Robertson, right, and Officer Jacob Fracker, left, posted this photograph of themselves inside the U.S. Capitol during the January 6 riots to social media. U.S. Attorney's Office for D.C. A Facebook post by Fracker that has since been deleted allegedly read: "Lol to anyone who's possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y'all do what you feel you need to…" Both officers have been placed on administrative leave as town officials investigate, according to CBS affiliate WDBJ. The police department notified federal authorities, the station said. Robertson told the station he and Fracker were at the back of the Capitol building and did not see any rioting, violence or tear gas. "We were allowed by Capitol police to be where we were and were given water bottles and told where we could go and where we couldn't," Robertson told the station. The complaint makes note of Robertson's claims to the media that he did not engage in violence and was escorted by Capitol police, but it points to another social media post by Robertson that read: "CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business ... The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol. Keep poking us." "Robertson made these claims notwithstanding his previous posts that he had "attacked the government" and "took the f**** Capitol," the complaint read. "Moreover, at that date and time, the United States Capitol was on lockdown and the defendants' presence inside was without lawful authority." Also on Wednesday, a Houston police officer was relieved of duty pending a disciplinary hearing for allegedly participating in the Capitol riots, a senior law enforcement official told CBS News. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the unnamed officer is an 18-year department veteran, according to CBS affiliate KHOU. Acevedo said he expects that federal charges are forthcoming. More than 70 people are already facing federal and local charges in the January 6 assault that left five dead. Hundreds more charges are expected as federal investigators comb tips, video and social media to identify and arrest suspects across the country. Those already charged face a variety of counts including unlawful entry, disorderly conduct, theft, assault and weapons violations. A team of senior federal prosecutors are investigating more serious charges including sedition and conspiracy related to the "most heinous" acts at the Capitol, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Michael Sherwin said Tuesday.