News Blitz: Jan. 15, 2021

National News
WASHINGTON (AP) — At least 21 current or former members of the U.S. military or law enforcement have been identified as being at or near last week’s Capitol riot, with more than a dozen others under investigation. That’s what an Associated Press review of public records and social media found. In many cases, those who stormed the Capitol appeared to employ tactics, body armor and radio headsets that were similar to those of the police they were confronting. Experts have long warned about extremists recruiting people with military and law enforcement training, and they say the Jan. 6 insurrection saw some of their worst fears realized.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The FBI is tracking an “extensive amount of concerning online chatter,” including calls for armed protests leading up to next week’s presidential inauguration. That’s according to FBI Director Chris Wray, who participated in a law enforcement and military briefing for Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday. Wray says the FBI remains concerned about the potential for violence at protests and rallies in Washington and in state capitols around the country. But he says it’s a challenge to distinguish between what is aspirational versus what is intentional.
WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — President-elect Joe Biden has unveiled a $1.9 trillion coronavirus plan to end “a crisis of deep human suffering” by speeding up vaccines and pumping out financial help to those struggling with the pandemic’s prolonged economic fallout. Biden said Thursday that the nation faces “a crisis of deep human suffering.” He hopes his multipronged strategy will put the country on the path to recovery by the end of his administration’s first 100 days. The plan includes $1,400 checks for individuals, on top of $600 provided in the last COVID-19 bill. There’s also money for a mass vaccination campaign and a major expansion of local public health efforts.
UNDATED (AP) — Global shares have declined after a worse-than-expected U.S. jobs report and late slide in several Big Tech stocks left major indexes lower on Wall Street. U.S. futures also traded lower after President-elect Joe Biden announced his plans to propose a $1.9 billion package to help along a recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Biden spoke about the plan after Thursday’s close of markets, where the S&P 500 retreated in the last hour of trading to close 0.4% lower. The benchmark index was weighed down by losses in Apple, Microsoft and other huge tech companies. Small-company stocks continued to rally, a sign that investors are feeling more optimistic about the economy. Treasury yields also rose.
Texas News
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A prosecutor says a retired Air Force officer who was part of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol carried plastic zip-tie handcuffs because he meant “to take hostages.” Retired Lieutenant Colonel Larry Rendall Brock Jr. appeared at a detention hearing in Fort Worth, Texas, on Thursday. 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. A judge said he would release Brock to home confinement. Brock’s attorney says there is no evidence that he did anything violent inside the Capitol.
HOUSTON (AP) — Houston’s police chief says a police officer suspected of taking part in the mob attack on the U.S. Capitol has resigned. The officer had been placed on administrative leave and was set to face a disciplinary review hearing Friday. But in a tweet, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said the officer resigned Thursday morning. Acevedo has not identified the officer. But in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Tam Pham confirmed he was the officer, saying: “I was there to take pictures.”
Arkansas News
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Federal agents have accused an Arkansas man of beating a police officer with a pole flying a U.S. flag during last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. In an arrest affidavit filed Thursday in federal court in Washington, an FBI agent said Peter Francis Stager is shown in video and photographs striking a prone police officer repeatedly with the flagpole. That was after rioters had dragged the officer down stairs on the Capitol’s west side. Confidential informants led agents to Stager, who is charged with interfering with law enforcement officers during a civil disorder.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas House has voted to require its members and staff to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The 81-2 vote Thursday comes a day after another lawmaker tested positive for the virus. The requirement is included in House rules members adopted and is nearly identical to one the state Senate approved three days before. Neither chamber has included penalties for lawmakers who violate the rule. The state on Thursday reported its virus cases rose by 2,491 and its COVID-19 deaths rose by 42. Hospitalizations dropped by 67.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas Supreme Court says a judge prohibited from hearing execution-related cases after he participated in an anti-death penalty protest can’t preside over a capital murder cases. Justices on Thursday granted a request by the state to prohibit Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen from presiding over the trial of a man accuses of killing two people in Sherwood in January 2020. Griffen was prohibited from handling execution-related cases in April 2017 after he demonstrated the same day he blocked Arkansas from using a lethal injection drug. Attorney General Leslie Rutledge argued that prohibition also applied to capital murder cases.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Arkansas National Guard is sending 500 soldiers and airmen to Washington to assist with security for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The guard on Thursday said Gov. Asa Hutchinson approved the mission. The deployment begins on Jan. 17 and the guardsmen are set to return to Arkansas before the end of the month. The guard’s mission will include assisting with traffic control, security and crowd management at the National Mall, Lincoln Memorial and other locations. The FBI has warned of armed rallies in Washington and at all 50 state capitols in the days leading up to Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
Louisiana News
The Louisiana Department of Health reported 5,318 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday. Now, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Louisiana since the pandemic began March 11th, 2020 is 361,148. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said that Louisianians need to continue to act responsibly to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — Authorities say they have arrested a Louisiana man for participating in last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. Fifty-year-old Vaughn A. Gordon, of Lafayette, made an initial appearance Thursday via videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hanna in Lafayette. He faces two charges, including one count of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana announced the arrest via Twitter. Gordon told The Advocate that he was able to wander the building for nearly two hours, adding he remained peaceful and didn’t vandalize anything.
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The widow of Republican U.S. Rep.-elect Luke Letlow is entering the race to fill the Louisiana congressional vacancy left by her husband’s death from complications related to COVID-19. Julia Barnhill Letlow announced her campaign launch Thursday. She’s seeking the 5th District seat representing central and northeastern Louisiana that her husband Luke Letlow had won in December. Luke Letlow died only days before he was scheduled to be sworn into office. Julia Letlow said in a statement that she and her husband both wanted to improve the district and leave it a better place for their children and future generations. The election is March 20.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — From the broadcast booth to back on the sidelines. Urban Meyer has agreed to become head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars after a two-year absence from football. The 56-year-old Meyer was team owner Shad Khan’s top target. Meyer has won three college national championships with a staggering winning percentage of more than 85%. The Jaguars have lost 105 of 144 games since Khan took over in 2012.
NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets have reached an agreement in principle with San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh (SAH’-luh) to hire him as their head coach. Saleh replaces Adam Gase who was fired on Jan. 3 after going 9-23 in two seasons. The 41-year-old Saleh is recognized as an energetic leader who is well liked by his players and had been the 49ers’ defensive coordinator under Kyle Shanahan since 2017.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Saints quarterback Drew Brees says he envisioned a playoff matchup with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers since Brady decided to leave New England for Tampa Bay last spring. The 42-year-old Brees says he returned to play his 20th NFL season because of the Saints’ aspirations to contend for a championship. And Brees says he figured the 43-year-old Brady would transform a talented Bucs squad into a contender as well. Brady won six Super Bowls with the Patriots and now is one win away from his first NFC title game appearance. The Saints beat Tampa Bay twice during the regular season.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Christian Wood had 27 points and 15 rebounds, and the Houston Rockets rallied to beat the San Antonio Spurs 109-105 last night in their first game since trading away franchise cornerstone James Harden to the Nets. Sterling Brown, who took Harden’s spot in the starting lineup, had 23 points, seven rebounds and three assists in 36 minutes. Spurs forward Keldon Johnson had a career-high 29 points and Lonnie Walker IV added 16 points while tying a career-high with four 3-pointers.
College basketball
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — The Zags keep rolling. Corey Kispert had 23 points and eight rebounds as top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga beat Pepperdine 95-70 for its 17th consecutive victory over the past two seasons. Gonzaga has defeated Pepperdine in 40 straight games dating to 2002. That includes 23 straight wins in Spokane. Gonzaga has also won 46 straight home games, the longest streak in the nation.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Atlantic 10 Conference is pulling its men’s basketball championship out of Barclays Center in Brooklyn because of concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The new location of the championship, which will be played March 10-14, is still under review. Barclays Center has served as the conference championship home for six years. The A-10 Women’s Basketball Championship is on schedule to be contested at VCU’s Siegel Center, March 3-7, in Richmond, Virginia.
Today in History
Today is Friday, Jan. 15, the 15th day of 2021. There are 350 days left in the year.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On Jan. 15, 2020, Chinese officials said they couldn’t rule out the possibility that a new coronavirus in central China could spread between humans, though they said the risk of transmission appeared to be low.
On this date:
In 1862, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Abraham Lincoln’s choice of Edwin M. Stanton to be the new Secretary of War, replacing Simon Cameron.
In 1865, as the Civil War neared its end, Union forces captured Fort Fisher near Wilmington, North Carolina, depriving the Confederates of their last major seaport.
In 1892, the original rules of basketball, devised by James Naismith, were published for the first time in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the game originated.
In 1929, civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was born in Atlanta.
In 1942, Jawaharlal Nehru (jah-WAH’-hahr-lahl NAY’-roo) was named to succeed Mohandas K. Gandhi as head of India’s Congress Party.
In 1943, work was completed on the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of War (now Defense).
In 1973, President Richard M. Nixon announced the suspension of all U.S. offensive action in North Vietnam, citing progress in peace negotiations.
In 1974, the situation comedy “Happy Days” premiered on ABC-TV.
In 1976, Sara Jane Moore was sentenced to life in prison for her attempt on the life of President Gerald R. Ford in San Francisco. (Moore was released on the last day of 2007.)
In 1993, a historic disarmament ceremony ended in Paris with the last of 125 countries signing a treaty banning chemical weapons.
In 2009, US Airways Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger ditched his Airbus 320 in the Hudson River after a flock of birds disabled both engines; all 155 people aboard survived.
In 2014, a highly critical and bipartisan Senate report declared that the deadly Sept. 2012 assault on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, could have been prevented; the report spread blame among the State Department, the military and U.S. intelligence.
Ten years ago: Several international envoys — but crucially none from the world powers — got a look inside an Iranian nuclear site at the invitation of the Tehran government before a new round of talks on Iran’s disputed atomic activities. Miss Nebraska Teresa Scanlan won the Miss America pageant in Las Vegas. Actor Susannah York, 72, died in London.
Five years ago: Al-Qaida fighters attacked a hotel and cafe in Burkina Faso’s capital, killing 30 people. A search began for two Marine helicopters carrying 12 crew members that collided off the Hawaiian island of Oahu during a nighttime training mission; there were no survivors. A federal judge rejected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s bid for a new trial and ordered him to pay victims of the deadly attack more than $101 million in restitution. Actor Dan Haggerty, 74, died in Burbank, California.
One year ago: House Democratic leaders carried the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump across the U.S. Capitol in a formal procession to the Senate. The United States and China reached a trade deal easing tensions between the world’s two biggest economies. Russian President Vladimir Putin engineered a surprise shake-up of Russia’s leadership while proposing changes to the country’s constitution that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024. (Putin ordered the amendments made to the constitution in July 2020 after a week-long vote; critics said the reported 78% approval of the changes had been falsified.) Two U.S. government agencies reported that the decade that had just ended was by far the hottest ever measured on earth.
Today’s Celebrity Birthdays: Actor Margaret O’Brien is 83. Actor Andrea Martin is 74. College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy White is 68. Actor-director Mario Van Peebles is 64. Rock musician Adam Jones (Tool) is 56. Actor James Nesbitt is 56. Actor Chad Lowe is 53. Alt-country singer Will Oldham (aka Bonnie Prince Billy) is 51. Actor Regina King is 50. Actor Dorian Missick is 45. Actor Eddie Cahill is 43. NFL quarterback Drew Brees is 42. Rapper/reggaeton artist Pitbull is 40. Actor Victor Rasuk is 36. Actor Jessy Schram is 35. Electronic dance musician Skrillex is 33. Actor/singer Dove Cameron is 25. Singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal (TV: “America’s Got Talent”) is 17.
Bobby D’s Sleaze
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — A man, a gun and two deer. It’s a combination that doesn’t always favor the deer — but in this case, it did. A Kansas game warden is getting props for a video that shows him firing his gun to untangle the antlers of two whitetail stags. The video was released by the Kansas Wildlife, Parks & Tourism agency. And it shows a warden’s body camera footage from earlier this month. A bowhunter contacted the agency to report seeing the two deer with their antlers locked together. The wardens were able to get the deer to freeze by throwing a towel over their heads. Then, one warden takes aim and fires off a single shot, knocking part of one deer’s antler off. The startled animals, now free, bounded off in different directions. Neither deer was hurt.
CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A pigeon considered a disease risk in Australia has gotten a break. Instead of being killed, the bird may be allowed to live. The saga started late last month when someone found a pigeon in a Melbourne backyard. The bird’s band suggested it was a racing pigeon that had left the U.S. from Oregon — 8,000 miles away — two months earlier. Because of that, Australian health officials thought the bird could be a disease carrier — and planned to kill it. But after checking with U.S. officials, it turned out the leg band was a fake. Since the bird isn’t from the U.S., it appears it won’t have to be put down. By the way, the bird has been named Joe, after American president-elect Joe Biden.