News Blitz: Jan. 29, 2021


National News

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats are rejecting a Republican pitch to split President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 rescue plan into smaller chunks. Democrats and the White House appear ready to leave their GOP opponents behind and push the sweeping economic and virus aid forward on their own. Despite Biden’s calls for unity, Democrats say the stubbornly high unemployment numbers and battered economy leave them unwilling to waste time courting Republican support or curbing the size of the package. The bill would offer money for vaccines, help reopen schools and give $1,400 direct payments to most Americans. Biden has been appealing directly to Republican and Democratic lawmakers while signaling his priority to press ahead.

NEW YORK (AP) — Cicely Tyson, the pioneering Black actor who earned an Oscar nomination for her role as the sharecropper’s wife in “Sounder,” won a Tony Award in 2013 at age 88 and touched TV viewers’ hearts in “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman,” has died. She was 96. A onetime model, Tyson began her screen career with bit parts but gained fame in the early 1970s when Black women were finally starting to get starring roles. She earned an honorary Oscar in 2018 and won two Emmys for playing the 110-year-old former slave in the 1974 television drama “The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman.”

Texas News

UNDATED (AP) — Texas has now administered more than 2 million COVID-19 vaccinations, and the new Biden administration could help determine who’s next in line. Texas surpassed the milestone for doses Thursday while lurching toward the end of the state’s deadliest month of the pandemic. More than 1 in 5 of the 35,000 reported deaths have come in January. Texas moved away from federal vaccine guidelines in December and moved a broader population of older residents to the front of the line. But Imelda Garcia, who chairs the state panel that recommends Texas vaccine prioritization, says the Biden administration may make some changes that they’ll want to consider for the next phase.

FORT BLISS, Texas (AP) — The U.S. Army says eleven soldiers have been injured after ingesting an unknown substance during a field training exercise at Fort Bliss in Texas. A statement released late Thursday says two of the soldiers are in critical condition. The 1st Armored Division says all 11 soldiers have been placed under the observation of medical professionals. The statement says the incident is under investigation. No further details have been released.

Louisiana News

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana’s work to vaccinate nursing home residents and employees against COVID-19 is moving slowly. Data released Thursday from the state’s chief public health adviser indicates fewer than one-third of the doses set aside for the effort have been used and a slim percentage of workers at the facilities showing interest so far. Dr. Joe Kanter says 93,600 Moderna vaccine doses have been allocated to a program administered by CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate people who live and work at long-term care facilities. Only 28,000 have reached arms. Kanter says 69% of residents at the facilities that have been visited have wanted the immunization while only 26% of the staff have been interested.

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) — A 32-year-old Louisiana man accused in the deaths of three people in October 2017 has a new trial date. Matthew Sonnier, of Alexandria, has been indicted on three counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of 28-year-old Jeremy Deon Norris, 33-year-old Kendrick Dwann Horn and 42-year-old Latish Renee White. He also faces two counts of obstruction of justice from a separate indictment related to the case. If convicted, he faces the death penalty. Sonnier’s trial had been set for Feb. 22. But due to COVID-19 issues, his trial date was reset to Sept. 13. Sonnier’s sister, Ebony Sonnier, also is charged in the case. Her trial is scheduled for August.  It was unknown if either has an attorney who could speak for them.

Arkansas News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders’ campaign says she has raised more than $1 million in the first four days of her candidacy for Arkansas governor. Sanders’ campaign announced the fundraising figure on Thursday. On Monday, she announced she was running for governor with a nearly eight-minute video that embraced former President Donald Trump even as he faces an impeachment charge in the Senate. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin has raised $1.8 million for the race since March, while Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has raised $1 million. Sanders is the daughter of former Gov. Mike Huckabee.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ coronavirus deaths have risen by 42, while the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped to their lowest point since November. The Department of Health on Thursday said the state’s COVID-19 deaths now total 4,784 and its hospitalizations dropped by 33 to 996. The state’s virus cases rose by 1,892 to 290,856. Thursday’s hospitalizations were Arkansas’ lowest since the state reported 988 hospitalized on Nov. 24. Gov. Asa Hutchinson said the state is seeing some good trends, but said the deaths are a reminder that the virus is present throughout the state.


Men’s College Basketball

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Cameron Tyson scored a career-high 31 points, hitting a career-best nine 3-pointers, and No. 6 Houston routed Tulane 83-60. Tramon Mark added 16 points and Justin Gorham grabbed 15 rebounds for Houston, which has won seven straight. Tyson attempted 15 of his 18 shots outside the 3-point line and hit two of three shots from closer in. His nine 3s tied a Houston single-game record. Gorham eclipsed 10 rebounds in a game for the seventh straight time. Jordan Walker scored 16 and Gabe Watson added 13 points for Tulane.

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — David McCormack scored 15 points, Dajuan Harris and Tyon Grant-Foster provided a boost off the bench, and No. 15 Kansas slogged its way to a 59-51 victory over turnover-prone TCU on Thursday night to snap a rare three-game skid. Ochai Agbaji added 13 points for the Jayhawks, who once against struggled offensively but made enough free throws down the stretch to beat the Horned Frogs for the eighth straight time. Mike Miles hit five 3-pointers and had 18 points for the Horned Frogs, who turned the ball over 22 times while shooting just 35% from the field. RJ Nembhard added 12 points for TCU.

DALLAS (AP) — Yor Anei scored four of his eight points in the last 3:21 — each time putting SMU back in the lead — and the Mustangs held off Memphis 67-65. Feron Hunt scored 17 points and Emmanuel Bandoumel had 15 for SMU. Ethan Chargois added 13 points. Memphis trailed by 10 at halftime after scoring a season-low 23 points in the opening 20 minutes. But Boogie Ellis kicked off  21-4 surge with a 3-pointer that erased a 16-point SMU advantage and put the Tigers into a 59-58 lead seven minutes later. Landers Nolley II had 19 points for the Tigers. DeAndre Williams added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Ellis scored nine.


HOUSTON (AP) — Victor Oladipo scored 25 points and the Houston Rockets shook off a terrible first quarter and held on late to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 104-101 on Thursday night.  The Rockets were down by 20 points in the first quarter before using a big second to take the lead and hold on down the stretch for their fourth straight victory. Wood finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds in his return after missing three games with a sprained right ankle. John Wall had 20. Damian Lillard had 30 points and nine assists for Portland.


HOUSTON (AP) — A person familiar with the move told The Associated Press that star quarterback Deshaun Watson has requested a trade from the Houston Texans. The person was not authorized to discuss the request publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity Thursday. Watson has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $156 million contract so he could have some control over where he might be dealt.

College football

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Montana State head coach Jeff Choate has moved to Texas to be the Longhorns’ linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator under Steve Sarkisian. The move was expected but wasn’t formally announced until Thursday. Choate has spent the past four seasons as head coach at Montana State, where he led the Bobcats to the FCS playoffs in 2018 and 2019. Montana State made the semifinals in 2019.


DALLAS (AP) — Joe Pavelski scored his fourth goal of the season, Jake Oettinger stopped 20 shots in his first NHL start and the Dallas Stars beat Detroit 7-3. Dallas went undefeated in its season-opening four-game homestand. Denis Gurianov had a goal and two assists while Ty Dellandrea had his first NHL goal and first assist. Those points for Dellandrea came in the final 5:08 when Dallas stretched out a one-goal lead. Seven Stars scored. The defending Western Conference champion Stars last season didn’t win until their fourth game during a 1-7-1 start.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Montana State head coach Jeff Choate has moved to Texas to be the Longhorns’ linebackers coach and co-defensive coordinator under Steve Sarkisian. The move was expected but wasn’t formally announced until Thursday. Choate has spent the past four seasons as head coach at Montana State, where he led the Bobcats to the FCS playoffs in 2018 and 2019. Montana State made the semifinals in 2019.

Today in History

Today is Friday, Jan. 29, the 29th day of 2021. There are 336 days left in the year.

Today’s Highlight in History:

On Jan. 29, 1979, President Jimmy Carter formally welcomed Chinese Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping (dung shah-oh-ping) to the White House, following the establishment of diplomatic relations.

On this date:

In 1820, King George III died at Windsor Castle at age 81; he was succeeded by his son, who became King George IV.

In 1845, Edgar Allan Poe’s famous narrative poem “The Raven” (“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary…”) was first published in the New York Evening Mirror.

In 1919, the ratification of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which launched Prohibition, was certified by Acting Secretary of State Frank L. Polk.

In 1936, the first inductees of baseball’s Hall of Fame, including Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth, were named in Cooperstown, New York.

In 1963, the first charter members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were named in Canton, Ohio (they were enshrined when the Hall opened in September 1963). Poet Robert Frost died in Boston at age 88.

In 1966, the musical comedy “Sweet Charity” starring Gwen Verdon opened on Broadway.

In 1975, a bomb exploded inside the U.S. State Department in Washington, causing considerable damage, but injuring no one; the radical group Weather Underground claimed responsibility.

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan announced in a nationally broadcast message that he and Vice President George H.W. Bush would seek re-election in the fall.

In 1998, a bomb rocked an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, killing security guard Robert Sanderson and critically injuring nurse Emily Lyons. (The bomber, Eric Rudolph, was captured in May 2003 and is serving a life sentence.)

In 2002, in his first State of the Union address, President George W. Bush said terrorists were still threatening America — and he warned of “an axis of evil” consisting of North Korea, Iran and Iraq.

In 2006, ABC “World News Tonight” co-anchor Bob Woodruff and a cameraman were seriously injured in a roadside bombing in Iraq.

In 2015, Rod McKuen, whose music, verse and spoken-word recordings made him one of the best-selling poets in history, died at 81.

Ten years ago: With protests raging, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named his intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his first-ever vice president. Kim Clijsters finally won her first Australian Open title and the fourth major of her career, as she beat Li Na 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Avant-garde composer Milton Babbitt, 94, died in Princeton, N.J.

Five years ago: The Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton’s home server contained closely guarded government secrets. An avalanche in the Canadian province of British Columbia left five people riding snowmobiles dead. Two American endurance athletes, Daniel Cartica of Chicago and Becca Pizzi of Belmont, Massachusetts, won the World Marathon Challenge by completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents. French movie director Jacques Rivette, 87, died in Paris.

One year ago: A charter flight evacuating 195 Americans, including diplomats and their families, left the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the new viral outbreak; they would undergo three days of testing and monitoring at a California military base. World health officials expressed concern that the virus was starting to spread between people outside China. President Donald Trump’s lawyers asserted at his Senate trial that a trade of U.S. military aid for political favors – even if proven – could not be grounds for his impeachment. Trump signed into law the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a major rewrite of the rules of trade with Canada and Mexico.

Today’s Celebrity Birthdays: Writer-composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse is 90. Feminist author Germaine Greer is 82. Actor Katharine Ross is 81. Feminist author Robin Morgan is 80. Actor Tom Selleck is 76. R&B singer Bettye LaVette is 75. Actor Marc Singer is 73. Actor Ann Jillian is 71. Rock musician Louie Perez (Los Lobos) is 68. R&B singer Charlie Wilson is 68. Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is 67. Actor Terry Kinney is 67. Country singer Irlene Mandrell is 65. Actor Diane Delano is 64. Actor Judy Norton (TV: “The Waltons”) is 63. Rock musician Johnny Spampinato is 62. Olympic gold-medal diver Greg Louganis is 61. Rock musician David Baynton-Power (James) is 60. Rock musician Eddie Jackson (Queensryche) is 60. Actor Nicholas Turturro is 59. Rock singer-musician Roddy Frame (Aztec Camera) is 57. Actor-director Edward Burns is 53. Actor Sam Trammell is 52. Actor Heather Graham is 51. Former House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is 51. Actor Sharif Atkins is 46. Actor Sara Gilbert is 46. Actor Kelly Packard is 46. Actor Justin Hartley is 44. Actor Sam Jaeger is 44. Writer and TV personality Jedediah Bila is 42. Actor Andrew Keegan is 42. Actor Jason James Richter is 41. Blues musician Jonny Lang is 40. Pop-rock singer Adam Lambert (TV: “American Idol”) is 39. Country singer Eric Paslay is 38.

Unusual News Stories


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — He’s already been immortalized on TikTok. Now, the Idaho man whose went viral for posting a video of himself singing Fleetwood Mac’ “Dreams” — while longboarding and sipping on cranberry juice — will have have something linked to him in a museum. Nathan Apodaca, also known as Doggface, signed a bottle of Ocean Spray cranberry juice for the Museum of Idaho. It will now be on display there. The Post-Register newspaper reports in return, Apodaca and his family got membership cards to the museum. Since posting the video on social media four months ago, Apodaca was asked to do a video for President Joe Biden’s virtual “Parade Across America” on Inauguration Day — and had Idaho Falls declare a day for him last week.


BROOKFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A 10-year-old tiger has a new lease on life — after getting a type of surgery you usually think of as being done for older humans. Malena, an Amur tiger, has received hip replacement surgery at a zoo outside of Chicago. Veterinarians with the Brookfield Zoo in Illinois say it’s hoped the surgery will help her “live a good quality of life for many years down the road.” The zoo notes that, like humans, animals can develop degenerative problems in their joints as they age. When Malena got to the zoo last year, she had already been diagnosed with arthritis of the hip — and had to be put on pain meds to cope. But now, doctors say Malena seems to have full range of motion in the hip.