Merrick Garland to fight ‘central’ extremism at hearing
Attorney General candidate Merrick Garland promises to defend the independence of the Justice Department from the White House and to make the fight against extremism a “central” part of the department’s mission, according to comments prepared for delivery Monday during his confirmation hearing in the Senate. Acknowledging the public outrage that defined last summer’s social justice protests, Garland, a former senior justice official, stressed the mission of the department’s Civil Rights Division to protect the rights of ” most vulnerable in our society ”. His selection was presented by President Joe Biden as an attempt to reset a Justice Department troubled by politics and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to use the institution to advance his political interests.
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Congress takes over from COVID-19, but faces key obstacles
After an attack on the US Capitol and a landmark impeachment trial, Congress is back to legislation. This week, lawmakers will focus primarily on President Joe Biden’s $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package and Congress faces a clear deadline. In a few weeks, aid for millions of people still struggling with the pandemic will run out. The bill will likely face some hurdles, and Democrats will test their slim majority in both chambers for the first time. If the bill passes in the House, it will then go to the Senate, where it will face a more complicated process. The House could amend the bill, which would send it back to the House for another vote. Democrats aim to pass the entire package by mid-March.
More photos of Mars, video of possible descent, expected from Perseverance
A full photo shoot and Martian video footage from NASA’s Perseverance is due Monday after the rover safely landed on the Red Planet last week. “We are going to take a panorama of the rover and we will also take a full panorama of our landscape around us,” said Pauline Hwang, deputy director of the strategic mission. Additionally, NASA hopes to have captured video footage of the spacecraft during entry, landing and descent. If successful, this will be the first video footage of a spacecraft landing on another planet. NASA released a photo of the rover on its descent on Friday as it suspended under the Celestial Crane moments before it landed on the Martian surface.
Texas recovers from winter storm that devastated power grid and water facilities
Texas is in recovery mode after a winter storm left more than 4 million people without power and more than 14 million under boil water advisories. More than 70 deaths have been linked to the intense cold and damaging storms that swept through the United States last week, about half of the deaths reported so far have been in Texas. Many power plants and water facilities were ill-equipped to cope with the winter onslaught, and more than 33,000 homes and businesses in Texas went without power on Sunday. In West Virginia, more than 27,000 homes and businesses and 25,000 more in Kentucky were without power on Sunday. That number was around 20,000 in Mississippi.
UK to untie strict COVID-19 lockdown measures
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will reveal his plan to unwind one of the world’s toughest COVID-19 lockdowns on Monday after a more contagious variant tore Britain apart in January. U.S. health officials will be watching what Johnson says closely, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as of the end of next month, the most transmissible variant known as B.1.1.7. is probably the main one circulating within the American borders. Johnson is expected to announce a phased return for some schools from March 8. It is not clear whether other rules regarding gatherings, non-essential shopping and hospitality will be relaxed. It recently cracked down on international travel, adding a mandatory hotel quarantine for travelers arriving from certain countries to an existing requirement for a negative COVID-19 test.
Contribute: The Associated Press