Friday morning news – January 15, 2020

Biden unveils near-$2T coronavirus/stimulus plan » President-elect Joe Biden last night addressed the American people, unveiling a nearly $2 trillion stimulus plan.

BIDEN: The American Rescue Plan that will tackle the pandemic and get direct financial assistance and relief to Americans…

He said the proposal would send more funds to state and local governments to help speed up vaccinations and safely reopen schools. 

The proposal also calls for another round of stimulus checks—$1,400 for most Americans. 

BIDEN: It would also provide more peace of mind for struggling families by extending unemployment insurance beyond the end of March for millions of workers. It would be a $400 per week supplement. 

But the proposal comes with a $1.9 trillion price tag. 

Congress passed a $900 billion stimulus bill last month. Many Republicans are skittish about adding more to a national debt that now is approaching $28 trillion.

Impeachment trial could start on Inauguration Day » Incoming Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Biden’s proposal will be his chamber’s top priority. It’s not yet clear, however, whether an impeachment trial will interfere with other Senate business on day one of the Biden administration. 

When the Senate will begin Donald Trump’s impeachment trial will depend heavily on when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends the article of impeachment to the upper chamber. Some Democrats have suggested holding back until the new president has a chance to kick start his agenda.

Jobless claims surge » Nearly a million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week as the COVID-19 surge continues to take a heavy toll on businesses. 

Mark Hamick is senior economic analyst with 

HAMRICK: By any measure, I think this is shocking. We see the depth of this economic downturn, now at 43 weeks. 

Last week’s total of 965,000 jobless claims is the most since late August.

Applications declined over the summer but have been stuck above 700,000 since September.

Before the pandemic, weekly applications typically numbered around 225,000.

Economists expect the economy to begin bouncing back in earnest in the second half of this year after coronavirus vaccines reach most Americans. 

Twitter CEO defends Trump ban » Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is defending his decision to ban President Trump from the platform. WORLD Radio’s Kristen Flavin reports. 

KRISTEN FLAVIN, REPORTER: In his first public comments on the matter, Dorsey acknowledged the move could set a dangerous precedent. He wrote that extreme measures such as banning Trump highlight the extraordinary power that Twitter and other Big Tech companies can wield without accountability or recourse.

But he said when pro-Trump demonstrations at the Capitol last week turned violent, he felt Trump’s tweets posed a risk to public safety.  

He also wrote, “I do not celebrate or feel pride in our having to ban [President Trump] from Twitter.” But he added: “I believe this was the right decision.”

Critics argue that Twitter and other social media companies are operating outside the scope of politically neutral platforms and should lose certain legal protections. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Kristen Flavin. 

Two former Mich. officials face manslaughter charges in Flint water crisis » Prosecutors in Michigan are charging two former state health officials with involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water scandal. 

They are former state health director Nick Lyon and former state medical executive Eden Wells.

Nine people died of Legionnaires’ disease during the water crisis. And prosecutors say the two ex-officials are largely to blame for the lead-contamination of Flint’s water system starting in 2014. 

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy told reporters Thursday…

WORTHY: Our work on this case begins with the understanding that the impact of the Flint water crisis cases and what happened in Flint will span generations—and probably well beyond—the way others will live our lives.

Former Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder faces misdemeanor charges of willful neglect of duty. He is pleading not guilty. And Snyder defense attorney Brian Lennon said the allegations are “unjustified” and the case a “travesty.”

WHO team arrives in Wuhan to investigate pandemic origins » A global team of scientists is now on the ground in China to investigate the beginnings of the coronavirus. 

After multiple delays, the Chinese government finally allowed researchers with the World Health Organization into the country. 

WHO Director-General, Tedros Ghebreyesus said this week that the probe would start at the original epicenter of the outbreak. 

GHEBREYESUS: The studies will begin in Wuhan to identify the potential source of infection of the early cases. Scientific evidence will drive hypotheses, which will then be the basis for further long-term studies. 

More than a dozen researchers are now in Wuhan, but it’s not clear that the Chinese government will fully cooperate. 

A government spokesman said the WHO team members will “exchange views” with Chinese scientists, but gave no indication whether they would be allowed to gather evidence.

And some analysts are concerned that Beijing could try to prevent embarrassing discoveries.

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh) In this Jan. 8, 2021, file photo, President-elect Joe Biden speaks during an event at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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