Wednesday morning news – February 17, 2021

Deadly tornado rips through N.C. amid winter storm » At least three people are dead and 10 more injured after a tornado ripped through a coastal county in North Carolina on Tuesday. Photographs of the wreckage showed mangled cars tossed on top of piles of debris where homes once stood. 

Ed Conrow is the Brunswick County emergency services director.

CONROW: We are working with the American Red Cross to set up a reception center for residents in that area to go—we can help coordinate sheltering, long-term sheltering, feeding, emergency contacts. 

A massive storm that has slammed much of the United States spawned the tornado. 

In total, the winter front is to blame for at least 16 deaths, including car crashes and carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Chief Samuel Pena with the Houston Fire Department said with widespread power outages, people are trying to heat their homes in dangerous ways. 

PENA: We’re up about 180 percent above our normal call volume. We had 56 fire calls over the last 24 hours, and we’ve responded to over 90 calls for carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Several million Texas homes and businesses have lost power. 

The storm has already roared through the Southern Plains, and brought snow and freezing rain from Texas to New England. And a record-setting freeze continues to bear down on the middle of the country. 

Rep. Bennie Thompson sues Trump over Capitol riot » The Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson is suing former President Trump over the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. WORLD Radio’s Anna Johansen Brown has more. 

ANNA JOHANSEN BROWN, REPORTER: The lawsuit filed on Tuesday accuses Trump of inciting the deadly siege. 

It also names as defendants Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and several extremist groups that participated in storming the Capitol.

Thompson is suing under a provision of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. That provision prohibits violence or intimidation meant to block Congress from carrying out constitutional duties. 

The court complaint alleges the defendants carried out a coordinated campaign to interfere with the process of certifying Electoral College votes. 

The Senate on Saturday acquitted Trump of the House impeachment charge accusing him of inciting the riot. 

But some, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said they voted to acquit not based on the merit of the charge but over concerns that impeaching a former president would not be constitutional. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen Brown. 

France passes anti-radicalism bill » France’s National Assembly voted on Tuesday to approve an anti-radicalism bill. France’s Senate will take up the measure next month.

It would give the French government more power to keep a close eye on mosques, schools, and other organizations.

It would also ban virginity certificates, crack down on polygamy and forced marriage, and require regular school attendance starting at age 3. 

And the law would require many organizations that receive government funding to sign a contract of respect for French values and follow those values.

Calls for a such a law grew louder after an extremist beheaded a teacher for showing a caricature of Muhammad last October. That very same month, a knife-wielding attacker killed three people in Nice.

Parler rejoins the internet » A conservative-friendly social network that Big Tech tried to shut down a month ago is back online. WORLD’s Paul Butler reports.

PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: Parler is now back online for existing users. Though, the platform’s reboot wasn’t entirely smooth. Parler users could log in again on Tuesday, but many got messages that the network had reached capacity.

The company says it’s ironing out the issues and will open up to new users next week.

After the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, tech giants accused the company of failing to monitor its content for threats and hate speech. Apple and Google removed the Parler app from their digital stores, and Amazon booted it from its web hosting services. 

Parler launched in 2018. It now has more than 20 million users. In a news release the company said it’s new platform is built on—quote—“robust, sustainable, independent technology.” 

Reporting for WORLD Radio, I’m Paul Butler.

(AP Photo/Chris Seward) A property owner videos the damage to a home from severe weather in Brunswick County, N.C. near the town of Sunset Beach, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.

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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